In the past couple of days, the former Directors of the CIA and DNI have castigated the current president on his handling of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Both individuals have taken upon themselves the mantle of I know more than the President about how he should conduct Foreign Policy. Now neither of these people currently holds a position of authority within the government, so they are speaking as private citizens using their former positions as senior intelligence officials to attract the attention of a media eager to criticize the current administration. This is wrong.
Intelligence officers should remain above the fray. We serve the government, regardless of the party in power, and when we go public and began to criticize, we establish in the minds of the citizenry a partiality that can never be taken back. For these two individuals to take upon themselves the mantle of claiming to know more than the President about his intentions places them squarely in the realm of politics. Taking such a stand makes it harder for current and future intelligence officers to remain neutral and do the jobs for which they were hired. In this case, there are those who claim neither officer is well-versed in that part of the intelligence business that deals with influencing the outcome of events. This may be because neither was ever a field Operator; in fact, both were antithetical to the operations side of the house, which their critics will claim is evident from how they ran their respective organizations. That is to say, while they placed great value in their analysis capabilities, they were timid regarding proactive measures to counter or prophylactically influence foreign political events. Not privy to how the President may or may not be implementing a plan of his own design, re the handling of Putin, they should remain silent. By not doing so, they impugn the impartiality of the professional intelligence workforce.