Since the beginning, I have been concerned that much of what we are seeing with the special prosecutor and numerous investigations might reflect the manipulation of a systemically corrupted or might possibly simply be the outcome of incompetent institutions, particularly the IRS, the FBI, the DOJ, the CIA and possibly some of the other intelligence agencies. This, to me is the truly concerning issue.
We know that the IRS was coopted and used for partisan political purposes. We can argue about whether it was a centrally planned or just an emergent corruption, and if planned, who was responsible, but we know it happened.
Likewise, despite all the protocols to secure the rights of citizens, we now know that there has been a pattern of poorly, possibly intentionally deceptive, applications for FISA warrants that appears to have been politically motivated. Again, we can argue about whether it was a centrally planned or just an emergent corruption, and if planned, who was responsible, but we know it happened.
Similarly, despite all the protocols to secure the privacy rights of citizens, we have now seen that there was rampant unmasking of FISA target names by unauthorized personnel. Again, we can argue about whether it was a centrally planned or just an emergent corruption, and if planned, who was responsible, but we know it happened.
Despite a well earned eight-year reputation for extremely tight communication control and suppression of leaks, we now know that there was massive illegal leaking of documents by individuals and institutions, apparently for partisan purposes, in the run up to the election. Again, we can argue about whether it was a centrally planned or just an emergent corruption, and if planned, who was responsible, but we know it happened.
We know that the past Administration spied on Congress as far back as 2012-2014 and we know that the senior leadership of the intelligence agencies lied to Congress. Again, we can argue about whether it was a centrally planned effort by the Administration or just an emergent corruption, and if planned, who was responsible, but we know it happened.
Now, despite all the stonewalling and redactions, etc., we are beginning to see a trickle turning into a flood of individuals being fired, demoted, reassigned and resigning from the DOJ and FBI, apparently as a consequence of intelligence abuses.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, something is rotten in the condition of our federal institutions. Hard to tell what the pattern is, corruption or incompetence. It is hard to tell whether it is orchestrated or coincidental. It was hard to tell if it was even real, though now it is becoming clearer that the issues are real.
None-the-less, it is hard to be certain about anything. The mainstream media are not simply biased, but are actually involved to some degree in some of these illicit activities, particularly facilitating leaked information which is politically convenient though known to be inaccurate. The fringe media (left and right) are interesting sources of speculation and glimmers of evidence but usually wildly over-interpret the information they have.
While the accumulating evidence makes me gravely concerned, there is still insufficient clarity to generate a real conviction. Wait and see.
But then this came along. Russiagate or Intelgate? by Stephen F. Cohen in The Nation. The Nation is part of the establishment press and solidly a respectable member of the leftwing/progressive press. While ideological, they are usually reasonably sober. They are not a Breitbart of the left.
Seeing something like Russiagate or Intelgate? by Stephen F. Cohen in The Nation gets my attention. And Stephen F. Cohen is not some fly-by-night ringer, he is a professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University and a contributing editor of The Nation.
Nonetheless, the “Republican memo,” as it has become known while we await its Democratic counterpart, indicates that some kind of operation against presidential candidate and then President Trump, an “investigation,” has been under way among top officials of US intelligence agencies for a long time. The memo focuses on questionable methods used by Obama’s FBI and Justice Department to obtain a warrant permitting them to surveil Carter Page, a peripheral and short-tenured Trump foreign-policy adviser, and the role played in this by the anti-Trump “dossier” complied by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer whose career specialization was Russia. But the memo’s implications are even larger.To discover that an extremely respectable and knowledgeable individual with a markedly dissimilar worldview is arriving at the same conclusions that I could only tentatively hold is alarming.
Listening almost daily to the legion of former US intel officers condemn Russiagate skeptics ever more loudly and persistently in the media, we may wonder if they are increasingly fearful it will become known that Russiagate was mostly Intelgate. For that we will need a new bipartisan Senate Church Committee of the 1970s, which investigated and exposed misdeeds by US intelligence agencies and which led to important reforms that are no longer the preventive measures against abuses of power they were intended to be. (Ideally, everyone involved would be granted amnesty for recent misdeeds, ending all talk of “jail time,” on the condition they now testify truthfully.) But such an inclusive investigation of Intelgate would require the support of Democratic members of Congress, which no longer seems possible.
Its not definitive by a country mile but what I have been nervously concerned about has taken on greater substance than before. Hopefully we are both wrong. If it is correct that the intelligence agencies have been corrupted and that they have been in collusion with the former administration, that would be a grave tragedy and threat to our republic. I hope it is not true but if it is, I hope that Congress can and does exercise its responsibilities to fix the processes and restore integrity to the system.