Yes, Mike Pompeo Faces A Challenge, But It Isn't the One That the Media Thinks

Realization seems to be sinking in at Langley that they have taken their best shot at Trump with the scurrilous story that the Russians intervened in the election to help him win, and they missed. Now instead of a president they have shamed and who is groveling at their feet looking for their approval they are locked in a very small cage with a very dangerous carnivore. So now we see what can only be described as a CIA sponsored story in The Hill: Trump’s CIA pick faces ‘serious management problem’.

It is all about what Pomepo has to do to win the trust and confidence of the CIA, not about what the CIA has to do to win the trust and confidence of Pompeo and the Trump national security team.

Rep. Mike Pompeo is about to take on a particularly difficult task: Leading a spy agency ridiculed and criticized by the nation’s incoming commander-in-chief.

If confirmed, as expected, to be the nation’s next CIA director, the Kansas Republican will take the reins of an agency Donald Trump has repeatedly bashed as ineffective and unreliable.

The story goes on to give really meany pants things that Trump has inflicted upon the CIA that Pompeo needs to fix. (Note that the sources are basically Democrats.)

Trump has even taken the unprecedented step of refusing daily intelligence briefings, suggesting they’re simply a waste of his time.

This is true. But it is irrelevant and, as I’ve documented, it is certainly not “unprecedented.” Obama has taken the briefing less than one-third of the time. Reagan didn’t take it at all. Unless there is actionable intelligence in the briefing… and then you have to wonder why the CIA waited until a scheduled briefing to disseminate it… it is difficult to imagine that sitting through these things is useful. They need to be heard by the National Security Council and the NSC needs to develop courses of action for presidential decision. Any president who makes a decision based on the PDB shouldn’t be close to the White House and if there isn’t a decision to be made it is difficult to make the case that he needs to hear it.

“I could imagine lots of CIA veterans right now looking at each other and saying, ‘Hey, it’s time to retire. This guy has contempt for us,’” Himes added, referring to Trump. “So I think Mike’s got a really serious management problem on day one.”

This is a feature, not a bug. As the old saying goes, ‘the graveyard is full of indispensable men.’ The best thing that could happen to Pompeo would be a mass exodus of the upper ranks of the CIA. This would allow outside talent to be brought in and for talent inside the agency to rise. 99% of what is wrong with the CIA, other than it being a Democrat country club, is that its view of the world has long ceased to mesh with reality and it is easier to massage reality to fit their vision than change long established patterns.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.), senior Democrat on the CIA subcommittee, echoed that concern.

Like Himes, he gave Pompeo a glowing review as a smart and hard-working straight shooter with “a lot of integrity.” But Pompeo’s effectiveness will be undermined, Swalwell warned, if the incoming president sustains his adversarial approach to the career officials at the center of the country’s intelligence efforts.

“They don’t like politics. … They just want to play it down the middle and just follow the evidence. So to see their work dismissed in such an uninformed way by a politician is demoralizing,” Swalwell said.

This is bullsh** on stilts. The CIA has been a political agency for years. Their goal is to never be wrong and if they are they have no hesitation whatsoever about tossing the president under the bus. If you have doubts look at the way the CIA tossed Bush under the bus by leaking that he’d been briefed on 9/11 being imminent in a PDB titled “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US.” Then the agency fought to keep that PDB secret. When it was finally released (read the whole thing and decide for yourself if this was a good use of Bush’s time), it was nebulous, it mentioned airline hijacking in the traditional context, and gave the impression that the CIA and FBI had everything under control.
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During the Iraq War, the CIA waged open warfare on Bush.

A writer at The Federalist details her experiences as a CIA employee and it should put to rest the fiction of the noble CIA treading above mere politics:

…Perhaps this is why one of my chiefs once asked me to do something political and, I thought, weird. She claimed that President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative violated the ABM Treaty.

So one day, she handed me a thick computer print-out of quotes about the ABM Treaty from American policy-makers. She basically wanted me to dig up and highlight anything in their words that would expose a violation. Never mind that I was an analyst, not anybody’s research assistant. Never mind that there were legions of Washington Post and other media reporters who did that stuff. Essentially, a superior at the CIA asked me to do a form of opposition research on American policy makers. (I decided to “just say no.”)

Yes, Mike Pompeo faces a leadership challenge. It just isn’t the one that two Democrats on his committee think it is. Pompeo is taking over a ruthless and deeply partisan agency that seems to think it is charged with setting US foreign policy, not merely providing information and recommendations to policy makers. The senior leadership might as well have seats on the DNC. They are going to try to coopt Pompeo and if that doesn’t work they will destroy him. If he can’t fire enough people to strike fear into the remainder he is going to have a short and unpleasant tenure at Langley.