Saturday, December 17, 2016

Narcissism vs. Intelligence: Why Donald Trump Should Take Daily Intelligence Briefings

Donald Trump has not taken the Intelligence Briefings that each President-Elect receives and has taken in the past.
He has said that he does not need these--this man who believes that Turkey is in the Middle East, who does not know what the Nuclear Triad is--because he says that he is "really smart."
He says this becuase the idea that he would need this information challenges his grandiosity--that he would not already know, because he is "really smart."
This is very, very dangerous.
The following is from an interview this week that the Head of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, did with David Ignatius of the Washington Post, at a summit on the Future of Homeland Security.
It is well worth reading--including by Donald Trump:
The Future of Homeland Security: David Ignatius, Jed Johnson:
IGNATIUS: During the election campaign Donald Trump has been generally dismissive of the suggestion that Russian hacking is playing a role. Last Sunday, he was interviewed by Chris Wallace, talking about the latest analysis by the CIA analysts. He said he thought it was “ridiculous,” and he is also said recently that he doesn't need a daily intelligence briefing..
You have had hundreds if not thousands of intelligence briefings and know the CIA extremely well. So, I want to ask you what is your judgment about the agency, and did the comments that the president-elect made have a negative effect?
JOHNSON: Let me answer this as a daily consumer of intelligence, particularly in this job.
In this job the most important part of my day is 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. when i'm going through the intelligence. I would say the order in which I consume information every morning. I first get up, 5:00 a.m, I get to work.
My Intel is book sitting on my desk and that is the first thing that I look at.
It's important to note that intelligence assessments, things generated by intelligence agencies, are a synopsis of what's going on in the world.
And so from reading intelligence products every morning that's where you find out what is happening in Syria, what's happening in Iraq and what's happening in places in the Middle East, what's happening all around the world.
From there, frankly if I have time, I get to the newspapers, i get to the print newspapers to see how you all are covering what's happening in the world, whether you had it right, you have it wrong.
The most important part of the day is that when i am consuming the intelligence assessments to know what's happening in the world.
It's critical to know threats to the homeland, emerging threats to the homeland.
Then, after I am done, at 8:30, we literally walk through the intelligence that i have read. It's my opportunity to ask questions on specific items. That is incredibly important so I am hoping and assuming the incoming administration will treat this equally.
IGNATIUS: I want to press you on this, Mr. Secretary. Do you think it is appropriate for the president-elect to make that kind of critical comment about the intelligence agencies– who are responsible for assessing foreign, including Russian threats to the country?
JOHNSON: In my experience our analysts at CIA, DIA, NCTC, State, all these agencies are very careful, they are very deliberate.
The foreign intelligence products that reach somebody at my level and certainly the president's level, will have been highly coordinated, vetted by numerous different agencies. Occasionally, it's good to ask follow-up questions. it's good to scrutinize. it's good to challenge an assessment once in a while.
But in my experience our men and women in the intelligence community who gather and assess intelligence are very careful and very deliberate and if they weren't they wouldn't be in the positions that they occupy.