The quite excellent 1975 film thriller “Three Days of the Condor,” has a scene where a bookish CIA researcher played by Robert Redford says to a higher agency operative played by Cliff Robertson:
“Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?”
It’s the kind of dialogue, delivered by a charismatic Hollywood actor known for his left-leaning views, that was meant to appeal to liberals deeply suspicious of clandestine government spook outfits deemed, in the era of Watergate, to be responsible for everything from the Vietnam War to rampant illegal spying on American citizens.
This demonization of the CIA and “J. Edgar Hoover’s” FBI was standard thought for civil-liberties-minded liberals for decades, most recently seen in the scorn held for the CIA’s faulty – or deliberately falsified? – 2002 intelligence assessment of Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction that led to the U.S. invasion and long occupation of Iraq.
What happened? How did we go from “Bush Lied, People Died” to ex-CIA director John Brennan is a patriot and American hero?
The answer is simple: Trump happened.
The election of President Trump has so affected liberals, so afflicted them with coma-inducing bouts of Trump Derangement Syndrome, that the arch-baddies of their “All the President’s Men” dreams for 50-odd years have now been transformed into noble guardians of truth and justice.
One honest liberal not prepared for the sudden lurch by the left to loving the CIA and FBI is Peter Dale Scott, a University of California scholar and author of the 2007 book The Road to 9/11.
“There’s nothing crazy about the idea of the Deep State, of the idea that elites inside and outside the government wield power not assigned to them by the Constitution, irrespective of the will of voters,” Scott said to the Miami Herald in an interview.
“The way the Trump people are using it may be cartoonish, but the idea isn’t.”
Well, that’s something.
Such sentiments disappear into the ether, however, as liberals reveal just how far they are willing to take their Trump-hating mindset.
Paul Waldman, a columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect who also writes regularly for The Washington Post, wants you to forget about rogue elitists inside our government pursuing a covert agenda without the will of the American people.
There is a far bigger threat on the horizon.
“The ‘Deep State’ may be a myth, but we’ve seen the installation of the Trump State, which is something far worse,” Waldman writes.
Because Waldman sees a Trump administration that he personally disagrees with politically as more dangerous to the nation than activities denounced by liberals for years on civil-liberties grounds, those shocking activities are now seen as not only not menacing, but actually salutary.
And so we see Waldman approvingly parroting the Deep State argument that a presidential campaign was spied on by the federal government for its own good:
“As former FBI agent Asha Rangappa noted, the bureau was conducting a counterintelligence investigation, not a criminal one. In other words, they were trying to find out what the Russians were up to and whom they had compromised—if anything, to protect Trump and his campaign from Russia.”
Waldman shows no concern at all for the shattering precedent being established here. Anything is fair game as long as the despised Trump is targeted.
GOVERNMENT SPOOK STARS
Similarly, one would hope liberals would decry the domination of national security TV punditry by ex-officials of the same shadowy government organizations they once so stridently claimed to want to shed light on.
Jack Shafer, writing at Politico, details a staggering roll call of Deep State alumni “almost too numerous to list” running amok on the airwaves today.
“[T]he downside of outsourcing national security coverage to the TV spies is obvious,” Shafer writes.
“They aren’t in the business of breaking news or uncovering secrets. Their first loyalty—and this is no slam—is to the agency from which they hail.
“Imagine a TV network covering the auto industry through the eyes of dozens of paid former auto executives and you begin to appreciate the current peculiarities.”
“Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? Stupid.”
For the following 50-some years, this sentiment would be taken as liberal canon.
But now we have Deep State officials being regularly paraded through the media machinery by these very same liberals and toasted as trustworthy servants of the people.
It’s an incredible testament to just how much Trump has shaken their world.