By Srishti Kalra
Amid a director of a national agency who was once banned from Russia and President-elect Donald Trump – a product of tampered electoral process by the Russian military agency, what lies ahead for the US intelligence community and conservatism in the state?
Conflicting stand on Russia
Former US Senator from Indiana, Dan Coats is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for the director of national intelligence, as reported on Thursday. Coats, a member of Senate intelligence committee as an Indiana Legislator from 2011 to 2017, has been vocal about his strong anti-Russia stance. In Nov 2015 Senate floor speech he stated, “I am not a big fan of Putin” condemning Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and Crimea.
Trump, in the past few days, has publically feuded with US intelligence apparatus by tweeting support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s claim that the Russian state was not the source of the hacked emails from Democratic National Committee prior to the electoral process.
Clearly, the two are on the opposite side of the barricade. Hence, Trump’s selection of the Ex-Senator is peculiar.
Although it can be attributed to his constant support to Trump throughout his campaign. Coats even expressed his openness to Trump’s position to partner with Russia against Islamic State, citing it as creating strange bedfellows in national emergencies.
However, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, Trump along with national security adviser Mike Flynn is working “on a plan that would restructure and pare back the nation’s top spy agency” to overhaul the US intelligence and diminish the role of director.
Coats and LGBT
Nevertheless, Dan Coats, a traditional conservative, is in the same mould as Trump from the standpoint of LGBT rights and gender equality. Trump has already announced that the Supreme Court’s marriage-equality decision should be overturned. President Obama’s executive orders protecting LGBT people should be rescinded. Coats is one of the leading supporters of a ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual troops serving openly in the military. He compromised as one of the authors of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)’ Policy by the Clinton administration.
The policy lifted the ban which discriminated against closeted homosexuals but still banned openly gay people from serving. This ban was eventually repealed under Obama’s administration. Coats stated in an Indiana Daily Student Interview that he was not happy with the repeal. Now, under the Presidency of Trump with Reince Priebus – a typical anti-LGTB Republican apparatchik as chief of staff and Mike Pence – a marriage equality attacker as the Vice by his side, what’s in the future for LGBT community and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy? The appointments will not roll back hard fought victories and DADT Policy will not be revived.
The historically high tolerance and support by American people towards the community will not change immediately. The Supreme Court will feel immense institutional pressure to respect the precedent of marriage equality.
However, when it comes to the director’s role of making America’s intelligence agencies work together, Dan Coats faces the challenge in reconciling Trump’s congeniality with Putin and America’s strained ties with Russia.