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In a written report and congressional testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, the senior members of the United States intelligence community had some interesting things to say. The most important arguments they made directly contradicted their boss, the president.

They assess, for example, that North Korea is unlikely to give up their nuclear program and that Iran is not currently pursuing their nuclear program. They assess that Russia is currently and will continue to interfere in our politics and our elections. They assess that ISIS is nowhere near defeated. They reiterated a
report released to Congress last week by the Pentagon that insists climate change is a national security threat.

We’re supposed to have a chief executive and commander in chief who is a customer for this kind of intelligence. Our president is supposed to be the primary customer for these types of assessments.  But that’s not the situation we have in this country right now. At the moment, our president has taken public positions contrary to every one of the assessments I highlighted above, and he’s simply not interested in contrary evidence. He is certainly not interested in being contradicted.

Fortunately, our intelligence community leaders seem to have enough stature and self-confidence to provide an honest threat assessment and to testify about it truthfully before Congress, but there are other people with less stature and security who will shy away from giving candid information to our elected representatives if they know the president’s stated position is different.

It’s a problem that Congress can’t get reliable information from our various agencies, but it’s an even bigger problem that our president, who is the final decision-maker on many issues, is living in an alternative universe where up is down and left is right.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at