The appointment of U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as interim Director of National Intelligence (DNI), a position that he will apparently hold simultaneously with the ambassadorship, has been criticized from all sides due to his inexperience, history of bad judgement and partisanship. The White House is now claiming that he will be replaced by Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe after the interim appointment is over, though sources in Washington suggest that Ratcliffe might have some problems in being approved by Congress.
But such criticism, including my own, has somewhat missed the point, which is that what we are already seeing is a purge orchestrated by Grenell of federal employees in the White House and national security apparatus who are holdovers from the Obama Administration and who are therefore considered to be unreliable. That is why Grenell will continue to be ambassador as well as DNI as it is envisioned that his wrecking ball will have completed its task within six months and he will be able to return to Berlin, in spite of the fact that he is despised in Germany and many officials there even refuse to meet with him, which characteristically doesn’t appear to bother the White House at all.
Presumably many current senior employees in the intelligence community (IC) will be given non-jobs away from the White House and replaced by new appointees who are distinguished by their loyalty to the president, not by their accomplishments or skills. That means that competence will be secondary, if not irrelevant. It should be assumed that many of the new hires will be drawn from the pool of neoconservatives that proliferated in the George W. Bush administration.
Many who believe the CIA and NSA to be evil organizations will, of course, welcome the de facto destruction of both organizations for ideological reasons. But those critics should bear in mind that there are potentially serious consequences to the possible changes. First of all, if one thinks that the illegal surveillance, regime change programs and assassination plots that have come out of the IC over the past twenty years have been a disgrace, just think for a moment how bad it could get if the security organs begin to ignore all constitutional and legal restraints after their assigned mission becomes de facto protecting the president and everything that he seeks to do.
Second, having large numbers of new employees learning on-the-job will mean that the quality of intelligence produced will go down. Again, some will object that the quality is already bad, but a careful analysis of what has gone wrong since 9/11 would suggest that the real problem has been political, that information is cherry picked or even falsified by the highly politicized IC leadership to support a certain agenda and is then spun to arrive at a particular conclusion supporting the White House. This has gone on since George W. Bush, if not before, but under Trump it is operating largely out in the open.
A third point is that the people who will be in charge of what is characteristically being described as “draining the swamp” are not necessarily acting in support of identifiable national interests. They are ideologues who are acting to create a policy decision-making process whereby the president of the United States will be empowered to do more-or-less whatever he or she chooses to do in terms of national security and foreign affairs. That continues what has been happening in any event since 2002, but it creates a very bad precedent moving forward. And it pari passu strengthens what has been one of the most disgraceful aspects of Trump foreign policy, the incessant and irresponsible pandering to Israel.
Whitney Webb of Mint Press News has explored the depth of Grenell’s engagement with Israel and with Zionist individuals and groups in the United States. There is already a very top-heavy presence of Israel advocates in a Trump administration that has already proven to be the most pro-Israel ever, even exceeding the completely suborned Bill Clinton. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both Christian Zionists head the list, but there is also presidential special advisor Jared Kushner, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and the Mormon head of the National Security Council Robert O’Brien.
The State Department is fully staffed with Jewish Americans who are ardently pro-Israel at every level that relates to Middle East policy, to include David Schenker as head of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and Nathan Sales as Counterterrorism Coordinator. Elan Carr fills the bizarre position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism and Cherrie Daniels is the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues. Morgan Ortagus is State Department spokesman.
In Congress American Jews considered to be strong supporters of Israel are prominent in Committees that deal with national security or the Middle East. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has described himself as “shomer” or “defender” of Israel in Congress. Congressman Adam Schiff, head of the House Intelligence Committee, recently featured in the attempted impeachment of Trump. Eliot Engel chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he is joined by Brad Sherman, Ted Deutch, Andy Levin and Lee Zeldin. The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, chaired by Max Rose, an Israel partisan, recently held hearings about ” confronting the rise in antisemitism and domestic terrorism.”
And then there is the president himself and his paymaster Las Vegas casino multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who have been the driving forces behind moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, endorsing Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, and dropping the description of the Israeli occupation settlements as “illegal.” It was all accomplished while closing the PLO representative offices in Washington, defunding the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and eliminating security assistance to the Palestinians. Along the way Trump’s Zionist mouthpiece Ambassador David Friedman has endorsed every Israeli atrocity and war crime, to include the mass shooting of unarmed Gazan civilian protesters.
Trump has also been promoting a “take it or leave it” peace plan that permits the Palestinians only a small bit of non-contiguous West Bank land completely surrounded by Israel with no actual sovereignty. Fifty European foreign ministers and senior officials have recently denounced the plan as little more than “apartheid.”