Friday, December 16, 2016

We've never had to face this question before

President-elect Trump's foreign conflicts of interest raise questions about his being a security risk. But just as disturbing is his decision not to receive daily security briefings because he's "smart."

There are a lot of things about Mr. Trump's, shall we say, ample self-regard that are worrisome. But this is one of the most serious. There have been times when a president having had daily intelligence briefings has literally prevented nuclear war. The president must know everything the intelligence community has to present to him. There is no option. Moreover, he has to hear the details over and over because he cannot afford to forget any of them. He cannot go off half-cocked, as Mr. Trump is apt to do. The lives of billions of people and the safety of the nation and the world are at stake here.

In this article, John McLaughlin, former Acting Director of the CIA, addresses a question we've never had to face before: When does a president become a security risk? That we have to ask it now illustrates why despite how much I despise Hillary Clinton's stance on abortion and her likely Supreme Court appointments and a host of other things about her and despite the fact that I could never vote for her, I thought we'd be better off with her in the Oval Office than with Donald Trump.

 Had Hillary been elected, when the phone call came at three in the morning and her next decision could make the difference between peace and nuclear holocaust, we could have been certain that she would have been up to speed and would have acted with calm and sober deliberation on the best advice our military and political and diplomatic leaders could give her. She proved while she was Secretary of State how fallible her judgment could be. But if she made a mistake, it would not have been because she acted impulsively or because she lacked the information she needed to make the right decision.

We cannot be certain that Donald Trump will know what he needs to know because he won't let the intelligence community tell him what he needs to know on a daily basis. And as we know all too well from out past experience with him, we cannot be sure that he will not act not only ignorantly, but stupidly and impulsively because he hasn't let the intelligence community keep him up to speed.

The president stands at the top of the totem poll. Everybody is accountable to him. And if we can't count on him to act with discretion and with the best information available, there is no way to hold him accountable until the next election.

If there is still a world in 2020.

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