Defense

Biden ‘displeased’ with intelligence leaks, says Psaki

Associated Press/Evan Vucci
President Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on May 4, 2022, in Washington.

President Biden was “displeased” with disclosures last week about U.S. intelligence aiding Ukraine in targeting the Russians, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday.  

“The president was displeased with the leaks,” Psaki said during a briefing. “His view was that it was an overstatement of our role, an inaccurate statement, and also an understatement of the Ukrainians’ role and their leadership.”  

Psaki added that Biden doesn’t believe the leaks were “constructive.”  

Her comments followed reports from NBC and other news outlets that Biden spoke with Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, CIA Director William Burns and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last week and described the reports about intelligence sharing as counterproductive.  

Though Psaki declined to comment on those private conversations, it was clear from her statements that the White House was upset with recent reports, which cited anonymous U.S. officials. 

The New York Times reported last week that U.S. intelligence helped Ukraine target and kill Russian generals but noted that officials said the U.S. prohibits itself from providing intelligence “about the most senior Russian leaders.”   

The Washington Post and other outlets reported a day later that U.S. intelligence helped Ukraine target and sink the Russian warship the Moskva.  

Biden administration officials, including Psaki and Pentagon press secretary John Kirby, last week criticized the stories as misleading.   

Experts have also criticized the disclosures and questioned why U.S. officials would speak to the media about the role played by U.S. intelligence in the Ukrainian operations.  

Richard Fontaine, CEO of the Center for a New American Security, told The Hill last week that the leaks help fuel a false Kremlin narrative about its war in Ukraine being about NATO enlargement and Western provocations.  

“By trying to get public credit in the press for helping to kill Russian generals and sink Russian ships, I am afraid that that aids that narrative in a way that is not productive,” Fontaine said.   

Tags Biden Jen Psaki Lloyd Austin Russia Ukraine William Burns
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