The rogue weasels have struck. Terrified that Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn would tear them out root and branch, they connived and colluded, anonymously of course, to leak highly-sensitive intelligence information to destroy Flynn before he could destroy them.
This type of operation is not new. I wrote a whole book about it in 2007. I called them, the “shadow warriors.”
Then as now, the shadow warriors excelled at covert operations. After all, they lived in the darkness in a universe of lies.
Their technique “involved deep penetration of a hostile regime by planting a network of agents at key crossroads of power, where they could steal secrets and steer policy by planting disinformation, cooking intelligence, provocation, and outright lies.”
As I wrote at the time, this effort “involved sophisticated political sabotage operations, aimed at making regime leaders doubt their own judgment and question the support of their subordinates… It was war — but an intelligence war, played behind the scenes, aimed at confusing, misleading, and ultimately defeating the enemy. Its goal was nothing less than to topple the regime in power, by discrediting its rulers.”
These are powers and skills most Americans ascribe to our nation’s clandestine intelligence services, right? Don’t we want to have spies at the heart of the Iranian Supreme Leader’s entourage? Or planted next to whichever Kim is ruling his North Korean hermit kingdom? Isn’t that the type of capability we spending more than $80 billion a year to develop?
Alas, none of those very real targets is the target of these rogue weasels. Their target is the president of the United States.
The shadow warriors began leaking even before President Trump was sworn into office.
“According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29… What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?” Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote on January 12.
Later, news reports surfaced with more information about the calls, quoting “three sources familiar with the matter.”
But that wasn’t enough. To hound Flynn out of office required a full court press, and so last week the rogue weasels came out of the shadows and all began talking to the same reporters.
By the time these scribes had assembled their indictment (for that’s what it was), they now had heard the story corroborated from “nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls,” and who spoke, of course, “on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.”
In so doing, they exposed a sensitive, ongoing signals intelligence operation to intercept the electronic communications of the Russian ambassador. Who cares, right, if your goal is to sabotage the president?
What sets off this particular episode of the shadow warriors is the willingness of former top officials to leave their fingerprints behind.
Call it, payback. It began with Sally Yates, the Obama administration deputy attorney general who the Trump transition team improvidently named as acting attorney general while awaiting the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions — the same Sally Yates who was summarily fired by President Trump when she refused to support and defend his executive order calling for a temporary moratorium on immigration from seven Middle East countries.
Yates “informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States,” the Washington Post wrote on Monday.
The scribes added: “In the waning days of the Obama administration, James R. Clapper Jr., who was the director of national intelligence, and John Brennan, the CIA director at the time, shared Yates’s concerns and concurred with her recommendation to inform the Trump White House.”
Brennan and Clapper knew they were on the way out, and so arguably had nothing to lose by going public. But clearly, both intelligence chiefs also knew they had seeded their agencies with loyalists — career officials who they could rely on to leak sensitive information to them in the future that would embarrass or confuse President Trump.
Government officials take an oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies — foreign and domestic.
No one says you have to like the president or his policies. But senior officials are expected to serve him and carry out lawful orders.
When domestic enemies rear their head and seek to undermine the president and his lawful orders, that’s called sedition.
General Flynn made the mistake — perhaps inadvertently, as he says – of not telling the truth about these calls to the Vice President. That is a mistake.
But the leakers disclosed to the public — and our enemies — sensitive and classified information. That is illegal.
It’s time for the Attorney General to launch a thorough investigation to unmask the leakers, before the damage gets worse.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Hill.