Danger from Trump’s Distrust of CIA

President-elect Trump’s distrust of the U.S. intelligence community – made worse by unproven CIA claims that Russia secretly tried to aid his election – could limit the value of daily intel briefings, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

“I don’t have to be told—you know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.”

That’s how President-elect Trump explained in an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News his intention not to receive daily intelligence briefings as president. He evidently has a major misconception about the content of such briefings. Obviously it would be a waste of the president’s, and everyone else’s, time if the briefings consisted of the same thing in the same words every single day. But they don’t.

President-elect Donald Trump. (Photo credit: donaldjtrump.com)

Trump has largely declined the opportunities for intelligence briefings that most every other president-elect has taken advantage of, so the “same thing, same words” misconception evidently is a preconceived notion that he somehow arrived at, rather than anything based on experience.

Part of Trump’s explanation is that he delegates to subordinates the role of receiving briefings. He told Wallace that “my generals” — an interesting formulation — are receiving briefings, as is Mike Pence. Perhaps the flow of not just information but decision-making in the Trump White House will lead the intelligence agencies to conclude that Prime Minister Pence is the customer most worth meeting with anyway. But the most important bucks will still have to stop at the president’s desk.

Although keeping the president up-to-date on current developments is certainly a central aspect of intelligence briefings to the president, it is by no means the only important function they serve. Another one concerns what they communicate to the intelligence agencies about the president’s concerns, objectives, questions, and knowledge gaps. What the agencies learn from those interactions constitutes valuable guidance in keeping their work relevant to the needs of the president and his administration.

An additional important function is to sensitize the president and his senior subordinates to looming problems (or opportunities) that are not on their plate right now but are likely to be on their plate a week, a month, or a year from now.

Anticipating Threats

A major task expected of the intelligence agencies — but usually recognized explicitly only in the wake of some failure or disaster — is to anticipate threats before almost anyone else does. The agencies are not expected to sit back and wait for policymakers to ask them questions. When questions do get asked, formulating a response gets high priority, but most of the work done by intelligence agencies is self-initiated. It is work needed to identify troublesome trends and potential problems overseas and to highlight them before the president or other senior consumers are sufficiently aware of them even to start asking questions.

CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency’s headquarters. (U.S. government photo)

Another part of Trump’s comments to Wallace suggested a failure to understand this function. His words are jumbled, but he seemed to be saying that at certain times amid “very fluid situations” he would be willing to hear what the intelligence officers say about what has changed.

There are two problems with this approach. One is that troublesome trends and looming problems are often not a matter of what has changed today from yesterday. Some of the biggest problems that will be on the policymakers’ plates next month or next year, and that they had better be prepared to deal with, are more a matter of gradually emerging threats. The other problem is that the president is never going to ask for a non-regular briefing if he hasn’t first been made aware of the significance of the topic to be briefed.

An example of a subject in which what the president most needs to understand is the nature of an emerging long-term threat rather than what has changed from yesterday or last week is international terrorism. The president isn’t the one who will be directing the response to a specific, real-time terrorist plot — a principle misunderstood in much of the commentary about an intelligence briefing that President George W. Bush received in the month before 9/11. Rather, he must set bigger and broader counterterrorist policies that will last for months and years.

Somewhat ironically, the recent story about Russian hacking and interference in the election that has given Trump the presidency is another example. This is a very important subject, where the president needs all the edification he can get from the intelligence agencies about Russian motives and objectives. That’s what is most important to understand — not what has “changed” lately and what the Russians are doing with their latest hack.

The sort of broad understanding that dialogue with the intelligence agencies assists is all the more important with this president, who otherwise gets his information from “the shows” and doesn’t find time to read books.

And it is the questions that the intelligence output raises in the minds of the president and other policymakers, at least as much as the answers that intelligence agencies give to questions asked of them, that nurtures the understanding. A frightening thing about Donald Trump as president is not just how much he doesn’t know, but how he doesn’t seem to know how much he doesn’t know.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.) 

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46 comments for “Danger from Trump’s Distrust of CIA

  1. Vincent Castigliola
    December 22, 2016 at 10:40 am

    No doubt the president needs to be well informed. However is less information worse than untrustworthy information?
    From what I’ve read thanks to Ray McGovern, the merger of CIA operations with analysis has corrupted the reliability of CIA analysis. Their recent performance regarding Russian hacking seems to confirm that loss of impartiality and credibility.

    • dave3200
      December 22, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Like numerous others in the “intelligence” sector, the CIA has been leaning in favor of two objectives:
      1) Representing the interests of the military-industrial complex. The need to keep them wealthy.
      2) Providing the President with information and opinions that support his political narrative.
      We must all admit, they have done a good job of achieving their objectives. Fortunately, Trump sees through such deception and isn’t buying it.

    • December 23, 2016 at 12:03 am

      Brad Friedman of KPFK/Pacifica radio asked Ray yesterday to discuss the significance of President-elect Donald Trump’s reluctance to speak with appropriate reverence and awe about the President’s Daily Brief. Ray explains his own two-stage reaction to Trump’s remarks; Ray’s comment may surprise. He also explains the relative importance of the PDB and NIEs (National Intelligence Estimates) and the roles each play in the intelligence cycle.

      As for Trump, think about it: If you were he, would you submit yourself daily to briefers working for “honorable men” like CIA Director John Brennan, who has gotten malleable media and perfunctory pundits to promote the canard that Trump owes his election victory to Russian hackers? Brad Friedman also asks Ray why he is so sure that the line that Brennan’s anonymous minions are promoting is “a crock.” (There is a lot more on that in the interviews and articles already posted on raymcgovern.com. )

      http://bradblog.com/?p=11971
      December 21, 2016 (33 minutes – from minute 19:15 to 52:00)

      • evelync
        December 24, 2016 at 12:29 pm

        Thanks Ray for linking to your interview with Brad Friedman:
        http://bradblog.com/audio/BradCast_BradFriedman_SinclairTrumpDeal_RayMcGovern_RussiaHacksPDB_122116.mp3
        Brad Friedman’s whole program is worth listening to.
        Although, Ray’s segment starts at minute 19. And Ray is introduced and interviewed starting at minute 21.
        Ray – I don’t understand why the media didn’t pick up on this:
        As I’ve mentioned here before, in late 2002 or early 2003, I heard/saw then CIA Director George Tenet on CPAN asked during a Congressional Cttee hearing about whether Iraq indeed had WMD.
        Tenet answered – we don’t know whether Saddam Hussein has WMD or not. But! We believe he is “well-contained” and won’t use any he has UNLESS we invade and then he’d use what he has against our soldiers.
        At a Town Hall meeting here in Houston (held by my congressman at the time, John Culberson) that I attended ‘cause I suspected that he had been sent out by the Bush administration to hold a dog and pony show to sell the war I heard Culberson say to his audience that:
        George W Bush knows things that he cannot share for national security reasons blah blah blah….
        During the Q&A I asked:
        Does the CIA Director know what the president knows? Culberson said “yes”
        So I mentioned what Tenet had said before the Congressional CTTEE.
        By this time Culberson had a goon standing over me counting down my time with the microphone.
        As I was finishing with what Tenet had said (well before we all watched the cynical aluminum tubes lies at the UN) Culberson started screaming at me – “don’t you ever make a statement here – you may only ask a question”.
        Culberson has George H W Bush’s Congressional seat.
        So these guys knowingly go out to sell a policy.
        Years later in another town hall he said he shouldn’t have yelled at me…..
        So I asked him whether he was trying to get us to make the same mistake on Iran.
        There are a lot of people in Houston who are willing to challenge this thinking.
        I don’t remember if Brad Friedman mentioned that 90.1 is Pacifica radio in Houston.

        Later I called into Sam Donaldson’s radio show to mention what Tenet had testified to.
        Donaldson surprised me by saying – yeah, I had watched that testimony.
        Say what???

        Why would that not have given people in Washington pause, including Kerry, Edwards and Clinton who voted “yes” on the AUMF when they knew or should have known (I called their offices to tell them but couldn’t get through to Clnton) that the AUMF votes were intended in advance to give Bush Cheney cover for their war.

        They are so damn transparent.

        • December 24, 2016 at 9:37 pm

          The knew better; they did it anyway — without UN approval, and with no immediate threat to the U.S.

          The attack on Iraq fits the Nuremberg definition of the “supreme international crime,” a war of aggression. The chief prosecutor, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson told the Tribunal something highly significant — and relevant. He looked at the Nazis in the dock and said, “You are not on trial because you lost the war. You are on trial because you started it.”

          If those who knowingly started the Iraq war are not put in the dock and held accountable — it is simply the law of the jungle in today’s world. This is why Americans need to realize that the intelligence was not “mistaken,” but rather out-an-out fraud. And then we need to do what we can to expose the reality that Bush/Cheney’s total disregard for the rule of law “started” the bedlam we see in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world today.

          There used to be at least a pretense that the rule of law was important….AND that there was at least one country that at least professed to believe that. Sad.

          • Sam F
            December 26, 2016 at 10:31 am

            The cause of the Iraq War fraud was purely zionism, and this must be the major lesson. As shown in Bamford’s Pretext for War, SecDef Wolfowitz appointed three zionists to staff the office in each of three intelligence agencies (NSA, CIA, and DIA) that “stovepiped” discredited intelligence to support a deliberately faked case for WMD in Iraq. Richard Perlman, David Wurmser, and Douglas Feith had previously conspired to persuade Netanyahu to support tricking the US into supporting wars for Israel. Note that these four were all Jewish zionists, one was an Israeli agent, and all committed treason and war crimes to start an offensive war.

    • Brian
      December 23, 2016 at 10:11 am

      I’ve always seen the intelligence community as so focused on quantity of information that it clouds the instincts of the decision makers.

  2. Sam F
    December 22, 2016 at 11:09 am

    No, the danger is not that the administration ignores CIA briefings. The danger is that the CIA has not given the administration or the people correct information. Its political appointees have tried to create the illusion that the there are grave risks that require secret wars and larger secret budgets. Those have been political wars of oligarchy advancing the interests of exactly no one but the oligarchy and the zionists. That is not what it should do, perhaps not what most of its employees want it to do, but that is what it has done.

    Exactly what “risks” to the people of the US, or to humanity, has the CIA identified to the people of the US since 1990? Other than those proceeding directly from its unconstitutional secret wars.

    • Joe Tedesky
      December 22, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      Sam F you are so right. Would a President Trump want to listen to the likes of Assistant CIA Director Michael Morell? If you recall this past fall on the Charlie Rose show Mike Morell declared how dead body’s should be showing up on Putin and Assasd’s doorsteps to send these two leaders a strong message.

      Well as recently as this December 13th Morell was at it again. This time Morell’s message of hate was within seven days of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov’s assassination. Steve MacMilen reports it here….

      http://www.globalresearch.ca/cias-deputy-director-michael-morell-called-for-washington-to-deliver-a-painful-to-putin-blow-one-week-prior-to-ambassador-assassination/5564085

      But seriously, do we really need the likes of Michael Morell to influence our nations foreign policies? You may say yes, and I will argue no. There again I would have voted for Henry Wallace over Truman or Dewey…but that’s me.

      • Sam F
        December 23, 2016 at 1:57 pm

        I agree that we do not need any secret agency attempting to influence foreign policy, which is the domain of Congress and not of the executive branch, except for negotiation. Secret agencies far too easily overstep their authority, and should be monitored, restrained, and moderated by effective means.

        I too have suspected that the assassination of Karlov may well have been a US agency plot, especially after the Deir Ezzor attack. I believe that it was claimed by Erdogan to be a Gulenist operation, not sure on what evidence. It is too unlikely that other attackers would have known enough about the ambassador’s whereabouts as to defeat Russian security. If it happened to a US ambassador, there would no no hesitation in suspecting a Russian cause.

        • MEexpert
          December 24, 2016 at 11:42 am

          Correction. Presidents set the foreign policy not the congress.

          I agree with you that the Russian Ambassador’s assassination was a US/CIA operation. As for as Erdogan is concerned, he sees Gulen’s hand in every thing. He uses that ruse to strengthen his power.

          • Sam F
            December 28, 2016 at 9:27 pm

            No, the Executive branch has no constitutional authority to make foreign or other policy: the making of policy is solely the domain of the Legislative branch. The Executive branch merely executes policy. It does serve as the negotiator of treaties (only because an individual or small group does that best), and the commander of armed forces (only because defense forces must react more quickly than Congress, and a single commander is needed).

  3. Zachary Smith
    December 22, 2016 at 11:41 am

    I agree with Mr. Pillar on this issue. If this is true, then Trump is deliberately setting himself up as the ignoramus in the room. I’ve been worried about him “outsourcing” running of the government to Pence,and this sure looks like an early signal of that.

    • backwardsevolution
      December 22, 2016 at 1:02 pm

      Zachary – I don’t think Trump will outsource to Pence. From reports, Trump is not a lazy man. He is hands-on. I like what this poster said:

      “The problem is that the CIA doesn’t want a friend, it wants a compliant puppet who does what he is told and doesn’t ask questions, or even worse, someone who gives them orders.

      The fact that Trump is already rejecting those CIA briefs given on a daily basis, and doing so publicly, must be driving the hubristic egomaniacs crazy with rage and fear that the days of unlimited power are about to end.

      Trump’s actions are deliberate and meant to send the message about who is boss. That terrifies these criminals coz they have no idea how he might deal with those who defy him.”

      • backwardsevolution
        December 22, 2016 at 1:11 pm

        Zachary – the above comment came under this article entitled “Donald Trump Will Ruthlessly Decimate the CIA for Turning on Him”:

        “Donald J. Trump does not take prisoners. He will not forgive, or forget. And the massacre coming to halls of Langley and to anybody and anywhere else in the executive branch involved in this is going to beggar belief.”

        http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/donald-trump-will-ruthlessly-decimate-cia-turning-against-him/ri18205

        Yeah, come on in, Mr. Trump, so we can fill you up with more lies on a daily basis. Trump doesn’t want more war, but that’s all these clowns know.

  4. TellTheTruth-2
    December 22, 2016 at 11:54 am

    When so called intelligence briefings are propaganda and war mongering, they’re NOT intelligence, they’re propaganda and war mongering. Trump needs briefings that show him how to make peace, not more war for Israel.

    • Ragnar Ragnarsson
      December 22, 2016 at 12:19 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. How did the USA survive prior to WWII without the CIA and all the other spooks?? Must have been some kind of miracle!!

      • Brad Owen
        December 22, 2016 at 1:16 pm

        USA was fairly insular prior to WWII. The European Empires (especially the Brits) had centuries-old, pervasive intelligence networks, as they were in everybody’s business and everyone was in their business. They learned from the masters-of-intel; the banker/traders of Venice and Genoa, who picked up their skillsets from the Byzantines, and the old Romans before that (which Turkey also inherited, having been a Province of those Empires).

      • December 26, 2016 at 4:33 pm

        Ragnar: The US intel community before WWII was near nonexistent. They relied somewhat on what the Brits gave them, the percentage of which was genuine, and not bogus information proffered with the intention to make the Sugarmeister act in a way that benefited them. During the war Roosevelt was the US Intel community, and led, rightly or sometimes wrongly, the US war effort. Postwar and Post OSS intelligence gathering (mostly tactical) was undertaken by the embryonic CIA. Their main mission was to weaken the efforts of the Russian attempts to foster Russian Communist rule in all of Europe. The agency’s response was to create anti Soviet cells with the mission of undermining, sabotaging, etc. of the Russian goals. The Russkies rolled up every cell structure, killing members, creating new sources, double agents, etc. The Agency’s creators of these boondogles were never fired or punished for their shortcomings, with many climbing the rungs of power. This is the American way of intelligence gathering writ large……Enjoy!

    • Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
      December 22, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      There is no reason to have the CIA anymore….it is now called the MOSSAD………

      • Antonia
        December 23, 2016 at 3:37 pm

        And USA can transplant its’ capital to Israel,where it has been since the 1950s.

  5. December 22, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Link below to an article of interest
    ——————————————-
    Yuletide Trump
    By Israel Shamir
    December 16,

    Assassinations, revolutions, civil wars, bribery, drug industry are the CIA daily tasks. They are the weapon of choice in the hands of the Obscure Entity, their Nazgul. The CIA is anti-American: American soldiers fight in Afghanistan, while the CIA produces, buys and sells the bulk of Afghan opium trade.
    The CIA spoils relations between Americans and people of the earth. The CIA gives lessons of torture to the darkest regimes. The CIA stood by at 9/11, and it pushed the US into new wars since then. The CIA organised and supplied the Middle East terrorists of the Islamic State and al Nusra. They are the guys that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and steamrolled the Iraq War.
    If you doubt where do you stand regarding Trump, after the CIA attack on him there should be no doubt. Remember, JFK tried to undo the CIA, but alas, the CIA undid him. Trump is a chance to get rid of this Order of Assassins, or tame it, at least. Wise Trump refused even to listen to their indoctrination lessons, so called “briefings”….
    [read more at link below]

    http://www.unz.com/ishamir/yuletide-trump/

    • backwardsevolution
      December 22, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Stephen – that’s a good article! I especially like this line: “I’d say Trump has the balls of best American steel. I did not know they still make such men.”

      That’s a classic line, IMO.

      “I’ll tell you why he can do what Kennedy could not. The CIA attacked Trump in a way no American president (save JFK) had ever been attacked by his own security services. They claimed that the Russian hackers elected him, not the people of the USA. Anybody else, in the place of Donald Trump, would go into creeping mode and declare his undying hatred to Russia. But Trump selected, or preselected Rex Tillerson, the man who had received the Order of Friendship from Putin’s hands to be the Secretary of State. I’d say, Trump has the balls of best American steel. I did not know they still make such men. If somebody can purge the body of America of the possession by the legion of demons, this man with yellow hair is the one.”

      Thanks for posting.

      • Joe Tedesky
        December 22, 2016 at 5:13 pm

        I saw the other day how the American public isn’t buying the Russian Hacker story, by a margin of 46% who don’t believe to 25% without an opinion to 29% who do believe the story. Now, would be a great time for Donald Trump to spit in the face of the CIA while he has the public’s support, and why not after how the CIA took Hillary’s side with the election results.

        As a side note, Obama should have used the public support option, instead of his going along with the establishments orders every time, and all the time, when it could have mattered.

        Trump may pass off a lot of different duties to Pence and others, but I’m sure he is aware that the buck will stop with him. I would imagine an executive leader who delegates this way, would also be the type to stomp down hard on the nincompoops who screw up in his name. Lots of leaders are like this, do something stupid there is hell to pay, do something fantastic and the boss puts his name on it.

        There will be plenty of things over the next four years where we will find fault with Trump, but his going after the CIA won’t be one of them. Plus, if an organization had come out against you during the election, then why would you play paddy cake with these same ‘slam dunk’ people?

  6. Wobblie
    December 22, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Trump is right on this.

    The presidential daily brief is overkill propaganda. Remember, terrorism is largely manufactured and funded by the West. Whether it’s Al Queda or ISIL, follow the money.

    Many, if not most, “terrorist” incidents are setups. If terrorism is a real problem then why did the government feel the need to conflate Iraq with functional WMD? Why have intelligence agencies felt the need to entrap people into agreeing to commit terrorism? Would this nonsense really be necessary if terrorism was truly a threat? NO.

    This somehow requires a DAILY briefing? Come on. This could only have been written by a CIA spook.

    The good thing is this system of Tweedledum and Tweedledee based on war and fear is coming to an end.

    https://therulingclassobserver.com/2016/11/12/twilight-of-tweedledum-and-tweedledee/

    • backwardsevolution
      December 22, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Wobblie – totally agree. Good post!

    • backwardsevolution
      December 22, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      Wobblie – love your lines: “Terrorism is largely manufactured and funded by the West” and “Most terrorist incidents are set-ups.” So much truth there.

  7. Monte George Jr.
    December 22, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Until Mr. Trump “cleans out the swamp” in the intelligence agencies, especially the CIA, it would be very unwise for him to rely on CIA briefings. Historically, the CIA (at the top levels) has essentially been a subversive organization pursuing the agenda of shady fascist forces in our ‘big business’ community. Worse, CIA in recent months has exposed itself as a determined partisan enemy of Trump’s presidency. By spreading (leaking) unfounded in-your-face propaganda aimed at destroying any prospect of normal relations with Russia, they deliberately harm not only Mr. Trump, but also the nation as a whole. In the meantime, the further we can keep these traitors away from the White House, the better.

    JFK had it right after the Bay of Pigs fiasco: “..break CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds…”. Good idea, but sadly, he was just a little too slow.

  8. dahoit
    December 22, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    You can take men out of the CIA,but you can’t take the CIA out of them?(Author)

    • backwardsevolution
      December 22, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      dahoit – very interesting comment. You’re probably right about that. It must be hard to shed the conditioning, the thinking.

  9. RMDC
    December 22, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    I have to disagree with Pilar here. The more Trump is able to marginalize the CIA, the better. The CIA has its own agenda and own foreign policy. Philip Agee called the CIA — Capitalism’s Invisible Army. The CIA pursues the interests of billionaire neo-colonialists but it needs presidential support and funding. So the daily briefings are just spin, attempts to persuade the president that he should back up what the CIA wants. I really cannot think of a single instance when the CIA was right on a major issue. So why bother. I wish Trump would appoint a CIA director who would clean house, sweep out the functionaries, spooks, and covert-action cowboys.

    • backwardsevolution
      December 22, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      RMDC – good post. This article says:

      “John F. Kennedy famously threatened to “smash the CIA into a thousand pieces.” But ultimately, the 35th president lost his solitary battle to completely break the power of the deep state.

      Though I respect Kennedy, I believe Donald Trump is a much more serious proposition.

      Donald Trump is Michael Corleone. He will keep his friends close, and his enemies closer (including the likes of John Bolton). But those he doesn’t keep closer, he will ruthlessly “screw against the wall” for targeting him.

      The no-nonsense Mike Pompeo, Trump’s nominee for CIA director, will be the hatchet man for this merciless house cleaning operation.

      Come January 20th, the reckoning begins.

      Let’s get ready to rumble.”

      http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/donald-trump-will-ruthlessly-decimate-cia-turning-against-him/ri18205

      We can only hope.

      • Joe Tedesky
        December 23, 2016 at 12:08 am

        If Trump is to stand up against the CIA he must respect the mob better than the Kennedy brothers did. It is now well known how Joseph Kennedy through Peter Lawford/Frank Sinatra back channeled with Sam Giancana to steal the 1960 presidential election in Chicago, and through other connections win West Virginia. Bobby as U.S. Attorney General went after the mob with a passion, once Jack became President. This cracking down on the Mafia for the Kennedy brothers may have been a worst enemy to make, other than Allen Dulles, and surely Bobby’s pursuit of this helped to seal they’re fate.

        Trump with his outrageous tweets throws everybody off their game. Trump’s P.T. Barnum approach to issues and his enemies may possibly be his strongest point. With his outlandish personality Trump gets in every news niche there is. What he says doesn’t matter, as long as he stays relevant and in the news. Damn the facts and outcomes, for all eyes are on the Donald, and with this maneuver he may surround himself with more safety by our paying attention to him. Why, because we are all talking about it, and with this Trump achieves our most undivided attention. Although, if assassinations do have one aspect to contemplate, then it would appear that if it’s going to happen then it’s going to happen.

        I read somewhere, where Trump is hiring his own security for his inauguration to become the 45th President of the United States….I truly wish him well. I didn’t vote for him, and I’m sure I won’t agree with his methods or his views as time goes forward, but I want him to proceed in good health. Our country needs to rid ourselves of the current CIA as it stands, and our country needs our politicians to retire not violently expire from public office. We all need to tone down the nasty, and learn to accept comprise along with progress…we can do this, just stay sane.

      • Joe Tedesky
        December 23, 2016 at 1:42 am

        Trump while in office should take it upon himself to study and learn everything of what JFK’s interactions may have been like with the CIA. Using JFK’s term in office against any assassination plot could be a rewarding thing, not to mention how wisely cautionary by it’s own nature this exercise maybe worth. If your going to go big up against the CIA, you may as well study the biggest assassination occurrence of our nations brief history…right? Like watch the rhetoric play loud against what is really going on down deep. I wouldn’t advise Donald to give many an American University speech such as what JFK most brilliantly did, but to talk ape dodo crazy into the media’s large megaphone, while back channeling and turning back the hands on the Domes Day Clock second by second, by working out agreements with your adversaries.

  10. jfmxl
    December 22, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    The CIA is not on the side of ordinary Americans. It never has been, never will be. Trump needs to kill the CIA, or the CIA will kill him just as they did jfk.There’s no hope for the USA as long as rogue institutions like the CIA, NSA, and now the FBI are allowed to run free. Kill them all and replace them with a real intelligence gathering outfit – one that looks but does not touch, an outfit that makes our communications secure rather than purposely insecure, and an institution that investigates the wild abuses of American cops, and rogue institutions like the CIA, and the NSA, and privatized spy outfits like google and facebook and the rest.

    The CIA is the most vile of the vile big three. Sixty-nine years old, it shouldn’t live to see seventy. America needs to scrap its death penalty for humans and institute one for rogue corporations and government institutions.

    • Jerry
      December 22, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      If Trump really wants to go after the CIA, he will have to do so very deliberately:

      1. In his inaugural address, announce that if anything happens to him or his family, it will be by the hand of the CIA.

      2. Get elite special forces troops to protect him and his family. They sometimes do the dirty work of the CIA. This way it will be clear beyond doubt that if something happens, the CIA did it.

  11. Bill Bodden
    December 22, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Prior to the war on Iraq there was the intelligence that was being fixed (per the British ambassador to Washington) to justify this war. It was also the basis for lies told to the American people who were mostly traditionally gullible to believe them. Then there were the intelligence briefings given to the senate intelligence (?) committee. According to a speech Senator Durbin (D-IL) made in the senate that I watched on C-Span the intelligence provided this committee contradicted the information given to the public. During this speech Durbin said he was prohibited from revealing this version of intelligence by an oath he took to allow him to receive these briefings. Unfortunately, unlike then-Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden Durbin did not consider it more important to act according to his oath to uphold the Constitution so he kept quiet. He did vote against the war while other members of the same committee voted for the war with the knowledge the war would be based on a pack of lies. One conclusion to this story is that politicians and aides in the White House and Congress will do what they want to do regardless of the “intelligence.”

  12. Josh Stern
    December 22, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    In terms of the info made available to the public, past POTUS have uniformly received only bad info, advic, and analysis from the CIA, ever since the creation of that agency. A chunk of that history is summarized in Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes. Other covert ops – which didn’t make it into that book, but nevertheless left a trail of evidence – e.g. CIA support for Castro as the right pick to lead the Cuban Revolution CIA support for the 1975 fall of the liberal govt. in Australia, and likely CIA-led participation in the assassination of JFK – do not paint a rosier picture of the agency.

    We understand that most of what the CIA does at any given time is secret and hidden from the public. We only learn parts of the truth – how truly awful it was – many decades after the fact. Perhaps the CIA has a secret history of wonderful performance it is trumpeting in secret to Trump. If that is so, then why make the case here, in public. Based on the totality of EVERYTHING we know, the CIA is an unmitigated, criminal, treasonous, disaster.

  13. RyM
    December 22, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Here is the challenge posed by what Mr. Pillar says and doesn’t say. Will the President now get intelligence that is in the interest of America with a “good neighbor” potential, or will the intelligence only perpetuate the aim of an oligarchy that looks to rule the globe through perpetuaal war and financial crisis? In recent history since WW2, this paradox of purpose was fought in the CIA between the General Bedell Smith tradition, and the Allen Douglas current.

    Possibly Trump doesn’t get that longer term battle. That said, it is up to the citizenry, retired generals, and retired veteran intelligence professionals who DO understand this, to educate the new captain at the helm.

    The standard for what is good in America should emenate from the premise of Alexander Hamilton who set the purpose for good government, which, after all is what the fuss is really all about, in the first place.

    “To cherish and stimulate the human mind, by multiplying the objects of enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients, by which the wealth of a nation may be promoted.” – Alexander Hamilton, Report on the Subject of Manufactures, 1791

    • Josh Stern
      December 22, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      Who is/was Allen Douglas? Do you mean Dulles? I don’t see him and Smith as opposites. Smith was a big supporter of the Guatemalan coup.

      Also, I don’t agree that CIA analysts or low-mid level people are truly experts in CIA history in the appropriate sense. Covert op means an operation where the plan is to deny US involvement. What is the best way to keep a secret? Share the truth with as few as possible, even within CIA and CIA assets. The same is true for a clandestine op where the plan is to deny that it happened at all. Middle level people level people in the CIA hear the same false stories about what is going on as the rest of the population – by covert, “need to know” design. And they are listening to more false stories/propaganda about what is going on, as part of their job. As a result, they have heard and incorporated more disinfo into their belief set than the average ignoramus on the street.

      Historians of the CIA are in a slightly better position to assess what the actual truth of distant past events was.

      By studying CIA history, any of us can become smarter at guessing what is going on at the present time…though unfortunately, that remains only best guesses.

      • Joe Tedesky
        December 23, 2016 at 2:11 am

        December 22nd 1963 retired president Harry Trumsn wrote an oped that appeared in only the early edition of the Washington Post. The link is Ray McGovern describing Truman’s disappointment to how the CIA agency turned out much differently that it’s original mission had intended. Dulles through his security briefs purposely tried to trick Kennedy on the Bay of Pigs invasion.

        Read Ray McGovern article….

        https://consortiumnews.com/2013/12/22/trumans-true-warning-on-the-cia/

        Maybe Trump could get consulted from Roger Stone…he’s into this JFK stuff.

  14. Joe Average
    December 23, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Aren’t intelligence agencies (or secret services) a version of “secret societies”? I’m no expert in such things, but a cautious approach doesn’t seem too absurd. There are too many people – especially those following some secret agenda – who’re trying to hoodwink others. These days hardly anyone remembers that the origins of the Mafia had been those of an unofficial (secret) police force, which eventually evolved into the famous crime syndicate (http://www.history.com/topics/origins-of-the-mafia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicilian_Mafia). So, before relying on the sole expertise of the CIA it may be wise to listen to other sources, too. In general, it’s always better to get a second or even a third opinion, before making far reaching decisions.

  15. Brad Benson
    December 23, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    So he should take his briefing from Brennan’s CIA–the one that was staffed by Michael Morrell? No thanks. He can get all he needs from Flynn, who was an honest broker over at the DIA and got fired for it.

  16. Rodney Wickersham
    December 25, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    I think the CIA, NSA, etc has a bigger problem. We the people do not trust them. If that message is not clear then someone should let them know it because they missed something important once again.

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