Photo by Toxic5
We learn that a preliminary CIA report
before the election indicated concerns of Russian involvement in the
hacking of DNC email accounts, a hack which produced emails
Hillary Clinton and members of
Soon after the Post story was published,
the New York Times produced its own unnamed CIA source
claiming that Russian hackers had also hacked the Trump campaign's
email servers, but that the Russians chose to not leak these files
because Russians backed Trump in the election.
There has been an eruption of hopes that the CIA had found the desired talisman to wake us all from the nightmare of the coming Trump years.
Suddenly, many on the American left now embrace notions of a CIA led coup against a rogue President-elect; with little discussion of the CIA's long history of interfering in elections, covertly undermining candidates not of their liking.
Now we have US liberals cheering for a
possible CIA coup here at home.
While we know nothing about the truth of
these reports, we know a lot about the messenger delivering this
news, and what we know should give us pause before accepting news of
a Russian electoral coup here at home.
Many on the American left misunderstand what the CIA is and isn't.
It isn't some sort of right wing agency, it is an agency filled with bright people with beliefs across the mainstream political spectrum - many of the CIA's anti-democratic coups have occurred under Democratic presidents, carried out by liberal CIA operatives.
But most significantly the CIA is part
the deep state...
It doesn't like instability and craze on the home-front, and as an Intelligence agency many of its employees naturally are worried about a coming president who relishes being seen as ignoring intelligence briefings and behaving erratically.
While Trump has certainly shown disturbing signs of being unstable, some of the CIA's specific worries are no doubt misplaced.
I think we can assume that once installed as president, Mr. Trump will ask the CIA to produce the sort of intelligence findings he seeks, and if the history of the Agency is any guide, it will produce such reports to suit their new master.
Or who knows, the tilts of President
Trump's announced cabinet may well favor a decline of the power of
the Central Intelligence Agency, with a rise in the Executive's
reliance on the Defense Intelligence Agency, whose rapid rise in
covert activities raises this possibility.
This finding was the punchline of the Pike Commission's report (the Senate's Church Committee, mistakenly concluding the agency was a rogue elephant) back in 1976, and has remained true from September 18, 1947 until today.
If you are new to the idea of fake
news (because you somehow missed
Judith Miller's years of war
mongering at the New York Times), then you probably need to
get up to speed on the long
history of the CIA's role in cooking intelligence reports
to align with presidential policy.
But cherry picking anonymous leaks about a rumored CIA report supposedly claiming to have proof of a Russian hack to call for Trump's electoral votes to not be counted is a dangerous stance.
It betrays a fundamental distrust of democracy, and places a dangerous amount of faith in letting the CIA determine electoral outcomes.
If history teaches us anything about the
CIA, it is that its analysis cannot be trusted when they are the
sole possessors of intelligence, especially when this analysis
aligns with the desires of the President it serves.
I've read Thomas Rid's excellent Esquire piece, laying out arguments for the Russian hack, much of what he writes makes a good case for the Russian job.
But as one who has worked on untangling
some historical mysteries of the CIA, untangling the partial threads
of clues remaining from the hack raises inevitable questions about
which of these are accidentally left behind and which are planted;
questions which rapidly lead to a familiar wilderness of mirrors
which collapses into more questions than certainties.
McConnell's silence is disturbing as he and his family appear as recipients of an apparent political favor.
A question with increased significance after the FBI director tried to take down Clinton.
We don't know why President Obama remained silent on this, but we can speculate that the CIA report he saw at the time presented all possibilities, including the possibility that the hack was carried out by a small cell of independent hackers, or other non-Russian actors.
After the fact, it becomes convenient to blame Putin for Clinton's many shortcomings as a candidate.
Maybe Russia leaked the documents, maybe they didn't, but we know who would have done this in a Russian election - because they've helped try and throw plenty of foreign elections to elect right wing goons:
We do know that Obama has to be thinking about what remains of a crushed Democratic Party, and this may have influenced the timing of Friday's CIA leak.
Or maybe there really is good CIA evidence of Russian involvement; we just don't know. What we do know is that the CIA has a sordid history of being an unreliable source in these politically seeped issues.
There obviously are some clues relating to the hack, and I would assume that the NSA is the source of the best clues, but given the large questions surrounding a CIA investigation, we'd be much better off having staff researchers at Government Accounting Office sifting through the evidence and extant reports.
Letting the CIA go further with any of this creates real problems of trust. We need to see the CIA's report.
But we also need to see the CIA's Red Team report that uses the same data as the main report, but argues against Russians as the hackers destined to undermine the Clinton campaign; but I doubt this minority report will see the light of day under Obama, but it may well be leaked under Trump.
That's how the intelligence game is
The CIA's own history of electoral
shenanigans makes them an untrustworthy character in this drama.
Though if the key hacking evidence is
held by the NSA, they will be the intelligence agency holding all
the Trump cards...