Why It Could Be Good for Trump to Skip Some Intelligence Briefings

“The problem with intelligence briefings is not so much that they cause boredom in the recipient as that they routinely induce terror,” John Mueller writes in a CNN Op-Ed.

“Central to the briefing is the ‘threat matrix,’ a compendium assembled by the CIA and the FBI that includes all the ‘threats’ — or more accurately ‘leads’ — needing to be followed up. Garrett Graff reports that it is ‘filled to the brim with whispers, rumors, and vacuous, unconfirmed information’ and that it can come off as ‘a catalogue of horrors’ and as the ‘daily looming prognoses of Armageddon.’ Philip Mudd notes the ‘voluminous and dominating’ threat information, much of which he points out is raw and ‘below threshold’ for top leaders, and notes that it contributes ‘to a pervasive sense that every day might bring a new attack.'”

“Part of the problem emerges from what Marc Sageman, after years of experience in the intelligence community, calls ‘a bias for alarming interpretations.’ Often, he says, ‘the worst interpretation’ is given full attention while potentially disconfirming evidence ‘is neglected.’ Robert Jervis agrees: probing for ‘alternative explanations of what was happening’ is, he finds, ‘very rare.'”

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