The Atlantic

Bill Barr’s Dangerous Claims

The attorney general has said the intelligence community was “spying” on the Trump campaign—language that risks a panoply of harms.
Source: Carlos Barria / Reuters

Attorney General William Barr has repeatedly used the word spying to refer to the counterintelligence investigation into Russian contacts with Donald Trump’s team in 2016. Barr’s loose use of language risks a panoply of harms, undermining public confidence in three vital goods: the nonpartisan nature of the intelligence community’s work, the generally robust framework for intelligence oversight, and the facts and conclusions of the intelligence community itself.

Does Barr know what he’s saying? In a recent interview on CBS, Barr said that “as a lawyer, I always interpret the word not colloquially, but legally.” He also touted his intelligence background from his early days at

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min read
The Watch That Went to the Moon
Fifty years ago, Buzz Aldrin wore his Omega Speedmaster Professional on the lunar surface. It’s been an icon—and a bestseller—ever since.
The Atlantic4 min readScience
California’s Wildfires Are 500 Percent Larger Due to Climate Change
“Each degree of warming causes way more fire than the previous degree of warming did. And that’s a really big deal.”
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
What Is Britain’s Responsibility to Hong Kong?
Even if London wanted to play a bigger role in its former colony’s impasse with China, it lacks the leverage.