With CIA Director Mike Pompeo promising to make his agency more "vicious," the Trump administration has elevated to a key White House position a CIA officer who, according to two sources, once worked on a secret CIA assassination program meant to target terrorists.
At the time, the sources say, the program was contracted to Erik Prince, the controversial security contractor whose sister is Donald Trump's education secretary. Sources say there is no evidence anyone was ever killed under the program.
The official, Michael Barry, became the National Security Council's chief intelligence officer in September and is the primary liaison between the NSC, which coordinates US national security policy, and the CIA.
The CIA says it is a "false premise" to suggest that there is any link between Barry's new NSC responsibilities and his work 12 years ago on the assassination program.
But the timing of his appointment is sure to bring scrutiny both to Pompeo's plan to unleash his agency in new ways and to reported efforts by Prince to persuade the Trump administration to hire his companies to fight in Afghanistan.