ECLECTIC RANT:Trump Insults His Intelligence Chiefs

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday February 02, 2019 - 04:35:00 PM

The 42-page annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community was released on January 29th. The Assessment found that Trump's trade policies and “unilateralism” and “America First” approach have strained traditional alliances and prompted foreign partners to seek new relationships. 

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in conjunction shortly with the release of the Assessment, the nation’s intelligence chiefs contradicted President Trump on his assertions that ISIS has been defeated in Syria, that North Korea is likely to give up its nuclear weapons, and that Iran has cheated on the 2015 nuclear agreement even after the Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from it. 

Notably, the Assessment does not include any threat to the nation at our border with Mexico. 

The next day, Trump ridiculed the intelligence chiefs’ Assessment as "extremely passive and naive” and that “[P]erhaps Intelligence should go back to school.” In response, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Intelligence Director Coats, FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel to “stage an intervention and educate the commander in chief about how important it is for him to back the U.S. intelligence community." 

Would Trump even listen? Given his past history of making decisions without first seeking advice, I expect not. After all, why would he need to. After all. Trump has told us many a time that he is “like really smart, a very stable genius." 

Remember, these intelligence chiefs were appointed by Trump and represent thousands of intelligence experts in the various intelligence agencies. And remember, as a candidate, he boasted that if elected, he'd "surround myself only with the best and most serious people" -- adding: "We want top-of-the-line professionals.”  

Andy Borowitz, the satirist for The New Yorker summed up this “intelligence thing" quite nicely: "Using some of his harshest rhetoric in recent memory, President Donald J. Trump came out strongly against intelligence on Wednesday morning. “I’ve listened to these people with so-called intelligence go on and on, and, quite frankly, it’s a waste of time,” he said. “I know a lot more than people with intelligence do.” . . . . President’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, denied that Trump’s war on intelligence was a new development. “Intelligence has never played a role in Donald Trump’s life,” she said. 

On January 31 — the day after he had insulted them — Trump met with Coates and Haskel. After the meeting, Trump Tweeted that the intelligence chiefs had been misquoted by the media. Misquoted indeed. We heard what they said and transcripts of their testimony is available to read. Whereas, there is no transcript of the meeting between Trump and Coates and Haskel. 

I’m worried and you should be too.