So the CIA and FBI are the good guys because you hate Trump?
Yonden Lhatoo marvels at the role reversal of America’s intelligence agencies from the villains of history to champions of democracy, all because they can’t get along with a belligerent president who just does not trust them.
There’s no denying how US President Donald Trump has mortified Americans, both at home and around the world, with his astonishing capitulation and public display of subservience to Russian President Vladimir Putin at their surreal summit in Helsinki this week.
“I don’t see any reason why it would be [Russia that interfered in the 2016 presidential election],” was his jaw-dropping reply when asked whether he trusted his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions about meddling by Moscow.
Trump’s dogged refusal to criticise or confront Putin, who was standing right next to him on the world stage, appalled Americans across the political divide. How could the president of the United States throw his own spy masters under the bus, in full public glare, by accepting the word of such a ruthless strongman and adversary over theirs?
So, facing an uproar back home in Washington, including cries of “treason” and “Putin’s puppet”, Trump tried to back-pedal with what has to be the most asinine and cringeworthy excuse ever.
“The sentence should have been: ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t’ or ‘why it wouldn’t be Russia’,” he clarified. “Sort of a double negative.”
But let’s set aside the insult to everyone’s intelligence and resist the urge to ridicule Trump over all this – there’s more than enough of that going on already. Instead, let’s take a look at an equally astonishing phenomenon that is the by-product of the 45th American president’s contempt for the intelligence community – the mind-boggling deification of spooks and G-men.
I mean since when did the CIA, the FBI and the NSA become the good guys? To all purposes, they’ve always been the instruments of the “deep state” and destroyers of democracy. They have lied, spied, conspired, and perpetrated all manner of atrocities throughout history, riding roughshod over the intrinsic values that make America a great nation. Now, all of a sudden, they’re the sainted saviours?
So deep is their hatred of the man elected to lead them that the so-called liberals and progressives in the US are now putting the bogeymen on a pedestal to bring down their new arch-enemy. It’s like they’re celebrating Aids to spite Ebola.
Don’t forget the incredible irony of how it began with ousted FBI director James Comey, who was first vilified by the anti-Trump brigade for shattering Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, just 11 days before election day, with the revelation that his agents were investigating her dodgy email dealings.
But when he started butting heads with Trump over allegations of collusion with Russia and was unceremoniously fired for his efforts, Comey suddenly became Mother Teresa to orphaned Trump haters.
Sure, Russian spies and hackers may indeed have infiltrated the US elections, but American intelligence agencies have done far, far worse to other countries since time immemorial.
The CIA has undermined and sabotaged democratic elections throughout the world to protect and further American agenda, from stuffing ballot boxes and spreading false news to bribery, extortion and even murder. The NSA has spied, and is still spying, on everyone and their mother as I write this. These goons are the good guys?
There was a surreal moment at the White House when the lights suddenly went off as Trump was professing his “faith in the intelligence services”. “That must be the intelligence agencies!” he joked.
Others quipped that Trump had become so toxic, even electricity was deserting him.
Say what you will, but the real joke is on the intelligence agencies, as evidenced by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats’ cluelessness when told that Trump had invited Putin to Washington. It’s good to see them in the dark for a change.
Yonden Lhatoo is the chief news editor at the Post