'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
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Monday, February 13, 2017
John Schindler - The Spy Revolt Against Trump
... How things are heating
up between the White House and the spooks is evidenced by a new report that the CIA has denied a security
clearance to one of Flynn’s acolytes. Rob Townley, a former Marine intelligence
officer selected to head up the NSC’s Africa desk, was denied a clearance to
see Sensitive Compartmented Information (which is required to have access to
SIGINT in particular).
Why Townley’s SCI was turned down isn’t clear—it could
be over personal problems or foreign ties—but the CIA’s stand has been
privately denounced by the White House, which views this as a vendetta against
Flynn. That the Townley SCI denial was reportedly endorsed by Mike Pompeo, the
new CIA director selected by Trump himself, only adds to the pain.
There is more
consequential IC pushback happening, too. Our spies have never liked Trump’s
lackadaisical attitude toward the President’s Daily Brief, the most sensitive
of all IC documents, which the new commander-in-chief has received haphazardly.
The president has frequently blown off the PDB altogether, tasking Flynn with
condensing it into a one-page summary with no more than nine bullet-points.
Some in the IC are relieved by this, but there are pervasive concerns that the
president simply isn’t paying attention to intelligence.
In light of this, and
out of worries about the White House’s ability to keep secrets, some of our spy
agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office. Why risk
your most sensitive information if the president may ignore it anyway? A senior
National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding
back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, in an unprecedented move.
For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only,
containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however,
NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best
Since NSA provides something
like 80 percent of the actionable intelligence in our government,
what’s being kept from the White House may be very significant indeed. However,
such concerns are widely shared across the IC, and NSA doesn’t appear to be the
only agency withholding intelligence from the administration out of security
What’s going on was
explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that
“since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,”
meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room
in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence
briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the
official added in wry frustration.
None of this has
happened in Washington before. A White House with unsettling links to Moscow
wasn’t something anybody in the Pentagon or the Intelligence Community even
considered a possibility until a few months ago. Until Team Trump clarifies its
strange relationship with the Kremlin, and starts working on its professional
honesty, the IC will approach the administration with caution and concern.
warned the Trump administration not to go to war with the nation’s
spies, and here’s why. This is a risky situation, particularly since President
Trump is prone to creating crises foreign and domestic with his incautious
tweets. In the event of a serious international crisis of the sort which
eventually befalls almost every administration, the White House will need the
best intelligence possible to prevent war, possibly even nuclear war. It may
not get the information it needs in that hour of crisis, and for that it has
nobody to blame but itself… read more: