By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) By early January 2017, the first indications that then-President-elect Donald Trump was being targeted by the Deep State became apparent with initial reports detailing the counterintelligence operation known as “Crossfire Hurricane.”
The purpose behind the counterintelligence op into the 2016 Trump campaign, we were told, was that the FBI and various intelligence agencies ‘had reason to believe’ that officials within the president-elect’s inner circle, if not the president-elect himself, had “colluded with Russia” to “steal the election” from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
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The rest is history: There was never any ‘collusion’ because the entire narrative was a fabrication…of the Deep State and its intelligence-media complex.
Early on, readers may recall, the president-elect pushed back against initial reports that he was a Manchurian candidate and members of his campaign were Moscow’s stoolies. In particular, he cast a lot of doubt on the intelligence community’s ‘conclusion’ “that Russia was in all likelihood involved in a hacking plot aimed at interfering in the election,” the Washington Examiner reported Jan. 3, 2017.
As well he should have; recall, as well, that the president-elect was briefed about the operation mounted against him by then-NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers in December 2016. Rogers secreted away to NYC to inform the incoming president of the plot.
But something odd happened in early January that sent off alarm bells among seasoned deep state analysts that should have gotten a lot more attention than it did.
Shortly after President-elect Trump began pushing back against the purposefully timed and placed ‘stories’ about Russia, newly-named Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said this:
Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community â€” they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So, even for a practical supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.
Why would Schumer say something like that?
Isn’t the president in charge of intelligence? Don’t the intelligence agencies perform counterintelligence operationsÂ specifically for the president? The answers are ‘yes’ and ‘yes.’ But apparently not a president named Trump.
Three years, a number of soft coup attempts, and an impeachment trial later, Trump finally appears set to exert his rightful place atop the intelligence community, and by all indications, the Deep State puppet masters who have been free from Executive Branch and congressional oversight for decades are not having it.
And they’ve turned to one of their trusted media partners, POLITICO, to ‘publicize’ their pushback.
On Sunday, the news site reported that the IC has never been a fan of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, created after the intel failures that led to the 9/11 attacks as a sort of lord-and-master position overseeing all 17 agencies.
The ODNI has evolved since into a largely political and bureaucratic position; the various intel agencies have come to make peace with the office itself because thus far the office-holders have been deferential to the agencies, pretty much allowing them to operate at-will and by their own set of rules, as they have since the beginning of the Cold War.
Obama’s DNI, James Clapper, was a typical figurehead. A known serial liar who should have been prosecuted for telling fibs to Congress, Clapper was obviously ‘in the club’ and thus, protected, because he got away scot free. He also had a huge hand in Spygate, of course, as a co-conspirator at the very least.
Previous DNI’s have been equally ‘dutiful’ and deferential to the deep state. But Trump has signaled he’s not playing the intel community’s games anymore after being victimized by it since before he was inaugurated, with the nomination of Rep. John Radcliffe, an intel ‘greenhorn’ who’s a former federal prosecutor and a staunch ally of a president who surely needs one in the DNI position.
And it’s got people on the inside rattled, clearly.
“The CIA never welcomed its overlords in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. But now, the agency confronts its worst nightmare,”Â POLITICOÂ begins, adding:
…[W[ithÂ a grip on the Presidentâ€™s Daily Brief, broad discretion over the agenciesâ€™ responsiveness to Congress, and responsibility for intelligence community whistleblowing and source protection, the DNIâ€™s authorities can easily veer into the political and revive the kind of friction that plagued its relationship with the intelligence community in its early days.
And Ratcliffe â€” an intel greenhorn with only one year of experience on the House Intelligence Committee and a resume that now includesÂ serving on Trumpâ€™s impeachment teamÂ â€” is the epitome of what intelligence officers â€œreflexivelyâ€ reject, said David Priess, a former CIA officer and daily intelligence briefer.
â€œAnyone who does not come with extensive intelligence experience is automatically and quickly viewed as a threat because of the risk of the politicization of intelligence,â€ Priess said.
Those concerns are particularly acute given the abrupt departure of Joseph Maguire, the acting director who was forced out of the job after his office briefed lawmakers on the intelligence communityâ€™s assessment of Russian interference in the 2020 election.
And then this gem:
If confirmed, Ratcliffe will not only have to allay public concerns about the politicization of intelligence during an election year, heâ€™ll also have to strike a delicate balance inside the administration between a demanding president seeking to rein in the so-called â€œdeep stateâ€ and intelligence agencies that have long resented and resisted any perceived overreach from ODNI.
That’s rich. One, if there is any ‘public concern’ about ‘politicization of intelligence’ it will have been planted by the deep state in various media outlets toÂ instillÂ the ‘concern,’ like a self-fulfilling prophecy. And two, Trump has indeed been victimized by the intelligence community as no president since JFK.
But there’s more. POLITICO also interviewed some former intel types who made some interesting observations about the agencies, the ODNI, and even Clapper himself:
â€œWhen ODNI was first created, some of its proponents harbored grand ambitions, believing that the DNI could forcefully herd the 17 cats that make up the modern Intelligence Community,â€ said David Kris, the former assistant attorney general for DOJâ€™s national security division and a founder of Culper Partners.
But Kris said the role had since evolved, with subsequent DNIs focusing more on day-to-day bureaucratic issues, inter-agency coordination, and, sometimes, providing support in political battles.
Translation: The intel agencies had operated independently ofÂ any real political oversight for decades and they didn’t want any after 9/11, despite their abject failure to detect and deter what became the worst terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil.
John McLaughlin, who was serving as acting CIA director when the ODNI was established, initially opposed the concept when it was being debated in 2003-2004.
But, he said in an interview, the office â€œwent through an evolution from 2004 through four directors,â€ reaching maximum effectiveness under James Clapper, who served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency before taking over as DNI in 2010.
â€œClapper figured out the secret,â€ McLaughlin said. â€œLet the agencies do their jobs and do only the things that the DNI alone is empowered (and authorized by the president) to do â€” mainly shaping the budget, coordinating tasking, briefing the president and Congress.â€
Yes, Clapper ‘figured it out,’ alright, as did Obama: They had the perfect unaccountable apparatus in place to try to take down or take out a president-elect none of them could stand or believed had ‘earned the right’ to be commander-in-chief and, thus, head of intelligence agencies he knew nothing about.
An intelligence “greenhorn,” if you will.
Right now, it doesn’t appear as though the Senate Republican majority will oppose Ratcliffe’s nomination. And there are probably a few senators, like Rand Paul, who understand that Trump needs a real ally at the ODNI post to prevent him from being victimized again by the intelligence community.
Or, they simply are lying in wait with guys like Schumer, ready to grab the popcorn and watch as both Ratcliffe and Trump go down in flames. Time will tell.
But obviously, the IC isn’t happy with Trump’s pick because they believe he’ll be the president’s eyes and ears, and that’s the last thing they want:
How a Ratcliffe-led ODNI will view its responsibilities, howeverâ€”and how Trump will empower the office as he seeks to tighten his grip on the intelligence communityâ€”is anyoneâ€™s guess.
The issue is particularly fraught given Russiaâ€™s continued interference in the presidential election, Trumpâ€™s reluctance to engage with his advisers on Russiaâ€™s malign activities, and his reported anger over Maguireâ€™s willingness to brief congressional Democrats on the ongoing meddling.
What vexes intelligence veterans most, Priess said, is the prospect that a partisan director like Ratcliffe might take an active role in managing the Presidentâ€™s Daily Brief instead of letting analysts do their job — substituting his personal opinions for the consensus view ofÂ the $70-plus billionÂ intelligence community.
Russian ‘meddling’ is a continuation of the 2016 narrative; Russia has tried to ‘meddle’ in our elections and our politics since the Cold War. Trump doesn’t “engage” because he doesn’t trust the National Security Council, which is where a series of leaks purposely taken out of context led to his “Ukrainegate” impeachment.
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Finally, the part about Ratcliffe ‘not trusting analysts’ is telling as well, for it reveals a concern that the intel operatives won’t simply get to spoon-feed false narratives to the president any longer, as a means of undermining him.
There is a rocky road ahead for Ratcliffe as well, especially if he becomes the Trump ally that the deep state fears he will be. James Clapper as Obama’s ally was different, you see, because Clapper let the intel community he came from do what it has always done — be on its own — while also taking part in the effort to dump Trump.Â Everyone was on the same page.
The sheet music is changing, however, under the current commander-in-chief.
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