Former CIA Director Slams Trump for “Intellectual Bankruptcy” After Trump Denies U.S. Intelligence Findings

Published on January 30, 2019 by Athena Pallas

Former CIA Director and vocal Trump critic John Brennan today slammed President Trump for “intellectual bankruptcy”, according to The Hill, saying Trump is a danger to national security after Trump pushed back on the findings of the intelligence community on Iran, ISIS, and North Korea. Trump’s tweeted outbursts, in which he called intelligence officials “extremely passive and naive“, came after yesterday’s testimony by the heads of the CIA, the FBI, and other intelligence agencies before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Those officials’ assessments contradicted Trump on the security threats represented by Iran, ISIS, and North Korea. According to NBC News:

President Donald Trump criticized the assessments of the U.S. intelligence community on Wednesday after the heads of the CIA, the FBI and other intelligence agencies contradicted him on threats posed by Iran, North Korea and ISIS…The heads of various branches of U.S. intelligence testified on Tuesday about the threats the country faces from foreign powers at the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual worldwide threats hearing. It featured public testimony from CIA director Gina Haspel, FBI director Christopher Wray and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence…Despite Trump’s claim that Iran continues to work on building nuclear weapons, the intelligence chiefs said Tehran was complying with the 2015 agreement to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

In particular, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testified that Iran is not working to build nuclear weapons, that North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons because it sees them as necessary to keep their regime in place, and that ISIS has not been defeated in Syria, contrary to Trump’s claims. Trump pulled out of the multi-nation Iran nuclear deal (formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), alleging that Iran is working to build nuclear weapons, but evidence does not support Trump’s position, which is why Coats asserted that Iran is not working to build nuclear weapons. Trump reacted to this testimony by tweeting “The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong! When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but……..a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”

Brennan then pushed back, responding, “Your refusal to accept the unanimous assessment of U.S. Intelligence on Iran, No. Korea, ISIS, Russia, & so much more shows the extent of your intellectual bankruptcy. All Americans, especially members of Congress, need to understand the danger you pose to our national security.

What is Trump’s source for this belief about Iran? The findings of the U.S. Intelligence community are of course meant to help inform a president’s decisions. If a president not only ignores those findings, but actively and publicly denies them and insults intelligence officials, something very fundamental is lost in the decision-making process. It also adds an additional level of danger for Trump to be making his complaints and contradictions public, giving the appearance to adversaries that the U.S. federal government is weak and in disarray. Alarmingly, Trump’s decision-making process often appears to be based on something other than facts, other than evidence.

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) also excoriated Trump, while praising intelligence agencies, tweeting, “It is a credit to our intelligence agencies that they continue to provide rigorous and realistic analyses of the threats we face. It’s deeply dangerous that the White House isn’t listening.”

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.