Debunked: Presidents don't criticize the intelligence community

Donald Trump has made it no secret that he's got issues with the intelligence community. His transition team responded to reports of Russian interference in the election with a statement reading, "these are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction."

Trump has recently tweeted that a salacious dossier published by BuzzFeed was "Probably released by 'Intelligence' even knowing there is no proof, and never will be."

These comments have gotten a lot of people very upset, but is it unprecedented for a president to question the intelligence community? Not exactly.

Trump's official picks for Cabinet and administration positions
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Trump's official picks for Cabinet and administration positions

Counselor to the President: Kellyanne Conway

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Veterans Affairs Secretary: David Shulkin

(Photo credit DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

Transportation secretary: Elaine Chao

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Energy secretary: Rick Perry

(Photo credit KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson

 REUTERS/Daniel Kramer

Secretary of Defense: Retired Marine General James Mattis

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Chief of staff: Reince Priebus

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Chief strategist: Steve Bannon


Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Director of the CIA: Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Deputy national security adviser: K.T. McFarland

(Photo by Michael Schwartz/Getty Images)

White House counsel: Donald McGahn

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ambassador to the United Nations: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

(Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Education secretary: Betsy DeVos

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Commerce secretary: Wilbur Ross

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Homeland security secretary: General John Kelly

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Housing and urban development secretary: Ben Carson

(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Health and human services secretary: Tom Price

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Department of Homeland Security: Retired General John Kelly

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Secretary of agriculture: Sonny Perdue

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

In fact, the Central Intelligence Agency came into being in part because President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was unhappy with America's intelligence services as they were set up in his own time. And, the intelligence community may have struck back against what they perceived as meddling.

An early proposal for a peacetime intel service was shot down after the media got wind of it, in a leak which some suspected originated with FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

Roosevelt's successor, President Harry Truman, oversaw the successful establishment of the modern CIA, but he didn't end up being entirely happy with it either. In 1963, he wrote a Washington Post op-ed arguing that "there is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over out historic position and I that we need to correct it."

If that criticism sounds harsh, it's nothing next to President John F. Kennedy's reported desire to, "splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter into the winds." That was likely an impulse derived from his frustration with the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

So, right or wrong, Donald Trump's disparagement of the intelligence community isn't new. The fact that he's tweeting about it is.

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