Tag Archives: intelligence network

Trump can’t stomach being told the truth

Donald Trump’s decision to nominate John Ratcliffe as the country’s next Director of National Intelligence reveals a frightening, outrageous aspect of how the president wants to run our national security network … as if we didn’t see this already.

Ratcliffe is a congressman from Northeast Texas, representing a district once represented by the late, great Sam Rayburn. Ratcliffe would succeed Dan Coats as DNI and would be charged — according to the playbook — with providing the president unvarnished analysis of the threats to the nation’s security.

Ratcliffe is not wired that way. Coats has done it, as have many of the preceding DNIs who have held the office.

Trump wants a “loyalist,” someone who likely adheres to his own idiotic view that the Russian hack of our 2016 election is a “hoax” cooked up by the “fake news” and Democratic opponents.

Can there be anything more inherently frightening than to have a DNI who cannot or will not tell the president the truth? More to the point, can there be anything more dangerous to the nation to have a president who won’t hear the truth?

Rep. Ratcliffe showed his partisan stripes while questioning former special counsel Robert Mueller this past week. He challenged Mueller’s probe into the Russian electoral attack. As some commentators have noted, Ratcliffe appeared to be auditioning for the nomination once it became known that DNI Coats would be “stepping down.”

For the ever-lovin’ life of me I cannot grasp how this president continues to lie, deceive and flim-flam his way through the duties to which he has been charged. Even more astonishing is how he manages to cling to that 38 to 40 percent core of Americans who insist he is “telling it like it is” and speaks for them.

John Ratcliffe comes from that fervent base of Trump supporters. The nation does not need a Trump lackey in the post of DNI, which requires someone who is unafraid to tell the president the hard truth about the existential threats that put this country in danger.

If the president has a vast reservoir of talent waiting for the call to come to work in the White House — which he boasts of having — he can do a lot better than John Ratcliffe as head of the nation’s intelligence apparatus.

My fear, though, is that he doesn’t care about quality. It’s all about political loyalty.

Dangerous.

War is far from a perfect endeavor

Two aid workers — an American and an Italian — are dead because a drone strike hit a suspected terrorist compound.

U.S. intelligence did not know the men were inside the target area. Does this mean the air campaign using unmanned drones is a failure? No. It means that intelligence at times is incorrect.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/obama-expresses-confidence-in-us-intelligence-despite-mistake-that-killed-two-aid-workers-117325.html?hp=b1_r1

President Obama expressed his support for the U.S. intelligence network during a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the melding of intelligence agencies into a single national intelligence department.

Walter Weinstein and Giovanni LoBianco were killed when a drone-launched missile hit the compound where al-Qaeda terrorists were holding them. President Obama has expressed regret and sorrow at the men’s deaths. But he stands behind the intelligence network.

Do they get everything right every single time? No. We’ve suffered through many intelligence failures over many years. Do you remember the intelligence that became the basis for launching the Iraq War in 2003? Do you remember the assurance that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam Hussein was preparing to use them? It didn’t pan out that way.

Obama said: “Our first job is to make sure that we protect the American people. But there’s not a person that I talk to that’s involved in the intelligence community that also doesn’t understand that we have to do so while upholding our values and our ideals, and our laws and our constitutions, and our commitment to democracy.”

No matter the scope of the failures involved in intelligence gathering, it’s always critical to remember that human beings analyze this data and that those analysts do make mistakes. Thankfully, it’s not often.

Does that lessen the tragedy that resulted in the deaths of the aid workers? No. It does require, as the president said, that the nation “review what happened. We’re going to identify the lessons that can be learned and any improvements and changes that can be made.”