Congressman John Ratcliffe has been withdrawn as the White House nominee to be director of National Intelligence, and that is in the nation’s interest.

The Texas Republican’s main qualification was his aggressive badgering of Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the media stage, which is no serious qualification at all.

Intelligence work demands discretion along with skill. Silence is essential, can be golden and clearly is especially hard to find in today’s tweet-happy Washington.

Regarding media visibility, after the 2016 elections, the heads of the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency, plus the director of National Intelligence launched a public relations offensive. They highlighted that Russians, including President Vladimir Putin, meddled in the 2016 elections, including hacking emails of the Clinton campaign.

With great fanfare, they met with President-elect Donald Trump to present evidence behind their conclusions. With equal hype, the top spooks testified before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.

There is no denying that Russian hackers, and no doubt human agents as well, meddled in the 2016 elections. How much this affected the results is extremely uncertain. But the fact that they interfered is undeniable.

President Barack Obama revealed these developments in October 2016, just before voting took place.

Why did the Intel officials go public with lights, cameras and melodrama? Because they wanted to protect themselves in the contemporary political warfare of Washington. Politicians want to score points with voters, and Putin remains one scary bear. But protecting our nation involves secrecy. These bureaucrats were shielding themselves.

The national media soap opera related to intelligence continues.

Controversy and associated political consternation swirled for a time around President Trump’s removal of the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, who had become a harsh public critic of his administration. Again, in earlier periods, protecting national security dictated maintaining disciplined silence, a durable truth worth remembering.

Traditionally, intelligence work has involved balancing electronic and human surveillance. Today, our government deemphasizes human agents. In World War II and the Cold War, that dimension was vital. It still is, as our British partners well understand.

Current emphasis on public relations by officials is the other side of reliance on relatively automated electronic tools.

When he was a congressman from California, Darrell Issa, a successful tech entrepreneur, was insightful in analyzing intelligence agencies. In 2016, he publicly opposed the FBI’s legal efforts to try to force Apple to decrypt the iPhone.

Issa and Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of both the CIA and the NSA, argued Apple should not be required to comply. Government professionals should handle such hard tasks, as eventually they did — with outside help.

In November 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower spoke at the cornerstone ceremony of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. He emphasized that in this field, “Success cannot be advertised; failure cannot be explained. In the work of intelligence, heroes are undecorated and unsung, often even among their own fraternity.”

In that era, there was automatic — not to be confused with automated — understanding of this.

Serving our nation is an honor. In evaluating candidates for public office, including the presidency, consider the degree to which they express maturity and selflessness — rather than political expediency — in addressing questions of national security.

Also look for signs of disciplined attention to policy. Political and related government experience is desirable, as long as that is combined with other qualities.

When you find candidates who are serious about defense and

national security, support them as fully as possible.

Cyr is Clausen Distinguished Professor at Carthage College and author

of “After the Cold War.” Contact

acyr@carthage.edu.

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