Several former intelligence officials who signed the now-notorious letter dismissing a bombshell report on a laptop belonging to the son of President Joe Biden as "Russian disinformation" are going to serve on a new advisory group created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday announced the establishment of the Homeland Intelligence Experts Group, which is tasked with meeting four times a year to provide the agency with input on some of the "most complex problems and challenges," including terrorism, fentanyl, "transborder issues," and new technology.
The group includes former senior intelligence officials, journalists, and "prominent human rights and civil liberties advocates," according to Mr. Mayorkas. Some of them are known for attempting to discredit the New York Post's Hunter Biden laptop stories in a public letter in the weeks leading to the 2020 presidential election.
The letter was written on Oct. 19, 2020, just five days after the Post published its first story on emails, photos, and videos found on a laptop Hunter Biden had abandoned at a repair shop in Delaware. In the letter, 51 former intelligence officials claimed this story "has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation."
"If we are right, this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this," the signers wrote.
Mainstream media reports of the letter were picked up by many prominent Democrats in response to questions raised from the exposé. Then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden also cited the letter during a debate against his opponent, incumbent Republican President Donald Trump, accusing him of spreading false information planted by the Russian government.
"There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what he's accusing me of is a Russian plant," he said. "Five former heads of the CIA, both parties, say what he's saying is a bunch of garbage. Nobody believes it except his good friend Rudy Giuliani."
Hunter Biden, who claimed in 2020 that the laptop might not be his at all, that it "could be" stolen from him, or that it was a scheme by "Russian intelligence," eventually also admitted that the device indeed belonged to him.
Three of the 51 laptop letter signers are joining Mr. Mayorkas's expert group: former CIA Director John Brennan, former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, and former CIA Operations Officer Paul Kolbe.
"The security of the American people depends on our capacity to collect, generate, and disseminate actionable intelligence to our federal, state, local, territorial, tribal, campus, and private sector partners," Mr. Mayorkas said in a statement. "I express my deep gratitude to these distinguished individuals for dedicating their exceptional expertise, experience, and vision to our critical mission."
The expert group will be working under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Ken Wainstein, as well as Counterterrorism Coordinator Nicholas Rasmussen, another signatory of the Hunter Biden laptop letter.
Mr. Rasmussen, who landed his current job in November 2022, was among the signatories who went on to be promoted to senior Biden administration posts.
Some others include former CIA Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash, who President Biden handpicked last August to serve on his Intelligence Advisory Board; and former National Counterterrorism Center Deputy Director Russell Travers, who served as the deputy homeland security adviser for the National Security Council from January 2021 to October 2021.
Another laptop letter signer, former CIA Inspector General David Buckley, went on to work as staff director for the House Jan. 6 committee until its dissolution this January.