Trump’s Showdown With the CIA
It doesn’t come more scathing than this. On nationwide television, US President-elect Donald Trump rubbished the Central Intelligence Agency as “ridiculous” for making claims that Russian hackers helped get him elected.
The CIA – America’s foremost intelligence apparatus set up after the Second World War by then President Harry Truman – is supposed to be the guiding light for occupants of the White House on all matters geopolitical.
And here we have aspiring White House occupant Donald Trump telling the CIA to shut up.
Over the last week, the spy agency was quoted by both the Washington Post and New York Times as having informed anonymous government officials that there was “high confidence” that Russian-sponsored hackers had interfered in the US presidential election in favor of Trump over his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton.
The alleged modus operandi to sway the election was the leaking of private emails to whistleblower site Wikileaks which implicated Clinton in big business corruption and fomenting foreign wars, among other scandals.
It’s a sensational claim, especially given that the CIA or its unnamed official conduits quoted by the US’ two most prominent newspapers have provided zero evidence to support their contention of Russian malfeasance. Russia has flatly denied the accusations. As has Wikileaks.
In effect, the explosive insinuation is that Trump’s election last month is invalid because voting was marred by foreign manipulation.
In his subsequent slap-down of the CIA, Trump was clearly implying that the supposedly prestigious spy agency was far from competent. He said that the hacking of the Democrat party’s emails could have been carried out by anybody, including “someone sitting in their bed somewhere”. He also expressed skepticism on the specific claim that Russia was to blame. His campaign team went even further in its dismissal of the CIA, saying: “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”
Adding insult to injury, Trump also disclosed that he is reducing the daily briefings customarily received by presidents to weekly meetings. “I don’t need to hear the same words every day,” he said, adding that “when something changes” then the CIA and can call him.
In a previous edition of this column it was speculated that the CIA and its secretive Deep State networks might pull off a “digital 9/11” on the day of the November 8 election to scupper a Trump victory. During the long run-up to the ballot, it was abundantly evident that the US political establishment, including the CIA and mass media, favored Clinton to win. Her belligerent foreign policy towards Russia was certainly something that former CIA officials were endorsing.
As it turned out, Trump’s election blindsided the US establishment. The latter were sure Clinton was a shoo-in. The bolt from nowhere may be why the powers-that-be appeared slow to react on Trump’s election.
The latest dredging up of allegations about Russian hackers getting Trump into the White House seems to be part of a retrospective action by the Deep State to call the presidential election in the way that it sees fit.
It is worth noting that from a constitutional viewpoint Trump’s inauguration as 45th president is not finalized. Legal challenges are underway aimed at forcing the decisive Electoral College to overturn earlier votes for Trump.
If enough brouhaha is whipped up over alleged Russian interference in the US election – and large sections of the US corporate media seem all too willing to do that – then a critical number of Electoral College votes might be revoked in Clinton’s favor.
Trump appears to be aware of this stealth agenda. As well as lambasting the CIA’s “Russian hacker” claims as rubbish, he also said that it was a brazen partisan effort by his Democrat rival and her powerful backers to overturn an election result that they did not accept. In short, Trump is inferring an electoral coup attempt.
But even if the CIA and its spooks fail to thwart Trump in taking the White House, an alternative, less controversial option is to smear the next president as a Russian stooge. That charge has already been made during the election campaign when Trump was denigrated by Clinton and media pundits for being a “puppet” of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Following Trump’s election victory, those charges notably disappeared from public discourse.
However, the recent resurfacing of CIA claims that Russia interfered in the election serves to recall earlier smears. That in turn seems designed to curtail Trump’s stated foreign policy objective of normalizing US-Russia relations. In particular, Trump has said he wants to work with Russia on resolving the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts.
In recent days, Trump has flagged the possibility of appointing ExxonMobil boss Rex Tillerson (left) as the next Secretary of State. The oil tycoon has extensive industry links with Russia as well as reportedly cordial personal relations with president Putin. He has publicly opposed the erstwhile US sanctions policy on Russia as counterproductive. Trump’s consideration of Rex Tillerson for the top diplomat position has provoked disapproving media headlines that such a choice is “proof” of Russia’s hand in steering the US election.
In the wake of sensational CIA claims that Russia interfered to get Trump elected, one can see how his presidency will be dogged by ongoing aspersions that his policies are somehow hostage to the Kremlin’s orchestration.
One way or another, however, whether the Deep State can succeed in thwarting Trump taking the White House or rather confines itself to warping his foreign policy towards Russia, the reality is that Trump seems to be on a collision course with his top spooks.
Trump’s brusque attitude toward the CIA over its claims of Russian subversion suggest that he is prepared for a bruising encounter. So much so that the Washington Post is reporting that personnel within the agency are anxious that Trump in office will exact retribution with mass sackings at the agency’s Langley headquarters.
There was a time when no US president would dare take on the CIA, such was the agency’s fearsome reputation for dirty tricks and political assassinations. Only one president pushed that envelope. John F Kennedy threatened to smash the CIA into a “thousand pieces and throw it to the wind” following the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961. Two years later, the CIA and its mafia contractors had JFK murdered in broad daylight in Dallas, Texas.
If Trump follows through on his showdown with the CIA, he will have to tread carefully. But, as with other tentacles of the US empire, the CIA is no longer the same all-powerful agency it once was.
The American public have become more attuned to how the Deep State operates through its fake news media conduits in order to propagandize and manage perception. That is partly why the US media is currently floundering from a credibility crisis.
Significantly too, the US domestic crime agency, the FBI, has pointedly declined to support the CIA’s reported contentions about Russian interference in the US election. Moreover, quite a few senior US lawmakers in Congress have expressed skepticism over the CIA claims.
The time for muzzling the CIA may be at hand.
ER recommends other articles by Sputnik News
About the author
Finian Cunningham is a former editor and writer for major news media organizations including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent, and writes extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages
Find out about our great (WOW) TLB Project Membership package and benefits, add your voice and help us to change the world!