Trump’s intel pick shows a ‘disinterest’ in national intelligence: foreign affairs expert

Trump’s intel pick shows a ‘disinterest’ in national intelligence: foreign affairs expert
By US Consulate Munich -, Public Domain,

President Donald Trump has often been criticized for prioritizing loyalty and obedience over expertise, and a recent example is his decision to appoint Richard Grenell (U.S. ambassador to Germany) as acting director of national intelligence. Grenell has zero intel experience, but he’s a strident Trump loyalist. And Joshua Rovner, an associate professor at American University’s School of International Service, critically analyzes the Grenell pick in an article for Lawfare.

“A combative partisan, Grenell is well known for feuding with opponents on social media and in person,” Rovner explains. “To critics, the decision to put a political operative in charge of the nation’s intelligence community is a signal that the president will bend its analysis to suit his needs.”

Trump, Rovner adds, “may be especially interested in stifling intelligence on Russian meddling if he fears that Democrats will use it against him in the election. Promoting Grenell could be a sign that he is unwilling to brook any dissent from intelligence and is fixing the facts in advance.”

Picking Grenell, according to Rovner, might signal Trump’s “disinterest” in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

“Trump is treating the post of director of national intelligence as akin to an ambassadorship that can be safely doled out to a political ally,” Rovner writes. “Notably, Grenell will not step down from his ambassadorial role while serving in his new capacity. If this is the case, officials at the ODNI may view the move as a sign that the president views them as irrelevant, not that he is trying to manipulate their work.”

Trump has not proposed Grenell as a permanent intel chief. One Republican the president has proposed as a possible permanent person for the position is Sen. Doug Collins of Georgia.

“Many intelligence professionals will surely be worried about Grenell’s appointment, no matter Trump’s motivation,” Rovner asserts. “If the comments of retired officials are any indication, career officers will probably rankle at the choice of a political operative with no intelligence experience.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.