|Clear and Present Danger||
10 September 2019
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
In espionage, an intelligence officer's greatest triumph is the recruitment of an agent within an adversary's government. His greatest fear is losing that asset, especially by violent death. The agent, of course, is much more concerned about that, and the risks being run eventually don't justify keeping one's head in a noose that is tightening. Extraction of an agent is the end of his usefulness, but at the same time, it keeps others in line, knowing that when push comes to shove, death in not inevitable. Yet it is rare for an agent to be extracted because of a new leader in the country for which he works. That happened, however, in 2017 when Donald Trump became president, The CIA was so concerned about his inability to keep his mouth shut that it extracted an agent within the Kremlin.
The Washington Post reports, "The Moscow informant was instrumental to the C.I.A.'s most explosive conclusion about Russia's interference campaign: that President Vladimir V. Putin ordered and orchestrated it himself. As the American government's best insight into the thinking of and orders from Mr. Putin, the source was also key to the C.I.A.'s assessment that he affirmatively favored Donald J. Trump's election and personally ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
"The informant, according to people familiar with the matter, was outside of Mr. Putin's inner circle, but saw him regularly and had access to high-level Kremlin decision-making -- easily making the source one of the agency's most valuable assets."
The information was so sensitive that it was kept from Mr. Obama's daily briefings. Instead, the information was sent in separate, sealed envelopes to the Oval Office.
The reason for the extraction, and the end of the agent's usefulness to the US, was the Trump administration's continuous mishandling of classified material. While no evidence exists that the president directly endangered the source, the climate in the White House was such that extracation was deemed necessary.
"We have a president who, unlike any other president in modern history, is willing to use sensitive, classified intelligence however he sees fit," said Steven L. Hall, a former CIA officer who managed the Russia desk. "He does it in front of our adversaries. He does it by tweet. We are in uncharted waters."
Blowing an agent's cover for political purposes is nothing new for the Republican Party. Scooter Libby of Vice President Cheney's staff in the administration of Bush the Lesser leaked the identity of Valerie Plame of the CIA's clandestine service. That ended her career and endangered many with whom she worked.
That, however, was done to advance a political agenda, which is genuinely awful. Mr. Trump, though, has given away intelligence just to show off. He invited Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Ambassador to the US Kislyak to the Oval Office and revealed a critical source belonging to an ally in the Islamic State. One intelligence office said Trump "revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies." And all he did it for was to boost his own image.
Mr. Trump is unfit to serve as president, but it is his inability to keep his mouth shut is the primary reason to oppose him. He could easily get someone killed by talking about things he should not talk about. The rest of his incompetence fades in relation to this. His inability to get Mexico to pay for a wall or his inability to pass any meaningful legislation beyond a tax giveaway are bad, but they are not lethal. Giving away state secrets is another matter.
© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.