For a few days now there have been reports that America’s intelligence community might be conducting a silent campaign to keep the Trump White House from governing. The resignation of Michael Flynn brought this into focus. The story goes that these individuals wanted him gone to protect Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran; Flynn was a staunch opponent to the agreement. Guy wrote about this alleged plot, while Lt. Col Tony Shaffer, a former CIA analyst, said that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes—all Obama officials—were “directly involved” with the leaks of the transcripts between Flynn and the Russian ambassador that sunk him. On the other hand, Flynn did mislead the vice president, which is why he was shown the exit, but the contents of the discussions, which is highly sensitive information, show that there probably were no legal infractions.
Now, Bryan Dean Wright, a former CIA operative and self-identified Democrat, is calling out his former colleagues for what he sees as an attempt to hamstring the Trump administration with these leaks. Moreover, it could lead to our institutions being irreparably harmed, especially if Trump loses re-election in 2020. Wright noted that his liberal colleagues would dance in the street, while the more conservative ones, embittered at Trump’s first 100 days of his first term being sabotaged, will be lusting for blood and hamstring the incoming Democratic administration with leaks of their own. He noted the wall between spies and government workers, the awesome responsibility they have, the power that they wield when it coms to obtaining highly sensitive information, and people who were rightfully fired for going off the reservation investigating cheating spouses and ex-boyfriends. In all, the theme is clear: do you jobs, let the system work, and allow the democratic process to get rid of presidents who the public feels isn't doing a good job:
Multiple reports show that my former colleagues in the intelligence community have decided that they must leak or withhold classified information due to unsettling connections between President Trump and the Russian Government.
Said an intelligence officer: “I know what's best for foreign policy and national security… And I'm going to act on that.”
Some of us might applaud this man, including a few of my fellow Democrats. In their minds, this is a case of Mr. Smith Goes to Langley to do battle against a corrupt President Trump.
One small problem. The intelligence officer quoted above was actually Aldrich Ames, a CIA traitor whose crime of treason in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in the compromise of more than 100 assets. Many were tortured and executed as a result.
Ames’ flawed logic is eerily similar to that of his present-day colleagues who are engaged in a shadow war with their commander in chief. They, too, have decided that their superior judgment is more important than following the law.
When you’re trained as a spy, you’re taught how to handle these kinds of situations. Upon learning the information, it gets tightly compartmented (restricted) and sent to the Department of Justice or Congress for investigation. If the evidence is found to be credible, the constitution makes clear what happens next: impeachment.
That’s how American democracy should work. And that’s precisely how it has been working.
I understand how this might feel appealing to deeply partisan Democrats. After all, I didn’t want Trump to win either. But the solution to fighting this subpar president cannot be encouraging a network of spies to tip the scales back in our political favor. We must instead let the system continue to work, as it has, and make our case to the American people during future elections.
If you can’t handle Trump, resign. That’s exactly what Edward Price did. Price starting working at the CIA in 2006 and was the spokesperson for the National Security Council:
Nearly 15 years ago, I informed my skeptical father that I was pursuing a job with the Central Intelligence Agency. Among his many concerns was that others would never believe I had resigned from the agency when I sought my next job. “Once CIA, always CIA,” he said. But that didn’t give me pause. This wouldn’t be just my first real job, I thought then; it would be my career.
That changed when I formally resigned last week. Despite working proudly for Republican and Democratic presidents, I reluctantly concluded that I cannot in good faith serve this administration as an intelligence professional.
That’s perfectly fine to do. If you can’t work for an administration, you leave. You don’t stick around to wage a silent war against the White House, nor do you hang around in the hopes that your opposition would lead to your firing, thereby becoming a martyr for the progressive cause like former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates—who was fired for instructing the entire DOJ not to defend the president’s executive order of immigration. The point that both of these former intelligence operatives are making is that there’s a right way to leave when you reach a point where you cannot do your job: you resign and let the Constitution do its work in sorting out the mess.