Trump will put CIA agents and sources at risk if intel agencies are forced to hand over info to Barr: Ex-CIA chief
President Donald Trump's manner with Russian leader Vladimir Putin was in contrast to the anger he flashed at NATO allies. (AFP / Brendan Smialowski)

Responding to President Donald Trump issuing an order allowing Attorney General William P. Barr to "declassify" intelligence that was gathered and led to a Justice Department investigation into his campaign and administration, a former CIA Russia bureau chief claims agents and sources are likely to be compromised by the president.

According to a report in the New York Times, the order from Trump issued late Thursday night is likely to cause friction between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department with the secretive CIA loathe to see years of work setting up information channels -- particularly in Russia -- exposed.

"It allows Mr. Barr, who has used the charged term "spying" to describe efforts to investigate the Trump campaign, sole discretion to declassify the intelligence behind the F.B.I.’s decision to begin investigating whether any Trump aides or associates were working with the Russians. It also raises the specter that officials ranging from the F.B.I. to the C.I.A. to the National Security Agency, which was monitoring Russian officials, will be questioned about their sources and their intent," the Times explains.

With House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), saying the exposure could dry up sources and inhibit agents in the field who fear exposure, a former chief of the CIA's Russia mission said it to would be inevitable that names would be exposed.

“If the president of the United States asks for a name, it would be hard not to provide a name,” warned John Sipher, a former C.I.A. official who oversaw Russia operations.

He then added, “It wouldn’t do him any good unless he sent it around to people to look into it, and that is where the security problem is, obviously.”

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