CIA Director Gina Haspel faces decision on whether to protect the whistleblower

CIA Director Gina Haspel faces decision on whether to protect the whistleblower

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The story: CIA officials are pressuring the agency's director Gina Haspel into protecting the CIA whistleblower, who is reported to be Eric Ciaramella, from President Trump and his administration, who have continued their efforts to denounce the individual whose complaint led to the impeachment proceedings.

"It will be incumbent on her to protect the whistleblower — and by extension, the organization — moving forward," retired CIA official Marc Polymeropoulos told NBC News. "This is a seminal moment for her leadership, and I'm confident she will do the right thing."

On Monday, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. said he would publicly reveal the whistleblower's identity and encouraged the news media to do the same. That same day, President Trump posted on Twitter:

Sen. Paul's comments drew the attention of Former CIA Director John Brennan who said, "Senator Paul's appalling call for the naming of the whistleblower by the media should be denounced in the strongest terms possible; a statement signed by the heads of all the intelligence agencies would be most appropriate."

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"Since the affiliation of the whistleblower is unacknowledged, it is up to the acting DNI Joe Maguire to take a firm public and private stance against any effort to expose the whistleblower," he noted.

"Other leaders of the Intelligence Community should privately oppose any attempt to name the whistleblower. Senator Paul's appalling call for the naming of the whistleblower by the media should be denounced in the strongest terms possible; a statement signed by the heads of all the intelligence agencies would be most appropriate," Brennan continued.

Maguire said he is "committed to protecting whistleblowers and ensuring every complaint is handled appropriately."

"In this case, the complainant raised a matter with the Intelligence Community Inspector General. The Inspector General is properly protecting the complainant's identity, and we will not permit that complainant to be subject to any retaliation or adverse consequences for communicating the complaint to the IG," he added.

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Former officials' remarks: "I think you would have to tell the president we cannot unveil this person — it will create a very bad feeling in the building that will not be good for national security or you personally, Mr. President," said another former CIA official, who asked for his identity to remain unknown.

Current and former CIA officials are keeping a close eye on Haspel's actions, adding that the CIA director is widely respected within the agency, despite her cordial relationship with President Trump who has strongly criticized the intelligence community on several occasions.

"I agree with people who say it's a defining moment and I'm confident she'll do the right thing," said Kevin Carroll, another former CIA officer. "She absolutely has a responsibility to stand up for her office." Some former intelligence officers said that if Trump reveals the identity of the whistleblower, who is a CIA analyst, Haspel should resign from the spy agency.

"Threatening to resign or resigning would be a normal thing for a leader to do in these circumstances," said former senior CIA manager Larry Pfeiffer.

Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid, lawyers for the whistleblower, said in a statement on Wednesday that "identifying any suspected name for the whistleblower will place their family at risk of serious harm. We will not confirm or deny any name that is published or promoted by supporters of the President. Disclosure of any name undermines the integrity of the whistleblower system and will deter any future whistleblowers."

Bakaj added that individuals who reveal his client's identity will be facing legal charges.

Worth noting: Although politicians and media outlets are being cautious in not naming Ciaramella, his name was included in a transcript that was recently released by House Democrats.

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