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Trump versus the Intelligence Community

Trump versus the Intelligence Community

By Dennis Loo (2/24/17)

Keith Olbermann in his February 22, 2017 broadcast of his show “The Resistance” takes what we know from the public record about the intelligence community (IC) and its relationship with Trump and goes on to infer some conclusions based upon that. To summarize his argument in its briefest form: the IC is slowly killing the Trump presidency but Trump is too stupid to see the writing on the wall.

For his part, Trump and his camp do realize that they have a difficult - to say the least - relationship to the IC and are trying to reduce the IC’s significance, including by reducing its numbers and its role. In a New York Times’ February 17, 2017 article, for example, some of the back-and-forth is detailed and Rep. King, a reliable ally of the more reactionary elements in power, is quoted:

“Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, said in a recent interview that some officials in the intelligence community were trustworthy but ‘not all.’ ‘People there need to be rooted out,’ Mr. King said.” Sounds like McCarthyism, doesn’t it?

Or, for further Trump plans about the IC, see this WSJ piece.

What is at the center of this dispute is that the IC is looking into the Russia and Trump ties and communications, which Trump desperately is trying to bury because, to put this simply, it will end his presidency. When was that the last time all the IC - CIA, FBI, NIA, et al amounting to seventeen agencies - agreed unanimously? You can't recall the last time because there wasn't a last time. Their agreement on Putin trying to interfere with the US elections is the first time they all seventeen agreed. What's important to note here is that they all despite their normal posture of bureaucratic turf fights, have a common enemy and I don't mean Putin mainly.

Before going into the particulars of the Trump-IC relationship, allow me to set the stage a little in terms of the context overall this conflict is occurring within.

As I previously pointed out:

“Now it is true that Trump commands an apparatus of the empire, but it also true that he has already in four short weeks or less, provoked resistance from crucial elements: the mainstream media (with the exception of Fox), the intelligence community, most of the federal bureaucracy (such as the State Department) and civil servants who serve under Democrats and Republicans alike, more than half the country at the grassroots, Western European allies, and allies elsewhere. That’s who he has made enemies or adversaries of.”

In other words, Trump has antagonized most of the world. He has done so in a short and concentrated period of time, with even worse yet to come, as bad as the past has been. He has picked a fight with major institutional interests with significant powers in their own right, let alone most of the rest of the population. The fact that he still has the support of his loyalists, who can't think or evaluate, most of who will stay with him till the bitter end, does not fundamentally matter. The reason why blind loyalists do not matter fundamentally is because, to put this brutally, they may be significant in numbers, but they are not in a position basically to lead others. What Trump has in mind and has announced the rollout of is the dismantling of major institutions like the mainstream media and the IC as well as the attack on due process and the Constitution itself such as the separation of powers, the freedom of press and assembly, and innocence until proven guilty. Trump, his cabal, and his Trumpists do not understand or value these things and would be just as happy to be a monarchy or an open dictatorship with unrestricted powers for the executive branch. It's a testimonial to the lack of civics education in school and as educators, the failure to teach millions how to reason. Trumpists' credulity is truly amazing. 

The IC is already tailoring what they give to the president, seeing as how he has no respect for them and keeping secrets secret (see Yemen and especially the Mar-a-Lago restaurant when the North Korean missile test took place). For example, in his speech to the CIA in front of the wall of their martyrs, he brought a group of his own supporters to clap for him, while senior CIA people stood to the side with a grim looks on their faces. Trump has made no real secret of his simplicity of mind (e.g., his desire for only one page documents made up of bullet points only), his attitude towards the PDB (Presidential Daily Bulletin) - he doesn't want to see it everyday, or his tweet that this IC was like Nazi Germany.

Trump yelled reportedy at Pompeo, his pick to head the CIA, because Trump is getting edited versions of intelligence, but he has only himself to blame for that. As you may know from reading other work of mine, I am no fan of the CIA etc., but I do know that they try to get it right and that they're professionals, sometimes losing their lives for what they do. Trump showers them instead with contempt. He preens in front of the wall of those who gave their lives for the CIA and nation and talks about what a good speech he gave, tone deaf to what they really think of him.

Ned Price, who was the CIA representative to the NSC, and who served for eleven years, resigned his post recently in protest. At last count, over 900 people from the State Department signed a petition to protest Trump’s stand on immigration. In response to his executive order that all departments stop talking to anyone such as the public they serve, some of the US Parks Service rebelled and tweeted anyway their defiance. You know you're in trouble, when the US Parks Service acts against you!

What Olbermann points out is that the noose is slowly tightening against Trump by the IC. They are escalating their campaign slowly but surely against Trump. They do not want to reveal more than they need to otherwise they could let some secrets of their working procedures and sources be revealed unnecessarily. But they will not stop until Trump is gone.

This infighting at the top provides an opening for popular forces to seize the initiative and play a significant role in the outcome of this fight. 

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