Donald Trump Plans Revamp of Top U.S. Spy Agency
– Wall Street Journal
“President-elect Donald Trump, a harsh critic of U.S. intelligence agencies, is working with top advisers on a plan that would restructure and pare back the nation’s top spy agency, people familiar with the planning said.
The move is prompted by his belief that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has become bloated and politicized, these people said.
The planning comes as Mr. Trump has leveled a series of social-media attacks in recent months and the past few days against U.S. intelligence agencies, dismissing and mocking their assessment that Russia stole emails from Democratic groups and individuals and then provided them to WikiLeaks for publication in an effort to help Mr. Trump win the White House.
“The view from the Trump team is the intelligence world has become completely politicized,” said the individual, who is close to the Trump transition. “They all need to be slimmed down. The focus will be on restructuring the agencies and how they interact.”
Mr. Trump tweeted: “Julian Assange said ‘a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta’—why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!”
Mr. Trump has drawn criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and from intelligence and law-enforcement officials for praising Russian President Vladimir Putin, for criticizing U.S. intelligence agencies, and now for embracing Mr. Assange, long viewed with disdain by government officials and lawmakers.
“We have two choices: some guy living in an embassy on the run from the law…who has a history of undermining American democracy and releasing classified information to put our troops at risk, or the 17 intelligence agencies sworn to defend us,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.). “I’m going with them.”
But for Mr. Trump and some supporters, the accusations that Russia hacked Democrats are seen as an effort to delegitimize his election.
Since the November election, Mr. Trump has published close to 250 Twitter posts. Of those, 11 have focused on Russia or the election-related cyberattacks. In each of those tweets, Mr. Trump either has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin—last month calling him “very smart”—or disparaged the investigation into the hacks.
This stands in sharp contrast to his posts on other issues and countries, such as North Korea or China, where his views on national-security risks line up more squarely with U.S. spy agencies.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was established in 2004 in large part to boost coordination between intelligence agencies following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Many Republicans have proposed cutting the DNI before, but this has proven hard to do, in part because its mission is focused on core national security issues, such as counterterrorism, nuclear proliferation and counterintelligence.
“The management and integration that DNI focuses on allows agencies like the CIA to better hone in on its own important work,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence panel, who believes dismantling the DNI could lead to national security problems.
Mr. Trump’s advisers say he has long been skeptical of the CIA’s accuracy, and the president-elect often mentions faulty intelligence in 2002 and 2003 concerning Iraq’s weapons programs. But his public skepticism about the Russia assessments has jarred analysts accustomed to more cohesion with the White House.
Top officials at U.S. intelligence agencies, as well as Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, have said Russia orchestrated the computer attacks on the Democratic Party last year. President Barack Obama ordered the intelligence agencies to produce a report on the hacking operation, and he is expected to be presented with the findings on Thursday.
Russia has long denied any involvement in the hacking operation, though Mr. Putin has said releasing the stolen emails was a public service.
The heads of the CIA, Federal Bureau of Investigation and DNI James Clapper are scheduled to brief Mr. Trump on the findings on Friday. Mr. Trump tweeted late Tuesday that this meeting had been delayed and suggested that the agencies still needed time to “build a case” against Russia. White House officials said Mr. Trump will be briefed on the hacking report as soon as it is ready.
White House officials have been frustrated by Mr. Trump’s confrontations with intelligence officials. “It’s appalling,” an official said. “No president has ever taken on the CIA and come out looking good.”
Among those helping lead Mr. Trump’s plan to revamp the intelligence agencies is his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who had served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency until he was pushed out by Mr. Clapper and others in 2014. Also involved in the planning is Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), whom Mr. Trump selected as CIA director.
Gen. Flynn and Mr. Pompeo share Mr. Trump’s view that the intelligence community’s position—that Russia tried to help his campaign—is an attempt to undermine his victory or say he didn’t win, the official close to the transition said.
Gen. Flynn will lead the White House’s National Security Council, giving him broad influence in military and intelligence decisions throughout the government. He is also a believer in rotating senior intelligence agencies into the field and reducing headquarters staff.”
….Continue reading @ Wall Street Journal
Best Quote from the WSJ Comment Section: