A question for cold warriors

We now live in a country where the Director of National Intelligence is fired for doing his duty, for going to Congress and truthfully reporting intelligence information about our adversaries.

We now live in a country where top intelligence officials must lie about foreign threats in order to keep their jobs.

Here’s my question: For how much longer should we believe our intelligence community when they report on “threats” from China that happen to mesh with the propaganda coming out of the Trump administration?

PS. The new acting DNI is a Trump hack and a purveyor of right wing fake news. Still don’t think we are a banana republic?



24 Responses to “A question for cold warriors”

  1. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    25. February 2020 at 08:45

    At the moment I am less concerned about your political paranoia than I am about Tyler Cowen’s hypothesis that a massive supply shock——in this case due to a supply chain breakdown— when and if it happens—-happens quickly and is unprecedented in its nature and there is no solution——at least that’s how I read it.

  2. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    25. February 2020 at 09:12

    I recommend re-reading Hofstadter’s Paranoid style of American Politics. Although inspired by Goldwater candidacy, and layered with his own political bias, he makes it clear in the first paragraph it applies to the left and right. He actually means to use the word “paranoid” in the clinical sense. It is consistent with an earlier point I made that very often two opposing political views by otherwise equally educated, open minded individuals simply have no ability to see “the other side” of the story. He does not really explain its cause——just documents it’s occurrence. One thing I have observed—-is today there is no way people of opposite sides (e.g., Bernie-Trump) can view the other side as either corrupt or stupid

  3. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    25. February 2020 at 09:13

    ‘No way they cannot view the other side as either evil or stupid”

  4. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    25. February 2020 at 09:21

    ‘Does not actually mean to use the word paranoid in the clinical sense”

  5. Gravatar of Richard A. Richard A.
    25. February 2020 at 10:13

    I quit believing our intelligence community when they helped the Bush administration lie us in to the Iraq war.

  6. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. February 2020 at 10:20

    Michael, There’s no reason to be proud of that fact that you don’t know what’s going on. If anything I said was inaccurate I presume you’d point it out.

  7. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    25. February 2020 at 11:34

    I think it’s very important, as always, to look for evidence.

    I wrote a letter to the editor of my local paper before the Iraq war, saying I didn’t believe Iraq had WMD, based on the evidence presented. That wasn’t the same thing as knowing they didn’t have it, but I also said I didn’t think Iraq was worth invading even if they had WMD.

    We always have to think critically about what the government tells us. We’ve been lied into many wars throughout history, sadly including some by Democrats. Wilson and LBJ lied. I don’t know if members of the Bush administration lied, or just had really dumb, motivated analysis. Some of them may have lied.

    Scott is right though. This is an administration undermining it’s credibility before hand. Sadly, I believe many foreign governments before my own. China is a more reliable source about what’s going on in trade negotiations than the Trump administration, for example. This is not because China doesn’t lie, but because they’re smarter than the Trump administration and value their credibility more.

    We’re in a dark age of fascism.

  8. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    25. February 2020 at 11:48

    Scott is the policy clown with at least two faces.

    When the US intelligence once again spreads the (most likely) fake news that the Russians have a relevant influence on the US elections, he takes them very seriously. He simply believes them, as if those people had no own agenda. He doesn’t even want to see proof. The fake news fits his basic mood, so it must be true, no matter how absurd the assertion is.

    But when it comes to the foreign policy adventures of half a dozen generations of US intelligence, he likes to emphasize what alleged morons these exact same people are. Really smart move, Scott, really smart move.

    Or take China: the US secret services keep emphasizing what an extreme danger China is. Let’s take just one example: The security risk Huawei. The US secret services repeatedly emphasize the immense threat. Scott’s record, while putting both hands around his eyes and ears, sounds like this: “Where is the evidence, where is the evidence, I don’t see any evidence!” Cry me a river, Scott.

    So Scott, which mask are you wearing today, have you made up your mind yet? You can pick between the court jester, Baron Munchausen, and Till Eulenspiegel.

  9. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    25. February 2020 at 11:58

    I will from now on point out how you specifically are wrong. (amusing, but I say the exact same thing to all my Trump hating friends (which are actually about 95% of my friends!) when they make non-stop ad-hominem attacks on specific logical points I make).

    Correcting will include “exaggeration”, use of unverified sources, and a complete inability to point out anything which might be good.

    It will also include “whataboutism” which Trump haters disavow as irrelevant. It is not irrelevant when double standards are used (Hofstadter was kind of all about “whataboutism” which makes sense given it is an historical analysis——in other words, he described verbal tactics used by all “paranoids”)

    On the same subject in question. it will also use counter examples——although I don’t know why the person making the point is not required to provide the evidence——but I will.

    25. February 2020 at 12:17

    We already KNOW what China is doing. They admit it.

    Look, keeping China’s tech out of our Internet Infrastructure isn’t up for debate…

    We can leave end-user devices etc choices up to user. But the actual network? China spies on its people.

    Debate over.

  11. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. February 2020 at 12:28

    Christian, The honest intelligence people claimed Russian interference. They are being replaced by liars and hacks. Is that so hard to understand?

    Your comments on the China threat have no bearing on this post. Don’t you know how to read? I didn’t ask whether China was a threat, or whether previous reports were accurate, I asked how long you would continue to believe the government now that it’s being filled with hacks.

    Morgan. You are just as dumb as Christian. Please learn how to read before commenting here. And answer the question.

  12. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    25. February 2020 at 12:40

    Scott said “The DNI was fired for doing his duty”.

    First of all, he was the Acting DNI, not the DNI, whose term expired March 11th. He was replaced by the ambassador for Germany, Richard Grinell (highest gay official ever—-which is another first for the homophobic Trump)another acting DNI, whose term will likely go beyond March 11th.

    The administration currently has several candidates under consideration and will be chosen before Grinell’s temporary term is over. The NSA head, Bob O’Brien and Trump, specifically said they support Maguire, and are jointly with him finding another senior spot in the Administration.

    Further, since you obviously have not read anything about the “Russian interference” that began this accusation against Trump I will tell you as several more stories have come out. First, Shelby Pierson, “DNI Election Czar” who first reported to the House Intelligence committee that Russians supported and were helping Trump (and leaked by the committee illegally) could not provide any evidence—it was rumor reporting on “chatter”. Then, they also said Russians supported Bernie—who was as irritated as Trump over the leak, also without evidence.

    “we now live in a country where anyone on Adam Schiff’s Intelligence Committee can now illegally leak anything they wish, without recrimination”

  13. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    25. February 2020 at 13:05

    Christian List,

    It seemed pretty obvious to me early in the last cycle that Putin wanted Trump and Sanders to win. Putin did not want Hillary, who would have been much harder on him after he humiliated her following her olive branch, by invading Crimea. Trump even hired a former Putin operative in Ukraine as his campaign manager. Manafort was interferring in Ukraine politics for years before coming to the US. I don’t know how you miss these simple facts.

    Then, Trump appointed Michael Flynn as his first National Security Advisor, who is in pictures dining with Putin and received awards from him. What more do you need?

    Oh, and Trump’s dumb son and son-in-law were more than happy to meet with someone claiming to represent the Russian government with dirt on Hillary. That they got no dirt during that meeting is immaterial. They met with the intention of getting dirt. Do you think they thought the Russians were doing this in support of American interests?

    Then, you have the DNC and RNC hacks, and none of the RNC information has been publicly released. Hmmm. Could it be the DNC info was leaked to help defeated Hillary?

    Seriously, this is just scraping the surface. How can you not know Putin prefers Trump or Sanders to establishment candidates?

  14. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    25. February 2020 at 13:21

    @Mike S.

    Of course they know. They just prefer Trump as well.

  15. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    25. February 2020 at 13:25

    Here’s the picture I mention, with Flynn and Green Party candidate and useful idiot Jill Stein dining with Putin:


  16. Gravatar of Acebojangles Acebojangles
    25. February 2020 at 13:51

    Regarding the Iraq War: It wasn’t the intelligence services that lied about WMD, it was the White House. Cheney and co went around the intelligence services to provide their own “analysis” of the raw information. That’s exactly what the Trump administration are now doing.

    There’s plenty of good reason to criticize our intelligence services. Let’s stick to those.

    Regarding being a banana republic: Until Trump won, I’ve never considered that even the most awful dictators have a base that loves them.

  17. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    25. February 2020 at 14:48


    Which honest intelligence people? There are no honest intelligence people. It is the job of intelligence to deceive and lie. I don’t believe a word these people are saying.

    Your narrative is quite bad: you call Trump a hack and a liar from the beginning. So now he occupied his government with hacks? So what did change in your narrative? Nothing actually.

    I don’t believe governments either. Never have. I compare all the statements and facts and then consider which explanation seems to be the most plausible. If the facts change, I am also very happy to change my opinion.

    I am not an ideologist. For example, I believed the German approaches to monetary policy for a long time, but when I read your blog, it was quite clear to me that you are currently the most accurate person on this topic, and that I was deadly wrong. Your arguments in this area are just too good.

    Well, are your arguments on politics as good? Unfortunately not. But again, I’m happy to change my mind if your arguments improve.

    And again on Huawei, a subject you would like to avoid. I see why. Well, sorry for that. It’s just a good example, nothing personal. It’s not about what US intelligence says. Not at all. It’s about all available information combined. And then consider which explanation seems to be the most plausible.

    For once, Morgan is right: We know that the Chinese regime is spying extremely on its own citizens. We know that Chinese companies have to participate in this. They have to, they have no choice. It’s a totalitarian state. So why in the world would this regime behave so much differently abroad than at home? How much more information do you need? Would you like us to draw a map? We can give you a map. There’s a huge X on it.

    Mike Sandifer,

    How can you not know Putin prefers Trump or Sanders to establishment candidates?

    That’s not what I wrote. That’s not even the point. It’s quite conceivable that Putin has his favorites. Why wouldn’t he? He probably has his favorites in every election. Probably in almost every important country in the world. So did most of the Russian dictators before him and so will most after him.

    It could be Trump and Sanders. Yeah, why not? Sounds not unreasonable.

    I hope the American presidents also have their favorites. It would be strange if we didn’t have a favorite in Russian and China, and if we didn’t try to influence.

    What I find rather new is that the American intelligence community ensures that this obviousness is packed as a novelty, that this “news” gets spread by the press and thirdly that they really do pretend that the Russian attempts are important and relevant. They are not, never were.

    I think that common sense suggests that Russia cannot influence an electorate of well over 100 million votes in a relevant way. It could not even do so in much smaller countries like Germany. The US intelligence knows this quite well. So why do they leak this weird “news” right now? I think it’s because they want to influence the elections themselves. They don’t want Sanders in the position where he is right now. Isn’t this obvious to you?

    By the way, I really liked your piece on Sanders the other day. Almost everything in it was right, and I’m really not a big Sanders fan. But your analysis was quite spot-on.

    It’s not about Trump, dufus. Trump’s position is surprisingly safe. Right now they are after Sanders. Relevant parts of US intelligence (and so on) do not want two outsiders deciding the presidency among themselves. And this is their last ridiculous attempt to stop it. Well, I hope it’s their last attempt.

    Because that is actual banana republic style: military and intelligence who want to influence elections in their own country. This is treason. Unfortunately, these people are creative. They’ll come up with something new. The primaries might last long, so there is more than enough time.

  18. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    25. February 2020 at 16:27

    You got to admire Putin: he stage-managed Trump into the White House and now he has Sanders leading the Democratic race. That’s what I read.

    Putin may be disappointed in Sanders, should Sanders prevail in November. While Sanders, who honeymooned in the old Soviet Union, has remained a socialist, Putin and Russia have evolved to crony-capitalist thuggery.

    Trump may see eye-to-eye with Putin, but Sanders may wage a social justice war against his ideological foes in Moscow.

  19. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    25. February 2020 at 19:04

    Christian List,

    I take your point about every government having their preferred leaders for other countries and some measure of influence being applied here and there over history. But, the Russian inteference in our politics during this last cycle was unprecedented, and Trump and many other Republicans literally seem compromised by Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. I’m speculating, but why weren’t the RNC emails leaked? Possibly, because material found in them is being used to blackmail some Republicans.

    Also, two of Trump’s campaign managers worked with Russians to help Trump get elected, and Manafort worked for Putin against US interests in Ukraine. Why would any American candidate hire Roger Stone or Paul Manafort to run a campaign?

    Trump has conflicts of interest and lots of ethical issues that make him ideal for compromise. This isn’t George H. W. Bush we’re talking about, or even a crook like Nixon. Nixon wouldn’t have sold us out to foreign interests for political help and business opportunities.

    I don’t think Bernie is compromised, but he could be a useful idiot for Putin. I certainly don’t expect him to punish Putin like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, or Mitt Romney would. And Sanders has an old, discredited North-South view of foreign policy that will undermine US strength around the world. At least, that’s my concern.

    You can debate the amount of influence Russia had in their social media efforts for Trump, Sanders, and Jill Stein. But, it seems pretty clear, at least on the surface, that some Republicans have sold out to foreign interests, at the very least just to avoid primary challenges from pro-Trump candidates.

  20. Gravatar of Brian Brian
    25. February 2020 at 19:41

    Speaking of intelligence reports…

    Where is the smoking gun regarding the Supermicro extraneous hardware? It’s been more than one year. If extraneous hardware was found then where is it? A stock photo of something is not the same as an actual photo of the actual extraneous hardware. Size of a grain of rice. They eat rice in China don’t they.


    Odd that it was shipped to Canada for inspection. How convenient that the smoking gun was just sent away.

  21. Gravatar of BB BB
    26. February 2020 at 07:30

    There are many hard working and honest people working in the intelligence community. I know many personally. Saying they are all dishonest is quite offensive.
    The pressuring of career professionals under this administration is beyond what has been done in modern times and is cause for concern. To say otherwise is ignoring the facts.

  22. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    26. February 2020 at 10:19

    Michael Rulle, I notice that you wrote a post that didn’t contradict a single thing I said, but added useless information such as that the new guy is gay. Come back when you can show that anything I said is incorrect.

    Acebojangles, Good comment.

    Christian, You said:

    “I don’t believe governments either. Never have. I compare all the statements and facts and then consider which explanation seems to be the most plausible. If the facts change, I am also very happy to change my opinion.”

    So you read all sorts of stuff you don’t believe, and then decide which of the things you don’t believe are plausible, and then decide to believe those things. Very clear explanation.

    Brian, Yup, no evidence was ever found to back up that claim.

  23. Gravatar of Jeff Jeff
    26. February 2020 at 11:58

    I read somewhere that the real reason Trump fired the DNI is that he first heard the supposed intelligence about Russia trying to help his 2020 reelection from a Congressman who was at the briefing. If that story is true, Trump was right to fire the guy.

  24. Gravatar of Bob OBrien Bob OBrien
    27. February 2020 at 18:31

    ‘…truthfully reporting intelligence information about our adversaries.”


    Are you referring to the House Intelligence Committee “leak” when you say “truthfully reporting”?

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