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The Return of US Intelligence

For four years, the Trump administration has undermined the credibility and morale of the US intelligence community, leaving President-elect Joe Biden's national-security team with its work cut out for it. The new leadership must remember what the intelligence rank and file never forgot: words and integrity matter.

ATLANTA – Tradition has it that when less-than-beloved CIA station chiefs are transferred from their posts abroad, their long-suffering staff celebrate with a wheels-up party. If tradition still holds, champagne corks were popping at CIA headquarters when Donald Trump lost his presidential re-election bid to Joe Biden. It is no secret that America’s intelligence services have been in the crosshairs of one of the most ignorant, paranoid, and antagonistic presidents ever to have held the office. Trump wore his distrust of spies and intelligence analysts on his sleeve, right next to his disregard for US national security.

By contrast, as a former vice president and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden is by all accounts a knowledgeable and appreciative consumer of intelligence. Simply by picking up the reins, his administration will go a long way toward restoring a sense of normalcy in the intelligence community (and across the rest of the federal government).

Moreover, Biden has selected a seasoned team whose leading members are already well known to one another and to the intelligence community. In their new roles, they will have to address a wide array of issues. As with all transitions, their inboxes are doubtless already overflowing with advice. But the immediate priority, clearly, is to start repairing the enormous damage that the Trump administration has done to people and relationships in every part of the intelligence community.

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