While speaking to reporters at his New Year’s Eve party, Donald Trump made some peculiar remarks about computers and hacking. The questions sought to get him to comment on the ongoing controversy over Russia’s hacking of the election. On this, and many other issues, Trump has been evasive and has refused to hold a press conference since July.
In this impromptu avail, Trump continued to insist that the evidence of Russia’s guilt is is unproven. He disagrees with every American national security agency about that, including the FBI and the CIA. Apparently he prefers the KGB and his pal, Vladimir Putin. On whether the information about Russia’s hacking is accurate, Trump said:
“I just want them to be sure, because it’s a pretty serious charge, and I want them to be sure. And if you look at the weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster, and they were wrong. And so I want them to be sure. I think it’s unfair if they don’t know.”
It’s fair to say that these professionals would not have drawn conclusions were they not sure. What’s more, President Obama would not have ordered sanctions if he didn’t have the assurance of his intelligence team that they were warranted. Trump likes to bring up the example of Iraq’s WMDs, but he fails to recognize that those assumptions were directed by the Bush White House, not the intelligence experts.
Trump continued his off-the-cuff party banter by bragging about his personal expertise and insider knowledge. Which is curious because he doesn’t take regular briefings from national security personnel:
“I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”
Trump doesn’t explain how he would know a lot about hacking. It’s a specious claim considering that he admits that he doesn’t use a computer and rarely sends email. The extent of his tech capabilities appears to be his Twitter posts from his iPhone. Neither does he explain what he knows that others don’t, or how he would know it (Vlad?). The inference that he has information that the President doesn’t have is absurd. It could be evidence of a severe mental disorder. However, when asked to reveal what he knows he said “You’ll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.” We’ll see. He has a history of reneging on such promises. We’re still waiting for his tax returns and his press conference on his business conflicts.
But Trump’s remarks extend beyond insulting the American intelligence community. He also has some backward notions about computers and modern communications:
“It’s very important, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier. The old fashioned way. Because I’ll tell you what, no computer is safe. I don’t care what they say, no computer is safe.”
So Trump wants to return to the days before computers and electronic communications. That should be real effective in dealing with international crises and even domestic emergencies. Rather than addressing the risks of computer use, Trump would simply discard the confounded things.
This comment exposes a disturbing gap in Trump’s comprehension of the modern world. Situations develop and change with light-speed urgency. Relying on couriers would put us at a distinct disadvantage. And couriers weren’t a perfect form of communication either. Not only did they delay operations, they could be captured or killed or bribed.
If Trump plans on discarding his electronic communications devices he will put the country in imminent danger. Our adversaries, we can be sure, will not be joining him in the 1950’s. This is just more proof that he was never fit to lead the nation. His ignorance, and his utter lack of awareness of it, is a perilous combination.
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Trump said last year that he knows more about ISIS than the generals. Now he says he knows more about hacking, and Russia’s involvement, than the experts in those fields. He probably thinks he knows more about homemaking than Martha Stewart, and more about astrophysics than Stephen Hawking. If this keeps up, he’ll claim that he knows more about the meaning of life than God. Buckle up, America. We are in for a fascinating, and frightening, new year.