Spy crisis spooks US


WASHINGTON — The critical relationship between President Donald Trump and the US intelligence community is irreparably broken, with high risks for the country in a crisis, former senior CIA officers said Wednesday.

When you have that open warfare, it can affect intelligence judgments and it can affect policy judgments

One week after Trump blasted his spy chiefs as “naive” and told them to “go back to school” for challenging his views on Iran and North Korea, the CIA officers said the rift between the two sides had become extremely dangerous.

“When you have that open warfare, it can affect intelligence judgments and it can affect policy judgments,” said George Beebe, former director of Russia analysis at the CIA.

When the intelligence community needs to deliver a warning to the president of a looming crisis, he said, you now have a situation where “the first thought going through his mind is, ‘they are playing some game to try to make some trouble for me.’”

“If the intelligence community warns, but its audience for that warning won’t hear it, dismisses it, effectively, the result is not different than if there were no warning at all,” he said.

Beebe and other ex-Central Intelligence Agency officers were speaking at a roundtable discussion at the Center for the National Interest, a Washington think tank, following the newest public rupture between Trump and his intelligence chiefs.

Their annual Worldwide Threat Assessment presented to Congress on 29 January contradicted Trump’s claims that the Islamic State group has been defeated, that North Korea will forego its nuclear weapons and that Tehran is actively seeking nuclear weapons.

Trump blasted back that they were wrong, before summoning Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel to his office over the issue.

“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!” he tweeted.

“Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”

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