Don’t Muzzle Past C.I.A. Officers


President Trump reignited controversy about Russia recently by declaring he believes that its president, Vladimir Putin, is sincere when he asserts that Moscow did not interfere in previous year’s presidential election. The director of the C.I.A., Mike Pompeo, made similarly confounding remarks previous month when he stated that Russia’s plan had failed to affect the outcome of the election, misrepresenting the formal judgment of the intelligence community. A C.I.A. spokesman later stated that Mr. Pompeo experienced misspoken.

As former C.I.A. officers, we find both of those comments deeply troubling. But another, less observed remark by Mr. Pompeo was similarly disturbing. He stated that agency officers have an obligation to remain quiet about their work for a period that “much extends beyond the day you turn in your badge.” Also if his ire was educated mostly at specific outspoken past intelligence community leaders, his communication to all former C.I.A. officers was clear: Stop speaking out.

Our response to him is this: Respectfully, we won’t. As past C.I.A. officers, we wish to explain why we’ve decided to speak out about the troubling state of our country’s leadership and the risky implications for our national security.

Two of us served as analysts centered on counterterrorism and broader security issues, while another of us was an functions officer for almost three decades. Each of us dished up under presidents of both parties, and we all left the C.I.A. at different times and for diverse factors. We fall on various factors of the political spectrum, but at least one component unites us: We became a member of the C.I.A. as a result of our love of region and desire to safeguard the ideals upon which it was founded.

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On our first trip to C.I.A. headquarters, we elevated our right hands and declared that people would protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, international and domestic. Nowhere for the reason that oath – or any of the reams of paperwork we signed – do we pledge to defend a specific president or a particular political get together. Our loyalty oath was to something far greater, and that oath is the very reason we’ve chosen to end up being vocal.

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Indeed, we believe we’ve a responsibility to contact out when our leadership isn’t doing enough to maintain America safe. We happen to be most alarmed by the current administration’s continued denial of Russian interference in the presidential election, despite the high assurance judgment of the intelligence community to the contrary. In the most recent episode, President Trump has equivocated as to whom he believes: his own intelligence organizations or Mr. Putin, a retired K.G.B. colonel. It had been only after a public outcry that President Trump, seemingly begrudgingly, cast his whole lot with American intelligence organizations, at least for the moment.

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