Ex-CIA operative Mike Baker has a ‘hit list’ of concerns

Mike Baker served for nearly decades as a CIA Covert Operations Officer. He is now the CEO of Portman Square Group, an organization that supports the information and security requirements of companies and helps clients confront and resolve business challenges and identify opportunities in today’s global economy.”

In an interview with Rebecca Weber, CEO of the Association of Mature American Citizens and host of AMAC’s Better For America podcast, he said that in his two decades at the CIA, he “never saw any political bias [among career staff].” In fact, he said, “I never saw [staff having] any tendency to push particular political agendas. We never sat in safe houses overseas passing the time by talking politics.”

However, while things have not changed at the operational level, he said “there have been cases where we’re getting people at the top who seem a little too enamored [with] the glamor of politics. I think that’s where you can have problems. I’ve always been a big fan of having the person in charge rise up through the ranks, to come up through the operational side of things, because we have different groups. We have the intel group and science technology, but I’ve always wanted the director and the deputy director to be folks who have come up through the ranks, know the organization inside and out and aren’t political.”

The fact of the matter, Baker said, is that “you cannot have a political federal law enforcement organization. We have to be very careful to avoid that happening. I’m also not a big fan of saying, okay, we’ve got to tear down these institutions and start over again, because that’s banana republic stuff right there.”

As for the global threats that the U.S. faces, Baker said the “hit list” of concerns has not changed very much over the past several decades. In terms of priority and concern, he said, we need to beware of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, the same countries that we’ve been worried about for decades.

“North Korea’s up there because of their nuclear capabilities, technology and their missile capabilities, and their closeness to China,” he said. “Short term, most estimates are that Iran could build a nuclear device inside of about a week or two, at the most, and could probably have three to five of them inside of a month. The Iranian nuclear and missile programs are of a major concern. And then we’ve got China, which has increased defense spending year after year and has been getting more aggressive in the South China Sea and elsewhere. They’ve been creating trade deals that lock down critical minerals.”

Baker pointed out that Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, “has locked down that government like nobody since Mao. And yes, China is a real concern as is Russia. Putin is not an irrational actor, but he’d like to rebuild the former Soviet Union in some capacity, and that’s what his adventurism and invasion of Ukraine is all about.”

As for Ukraine, he said, if we don’t continue to provide resources, “eventually Russia will win. And, at least from my perspective and listening and watching Putin over the years, he’s not going to stop with Ukraine. That’s not his objective. And so, I think it’s in our best interests. I understand why people are upset about it, tired of it. Maybe I think that’s the government’s fault for not being transparent about why we’re there, what we’re doing, how we ensure that Ukraine spends the money properly.”