It was way back, two days ago now, on Friday, when we discussed the lack of structure and recklessness inherent to what has been called “Mar a Lago” decisions. We noted that the structure provided by our government institutions help to avoid critical missteps, but that those structures aren’t much use when they’re talking to themselves thousands of miles away.
The order to assassinate Suleimani came out while Trump vacationed in Mar a Lago, secluded away from all those experts, surrounded by helpless, fauning, irreducible Trumpers, and, apparently, somewhat secluded from his own Secretary of Defense.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that Trump made a quick decision, driven by impulse and his desire to wag the dog. Because the attempt to justify the attack since the Mar a Lago vacation has been a shifting mess of misinformation, or no information.
We had the congressional briefing from which Republicans left the room aghast at the “sophomoric” nature of the presentation, the worst they had seen in 20 years. So that did not go well.
Just a day later, Friday, Trump said amplified the threat.
Trump claimed on Fox News on Friday that “it would have been four embassies”, prompting criticism from members of Congress who were not briefed before the strike and who say such a threat was not mentioned in a classified briefing on Wednesday.
That sounds like a 9-11 type of threat.
Or a Trump lie.
Sent to the all-important Sunday shows to defend Trump’s shocking assertion that he had tremendous intelligence against this imminent threat and ordered the hit from south Florida, we have our Sec. of Defense Mark Esper backing Trump up with …
Asked on CBS’s Face the Nation if there had been a specific or tangible threat, Esper said: “I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies. What I’m saying is I share the president’s view that, probably, my expectation was that they were going to go after our embassies.”
“I didn’t see one”?
What does that even mean?
If Esper didn’t see this intel, that means:
1) Trump is lying, or
2) SecDef is out of the loop on a major military action
Given the 15,000+ lies that Trump has told so far, let’s go with option 1 https://t.co/PitKbhTgk0
— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) January 12, 2020
The intelligence doesn’t exist, or the Secretary of Defense is totally out of the loop, which is entirely possible when it comes to Mar a Lago decisions.. You will note, these two are not mutually exclusive.
I posit that the intelligence doesn’t exist, because even though Esper could have been out of the loop prior to the attack, we know he would have seen it by now, in the aftermath.
Esper would not need to say that he believes the president, that such a threat did exist. If he actually did believe that the threat existed and others saw it, he could say that yes, it existed.
“I believe …” is just an out. He is not verifying anything except the fact that he’s now blameless. He simply believed the president, and if you can’t believe the president, who can you believe? That is Esper’s approach.
He is being careful, as well he should be. Esper knows the threat didn’t exist and he knows that Congress is now upset – at least some of them. Esper knows that he’s likely to be dragged before congress at some point and he doesn’t want to have attested to something’s validity, when he knows it doesn’t exist.
“I believe … ” is his out.
He simply “believed” Trump.
We can almost picture Esper staring back at the congressional committee, shrugging his shoulders. What more is there to say? He believed Trump.
The U.S. military carries out a major operation to assassinate a major leader from another nation (a terrorist, yes, but a high-up terrorist). The operation is premised upon the need to prevent an imminent attack against now four embassies. One would presume that the DOD would also need to know about the imminent threat so they could defend the embassies. Yet the Secretary of Defense doesn’t know about it.
He still hasn’t seen the evidence.
Doesn’t sound like that big a threat. Or, well, it doesn’t sound like the threat itself existed, ever.
Perhaps Congress should call some club members at Mar a Lago, because it sounds like more gets discussed over the buffet line than in the Situation Room.
The structures we rely upon are crumbling as we move more and more toward a unified executive, responsible to no one, not even his own staff, certainly not congress. That staff is now protecting itself from Trump. They know what they believe, and we do, too.
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