"So far as one can tell, he knows absolutely nothing about the intelligence community."
According to the New York Times, Donald Trump has an insane plan to shake up the national security side of his administration, in which he fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, replaces him with Director of National Intelligence Mike Pompeo, and then replaces him with Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton.
This plot has many national security officials shaken, and no part of it more so than Cotton taking over the CIA.
Per Raw Story, former intelligence officials are furious. CIA veteran Ned Price called Cotton a “political ideologue.” Paul Pillar, a 28-year veteran of the CIA, condemned the GOP senator as “an awful appointment … who is not well suited to lead an agency part of whose core mission is objective analysis.”
Robert Deitz, former senior counsel at the CIA, said that Cotton “knows absolutely nothing about the intelligence community,” while former CIA operations officer Glenn Carle blasted Cotton as “wholly unfit to be CIA director.”
Cotton may know nothing about the intelligence community, but he sure has some strong opinions on it.
Cotton is best known for authoring a letter to the Iranian mullahs behind President Barack Obama’s back — signed by 46 other Republican senators — in an attempt to undercut the Iran nuclear deal. At the time, the act was blasted by 22 newspaper editorial boards, and one Army general called it “mutinous.” He also compared Obama’s diplomatic talks with Iran and the P5+1 (the UN Security Council’s member countries) to the appeasement of Nazi Germany.
Cotton has called the detainees in Guantanamo Bay “savages” and said that his only criticism of the facility is that “there are too many empty beds.” He also claimed that waterboarding is not torture, contrary to all psychological evidence.
Worse still, he has an incredibly dim view of press freedom. While serving in the Army, Cotton wrote a letter calling for New York Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen to be prosecuted for espionage, in response to their investigation on how the government tracks money laundering by terrorists.
This is the worst possible person you could put in charge of a government agency with a massive surveillance apparatus — especially since he is a strong supporter of warrantless surveillance of American citizens.
In choosing Cotton, Trump will place the CIA under the leadership of a far-right ideologue who sees no moral or legal limit to the government’s power to target threats or use military force. His decision will endanger us all.
If Trump appoints Cotton, said one CIA veteran, “let’s burn it all down.”