Donald Trump plans revamp of top U.S. spy agency
President-elect Donald Trump, a harsh critic of U.S. intelligence agencies, is working with top advisers on a plan that would restructure and pare back the nation’s top spy agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, prompted by a belief that it has “become bloated and politicized,” according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, was established in 2004 in large part to boost coordination between intelligence agencies following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
The planning comes in a time of turbulence between Trump and American intelligence agencies: the president-elect has leveled a series of social media attacks in recent months and the past few days against the U.S. intelligence apparatus, at times dismissing and mocking their assessment - perhaps with cause, after all there is still no evidence - that the Russian government hacked emails of Democratic groups and John Podesta and then leaked them to WikiLeaks and others in an effort to help Trump win the White House.
According to the WSJ, among those helping lead Mr. Trump’s plan to restructure the intelligence agencies is his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who had served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency until he was pushed out by DNI James Clapper and others in 2013. Also involved in the planning is Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), who Mr. Trump selected to be his CIA director.
It's not just the ODNI: one of the people familiar with Trump’s planning told the WSJ his advisors also are working on a plan to restructure the Central Intelligence Agency, cutting back on staffing at its Virginia headquarters and pushing more people out into field posts around the world. The CIA declined to comment on the plan.
“The view from the Trump team is the intelligence world [is] becoming completely politicized,” said the individual, who is close to the Trump transition operation. “They all need to be slimmed down. The focus will be on restructuring the agencies and how they interact.”
In one of his latest Twitter posts on Wednesday, Mr. Trump referenced an interview that WikiLeaks editor in chief Julian Assange gave to Fox News in which he denied Russia had been his source for the thousands of emails stolen from Democrats and Hillary Clinton advisers, including campaign manager John Podesta, that Mr. Assange published.