View 1 Item
Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press
President Donald Trump calls out to the media after escorting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to his car to depart the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017.

So for the record, let me state unequivocally that I am NOT a member of the U.S. intelligence community (OK, maybe that’s too strong of a statement … I might be, but I can’t really remember nor can I tell you anything specific). I am pretty sure that I don’t have high-level security clearance, and the only eavesdropping tools I have are those that come standard on my iPhone 7.

So basically, I have to be in close, close proximity to get any good dirt on anybody, and that’s too bad because if I had better surveillance tools (or the ability to be very, very sneaky), I might be able to secretly record Trump administration phone calls and then leak them to the press. Then I could truly fulfill my patriotic duty to undermine the foreign policy objectives of the man who is “not my president” and who needs to learn that he doesn’t work for the American people but instead — as a super secret member of the vaunted and revered intelligence community — he really works for my fellow spooks and me.

OK. All joking aside, it’s clear that there are people out there who are delighted that members our intelligence community are leaking privileged communications to damage the Trump administration. I expect that some may harbor the “ends justify the means” partisanship that continues to damage our political institutions, and who would love to go all “Edward Snowden” on Trump. But let’s consider what is really going on.

Leaving aside how you may personally feel about President Trump and his now former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, setting aside how you may feel about the Trump administration’s foreign policy aims or its relationship with Russia, the surreptitious recording and leaking of administration phone calls is of grave national concern. When American intelligence officials illegally spy on the communications of the duly elected president of the United States and his advisers, and subsequently leak the contents of those calls to an eager, rabid, hostile press, the very foundations of our democracy are under assault.

I am deadly serious when I say that we should all be very concerned about the intelligence leaks plaguing the Trump administration. This is the kind of thing that happens in totalitarian states, where intelligence agencies use blackmail and extortion to consolidate power. How do you think Vladimir Putin — the former head of the Soviet Era KGB — has been able to amass so much power in Russia? It’s simple. He knows all the secrets and where all of the bodies are buried. He probably buried some of them personally.

An unaccountable, out-of-control intelligence community is a massive threat to our constitutional form of government. When it comes to the Michael Flynn resignation, I think President Trump distilled the issue when he tweeted, “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening when I deal with N. Korea etc.?” Trump is spot on. How can we expect the Trump administration — or any administration for that matter — to develop and implement a foreign policy agenda when our own intelligence community is purposefully undercutting their work?

I think “The Week” columnist Damon Linker’s put it best when he wrote that Michael Flynn’s ouster was nothing less than a “soft coup” by our own intelligence community. This is serious business. Every effort should be made to track down the spooks that are illegally spying on the Trump administration and leaking that information to the press. And anyone who is caught should go to jail for a very long time.