Donald Trump is catching holy hell for doubting the sagacity of our “Intelligence Community.” The ingrate president fails to appreciate all that the CIA, NSA, DIA and so forth have done to safeguard us from foreign perfidy.
Why, if the CIA hadn’t made the wise call it did on WMD in Iraq, we might have become bogged down in a quagmire war there and in Afghanistan.
A bipartisan CIA chief, appointed by President Clinton and retained by President George W. Bush, declared it a “slam dunk” that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had squirreled away stocks of chemical and biological weaponry.
The Intelligence Community chorus chimed in with “high confidence” that Iraq was indeed chock-o-block with such nefarious armaments.
Think what might have befallen our nation had our myriad intelligence agencies been even a little bit less omniscient than they were.
Why, heavens to Betsy, we might still have troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, even to this day! Why, hells bells, there might even have been a coordinated terrorist attack on New York and Washington!
….Uh, hold on here. Arms are waving frantically in the back of the room. What’s that you say? The Intelligence Community was wrong, dead wrong, about WMD?
And they totally missed those coordinated attacks on New York and Washington?
Well then, um, never mind. Let’s move on.
At least our Intelligence Community was on the ball regarding other momentous developments.
They gave us a heads-up notice that North Korea, India and Pakistan were on the verge of becoming nuclear-armed nations, right?
And the agencies tipped us off that an Islamic revolution was about to seize power in Iran and that NATO ally Turkey was trending toward militantly Islamic rule.
And they let us know in advance that the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc would soon collapse.
….Wait, arms are waving again in the back of the room. The Intelligence agencies made none of those calls, you say?
Uh, um, well, let’s keep moving on.
At least our crack intelligence agencies were on the money regarding other trends.
They were able, were they not, to foresee and thwart the rise of ISIS in Syria; the overrunning of the American diplomatic compound in Libya, thereby saving American lives; the chaotic Shia vs. Sunni feuding in post-Saddam Iraq, and the rise of Chavismo in Venezuela?
Most impressive of all, didn’t our intelligence agencies act alertly on information Russia provided us, thereby averting a bloody terrorist scene at the Boston Marathon?
….There go those arms waving away in the back of the room again. The myopic cartoon character Mr. Magoo could have done a better job at detecting threats, you say?
Okay, okay. Got it. Nobody’s perfect. Even Tom Brady calls the wrong play in the huddle every now and then.
Besides, aren’t there likely other examples where our intelligence agencies courageously took successful measures under dangerous circumstances — examples that can’t be divulged for national security reasons?
Maybe so. Let’s hope, anyway.
Yet it’s surely a wise approach to keep in mind that “assessments” submitted by the CIA, NSA, DIA, etc., are not like the stone tablets Moses lugged down from Mount Sinai. They’re something short of being the word of God.
The Deep State’s mistakes, however, aren’t exclusively honest ones. To err is human, but ....
If old Diogenes were to take up his lantern today and resume his search for the elusive honest man, he could skip over the likes of James Clapper, former Nation Intelligence director, and John Brennan, former CIA director.
The two are tellers of gross whoppers. And they’re inept prevaricators in the bargain.
Clapper falsely told Congress that the National Security Agency was not collecting mass data on Americans. As we now know, this was a lie, a big, fat, knowing, willful, felonious lie. (Clapper prefers to say that out of all the possible lies he could have told, he told “the least untruthful” one. Yes, he actually said that.)
As for Brennan, when confronted with evidence the agency had spied on a Senate committee with CIA oversight authority, he lyingly replied: “Let me assure you” the CIA “in no way” did any such thing.
The CIA IG concluded otherwise. Brennan told a big, fat, knowing, willful, felonious lie.
Yet the Clapper/Brennan whoppers go unprosecuted, even as Robert Mueller’s inquisition indicts others for far less egregious falsehoods involving far less significant matters.
Meanwhile, the Swamp continues to be pretty much ruled by a leakocracy — especially that portion of the Swamp where the Intelligence Community dwells.
The leakers and leakees tend to move in the same Swamp social circles, tend to be habitues of the same Georgetown salons and soirees, tend to collect fees for being talking heads on the same cable shows.
Leaks can be either a blessing or a curse. They can expose and thwart abuses of power. Or they can help advance abuses of power, often — as with the Intelligence Community — by misdirecting attention away from dubious activity and redirecting attention toward vaguely defined “threats.”
As has long been well known around the Swamp, there are no leakers more adroitly self-serving than those of the Intelligence Community. They can and do advance the policy they prefer with a well placed whisper here, a well placed whisper there. The New York Times, the Washington Post, as often as not.
Judith Miller, then at the Times, and Jeffery Goldberg, then at the New Yorker magazine, were among the Bigfoot journalists gulled, or persuaded, into purveying the Intelligence Community’s line in favor of an all-out U.S. plunge into Iraq.
The Intelligence Community continues to favor endless U.S. interventions in such remote hellholes as Afghanistan and Syria, continues to favor interposing American troops between cutthroat factions in distant Islamic civil wars.
The Deep State delusion — now backed by an odd-couple alliance of stickin-the-mud neocon Republicans and anti-Trump Democratic partisan simpletons — is that squabbling Muslims, ferociously intolerant of any views but their own, can one day be brought around to thinking like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. All that’s needed is the expenditure of a few hundred billion more tax dollars and few thousand more dead or crippled Americans.
If Trump resists embracing this ongoing delusion, well, then, he’d better brace himself for a tidal wave of Deep State leaks.
If the Deep State knows one thing, it’s how to protect its turf. Its out-ofbounds activities were exposed and chronicled in voluminous detail by the Senate’s Church Committee in the 1970s.
Yet here the Deep State is today more powerful and less accountable than ever.
The media play a game of whisper down the lane with the Intelligence Community. For the two the routine brings to mind the biological term symbiosis — mutual existence based on interdependency.
In this role it’s difficult for the media to maintain its symbiotic relationship with the Intelligence Community yet also fulfill its obligations of skepticism and nonpartisanship to the public.
Sharyl Attkisson, Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter, author and host of the “Full Measure” program, noted this discomforting truth in a recent article in The Hill.
She pointed out a media tendency to “dutifully parrot” Intelligence Community views “in one-sided accounts with no counterpoints.”
Intelligence Community media leaks often make it seem, she added, that intel officials are “beyond question,” that they couldn’t possibly be capable of offering flawed assessments or views compromised by political motivations.
Cynicism may not be the recommended antidote, but a little more skepticism surely wouldn’t hurt.
In this photo, President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.