Nearly a dozen Senate Republicans are calling on the Defense Department’s (DOD) inspector general to launch an investigation into Pentagon official Colin Kahl for purportedly leaking classified information about Chinese surveillance balloons to corporate media.
In a letter submitted to the department on Tuesday, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and nine of his GOP colleagues allege that Kahl, who serves as undersecretary of defense for policy, “provided reporters with classified information regarding prior Chinese surveillance balloons” after such a device was identified over U.S. airspace earlier this year.
On Feb. 4, an unidentified senior defense official claimed during an off-camera briefing with reporters that Chinese government surveillance balloons had “transited the continental United States briefly at least three times during the [Trump] administration.” While several high-ranking Trump officials insisted that such an assertion was false, legacy media had the narrative they needed and began running wall-to-wall coverage of the claim to cover for the Biden administration’s incompetent response to the Chinese incursion into U.S. airspace.
It wasn’t until days later that regime propagandists conveniently admitted the “transiting of three suspected Chinese spy balloons over the continental US during the Trump administration was only discovered after President Joe Biden took office.” As the Republicans’ letter noted, that would mean “leaders of the previous administration did not have an opportunity to respond to the threat.”
“The selective leak falsely portrayed prior incursions as similar incidents and suggested that the previous administration was similarly ineffective in responding to known surveillance threats,” Senate Republicans’ letter reads. “Under Secretary Kahl’s leak appears intended to distract from the Biden administration’s own conduct by attacking political opponents. To date, we have received no indication that the materials leaked by Under Secretary Kahl were first declassified through the proper channels.”
Kahl — who previously served as a deputy assistant secretary at the Pentagon under President Barack Obama and national security adviser to then-Vice President Joe Biden from 2014 to 2017 — is expected to leave his current post next month.
As noted in Tuesday’s letter, this isn’t the first instance in which Kahl has been credibly accused of leaking classified information. In April 2021, more than a dozen Senate Republicans sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, urging the agency to investigate whether Kahl “disclosed or solicited” classified intel upon leaving the Obama administration. As The Federalist reported, Senate Republicans “allege[d] that Kahl also tweeted confirmed leaked and classified information pertaining to North Korea, which the Trump administration had briefed him on.”
In addition to repeatedly smearing Trump and Republicans on social media, Kahl also has a lengthy history of promoting the Trump-Russia collusion hoax. As recently revealed in a report issued by U.S. Attorney John Durham, the FBI possessed no real evidence that then-candidate Donald Trump colluded with Russian government officials when it launched its investigation into the Trump campaign leading up to the 2016 election. The report also highlights the baselessness of the Clinton campaign-linked Steele dossier, which the FBI used in its application to acquire a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.
On March 26, 2017, Kahl promoted a “MEGA-THREAD” on Twitter posted by Seth Abramson — another Russia hoax truther — that alleged a Trump-inspired “plot to sell America’s foreign policy for foreign oil and steal an election.” Kahl also repeatedly gave credence to the debunked Steele dossier, writing in two separate tweets, “Last night, Trump’s twitter account channeled anxiety over #RussiaGate. Perhaps it’s b/c the dossier is panning out” and “Steele’s Trump-Russia Dossier holds up pretty well.”
Kahl has also attacked Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee for highlighting the FBI’s FISA abuses that were used to spy on the Trump campaign.