Newsmax has learned over 170 top-level intelligence-community leaders have joined a letter-writing campaign urging President Trump to nominate Center for Security Policy President Fred Fleitz to serve as the next Director of National Intelligence.
The campaign is being organized by ReportForThePresident.org and members of the intelligence community.
A director for the organization, Robert Caron, tells Newsmax that Fleitz would be a steady leader who could be trusted to correct what he calls "the blatant politicizing and weaponization of key agencies" that has occurred under prior administrations.
The group's letter is addressed to President Trump and the Senate. It reads in part:
"We respectfully encourage you, President Trump, to select Mr. Fred Fleitz to be your director of national intelligence. Mr. Fleitz has already taken the lead in the threat assessment and examining solutions for several of these critical emergencies facing our Nation."
It adds Fleitz "has access to the best minds and talent in the intelligence arena, and he is a unifier."
Caron, who has worked with the CIA and other government agencies, says Fleitz's name "resoundingly came up" in discussions with other intelligence-community members about needed reforms and leadership.
"This is one job in the U.S. government that you cannot play politics with," says Caron, "because it would be such a detriment to our national security."
He adds: "Because of the yearning for reform in the industry, and the knowledge of the reputation of Mr. Fleitz, we exceeded our goal of 100 endorsers the first day our letter was complete."
The Director of National Intelligence oversees the activities of 17 U.S. intelligence-gathering agencies, including the CIA, FBI, NSA, and DIA, among others. The Cabinet-level post was created by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, a measure intended to avert another 9/11-style attack on the U.S. homeland.
The DNI's office has been criticized in recent years for adding yet another layer of bureaucracy to U.S. intelligence-gathering and analysis.
But with reforms, sources say the DNI could play a vital role by comparing intelligence reports across agency "silos," to ensure the intelligence picture presented to the president is neither suppressed nor manipulated based on politics or ideology.
Fleitz's name has been linked to the DNI post for several months. On July 28, President Trump announced DNI chief Dan Coats would step down Aug. 15.
Trump initially announced Coats would be replaced by Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas. But critics said Ratcliffe's intelligence experience was lacking, and late last week his name was withdrawn from consideration.
Trump announced Thursday evening the Deputy Director of National Intelligence, long-time intelligence chief Sue Gordon, also would be stepping down. Gordon was said to be a favorite among some members of Congress for the permanent DNI director's job.
Also Thursday, the president named Joseph Maguire, the current director of the National Counterterrorism Center, to serve as Acting Director of National Intelligence once Coats officially steps down next Thursday.
Sources tell Newsmax that Maguire has a very good reputation in the intelligence community, and is on the group's short list of four candidates for the DNI post.
The other two on the list, in addition to Maguire and Fleitz, are retired Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the former commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and former director of the National Security Agency; and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who served as a captain in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan and Iraq, and received a Bronze Star.
Caron tells Newsmax that Maguire's appointment as acting director will not affect ReportForThePresident.org's campaign to have Fleitz nominated to the permanent DNI post. Fleitz is seen as a steadying influence and a known, trusted commodity. He is also considered a strong proponent of intelligence-community reforms.
Often described as cerebral and mild-mannered, Fleitz most recently served as the chief of staff for President Trump's National Security Council, where he worked under National Security Adviser John Bolton.
By all accounts, he left that post on good terms last October to take over leadership of the Center for Security Policy, the conservative think tank founded by Reagan-era Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Gaffney Jr. Gaffney continues to serve as the non-profit's executive chairman.
Fleitz served as Bolton's chief of staff when he was undersecretary of state for arms control. From 2006 to 2011, he was a senior staffer to the House Intelligence Committee, and a key senior adviser to its chairman, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich.
Hoekstra, now serving as America's ambassador to the Netherlands in The Hague, told Newsmax earlier this year: "Fred was a key part of my leadership team on the committee. With his background from the intel community, and having worked with John Bolton, he brought a very important perspective to the work that we did on the committee."
Fleitz began his intelligence career with the CIA, where he worked for nearly two decades. Caron says the signatories in support of Fleitz are "mostly senior intelligence community officers or flag officers" from the agencies whose work the DNI coordinates.
Caron says the bipartisan, pro-Fleitz effort includes over 170 top leaders throughout the intelligence community, including William E. Binney, the former NSA technical director with over 40 years in intelligence and systems.
In his correspondence about Fleitz, Binney stated: "In my view, Mr. Fred Fleitz would be excellent in the position of DNI as he has the background and commitment to doing the right thing. This makes him an obvious candidate to make merit-based decision in intelligence issues, something clearly lacking in the current intelligence-community management."
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