As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, I try to keep politics out my posts. I write here to share my life experiences, especially as they have to do with novels and short stories. But the doings of President Trump have forced me to speak out.
On 28 October 1975, NPR, in its “All Things Considered” broadcast, offered a long segment on the damage Trump has done to the intelligence apparatus of the U.S. government. I spent 35 years in intelligence, and I’m enraged.
It all started in 2016 when the agencies that make up U.S. intelligence community agreed—and accurately, at that—that Russia had worked nefariously to see to it that Donald Trump was elected president. Trump attacked the intelligence agencies and compared them to the Nazis.
I am reminded of the days in 1975 when I warned, based on signals intelligence, that the North Vietnamese would attack Saigon. The U.S. ambassador in Saigon rejected my warning and refused to prepare or evacuate threatened U.S. and Vietnamese. When the attack came, multiple thousands of Vietnamese who could otherwise have been saved were left to perish at the hands of the conquering North Vietnamese.
My forecasts of the coming assaults were not in line with U.S. policy as dictated by the ambassador, that the war would end with negotiations leading to a neutral government. He and others in the civilian side of the U.S. government (but not the military who were never deceived) denigrated the intelligence agencies who accurately foretold the brutal ending of the Vietnam war.
It looks to me like a similar episode has been developing in this country since 2016. Because everything that affects the intelligence apparatus of the U.S. and the results it produces are classified, we have no way of knowing how Trump may have punished the intelligence producers. Maybe their budgets have been cut. Maybe their staffs have been shorn.
The prospect frightens me. This nation depends on its intelligence agencies to reveal the truth, unvarnished and unswayed by political motives. If that capacity is undermined, disaster is close.