Vittert: White House believes agency that was wrong

On Balance with Leland Vittert

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via videoconference in St. Petersburg, on Oct. 10, 2022.

(NewsNation) — We survived the weekend — Armageddon didn’t come — and President Biden arrived back at the White House Monday from a weekend away without nuclear war killing us all.

But the weekend only brings up more questions about the president’s stunning statement — and his administration’s nonchalant response.

Thursday night, Mr. Biden told donors at a DNC fundraiser that Putin is “not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons … I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily use a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.”

Friday, we lamented the dangers of an administration unable to articulate their Ukraine policy or their response to Putin’s use of nuclear weapons or their casual attitude to Biden’s comment that we are closer to nuclear war than any time since the Cuban missile crisis.

But the weekend brought scarier news — the administration still believes the same intelligence assessments, analysis and agencies that got everything about Putin’s invasion of Russia wrong.

First, why do all the president’s representatives say don’t worry?

“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own nuclear posture,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

“Nor do we have indications they are preparing to use them,” a State Department deputy spokesperson said.

“I don’t see anything right now that would lead me to believe (Putin) has made such a decision (on nukes),” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said over the weekend.

The last one is a little interesting since Lloyd Austin would authenticate any decision to launch America’s nuclear weapons.

Again, since we asked this Friday — which is it? Are we near Armageddon or not? The president still won’t clear that up. He still hasn’t taken questions.

They say they base their statements on intelligence.

Intelligence from the same CIA that said Vladimir Putin’s army would over run Kyiv in a few days. In fact, they planned for covert military operations to support a Ukrainian insurgency.

This is the same CIA who screwed up weapons of mass destruction and Iraq. The same CIA who missed the fall of the Berlin Wall, Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, collapse of the Soviet Union, Afghanistan falling to the Taliban that quickly and the Kabul strike.

To be fair — their failures are public — their successes rarely are. We know about the Bin Laden raid for example, but there are literally thousands of foiled terrorist attacks — and victories against China and Russia we don’t know about.

And we would be remiss not to mention the CIA’s wall of honor — 139 names of CIA officers and employees who died in the line of duty. That doesn’t include the assets, KGB, colonels and other men killed by their governments for giving America information.

Again — this isn’t questioning the fine work or bravery of the people in the agency, nor is this questioning their motives. But with nuclear weapons, there is no margin for error  — the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Inflation, gas prices, transgender bathrooms, Black Lives Matter, legalizing pot, cancelling student loans, the chip shortage, supply chain issues — quite literally nothing else matters if we are on the brink of nuclear war.

Yet, the administration tells us to sleep well at night – because they know Putin didn’t move his nukes. They have seen nothing to change the threat assessment nor do we have indications they are preparing to use them.

Maybe — just maybe — the Russians don’t want us to know what they are doing. Fool me once — shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

In nuclear war there aren’t mulligans — there isn’t shame. We are just dead.

In the intel world, they call that confirmation bias — just ask Dick Cheney. He so badly wanted Saddam gone — he and the Bush White House believed anything confirming Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They ignored evidence to the contrary and created a culture where those who questioned the orthodoxy got punished.

The current orthodoxy says we would see if Putin moved his nukes — and since we haven’t seen this — everybody is just fine. But, what if it isn’t?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.

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