Trump's pick for intel chief hasn't bothered to learn anything about agencies he'll lead


Officials say Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) has shown little interest in learning about the spy agencies he has been tapped to lead.

Trump tapped Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) to lead the nation's intelligence agencies.


According to the Washington Post, "Who?" is one of the most common responses across intelligence agencies when reacting to the Ratcliffe nomination.

In his brief tenure on the House Intelligence Committee, congressional sources told the CBS News that Ratcliffe hasn't bothered to travel overseas with other members of the committee to learn firsthand about the work of CIA operatives working abroad. And he only bothered to visit intelligence agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., while serving as a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

While many members of the committee regularly visit a secure room in the Capitol to read classified reports from intelligence agencies, Ratcliffe "was described as an infrequent visitor," according to the Post. A CBS investigation found Ratcliffe "engaged comparatively little ... with the substance of intelligence topics in the panel's purview" during open Intelligence Committee hearings. The report also notes that some of the committee's work happens behind closed doors because of the classified nature of the material.

Even one of his fellow Republicans from Texas, Rep. Mike Conaway, told CBS News that Ratcliffe "doesn't have a lot of depth with the 17 [intelligence] agencies at this point in time." (Conaway did defend Ratcliffe as a "quick learner.")

Other members of Congress seemed more hesitant at the prospect of Ratcliffe being able to handle the new job if he were to be confirmed by the Senate.

"This is really hard," Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told CBS News. "You're not going to ask a guy with six months of experience to run a hospital. And I promise you that running the intelligence community is a hell of a lot more complicated than running a hospital."

Ratcliffe's nomination has already been rocked by scandal. On his congressional campaign website, he bragged about convicting terror suspects while working at a previous job. However, those who actually worked on the case don't remember Ratcliffe being involved at all.

Current and former intelligence officials described Ratcliffe as "the least qualified person ever nominated to oversee the country's intelligence agencies."

The lack of experience could hurt Ratcliffe's chances of being confirmed by the Senate.

"If this guy has even had to take that very thin résumé and pad it, that would be clearly disqualifying," Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the Post.

Those are not inspiring words from the vice chair of the committee tasked with vetting Ratcliffe for the job.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.