The CIA Between Trump and Putin

The CIA Between Trump and Putin

putin-trump

The US Electoral College voted on December 19 according to rules set up two centuries ago and Donald Trump is now officially the president-elect of the United States. This puts an end to the ludicrous hopes of the American Left that it could somehow influence the 538 electors to nullify Trump’s victory and elect Hillary Clinton instead.

 

What’s left to clear is the unusual and highly atypical involvement of the CIA in the post-election politics in publicizing an alleged agency finding that Russia had tried to influence the election in favor of president-elect Trump. This ostensible CIA finding that has never been published, then served as the basis of numerous comments by left-wing pundits and politicians, including former president Bill Clinton himself, to the effect that Trump’s victory was  somehow less than legitimate and appeals to the electors to overturn the result of the elections. This despite the fact that the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, who presides over all 17 American intelligence agencies, including the CIA, testified to Congress (House Intelligence Committee) on November 17, 2016 that the U.S. “do not have a good insight” into links between Wikileaks and e-mails hacked by Russian operatives.

 

There are two separate issues here that need to be examined. To begin with, Vladimir Putin, is without a question a fascistoid thug who hates the West and especially the United States as its premier power and could be expected to do anything in his power  to damage and destabilize it. To that extent, we should have expected him, as well as the Soviet thugs that preceded him, to try to intervene in the US elections as a matter of course.  Indeed, the entire Soviet propaganda and disinformation effort during the Cold War was designed to serve that end. So much so, that left-leaning Western politicians asked for Soviet assistance in defeating right-of-center opponents on at least two occasions.[1] Thus, it is completely believable that Putin instructed his cyber experts to hack, spy and try to sabotage the US election campaign. That’s a given, but there is not an iota of evidence that they actually succeeded in moving even a single vote from one candidate to another. If anything, the partial recounts that took place in Michigan and Wisconsin show that if there was voter fraud it was on behalf of Hillary Clinton and to the detriment of Trump. In the city of Detroit, which overwhelmingly voted for Clinton, the recount showed 782 more votes for the democrat than the number of voters before a judge stopped it.

 

Nonetheless, it was an alleged finding of the CIA that claimed Russian involvement on behalf of Trump, which given the absence of any proof, indicates serious politicization of the intelligence agency. So the question to be answered is why and how was this possible. And even a very brief look at the historical record shows clearly that politicization of intelligence analysis has clearly happened in the past and again under the Obama administration.

 

The most clear cut case appears to have been the regular underestimation of Soviet strategic armaments and intentions in the 1970s under the Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations. US policy at the time appeared to be based on the doctrine of mutual assured destruction (MAD) and the priority of détente in relations with the Soviets. This was the policy first formulated by Henry Kissinger in the Nixon Administration and continued after that. In essence, it argued that since there could be no winner in a nuclear war, both superpowers should try to forestall crises by pursuing arms control agreements and détente.

 

This policy came under sustained attack by conservative critics after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 proved that Moscow was willing to use force to prevent its Eastern European satellites from breaking free. Then in 1974, the prominent nuclear strategist, Albert Wohlstetter, openly accused the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence (DI) and its NIEs (national intelligence estimates) of systematically underestimating Soviet military strength and intentions and ‘mirror-imaging’ i.e. assuming that the Soviet intentions are identical to the American ones. Two years later, the then head of the CIA, George H.W. Bush, in a unprecedented move, set up a competitive analysis of the available classified information between CIA analysts and a team of its critics known as Team B led by Harvard University historian Richard Pipes. The results of the competition were eventually leaked and it appeared that Team B had won decisively. Some years later it became known that the Soviets had added three times as many strategic weapons to their arsenal in the 1974 to 1985 time period.

 

Whether as a result of Team B or the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in late 1979 or both, a new awareness that America had neglected its military carried the day and a sharp increase in defense spending began already in the last year of the Carter administration. This effort was continued and dramatically expanded by Ronald Reagan who came to power in January 1981. Most of the participants in Team B, including Pipes, served in the Reagan administration. Unlike his predecessors, Reagan, was a staunch anti-communist, as were most of his administration top officials, and believed that the Soviet Union was not only an “evil empire” but also an inherently weak one that could be defeated.  Reagan and his key assistant in that matter, CIA chief William Casey, set about to further weaken Moscow through a number of sustained political and economic warfare policies that eventually achieved its objectives.[2]

 

This brings us to the current presidential election controversy and the role played by the CIA in it. To begin with, it would be no exaggeration to say that President Obama was further to the left on the ideological spectrum than any other recent president. This was clearly reflected in his choice of officials in high positions including the CIA. This is clearly the case of CIA director, John Brennan, who became Obama’s advisor during his first presidential campaign. Brennan, who had voted for the presidential candidate of the American communist party in the 1976 elections, carried out many of the Obama policies in the intelligence community that were extremely controversial and certain to be reversed in Trump’s presidency. Perhaps the key one was Obama’s argument that radical Islam as such does not exist, but only individual terrorists. Moreover, as Brennan has argued, these terrorists have nothing to do with Islam. Or as he put it directly: “These individuals who are fanatics, extremists and terrorists – they are driven by this ideology that is not rooted in Islam.” This rather absurd explanation of the nature of the terrorist threat then found an expression in the White House mantra that the West was facing and needed to counter not radical Islamic terrorism, but some kind of disembodied “violent extremism.” Try to explain this to terrorists who die shouting “Allahu akbar.” The result of this craven unwillingness to face reality was an administration edict not to use Islamic and terrorism in the same sentence.

 

There were, of course, many other individuals and policies that testify that the CIA had been seriously politicized in the Obama years. A key agency official, Michael Morell, who had been acting CIA director on two occasions under Obama (2011 and 2012 and 2013) publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton in August of 2016. Perhaps the most outrageous officially touted CIA finding recently was the theory advanced by the National Intelligence Officer (NIO) for the Middle East, that Iran had no intention to build nuclear weapons. This not only flew in the face of overwhelming evidence of Teheran’s plutonium enrichment efforts, but also negated the rationale of what Obama’s supporters consider his singular foreign policy achievement – the nuclear agreement with Iran. It is to be hoped that under president-elect Trump these policies and individuals are behind us.

 


[1] In the first documented instance, oil tycoon and Soviet useful idiot par excellence, Armand Hammer, appealed to the Soviets on behalf of President Jimmy Carter to ease Jewish immigration and thus help Carter in his presidential campaign against Ronald Reagan in 1980. The second case has to do with Reagan’s campaign for reelection in 1984, when Senator Ted Kennedy appealed to the Soviets for help, according to a memo written by then-KGB boss, Viktor Chebrikov, to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov.

 

[2] These policies are discussed in great detail in Peter Schweizer, “Victory,” The Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, 1994

 

By Alex Alexiev

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