Spies & Criminals - A Discrete Line Has Been Blurred

Spies were spies and criminals were criminals back in the good old Cold War days. You might have criminals who were coerced into spy work, and you might have had spies whose intentions were essentially venal and not patriotic, but there was a discrete line between these two types of human activity, as it were. Even if spies could and did do some very criminal things like stealing, lying, brainwashing, maiming and killing.

It was seen as a game - a life and death game - where intelligence was the objective, not justice in the strict legal sense. Mueller's probe has blurred that line with its indictments - with very specific language identifying the culprits - of Russian intel officials who almost certainly hacked the DNC server as well as then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's homebrew server.

The problem is that it therefore exposes America's intelligence and diplomatic corps to equivalent measures by hostile (and perhaps even allied in rare cases) governments. Like Putin's Kremlin and his red-cheeked, gloating and goading delight at suggesting that Russia be allowed to question Americans accused of criminal behavior in or towards Russia. That Russia's judicial system is a worst-of-Latin-America-style sham that concocts show trials and murders detainees, makes it all the more intolerable.

But the point is, do we really want any career State Department official, any law enforcement official who has attended any sort of international conference and perhaps advised in ways that might have displeased corrupt actors abroad, or any intel officer to wonder if they will face an indictment in a foreign court? Because this is ultimately political. But now the political sphere of competing national interests and the counterintelligence operations that have traditionally been part of that sphere, have all bled dangerously into the legal and judicial systems of countries around the globe.

The world is watching to see what Trump does next as far as Putin's quid pro quo offer of letting both sides investigate the other sides' officials and so far Sarah Huckabee Sanders grim-faced clarifications of President Trump's musings are hardly encouraging.

For example, the White House seems to be planning to invite Putin to Washington sometime this fall perhaps. And insisting that Russia send their accused GRU intel officers to be interviewed in America. Here's Sanders:

It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it. Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.

No Sarah. No. This sets a precedent, one that Mueller's probe has recklessly set up in order to get some sort of indictment - that's what prosecutors do - and prove that his probe is justified. And that precedent will reach beyond Putin's outrageous offers and resonate in capitals around the world. There is no nation on Earth that has as many diplomats and intel officers stationed in risky places as does the United States. They are even more so in harm's way today than they were a few weeks ago. And both Mueller and President Trump are to blame.

Yes, the conflating of Russian interference with Trump's team supposed collusion is not just the President's doing. It's what the opposition has been doing since before he was elected. And that opposition includes a good part of the intel community.

So now they have their justification for all their scheming. They shout: you see guys? This is why we used the Steele Dossier! This is why we ran informants at even minor and fleeting Trump associates like Papadopoulos! We knew this would happen! Helsinki!

Except they helped this to happen. And now their circular logic will surely come back to haunt them at some point in the near future. So, when the President is no longer in the White House - and we'll assume that's still at least 2 and a half years away - the fact that the probe they pushed for has criminalized counterintelligence operations in both a political and a legal sense, and even in the very way that Mueller's investigation has itself conflated what are two very different types of investigations, means that they will inherit a crippled intelligence community. One hobbled by the partisan warfare that is steadily degrading the credibility of vital institutions. A partisan warfare in which the intelligence community itself has been on the front lines. But any sense that they deserve this fate is a little short-sighted in view of the general damage being done.

Unnecessary indictments. Absurd invitations. And we're not even into August yet.

Posted by Keeley at July 20, 2018 2:57 PM
Comment #429263

“They shout: you see guys? This is why we used the Steele Dossier! This is why we ran informants at even minor and fleeting Trump associates like Papadopoulos!”

What a lot of nonsense you write. Flynn, a minor associate, soon to be sentenced, and Manafort, a minor associate, soon to be on trial.

The idiot puppet traitor in chief, the trAmp, POS, had a private meeting with his boss putain, and agreed to some fake elections in Crimea and other places to determine the boundaries of russia, and certify their aggression. He may not even know he agreed to that, or anything, and maybe he didn’t agree to anything, but still doesn’t know it, but he won’t contradict his financial backers anyway. In the meantime, he spouts whatever propaganda putain has told him, while leaving the people who are supposed to be helping him, and have been confirmed by the Senate in their positions, in the dark.

Posted by: ohrealy at July 20, 2018 5:09 PM
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