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Any story combining 'Trump' and 'intelligence' makes us nervous


Welp, the Trump transition team has issued its official statement on the explosive Washington Post story on the CIA's assessment that Russian intelligence agencies were not only behind the hacking of two state election systems, but also cyber-futzing with computers at the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton Campaign, John Podesta's email, and even, as the the New York Times revealed, the Republican National Committee, too. Not to worry, says Team Trump in a three-sentence statement that answers all your questions:

Well there you go! Let's Wonksplain this, line by line!

1. There's no reason to trust the CIA's conclusions on the Russian hacks (or even that the hacks were by Russia and not that 400-pound guy on a bed in New Jersey), because the CIA was wrong on WMDs in Iraq. Let's back up just a little bit here: It's a lot more complex than that, as anyone who thinks in chunks more complex than bumper stickers knows. Yes, the CIA's 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of Iraq's WMD programs got a lot wrong. But it also included a lot of qualifiers that the Bush administration willfully overlooked, such as statements saying the agency couldn't prove Saddam Hussein had resumed his chemical and biological weapons programs. Worse, a 2014 RAND Corporation report determined the CIA's assessment "contained several qualifiers that were dropped ... As the draft NIE went up the intelligence chain of command, the conclusions were treated increasingly definitively." The Defense Department also warned that the intelligence on Iraqi WMD was sketchy, too, but the Bush administration chose to overlook that report as well, because it had a war it was in a hurry to get to.

Or if you'd prefer a much shorter paragraph that skips all the historical quibbles, there's also this: The CIA in 2016 is a completely different bunch of people than the CIA in 2002 (and there's no evidence Barack Obama was pressuring his CIA to find Russian hackers so he could avenge his daddy).

2. A) A month is "a long time ago"? We'll just leave that one alone. B) As more than one smartass has noted, NUH-UH:

Of course, Trump is right: his electoral college win was in the TOP FIFTY American electoral college wins OF ALL TIME!

C) Also, something something Clinton's popular vote total now equal to Obama's in 2012, but not in the states where that total was needed.

And finally, D) Let's not lose track of what really matters: Even if Trump had won by a bigger electoral college margin than Warren G. Harding against James Cox, that would have absolutely fuck-all to do with the CIA's intelligence on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Conclusion: The Trump transition is not only a bunch of liars, it also doesn't even deploy effective red herrings.

3. Time to move on from credible intelligence (the details of which will eventually be made available in declassified form) of foreign interference in an American election? Nice wishful thinking. Or as former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden put it:

To have the president-elect of the United States simply reject the fact-based narrative that the intelligence community puts together because it conflicts with his a priori assumptions — wow[!]

Then again, Hayden worked for George W. Bush, so it's probably best to ignore him completely, too.

4. SQUIRREL!

[NYT / Business insider / Politico / LAT / NYT]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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