Thistlethwaite: Trump is all excuses while Americans die
How many American troops died because the Russians put bounties on their heads while Trump did nothing about that intelligence for more than a year?
Parents of sons killed in Afghanistan in that period want some answers as to why the Trump administration seemingly took no action, though Trump was reportedly briefed at least three times since March 2019 on the intelligence that the Russians were offering the Taliban bounties to kill American troops. .
Members of Congress from both parties want answers. The American people want answers.
I want answers. You might think with all the deaths of Americans on his watch, Trump would finally step up to his responsibilities to keep Americans, both civilian and military, safe.
But Trump is all excuses.
He tweeted “Nobody briefed or told me” on June 28, 2020.
Two intelligence officials have confirmed that the assessment that Russia “sought to encourage and reward killings” of American troops was in the President’s Daily Briefing in late February, one saying February 27 specifically.
There is no excuse Trump can use for not knowing and then not acting. He’s the president. Trump should consult Harry Truman about the fact that the “buck stops” at the desk of the president. That’s the bottom line.
Very few are buying Trump’s excuses.
Both Republicans and Democrats have not found it plausible that such a momentous issue that had “any hint of credibility that would endanger our service members” would not have made it “immediately to the commander in chief and a plan to deal with that situation,” according to Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. Thornberry, who added that the bipartisan “insistence to see the intelligence” is “even stronger nonpublicly” than it has been publicly, echoed other military leaders who have expressed incredulousness that such intelligence did not reach the commander in chief.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), chair of the House Republican Conference, tweeted quite a good list of questions.
1. Why weren’t the president or vice president briefed? Was the info in the PDB? [President’s Daily Briefing.]
2. Who did know and when?
3. What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?
Hold Putin accountable? This is a step the Trump administration has refused to take throughout his whole term (and prior). In fact, rewarding Putin has been a staple of whatever passes for U.S. foreign policy today.
Yet, the United States gets nothing from Trump’s constantly coddling and rewarding (or trying to reward) Putin. In fact, longstanding U.S. policy interests are being sacrificed by Trump in order to reward Putin. As political scientist Ian Bremmer has tweeted, “No serious foreign policy analyst I know (nor any ex-Trump- Admin official) has a good explanation for why Trump is so singularly enamored with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
There is no good political rationale either for rewarding Putin and ignoring, in this particular case, the fact that the Russians have very likely paid some connected to the Taliban to kill American soldiers.
Americans don’t like their soldiers being killed for any reason, let alone for Russian bounties by the Taliban and Trump doing nothing about it.
Joe Biden outraised Trump in donations to his campaign again in June. Failures and excuses by Trump are likely why.
We are rapidly approaching 150,000 Americans dead from COVID-19 and the incompetent, lying and excuse-laden Trump administration should be held directly responsible for that.
We probably will never know how many American troops have died because the Trump administration apparently ignored, for more than a year, intelligence that was showing Russians were likely paying the Taliban in Afghanistan to kill American soldiers. However, we are owed absolute clarity who knew what when and why Trump decided to run a White House that lets this happen whether (very likely) or not (unlikely) he knew about it.
I don’t care how many fireworks you set off in National Parks, President Trump. That is a pathetic attempt to distract us from the increasingly large number of dead bodies that should be laid at your door.
Americans want the truth for a change.
And the truth is American deaths will be Trump’s legacy.
And that is inexcusable.
Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is President Emerita and Professor Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary. She and her husband now make their home in the Vail Valley.
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