One of the more foolish things the government of the United States does is invite senior members of the national intelligence community to testify publicly before Congress in a so-called “unclassified” worldwide threat assessment.
It is foolish for the simple reason that information, like money, is fungible. Once shared it cannot be contained for one purpose only. The idea that the possessors of classified intelligence can disclose unclassified intelligence without reference to that classified material is naive, which not surprisingly is also the word that President Trump used to describe his intelligence chiefs following their appearance before a Senate committee last week.
In their testimony, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, FBI Director Chris Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel went out of their way to undercut the president’s policies on Iran, Russia, China, North Korea and Afghanistan, which are among the most important foreign hotspots. Who exactly does that benefit? Certainly not the president whom they serve.
The takeaway, according to the headline atop a Washington Times report, was that the “Intelligence chiefs’ ‘threat assessment’ refutes Trump assertions.” You would probably get similar headlines from almost every news organization, but as a former copy editor, let me begin with a correction. To “refute” is to prove something wrong. That didn’t happen. What we got was not evidence that President Trump is wrong, but rather opinions that disagreed with his. Of course, it is not surprising that the national media don’t know the difference. Most of the media elites believe that whenever they open their mouth, they have disproven Trump by fiat. Numquam Trumpus.
It is unfortunate that members of the president’s own administration believe the same thing, but it is by their words and actions that we have fortuitously come to realize there is something called the Deep State — an establishmentarian clique of permanent bureaucrats who run the government to promote the interests of themselves and their allies rather than the American people.
Therefore, when Director Coats publicly disagreed with the president he serves, it behooves us to ask hard questions about Coats and whom he benefits by undermining President Trump. When Coats says North Korea won’t give up nuclear weapons, isn’t he giving comfort to the enemy? When he claims that Iran is abiding by the 2015 nuclear deal, isn’t he giving cover to the most dangerous nation in the Middle East? When he worries that ISIS is “intent on resurging,” does he really think the president doesn’t know that? But more importantly, does Coats think that we should give ISIS control of our foreign policy? Are we to remain in Syria forever because we have a sworn enemy there?
These questions are not rhetorical. They raise the serious issue of whether U.S. intelligence agencies owe their loyalty to the U.S. president. You can make the case that they owe their allegiance to the Constitution, but according to the Constitution that is the same thing. As members of the executive branch, they are subordinate to the president and serve his foreign policy. We have one president at a time, and the intelligence chiefs serve him, not the other way around. If they don’t understand that, then they are part of the problem — part of the threat, so to speak, to our Constitution.
Which brings me, in a roundabout manner, to my proposal for a domestic threat assessment. Considering the forces arrayed against the president and the American people, this seems to be much more imperative than a worldwide threat assessment. I won’t try to prioritize the threats, but certainly the intelligence agencies are near the top of the list. Since at least 2005, they have pooh-poohed the Iranian nuclear threat by totally misjudging the evidence. As I wrote in 2007, “If global geopolitics were a television sitcom, then the government of the United States would be Boss Hogg, and Mahmoud and the gang in Tehran would be the Dukes of Hazzard. We may have more money and power, but them Duke boys always seem to get the last laugh.”
Add to their general incompetence (remember the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?) the open war that the intelligence agencies have waged against President Trump in the politically motivated Russia hoax, and you would certainly be justified in thinking that they represent the greatest internal threat to our republic, but there are others that need to be considered, too.
Oh, wait — I’m not done with the “intelligence” agencies yet! I could not move on without talking about the FBI’s outrageous early-morning armed assault against Roger Stone and his wife just over a week ago. As many as 27 armed federal agents, 17 SUVs, two armored vehicles and two amphibious assault vehicles surrounded Stone’s Florida home to arrest the 66-year-old raconteur and political provocateur on charges of — wait for it! — lying to Congress. Heck, why should only Congress get to lie with impunity? To make matters worse, there is every reason to believe the FBI tipped off CNN, so the blatantly anti-Trump news channel could have a camera crew on hand to record the Gestapo-like assault. Probably not what J. Edgar Hoover had in mind when he wrote about “The Enemy Within,” but, yes, I definitely think the FBI deserves its very own spot on the list of domestic threats.
Next up has to be the Opposition Party. No, not the Democrats, but rather the mainstream media, which have set themselves up as defenders of the republic against the dangers of traditional morality, religion and legislation. The recent BuzzFeed debacle and the Covington Catholic fiasco were just the latest examples of the national media working overtime to gin up controversy and throw shade on conservatives. If police were known to be planting evidence and slanting testimony as freely as the mainstream media do, then no one could ever be legitimately convicted of anything north of jaywalking. If Thomas Jefferson could say in 1807, “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper,” then what would he make of the nonstop spin of 24/7 cable news? Turning moral arbitration over to celebrity journalists may prove to be the single greatest mistake in the history of liberty.
Or maybe not. Perhaps even more foolish was turning over control of our privacy, our information and our society to private companies that are completely unregulated. Yes, I’m talking about the FAANG that is ripping the heart out of not just America, but the world. That’s Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google, in case you didn’t know. You can take your pick of which one is most dangerous, but it’s not Russians manipulating these social media and tech giants that should scare you — it’s the progressive billionaires who believe they are qualified to steer us like cattle to our final destination in the slaughterhouse. Whether it’s Google’s “get out the vote” campaign for Hillary Clinton or the shadow banning of conservatives on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, these nearly omniscient entities had better be stopped before they become omnipotent, too.
Of course, we could list the dangers from a variety of policies supported by mainstream politicians that are generally subsumed under the heading “socialism” or “communism,” which by the way was the real “Enemy Within” that FBI Director Hoover singled out for our attention. Those socialistic tendencies are certainly a serious threat to the republic, but oddly enough they pale beside those listed above.
Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted last week that “[i]t’s past time for U.S. Intelligence Community leaders to stage an intervention with Donald J. Trump.” That’s a sad commentary on the senator’s confidence in the American people who elected President Trump. As for those of us who did so, we are hoping for an intervention as well, but of a different kind entirely. What we pray for is a divine intervention to awaken Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, members of the press, the intelligence community and the tech billionaires to the danger they are putting the nation in by working constantly to undermine the president’s authority and thus weaken the fabric of our fragile republic. To quote an oath that Democrats were said to want to do away with: “So help us God.”
Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell Mont., is a columnist for RealClearPolitics. His “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy is available at Amazon. Visit him at HeartlandDiaryUSA.com to comment on this column or follow him on Facebook @HeartlandDiaryUSA or on Twitter @HeartlandDiary.