Usage Examples of “Our Intelligence Community”, with Implications

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

“Our intelligence community” is one of those phrases that make my back teeth itch, because I hate to see “our” doing that much work (especially when I know how much work our’s parent, “we,” has to do.) So I thought I’d throw together some usage examples of the term to see if I could find more significant readings than my own reaction, and then draw out some implications from that reading. But first, let’s look at how often that term is used, and where. We turn to Google Trends:

Some caveats: Google doesn’t have enough data to track “our intelligence community,” or so it says, so the search is for “intelligence community” only. Further, the search is for 2008 to the present, again because Google, or so it says, doesn’t have enough data for shorter time frames.[1] However, I think the chart shows that interest in the intelligence community is not general in time or space: It spikes when there’s gaslighting with reader interest in particular stories, and spikes along the Acela Corridor, in Washington and New York. (We might also speculate, based on HuffPost/YouGov voter data, that interest in the today’s stories about the intelligence is limited not only in space, and time, but in scope: Primarily among liberal Democrats.[2]) With that, let’s turn to our usage examples. I used Google to find them, and of course Google search is crapified and all but useless — for example, it insists on returning examples of “intelligence community” along with “our intelligence community” in normal search, even with when the search string is quoted — but it is what it is; readers are invited to supply their own examples.

Example 1, July 13, 2018, New York Times:

On Friday, Michael McFaul, a former United States ambassador to Russia, wrote on Twitter: “I’m very impressed that Mueller was able to name the 12 GRU officers in the new indictment. Demonstrates the incredible capabilities of our intelligence community.”

No. Mueller provided no evidence and the case is unlikely to go to trial; the capability consists in the naming, not in the proof. Verdict: Credulity.

Example 2, July 3, 2018, Washington Post:

The intelligence community determined that the Kremlin intended to “denigrate” and “harm” Clinton, and “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process” while helping Trump.

And the same claim, July 10, 2018, Washington Post:

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to boost Trump’s candidacy

No. If you click through, you’ll find that this is the “17 agencies”/”high confidence” report, whose agencies and analysts were hand-picked by Clapper; that’s just not the “intelligence community” as a whole[3]; the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), was not involved in the analysis, for example. (I don’t see how it’s normal that such an important topic not to be the subject of a Presidental Finding, but perhaps people were in a rush.) Verdict; Misinformation.

Example 3, July 19, 2018, (retiring) Senator Jeff Flake (R), New York Times:

FLAKE: We know the intelligence is right. We stand behind our intelligence community. We need to say that in the Senate. Yes, it’s symbolic, and symbolism is important.

And a similar formulation, July 22, 2018, Senator Marco Rubio (R), CBS News:

We need to move forward from that with good public policy and part of that is, I think, standing with our intelligence community.

Posturing aside, to my sensibilities, it’s pretty disturbing when “support the troops” bleeds over into “support the spies,” and when supporting the conclusions of an institution bleeds over into supporting the institution itself, as such. (The whole of the Federalist Papers argues against the latter view: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”) Verdict: Authoritarian followership.

Example 4, undated, Office of the Director of National Intelligence:


No. The DNI mistakes the hope for the fact; were the intelligence community in fact unified, Clapper would not have hand-picked agencies for his report, and a Presidential Finding would have been made. (And given the source, “our” is doing even more work there than it usual does; it reminds of liberal Democrats talking about “our Democracy.” Whose, exactly?) Verdict: Wishful thinking.

Example 5, July 16, 2018, John Sipher (interview), PBS:

I do think the intelligence community is quite resilient. They put their head down and they do their work, but they take this very seriously. And they see the president as their primary customer and they will do almost anything to get the president the information that he needs to do his job.

No. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes — “Who will guard the guards themselves?” — was formulated by the Roman poet Juvenal (d. 138AD) in the late first or early second century, [checks calculator], about 1880 years ago. It’s absurd to assume that “the intelligence” community has always served its “primary customer” — see the Bay of Pigs invastion at “groupthink” — or that they will in the future, especially considering the enormous stakes involved today. Verdict: Historical ignorance.

Example 6, July 12, 2018, Representative Barbara Comstock:

Today I voted for H.R. 6237, the Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. This important legislation funds our Intelligence community and provides them the resources they need to effectively defend our nation… “This legislation makes sure that the dedicated men and women who serve our nation in the Intelligence Community [caps in the original] are fully equipped to fulfill their mission.”

No. While Sipher urges (as does Clapper) that the intelligence community is in the business of serving customers, Comstock, through her language (“dedicated men and women who serve our nation”) identifies it with the military. That’s pretty disturbing when you realize that the intelligence community has a domestic component (and when you think back to Obama’s 17-city crackdown on Occupy, or Obama’s militarized response to #BlackLivesMatter). Verdict: Militarization

Example 7, July 16, 2018, ABC:

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, head of the U.S. intelligence community, reaffirmed his conclusion that Russia had indeed tried to sway the election in a statement published after Trump’s remarks.

No. The U.S. has 17 intelligence agencies; the DNI is in no sense their head. From the DNI site:

The core mission of the ODNI is to lead the IC in intelligence integration, forging a community that delivers the most insightful intelligence possible. That means effectively operating as one team: synchronizing collection, analysis and counterintelligence so that they are fused. This integration is the key to ensuring national policymakers receive timely and accurate analysis from the IC to make educated decisions.

If you boil that bureucratic porridge down — the Russian word for porridge is kasha, in case kompromat has worn thin for you — you’ll see that the 17 intelligence agencies do not have a reporting relationship to the DNI. Hence, the DNI is not their head. QED. Verdict: Authoritarian followership

Example 8, July 18, 2018, John Brennan, Salon:

[BRENNAN:] What Mr. Trump did (Monday) was to betray the women and men of the FBI, the CIA and NSA and others and betray the American public. That’s why I use the term, this was nothing short of treason, because it is a betrayal of the nation. He’s giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

(Leaving aside Brennan’s broad definition of enemy — apparently a sovereign state with interests different from our own, as opposed to a nation against whom Congress has declared war — note that Brennan treats the agencies as individual entities, not as “unified,” presumably betraying DNI Coats). More:

BRENNAN:] I still shake my head trying to understand what was discussed during the two-hour one-on-one, what was discussed between the two sides in their bilateral meeting. We only saw what Mr. Trump said during the press conference. I can’t even imagine what he said behind closed doors. I can’t imagine what he said to Mr. Putin directly. I am very concerned about what type of impact it might have on our intelligence community and on this country.”

No. Note well: What (torture advocate) Brennan says contradicts the other two models expressed in this aggregation. If the President is the customer, it’s not Brennan’s concern what that customer does (any more than it’s Best Buy’s concern what I buy in Starbucks after I pick up my flat-screen TV). And if the intelligence community is a branch of the military, it’s not their concern what their Commander-in-Chief does; he’ll tell them what they need to know.) Seriously, why does the Praetorian Guard need to know what the emperor is doing. Now, one could argue that Brennan’s ambition is counteracting Trump’s ambition; well and good, but then one needs to think through the consequences. And if Brennan, et al., really believe that Trump committed treason, then they — as the good patriots they presumably are — need to indicate a path to removing him. If that path does not include full disclosure of the evidence for whatever charges are to be made, then the country will have to deal with the consequences — which I’d speculate won’t be pretty — of a change in the Constitutional order where the “intelligence community” can remove a President from office based on its own internal consensus. Praetorian

(Here’s a collection of examples; I wish I had time to do more examples, but these will have to do.)

But speaking of the internal consensus of the intelligence community, let’s take a little walk down memory lane. From the “Salon Staff,” quoting Senator Jane Harmon:

p>Almost one year ago, on January 28th, 2003, the President devoted one-third of his State of the Union address to what he described as "a serious and mounting threat to our country" posed by Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction. He spoke, in those famous 16 words, about efforts by Iraq to secure enriched uranium from Africa. He talked about aluminum tubes "suitable for nuclear weapons production." He described stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and said, "we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs."

One week later, on February 5th, Secretary of State Colin Powell, with Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet sitting behind his right shoulder, used charts and photographs to elaborate on the Administration's WMD case. "These are not assertions," Powell said, "these are facts corroborated by many sources." Among Powell's claims were:

  • That "we know, we know from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was dispersing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agent to various locations …"
  • That "there can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more."
  • Pictures of what he called "active chemical munitions bunkers" with "sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions."

    Powell has subsequently said that he spent days personally assessing the intelligence. He included only information he felt was fully supported by the analysis. Hence, no mention of enriched uranium from Africa, no claim that al Qaeda was involved in 9-11.

    The effect was powerful. Veteran columnist for the Washington Post, Mary McGrory, known for liberal views and Kennedy connections, wrote an op-ed the following day entitled "I Am Persuaded". Members of Congress, like me, believed the intelligence case. We voted for the resolution on Iraq to urge U.N. action and to authorize military force only if diplomacy failed. We felt confident we had made the wise choice.

    But as the evidence pours in …

  • the Intelligence Committee's review of the pre-war intelligence;
  • David Kay's interim report on the failure to find WMD in Iraq;
  • an impressive study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace;
  • the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board's critique;
  • thoughtful commentaries like that of Ken Pollack in this month's Atlantic Monthly;
  • and investigative reporting including a lengthy front page story by Barton Gellman of the Washington Post on January 7,

    we are finding out that Powell and other policymakers were wrong, British intelligence was wrong, and those of us who believed the intelligence were wrong. Indeed, I doubt there would be discussions of David Kay's possible departure if the Iraq Survey Group were on the verge of uncovering large stockpiles of weapons or an advanced nuclear weapons program.

    But if 9/11 was a failure to connect the dots, it appears that the Intelligence Community, in the case of Iraq's WMD, connected the dots to the wrong conclusions. If our intelligence products had been better, I believe many policymakers, including me, would have had a far clearer picture of the sketchiness of our sources on Iraq's WMD programs, and our lack of certainty about Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear capabilities.

    Let me add that policymakers — including members of Congress — have a duty to ask tough questions, to probe the information being presented to them. We also have a duty to portray that information publicly as accurately as we can.

  • The WMDs episode led to the (bipartisan) Iraq War, the greatest strategic debacle in American history. The WMDs episode was marked by fake evidence (yellowcake; aluminum tubes), planted stories, gaslighting, and a consensus of elite opinion along the Acela Corridor, exactly as today. The intelligence community was wrong. The national security establishment was wrong. The press was wrong. The Congressional leadership was wrong. The President was wrong. Everybody was wrong (except for a few outliers who couldn’t get jobs afterwards anyhow, exactly because they were right). And now, today, we are faced with the same demand that we believe what the intelligence community says, without question, and without evidence that the public can see and examine. The only difference is that this time, the stakes are greater: Rather than blowing a few trillion and slaughtering hundreds of thousands of faraway brown people, we’re rushing toward a change in the Constitutional Order that in essence makes the intelligence community a fourth branch of the government.

    Why are we doing that? Well, if you look at the verdicts after each of the quotes I’ve found, taking the quotes as a proxy for elite opinion, one reason might be that the portion of our elites involved in the Russia narrative — who, let us remember, are limited in space and scope — are:

    • Credulous
    • Misinformed
    • Prone to authoritarian followership
    • Historically ignorant
    • Militarized
    • Praetorian

    If power is lying in the street, beware of who picks it up. Matters might not improve.


    [1] The hit count (100 for the spike in January 2017) is oddly low; sadly, although 100 looks like a blue link, we cannot click through to check the data. However, even if the aggregates are low, I think we can assume that both the shape of the trend line and its geographic distribution are directionally correct, because the spikes occur at reasonable places for them to occur. Sidebar: Note the horrid user interface design, which uses inordinate amounts of screen space to no purpose, disrespecting the time-pressed professional user.

    [2] We might even go so far as to speculate that — given these limitations in space — that while “our” asserts Democrat leadership as a National party, Democrats are in fact a State party. Removing the hyphen from “nation-state” is a neat way of encapsulating our current legitimacy crisis.

    [3] “Intelligence community,” like “deep state,” connotes unity among institutions that are in fact riven by faction.

    ADDENDUM: Scott Horton

    I didn’t add this material to the post proper, because I only had screen shots, and I wasn’t able to find the post in time using Google, or Facebook’s lousy search. So after ten minutes of plowing through Facebook’s infinite scroll, here is the embed* from Scott Horton that I sought:

    And a screen shot personally taken by me:

    Note the lead: “European intelligence analysts…,” so reminiscent of Bush’s “British intelligence has learned…” (the sixteen words). What they “learned,” of course, was the faked evidence on Niger yellowcake. Go through my list of “verdicts,” starting with “credulous,” and see what does not apply to Horton.

    Horton is a Contributing Editor to Harper’s Magazine, has a law practice in New York, and is affiliate with Columbia Law School and the Open Society Institute.

    Corey Robin’s reaction (via):

    I agree. And from a voter:

    The key point, for me, is this: “Liberal Democrats do not view anyone outside of places like Orange and Lexington County (whom they go all-out to court) as people fit to make their own choices.” It’s important to watch for outright denial of agency, to others, not merely lack of agency. That’s true for Horton, it was true for Clinton’s “deplorables” comment, and it was true for Obama’s “bitter”/”cling to” Kinseley gaffe.

    It would be nice if Senator Sanders didn’t signal boost this stuff. Here’s another usage example of “intelligence community”:

    Or, to put this another way, Sanders needs to get his supporters’ backs, and fast, with messaging that doesn’t take a “duck and cover” approach by repeating the catchphrases of the current onslaught, but contextualizes and decontaminates it. I didn’t say that would be easy…

    NOTE * I like the picture the Time chose very much; apparently, the evul left is young, female, swarthy, and/or black. No suburban Republicans here! The “AbolishICE” t-shirt — and not, say, #MedicareForAll — is also a nice touch.

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    About Lambert Strether

    Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. fresno dan

      Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said he didn’t see any indication in the court records that the Justice Department had done anything wrong.

      “They went to the court. They got the judges to approve it,” Rubio said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And there was a lot of reasons unrelated to the dossier for why they wanted to look at Carter Page.”
      Sorry to be a little off topic, but the “we didn’t find anything wrong” is what sets my back teeth on edge when the people looking to find something wrong are the very same people who may be doing something wrong….(apologies to Upton Sinclair)

      Let me make up for being off topic by putting my rant in the correct form:
      Did the OUR Justice department, or the OUR US government, or the OUR FBI ever find any indication that OUR J. Edgar Hoover had done anything wrong???
      Of course, I could give 1 MILLION examples of things that the OUR USA has done wrong that OUR justice department and OUR FBI never determined was a problem.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      An excellent list, to which I would add one more category—blackmail. As in Chuck Schumer’s statement to Rachel Maddow that Trump was stupid to attack the IC because “they have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you.” The appalling lack of response to what is a clear statement the IC community is prepared to do everything it can against those it perceives as its “enemy” can’t be pointed out often enough, IMNSHO.

      1. Norb

        When Schumer made this statement, I thought it would have real impact on changing the minds of Democratic voters concerning the need to change the leadership of the party. If that statement does not make crystal clear who’s interest Schumer is actually serving, nothing will. The message is don’t challenge the establishment. While the split in the Democratic party is a result of these recent developments, my surprise was how many chose to remain loyal to the Party machine and its current corporate/banker/intelligence message, even though they are being harmed by these policies.

        What is needed is the repetition of a simple message. Peace not war, integrity and principle over expediency, and truth over lies and obfuscation.

        The only way to remain sane in these troubling times is to slowly find a way to live by these dictums. Actually living them is the only way to prevent their subversion into platitudes or empty phrases.

        Appalling is the right word.

    3. George Lane

      The past two-plus years have been an orgy of paranoid insanity, of hysterical reactions with a virulent aversion and hostility to historical context and rational thought. As I am sure many NC readers have themselves, I cannot count the times I have been accused of, both online and more depressingly in real life, being a “Trump supporter” or a “dupe of Russian propaganda”, by random acquaintances, university professors, and old friends. It is only getting worse. As Jimmy Dore is fond of saying, when will we have our “Have you no dignity, sir?” moment?

      1. fresno dan

        George Lane
        July 22, 2018 at 4:47 pm

        At a truly visceral level, I despise Trump. But it is important to not let emotion blind me to what he is doing that is truly despicable, and be waylaid into opposing something, even if Trump is doing that something inadvertently or for less than noble reasons, if it makes the world a calmer, safer, more peaceful place.

        Trump is a manipulator. It is a shame if even more skilled, more patient, and more ruthless manipulators take us down an even darker path…

        The sugar high of emotion is sweet and additive – but our health and well being is served by the vegetables of reason…. uh…that’s actually pretty stupid.

        1. George Lane

          LOL, thanks for the laugh fresno dan, with your last lines, I needed that.

          Yes I agree, Trump does cause a physical revulsion, but so do John Brennan and James Clapper, who are trotted out as “respectable” and “patriots”. That is what gets me, how the Trump-Russia hysteria has led to people cheerleading the CIA, which anyone minimally interested in the history of the world knows has been supporting terrorists throughout the world for decades, overthrowing governments, destroying entire countries, leading the way in revolutionary torture techniques…

        2. Hamford

          Yep. As Ron Placone says, “I won’t let Trump steal my critical thinking skills”.

      2. Carey

        Boy, do I hear you. Mentioning that I voted for Sanders in the stolen California Primary and Stein in the General has gotten me branded “Trumper” (lame epithet, that), homophobe, misogynist, racist and bigot.

        I’m starting to think that embracing the slurs *might* be the way to go: “call me what you
        want, but Medicare for All H.R. 676, a living Minimum Wage, and an end to USA’s Perma-Wars is what I work for.” I tend toward the intemperate, though. ;)

    4. flora

      Thanks for this. The chorus is trying to gin up the bandwagon effect, much loved by political campaigns. And speaking of same, this headline –


      – sounds a lot like the Dems STRONGER TOGETHER campaign slogan.

      I remember the advice in one of the books by mystery writer Agatha Christie:
      Where large sums of money are concerned, it is advisable to trust nobody.

      1. flora

        adding: I believe what John Brennan (Salon) and others are doing is perilously close to sedition… though I am loathe to use the word it seems to fit, imo.

        1. flora

          And about Jane Harman, aka Mrs. Intel Guy Sidney Harman: Follow the money.

          Few in Washington are aware that the real intelligence insider of the Harman family may be Sidney himself, through his connections to an obscure but highly influential organization known as Business Executives for National Security.

          In many ways, BENS can be considered the godfather of the contracting revolution that transformed the U.S. government into a vast, $600 billion market for corporate America and made national security—and spying in particular—a gross vehicle for private enterprise. Over the past 28 years, BENS has participated in dozens of high-level commissions that have altered the way the Pentagon and the intelligence community do business, and has become a favored perch for former high-ranking officials and generals, from Henry Kissinger to Gen. Peter Pace.

            1. flora

              correction: WaPo reporting by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin.

              A Hidden World, Growing Beyond Control.

              1. oh

                Thanks for the link. It shows how these clowns are wasting taxpayer $$$$$$$ on chasing their tails. So disgusting.

    5. fresno dan

      Why are we doing that? Well, if you look at the verdicts after each of the quotes I’ve found, taking the quotes as a proxy for elite opinion, one reason might be that the portion of our elites involved in the Russia narrative — who, let us remember, are limited in space and scope — are:

      Prone to authoritarian followership
      Historically ignorant
      FIRST, wonderful article.
      but you did miss a few reasons
      (well, maybe the motivation or reason is GREED, but you get my drift…)

      Here’s the real reason the US must talk to Russia Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

      The United States’ industrial-military-intel-security complex profits from a compounded annual budget of roughly US$1 trillion. The only justification for such whopping expenditure is to manufacture a lethal external threat: Russia. That’s the key reason the complex will not allow US President Donald Trump even to try to normalize relations with Russia.

      1. Norb

        Yes- and it is appalling how easily people can be bought off.

        The only defense deployed by a corrupt elite is the threat of nuclear destruction, so I don’t see the US agreeing to nuclear disarmament any time soon. The more crazy and deranged the establishment becomes, the more external parties have to worry.

        A crazy person projecting his own dysfunction on the rest of the world seems like a accurate description of the reigning American political class.

        How this insanity plays out is anyone’s guess. Plague and Asteroid come to mind as a positive remedy, only due to the inherent equality of the action.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m not insensible to the effects of corruption.

        I would welcome thoughts on how to apply the method used here to that topic. (And don’t say “They’re always talking about money”; that’s not useful.

        I’m thinking of Beltway-inflected phrases that translate to “my budget,” for example. Readers?

    6. flora

      re: Scott Horton’s HUAC warning to Dem New Dealers –

      “Are you now, or have you ever been a supporter of the New Deal?” /s

    7. fresno dan

      ADDENDUM: Scott Horton
      commies in the democrats
      I’ve seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn’t believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don’t want a phony Democrat. If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don’t want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign.
      With apologies to Truman
      The people don’t want a phony McCarthyite. If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican McCarthyite, and a McCarthyite in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a McCarthyite Republican before they will a phony Democrat McCarthyite, and I don’t want any phony Democratic McCarthyite candidates in this campaign.

      My point with this not very good parody is that the dems trying to out McCarthy the repubs with regard to anti Russia hysteria is a losing proposition. It isn’t that I think the dems can’t do it because they are better or more moral or principled – I can’t put my finger on it, but I just don’t think the dems could pull it off. Its like your parents using slang that all the cool kids stopped using 10 years ago – it just comes off as pathetic…SO SAD

      1. pretzelattack

        seems to be having an effect, though–the media, the politicians acting in concert. worked on selling the iraq invasion, may work on impeaching trump and getting spence, and of course the important thing–maintaining the neoliberal/neocon control of the democratic party.

    8. marym

      Responses on twitter to the Trump outrage du jour from accounts purporting to be of the #resistance™/ blue wave ilk often reference attacks on “our” democracy, “our” democratic elections” and “our” institutions, with seemingly no awareness of “our” neglect, compromise, and failure to defend (ACORN?) these institutions. Similarly credulous, misinformed, and historically ignorant, at the least.

    9. Rob P

      The hit count (100 for the spike in January 2017) is oddly low; sadly, although 100 looks like a blue link, we cannot click through to check the data.

      It’s a relative measure, the max is always 100. Don’t think it’s possible to find the actual # of searches.

        1. jrd2

          But you can get a sense of the absolute by charting more than one search term. For example this chart comparing “johnny cash,” “metropolitan opera,” and “intelligence community.”

    10. Synoia

      “The Opposition” here is also fighting here against the US’s history and culture.

      In the UK, there is a loyal opposition who may disagree with the ruling party on policy, but are loyal to the crown. This pushes the opposition to propose what is, in their opinion, good for the country.

      In the US there is an opposition party who may or may not be loyal the the current president. This pushes the opposition to oppose everything the President does, as bad, instead of proposing, in their opinion, what is good for the country.

      The dynamic in the US is to, oppose in public, but propose no alternative. In the current spat “The Resistance” appear for noting except being against Trump.

      All the opposition does is to “fight,” but never propose a policy or program which causes all people to think — I want that! It reduces “political debate” to a very childish and unhelpful level. Political debate in the US is infantile, at best.

      Political debate in the US is equivalent to a pair of three year olds throwing a temper tantrums.

    11. clarky90

      re, “Our intelligence community”

      When I was growing up, the most current edition of “The Encyclopedia Britannica” was the authority.

      Now, “Google Search” is OUR neo-Encyclopedia Britannica


      “Google Translate turns te reo Māori into apocalyptic warning”

      And also, if you do a Google Image search of, “idiot”, most of the results are images of the POTUS.

      The neo-book-bonfire- right out of the playbook of the Bolsheviks and the Nazis. Google Search is getting worse and worse, day by day. Very ominous, imo

    12. The Rev Kev

      Instead of a intelligence community how about we think of them as seventeen satrapies that range from the huge ones like the CIA and FBI to the smaller bit-players like the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity. Each compete for prestige and budget plus the President’s ear. However, putting them in a room together is like having a Thanksgiving party, in a cabin in the middle of the woods, with the family composed of Trump and Hillary supporters, plus a bunch of socialists – and lots of booze. Yeah, it would be that bad.
      From what I have read, the professionals have been marginalized out in favour of those that are willing to tell their political masters whatever they want to hear. Kinda like lawyers. And it backfires badly for them. Bush and Cheney browbeat analysts to say that Iraq had WMD but when there were none to be found 5,000 dead soldiers later, turned around and blamed the intelligence community for getting it wrong. That is still a legend that the intelligence community got it wrong on the intelligence for Iraq. The professionals knew that it was all bs but nobody in DC wanted to listen to them.

    13. Tomonthebeach

      Regarding Iraq and WMDs, Lambert got it a bit wrong.

      The intelligence community did not get Iraq wrong. They were ignored, and Cheney ensured a deep moat surrounded the WH to keep that lie alive. The senior Intel folks I knew back then would have asserted, had they been asked, that Hussein’s only WMD was his mouth. Like Iran, our folks knew the facts – Bush & Cheney just needed Conwayesque “alternative facts.”

      Alas, nobody in the press bothered to talk to UN inspectors who would have expressed dismay at the WMD assertion. The US press bought Powell’s snow job.

      As for calling Russia an enemy…

      Russia is a bellicose and anti-West kleptocracy with a formidable Army and Navy. Putin has called for the breakup of the EU – his kleptocracy’s main economic competitor. He has called for the weakening of NATO, which was directed to sit by while Crimea was taken over behind a sham plebiscite while occupied by Russian armed forces. To keep Ukraine out of NATO, Putin’s military began to gnaw on a large swath of Ukraine’s boarder states. To many, those high-profile actions do indeed make Russia and ENEMY of the US – until Trump quits NATO.

      1. Bill Smith

        Well, the CIA thought they got the WMD in Iraq wrong.

        Read the book “Why Intelligence Fails by Robert Jervis. Jervis wrote a bunch of the official CIA report that talked about why they got it wrong. Then he wrote the book i mentioned above about it.

      2. pretzelattack

        no, the analysts initially resisted cheney but their superiors succumbed. the un inspectors did talk to the press, but were widely ignored after, not least by the democrats.
        as for russia we turned it into a kleptocracy with our neoliberal restructuring of the economy, empowered the oligarchs, too. no russia is more defensive than bellicose by far. crimea was ethnically russian, gifted to the unkraine by kruschev in the 50’s, and its desire to join russia is not surprising, especially given the u.s. fomented coup, and the character of the coup leaders. of course they want nato out of the ukraine, since nato has reneged on its promises to gorbachev not to expand to russian’s borders. nato is inimical to russia.
        self defense is not bellicosity.

      3. Plenue

        Russia annexed Crimea (after a referendum that you can dismiss as fraudulent, but makes the whole scenario at least as valid as what the US did with Kosovo) as a way to keep their Black Sea ports after a US backed coup (and it was a coup, and it was US backed. Please don’t attempt to play the little game of denying such. It isn’t cute). It was an entirely predicable, and from the perspective of Russia’s strategic interests, entirely reasonable, response to foreign action. Had we not spent billions screwing with Ukrainian politics, Russia would have been content to continue leasing the ports like it had been for decades.

        As for ‘gnawing’ at Ukraine’s ‘boarder’ [sic], the ‘separatists’ in Donbass at least initially wanted federalization, and Russia advised them away from attempting to outright join the Russia Federation. The supposed Russian aggression consists of supplying covert aid to ethnic Russians who very justifiably believed Kiev was attempting to ethnically cleanse them. You can say that’s hyperbole, but Kiev are the ones who started using literal airstrikes and artillery on the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk.

        This would be analogous to the US claiming that Mexican agents were attempting to steal (back) US border states. Maybe it would be true, maybe it would be a completely genuinely domestic uprising, but regardless, the response of DC would be to start bombarding San Diego or El Paso, murdering what it claims are still its own citizens.

        Again, Russian actions were a response to provocation (just, by the way, as they were in the 2008 war with Georgia, that the ignorant like to parade out as a supposed example of Russia/Putin’s nefarious neo-imperialist desires.

        Russia did not just spontaneously decide in 2014 to start carving up Ukraine. Nor is there any evidence they have any desire to invade Estonia, Poland, or anywhere else. And if they did have any such ambitions, they’d have a damn hard time realizing them, given that they just cut their military budget by 20%, down to just slightly over that of France. Excluding the US entirely, the three major members of NATO; France, Germany, and the UK, have combined military spending over 2 1/2 times that of Russia. That’s before you even count all the also-ran minor members. Also, putting aside the raw numbers, Russia has exactly 1 (one!) fully integrated combined arms unit that would be suitable for any kind of full scale invasion, the 1st Guards Tank Army, reactivated in 2014.

        Russia literally has neither the budget nor the military organization required to do any of the evil Bond villain world conquering ascribed to it.

        1. ChrisAtRU

          #TYVM #Concur

          Additionally, when it comes to #Kleptocracy, the west is way ahead as well. One of the ways in which to distill the current #RussiaRussiaRussia mishegoss is to see it as a case of: “Our oligarchs don’t like their oligarchs”.

    14. Bill Smith

      The U.S. has 17 intelligence agencies; the DNI is in no sense their head.

      The DNI’s mission statement says otherwise. But they don’t have budgetary authority over the other members of the IC.


      The core mission of the ODNI is to lead the IC in intelligence integration, forging a community that delivers the most insightful intelligence possible. That means effectively operating as one team: synchronizing collection, analysis and counterintelligence so that they are fused.

    15. sierra7

      “There have been hysterical calls by prominent politicians, ex-“intelligence” individuals, MSM news-readers who are in reality stenographers to the American propaganda machine, declaring President Trump a “treasonous” leader. Americans are supposed to swallow the story that the Russian government was behind an attempt to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. We are to believe that our “intelligence” community has the goods on the Russian hackers and that we must “trust” them. Do we have such short memories on what that intelligence community called a “Slam Dunk” about Iraq’s WMD that launched an illegal war on an innocent country that slaughtered millions and left that country a continuing disaster? Or, the “intelligence community” that ignored all the fore-warnings of an attack in 2001? The trail of goof-ups by our “intelligence agencies” also include the gross inability to have a clue about the impending collapse of the Soviet Union. We are still caught up on the old “Cold War” philosophies. There is a deep part of our country still entangled in McCarthyism. We made promises to the “New Russia” that we would not expand NATO…We speak with forked tongue. It is worth thinking that if Americans would believe anything contrary to their leaders their lives would be so disrupted that the political/social system would collapse. How many times do we have to be lied to before we say, “ENOUGH”, or suffer a military coup? The indictments of these “hackers” portrayed as “….agents of the Russian government” still indicate no proof of the charges. Would these indictments withstand the scrutiny of legal “discovery”? None of this was ever meant to be presented in a real court of law. A real political charade. The old saying about, “You can indict a ham sandwich” is going to be demonstrably proven true here.”
      My latest letter to editor to a western regional county newspaper.

    16. KLG

      I finally watched V for Vendetta last night. Maybe we should all just wear Guy Fawkes masks…

        1. Expat

          The message is that corrupt governments must be taken down by any means possible. Of course, blowing up an empty parliament building is merely a change in urban planning. It seems likely that with V dead at the end, the government would simply regroup and put the same system back in place.
          The mask was worn by V to hide his scarred face, not his identity. The people in the streets wore them to feel safe as they were lost in the crowd and felt anonymous. The masks probably had a very strong effect on the soldiers, perhaps creeping them out. I suspect that this might have allowed the soldiers to follow orders to shoot more readily since they were being “attacked” by a mob of creepy, mask-wearing ghouls.
          In the end, it’s still just a movie.

          1. Outis Philalithopoulos

            To call the government in V for Vendetta “corrupt” is a pretty big understatement. It flaunts Nazi-style esthetics, it runs concentration camps, and is managed by a small group of easily despised individuals several of which are primarily characterized by their easily despised sex lives.

            The authors intended the comic as a metaphor for modern political struggle (according to a forward to one edition). The comic is in particular quite explicit about the theory of struggle that V for Vendetta proposes.

            Evil government, or “authority,” is seen as something that everyone realizes is obviously evil, and which everyone understands similarly, but against which the common person is too terrified to rebel. What the moment therefore requires is an exceptional individual (V) who, through acts of spectacular violence, will show everyone that the regime’s power is not absolute, and thereby give ordinary people the courage to rebel. “Authority” is like a sheet of ice, but it is thinner than everyone realizes, and once it cracks, amazing things will happen.

            That there are some problems with this approach is maybe clear; here are several of them: It encourages readers/viewers to formulate political criticism as denunciation of fascism or Stalinism reborn, and leaves them unequipped to deal with other ways in which power can be organized. It assumes that everyone already understands power correctly, and in the same ways, and just lacks the courage to say so openly. Moreover, like Star Wars, it operates under the assumption that once you destroy the evil people in charge, the nature of a good society will be clear to everyone, and easily agreed upon.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > once you destroy the evil people in charge, the nature of a good society will be clear to everyone, and easily agreed upon.

              Third World thinking….

              Thanks for this, Outis.

        2. KLG

          Muddled, yes (it is a comic book). Creepy, absolutely. Last resort, reasonable. And they were removed at the end.

          1. Plenue

            Comic books are a medium, not a genre. There’s no reason something in that format has to be muddled.

    17. Ken

      Hi NC. As a Singaporean reader I humbly request if you could start covering Singapore as well if you have the resources. We here are facing similar economic problems with Usa level inequality and healthcare prices combined with a long standing authoritarian govt.

    18. mrtmbrnmn

      Excellent slicing and dicing of “our intelligence community” tripe, Lambert.

      If there were an MSM Universal Manual of Style & Usage, the words “our intelligence community” should always be required to appear as “our intelligence (duh) community.” Likewise “our precious democracy”, which is a well-massaged, focus-grouped, too often repeated mantra by the so-called “Resistance” (ha!) should more accurately appear as “our doomocracy”, or perhaps “our dumbocracy”.

      1. juliania

        No kidding. I actually thought an article about “Our Intelligence Community” would address the state of universities today. The non-climate-change heat must be getting to me.

    19. Skip Intro

      I am intrigued by the confluence of the uses of the word “community”. The term IC has been around for ages, but more recently, ‘community’ has become a term of art for idpol categories. This results in a sort of tolerance/safe space protection being extended to all sorts of authoritarians and institutions that are powerful and thus, make the world their own safe space. The expropriation of this connotation of community by spies, police or the military is dangerously Orwellian. Anyone who can call themselves a community can garner and exploit an implicit sympathy and a level of protection from any criticism:

      “Your attacks on the arms lobbying community and its members are racist and shameful. Neither they nor you have a place at this university.”

      1. whine country

        Maybe we should change the word “community” to “village”. It takes an intelligence village has a nice ring to it.

        1. PsiCorps6

          Not to mention evoking that other Village, which seems to become more relevant with every passing year (50 & counting, now.) Be seeing you.

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