If the U.S. were a foreign country, I’d be wondering how long before Donald Trump is ousted from power. The normally air-tight secrecy of the Central Intelligence Agency appears to have sprouted a faucet that drips allegations against the incoming president, leading Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald to describe the CIA and intelligence community’s “open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect.” Foreign targets of the CIA don’t tend to last long in office. Ask Iran. Ask Guatemala. Ask Chile.
You’ve no doubt heard some of the allegations, which range from rumors of video of Trump getting kinky in Moscow hotel rooms to tales of Trump’s collusion with the Putin regime in Russia. The leaks contribute to a hardening narrative of Putin and Trump in conspiracy, corroborating revelations of almost-certain hacking by Russian operatives last summer to weaken the Clinton campaign against Trump.
It soon became conventional wisdom among many that the allegations were fabricated, and everyone was merry and we joked about how silly it was that the heads of the CIA and the NSA, along with the Director of National Intelligence, who sits above those agency chiefs, were peddling such total falsehoods. And, LOL, the bumble bunch even clumsily let the most salacious and treasonous allegations spill out over the entire internet.
But if you, like me and so many others, came so quickly to regard allegations of Trump’s “perverted sexual acts” in a Moscow hotel while being darkly “cultivated” by the Kremlin as laughably erroneous, why were they not summarily regarded as such by likely scores of intelligence officers with decades of experience? Why did they take such absurd allegations, which we all claim to have almost immediately recognized as bunk, to President Obama and President-elect Trump and then, it appears, let them be leaked to the public?
What initially might feel like relief—that the incoming president isn’t a carefully cultivated Trojan horse of Putin’s and can’t be blackmailed with video of him wilding out with Russian prostitutes—doesn’t feel like relief when you realize that the reason we’re hearing such unbelievable claims is because the CIA effectively decided we should. Dubious intelligence that should’ve been quashed if it couldn’t be properly vetted ended up spread everywhere to weaken a president they clearly don’t like. Listen, I hate and fear Trump too, but I’d rather have a duly elected president than a subversion of democracy by unelected deep-state spooks.