The U.S. intelligence community is not a “deep state” conspiracy. It is a political faction, clad in official secrecy, and protected by general friendly media coverage.
The intelligence community loathes and fears President Trump for his ignorance, his flouting of the traditional policymaking process, and now his desire to get control of U.S. intelligence agencies, starting with the Office of Director of National Intelligence. (ODNI)
One sign: an intelligence briefing in which a senior ODNI exaggerated the threat posed by Russia in the 2020 election. Both Democrats and Republicans who heard the briefing thought it was overstated.
The intelligence community also sees the rise of Bernie Sanders and fears him for a different reason. Sanders rejects much the national security agenda that the intelligence community has pursued both in the Cold War and the war on terror. In the era of endless wars, Sanders’ position is increasingly attractive to voters and thus increasingly threatening to the national security elite that yearns for the pre-Trump status quo.
The IC’s hostility to Sanders was signaled by the leak to the Washington Post. On Friday, the Post reported that “U.S. officials” had briefed Sanders a month ago on alleged Russian efforts to help his campaign.
The leak about a supposedly confidential meeting on the eve of the Nevada caucus signaled hostility from official sources.
The CIA knows that Russian support for Sanders is nothing compared to support for Trump. The Oxford Computational Propaganda Project found the Internet Research Association (IRA) efforts on behalf of Sanders were miniscule compared to their support for Trump. The alleged Russian effort of behalf of Sander is exaggerated too.
The leak to the Post generated the headlines that implied Russia’s help for the Vermont senator was somehow comparable, which is false. The leaked story, in short, was a smear.
Sanders was rightly dismissive.
“I don’t care, frankly, who [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wants to be president,” Sanders said in a statement. “My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.”
But the IC efforts to delegitimize Sanders are sure to continue.