Tags: Leon Panetta | Trump | Undermining | Intel

Ex-CIA Chief Panetta: Trump 'Undermining' Intel With Criticism by Tweet

("Today")

By    |   Friday, 06 Jan 2017 09:26 AM

President-elect Donald Trump should refrain from publicly critiquing U.S. intelligence agencies, Leon Panetta, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency said Friday.

"The fact that the president-elect is tweeting on this issue and taking it to the public, and in many ways undermining the credibility of the very intelligence agencies that have to provide information to him in order for him to be president of the United States, this is just unheard of and unprecedented," Panetta told NBC's "Today" show.

"I think we all have to be concerned about this. This is not the kind of bickering that ought to be going on in public," he added.

"He's going to find that it's easy to tweet about reactions to all kinds of issues, but to seriously deal with our national security and deal with the threats of our country is a business that's ought to be done in the confines of the Oval Office," Panetta said.

On Thursday, ahead of a briefing on Russian interference in the presidential election with all of the major U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump slammed their work in a Twitterstorm.

Panetta said that in his 50-year career, he had never seen a president so distrustful of the intelligence community.

"Very frankly, if a president is going to be successful, this is no way to start. The president has to work with the intelligence community," he continued.

"The president's got to make tough decisions. He cannot make those tough decisions without the very best intelligence that can be provided to him.

"I'm concerned that it really is damaging to the credibility of our intelligence agencies and the morale of the men and women who serve in those intelligence agencies."

If Trump reverses the sanctions on Russia that President Barack Obama imposed, Panetta said "it would be a terrible message for the president of the United States to reverse those steps."

The Russia hacks are a definitive threat to the United States, and the president, Congress, and the intelligence community must have a unified front to combat it, Panetta said.

"I'm not going to say it's an act of war, but it is an attack on our country. It's an attack on our election system, it's an attack on our freedoms, and when an adversary does that, this nation has to respond."

In a separate "Today" interview, former CIA and Department of Defense chief of staff Jeremy Bash, said that intelligence officials are stunned at the situation with Trump.

"I think they are horrified. There are a lot of jaws that have fallen to the floor in the last couple of days.

"If you don't trust those intelligence professionals, we're going to let our guard down, and we may be hit, and we may be defenseless, and that is a horrifying scenario," Bash added.

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President-elect Donald Trump should refrain from publicly critiquing U.S. intelligence agencies, Leon Panetta, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency said Friday.
Leon Panetta, Trump, Undermining, Intel
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2017-26-06
Friday, 06 Jan 2017 09:26 AM
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