Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Donald Trump is not Ronald Reagan

Reagan Would Not Think Kindly of Trump’s Assault on the Intelligence Community
by Laurence Jurdem

Laurence Jurdem is an independent scholar who received his Ph.D. in U.S. History from Fordham University. For more information, please visit the author's website

A report released Friday by U.S. intelligence officials, stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.” The conclusions of the study are in sharp conflict with President-Elect Donald Trump’s assertion that there was no proof Moscow had hacked the Democrats or interfered with the election. Mr. Trump’s harsh critique of the American intelligence system could lead to long-term problems between the White House and America’s spy agencies. Despite the president-elect’s claim that he is now receiving intelligence updates, he has in the past ridiculed the idea of daily intelligence briefings from national security officials, because, as he said last month: "I don't have to be told the same thing and the same words every single day for the next eight years.” By constantly belittling and criticizing American intelligence organizations, the incoming president has displayed an attitude that is directly in conflict with the chief executive with whom Mr. Trump is frequently compared by conservatives – Ronald Reagan.
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I am retired from the DIA so I speak with a certain amount of insight.  I would like to reassure you that problems between the White House and America’s spy agencies are unlikely.  Donald Trump is not “constantly belittling and criticizing American intelligence organizations.”  You state, “Mr. Trump seems to have had difficulty understanding . . . it was important he be kept up to date on the latest national security information.”  You state Trump criticizes the intelligence community, “simply because he did not agree with their findings regarding the question of Russian cyberespionage.”

President-elect Trump has criticized the Obama appointed leaders of the intelligence agencies.  He does not disagree with them “simply” because of their stance on Russian cyberespionage.  He is critical of them because he has been a target of their unsubstantiated claims that he was the beneficiary of that espionage.  A successful businessman knows the value of intelligence.  If he was not satisfied with the quality of the information there was a reason.

Should we have confidence in the Obama appointed leadership of the intelligence agencies?  50 analysts working for the U.S. Central Command have lodged a formal complaint about their reports on ISIS being “inappropriately altered” by senior officials.  Career analysts do not do this.  They do not endanger their careers over minor matters.  The national director of intelligence, James Clapper, lied under oath during a congressional hearing.  I can promise you that intelligence community shredders will be working non-stop until January 20.

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