During a speech given in front of a memorial every bit as sacred as the nearby Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, or as Gettysburg, both of which he recently visited, the newly minted President Trump talked more about his fight with the media (protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution) than about the fallen patriots symbolized behind him by the simple black stars arrayed row after row on the Wall of Honor.
Reporter’s note: I have been to the #CIA HQ just outside McLean, VA (Langley Park is actually miles away), driven through the Dolly Madison entrance, where a terrorist killed employees, and turned into the wooded drive leading to the checkpoint that is a quarter mile from the HQ building itself,
Many times I’ve taken the salute of the armed guards at the entrance, not for me but instead for my partner who actually entered the building (as a spouse I was limited to the parking lot). She tells me it is a very sobering experience that every entrant to the CIA building goes through; they pass over a giant CIA government seal and to their right see the display of 117 prominent black stars honoring the memory of CIA employees who have died in service to their country. Many of those people are unknown even to fellow employees due to the still-secret nature of the jobs that resulted in their deaths.
While many military officers and enlisted obviously die in service to the US, it is important to remember that those CIA employees were not in uniform and not in the military; they were patriots who realized that their contribution to the safety of the US might never be known, perhaps even to their closest family members, and didn’t even enjoy the benefits of the usual government civil service employees.
To this day I have no idea what my partner did at the agency. I knew a number of other CIA employees and have been at their homes where I was often the only person with a last name and was careful to tell anyone I spoke with that I was a journalist, lest they think I was a fellow CIA employee and later be required to file a long written contact report the next morning about anything we discussed.
These are the faceless heroes and heroines of the country unlike the well-known agents from Wild Bill Donovan and Julia Child who were there at the beginning in the OSS, forerunner of the CIA, to today’s diligent workers both at home and overseas.
People working at the CIA have faced terrorist attacks even just going to work, something that has never occurred to any other non-uniform government employees - people going into the Department of Commerce aren’t killed in their cars.
The question of the moment is whether President Trump realizes that the workers at the CIA and in other intelligence agencies who aren’t also in the military have given the last full measure much more than even fallen military heroes because they weren’t treated as second-class government employees, not in uniform, not protected by civil service rules, yet are still trained at the same Camp Peary whether they are secretaries or covert agents and all actually risk their lives simply by being in the employ of the CIA.
Yet these are just normal average people who party on the weekend in places such as (sorry, can’t say where) that looks more like a biker bar than a place where bureaucrats would gather, and to whom, if you met them outside work, you wouldn’t give a second thought.
The rambling speech President #trump gave at the CIA was well-received but had little substance and was more about him and his appointees than about the critical importance of the intelligence community, with zero sense of apology to the recent comparison by Trump of the CIA to Nazis. #America