Thursday, January 5, 2017

Day of Destiny Tomorrow: Trump vs Outgoing Intelligence Head

CNN says that tomorrow, Friday January 6, will be a major day of destiny, as Trump confronts or is confronted by the outgoing heads of intelligence agencies. As I peer ahead myself, I believe this crossroads is even more serious than CNN imagines, but also trickier at many levels than they seem to be aware (though I am puzzled how they can be so oblivious to things in front of their face).

In general – the meeting to come reminds me a lot of a Russian documentary my wife showed me, on the final meetings between Khruschev and others and the coup which ousted him. (Of course I needed the English subtitles and comments she provided.) There is a certain unique interaction or spirit in those meetings far beyond anything Trump or I have ever encountered in this lifetime, and one cannot count on past success or skills to survive them.

Just now, I have also watched the full Congressional Hearing. The true picture which emerges is even more complex than what I saw this morning... but to be orderly, I will try to start with the initial simplified (and censored) version, then say more about the hearing, the dig a bit deeper.

To begin with, Trump needs to be ready for the reality that some of the people he will speak to tomorrow will be much smarter than he is – much more than what he is used to. Some want to help him, some want to fool him, and some are in an emotional state of distraction such that they will only be halfway there. Some will be making a calculation: can we turn this guy into just another puppet for plans very different from what Trump himself wants, or can we exploit what starts here by being friendly today but developing ammunition we need to basically kill him  in whatever way is most efficient in the coming year? And every one has a professional poker face far beyond anything Trump has ever experienced before.
Some are loyal puppets of other outside forces, while some others pretend to be so and have games of their own which will lead to yet another round of major conflict if they succeed in sidelining Trump. (Some of these try to persuade us that this would even be for the best, given how urgent our situation is, but history suggests it would not be realistic to expect much hope that way.)

It is very depressing that CNN has bought totally into the line that “this is all about Trump going to war with those wonderful people who lay their lives on the line in the intelligence world.” It is important to know that this Mike Rogers (and Hayden and Cheney before him, and behind him) have jerked around those people a lot more than Trump ever imagined doing (except for violating their esthetic sensibilities).  At the hearing today, Clapper said: “I have not really done a survey of their feelings..” which made many of us want to laugh, but it amazes me that CNN people would not be automatically by reflex aware of the role of Cheney and his outside people not only in intercepting communications but in oppressing the natural integrity and dedication of the mass of US intelligence people from before his time (excepting of course his inner circle of moles, similar to what Palpatine had in the early Star Wars films).  Why would CNN take that viewpoint? Well, I remember years ago when my father own and ran a sophisticated marketing agency (and even taught a few courses on that subject as civic duty at Wharton, using a big middle “J” as a flourish in his signature.) When he talked about how easy it was to get a press release printed as news, if it was well written enough. There are folks already working on pitching a new narrative to get us used to the idea of supporting our “intelligence people” (actually Mike Rogers
and the folks he reports to, not the civil service or regular brass) over that pesky Donald Trump and unreliable electoral process, and to do whatever it takes to let them dominate. (And again I urge folks not to ignore the last chapter of that book “A G Man’s Journal” from a primary source for part of the picture.) Can Trump and his people applaud greater dedication to truth and due process and rights, and act as a liberator rather than oppressor, and rewrite the narrative? Rewriting the narrative is crucial here – as well as getting serious about conflicts of interest.

Enough for now on the first level.

The hearing itself showed a lot of complex dimensions. In truth, Rogers did project an image as the smartest of the people on TV (counting the senators as well), and Clapp as next, both far ahead of the rest. But Cruz too is smart; he, like several others, imagines that he will become the new Emperor of America, the new Julius Caesar, when the corrupt old order is swept away. But high IQ is not always high EQ, let alone high... “SQ”... “spiritual quotient.” Agile left brains do not always imply competence in the right brain, which makes more ultimate value judgments in a sane human. Serious psychiatrists certainly know about paranoid schizophrenics, who can be incredibly agile in ingroup tactics but in pursuit of devastating targets in a larger world they do not understand, posing a serious threat both to themselves and others. Do watch out for Rogers and for Cruz.

Clapper, like Hillary Clinton, is also afflicted by an emotional weakener right now – the more normal human neurotic response of intense emotional distraction by a big disappointment (elections) and, even more, a perceived insult.
My wife, being Russian and in some ways more normal human than I am, has trained me to be a bit more aware to the way in which perceived imaginary insults (let alone real ones!) dominate so much of human thinking, even for the most intelligent of people! And Rogers and his backers are ever so gleeful about how that kind of emotional block is letting them play people like Clinton, Clapp and even McCain, towards their own ends.

Still, Clapper was very candid about his well-informed bad feelings about where cybercommand is going.

Rogers: “Let’s make everything go to faster execution, less obstructions from legalistic barriers (like privacy, constitution, due process, rationality and the spirit of the Constitution). Let’s be more like our most agile adversaries (ISIS plus Moslem Brotherhood?).  Let’ s be more unified and avoid duplication. (Or competition, even honorable competition? The mantra used in creating United Launch Alliance, a great source of incredible stagnation in US aerospace strength since... at least since they kicked out Admiral Steidle. And really, part of the recent decay of NSF.)”

No, Rogers is certainly not stupid. He showed awareness of lots of important things. I am impressed how hard he contained himself when he wanted to laugh about “let’s use our local national guard to stand at the ramparts and defend us form viruses.”  And he demonstrated his ability and will to  play along, to throw away a bit of money on harmless people doing nothing (of whom we already have a whole lot, as in SLS)... in order to advance towards his target.

But I have to admit that I was disappointed by McCain’s demonstration of emotions overcoming intelligence, even more than I would have expected. All humans have their limits, and despite his high integrity and competence when on-target, McCain really let himself be bamboozled even more than the Democrats were.

“This is all about the real bottom line, which is... where is our plan? How do we respond to our number one adversary which is  Russia now as it was Russia in the 1950’s.” So whatever happened to the Moslem Brotherhood or Al Qaida?
To other manipulations of US elections and press far greater, far more effective and far more sinister and hidden than RT?

Actually, I did an amazon review yesterday of a wonderfully entertaining new novel, “Children of Earth and Sky”, by Kay,
about the period (circa 1500) when Western civilization was closest to being totally eliminated by the Second Caliphate, the most powerful and enlightened caliphate in all of past history. It is worth thinking hard about parallels to where we are today... where Russia is a lot like a player called “Senjan” in the novel. (Ironically, that actual place might be where Melania Trump’s people actually came from... in recent decades... though the top female character is a lot more like my wife, whose people back home are in a difficult situation and know it.)

It is true that Putin’s way of trying to be nice to Trump was a bit awkward, reminding me less of my wife and more of one of my daughters, who, in second grade, was hauled before the principal for trying to make friends with another girl by bopping her on the head. (“No, whichever daughter you were thinking of, it was the OTHER daughter..”  Really, we are all human, and all children of earth and sky, with a lot of growing up we ALL need to do.)

But this hearing was a lot scarier than anything Putin has done in his whole period in power. What kind of people think that “mutual assured destruction” and “affirmative new action” (either cyberattacks or more sanctions) will get us out of the horrible decaying box we are in?

I would have said “idiots” instead of people, except that really... it is people who understand nothing about computers or the realities of IT. (The details are a matter of life or death – details you will only read about in

I found myself nostalgic during this hearing, not for the Cold War, but for the time when I was a Brookings Fellow for Specter and assigned to cybersecurity (albeit as number 5 of my 5 areas), and would get to report back in detail on this kind of hearing. (Inhofe came closest to digging a level deeper this time, and I was reminded of how I once was close to his key staffers, and even to EEI.)

We do not need to fall into the dynamics of mutual assured destruction, which, as Clapper rightly noted, would be far more destructive and riskier here than it was for nuclear missiles. Reagan pushed the heresy of missile defense, which many still debate very hotly (in Russia as here), but for critical power infrastructure more attention to defense is the immediate crisis need (as in that paper!!). It is very upsetting that Rogers has disbanded the group at NSA which did its best for the defensive side, and needed to be more empowered, not subordinated to offense and assured mutual destruction!

Another problem with assured mutual destruction there is that the US is now more vulnerable than North Korea!!
I understand why Clapper visibly hesitated to speak when he projected that clear thought.. but for God’s sake (literally) let’s FIX the problem,  not fall into neurotic denial (though again, I would view Roger’s position as different.).

The folks pushing mutual destruction remind me a lot of the scene in Atlas Shrugged where she asks “who would cause such havoc, knowing, at the top, what it would do to people?” Her answer: “They would rather rule an eggshell or ashes than not be in charge. They give absolute priority to a personal will to power.” And perhaps they imagine that 5% of the population would survive, giving them someone to rule. But it doesn’t actually work that way.


All for now.  News tomorrow evening may also be interesting... but for me, it is back to another novel.

And oh... those recruitment issues... the smart people who really understand IT (hey, I know a LOT of them)...
they would prefer to build a sustainable new infrastructure (again, see
than become pawns and puppets in someone’s top-down attempt to create a top-down tyranny undoing centuries of work to promote real human freedom and growth. Even NSF has had some very serious recruitment problems lately due to the intervention of other folks doing what Clapp euphemistically called “micromanagement” form outside...  
In actuality, despite the fine words, a search for predictable puppets has been the operational priority of many in the new .. Palpatine-style network.

On the bright side, I have wondered recently whether ISIS actions in Turkey might be giving Ergdogan second thoughts about   what he has done to make Turkey more like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and even Egypt, where Moslem Brotherhood has developed an especially strong base. Or does he rely on funding sources who are ready to do unto him what some donors plan to do unto Trump?

Best of luck..

Added Friday morning:

A question has come to me (not from my wife!!): How certain am I that it would have been ordered by Putin?
With 17 intelligence agencies, and Clapper's own visible level of integrity, how could there be doubts? Well, I do have to admit that 17 agencies could all be fooled in principle if someone else had the means and the will to falsify it -- and even some Russian hacking agents of their own. Yes, I have to admit that there are groups in the US with the means and the motivation to do something like that -- first to stop Clinton being elected, and then to cash in marbles after
Trump gets elected. The official story still seems more plausible -- Trump acted friendly to Putin and Putin fulfilled his request to a modest extent -- but I should not pretend to know what I do not know. Would Russia itself have the ability to unravel the actual chain in that case? But then could it be that Russia has less capability than they would want to advertize? Whatever.

Roger's words "faster" echo in my mind. Many say computers are faster than humans, and there is a subtext of whether humans do or do not get replaced altogether by computers on this planet.  But... back to following orders to relax and read and try to get closer to the spiritual side of life... 


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