Former intelligence chiefs slam Trump for removing officials

Former intelligence chiefs slam Trump for removing officials
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A slate of former intelligence chiefs penned an op-ed in The Washington Post on Friday panning President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE for removing several officials from his administration, saying the development is being overshadowed by the coronavirus outbreak.

The piece, written by nine top former intelligence officials, sought to underscore the threat the removals pose to institutions that are designed to protect the country from foreign and domestic attacks, warning that the country is being put at risk as it dedicates its efforts to battle COVID-19.

“[A]s we collectively fight this deadly disease, the intelligence institutions that help protect us all from current and future threats are also under attack from an insidious enemy: domestic politics. We cannot let the covid-19 pandemic be a cover for the deeply destructive path being pursued by the Trump administration,” the former officials wrote. 

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“Even amid public health concerns, we cannot be distracted from how deeply destructive these removals are to our nation’s safety.” 

Among the more prominent authors are former Directors of National Intelligence Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireFormer intelligence chiefs slam Trump for removing officials Acting director of National Counterterrorism Center fired: report Trump taps new director for National Counterterrorism Center MORE, who left his post last month, John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanFormer intelligence chiefs slam Trump for removing officials Ex-CIA chief calls Trump intel shakeup a 'virtual decapitation' of the intelligence community DOJ attorney looking into whether CIA withheld info during start of Russia probe: NYT MORE and James ClapperJames Robert ClapperFormer intelligence chiefs slam Trump for removing officials Think this coronavirus crisis is bad? The next could be worse — if we don't act now Was President Trump spied on as part of Carter Page wiretapping? MORE as well as former CIA Director Michael Hayden. 

Several of the authors had public or reportedly private clashes with Trump, largely over his governing style and foreign policies. 

The former officials criticized the firing of Russell Travers, a longtime intelligence professional who was dismissed from his position as acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) on Wednesday night. The authors praised Travers as “the epitome of what we strive for in national security.”

The authors warned that the departed officials will be replaced by those “who will undoubtedly know less and who will be more beholden to the intelligence community’s politicized leadership,” a move they said could undermine the nonpartisan advice the president is supposed to receive from the intelligence community.

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“These unceremonious removals send a damaging message across the intelligence community. Every current officer sees that speaking truth to power in this administration is an immediate career-killer. Every young recruit will conclude that joining the intelligence community is little different from signing up for any other politicized element of the federal bureaucracy,” they wrote.

The authors called on Congress to beef up its oversight of the White House to protect the intelligence community from “destructive” removals.

“[T]he gutting of the intelligence community’s experienced professionals is not reform. It is politicization, pure and simple. It is destructive of our nation’s ideals, and it puts us all at risk,” they wrote. “Congress must reinvigorate the strictest of oversight to preserve what is left of the country’s prized, apolitical intelligence community.”