Rescuing US Intelligence
By consistently demonizing America's intelligence agencies and undercutting their missions, US President Donald Trump has sacrificed US national security for the sake of his own political interests. Given today's global threats, a President-elect Joe Biden would need to make this the first mess he cleans up.
ATLANTA – With the US presidential election barely a month away, former Vice President Joe Biden and his advisers are devising his national-security policy and creating shortlists to fill the cabinet’s ranking positions in the event that he defeats President Donald Trump. But while presidential hopefuls traditionally have focused first on contenders to run the state, defense, and treasury departments, this time is different. With the intelligence community in an increasingly perilous state, Biden should choose a top spymaster before making any other personnel decisions.
It is no secret that the United States faces a wide range of challenges abroad. Over the last four years, Trump has undermined the standing, standards, and strengths of the agencies that are charged with ensuring the country’s security. A new director of national intelligence will have to repair the damage and root out the festering corruption that Trump’s appointees have sown across the agencies. This will be no small task.
While the sheer scale of the harm done under Trump is anyone’s guess, his unrelenting attacks on US spies and analysts have cowed the agencies and undermined their missions. Since taking office, Trump has consistently disparaged the intelligence community and its work, especially the finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election on his behalf. And while the Kremlin’s election meddling has continued, those conducting Trump’s daily intelligence briefs no longer bother to raise the subject, lest they provoke his ire. And recent reports that CIA director Gina Haspel is choking off intelligence on Russia’s interference in the 2020 election to avoid antagonizing Trump suggest that intelligence leaders’ political subservience is degrading US national security as well as the integrity of its government agencies. It is safe to assume that those briefing the president are also eliding other active threats, such as those emanating from North Korea, where Trump’s failed summitry has left in place a ticking nuclear time bomb.