Trump’s Plans For Intelligence Community Play Right Into Putin’s Hands, Despite Denials
For several months Donald Trump has bitterly criticized the United States intelligence agencies. He has accused them of politicizing intelligence data and making critical errors in analysis and reporting. His public statements give more credence to Russia’s dictator, Vladimir Putin, and WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, than to the agencies on which he must rely as president. That has raised questions as to his loyalties from politicians and pundits across the political spectrum.
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Is Trump Putin’s Puppet?
On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal published a story detailing Trump’s plans to revamp the CIA and other intel ops. The article relied on sources close to the Trump transition team who revealed his desire to “restructure and pare back” these agencies. One of the insiders quoted said that:
“The view from the Trump team is the intelligence world has become completely politicized. They all need to be slimmed down. The focus will be on restructuring the agencies and how they interact.”
Among those who would eagerly support slimmed down intelligence bureaus is Trump’s BFF, Vladimir Putin. Along with every other nation hostile to American interests. By weakening our intelligence capabilities, our adversaries would gain the upper hand in clandestine activities and diplomacy. However, Trump’s motivation isn’t as simple as siding with our enemies. He is hypersensitive to allegations that his electoral victory was illegitimate. Consequently, any assertion that Russia’s involvement benefited him grates against his ego and must be suppressed. According to the Journal, that’s a view shared by Trump’s team:
“Among those helping lead Mr. Trump’s plan to revamp the intelligence agencies is his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn [and] Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), whom Mr. Trump selected as CIA director. […] Gen. Flynn and Mr. Pompeo share Mr. Trump’s view that the intelligence community’s position – that Russia tried to help his campaign – is an attempt to undermine his victory or say he didn’t win, the official close to the transition said.”
America’s intelligence pros agree…
The Journal also quoted Paul Pillar, a 28-year veteran of the CIA, who said that he finds it “disturbing that the president should come in with this negative view of the agencies.” Another former CIA operative, Evan McMullin, expressed similar concerns. He tweeted that “Trump’s overhaul of CIA is a reprisal for its alerting Americans of Russian interference in the election and its valid concerns about Trump.” And that “In addition to attacking the press, there is no more typical authoritarian tactic than consolidating power in the intel & armed services.” That observation should send shivers down the spine of every American. Remember that Putin himself was a KGB operative prior to becoming Russia’s dictator.
As for Trump, he had his own Twitter statement on the subject early Thursday morning:
The dishonest media likes saying that I am in Agreement with Julian Assange – wrong. I simply state what he states, it is for the people….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2017
to make up their own minds as to the truth. The media lies to make it look like I am against "Intelligence" when in fact I am a big fan!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2017
Typically, Trump is misrepresenting reality. He actually did praise Assange on several occasions. And quoting him without any critical objection is tantamount to agreement. What’s more, he is outright lying about being a “big fan” of intelligence. He’s done nothing but disparage it and refused to even take the daily briefings on national security.
The Trump Team Is In Denial
Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters on Thursday that the Journal story is false. However, his statement didn’t specify how it was wrong, and left the interpretation wide open. He said that “All transition activities are for information-gathering purposes and all discussions are tentative.” That doesn’t mean that the story was false or that the plans under discussion won’t be adopted. It’s a old-school dodge that the media seems far too willing to accept.
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Everything that has come out of the Trump camp in this regard has affirmed the conclusion that he has a deeply held grudge against America’s intelligence professionals. And no matter what the motivation, that can only serve to strengthen the hands of our enemies. It also sets up a potentially dangerous conflict between the White House and the intelligence community.
American citizens, and their representatives in Congress, need to be vigilant and active in opposing Trump’s anti-intelligence agenda. Because if he succeeds, so does Russia, and China, and North Korea, and Syria, and Iran, and ISIS. In short, if he succeeds, we lose.
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