Last week Donald Trump made all kinds of waves with this tweet
The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
Personally, I’m with him. So long as anyone has nuclear weapons, we need to have them, and we need to have them in the type and quantity that serve as a deterrent. There is literally no way to get at Iran’s nuclear capability other than a nuclear earth penetrator. And, if we look at history for a lesson, Reagan was only able to arrive at a nuclear deal with the USSR after a) modernizing out nuclear weapons stockpile to include battlefield nuclear weapons like the GLCM and Pershing II and b) declaring that we intended to win any nuclear exchange with the USSR. These two actions upset the status quo of nuclear negotiations, brought the USSR to the table, and enabled the US, under GHW Bush, to reduce its nuclear stockpile.
But to listen you’d think that Buck Turgidson was saddling up.
That day Kellyanne Conway was on Maddow’s show and took the predictable and nonsensical battering from Maddow. You can’t listen to Maddow for more than a couple minutes without realizing that neither she nor her producers know anything about nuclear weapons and they couldn’t be bothered to find someone who did. Anyway, here is the video:
The clip is longish, 7:07, and you can find the transcript at RealClearPolitics. You need to listen to it if for no other reason than to hear Maddow throw around the phrase “launch status” like it was some totemic phrase (free clue, all weapons have a “launch status” at all times, even if they are in a bunker) and insinuate that if Trump modernized our nuclear arsenal that India and Pakistan would react by going on high alert or something.
Enter from Uranus none other than Tommy Christopher.
— Tommy X-TrumpIsARacist-opher (@tommyxtopher) December 23, 2016
According to Christopher and his friends Rachel Maddow really missed it because what the clip shows is Kellyanne Conway revealing classified information.
CONWAY: I discussed it with him directly. He is making the point that this is about nuclear proliferation in the face of rogue nations and regimes that are stockpiling weapons, it would seem.
This is a man who gets his intelligence briefings regularly, the PDB, presidential daily briefing refers to a product, but in addition to that, we know he received today or yesterday or both, he also has other intelligence sources and he’s learning many different facts that I’m not privy to. This is one of the responses that he felt compelled to give based on those facts.
Wow. Does this look classified? Not to me. The argument is that she has revealed information that any rogue nation would presume we do not have and that, therefore, they will assume there is an intelligence leak. But this would require that what Conway discussed was something that is not known.
Let’s try Wikipedia: List of nuclear weapons tests of North Korea. Rogue nation? Check. Wants to harm the US? Check. Stockpiling nuclear weapons? Well, it they are testing them you can bet they have one or more in reserve.
Pakistan? It could be a rogue nation in a matter of hours. Iran? Thanks to Obama it could very well have a nuclear weapon. We know, at least according to our own declassified intelligence reports, that Iran’s breakout time to being a nuclear power is well under a year. Saudi Arabia? We’ve long been concerned that the Saudis could buy a Pakistani nuke.
This ridiculous assertion is also based on the idea that a nation could create the infrastructure to develop a nuke without any of the highly visible giveaways that such an effort was underway.
Clearly Conway was discussing information Trump received from a classified briefing. That does not make it “classified” particularly when the information is not associated with a collection means (for the idiots who dreamed this up, the most likely source would be satellite imagery and other technical methods and our enemies are well aware of those methods), a nation or a time frame. For Conway to divulge “classified” information it would have to be classified. A generic concern about rogue nations getting nukes, even if it was the subject of a classified presentation, is the core of the nuclear nonproliferation regime adhered to by the US and most of the civilized world and is hardly a newsflash to anyone.
I’m not a Trump fan and there will be plenty to criticize him about in the future. But this kind of nonsense is reminiscent of the treatment of Bush in 2001. It is ridiculous. It is self-beclowning. And it will discredit real criticism in the future.