“It’s a really bad day at the office when the spooks are spooked. That’s what happened on Wednesday when President Trump announced that Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany, will become the acting director of national intelligence. Though Mr. Grenell is credited with effectively pushing the White House’s agenda on Iran and China, he has virtually no intelligence experience and is viewed as very partisan. This rattled the spy community and stoked fears that a purge may be coming, fears that seemed to be confirmed on Friday when Mr. Grenell ousted his office’s No. 2 official. In fact, our whole country should be spooked.
Mr. Grenell was appointed after the president reportedly became angered by a congressional briefing that said Russia is trying to help him in the 2020 election by meddling in the Democratic primaries. So Mr. Trump removed Joseph Maguire, the highly regarded acting director of national intelligence, and temporarily assigned Mr. Grenell, who is keeping his other roles.
Reports say that Kashyap Patel, a former National Security Council staff member who sought to discredit the Russia inquiry, is a senior adviser to Mr. Grenell. The worry is that this new team is meant to do one thing: undermine the core mission of the intelligence community, which is to speak truth to power.
We’ve seen this movie before, and it didn’t end well. In 2004, the C.I.A.’s director, Porter Goss, forced out career experts over a counterintelligence dispute. A review of that activity by the Silberman-Robb Commission ultimately resulted in Mr. Goss’s resignation. The coming purge could be far worse.”