Elected to restore public trust during an economic crisis and after eight years of the War in Iraq, Barack Obama was supposed to be the president that would pull the US past the stigmas and divisions of the 20th century. But when his legacy was threatened by the upset of the 2016 election, he relied on the same institutions of that past to defend it: the FBI, a complacent media, and corporate allies.
Those of us that grew up in the 1990s remember an intrepid pair of fictitious FBI agents who were assigned the most bizarre cases that the rest of the bureau couldn’t solve: Fox Mulder and Dr. Dana Scully. Mulder’s penchant for indulging the supernatural and extraterrestrial explanations led to a motto that he would sometimes employ: “I want to believe”. Scully was his skeptic foil, a woman of medicine and science. Since 2016, if not longer, corporate media has behaved like Agent Mulder on an ayahuasca trip after locking Scully in the cellar of his cabin in the woods. That pattern however is not by accident. Thanks to the incestuous relationship between corporate America, the Washington swamp, and the so-called free press, all of those institutions guarded the reputation of their symbolic leader: President Barack Obama.
In 2008 when he was elected, then-Senator Obama was the dream candidate of progressives and liberals, while the conservatives looked like they were finished for a generation. He would be the president that would rein in the big banks, create a universal healthcare system, end the foreign wars, and fulfill the vision of civil rights leaders who would have never dreamed of being elected during their lives. In every respect this promise turned sour. As both progressives and conservatives know, the Affordable Care Act did nothing to alleviate healthcare costs. Many Wall Street tycoons like Warren Buffett did rather well during his term, while middle America continued to decay. After he left office Obama palled around and kite surfed with British tycoon Richard Branson and started raking in speaking fees and Netflix deals. Remember, this was supposedly during the period when the New York Times on the eve of inauguration claimed Obama’s successor Donald Trump’s hard line America First agenda evoked “echoes of the 1930s“. The reason that Obama was probably not as hysterical as the press was that he already knew that those echoes of a totalitarian nightmare were being used in the service of him and his allies.
Those of us that ignored the chatter for the past three years would have been well served to listen to the Dan Bongino podcast, Tucker Carlson Tonight, or any number of news sources not on TV or in a major newspaper. There was a dedicated subculture of writers of the time that fought back against the overwhelming hysteria of the Russiagate narrative: Lee Smith, John Solomon, Sharyl Atkisson and others on the right; Glenn Greenwald, Michael Tracey, Aaron Maté on the left. These and others that saw the signs early on were able to identify that Obama was employing a digital age version of the same tactics that Cold War secret policemen like the KGB’s grandfather Feliks Dzerzhinsky and J. Edgar Hoover used to eliminate dissent.
Incompetent super spies
The different members of the American intelligence community top brass, the “Deep State” as many have started to appropriately call them, all played a role. In early 2017 FBI Director James Comey briefed Trump in person on the “Steele Dossier”, a file of unverified allegations of Russian ties and lurid sexual acts involving the new president. This directly parallels a file that Hoover sent to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1963. In the file was information about a payoff that his brother, Pres. John F. Kennedy, had made to his mistress Alicia Corning Clark to get her to drop a lawsuit. The message behind this is simple: “I know what you want to remain unknown, and if you play ball it can stay that way”.
The other leaders of the intelligence community played non-traditional roles during Russiagate and indeed much earlier. CIA director John Brennan has hedged and concealed his agency’s role in proliferating the Steele Dossier. In 2014 he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar after it was discovered that the CIA was spying on Senate staffers, including those of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) tweeted out:
The third head on the hydra, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, has a long history of saying falsehoods to the public. In 2013 he answered a question from Wyden as to whether the NSA knowingly spies on Americans by collecting data. “No, sir, not wittingly” answered Clapper, a veteran signals intelligence officer from his time in Vietnam in the late 1960s. If anyone understood what that question meant it was him, and it prompted NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden to turn to Wikileaks in order to expose the vast and unaccountable spying by the NSA contrary to Clapper’s testimony. This was an excellent instance for Obama to cut the chord and do away with Clapper, a ghoulish remnant of the worst elements of both Cold War and War on Terror era military industrial complex overreach. But he didn’t, because while on the surface he served to transform the image of the presidency into a more suave and sophisticated institution than his predecessor, he was at his core just as corrupt if not more than Bush. So Clapper faced no consequences; thanks to the cover of the Obama administration he retired comfortably in 2016. Thanks to the toothless nature of Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department the clock ran out on charging him for perjury in 2018. Clapper had the shameless audacity to deliver a speech in November 2019 about “lessons learned” from the Snowden affair about transparency. Meanwhile Snowden himself remains under asylum in Moscow, and in 2018 tweeted that “what the generals practice, the soldiers learn” in regard to Clapper avoiding the perjury charge.
Of course the most willful enablers of these cretins have been the media and Hollywood. Last November CNN’s Don Lemon interviewed Clapper concerning James Comey’s admission that FISA procedures were improperly followed (read: abused) by his agents as part of the spying on Trump campaign consultant Carter Page. Lemon didn’t bat an eye when Clapper surmised that Comey’s mistake was to trust in those procedures. Does that not sound odd. . . that a former top level intelligence official publicly stated that his subordinate as far as intelligence is concerned at the FBI wrongly assumed that his department’s procedures were reliable?
Media: The Velvet glove for the surveillance state
NBC News did one better when they hired Brennan as a national security and intelligence analyst. In 2018 Chuck Todd gave him a dedicated interview after Trump revoked Brennan’s security clearance. Todd must have missed the part where Brennan and Clapper sat down in February 2018 for an interview with director Rob Reiner (Stand by Me, The Princess Bride) on behalf of the “Committee to Investigate Russia”. In the twenty minute session Reiner, a lifelong liberal who had protested the Iraq War and despised Lyndon Johnson because he would have sent him to his death in Vietnam, ate up their lies like he was having a late night lasagna chow session by the light of the fridge. And in that span of time, Clapper and Brennan were able to say many words without stating any specifics.
Despite all of the warning signs (the Horowitz findings, Mueller Report, and the failed prosecution of the Internet Research Agency), the Chuck Todds and Don Lemons have never admitted that they were chasing a rabbit around the track for three years. It didn’t matter that in substance they were hopelessly removed from the truth, they had the right intent. And furthermore, Clapper just like Brennan was hired as a “national security analyst” in August 2017 for CNN. While Comey’s bumbling handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation which enraged Democrats and Republicans alike made him too unpalatable to employ by any network, his deputy Andrew McCabe was hired by CNN in August 2019. Other lower ranking deep state officials also joined their ranks:
- Malcolm Nance (US Naval intelligence, 1981-2001) has regularly been a panelist on MSNBC. Nance stated in a 2019 New Yorker interview that Trump had been effectively brainwashed during a 2013 meeting at Moscow’s Nobu Restaurant. In that same interview, Nance unraveled as he couldn’t create a consistent distinction between Trump being a “witting asset”, “unwitting asset”, or “agent” of the Kremlin. He then claimed that his accusation of Glenn Greenwald being an “agent of Trump and Putin” was rhetorical.
- Asha Rangappa (FBI, 2001-05) is a former Bureau lawyer who serves as another “national security analyst” at CNN. In 2018 she co-wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post demanding, on behalf of other FBI agents, to know why Michael Flynn lied to the Bureau. But evidence supplied to Flynn’s attorney has now revealed that the Bureau was trying to catch him in a lie, similar to a “perjury trap” but not under oath, prior to having any evidence of a crime. Last May after the Mueller Report was released she attempted to refute the Trump Administration’s “talking points” about the document through a selection of footnotes in Time. One such argument was that the Steele Dossier had not formed the predicate for the FBI investigation, but rather the contacts of Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos with “Russian intelligence agents”. But in documents that were revealed to John Solomon that main “agent” Joseph Mifsud revealed to the FBI that his contacts with Papadopoulos were mostly innocuous according to Mifsud, who could not be credibly connected to Moscow.
- Frank Figliuzzi (FBI, 1987-2012) was the assistant director of the FBI for counterintelligence and is a national security contributor to NBC News. He has appeared since then on MSNBC, including in one bizarre segment where he speculated that the White House decision on when (August 8) to raise flags from half mast after the El Paso and Dayton shootings was tied to the Nazi symbology of the number 88. Today he published an op-ed for NBC News claiming that Trump and AG William Barr are on a “scorched-earth joyride against justice” through the dropping of the Flynn prosecution. Figliuzzi neglects to mention that the entire case rested on a now missing FBI 302 report of Flynn’s questioning by agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka that was apparently heavily edited by Strzok and Department of Justice lawyer Lisa Page.
Business as usual?
How could this case get any more explosive? This is not the only time that America’s intelligence apparatus has intruded into the political process or the media. In 2007 it was revealed during a document unsealing that the CIA had in 1962, at the request of JFK, spied on New York Times national security reporter Hanson Baldwin. He had published leaked stories accurately assessing CIA knowledge of Soviet efforts to defend missile installations with concrete bunkers. Baldwin was later interrogated by the FBI. This was over ten years before Watergate became public knowledge. In 1964 Kennedy’s successor Lyndon Johnson’s CIA set up an operation to infiltrate the campaign of GOP opponent Barry Goldwater. The man who ran that operation was E. Howard Hunt, later a Watergate co-conspirator.
During the Mueller investigation Carl Bernstein, one half of Woodward & Bernstein duo that exposed the 1972 Watergate burglary and cover-up was dubbed the “worse than Watergate guy” by Dilbert creator Scott Adams. But Obamagate as it’s now being called may indeed be a tsunami that makes Watergate look like a ripple in the pond. During Watergate the press did expose corruption and wrongdoing. Now during Obamagate they fabricate stories and conceal real ones, all with the goal of protecting their beloved former president.
How much worse one might ask? In May 2017 one of Trump’s primary opponents Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) formally requested to know whether the Obama Administration used the intelligence community to spy on other campaigns including his, as well as judges, congressmen, clergy, lawyers, and members of Congress. This week current acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell dropped off a “satchel” of documents at the White House. According to journalist Adam Housley, those documents may confirm exactly what Paul was talking about.