During his first two weeks in office, President Trump’s main focus has been on the national security of our nation. A task made exponentially harder given the fact that he must deal with grandstanding Obama holdovers while trying desperately to ferret out the vipers in his own nest.
Yet on Thursday, the president has had to deal with a security breach caused by the leaking of private phone calls between himself and Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
How did we get here?
First there was the pushing of the “Russian dossier” by some in the intelligence community. A document Washington Post investigative journalist Bob Woodward labeled “Garbage.” Next, there was acting Attorney General Sally Yates declaring that the Justice Department would not enforce President Trump’s executive order calling for the temporary “suspension of issuance of visas and other immigration benefits to nationals of countries of particular concern,” and the enhanced implementation of “uniform screening standards for all immigration programs.”
As a liberal Obama holdover, one can safely assume that Ms. Yates surmised that when Senator Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General, one of his first acts would be to let her go. So, rather than doing the honorable thing and resign over her disagreement with President Trump, Ms. Yates chose a course of action transparently designed to make her a hero in the eyes of the left.
And now, the leaking of private phone calls between President Trump and world leaders. Those leaks – be they from intelligence officials, disgruntled State Department officials, or others – have the potential to do great harm to not only our relationship with those countries, but to our national security.
As one who had the honor to work in the White House for both President Ronald Reagan and President George H. W. Bush, I know that a president deserves loyalty and the protection of confidentiality and that an administration can be damaged when staff decide to act counter to the wishes of the President or to leak confidential information.
Both the grandstanding for personal gain and the leaking of confidential information reminds me of something I have stressed in the past. That being that human nature dictates that we tend to embrace the truth right up until the moment it reflects poorly upon us or our cause.
With regard to career government officials, intelligence operatives, or career diplomats, a truth that many would rather not embrace is the fact that some are politically biased and that their “professional” judgement can be influenced by an ideology.
A bias which can then be exploited by certain “journalists” with their own agenda.
Unfortunately for the American people, we live in a world that has never been more dangerous or unpredictable and is getting worse by the day. A reality which – for our very welfare and survival – demands that at least those in our intelligence communities put aside their political bias in favor of protecting our nation.
It can certainly be argued that over the last eight years, former President Obama stacked the intelligence community deck with political and even professional operatives who agreed with his ideological and partisan view of the world.
What is President Trump to do?
Should he issue an executive order stating that as soon as possible we will break the CIA, FBI, NSA and other three-letter agencies into three distinct and separate subsets?
Those being: Leadership, agents, and analysts who put liberal ideology before national security; Leadership, agents, and analysts who put theology before our national security; and Leadership, agents and analysts who have every intention of breaking their oath of secrecy to leak classified phone calls to the media when it fits their particular world-view.
Is that what it has come to?
President Trump stating: “Okay, now send in the intelligence operatives who hate me and can’t accept me as a legitimate President. After them, send in the ones who just leaked the top secret information they just shared with me yesterday in the Situation Room.”
While it may sound like a comedy sketch gone bad, it’s not. It’s a reality President Trump and the American people must now deal with.
Human nature does dictate that we all have biases. Even those who work at our intelligence agencies.
In a world where fanatical terrorists are working night and day to perfect and deliver weapons designed to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings at a time, those who serve the president and the American people must never twist the facts or leak secret information to reflect or enhance their world-view.
“Garbage” dossiers, calculating Obama hold-overs, and leaked confidential transcripts – all in the first two weeks – make clear that President Trump must get his pest control problem in order before he can effectively govern our nation.
Douglas MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official and author of the memoir “Rolling Pennies In The Dark.” (Simon & Schuster, 2012).