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Former CIA director Leon Panetta. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Five former top U.S. intelligence officials, who served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, warn against plans for Justice Department officials to hold a GOP-only briefing about the role of a 2016 informant in the FBI's Russia investigation.

The latest plan: A briefing for two Republican House members, with a separate briefing added for the bipartisan "Gang of Eight” lawmakers who are traditionally briefed on intelligence matters.

The letter is to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi:

  • "Congressional oversight of counterintelligence investigations is one of the most important and sensitive functions of the Intelligence Committees in Congress. Traditionally, intelligence and law enforcement agencies are exceedingly careful in briefing the Committees about active counterintelligence investigations, given the sensitivity of the operational activity, the need to protect human sources, and the privacy interests of any Americans who may be involved. In our experience, such Executive Branch briefings have always been bipartisan."
  • "When oversight activity is bipartisan, it can serve as an important check on government activity. When congressional oversight is overly partisan — or focused on undermining important counterintelligence investigations — we worry about inappropriate political influence on the investigators and the erosion of a bipartisan approach to intelligence and national security. Any effort to exclude one party or the other from sensitive counterintelligence oversight briefings threatens to undermine the oversight function and sends the wrong signal about the professional, non-political manner that must govern U.S. intelligence activities."
  • "We urge you to allow congressional oversight activities to proceed in a fully bipartisan manner and to resist efforts to politicize intelligence oversight for the benefit of one party or another. Our national security depends on strong bipartisan congressional oversight."

The letter is signed by:

  • Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense and former CIA director
  • James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence
  • Michael Hayden, former CIA director
  • John Brennan, former CIA director
  • John McLaughlin, former acting CIA director

Go deeper

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Facebook is a news media magnet

Expand chart
Data: Signal AI; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

New data finds that Facebook has been mentioned in more online stories in the U.S. in the past year than all of its major tech competitors combined.

Why it matters: Press scrutiny of Facebook has become so intense and negative that the tech giant is reportedly planning to rename itself as soon as next week to signal that it's more than just a social media company.

Amazon is now a bigger shipper in the U.S. than FedEx

Expand chart
Reproduced from Supply Chain Dive; Chart: Axios Visuals

Amazon is not primarily known as a logistics company, but in 2020 the company shipped more parcels than FedEx.

Why it matters: Logistics is a $1.5 trillion business — and it has long been controlled by a handful of key players, like FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service. Now Amazon is poised to conquer it.

Updated 54 mins ago - Technology

Trump says he plans to launch new social media network in 2022

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Wednesday announced plans to launch a social media network called "Truth Social," and that it would go public via a SPAC.

Why it matters: Most ex-presidents are focused on their legacies, by creating presidential libraries or engaging in philanthropic endeavors. Trump, however, remains consumed by social media.