A man who has worked in the Central Intelligence Agency for more than a decade – under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama – says he can no longer serve in the agency because of Donald Trump.
In an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Monday, former intelligence analyst and National Security Council spokesman Edward Price wrote, “Despite working proudly for Republican and Democratic presidents, I reluctantly concluded that I cannot in good faith serve this administration as an intelligence professional.”
In the op-ed, Price explained how he came to this difficult conclusion:
As a candidate, Donald Trump’s rhetoric suggested that he intended to take a different approach. I watched in disbelief when, during the third presidential debate, Trump casually cast doubt on the high-confidence conclusion of our 17 intelligence agencies, released that month, that Russia was behind the hacking and release of election-related emails. On the campaign trail and even as president-elect, Trump routinely referred to the flawed 2002 assessment of Iraq’s weapons programs as proof that the CIA couldn’t be trusted — even though the intelligence community had long ago held itself to account for those mistakes and Trump himself supported the invasion of Iraq.
Trump’s actions in office have been even more disturbing. His visit to CIA headquarters on his first full day in office, an overture designed to repair relations, was undone by his ego and bluster. Standing in front of a memorial to the CIA’s fallen officers, he seemed to be addressing the cameras and reporters in the room, rather than the agency personnel in front of them, bragging about his inauguration crowd the previous day. Whether delusional or deceitful, these were not the remarks many of my former colleagues and I wanted to hear from our new commander in chief. I couldn’t help but reflect on the stark contrast between the bombast of the new president and the quiet dedication of a mentor — a courageous, dedicated professional — who is memorialized on that wall. I know others at CIA felt similarly.
The final straw, Price said, came when Trump signed an executive order last month giving white supremacist and chief Trump strategist Steve Bannon a top seat at National Security Council meetings.
“The White House’s inclination was clear,” Price said of the decision to elevate Bannon to such a powerful role. “It has little need for intelligence professionals who, in speaking truth to power, might challenge the so-called ‘America First’ orthodoxy that sees Russia as an ally and Australia as a punching bag.”
The longtime CIA official maintains that his decision is not about politics but is simply a result of Trump’s abnormal conduct during his short time in office and his decision to listen to political yes-men instead of experts.
“My decision had nothing to do with politics, and I would have been proud to again work under a Republican administration open to intelligence analysis,” Price wrote. “But this administration has flipped that dynamic on its head: The politicians are the ones tuning out the intelligence professionals.”
Trump’s policies and temperament have already inflicted considerable damage around the globe – whether it’s emboldening our enemies or creating fear among U.S. allies. As Price’s resignation indicates, the new president is also discouraging knowledgeable government officials from wanting to serve the country they love.
At a time when intelligence and expertise are two traits sorely lacking in Washington, especially inside the White House, the new president is forcing out those who actually have a clue about the world.