(Pat Thurston) Here’s the thing. There’s nothing wrong with healthy skepticism of intelligence agencies who have been horribly politicized or political over the years. Almost since the CIA’s inception there have been concerns and questions about their function and in whose interest they have been working. Remember Harry Truman, who founded the CIA, was very unhappy when they began covert operations not to gather intelligence but to work behind the scenes to overthrow governments and otherwise involve themselves in foreign governance.
So healthy skepticism is important. There have been Presidents who have given CIA analysts the complete freedom they need to bring intelligence in without fear or favor, to present that which they have learned and their best interpretations of what that intelligence means. Others have “fixed” the intelligence around the policy (see the Downing Street Memo).
I could give President-elect Trump the benefit of the doubt and say that his attitude toward our intelligence agencies in favor of Julian Assange is part of that healthy skepticism, but unfortunately I believe it bodes something far more sinister. Donald Trump is attempting to discredit the entities that keep power in check, including the press and the Congress. Intelligence services working for the national security are also entities designed to keep power in check, to operate in the best interests of the nation. Those people who work in the field, those who are the analysts, tend to operate with that in mind. It is the political appointees and some of their minions who insist on bending intelligence for political means — or corporate means. That’s not hyperbolic nor unprecedented. Chiquita Banana and US oil companies have benefitted greatly from actions of the Agency.
What Donald Trump is putting forth is not innocent, it’s not based in ignorance, it is what a strong man does when he takes power. The people must lose faith in the press. They must lose faith in those who would dare question or criticize the actions of the leader.
Beware. This is not about Assange v. CIA. It’s far more serious.