Saturday, March 18, 2017

Besides lying, does Trump also spill classified info?

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball" evening news show, went after President Trump's pervasive lying and specifically his creating such national concern with his completely unsubstantiated claim that Obama had "tapped my wires" before the election.

Despite repeated questions from the media, the president has given not one shred of evidence for this extraordinary charge.  The Chairs and Ranking Members of both the House and the Senate Committees on Intelligence, who are investigating, have put out statements saying that there is no evidence of any such surveillance of Trump Tower.  FBI Director James Comey and James Clapper, who was Director of National Intelligence during the time in question, have both said there was no wire tap of Trump Tower.

Here's how Matthews ended his program:

" . . . This whole thing about President Obama wiretapping Trump is nothing but trumped up nonsense. . .  The man in the White House is demonstrably capable of making up claims that have no reality.  He's no better than the weirdo in the basement who calls in the fire alarm just to hear the sirens go past."

But there's an even greater problem.  This man we call president seems either unable, or not to care, about preserving classified information.   In his interview by Tucker Carlson on FoxNews on Thursday night, he referred to the CIA having been hacked.   From the transcript of that interview:

TRUMP:  "And by the way, with the CIA, I just want people to know, the CIA was hacked, and a lot of things taken -- that was during the Obama years.   That was not during us.  That was during the Obama situation.  Mike Pompeo is there now doing a fantastic job."

If this is true, that the CIA was hacked, it is -- or was -- a highly classified secret.  The CIA has never said that it was hacked.  Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democratic member on the House Intelligence Committee, said that:  "POTUS appears to have discussed something that, if true & accurate, would be classified.  Had it been anyone else, he would call it a "leak."

The president has the power to declassify anything, just by saying it in public.   So, if it's true that the CIA was hacked, it is no longer classified.   It's unfortunate that, with Trump, we have this rule.   Usually the decision to declassify something like this is a matter of consultation with intelligence agencies, high level discussion, and informed decision making.  We can't expect that Trump will do that.   We have given this man enormous power, and he is not capable of exercising wise judgment in using that power.   The risk is just as much due to his screwing up as to any evil agenda or dark conspiracy (although those may operate as well, given some of the people in his inner circle.)

So, here's a ridiculous question that comes to mind in this most absurd situation:   Is it better to have a president whose word cannot be assumed to be true, so that, when he spills classified information, our enemies won't know whether it's true or not?

That's what we've come to.


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