Letter to the Editor:

Mr. Gabl made a legitimate point regarding smallpox (Jan. 30, Vilas County News-Review). Naturally occurring smallpox has long been eliminated, but the United States and Russia do retain viral stores due to bioterrorism concerns.

Implicit in his argument, however, is the premise that a wall across our southern border could somehow protect us from domestic or Russian bioterrorism. Our porous northern border would provide easier access through which Russia or Russian intermediaries could export weaponized smallpox. It would not require an infected host. Air, maritime routes and even the postal service could prove to be effective conduits. 

In the event of a concerted bioterrorism attack involving smallpox, Russia would ultimately have to answer for it, not El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras.

Meanwhile, the greatest threat to our democracy lies in the Oval Office with our “Moscovian candidate” and his handler in Red Square. Why has Donald Trump repeatedly hidden the substance of his interactions with Vladimir Putin from the public and even Congress?

• July 7, 2017, G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, Trump confiscated an interpreter’s notes on a meeting he had with Putin, instructing her not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials.

• Nov. 10, 2017, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vietnam, Trump ruled out a formal meeting with Putin on Friday, then met with him Saturday; no record of that meeting. According to Trump, they talked about Syria; United States withdrawal, perhaps?

• Nov. 30, 2017, G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, formal talks with Russia had been cancelled due to Russia’s attack on Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov; regardless, Trump had a private chat with Putin, which “appeared longer and more substantive that the White House has acknowledged,” characterized by the White House as only one of several informal chats with other government leaders, but Russia is the only country known to have interfered in our election.

• July 11, 2018, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Brussels, Belgium, Trump spoke privately with Putin for nearly two hours. Interpreters were present, but Russia has the only record of that meeting. U.S. disengagement from NATO would have been the likely topic.

• July 16, 2018, Russia-U.S. summit in Helsinki, Finland, days after Rod Rosenstein announced indictments of 12 Russian GRU, Trump infamously questioned U.S. intelligence reports and parroted Putin’s denial of involvement. Putin, standing next to him, could not suppress a smirk. Eight high-ranking Senate Democrats advised Trump in a letter not to meet with Putin one-on-one. He subsequently met privately with the Russian president for two hours with interpreters, but no one on our side took notes.

After assuring the election of Trump, Putin must be enormously proud. Hillary Clinton was right; Trump’s a puppet. President Trump has supported or acquiesced to all of Putin’s apparent demands: withdrawal from Syria; NATO; the Paris Agreement; the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty; lifting of sanctions; undermining public trust in American justice, defense and intelligence institutions by denigrating the attorney general, FBI, CIA, Director of National Intelligence, Na­tion­al Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and refusing to consult with our military leaders or dismissing their advice when given. He has widened income inequality, exposed deep divisions within our nation, polarized political thought, expunged truth from public discourse, insulted our closest allies and created unending chaos. 

Trump has been obsequious to his puppetmaster, whose wishes have become his directives. Is there a possibility of mere coincidence between these private, intentionally un­recorded meetings and actions taken by Trump? 

As Sherlock Holmes from the BBC television series said regarding coincidence, “The universe is rarely so lazy.”

Terrance Moe