Opinion | The Cloud Forming Over America's Spies

Source: The New York Times - View Original Article
Published: May 04, 2020
Bias Rating:

82% Liberal

Bias Score Calculation:




95% "letters@nytimes.com.""
94% "Still, the D.N.I.'s most effective leverage can be his or her relationship with the president and the ambition of the 17 intelligence agencies' individual ..."
93% "And here's our email:""
90% "It provides intelligence 24/7 to a wide variety of officials across every federal agency and operates under congressional oversight.""
88% "Intelligence professionals operate with significant responsibility and under intense pressure.""

We have listed the top 10 sentiments. More sentiments do exist. Please review the full article for more information.

*Our bias meter rating uses data science including sentiment analysis, machine learning and our proprietary algorithm for determining biases in news articles. The rating is an independent analysis and is not affiliated nor sponsored by the news source or any other organization










Contributing sentiments towards policy:

95% : And will he jeopardize them and our collectors of secrets for political gain?
95% : letters@nytimes.com.
94% : Still, the D.N.I.'s most effective leverage can be his or her relationship with the president and the ambition of the 17 intelligence agencies' individual leaders.
93% : And here's our email:
90% : He can approve or deny deals, hire and fire, and control his subordinates' career advancement and their department's budget.
90% : The reality is that C.I.A. managers do not take decisions on contentious issues without legal guidance from its own capable and apolitical lawyers.
90% : It provides intelligence 24/7 to a wide variety of officials across every federal agency and operates under congressional oversight.
88% : His last assignment was chief of counterterrorism for South and Southwest Asia.
88% : . Fortunately he has also failed at breaking the intelligence community's determination to do its job.
88% : Intelligence professionals operate with significant responsibility and under intense pressure.
88% : Far too many who reach the top succumb to the temptations of political compromise and power.
87% : Preserving the intelligence community's mission and integrity will not come without casualties or damage, both for the work force and the country, but suppressing it will not be the cake walk the president imagines.
86% : The D.N.I. is hardly the nation's top spy.
86% : Will he decide who serves abroad as the community's representative, a post normally reserved for the C.I.A. chief of station?
86% : Intelligence professionals are a dedicated and willful lot.
86% : But President Trump, Mr. Grenell and Mr. Ratcliffe (should he be confirmed) will often be overwhelmed and outmaneuvered by the intelligence community's independence and skill.
86% : Inscribed at the C.I.A.'s entrance, and embraced as its gospel, is written: "And Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free."
82% : Dan Coats, who preceded Mr. Grenell, did that artfully, providing a buffer against Mr. Trump's outbursts and calumnies after the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment briefing, his alignment with Vladimir Putin's election meddling despite what his own intelligence experts were telling him, and his approaches to North Korea, China and Iran.
82% : Mr. Trump's dismissal of the intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson was another reflection of his mercurial nature about national security decisions.
81% : I take solace in my confidence that Mr. Trump will learn, even after the Senate confirms Mr. Ratcliffe and the president replaces still more professionals with less capable political loyalists, that gagging the intelligence community will be far more difficult than hushing the Justice Department or overriding the wisdom of our medical institutions.
80% : We rarely have a clue as to what party our colleagues support; that matters as little as it matters to a Marine sharing a fighting hole in the heat of combat.
77% : The appointment in February of Richard Grenell, a political operative and Donald Trump loyalist, as acting director of national intelligence after the renomination of former Congressman John Ratcliffe to permanently fill the position once he is confirmed, has many current and former intelligence professionals deeply concerned.
77% : Mission and country come first.
77% : Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.
75% : That role is to transparently and credibly represent the community's nonpartisan work to the American people.
75% : Her compromises to President Trump tell us that even if he is re-elected, her ambition is unlikely to be enough to allow her to keep her position or move to another cushy job.
74% : Not coincidentally, acting director Grenell, a prolific Twitter user, failed to sign his own intelligence community's official position.
73% : But the inspector general has limited influence over how 17 intelligence agencies do business.
71% : We'd like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles.
70% : Mr. London retired from the C.I.A. in 2018.
69% : As the president continues to learn the hard way, the community is not his personal secretariat.
68% : Doing so could affect what is collected; that, in turn, would undermine the whole community's ability to warn homeland agencies about threats like the current pandemic.
67% : I am among them, if only because we cannot trust the judgments of a president who so often overrides the wisdom of professional intelligence analysts, prosecutors and medical authorities, even during a calamity.
66% : Mr. Trump dismissed the information, presumably afraid it would hurt the economy and his re-election. In February and March, Mr. Grenell was parroting the president's politicized inaccuracies about the health threat and other intelligence-related matters -- abandoning the role expected of any leader of the national intelligence community, according to the 9/11 Commission Report and the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.
66% : His or her fief is restricted to analytical and advisory centers, and the centers Mr. Grenell can purge are restricted to his central office.
64% : Indeed, Mr. Grenell's responsibilities focus on integrating and coordinating information found by individual agencies, with little control across the entire community.
64% : Whether agency heads like Gina Haspel of the C.I.A. are prepared to push back to protect the country, their mission and their work force depends on the professional costs they are willing to assume, as well as their personal backbone.
62% : Usually, they keep their heads down, away from the political fray, regardless of who occupies the White House, and focus on their jobs.
61% : Recent reporting in The Washington Post and The New York Times has challenged the president's false messaging about what the intelligence community was telling him as early as December.
61% : The goal is to allow the people greater confidence in the intelligence community while protecting its sources and methods.
60% : The C.I.A.'s scientists, doctors and analysts undoubtedly provided sophisticated models of how the pandemic would most likely spread from China and how much damage Beijing was adding by suppressing information about it.
59% : Even investigations by the inspector general result in findings and recommendations, with Congress controlling oversight and the purse.
59% : The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor.
57% : Sharing those conclusions with the public would let it understand and support the president's policies, knowing that the information was gathered by professionals whose assessments are collaborative, integrated and honest.
51% : The rest are career intelligence officers.
50% : But a vast majority are largely immune to political pressure, or sufficiently proud and arrogant to withstand it.
48% : At most, committees can punish the C.I.A. for noncompliance with the legislators, but only if they embrace the inspection's conclusions.
47% : Douglas London was a senior operations officer in the C.I.A. Clandestine Service for over 34 years, assigned to the Middle East, South Asia, Africa and Central Eurasia, several times as a chief of station.
46% : That's not to say that Mr. Grenell and Mr. Ratcliffe can't already do damage and that more politically focused Trump allies among the nation's inspectors general are harmless.
46% : My concern is whether the D.N.I. will be allowed to challenge the independence of the individual agencies.
45% : Will he demand a greater say over clandestine operations and the identities of our sources?
45% : The real collectors of secrets protect their sources as mother bears protect their cubs, and analysts are like religious zealots safeguarding the integrity of their beliefs.
44% : Last week, for example, on the same day that the office of the director of national intelligence (D.N.I. for short) released a public statement affirming the scientific community's consensus that "the Covid-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified," The New York Times reported that the Trump administration was pressing intelligence officials to look for evidence to prove otherwise -- perhaps that it originated in a Chinese laboratory.
43% : They are, at best, novices at intelligence and lack the degree of control over their 17 agencies that Mr. Barr enjoys over the Justice Department.
42% : But the coronavirus crisis suggests that Mr. Grenell has failed at all three
41% : Here are some tips.
40% : The president's current feckless, politicized use of the intelligence community could not have come at a worse time and will no doubt get worse as he grows more desperate and fearful of the coronavirus's impact on his own fortunes.
38% : Instead, Mr. Grenell's misleading comments about the agencies' actual positions have undermined the community's credibility with Americans, and risk miscalculations among foreign adversaries and allies.
37% : Indeed, the incumbent's statutory independence enables a climate in which those who have witnessed wrongdoing or have grievances can come forward without fear of retaliation from their superiors.
33% : Try as he might, neither he nor the president can prevent a vast majority of these nonpolitical patriots from doing their jobs.
32% : So what happened?
30% : In short, the job of the director of national intelligence, or D.N.I., is to help the president process and understand what intelligence professionals have concluded, however bad the news.
30% : Unlike Attorney General Robert Barr, neither Mr. Grenell nor Mr. Ratcliffe shares his work force's background or training.
28% : The C.I.A., for example, has only three political appointees -- the director, the deputy director and the chief operating officer.
26% : What limits the damage can be better understood by contrasting the D.N.I. with the head of the Justice Department.
24% : Director Haspel's track record is not encouraging.
23% : The attorney general can initiate and end investigations, direct U.S. attorneys against prosecuting or compel them to seek leniency toward Mr. Trump's political allies.
17% : The director of national intelligence has no such powers over individual intelligence agencies, nor their operations.
14% : Of course, the director of national intelligence could better expend his energies in shielding the work force from intimidation and pressure.
14% : The D.N.I. can restrict dissemination of intelligence that might embarrass or damage the president and his allies, and declassify strikes at his adversaries.

*Our bias meter rating uses data science including sentiment analysis, machine learning and our proprietary algorithm for determining biases in news articles. The rating is an independent analysis and is not affiliated nor sponsored by the news source or any other organization

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