One Year Ago — Former CIA Director Leon Panetta: “President Must Build ‘Loyalty’ With Intel Community”

“Obviously, it’s not a good situation. Because there is a lack of trust between the president and the intelligence community, and between the intelligence community and the president. And, you know, every time he demeans the intelligence community or accuses it of leaks or accuses it of doing things that it’s not doing, that obviously impacts on the morale of that institution.”

Former C.I.A. Director Leon Panetta

“Either we need a new election or hang [CIA Director] John Brennan for putting out disinformation.”

Former CIA operative Robert Baer

Leon Panetta

Former C.I.A. Director Leon Panetta

February 20 2017 — Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that intelligence officers were withholding sensitive information from the President out of concerns that it could be compromised.  Former C.I.A. Director Leon Panetta discusses the news and the ‘leaks’. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

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UPDATE (February 20 2018) — On this day last year, I wrote that I was not entirely convinced that these four former CIA Directors [Hayden, Panetta, Morell and Brennan]had done their very best to “establish loyalty between the CIA and the President of the United States.”

In the summer of 2016, former CIA Director Mike Morell publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton over Trump. In December 2017, Morell finally acknowledged in a revealing self-critical interview that he — as well a several other former CIA directors all highly critical of the US president — had failed to fully “think through the negative backlash generated by their going political”.

“In August of 2016, I became political, when I endorsed Hillary Clinton with an op-ed in The New York Times. (…) I was concerned about what is the impact it would have on the agency. (…)  But I don’t think I fully thought through the implications.”

RELATED POST: Former CIA Director : “I failed to fully think through the negative backlash generated by going political.”

Perhaps, Morell deserves some credits for his mea culpa. But it is certainly too little, too late. Surely, the former CIA analyst and Director should have known that: “In everything, one must consider the end.”

I do not think that many people expected President Trump to have a “normal relation” with the Intelligence Community but what actually unfolds under our eyes is simply out of this world.

Recently, former CIA Director John Brennan called Trump a grave risk to the US national security. Then, he went on to call Trump’s words a national disgrace.

How much worse can this situation become? Not much, I am afraid… But the worse is never sure!


According to the WSJ piece – “Spies Keep Intelligence From Donald Trump on Leak Concerns” — the decision to withhold information underscores deep mistrust between Intelligence Community and President. The article is based on discussions with current and former officials familiar with the matter.

On Thursday, according to CBS News:

“An angry President Trump called CIA Director Mike Pompeo and yelled at him for not pushing back hard enough against reports that the intelligence community was withholding information from the commander-in-chief.”

The CIA then drafted a strongly worded statement rebutting the claim:

“We are not aware of any instance when that has occurred. It is CIA’s mission to provide the President with the best intelligence possible and to explain the basis for that intelligence. The CIA does not, has not, and will never hide intelligence from the President, period.”


Leon Panetta served as both CIA Director and Secretary of Defense under former President Barack Obama, and worked as the White House chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton.

Hiding Intel from the President?

Panetta argues that the recent report in the Wall Street Journal claiming that intelligence officers were withholding sensitive information from the president out of concerns that it could be compromised is not believable.

“In my experience, I have never had intelligence officers who have a responsibility to provide full information to the president and to other leaders in the country ever withhold a piece of intelligence.”

“Your first responsibility is to provide the truth to the president. And if you start thinking about how the president’s going to use it, what he’s going to do with that information, then frankly, you’ll never provide the truth to the president. And that’s what intelligence officers are supposed to do.”

The ‘Leaks’

According to Panetta,

“The leaks aren’t necessarily exclusive to the Trump administration. I’ve been involved in politics for a long time. And I’ve served two presidents and have worked under nine presidents. Leaks are a problem that every president has complained about.”

Blaming the President

Panetta believes that President Donald Trump’s friction with the intelligence community is fostering a “lack of trust” atmosphere and damaging morale.

“The most important thing you can do to stop leaks is to establish loyalty between the people that [sic] are working for you and the president of the United States. If you establish that sense of loyalty then he won’t have to worry about leaks.”

Things to Remember…

For now, let me ask you a question: Who has been publicly discrediting one presidential candidate while praising the other? Allow me to remind you what three former CIA Directors have said about Trump in the last months of the 2016 Presidential campaign and what the then CIA Director did once Trump was elected.


Former CIA Director Michael Hayden (General) — May 30, 2006 – February 12, 2009

Former acting CIA director Michael Morell said that Putin has cleverly recruited Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.

“I’d prefer another term drawn from the arcana of the Soviet era: polezni durak. That’s the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.

That’s a pretty harsh term, and Trump supporters will no doubt be offended. But, frankly, it’s the most benign interpretation of all this that I can come up with right now.” [3 November 2016]

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta — February 13, 2009 – June 30, 2011

“I have a lot of concerns of his qualities of leadership or lack thereof. (…) Trump truly is not qualified to be president of the United States.” [July 2016]]

Related Post: Ex CIA Boss: Trump is not qualified to be POTUS

Former (Acting) CIA Director Michael Morell — November 9, 2012 – March 8, 2013

“On Nov. 8, I will vote for Hillary Clinton. Between now and then, I will do everything I can to ensure that she is elected as our 45th president.

Two strongly held beliefs have brought me to this decision. First, Mrs. Clinton is highly qualified to be commander in chief. I trust she will deliver on the most important duty of a president — keeping our nation safe. Second, Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security. (…)

In sharp contrast to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has no experience on national security. Even more important, the character traits he has exhibited during the primary season suggest he would be a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief.” [August 2016]

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CIA Director John Brennan — March 8, 2013 – Current

GOP Congressman Peter King of New York has dropped a bombshell accusation against CIA Director John Brennan, accusing him of having leaked information about an investigation into Russian hacking to the media for the sole purpose of obstructing President-elect Donald Trump’s election.

“It seems like to me there should be an investigation what the Russians did but also an investigation of John Brennan and the hit job he seems to be orchestrating against the president-elect,” King told “This Week” host Martha Raddatz on Sunday, referencing recent announcements made through the media that the CIA had discovered evidence of Russian hacking.

He added that he found it disturbing that Brennan had rushed to the media to share his agency’s findings instead of first briefing the intelligence community.

“Either we need a new election or hang Brennan for putting out disinformation,” former CIA operative Robert Baer told Newsweek.

As folks used to say: “It takes two to tango.” I am not entirely convinced that these four former CIA Directors have done their very best to “establish loyalty between their Agency and the President of the United States.”

Leon Panetta: ‘Never Seen Anything Like’ Donald Trump’s Rift With Intelligence

In an exclusive interview with TODAY, former CIA Director Leon Panetta tells Matt Lauer that once President-elect Donald Trump is briefed by intelligence officials about alleged Russian hacking, he “is going to realize that this is a very important issue that must be dealt with seriously.” Panetta also explains what kind of message he thinks it would send if Trump reverses sanctions Obama imposed against Russia.


Former CIA Director Panetta: Building Loyalty With Intel Can Help Stop Leaks — NBC News


One Year Ago — Former CIA Director Leon Panetta: “President Must Build ‘Loyalty’ With Intel Community”

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