Archive for the ‘CIA and politics’ category

CIA Keeping a Watchful Eye on. . .its Director!

August 27, 2017

CIA Keeping a Watchful Eye on. . .its Director! Power Line, Paul Mirengoff, August 26, 2017

Pompeo works closely with President Trump, as one should want a CIA to do. But does this mean he is going to compromise the investigation into the 2016 election in order to help Trump politically?

There is no reason to think so. The anti-Trump, anti-Pompeo leakers at the CIA acknowledge that Pompeo has not impeded the investigation. However, they express concern “about what he might do if the CIA uncovered new information potentially damaging to Trump and Pompeo were forced to choose between protecting the agency or the president.” The fear, as one of them put it, is “that if you were passing on something too dicey [to Pompeo] he would go to the White House with it.”

The fear is absurd. If the Trump’s enemies in the CIA, the FBI, or the Mueller dream team ever come up with anything damaging to Trump, the president will read about it in the Washington Post and the New York Times before anyone has time to “go to the White House with it.”

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This Washington Post story is called “At CIA, a watchful eye on Mike Pompeo, the president’s ardent ally.” It sounds like the CIA is spying on its own director. If there is such a thing as the “deep state,” I think we have sighted it.

According to Post reporter Greg Miller, “Mike Pompeo has taken a special interest in an agency unit that is closely tied to the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, requiring the Counterintelligence Mission Center to report directly to him.” That’s one way of putting it. A more honest way would be to acknowledge that the investigation in question is actually a broad counterintelligence probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The media and its Democratic allies would have us believe that Russian interference in that election is the greatest, most ominous intelligence caper of all time. Even if it falls somewhat short of that billing, as it almost certainly does, why shouldn’t the head of the CIA take a “special interest” in the matter?

The Post and the Democrats can’t have it both ways. Russian interference in the 2016 election can’t be both an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a hostile foreign power’s intelligence operatives and a matter as to which the CIA director should take little interest.

I’m sure the Post, as well as Trump’s enemies in the CIA, would like Pompeo to recuse himself from the investigation, as Jeff Sessions recused himself at the Justice Department. But there’s no reason why he should.

Sessions recused himself because of testimony he gave regarding the Russian ambassador and, perhaps, because he was part of the Trump campaign team. Pompeo has given no problematic testimony about Russia and was not part of the Trump campaign.

Unlike Sessions, he did not even provide Trump an early endorsement. Even when Trump became the presumptive nominee, Pompeo would say only that he would “support the nominee of the Republican Party because Hillary Clinton cannot be president of the United States.”

That was then. Now, Pompeo works closely with President Trump, as one should want a CIA to do. But does this mean he is going to compromise the investigation into the 2016 election in order to help Trump politically?

There is no reason to think so. The anti-Trump, anti-Pompeo leakers at the CIA acknowledge that Pompeo has not impeded the investigation. However, they express concern “about what he might do if the CIA uncovered new information potentially damaging to Trump and Pompeo were forced to choose between protecting the agency or the president.” The fear, as one of them put it, is “that if you were passing on something too dicey [to Pompeo] he would go to the White House with it.”

The fear is absurd. If the Trump’s enemies in the CIA, the FBI, or the Mueller dream team ever come up with anything damaging to Trump, the president will read about it in the Washington Post and the New York Times before anyone has time to “go to the White House with it.”

Moreover, executive-order guidelines prohibit the CIA from passing information to the White House “for the purpose of affecting the political process in the United States.” Neither the Post nor its sources offers any reason to believe that Pompeo would violate this order. In lieu of such evidence or analysis, the Post’s Miller ends up whining about Pompeo’s social conservatism, as if it is somehow relevant.

Miller’s piece contains this bit of unintended irony: In addition to the importance of the Russia investigation, the other reason the CIA has given for Pompeo’s active participation in the matter is concern about leaks. The fact that CIA officials are smearing the director in the pages of the Washington Post, going so far as to say he can’t be trusted to follow executive-order guidelines, strongly suggests that Pompeo’s concern about leaks is well-founded.

If CIA employees are going to keep a “watchful eye” on their director, they shouldn’t object if their director keeps a watchful eye on them.

White House Clearance Process Increasingly Politicized

May 2, 2017

White House Clearance Process Increasingly Politicized, Washington Free Beacon, May 1, 2017

Ben Rhodes, Michael Flynn / Getty Images

“The CIA did not want to deal with him,” Codevilla stated. “Hence, it used the power to grant security clearances to tell the president to choose someone acceptable to the agency, though not so much to him.”

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Security clearances granting access to state secrets have become increasingly politicized in a bid by opponents to block senior advisers to President Trump from joining the closed White House community of those with access secret intelligence.

In February, intelligence agencies denied a high-level security clearance to Robin Townley, an African affairs specialist and close aide to then-White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The denial of the Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance, the high-level security clearance known as TS/SCI, was widely viewed as a bureaucratic power play by opponents of both Flynn and Townley inside intelligence agencies.

Angelo Codevilla, an intelligence expert, said the denial of clearances was engineered by the CIA and came despite Townley’s holding of the high level clearance for many years when he worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The clearance denial drove Townley out of the White House National Security Council staff.

The apparent motivation was political, as Townley was known inside government as a critic of the current intelligence structure. Townley, like Flynn, advocated for intelligence reforms designed to improve what many critics regard as an outdated system of intelligence agencies.

“The CIA did not want to deal with him,” Codevilla stated. “Hence, it used the power to grant security clearances to tell the president to choose someone acceptable to the agency, though not so much to him.”

Flynn also is under scrutiny from the Pentagon inspector general over foreign payments he received after retiring as an Army three-star general and whether they were reported on security clearance forms.

Several months before Townley’s clearance denial, Democrats on Capitol Hill complained about plans to give high-level security clearances to Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner. Both were granted interim TS/SCI clearances and currently are presidential advisers.

The blocking of security clearances under Trump contrasts with the handling of clearances during the Obama administration when a key liberal adviser with a questionable security background was given a high-level clearance.

Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser for strategic communications under Obama, was denied an interim TS/SCI clearance by the FBI in October 2008, according to an email obtained from John Podesta last year.

The email stated that Rhodes was the only White House official out of 187 prospective White House aides to be denied the interim TS/SCI clearance.

Yet, despite the denial, Rhodes would later be granted access to some of the most secret U.S. intelligence information and emerge as one Obama’s closest aides who boasted of a “mind-meld” with the president on various issues.

Rhodes became one of the most active originators and shapers of key American foreign and national security policies under Obama.

He engineered what he dubbed the “echo chamber” of pliable news reporters and think tank experts who could be relied on to spread White House propaganda, including false and misleading information, to the American public on the Iran nuclear deal in a bid to win congressional backing for the accord.

Two House Republicans asked the FBI in January to investigate how Rhodes was granted access to secrets for eight years after the initial denial of an interim clearance in 2008.

Regarding Ivanka Trump and Kushner, two House Democrats, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.) complained on Twitter in November that granting clearances to the couple would be improper and a conflict of interest because they were in business and lacked government experience.

High-level security clearances are granted to White House officials so they can participate in various activities, including policy development work, meetings with the president and senior advisers, working groups, and intelligence briefings.

Most internal meetings are classified and thus a security clearance is required for access. Denying a clearance to an official can be tantamount to firing.

In the White House complex, junior clerical staff members often are granted TS/SCI clearance.

Most jobs inside the White House complex, which includes the executive mansion and the adjacent Eisenhower executive office building, where the National Security Council and other key posts are located, require the TS/SCI clearance. Other clearance levels include Secret and Confidential.

The process for gaining a clearance includes filling out Form SF-86 that requires disclosing details of past employment and finances.

Chinese hackers were able to gain access to millions of the secret and highly sensitive forms during the hack disclosed last year of the Office of Personnel Management. The stolen SF-86s were among some 22 million documents on federal employees stolen and could greatly assist Chinese intelligence agent recruitment and cyber espionage operations.

Ground for clearance denial can include illegal drug use, contacts with foreign governments, or a history of bankruptcy.

The TS/SCI clearance grants a holder access to special intelligence, such as information obtained from foreign recruited agents and electronic communications intelligence.

The clearance also can include signing extensive non-disclosure agreements.

Confirmed: John Brennan Colluded With Foreign Spies to Defeat Trump

April 19, 2017

Confirmed: John Brennan Colluded With Foreign Spies to Defeat Trump, American SpectatorGeorge Neumayr, April 19, 2017

A supporter of the American Communist Party at the height of the Cold War, Brennan brought into the CIA a raft of subversives and gave them plum positions from which to gather and leak political espionage on Trump. He bastardized standards so that these left-wing activists could burrow in and take career positions. Under the patina of that phony professionalism, they could then present their politicized judgments as “non-partisan.”

The Guardian story is written in a style designed to flatter its sources (they are cast as high-minded whistleblowers), but the upshot of it is devastating for them, nonetheless, and explains why all the criminal leaks against Trump first originated in the British press. According to the story, Brennan got his anti-Trump tips primarily from British spies but also Estonian spies and others.

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An article in the Guardian last week provides more confirmation that John Brennan was the American progenitor of political espionage aimed at defeating Donald Trump. One side did collude with foreign powers to tip the election — Hillary’s.

Seeking to retain his position as CIA director under Hillary, Brennan teamed up with British spies and Estonian spies to cripple Trump’s candidacy. He used their phony intelligence as a pretext for a multi-agency investigation into Trump, which led the FBI to probe a computer server connected to Trump Tower and gave cover to Susan Rice, among other Hillary supporters, to spy on Trump and his people.

John Brennan’s CIA operated like a branch office of the Hillary campaign, leaking out mentions of this bogus investigation to the press in the hopes of inflicting maximum political damage on Trump. An official in the intelligence community tells TAS that Brennan’s retinue of political radicals didn’t even bother to hide their activism, decorating offices with “Hillary for president cups” and other campaign paraphernalia.

A supporter of the American Communist Party at the height of the Cold War, Brennan brought into the CIA a raft of subversives and gave them plum positions from which to gather and leak political espionage on Trump. He bastardized standards so that these left-wing activists could burrow in and take career positions. Under the patina of that phony professionalism, they could then present their politicized judgments as “non-partisan.”

The Guardian story is written in a style designed to flatter its sources (they are cast as high-minded whistleblowers), but the upshot of it is devastating for them, nonetheless, and explains why all the criminal leaks against Trump first originated in the British press. According to the story, Brennan got his anti-Trump tips primarily from British spies but also Estonian spies and others. The story confirms that the seed of the espionage into Trump was planted by Estonia. The BBC’s Paul Wood reported last year that the intelligence agency of an unnamed Baltic State had tipped Brennan off in April 2016 to a conversation purporting to show that the Kremlin was funneling cash into the Trump campaign.

Any other CIA director would have disregarded such a flaky tip, recognizing that Estonia was eager to see Trump lose (its officials had bought into Hillary’s propaganda that Trump was going to pull out of NATO and leave Baltic countries exposed to Putin). But Brennan opportunistically seized on it, as he later that summer seized on the half-baked intelligence of British spy agencies (also full of officials who wanted to see Trump lose).

The Guardian says that British spy head Robert Hannigan “passed material in summer 2016 to the CIA chief, John Brennan.” To ensure that these flaky tips leaked out, Brennan disseminated them on Capitol Hill. In August and September of 2016, he gave briefings to the “Gang of Eight” about them, which then turned up on the front page of the New York Times.

All of this took place at the very moment Brennan was auditioning for Hillary. He desperately wanted to keep his job and despised Trump for his alleged “Muslim ban,” a matter near and dear to Brennan’s heart. Not only was he an apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood, but Brennan’s Islamophilia dated to his days in college, when he spent a year in Cairo learning Arabic and taking courses in Middle Eastern studies. He later got a graduate degree with an emphasis in Middle Eastern studies. In 1996, his ties to the Islamic world tightened after he became the CIA’s station chief in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He once recalled that “during a 25-year career in government, I was privileged to serve in positions across the Middle East — as a political officer with the State Department and as a CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, I saw how our Saudi partners fulfilled their duty as custodians of the two holy mosques of Mecca and Medina. I marveled at the majesty of the Hajj and the devotion of those who fulfilled their duty as Muslims by making that privilege — that pilgrimage.”

Out of this Islamophilia came a special dislike of Michael Flynn, who had planned to rip up the Obama-era “reset” with Muslim countries. Furious with Flynn for his apostasy from political correctness, Brennan and other Obama aides couldn’t resist the temptation to take him out after rifling through transcripts of his calls with the Russian ambassador. They caught him in a lie to Mike Pence and made sure the press knew about it.

Were the media not so completely in the tank for Obama and Hillary, all of this political mischief would make for a compelling 2016 version of All the President’s Men. Instead, the public gets a steady stream of Orwellian propaganda about the sudden propriety of political espionage. The headline writers at Pravda couldn’t improve on this week’s official lie, tweeted out by the Maggie Habermans: “Susan Rice Did Nothing Wrong, Say Both Dem and Republican House Aides.”

Leon Panetta enters the ‘No Spin Zone’

March 17, 2017

Leon Panetta enters the ‘No Spin Zone’, Fox News via YouTube, March 16, 2017

As the blurb beneath the video states,

Former CIA Director discusses U.S. troops in combat and American surveillance controversies on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’

Does the CIA Vault 7 Leak Make America Less Safe?

March 8, 2017

Does the CIA Vault 7 Leak Make America Less Safe? The Daily Bell, Joe Jarvis, March 8, 2017

(President Obama “owned” the CIA and other segments of the intelligence community for eight years. Their apparent focus away from Islamic terror and toward interfering in the politics of other countries — as well, perhaps, as America —  is far from surprising. Whether “we” are better or worse off not knowing depends on the meaning of the word “we.” — DM)

Basically, this confirms what were already the highly suspected capabilities of the CIA. It is really not surprising that they had these cyber weapons, and not a shock that they were less interested in using them to stop terrorists than to influence elections.

The media’s response is typical; pretend that the leak will hurt the United States, and make us more vulnerable to terrorists. This, despite the fact that the CIA was clearly not focused on terrorism.

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Has U.S. intelligence been irreparably damaged by the release of Vault 7, to the point where it puts America and it’s operations at risk?

Well, to a certain extent, yes. But that’s only a problem if you think the CIA was targeting and manipulating the right people and entities.

You have probably heard by now of the Wikileaks release of Vault 7, a CIA arsenal of cyber weapons including viruses and malware. The capabilities the CIA has been utilizing include taking over smart TV’s and smartphones to use their microphones, and control their operations. The CIA can also get around popular encrypted messaging services like Whatsapp and Signal if they are used on an infected phone.

Among the list of possible targets of the collection are ‘Asset’, ‘Liason Asset’, ‘System Administrator’, ‘Foreign Information Operations’, ‘Foreign Intelligence Agencies’ and ‘Foreign Government Entities’. Notably absent is any reference to extremists or transnational criminals.

Emphasis added. Basically, this release confirmed everything we had already assumed was being done by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The interesting part, is how the CIA used these espionage tools.

As Wikileaks noted, the CIA did not seem especially interested in ISIS, or drug cartels.

But the French Election did interest the CIA. We know they monitored the candidates to intercept communications. The CIA was especially interested in the prospects of French economic growth, specifically which candidates would follow “the German model of export-led growth.”

What does that say about the faltering French economy under Francois Hollande?

Exports have been shaky at best, with large differences month to month. Unemployment is up over 10%, and economic growth has failed to meet expectations.

So in addition to spying on the candidates, did the CIA use their cyber weapons to influence the election?

What is the Media Spinning About Vault 7?

The breach could undermine the CIA’s ability to carry out key parts of its mission, from targeting the Islamic State and other terrorist networks to penetrating the computer defenses of sophisticated cyber-adversaries including Russia, China and Iran, former officials and tech specialists said.

“Any exposure of these tools is going to cause grave if not irreparable damage to the ability of our intelligence agencies to conduct our mission,” a former senior U.S. intelligence official said. -Washington Post

But we just got a glimpse into that mission. The CIA mission seems to be controlling the world economy and choosing who will win elections of foreign governments. Where is the focus on Isis, China, and Iran coming from? The leaked documents specifically mention 10,000 targets from North America, Europe, and South America.

So really the leak will do damage to the CIA’s mission, but the media is pretending the CIA has a different mission. The media is still pretending the CIA first and foremost keeps America safe, when in reality it is clearly more interested in exerting influence around the globe.

Other outlets like The Guardian sought to assuage fears that any one of us has been targeted. They say the CIA was saving their technology for high stakes investigation, lest it be discovered and the technology updated to stop such hacks. They won’t hack little guys like us!

Matt Blaze suggested a way to steer clear of the hacking tools, “Don’t become a CIA target.”

And I think that says a lot. The fact is, the CIA can target whoever they want for whatever reason they want. How much–or how little–does it take to become a CIA target?

Do those exercising the right to free speech or freedom of the press run the risk of becoming targets… or have they already?

The Take-Away

Basically, this confirms what were already the highly suspected capabilities of the CIA. It is really not surprising that they had these cyber weapons, and not a shock that they were less interested in using them to stop terrorists than to influence elections.

The media’s response is typical; pretend that the leak will hurt the United States, and make us more vulnerable to terrorists. This, despite the fact that the CIA was clearly not focused on terrorism.

In reality it is the CIA creating and disseminating these weapons in a disorganized insecure way that makes us all more vulnerable to whoever’s hands the cyber weapons have fallen into. We have been less safe since the CIA built the hacking arsenal.

The information coming to public light might make the CIA less effective in their goals, which does not necessarily make us less safe–depending on who you are, it could make you safer.

That is a big part of this story, that advanced hacking tools are now widely available for basically any organization in the world to use. So it isn’t just the CIA that might be listening into your phone’s microphone, or watching you through the camera.

It is beneficial to get confirmation of the tactics employed by the CIA, and open up a public discussion on the issue. Now at least when we talk about these things it isn’t some “conspiracy theory” but confirmed hacking and spying practices of the U.S. government.

Which also brings up more questions about sketchy incidents like the death of investigative reporter Michael Hastings.

Vault 7 confirmed the CIA’s interest in taking over and controlling vehicles. Michael Hastings died in a strange and mysterious car accident.

He was preparing a report on then CIA Director Brennan’s involvement in sanitizing Obama’s passport records. Hastings died when his car hit a tree and exploded, just three months after Brennan became head of the CIA.

What every American should know about the CIA analyst who quit and blamed Trump

March 2, 2017

What every American should know about the CIA analyst who quit and blamed Trump, Center for Security Policy, Fred Fleitz, March 1, 2017

cialogo

Last week, Edward Price, a former CIA analyst, became a media darling after the Washington Post published Price’s op-ed announcing his resignation from the CIA because he was unable to serve the Trump administration in good faith because of President Trump’s policies and disregard for the U.S. Intelligence Community.

 While several media outlets rushed to interview Price and depict him as an ethical, non-political CIA officer who rejected what he claimed was the “deceitful” and “delusional” Trump administration, a brief look at the facts suggest not only is this a blatant instance of fake news, but that Price is a “fake” CIA analyst.

 OK, Price really did work for the CIA.  But for the past several years he was a member of the Obama National Security Council staff, apparently on a detail assignment from the CIA.  His NSC job was serving as a spokesman and helping deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes run the Obama NSC “echo chamber” that misled the news media, Congress and the American people about the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.  Price even bragged to New York Times writer David Samuels about how he manipulated and lied to the press to promote the Iran deal.

Price’s selective outrage over Trump administration’s polices – which are still being finalized – while he was part of the Obama Iran deal echo chamber is pretty galling.  It’s also hard to square Price’s NSC position with his statements to the Post that his resignation had “nothing to do with politics” and said “as intelligence professionals, we’re taught to tune out politics.”  Price also apparently had no problem with the CIA crafting politicized talking points on the Benghazi terrorist attacks in 2014 or the Obama administration pressuring CENTCOM intelligence analyststo slant their analysis of ISIS to favor Obama administration policy.

 I also wonder why, if Price is really such a paragon of virtue and a champion of keeping politics out of intelligence, that he didn’t resign last summer after Senator Harry Reid called on intelligence analysts to give Candidate Trump fake intelligence briefings.

But the bigger question is why the CIA was paying Price to be an Obama administration political hack.  Once Price assumed such an extremely partisan NSC job, he stopped being a bona fide intelligence officer.  A CIA officer should never have been allowed to serve in a job like this or to participate in a scheme to mislead the American people and the U.S. Congress.

This also is fake news because the mainstream media left out crucial facts.  For example, Price contributed a total of $5,000 to the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party in 2016.  This was a huge contribution for a government employee and suggests Price was angling for a senior job in a Clinton administration.  None of the mainstream media press accounts I reviewed mentions this contribution, although the Washington Post added the following clarification to the Price story after it was criticized for omitting this information:

“Clarification: This column should have included a disclosure of donations made by author Edward Price in support of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In August, Price gave a total of $5,000 to the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party.”

All of the mainstream media accounts also omitted that Price is a fellow with the Truman Project, a leftwing think tank that served as a mouthpiece for the Obama administration, and that he worked for several Democratic political campaigns.

Price’s resignation had everything to do with politics.  This is the story of a liberal political hack quitting a Republican administration.  Price engineered a splashy resignation advertised on the opinion pages of the Washington Post as part of the Democratic Party’s effort to undermine President Trump and to secure himself a well-paid perch in a liberal think tank to bash the Trump administration.  The media’s coverage of Price’s resignation is typical of its extremely biased coverage of President Trump.

The bottom line: this is fake news about a fake CIA officer.

The CIA’s affront to Trump

February 16, 2017

The CIA’s affront to Trump, Washington Times, Angelo M. Codevilla, February 16, 2017

(It is absurd for the CIA to have control over whom President Trump can appoint to the National Security Council by refusing — for no stated or apparent reason — to grant the required security clearance. — DM)

ciatrumpstrumpCIA Bullies Trump Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The CIA has denied a security clearance to Trump National Security Council (NSC) official Robin Townley without any allegation, much less evidence of disloyalty to the United States. Quite simply, it is because the CIA disapproves of Mr. Townley’s attitude toward the agency, and this is unprecedented. President Trump appointed Mr. Townley to coordinate Africa policy at the NSC. The CIA did not want to deal with him. Hence, it used the power to grant security clearances to tell the president to choose someone acceptable to the agency, though not so much to him. This opens a larger issue: Since no one can take part in the formulation or execution of foreign or defense policy without a high-level security clearance, vetoing the president’s people by denying them clearances trumps the president.

Hence, if Mr. Trump does not fire forthwith the persons who thus took for themselves the prerogative that the American people had entrusted to him at the ballot box, chances are 100 percent that they will use that prerogative ever more frequently with regard to anyone else whom they regard as standing in the way of their preferred policies, as a threat to their reputation, or simply as partisan opponents. If Mr. Trump lets this happen, he will have undermined nothing less than the self-evident heart of the Constitution’s Article II: The president is the executive branch. All of its employees draw their powers from him and answer to him, not the other way around.

Using security clearances for parochial purposes — usually petty ones — while neglecting security, never mind counterintelligence, is an old story at the CIA which I got to know too well during eight years overseeing the agency as the designee of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s budget chairman. Because I did my quality control job vigorously, and because I placed on the budget cut list some of the many outside contracts that seemed corrupt, the agency made repeated attempts to withdraw my top-level, cross-cutting security clearances. After I left the Senate staff for Stanford, when the Naval Postgraduate School asked me to teach a highly classified course on signals intelligence, the school’s security office asked the CIA for my clearances. The bureaucrats there said they had never heard of me. I had to call Director of Central Intelligence Bill Casey, who ended up phoning them in personally to a startled Navy chief.

The CIA uses pretense about security to insulate itself from criticism, to protect its own, and to intrude into policymaking. Security against foreign intelligence ranks low in its priorities. For near a decade, its bureaucrats refused to look into obvious evidence that their own Aldrich Ames had sold out America’s entire agent network in the Soviet Union. Moreover, according to its inspector general, they continued to pass reports from that network to the president because they happened to agree with the direction in which these KGB-produced reports were pushing U.S. policy. The CIA also uses secrecy to avoid responsibility. It crafts the conclusions of its reports specifically to be leaked to The New York Times and The Washington Post, while making sure that the thin or nonexistent facts behind those conclusions never see the light of day.

The CIA’s denial of a clearance to a presidential appointee minus good cause, however, breaks new ground and shows truly revolutionary boldness. Traditionally, bureaucrats have used sticks and carrots to convince political appointees to play along lest they suffer unpleasantness. Thus, presidents have ended up having to choose between suffering appointees who have “gone native” or replacing them. Now, the CIA’s denial of Mr. Townley’s clearance removes all subtlety by demanding that Mr. Trump appoint only “natives.” If Mr. Trump indulges that demand for self-emasculation, the message will go out to all agencies: They need pay no attention to what political appointees tell them, and they need fear no retribution for this or for pressuring appointees in any way they want. The message to the people who Mr. Trump has appointed or who are considering working for Mr. Trump is just as clear: You have no choice but to make yourself acceptable to the bureaucrats because, if you don’t, they will hurt you and the president will not help you. This cannot help but skew the pool of potential members of the Trump administration.

We cannot know nor does it matter why Donald Trump seems to be deferring to bureaucrats who have gone out of their way to delegitimize him. But we can be certain about the kind of dynamic engendered by deference in the face of assaults.