When Dan Coats was a United States Senator from Indiana, he was too socially conservative for me. That said, I considered him an honest and personally pleasant man who seemed to have a genuine desire to serve the public interest.
I’d have to agree with a friend who said “I’d vote for him for neighbor, just not for Senator.”
Coats is an old-time conservative Republican who earned that description when “conservative” actually referred to a set of political beliefs. He is currently serving as U.S. Director of National Intelligence, and he recently issued a warning:
“The United States is under attack—under attack by entities using cyber to penetrate virtually every major action that takes place in the United States.
From U.S. businesses to the federal government, local governments—the United States is threatened by cyber attacks every day. While Russia, China, Iran and North Korea pose the greatest cyber threats, other terrorist organizations, transnational criminal organizations and ever more technically capable groups and individuals use cyber operations to achieve strategic and malign objectives.
Some of these actors, including Russia, are likely to pursue even more aggressive cyber attacks with the intent of degrading our democratic values and weakening our alliances. Persistent and disruptive cyber operatives will continue against the United States and our European allies—using our elections to undermine democracy and sow discord and division.”
The warning came in a speech to the Atlantic Conference, in Normandy, France. Coats dismissed Putin’s assurances that he wants to deal with a united and prosperous Europe, saying “invading Ukraine, seizing Crimea, attacking individuals in the U.K. with nerve agents, conducting cyber-attacks against multiple EU countries… do not strike me as unifying actions.”
It is no surprise that Trump has ignored this, as well as previous warnings that Coats and other Intelligence officials have issued, but it is extremely disheartening that the Republican legislature has also ignored the information being provided by members of their own party who are in a position to know what they’re talking about.
It has gotten so bad–and so obvious–that a former Prime Minister of Belgium tweeted out the now-infamous photo from the G7 summit (the one where Merkel is bending over a desk and appears to be lecturing “the Donald” who is sitting with his arms defiantly folded while surrounded by the other heads of state) with the caption: “Just tell us what Vladimir has on you. Maybe we can help.”
Steve Schmidt, the Republican consultant who ran John McCain’s campaign for President and who has been a consistent–and increasingly acerbic–critic of Trump and the GOP legislators enabling him, summed it up:
Very nearly every elected member of the Republican Congress has chosen Trump and party over our country. It is shameful. They have embraced illiberalism, assaults on the rule of law, attacks on objective truth and staggering corruption. They betray their oaths with complicity.
Schmidt and Coats are patriots. The enablers in Congress are quislings.