As long-term readers of this blog are well aware, I am proud of my 35 years of work in intelligence for the U.S. government. I’m very critical of President Trump for his attacks on the intelligence agencies, and I continue to maintain stoutly that intelligence must always tell the truth no matter how unpalatable.
We don’t know what damage Trump may have inflicted upon the intelligence community. Everything they do and the results they produce are of necessity classified. But we do know that Trump was enraged that intelligence reported on Russian interference on Trump’s behalf in the 2016 election. As more and more evidence becomes public, it’s becoming more apparent that Trump did benefit from Russian ploys and knew very well what was going on. According to the Washington Post, Michael Cohen in his new book Disloyal: A Memoir says that Trump loved Vladimir Putin, the Russian autocrat, because Putin had the ability “to take over an entire country and run it like it was his personal company — like the Trump organization, in fact.”
The most recent scandal is Trump’s curtailing of briefings to Congress about Russian interference in the 2020 election to increase the likelihood of a Trump victory. Reports from the intelligence community that pro-Trump Russian meddling was continuing so enraged Trump that last February he fired acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire. John Ratliffe, the current DNI, is attempting to trim back reports to Congress.
I remind readers that intelligence agencies are the eyes and ears of the nation. They tell us—and Congress—what other countries are up to. To the degree that they are hampered or constricted, we become blind and deaf to what is happening around us.
David Ignatius put it well in his 2 September column in the Washington Post. He says that politicization of intelligence “makes it dangerous for career [intelligence] officers to tell the truth. For an intelligence service, that is the road to corruption.”
Should the accusation that Trump has corrupted the government surprise anyone?