Updated: Apr 20
When President Biden announced the United States would be withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, it drew cries of protest from both sides. Yet, when the Trump administration made a similar announcement, those on the right cheered. America’s involvement in its longest war can be directly traced to the attacks on 9/11 and the desire to enact justice on the leader of the group that led the attack, Osama bin Laden.
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Bin Laden has been dead for years; executed on the orders of President Obama. It was a triumph of the American intelligence community that led to this momentous event. It was through international cooperation that Seal Team 6 was able to locate and carry out this action. This cooperation evaporated under the Trump administration.
Thanks to the Trump administration, the intelligence community is in disarray. The cooperation that we once shared with other agencies throughout the world has been shattered. This lack of a reliable intelligence network has left America open to another 9/11 style attack.
With the United States going it alone, and members of the current intelligence community possibly infiltrated by Trump loyalists, it’s entirely possible that nefarious individuals or groups will take advantage of this intelligence vacuum and launch another deadly attack on an American landmark.
Trump’s attitude towards the intelligence community borders on paranoia. When multiple intelligence agencies reported that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election, Trump was quick to disavow their information. He saw this as an effort to delegitimize his administration, and later used it as an excuse to declare the 2020 election stolen. It was this assertion that led to the January 6th Capitol insurrection.
Throughout his time in office, Trump sought to weaken or dismantle multiple intelligence agencies, either by weakening their ability to gather intelligence through budgetary means, or by firing the heads of these agencies (usually via a Twitter) and installing puppets who swore loyalty to Trump over their constitutional obligations.
The result was an intelligence gap that leaves Americans vulnerable to this day and beyond as the Biden administration attempts to recover the lost information and repair our reputation with allies to reopen lines of communication. When Trump began insulting our allies, they decided it was unsafe to share intelligence information with the Russia-friendly Trump administration.
One such intelligence failure was the Solar Winds hack that has caused heretofore untold damage to multiple government agencies. The hack has been traced to a Russian intelligence operative and dates back to March 2020. If an intelligence agency that was truly working was available, it’s entirely possible that this hack could have been detected prior to any damage being done.
It has not yet been determined what other intelligence miscues can be attributed to the Trump administration. Much like the intelligence failures that led to the 9/11 attacks, critics are seeing alarming parallels in today’s events and those prior to 9/11. One of the conclusions reached by the 9/11 Commission was that failures of intelligence agencies during the Clinton administration led to missed signals by President Bush. So, it’s not a stretch to believe that the meddling done by the Trump administration could result in an intelligence breakdown.
Even the Department of Homeland Security, created as a result of recommendations by the 9/11 Commission, wasn’t allowed to perform its stated goals as Trump changed its focus to handling issues on the US/Mexico border. How would this agency be able to detect possible outside attacks if their attention is focused elsewhere?
And how many other agencies, damaged by four years of mismanagement, have already missed the planning currently underway to once again cause catastrophic damage to our nation? With our mission in Afghanistan winding down, it’s only natural that we should be looking for the next attack.
I fear that it’s only a matter of time.