Former CIA Director Woolsey: Nothing Wrong With Backchannels; "Real Scandal" Is Leaks


Former CIA Director James Woolsey told CNN's Don Lemon there is nothing wrong with back channel communications with foreign contacts as long as, "you're doing it accurately and within the confines essentially of what your superiors have asked of you."

From Tuesday's edition of CNN Tonight:

DON LEMON, CNN: What was interesting because Sean Spicer today was asked about that back channel and he didn't really -- he didn't really answer it during the briefing. So do you think that the president, the incoming president or the president-elect knew about this? Again, I have to ask you, ambassador.

JAMES WOOLSEY, FMR. CIA DIRECTOR: I don't know whether it was him or whether it would have been somebody else in the incoming administration. But I don't see anything untoward about having a back channel communications as long as you're doing it accurately and within the confines essentially of what your superiors have asked of you.

People have back channel communications all the time. It's often done via intelligence services because they can often -- the head of DCI, for example, to travel without people knowing that he's traveling.

LEMON: So, Ambassador, why not disclose that then?

WOOLSEY: Well, there are a lot of things I think have been disclosed too much. And I think that is the real scandal here. That so much has been disclosed, it makes it hard for the secrecy that's essential to the operation of the U.S. government in these areas to continue.

And I think the people who have broken these tacit and formal agreements and taken classified information and turned it loose are basically traitors to the country.

LEMON: So Phil, Kushner and others should not have disclosed communications with the Russians because they should fear that it may be leaked to the press?

WOOLSEY: Disclosed to the president, of course.

LEMON: Disclosed, yes.

WOOLSEY: Disclosed to the national security advisor? Of course. What's wrong with that? There was anything wrong with that.

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