February 21, 2020 · Counterintelligence Intelligence Politics

The Entirely Predictable Subversion of the US IC

I hear a lot of people saying that "the warning lights are blinking red" this week but the truth is that they were blinking, furiously, in late 2015 (and beyond question in 2016). The attacks on institutions, norms, and alliances have been systematic and if you think this is bad - it's just getting started.

Admiral McRaven gets right to the heart of the matter:

As Americans, we should be frightened — deeply afraid for the future of the nation. When good men and women can’t speak the truth, when facts are inconvenient, when integrity and character no longer matter, when presidential ego and self-preservation are more important than national security — then there is nothing left to stop the triumph of evil.

There's no reason to think that this will stop with Maquire and Hallman. It clearly won't:

The ouster of Mr. Hallman and exit of Mr. Maguire, who also oversaw the National Counterterrorism Center, allowed Mr. Grenell to install his own leadership team.

One of his first hires was Kashyap Patel, a senior National Security Council staff member and former key aide to Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Patel will have a mandate to “clean house,” CBS News reported, citing a person close to the matter.

Leadership changes always run a few layers deep but this has the aura of a Stalinst purge (perhaps appropriately given the beneficiary):

President Trump has instructed his White House to identify and force out officials across his administration who are not seen as sufficiently loyal, a post-impeachment escalation that administration officials say reflects a new phase of a campaign of retribution and restructuring ahead of the November election.

His followers are pushing for even more aggressive action:

“I think that the White House understands that it has the support of the insurgent conservative punditry in this fight, because we see what the fight is,” said Schlicter, whose recent columns on the subject have run under headlines like “Time for Trump to Get His Godfather On” and “Burn Down the DOJ and Start Over.”

Tom  Fitton, the president of the conservative activist group Judicial Watch, tweets several times a day about alleged “deep state corruption” at the Justice Department and last week described Stone’s sentencing recommendation as “Mueller holdover extortion.” Trump retweeted Fitton’s accusations of corruption at DOJ and the need to “clean house” there nearly a dozen times on Wednesday morning alone.

The language gets far more aggressive, violent even, in some corners of the internet.

Note that it is the decorated soldiers, experienced diplomats, true subject matter experts, skilled legal and intelligence professionals, and those working overtime to protect our nation from the Russian threat who aren't deemed "sufficiently loyal". These sorts of purges only happen in the worst places or in the run up to the worst periods of history. We have not yet reached the point of no return but each day we are presented with a new terrible omen.

But hey, at least we aren't alone in recognizing the danger - Lindsey Graham, Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney, and yes, even Richard Grenell all tried to warn us before they became $ufficiently loyal:

The tweets underscore a key irony  of the Trump era: Some of the president’s fiercest critics during the 2016 race have since transformed into his most passionate defenders, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who warned that Trump would be an “authoritarian president”; GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, who denounced Trump as “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” who would  destroy the Republican Party; and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who called Trump a “terrible human being” right before the 2016 election.

Grenell seems to have undergone a similar evolution.

“Trump is dangerous. Wake up. He’s reckless,” he replied on another occasion to a user who had written “vote Trump.” He urged his followers to read Trump’s interview with The Washington Post editorial board, in which Trump said, “I think NATO as a concept is good, but it is not as good as it was when it first evolved … I’m not even knocking it, I’m just saying I don’t think  it’s fair, we’re not treated fair.”

It has all the makings of a perfect absurdist tragicomedy, but the only laughter you'll hear is from the Kremlin.


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