Sunday, June 16, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lashed out at the media because the US military and intelligence agencies don't trust him.

This morning, Trump tweeted this:

Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country.........ALSO, NOT TRUE! Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today. They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!

There's nothing new in Trump using the language of dictators to call the free press traitors when they upset him, but the reason he was enraged this morning is important. The New York Times article that Trump was referring to dealt with the United States Cyber Command's penetration of Russian electrical systems. The probes are intended to send a warning to Russia that the United States is capable of retaliating in this way against further interference in American elections.

What has Trump so emotional about the NYT's coverage is the fact that it makes clear that his own Department of Defense and intelligence agencies have kept the details of these operations hidden from him. As the article put it:

Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place “implants” — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid. 
Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.

Trump was elected in 2016 with help from Russian cyberattacks and an internet-based disinformation campaign run by the now-indicted Russian operation known as the Internet Research Agency. He signaled last week that he would accept similar help in 2020 if it were offered.

How is this a bad thing?

  • A president who can't be trusted not to reveal military secrets to a hostile foreign power isn't fit for office.
  • In a democracy, the people get to decide for themselves who is an enemy.