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    US Senate Plan to Monitor Russian Diplomats, Seek Murder Plots ‘Garbage’

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    A US Senate plan to revive a Cold War congressional committee to monitor Russian diplomats and probe alleged assassination plots was worthless and reminiscent of communist efforts to smother domestic dissent, former US diplomat Jim Jatras told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Senate Intelligence Committee approved the proposal to revive the committee in its 2017 Intelligence Authorization Bill. The committee is asking the White House to reinstate a presidentially-appointed group to unmask Russian spies and uncover Russian-sponsored assassinations.

    "This effort… is garbage," Jatras said on Wednesday. "It is designed to counter dissent from the official US government and mainstream media line."

    However, Jatras said the proposal appeared to be designed to crush domestic criticism of hawkish polices by the US government within the United States rather than to expose or hunt down any legitimate threats to national security.

    The proposed committee "has more in common with Soviet efforts to discredit samizdat [dissident] than the work of the earlier congressional committee in opposing critical media reports originating outside the United States during the Cold War," Jatras maintained.

    Jatras told Sputnik he had served on the old US Cold War-era Active Measures Working Group.

    "I used to participate in the old Active Measures Working Group back in my days on [the State Department’s] Soviet desk in the early 1980’s," Jatras recalled.

    The work of the earlier committee had nothing to do with attempting to discredit or smother legitimate criticism and dissent with the United States, Jatras pointed out.

    "Dealing with Soviet active measures was a completely different kettle of fish. I usually meant planting… in non-Soviet block media and recycling them in the West."

    The new group being proposed by the Senate Intelligence Committee would include personnel from the State Department, the US intelligence community and several other executive offices and would meet monthly, US media reports stated on Wednesday.

    Along with spies and alleged covert killings, the committee would also investigate the funding of front groups or cover organizations for Russian operations, covert broadcasting, media manipulation and secret funding, the reports said.

    The new group would be modeled after the old Cold War Active Measures Working Group, one US intelligence official was cited as saying in a media report.

    The intelligence bill was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee in May 2016 and now must be passed by the full Senate.

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