The Importance of Intelligence – Updated

Crap Cutting 101
1

One of the hallmarks of the Republican ideology comes with the ridiculous notion that they alone can keep us safe. Of course, the concept is insane and we know that, but I’m not sure it’s ever been more ridiculous that it is right now.

Think about it. Not a day goes by without some far right Republican or Libertarian telling us all what a “patriot” he is, while lambasting Democrats as a pack of wimps who don’t take security seriously. This is despite the reality about the Republican leadership, which has, for every hero like John McCain, Bob Dole or George H.W. Bush, about 10-15 chickenhawks who like to talk about how “tough” they are, but who think nothing of sending young Americans into a war for absolutely nothing (Iraq). Then, when those troops they get home, they are faced with the reality that the Republicans in charge have threatened the benefits they earned when they fought for the country they love, precisely because the GOP keeps cutting the budget for things they need. Their phony “hero worship” of the troops ends as soon as the troops either die or transform into “veterans.” They are forgotten by the GOP.

There is literally no one who embodies the spirit of the Republican Party more than Lord Donnie Drumpf. I know a lot of you like to beat him up as something of an anomaly, but really, is he really that much of an outlier? Remember when he attacked John McCain because he “prefers people who don’t get caught”? How about the only military action he has ordered so far. In it, Donny ordered it without checking the updated intelligence, which would have told him that the “bad hombres” knew it was happening. According to many accounts, he only gave the go-ahead when someone told him Obama had put off the raid and his insecurity makes him desperate to one-up Obama.

The result of the raid was that they missed their target completely – he wasn’t even there, which the intelligence would have told him – but they killed as many as 20-30 civilians, including an 8-year-old child, plus a member of Navy Seal Team Six. Despite this, he and his mouthpieces have repeatedly referred to the raid as a “success,” including modifiers like “unqualified” and “terrific” and Donnie’s usual assortment of third-grade-level modifiers. He even tried to sneak out to the Navy Seal’s funeral, so that no one would be reminded of his “success,” which tells us how successful it was. And he mentioned the guy’s wife by name, publicly, which means I hope she has a security detail, paid for by the taxpayers.

That was two weeks ago, and not a single mention of the botched “successful” raid has been made by any Republican leader. This is the same group who investigated the Benghazi attack repeatedly, even after everyone at the Obama State Department, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had been cleared several times already.

Just as importantly, Lord Donny and his band of idiots have been slagging on the intelligence community on a continuous basis since he started running for president two years ago, if not before that. For the first time in my memory, there is a serious pubic rift happening between Lord Donny and the military and the intelligence communities. There is always a little tension when a new president comes in; people who are used to doing things one way are suddenly forced to change and that always creates some friction. However, it usually stays behind closed doors and only leaks out in a tell-all book several years later. This time, we’re only three weeks in and there is no tell all book necessary. We know all about it, as long as our heads aren’t buried in “fake news” like Fox News or Breitbart.
Take the botched raid. Lord Donny tried to lay the blame on the military, and for the first time I can think of, military leaders basically called him a liar. Likewise, he publicly tried to blame the “successful” raid on the intelligence community, in part because he was sure they wouldn’t publicly condemn him for it. For Trump, his public image is really all that matters, so he punches people he knows won’t punch back. The problem is, according to a few reports, they are punching back. The White House is leaking like a boat with no bottom, and we seem to have a dual problem; the intelligence isn’t sharing everything with him and what they do share with him, he’s not taking time to read, ask questions and understand.

If any of this is true, that is the opposite of keeping this country safe. We already have the unusual phenomenon of providing terrorists with hundreds of targets with the “president’s” name on them, which I hope the intelligence community is dealing with, but now we have a president who is openly hostile to the intelligence community. A lot of it stems from his fear that people will find out he didn’t win the election for real, and that it was handed to him by Russian Dictator Vladimir Putin. It doesn’t matter why; he is putting this entire country in danger with his dismissive attitude for intelligence.
When he gave a speech on intelligence during his first week in office, Lord Donny insisted on giving the speech directly in front of the wall of honor, which is akin to a presidential candidate giving an anti-military campaign speech in front of the Tomb of the Unknowns. He has shown no respect to any branch of our government that is charged with our security, which creates the incredible circumstance that the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces may not be able to rely on the assistance of the intelligence community to prevent atrocities either here or elsewhere.

Add to this the fact that his asinine Muslim Ban has likely put a lot of intelligence personnel and their assets in danger and we have a really perilous situation here. I know many people think of spies when they think of intelligence. They envision mysterious men who speak in whispers and wear dark trench coats and who secretly kill people. However, the reality is, those who work for the CIA, the NSA and other intelligence agencies are civil servants. I know a lot of people who work in these places – hell, for the better part of a decade, I lived 15 minutes away from Fort Meade and worked not ten minutes from Langley for a couple years. People on my trains and the Metro had badges showing they worked for these agencies. One of my best friends from childhood works there and he and his wife are deacons in their church and teach Sunday school. They are just regular Americans with jobs; people who work during the day, sleep at night and go to church every weekend. And while not all of them put their lives on the line for their country, many do, and they deserve every bit of our honor and respect as any military person who puts themselves on the front lines.

But most of all, they are our lifeline to safety. The information they provide is crucial for the safety and security of our country. That means no one in the Republican Party should be dismissing what they do for their country, anymore than you would dismiss a wounded warrior who gave their ability to walk for the country. Lord Donny has to consider their counsel and, if he can’t, the Republicans in Congress have to step in and either force his hand or impeach his sorry ass.

The uncertainty that Lord Donny’s hostility toward the intelligence community is causing is very dangerous, especially in a world in which our greatest threat isn’t another country, but disparate groups of thugs who don’t care about anything but power and who like nothing more than to prey on the weakest of us. Terrorists’ goal is to produce chaos and fear, and we cannot survive under the leadership of regime that prefers chaos to order and who seem to thrive on fear. It’s counterproductive and more people will be killed.

Update: I need to add a little to this piece in response to the stories the show Lord Donny and his “national security” team talking about the North Korea missile test within sight and hearing range of a lot of the general public. (Source) There are so many reasons this is wrong. First of all, the guy who took photos and put them on Facebook, where they can be seen by the public, just joined the Mar-a-Lago club after the election. He posted the acceptance letter on his Facebook page because he was apparently proud of the fact that he paid $200,000 to join a club that had only cost half as much a couple months earlier. Now, I’m sure he’s a fine, upstanding young Trump voter, but what if he wasn’t? What if he was recruited by someone to get information as to who Lord Donny’s national security team is. Look; the guy posted a photo of the guy who carries the “nuclear football” for Trump. Even if HE isn’t a spy or an intelligence agent from another country, doesn’t he realize the danger he put this poor guy in? The guy carrying the nuclear codes carries a potential risk, anyway; isn’t posting his face all over the news increasing the risk to both him and his family?

There is a reason why certain things are “top secret.” (And FYI, Trumpies, “confidential” is not the same as “top secret,” so Hillary’s emails really weren’t dangerous.) It is because some people do jobs for our country that are potentially risky. Sure, the person with the nuclear football and the members of his national security team have Secret Service protection, but their families may not. And even if they do, you are them putting the Secret Service agents who cover them in greater danger.

The fact that the Trump Cabal is conducting sensitive foreign policy in public is frightening. I hope I am wrong, but they just put a whole lot of people in greater danger than previously. As excited as this guy was to have his picture taken with the “nuclear football” guy, unfortunately, several others were excited about it for wholly unsavory reasons.

Republicans, you need to get this asshole under control. Now.

One of the things that stunned me were the stories about his National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. Apparently, when he was on active duty, he told his subordinates what he “knew,” and then told them to go find intelligence that proved it. That seems to be a hallmark of Trump as well, and he’s staffing people like Flynn in his White House. That doesn’t make us “safer,” it makes us a hell of a lot worse off. The Mar-a-Lago incident should never have happened, period. It violates every basic rule of security.

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