Thursday, January 26, 2017

Former CIA officer: Spy agency faces retooling

Scott Eder at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida
After the Wall Street Journal reported that Donald Trump was working with advisers on a plan to dramatically shrink the country's top spy agency, a Trump spokesman issued a quick denial.
But retired CIA officer Scott Eder said Thursday he believes that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will be reduced in size.
"That staff will be shrunk," said Eder, speaking to students and faculty at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.
President Trump has talked about his desire to "reorganize, retool and sharpen the intelligence community," said Eder during an appearance at the college. "The major target of that is the Office of Director of National Intelligence."
The Trump administration will not disband the agency, but he will likely shrink it, said Eder, who was a CIA officer for 28 years.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was established in 2004 in response to the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Post-9/11 investigations included a joint Congressional inquiry and the independent National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (better known as the 9/11 Commission). The report of the 9/11 Commission in July 2004 proposed sweeping change in the Intelligence Community including the creation of a National Intelligence Director," the DNI website states.
The agency staff jumped from 11 to some 1,700. Eder described the agency as "a perfect example of bloated government office."
"They're too big," he said. "They're bloated."
James Clapper
In November, James Clapper resigned as the agency's director. Trump's choice to head the office is former Sen. Dan Coats, a Republican from Indiana and former member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Dan Coats
Eder said he believes that Coats knows full well that one of his tasks is going to be to reduce the size of the agency.
On Jan. 5, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said that a Wall Street Journal report that the agency was going to be cut in size was "100 percent false."
Eder disagrees and believes the agency will be trimmed.
He said he has stayed in touch with colleagues at the CIA. They told him that they were pleased that Trump stopped by CIA headquarters after his inauguration.
Trump's Jan. 21 visit was unprecedented.
"In my lifetime, never has a president of the United States gone over to CIA, my beloved alma mater, so rapidly," Eder said. In "my 28 years there, a president would come over maybe three times in four years. Twice maybe. Maybe, maybe twice. President Trump came over literally on his first full day on duty."
And the president's meetings with CIA officials were "very positive," Eder said. "The feedback I'm getting is they're very appreciative of him coming over there the day after him being sworn in."
Eder said it's not as if everyone at CIA voted for Trump. Nor do all agree with his views. But he said his colleagues gave him the impression that Trump was sincere.
"Proof is in the pudding," Eder said. Trump "promised all the resources that they need to do what they need to do."

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