Trump weighs dismantling top spy agency: report

Trump weighs dismantling top spy agency: report

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE’s national security team is discussing plans to dismantle the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), an adviser and a former intelligence official consulting with the transition team told The Intercept.


The reports, if true, come a day after the current director of national intelligence, James Clapper, announced his resignation, effective in approximately three months.   

Trump’s transition team is reportedly discussing how to remove the Cabinet-level position and incorporate its responsibilities into the intelligence agencies it currently oversees, according to both sources.

The process will be “long and messy,” the former intelligence official told The Intercept, but Trump’s team is confident it will be successful.

The office — which was formed under former President George W. Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks — has long been a source of friction in the intelligence community, where some see it as unnecessary bureaucracy. 

The ODNI was a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission Report, intended to facilitate smoother information-sharing between the 16 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community. 

But critics have characterized it as lacking sufficient authority to lead the sprawling U.S. intelligence apparatus effectively. The ODNI maintains control of the national intelligence budget, but lacks the power to direct any element of the intelligence community — including hiring and firing personnel — beyond its own staff.

Unwinding the agency would reverse a 2004 law passed by Congress establishing the role.

Trump on Friday morning announced his pick of Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) to lead the CIA but made no announcement for the DNI position. Prior to 2004, the CIA director was the head of the intelligence community.

According to the former senior official who spoke to The Intercept, the transition team is also considering reversing reforms undertaken in the CIA under current Director John Brennan. In 2015, the spy agency embarked on sweeping reforms intended to expand the focus on digital espionage. 

The overhaul created hybridized “mission centers” that teamed up analysts with operators. The move earned praise from Clapper and other Obama administration officials, but raised concerns amongst critics that it would undercut human intelligence.  

The Trump transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.