Hayden Center and Schar School host discussion about the future of intelligence agencies after Trump


On Tuesday, Jan. 26, the Schar School of Policy and Government and the Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security hosted a discussion on the changes within intelligence agencies during former President Donald Trump’s administration, and provided positivity on what agencies will look like after his time in office. 

Larry Pfeiffer, director of the Hayden Center, mediated the discussion between Micheal Morell, former acting director and deputy director of the CIA, and Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and NSA. 

In the talk, Pfeiffer referred to Hayden’s book, entitled “The Assault on Intelligence,” as “both a warning but also a bit of an intellectual exposition about what we were experiencing in America today.”

Throughout the discussion, the panel conversed about how the most trusted organizations, intelligence agencies, had their credibility attacked under the Trump administration. Despite the end of Trump’s presidency, tensions still exist between U.S. intelligence agencies and the American people. 

This is the answer. We have to know the truth and [for] four years we didn’t have the truth — and that is a problem,” Hayden said.

Morell noted the United States’ intense political separation, remarking of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. 

“The political divisions in this country are deep, and the truth will remain a victim to those divisions,” he said.

Morell and Hayden reflected on the damage done to the intelligence community during Trump’s time as president. Morell explained that people believe the intelligence community is “not defending America but they’re threatening America.” 

“One criticism that is made of the last administration is that they’ve politicized intelligence, or at a minimum politicized intelligence leadership,” Pfeiffer said.

Morell agreed that this was common among leadership, especially in regard to Chinese interference in the elections. 

The panel then moved on to discuss the different approaches Biden’s presidential administration will bring to the intelligence community. 

Biden currently plans to begin each day with an intelligence briefing. Morell explained that briefing Biden will likely be different compared to past presidents such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama due to his extensive experience in politics and foreign policy expertise. 

Hayden explained that Biden will bring a much-needed change to the intelligence community. 

“If there was a second Trump administration, intelligence would be dead,” he said. 

Morell and Hayden both explained that while the intelligence community cannot reveal current intelligence information, learning about the history of the CIA could help rebuild trust between the intelligence community and the American public.