Trump trying to assert control over intelligence agencies, say sources

Dan CoatsRelentless bureaucratic skirmishes between the White House and the United States Intelligence Community are occurring daily, with administration officials attempting to “seize the reins” of agencies, according to sources. The Associated Press reports that senior officials around US President Donald Trump continue to “deep[ly] distrust” the Intelligence Community”. This tendency is reportedly more prevalent among those of Mr. Trump’s senior political advisers who are “government newcomers” and have never before been privy to classified information or intelligence programs.

According to the Associated Press, the US president has been trying various ways to “seize the reins” of the Intelligence Community. The news agency cites unnamed “US officials” who claim that Mr. Trump and his senior advisers have requested that they be given access to raw intelligence. At the same time, they have expressed little interest in being exposed to the analysis of raw intelligence produced by intelligence professionals. Typically, White House officials will rely primarily on the expert opinions of intelligence analysts and will not seek to access the raw data that these opinions rest on. But it appears that Mr. Trump and his team of advisers do not think highly of the analytical assessments of the Intelligence Community, preferring instead to make up their own mind based on their own reading of raw intelligence reports. According to the Associated Press report, that appears to be one of the ways in which the White House has been trying to assert its power over the Intelligence Community.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s advisers are pressing on with a comprehensive review of the structure and operations of the Intelligence Community. The review is now being led by Dan Coats, a Congressman from Indiana and former US Ambassador to Germany, who last month was confirmed to serve as the Director of National Intelligence. According to sources, Coats resisted initial plans by the White House to abolish the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which was set up after the 9/11 attacks to coordinate the work of the Intelligence Community. The Trump team still plans to “trim and optimize” the Intelligence Community, but probably will not outright dismantle agencies like the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to the Associated Press.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 03 April 2017 | Permalink | Research credit: SF

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2 Responses to Trump trying to assert control over intelligence agencies, say sources

  1. Pete says:

    “Mr. Trump and his senior advisers have requested that they be given access to raw intelligence.” of course may lead to problems.

    1. there would be so many pieces of raw intelligence generated by the CIA, FBI and NSA that Trump’s senior advisers cannot maintain overviews of ALL the raw intelligence and wouldn’t have time to summarize. Therefore they may tend to cherry-pick only a few pieces that support their political positions.

    2. Senior advisers being given access to raw intelligence may reveal the identities of informants supplying the raw intelligence to CIA, FBI and NSA officers.

    3. The senior advisers who access raw intelligence may have business or political contacts with Russians. There would be inherent dangers in quick unstructured phone calls – especially when comparing notes with the Russians.

  2. TRM says:

    With little or no background in intelligence they may well have no idea what they are reading, or no understanding that intelligence is by nature fragmentary and limited and that the patterns emerge over time.

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