Former CIA agent and National Security Council spokesperson Edward Price came to the University of Richmond to speak about his decision to resign after realizing his views on intelligence conflicted with those promoted by President Donald Trump.
Price began the talk with a short introduction on counterterrorism before answering curated questions from Shannon Kane, WC’19, president of UR College Democrats, as well as audience questions.
“I was a freshman in college at Georgetown [University] on 9/11, and you know, I remember that day,” Price said. “I was interested in foreign policy before, but then I remember watching flames pour from the pentagon, being in D.C. in the aftermath of all that, and that really solidified my convictions to pursue foreign policy."
Price also talked about the backlash he received after leaving the CIA in February 2017.
“I was most concerned with how my former colleagues and the agency would respond, and to a tee every piece of feedback I heard from them was positive," he said.
Price’s talk centered around the state of intelligence in the U.S. from the George W. Bush administration to now, in Trump’s administration.
“The key difference in my mind is that the Obama administration, contrary to some of what we saw in the Bush administration, had an emphasis on values," Price said. "Former President Obama used to say that we take our values to war with us."
An international student in the audience asked Price about the use of torture and threats towards the families of terrorists, a practice that the CIA was chastised for during the Bush administration.
“From 2002 to 2005 or so there were practices that were ordered by the Bush administration and approved by the Department of Justice that I think most Americans, and certainly the Obama administration, believed to be in contravention of our values,” Price said.
These tactics included waterboarding, sleep deprivation and confinement. Price said that these actions occurred in the context of fear and paranoia following 9/11, which he said did not excuse the use of those strategies, but put them into perspective. The Obama administration outlawed these practices within the first few days in office.
Price also focused on what he believed were issues already apparent in the Trump administration’s handling of counterterrorism and intelligence.
He said his main concerns for the Trump administration, as it takes on the challenge of terrorism, are promoting transparency, working productively with American allies to make sure they uphold international values, preventing cyber warfare tactics and dealing with homegrown violent extremists.
He also voiced concern for Trump’s outspoken mistrust for American intelligence agencies, one of the reasons he decided Trump was not a commander in chief he was comfortable serving.
“[Trump] is always one tweet away from reviving this battle,” Price said.
Christopher Rein, RC’19, attended the event because he is a Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law (PPEL) and Arabic major.
“[Price] is a fantastic speaker, which I honestly wasn’t expecting," Rein said.
The talk was held in the Alice Haynes room in Tyler Haynes Commons on Thursday evening. It was co-hosted by College Democrats, Model UN, the Politics Club and Pi Sigma Alpha.
"Our organization kind of focuses on being able to connect different communities with foreign policy speakers," Jessica Yin, a research fellow at Foreign Policy for America, a group based in Washington that recruited Price and brought him to UR.
Price is now a contributor and analyst for “NBC News” as well as a lecturer at George Washington University.
Contact news writer Kiersten Ness at email@example.com.