CIA officials express 'extraordinary frustration' over Trump's 'lack of comprehension' of US intelligence
One of the complaints that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had about President Donald Trump was that he doesn’t like to read and isn’t fond of absorbing new information. And according to a new article by the Washington Post’s Greg Miller, there are some people in the U.S. intelligence community who share that view of the president.
A U.S. intelligence official who spoke to Miller on condition of anonymity asserted that “there is extraordinary frustration” with Trump in the intelligence community. The CIA and other agencies, the official told Miller, continue to devote enormous “time, energy and resources” to ensuring that the president receives quality information—but Trump’s attitude makes “all of that a waste.”
Miller points out that in recent weeks, the most publicized example of Trump being dismissive of CIA intelligence has been his view of CIA Director Gina Haspel’s evaluation of Saudi Crown Mohammed bin Salman: according to Haspel, U.S. intelligence overwhelmingly shows that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed on direct orders from the Saudi crown prince—an assertion that Trump has rejected. But foreign policy with Saudi Arabia, according to Miller, is only one of the areas in which Trump can be dismissive of the intelligence community.
Trump, Miller explains, has concluded that because of his administration’s negotiations, there is “no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” But Miller quickly adds that “there is no such view” among intelligence analysts.
Miller notes that there are some areas in which “Trump’s views are more closely aligned with those of the intelligence community”—for example, “Chinese aggression in Asia and online and the threat posed by Islamist terror groups.” Miller stresses, however, that “for every area of agreement, there are examples of significant disparity.”
Trump has bragged about terminating the Obama Administration’s nuclear arms agreement with Iran, insisting that he has made the Iranian government less of a threat. But Miller points out that according to the CIA, “Iran’s religious rulers remain firmly entrenched.”
Miller also quotes an anonymous official as saying that Trump’s favorable views on Russian President Vladimir Putin have been an ongoing concern for the CIA. According to the official, “there was a gasp” at the CIA when Trump was so favorable to Putin at the Helsinki Summit last summer.
Miller concludes his article by quoting an anonymous official who expressed frustration over intelligence briefings with the president.
“Either it doesn’t resonate, or there is a lack of comprehension,” the official complained to Miller. “You feel frustration and helplessness, in a way. What else can you do?”