United States (Sputnik) – The proposed revival of a Cold War-era committee to hunt for Russian espionage and assassination plots in the United States was just a tactic to foster fear-mongering among the American people, AT&T/National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Mark Klein told Sputnik.
The US Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2017 Intelligence Authorization Bill includes a request that the White House reinstate a Cold-War-era presidentially-appointed group to unmask Russian spies and uncover Russian-sponsored assassinations.
The group, which would include personnel from the State Department, intelligence community and several other executive offices, would meet monthly.
“In reality, this is just another way to pump up fear,” Klein stated on Thursday.
However, Klein expressed skepticism about whether the group could perform any useful counter-intelligence function.
“I have no idea if it will work — that is to say, catch spies.”
Instead of hunting legitimate terror and espionage threats, the group was much more likely to focus its efforts on trying to intimidate, slander and discredit law-abiding organizations that promote cooperation and dialogue between Washington and Moscow, Klein warned.
A similar interagency body called the Active Measures Working Group existed during the Cold War, but has not been active in decades. The new group would be modeled after the old Cold War body, according to media reports.
Such an organization could be expected to “particularly attack so-called front groups who may be considered sympathetic to Russia.”
Klein also cautioned that the creation of such a group could revive the notorious and discredited anti-communist witch-hunting tactics that US Senator Joe McCarthy used in the House of Representatives Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s.
The group’s suggested goals sounded “just like the witch-hunting methods of the McCarthyite 1950s, when they attacked protest groups by smearing them as ‘communist’,” he said.
Now retired, Klein was an AT&T employee for 22 years. In 2006, exposed that AT&T had a secret room in its San Francisco facility — Room 641A — where the NSA had been allowed to install a splitter to trap and record all internet traffic transmitted over the company’s backbone lines.