Monday, July 29, 2019

DNI: Do Not Intel!

Dan Coats being fired as Director of National Intelligence and being replaced by a Trump hack is pretty normal, eh?  I have a hard time getting exercised by this for a couple of reasons:
  1. Ye olde textbooks on US natsec policy say that DNI has limited budgetary power.  The position was created in the aftermath of 9/11 to bring together the US intelligence community.  However, because so many of the intel agencies were/are within the Department of Defense, SecDef Donald Rumsfeld resisted mightily to empowering this new position.  
  2. It is not as if Trump listened to Coats:
Which leads to a gif a friend used:

A former national security official pointed out that in theory the DNI manages the stuff where the intel community as a whole assesses things--the National Intel Estimate.  That this individual can also make policy changes that can affect the entire intel community. 

So, this position is not as important or influential as the SecDef or Attorney General, but is not trivial either.  That Trump is picking a guy who just this past week crapped on Mueller shows that we can expect no more discrepant reports from the top of the intel chain, that there will be more efforts to use the intel services against Trump's enemies, and that America's adversaries must be super-thrilled. 

Thus, this is awful, just like everything Trump does.  It is not quite as consequential as other stuff, but this is one of those normalization points: that damn near everything Trump does is bad, and we need to call out each one of these violations of precedents, norms, and laws (yeah, if the Acting DNI isn't the right person, Trump will be breaking the law). 

Another infrastructure week ends early.  FFS.

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