ODNI election security briefing changes undermine Americans’ right to know

Lisa Rosenberg, executive director of Open The Government, released the following statement on the Office of Director of National Intelligence’s decision to stop in-person election security briefings for Congress and provide only written intelligence reports leading up to the 2020 election:

“ODNI’s decision to provide written intelligence reports instead of extensive verbal, in-person briefings on election security is a brazen attempt to stifle lawmakers’ ability to conduct critical oversight of the intelligence community, at a time when foreign actors pose significant threats in the few weeks leading up to a critical election. The reasoning provided by Director John Ratcliffe – that written reports would make intelligence shared with Congress less susceptible to leaks – is absurd and walks back ODNI’s pledge to provide robust and consistent intelligence to both Congress and the American public.  

“Director Ratcliffe’s decision raise concerns that the administration may attempt to suppress intelligence for political reasons, and keep Americans in the dark about the integrity of an election that is already complicated by the pandemic and our government’s mishandling of it.

“Congress must insist the ODNI continue to provide in-person briefings to ensure the agency complies with its legal transparency obligations to keep both Senate and House Intelligence Committees informed of election security risks. Regardless of who will eventually occupy the White House, the sanctity of our election process is at stake. Director Ratcliffe owes it to Americans to safeguard the security of the election from all foreign interference, and Congress must hold ODNI accountable by conducting oversight on behalf of the American people concerning the threats the country faces as we approach Election Day.”