RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Hayden writes: "In November, a few days before the election, I tried to parse Donald Trump's strange affection for Vladimir Putin and the various contacts that members of his campaign had had with folks in Russia. The best explanation I could come up with was something the Russians call polezni durak, the 'useful fool.'"

President Trump and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House. (photo: Russian Foreign Ministry/AFP/Getty Images)
President Trump and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House. (photo: Russian Foreign Ministry/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump Proves He's Russia's 'Useful Fool'

By Michael V. Hayden, The Washington Post

17 May 17


ichael V. Hayden, a principal at the Chertoff Group and visiting professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, was director of the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005 and the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 to 2009.

In November, a few days before the election, I tried to parse Donald Trump’s strange affection for Vladimir Putin and the various contacts that members of his campaign had had with folks in Russia.

The best explanation I could come up with was something the Russians call polezni durak, the “useful fool.” That’s a term from the Soviet era describing the naive individual whom the Kremlin usually held in contempt but who could be induced to do things on its behalf.

Six months later, it is disappointing to report, the term “useful fool” still seems a pretty apt description.

President Trump continues to resist the conclusion that Russia meddled in the American electoral process. As recently as last week, the best he could muster was a conditional, “If Russia” interfered.

Understandably, that attitude led to a strained relationship with the intelligence community, a state of affairs not helped by the president’s unfounded, yet continuing, accusations that the community spied on his campaign.

Now the Russians are front and center in another controversy, this one fully of the president’s making. Last week, according to The Post, the president disclosed highly sensitive intelligence on the Islamic State to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during an Oval Office meeting.

The information reportedly derived from another country’s intelligence service, so its revelation would have violated the near-sacred third-party rule of intelligence: Information from one country cannot be shared with another without the agreement of the originator. Break that rule often enough and your intelligence begins to dry up.

The administration contends that neither sources nor methods were discussed. That may be true enough, but I have had many arguments with journalists trying to explain that revealing the “fact of” something often points the way to the “fact how” — to the very sources and methods they claim they are not threatening.

Of course, the president has absolute declassification authority and, in practice, should have great leeway in what he wants to share with other nations. The issue here is not the power of a president but the performance of this president.

Governing is new turf for Trump. He is one of the least experienced presidents in the nation’s history. There is no evidence of scholarship or even deep interest in the processes of U.S. government. He has little international knowledge beyond real estate and business.

But even with such a thin portfolio, he seems incapable of humility in the face of such inexperience. By all accounts, the president is impatient with process and study, preternaturally confident in his own knowledge and instincts, and indifferent to, and perhaps contemptuous of, the institutions of government designed to help him succeed.

We saw this coming in the transition when a self-confident president-elect contacted foreign leaders without benefit of briefings from, or even the knowledge of, the State Department.

So, little wonder that an impulsive president appears to have gone off script to warn his Russian visitors in dramatic fashion. Or was it to impress them with the prowess of his intelligence services?

Once again, the White House circled the wagons. National security adviser H.R. McMaster and deputy adviser Dina Powell, both of whom I know and regard highly, stated that the president had not specifically revealed sources and methods and asserted that The Post article was “false.”

Debates over what exactly the president said or did not say were made moot, though, when the president tweeted that he could damn well do what he pleased in these circumstances.

McMaster and Powell could not have been comfortable being thrust into this position. One hopes that they are not put there very often.

Indeed, there is a creeping corruption near the president as his spokespeople are frequently forced to defend that which should not be defended. The national-security team can’t allow itself to be touched by that.

Then there is the question of the leak itself. Who told The Post — and, very quickly, other news organizations — about the meeting? The president’s defenders are already pointing to dark elements of the deep state or to holdovers from the Obama administration.

Maybe, but there are alternative explanations. There may have been more here than just malice or obstructionism.

Reportedly, National Security Council staffers were concerned enough about the revelations that they felt compelled to warn the CIA and the National Security Agency. Clearly, someone in government was concerned about potential damage. Once that word was out, it’s not hard to imagine the alarm among government professionals increasingly uneasy about managing the consequences of what they see as presidential missteps.

The administration will probably try to hunt down some of those folks, at least those who talked to The Post. Leaks are leaks, after all. But one hopes they also turn considerable attention to making our president more knowledgeable and prepared — and more open to the processes and protocols that have governed the behavior of others who have held that high office. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+46 # LionMousePudding 2017-05-17 13:42
There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind from his words that he was showing off plain and simple. I think it needs to be seen this way. There was no plan; no agenda besides his own personal self-aggrandize ment; boasting about how powerful he is. He is a blowhard. He will say whatever comes to mind. The most important thing is that he feel important.

What will be next? All I can hope is that whatever "missteps" (trips onto his face) he does are ones which cause his supporters to fall away aghast. Nothing can be worse than the policies he is creating and the people he has appointed to ruin our country.

Go for it, Trump. Be as much of a blowhard and an A-hole as comes naturally to you. I'm glad to give him the rope to hang himself with before he can damage the citizens of this country more than he has.
+3 # Anonymot 2017-05-17 13:58
Michael Vincent Hayden is a retired United States Air Force four-star general and former Director of the National Security Agency, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
He works for:
Wikipedia: Michael Chertoff (born November 28, 1953) is an American attorney who was the second United States Secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. He was the co-author of the USA PATRIOT Act. (He was also supposed to be tried for defrauding the TSA or some such charge.)

Why are such rich, revolving-door neocons of leftover Bush bags given space in RSN for their poison pens and insinuations?
+27 # Kootenay Coyote 2017-05-17 14:38
Because even 'rich, revolving-door neocons of leftover Bush bags', as they assuredly are, sometimes have to tell the truth.
-1 # Anonymot 2017-05-17 15:44
True, but this doesn't seem to be that time.
+2 # ericlipps 2017-05-19 04:17
Of course not. Anything that doesn't support the line that poor Donnie is being picked on by a bunch of meanies can't be true.

Or is it poor old Uncle Vlad instead? Or both of them?

Tsk, tsk, such ingratitude for their having punished the Democratic Party for daring to nominate Hillary Clinton!
+3 # Grout4cake 2017-05-17 14:46
Because they are of the very few of RW insiders willing to verbalize how very far off the rails Trump has stepped in his efforts to please Putin, an oligarchical dictator? Obviously the GOP could care less.
+2 # Caliban 2017-05-19 14:14
More BS like this from the Donald, and even the most craven Congressional Republicans will quietly turn away from him.

Let's not forget, all House members and about a third of the Senate will face re-election challenges in 2018.
+3 # dquandle 2017-05-17 19:37
Yes indeed! Why the hell does a "progressive" site open itself to the gibberings of such malevolent and pernicious pieces of excrement?

Some of Hayden's thoroughly repugnant history:

Especially pertinent now during the current globalized malware attack made possible by the blowback of NSA "technology"

"“We have entered into a new face of conflict in which we use a cyberweapon to create physical destruction, and in this case, physical destruction in someone else’s critical infrastructure, ” declared Ret. Gen. Michael Hayden to the CBS’s 60 minutes."


"But it is Michael Hayden who is in a class by himself. He was the first NSA director to betray the country’s trust by ordering wholesale violation of what was once the First Commandment at NSA: “Thou Shalt Not Eavesdrop on Americans Without a Court Warrant."

+13 # REDPILLED 2017-05-17 14:16
So we should believe a former director of both the NSA and CIA?

Meanwhile, does Russia have thousands of troops on the borders of the U.S.? Does it have anti-missile systems in nations on those borders? Does it have dozens (at least) of Russian military bases surrounding the U.S.? Does it have NGOs operating in the U.S. which interfere with U.S. elections and propagandize for U.S. interests?

Trump is an ignorant idiot, but this whole Russophobia campaign is a Deep State plan for confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia, which the insane, deluded neocons believe will cause regime change in Russia, but can only end horrifically for all life on earth.
+9 # Salus Populi 2017-05-17 19:49

It wasn't bad enough that last week RSN chose to showcase the "neo-con lite" Guardian with its fawning and carefully amnesiac presentation of the professional liar James Clapper.

Now, to top that, it goes to "the CIA's favorite newspaper," the most neo-con saturated propaganda rag and war hound in the United States, to present, again uncritically and carefully with amnesia about the fact that, and the reason for it, the Senate rejected Hayden for CIA director back in 1992, the execrable Contragate liar and all-around sleazebag Michael Hayden: the man who helped Bush and Cheney lie their way into an aggressive war, and should have been hanged for it; the man who lied before the Senate for every position he applied for; the neo-con arse-wipe who presided over the worst terrorism in the form of torture and murder of the last 20 years; the man who helped trash the Constitution and bring the U.S. a giant step closer to becoming a full-fledged fascist police state: the monster who makes Cthulhu look like a Sunday School teacher -- Michael Hayden.

What's next, Dick Cheney with a reprint of a National Review editorial? Michael Ledeen in Front Page Magazine?

Is Marc so single-mindedly obsessed with bringing down Trump, and thus putting the infinitely worse and more dangerous Mike Pence in the Offal Orifice, that even the most right-wing and professionally dissimulative, the most unreliable sources of modern times should pollute our brains through RSN?!
+13 # mashiguo 2017-05-17 14:32
What a sad state America is in: Hatred trumps everything,l that includes hatred of Trump, hatred of Russia, hatred of peace, hatred of prosperity, hatred of the poor, hatred of the rich. America is hate incarnate

One very important lesson the US can learn from Russians: Nothing is ever so bad that it can't get worse when you try to fix it.

Who really thinks a Pence-Ryan presidency and a war with Russia are better than Trump's childish narcissistic raving incompetence?
+3 # barryg 2017-05-17 17:11
A Pence/Ryan presidency would be horrible, but Trump's incompetence and narcissism could get us into war faster than you think. And he defers to uniforms with stars. Trump loves men in uniform, if you get my drift.
+8 # dquandle 2017-05-17 19:43
"Who really thinks a Pence-Ryan presidency and a war with Russia are better than Trump's childish narcissistic raving incompetence?"

Apparently the entire Clinton "Democratic" party, their bed-mates in the Deep State cess-pool, the Bush-Cheney Republicans, and a host of the "Democratic" party's so-called "progressive" acolytes...
+2 # ericlipps 2017-05-19 04:21
As I've said before, we're screwed. The whole chain of presidential succession now consists of right-wig Republicans, all but two of them hand-picked by the Rump.
+5 # Saberoff 2017-05-17 15:07
Here we go again. More "Useful" propaganda from our trusty media.

Our US is burning, friends. Don't you understand? This is just our One Party system wresting Damage Control. Two cheeks of the same ass delivering crap.

Guess I"m having to look deeper. Auf Wiedersehen.
+4 # Robbee 2017-05-17 15:34
freudian slip of the day! - paul ryan says we're "russian to judgment!"
+3 # California Neal 2017-05-17 16:06
Ryan will be Speaker of the House whether Trump or Pence is POTUS.

Pence is a horrible, hateful opponent to what we progressives support. But he is an experienced office-holder who relies on briefings by persons with expertise & experience, who will read (& comprehend, & recall) briefing materials of more than one page, & who will not act impulsively, erratically & dangerously. He may wish to have more experience & expertise in his Cabinet than Trump did. He will support terrible policies, as Trump does, so we will still need to win Congress back next year & the presidency in 2020.

Trump's repeated six-year-old behavior, his malignant narcissist behavior, his apparently improper relationship with Russian, his apparent desire to obstruct justice, his complete incompetence & the incompetence of most of his closest advisors, & the level of day-to-day DANGER that all of the foregoing poses to our country & the world, make his impeachment & conviction necessary & desirable--even though he'd be replaced, until we can do better, with the utterly deplorable Mike Pence.
+1 # Citizen Mike 2017-05-17 18:42
He is a fool who can easily be manipulated by flattery, that is why the Russians wanted to get him elected. A weak president.
+1 # Anonymot 2017-05-19 01:35
I don't doubt that the Russians preferred Trump to Hillary, because Hillary was flat-out for racing to war with Russia. She's been the CIA/MIC Dream Girl (girl or whatever) since they put her up for President.
+2 # elkingo 2017-05-17 18:48
Hayden is certainly an establishment spook military right winger conservative but this articles seems, hell no - IS candid, responsible and concerned. Credit where it's due please!
+2 # carp 2017-05-18 08:09
It took a child to point out that the Emperor wore no clothes. Hayden writing for the Washington Post about a story broken by the Washington Post has nothing really to add. His pronouncements of what Trump a little late.
+7 # dquandle 2017-05-17 19:22
Hayden is a criminal and a not-so-crypto fascist. who has been pushing war with Russia, and a stunningly repressive US police/surveill ance state since time immemorial. He should not be believed about anything.
+4 # Aliazer 2017-05-18 10:31
Hayden should have been impeached himself for malfeasance and misfeasance in office and for his contemptuous handling and managing of the NSA in violation of the Constitution!!!

A warmonger, who, along with other criminal globalists continues seeking to destroy America and its people. He belongs in jail!! But justice has been corrupted, and that is why he can continue spouting out his treasonous venom far and wide!!!
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-05-18 11:22
The Wapo is really digging down to the bottom of the shit pile to get Michael Hayden to write a smear of Trump. I'm sure old Bill Clinton is working the phones day and night lining up people to write op-eds for the Wapo and others against Trump. But this tactic is not working, just in the same way that the Arkansas project did not work against Bill Clinton. An all out assault on someone over NOTHING only drives people to support the victim. And the Wapo just does not have enough people who believe anything it publishes.

Hayden is a "useful idiot" or better a useless idiot. He has been in service to the deep state for his whole life. Now he works for the corrupt Michael Chertoff!!!! That's all that needs to be said.
0 # ericlipps 2017-05-19 04:27
Quoting Rodion Raskolnikov:
The Wapo is really digging down to the bottom of the shit pile to get Michael Hayden to write a smear of Trump. I'm sure old Bill Clinton is working the phones day and night lining up people to write op-eds for the Wapo and others against Trump. But this tactic is not working, just in the same way that the Arkansas project did not work against Bill Clinton. An all out assault on someone over NOTHING only drives people to support the victim. And the Wapo just does not have enough people who believe anything it publishes.

But is it NOTHING? Just because Trump's win kept Hillary Clinton out of the White House doesn't mean its origins can't be questioned.

Whining about the Washington Post because it's going after this story while having failed to scream for Hillary Clinton to be burned at the stake makes progressives look like "useful fools" for the GOP.
-1 # Salus Populi 2017-05-26 11:03
Perhaps to the mass media, which is as corrupt as it is possible to be. The Post and the NY Times are the two leading neo-conservativ e [or if you prefer, neo-liberal interventionist ] rags being published in the U.S. today. The reason they never screamed for Hillary to be tarred and feathered, let alone burnt at the stake, is that she is "one of them," a reliable exponent of regime change in countries the U.S. government chooses to target, and a hater of Russia willing to go to the mat with Putin, which generates the necessary hysteria that feeds the MIIC's bottomless greed.

As to "going after" Trump, as Chris Floyd has pointed out ["Trump Hip Deep in Indonesian Evil; 'Resistance' Looks the Other Way, Again," April 19],

"As with Trump’s bribes from China and the undeniable, rampant criminal corruption of the government by his family, nothing at all is made of this open scandal. If a scandal can’t be tied to Russia, it’s as if it doesn’t exist. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. ... you have straightforward evidence of malfeasance, criminal activity and dangerous connections that could be used to launch very traditional journalistic, congressional and law-enforcement investigations through the most mainstream, establishment channels. Yet no one is taking any action on these fronts."

The obvious reason is that the "intelligence community" wants to bring Trump down, to further their plan for war with Russia.

Paul Craig Roberts has called this "treason."
+1 # hwmcadoo 2017-05-18 13:12
Fool or not–still a traitor!
-1 # Shaas 2017-05-18 20:02
Totally facts-free article.

Bush and Powel were not impeached after starting a useless war in Iraq with a million of victims.

Obama was not impeached after starting 7 wars, although laureate of Nobel Prize.

To leak info about ISIS - the notorious murderers of journalists and non-believers, rapists of countless women - to having them exterminated, should not lead to empeachment, either.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.