This is unbelievable—and yet not. United States intelligence officials are “quietly” asking the House and Senate to cancel public hearings on this year’s World Wide Threats Assessment, the report outlining the major risks to United States security as identified by the nation’s intelligence community, so as to avoid angering Donald Trump.
The problem, reports CNN, is Trump’s furious reaction last year when top members of the intelligence community gave testimony to Congress during last year’s hearings that conflicted with Donald Trump’s own public claims. In particular, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who was forced out of his position soon afterwards, and CIA director Gina Haspel testified that there was no evidence Iran was attempting to build nuclear weapons; this was met by sputtering tweets from Trump calling them “wrong” and telling them to “go back to school!”
So U.S. intelligence officials are asking that hearings on the top national security issues not take place so that they will not anger Donald Trump by disputing his own evidence conspiracy theories.
Profiles in courage this ain’t. But it is yet another step down into authoritarian territory, in which the government of a nation begins to sweep facts that may counter Dear Leader’s own personal, possibly entirely-made-up whims out of public view. Trump’s twitter proclamations, many of which are not only brazen lies but tinged with paranoia and conspiracy, are now being elevated over the analyses of the nation’s collected intelligence infrastructure because nobody in his administration dares publicly contradict him when he’s lying to the American people.
This is insanity. This is authoritarianism by way of rank institutional cowardice. If this were happening in any other nation, our press would not hesitate to call the leader a despot, or corrupt, or unstable, or all of the above. At every tested point, our systems are failing around us. It is not that Trump himself is breaking them; his party has been working with absolute precision to ensure each limb snaps.