By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said recently that he plans to trim the staff of the National Security Council to its lowest level in nearly 20 years.
The NSC, which is the president’s forum for national security, military and foreign policy issues, was first formed in 1947 as part of the emerging post-World War II intelligence apparatus and, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower would note years later, the “military-industrial complex.”
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The body helps formulate “White House policy and responses to the nation’s most pressing international issues, ranging from the Cuban Missile Crisis, the 9/11 terror attacks and issues of war,” CBS News reports.
But since Donald Trump became president, the NSC has become a leak fest for Never-Trump deep state careerists and insiders who are hell-bent on bringing the president down.
So it makes sense that O’Brien and the president would want to reduce staff — as a way to reduce the risk of damaging leaks to the media, giving the Democrats yet another opportunity to impeach.
“We’ll probably have about 60 to 70 staffers who’ve gone back to their home agencies,” O’Brien told NPR, which would effectively downside the NSC by one-third from a high of 100 staffers.
When O’Brien was taking over the NSC, he penned a Washington Post op-ed in which he committed to reduce the NSC by 174 policy positions, arguing that the council’s objective is to “coordinate policy rather than run it.” He said that the agency had “ballooned” under President Obama, when George W. Bush had half as many on staff, even with the prosecution of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But the executive council has also been in the spotlight recently because of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. Current and former staffers, such as Ukraine expert Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill, the former top adviser on Russia and European affairs, have offered testimony that was critical of the president. Vindman, who still works at the National Security Council, even drew the ire of the White House Twitter account.
One administration official told CBS News that in addition to the effort to slim down a “bloated” agency, the reduction is also meant to prevent leaks like the one by an anonymous whistleblower that lead to Mr. Trump’s impeachment.
Despite very controversial foreign policy and national security decisions made by both Presidents Bush (the Iraq weapons of mass destruction that weren’t, but led to an invasion anyway) and Obama (Libya/Benghazi, ISIS, Syria), neither president had to deal with leaks of the kind Trump, the consummate Washington outsider, has had to ensure.
And even when it became apparent that Bush’s intelligence about Iraq was based on bogus information and Obama lied about Benghazi, there were never any mysterious “whistleblowers” or calls for impeachment.
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It’s taken Trump this long to figure out who he can and cannot trust, how the system really works even inside the supposed sanctuary of the White House, and just how politicized the institutions he supposedly commands really are.
The only way to be about to more effectively govern and enact his policies is to reduce his exposure to political nemeses.
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