Thursday, September 06, 2018

Stay anonymous, Mr. Coats



After considering the alternatives, I suspect that the anonymous writer of that instantly-infamous op-ed is Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Lawrence O'Donnell's argument (embedded above) may not be bulletproof, but it is logical.

True, Coats has denied the allegation -- but he would have to do so, wouldn't he? Anything other than a denial would result in job loss.

And we need Coats to stay in that position. That's a key point which all Dems have missed.

When I first started to read books about spies, I stumbled across an anecdote about Napoleon -- a story which, even if apocryphal, remains instructive. Napoleon once told a friend: "People think that I'm the most powerful man in France. I'm not. That man over there is more powerful than I." He pointed to a lowly adjutant standing in a corner of the room. "He's the one who hands me reports which tell me what's going on in the world. Based on those reports, I make what seem to be the only logical decisions."

The implication: If you control the information flowing to the emperor, you control what the emperor does.

Dan Coats is in that position, even though he is far more than a lowly adjutant. Coats takes all of the information from the various intelligence services and boils everything down to one or two pages. We're told that he has to "dumb it down" quite a bit in order to hold Trump's attention. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Coats or someone in his orbit leaked this information. In all likelihood, Coats is the reason why we know that Trump often skips his daily briefing in favor of oral summaries.

If Coats were forced out, how would Democrats benefit? How would the world benefit?

The president's daily intelligence summary (which, contrary to popular understanding, is not for his eyes only) limits his range of options, places boundaries on his conception of the possible. That's a good thing. Outside-the-box thinking is a virtue only when practiced by a certain type of person: Intelligent, stable, judicious, willing to give multiple viewpoints a fair hearing. Donald Trump is none of those things. Donald Trump is a maniac who takes Alex freakin' Jones seriously.

The world's safety depends on keeping Donald Trump's mind in an intellectual straitjacket and tightening the straps as far as they will tighten. That job belongs to Dan Coats. Why would we want anyone else to have that job? The next person to take on that task may keep the straps looser, or may dispense with the straitjacket altogether.
Comments:
I appreciated Lawrence O'Donnell's thought process. It made sense and if it is Coats, you'll get no argument from me. The panel also had some good thoughts: the Shakespeare argument of multiple authors or the argument of less prominent person in national security or communications. I have to admit that I wondered if it was a calculated move by the Administration which was also bandied about by Rachel. I can't shake it. Who reads The Times? Not his base, necessarily. Who is his reader? All of us focused on Kavanaugh. I suppose an intent could be to stir the moral core of certain Republicans in Congress. I hope that's the case and my cynicism is unwarranted.
 
O'Donnell is wrong, as he often is. For those of us who have watched Senator Dan Coats know that he is not the leader of the pack. Instead he went the way that Dick Lugar prescribed after he was elected to serve the last two years of Dan Quayle's term when Quayle became VP. After serving two more terms he retired in 1998. He ran for and won a six year term in 2011 and retired yet again. Not much of a resume but Pence liked him. He was a big Farm Bill/ethanol subsidy guy - I never saw much from him on national security legislation.

I am betting on Nikki Haley who is the only cabinet member with any guts. Pompeo has a brown nose.
 
Who? Doesn't really matter. Why? Same.

Saw a Clip of Trump out in Montana, campaigning for Senate candidate.

He sounded even more unhinged than usual.

The crowd selected to sit behind him so as to be on camera did not look either happy or enthusiastic.

Tom
 
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