Inside the Ring: Chinese pressure points

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State Department spokesmen are keeping secret all details of Tuesday’s meeting between Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

However, a Russian press report Tuesday said Washington and Moscow are preparing an exchange of presidential declarations limiting U.S. missile defenses in Europe — a key Moscow demand for further strategic arms talks and one rejected in the past by the Obama administration.

Russia’s Kommersant newspaper quoted unidentified Russian officials as saying the exchange would call for cooperation on European missile defenses and pledges that U.S. defenses would not be used to target Russian strategic missiles.

Other arms-control steps could include confidence-building measures, such as information exchanges, bilateral research and threat assessments.

The report is likely to increase worries among Republicans in Congress about President Obama’s now-infamous private promise last March to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” on a missile-defense agreement with Russia after his re-election.

The president has never fully explained what concessions he was prepared to make on missile defenses, and no reporter has yet to question him about the unusual promise to a foreign leader.

Asked about the Kommersant report, State Department spokesman Jonathan Lalley declined to comment beyond a statement issued Tuesday on the Kerry-Lavrov meeting. The hour and 45 minute meeting “covered the full range of bilateral issues,” mainly Syria, the statement said.

Mr. Lavrov told reporters “there are no grounds for such reports” of a deal on missile defense.

RAW V. COOKED INTEL

The recent nomination hearing of John O. Brennan to be director of the CIA revealed publicly for the first time a key limit of congressional oversight of intelligence: Raw intelligence is kept from Congress.

Sen. Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican and member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, raised the issue with Mr. Brennan and sought unsuccessfully to get a promise from the nominee to provide raw, unanalyzed intelligence from time to time.

“Most, if not all, of the intelligence that our committee receives is the finished analysis that’s derived from source reports and other raw intelligence materials that we don’t see and, I might say, we don’t need to see all of,” Mr. Burr said.

“In order to ensure that we can perform our oversight duties of the intelligence committee, would you agree that the committee should be able to review all analytical product if requested?”

Mr. Brennan provided a qualified “yes” but told Mr. Burr: “However, I would have to take a look at the issues it involved. In terms of, you know, what are we talking about in terms of access to that analytic product, is it all staff, all committee members, whatever? I just can’t make commitment to that.”

“But your intention, and what I think your objective is, I fully support in terms of making sure this committee has the breadth of analytic expertise available from the agency,” he said.

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. ...

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