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Trump Again Unleashes Assault on the US Intelligence Community for Disputing His False Claims
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=50057"><span class="small">Shane Harris and John Wagner, The Washington Post</span></a>   
Thursday, 31 January 2019 09:23

Excerpt: "President Trump lashed out at the government's most senior intelligence leaders Wednesday, his latest assault on the spies and analysts who work for him but sometimes deliver facts that he doesn't want to hear."

CIA director Gina Haspel accompanied by FBI director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee. (photo: Jose Luis Magana/AP)
CIA director Gina Haspel accompanied by FBI director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee. (photo: Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Trump Again Unleashes Assault on the US Intelligence Community for Disputing His False Claims

By Shane Harris and John Wagner, The Washington Post

31 January 19


resident Trump lashed out at the government’s most senior intelligence leaders Wednesday, his latest assault on the spies and analysts who work for him but sometimes deliver facts that he doesn’t want to hear.

Triggering the president’s rage was an annual congressional hearing on global security threats, a routine event at which intelligence agency heads testified that Iran, while still a global menace, is complying with an international agreement to suspend its development of nuclear weapons. Trump ridiculed that assessment and the intelligence leaders themselves.

“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!” Trump wrote on Twitter. “. . . 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.”

Trump added: “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”

It was hardly the first time Trump has questioned the accuracy of intelligence reports. During the campaign and transition, when he wanted to undermine intelligence findings that Russia had helped elect him, Trump reminded his Twitter followers that the intelligence community had incorrectly concluded that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

All of the Iran findings that officials gave Congress have been presented to the president at various points, said U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s intelligence briefings.

Tuesday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing made Trump’s disagreements visible to the public and inflamed his long-standing disdain for the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration and five other countries, along with the European Union.

“He doesn’t like the deal because Obama made it,” one U.S. official said. Trump’s attack had less to do with the substance of the intelligence agencies’ conclusions than it did with undermining public confidence in the agencies themselves as neutral purveyors of information, the official said.

In his criticism, Trump seemed to ignore the many points where he and the intelligence agencies agree.

In written testimony on behalf of all intelligence agencies, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats described Iran as actively plotting terrorist attacks in Europe, mounting aggressive cyber-campaigns against the United States and developing ballistic missiles that “continue to pose a threat to countries across the Middle East.”

But since taking office, Trump has fixated on Iran’s suspended nuclear weapons program. Administration officials have pressed intelligence analysts on why they believe Iran is in compliance with the nuclear agreement and questioned whether there is additional information that would show Tehran is violating its terms, according to current and former officials with knowledge of conversations between the administration and intelligence officials.

Under Mike Pompeo, the president’s first CIA director, the agency intensified its focus on Iran and scrutiny of its nuclear program. The assessment that Iran is not building nuclear weapons didn’t change.

The CIA declined to comment, and spokesmen for Coats did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump supporters saw in the intelligence presentation an attempt to undermine his foreign policy.

Fred Fleitz, who served briefly on Trump’s National Security Council staff, appeared on right-wing pundit Lou Dobbs’s television program to say the president should fire Coats for airing intelligence conclusions in public.

Fleitz said the intelligence community “has basically evolved into a monster that is second-guessing the president all the time.” In the future, he added, the president should forbid the officials from testifying publicly.

The leaders always meet with lawmakers privately for a classified session following their public unclassified presentation.

The intelligence officials’ conclusions on other hot-button areas were also at odds with the president’s. They said, for instance, that the Islamic State was degraded but not defeated, as Trump has claimed. And they doubted that North Korea will ever give up all of its nuclear weapons, a sobering assessment ahead of next month’s planned summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But at no time did they make policy prescriptions or say the president was wrong to pursue the paths he has taken in confronting U.S. adversaries.

In his tweets, Trump took issue with the intelligence community’s determination that North Korea was not likely to abandon its nuclear weapons program, which the regime sees as key to its survival.

“North Korea relationship is best it has ever been with U.S.,” Trump tweeted. “No testing, getting remains, hostages returned. Decent chance of Denuclearization...”

But Trump’s top aides, in particular national security adviser John Bolton, hold a skeptical view of the Kim regime, cautioning him against making concessions and favoring a maximum pressure campaign aimed at bending the regime to comply with U.S. demands, according to officials and diplomats familiar with the deliberations.

Trump has also had extensive discussions with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has applauded his diplomatic efforts with North Korea and even publicly declared he “should win the Nobel Peace Prize.” For Moon, the United States and North Korea are confronting perhaps the last opportunity to dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear program diplomatically, and the idea that the regime will respond to sanctions and threats rather than other concrete inducements is unrealistic and dangerous.

While Trump has heard a steady dose of skepticism and doubt from his intelligence officials, Bolton and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with whom Trump has met more than any other world leader, Moon has helped bolster Trump’s view that the negotiations are worth pursuing.

Trump’s hostile tweets Wednesday drew rebukes from Democrats.

“It is a credit to our intelligence agencies that they continue to provide rigorous and realistic analyses of the threats we face,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. “It’s deeply dangerous that the White House isn’t listening.”

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also weighed in.

“The President has a dangerous habit of undermining the intelligence community to fit his alternate reality,” Warner said in a tweet. “People risk their lives for the intelligence he just tosses aside on Twitter.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote to Coats on Wednesday urging him to meet with the president “to educate him about the facts and raw intelligence” used to produce the community’s assessments. Schumer called Trump’s criticism “extraordinarily inappropriate” and said it would “undermine public confidence” in the government’s efforts to protect national security. 

Ultimately, some experts said, it is up to the president to make clear his own views and not let the intelligence community speak for him.

“The intelligence community can only judge the information they can gather and draw an assessment. Political leaders have to assess intentions,” said James Carafano, a national security expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“In a regular administration, these distinctions aren’t highlighted in public,” Carafano said. “Trump is an unconventional statesman, so he disregards this convention. . . . The president can choose to be an unconventional statesman, but the direction of U.S. policy must be clear to friend and enemy alike. It’s his responsibility to make sure that happens.”

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-7 # Anne Frank 2019-01-31 11:33
If there were any place for truth in Washington Post reporting, which there isn't, the headline would have read, "US Intelligence Community Unleashes Assault on Trump for Disputing its False Claims." The deep state propaganda apparatus continues its project to stampede the masses into war against Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Russia, Syria and all the world, and foreclose any diplomacy by the U.S. regime.
+1 # Elroys 2019-01-31 13:08
First, to refer to trump as a "Statesman" is like calling Adolph Hitler a diplomat.

Trump is making America look like a nation of fools. Here, the most senior intelligence team is in clear agreement of their assessment of the current national security threats. The did not even mention the "southern border" as any kind of threat, which most Americans would agree with - it is not any kind of serious threat. So we see trump, as POTUS telling the world that he alone has the intelligence and knowledge to decide what are real threats - his grasp of all this is greater than all national security agencies and staff combined. No one in the right mind would agree with him. He has been allowed to continue to rant on issues that he has virtually no knowledge of and does this to satisfy his base, which is, to a large extent, comprised of people whose knowledge on these issues is even less than trump's. Trump simply made campaign promises based on nothing but his own personal feelings, which are baed on the same strength as jello. He does not read books or briefings, gets all of his news from FOX liars and he's allowed to continue this madness. My real hope is that most of those who voted for him now see him in his full glory and that we don't have mad kings in America, we elect people to represent us, not to defile and debase our intelligence and morality. For this president has neither. Time to say "goodbye". 21 months to go.
+2 # PABLO DIABLO 2019-01-31 14:49
First, get rid of John Bolton, a neocon war monger.
-1 # elizabethblock 2019-01-31 21:47
How weird that we're in a position to treat torturer Gina Haspel as a good guy.

And ... How about reports on the danger that the U.S. poses to the national security of other countries!