- The former CIA chief of Russian operations railed against what he described as “inappropriate public criticisms” from President Donald Trump in a Washington Post opinion column.
- Steven Hall, a former CIA Senior Intelligence Service member, openly criticised Trump’s recent comments against senior intelligence officers and their annual report on worldwide threats.
- Hall writes in his column that “it’s not hard to wonder why Trump continues his unprofessional personal attacks on the intelligence community.”
- His comments come after a public testimony where intelligence chiefs at times contradicted Trump’s optimistic assessment of numerous national security issues.
The former CIA chief of Russian operations and longtime international station chief railed against what he described as “inappropriate public criticisms” from President Donald Trump in an opinion column published by The Washington Post on Monday.
Steven Hall, a former official in the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, openly criticised Trump’s recent comments against senior intelligence officers and their annual report on worldwide threats against the US.
“Trump’s public criticism of his senior intelligence leadership will damage morale in the US intelligence community, as well as the relationships our security services have with their foreign counterparts,” Hall wrote in the column.
Following last week’s public testimony in which intelligence chiefs at times contradicted Trump’s optimistic assessment on national security, the president harangued the senior officials for their “extremely passive and naive” views via Twitter.
During his testimony, National Intelligence director Dan Coats warned that IS militants were “intent on resurging” and IS had “returned to its guerrilla-warfare roots,” despite Trump claiming the group had been defeated – a purported development that prompted his decision to withdraw US ground troops from Syria.
“Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school,” Trump tweetedWednesday.
The next day, Trump published a photo of him surrounded by Dan Coats, National Security Adviser John Bolton, CIA director Gina Haspel; and claimed the news media misrepresented their public remarks.
“I value our intelligence community,” Trump said on Twitter. “Happily, we had a very good meeting, and we are all on the same page!”
Hall writes in his column that “it’s not hard to wonder why Trump continues his unprofessional personal attacks on the intelligence community.”
“Trump appointed each of these officials, and, indeed, he has spoken highly of them in the past,” Hall wrote. “Until, that is, they provided facts he did not want to hear regarding several of his overseas pet projects for which he is claiming (largely without evidence) great success.”
“Refusing to accept bad news is a significant flaw for a president, or any leader; publicly throwing the messenger under the bus is even worse,” he added.
Hall qualified his written remarks by noting it was not “unhealthy” for a sitting US president to disagree with his intelligence agencies. Prior to the fateful Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, former President John F. Kennedy disagreed with the intelligence community and changed the landing site from Trinidad after believing it compromised the US’s deniability for its involvement.
But the former CIA official differentiated Kennedy’s decision from Trump’s, who he claimed was politicizing the intelligence community’s apolitical duties and is “making us all less safe.”
“In this case, Trump reacted as if the intelligence community’s threat assessment was a threat to him,” Hall wrote. “Presidents are certainly entitled to their own policies, but they are not, as the saying goes, entitled to their own facts.”
Hall, who retired from the CIA in 2015, worked in Russia during a contentious period in US-Russian relations. He previously expressed concern with the president’s interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin in an op-ed published in 2018.
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