Trump Defeats the Intelligence Community

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It is no secret to everyone that there has been some friction between the Trump administration and the intelligence community. Particularly those members of the intelligence community who identified as democrats or neoconservatives who want a harder line with countries like Russia. Various leaks were given to the media, though we can never be sure of their authenticity they are there and floating around the zeitgeist. The democrats have been uncharacteristically pleased with the efforts of the IC to undermine Trump as well.

The Breaking

There is one simple rule about Trump that makes me love him more than any other leader. When someone hits you, the retaliation must be certain and disproportionate. We saw this in the primaries. He initially did not care about Cruz and was in fact very cordial to him. Till Cruz went after him and he went after him hard. Trump endorsed Romney in 2012 and when Romney went after him we heard a speech about how Romney went down on his knees. Trump has mastered the art of escalation and brinksmanship as his long list of surrendered foes show.

The IC tried to take Trump on at this game as well with disastrous results. The IC took days to leak details about the Trump administration. Trump did voice some complaints about it but never really fought back. That is until one day we saw wikileaks release Vault 7. The largest leak since the days of Edward Snowden which exposed a lot of the innermost secrets of the CIA. The Trump administration will never admit to being behind the leaks or even facilitating it but the timing speaks for itself. The CIA is now scrambling to explain itself to a populace who has just found out that their Samsung TV’s are being used as listening devices and other intelligence agencies are wondering if they will be next.

This is not to say that there will be absolutely no leaks from this department in the future. There are always lone wolves with axes to grind. What I am saying is that institutional resistance from the IC is over.

Popular Support

This is the primary mistake of the IC. All institutions whether public or private need support from the public to survive. This acts as your shield against the government as the higher your support is the more political capital it would take to enact legislation against you or question your activities. The inverse is also true if you have no support from the public or worse if the public hates your institution then the political class may actually gain political capital by targeting you. Take Planned Parenthood for example and the NRA. They are very popular with the left and the right respectively. Any moves by Democrats against PP or Republicans against the NRA would cost a lot of political capital. Now take banks for example. They are universally hated by the left and the right so they have to spend a lot of money on lobbying efforts just to make sure there is no legislation against them.

The IC used to be in the same category as the PP or NRA where they would get a lot of support in one side of the political spectrum. By misplaying their hand against Trump they have moved towards the category of banks or those institutions disliked by both sides. Traditionally Republicans have always supported the IC. In debates of security versus privacy like in the Apple issue in the past Republicans generally take the side of the IC which requested for Apple to hack the phone and Democrats take the side of privacy advocates which say it is a security risk. On questions of torture the Republicans generally take the side of the IC more in understanding its necessity while the Democrats generally stand up for the human rights of enemy combatants.

When the IC went after Trump they gambled that the Republican voters would support them over the President and they gambled wrong. It was a very hard sell for the voters as well as they had just won majorities in both elected branches of government and were very satisfied with the selection made by Trump to the Supreme Court. It was absolutely the wrong time for the IC to break with their strongest supporters. When the Vault 7 leaks broke out the usual voices on the right were silent. After all they had just spent weeks defending the President from the IC. This put the Democratic pundits in the awkward situation of having to defend the newly revealed capability of the IC. All the while trying to unify the party with the disaffected Bernie wing, some of which would be perfectly happy disbanding the IC or at the very least impose so many regulations and requirements in the name of transparency which would make the agencies useless. This means that the pundits aligned with the Democratic party are not able to defend them as hard as they could.

To sum up this article. The IC went up against Trump. Suffered one of its largest leaks in history. Then they also lost the support of the segment of the public who usually defend them, all the while still being hated by half the democrats.

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