The first method for estimating intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.
-- Niccolo Machiavelli
President Camacho weighs in.
You know, in retrospect, that’s an unfair comparison.
In the movie Idiocracy, President Camacho was a decent person.
He sincerely wanted to be a good leader for all of his people, but he also knew that he was a moron in a nation of morons.
He didn’t know much, but he knew that.
And so Camacho set out to surround himself with those smarter than himself, a key plot point of the film.
Real life president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt once famously said, “I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.” In that light, maybe Camacho wasn’t so dumb after all.
Unlike the current, and all too horribly real, resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Trump thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room and he’s managed to convince a bunch of idiots of this. A guy who doesn't know the difference between an adverb describing location and a possessive pronoun (“There economy…” Where economy? There! There economy! And I digress with apologies to Mel Brooks) thinks he’s more intelligent and better informed than the US Intelligence Community.
And once again, his idiot supporters clap and drool in agreement without asking a single question. Trump, he’s so smart!
Speaking as a retired US intelligence officer, to see this coming from a sitting president is horrifying.
Let’s take it apart and look at it one line at a time.
The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran.
Since establishment in its current form in 1947, the US Intelligence Community has devoted extensive assets to the study and manipulation of Iran. It’s damned near an obsession of US Intelligence. In fact, one of the Central Intelligence Agency’s very first major operations was orchestration of the 1953 Iranian coup d'etat, bringing down the elected government of Prime Minister Muhammand Mossadegh and establishing a dictatorship of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
This was, of course, about oil.
The British and American petroleum industries were angered by Mossadegh’s nationalization of Iran’s oil production, so they complained to their respective governments. And by complained I, of course, mean bribed and influenced and lobbied with whatever it took. Those governments via the CIA then conspired to put Iran into the hands of somebody more willing to cut the West a better deal. See, oil had been discovered in 1908 near Masjed Soleiman. A lot of oil. The “Anglo-Persian Oil Company” was created to exploit it. In 1935, right before the outbreak of WWII, that company was renamed the “Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.”
Now, you wonder where I’m going with this, don’t you?
Well, see, in 1954, immediately following the CIA led coup, the British and Americans no longer felt the need to keep up pretenses. They dropped the Iranians completely from the project and that company was renamed once again.
To “British Petroleum.”
And the guy who coordinated the whole thing, dubbed Operation Ajax, was none other than Kermit Roosevelt Jr., grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt and the top CIA officer in Iran.
Things worked out pretty well for us, for a while.
No one in America cared about oppression and authoritarianism in Iran. Nobody in the West cared what the Shah did to his own people. Nobody cared about the increasing resentment of Iranians, so long as the oil continued to flow. And so it did. Right up until the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
When it all, predictably, went to hell.
The ironic part is since that day when Islamic hardliners overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty and established an anti-Western theocracy, American intelligence led by the CIA has been bent to the task of regime change and supposed establishment of … wait, Iranian democracy?
Yeah. About that, see that guy, back in 1953? Mossadegh? He is widely considered by those who study Iran, to be the closest thing that country has ever had to a democratic leader. He was put into office by an elected parliament. He hated autocracy and he vocally and publicly championed the idea of an American-style democracy in Iran. He used his position to halt and reduce the power of the Shah … right up until he was ousted by the CIA on August 19, 1953.
Of course, by Reagan’s time, we’d completely forgotten our role in creating our own enemies.
But Iran didn’t forget and Iranians have resented America’s machinations to this very day. Since then, since Reagan, driven by Iran’s chokehold over the Straits of Hormuz and thus the world oil supply and in larger part by America’s unending willingness to do the bidding of hardliners in Israel, the US Intelligence Community has devoted enormous resources to the study of Iran.
Every single US Intelligence agency has an Iranian group.
Every branch of the US military has war plans built around endless Iranian scenarios – hell, I did such work myself.
None of this is a secret.
The details are classified, of course, but the fact that we study and plan for conflict with a nation that has declared itself our enemy is no secret at all.
There is no Marine, no Sailor, in the US military who has sailed through the Straits of Hormuz under Iranian guns who doesn’t know this.
Passive? Naïve? Nothing could be further from the truth.
They are wrong!
They are wrong.
That’s what the President of the United States said of the US Intelligence attitudes, efforts, and knowledge of our enemies.
They are wrong! There’s no ambiguation there. They are wrong.
How would he know that?
No. No, no, no. Don’t look away. Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t try to change the subject. How would he know that?
Even if true, how could the President of the United States possibly know that about the US Intelligence Community?
Do you see the implications?
The US Intelligence Community isn’t a single monolithic agency, it is sixteen separate intelligence agencies, each with a different mission, different capabilities, operating both together and in conjunction with dozens of outside intelligence organizations and information gathering agencies operated by our allies around the globe.
Trump said, “They are wrong.” He called that entire vast structure “passive” and “naïve.
How would he know that?
Because this entire structure, tens of thousands of skilled professionals, trillions of dollars in assets, a googolplex of information, gathered, processed, crosschecked, verified, refined, and compiled in an endless cycle reaches its apex with … the President of the United States.
The President himself commands this entire vast structure of information and intelligence – which was constructed in large part specifically to provide him with as true of picture of the world as is currently possible.
So, how does the president check the validity of that structure?
They are wrong!
By definition, to say “they are wrong!” with any confidence, he would have to have access to some information processing system that is outside, independent, of the US Intelligence Community. One that is at least as large, as powerful, as well equipped and as capable as the US/Allied Intelligence Community. Some entity capable of checking not just US intelligence assessments, but also the process of how that information is acquired and produced along with the attitudes and outlooks of US Intelligence personnel.
Who is that?
Who can do … that?
Not even the Russians have that capability.
So, who can do that to a such a degree of certainty that the President of the United States, the very Commander-in-Chief of the US Intelligence Community, would confidently trash his own people to the world?
“When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but a source of potential danger and conflict."
How is Iran different now that they know there is no point in signing a deal with the United States? I mean, if they are still are source of “potential danger and conflict” how is that different from previously?
“They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge.”
“There [sic ] economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran.”
Again, how does he know?
This is a guy who doesn’t even know how to operate spellcheck. So how does he know?
Where did he get this information? Not just the alleged assessment of Iran’s economy, but the part where that economy is somehow holding Iran back from greater ambitions? Since we can assume the President didn’t get it from a passive and naïve and wrong US Intelligence Community, where did this assessment come from?
Again, don’t roll your eyes. Think it through.
If the president isn’t getting his intelligence picture from US Intelligence, then where does it come from?
Who’s providing it?
Who shapes how the President of the United States sees the world? And what he tells us. And what he bases his decisions on.
It matters, you know.
In 2002, members of the George W. Bush administration, specifically Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, didn’t like the assessments provided by the US Intelligence Community. Their boss, Donald Rumsfeld thought the US Intelligence Community was passive and naïve and wrong too. So, with the approval of President Bush, they set up the Office of Special Plans (OSP) in the Pentagon. OSP operated outside of the US Intelligence Community, Feith, then Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, called it “a much needed critique” of the Intelligence Community. He called it that, because the CIA wasn’t telling Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld what they wanted to hear – i.e. that Saddam had conspired with Al Qaeda to attack the United States and that 100% for sure Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. It was OSP’s job to tell these Neocons what they wanted to hear and to produce the “intelligence” necessary to convince both America and the United Nations to go to war.
And that’s exactly what they did.
You remember how that turned, right?
They were wrong.
They were fucking wrong. Wrong in every detail. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
They were wrong. Not the US Intelligence Community. Them. OSP. Bush. Cheney. Rumsfeld. Wolfowitz. All of them. They were wrong.
I know, because I was there.
I watched it happen from a front row seat.
Those of us who protested OSPs assessment were ordered to be quiet or were shouted down by those with a political agenda and an overwhelming desire for war. And after it was over, after Colin Powell lied to the United Nations and Bush lied to America and the world, after the invasion, after we killed half a million people, after not one single link between Saddam and Osama Bin Laden could be found, after not one single WMD could be found in Iraq, OSP quietly dissolved. Most of those rats disappeared, reinvented themselves, and reappeared later and are now back to skulking around the halls of power and whispering in the ears of gullible and stupid politicians yet again.
“Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!"
I’ll ask you again, where did Trump get this idea?
Where did he get the worldview that led him two days ago to call his own nation’s Intelligence community naïve and passive and wrong?
Trump attacked the US Intelligence Community two days ago.
I waited. I waited to see what would happened.
I waited to see if the press would ask a questions. The questions.
I waited to see if congress would ask the questions.
I waited to see if America would ask the questions.
Where did the President of the United States get this information, if not from American Intelligence? Who told him? How did they know? Where did this happen? When?
Where? How? Who? What? When?
The implications here are staggering.
If true, then we are facing a serious crisis, a national security issue beyond anything else. Intelligence drives everything, security, policy, law, budget, the military, national priorities, everything. If the US Intelligence Community is wrong about something so fundamental as the threat posed by Iran – Iran for fuck’s sake – then we are facing a crisis of unprecedented magnitude. Everything we think we know might be wrong, which means everything that depends from that knowledge could be wrong too.
Why is the Director of National Intelligence not on the carpet before Congress right now?
I mean, if they can’t get Iran right, then the odds are they likely have everything else wrong as well.
If the President doesn’t trust American Intelligence, why should anybody else?
That’s what the President’s comment implies.
That, right there.
But, of course, it’s not true.
It’s not true in any fashion. The US Intelligence Community is neither passive nor naïve when it comes to Iran. And they are not wrong.
So, I waited.
And there it is.
The great White Whale. Thar she blows!
How did Trump know? How did he know that the US Intelligence Community was passive and naïve and wrong about Iran? There’s your answer.
I would suggest you read the COMPLETE testimony from Tuesday.
Ah. Good advice.
Too bad he didn’t follow it.
Too bad we don’t have a President who takes time to gather actual, valid information before attacking his own people.
Just concluded a great meeting with my Intel team in the Oval Office who told me that what they said on Tuesday at the Senate Hearing was mischaracterized by the media - and we are very much in agreement on Iran, ISIS, North Korea, etc
Why didn’t he know this before trashing the Intelligence Community?
Why wasn’t he briefed in advance by his own people? Why didn’t he demand such a briefing? Hell, isn’t he being regularly briefed on Iran by the Intelligence Community already?
If not? Why not? What the hell?
Why wasn’t he personally watching the testimony himself? Why wasn’t he watching the Senate hearings himself as he admonished America to do? And don’t tell me that he didn’t have the time. He had the time to tweet. He had the time to watch Fox News.
Oh yes. Fox News.
I told you we’d come back to this.
That’s where he got his information. He was watching TV instead of watching the actual hearings. Instead of being briefed by his own people. He based his attack on the US Intelligence Community on what he heard one of his favorite pundits say. He admitted it himself, it’s right there.
Their testimony was distorted press [sic].
I used to have this idiot cat who would fall asleep in some precarious position. Then inevitably, it would fall from a height, bonk! It would get up, look around, and then try to pretend that hadn’t just landed on its head like an idiot. Trump and those who surround him don’t even have that much awareness. He’s so goddamned stupid, or rather the people who he surrounds himself with (because these two tweets were threaded, something Trump himself doesn’t know how to do) are so goddamned stupid, that they don’t even realize when they incriminate themselves.
Trump tweeted an attack on his own people because of something he saw on TV – and it never occurred to him to pick up the phone and call the Director of National Intelligence and verify what he’d heard. Hell, he should have already known what his own Intelligence Community believed, because he should be briefed on it every single day.
A day later, after he publicly landed on his head, he tries to act as if it was everybody else who got it wrong. And he literally admonished America to not to do what he does every day.
“Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!"
“I value our intelligence community. Happily, we had a very good meeting, and we are all on the same page!”
The man is worse than a fool.
Trump consistently ignores the reasoned and experienced advice of experts for the honeyed whispers of evil counselors and if Trump can so consistently and so shamelessly get something like this wrong, what else does he have wrong?
That is, of course, a rhetorical question.
And you already know the answer.
Ignorance is bold and knowledge is reserved.