The administration of United States President Donald Trump is considering the possibility of limiting or terminating the sharing of intelligence with countries around the world that criminalize homosexuality.
The move is being led by Richard Grenell, an American diplomat, civil servant and media consultant, who was appointed by the White House as acting Director of National Intelligence in February. This makes Grenell the most senior intelligence official in the US.
The idea behind this proposed move is to apply pressure to countries that continue to criminalize homosexuality to change their laws. The primary force behind this initiative is Grenell himself, who is believed to be the first openly gay individual to serve in a cabinet-level position in the United States. Before his appointment as acting Director of National Intelligence, Grenell had been tasked by President Trump to lead an effort to use the US foreign policy agenda —including financial aid— as a form of incentive to end the criminalization of homosexuality worldwide.
Almost from the moment of his appointment on February 20, Grenell has vigorously prioritized issues relating to discrimination in the workplace. Earlier this month, he sent a letter (.pdf) to the member agencies of the US Intelligence Community urging them to ensure that their policies to protect their LGBT workforce from harassment and discrimination “are specific and deliberate”.
If the ODNI went ahead with limiting intelligence sharing, it would affect Washington’s intelligence relationship with several partners that are considered critical, including Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt. But in an interview with the The New York Times last week, Grenell argued that “ultimately, the United States is safer when our partners respect basic human rights”. Nondiscrimination against LGBT individuals “is an American value”, said Grenell, and argued that the US Intelligence Community should promoting what is effectively “United States policy”. The Times said the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had formed a group “to review the issue [of intelligence sharing] and form ideas”.
► Author: Joseph Fitsanakis