December 18, 2016

So what did Obama say about believing the CIA and the FBI? I think it was just about nothing.

I was watching "Fox News Sunday" today. Reince Priebus was on, and he was shown a clip of something Obama said at his press conference on Friday. I just want to concentrate on what Obama said:
Unless the American people genuinely think that the professionals in the CIA, the FBI are less trustworthy than the Russians, then people should pay attention to what our intelligence agencies say.
That's a damned low standard! We're supposed to believe whatever is isn't less trustworthy than the Russians? That would implicitly include even the Russians, since the Russians aren't less trustworthy than the Russians. They are the Russians.

Now, to be fair, Obama didn't say we must believe the CIA and the FBI, only that we should pay attention to what they say. That's a low standard of another kind, because we might as well pay attention to everything. I pay attention to the Russians and lots of people whose word I don't accept on faith. In fact, I accept almost nothing on faith.

Obama seemed to be making a strong statement, but if you examine the words — and he spoke slowly and carefully chose his words — he said next to nothing.

The FNS host Chris Wallace translated the question into something distinctly more forceful...
Does President Trump accept -- or trust the intelligence community -- this is a CIA director saying this, not a third party -- or does he trust the Russian denials?
... and Priebus pushed back. But I'll let you go to the link and read that. I just wanted to do a post about the emptiness of Obama's rhetoric.

43 comments:

Comanche Voter said...

Reading Obama's statements for their actual substance and content is a cheap lawyer trick. Or so my late sister told me when I parsed his "greatest speech on race relations ever".

Lyin'PB_Ombudsman said...

Presumably this never ending line of blather is what golden-years-folks do when they live in WI. Since nobody is on your lawn, you become a fixated weirdo stuff in other ways.

What did oldie WIers did before the intertubes? I guess they could fuss about the weather. And eat cheese. Maybe they made butter by moving a stick up and down.

I dunno.

Seeing Red said...

His rhetoric was usually empty.

Lyin'PB_Ombudsman said...

How does one reach the point where the endeavor of pointing at something and id-ing it as not not worthy, is internalized as a worthy endeavor?

The cold over there must freeze brain cells.

I guess things thaw out in the spring, maybe a bit earlier.

I dunno.

rhhardin said...

Obama is not careful not to lie. He lies freely.

Slowness is a result of emptiness, I think. He's trying to find any word, not the right word.

Lyin'PB_Ombudsman said...

rh,

Is being a broken record fulfilling?

Lyin'PB_Ombudsman said...

Maybe repetition has some sort of subconscious appeal to golden years folks.

Maybe it has something to do w/ some sorta comfort that comes from looking back, because the look forward isn't so good.

I dunno.

richard mcenroe said...

"Obama seemed to be making a strong statement, but if you examine the words — and he spoke slowly and carefully chose his words — he said next to nothing."

You just described eight years of Barack Obama.

Lyin'PB_Ombudsman said...

Maybe the aged brain gets in ruts.

Younger minds may find it easier to jump "ruts." Maybe they have yet to develop ruts. Maybe the ruts are a good thing: like oldies already have all the answers to life figured out, so of course the get cranky when yutes come around w/ their newfangled gibberish.

I dunno.

F said...

It is hard to watch Obama unscripted. He talks like someone walking through a mine field. Hillary talks like someone who would prefer to be walking through a minefield. The most telling moment of Obama's entire presidency is little remarked: he was in the press room answering questions about (IIRC) Obamacare when Bill Clinton walked in, up to the podium and did a much better job of answering questions. Until finally Obama just walked out and Bill kept talking.

James Taranto aptly characterized Obama's most recent press conference as a 25 minute press availability that lasted one hour and 46 minutes.

Sebastian said...

"he said next to nothing . . . the emptiness of Obama's rhetoric." By contrast with all the substance he gave us 8 years ago. "Hope and change." Those were the days!

Hagar said...

But we have still only heard John Brennan say that these other guys also say ...., and Obama repeating that does not make it more believable.

Mark said...

It would be easier to pay attention to what the CIA, etc. had to say if they actually said something official and on the record, if they came before Congress and formally stated their concerns/findings/conclusions, if not presented real evidence, rather than operating through unnamed sources saying things to the media.

When the CIA says something formal and official, then is the time to listen. But not when they are engaging in this farce.

Michael K said...

This stuff seems to be coming from Brennan and Clapper.

My daughter is an FBI agent and, when I asked her last September, all she would say was she was NOT voting for Hillary, And she has been a lefty since law school.

roesch/voltaire said...

Too subtle for folks on this blog. But when I walk on a trail in rattlesnake country ,I pay close attention least I get bite. Unless that is I don't believe the snakes are there. How many more warnings do we need besides the combined CIA and FBI who agree the Russians meddled in the election- unless we don't want to see that .

Lyin'PB_Ombudsman said...

"when I asked her last September,"

Asked her what? Is HRC a criminal who should be locked up? or Is the Russian gov hacking and releasing data to hurt HRC? or maybe you asked both, or neither of those questions.

The question that you asked seems worth noting when drawing conclusions from what she said in response.

Also, NOT voting for HRC is clearly not the same as voting for DJT. Maybe you didn't mean to leave that loophole.

David Begley said...

The last eight years have been all about empty rhetoric.

Michael said...

RV

Meddled in the election how? By releasing emails that showed the DNC fucked Bernie Sanders out of a shot of the nomination? That questions were passed to Hillary in advance of debates? That the DNC and Hillary thought the bulk of people are stupid, and this is in addition to the deplorables? What meddling did they do that should not have been done by a curious press?

Unknown said...

They got nothing out of what Obama said because they only understand Trump's form of speaking now.

Unknown said...

They don't believe any investigation that would shine a bad light on their hero. They are so far gone down that rabbit hole that Trump lured them into. The German people didn't want to see the implications of Hitler's policies either.early on. And Godwins's Law be damned, we are in snake country, as R/V so aptly stated.

Jupiter said...

It is not the business of the CIA to worry about American elections, unless they are Central American. If the FBI is aware of suspicious activity, they should inform Loretta Lynch, so she can ask the suspects for a donation to the DNC.

George Soros has spent billions trying to influence American elections, and those two fine American institutions seem to be just fine with that. Which is why many Americans *don't* trust them as much as we trust the Russians. All the Russians stand accused of is exposing the lies that the Hillary campaign was telling. I do not see how that would be a disservice to American democracy. Nor have I seen any evidence to substantiate that accusation.

narciso said...

Shattucks cry of 'treason'in the Boston globe, has to be seen in the context
Of where he comes from he was mort halperin's atty in the 70s, as a faculty member in the 80s, he forced one colleague out, because he worked with the CIA, nadav safran thought among other future centcom chair general abizaid.

Bill Peschel said...

Daniel Ellsburg steals Pentagon Papers that tells the truth about U.S. involvement in Vietname. New York Times publishes them: Good.

Russia (maybe) steals DNC/Podesta emails that tells the truth about the Democratic Party's screwing of Bernie and Hillary's "pay for play" scam in the state department. CNN warns us against reading them as illegal, and NYT's calls them "fake news": Bad.

Understand?

Achilles said...

Let us all watch who Obama pardons on his way out. Seeing as he himself was caught explicitly violating the espionage act he is on the hook for some serious jail time if he is treated like I would be treated. Good thing he is wealthy and powerful so the law doesn't apply to him.

And wont it be great when the IRS is gutted like a dead rotten fish and we find the correspondence between Obama and the bureaucracy about targeting his political enemies?

Fast and Furious will be a hoot when we get the instructions from DC to let guns be sold to straw purchasers to prop up Obama's lie that most Mexicans killed were being killed by guns sold in the US.

HHS probably has some good discussions about the lies the Obama administration pedaled on Obamacare.

This was the least transparent administration in history. It is going to go down in history as one of the most corrupt when this is all said and done.

narciso said...

There's an interesting backstory that suggests how history might have turned out dufferently with the pentagon papers

narciso said...

You see back when he was with rand in Vietnam, ellsberg did something very foolish a local version of the exner/giancana affair. He had been selected by lansdale as one of his assistants.

Chuck said...

Althouse; you are holding Obama to the actual meaning of his words. Okay with me, for you to do that.

So why, then, give Trump a pass on the same standard? You seem to subscribe to a notion that Trump is communicating on an emotional level beyond literal meanings.

Lewis Wetzel said...

More media lies:

The verdict is unanimous: President Barack Obama and every U.S. intelligence service agree that Russian President Vladimir Putin has run a sophisticated intelligence operation designed to disrupt American democracy and elect Donald J. Trump. The lone dissenter? Trump himself.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-weiner-putin-commentary-idUSKBN1470SN
Notice the absolute terms used in an attempt to make the reader believe that the author's opinion is fact: verdict, unanimous, every, lone.
This was published by Reuters as commentary, e.g, an opinion piece. The author is a Pulitzer winner. His prize should be revoked.

Paul said...

There was an old science fiction trilogy, "Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation", by Issac Asimov, and in it an ambassador talked to some very needy constituents. He gave all sorts of promises and assurances, but when distilled every assurance was canceled out by a qualification to where at the end the ambassador said nothing.

Obama is a race baiter. Says for everyone to be civil but in the next breath talks about those damn sleazy Republicans.

He is a cheap demagogue, but more important, he really thinks he is smarter than anyone else not realizing the only reason he became president was he was a) black, and b) the newspapers were all in the bag for him via the DNC.

But honestly, he isn't smart at all. Hence once he has no teleprompter he rambles on and sticks his foot in his mouth more often than not.

He will have a very sad post-presidency for he will be of little use to anyone.

Chuck said...

A lot of the criticism of Obama, with which I wholeheartedly agree, is subsumed in the observation that he appears to be permanently stuck in "campaign" mode. A never-ending defensive crouch, against his domestic political enemies.

And in that way, it seems to me that Trump is more like Obama, than any other president in our lives.

Michael The Magnificent said...

His rhetoric was usually empty.

So is his suit.

So is his chair.

I am no fan of Trump, but I'll be glad to see Obama, Hillary, and their sycophants ride off into the sunset. Don't go away mad, just go away.

KLH said...

Are you pre-missing his empty rhetoric?

Paul Snively said...

Dr. Althouse: I just wanted to do a post about the emptiness of Obama's rhetoric.

Eight fucking years too late.

Mac McConnell said...

I have seldom listen to an Obama speech over the last eight years, I do read the transcripts. To be fair Reagan was the last president I listen to speeches and now Trump. Trump because it's a hoot.

Yancey Ward said...

There has been zero verifiable evidence publicly released to support the assertion that the Russian government was the source of the Wikileaks material. Zero. The single strongest assertion about the source of the leaks has to be Assange himself in this regard until someone provides actual evidence that Assange is lying- it isn't the other way around.

As for Obama's press conference, he was being careful because it is likely he realizes that there actually isn't any verifiable evidence, only suspicions, and if he had asserted there was actual evidence, that just rehighlights the fact that the CIA wouldn't give the relevant Congressional committees the opportunity to vet it, nor even show it to the electors who asked to see it. I think the entire story was put out as a Hail Mary pass to sway the electoral college. When they vote later today and Trump gets 300+ electoral votes, the issue will immediately fade away since on January 20th the lack of actual evidence becomes a problem with continuing the story.

Rusty said...

roesch/voltaire said...
"Too subtle for folks on this blog. But when I walk on a trail in rattlesnake country ,I pay close attention least I get bite. Unless that is I don't believe the snakes are there. How many more warnings do we need besides the combined CIA and FBI who agree the Russians meddled in the election- unless we don't want to see that ."

I find the timing interesting. Why November 2016? Why not, say, April of 2014?
But that might be too subtle.

Molly said...

Here's an article that helped me organize my thoughts about this:

https://theintercept.com/2016/12/14/heres-the-public-evidence-russia-hacked-the-dnc-its-not-enough

Was the hacking done from computers within Russia, or by Russian citizens?
Were the hackers acting on orders from or at the behest of the Russian government?
Were the hackers intending to undermine confidence in the US electoral process, or was the intention to weaken support for Hillary and/or strengthen support for Trump?
Did the hacking and leaking have the impact of weakening support for Hillary and/or strengthening support for Trump (regardless of the intentions of the hackers)?

We don't know what the CIA knows about each of these questions. There are indirect reports, or leaks from unnamed sources, that the CIA believes: yes, Russians; yes, by Putin; Yes to help trump/hurt hillary; and no comment on effectiveness. John McCain has said after a briefing that the russian action was an act of war (or some similar language). Likewise, Obama has promised some kind of unspecified retaliation. Obama seems to know that he has to tread carefully, because if he begins to push the "we've been attacked" line, there may be support that runs out of control for military action.

Can't we all agree not to get pushed into support for a military action because "the CIA knows something we can't see"?

Curious George said...

"Obama seemed to be making a strong statement, but if you examine the words — and he spoke slowly and carefully chose his words — he said next to nothing."

That's because he really isn't that bright. It's like walking through a room in the dark. He's not worried that he won't ultimately make it through. He just doesn't want to hit his shin on the coffee table.

tim in vermont said...

Maybe the Democrats should have nominated a candidate who didn't have skeletons in their baggage.

tim in vermont said...

Said it day one, the clothes have no emperor.

aritai said...

Well, this is not a lot different than trusting what a representative says or what a president elect tweets. Unless they can say why they trust this information, it is just another statement (or argument) from authority "It’s Science or the "Pope says” Sadly the only time you can trust institutions is when they give you the why and the how, and even then be careful. Neither the CIA or FBI are free to disclose the how "We bugged Putin's phone by tapping into the Chinese wiretap" According to their rules for them to tell you have to be highly cleared because this information could get (and often does) get the source killed. This was M.C. big sin when she didn't turn over the digital database of all her emails (she printed it out with allowed no end of pain and suffering, which would have allowed these agencies with friends of ours in many countries to be identified from Ms. C.' lost data, and then rescue them, which we failed to do for that seven year old innocent girl who was dipped in boiling tar by ISIS and hung on a fence as an example to all that would help the U.S. fight them. Ms. C. said "well, her father was a spy, and well paid, so what does it matter" I hope Ms. C. goes to her deathbed hearing that child screaming and crying for her mother.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Aritai-confused. Explain please? Cites? What 7yo?

SukieTawdry said...

Obama frequently says next to nothing. Still trying to project that blank screen, I suspect.