Trump’s CIA director outlines plans to make agency more aggressive, cut red tape

Mike PompeoThe man appointed by President Donald Trump to lead the United States Central Intelligence Agency has outlined his plans to promote more aggressive intelligence operations and combat what he described as “red tape” in the agency’s culture. Mike Pompeo, a former aerospace and oil executive, who is a member of the conservative Tea Party movement, assumed the directorship of the CIA in January of this year. He succeeded John Brennan, a career CIA officer, who has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration’s attitude to intelligence since he left office in January.

On Wednesday, Pompeo was the keynote speaker at a one-day conference on intelligence, hosted at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Entitled Ethos and Profession of Intelligence, the conference was co-sponsored by George Washington University and the CIA. In his speech, Pompeo outlined his plans to make CIA operations more aggressive and cut back what he repeatedly described as “red tape” at the agency. He based his observations on his opinion that the CIA is slow, not agile enough, and excessively centralized in its decision making. He added that, to better protect American national security, the Agency should engage in more offensive methods of intelligence collection. He went on to state that the most effective way to make the CIA more agile as an organization was to decentralize its decision-making processes. To do so, he said, decisions had to be pushed “to the lowest level possible”, thus allowing CIA station chiefs around the world to “call the shots” on operations. That was especially applicable to “tactical issues”, where the person with the most direct knowledge of the situation “is rarely me or anyone in my senior leadership team”, said Pompeo.

The CIA director went on to say that his plan is to “cut red tape” through various ways. One such way is reducing the numbers of CIA personnel that are required to review and approve intelligence operations, he said. Another way is increasing the number of CIA operations officers stationed abroad, thus placing CIA personnel closer to the agency’s intelligence targets. The goal is to “deploy our people, tools and resources into the heart of the fight”, said Pompeo. The CIA director concluded his remarks by saying he wants to instill a new culture at the Agency, based on the motto: “If you are in a process and you’re not adding value, get out of the way”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 05 October 2017 | Permalink

4 Responses to Trump’s CIA director outlines plans to make agency more aggressive, cut red tape

  1. Pete says:

    Sounds like Pompeo’s ideological zealotry is only matched by his inexperience with intelligence processes.

    “aggressive intelligence operations and combat” may be appropriate in counter-insurgency/counter-terrorism ops in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

    But in peaceful countries the CIA needs the patience and review of steady intelligence collection. This will reduce the risks of embarrassment raised by Congressional inquiries within the US – and will reduce the risks of CIA ops in peaceful countries being exposed abroad.

    The CIA has already and recently been an easy target for exposure – with the ammunition being collected by Russian intelligence-Snowden and even by West European allies (remember Germany’s reaction when an over aggressive CIA operation led to the expulsion of the CIA Station Chief, Berlin). See

    Instead of Pompeo’s aggressive approach – time for a low CIA profile overall may be more in US interests.

  2. Peter Wallerberger says:

    Mr Pompeo is entirely correct in his evaluation and the outcomes he wishes to achieve. I guess it is similar to the ‘reverse pyramid’ head office managerial structure. The concept is brilliant and proven – it will take a brave, strong no nonsense Director too implement it.

    I just hope the well meaning Director realizes that the ‘old guard back at the Farm’ is going to do everything within their power to resist , undermine and circumvent any such radical change(s).

    Follow your goal 110% Mr Pompeo and don’t deviate or be distracted by any Senators that are
    bound to start critiscising your plans or distracting you from achieving the desired outcome(s)

    The major infrastuctural changes you propose are critical not to just the United States, but will also
    directly benefit the security of many other nations.

    Good Luck with your venture !!

  3. Pete says:

    Pompeo’s posturing may certainly be a gift to Putin’s people.

  4. Pat the country lawyer says:

    I think the new ethos is healthy and long overdue. Of course it depends on which side of the railroad tracks one speaks from, whether analysis or ops division(s). The old maxims you are what you eat and you are who you hang with are very very accurate.

    Those who avoid risk in this business are probably in the wrong business. And people aligned with the ancien regime will likely oppose and attempt to undermine the nouveau regime. Count me in with the knuckledraggers.

    Reform of processes is always healthy too btw. Any legitimate business or industry continuously reforms and revises and adjusts and stays nimble. The goal is excellence and efficiency. Serving the “Customer” in the most accurate and efficient and executable fashion possible. And in that way serving to protect the national interests and the American people.

    Process is needed. The right people in that process needed. If you arent going to help and add value, then get out of the way.

    My two cents.

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