The War Between Trump and the Intelligence Community

The idea that the intelligence community is at war with Trump is an interesting concept with a fair amount of evidence, and yet I know several people who would take me to task for even saying it exists. It’s “fake news,” some have told me. Others have said that the intelligence community is “far too professional” to get in a pissing match with the President-elect, which quite frankly, I find laughable. Let’s take a look at the information out there. This may seem slow going; there’s a lot of pieces–and this article can’t even cover them all.

Robb Calls the Ball

Way back in February, you’ll remember that John Robb called Trump’s campaign an open source insurgency–and it was. He won due to a variety of reasons, including shrewdly tapping into the anger and frustration already out there, and giving people somewhere to focus it. As Robb mentioned, he didn’t get bogged down in policy positions and little things that would divide the efforts, he simply boiled it down to “I will work for you, I will listen to your needs…and they will not because they never have.” Simple, and effective.

While people are still trying to get him to verbally lay out policies, however, he’s already said a great deal with his administration personnel choices. Over and over he’s chosen pro-surveillance people who think that if Americans have any privacy, the terrorists win or something. If you thought Obama was bad for privacy, just wait until Trump gets his system set up.

Now, the ‘obvious’ answer to this is “Well, that would make the intelligence community happy. Why would they be mad if Trump’s about to create more surveillance and more job security for them?” Occam’s Razor notwithstanding, we should never just take the obvious answer.

Thiel and the Big Data Machine

In 1998, a guy named Peter Thiel co-founded PayPal, a company that’s been named as being complicit with the federal government in terms of massive data collection of purchase information. Thiel later went on to start–with CIA funding–a company called Palantir, and he also serves as the longest-running director on the board of Facebook after Zuckerberg himself. So you’ve got a guy who, if you’ll forgive the expression, is balls-deep in surveillance of the American public; in fact, he’s now worth $1.2 billion or so, in part because of it.

The Constitution, such as it is, theoretically prohibits the government from collecting data on you without a warrant–of course, we all know that’s getting violated on a constant basis, but bear with me a moment. What service do these CIA-funded companies such as Palantir, provide to the government? They collect, catalog, profile, and package the data that the government technically cannot collect itself. Why do something when you can simply pay someone else to do it–especially if it’s not even your money getting spent? Palantir gets incredibly, ridiculously rich (over $80 million in revenue just from Big Daddy Gov in 2015), and the federal government gets all the dirty details that the Constitution says they aren’t supposed to have.

Don’t believe it? That’s fine; take a look at what Palantir is doing for the Customs and Border Patrol:

Known as the Analytical Framework for Intelligence, the system draws from a variety of federal, state, and local law enforcement databases that gather and analyze often-sensitive details about people, including biographical information, personal associations, travel itineraries, immigration records, and home and work addresses, as well as fingerprints, scars, tattoos, and other physical traits. […] This helps federal authorities determine a person’s eligibility to travel into — or even within — the United States…

That’s just the stuff they’re letting you see (and by the way, that’s not counting all the rest of the companies doing this as well–another topic for another day).

Thiel was tapped to be on the Trump transition team, and initially was being looked at for a White House position, which as of a few days ago he is now saying he would decline, possibly due to the massive conflicts of interest inherent in him taking a job in the administration. Now again, while you may say “okay well that’s good; they’re not bringing this guy on board,” you’d be missing the rest of the picture. Thiel will be far more powerful staying out of the administration.

So What’s the Point?

Here’s the big reveal: Trump is looking to privatize intelligence collection and “slim down” the CIA, putting the actual. power in the hands of people like Peter Thiel and companies like Palantir.  They are better, faster, and way cheaper  at playing the game than the intelligence community–and Trump is all about that.

John Robb called that too, back in December.  Not many people listened–but they should have, because the writing was on the wall even then.  Turning over intel collection and data analysis/profiling to private companies completely–or even mostly–would result in the CIA, NSA, and other agencies being relegated to the sidelines, and God knows the CIA has never been a fan of sitting on the bench.

Since Robb penned his prescient assertions, he’s been right about the big CIA leak that was coming; we just saw it last week. Some defend the intelligence community, basically saying that what we all saw isn’t real and we can’t possibly know the real story because it’s all so classified, but that assertion doesn’t work in the greater framework of what we know the CIA does, such as leaking information to influence electors. They also had one of their former directors endorse Hillary in an effort to keep Trump out and job security in (he even used the “Russian” buzzwords and talking points, right on cue).

Trump has flat out disagreed–publicly–with the CIA’s assertions about the Russians, which even Charles Schumer finds “really dumb,” because when “you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” Interestingly enough, when asked what exactly the intelligence community could do, he said, “I don’t know.” Some may look at that as bluster unable to be backed up, but I tend to agree with Jacob Hornberger, who says that Schumer’s statement makes no sense unless he really just didn’t want to go into that.

In other words, don’t provoke the people with the dirt on everyone and the power, funding, and capability to do pretty much whatever they want without repercussion.

The “Scorned” Intelligence Community

Outgoing CIA director John Brennan just happened to be on Fox News Sunday, where he slammed Trump for good measure, and again on CNN’s State of the Union. (For fun, I’ll point out that Brennan made a point of saying that the CIA is staffed by an “unbelievable cadre of professionals,” which if you know anything about Statement Analysis, will make you chuckle and mutter “unbelievable is right” under your breath.) Former CIA officers are getting in the game too (partly because they never really get out), with punchy opinion pieces like “Here’s What Will Happen if Trump Doesn’t Stop Scorning the CIA.”

What do you see here in terms of pattern? They’re painting the CIA as the helpless, honorable-but-spurned lover of truth and justice, an agency filled with consummate professionals at the top of their game who believe in American awesomeness and just want to do right by the nation, but are being hamstrung by a mean, orange tycoon who Just Doesn’t Understand What We Are Trying To Do. Sound familiar (minus the orange parts)?

The CIA may be many things, but it is not helpless, and even a Trump non-fan like me can see that there’s a coordinated effort to paint a picture not entirely accurate. The CIA–and the greater intelligence community–doesn’t just want surveillance power. They also want autonomy without accountability–and in reality, isn’t that something we hear constantly in not so many words? You’ll never understand the situation because it’s classified; just know that we keep you safe and go on about your day.

There may not be trenches, grenades or drones in this conflict, but there is most definitely a conflict between Trump and the intel community. In fact, between the legislation introduced to abolish the ATF and the ongoing fight over who will control intelligence, 2017 is shaping up to be very interesting times…in a Chinese kind of way.

UPDATE: Robert Gore points out an article calling Schumer’s remarks a “dog whistle” telling the intel community to go ahead with whatever they want to do to Trump.

Thoughts on Infiltration and the Inner Circle Non-Negotiables

Note: After the Great Site Meltdown of 2016, I lost a lot of articles that, quite frankly, I wanted to keep and/or refer back to (and a few that I sincerely hope stay gone forever).  Now that the book is done, I’ve been going through the Wayback Machine and pulling some of the older articles for republication, so if you read something and think, “Gee, I think I read this a while back,” you might have. Read it again anyway. 😉

Recently I was in a conversation with someone over the non-negotiables—the things that for us, are automatic deal-breakers when considering someone for membership in our ‘tribe,’ so to speak. Now, keep in mind that there are obviously different levels of trust, and different activities and/or information levels that you’re going to engage in with various people. This topic is often danced around, or there’s a lot less thought given to it than there should be. It’s not as simple as “Yes I trust you” or “No, I don’t.” It’s not a 1-5 scale. It’s not a permanent rating, either—it can vary with every action, every word. Trust is beyond fragile, and at this point, if you don’t see it as a literal life-and-death thing, then you are playing tiddlywinks against an opponent who’s playing chess.

In order to talk about non-negotiables, we have to talk about infiltration. Often in a group (whether on Facebook or even off of it), people have a shortened trust process. I’ve ranted on the topic of the use of Facebook in the ‘patriot movement’ plenty so I won’t belabor that point now. Bottom line is, a lot of folks think that if they do a cursory Google search, and/or add someone on Facebook so they can check out their timeline, that should take care of the trust thing. [I’ll admit that if you’re aware of how to leverage the Google engine correctly, and use the right tools with it, it’s pretty powerful, but then again, you’re using Google, with all of the caveats and cautions that come with it.]

People have been lying about themselves on the internet since there first WAS an internet, but for some reason, people forget that. Even though it’s known that Bill Keebler had three federal agents in his inner circle for 18 months people think that it can’t happen to them. Even though it’s now known that there were 15 informants involved at the Malheur takeover, people still act like it’s shocking to think of.

I had someone tell me that “We expected there to be one there, but 15? That’s not even playing fair.” I didn’t even know how to respond to that without using profanity and the word “idiot.”

Here’s the cold truth. They have the funding, the time, and believe it or not, they have the talent. The FBI has been doing infiltration for decades (in many cases successfully), against far more violent groups with a lot tighter security than you have. Do some research on federal infiltration of organized crime, and I don’t mean watch the movie Donnie Brasco. Read the docs. The mafia was about as closed an organization as it gets, and the feds still wreaked havoc within that structure over time. Look at their escapades in the 1990s. “If you can’t infiltrate it, create it” was the motto. The feds were controlling militia units, white supremacy groups, you name it.

Folks like to portray federal agents as wholly incompetent government workers who can barely surveille their way out of a paper bag (and sure, some of them are) but let’s think about that. Fifteen informants at Malheur. Three on Keebler. Four that I can name off the top of my head currently operating in Washington State, with several more suspected. We’re talking long game operations, where these agents and informants were/are inner circle, even leadership. Entrapments where they get ‘good people’ to do ‘bad things.’ So, either people in the movement are pretty freaking stupid, or you’ll have to give a bit of begrudging admission that the feds aren’t as bad at this as the movement likes to make them out to be. Say what you want about the evil in their tactics…they’re still working. If they didn’t, the feds wouldn’t use them. I’ve already written some basics on the infiltration topic as an offensive tactic, and I’m sure I’ll write more later on that as well. But for now, let’s talk about why it matters in the context of non-negotiables.

If you’re talking about inner circle, you should first define what that phrase means to you. I’m a huge proponent of risk assessment—thinking through situations and making risk projections based on the information you have available, and then either making a mitigation plan for those risks, or simply altering your course of action to avoid the risk entirely. That’s a process that doesn’t get done enough. So when you’re talking about “inner circle,” what does that mean?

  • People you’re willing to talk about your preps and bugout plan with?
  • People you would actually SHARE your preps with?
  • People who you’d take life in prison for?
  • People who you’d break the law with?
  • People who you’d turn around from bugging out and go back for?
  • People who you’d trust to defend YOUR wife and kids with their lives?

As you can see, that tiny list could be expanded a great deal—and your definition may be one, two, or all of those. It may be something totally different. The point is, before you even start talking about inviting people into your ‘inner circle’ you need to define in your own head what that even means, and then you need to decide what kind of person they’d need to be in order to reach that level. What is that person’s worldview? What’s important to them?

People tell you a great deal by how they live. If you’re just looking for someone to organize a rally with, that’s one thing. But if you’re looking to create a solid small group for whatever you’ve got going on, you’ll need to be a LOT more choosy. (Keep in mind that when I’m talking about a group, I mean 5-7 people, no more than 10.) In order to decide what the criteria are for your mutual values and societal mores, you first need to know what YOU believe—and you’d be surprised at how much you probably haven’t thought about your own belief system. It’s not as simple as checking the list of hot-button political issues or candidates. If you’re looking to trust someone on that level, you need to know how they’ll respond in a given situation. What drives them? What do they need? What do they want? What’s most important to them? Don’t assume it’s their family or liberty or anything else. You may find out at a very critical time that his friendship with you is suddenly not that important when he’s facing jail time. You might realize that his loyalty stops when his kids get hungry. You may find that their self-preservation trumps even their own spouse.

It’s easy to toss out some generalized things. You need a guy with integrity, let’s say. You want someone with strong character who believes in liberty. Okay…but what does that mean? I know plenty of people who “believe in liberty” that I wouldn’t voluntarily be within a mile of, and plenty more who are ‘upstanding, good people’ who couldn’t pay me enough to get into my inner circle. I even know solid people who I work with on various things that will never be part of my inner circle. Truth be told, just because you believe in the right of people to believe and live as they choose doesn’t also mean you have to allow them in your groups. Now we start getting into the uncomfortable parts of the exercise.

What your deal-breaker list is made up of depends not necessarily on what you believe the world should be like (since if you actually understand liberty, that’s a pretty wide variety of things you’re not going to like, too), but what you want around you. For instance, I’m all for legalization of various drugs, but I won’t allow someone who uses them in my inner circle. Not because I have a moral problem with their conduct, because I don’t care what they do in their own lives. I would nix them because addiction is a liability to me. That also goes for marital relationships; I do not care what kind of arrangement you have in your own house; that’s your business. If the man in that marriage is weak, however, that’s a deal-breaker to me because as I’ve said before, if a man cannot stand up to his wife, he won’t stand up to anyone else (or it’ll be a fear-based aggression as opposed to a calm assertiveness under pressure). Either way, no thanks.

I have many other things like this, based on threat models, avenues of potential exploitation, and a host of other variables that I choose to minimize exposure to in my environment. Certain vices, certain activities, certain beliefs. Not because I want to judge them or because I see myself as somehow better than they are, but because I have decided that the vulnerability created by their presence outweighs any positive benefit. I’m not going to go deeper into what my list is; you need to decide your own list. Once you sit down and think about it, your list may include any of the following:

  • Faith or lack thereof. Religious differences can become a problem; some faith-based folks may not want to have an atheist in their group, and some atheists may not want “Bible thumpers” etc. in theirs. I know folks for whom the phrase “mission from God” is an instant stopping point. If they hear that, they’re out.
  • Financial solvency. Some may find financial issues to be an avenue of exploit they’re not willing to deal with. If someone has a house in foreclosure, or is filing bankruptcy, for instance, it may signal other issues that should be considered. Some refuse to work with those who are wholly dependent on the government for their sustenance (welfare, food stamps, etc.). Again, this is a decision you need to make for yourself, and you may want to consider the situation surrounding those circumstances as well.
  • Personal conduct. Sure, if someone is having an affair on their spouse, that’s their business. But it may give you pause about their trustworthiness. Certainly it’s not our job to police other people’s personal lives, but you have the right to decline to work or align with someone whose morals cause you concern. This heading covers a multitude of various things, and in recent months the movement has seen several examples of people deciding to publicly break off with conduct they find abhorrent.
  • Sexual deviancy or habits. This can include anything you see as exploitable. If you find out that someone has a certain sexual habit, that may be a red flag to you—especially if the person needs that habit kept secret.
  • White supremacy or other similar beliefs. Personally, if someone wants to rant about the origin of Jews or the need for a white nation, I’m out. Your mileage may vary.
  • Temper/mouth issues. This can be a big one. If someone cannot control their temper or their mouth, you may find that to be a liability (because it is). It can bring you and your group unwanted scrutiny.
  • Defiance of laws. Now, before you start screaming “I will not comply,” I want you to think about something. This is one of those items that makes YOUR thought process so critical. You and your group may be agitators, and so this may be a non-issue to you. However, if your goal is to stay under the radar, someone who likes open carrying and engaging in confrontations with cops may not be your best choice. YOU need to decide what is right for YOU and YOUR group.
  • Compliance with laws. Again, this comes under “what are you trying to accomplish?” If you’re an agitator, or your group plans to engage in civil disobedience, etc., then someone who’s not interested in those things might be an issue, or may even be a danger.
  • People who are in a relationship or married. Some activist groups advocate that working with a couple who is romantically involved is a bad idea for several reasons. Others refuse to work with people who are in the middle of a divorce, or in a bad/emotionally unstable relationship.
  • Drinkers and brawlers. You may decide that someone who drinks a great deal (or at all) is not a good fit, and the same goes for those who seem to enjoy physical confrontations.
  • Criminal history. You may choose not to work with someone with a criminal background, especially if that background involves fraud. Then again, it may be just what you’re looking for. Just keep in mind that a lot of informants were created when they were offered deals or found themselves in trouble with the ‘law.’
  • Obese folks. I know people who refuse to work with those who are obese or not physically fit. They see these folks as being a liability to their group. This may apply to those who don’t train with their weapons, or are unsafe gun handlers as well.
  • Lack of knowledge. You may not want to work with people who refuse to learn new skills, or who think they have already learned all they need to know.
  • People who seek leadership positions or need to feel important. This can be a big one, for reasons that you probably don’t need explained to you.
  • Overuse of social media. Some groups refuse to even recruit a member if they use social media.
  • People who like to cause drama, or who like to talk about violent action. The old joke is that it’s easy to tell who the fed in your group is; he’s the one always trying to get you to blow something up. That isn’t entirely true in every case, but the principle stands. I’ve heard people tell me that someone in their group “is a hothead but we love him because he’s dedicated.” Well, that person is also highly exploitable. It’s an uncomfortable truth that in order for entrapment to work, the person needs to agree to be a part of it. If you don’t allow yourself to associate with people who can even put you in that position, it makes your group less vulnerable.

As you can see, this list goes on and on. You may read through it and decide that none of these are an issue for you, or you’re willing to take the chance. You may add things to this list. You may even decide that all of these are on a case by case basis, or you may adopt them as hard and fast rules. Whatever you decide is just that—your decision. Think through the ways that a human can be exploited, and understand that if there is a weakness there, you can rest assured that someone is looking for it, is feeding their family based on their ability to find it, and will use it.

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Get Basics of Resistance:  The Practical Freedomista, Book I on Amazon.