Since the 2016 election, the intelligence community has been under greater scrutiny—and for good reason. The leaks emanating from this cadre of professionals in D.C. was not exposing government malfeasance from the Trump administration, but classified information that was putting America’s national security interests at stake. It seemed to have been done to hamstring a new administration. As apolitical operatives, this was not their job. If you can’t handle working under a new administration, then resign. Leaking to undercut the Trump presidency because you’re sore about Hillary Clinton losing is not an act of patriotism. Former investigative journalist for CBS News Sharyl Attkisson listed ten instances in which the intelligence community reportedly ran amok—and some of these instances occurred way before Trump even considered running for president (via The Hill):
Perhaps more alarming is the growing evidence that suggests some officials at all levels in intelligence and justice agencies are operating in a way that is clearly intended to serve their own political beliefs and interests — not the public’s interests.
And sometimes, it appears, they operate not just in direct defiance of their superiors but of the Congress, the courts and the very laws of the land as well.
Joe Nacchio, CEO of telecom giant Qwest, said that after he refused to spy on his customers for the National Security Agency (NSA) without a warrant in February of 2001, the government retaliated by yanking a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars and filing an insider trading case against him. He went to prison. The government denied charges of retaliation.
In 2002, the NSA reportedly engaged in “blanket surveillance” of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, collecting and storing “virtually all electronic communications going into or out of the Salt Lake City area, including … emails and text messages” to “experiment with and fine tune a new scale of mass surveillance.” NSA officials had denied such a program existed.
Spying on Congress
In 2005 intel officials intercepted and recorded phone conversations between then-Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and pro-Israel lobbyists who were under investigation for espionage.
Journalist "witch hunts"
Internal emails from a “global intelligence company” executive in 2010 stated: “Brennan is behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning information from inside the beltway sources.
Misleading on mass spying
On March 12, 2013, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress that intel officials were not collecting mass data on tens of millions of Americans.
More spying on Congress
CIA officials improperly accessed Senate Intelligence Committee computers, according to an Inspector General report in July 2014, contradicting denials by then-CIA Director Brennan.
NSA privacy violations
In fall 2016, the government confessed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “significant non-compliance” of crucial procedures designed to protect privacy rights of U.S. citizens.
Government requests to see or “unmask” names of Americans whose communications are “incidentally” captured during national security surveillance are supposed to be rare and justified.
Politically motivated press leak
In May 2017, former FBI Director James Comey secretly orchestrated a “leak” to The New York Times of negative memos he said he wrote contemporaneously about President Trump, with the motive of spurring the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the president’s alleged Russia ties.
One purpose of special counsel investigations, such as the Russia investigation being led by former FBI Director Mueller, is to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest. But multiple investigators working on Mueller’s team have been removed after being caught in compromising positions.
This issue has special meaning to the former CBS reporter, who alleges she was spied on by the Obama administration. She’s documented the reported Obama surveillance timeline on her website as well. Even left leaning journalists, like Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, said the leaks from the intelligence community are a prescription to the destruction of our government. Granted, Greenwald’s publication is set up as a safe space for leakers, and to protect them, as they disseminate information relating to government corruption or wrongdoing. Leaking because Hillary Clinton lost isn’t any of those things. Now, Greenwald fears both the deep state and the Trump White House, but noted the former doesn’t have the institutional constraints to keep their power in check. He made these remarks in an interview on the left wing Democracy Now program in February:
Even if you’re somebody who believes that both the CIA and the deep state, on the one hand, and the Trump presidency, on the other, are extremely dangerous, as I do, there’s a huge difference between the two, which is that Trump was democratically elected and is subject to democratic controls, as these courts just demonstrated and as the media is showing, as citizens are proving. But on the other hand, the CIA was elected by nobody. They’re barely subject to democratic controls at all. And so, to urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity. That is a prescription for destroying democracy overnight in the name of saving it.
For now, this appears to be a bipartisan problem, as sketchy surveillance activity certainly happened under the Bush administration. The Obama administration took it a step further, specifically when they named Fox News reporter James Rosen, who is leaving the network at the end of the year, as a criminal co-defendant in a 2013 North Korean leak case. At times, yes, this group has certainly overstepped their bounds. It's reached a boiling point since Trump was elected, however.