Second, just as many prospective foreign sources have good reason to worry about the security of the information they provide to the CIA (and by extension their own longevity), foreign intelligence services will have similar concerns. If, for example, the DOJ demands to know not simply which of our foreign partners provided intelligence on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s active measures but also who their sources were and how they obtained the information, such demands will cause our allies to become much more circumspect than they already are about passing important information to us. This erodes the overall security of the United States on critical issues not limited to Russia, but extending to China, Iran and North Korea, and possibly terrorism-related issues as well. While it is unlikely for any of our allies to actually withhold terrorist threat intelligence – information of an impending attack on the United States, for example – it would not be unreasonable for an ally to be so concerned with Trump’s loose lips that they might be less forthcoming on passing intelligence on Russia.
And third, imagine you are the CIA analyst or counterintelligence officer who gets the call from the DOJ to have that “chat.” Indeed, imagine that you are any CIA officer involved in collection or analysis on Russia, or Saudi Arabia, or President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, or any of the more obvious United States adversaries previously mentioned. Wouldn’t you be more cautious if you were involved in intelligence matters on which you knew the president was focused? How comfortable would you feel writing an assessment of the Saudis’ knowledge of and involvement in the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi? Without worrying about the consequences, would you write a report from a source claiming that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was mocking the American president – especially after Trump’s pronouncement that he would not have allowed the CIA to recruit a family member of Kim’s, a half brother who was assassinated? Might you not reasonably worry that one of Barr’s officers would show up at your door, just wanting to talk? Wouldn’t it be better to be safe than sorry? Is that the kind of intelligence service we want working to protect the security of the United States?