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Trumpton Tower: a modern slapstick

Posted by on March 18, 2017.

In true slapstick style, Trump sticks it to GCHQ, and GCHQ slaps down Trump. All over what did or did not happen in Trumpton Tower.

On 4 March, the realDonaldTrump tweeted an accusation that former President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower during the run up to the election.

And then all hell broke loose. Repeatedly asked to justify or prove his claim, Trump has stonewalled rather spectacularly – but offered no proof. Nor has he backed down. And here is the problem. Without being able to prove it, and with true megalomaniac inability to backdown or admit error, or – God forbid – apologise to anyone for anything ever, he’s looking a right tit. If he cannot prove it, he will look a complete tit. He and Spicer become a right pair of tits.

Trumpton Tower

The Mayor of Trumpton Tower and press secretary plot next announcement

The solution was tragic. It was tragic because it was pure genius – that backfired. If we cannot prove the NSA did it, let’s blame it on GCHQ.

That’s not as stupid as it might seem. Firstly, it is well accepted that where national laws forbid local activity, other members of the Five Eyes intelligence consortium (the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) will use their lawful ‘foreign’ capabilities to do it instead.

The NSA cannot lawfully just bug Trump – so even if they did, they would deny it; and even if they did, Trump would not be able to prove it. But, in certain circumstances, one Five Eyes member might call on another Five Eyes member to do the dirty work.

Secondly, GCHQ has a long standing and fairly rigid policy of neither affirming nor denying anything. A reasonable assumption, then, would be that Trump could blame GCHQ, and GCHQ would stay shtum – and Trump would be off the hook.

Only it didn’t quite work out like that. GCHQ didn’t say ‘we neither confirm nor deny’. It didn’t even say, ‘no, we didn’t do it’. What it actually said, in no uncertain terms and in a huge and unpredictable break with decades of tradition, is it is “totally untrue and quite frankly absurd.”

To be fair, Spicer did not actually say it was GCHQ what had done it – but he did say on Thursday that Trump stands by his allegations, and he did quote and make reference to a Fox News report where Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey judge, said:

“Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command – he didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI and he didn’t use the Department of Justice,” adding that the former president “used GCHQ”.

So, who did it?
In reality, we are none the wiser. Trump could be lying about the wiretapping – it’s not as if he’s never lied. Or the NSA could be lying – it’s not as if the NSA has never lied. Or GCHQ could be lying – it’s not as if GCHQ has never lied. (In the latter two cases, the intelligence agencies would deny ever lying, and they have an arguable point. What they do is redefine the truth until it suits.)

Or they could all be telling the truth. At this point we simply do not know. It is quite likely we will never know.

There is just one unalienable fact to come out of this. President Trump’s continuing practice of treating America as if it is his own personal world-dominating company that he can bully and rule with bluster and bombast has managed to piss off yet another major friend and ally – along with Germany, Canada, Mexico and Australia (just off the top of my head).

Meanwhile, the slapstick farce centred on Trumpton Tower rumbles on.

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Submitted in: Expert Views, Kevin Townsend's opinions, News, News_politics | Tags: ,