President-elect Donald Trump recently expressed his disinterest in daily security briefings and has been observed watching reality television and sporting events while at home in Trump Tower. Leon Panetta, a former defense secretary, said Trump’s habit of blocking out intelligence reports could lead to real trouble if there is another terrorist attack on America.
Panetta emphasized that the blame for such an attack would fall squarely on Trump if it was determined a warning was included in a skipped daily briefing. In an interview on FOX News Sunday, Trump said bluntly he had no interest in intelligence reports and that security chiefs should simply inform him of any significant changes. The problem with this approach is the security picture changes daily, which is why the updates are so important.
A prime example of this was the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. Then-President George W. Bush was informed of the impending incident during a daily briefing, but he did not think the threat was credible. Later, it was revealed the intelligence connected with 9/11 went back as far as 1998. The Bush administration claimed it had ordered the FBI to investigate possible terror suspects, but there was no evidence any action was taken.
While it remains unclear exactly what kind of leader Donald Trump will be over the long term, his inattention to daily security matters has many concerned as Inauguration Day draws closer.