Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

Donald Trump names counterterrorism chief as acting director of US national intelligence

Joseph Maquire will take over from Dan Coats after US president's first choice for the post withdrew

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 25, 2018 nominee for director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Joseph Maguire, speaks during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. US President Donald Trump announced Thursday that his respected Deputy Director of National Intelligence was resigning, the latest chapter in a broad reshuffle at the top of the country's spy agencies. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM
(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 25, 2018 nominee for director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Joseph Maguire, speaks during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. US President Donald Trump announced Thursday that his respected Deputy Director of National Intelligence was resigning, the latest chapter in a broad reshuffle at the top of the country's spy agencies. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM

President Donald Trump has appointed Joseph Maguire, the current chief of the National Counterterrorism Centre, as acting director of national intelligence.

Mr Trump's announced his decision on Twitter on Thursday after the deputy director of national intelligence, Sue Gordon, resigned. She said in a note to Mr Trump that stepping down was not her "preference", but added, "You should have your team."

Mr Trump said Mr Maguire would take over the acting post on August 15, when Dan Coats, the current director of the agency overseeing civilian and military intelligence, steps down.

"Admiral Maguire has a long and distinguished career in the military, retiring from the US Navy in 2010," Mr Trump said on Twitter.

Mr Maguire has led the National Counterterrorism Center, which is overseen by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), since December. He retired from the navy after a 36-year career that included leading the Naval Special Warfare Command.

"I've known Admiral Maguire for some time and I have confidence in his ability to step into this critical role," Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said in a statement.

Mr Coats said he was pleased that the president had chosen Mr Maguire to serve as acting DNI. "Joe has had a long, distinguished career serving the nation and will lead the men and women in the (intelligence community) with distinction," he said in a statement.

Last week, Mr Trump dropped his first choice to replace Mr Coats, US Representative John Ratcliffe, after questions arose about the Republican congressman's lack of experience and possible exaggerations in his resume.

Mr Trump had said he liked Ms Gordon and might name her acting DNI. Ms Gordon, a career intelligence official, had the backing of current and former officials because of her deep experience.

"Sue Gordon's retirement is a significant loss for our Intelligence community," Senator Burr said.

Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, described Ms Gordon's departure as a "great loss".

Mr Trump had a strained relationship with Mr Coats, who endorsed the US intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the objective of promoting Mr Trump over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

He also has objected to US intelligence community analyses of major issues – from Iran's nuclear programme to North Korea – that have clashed with his own assessments.

"President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that he is seemingly incapable of hearing facts that contradict his own views," Mr Warner said in his statement on Ms Gordon's resignation.

The post of director of national intelligence, which was created after the September 11 attacks on the United States, oversees the 17 US civilian and military intelligence agencies including the CIA.

Under the law, Mr Trump needed to name a new acting director from the senior staff of the agency. The National Counterterrorism Centre is part of ODNI.

His choice for the permanent job must be confirmed by the Senate.

Among the potential candidates for permanent director are Republican congressmen Mike McCaul and Devin Nunes, and US Ambassador to the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra, according to administration officials and media reports.

Mr McCaul is a former chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee and Mr Nunes is a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Mr Hoekstra is a former nine-term member of the House who spent more than six years in top positions on its intelligence committee.

Updated: August 9, 2019 12:47 PM

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