By Les Joslin

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President Donald Trump’s recently reported rejection of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment” conclusions regarding North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons programs and the status of the Islamic State — among other issues — in favor of his own foreign policy hunches confirms him as the “clear and present danger to national security and world peace” I labeled him on this page before the 2016 election.

Among his fatal flaws is his utter ignorance of the nature and purpose or the profession and process and product that are intelligence.

As defined by Sherman Kent, the literate and lucid pioneer philosopher and practitioner of American intelligence, in his 1949 book, “Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy,” intelligence is “the kind of knowledge our state must possess regarding other states in order to assure itself that its cause will not suffer nor its undertaking fail because its statesmen and soldiers plan and act in ignorance.”

Kent’s “high-level foreign positive intelligence … upon which we base our high-level national policy toward the other states of the world” is the kind of intelligence Trump routinely rejects when it conflicts with his preconceived notions of the world.

His routine rejection of the information produced by intelligence professionals — who collect, analyze and process information into intelligence on which foreign policymakers may base policy decisions — is potentially catastrophic.

Other presidents have corrupted the intelligence process to serve their own ends.

President Lyndon Johnson or his minions encouraged inflated enemy body counts to support Vietnam War progress reports.

President George W. Bush or his minions cherry-picked intelligence reports regarding weapons of mass destruction to support the invasion of Iraq.

But none has ignored the essentiality of the intelligence process to the policymaking process the way Trump’s ignorance of both have corrupted these vital processes.

Although I’m 30 years out of date, I think I know what I’m talking about.

I served two decades as a U.S. Navy intelligence officer involved in both tactical intelligence to support naval operations and strategic intelligence to support foreign policymaking.

I have never counseled a president directly, but have contributed to presidential determinations and national intelligence estimates and briefed a few senators and congressmen.

One rainy March 1977 afternoon, three colleagues and I were sent to Capitol Hill to brief former vice president and again-Sen. Hubert Humphrey and other Senate Foreign Relations Committee members and staffers on the current Arab-Israeli balance of power which was, of course, an imbalance of power. Questions followed our briefing.

Senator Humphrey asked a couple very good questions, which we answered.

Then another senator, toward the end of his fourth and last term, looked at me and asked, “What makes you think those little Israeli boats can defeat those big Egyptian destroyers?”

“A thirty-year gap in technology and more capable, better trained officers and men, senator,” I summarized. “Egypt’s destroyers remain armed with World War II guns while Israel’s missile boats are armed with sophisticated anti-ship missiles. Israeli missiles have a longer range and are more accurate than Egyptian naval guns…”

I’d already contributed this conclusion to the current national intelligence estimate on the region.

“Humpf!” was the senator’s response. I got the impression he preferred his ignorance.

Senator Humphrey thanked us warmly. He knew the value of intelligence. He knew something President Trump does not seem to know and does not seem interested in learning.

— Les Joslin is a retired commander, U.S. Navy, and lives in Bend.

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