The top Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence told leaders of the nation’s intelligence agencies Wednesday that they are undermining national security by focusing on “left-wing dogma” such as seminars on the dangers of White supremacy and climate change.
At a hearing on diversity in the intelligence community, Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican, criticized actions such as the release of a national intelligence estimate on global warming, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley’s defense of instruction on critical race theory, “White rage” study at the West Point Military Academy and the State Department’s touting of “international pronoun day.”
“Woke obsessions are the proper jurisdiction of faculty lounge Marxists, not our national security agencies,” he said.
“The politicization of our national security apparatus is utterly destructive,” Mr. Nunes said. “It has severely eroded trust and institutions that have long received bipartisan support. The international threat matrix does not take time out as our national security agencies become enthralled by critical race theory and pronoun etiquette.”
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said in her opening statement that promoting diversity is “a responsibility we carry as public servants” and “fundamental to our national security.”
“Ensuring that we have an IC workforce made up of people who think differently, see problems differently and overcome challenges differently is a prerequisite to our success,” she said.
Mr. Nunes said the intelligence community’s focus is all wrong.
“Unfortunately, we can’t counter a hypersonic missile launch [by China] with better pronoun usage,” he said. “And a deeper understanding of White rage won’t rescue Americans stranded in Afghanistan. … As we learned in Afghanistan, America is not unbeatable.”
Rep. Jim Himes, Connecticut Democrat, said the hearing was “not about White liberal guilt.”
“A generation ago, the CIA was mocked for being ‘pale, male Yale,’” Mr. Himes said. “Now, maybe you believe that an IC comprised of White males is the result of a perfectly meritocratic system. Maybe you believe that White males have some racial or ethnic or genetic advantage over others. If you do, there’s a word for that.”
If the intelligence community has an “insufficiently diverse” workforce, he said, then “we are falling down on our duty to field the most competent, capable team that we can.”
Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, noted that Hispanics comprise 18% of the U.S. population. She told the agency chiefs that it’s important to “see more Latinos being hired.”
Ms. Haines said the intelligence agencies need to conduct more thorough exit interviews to learn why employees leave, particularly minority staffers.
She said the percentage of minorities in the intelligence community stood at 27% in fiscal 2020, up from 26.5% in fiscal year 2019 and “continuing a positive trend since 2016.” Still, she said the percentage of minorities in senior levels “gets progressively lower,” at 15.4% across the various agencies.
The percentage of women in the intelligence community remained constant at 39.3% in fiscal 2020, she said.
Republican lawmakers raised concerns that the administration’s mandate for all federal employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by Nov. 22 would drive out more minorities, who generally have lower vaccination rates.
Rep. Chris Stewart, Utah Republican, said he recently spoke with a pregnant Black woman who works for the federal government. She did not want to take the vaccine because of a difficult pregnancy.
“Her doctor has encouraged her not to take the vaccine while she’s expecting, and yet she’s facing termination in the next few weeks if she doesn’t, and she asked me for help. And I didn’t know what to say to her,” Mr. Stewart said. “If we’re going to fire critical employees, including from the minority community, a community that we’re trying to recruit and to retrain and retain … I think we should discuss that and discuss the implications of that.”