Sunday, October 20, 2019

Wedge: Saving Our Republic From The Intel Community

Way back in 1994 Mark Riebling wrote a fascinating book about what he saw as the fatal flaw in US security--the rivalry and lack of coordination between the CIA and the FBI: 

Wedge: From Pearl Harbor to 9/11: How the Secret War between the FBI and CIA Has Endangered National Security

I can testify that the distrust was a very real thing before 9/11 and the GWOT. Those events, of course, appeared to vindicate Riebling's analysis. As a result we wound up with an "Intelligence Community" that was supposed to do away with those old rivalries and usher in a new era of productive cooperation.

Good idea? Maybe not so much. What we've wound up with instead of an Intelligence Community is more of an Intelligence Cabal, as witness the entire Russia Hoax. The IC, with its close coordination of law enforcement and foreign intelligence, has become something akin to a Praetorian Guard. While initially intended to empower the President by providing him with thoroughly vetted information and enabling swift reaction on the home front to foreign threats, the close coordination under the IC umbrella of the FBI and the CIA--with vastly increased funding, thanks to the GWOT--has instead transformed those two agencies into something like an independent power base that plays off the Executive and Legislative Branches against one another. As we see now with the ongoing Impeachment Theater, they are currently colluding with the House.

Trump appears to have come to an understanding of this problem and is struggling to find a solution. For example, he has floated the idea of drastically reducing in size the bloated ODNI. However, we all know how those reductions usually end up. Only a true restructuring can address the dynamics at play within and among the intelligence agencies. We need coordination, but not at the risk of having the Intelligence Establishment become kingmakers in domestic politics. In other words, rather than eliminating the "wedge" between the CIA and FBI that Riebling decried, maybe that wedge needs to be reinserted.

Enter Bill Barr and his Barr/Durham investigation. The NYT ran an article yesterday that appeared to be largely sourced through current and former FBI/DoJ personnel. The article describes, from that viewpoint, the current status of the Barr/Durham investigation. As I described it yesterday (cf. preceding link), Durham--closely coordinating with Barr--appears to be working his way up the ladder at the FBI, before shifting his attention to the CIA. In other words, he may well be planning to play one agency off against the other.

This makes sense. The FBI's only defense for its coup plotting against a POTUS is that it was misled by John Brennan's CIA--but that defense is unlikely to stand up to the type of close scrutiny that Barr/Durham will subject it to. Ultimately the best, but only partial, defense will be to seek a deal for cooperation against the CIA. Barr may well be open to such an approach (despite his own CIA background), since from an organizational standpoint he already has control over the FBI and is able to force reforms at that agency that will prevent a renewal of coup plotting in conjunction with the CIA.

How does Impeachment Theater figure into this? Impeachment Theater works in different directions, but it seems clear at this point that legislators, including Republicans, were involved in the coup plot. From this vantage point, Impeachment Theater could be--in part--a defense against an ascendant Barr whose lifelong determination to protect the Executive from Congress could lead him to target those legislators. McConnell's seeming openness to an impeachment trial could, from this standpoint, be an opening gambit to come to a more amicable settlement.

We shall see, but at least these are dynamics to keep in mind.

In the meantime, Larry C. Johnson has a long blog at Sic Semper Tyrannis that goes into some of the investigative aspects that the NYT article raised: FBI/DOJ Likely to Throw the CIA and Clapper Under the Bus. Johnson offers a number of shrewd observations. Here I'll excerpt the first part of Johnson's blog, but read it all. It offers backup to my own views. I will single out as particularly important Johnson's observations about the Flynn case. From my point of view, I think we're seeing cooperation between Flynn's legal team (led by the redoubtable Sidney Powell) and Barr/Durham--and the result is a sword at the throat of Team Mueller. I will warn, however, that I'll be surprised if the Horowitz report goes as far Johnson expects. The reason is simply that, as Barr himself has observed, the DoJ IG has strictly limited jurisdiction, which makes the kind of sweeping investigative results Johnson hopes to see unlikely at this point:

Law Enforcement versus the Intel Community. That's the battle we will likely see unleashed when the Horowitz report comes out next week. The New York Times came out Saturday with info clearly leaked from DOJ that can be summarized simply--the FBI was relying on the intel community (products from the CIA and NSA) under the leadership of Jim Clapper. If they relied on bad, unverified information it ain't their fault. They trusted the spies. 
"Unfounded conspiracy theories?" What a damn joke. The facts of a conspiracy to take out Donald Trump or cripple him are very clear. Robert Mueller and Jim Comey lied when they claimed that Joseph Mifsud, who tried to entrap George Papdopoulus in London, was a Russian agent. Nope. He worked for western intelligence. Unless Comey and DOJ have a document or documents from the CIA or NSA stating that Mifsud worked for the Russians, they have no where to hide. Plus, prosecutor John Durham now has Mifsud's blackberries. What do you think is the likelihood that Mifsud was in communication with FBI or CIA or MI6 personnel? Very likely. 

I will interject here, relative to a comment on Johnson's blog. It seems to me that it would have been the height of foolishness for Mifsud to have in any way compromised those two Blackberries. They are, in effect, his ultimate Get Out Of Jail Free cards. So I think Johnson's high expectations for those Blackberries is well placed.

Then there is Stefan Halper, who played a key role in a sophisticated counterintelligence operation that involved the FBI, the CIA British Intelligence and the media. The ultimate target was Donald Trump. Halper's part of the operation focused on using an innocent woman who had the misfortune of being born in Russia, Svetlana Lokhova, to destroy General Michael Flynn. Halper and Mifsud both were involved in targeting General Michael Flynn. Not a conspiracy? 
Halper's nefarious activities included manufacturing and publishing numerous false and defamatory statements. Halper, for example, falsely claimed that Svetlana Lokhova  was a “Russian spy” and a traitor to her country. He also circulated the lie that Lokhova had an affair with General Flynn on the orders of Russian intelligence. Not content to use the unwitting Svetlana as a weapon against General Flynn, Stefan Halper also acted with malice to destroy Svetlana Lokhova's  professional career and business by asserting that she was not a real academic and that her research was provided by Russian intelligence on the orders of Vladimir Putin. 
Thanks to Robert Mueller we have clear evidence of a conspiracy against Trump. Mueller's investigation of Trump "collusion" with Russia prior to the 2016 Presidential election focused on eight cases:
Proposed Trump Tower Project in Moscow—
George Papadopolous—
Carter Page—
Dimitri Simes—
Veselnetskya Meeting at Trump Tower (June 16, 2016)
Events at the Republican Convention
Post-Convention Contacts with Russian Ambassador Kislyak
Paul Manafort
One simple fact emerges--six of the eight cases or incidents of alleged Trump Campaign interaction with the Russians investigated by the Mueller team, the pitch to "collude" with the Russian Government or Putin originated with FBI informants, MI-6 assets or people paid by Fusion GPS, not Trump or his people. There is not a single instance where Donald Trump or any member of his campaign team initiated contact with the Russians for the purpose of gaining derogatory information on Hillary or obtaining support to boost the Trump campaign. Not one. 
Simply put, Trump and his campaign were the target of an elaborate, wide ranging covert action designed to entrap him and members of his team as an agent of Russia.


  1. The CIA has arguably been rouge since its OSS days under Donovan. SHAEF G-2 often complained that the OSS either didn't share intel with them or simply ignored requests for specific operations, unless it dovetailed with the OSS's agenda; and that they mounted ops without coordination, sometimes endangering other missions/assets.
    Along with getting virtually every analytical assignment wrong, and screwing the pooch regularly on hands on ops such as regime change, they have operated under the assumption they exist for their own purposes rather than as a tool of the Commander-in-Chief. One example among many is the fact that Eisenhower went to his grave convinced that the CIA had intentionally misused his tentative authorization for the U-2 mission in which Gary Powers was shot down; forcing him to either take responsibility for the flight, making him appear duplicitous and untrustworthy to Khrushchev, or announcing to the world that the President was not really in control of the U.S. intel/military/nuclear complex, either way destroying his initiative at de-escalating the Cold War through his Open Skies project (he chose the former, better to destroy his personal reputation than the diplomatic chaos the latter would have created).
    The CIA probably needs to go away, Langley razed and the earth salted, then something developed that might actually serve the Republic.
    Tom S.

  2. "rouge" as in pinko, or "rouge" as in rogue? Or both?

    Every bureaucratic organization exists for its own purposes--which is to enhance the careers of the top career people. The trick is for a president to harness them to productive activity in spite of that.

    At least that was the conclusion I came to.

    1. Yes, I'll blame Macedonian content farmers for subverting my autocorrect in the service of Putin! ;-)

      Hey, it works for Hillary.

      I think that the history of the CIA mitigates against it as an asset. If it had been merely a stopped clock, and right twice a day, then some of its arrogance and self-dealing might be overlooked. As it is it has been wrong/incompetent in most of its projects at great cost in treasure and blood. I can't describer precisely what might be ideal but the CIA has in no way earned its keep, in my opinion, much less confidence.
      Tom S.

  3. Johnson's blog, particulary about the Russian, Svetlana Lokhova, reminds me how ruthless these men are.

    I hope you're right and they do have a sword to Team Mueller's throat. I guess Mueller is still working on his "I'm a doddering old man who knew nothing" routine.

  4. The Johnson article is a good reminder what a broad and deep plot this is turning out to have been -- to bring down Trump. This veritable coup attempt.

    This was not some half-assed or on the fly or superficial takedown attempt.

    This plot required extensive planning, and personnel, and funds, and co-operation, and 'careful' execution. It ran for months, years really, and involved dozens, probably hundreds, of players, and must have cost millions of dollars. Maybe tens of millions. And it had to have been centrally directed and co-ordinated. This was no amateur hour. It was a 'professional' operation.

    A couple of people at the helm of this operation had to know the entire story...Hell, they had to have scripted and directed the entire was far too had too many moving parts not to have been carefully orchestrated.

    Consider: FISA warrants, OCONUS lures, unmaskings, foreign agents, 'small groups', how many foreign intelligence services, how many foreign governments, newly-discovered Blackberries, MI6, Orbis, Haklyut and Fusion connections, ham radios, Mother Jones and Yahoo News, and the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN and MSNBC, the Ukrainian government, the Australian ambassador, FBI investigations, FBI informants, 'Russian' informants, CIA warnings, Brennan, Comey and Clapper, and McCabe, Page and Strzok, the State Department, Sens. McCain and Harry Reid, Israeli money drops, campaign infiltrations, phony computer hacks and phony computer forensics, doctored 302s, a special counsel investigation, phony whistleblowers, collusion with congressional partisans, fake indictments, tarmac meetings, overlapping lawyers and law firms, impeachment operations, endless redactions, delays, classifications, and obfuscations, the list goes on and on.

    That's a lot of moving parts.

    So who ran this operation?

    1. Good question. Someone in the WH? Remember when Lisa Page said "the WH wants to know everything"?

  5. Honestly, and seriously, cut the IC and the DoS by at least 25%. Maybe 50%.

  6. Excellent work

    Very impressive


    1. Thanks, Imran. It's an important topic, IMO, but not often raised.