Various readers, fans, blog commenters, Facebook trolls, and auditors twanged on me all last week about my continuing interest in the RussiaRussiaRussia hysteria, though there is no particular consensus of complaint among them — except for a general “shut up, already” motif. For the record, I’m far more interested in the hysteria itself than the Russia-meddled-in the-election case, which I consider to be hardly any case at all beyond 13 Russian Facebook trolls.
The hysteria, on the other hand, ought to be a matter of grave concern, because it appears more and more to have been engineered by America’s own intel community, its handmaidens in the Dept of Justice, and the twilight’s last gleamings of the Obama White House, and now it has shoved this country in the direction of war at a time when civilian authority over the US military looks sketchy at best. This country faces manifold other problems that are certain to reduce the national standard of living and disrupt the operations of an excessively complex and dishonest economy, and the last thing America needs is a national war-dance over trumped-up grievances with Russia.
The RussiaRussiaRussia narrative has unspooled since Christmas and is blowing back badly through the FBI, now with the firing (for cause) of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe hours short of his official retirement (and inches from the golden ring of his pension). He was axed on the recommendation of his own colleagues in the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, and they may have been influenced by the as-yet-unreleased report of the FBI Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, due out shortly.
The record of misbehavior and “collusion” between the highest ranks of the FBI, the Democratic Party, the Clinton campaign, several top political law firms, and a shady cast of international blackmail peddlars is a six-lane Beltway-scale evidence trail compared to the muddy mule track of Trump “collusion” with Russia. It will be amazing if a big wad of criminal cases are not dealt out of it, even as The New York Times sticks its fingers in its ears and goes, “La-la-la-la-la….”
It now appears that Mr. McCabe’s statements post-firing tend to incriminate his former boss, FBI Director James Comey — who is about to embark, embarrassingly perhaps, on a tour for his self-exculpating book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.
A great aura of sanctimony surrounds the FBI these days. Even the news pundits seem to have forgotten the long, twisted reign of J. Edgar Hoover (1924 – 1972), a dangerous rogue who excelled at political blackmail. And why, these days, would any sane American take pronouncements from the CIA and NSA at face value? What seems to have gone on in the RussiaRussiaRussia matter is that various parts of the executive branch in the last months under Mr. Obama gave each other tacit permission, wink-wink, to do anything necessary to stuff HRC into the White House and, failing that, to derail her opponent, the Golden Golem of Greatness.
The obvious lesson in all this huggermugger is that the ends don’t justify the means. I suspect there are basically two routes through this mess. One is that the misdeeds of FBI officers, Department of Justice lawyers, and Intel agency executives get adjudicated by normal means, namely, grand juries and courts. That would have the salutary effect of cleansing government agencies and shoring up what’s left of their credibility at a time when faith in institutions hangs in the balance.
The second route would be for the authorities to ignore any formal response to an evermore self-evident trail of crimes, and to allow all that political energy to be funneled into manufactured hysteria and eventually a phony provocation of war with Russia. Personally, I’d rather see the US government clean house than blow up the world over an engineered hallucination.