I wonder what the future will hold for the nation’s Intelligence Community, under and administration (or at least a POTUS) that does not value the work of intelligence professionals. When a man with no government experience of any kind – civilian, military, federal, state, or local – boldly and absurdly claims that he has a better handle on military strategy than the Generals and Admirals, refuses to take intelligence briefings, and routinely dismisses intelligence assessments that do not conform to his preconceptions, I have a hard time seeing a bright future either for the community or for our national security.
Thankfully, some still appreciate the role and value of the Intelligence Community – including Vice-President Elect Pence. This evening I’ll share some words from Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who is the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and who appreciates the work of our intelligence professionals. He writes:
… let me assure you that there is deep appreciation in the halls of Congress, within the Executive branch, and among the general public for the work that you do. That support runs broad and deep. I have had the privilege to meet many of you both here and overseas and have been universally impressed with your dedication to your mission, your commitment to the rule of law, your sacrifice, and most of all, your unwavering patriotism.
Yours is a profession that carries many risks. Every time I visit CIA or NSA, I am reminded that intelligence is not free, and that you continue to pay with your lives to protect us. Most Americans do not realize, for example, that the first American killed in Vietnam, Spec. James “Tom” Davis, was an Army Security Agency soldier (a SIGINTer under the authority of the NSA), or that our first casualty in Afghanistan, Johnny Micheal Spann, was a CIA paramilitary officer.
In the wake of Russian hacking into our political institutions, the intelligence community is once again in the political crosshairs. Your mission was to provide policymakers with the best, most objective, and most comprehensive information possible about the Russian intervention, but it must seem that you are now being denigrated for doing so. This is deeply regrettable and a problem or our making, not yours.
The complete letter is available from The Cipher Brief and is titled, “An Open Letter to the Men and Women of the U.S. Intelligence Community.” It is more important than ever to know that there are still those who appreciate the efforts of and the need for the intelligence professional that work so diligently to detect, identify, deter, and neutralize threats, here and abroad.