Ex-CIA chief says Donald Trump is undermining intelligence efforts

Mythili Sampathkumar

A former spy chief has said President Trump is undermining the efforts of intelligence agencies.

Michael Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President George W Bush and National Security Agency director under both he and President Clinton, penned an op-ed in the New York Times on the matter.

Mr Hayden wrote that it is "hard to imagine a more turbulent transition than the current one," commenting that Mr Trump’s tweets using the word "intelligence" in quotes is "a kind of dog whistle" that devalues intelligence gathering efforts.

Accusing former President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 election in a series of tweets was "outrageous", according to Mr Hayden.

He also questioned why the Trump administration would "reflexively and punitively" place blame on 17 agencies and more than 100,000 workers that exist to serve it.

Mr Hayden also criticised the administration’s Executive Order banning travellers from seven majority Muslim countries.

He wrote that there was no evidence that the administration consulted with anyone in the intelligence community or that the travel ban actually "made America less safe."

He emphasised the importance of keeping the intelligence community "apolitical" in order for it to provide the best intelligence it can to both Republican and Democrat presidents.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus claimed that he was "approved" by anonymous intelligence sources to say that the idea of ties between Russia and Mr Trump’s campaign were not true.

Mr Hayden responded to the incident in his op-ed, writing Priebus’ "language was political, emotional and dismissive. It in no way even tried to mirror the precise phrasing of intelligence."

Current CIA head Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats were issued warnings on how they will have to run their organisations with an administration that "questioned their officers’ integrity, has been casual in its use of intelligence and is not above calling on intelligence professionals to provide political cover."

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