I’m sure it’s been said before that US Intelligence is an oxymoron. They have somewhere around 20 intelligence agencies for a start (including the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the armed forces), with conflicting jurisdictions, and with rivalries and a lack of systems that prevents comprehensive consolidation of intelligence.
US intelligence agencies have long clashed with their democracy, notably in the Nixon era. Recently Director James Comey inserted the FBI into the presidential election, quite possibly swinging the result.
There have been controversial claims by multiple intelligence agencies that Russia interfered with the presidential election, and that Donald trump’s campaign team had ongoing contact with Russian interests.
And now that Trump is president things seem to be getting worse, with ongoing leaks from intelligence agencies that conflict with and and undermine the presidency.
There are some claims that intelligence agencies won’t tell Trump things for fear of their methods being passed on to Russia.
Salon covers much of this in Trump vs. the Deep State: This death match of American political power will forever change history -President Trump escalates his battle with the U.S security apparatus.
The firing of Gen. Michael Flynn has popularized the concept of the “Deep State” across the political spectrum.
Breitbart’s Joel Pollak attacks the disloyal “Deep State #Resistance” to President Trump, while conservative pundit Bill Kristol defends it.
“Obviously [I] strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics,” Kristol tweeted Tuesday. “But if it comes to it, [I] prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”
And the conflict is deepening. The New York Times reported Thursday that Trump wants to bring in Wall Street billionaire Stephen Feinberg “to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies.”
The idea is reportedly provoking “fierce resistance” from intelligence officials who fear it “could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview.”
They describe ‘Deep State’:
The Deep State is shorthand for the nexus of secretive intelligence agencies whose leaders and policies are not much affected by changes in the White House or the Congress. While definitions vary, the Deep State includes the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the armed forces.
The leaders of these agencies are generally disturbed by Trump’s cavalier treatment of their intelligence findings and particularly worried about contacts between Trump’s entourage and Russian intelligence officials.
There are known facts plus many claims and accusations that are at least partially unsubstantiated.
As Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire noted, the undisputed facts are accumulating:
- Multiple U.S. intelligence services believe that Russian operatives, at Putin’s directions, tried to help Trump get elected. The FBI is investigating contacts between Russian officials and at least three people connected to Trump’s presidential campaign: Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone.
- There were “continuous” contacts between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian intelligence officials. At least some of the claims made in a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence official have been confirmed, though none of the more salacious details.
- Trump has had many financial dealings with Russian oligarchs, as shown in an investigation by the American Interest.
As a result, the intelligence agencies are withholding sources and methods from the president out of fear they will leak to foreign powers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Senior officials are also leaking the results of the ongoing investigation into Trump to reporters at The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
The leaking of classified information, which Trump welcomed during the 2016 campaign, is indeed a felonious violation of the law, although it has been standard procedure for Washington power players since the passage of the National Security Act in 1947.
It is a serious threat to US democracy, and a serious threat to Trump’s presidency:
Vanity Fair calls the crisis of Trump’s presidency Watergate 2.0. The historical analogy is apt because the Watergate scandal that engulfed President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s was also a struggle between the White House and the intelligence agencies. But today’s crisis is more accurately described as Trump vs. the Deep State.
It is the death match of American political power and it will determine the fate of Trump’s troubled presidency.
It could be said that Trump is a serious threat to his presidency and to the US, but his clash with ‘Deep State’ is particularly ugly, and is likely to make more of a mess of US democracy.
More on ‘Deep State’: