Once upon a time Democrats bashed the CIA as the equivalent of an American Gestapo, who, among other crimes, violated its domestic charter by attempting to influence and subvert American democracy. By contrast, Republicans once defended the CIA’s methods as necessary, even patriotic, since in the GOP’s perception, the “enemy,” domestic as well as foreign, was at the gates.
But that was then.
Now the roles have reversed. Breaking with a 42 year tradition, Democrats are now defending the CIA’s possible violation of its domestic charter by the Agency possibly taking tactics once used to topple governments overseas to now topple government officials in a presidential administration. By turns, Republicans have adopted what Democrats used to label the CIA as being: a Nazi-like organization.
Purported leaks from the CIA about Donald Trump’s national security adviser Mike Flynn supposedly misleading Vice President Mike Pence about Russian sanctions have resulted in Flynn resigning.
Democrats are praising the necessity of the leaks, especially Democrat Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer. To understand how desperately partisan Schumer has been, and is, a history lesson on how the Democrats were once principled about unwarranted CIA power is in order.
Since 1975, the Democratic Party has portrayed the CIA as some kind of draconian villain attempting to subvert American democracy.
This perception was the result of the Church Committee hearings in 1975, which investigated, among other agencies, the possible abuses of power by the CIA. Named after Democratic Senator Frank Church, who chaired the investigation, the committee sought to prove that the CIA had an unwarranted domestic reach into the American political process.
The committee brought to light the Agency’s partnership with the Mafia to assassinate Cuban communist dictator Fidel Castro during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
But despite the committee having no partisan axe to grind, Church did let Kennedy off the hook by asserting that the CIA hid their assassination plots against Castro (hard-headed revisionism of Camelot has revealed that Kennedy was still green lighting assassination and sabotage efforts against Castro two weeks before the president’s own assassination) from JFK.
The results of the committee led a reluctant President Gerald Ford into signing an executive order banning CIA assassination efforts against foreign leaders.
Since then, apart from Democrats putting their criticisms of the CIA on hiatus when their presidents are in power, Democrats have portrayed the mostly liberal anticommunist intelligence agency as an American Gestapo.
But now Democratic Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer is breaking this tradition by characterizing the Flynn leaks as a necessary measure against the pro-Russian sentiments of the Trump administration.
Based on Schumer’s behavior after Trump was elected in November, Schumer’s admiration for CIA tactics could have been predicted.
Shortly after Trump was elected, Schumer lauded the CIA, and even admired the scope of its power.
In response to Trump criticizing the Agency over its investigations into whether Russia helped elect him, Schumer stated that Trump was “being really dumb” by declaring war on the CIA.
Departing from his Party’s often-expressed lament over the CIA as a type of shadow government, Schumer even bragged of the Agency’s supposed strong-arm methods
“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in late November.
“So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this,” Schumer said.
Schumer revealed himself to be in the loop of the Agency’s Russian hacking investigations by citing the CIA’s hurt feelings.
Intelligence officials, Schumer claimed, “are very upset with how” Trump “has treated them and talked about them.”
What may have assured Flynn’s downfall, Trump, to bash the CIA’s Russian hacking investigation, compared this untruthful effort to the Agency’s disputed claim that there were “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq—a claim that kick-started then-president George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
Now, the supposedly hurt feelings of the CIA may have motivated them to strike back at Trump via his inner circle.
But, in the wake of the Flynn resignation, Trump is not backing down from attacking the CIA.
In the process, Trump has become Frank Church, asserting that the CIA is behaving like Nazi Germany in supposedly taking out Flynn.
But Democrats, in their desperate haste to laud and possibly use an agency to influence American politics, have harked back to an earlier tradition predating the Church Committee.
Contrary to the hard left today, the CIA was in point of fact an anticommunist, but liberal agency. And their undemocratic labors had once been used to help Democrats.
A stunning example was how the CIA attempted to tilt the 1960 election for the Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy.
The Agency illegally briefed Kennedy on a top secret operation to invade Cuba shortly after the 1960 election. Armed with this knowledge and aware that Kennedy’s opponent, Vice President Richard Nixon, couldn’t violate national security by publicly acknowledging the invasion, Kennedy pressed Nixon in the second presidential debate about why the Eisenhower administration wasn’t doing more to help anti-Castro Cubans retake their island. Nixon floundered, replying that such an invasion would have been illegal.
To his dying day, Nixon believed it was that CIA tactic, ruthlessly used by Kennedy, that lost him the election by making it appear that the Republican was “weak.”
Nixon was also spooked by the CIA. During Watergate, then-president Nixon repeatedly warned his henchmen not to cross swords with the CIA.
Now, in all probability the CIA is again violating its domestic charter by trying to take out American citizens in the form of Mike Flynn, who had to resign over the leaks.
Roles once divisible by Party are now reversed. Now it is Republican President Donald Trump labeling the CIA as Nazi-like, and Democrats praising what may be the latest application of the Agency’s well-worn tactic of trying to influence the democratic process.
Trump clearly has the moral high ground here, and by attacking a partisan CIA, he is consistent in his campaign promise to take on big government and its abuses.