By Matt Taibbi
A major untold story of the Trump era has been the political comeback of the CIA, NSA, and FBI, who thanks to an ingenious marketing campaign now enjoy widespread support among young liberals.
On The Young Turks the other night, during a segment called — this is not a joke — “RebelHQ,” commentator Ben Carollo extolled the virtues of the CIA. In one section, he described how intelligence officials responded to “Donald Trump trying to plan some ridiculous scheme to maintain himself as president”:
It’s not a conspiracy theory to say that these government officials wanted to listen to congress and cared about Democratic norms and respected the constitutional structure of the way the United States is today.
When I first heard Carollo talking about the desire of intelligence officials to “listen to congress,” I thought he was being literal.
Maybe, I thought, he meant that time in 2014, when the CIA spied on the the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into its torture program, wiring up Senate computers and reading staffers’ emails. Or perhaps he meant that time in 2015, when the Obama administration was using the NSA to listen to Israeli critics of his Iran deal, and ended up with “inadvertent” access to phone calls back and forth with political opponents in the U.S. congress, on both sides of the aisle.
Or, maybe Carollo also meant that time when the CIA intercepted communications between the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community and congressional staff, about pending whistleblower complaints. As the ICIG put it in one of its declassified notifications, “CIA security compiled a report that includes excerpts of these whistleblower-related communications, and this report was eventually shared with CIA management.” This way, the CIA bosses could know ahead of time who was going to congress with complaints about abuses! Good times.