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UPDATED – Central Intelligence Agency turns 70 – uneasily

September 18, 2017 - UNITED STATES

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) turns 70 on edge. Before President Donald Trump took office on Jan 21, the spy shop's story could be told around the historic rivalry between intelligence agencies. Now the CIA story revolves around its tense relationship with President Donald Trump.

Mike Pompeo, appointed by Trump as CIA director, takes over an intelligence force that is wary of the new president because he has reviled the agency repeatedly. Pompeo will be responsible for smoothing relations between the CIA and the White House. At his confirmation hearings, the former Republican congressman avoided criticizing the president while assuring lawmakers that the agency won't be affected by Trump's treatment of it. Trump had suggested that the CIA was behind the leak of a dossier full of explosive and unconfirmed allegations about his ties to Russia. Trump also likened the leak to "something Nazi Germany would have done and did do."

Trump will expect Pompeo's loyalty, putting the CIA director in a tough spot if investigations into the alleged Russia-Trump campaign links begin turning up irrefutable evidence.

Pompeo inherits reforms introduced by former director John Brennan in 2015 that take the agency deep into cyber warfare territory. Other intelligence agencies have also staked out ground in the fight, and interagency rivalry, the problem that prompted the founding of the CIA in 1947 has again surfaced..

The CIA grew out of the World War II Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a civilian intelligence agency responsible for the collection of secret information for policy makers. It was envisioned as a means of getting around the problems of distrust and rivalry between the new civilian agencies and the military intelligence services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Encyclopedia Britannica notes that because of rivalries between army and navy intelligence offices, which did not want to jeopardize the "security" of their information, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was not given sensitive information about Japan in the months before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Dec 1941. The terror attacks of Sep 11, 2001, are also said to have benefited from rivalry between the services that prevented the sharing of vital information about the attackers.

John Brennan's attempt to lead America's spies into the age of cyberwar (Reuters 2 Nov 2016)

Central Intelligence Agency (Encyclopedia Britannica)

18 famous, and infamous, missions (CNN 6 May 2011)

New CIA director arrives to tense intel community (The Hill Jan 2017)

Date written/update: 2017-07-14