Here's a shocker: Many of the appointees of the Trump Administration are very different people than those who served in the Obama Administration.
The sun, I am reliably told, also rises in the East and sets in the West. Bears use the woods for a bathroom. And the supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church -- despite some naysayers out there -- really is a Roman Catholic.
Sorry for the #sarcasm, but it's difficult to suppress the impulse after reading a lengthy piece at the website of Foreign Policy magazine about the issues arising at the Central Intelligence Agency since Mike Pompeo, a now-former U.S. Representative from Kansas, became the agency's director.
The headline says (almost) all: "More White, More Male, More Jesus: CIA Employees Fear Pompeo Is Quietly Killing the Agency’s Diversity Mandate." This is a feature, a "soft" piece, so one has to dive in a bit before finding the blast at Pompeo and his personal faith:
Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, has said previously that Islamist terrorists will “continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior is truly the only solution for our world.”
The concerns are not that Pompeo is religious but that his religious convictions are bleeding over into the CIA.
According to four sources familiar with the matter, Pompeo, who attends weekly Bible studies held in government buildings, referenced God and Christianity repeatedly in his first all-hands speech and in a recent trip report while traveling overseas. According to a profile by the Washington Post’s Greg Miller, Pompeo is working on starting a chaplaincy for the CIA campus like the military has.
The CIA did not dispute these events. “Director Pompeo is a man of faith,” the spokesperson said. “The idea that he should not practice his faith because he is Director of CIA is absurd.”
Michael Weinstein, a former Air Force officer who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says he has been seeing increasing complaints from those inside the intelligence community. Weinstein’s foundation, which focuses on preventing religious pressure from creeping into the military, also has clients in the intelligence community, mostly from the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
According to Weinstein, agency employees don’t want to go public with their complaints because of fear of retribution or being labeled as “leakers.” They don’t typically file formal complaints within the government. But certain things are making them especially uncomfortable, such as officials signing off with the phrase “have a blessed day.”
That’s something “straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale,” Weinstein said.
“We are unaware of any such complaints being registered at CIA,” the spokesperson said.
One wonders how Weinstein reacts when someone else responds to a sneeze in a meeting: Does a reflexive saying of "bless you" evoke Margaret Atwood, too?
The excerpt above, coming as it does near the end of the 2,400-word story, is about the only "More Jesus" moment that supports the article's headline. The bulk of the piece concerns allegations that Pompeo doesn't attend agency diversity events; that his office blocked a speech at the agency by the parents of Matthew Shepard, the victim of a fatal anti-gay attack; and isn't doing as much to reach out to Muslim employees at the agency.
Weinstein, no stranger to the media spotlight, says Pompeo's CIA leadership is good for the MRFF's business:
The foundation’s intelligence community clients have doubled since the July 2016 Republican National Convention, Weinstein said. While he wouldn’t specify the number of intelligence community clients he works with, Weinstein said it was in the hundreds — the majority of them working out of Langley. “In the intelligence community, we see supervisors wanting to hold Bible studies during duty hours [and] inviting lower-ranking individuals to their homes for Bible studies,” Weinstein told FP.
Whether it’s pressure to attend Bible study or concerns that the annual holiday party will become a Christmas party, agency employees feel on edge, according to Weinstein. “Our clients at CIA feel extremely isolated in a way they have not felt before,” he said.
It would have been nice to have some of those alleged "clients" on the record, even anonymously, to detail their concerns. It would also be helpful to have someone -- anyone -- from outside the agency and not connected with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation offer some sort of validation of these claims.
To quote the old City News Bureau of Chicago maxim, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out."
There are, after all, committees in both houses of Congress that oversee the CIA. And there are staffers -- on the minority side, perhaps -- who might be able to speak to the accuracy of Weinstein's charges. They can speak "off the record," to be sure, but there has to be a source, somewhere, who can support these claims.
I don't know whether Weinstein has a valid concern or not. And neither does Foreign Policy, because apparently zero effort was made to verify the charges that Weinstein raises.
Doing this is called reporting. It's also called #Journalism. And it's MIA in this piece about the CIA, in my opinion.