After Trump Demeans Intelligence Community, Some Speak Out

After Trump Demeans Intelligence Community, Some Speak Out February 4, 2019

This is both embarrassing and concerning.

Who am I kidding?

This lack of intellectual weight and vacuous preoccupation is actually celebrated today. It’s actually seen as the hallmark of a “true American” to know nothing, as long as your social media game is strong.

And it extends to both major parties, lest anyone with a partisan bent begin to feel that they’ve somehow escaped this disgraceful age of idiocy.

The problem our republic is now burdened with, however, deals with the incurious dolt currently in possession of the nuclear codes.

Last week, President Trump insulted the nation’s intelligence community – again – by disputing testimony given by the heads of the nation’s intelligence agencies (FBI Director Christopher Wray, DNI Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Gen. Robert Ashley, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo, National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone), in regards to national security threats, such as North Korea and Iran.

It wasn’t enough that he threw them under the bus, while standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki last year.

After the testimony of our intelligence leaders, he took to Twitter to demean them, by suggesting that they were “passive and naïve,” and even said they should “go back to school.”

I know Trump and his defenders have often groused about the “disloyalty” within the administration of those who leak, but let’s be honest: His continued attacks against those around him, our institutions and the men and women who devote their lives to doing a good job for our nation does not instill loyalty.

It raises alarms.

With that in mind, sources within the intelligence community have reached out  to Time to explain just where the disconnect is happening between the president and their efforts.

Citing multiple in-person episodes, these intelligence officials say Trump displays what one called “willful ignorance” when presented with analyses generated by America’s $81 billion-a-year intelligence services. The officials, who include analysts who prepare Trump’s briefs and the briefers themselves, describe futile attempts to keep his attention by using visual aids, confining some briefing points to two or three sentences, and repeating his name and title as frequently as possible.

What is most troubling, say these officials and others in government and on Capitol Hill who have been briefed on the episodes, are Trump’s angry reactions when he is given information that contradicts positions he has taken or beliefs he holds. Two intelligence officers even reported that they have been warned to avoid giving the President intelligence assessments that contradict stances he has taken in public.

In other words, their jobs, their expertise, mean nothing. They have been directed to abandon what they know and simply tell the emperor how wonderful his new clothes are.

When government becomes about stroking the ego of one man and keeping him placated, above doing the actual job, you no longer have a free republic.

Of course, I’ve seen some of Trump’s devotees suggest that truth and facts depend on what Trump deems to be truth and fact.

I wish I was kidding.

The problem has existed since the beginning of Trump’s presidency, the intelligence officials say, and for a time they tried to respond to the President’s behavior in briefings with dark humor. After a briefing in preparation for a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, for example, the subject turned to the British Indian Ocean Territory of Diego Garcia. The island is home to an important airbase and a U.S. Naval Support Facility that are central to America’s ability to project power in the region, including in the war in Afghanistan.

The President, officials familiar with the briefing said, asked two questions: Are the people nice, and are the beaches good? “Some of us wondered if he was thinking about our alliance with the Brits and the security issues in an important area where the Chinese have been increasingly active, or whether he was thinking like a real estate developer,” one of the officials said wryly.

I’m just going to go ahead and assume, based on previous experiences that he was thinking about real estate and how he could turn this into a money-making venture for the Trump Organization.

Then there is concern over President Trump’s love of dictators.

Trump stood in front of one of his roaring and fatuous rally crowds last year and poo-pooed concerns over his praise of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un.

Even as reports had surfaced that North Korea had not, in fact, given up their nuclear pursuits, Trump told the crowd that he and the insane, bloodthirsty tyrant had “fallen in love.”

And his fans love that, including his evangelical base, even though North Korea and the Kim regime are rated as the number one, most oppressive and dangerous place for Christians in the world.

There is also fear among intelligence officials that Trump could bungle any trade talks with China’s Xi Jinping, giving up everything in order to make a trade deal that he could brag about. This would be in exchange for letting China off the hook for myriad issues, ranging from espionage to China’s military buildup and geopolitical aggressiveness that could put them on par with Russia (Trump’s other weak spot).

Valid concerns.

Trump only cares about the veneer he puts on an issue, how he can twist it to make his deal-making appear more competent and worthwhile than it actually is.

If he cared about actual solutions, he’d put more study and effort into learning about a problem.

Three other officials worry about what one of them calls “precipitous troop withdrawals” from Syria and Afghanistan and a peace deal with the Taliban that in time would leave the extremist Islamic group back in charge and wipe out the gains made in education, women’s rights and governance since the U.S. invaded the country more than 17 years ago.

And let’s not forget who benefits from those withdrawals.

It’s not the United States.

Of course, none of this is going to sway the true Branch Trumpidian disciples. We have to hope, however, that our intelligence community does not become disheartened.

Now, more than ever, we need them to be focused and involved.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • IllinoisPatriot

    Would willful disregard of intelligence briefings and demands for ego satiation be components of treason by a would-be king that (in fact) an asset of Russian intelligence ?

    If Trump were NOT an asset of Russian intelligence just WHAT would have been differently reported in this article ?

  • chemical

    When government becomes about stroking the ego of one man and keeping him placated, above doing the actual job, you no longer have a free republic. Of course, I’ve seen some of Trump’s devotees suggest that truth and facts depend on what Trump deems to be truth and fact.

    Well said, Susan. This is the end goal of all dictators: Wage a war on truth itself, to the point where everything becomes a matter of opinion. At that point it becomes impossible to counter the dictator’s narrative, and The Truth is what Dear Leader says it is.

    Scary times, indeed, but nice to know that there are people with whom I disagree on politics, yet still be grounded on the facts.

  • JASmius

    Let us consider what I see as the true danger in this scenario.

    A lot of Trump’s “reluctant” supporters in 2016 (those who weren’t necessarily Redcaps back then but considered stopping Mrs. Clinton worth any cost) tried to sell the idea of surrounding him with conservative advisers and Cabinet secretaries that would “steer” him in the right direction. How that was supposed to be reassuring is anybody’s guess, since nominating an actual conservative who wouldn’t need to be “steered” always seemed like a better option, at least to me.

    Regardless, there was some of that….at first. The “three generals” (Mattis, Kelly, McMaster), Rex Tillerson (sort of), Jeff Sessions, Gary Cohn, etc. Kelly and Mattis in particular were instrumental in either talking Trump out of doing crazy and/or illegal things or simply not carrying out such directives and counting on his gnat-like attention span to forget about them. They couldn’t eliminate the chaos but at least managed to minimize it….for a while.

    The thing you’ll notice about the names I mentioned above is that they’re all gone now. All either fired, driven out, or quit in protest when their advice was ignored and even publicly pilloried. We all know why Sessions was bounced. Kelly was bypassed as CoS, Cohn’s appeals for free trade and against trade wars and protectionism were jettisoned, and abandonment of Syria and Afghanistan was announced without “Mad Dog” even being given a head’s up. In their places are either True Believers or sycophants of varying degrees of illegitimacy, almost all of them in an “acting” capacity.

    If you step back and look at all of this in the big picture, what you see is an authoritarian/”strongman”-wannabe president having gotten rid of all the “adults” that would refuse to “just follow orders” and replaced them with a cadre of like-minded fellow travelers and/or weak-willed boot-lickers who will do anything Trump tells them to do without question or hesitation. Whether you consider him a malevolent mastermind, as liberals do, or a capricious, mendacious, ignorant moron like true conservatives do, the practical effect is the same: our country as we have known it for nearly a quarter of a millennium, is in grave danger.

  • captcrisis

    No, we liberals also consider him a capricious, mendacious, ignorant moron.

  • Re “…lest anyone with a partisan bent begin to feel that they’ve somehow escaped this disgraceful age of idiocy.”

    Point taken given today’s dictionaries have made Idiocy and Stupidity basically synonymous, but there still remains a difference. In the legal sense an idiot is someone who is incapable of rational thought and therefore virtually blameless for their actions. Where stupidity is someone who can but refuses to reason well. Keeping one’s self willfully ignorant of the facts is choosing to remain stupid. And to have the sense to avoid/reject inconvenient facts, one must first be conscientiously aware of the shaky ground they insist building upon. In other words, they know they are defending the indefensible yet do it anyway.

    Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 gives an excellent definition for Stupefy:

    1. To make stupid; to make dull; to blunt the faculty of perception or understanding; to deprive of sensibility. It is a great sin to attempt to stupefy the conscience.

    The fumes of passion intoxicate his discerning faculties, as the fumes of drink stupefy the brain.

    Thus I would argue we are in a state of stupefaction rather than one of idiocy.

    “It is difficult to conceive any situation more painful than to watch the lingering agony of an exhausted country, to tend it during the alternate fits of stupefaction and raving which precede its dissolution, and to see the symptoms of vitality disappear one by one, till nothing is left but coldness, darkness, and corruption.” ~Zachary Macaulay

  • John225

    I think before “The Apprentice” Trump was a failing businessman with a poor reputation for financial discipline amongst other things and he saw how a mythology could be constructed around him and bought into by a willing audience and the real-world results that yielded for him, the respect it generated. With the opportunities it created and the ego stroking it provided him, I think he must have to some extent bought into his own lie as to how infallible his instincts are (his famous gut). The audacity of HIS intelligence chiefs to challenge his prowess with their billion-dollar organizations and all their contacts domestic and abroad and all their intelligence gathering tools. What is all that against his gut and a bit of Fox news. They are breaking the mythology he is trying to create for the American people with their facts. He seemed to believe that if the economy was doing well he could not lose and the measures with which people judge that are shallow so even that doesn’t need to be real. In all things perception is reality. The formula is simple just cut taxes and increase spending, both of which are stimulatory and so will temporarily at least increase GDP and boost employment when that happens you’re golden. People don’t fire presidents when the financials are good do they?

  • Mother124

    Trump knows better than all of them, dontcha know. He said he would rely mostly on his own advice, because he has “a very good brain.”