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.

ATF on the Chopping Block Again, So Brace for Waco 2

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced legislation to abolish the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Gun-running, Explosives, and Childkilling, also known as ATF or BATFE. According to his proposal, he thinks the ATF’s ‘duties’ (I use the term loosely) could be absorbed by the FBI and DEA. If the bill passes, then the ATF has six months to come up with a plan for how it’ll dissolve.

While a lot of folks are cheering because Drain The Swamp and Take Our Country Back and all of that stuff, they’re missing a whole other layer to this situation.

Remember last time the ATF was up for dissolution? That was in 1993. When Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) proposed back then that ATF needed to be dissolved, the agency scrambled to find a way to justify its own existence. Surely, if they had a big bust, a big save, the government would see how very important and necessary they were. But who could they arrest? What could they do to prove they needed to stick around?

They decided to go after a guy in Texas, named Vernon Howell–known to his church as David Koresh. The rest, as they say, is history; a bloody, horrifying, charred and craven piece of history that proved only the depravity of the ATF and the greater federal government.

Why does this matter now? Because depravity doesn’t lessen over time. The government has more capability now, more reasons for self-preservation, and those who would stand against them are awakening as well. The battlespace is the same in some ways and yet very different in others.

In short, if you think the ATF will go quietly into the good night, you are sorely mistaken, and history shows that they are willing to do anything–even knowingly and with malice gas and blow up children–to ensure their place at the table.

What does that mean for us? Take a look around. In the state of Washington alone, two major gun bills are on the table that would result in crippling blows to firearm rights. Oregon is in the same position, as a gun-hungry governor has made it her mission to disarm the populace. In both states, there are a large number of armed and defiant patriots. Do that math.

Now add in the informant variable. We already know that the government is willing to pay nearly any price and wait any length of time to infiltrate, facilitate and even coerce people into doing ‘illegal’ things. Look at Kenneth Fadeley and Randy Weaver. How many months and even years in he spend pushing Weaver to saw off some shotguns for him? How many lies were told? How much (taxpayer) money was spent? In case you think that was a long time ago and that doesn’t happen anymore, go read about Bill Keebler’s case. The feds put three undercover guys on one, for 18 months. Think about that. Three.  Keebler got tag-teamed, for a year and a half. Was he playing stupid games? Yes. Did the agents create the game, or did it occur organically? No way to know now, is there?

Look at the Malheur refuge. Now, anyone who knows me knows that while I supported a stand on behalf of the Hammonds, I didn’t support the moronic, ill-prepared, wholly-infiltrated ruckus that went on at Malheur. That’s a whole other issue, not for this article. But let’s take a moment to think about the total manpower, money, and time that the ATF, FBI, and other agencies put into just the informants and undercover agents. Now think about how far they’ve gone to protect the names of those informants and undercover agents. Why do you think that is? Here’s a hint–it’s not because those folks are retiring to a remote piece of Arizona.

Now let’s put it all together.

You’ve got a scandal-ridden agency with a proven history of both depraved indifference to human life and overt, premeditated targeting of children (and then a coverup on top of it, characterized by two decades of lies and more depravity to ensure the story stays buried), and this agency is threatened with extinction. They’ve already proven that they will do anything, kill anyone, and lie as much as they have to in order to justify their own existence. That’s one side of the equation.

On the other side, you have a bunch of folks who, let’s face it, run the gamut between fairly well-meaning but poorly trained, and mouth-breathing morons who either want a confrontation, or are too stupid to avoid one. Within that side are a host of folks who also can’t tell a federal informant if she’s cooking them breakfast—literally.  You’ve got the ego-driven, the ‘Meal Team Sixers,’ the liars and posers and everyone else. That’s pretty much the other side.

Between those two sides are a group of people who are forced to spend a fair amount of their time either talking to people about how to not be stupid, or standing outside yet another event that got stupid because of stupid people, or trying to not get pegged as one of the many stupid people. These folks are training. They’re building local communities. They’re reading books and learning new skills and teaching others the skills they already have. They’re not looking to take over the next landmark or start the next national ruckus. They’re too busy learning, training, and working.

Imagine that situation now, if you will. Depraved federal agency and morons, with the solid folks in the middle trying to keep things from getting out of control. You can argue that this isn’t how it is, but you’d be wrong.

Now imagine that the depraved agency is cornered and faced with extinction. It’s like a rat in a trap, and it’s looking for someone—anyone—it can use to save itself.

What do you think is going to happen here?

One of the the things that Mike Vanderboegh used to say is “No more free Wacos.” In 2017, it’s quite possible that we will all be faced with the question, “or what?

Donald Trump appoints a CyberSecurity Advisor Whose Own Site is a Disaster

Well, this is awkward.…or is it something else?