Politicization of US Intelligence
Liberal journalist Matt Taibbi noted that notwithstanding the exposure of human rights abuses during the US war in Afghanistan and illegal US surveillance programs, US military intelligence and the leftist press have been weaponized against political opposition and ideological dissent.
Taibbi noted that secret US military reports released by Wikileaks in 2010 “were devastating to America’s intelligence community and military, revealing systemic abuses that included civilian massacres and an assassination squad, TF 373, whose existence the United States kept ‘protected’ even from its allies.” Exposed diplomatic cables and “hundreds of thousands of additional documents about everything from the Iraq war to coverups of environmental catastrophes, among other things helping trigger the ‘Arab Spring.’ He continued:
“Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden... came forward to unveil an illegal domestic surveillance program, a story that won an Oscar and a Pulitzer Prize for documentarian Laura Poitras and reporters Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill.
“By 2014, members of Congress in both parties were calling for the resignations of CIA chief John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, both of whom had been caught lying to congress. Brennan, Clapper, and Hayden have been rehabilitated and are all paid contributors to either MSNBC or CNN, part of a wave of intelligence officers who’ve flooded the airwaves and op-ed pages in recent years, including the FBI’s Asha Rangappa, Clint Watts, Josh Campbell, former counterintelligence chief Frank Figliuzzi and former deputy director Andrew McCabe, the CIA’s John Sipher, Phil Mudd, Ned Price, and many others.”
Taibbi went on to quote Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Glenn Greenwald regarding The Intercept:
“That a media outlet founded in order to battle mass surveillance of ordinary citizens and to safeguard privacy rights is now trolling through stolen digital data of private citizens in order to expose and punish them for thought crimes and ideological dissent is as grotesque as it is ironic.”
The same US intelligence officers who perpetrated human rights abuses and illegal surveillance and lied to Congress and the American public about it, and their ideological colleagues, have weaponized intelligence to engage in cover-ups for political allies and to baselessly attack political opponents.
Over fifty former U.S. intelligence officials representing themselves as impartial, concerned citizens alleged in a public letter that the Hunter Biden laptop emails were “Russian disinformation.” Candidate Joe Biden subsequently used the claim for cover in a presidential debate, stating that “There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that [the Hunter Biden laptop story] is a Russian plan” which “nobody believes” except Trump and Guiliani.(2) Yet the Director of National Intelligence had previously stated that the information on the Hunter Biden laptop is not Russian disinformation,(3) and noted that “there is no information that supports that [claim].”(4) A claim fabricated without evidence by Biden supporters posing as neutral authorities was thus used to provide political cover for the candidate himself and for partisan media organizations which refused to cover the scandal.(5)
Claims of Russian bounties on US military personnel in Afghanistan from the US intelligence committee were trumpeted by US press as evidence of Donald Trump “colluding” with Russia and working against American interests. This story was used by the New York Times to “ignite outrage during the heat of the 2020 election.” Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) sent dozens of tweets alleging Trump’s unwillingness to confront Russia’s Putin over the supposed bounties.(6) During the Biden administration, US intelligence backpedaled on the story,(7) acknowledging that there was only “low confidence” in the claims. While Biden had previously charged Trump with “dereliction of duty” over these issues, the Biden administration did not find adequate substantiation to confront Russia over these allegations itself.
In 2014, National Intelligence Director Gen. James R. Clapper “admitted that agents of the National Security Agency (NSA) have been reading innocent Americans’ emails and text messages and listening to digital recordings of their telephone conversations that have been stored in NSA computers, without warrants obtained pursuant to the Constitution,” confirming allegations previously made by whistleblower Edward Snowden.(8)
This behavior has continued. In 2021, a whistleblower revealed that the National Security Agency had been surveilling journalist Tucker Carlson.(9) Contrary to laws requiring the identity of American citizens to be kept secret,(10) the NSA identified Carlson by name and leaked his private emails for political gain. The leaking of Carlson’s emails constitutes a serious federal crime.(11) Law professor Jonathan Turley observed the cycle of abuse and chronic violations without accountability:
"We have journalists who are investigated in the Bush administration, the Obama administration, the Trump administration, the Biden administration. And after every one of those scandals, there is the requisite apologies, promises of reform, and everyone goes away and then the cycle continues."
Notwithstanding long records of malfeasance and abuse, Obama-era budgets funneled more money into every US intelligence agency.(12) The cover image of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s report, “Annual Demographic Report for Fiscal Year 2020: Hiring and Retention of Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities in the United States Intelligence Community,” is a photoshopped fake consisting of an amalgam of three stock photos from an internet photo agency,(13) including stock photos entitled “Portrait Of Multi-Cultural Office Staff Standing In Lobby,” “Blind Young Man with Guide Dog on White Background,” and “Beautiful businesswoman with tablet computer in wheelchair on white background.”
1. Taibbi, Matt. “Reporters Once Challenged the Spy State. Now, They're Agents of It.” TK News, May 11, 2021. https://taibbi.substack.com/p/reporters-once-challenged-the-spy-a32
2. Bertrand, Natasha. “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say.” Politico, October 19, 2020. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/10/19/hunter-biden-story-russian-disinfo-430276
3. Moore, Mark. “DNI John Ratcliffe says info on Hunter Biden laptop isn’t Russian disinformation.” New York Post, October 19, 2020. https://nypost.com/2020/10/19/john-ratcliffe-info-on-hunter-biden-laptop-not-russian-disinformation/
4. Singman, Brooke. “Ratcliffe says Hunter Biden laptop, emails 'not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.'” Fox News, October 19, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/ratcliffe-hunter-biden-laptop-emails-not-russian-disinformation-campaign
5. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. "Liberal media teamed up for ‘smear campaign’ to dismiss The Post’s Hunter Biden story." New York Post, December 11, 2020. https://nypost.com/2020/12/11/liberal-medias-smear-campaign-against-the-posts-hunter-biden-story/
6. De Lea, Brittany. “Sen. Tammy Duckworth profusely tweeted about unproven Russian bounty report.” Fox News, April 16, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/tammy-duckworth-russia-bounties-donald-trump
7. Phillips, Morgan. “US Intel backpedals on Russian bounty story Trump called a ‘hoax.’” Fox News, April 16, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/us-intel-back-pedals-russian-bounty-story
8. Napolitano, Andrew P. "A government admission of wrongdoing." Fox News, April 10, 2014. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/a-government-admission-of-wrongdoing
9. Carlson, Tucker. "NSA has been reading my private emails, planned to leak the contents." Fox News, July 8, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-nsa-has-been-reading-my-private-emails-planned-to-leak-the-contents
10. Creitz, Charles. "Greenwald: NSA had 'legal obligation' to conceal Tucker Carlson's identity from intercepted communications." Fox News, July 8, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/greenwald-nsa-had-legal-obligation-to-conceal-tucker-carlsons-identity-from-intercepted-communications
11. Stabile, Angela. "NSA leak of Tucker Carlson's emails would be ‘serious federal crime,’ Jonathan Turley says." Fox News, July 9, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/nsa-leak-tucker-carlson-emails-serious-federal-crime
12. Carlson, Tucker. "They're trying to trick us with Soviet-style fakes." Fox News, July 10, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-trick-us-soviet-style-fakes