It has only been a month since President Donald Trump took office and people have already began parting ways with his tumultuous administration.
Not long after former U.S. Central Command Deputy Commander Robert S. Harward turned down the role of national security adviser after reportedly calling the White House a “s*** sandwich,” a CIA agent, who joined the agency in 2006 and most recently worked as a spokesman for the National Security Council, also quit his job.
In a blistering op-ed for The Washington Post, Edward Price explained how he never thought he would leave the agency, but Trump’s actions since the inauguration made him realize “he cannot in good faith serve this administration as an intelligence professional.”
Price, who has worked for both Republican and Democratic administrations in the past, resigned last week.
“The CIA taught me new skills and exposed me to new cultures and countries,” he wrote. “The administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama took the CIA’s input seriously. There was no greater reward than having my analysis presented to the president and seeing it shape events. Intelligence informing policy — this is how the system is supposed to work.”
Price further said his decision had nothing to do with the new policies, because “as intelligence professionals, we’re taught to tune out politics.”
Instead, it was Trump and his team’s attitude towards the intelligence agencies — particularly the comments the administration made regarding the CIA reports on Russian hacking — that helped cement his decision.
“I watched in disbelief when, during the third presidential debate, Trump casually cast doubt on the high-confidence conclusion of our 17 intelligence agencies, released that month, that Russia was behind the hacking and release of election-related emails,” Price continued. “On the campaign trail and even as president-elect, Trump routinely referred to the flawed 2002 assessment of Iraq’s weapons programs as proof that the CIA couldn’t be trusted — even though the intelligence community had long ago held itself to account for those mistakes and Trump himself supported the invasion of Iraq.”
Price also pointed out Trump’s first visit to the CIA headquarters as president, which was appalling, to say the least.
“Standing in front of a memorial to the CIA’s fallen officers, he seemed to be addressing the cameras and reporters in the room, rather than the agency personnel in front of them, bragging about his inauguration crowd the previous day,” the former NSC spokesperson added. “Whether delusional or deceitful, these were not the remarks many of my former colleagues and I wanted to hear from our new commander-in-chief.”
He also called the commander-in-chief’s actions “disturbing.”
So what was the last straw?
Apparently, it was the absence of the CIA director and the director of national intelligence from the NSC’s principals committee after the White House issued a directive to reorganize the council. Instead, Trump’s chief strategist and notorious white supremacist Stephen Bannon’s name had been added to the roster, even though he lacks any government experience.
“The public outcry led the administration to reverse course and name the CIA director an NSC principal, but the White House’s inclination was clear,” Price commented. “It has little need for intelligence professionals who, in speaking truth to power, might challenge the so-called ‘America First’ orthodoxy that sees Russia as an ally and Australia as a punching bag.”
He has a valid point — and he is certainly not the only government official who thinks that way.
Earlier this month, 10 members of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders submitted their resignations, followed by a member of the Federal Election Commission who quit her job.
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