Ass Backwards

February 23, 2017


Ass Backwards

It is truly surprising how little we Americans know about the intricate machinations of our government.  Each new day of the Trump administration brings fresh revelations about its inner workings.  In many respects its like a game of rock/paper/scissors, but you have to know who reports to who to understand the rules and appreciate the consequences.

Take for example the news about Ned Price, a CIA analyst since 2006 who just recently resigned his post rather than continue in a Trump administration. “I reluctantly concluded that I cannot in good faith serve this administration as an intelligence professional.”  Price added that his decision to leave was largely based on the reorganization of the National Security Council, where he had been assigned to work these last three years. “The choice I faced was in some ways a simple one. Do I return to the CIA and write reports and analysis that would go to the White House and could well just gather dust? Or do I fulfill the charge that I signed up for in 2005 and serve the American people in another way?”

To put Price’s decision in context, one must understand the reorganization that has occurred. Phil Mudd, has a lot to say about it.  He is the former Deputy Director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center, a CIA analyst and himself a former member of the National Security Council and is now a source for commentary to News Media regarding intelligence matters.  Phil wasted no words to describe the current situation.  He called it “ass backwards.”  The problem centers on Trumps insertion of Steve Bannon into the council, providing this self described Leninist with a top security clearance enabling  the committee to report to him.  Bad idea. In plain language Mudd put it this way “The White House should be saying Mr. Bannon is not welcome in the Principals Committee. They shouldn’t put the onus on the new national security adviser.”

Price was an eleven-year CIA veteran who worked proudly for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama before calling it quits. He went on to say, : “As intelligence professionals, we’re taught to tune out politics. The river separating CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, from Washington might as well be a political moat. But this administration has flipped that dynamic on its head: The politicians are the ones tuning out the intelligence professionals.”

One of the things that disturbed Price was the manner in which intelligence flows through the system, only to end up in the hands of  Steve Bannon, Trump’s political commissar, who can interpret and decide what the president sees. Price maintains that the president needs to get neutral, political-free intel and not have Bannon interfere in the process.

Reflecting on that Mudd continued, “ I do believe — and I talk to a lot of my friends at the agency. There’s a lot of nervousness about the president that goes beyond Democrat and Republican. I think, when you look at the substance of what the president has done, for example, his quick comments on foreign policy don’t always seem to be well-considered. He talked about a one-state solution for Israel and his advisers immediately say, no, that’s not what we’re doing. In terms of style, he’s been abusive toward the intelligence community, including both the FBI and the agency.”

Today Mudd’s characterization “ass backwards” was given more weight by the Trump administration when it asked the intelligence community for a report to justify its travel ban.  All former Whitehouse administrations have used intelligence to determine policy.  In “Trump world” intelligence is used to support existing policy.  Phil Mudd could not have said it better.  That is truly “ass backward.”

But as a measure of the Trump’s shameless embrace for continued misuse of intelligence it gets worse, as evidenced today when the Whitehouse asked the FBI to “knock down” the intelligence reports of the involvement between the Trump team and Russian agents. One can only deduce that the term “knock down” means either to refute or diminish the effect of the report.  Knowing that the creation and distribution of propaganda does not fall within the FBI purview, they wisely declined.



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