Dementia Among US Officials Pose A Grave Threat To The World

According to a study released in April by the RAND Corporation’s National Security Research Division, dementia among U.S. officials poses a grave threat to the world.

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According to a groundbreaking study by a think tank funded by the Pentagon, dementia affecting American officials as the national security workforce ages poses a threat to national security. The study was published last spring at a time when numerous top American officials who were entrusted with some of the most highly sensitive intelligence in the country made mistakes in public, igniting calls for resignation and discussion about Washington’s senile leadership.

As a member of the so-called Gang of Eight congressional leadership, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who experienced a second episode of freezing last month, has the most privileged access to sensitive material of any member of Congress. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., 90, was a member of the Gang of Eight for many years and is still a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, where she has been a member since 2001. Due to her decline, she has become confused about how to vote and has memory lapses that cause her to forget conversations and forget about absences that have lasted months.

According to the study, which was released in April by the RAND Corporation’s National Security Research Division, people who have dementia who have had access to classified material in the past or present may unintentionally reveal government secrets.

“Individuals who hold or held a security clearance and handled classified material could become a security threat if they develop dementia and unwittingly share government secrets,” the study says.

Despite the fact that Americans are living longer than ever before and that the researchers were able to identify several cases in which senior intelligence officials died of Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive brain disorder and the most common cause of dementia, there does not seem to be any other publicly available research into dementia, an umbrella term for the loss of cognitive functioning.

“As people live longer and retire later, challenges associated with cognitive impairment in the workplace will need to be addressed,” the report says. “Our limited research suggests this concern is an emerging security blind spot.” 

The majority of those with security clearances, a growing class of government employees and other bureaucrats with access to sensitive government data, must go through onerous and intrusive vetting processes. Hour-long polygraph exams, character checks with former classmates, friends, and neighbors, continual automated monitoring of their bank accounts, and other requirements may be part of the clearance application process. You essentially give up your Fourth Amendment rights when you join the intelligence bureaucracy, a top Pentagon officer who administers such a program told me of applicants.

However, there doesn’t seem to be any testing for age-related cognitive deterioration, as the authors of the RAND report point out. Age or cognitive deterioration isn’t even mentioned in the instruction on continual review from the director of national intelligence.

The research doesn’t specifically name any U.S. leaders, but its release coincides with a heated discussion about gerontocracy, or government by the elderly. Google searches for the word “gerontocracy” increased after McConnell’s first bout of freezing in July.

When asked about the first occurrence, McConnell replied, “The president called to check on me. He joked, “I told him I got sandbagged,” alluding to President Joe Biden’s trip-and-fall event at a U.S. Air Force Academy graduation ceremony in Colorado in June, which triggered conservative criticisms of the 80-year-old’s own performance.

Biden’s age has emerged as a real worry for voters, even Democrats, despite what is probably an attempt by McConnell to divert attention from his mistake. According to a recent Associated Press-NORC poll, 69% of Democrats believe that Biden is “too old to effectively serve” another term. The results were supported by a CNN poll conducted last week, which revealed that 67 percent of Democrats believed the party ought to choose a different candidate, with 49 percent citing Biden’s advanced age as their top concern.

The president has the unique authority to classify and declassify information widely because he is the country’s commander in chief. The president enjoys exclusive access to confidential information, unlike any other American.

Economic and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told the press that in order to inform people both at home and abroad about the food’s safety, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ate radioactive fish from Fukushima waters.

Not only is the U.S.’s current administration the oldest in history, but the proportion of senior citizens serving in Congress has increased significantly in recent years. Only 4% of Congress members were above 70 in 1981. By 2022, that percentage had increased to 23%.

According to a 2017 Vox report, a pharmacist wrote prescriptions for Alzheimer’s disease for several members of Congress. It is challenging to determine how widespread the issue is since there is little motivation for an elected individual to reveal a condition like this. A mechanism was put in place to stop Feinstein from wandering the corridors of Congress by herself and running the risk of having an unsupervised interaction with a reporter. Feinstein’s retinue of staffers has been working to hide her decline for years.

Despite the widespread criticism, there are few signs that any officials will step down or decide not to run for reelection.

The 83-year-old Speaker Emerita Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., shocked observers by announcing on Friday that she would fight for reelection, seeking her 19th term, after years of rumors about her retirement.

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