And now, in a series of tweets, Mr. Trump has taken the side of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange over the collective conclusion of those tasked with our national security. Assange, in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity (who at this point must be considered a full-fledged propagandist and abetter) said he didn’t get the information from Russia. Well if he says so… Let’s just use that same standard for all of our adversaries. Nothing to see here. Why waste all these billions of dollars on intelligence gathering?
When it comes to our intelligence services, there must be many caveats. This work is more art than pure science, often picking out clues from a lot of noise. Our intelligence has been wrong in the past. The CIA and other organizations have overstepped their bounds at times, and their findings have been politicized (Iraq). Furthermore there is often a certain amount of dissent about many findings. I also must add that I have long felt we can benefit from taking a long, hard, and critical look at our intelligence apparatus, its structure, bureaucratic interferences, and fiefdoms. But in this case, those concerns are secondary as the agencies seem to be speaking largely in unison with the urgency of real evidence.
I have found the men and women who do these intelligence jobs to be serious about their line of work. Deadly serious. After all, when they are wrong people can and often do die. What do the vast network of people risking their lives undercover and in dangerous locals, men and women whose names we will never know, think of Mr. Trump’s cavalier dismissal of their work? What about the thousands more at headquarters using their immense analytical skills in the service of country instead of, say, making millions on Wall Street? We need a robust intelligence force now more than ever. This is a matter of national security. It affects all Americans, and people around the world. Hopefully patriots within Mr. Trump’s own party and in his inner circle will step up and tell the incoming president how dangerous this rhetoric is.
Heaven forbid we suffer another horrible attack. Heaven forbid our intelligence community was hollowed out, wasn’t listened to or respected. These are the stakes.