President Trump announced that he was appointing US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to be Acting Director of National Intelligence. In the words of Trump himself via Twitter,
“I am pleased to announce that our highly respected Ambassador to Germany, @RichardGrenell, will become the Acting Director of National Intelligence. Rick has represented our Country exceedingly well and I look forward to working with him,”
What is very interesting is Grenell’s lack of intelligence-related experience going into the US intelligence community.This comes at a time of a myriad of ‘convroversies,’ including the Russia investigation, the whistleblower complaint that gave way to the Ukraine situation, and the impeachment debacle.
Is Trump is looking for someone with deep intelligence experience in the role? It does not appear to be so, for what appears to be on Trumps mind is a question of loyalty. Such was expressed by CNN, which said:
Trump is “looking for a ‘political’ who will have his back,” the former official said.
However, the move is raising concerns even among Trump allies who have been quick to point out that Grenell’s primary qualification appears to be his loyalty to the President.
One source close to Trump told CNN they were surprised by the pick, noting Grenell has zero intelligence-related experience. (source)
What will this mean for US intelligence going forward? Nobody knows. What it does mean is that we are looking at what appears to be a political move. Strictly speaking, Grenell known nothing, and this proves a consistent pattern in the US, which is that in spite of the constant talk about being “credentialed” and having degrees and so forth, it mostly has been a lie. This was always the case to a certain extent, but the Trump administration has raised nepotism to new heights (or possibly lowered it to new depths, if one prefers it this way).
It is true that dedication matters. But what also matters is the ability to do one’s job, and when Presidents, regardless of a nation or title (Emperor, Sultan, etc.) start making erratic or inconsistent appointments as a part of regular duty (see Caligula and making his horse governor, or Ottoman Sultan Ibrahim Deli appointing a very fat woman governor of a province because he had certain libertine ideas), it is usually a sign of instability in the government and the republic itself.
Perhaps this is not MAGA, but MARA (Make America Rome Again).