John Schindler writes: For the first time, an American president is causing our allies and partners to wonder if Washington can still be trusted.
As I’ve explained, Trump’s aggressive comments about American spies — mocking them and comparing them to Nazis on Twitter, for example — have generated unprecedented enmity in our Intelligence Community. Going to war with the IC is a bad idea for any new administration, particularly given the new commander-in-chief’s rumored links to Vladimir Putin, which are keeping American spies up at night.
It’s not just Washington that’s worried. Throughout the Western spy alliance, intelligence agencies are pondering the previously unthinkable: Is the American president compromised? On several occasions over the decades, the IC had to reduce spy-links, usually only temporarily, to various partners when a new government contained too many cabinet ministers with Moscow linkages. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and it’s the American government that seems to have a Kremlin problem.
Just how alarming things are was revealed by a recent report in The Times of London that British intelligence has asked the IC for reassurances that the new administration — which has several officials with Kremlin ties that aren’t exactly hidden — won’t compromise British spies operating clandestinely inside Russia. When America’s oldest and most intimate intelligence partner is worried that the White House can’t be trusted with secrets, we’re in uncharted and dangerous waters.
The cost of breakdowns in the Western spy alliance won’t be theoretical. If intelligence sharing wanes, the world gets more dangerous and jihadist attacks will increase, perhaps quite quickly. When spy-partners aren’t confident their shared secrets can be protected, they will become reticent to talk to us. As Mike Hayden, the former director of both NSA and CIA explained, “How many foreign intelligence agencies might say, ‘I’m not sure giving this information to the Americans will do any good anyway. So why should we share it in the first place?’ If they come to the conclusion that the decision-makers don’t pay attention to the intelligence and the Intelligence Community is not respected, then why take the risk?” [Continue reading…]