Gathering Intelligence Is Dangerous. So Is Not Reading It.
Donald J. Trump has so far chosen to receive only one intelligence briefing each week. His decision is an extraordinary departure from the practices of his predecessors who received a briefing every day, with the exception of Richard M. Nixon, who had extensive foreign policy experience before his 1968 election victory.
唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)迄今选择每周仅听取一次情报简报。这个决定极大地偏离了前任总统们的做法，他们是每天都要听取一次简报，只有在1968年当选之前便具有丰富对外政策经验的理查德·M·尼克松(Richard M. Nixon)除外。
What’s more, Mr. Trump casually brushed off the importance of these briefings, indicating that he did not need them because he is “like, a smart person.”
Intelligence professionals know that gathering information is often hazardous work, and Mr. Trump’s cavalier attitude undermines their sense of purpose. During my former life as an Army intelligence officer, I spent a year in one of the most dangerous districts in Afghanistan — the same district that gave birth to the Taliban. Of course, Army intelligence officers do not assume the same risks as the infantry soldiers, who dodge improvised explosive devices on daily patrols. But if Mr. Trump needs to learn about the risks taken by intelligence professionals, he need look no further than the memorial walls of the C.I.A. and the Army Military Intelligence Corps.
Throughout my deployments, I found a sense of purpose knowing that my president and commanders recognized the value of intelligence. Were I an intelligence officer with Mr. Trump running the show, that sense of purpose would be eroded.
Yes, I would know that many prudent military commanders and executive officials would still rely on intelligence. But the president is supposed to be the intelligence community’s “No. 1 customer.” And as our next commander in chief, Mr. Trump, with his dismissive tone, insults all intelligence personnel, not just those whose products will reach the Oval Office.
Consider also the human sources who provide information to collectors. Depending on their circumstances, the consequences of being caught might include incarceration, torture or death. It has always been an uphill battle to persuade potential sources to betray their countries or groups in the face of such risk. Now collectors must ask sources to do so for a country whose leader publicly snubs the product of their sacrifice. Under these circumstances, quality sources will most likely become more scarce.
The least the president can do to honor the sacrifices of the intelligence community is to consume the fruits of its efforts. Collectors, analysts and sources need to know that they are risking their lives for good reason.
And if Mr. Trump really is as smart as he purports to be, then paying attention to daily briefings should not be difficult. He may even learn a thing or two.