Who Could Be Trump’s CIA Director? — Last Man Standing? (UPDATE 17 November 2016)

“I’d take the job if Mr. Trump decided that someone with my kind of background and experience is what he wanted in the job (of CIA director). You know, this is a decision that Mr. Trump and the transition team will make and I’ll just kind of wait until they make that decision.”

Pete Hoekstra  — Former Republican Michigan congressman

“Very organized process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions. I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!”

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2016

 

John Brennan

John Brennan

Who will become the next CIA Director? Better late than never, it now appears that, after a week that was described as the “beginning of Trump’s team meltdown”, a name has finally emerged: Pete Hoekstra.

“Mr. Trump takes over at a time of diverse and complex threats to American security. The new C.I.A. director will have to decide whether to undo a C.I.A. “modernization” plan put in place this year by Director John O. Brennan, and how to proceed if the president-elect orders a resumption of harsh interrogation tactics — which critics have described as torture — for terrorism suspects.”

NYT 14 November 2016

“Confusion is the norm for transitions but there are some unusual features here, because they’re trying to make some statements.”

Philip D. Zelikow — Former director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia

“Trump’s first order of business, therefore, is to take control, firmly, by dissolving Homeland Security and cashiering the DNI, a jolly figure of comic relief named James Clapper. [Clapper submitted his resignation on 17 November 2016.]

Another firing that would do wonders for morale is the prompt sacking of CIA Director John Brennan, widely derided as a careerist, yes-man and Islamophile.”  [New York Post Nov. 12 2016]

It is very fine and well to “sack” John Brennan assuming, of course, that you have an able and willing candidate to take the helm of the Agency.

And at this point, things don’t look too good.

Trump’s transition efforts are being hobbled by infighting, retribution, and a wariness among people with experience in public service to help the incoming administration succeed. It is becoming apparent that the only hope for preserving a bare semblance of order, competence, and ethics in the new government will be if a small number of Republican senators essentially dictate acceptable figures to fill senior ranks of Trump’s administration. [NewRepublic]

UPDATE 15 November 2016

A few rumors .. First, a couple of ‘new’ names have been leaked to the media. Second, Rodriguez stated that he is not interested… Third, it appears that both Giuliani and Flynn are ‘strongly’ rumored for the Attorney general and National Security Advisor post respectively.

UPDATE 16 November 2016

It is already very very messy. Ugly messy! Mike Rogers is out because Trump’s son-in-law does not like… one of his friend! Giuliani may have some problems and there are very serious issues with Michael Flynn. Finally, two names have been added to the list of potential candidates: Army Lieutenant General Ronald L. Burgess Jr. and Devin Gerald Nunes.

UPDATE 17 November 2016

The choice of Pete Hoestra is a bit weird. And not so because Hoekstra is a foreign-born politician. This has happened before. QUIZ: Can you name the only foreign-born director of the CIA? (DCI and/or D/CIA)? Here is the answer. In truth, the choice is odd for the following reasons.

For one, it goes against Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” as Hoekstra is a very busy lobbyist with well-known interests in countries such as Belarus, Turkey (Kurds) and Libya.

Second, While Trump has been very vocal about the Iraq Intelligence Fiasco (Not an unreasonable stance per se) , Hoekstra is known for having produced some of the worst analysis reports on WMDs.

Third, it is getting VERY worrisome. With folks like either Giuliani or Bolton as Secretary of State, Mike Flynn as National Security Advisor and Hoekstra at the CIA, one can safely expect the worse… (CNN today 17 Nov 2016) said that Trump intends to pick Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to be his National Security Advisor)

GOSINT — Despite 52 GOP seats in the Senate, the confirmation of these people (Giuliani, Bolton, Hoekstra, Flynn)  may not be a ‘walk in the park’… This is the kind of situation where just three good – Republican – men could seriously change the future of the planet. (Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), member of the Foreign Relations Committee, declared that he is inclined to oppose Bolton or Giuliani if either is nominated for secretary of state. )


The Candidates

Let us look again at all the eight candidates rumored so far. Keep in mind that the ‘agenda’ of the Agency is going to be VERY different very soon. (17/11/2016: Other names have surfaced in the last 24 hours, but I don’t think it is necessary to discuss tem at this point.)

Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Interrogation techniques are topics that come to mind… We will talk about these issues soon.

Without a doubt, this already difficult job is going to be even harder to do… Good luck to the man (or woman?) who get picked by Trump!

Rudy Giuliani

guliani

Former mayor of New York City. Rudy Giuliani served as mayor of New York City from 1994-2001 and has acted as an informal adviser to the Trump campaign.

Top contender for the Sec. of State (but there are issues due to his financial ties to foreign countries)

Probably the top choice for the post of Attorney General (Even more so if Trump decides to prosecute Clinton…) However, Giuliani has said that he is NOT interested in that post…

“Giuliani appeared to take himself out of the running for the position. “I won’t be attorney general,” he said at a Wall Street Journal event.”    [ WP   ]

UNLIKELY (Sec. of State , Attorney General)

Mike Rogers

rogers

CNN National Security Commentator.

A congressman for 14 years, Rogers is also a former FBI agent.

He was Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

UNLIKELY BUT not rumored for another post at this point…

YOU ARE FIRED! Rogers is out. Here is a quick explanation.

Rogers was among at least four transition officials purged this week, apparently because of perceived ties to Christie.

Tensions between Christie and Kushner date back more than a decade. In 2005, Christie, then the U.S. attorney in New Jersey, led the successful prosecution of Charles Kushner, a prominent real estate developer and philanthropist, who was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion and witness tampering.

Now, Jared Kushner –Charles Kushner’s son and a key player in Trump’s transition team–  is married to Ivanka Trump. The knives are out. Bloody cool!

In an interview after announcing his departure from the team, Rogers said: “I still want them to be successful. I want them to be able to get a handle on the national security infrastructure of the United States and get it in the right direction. I still think it can happen.”

Not the whole story…

Rogers led an investigation into the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks by militants on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The probe dismissed many of the conspiracy theories that had been circulated by critics of Clinton, who was then secretary of state.

Trump’s team viewed the investigation as a whitewash, according to one source familiar with the operation.

Some current U.S. intelligence officials worried that Rogers’ departure would mean Trump was leaning toward more confrontational hardliners to lead his foreign policy team. [FORTUNE]

Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn

flynn

Former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency

Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired as of August 7.

Flynn would probably look much more at home in the post of Secretary of Defense. HOWEVER: He would need a waiver from Congress because of a seven-year rule for retired officers. (The last time it happened is when President Harry Truman appointed retired Gen. George C. Marshall to the post in 1950.)

Flynn also served as Assistant Director of National Intelligence

SERIOUS ISSUES

Flynn forced out of the DIA after clashing with superiors over his allegedly chaotic management style

He has potentially problematic connections to foreign governments. (He accepted money for appearing at a lavish gala with Putin in Moscow last year. His consulting firm has financial ties to Turkey… which perhaps explains why he said that he would extradite Fethullah Gullen…)

Support for Flynn has waned as it has become evident that “he has some confirmation-type problems.”

Nevertheless…

BREAKING: President-elect Trump intends to pick Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to be his National Security Advisor, a source familiar tells @NBCNews 4:21 AM – 17 Nov 2016

UNLIKELY (confirmation-type problems) But he remains very influential in Trump’s inner circle.

NO longer available for the post: National Security Advisor

Jose Rodriguez

rodriguez

Career intelligence officer and former head of CIA National Clandestine Service (NCS)

Known one of the masterminds behind the infamous George W. Bush torture and rendition program… and for his role in destroying the evidence.

Rodriguez hopes Donald Trump reinstates now-illegal interrogation methods, including waterboarding and sleep deprivation, when questioning terrorist suspects.

Rodriguez said he has no interest in returning to Washington despite speculation that Trump is considering him to lead the CIA.

Not interested (Really?)

Pete Hoekstra

pete-hoekstra-cropped-proto-custom_2

His name as recently mentioned by the NYT and CNN  Politics

former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Hoekstra represented Michigan for 18 years on Capitol Hill.

Since leaving office he has run unsuccessfully for both governor and senator.

Current job: Pete Hoekstra is the Shillman Senior Fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism and the former Chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. He is the author of “Architects of Disaster: The Destruction of Libya.”

His view on the current status of US Intel in 2 sentences:

“After losing [HUMINT] capabilities [Because of Clinton/Obama] in Egypt, Libya, and Syria, recognizing the limitations and reliability of Saudi Arabia and Qatar due to their ties to ISIS, and the complex and arduous relationships that the U.S. has with Turkey and Iraq, the outlook is grave.”

“It will be important for the next President and the American people to know of the limited resources and information that will be available as decisions are made. The loss of HUMINT will practically guarantee that more “mistakes” will be made.”

VERY LIKELY

Frances Townsend

frances-townsend

Former homeland security adviser under George W. Bush

Her name was first mentioned by a NYT guessing piece based on “information from the Trump transition team, lawmakers, lobbyists and Washington experts.”

This is the wild card…

Trump made it clear that he does not like the CIA (High cost, low quality of analysis, Iraq fiasco…). And he sure likes women in top posts around his organization.

If Trump intends to cut a few heads — and perhaps more — she may well be the right choice.

POSSIBLE but UNLIKELY although possibly REVOLUTIONARY!

Ronald L. Burgess Jr.

ronald-l-burgess-jr

Lieutenant General Ronald Lee Burgess, Jr., USA (born September 16, 1952) is a retired United States Army Lieutenant General.

His last military assignment was as the 17th Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and Commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (JFCC-ISR).

Prior to that, he was Director of the Intelligence Staff in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. [WIKIPEDIA]

NOT LIKELY

Devin Gerald Nunes

nunes

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chairman

Now (Nov 16 2016) the top contender for CIA director as Congressman Mike Rogers was fired from Trump’s transition team.

Devin Nunes is a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s national security policies, calling for stronger measures, for example, to fight ISIS, support for Ukraine and other Eastern European countries threatened by Russian actions in the region, and efforts to stop Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. Nunes is also a prominent critic of the administration’s response to the Benghazi terror attack. [WIKIPEDIA]

Nunes says that he wants to remain in Congress because Republicans now control the presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

NOT LIKELY … Nunes wants to remain in Congress

The Meltdown has Begun? (16 November 2016)

Increasingly, among the shards are more mainline Republicans in the national security field. In an angry Twitter post Tuesday, Eliot Cohen, a leading voice of opposition to Trump during the campaign who had advised those interested in administration jobs to take them, abruptly changed his mind, saying the transition “will be ugly.”

“It became clear to me that they view jobs as lollipops, things you give out to good boys and girls, instead of the sense that actually what you’re trying to do is recruit the best possible talent to fill the most important, demanding, lowest-paying executive jobs in the world,” Cohen said. [Washington Post]

ANALYSIS

The most likely next Director of the CIA is Pieter (Pete) Hoekstra.

“Trump needs to have someone that he can have total confidence in at the CIA.”

“I really worked hard on his campaign. Knowing him, knowing what he stands for and knowing what he wants to get done in America, I would be thrilled to be part of the process of making America great again. Both domestically and internationally.”

UPDATE 18/11/2016

Trump’s team has chosen Mike Pompeo.

RELATED POST: CIA Director Mike Pompeo –Who Is Who in World Intelligence and Security Agencies?

REFERENCES

Who could be in Trump’s Cabinet?— November 11, 2016

This Can’t End Well: Serious Conflict Between Trump, CIA ‘Almost Inevitable’ — Sputnik International November 12 2016

Trump predicted to tap mastermind of Bush torture program as CIA chief

Hoekstra: I’d take CIA director job if offered — POLITICO

Hoekstra, potential CIA pick, has long foreign, domestic lobbying resume — POLITICO

 

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