Archive for the ‘National Security Council’ category

DeSantis: House Intel Committee Has Brought in Some ‘Big Names’ to Answer Questions About Leaks

July 16, 2017

DeSantis: House Intel Committee Has Brought in Some ‘Big Names’ to Answer Questions About Leaks, PJ Media, Debra Heine, July 16, 2617

House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) said that the House Intelligence Committee has already brought in some “big names” — “more than the press knows” — to answer questions about leaks of classified information to reporters.

When asked by Hugh Hewitt on MSNBC Saturday morning whether the committee was planning to call up Obama’s former “foreign policy guru,” Ben Rhodes, DeSantis said that he’s spoken to the committee’s chairman, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, about Rhodes but that he would defer to Gowdy to identify people of interest in the leak investigation.

DeSantis, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Judiciary Committee, and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon last week that President Trump needs to purge Obama holdovers still working in the federal government.

DeSantis told the Beacon that “the holdovers and their allies outside the White House are responsible for an unprecedented series of national security leaks aimed at damaging the Trump administration’s national security apparatus.”

He singled out Obama’s chief propagandist, Ben Rhodes, as the person responsible for most of the leaks and called on Congress to press Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others to make sure they are looking into the situation.

DeSantis told Hewitt that he has drafted a letter to send to Sessions, asking that he investigate the leaks.

So I’ve prepared a letter. We’re going to be sending that next week, I imagine I’ll have a number of my colleagues joining it, asking the Justice Department to look into all these things, but then report back to us whether they are doing it or not, because, Hugh, you know, you’re very knowledgeable in national security.

We have certain intelligence authorities that are coming up for review this year. And if you don’t have anyone, say, being prosecuted for the Michael Flynn leaks, that was FISA material, then you’re not going to be able to do things like reauthorize 702 of the FISA statute, which is due by the end of the year. So I think if there’s no action being taken, I think it actually has a big effect on what we’re able to do in Congress.

And I’m somebody, I want to empower our intelligence agencies. I think it’s very important. But it’s very difficult to make that case to the American people if that information is then being used for domestic political warfare.

Asked if he would call Rhodes in to testify, DeSantis replied:

I’ve talked to Chairman Gowdy about it, and remember, they are doing things on the Intelligence Committee, and they’re doing a lot more than what the press knows in terms of some of the people that they have brought in. And they’ve brought in some pretty big names that I’m not authorized to say. So I want to defer to his judgment about whether that would be more appropriate in terms of the leak investigation that they’re doing on the Intelligence Committee. But I would like to bring him in to talk to him about it, because I want to figure out how all this information was getting out from the FISA intercept on…

DeSantis differentiated between the leaks that are coming from Obama holdovers in the Trump administration and standard “whistleblower” leaks.  These leaks, he argued, are an attack on the president.

“It’s not just people are leaking because they think something was wrong with the government and they want some sunlight,” DeSantis explained. “But this is concerted leaks designed to attack the sitting president. So I think the character of the leaks are different, and I think Comey’s leaks are part of that bushel.”

He cited as an example how conversations Trump has had with a foreign leaders have gone through the National Security Council and somehow ended up on the front page of the newspaper.

“And so we’ve gotten lot of information saying look, there’s only so many places that would come from,” the congressman said. “And the Obama holdover working with Rhodes, that’s a place we’ve been encouraged to look. So I want to look at that, because I think that it’s distorted the president’s ability to simply conduct foreign relations if there’s going to be selective leaking of his conversations with foreign leaders in ways that are damaging to him or at least purporting to damage him. That’s not the way we want our government to function.”

To answer his final question, Hewitt called on DeSantis to use his “prosecutorial chops”:

“If you had to guess who was going to get indicted, if anyone – Donald Trump Jr., James Comey or Ben Rhodes — what would your guess be?” he asked.

DeSantis answered: “I want to know what are in those Comey memos and see whether there’s classified information. I mean, I don’t think Donald Trump Jr. is going to get indicted. I think he had a meeting. I don’t think a criminal offense was committed. In terms of the political judgment, I think that’s fair to criticize. But I don’t think that there was a crime committed there.”

He forgot to mention Rhodes.

 

Steve Bannon Removed From National Security Council

April 5, 2017

Steve Bannon Removed From National Security Council, Washington Free Beacon, April 5, 2017

Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to U.S. President Donald Trump attends the swearing in ceremony for Nikki Haley as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in Washington, DC.  (Rex Features via AP Images)

President Donald Trump reportedly removed his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, from the National Security Council on Wednesday as part of a broader reorganization of the NSC.

Trump has reorganized his principal forum to consider national security matters by removing his top strategist and downgrading Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, according to Bloomberg, which obtained a presidential memorandum on the NSC shakeup.

Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, was given authority to set the agenda of the NSC.

The changes also allow the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, to again be regular attendees of the NSC’s principals committee.

Bannon was appointed to the NSC earlier this year as part of a reorganization that drew intense opposition from members of Congress and foreign policy experts.

One White House official told Bloomberg that Bannon was initially elevated to the NSC to keep an eye on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, but never attended a meeting. Now with Flynn gone, Bannon is no longer needed, the official said.

The Deep State’s War on Ezra Cohen-Watnick

March 31, 2017

The Deep State’s War on Ezra Cohen-Watnick, The Point (Front Page Magazine), Daniel Greenfield, March 31, 2017

In totalitarian systems where the media does nothing but churn out propaganda, people learn to read between the lines. You understand what is really going on by inferring what they don’t want you to know from what they do what you to know.

The interesting thing about the current political conflict is which key anti-terrorist Trump figures are being targeted. Flynn was a major target. Then Gorka. The case of Gorka made the targeting obvious. You can tell the targeting when if the first attack fails, they come back with a second one.

Now there’s Ezra Watnick-Cohen. He showed up in the news recently when McMaster attempted to replace him with an establishment infiltrator.

President Donald Trump has overruled a decision by his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, to sideline a key intelligence operative who fell out of favor with some at the Central Intelligence Agency, two sources told POLITICO.

On Friday, McMaster told the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence programs, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, that he would be moved to another position in the organization.

The conversation followed weeks of pressure from career officials at the CIA who had expressed reservations about the 30-year-old intelligence operative and pushed for his ouster.

But Cohen-Watnick appealed McMaster’s decision to two influential allies with whom he had forged a relationship while working on Trump’s transition team — White House advisers Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. They brought the matter to Trump on Sunday, and the president agreed that Cohen-Watnick should remain as the NSC’s intelligence director, according to two people with knowledge of the episode.

Cohen-Watnick was brought onto Trump’s transition team and then the NSC by a leading critic of the CIA: retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was Cohen-Watnick’s boss at the Defense Intelligence Agency and preceded McMaster as national security adviser.

Cohen-Watnick and Flynn “saw eye to eye about the failings of the CIA human intelligence operations,” said a Washington consultant who travels in intelligence circles. “The CIA saw him as a threat, so they tried to unseat him and replace him with an agency loyalist,” the operative said.

Specifically they tried to replace Cohen-Watnick with a woman at the center of the Benghazi mess.

Two sources within the White House tell me that last week McMaster had interviewed a potential replacement for Cohen-Watnick: longtime CIA official Linda Weissgold. Weissgold apparently had a good interview with McMaster, as she was overheard saying as she left the White House she would next have to “talk to Pompeo”—as in Mike Pompeo, the director of the CIA. But Weissgold was never offered the job; days later, Trump himself overruled the effort to move Cohen-Watnick out of his senior director role.

During the Obama administration Weissgold served as director of the CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis. She was among those who briefed Congress following the Benghazi terrorist attack in 2012, a team of intelligence and military experts who reportedly earned the nickname “the dream team” within the administration.

In her position at OTA, she was also involved directly in drafting the now infamous Benghazi talking points, which government officials revised heavily to include factually incorrect assessments that stated the attackers were prompted by protests. According to the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s report, Weissgold testified she had changed one such talking point to say that extremists in Benghazi with ties to al Qaeda had been involved in “protests” in the Libyan city, despite the fact that no such protests had occurred there on the day of the attack.

McMaster’s interview of Weissgold last week raised eyebrows beyond the White House, with members of the congressional oversight committees expressing concerns about Weissgold to top officials in the White House and the intelligence community.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Now Ezra Watnick-Cohen is at the center of the latest manufactured scandal. 

A Jewish security official has been named as the confidential source of House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) following claims that US President Donald Trump and his aides were swept up in surveillance by US intelligence agencies, The New York Times revealed Thursday.

Citing unnamed US officials, the Times identified the White House official as “Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council.”

Why would you not believe “unnamed officials”?

But what we are seeing very obviously is some of the shape and texture of the war based on who is being targeted and why. While those doing the targeting are “unnamed”, their targets are named. And that tells us also about those doing the targeting. Any enemy action reveals something about the enemy, his motives, his nature and his goals. That is how wars of this kind must be understood.

Good Riddance

February 27, 2017

Good Riddance, Front Page MagazineRobert Spencer, February 27, 2017

hijabmodel

The establishment media has found a new heroine: Rumana Ahmed, a hijab-wearing Muslim woman who worked at the National Security Council during the Obama administration and for eight days into the Trump administration, at which point she quit. 

Ahmed explained: “I had to leave because it was an insult walking into this country’s most historic building every day under an administration that is working against and vilifying everything I stand for as an American and as a Muslim.” That’s enough to send the media into self-righteous ululations of anti-Trump fury, but as always, there is more to this story than what the media is telling you, and a good deal about Rumana Ahmed that they would prefer you did not know.

In her piece in The Atlantic explaining why she left the Trump NSC (and it is important to note that she wasn’t fired by her supposedly “Islamophobic” new bosses; she quit), Ahmed sounds themes of post-9/11 Muslim victimhood that have become familiar tropes among Leftists: after recounting her idyllic life “living the American dream,” she says: “After 9/11, everything would change. On top of my shock, horror, and heartbreak, I had to deal with the fear some kids suddenly felt towards me. I was glared at, cursed at, and spat at in public and in school. People called me a ‘terrorist’ and told me, ‘go back to your country.’”

Not surprisingly, Ahmed made no mention of the fact that this Muslim victimhood narrative has been sullied, if not vitiated entirely, by the high number of “anti-Muslim hate crimes” that turn out to have been faked by Muslims. The Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other Muslims have on many occasions not hesitated to stoop even to fabricating “hate crimes,” including attacks on mosques and even murders: a New Jersey Muslim was found guilty of murder that he tried to portray as an “Islamophobic” attack, and in 2014 in California, a Muslim was found guilty of killing his wife, after first blaming her murder on “Islamophobia.”

Ahmed blamed yet another murder on “Islamophobia”: “A harsher world began to reemerge in 2015,” she wrote in The Atlantic. “In February, three young American Muslim students were killed in their Chapel Hill home by an Islamophobe. Both the media and administration were slow to address the attack, as if the dead had to be vetted before they could be mourned. It was emotionally devastating.”

In reality, there is no evidence that the Chapel Hill murders were committed by an “Islamophobe.” U.S. Attorney Ripley Rand declared the day after the murders: “The events of yesterday are not part of a targeting campaign against Muslims in North Carolina.” Rand said that there was “no information this is part of an organized event against Muslims.” Nor has any emerged since then, although that fact has not stopped Islamic advocacy groups from routinely treating these murders as evidence of a wave of anti-Muslim hatred in the U.S. Ruhana Ahmed in The Atlantic abets this cynical and disingenuous agenda.

In the same vein, Ahmed claims: “When Trump first called for a Muslim ban, reports of hate crimes against Muslims spiked.” In reality, as MRC Newsbusters noted in late November, “A number of these incidents have been debunked already, though the scant details on the majority of stories would be near impossible to disprove (or prove!).”

Ahmed is not only dishonest; she’s connected. Before she went to work for the Obama administration, she was an officer of George Mason University’s Muslim Students Association (MSA). According to Discover the Networks, the “was established mainly by members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in January 1963 at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Nyack College theologian Larry A. Poston writes that ‘many of the founding members of this agency [MSA] were members of, or had connections to,’ the Muslim Brotherhood or Jamaat-i-Islami.” The MSA is “a radical political force and a key lobbying organization for the Wahhabi sect of Islam, telling students that America is an imperialist power and Israel an oppressor nation. MSA speakers routinely spew anti-Semitic libels and justify the genocide against the Jews which is promoted by Islamic terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah and by the government of Iran.”

What’s more, “a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood internal document — titled ‘An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America’ — which named MSA as one of the Brotherhood’s 29 likeminded ‘organizations of our friends’ that shared the common goal of destroying America and turning it into a Muslim nation. These ‘friends’ were identified by the Brotherhood as groups that could help teach Muslims ‘that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands … so that … God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.’”

It is hard to imagine how someone who had served as an officer in an organization dedicated to “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within” would so quickly be appointed to the National Security Council, but that was Barack Obama’s America. The Trump administration is indeed setting a strikingly different tone, one that Rumana Ahmed finds unacceptable. Her dissatisfaction and departure from the NSC are good reason for every patriotic American to applaud.

Newly Installed NSA McMaster Reassures National Security Staff: No Witch Hunts Coming

February 24, 2017

Newly Installed NSA McMaster Reassures National Security Staff: No Witch Hunts Coming, Washington Free Beacon, February 24, 2017

Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster listens as President Donald Trump makes the announcement at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Monday, Feb. 20, 2017. McMaster will be the new national security adviser. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster listens as President Donald Trump makes the announcement at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., Monday, Feb. 20, 2017. McMaster will be the new national security adviser. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

To help with this effort, McMaster recommended several books meant to help current White House officials understand his own foreign policy vision.

One senior White House official who spoke to the Free Beacon described the reading list as pleasantly surprising and a vast departure from the former Obama administration’s own national security vision.

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Incoming White House National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster sought to reassure senior Trump administration officials during his first “all hands” staff meeting Thursday, according to those who attended the get together and told the Washington Free Beacon that McMaster informed staffers he does not intend to pursue a major shakeup of President Donald Trump’s national security team.

McMaster, who replaced Michael Flynn following his resignation last week, plans to navigate a vast departure from the Obama administration’s foreign policy vision, according to senior White House officials who described the meeting as “reassuring.” McMaster emphasized that he will not dismantle the team that Flynn had built.

As part of his discussion with White House national security staff, McMaster recommended a comprehensive reading list that included President Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal,” and several other tomes by leading historians about how to get the upper hand on America’s enemies. White House staff are said to have been mostly “thrilled” when hearing about the book list.

Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about McMaster’s vision, as laid out in the Thursday meeting, expressed optimism about his appointment and pushed back on what they described as false media narratives centered around White House disarray following Flynn’s departure.

“It’s no secret we’ve had a few more all-hands meetings than we intended in our first month—but General McMaster used this event to both reassure the NSC staff and to give us the tools to continue the mission,” said one senior White House National Security Council official who requested anonymity while discussing internal White House meetings.

McMaster explicitly told White House officials that he does not aim to dismantle Trump’s foreign policy team or push out those perceived as still loyal to Flynn. These comments run counter to a recent New York Times report claiming that McMaster is pursuing a massive reorganization of the president’s national security team.

“He made it clear he wasn’t there to grind a political axe or engage in a witch hunt,” the senior White House official said. “He was there to provide leadership, including direction on how to think about the task in front of us.”

To help with this effort, McMaster recommended several books meant to help current White House officials understand his own foreign policy vision.

One senior White House official who spoke to the Free Beacon described the reading list as pleasantly surprising and a vast departure from the former Obama administration’s own national security vision.

In addition to Trump’s “Art of the Deal,” McMaster recommended reading his own book, “Dereliction of Duty,” which catalogues the mistakes that led the United States into a quagmire in Vietnam.

He also requested that White House staffers read Peter Rodman’s “Presidential Command,” which McMaster reportedly referred to as the “gold standard” in foreign policy history. Rodman was an top official in the Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and both Bush administrations.

Senior White House staff are said to have found the mention of the book “very reassuring.”

“It’s certainly encouraging to see General McMaster highlighting his legacy,” one source said.

McMaster went on to further recommend two books by Zachary Shore, a historian and international conflict expert who teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School.

One Shore book, “Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions,” was described as “a cautionary tale for the staff” at the White House. The other, “A Sense of the Enemy,” examines methods to overtake rival forces.

Lastly, McMaster recommended staff read an essay by Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan titled, “The Rhyme of History,” which tackles lessons from World War I.

Senior White House officials who took part in the meeting described the reading list as encouraging and part of an effort to restore conservative principals focused primarily on defending the U.S.’s best interests.

The mention of MacMillan’s essay in particular “suggests General McMaster does not consider the 21st century a sort of post-historical bubble, but rather that there is a great deal to be learned from history as we chart our path forward,” said one official who described McMaster as advocating a wholesale reversal from the Obama administration’s vision.

Several historians currently serve on the White House’s national security team, including Col. Derek Harvey, a former advisor to Gen. David Petraeus; Michael Anton, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, and Victoria Coates, a former top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and art historian.

EXCLUSIVE: How The Nation’s Spooks Played The Game ‘Kill Mike Flynn’

February 16, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: How The Nation’s Spooks Played The Game ‘Kill Mike Flynn’, Daily CallerRichard Pollock, February 15, 2017

(Please see also, The CIA’s affront to Trump. — DM)

National Security Advisor Gen. Michael T. Flynn (ret.) — who resigned Monday — was the victim of a “hit job” launched by intelligence operatives, Obama government holdovers and former Obama national security officials, according to former intelligence officials who spoke with The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.

The talk within the tight-knit community of retired intelligence officers was that Flynn’s sacking was a result of intelligence insiders at the CIA, NSA and National Security Council using a sophisticated “disinformation campaign” to create a crisis atmosphere. The former intel officers say the tactics hurled against Flynn over the last few months were the type of high profile hard-ball accusations previously reserved for top figures in enemy states, not for White House officials.

“This was a hit job,” charged retired Col. James Williamson, a 32-year Special Forces veteran who coordinated his operations with the intelligence community.

Noting the Obama administration first tried to silence Flynn in 2014 when the former president fired him as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Williamson called Monday’s resignation, “stage Two of ‘Kill Mike Flynn.”

Former intelligence officials who understand spy craft say Flynn’s resignation had everything to do with a “disinformation campaign” and little to do with the December phone conversation he had with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

They charge officials from America’s top spy counsels leaked classified government intercepts of Flynn and President Trump’s conversations with world leaders and had “cutouts” — friendly civilians not associated with the agency — to distribute them to reporters in a coordinated fashion.

The issue of leaks was a prime topic for Trump when he tweeted Wednesday, “Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?). Just like Russia.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Retired Col. James Waurishuk, who spent three decades in top military intelligence posts and served at the National Security Council, said in an interview with TheDCNF. “We’ve never seen to the extent that those in the intelligence community are using intelligence apparatus and tools to be used politically against an administration official,” he said.

“The knives are out,” said Frederick Rustman, who retired after 24 years from the CIA’s Clandestine Service and was a member of its elite Senior Intelligence Service.

The intelligence community’s sprawling bureaucracy is organizing to topple the Trump presidency, Rustman charged in an interview with TheDCNF.

“I would not be surprised if Trump did not finish four years because of the vendetta they have out for him,” he said, calling the move on Flynn just a “mini-vendetta.”

Williamson told TheDCNF in an interview, “I truly believe it’s orchestrated and it’s part of an overall strategy. The objective is to piece-by-piece, dismantle the Trump administration, to discredit Trump.  This is part of an overarching plan.”

D.W. Wilber, who has over 30 years of experience in security and counterterrorism with the CIA and the Defense Department agrees.

“It appears to me there has been a concerted effort to try to discredit not only General Flynn, but obviously, the entire Trump administration through him.  He just happened to be the first scalp,” Wilber told TheDCNF in an interview.

Williamson agreed, telling theDCNF, “There are individuals who are well versed in information operations — we used to call that propaganda.  They know how to do it.  It’s deliberately orchestrated.”

Retired Marine Col. Bill Cowan, who often interacted with the intelligence operatives in combat zones, believes Mike Pompeo, Trump’s new CIA Director, must clean house. Otherwise, the administration will encounter four years of attacks.

“The director, Pompeo, if he doesn’t get a hold of the agency and its personnel, he can expect four years of this: clandestine, undercover disinformation, misinformation, psychological information to undermine this administration and this president,” he told TheDCNF.

Charles Goslin, a 27-year old former CIA operations officer also believes that many insubordinate intelligence staff are working within the National Security Council within the White House.

“With the NSC, I think that’s where the leaks are coming from on calls to foreign leaders. That’s where they undermined Flynn to the point where he got hammered,” Goslin told TheDCNF in an interview.

Goslin noted, “When Trump came in, even though they were able to staff key NSC positions, for the most part it’s still staffed by previous administration holdovers and bureaucratic appointees.”

“I don’t think they have any loyalty to the current administration,” the former CIA operations officer said, adding, “the NSC is going to be a hard one to fix.”

All of the former intelligence officials say the rage against Flynn dated back to when the decorated general headed up the DIA.  There he garnered a reputation to balk at the “politicization of military intelligence” in order to conform with President Obama’s world views.

Flynn refused to downplay the threat posed by the Islamic State and other radical Islamic groups throughout his two-year reign at the DIA. He was fired after offering congressional testimony that was at odds with the Obama administration’s posture on the Islamic threat.

Waurishuk, who interacted with Flynn as deputy director of the Special Operations Command and in other security matters, said Flynn was a “straight shooter” who always demanded accurate threat assessments and never bent to continue pressures of political correctness.

Waurishuk worked in military intelligence in the Obama administration. He told TheDCNF Obama officials “know Flynn and they hate Flynn because he would call them out.  So, this was their opportunity to wage what is a personal vendetta in some respects.”

California Republican Rep. Devon Nunes, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has promised to hold hearings on the leaking of classified information to reporters. The date has yet to be set for the hearings.

The CIA’s affront to Trump

February 16, 2017

The CIA’s affront to Trump, Washington Times, Angelo M. Codevilla, February 16, 2017

(It is absurd for the CIA to have control over whom President Trump can appoint to the National Security Council by refusing — for no stated or apparent reason — to grant the required security clearance. — DM)

ciatrumpstrumpCIA Bullies Trump Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The CIA has denied a security clearance to Trump National Security Council (NSC) official Robin Townley without any allegation, much less evidence of disloyalty to the United States. Quite simply, it is because the CIA disapproves of Mr. Townley’s attitude toward the agency, and this is unprecedented. President Trump appointed Mr. Townley to coordinate Africa policy at the NSC. The CIA did not want to deal with him. Hence, it used the power to grant security clearances to tell the president to choose someone acceptable to the agency, though not so much to him. This opens a larger issue: Since no one can take part in the formulation or execution of foreign or defense policy without a high-level security clearance, vetoing the president’s people by denying them clearances trumps the president.

Hence, if Mr. Trump does not fire forthwith the persons who thus took for themselves the prerogative that the American people had entrusted to him at the ballot box, chances are 100 percent that they will use that prerogative ever more frequently with regard to anyone else whom they regard as standing in the way of their preferred policies, as a threat to their reputation, or simply as partisan opponents. If Mr. Trump lets this happen, he will have undermined nothing less than the self-evident heart of the Constitution’s Article II: The president is the executive branch. All of its employees draw their powers from him and answer to him, not the other way around.

Using security clearances for parochial purposes — usually petty ones — while neglecting security, never mind counterintelligence, is an old story at the CIA which I got to know too well during eight years overseeing the agency as the designee of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s budget chairman. Because I did my quality control job vigorously, and because I placed on the budget cut list some of the many outside contracts that seemed corrupt, the agency made repeated attempts to withdraw my top-level, cross-cutting security clearances. After I left the Senate staff for Stanford, when the Naval Postgraduate School asked me to teach a highly classified course on signals intelligence, the school’s security office asked the CIA for my clearances. The bureaucrats there said they had never heard of me. I had to call Director of Central Intelligence Bill Casey, who ended up phoning them in personally to a startled Navy chief.

The CIA uses pretense about security to insulate itself from criticism, to protect its own, and to intrude into policymaking. Security against foreign intelligence ranks low in its priorities. For near a decade, its bureaucrats refused to look into obvious evidence that their own Aldrich Ames had sold out America’s entire agent network in the Soviet Union. Moreover, according to its inspector general, they continued to pass reports from that network to the president because they happened to agree with the direction in which these KGB-produced reports were pushing U.S. policy. The CIA also uses secrecy to avoid responsibility. It crafts the conclusions of its reports specifically to be leaked to The New York Times and The Washington Post, while making sure that the thin or nonexistent facts behind those conclusions never see the light of day.

The CIA’s denial of a clearance to a presidential appointee minus good cause, however, breaks new ground and shows truly revolutionary boldness. Traditionally, bureaucrats have used sticks and carrots to convince political appointees to play along lest they suffer unpleasantness. Thus, presidents have ended up having to choose between suffering appointees who have “gone native” or replacing them. Now, the CIA’s denial of Mr. Townley’s clearance removes all subtlety by demanding that Mr. Trump appoint only “natives.” If Mr. Trump indulges that demand for self-emasculation, the message will go out to all agencies: They need pay no attention to what political appointees tell them, and they need fear no retribution for this or for pressuring appointees in any way they want. The message to the people who Mr. Trump has appointed or who are considering working for Mr. Trump is just as clear: You have no choice but to make yourself acceptable to the bureaucrats because, if you don’t, they will hurt you and the president will not help you. This cannot help but skew the pool of potential members of the Trump administration.

We cannot know nor does it matter why Donald Trump seems to be deferring to bureaucrats who have gone out of their way to delegitimize him. But we can be certain about the kind of dynamic engendered by deference in the face of assaults.