The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Trump’s Relationship with US Intelligence

Trump, as has been reported many times, does not attend most daily intelligence briefings. The CIA, FBI, and NSA have said that Russia tried to elect Trump through hacking, and Trump has fired back at them.

Liberals are wringing their hands about Trump’s unprofessionalism and disrespect for the intelligence agencies.

Some of this is just embarrassing: Given how intelligence agencies performed in the Iraq war, and their dubious and incompetent behavior in many other episodes, and given the historically violent, anti-democratic nature of the CIA overseas, and the FBI and NSA domestically, anyone who is even slightly left of center should be deeply suspicious of anything they do.

But there is a deeper issue, which speaks (again) directly to the inability of most non-Trump people to understand the Trump argument about the world.

The CIA says bad things about Trump, and Trump answers the same way that a hard left-winger would, and that anyone sane should: “Whatever.” Then he points out what a “heck of a job” they did in Iraq.

Daily intelligence briefings are one of the ways that intelligence agencies and the Deep State control presidents. Such briefings set the frame; they create the reality within which Presidents operate, frame the available options, and so on. Start the day with one almost every day, and you will be influenced to see the world the way they do.

And then you become Obama: Handmaiden to the same intelligence agencies you criticized while running your campaign.

Intelligence briefings are dubious activities. If Trump wants specific information, he can ask for it. If an issue is genuinely urgent, the head of the agency can push it personally, but taking those briefings every day is a poison pill, and I am highly skeptical of the notion that it leads to better decision-making.

Instead, it is almost certain to lead to status quo thinking, plus the perpetuation of those activities intelligence agencies most enjoy. (Say hello to Obama’s massive ramp up of drone assassinations, and to his huge crack down on whistleblowers.)

This the same as Trump not bothering to talk to State about his Taiwan call. Of course State is going to say, “Don’t do it,” they are wedded to “One China,” and they’ll also leak like a seive (as they and the CIA and FBI have already been doing).

Why even bother to talk to them about it? Oh, one can make arguments, but if you’re sure you want to change things, and you know they disagree, all talking to them does is give your enemies more opportunities to sandbag you.

There’s a lot that Trump wants to do that I don’t agree with, but putting the Deep State in their place isn’t one of those things. They serve at the President and Congress’s pleasure; they are not part of the Constitution, they do not have to be consulted, and, given their abysmal performance during the last few decades, it’s hard to see why any particular respect should be given to them.

This is the world model that Trump (inasmuch as he ascribes to a “world model”) and Bannon live in, Bannon especially. They do not grant that the people who have been running government are smarter or more competent than they are, they believe the reverse.

So, no, they don’t respect the CIA’s opinion. To them, the Deep State is a potential adversary who needs to be brought to heel.

More about bringing people to heel in a later post.

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Heaven on Earth: The Kindness Maxim


Trump and the Taming of the Oligarchs


  1. Bill Hicks

    I hate Trump, but I’m in total agreement with this post. He needs to go in an remove every top official in these agencies that he legally can, and make life so unpleasant for the rest that they quit.

    He should start with that nest of cocky Foreign Service officers on State’s Syria desk who publicly defied Obama last spring and advocated for direct intervention against Assad. No doubt the all thought Hillary was a shoo-in, because if they really felt that strongly they should have put their money where their big mouths were and resigned in protest.

    It’s time for these people to be taught that unprincipled undermining of a president over policy (as opposed to legitimate whistleblowing) should never be tolerated.

  2. Pelham

    And it’s not only a matter of the intelligence and diplomatic community not being particularly sharp.

    There’s the matter of apparently unstated policy aims, particularly those regarding China, in which our corporate and other elites saw, decades ago, a promising two-fer.

    1) They could encourage offshoring jobs to China as a way to help US manufacturing muddle along as other countries (notably Germany) invested in advanced manufacturing technology and worker training, thus clearing the way for

    2) the legalization of stock buybacks using company profits to artificially jack up stock prices to benefit shareholders and CEOs holding stock options.

    This is why we can be told that it’s not so much outsourcing and offshoring that’s eating into US manufacturing jobs as it is the advance of technology and robots, etc. Well, yes, but that’s only because US industry spent decades avoiding tech investment and instead taking advantage of cheap labor abroad when they could have been investing in technology AND the highly focused training that would keep the US manufacturing workforce viable and largely employed.

    That’s the case in Germany and a number of other countries — even though Germany itself now allows stock buybacks, which once were banned here and elsewhere as flagrant stock manipulation — which, of course, they are.

    All that said, I’m still puzzled as to the precise mix of stupidity and cupidity among our elites.

  3. Jay

    The CIA killed John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

  4. paul

    Didn’t the FBI call the CIA evidence of Russian involvement nonsense?

  5. gnokgnoh

    There’s a reason why he’s taking his own security force to the White House. I wonder how they’ll play with the Secret Service…

  6. Ian Welsh

    The FBI has since reversed itself, and agreed with the CIA.

  7. Hugh

    Bringing out of control agencies and departments to heel would be all fine and good if there was a coherent vision behind it, but with Trump it’s pretty hit and miss. He disses the intelligence community over the daily briefings but is he going to cut their budgets? We are currently spending as a guesstimate because nobody knows at least $70 billion a year on intelligence, and the only time they got anything right was the Cuban Missile Crisis 54 years ago, so not a stellar record.

    The same could be said about the Pentagon. Trump criticizes the F-35, but is he going to kill it or mount a campaign to? Meanwhile he was running on increasing the Pentagon budget even as he was going to reduce foreign involvements even as he was going to bomb the hell out of ISIS even as he was going to cut back on NATO even as he was going slobber love and money all over Israel. There is no coherence in any of this.

    And then of course, there’s the EPA which Trump wants to neuter to make America safe for polluters in the face of global climate disruption which naturally he doesn’t believe in. Again incoherence.

    But to return to the intelligence community, they may be piqued but Trump is setting himself up so that they can dump the blame for any future terrorist attack on American soil or against US interests abroad directly on to him: If only he had listened to us … blah, blah, blah.

    I think that’s something Trump hasn’t really grasped yet. His ability to dodge responsibility or lay it off on to others is going to be a lot more limited both because the Presidency is a different kind of office and his own take charge management style. Bush, by contrast, was able to parlay his incompetence and negligence in the run up to 9/11 into a second term because he and everyone else in government were playing the hoocoodanode game. But if Trump puts himself at odds with the intelligence community, it turns into a he shoodanode one.

  8. Hugh

    Also Pelham, I thought everyone knew that shipping jobs to China was necessary because only those tens of millions of peasants straight off the farms each year really were able to understand and deal with advanced technology and what says automation better than needing tens of millions of low skilled workers each year to run it. /s

  9. Duder

    Trump is setting himself up for interesting battles with the security state. I doubt much will come of it. But if he does what he says I still think we should consider a coup by the liberal establishment a possibility going forward even after the failure of the “Hamilton electors” to appear. More electors defected from Hillary than Trump. The ironies continue for the democrats.

  10. MojaveWolf

    Arguably relevant:

    At least according to the review (haven’t read the book yet): An insider’s take from a former top agency official that criticizes the CIA for basically abandoning real analysis in favor of daily memos for the president, and that depicts the agency as being willing to tell the president whatever they want to hear in order to gain access.

    The author apparently states this process started under Clinton, but I think it came to its full fruition under Bush, as I recall LOTS of past and then-present CIA agents speaking out, either publicly or anonymously (and, as we later found out, in private, to their detriment), that invading Iraq was a terrible, potentially world-destroying idea and describing the likely result quite accurately, in regards to corresponding to what actually happened. Most of those people were purged or given postings that effectively ended any influence they had, one or the other. Let’s not forget the Valerie Plame case, either.

    From the review: Mr. Nixon, the first C.I.A. officer to interrogate Hussein after his capture in December 2003, reveals gobsmacking facts about that deposed Iraqi leader that raise new questions about why the United States bothered to invade Iraq to oust him from power. These details will likely appall Americans who have watched their nation’s blood and treasure wasted in Iraq ever since.

    The review presents this as being a case of “will they stand up to Trump?” of course, missing (or more likely deliberately ignoring) the entire soft (or hard) manipulation angle. And that catering to the prejudices of people who are basically doing something you are comfortable with is entirely different than catering to someone who have a hostile relationship with, or mutually opposing goals, what have you. And the possibility (at different times, the certainty or probability–this may no longer be true) that there would be different factions with competing agendas.

  11. MojaveWolf

    And it’s not only a matter of the intelligence and diplomatic community not being particularly sharp.

    Re: notion that people in the intelligence branches aren’t too bright, which I keep seeing in lefty circles. They tend to draw from a primarily conservative pool, and ideology shapes how they look at things. But I have known some in the far past and a couple of years ago talked for a LONG time on a couple of different occasions with someone (granted, someone quite conservative) who used to be in the agency and quit, is now a private consultant, and they are all very sharp people. The problem is that the institution has been corrupted, not that the people in it are idiots. Based on my admittedly limited knowledge, they mostly aren’t. Or at least weren’t. They (mostly) meant well, and a lot joined for genuinely patriotic reasons, and/or because they thought it would a fun career. Don’t mean to mislead or claim expertise here–never been in myself, so don’t know how some of the colossal screw-ups came about (other than Iraq, where it seems it really was a case of go-along, get out of the way, or kiss your career good bye). But take this limited perspective for whatever you think it’s worth.

  12. Peter


    Good point and I think we need to separate the intelligence from the management in these intelligence services. Not that long ago a large number of intelligence analysts, I think from the CIA, publicly called out their management for manipulating their findings for political reasons.

    It’s probably a good thing that this exposure of sheer madness being led by the Clintonites and their allies at the CIA happened before Trump is sworn in. Now he has time to sharpen his knives and finish his lists so the pruning can begin immediately after he becomes CiC. There is no possibility of bringing these people to heel, they are untrustworthy and must be removed quickly.

    Bannon will be useful in bringing the republican party to heel which may be difficult but they have nowhere to go. Trump has already bypassed the Clintonite media with his direct speeches to the public and that should continue as much as possible but maybe not his tweets.

    Much of the media may continue to erupt at everything Trump says or does but they are very tainted by their partisan behavior and lies which most people won’t ignore. Many blogs and comments will continue to sound like Clintonite talking points and most of these bloviators will continue to underestimate Trump.

  13. Kim Kaufman

    The only problem is that Pence is taking those briefings. Who knows what he’s up to.

  14. Peter


    What problem? Trump is getting weekly briefings with new important info anytime it’s necessary but he is in control. The other and more important problem is the management source of the Trump/Putin BS which should produce a pyramid of severed heads in front of CIA headquarters.

  15. Oaktown Girl

    On a lighter note, today is my birthday. 🙂

    8:36pm PST

  16. Mallam

    This would be the correct take if what’s replaced briefings was an actual understanding of the world. You know how Trump informs himself? Watching Fox. He’s replaced briefings with the world view of Michael Flynn and Fox News panelists like Monica Crowley.

  17. Peter


    Sorry about my bloody imagery and I hope you had a great B-Day.

  18. MojaveWolf

    @OaktownGirl — Happy Birthday! I remember seeing you around various blogs quite a bit in the past, not so much lately, but hope you are doing well.

  19. Oaktown Girl

    @Peter – thank you! As far as work days go, it didn’t totally suck, so I’ll call that a win.

    @MojaveWolf – thank you so much! Sadly, I don’t get much online/leisure time in this neoliberal dystopia. If you start to see me around a lot again, you’ll know I hit the boyfriend jackpot! Where are you hanging out these days, if that’s not too intrusive? Anyway, I predict a blog community resurgence when too many people get fried-out on twitter.

    ((Hugs)) to everybody!

    9:27pm PST

  20. Hrrrm … where to begin?

    In normal presidencies the daily intelligence briefing is a dance – people who are there put on masks for each other and the result is a kind of kabuki dance. the CIA and others know what is on the presence of mind and delivers that view of the world, along with the CIA wish list of what should be happening. the result is that each group of individuals here is what they want to hear. so it was not the CIA who wanted to go guns blazing into Iraq – it was the Bush administration. the Bush administration which fancy themselves as the “Vulcans” – when in fact they were the Ferenghi. as a result, the intelligence briefing is basically a dance. One must get from the intelligence services what they know, without being infected by their point of view.

    But Trump has his own intelligence services, one that is private and with its own point of view – and not one of you is not Fox, but the world of semipublic semiprivate intelligence services. these people are strange, and filled with the kind of misinformation that has public citizens you can only dream about. It is all based on individual people connecting with the English speaking counterparts, and drawing rather ornate conclusions from that interaction. You can imagine the warped point of view by thinking about going down to Dallas and speaking with people who are repairing the Statehouse. You get a lot of opinions and even inside information, but what you would not get is what the state is actually doing.

    And sometimes that is actually important, such as where Saddam was hiding out. other times, it is the intelligence services guessing what the other sides intelligence services are thinking of, and not what is actually happening. For example they missed entirely the Arab Spring, but they were basically on track to what the government was going to do about it – if the government actually survived. Sometimes they correctly guessed which governments could be brought down – though they guessed wrong in the case of Syria. There was actually some detail that would suggest that Syria was going to last, based on its close relationship with Russia – but you would need your own intelligence staff to tease it out of them. Which is why the offensive in northern Iraq happened, but is happening badly.

    Trump on the other hand, listens to his gut. This is going to go badly for him, because they have elaborate systems for deceiving even intelligent people. and they have nets to even nets of obfuscation for the world weary traveler – and those nets have pointed teeth on them. the result is that trump will get what he wants at the primary level, but further down he will be surprised. this will erupt as the recent wave of violence will – almost any good intelligence officer will know that something, or other some things, are going to happen. the question is to you want to do anything about it? The answer actually has 2B made by the presidency, and the presidency is not going to listen. So what that means, is that normal people will die at a more prevalent rate than in the past. And this is for anything that the presidency wants to have happen – such as keeping our little base in Cuba open. in other words there will be nasty spectacular success – such as giving Syria to the Russians, and even more nasty failures – such as what is gradually happening in Libya.

    What this means is that there will not be jolting news of a dictator falling – and has a matter of course this is actually good, though you do not know the names of the dictators that have fallen in this way. and eventually some bee will get up the president’s ass, and he will start to issue some orders designed to take it out – such as Iran. And the levers will not work.

    But what will not happen is a more effective policy, because the people who will direct policy will not actually have genuine good intelligence. Because the people who get actual good intelligence are going to be not listened to the way they are not listened to right now. That is actually important, because normally in about six years or so, they will be listened to in a normal presidency. But not in Trumpland who will be listening to men will largely stroke his ego – which is what they are used to. It gets hotels built, but at a cost. That cost is prohibitive at the scale of state actions. They will find out that their opposite numbers are going to lie.

    Think of it as a hotel being built in the middle of no place.

  21. Ché Pasa

    Defenestrating the intelligence (“”) community for cause might feel good temporarily, but it’s not going to prevent a catastrophe under Trump and his cronies. More likely it will precipitate yet another avoidable one — or many.

    Yet more death and destruction will follow in its train. The targets may change — or not — but not the inherent bloodlust. Given the personnel choices so far announced we can expect near constant bloody conflict against foes real and imagined at home and abroad with the intent to enforce the will of the United States in the form of the personal will and desire of its president cum king-emperor.

    Compared to the destructive, bloody horrors inflicted on much of the rest of the world by the US military, its mercenaries, and the various intelligence (“”) agencies for my entire lifetime, what is likely to come will make the past seem like an unbroken calm and peaceful period of lavender and flowers, blue skies and babbling brooks.

    The problem Mr. Trump seems to have with the intelligence (“”) services is that they don’t believe what he believes and for the most part they don’t want to do what he wants to do. And they don’t mind saying so to his face and in abundant leaks to the captive media.

    Based on appearances and actions over the last 16 years or so, what they believe is rooted in the neo-con world view of US domination and hegemony as laid out in a series of papers published following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Much of the groundwork for that belief in neo-imperial hegemony was laid during the Cold War when many of its methods were tested in various regime changes, violent overthrows, induced civil wars, and almost endless proxy wars between US and allied forces and whatever designated “enemy” was used as a stand-in for the dreaded commies.

    The absence of the dreaded commies as enemies du jour since the early ’90s has led to the invention of phantom enemies and the propping up of real or potential ones in order to justify the continuation of the Project (“for the new American century…”)

    The post Soviet efforts at establishing permanent global US hegemony and dominance have been a titanic and grotesque failure. Tiny bands of rebels have been able to wrestle the would-be hegemon to a standstill, and in some cases have been able to defeat or turn back the Imperial Stormtroopers and their death squads in the field. It doesn’t take a lot of resistance to cause the Empire to shudder.

    The Project itself is daft, but that doesn’t mean that its fundamentals will be discarded upon the ascension of Mr. Trump. To think so is to fantasize that a) he doesn’t intend to impose US hegemony, and b) a New World Order under US suzerainty can be accomplished without immense destruction and bloodshed. For the last 16 years, Our Rulers and their military and intelligence services have gone about it one way — disastrously *except for those few who profit from it*. For however long he lasts in power, Mr. Trump and his services will go about it another way by targeting somewhat different set of real and phantom rebels and enemies for destruction and elimination.

    There’s no sign at all that a new set of advisors and counselors over and in the military and intelligence services will desist from the long goal of global US hegemony. There is every sign that efforts to reach that goal will accelerate, no matter the cost, no matter the resulting death and destruction.

  22. realitychecker

    I just love reading the detailed and verbose ‘insights’ of all these crystal ball owners who are predicting unrelenting catastrophe under Trump but never realized that Obama’s Hope And Change was never going to happen.

    Vanity. My favorite sin. (h/t Al Pacino) 🙂

  23. V. Arnold

    December 21, 2016

    Your smug response is a tell.
    Nobody, including you, knows what Trump’s presidency bodes for the future.
    Take your smugness to the place it belongs…
    The vanity is yours, no?

  24. zot23

    I would agree if I thought he was getting his information elsewhere and independently thinking about this data to arrive at conclusions. Unfortunately, without these briefings I suspect his path is blind ignorance. Not a trait to celebrate in a President in 2016 IMHO. I would rather he have the briefings and be critical of everything that is said, search for alternate viewpoints and news sources. Knowing nothing and tweeting everything is not a path to a steady ship of state.

  25. Pelham


    You raise a good point. Who’s to say that automation is an entirely good thing — even if implemented in a humane way, relieving workers of work while preserving their incomes?

    I’m thinking here of what we know about airline autopilots. They basically fly the planes better than any human pilot, leaving the guys in the cockpit with nothing to do. The pilots thus lose their skills, sometimes leading to disaster when the automated systems fail.

    We may think that more training for pilots would be a remedy for this, but it has proved otherwise. The record shows that no amount of training substitutes for actual time at the controls of the plane with real responsibility for flying it. Somehow the human brain is wired to respond only when real consequences are on the line.

    This probably extends to all of humanity and all occupations, not just airline pilots. If we as human beings aren’t truly engaged in genuinely productive activities — if we allow machines to do more and more for us — we in turn will become increasingly helpless and, in fact, useless. Why aim for such a future?

    I’m not a technophobe. However, I am a techno-skeptic. And I believe we should evaluate each new technology to determine whether it extends and enhances our human capacities or inhibits and destroys them. If the latter, the technology in question should be resisted.

  26. anonymous coward

    As I recall, just before the USSR collapsed and broke apart, the CIA was issuing fresh warnings that the Russkies were ten feet tall and growing, poised to overrun western Europe, armed with an inexhaustible supply of mysterious superweapons. I’m not refering merely to the ravings of the 2nd Committee On the Present Danger, but the official intelligence estimates produced by their “Team B” members infiltrated into CIA by Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. Everyone will recognize these two names as the same lying shitbags who induced us to destroy Iraq and set the world on fire, almost thirty years after they sabotaged détente and reignited Cold War weapons buildup.

    Any new President, who is preparing to assume office, and who hopes to do right by their peeps, will have loads of more important things to do than to sit through a daily litany of lies and brainwashing sessions by CIA goonsquads.

  27. Trump believes in the adage “You dance with the ones who brought you.” That is not the intelligence community.

  28. Orbital Debris

    Stirling’s point is important to understand, and expands on this somewhat shallow post in at least one significant way.

    Shorter: While Trump may not trust the CIA to give him unbiased accurate intelligence, in their place he will trust sources that are very likely even worse.

    Also: To dismiss the entire intelligence apparatus because they have been famously wrong is misguided. I’m also fairly certain that they are often right. Ignoring them on the basis of their mistakes alone, without acknowledging or recognizing the possibility for good info, throws the baby out with the bathwater to put it nicely. To put it bluntly, it is the act of an impetuous idiot, and as such should certainly not be condoned.

    The smart and responsible executive takes in as much information as they can and evaluates the merits of each piece before making decisions. But of course we know exactly why that will not be happening under Orange Mussolini. Pretending that his limited mental capabilities are somehow a good thing is rationalization of the highest order. I get that the “silver lining” strategy is one way to try to get through the onrushing global disaster that his election will precipitate, but I don’t think it will do anything to help avoid it or assuage the damage.

  29. Anon

    Yeah, because there is another system of intelligence agencies that have just been waiting for a President to ignore the CIA so that it can give the REAL, TRUE news on what’s going on in the world.

    Some of you people are so fucking stupid it would be funny if it wasn’t so scary.

  30. anonymous coward

    There will be plenty of time to listen to their lies. Just remember the Agency is politicized, that politicization was an integral and initial first step in the conversion of the post-Vietnam, US economy to a permanent war economy. The defense buildup that began under Carter in response to CIA scaremongering about USSR’s strategic capabilities and intentions, and the ramp up of military spending AND red baited fear mongering never stopped. Even after GHWBush, the CIA director who oversaw the “Team B” takeover of CIA had decided, in retrospect, that their project was manipulative and political and that their conclusions were flawed, CIA was never depoliticized. If the hysteria inducing Neoconservative (what would eventually be called Neoconservatism) ideology ever flagged, the lust for lucre was there to pick up the slack. The connection between ringing the alarm bells and ringing the cash register of “defense” spending had been made and the gravy train had left the station for good. Accordingly, CIA never even glimpsed the possible collapse of the Soviet Empire and indeed the USSR itself coming. Never. Right up until the end, the Red Menace was always getting stronger and bigger. Until it blew away in a puff of wind. There were consequences arising from US paranoia, the bight side was the development of technology, the dark side was the de-prioritizing and hollowing out of every part of the economy not directly related to the pursuit of military technological advantage. The same sick institution counseled using Iraq as a cat’s paw against Iran, helping to start and prolong a war that cost a million lives, then turned around and told a mountain of lies about Iraq to start a war that has cost surely another million lives, as it has metastasized across the region and across decades, and as of this morning isn’t even done killing. If Trump or any President is serious about trying to rescue the US economy, he or she must understand the role of the warfare state in destroying the health of the economy, and CIA’s important leading role in that history.

    Of course Donald Trump will have to listen to CIA. After all if they don’t think they have your ear, God knows what may happen to you! Hopefully as he listens, he will understand that most of what they tell him is a lie told to bend and poison his mind away from any wholesome purpose.

  31. Peter

    The dilemma we see today has little to do with the quantity or quality of intelligence produced by our spooks, it is an art not a science. These agencies have probably always massaged their findings to assist the agenda of the government they supposedly serve but that seemed to have changed with JFK when they massaged/lied to him to further either their own or the previous governments agenda in Cuba.

    What we are seeing now is a much more public spectacle where most of the establishment power structure has lost its minds trying to save their anti-Putin/Russia agenda, along with others. The elector coup attempt failed but they will still use their Newspeak and propaganda to attempt to sabotage any deal with Russia just as they have already started to undermine any of Trump’s economic plans.

    The Red Queen is still the leader of the Clintonite forces and should be held responsible along with her quislings who are spewing this ugly trash.

  32. Good food for thought Ian but the knife cuts both ways. Bush got the Aug. 9th PDB wrong when he brushed it off about bin Laden wanting to crash planes into buildings

  33. > There will be plenty of time to listen to their lies. Just remember the Agency is politicized, that politicization was an integral and initial first step in the conversion of the post-Vietnam,

    You are years late. The other hand, it tells us a lot about your personal opinions from where you get your information from.

  34. wendy davis

    @ Larry Beck: and didn’t that lead to the creation of the DNI? the one ring that rules them all?
    funnily enough, i’d just been reading a squib at reuters from tim weiner, author of ‘legacy of ashes: the history of the CIA. titled ‘Commentary: Mr. Trump, here’s what other presidents learned from the CIA’ he speaks of transitions being perilous times, tra la la, noting how briefings by lame-duck prezes have gone over the last 40 years, but this knocked me out (about clinton, no dubya).

    In December 1992, Bill Clinton had few profound ideas about America’s strategic interests after the Cold War. His CIA briefers drove over to the Arkansas governor’s mansion in Little Rock from their rooms at a $38.50-a-night Comfort Inn, but they drove back wondering whether the president-elect cared much about what they said. He chose a new CIA director, Jim Woolsey; they met exactly twice during the next two years. “I didn’t have a bad relationship with the president,” Woolsey reflected. “I just didn’t have one at all.”

    Things were very different eight years later. Alarms flashed red: al-Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden, loomed large. Clinton had grave fears; so did CIA director George Tenet. After the Supreme Court declared Bush 43 the victor in December 2000, both men warned him about the group. The president and the president-elect met alone for two hours in Crawford, Texas. Clinton remembers telling him: “Your biggest threat is bin Laden.” Bush swore he never heard that. The question remains whether Bush was listening.”

    his internal link goes to two chapters of his book.

    @Stirling Newberry: would you explain “such as giving Syria to the Russians”, please? and what intel services mr. T will rely on?

    from my understanding, ‘deep state’ is not only the various 17 or so ‘intel’ agencies, but the MIC, wall street, hordes of think tanks, compromised NGOs like avaaz, hrw, amnesty int’l, and perhaps even the related oligarchical power of those at davos every year. the alleged deep dark organizations i have scant knowledge about, though.

    many think tanks akin to rand seem to have given the deposed ovien blueprints, and congress just provided trump w/ one to use against big, bad china if he pleases.

    “As Carter was visiting New Delhi, the US Senate was passing legislation, already adopted by the House of Representatives, to promote Indo-US military-strategic ties.

    The “2017 National Defence Authorization Act,” that is the Pentagon’s $618 billion budget allocation, contains a section titled “Enhancing defence and security cooperation with India.” It calls on the US secretaries of state and defense to take the necessary steps to designate India a Major Defense Partner, instructs the administration to designate a high-ranking official to ensure the success of the DTTI, and highlights “defence and security cooperation” with India as a means of advancing US “interests in South Asia” and the “greater Indo-Asia-Pacific regions.”

    Speaking following the Senate vote, Mark Warner, the senior Democratic senator from Virginia and co-chair of Senate India Caucus, applauded the “inclusion of forward-leaning provisions designed to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation with India, including expanded military-to-military engagement, increased defence trade, and greater cooperation on technological development.”

    and oh, no; no one pressured modi to allow plebiscite votes in kashmir or jammu as to which nation they would like to join: thug hindu modi, or pakistan ahead of this ‘alliance’. all of the murders are just incidental to the big picture in the pivot to asia.

    but i agree with a few others here that note mr. T’s many contradictory FP statements tend toward incoherence. i saw a headline that he’d tweeted (iirc) that he reckons he won’t ‘depose leaders he knows nothing about’. hmmmm. broad caveat, no? does he mean he can learn that duly-elected x, y, or z…should be be deposed? or a nation deserves an r2p in the name of ‘democracy™’? god’s blood, i hope not. anyone know how he feels about any of the remaining quasi-socialist nations?

    ‘interesting times’ i so cliché, but quite operative now, yes? and a good solstice to all.

  35. dude

    Intelligence briefings and their effect on high officials was discussed in this article relating Daniel Ellsberg’s advice to Henry Kissinger. I can’t recall whether I saw this link here originally–if so, it bears repeating.

    It is better than the Rumsfeldian koan.

  36. realitychecker

    No, Mr. Ex-Pat,I don’t know what will happen under Trump, but I did know what would happen under Killlery.

    When I KNOW something, as opposed to just having something on my list of plausible hypotheses, a smart guy like you will be able to tell the difference.

    What keeps me humble is that I am always cognizant of the many ways I could be wrong about something; smart people rarely get to have 100% certainty about anything complex. It’s all about getting to where you have a high enough degree of certainty to feel justified in taking a specific action or reaching a specific conclusion. In always every case, there exists some degree of possibility that you might be wrong about something. If you can’t stand to act in the face of some small probability that you might be wrong, you doom yourself to paralysis. Knowing all that is the opposite of vanity, it is actually a very deep humility.

    Vanity is continually patting yourself on the back for being out of your country, despite not being able to keep from commenting about your country and how smart you were to leave it, IMO.

  37. realitychecker

    @ V. Arnold

    That last comment was addressed to you, in case you couldn’t figure it out.

  38. DMC

    So, anyone have any insights into Rep. Mike Pompeo, Trump’s nominee for director of the CIA? Seems like that would be a good place to start with. Superficially, he looks like a semi-sensible back-bencher who made some noise as a member of the House Intelligence committee, hawkish if not bellicose, partisan but originally backed Rubio(so not a Trump loyalist). Presumably, the committee background was the qualifier. What’s this guy’s paper trail look like? What’s his ideological framework, foreign policy outlook-wise? Who’s he going to be bringing in with him into the top political appointment slots of the both the Agency and the other, lesser known intelligence gathering and analysis outfits that comprise “the deep state”? Answering some of those questions will give us a lot better basis on which to speculate than gut feelings and emotional responses.

  39. Hugh

    A couple of things:

    The American intelligence community is a spaghetti of various government agencies and private contractors. According to the wiki article on the United States Intelligence Community, in 2010, there were 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies involved in counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence. When you hear stories about “17 intelligence agencies say that…”, this is a reference to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI ) and its 16 member agencies. So it is really more like 16 than 17. If you look at these 16, the CIA is the only independent agency, that is not a part of another federal department. 8 of the 16 are part of the Department of Defense. Homeland Security and Justice each have two. State, Treasury, and Energy have one. And on a subject like Russian hacking, you have to wonder what the contributions really are of members like Coast Guard Intelligence (Homeland) or the National Reconnaissance Office which builds and operates US spy satellites (Defense).

    According to information from ODNI, the budget for the National Intelligence Program (NIP) in 2016 was $53 billion and for the Military Intelligence Program (MIP), $17.7 billion. MIP is supposed to be intelligence developed specifically for military operations, but because of the Defense Department’s (DOD) outsized representation in ODNI/NIP, the line is blurred between NIP and MIP. Two agencies that are MIP but which are not under ODNI/NIP or the 16 or 17 are Army Military Intelligence and the Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Further, the cost of operations based on this intelligence, both regular and special ops, is probably not part of the MIP budget, but again the line can be blurred out of existence between what is a tactical op and what is an intelligence gathering one.

    Finally, it is estimated that about 70% of the intelligence budget goes to private contractors, like Booz Allen. Since these contractors pay more, this incentivizes an incestuous revolving door between the government and the private intelligence community or what is referred to as a self-licking ice cream cone. If memory serves, Snowden was at the CIA before he went to Booz Allen, but it was when he was at Booz Allen that he had access to and was able to download the materials that Glenn Greenwald now sits on.

    So what we are talking about here is not just a daily briefing, but a large, powerful, and entrenched industry. $70 billion a year is not to be sneezed at. Trump can pooh-pooh the briefings but I don’t see him taking on or downsizing Intelligence Incorporated to any significant degree. He is not talking about anything like Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1991 bill to abolish the CIA.

  40. V. Arnold

    @ RC
    I’m not an expat; I’m self exiled; there’s a difference.

  41. V. Arnold

    You’re a rather unpleasant fellow; are you somehow jealous that I actually acted in response to the criminal actions of the U.S..
    I have never bragged; only stated the fact of the matter.
    I trust your bruised ego will recover quickly as your character would dictate.

  42. realitychecker

    @ V. Arnold

    You are a very pleasant fellow who only mentions his self-satisfaction with being an ex-pat every ten minutes or so.

  43. wendy davis

    @ Hugh: yes, it’s all too easy to forget all of the subcontractors in the intel/MIC, as well as the civil service technocrats. thanks for digging out the budget. “…materials that greenwald now sits on” got me chuckling.

    @ realitychecker. have you ever stopped to consider why/and that you’ve turned into an mfi 2.0? it’s so sad to witness it for me, as we used to be friends and comrades.

    it’s not just that you’re hubristic enough to declare that there is one reality, or that evolution was all about natural selection (see the noosphere and teilhard de chardin, for one), but that in your zeal to promote your own beliefs, you smack down others’ beliefs as you’ve done with dear Lisa S. did you happen to notice that she remained resolute in the face of your smacks, continuing to try to explain calmly what it was actually like to live in a world where the transgendered are so reviled and threatened?

    but i confess i laughed when ks, was it (?) asked for a bit of relief from your personal attacks, ONE of your responses to ian’s asking you to be more polite was akin to: ‘hey, ian; i always agree w/ you, and yet x, y, or z…don’t!’ way to suck up, RC.

    as far as i can tell, your ‘progressivism’ and love for miz jane hamsher must have been quite short-lived. but this new iteration of RC…makes me sad to witness, not that you’ll care one iota.

  44. MojaveWolf

    @OaktownGirl– I get you with the busy. Likewise–probably shouldn’t be taking so much time to comment here. Ian’s and Naked Capitalism are my two regular stops to read and the only places I regularly comment (as in, other places, I might once a year or so if something inspires me, for better or worse). If I’m posting at one I’m not posting at the other because I simply don’t have time. I haven’t even been able to do more than skim some of the comments at NC lately because there are so many, even tho it’s one of my favorite places. Can’t keep up w/all the links there either but try.

    Call those my tier one blogs. About 4-6 in tier two that I never comment at but mostly keep up with the reading xcept when super busy, then about a dozen in tier 3 that I check out when I can/when the mood suits me.

    And yes, I’m on twitter. =) I have no issues with twitter, really, it’s handy and let’s me check out a huge range of people and links I would normally miss unless someone called my attention to a particular article (from Jacobin, which I still haven’t got in the habit of reading even tho I should, to The Federalist, which I just read and retweeted two good articles from, and yes I know it’s the Federalist but this time we’re in accord).

    Facebook I avoid like the plague. My wife convinced me to sign up for linked in at one point, which led to me being contacted by a very enthusiastic reunion committee, which led to a polite, even friendly demurral on my part followed by me avoiding linked in like the plague.

    If you were asking for recs, what sort of blogs do you like (other than here) where do you fit on the various spectrum of issues etc.?

    A lot of my favorite feminist blogs no longer exist (Reclusive leftist, The apostate). Most of the blogs and online friends I had from the prior decade (mostly spec fic writers and fandom) went full tilt SJW followed by full tilt “Neoliberalism Yay Mainstream Dems & Corporate Media vs the racist Russian Nazis!” and I find it impossible to speak to most of them these days. I have tried a couple of times but I had better luck conversing at the one right wing site I recently tried my hand (where people were quite friendly and welcoming during my brief run in the commentariat). With my older online friends, mostly I can’t say what I think because I frequently want to yell at them but I like them, and things are so lockstep in some ways that even politely expressing strong disagreement in mutual social circles could lead to conflagration, in which people might feel compelled to semi-defend me even tho they also are horrified at my lack of being down with the program, so . . . I have bailed. Amazed at how many people who are very free-thinking in some ways so easily fall into zealous lockstep in others (or, maybe, I am underestimating people, but even so I’m underestimating people who are choosing to keep quiet and not buck the current and I don’t want to put them in a bad position, like, “oh, yeah, ummm, I used to be friends with him and I don’t really know what happened .. . .yes, yes of course it’s terrible but ummm . . .I swear he’s a nice person and never showed previous signs of slavering evil! I certainly don’t support his newfound lack of devotion to the cause and if he’s a cannibal I swear I didn’t know!”)

    Anyway, despite all that I still read all sorts of places so if you’ve been awol I can maybe give you an idea where to head even if your worldview is very different from mine.

  45. Tomonthebeach

    Because intel work is supposed to be secret, the Intel community remained mute on WMD in Iraq because the issue itself was moot. Do not for a second think that the CIA and NSA were rattling sabers and wringing their hands over the threat of mass destruction. Come on. Many Iraqis go to work on camels and herd sheep for a living. Sadam had a credible paper army, but as we witnessed, the same CIA enabled quick US military success.

    Why didn’t the CIA try to clear their reputation? That is not what intelligence does. It is supposed to be secret. What they say stays secret. CIA et al. might even like the idea of tarnished public credibility. If they were indeed bumbling fools, I doubt that Obama would have set a record for drone assassinations. You need good intel to find the targets.

  46. markfromireland

    @ MojaveWolf

    Has it occurred to you that “full tilt SJW followed by full tilt “Neoliberalism Yay Mainstream Dems & Corporate Media vs the racist Russian Nazis!”

    is inherent to their beliefs as is the conformism they demand? Ethically you’re way better off where you are.

  47. Hugh

    Tomonthebeach, “Because intel work is supposed to be secret”

    It leaks like a sieve when it wants to as with the current flogging of the Russians tampering with the US election meme.

  48. MojaveWolf

    @mfi — Absolutely I’m better off here, and hope I didn’t sound like I was complaining about this place or NC–I love both!

    Conformist neoliberal sjws — I’ll grant you for a big part of the left these days, what you say is true. I cannot stand those people.

    re: my subset of friends (I still consider them such) from earlier online days —

    I *don’t* think they are or were inherently conformist. Or that they were coming from a starting point of basic beliefs that were that different from my own (my having a few personality quirks notwithstanding). In general, I would put them down as exceptionally original thinkers. So I’m not sure wtf happened.

    Maybe you are right and I am wrong on this one, but I’m putting it down to what I think at first glance are laughably obvious propaganda & manipulation techniques actually being really effective if you are not paying attention. But I confess to major befuddlement and no certainty.

  49. realitychecker

    @ wendy davis

    That’s really sad, Wendy. Your genius for thinking you understand me whilst not getting me at all is why our friendship went away and why I don’t waste my time at your blog anymore.

    You just keep waiting for the indigenous women of the world to straighten this whole mess out via their spiritual purity, dear. That’s the ticket.

    We shared many interesting times together, but I’ve outgrown you. You are more interested in defending your own eternal rightness than in checking reality. I can’t settle for that.

  50. wendy davis

    @ realitychecker: i’m so glad to know that you’ve ‘outgrown me’, lol,; it’s completely in character. it seems many of you here believe you are collectively by way of creating the vanguard of a revolution of some sort or other. but by my lights, if and when it comes, it will be all the oppressed of the world who realize that capitalism itself is the root of the evil that enslaves them and precludes justice of any sort: social or economic, and a new world must be created in which socialism replaces capitalism.

    who but the underclass people of color see this most clearly? yes, i learned from those societies who attended the ‘side meetings’ at the rio 2012 ‘sustainability conference’. they’ve watched their lands be decimated, their water poisoned by mining and oil spills, their crops ruined by gen-modified crops and glyphosate, and in the US uranium, all in the name of capitalistic profiteering. and no, miz klein, capitalism will never be ‘fettered’ again, so you changed *nothing*.

    yes, you believe that the black lives (and i reckon by extension) the native lives matter movements are craptastistic, and while not all have twigged to capitalism as evil, they’re learning, bless their hearts. rabble africans have long experienced the same fate, but now with africom afoot, and so many resources to plunder, many are being re-colonized and are in the cross-hairs of the US military and cia.

    well, peace to you, and please feel free to define my visions and political credo as you will. it’s of small matter to me. but i will say again that i regret who you’ve become by now.

  51. realitychecker

    @ wendy davis

    I’ll just let it slide, Wendy. After all the years and thousand of hours we spent talking to each other, you never opened the rigid boundaries of your mind enough to understand what I was saying to you, instead your way is to just take every little disagreement as an attack, and you certainly have no idea who I am or what I think about now. (MFI 2.0, really? Just because I think he’s not always wrong? How very uncalibrated of you.)

    You are not the mind reader you think you are, and you are still a very lousy paraphraser. Which makes it very difficult to be your friend.

    I wish you well, too, and think your writing may be useful to some, but I have nothing more to learn from you, and you have always refused to learn anything from me. So I’ve moved on, and so should you.

  52. markfromireland

    I freely admit to being imperfect. Were it not for the fact that I’m excessively humble I’d be perfect – which is a profoundly humbling realisation. What’s not even slightly humbling Wendy dear is the number of people who’ve written to me telling me how bitterly they regret not heeding my warning that you and your claque were parasites who would hollow out the members’ forum on FDL. I don’t take any pleasure in that – but there is a certain grim satisfaction in having been proved right.

  53. realitychecker

    @ MFI

    Now Mark, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves lol.

    As a former member of the My. FDL clique, I can tell you with a high degree of certainty that the real tension at FDL was between the Old Guard Dem-liberals (who I saddled with the label ‘Cluckers’) who thought they owned the site and that only Dem talking points were allowed, and the My.FDL participants who were proudly open to exploring and discussing all manner of alternative plausible hypotheses and ideas and were willing to criticize the Dem Establishment and Obama (I once referred to that group as ‘The Fierce Debaters).

    The animosity and vitriol that came to prevail there, coupled with the increasingly authoritarian behavior of management (i.e. bannings and total disappearances of years of commenting and posting histories became a common occurrence, almost always imposed (one or two exceptions) against the perceived outsiders at My.FDL who the Old Guard Cluckers constantly and erroneously accused of trying to ‘take over the site’ (apparently for daring to take conversations beyond personal discussions of the weather and recipes and Establishment Dem dogma lol).

    It got really vicious, but the viciousness came almost exclusively from the Cluckers, who acted like all Establishment actors can be expected to react when threatened with having to share the stage with anyone new. Hidebound and angry just like the left behavior we are witnessing now. That is what led to the decline and death of the site.

    Personal note: Over the years, I have disagreed with you over many things, but often you are right and you enlighten me on some things. I appreciate that enlightenment, and make no apologies for the disagreements. That is what these kinds of disagreements should be about, i.e., learning opportunities, not personal rage-fests.

    Marketplace of ideas, and all that. 🙂

  54. bowtiejack

    ” . . . Obama: Handmaiden to the same intelligence agencies. . . “?

    It’s well to remember that Obama’s mother was CIA and her parents were OSS (Lebanon during WWII) and CIA (Hawaii where Obama’s mother met his father who was in a “training” program fronted by the Ford Foundation for the CIA and run by her father, and her mother handled banking for CIA Asian accounts).

    Obama first attended CIA-affiliated Occidental College and then CIA-affiliated Columbia. That’s the reason his school records are a “secret”.
    In case you hadn’t guessed The Company is big on nepotism (e.g., see, Ames, Aldrich). The “deep state” runs very deep.

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