Ex-Trump Aide Warns of DEI Danger at Intel Agencies

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden | Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A soon-to-be-published book by a former intelligence official is sounding the alarm on diversity, equity, and inclusion measures in U.S. intelligence agencies.

Cliff Sims, a former deputy director of National Intelligence for Strategy and Communications during the Trump administration, has written the book The Darkness Has Not Overcome: Lessons on Faith and Politics from Inside the Halls of Power, which purportedly informs readers “How to let the light of Christ shine in our dark world, regardless of our politics,” according to the book’s description on Amazon.

In an adapted excerpt from the book published by Fox News as an op-ed, Sims discusses the effect that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) measures have had on the intelligence community, noting that President Joe Biden has made DEI a top goal of the intelligence agencies.

“[T]he opportunity cost of making DEI a central focus [of intelligence agencies] is that other national security priorities — be they intelligence domains, regions or hard-target countries, non-state terrorist groups, new technologies or deciding which personnel get promoted into leadership roles — simply do not get the level of attention they otherwise would,” he wrote.

However, Sims made clear that he thinks “diversity is undeniably important in the intelligence profession,” providing examples of how diversity can aid national security. These included having ethnic Persians as agents for missions in Iran and native Mandarin speakers for missions in China.

But, he noted, “These relevant examples of diversity are not, however, what the [intelligence community’s] DEI focus seems to be about.”

Sims then leaned on his personal experience helping lead the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the various intelligence agencies. He claimed he observed CIA officers whose “entire taxpayer-funded job was devoted to political advocacy and bullying into submission anyone who dared not fall in line.”

He claimed Dan Coats, the former Indiana senator turned director of National Intelligence, allowed the “seeds” of DEI to be planted, which then grew into “a DEI forest.”

Not all of Sims’ comments were critical, however. Despite his views on prior leadership and the current presidential administration, he credited John Ratcliffe, Coats’ successor, with increasing spending on intelligence efforts oriented toward China and keeping a focus on the Communist country as a national security threat.

Sims questioned, “[W]ith real wars breaking out, why is the Biden administration continuing to wage culture wars in the IC?”

He described the intelligence community’s focus on DEI as “nothing more than an attempt to impose far-left, woke identity politics on U.S. national security institutions.” He noted that, ironically, the “so-called diversity efforts” leave no room for “ideological diversity.”

He summarized his viewpoint on the issue by stating, “The next leaders of the U.S. intelligence community should take concrete steps to ensure a truly diverse IC that focuses on clear, concrete national security priorities.”

Others in the intelligence community have raised similar concerns. In January, a group of retired and current FBI agents authored a report claiming that the FBI was sacrificing its recruitment standards in order to meet DEI requirements, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Still, major intelligence agencies like the CIA have defended their DEI programs as essential to national security.

“At the CIA, we bring the best of who we are to protect our national interests. To uphold this extraordinary responsibility, we strive to maintain a diverse, equitable, and accessible workplace where all voices are heard, respected, and valued,” the CIA website reads.

“We’re committed to shaping a workforce that fully reflects the diversity of American society. We cannot compete successfully on that landscape if everyone looks like me, talks like me, and thinks like me,” William J. Burns, director of the CIA, stated.

The objections Sims raises mark a new focus in the battle over DEI and related programs in public institutions. The Trump administration led the charge against critical race theory and similar material in the military in the latter half of 2020. Such action was, in part, prompted by a report that revealed millions of dollars in taxpayer money had been spent by the military on programs that allegedly associated most white people with racism, while leaked presentations from the Air Force revealed “white privilege” training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia.

The Trump administration responded by founding the 1776 Commission, which is sometimes called the 1776 Project. The commission drew its name from a dual reference to the year the United States was founded and a response to The New York Times’ 1619 Project, which aims to reorient the teaching of U.S. history to be more focused on slavery and alleged grievances held by black Americans. However, the commission was disbanded by the Biden administration.

DEI programs in public higher education institutions have similarly drawn scrutiny. Alabama lawmakers recently banned DEI programs in the state’s colleges and universities.

Similarly, the Texas Legislature passed a bill banning DEI in public institutions of higher education. The law went into effect on January 1 of this year. The passage of SB 17 was met with sharp words from all sides.

“Texas is one of the most diverse states in the nation, and our institutions of higher education should reflect that diversity,” said Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) in a press release supporting the law when it was passed. “However, the elevation of DEI offices, mandatory diversity statements, political litmus tests, and diversity training have the opposite effect and only further divides.”

“DEI programs have become a million-dollar industry at taxpayer-funded institutions — yet they have made no progress advancing or increasing diversity,” he added.

Others, like Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City), lambasted the new law.

“By stifling open discussions on race, gender, and social justice, this legislation denies our young minds the opportunity to understand the diverse world they live in and perpetuates the cycle of ignorance and discrimination,” Reynolds wrote.

Compliance has appeared inconsistent following the law’s enactment. The Dallas Express has previously reported numerous potential violations of the law at community colleges and public universities. Dallas College had a dozen potential violations embedded in job descriptions. The University of Texas at Austin had numerous potential violations, while eight educational institutions total (including UT) were identified by DX as potentially violating the state ban.

Former DNI Director Dan Coats was contacted for comment as part of the production of this story. He did not respond by the time of publication.

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