Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, warned that partisan politics is negatively affecting the U.S. intelligence community, according to his interview on WNYC radio Monday.
Hayden noted that the potential nomination of disgruntled former officials under the Obama administration for roles in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration is evidence that partisanship has infected the nation’s security apparatus.
“What that tells me … is that the hyper-partisanship in Washington now has bled over into the American intelligence and security community,” said Hayden. “And that can’t be good news.”
The former CIA director offered his thoughts on Trump’s picks for national security leadership roles, notably retired Gen. Mike Flynn for national security adviser and Rep. Mike Pompeo for director of the CIA.
Hayden noted Flynn brings “unarguable tactical and operational success in the armed forces.” That said, he added he is uncertain Flynn will be able to balance Trump’s “intemperate” rhetoric, given Flynn’s own controversial comments.
Hayden was much more positive on Pompeo’s selection, noting “he was a careful student of intelligence” as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
“He asked serious questions and wanted to learn,” said Hayden. “So I think, on balance, the American intelligence community is quite happy with that choice.”
Rumors have circulated that Trump may eliminate the position of director of national intelligence, in addition to bringing in a new national security team. Hayden admitted he was not a “fan” of the position when it was created in 2004, but he noted it can be beneficial to the intelligence community.
“The DNI structure is an effective structure with the right people and the support of the president,” said Hayden. “I just don’t think the American intelligence community needs another major restructuring.”
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