If you've ever had a boss who didn't listen to anything you said but openly ridiculed you, then you know how the nation's top intelligence chiefs feel.
Chilling. Terrifying. Frustrating. Doesn't understand what the current U.S. national security issues are. Has put the United States at a disadvantage.
Those are some – just some – of the words used by Donald Trump's own people who deal with him on a regular basis trying to brief him on North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, ISIS, etc.
Passive. Naive. Need to go back to school. That's how Trump referred to his five top intelligence chiefs – whom he appointed, who basically disagreed with him on every major danger zone in Capitol Hill testimony last week.
Contrary to Trump's insistence that North Korea will denuclearize, the CIA, the director of national intelligence and 15 other intelligence agencies concluded that North Korea has no intention of denuclearizing, is beefing up its nuclear research and is modernizing a missile site that could propel a rocket that could hit the U.S. They are worried that at the upcoming second summit with Kim Jong Un, Trump will give away even more than he did the first time, when he canceled military exercises with South Korea.
Trump now has had two private meetings with Russian leader Vladimir Putin that excluded U.S. government officials but included Putin aides. In one case Trump tore up his translator's notes. Intelligence chiefs refused to discuss publicly why Trump wants to keep his own government from knowing what he is privately discussing with Russia.
After Trump pulled the U.S. out of the historic agreement with Iran designed to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, the intelligence chiefs said Iran is abiding by the agreement still in effect with five other nations. But they also said Iran is using the U.S. pullout to argue that America is untrustworthy.
The people who know Trump best say he is a feelings-not-facts guy. He makes national decisions based on gut instincts, doesn't care about what he doesn't know and is bored with being briefed, even on sensitive, complicated issues.
After talking with Turkey's repressive president Tayyip Erdogan, Trump decided on the spur of the moment to listen to Erdogan and announce he would pull all 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria against the will of all his advisers.
As if Russia's cyber attacks on our electric grid and meddling in our elections aren't grief enough, U.S. intelligence has concluded that Russia and China – our two biggest enemies – are working together to cause dissension and chaos in our democracy.
And Trump is still insisting he wants to pull the U.S. out of NATO, where mutual defense agreements have kept the peace in Europe for more than half a century. Article Five ensured that Europe came together to support the U.S. after 9/11.
Trump declared ISIS had been destroyed. No, said the nation's intelligence chiefs, it is active with thousands of members.
"People risk their lives for the intelligence (Trump) just tosses aside on Twitter," said Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
But take a deep breath and try not to worry. After more than 8,000 outright lies and misleading statements in two years, Trump's pointlessly, mindlessly loyal base is shrinking. Two-thirds of America can't stand him.
Republican leaders are walking back Trump's vow to leave Syria and Afghanistan abruptly. Scientists are pulling together to try to make policy leaders understand how serious climate change is. U.S. allies are appalled at the dangerous policies coming out of Washington but doing their best to hold the line against Trump.
Even bullies look pathetic and stupidly short-sighted after you've been around them long enough.
We must look on the bright side. Nothing lasts forever, not even Trump's presidency, and, at the moment, the federal government is open!
– Ann McFeatters is a columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.