National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, viewed by many as one of the last remaining non-acolytes among the administration’s intelligence officers, submitted his resignation Sunday, effective August 15. Conversely, Coats’s chosen replacement, Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, an attribute he displayed in his grilling of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller during last week’s House Judiciary Committee hearing. The latest shakeup at the top of the national security hierarchy has raised major concerns for at least one former intel director.
Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, who served for more than three years as the Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy and more than two decades as a CIA officer, warned Sunday that the absence of non-partisan actors at the head of America’s security agencies does not portend well for the future of law enforcement.
“Trump is consolidating his personal control over the intelligence community. Between loyalists Barr and Radcliffe, and pliant CIA and FBI directors, Trump is close to neutralizing intelligence and law enforcement as spoilers in his bid to amass unprecedented executive power,” Mowatt-Larssen said.
Mowatt-Larssen, a 26-year intelligence veteran, also weighed-in on Ratcliffe’s inexperience and seeming unwavering allegiance to Trump, which he believes presents real problems in his future role of providing oversight to all of America’s 17 intelligence agencies.
“Ratcliffe is unprepared and unqualified to be DNI. He lacks the experience to manage an $80 billion dollar enterprise consisting of 17 intelligence agencies. Moreover, Trump selected him only for his loyalty. That conflicts with the DNI’s duty to speak truth to power,” Mowatt-Larssen continued.
Ratcliffe, a Republican and former prosecutor from Texas currently serving his third term in the House, has wholeheartedly defended Trump in the face of the Russia investigation. He has no prior experience in national intelligence.
According to the New York Times, Coats had long been expected to depart of his own accord due to his tumultuous relationship with Trump, but remained in his position to avoid appearing forced out. Trump reportedly asked Coats to remain longer in February, but in a meeting last week with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Coats said he would no longer continue in the position.
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