The Trump administration is considering an effort to curb intelligence sharing operations with allied countries that criminalize homosexuality, a move that would expand on the administration’s 2019 plan to push nearly 70 countries to end the practice.
According to The New York Times, Richard Grenell, acting director of national intelligence, has been leading the initiative, also noting that President Trump will support the policy change.
“We have the president’s total support,” said Grenell, who serves as the highest ranking openly gay member of the president’s cabinet. “This is an American value, and this is United States policy.”
“If a country that we worked in as the United States intelligence community was arresting women because of their gender, we would absolutely do something about it,” he said. “Ultimately, the United States is safer when our partners respect basic human rights.”
The news agency reports that specific details have not yet been finalized, and that it is not clear how it could affect current intelligence-sharing operations in Middle Eastern countries like Egypt.
Such a policy could have large ramifications for Saudi Arabia, where a first-time offense can result in flogging or prison time, and a subsequent offense can lead to execution, reports USA Today.
“We can’t just simply make the moral argument and expect others to respond in kind because telling others that it’s the right thing to do doesn’t always work,” said Grenell.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, the Trump administration launched the initiative to end the criminalization of homosexuality last year, after the Iranian regime publicly hanged a 31-year-old man.
“This is not the first time the Iranian regime has put a gay man to death with the usual outrageous claims of prostitution, kidnapping, or even pedophilia. And it sadly won’t be the last time,” Grenell wrote in the German newspaper Bild at the time.
“Barbaric public executions are all too common in a country where consensual homosexual relationships are criminalized and punishable by flogging and death,” he said, arguing that “politicians, the U.N., democratic governments, diplomats and good people everywhere should speak up — and loudly.”
Although Grenell has not yet been confirmed as director of national intelligence, his actions have already drawn criticism from Democrats, including Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who recently sent a letter to Grenell demanding that he stop making major staffing changes to the department until he’s confirmed by the Senate.
In a letter obtained by The Daily Wire, Grenell responded to Schiff by noting that he was making changes that the intelligence community itself was asking for.
“Career IC officials have conducted four studies in the last two years calling for reforms at the ODNI, and the career officials are eager to implement the recommendations. It is my duty to listen to these ODNI career employees who have ideas on how to improve the work we do for the American people,” said Grenell.
“Going forward, I encourage you to think of the relationship between your committee and the IC as that between the legislative and executive branches of government, rather than that between a hedge fund and a distressed asset, as your letter suggests,” he said.
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