Is Donald Trump really interested in someone

Pandemic warning in the United States : If Trump had read the threat report

Kent Harrington was a senior analyst with the CIA and served as the National Intelligence Officer for East Asia, head of the Asian station and director of public affairs for the CIA.

The intelligence services are used to making headlines when they are not doing their job properly. But after US President Donald Trump ignored their warnings about Covid-19 for months and his administration ignored their warnings about the risk of a pandemic in general, it is time to give the services the credit they deserve.

It should come as no surprise that Trump ignored the services' information about the coronavirus threat throughout January and February. Trump made it clear a long time ago that he is not interested in opinions that run counter to his point of view.

This year the bill falls due for Trump's war on intelligence. The price is overloaded health systems and loss of life. The US intelligence services had given early warning and even delivered the enemy's battle plan: They had described exactly how a new type of corona pandemic would unfold. Even so, the would-be war president remained inactive.

Most Americans will never see the raw data and detailed analysis that the president receives every day. This is why the public reports of the chiefs of authorities are so important, especially when they expose the willful ignorance of the president himself.

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Of course, public reports cannot reveal in full detail the problems that intelligence services are dealing with. But as someone who has worked on dozens of public CIA reports, I know that professional analysts do their best to accurately reflect what has been classified as classified, despite measures taken to protect their sources and methods.

See the National Intelligence Coordinator's annual threat report to Congress, which has been postponed indefinitely for this year. In the 2019 report that upset Trump so much, then intelligence coordinator Dan Coats reiterated the intelligence services' assessment that Russia had intervened in Trump's 2016 election and warned that Trump's "male friendship" with North Korean dictator Kim Jong- and have not diminished this country's nuclear ambitions. Most importantly, the intelligence coordinator's annual threat report repeatedly warned of a global pandemic.

A pandemic has been on the threat report since 2009

The intelligence services rang the alarm bells for the first time immediately after President Barack Obama's inauguration in January 2009. At the time, then intelligence coordinator Dennis Blair said: "The most urgent transnational health challenge facing the US remains the potential for a major pandemic, the main candidate being a highly deadly influenza virus." and highlighted the potential of a pandemic to destabilize the economy.

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Blair's successor, James Clapper, delivered the same message in March 2013. Clapper clarified, "This is not a hypothetical threat."

Trump received the same message in May 2017 when Coats pointed to a World Bank assessment that a pandemic would cost the world around five percent of GDP. Coats reiterated his 2019 warning: "The US and the world remain vulnerable to the next pandemic flu or widespread infectious disease outbreak, resulting in massive death and disability rates, badly affecting the global economy, straining international resources and calling for help the US could strengthen. "

Is anyone surprised that Coats ’successor doesn't bother to report this year?

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Yet the National Security Coordinator's annual assessments are not the only publicly available reports showing the extent of Trump's negligence in the face of the pandemic. Every four years the "National Intelligence Council", the leading analysis body of the US intelligence services, publishes a forecast of the factors that are likely to influence the coming decades under the title Global Trends.

The timing is no coincidence: The strategic outlook appears at the time of the change of government and offers the presidents a long-term international perspective, which they can use to formulate or revise their national security goals.

Background to the coronavirus:

Trump has described the Covid-19 pandemic as an "unforeseen problem" that "appeared out of nowhere". The authors of the last three Global trends would deny that, and so do the hundreds of experts they consult in preparing their analyzes.

"Travelers could transmit the virus symptom-free"

Consider, for example, the almost prophetic Global Trends 2025 report from 2008, which warns: "The emergence of a novel, highly contagious and virulent human respiratory disease for which there are no adequate countermeasures could usher in a global pandemic."

The threat, according to the authors, would likely arise “in an area characterized by a high population density and close contact between humans and animals, as are many areas in China and Southeast Asia”. Even if you limit international travel, "travelers with mild symptoms or those who are symptom-free could spread the disease to other continents".

Trump has missed numerous opportunities to effectively counter the Covid-19 crisis. The health and economic consequences we are now witnessing have long been predicted. However, US intelligence analysts could not foresee that America would be struck with a president willing to sacrifice so many lives on the altar of his ego.

Translated from the English by Jan Doolan. Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2020. www.project-syndicate.org

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