Brennan Backlash: Trump Likely To Depoliticize CIA

Jim Stinson,

Former CIA chief says top-level intelligence officials were eager to work for Hillary. 

President-Elect Donald Trump is likely to mount an effort to depoliticize the Central Intelligence Agency as much as possible shortly after taking office.

That’s because one of the poorest kept secrets in Washington, D.C., is that, despite all the ballyhoo about the “politicization” of the FBI, and how many top agents allegedly favored Trump, the CIA was in the opposite corner — with the Democrats.

“The top-level people are very disappointed Hillary Clinton did not win the election. I think they were quite ready to work for her.”

The headquarters at Langley, Virginia, is full of longtime appointees of Presidents Clinton and Obama who have planted themselves deep in the machine.

“The top-level people are very disappointed Hillary Clinton did not win the election,” said James Woolsey, the former CIA director from 1993 to 1994 under President Bill Clinton. “I think they were quite ready to work for her.”

Perhaps most ready was CIA Director John Brennan, a Democrat who worked for both the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Woolsey, a Democrat and once an informal adviser to Trump, told LifeZette he did not know who is leaking intelligence information about Russian hacking. But Woolsey said he wasn’t surprised by Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. Woolsey suggested that should not have come as a surprise to the CIA.

“The Russians have been interfering in elections for 70 years,” said Woolsey. “What’s news is that ‘cyber’ is now a technology that can be used in some very untoward way.”

With new revelations that Russia’s bitter neighbor, the Ukraine, also interfered in the 2016 campaign — on behalf of Democrat Hillary Clinton — Trump has been loudly wondering why the intelligence community has appeared uniquely hostile toward him.

Perhaps that’s because Brennan has not exactly discouraged comity between the agency and Trump. In a surprising interview a few days before the inauguration, Brennan belittled the incoming president on “Fox News Sunday.”

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“What I think Mr. Trump has to understand is that this is more than being about him, and it’s about the United States and our national security,” Brennan said. “And he has to make sure that now he’s going to have the opportunity to do something for national security, as opposed to talking and tweeting.”

Brennan likely should have stopped there. He did not.

“I don’t think he has a full appreciation of Russian capabilities, Russia’s intentions and actions that they are undertaking in many parts of the world,” Brennan continued. “I think he has to be mindful that he does not yet have a full appreciation and understanding of what the implications are of going down that road, as well as making sure he understands what he’s doing.”

Brennan’s patronizing remarks set Trump off on Sunday night. The tension between Trump and the U.S. intelligence community was already thick, but Brennan’s remarks led Trump to accuse Brennan of hatching the series of damaging intelligence-related leaks against him since Trump won on Election Day.

Trump quoted a headline he saw, and then dragged forward a series of failures during the eight years of President Barack Obama.

“‘Outgoing CIA Chief, John Brennan, blasts Pres-Elect Trump on Russia threat. Does not fully understand.’ Oh really, couldn’t do much worse — just look at Syria (red line), Crimea, Ukraine and the build-up of Russian nukes,” Trump said in two tweets. “Not good! Was this the leaker of Fake News?”

It was Trump’s remark about “fake news” that indicated Trump was tired of the leaks and the resulting claims being made in some parts of the media.

On Tuesday, CNN published a story on the so-called “Trump Dossier,” a file put together by Fusion GPS, a political research agency that looked into Trump’s alleged ties to Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

BuzzFeed later published the entire 35-page document, which detailed the dubious, sometimes obviously false, charges. The dossier alleged the Russians had compromising information they could use to blackmail Trump.

Former Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward called the document “garbage,” one of many criticisms the memo faced. But even so, it was widely reported that the document was included in briefings given to President Obama and President-Elect Trump.

Trump believes the accusations that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign are designed to undermine his presidency. He now appears to believe Brennan is behind, or at least blind to, many of the leaks to Washington’s top national security reporters abut Russian hacking.

Brennan has taken the lead on controversial issues before.

Starting around 2010, as Obama’s homeland security adviser, Brennan began a public relations push to redefine “jihad.” He argued not all jihad is armed. Some jihads are spiritual.

“Nor do we describe our enemy as ‘jihadists’ or ‘Islamists’ because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam,” Brennan said.

Speaking to the Washington Times editorial board on June 24, 2010, Brennan took his argument to the conservative newspaper, which was skeptical of his views. When writer James Robbins noted many Islamic militants mocked the idea of “spiritual jihad,” Brennan stormed out.

“I think we’re done here,” he said, cutting Robbins off, and collecting his papers.

As for the election outcome, Woolsey said Russia did not succeed in changing the electoral outcome, or infecting the voting machines. But Woolsey said he wants new voting machines that leave a paper trail, so they can be audited in the case of a cyberattack.