David Ignatius: “The CIA is entering a danger zone.”

“If the ghosts who inhabit the walls of the CIA could talk, they would tell Director Mike Pompeo to be careful. The agency is entering a danger zone where a White House in turmoil wants the CIA to take aggressive action overseas but hasn’t developed the clear strategy or political support needed to sustain it.”

David Ignatius

CIA Director Mike Pompeo at the 2017 Aspen Security Forum

American journalist David R. Ignatius is best known for his writing based upon his interest in foreign affairs and his knowledge of intelligence operations. In a recent opinion piece, he sends a clear warning message to CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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From his conversations with a half-dozen CIA veterans who served in Republican and Democratic administrations, Ignatius believes that the Agency has three major issues.

Politicization of Intelligence — Intelligence today is politicized, perhaps more than at any time in our history. President Trump outrageously likened intelligence professionals to Nazis and regularly describes intelligence estimates of the Russian threat as “fake news” or a “witch hunt.” Senior ex-spooks, not surprisingly, have fought back. In the process, the CIA is becoming a political football.

Lack of a clear Strategy — The Trump administration has failed to make clear strategic decisions. Trump’s policies on Syria, Russia, Iran and China are a hodgepodge of conflicting goals and unresolved issues. Meanwhile, the president keeps pushing the agency to come up with options. Historically, this is where the CIA gets in trouble.

Administration in disarray —  Finally, and most important, the administration Pompeo serves is in disarray. The president is trying to bad-mouth his attorney general into resigning, and he may plan to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III next. The country needs steadiness and independence from the CIA.

Ignatius also offers a few words of advice. He suggests that Pompeo should reflect on his institutional and constitutional obligations, as well as presidential ones.

Richard Helms, perhaps the most astute director in the CIA’s history, was so wary of getting involved in policy debates that it’s said he excused himself from presidential briefings once he had delivered the intelligence. (…) I hope Pompeo takes a moment to consult his predecessor.

About David Ignatius

David R. Ignatius, is an American journalist and novelist. He is an associate editor and columnist for The Washington Post. He also co-hosts PostGlobal, an online discussion of international issues at Washingtonpost.com, with Fareed Zakaria. [Wikipedia]

Ignatius’s novels have also been praised for their realism; his first novel, Agents of Innocence, was at one point described by the CIA on its website as “a novel but not fiction”.

His 2007 novel Body of Lies was adapted into a film by director Ridley Scott. It starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has acquired the rights to Ignatius’s seventh novel, The Increment. The Director, a spy thriller about a new CIA director and cyber-espionage, is his latest novel.

David Ignatius on the key questions facing Trump

REFERENCES

The CIA is entering a danger zone. Here’s the map. — Washington Post

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David Ignatius: “The CIA is entering a danger zone.”

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