In 1927, the French writer Julian Benda published La Trahison des Clercs, or “Treason of the Clerks,” blasting the likes of politician, poet and critic Charles Maurras for their turn to a reactionary, racist nationalism.
Today’s counterpart is the treason of the spooks, namely the 50 former top intelligence officials who published a manifesto on October 19 denouncing inquiries into presidential aspirant Joe Biden’s family finances as a “Russian information operation.”
“We write to say that the arrival on the US political scene of emails purportedly belonging to Vice President Biden’s son Hunter, much of it related to his time serving on the Board of the Ukrainian company Burisma, has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
This is perhaps the most flabbergasting document in American political history. The New York Post, a right-leaning tabloid, published emails from Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his associates, including one from a dodgy Ukrainian businessman thanking Hunter for introducing him to the then-vice president Biden.
Hunter was then a director of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, owned by Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky through his Brociti Investments Limited. The elder Biden has insisted for years that he had no knowledge of his son’s business dealings, and the New York Post appeared to have caught him in an outright lie about influence-peddling.
Meanwhile, the former CEO of one of Hunter Biden’s ventures, one Tony Bobulinski, produced emails and text messages showing that the Democratic presidential candidate was intimately involved with his son Hunter’s joint venture with a Chinese company. Joe Biden has refused to answer questions on the topic.
Apart from right-leaning media such as the New York Post and Wall Street Journal, the mainstream American media has outright boycotted the topic. The investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, who in 2014 broke the Edward Snowden revelations about illegal spying on US citizens by US intelligence agencies, has been forced out of the publication he created because the editors suppressed his own story on the Biden revelations.
Greenwald, a left-leaning liberal critic of US intelligence operations, complained last week to Fox News that his publication, The Intercept, published only one article “that made reference snidely and dismissively to those documents, saying that no-one should pay attention to it, because it was Russian disinformation.”
Greenwald went on: “And it cited a letter from [former CIA director] John Brennan, [former director of national intelligence] James Clapper, [former CIA and NSA director] Mike Hayden and the rest of the goons from the CIA and Intelligence Community asserting it. Worse still, this letter said that we have no evidence that Russia is involved with it.”
Britain issues “D-notices” to the press when the government deems that publication of an article would damage national security. The major American media is doing the same thing at the behest of a cabal of former intelligence officers.
Even worse, this cabal does not even claim to have evidence of Russian provenance of the Biden emails. Their letter reads: “We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement — just that our experience makes us deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case.”
The unsupported opinion of former intelligence officers is sufficient grounds to occult from the public view documents which purport to prove corrupt behavior on the part of a candidate for the presidency. The major media has asked Biden no questions about them, and Biden has declined to comment.
“The real story of the last four years of the Trump administration is that for a long time on the Left there was a healthy skepticism of the CIA,” Greenwald said. “That is all disappeared. And the reason it has disappeared is that the CIA from the very first days of the Trump administration, even before he was inaugurated, devoted themselves to sabotaging his administration because he questioned a few of their pieties.
“That can’t be done in Washington. Whoever does that must be destroyed. And so the CIA and Deep State operatives became heroes of the liberal Left…They are now in a full union with the neo-cons, the Bush-Cheney operatives, the CIA, Silicon Valley and Wall Street,” Greenwald said.
By “Bush-Cheney operatives,” Greenwald presumably means the mainstream Republican party now led by the 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The “neo-cons” in question are the “Never-Trump” Republicans Bill Kristol, Max Boot, and David Frum, among others. Silicon Valley means Big Tech (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, et. al.).
Twitter, the most widely used social media platform for circulating news stories, prevented its users from sharing the New York Post report on the Hunter Biden emails. So did Facebook. The New York Post is not a louche site lurking in the corners of the dark web, but a major American daily founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton.
At a Senate hearing last week, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) demanded of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, “Who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear?”
Dorsey apologized but the damage was done. If the spook cabal can censor social media when it is out of power, one only can imagine what it will do when it returns to power. The alliance of Silicon Valley and the Deep State of which Greenwald spoke might impose Orwellian controls on public debate.
The Deep State uses extralegal powers to cover up its blunders. There were two “pieties” of the US Intelligence Community that Trump violated. The first has to do with American relations with Russia, and the other is America’s wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
The Bush administration’s 2003 invasion of Iraq made the reputations and in many cases the personal fortunes of hundreds of senior US intelligence officers. An entire generation of spooks as well as diplomats rose to prominence for their roles in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the subsequent civil war in Syria.
Many billions of dollars went missing in those operations, which never have been subject to audit. Lieutenant General Michael Flynn proposed to audit the CIA, but was forced out of office by an FBI perjury trap during his first month on the job as Trump’s National Security Advisor.
What binds the Intelligence Community to the never-Trumpers and the Biden campaign, though, goes far beyond simple corruption, although that may have played a role.
The neo-conservative “nation builders” of the Republican party and the liberal internationalists of the Democratic Party agree that America has the right and obligation to re-shape the world in its own image. The self-appointed, self-perpetuating elite that clusters in the Intelligence Community and reaches into Wall Street, Big Tech and academia believes that it has the prerogative to treat the world as a vast laboratory experiment, and its inhabitants as Guinea pigs.
One of the signators of the spook manifesto is former CIA and NSA chief General Michael Hayden. In a 2013 conversation, I asked Hayden why the Republican mainstream had embraced the Muslim Brotherhood rather than the military government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, an American-trained soldier who espoused a reformed Islam that would repudiate terrorism.
“We were sorry that [Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed] Morsi was overthrown” in July 2013, he said. “We wanted to see what would happen when the Muslim Brotherhood had to take responsibility for picking up the garbage.” The Intelligence Community believed (and still may believe) that the Muslim Brotherhood, a totalitarian vanguard party in the Nazi mold, might be turned into a vehicle for Islamic democracy—a nutty idea, but widely held.
“General,” I remonstrated, “when Morsi was overthrown, Egypt had three weeks of wheat supplies on hand. The country was on the brink of starvation!” The humorless Hayden replied, “I guess that experiment would have been tough on the ordinary Egyptian.”
One thinks of the Duke Brothers in the 1983 comedy “Trading Places,” except that the intended victims of the experiment were 100 million Egyptians rather than Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy.
Trump pulled the rug out from under this deranged exercise in social engineering by eschewing “endless wars.” Even worse, Trump got results, as I reported in September. By refusing to put American boots on the ground, Trump encouraged the Arab Gulf States to normalize their ties with Israel, a prospective ally against both Iran, which wants Shiite Islam to dominate the Muslim world rather than the Gulf monarch’s Sunni sect, and Turkey, the main sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood, which hopes to replace the Gulf monarchies.
That’s one instance of Trump’s lése majesté. The other is the matter of Russia. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, the American foreign policy establishment has lived with an obsession, namely the creation of a Western-style democratic regime in Russia. It bet on Boris Yeltsin, a drunken and feckless frontman for the oligarchs who divided the loot of the former Soviet state. The former KGB officer Vladimir Putin stabilized Russia in the nasty way that Russian rulers have done since the 16th century.
Putin became the white whale of the Ahabs of the Intelligence Community, and regime change in Russia remains at the top of their agenda. Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was caught red-handed trying to stage-manage the 2014 Maidan coup in Ukraine. Nuland (married to never-Trump neoconservative Robert Kagan) hoped that an overthrow of a Russian-backed government in Ukraine would lead to the overthrow of Putin himself.
Trump doesn’t care who sits in the Kremlin, unless it affects American interests. He is willing to play dirty against Russia, for example by using sanctions to sandbag the Nord Stream II pipeline, if it advances American interests, in this case American liquefied natural gas sales to Europe.
He embraced the Poles, who view Russia with trepidation, and reinforced their defenses. But Trump has no interest in regime change and was happy to let Russia play the lead role in stabilizing Syria while removing American forces from the country. Relations with Russia probably would deteriorate significantly if Biden is elected.
The disagreements between the spook cabal and Trump over China are more subtle. Trump doesn’t want a war with China. He fired his National Security Advisor John Bolton, a hothead who wanted to challenge China by reinforcing Taiwan including with the deployment of US troops, which Trump viscerally opposes. Trump also tried to lower the temperature with North Korea through personal diplomacy.
Unlike Trump, Big Tech doesn’t want to compete with Chinese manufacturing. Since the 2000 tech stock crash, Silicon Valley has concentrated on software and left the manufacturing to Asia.
Trump ran for office on a pledge to reduce America’s trade deficit with China through tariffs. The Covid-19 pandemic frustrated this effort, as US demand for consumer electronics buoyed purchases from China to near-record levels. The tech war against China’s leading telecommunications equipment firm Huawei was an afterthought.
As Edward Snowden revealed – thanks to the reporting of Glen Greenwald and others – the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group have swept up the world’s signals transmissions during the past four decades.
The advent of 5G telecommunications threatens American dominance of signals intelligence because it makes possible the universal adoption of hack-proof quantum cryptography, as I report in my book, You Will be Assimilated.
Trump pursued the tech war with some reluctance until March of this year, when he blamed China for spreading a virus that shut down the US economy and threatened his most important achievements in office. Previously, he had resisted proposals to choke off the supply of high-end chips to Huawei and some other Chinese companies.
A Biden administration probably would offer China a relaxation of some controls on technology exports in return for easier access to China’s internal market for US tech companies. Neither policy will be of much help to the US, though.
If the chip embargo continues, China eventually will learn to produce what it requires internally; if the US instead obtains concessions for US companies, American software vendors will sell more to China while America’s competitive position will continue to deteriorate.