Russian hacking: Listen to the intelligence community

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Those of you who have been reading these posts over the years know that I have a strong belief in our intelligence community and a deep passion for its necessity and its members. The past few weeks have angered me to the point of high blood pressure. The intelligence community should not be attacked for telling the truth.

First, Russia did – and will continue – to try to mess with our elections and all sorts of other aspects of our cyber world. As do the Chinese and Iranians. No doubt about it. BUT Donald Trump won the Electoral College and there is no debate about that. He should stop being so thin-skinned, admit the truth and support a bipartisan Senate investigation into how it was done and what we do now to protect our cyber world from all of those who are infiltrating and want to infiltrate even more in the future. And please learn that Vladimir Putin is not America’s friend. He wants to make Russia the major power in the world. He’s made no secret of that.

As President, Obama allowed Putin to have free rein whenever he wanted – Ukraine and Syria are just two very obvious examples. And Trump seems to be heading down the same garden path. Denying the fact that Putin wanted to either create some chaos in our election process or help Trump win or both is absurd. I know that all of us who do not have Top Secret security clearances would love to know all the details as to how we know it, but welcome to the world of secrecy. I certainly don’t want to know the details if that gives our enemies knowledge that would make them even more dangerous than they already are. North Korea does not need to know any more about how we are knowledgeable about their weapons and plans. It comes down to trust in the intelligence professionals.

Although mistakes can always be made since the entire community has humans involved in it, it is rare indeed for the entire community to be wrong. When the FBI, CIA, and NSA all agree I pay attention because that is not a daily occurrence on all intelligence issues. Also, so often when politicians talk about intelligence failures and use that as an excuse to denigrate the professionals, much of the time the failures are committed by the political leaders who either intentionally do not listen to the intelligence briefing or because they let their own view of the world filter what they hear.

I was trained as an operations officer of the CIA and I will tell you that the training is so exquisite that I know my filters and when dealing with raw facts I know how to not let my filters make judgments that are what I want them to be rather than reality. I can honestly tell you that among my training class (which lasted a full year by the way) I have no idea of the personal political leanings of any of my classmates. If Americans want the best analysis of facts with the least prejudice, listen to the intelligence professionals – not any politician of any party.

Lastly, we get much of our human intelligence (separate from electronic listening as an example) from spies. Good, old fashioned recruited individuals who believe their country is a bad actor as an example and want to do “right.” How do you think they feel if they hear that the new President of the U.S. doesn’t believe his own sources? Would you want to risk your life or your family’s lives for someone who publicly derides you? And how about the Americans who risk their lives to get information to the highest levels of our government? Would you want to live in dangerous places and have no respect from your own elected leader? What is that going to do for our recruitment of intelligent, patriotic Americans?

Get this stuff out of the public. Here is my message to our soon to be President:

“President-Elect Trump:  If you doubt what you are told (and perhaps maybe you should take more briefings in order to have a better idea of what your employees are trying to present to you) tell the Intelligence professionals privately. I know that isn’t in your past personality but you are about to be the leader of the world so grow up and learn how to protect our lives, please!”

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2 Responses to Russian hacking: Listen to the intelligence community

  1. Henry Thompson says:

    Excellent piece that provides a unique human, personal viewpoint not seen in all the coverage of this topic.

  2. Mary Grace Richardson says:

    Excellent blog post, first hand perspective is always the best.

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