Hot Topics 2021

Covert Affairs: Uncovering Intelligence Challenges for the Biden Administration

Thu Mar 18, 2021
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Event Video

Throughout the 2020 presidential election in the United States, neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden voiced notable opinions on national security and neither addressed how they would use or improve intelligence to accomplish their goals.

Yet successful foreign policy requires solid intelligence. Highlighted by his siding with Russia’s dictator Vladimir Putin and other public disagreements, Trump’s record with intelligence leaves Biden a challenging legacy. To date, the new president has said little about intelligence except to rightfully criticize Trump for believing Putin over US intelligence. And like his predecessor, Biden didn’t say what he would do to deliver effective intelligence to support his foreign policy goals.

With Biden’s election, critical choices abound: What role should intelligence play in U.S. national security policy? Should his new Director of National Intelligence and Director of the CIA be fully independent, or should they produce intelligence more politically responsive to the new president? How transparent or secret should intelligence be? Should covert action, including the use of lethal drones, play a significant foreign policy role or should Biden curtail covert action abroad? What areas of intelligence deserve higher priority and which deserve lower? How will the new president deal with the Trump legacy in intelligence?

Former CIA executive officer James Bruce joins the Vail Symposium for a discussion that will examine these and related issues, explore how the new president might decide them and examine the implications of making critical choices for intelligence in 2021 and beyond.

Our virtual programs are graciously sponsored by Alpine Bank.

Event Video


Dr. James Bruce

Dr. James Bruce

Adjunct Researcher

Rand Corporation