White House’s Susan Rice: U.S. National Security Agencies Are Too White

Dave Boyer, Washington Times, May 11, 2016

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Speaking at Florida International University’s commencement, Susan E. Rice, who is black, said a diversified government workforce is more likely to yield “better outcomes” than a predominantly white one.

Referring to criticism that the U.S. national security workforce is “white, male and Yale,” Ms. Rice told the graduates, “In the halls of power, in the faces of our national security leaders, America is still not fully reflected.”

“By now, we should all know the dangers of ‘groupthink,’ where folks who are alike often think alike,” she said. “By contrast, groups comprised of different people tend to question one another’s assumptions, draw on divergent perspectives and experiences, and yield better outcomes.”

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Ms. Rice elaborated in her speech on how having more minorities in the national security field would better protect the homeland.

“Intelligence analysts, diplomats and military officers who are native speakers may pick up subtle nuances that might otherwise go unnoticed,” she said. “Diplomats who can read cultural cues may better navigate the political and social currents of a foreign nation. In sum, leaders from diverse backgrounds can often come up with more creative insights, proffer alternative solutions and thus make better decisions.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Mr. Obama agrees with that sentiment.

“The president certainly believes that our government is most effective and is making the best decisions when we have a government that looks like the country,” he said.

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In her speech, Ms. Rice also made an apparent reference to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump when she criticized “voices out there that disparage our diversity–that question whether America should welcome people of all races, religions and creeds.”

“Those voices can be loud. They can be intimidating,” she said. “They can make us feel like we don’t belong. Let fear be their problem, not yours. Shake it off. Ignore the haters.”

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In her commencement speech, Ms. Rice said U.S. national security agencies “have not yet drawn fully on the strengths of our great nation.”

“Minorities still make up less than 20 percent of our senior diplomats [and] less than 15 percent of senior military officers and senior intelligence officials,” she said.

“Why should we care? For starters, a diverse national security workforce enables us to unlock all of our nation’s talent,” Ms. Rice said.

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