The Coronavirus Is the Worst Intelligence Failure in U.S. History

dandyfopp

The title is awful, it is clearly painfully evident that we were warned and Donnie at almost every turn failed to act.

Elect a soulless narcissist and this is what we get.






The Coronavirus Is the Worst Intelligence Failure in U.S. History

It’s more glaring than Pearl Harbor and 9/11—and it’s all the fault of Donald Trump’s leadership.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/25/coronavirus-worst-intelligence-failure-us-history-covid-19/

Last September, I met the vice president for risk for a Fortune 100 company in Washington, D.C. I asked the executive—who previously had a long career as an intelligence analyst—the question you would ask any risk officer: “What are you most worried about?” Without pausing, this person replied, “A highly contagious virus that begins somewhere in China and spreads rapidly.” This vice president, whose company has offices throughout East Asia, explained the preventative mitigating steps the company had subsequently adopted to counter this potential threat.

Since the novel coronavirus has swept the world, I have often thought about this person’s prescient risk calculus. Most leaders lack the discipline to do routine risk-based horizon scanning, and fewer still develop the requisite contingency plans. Even rarer is the leader who has the foresight to correctly identify the top threat far enough in advance to develop and implement those plans.

Suffice it to say, the Trump administration has cumulatively failed, both in taking seriously the specific, repeated intelligence community warnings about a coronavirus outbreak and in vigorously pursuing the nationwide response initiatives commensurate with the predicted threat. The federal government alone has the resources and authorities to lead the relevant public and private stakeholders to confront the foreseeable harms posed by the virus. Unfortunately, Trump officials made a series of judgments (minimizing the hazards of COVID-19) and decisions (refusing to act with the urgency required) that have needlessly made Americans far less safe.

In short, the Trump administration forced a catastrophic strategic surprise onto the American people. But unlike past strategic surprises—Pearl Harbor, the Iranian revolution of 1979, or especially 9/11—the current one was brought about by unprecedented indifference, even willful negligence. Whereas, for example, the 9/11 Commission Report assigned blame for the al Qaeda attacks on the administrations of presidents Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush, the unfolding coronavirus crisis is overwhelmingly the sole responsibility of the current White House.

Chapter 8 of the 9/11 Commission Report was titled, “The System Was Blinking Red.” The quote came from former CIA Director George Tenet, who was characterizing the summer of 2001, when the intelligence community’s multiple reporting streams indicated an imminent aviation terrorist attack inside the United States. Despite the warnings and frenzied efforts of some counterterrorism officials, the 9/11 Commission determined “We see little evidence that the progress of the plot was disturbed by any government action. … Time ran out.”

Last week, the Washington Post reported on the steady drumbeat of coronavirus warnings that the intelligence community presented to the White House in January and February. These alerts made little impact upon senior administration officials, who were undoubtedly influenced by President Donald Trump’s constant derision of the virus, which he began on Jan. 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

By now, there are three painfully obvious observations about Trump’s leadership style that explain the worsening coronavirus pandemic that Americans now face. First, there is the fact that once he believes absolutely anything—no matter how poorly thought-out, ill-informed, or inaccurate—he remains completely anchored to that initial impression or judgment. Leaders are unusually hubristic and overconfident; for many, the fact that they have risen to elevated levels of power is evidence of their inherent wisdom. But truly wise leaders authentically solicit feedback and criticism, are actively open thinkers, and are capable of changing their minds. By all accounts, Trump lacks these enabling competencies.

Second, Trump’s judgments are highly transmissible, infecting the thinking and behavior of nearly every official or advisor who comes in contact with the initial carrier. Unsurprisingly, the president surrounds himself with people who look, think, and act like he does. Yet, his inaccurate or disreputable comments also have the remarkable ability to become recycled by formerly honorable military, intelligence, and business leaders. And if somebody does not consistently parrot the president’s proclamations with adequate intensity, they are fired, or it is leaked that their firing could be imminent at any time—most notably the recent report of the president’s impatience with the indispensable Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

And, third, the poor judgments soon contaminate all the policymaking arms of the federal government with almost no resistance or even reasonable questioning. Usually, federal agencies are led by those officials whom the White House believes are best able to implement policy. These officials have usually enjoyed some degree of autonomy; not under Trump. Even historically nonpartisan national security or intelligence leadership positions have been filled by people who are ideologically aligned with the White House, rather than endowed with the experience or expertise needed to push back or account for the concerns raised by career nonpolitical employees.

Thus, an initial incorrect assumption or statement by Trump cascades into day-to-day policy implementation.

The same Post report featured the following stunning passage from an anonymous U.S. official: “Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were—they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it. The system was blinking red.” That latter passage is an obvious reference to that aforementioned central finding of the 9/11 Commission Report.

Given that Trump concluded early on that the coronavirus simply could not present a threat to the United States, perhaps there is nothing that the intelligence community, medical experts employing epidemiological models, or public health officials could have told the White House that would have made any difference. Former National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger is reputed to have said after an intelligence community warning went unrecognized, “You warned me, but you didn’t convince me.” Yet, a presidential brain trust wholly closed off to contrarian, though accurate, viewpoints is incapable of being convinced.

The White House detachment and nonchalance during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak will be among the most costly decisions of any modern presidency. These officials were presented with a clear progression of warnings and crucial decision points far enough in advance that the country could have been far better prepared. But the way that they squandered the gifts of foresight and time should never be forgotten, nor should the reason they were squandered: Trump was initially wrong, so his inner circle promoted that wrongness rhetorically and with inadequate policies for far too long, and even today. Americans will now pay the price for decades.

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Iris GW

He didn't want it to happen and people let him go ahead with ignoring it until it could not be ignored anymore.

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jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)(9b)

He should resign because he is incompetent.

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Iris GW

And this is the message that needs to get out because Americans should not re-elect such a massive incompetent who ended up putting American lives at risk (and yes, people have and will die who didn't have to if we'd taken stronger, earlier steps at the national level).

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dandyfopp

That will never happen. He will never resign.

He should be removed. 25th now.

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Iris GW

The Administration should be investigated for failure to take critical action just as the Republicans felt that the Obama Administration needed to be investigated for actions associated with Benghazi. What did they know and when did they know it?

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Iris GW

Think it will get done? Nope.

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adoptedbyhounds

"The title is awful, it is clearly painfully evident that we were warned and Donnie at almost every turn failed to act."

By doing what?

The intelligence reports didn’t predict when the virus might land on U.S. shores or recommend particular steps that public health officials should take, issues outside the purview of the intelligence agencies. But they did track the spread of the virus in China, and later in other countries, and warned that Chinese officials appeared to be minimizing the severity of the outbreak.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/us-intelligence-reports-from-january-and-february-warned-about-a-likely-pandemic/2020/03/20/299d8cda-6ad5-11ea-b5f1-a5a804158597_story.html

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Iris GW

Intelligence agencies deliver information - that officials decide to act on (or not).

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Sue 430

You start putting together medical and community health specialists and get them working on planning! Adding to stockpile of hospital supplies, start working on treatments, test, vaccines. We are at least 2 months beind where we should be and if we had planned from the beginning, the situation would likely still be bad but not nearly as dire as it is

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lurker111

We are at least 2 months behind where we should be and if we had planned from the beginning

Yeah, right. Good luck with that.

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paprikash

Awww - someone didn’t like my Professor Biden thread. So sorry to point out what a stupid candidate you may be nominating.

eta. It’s back........magic

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lurker111

lol

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adoptedbyhounds

"You start putting together medical and community health specialists and get them working on planning!"

That was underway. Plans went awry, unfortunately, when the test the CDC was trying to develop didn't do what it was supposed to do. The virus moved faster than the bureaucracy, and President Trump arranged, with the CDC, for outside labs to develop tests and evaluate the results.

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dandyfopp

We are at least 2 months behind where we should be and if we had planned from the beginning

Yeah, right. Good luck with that.

-

Particularly with Donnie at the wheel.

By the way.. where are the millions of tests Donnie promised?

MAGA

Trump team failed to follow NSC’s pandemic playbook

The 69-page document, finished in 2016, provided a step by step list of priorities – which were then ignored by the administration.


https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/25/trump-coronavirus-national-security-council-149285

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Nana H

"President Trump arranged, with the CDC, for outside labs to develop tests and evaluate the results."


After Cuomo and other Governors asked for him to let local labs do testing. Again, nothing proactive all reactive.

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lurker111

By the way.. where are the millions of tests Donnie promised?

How many millions is millions? We had 10 million last week. That argument is outdated.

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adoptedbyhounds

"After Cuomo and other Governors asked for him to let local labs do testing. Again, nothing proactive all reactive."

I don't recall Cuomo asking President Trump to do that, but there certainly were a lot of governors asking public health officials to cut through the red tape. And they were listened to.

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/02/feds-allow-state-public-health-labs-test-covid-19

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Iris GW

Too bad the Trump administration didn't think of it before having to be asked ...

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Gizmo

adoptedbyhounds

"You start putting together medical and community health specialists and get them working on planning!"

That was underway. Plans went awry, unfortunately, when the test the
CDC was trying to develop didn't do what it was supposed to do. The
virus moved faster than the bureaucracy, and President Trump arranged,
with the CDC, for outside labs to develop tests and evaluate the
results.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

But, but, until Trump/Republicans/Fox News did their 180....the Coronavirus was all a Democrat(sic) Hoax!

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Nana H

"I don't recall Cuomo asking President Trump to do that,"


https://youtu.be/2lFR2virJdA

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FinallyHome

^^^^ Is that true? We had 10 million tests last week? What were the results? How many were positive?

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Ziemia(6a)

Where are the early reports showing the buildup of our response to this threat?

The needed prep involved a whole lot more than getting tests available.

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adoptedbyhounds

"After Cuomo and other Governors asked for him to let local labs do testing. Again, nothing proactive all reactive."

You are mistaken, Nana. Your link is from March 8, which was long after cutting the red tape was well underway.

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/02/feds-allow-state-public-health-labs-test-covid-19


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jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)(9b)

How many millions is millions? We had 10 million last week. That argument is outdated.


That is BS. This is from yesterday.

Comparatively, the United States, with a population of 329 million, had administered at least 418,810 tests, according to the Covid Tracking Project, a group led by Alexis Madrigal, a staff writer for The Atlantic magazine, with more than 100 volunteers that compiles coronavirus testing data from state government websites and government officials.

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chipotle

How many millions is millions? We had 10 million last week. That argument is outdated.

That's a boldfaced lie.

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Iris GW

I have seen nothing that said that many people have been tested.

What did they know and when did they know it?

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Cindy Outter

"That was underway. Plans went awry, unfortunately, when the test the CDC was trying to develop didn't do what it was supposed to do."

Any average-size program should have at least one "contingency plan" with predefined milestones. Some plan has contingency plan of its contingency plan.

The owner or program manager closely monitor progress of the plan. If it fails to meet predefined milestones, trigger points will invoke contingency plan.

Mission critical program also has concurrent development plan for crucial products. If one fails, it switches to different ones.

What were Trump's contingency plans and concurrent plans for test kits that impact 350 million Americans' lives?

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Nana H

" Plans went awry, unfortunately, when the test the CDC was trying to develop didn't do what it was supposed to do."

Didn' t happen in other countries. Why?

ETA...the failure of the testing isn't the real problem, poop happens. It was the failure to react and react quickly when it was clear there was a problem.

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Nana H

Cindy, you don't need to answer if you don't want to but do you have an IS/IT or Project Management background...or are you just plain smart? ; )

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Lisa

Are these the same people who said that banning flights to and from Asia was racist?

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katrina_ellen

Lisa, yes, we mustn't heard the fragile feelings of the Communist leaders of China, since the left has decided that crying racism might gain them some political points, but I doubt the rest of the world is in the Communist sympathizer category, their human rights record is exemplary. And by the way, its not the Chinese people - its they who are being victimized by their government.

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Cindy Outter

Nana,

Thank you for the compliment.

I have program management background in mission critical products and high tech. Not smart, but have learned plenty lessons thought-out my career ;-)

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adoptedbyhounds

"What were Trump's contingency plans and concurrent plans for test kits that impact 350 million Americans' lives?"

Better than the CDC's contingency plans. I didn't see those. Did you?

You saw what Trump did. When the bureaucracy couldn't deliver, President Trump cut through the red tape and invited state labs, universities and the private sector in.

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Nana H

Only after Cuomo asked him to on Nationwide TV......and last I checked the CDC is part of the Administration not some independent organization.

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adoptedbyhounds

"Only after Cuomo asked him to on Nationwide TV..."

Nope. February comes before March. Forty state labs were already on it in Feb.

"...and last I checked the CDC is part of the Administration not some independent organization."

Not in dispute. Agencies are expected to have contingency plans. Where was the CDC's contingency plan?

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Cindy Outter

"Nope. February comes before March. Forty state labs were already on it in Feb.",

Are you saying Trump invoked his contingency plan asking 40 state labs work on it in Feb?

before he mocked Coronavirus is a Democrats Hoax in his rally on Feb, 28?

Sure. :-)

Not to mention CDC is his responsibility, apparently he does not even know that. So far he has been pushing every responsibility to others, and shifting blames, why does this country need him?

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Iris GW

President Trump cut through the red tape and invited state labs, universities and the private sector in.

After the governors asked him to. He and his administration didn't think of that on their own.

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maifleur03

cattyles I wish that they could demand Trump do something. However if they do he will have them arrested and with the current Congress tried and convicted for Treason. He has been waiting for an opportunity to do that.

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ubro(2a)

Not in dispute. Agencies are expected to have contingency plans. Where was the CDC's contingency plan?

Where was the government oversight in making sure they had one. The buck stops at the top.

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adoptedbyhounds

"The buck stops at the top."

Yep. So rewarding to see his numbers go up!

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Cindy Outter

"The buck stops here" is a phrase that was popularized by U.S. President Harry S. Truman, who kept a sign with that phrase on his desk in the Oval Office. The phrase refers to the notion that the President has to make the decisions and accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions.


Trump announced on the TV that he is not taking any responsibility of handling coronavirus crisis- it is opposite of "The buck stops at the top".

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adoptedbyhounds

"The phrase refers to the notion that the President has to make the decisions and accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions."

You are so right. And because he's being decisive, Americans appear to be pleased with the job he's doing. We can all be grateful for that.

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