Monday, February 13, 2017

Intelligence Community Doesn't Trust Trump. I Wonder Why.

Does Russia have ears in the White House? Many in the IC believe so, and they're actively searching for ways to limit the intel Trump receives. How do we prepare for the next crisis?

Flynn was fired by the Obama administration. Will Trump make it two in a row?

Former General Michael Flynn, ostensibly head of Trump's National Security Counsel, has a Russia problem, as in he talks too much with Russia. That's led the intelligence community to distrust him and others in the security confines of the White House. If spooks can't trust Donald Trump, how can he be prepared for future crises? The answer is he can't. Yikes.

Read this article in the Observer. A taste:
There is more consequential IC pushback happening, too. Our spies have never liked Trump’s lackadaisical attitude toward the President’s Daily Brief, the most sensitive of all IC documents, which the new commander-in-chief has received haphazardly. The president has frequently blown off the PDB altogether, tasking Flynn with condensing it into a one-page summary with no more than nine bullet-points. Some in the IC are relieved by this, but there are pervasive concerns that the president simply isn’t paying attention to intelligence.
In light of this, and out of worries about the White House’s ability to keep secrets, some of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office. Why risk your most sensitive information if the president may ignore it anyway? A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets.
Since NSA provides something like 80 percent of the actionable intelligence in our government, what’s being kept from the White House may be very significant indeed. However, such concerns are widely shared across the IC, and NSA doesn’t appear to be the only agency withholding intelligence from the administration out of security fears.
What’s going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the official added in wry frustration.
Yikes, indeed. But there's more. The National Security Council is itself in horrible disarray:
WASHINGTON — These are chaotic and anxious days inside the National Security Council, the traditional center of management for a president’s dealings with an uncertain world.
Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump’s Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them. Most are kept in the dark about what Mr. Trump tells foreign leaders in his phone calls. Some staff members have turned to encrypted communications to talk with their colleagues, after hearing that Mr. Trump’s top advisers are considering an “insider threat” program that could result in monitoring cellphones and emails for leaks.
The leaks have reached a fever pitch inside the White House, partly due to the well-worn practice of using leaks to cover one's ass and to place blame on rivals. As chaos reigns and staffers begin to wonder whose head is going to roll, self-protection is the name of the game.

What that's produced in the White House is scant policy and lots of toxic ideology, which dribbles out in the form of Trump's tweets and his surrogates' appearances on news shows. That stuff is pretty bleak. If the Trump Team hasn't got a handle on the job in three weeks -- and a couple of months of the "transition" -- then when will they? People are beginning to think never.

Even if it could be fixed, who would do it? Who is going to "fix" Trump?

Of course, this is only foreign policy and military stuff. That's not as important as banning Muslims, deporting Mexicans, and building walls.

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