Wednesday, January 30, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He claimed to know more about intelligence than the intelligence services who brief him.

At a House intelligence committee hearing yesterday, Trump's own appointed intelligence chiefs publicly contradicted a number of Trump's own talking points. Among other things, CIA Director Gina Haspel confirmed that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the nuclear non-proliferation deal that Trump pulled the U.S. from last year, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testified that ISIS is still a significant threat in Syria and elsewhere. Coats also rejected any hope that North Korea was sincere in its promises to denuclearize.

By contrast, Trump routinely praises North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and ignores evidence that it is expanding its weapons program. (He once declared that he had personally, permanently ended the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, although just today he said that there was only a "decent chance" that this was true.) Trump has already declared victory over ISIS in Syria, and his opinions about the Iran deal seem to be based almost entirely in fiction.

Today, Trump declared the entire U.S. intelligence community to be "naive" and said that they should "go back to school."

It's hardly the first time Trump has attacked the people who give him all of the information he has about the world—including much he never hears, because of his habit of skipping his intelligence briefings. Furious to learn how much they had uncovered of Russia's attempts to sabotage the 2016 election on his behalf, Trump compared American intelligence operatives to Nazis. Later, he openly sided with Vladimir Putin against U.S. intelligence agencies.

Why should I care about this?

  • Undermining faith in America's government is the job of its enemies, not its president.
  • It's bad if it's this hard to tell the truth without infuriating the president.
  • Literally everything Trump does or could know about the world comes from the very agencies he's attacking, not counting anything he may learn during occasional secret meetings with foreign intelligence agents.