The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) is still stacked with leaders appointed by former President Barack Obama. According to research by Conservative Review, only two non-military intelligence agencies (the CIA and the Department of Energy’s intelligence unit) have non-Obama appointees at the helm.
This revelation comes as U.S. intelligence officials are reportedly withholding sensitive information from President Donald Trump. The White House has made its position clear, deeming the actions unacceptable and possibly illegal.
There are 16 separate offices that make up the U.S. intelligence apparatus — agencies and subdivisions responsible for collecting and producing both foreign and domestic intelligence. These agencies are overseen by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). However, at this time, there is only an acting DNI. Sen. Dan Coates, Trump’s nominee for national intelligence director, has not yet been approved by Congress to take up his post.
The following intelligence offices are all currently led by Obama-era officials.
The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research is led by Daniel B. Smith, who was sworn in to the position in February, 2014.
The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is led by Lt. Gen Vincent R. Stewart, an Obama appointee who was sworn in and at the helm since January 2015. Stewart’s agency has made waves in light of Lt. Gen Michael Flynn’s resignation as national security advisor. After Flynn left his post, the DIA Twitter account posted a message that appeared to directly address the episode.
Overheard at DIA: “In the intelligence business, if you can’t defend everything you say, don’t say it.” - Tim Pinkham #quoteoftheday
— DIA (@DefenseIntel) February 13, 2017
The National Security Agency (NSA) is led by Admiral Michael Rogers, who appears to be on good terms with President Trump, but was an Obama appointee. Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter and former DNI James Clapper had recommended that Rogers be dismissed at the NSA, due to poor performance. But he continues at his post.
The Director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency is currently Robert Cardillo, another Obama holdover since Oct. 2014.
The Director of the National Reconnaissance Office is Betty Sapp, who was appointed on July 6, 2012.
The same goes for FBI Director James Comey, who was appointed in 2013 by Obama but asked to stay on with the Trump administration.
The Department of Energy Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence is led by Steven K. Black, who has been in the position since 2011.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis is led by Gen. Francis X. Taylor, who was appointed by Obama in 2014.
Additionally, there are five agencies of the Intelligence Community that represent the armed services: Intelligence and Security Command (U.S. Army); Office of Naval Intelligence (U.S. Navy); U.S. Air Force Intelligence; Marine Corps Intelligence, and Coast Guard Intelligence. Though the intelligence chiefs of these agencies are technically nominated by the president, they are usually chosen at the request of the military, and not products of political influence.
These separate institutions have access to advanced tools that, if placed in the wrong hands, allows for irresponsible (and potentially illegal) behavior. If President Trump wants to rein in the vast intelligence framework, he can start by nominating experts he trusts to lead these agencies.
Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for CR. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel