By Tyler Bauer
On Monday, President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin (read Kaleb Mccague’s analysis here). Following his meeting with Putin, President Trump said that he believed Putin’s claim that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election, rebuking the American intelligence community. Predictably, this caused outrage from the intelligence community and members of both major parties. However, President Trump clarified his statement yesterday, saying that he accepts the intelligence community’s finding that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. President Trump’s flip-flopping on this topic means one of two things: either he doesn’t really trust the intelligence community, or he doesn’t know what he’s saying. In this case, I believe the former. Honestly, I think President Trump has good reasons to question the validity of what the intelligence community says.
Should we trust the intelligence community?
The intelligence community doesn’t have the greatest track record, so I think we should be skeptical, if not fully distrusting of, the intelligence community. Personally, I don't trust the intelligence community until I'm presented with proof. I’m willing to admit that the intelligence community may be correct in this instance (even though nobody has seen any proof yet), but when the intelligence community gets it wrong, they get it REALLY wrong. Here are just a handful of examples to show you why you shouldn't trust the intelligence community.
WMDs in Iraq
Perhaps the most egregious mistake made by the intelligence community was the false claim of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. The intelligence community claimed that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, and this was used as justification for our invasion of Iraq in 2003. History has shown that the intelligence community was wrong - there were no WMDs.
This means one of two things. Either the intelligence community is incompetent, or they knew they were lying from the beginning. Either way, this is unacceptable. The entire premise of the Iraq War was false. Countless lives and billions of dollars have been lost because of the intelligence community’s mistake or lie, depending on what you believe happened.
I’ve written about the slave trade in Libya in the past. The intelligence community behind that strategy (which has produced stories like this) is the same one behind the claim that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Again, our intelligence community seems to be incompetent in this scenario.
Fighting Ourselves in Syria
How about this one: We were literally fighting ourselves in the Syrian Civil War. Pentagon-backed rebels were fighting CIA-backed rebels at one point, so our intelligence community can’t be all that intelligent. I honestly don’t have the vocabulary to explain how big of a blunder this is.
Staying in Syria, when we aren’t fighting ourselves, we’re arming ISIS. I don’t know if this is better or worse than fighting ourselves. On the one hand, we aren’t trying to kill our “own” rebels. On the other hand, we’re supporting perhaps the vilest group to ever walk the earth. I’ll let you all decide which is worse.
No matter how you look at it, the intelligence community doesn't have a great history, especially in the post-9/11 world. Each of these scenarios show that the intelligence community is either incompetent or untrustworthy (I think it's both). You can decide for yourself whether you believe what the intelligence community says, but I certainly don't, and President Trump shouldn't either.