Words matter... often they don't mean what we think they do.
|One of the intelligence agencies got its nose out of joint last week when it was pointed out that President Trump seemed willing to take President Putin's assurances over their telephonic eves-dropping. Putin has been swearing up and down that he didn't meddle. Like President Clinton's infamous words... what we have here depends on what "is, is." If meddling is defined as electronic surveillance or hacking, Putin is lying through his teeth. All nation states do that. However, this is not the definition of meddling.
Meddling: To interfere or busy one's self unduly with something that is not one's concern.
The key to this definition rests in the word "Unduly." Nation states "Interfere" in the affairs of others out of a "concern" for what each other is planning to do. It is called ESPIONAGE. It has been going on for a long time and does not normally extend into politics. The reason is that trying to influence elections is amorphous, unpredictable, and prone to unexpected consequences. That changed when President Obama tried to unduly influence the Israeli elections. He sent operatives into the Jewish State in an overt attempt to unseat the Prime Minister. "Hmmm," the KBG might have thought.., maybe thats an angle we should devote more resources to. Unfortunately, for the Soviets, they are not as well resourced as their counterparts in the United States.
By definition meddling requires three components. These are interference, of an undue scope, into matters one should not be concerned with. The first is "Interference." Nation States routinely interfere in the affairs of one another. It is not a matter worthy of debate. The second is the undue scope of the resources being allocated. If many millions of dollars was spent in such an undertaking, to undermine one candidate's bid to the benefit of the other, there might be a case. However, the paltry sums now being revealed shows that the KBG did not see this as a very promising avenue. Clearly some low level functionaries, with a limited budget spent something but the small amounts were insignificant. The third aspect of meddling is that it extends into an area they need not be concerned with. It could well be that Putin did not direct this action. The Steele Dossier shows that Hilliary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee purchased opposition research with help from sources in the Soviet Union. A high ranking KGB general is alleged to have been involved and found dead in his home. What was his crime... ineptitude or was he working an angle for a little side cash? Was this meddling? Did his corruption embarrass the Russians? This whole matter would be laughable had it not been used to obtain FISA warrants on Trump associates. The best that the DOJ can come up with is a foggy connection between Soviet agents and email accounts that could have been used to cover up financial transactions being laundered and/or syphoned off, instead of seriously attempting to destabilize the US electorial process. Anyway, with all this fog swirling about, is it any surprise that the President views his Intelligence Agencies with a raised eyebrow?
This whole controversy shows a lack of understanding regarding of how a staff works. Once the leader defines a problem the staff is supposed to help solve the problem. They study it, examine the facts and assumptions that underly and formulate promising courses of action. They analyze and compare these courses and select the one that is most promising or the optimal choice among a field of possibilities.
Concurrently the Leader goes to his trusted advisors and asks them to examine the problem and mentally go through the same process shown above. They advise him independently and often come up with possibilities here-to-fore unconsidered. They make independent recommendations.
Finally the Leader is going through the whole process independent of what others are thinking.
It should come as no surprise that a Leader often comes to a decision that does not reflect the thinking or advice of his staff or advisors.
It has happened often throughout history. Ulysses Grant did not use his staff or entertain advice to a very large degree. General McArthur, in his decision to go ashore at Inchon made up his mind in strong opposition to his staff and the advice of others.
President Trump has his own calculus for decision making, which involves his staff and advisors but also relies heavily on his considerable talent and business experiences.
So don't be dismayed if he tempers what he hears with a judgement uniquely his own.