Worldwide Threat Assessment

This Week In Doom Feb. 6, 2019


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on February 3, 2019

What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” ― Individual-1  

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”                                   ― George Orwell, 1984


After two years, the constant drumbeat of incessant lying emanating from the White House is taking a toll. Having surpassed 8,000 lies in office, Individual-1 has managed to numb the news-following public into wholesale stupefaction. But it's all part of a conscious plan to control each day's news cycle, sow doubt, and discredit reporters of objective fact, including members of his own administration.

Last week Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats presented a summary of espionage and cyber threats from Russia, China and other foreign actors during congressional testimony. The published Worldwide Threat Assessment report (written in straightforward, accessible prose, and worth reading), outlines the greatest threats to the US for espionage and cyber-attacks. Little surprise that foreign governments will act in their own self interest, and at the expense of the US as when necessary.

CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and other top officials joined Coats in a discussion that covered a wide array of national security challenges, including cyber attacks that will aim to disrupt the 2020 presidential election and the continued threat posed by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.

Coats, speaking on behalf of the assembled officials, gave a global tour of national security challenges, focused mainly on Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

He said that North Korea was “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities,” which the country’s leaders consider “critical to the regime’s survival.”

Putting his assessment at variance with that of Individual-1, and the Tweets subsequently emanating from the Fox News-infused Oval Office and the alternate reality zone in the mind of the occupant. 

Without forgetting for a moment the roles that US intelligence agencies have played in repression at home and regime change abroad, all for the benefit of US corporate interests, the threat assessment is a clear description of the US's primary international rivalries, and nothing in it was surprising if you follow the headlines. None of the officials affirmed a security crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where Trump may yet declare a national emergency. 

Cold water was repeatedly thrown on the White House’s more imaginative views, such as the claim that the US and North Korea will achieve a lasting peace and that Kim's regime will ultimately give up its nuclear weapons.

Glossed over by most media, during a week when temps in the midwest and east broke well below freezing, was the mention of how Russia and China are capable of launching cyber-attacks that could disrupt electric grids and gas pipelines in the US.  Even Rachel Maddow noticed and interviewed Rebecca Smith, who covered the story for the Wall Street Journal. Maddow asked,

“What would happen if Russia killed the power in Fargo today? What would you do if you lost heat indefinitely as the act of a foreign power on the same day the temperature in your backyard matched the temperature in Antarctica?”

As to Russia's cyberdiddling, it has been known for some time that Russia has been probing our grid. On March 15, the US government released a report describing a massive Russian hacking campaign to infiltrate America’s “critical infrastructure” — things like power plants, nuclear generators, and water facilities. The Russian incursions reported in March were more for observation than sabotage, but as we've seen, the Trump administration's response to Russian impunity has been to lift sanctions on close friends of Putin.

When the report was released last June, Energy Secretary Rick Perry told lawmakers she that Russian cyber-attacks are “literally happening hundreds of thousands of times a day,” and warned that the Department of Energy needs an “office of cybersecurity and emergency response” in order to be prepared for threats like this in the future.

None of this sat well with Il Douche. For the last two years we've had a president who fundamentally does not believe in democracy, with no loyalty to either the Constitution or the traditions of American governance. This week, he demonstrated a visceral contempt for the work product of the intelligence community, oblivious to the fact that many of the conclusions in the report had already been publicized by his own government.

 

Trump maintains his power via Republican control in the Senate, where any impeachment proceeding would be tried. And no matter what they may say privately, Republican Senators are well aware of the fact that Citrus Caligula runs at 90 per cent approval among Republican voters, who make up 20 percent of the population but 100 per cent of Republican primary voters.

Little by little, the media has been figuring out how to deal with Trump's incessant lying, a different thing from the spinning of any previous administration. Greg Sargent explains:

The key point here is that Trump is not engaged in conventional lying. He’s engaged in spreading disinformation.

According to cable news fact checkers, zero per cent of new wall are being built. Zero. Previous administrations might emphasize favorable facts and cast them in the best possible light, but Trump repeats blatantly false statements, in hopes of wearing down the fact-checkers and creating a wholly new reality for his neo-fascist base. And after two years, that day may have arrived.

And vis a vis his wayward intelligence chiefs, Trump summoned them for a meeting, then reported that they had been misquoted (even though the proceedings were broadcast live.)

When you consider that Trump's grip on power is secured by the 35 percent approval rating he manages to maintain, via his 18 per cent of true-believer Republiconfederate neo-fascists, and a large number of low-information/Fox News-watching voters, you understand the importance of "winning" the daily news cycle. And if that takes making outrageous fact free statements, at least you have them talking about you. It works day in and day out because the media can't resist taking the bait. And never forget that when a thoroughly disgraced Richard Nixon prepared to board the helicopter, he maintained a 28 percent approval rating. And this was before the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which consequently enabled Fox News.

Google "Trump" and the phrase "without evidence". Just recently you'd have gotten Trump, without evidence, accuses James Comey of lying to HouseTrump, without evidence, says Arizona 'bracing' for surge of immigrantsPresident Trump Claims Without Evidence That Most Federal Employees Impacted by Shutdown Are DemocratsTrump claims without evidence that new migrant caravan is forming, and so on. Similar phrases will yield similar results: Trump rages at Twitter with baseless claim that it is tampering with his followers because of political bias. When you realize what the agenda is, each baseless lie and fresh outrage seems less an assault on truth and more a part of a consistent strategy to deny the notion of an objective reality made of verifiable facts.

Disinformation is the lure. Don't take the bait.


Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

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