Donald Trump, Not the CIA, Is the Bad Guy Here

Steve M. makes a good point about Glenn Greenwald’s logic.

The intelligence agencies? Greenwald writes,

FOR MONTHS, the CIA, with unprecedented clarity, overtly threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and sought to defeat Donald Trump.

And that’s a sign that the Deep State is an unbridled force of pure evil? If we accept Greenwald’s premise, it means that the Deep State wasn’t even powerful enough to throw the election to the favorite.

Personally, I don’t agree that there was a lot of clarity about who the CIA preferred in the presidential race, although I readily admit that DCI Brennan is close to the president and probably had a strong preference for Clinton. But the disposition of the CIA as a whole isn’t really my concern here.

I think Steve makes an obvious observation when he notes that Trump’s victory showed that the “Deep State” isn’t as all-powerful as Greenwald would like us all to believe. I mean, assuming the Deep State had a preference for Clinton and tried to do anything at all, they obviously failed.

It’s worth considering the idea that they they really didn’t do anything to help Clinton, which is a statement all by itself. Neutrality is what we expect, and James Comey’s actions at the FBI that appeared to stall Clinton’s momentum at a critical time have outraged Democrats for exactly the reason that it lacked neutrality or balance. But electoral indifference and inaction by the intelligence arm of a state (whether an ostensibly representative state or not) isn’t something that’s common or that should be taken for granted.

If the CIA has some kind of cultural preference, that’s one thing. If they ran operations to help one candidate and hurt another, that’s supposed to be out of bounds. It seems to me that there’s more evidence of pro-Trump sentiment at the FBI (with it’s pro-law enforcement anti-Black Lives Matter culture) than there is of any kind of monolithic pro-Clinton support at the CIA. And the FBI actually, visibly, crippled Clinton’s campaign.

However these things may be, I don’t think the CIA would be wrong to have a preference for Clinton over Trump given Trump’s character and erratic personality and his potential to upend relationships with close allies. If they felt that way, I think it would be evidence of sanity and possibly even patriotism. That doesn’t mean they should put their fingers on the scale, and I’m not convinced they did.

Of course, Greenwald thinks the CIA is behind the most recent leaks related to golden showers but he has no evidence of that.

This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”

John McCain gave these files to the FBI months ago (who, of course, already had them). Every news agency in the world seems to have seen them. David Corn could have released them at any time. It doesn’t make sense to assume the CIA had control over whether these files would remain private.

It makes just as much sense to me that McCain would leak them to BuzzFeed (assuming BuzzFeed hadn’t been sitting on them for months, too) to try to stop the nomination of Tillerson at State. I hope you noticed Marco Rubio taking the lead on that yesterday, as the neocons try to rally to preserve sanctions on Russia.

Of course, the neocon angle here is perplexing to many on the left who long ago concluded that the safe course is to figure out what Bill Kristol or John McCain want and to then do the opposite.

That’s not a bad survival strategy, but it’s not foolproof.

In any case, the CIA wasn’t the enemy in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq and they’re not the enemy now. You’d be a fool to trust paid-liars without skepticism, but the other half of their job is to get the truth to our policymakers. We need them to focus on that second part of their job, because their new boss is ill-informed and crazy.

If you can’t understand the threat and identify the real villain here, you’ve lost the thread before the First Chapter is over.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.