Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified at a hearing on “Russian interference” in the election that there’s a difference between “skepticism” of the intelligence community’s assessment and “disparagement” of said community. While stopping short of asking for a “safe space,” this admitted liar used the opportunity to cry on the shoulders of Donald Trump’s assembled enemies: “We’re not perfect,” he burbled, but hey everybody makes mistakes.
Clapper’s remarks were clearly aimed at Trump, who has tweeted his contempt for the effort by the CIA and allied agencies to conjure up a Russian conspiracy to put him in the White House. Citing Julian Assange’s statement to Sean Hannity that a teenager could’ve hacked the Podesta emails, Trump’s tweets evoked the rage of the Washington Establishment – how dare he question those who failed to prevent 9/11, told us Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction,” and failed to foresee the rise of ISIS, which they (through President Obama) characterized as “the JV team”!
The hearing quickly degenerated into a “Hate Assange” session, with McCain asking Clapper "if any credibility should attached to this individual” given WikiLeaks’ “record of leaking materials that put U.S. lives in direct danger.”
"Not in my view," Clapper replied.
Only in Washington would this exchange not be followed by howls of jeering laughter. It was Clapper, after all, who lied under oath to Sen. Ron Wyden and the Senate when asked about the extent of spying on US citizens engaged in by the National Security Agency, and later was forced to apologize for it.
What will go down in history as the John McCain-Lindsey Graham dog and pony show featured plenty of thunder and lightning. McCain pressed Clapper to declare that Russia’s alleged actions were an “act of war,” but the DNI demurred, saying it’s not the intelligence community’s job to make such judgments. Sen. Graham opined that he’d like to start “throwing rocks” at the Russkies, whereas President Obama has been lobbing mere “pebbles.” While the spectacle of Graham trying to go all macho had its comic aspects, as far as serious additions to the intelligence community’s case went there were none. There was rhetoric aplenty, but no new facts.
Indeed, facts were notably absent: while Clapper declared that the intelligence community “stands ever more resolutely” behind the conclusions reached in a report issued earlier this week, he gave no indication that the many holes in that report would be filled any time soon – at least in public. And so the question that has plagued the new cold warriors – where is the evidence? – goes unanswered. But then again, evidence is something that the McCain-Democrat anti-Trump alliance has absolutely no use for: they’ve already reached their conclusion, and it is this:
Trump, in their view, is an illegitimate President: he was elected by the Russians, and is for all intents and purposes a Russian agent. That is what the McCain “hearing” was all about, and the Arizona Senator will continue to harp on this, along with his Democratic allies, until the cows come home. It is unlikely, however, that he will get much of a platform outside of his own Armed Services Committee and CNN: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said there will be no select committee investigation, as McCain is demanding, and that the Senate Intelligence Committee is “quite capable” of investigating what needs to be investigated.
At one point, Graham got up on his hind legs and directly addressed Trump: “What I don’t want you to do is undermine those who are serving our nation in this area until you’re absolutely certain they need to be undermined.” These underminers certainly need to be undermined, at least as far as the President-elect is concerned. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Trump is planning a major revamp of the intelligence services:
“One of the people familiar with Mr. Trump’s planning said advisers also are working on a plan to restructure the Central Intelligence Agency, cutting back on staffing at its Virginia headquarters and pushing more people out into field posts around the world. The CIA declined to comment.
“’The view from the Trump team is the intelligence world has become completely politicized,’ said the individual, who is close to the Trump transition. ‘They all need to be slimmed down. The focus will be on restructuring the agencies and how they interact.’”
That the CIA, in particular, has become a thoroughly politicized cadre of desk jockeys whose intelligence-gathering abilities have seriously atrophied is borne out by the remarks of one “Ishmael Jones,” a former CIA officer writing under a pseudonym: he is the author of The Human Element: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture. Jones writes:
“CIA intelligence reporting stating that the Russian government hacked the presidential election in order to elect Donald Trump is false. It is merely a political attack against Donald Trump with the goal of delegitimizing his presidency.
“The depth and quality of the CIA reporting is too good to be true. A December 16 NBC report states, for example: ‘Putin personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used.’ … Such a conclusion would require access to Putin’s inner circle and knowledge of Putin’s plans and intentions. Any spy that close to Putin would be one of the best intelligence sources of all time.
“If such a source existed, he doesn’t exist any more. The leaked reporting would have put him in grave danger, and he would already have been imprisoned or executed.”
What Jones has to say about the culture of the CIA – its politics – tells us why we are seeing this remarkable public spat between an incoming President and the intelligence community he will (ostensibly) command:
“The reporting instead reflects the political opinions and agendas of bureaucrats. CIA bureaucrats are a big blue voting machine with a long record of creating information harmful to Republican presidents. The danger to Mr. Trump is ratcheted up because the recent election influenced many people at the CIA to believe that Trump is the second coming of Hitler. And to stop Hitler, anything is ethical, even treason. CIA bureaucrats have chosen to attack Mr. Trump before he even takes office.”
These are the Praetorian Guards of a decadent and corrupt empire: comfortably ensconced in the swamp Trump has vowed to drain, they long ago lost touch with their alleged mission: gathering intelligence overseas. As Jones relates:
“The CIA is meant to spy upon foreign countries. The secrets we seek are located in foreign countries. Yet the bloated CIA bureaucracy exists almost entirely within the United States. CIA bureaucrats appear to find foreign service disagreeable. They enjoy their lifestyle and will fight with aggressive passivity to keep it that way. More than 90% of CIA employees spend their careers living and working entirely within the United States….
“The incoming CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, will be astonished by how many of his senior leaders have not had an overseas assignment in decades. Brief junkets and TDY’s to foreign countries do not count. CIA boss John Brennan’s 40-plus years of CIA service have occurred almost entirely within the Headquarters building….
“Today, we have more employees working in encouraging diversity, and as of recently, more transgender employees, than we do case officers operating under cover in Russia, China, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, and North Korea combined.”
As usual with these hypocrites, in claiming that Russia “interfered” with the election, they are merely projecting their own sins on to Vladimir Putin. The entire agency, as presently constituted, represents a threat to the Republic. Forget “reform” of the CIA: what’s needed is a thoroughgoing top-to-bottom purge.
President Trump must not back down from his reported plans to do just that. The alternative is having to battle these parasites for the next four years as they work to undermine his agenda in alliance with the Democrats and the hawkish wing of the GOP.
Let the purges begin!
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.