The Corner

Is Trump Planning to Streamline U.S. Intelligence Agencies?

Amid the squabbling between intelligence agencies, the Obama administration and the Trump-transition team over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, some good news surfaced on the intelligence front today: President-elect Trump reportedly is planning to restructure and streamline America’s huge, 17-organization “Intelligence Community.”

According to a front page Wall Street Journal story by Damian Paletta and Julian Barnes that ran today, Trump is working with his advisers “on a plan that would restructure and pare back the nation’s top spy agency [the Office of the Director of National Intelligence].” This move reportedly reflects Trump’s belief that “the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has become bloated and politicized.”

Paletta and Barnes also wrote that the Trump transition is planning to restructure the CIA, cut back its staffing, and send more CIA officers into field offices around the world.

In response to the Journal story, Trump-transition spokesman Sean Spicer said reports that Trump is planning to restructure U.S. intelligence agencies are “100 percent false.” However, in a story reporting Spicer’s comment, Washington Post reporters John Wagner and Greg Miller wrote:

Trump has been weighing an overhaul, but not elimination, of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) for weeks, a matter that has factored into the delay in nominating someone to serve in that position, according to members of his inner circle.”

“Trump’s top advisers on intelligence matters are deeply skeptical of the value of the DNI position, an office that was created to spearhead post-Sept. 11 reforms of the intelligence community but has become the center of its own swelling bureaucracy.”

I was pleased to read the Paletta/Barnes article because it closely aligns with recommendations I made for overhauling U.S. intelligence agencies in a December 9, 2016, NRO article titled “How President Trump Can Make U.S. Intelligence Great Again,” especially by rolling back or eliminating the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

It is crucial that Mr. Trump implement major reforms of America’s intelligence agencies so they can become the innovative and effective national-security institutions they once were. It’s great to see that the president-elect understands this.

Fred Fleitz, president of the Center for Security Policy, served in 2018 as deputy assistant to the president and to the chief of staff of the National Security Council. He previously held national-security jobs with the CIA, the DIA, the Department of State, and the House Intelligence Committee staff.

Most Popular


Men Literally Died for That Flag, You Idiots

The American flag’s place in our culture is beginning to look less unassailable. The symbol itself is under attack, as we’ve seen with Nike dumping a shoe design featuring an early American flag, Megan Rapinoe defending her national-anthem protests (she says she will never sing the song again), and ... Read More

The Plot against Kavanaugh

Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino (Regnery,  256 pp., $28.99) The nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was the political event of 2018, though not for the reasons anyone expected. All High Court confirmations these days are fraught with emotion and tumult ... Read More
Politics & Policy

He Just Can’t Help Himself

By Saturday, the long-simmering fight between Nancy Pelosi and her allies on one side and the “squad” associated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other had risen to an angrier and more destructive level at the Netroots Nation conference. Representative Ayanna Pressley, an African-American Massachusetts ... Read More
White House

On Gratitude and Immigration

Like both Rich and David, I consider it flatly inappropriate for the president of the United States to be telling Americans -- rhetorically or otherwise -- to “go back where you came from.” In consequence, you will find no defense of the president from me, either. What Trump tweeted over the weekend was ... Read More

Gender Dissenter Gets Fired

Allan M. Josephson is a distinguished psychiatrist who, since 2003, has transformed the division of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology at the University of Louisville from a struggling department to a nationally acclaimed program. In the fall of 2017 he appeared on a panel at the Heritage Foundation ... Read More