Donald Trump's speech to CIA was 'sweet talk' masking 'falsehoods', says former intelligence officer

'I didn't see a president trying to repair the relationship,' says Nada Bakos. 'I didn't see a president that made an effort to understand'

Matt Broomfield
Thursday 26 January 2017 17:38 GMT
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Nada Bakos says Donald Trump did not try to bridge the rift between the White House and Langley in his much-trumpeted speech
Nada Bakos says Donald Trump did not try to bridge the rift between the White House and Langley in his much-trumpeted speech (Memorial Student Center)

Donald Trump's speech at the CIA's headquarters has been criticised by a former officer with the US spy agency who witnessed it first hand.

The US President has described his visit to the compound in Langley, Virginia as a "WIN". It was his first official act in office.

But Nada Bakos, who spent a decade with CIA, was less than impressed.

"You can't sweet talk a good spy," she said in a video uploaded to Twitter. "Falsehoods and 'alternative facts' are no way to win over a workforce whose job it is to discern the truth."

Ms Bakos' role with the agency saw her draw up strategies for the war on terror and track the jihadist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - seen by some as the founder of the group which became Isis. He was assassinated in 2006 after he was discovered in a safehouse in rural Iraq.

Now a security analyst with the Foreign Policy Research Institute think tank, she said she had been "very hopeful" before Mr Trump's speech.

"I was hoping that he would reach out to the workforce as an olive branch after the hostile relationship that he had promoted between him and the intelligence community," she said.

Relations have been strained between the new President and the intelligence agencies, after Mr Trump wrongly accused them of leaking an unverified, salacious document to damage his nascent presidency.

He had earlier likened them to Nazi Germany in a tweet, saying they “never should have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ to the public. One last shot at me”.

Donald Trump performs U-turn by praising the CIA

Ms Bakos said: "I was very hopeful that he would understand the building that he was standing in and that he would understand the apolitical nature of the work that they do. The objectivity that they strive for in their analysis."

She added: "I didn't see a president trying to repair the relationship. I didn't see a president that made an effort to understand the solemnness and the humility it should take to speak in front of that wall."

Ms Bakos was referring to the CIA Wall of Honour, a memorial carved with 117 stars representing agents who have died while working for the intelligence agency.

Only 84 have their names listed in a goatskin book kept below the wall, with some personal information considered too classified to be released.

Ms Bakos said that Mr Trump only referred to the wall once in passing.

She added that the "scariest repurcussions" of Mr Trump's behaviour were that "the employees of the CIA will be strong armed to fall in line, through subtle or not so subtle means, denigrating trust" in the agency.

In a separate interview, former senior CIA official Paul Pillar told AlterNet that the relationship between the President and the CIA "is the worst of any incoming administration ever.”

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