The Intelligence Community versus Donald Trump

The continuing campaign to discredit President-Elect Trump is increasing in intensity.  It is based on allegations that the Russians interfered in the U.S. election.  It is suggested that Hillary Clinton would have won the election if the Russians had not interfered.  The establishment media echo accounts by the administration's anonymous sources frequently neglecting to include the word "alleged."  In spite of their damaged credibility, they have demonstrated that they can still be influential.  In addition to anonymous sources, the media are relying on academics and retired intelligence personnel.

The New York Times has reported, "The assessment by American intelligence agencies that the Russian government stole and leaked Clinton campaign emails has been accepted across the political spectrum, with the notable exception of Mr. Trump."  Apparently, the Times searched for people who supported Trump, but they were unable to locate them.  Trump's critics are everywhere.

Critics of the president-elect have charged him with everything but being a KGB agent.  Former acting CIA director Michael Morell claims that Vladimir Putin has "cleverly recruited Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation."  Michael V. Hayden, former director of the NSA and CIA, says he prefers the term polezni durak.  "That's the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited."  Senator Harry Reid wrote to FBI director James Comey, "It has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government – a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity."  The New York Post quotes a CIA official: "It's pretty horrifying to me that he's siding with Assange over the intelligence agencies."

Academics have weighed in.  Joshua Rovner of Southern Methodist University declared, "By ignoring intelligence, Trump risks policy tunnel vision."  Rovner is an "expert" and the John Goodwin Tower distinguished chair of international politics and national security, so he must know what he is talking about.  CNN contributor and former CIA official Bob Baer, another "expert," claimed, "Assange going on about a 14-year-old being able to hack Podesta is nonsense."  Of course, Assange was exaggerating, which made his claim "nonsense."  He should have said "15-year-old."  John McAfee has pointed out that the Chinese stole every record that the FBI had, and in February, "a 15 year old boy hacked the FBI and published 30 thousand records including undercover agents of every agent within the FBI organization."  The teenage hacking group "Cracka with Attitude" has also hacked into the email accounts of CIA director John Brennan and director of national intelligence James Clapper. 

On October 7, 2016, the director of national intelligence issued a joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on election security.  In it, they claimed that the hacked e-mails, "are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts."  They added, "[W]e are not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government."  This was enough for Rep. Elijah Cummings to claim, "Experts agree that there is overwhelming evidence that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election."  California Rep. Eric Swalwell claimed that Trump's denials are ridiculous.  "He [Trump] is denying that the sun sets in the West." 

Senator John McCain called Russia's hacking "an unprecedented attack on our democracy" and suggested that it would be an act of war had Moscow's action's affected the results of the election. 

People who disagree with the establishment narrative are unpatriotic.  When Tucker Carlson asked Rep. Adam Schiff for evidence to support his allegation that Putin ordered the hacking of Podesta's emails, Schiff's response was that Carlson was carrying water for Vladimir Putin and was an "apologist for the Kremlin."  Senator Claire McCaskill declared, "The notion that the soon elected leader of this country would put Julian Assange on a pedestal compared to the men and women of the intelligence community ... I think it should bring about a hue and cry."  Senator Richard Blumenthal added, "I want to explore a little bit why these very demeaning and dismissive comments about our intelligent community are so dangerous."

Trump is having trouble with the leadership of the intelligence community.  He may have wide support among the rank and file.  The leadership of the intelligence community has been politicized.  Information is frequently distorted.  Fifty intel analysts have made a formal complaint about their reports on ISIS being altered.  Rep. Peter King claimed that CIA director John Brennan was orchestrating a "hit job."

He stated, "We have John Brennan – supposedly John Brennan – leaking to The Washington Post, to a biased newspaper like The New York Times, findings and conclusions that he's not telling the intelligence committee[.]"  The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, may have committed perjury and definitely misled Congress in his testimony in 2013 on NSA data collection.

All modern governments collect information on other governments, allied and enemy.  Ordinarily, they do not divulge what they know, because they do not want to jeopardize their sources.  It is no secret that the United States has used information it has gained to influence events in other countries.  There is no question that Russia "hacked" various U.S. databases.  The question is, did they use this information to influence the U.S. election?  U.S. intelligence cannot answer that question convincingly.  Only the Russians know for sure.  U.S. intelligence contends that the Russians did not attempt to attack U.S. the voter registration database.  However, attacks may have taken place.  Georgia's Secretary of State Brian Kemp claimed that local authorities had tracked down the origin of a hacker attack on his voter registration database after the election.  "The attack was traced to an IP address of the Department of Homeland Security."  WSB-TV in Atlanta reported that "two more states, West Virginia and Kentucky, confirmed that the same IP address accessed their election system."

The establishment narrative is that Trump is a tool of Putin, and how can this tool of the Russians be sworn in while tensions with Russia are increasing at such a rapid rate?  But the Russians are being used as a tool to attack Trump.  His critics will oppose him on every issue.  Some of his harshest critics are within his own party.  Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham would have been more comfortable working with a President Hillary Clinton than with Donald Trump.

John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy, Algora Publishing, 2013.