A Master Class on Influence Operations at CIA

There are basically three classes of personnel at CIA, and there are a few simple rules to understanding them:

  1. There is a tiny minority of no-fooling spymasters: operational intelligence officers in the Clandestine Service, who are responsible for 100% of the Agency’s agent recruiting and collection of HUMINT information;
  2. There is a larger number of technical brains: headquarters-bound analytical and technical personnel, who contribute by working many of the other intelligence collection disciplines, and analyzing and fusing the information produced here and elsewhere;
  3. There is a shockingly large number of mighty old tuskers: executives, managers, middle managers, managers manqués and supernumeraries who live to play the Langley version of the Washington Influence Game. These people are indistinguishable from their counterparts at, say, the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Board for the Promotion of Mohair Production.
  4. A great number of the people in Group 3 imagine they’re in Group 1, even if they only did one uneventful and unproductive tour in a backwater twenty-five years ago. They cling to certain aspects of clandestine service as status symbols, even as they live in a development in McClean that’s entirely populated by Agency people, and push papers related to various support and overhead functions back and forth to one another.

There is always conflict between the classes, as well as between the constituencies, but the old tuskers, wise in the ways of Washington warfare, generally win. Thus, the bureaucracy is many times the size it was in 1950, but it is a rare intelligence officer who will go out on a limb and suggest it is more effective. No one can credibly make the argument that it is more efficient.

This is the necessary framework for understanding the appearance of President Trump at the Agency. He spoke in front of an audience of Agency personnel, all of whom volunteered to hear him; that may explain some of the audience enthusiasm (a CBS reporter has floated a story that he packed the audience with non-Agency employees; we’ll discuss this below). While this video is very long, Trump does not appear until over a half hour in, so we have set up the video to begin at about 37:00, with the acting director’s introduction of the President. He concludes his remarks at about 59:00 on the timeline.

Much of it is a sideshow about reporting, but note the reaction of the assembled intelligence officers when the President belabors the press. The guys and gals in this room are not the ones that have half the newsrooms along the Acela Corridor on speed dial.

Hell, they even had a director (who, now as an ex-director, is carping about the agency) who was a supporter of American Communist Party Leader Gus Hall, and who voted for him. (Admittedly, as an undergrad, a period in many lives where the retard is strong).

But for what purpose did Trump go to CIA, first thing? Why did he do this? In our opinion, he was delivering a master class in influence operations, or as longtime student of Trump Scott Adams might say, persuasionHe has no illusions that the tuskers love him. The tuskers hate and fear him: hate, because he’s not in and of their culture; and fear, because he threatens their comfortable positions. They can be expected to undermine him. And if the reporters can be believed, these tuskers already have been the wellspring of a veritable Niagara of leaks that thunder back at each tusker from the headlines of his, her, or zhys morning Washington Post. 

But here comes Mr Trump, right into their own headquarters building, and he appeals directly over their heads to their line workers. The smart kids call it “disintermediation.”

Yes, the culture of the CIA (like the very similar and cross-pollinated culture of the Foreign Service) does tilt left, but it tends to be a left that is far less hopped up on hopium with respect to the nation’s competitors and adversaries around the world, than the manifestations of the left in Congress and academia (both of which cross over with the tuskers).

It got considerably worse for the unhappy managers and their media friends. On a press conference with Sean Spicer Monday afternoon, a CBS newsman, Steven Portnoy or Jeff Pegues, kept insisting that his high-level sources in CIA had said that the people President Trump spoke to were not CIA officers, but were 40 supporters bused in by Trump. As Spicer contradicted each of the CBS man’s quibbles — he had to seek the information from others, because, as he put it, “I don’t have the seating plan” in front of him — the newsman sourly fell back to further defensive lines, like a fanatical Hitler Youth in April ’45.

  • “The front row was Trump people” — Spicer checked. No Trumpers in the front row; no 40 people; only 10 people went over, including Trump, Gen. Kelly of DHS, and CIA Director Designee Mike Pompeo.
  • “I didn’t say row,” Portnoy-or-Pegues, sneering, countered: “I said rows” Spicer checked again. Nope, nobody in any of the front rows.
  • Portnoy-or-Pegues then fell back to his veritable Reichstag bunker with another quibble, but Spicer countered with a confirmation that nobody you can see in the camera’s view (just the backs of their heads; it is the clandestine service after all) is a Trump administration person.

After this, though, Pegues, who had already gone live with the fake-audience story before the press conference, hastily edited his story to insert a minimized version of Spicer’s denial, but made it much less prominent than the fake charge. Indeed, he liked the charge so much he pasted one paragraph twice (the fake story was not marked to show it had been, however ineptly and poorly, corrected; it was a stealth edit, so it may be edited again).

Authorities are also pushing back against the perception that the CIA workforce was cheering for the president. They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who’d been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams. The Trump team originally expected Rep. Pompeo, R-Kansas, to be sworn in during the event as the next CIA director, but the vote to confirm him was delayed on Friday by Senate  Democrats. Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA’s senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks.

An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who’d been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams. The Trump team originally expected Rep. Pompeo, R-Kansas, to be sworn in during the event as the next CIA director, but the vote to confirm him was delayed on Friday by Senate  Democrats. Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA’s senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks.

(Since the first edit, Pegues has edited the story again to add the quibble that Spicer only denied that the 400 people in the room were Trump or White House people. They coulda been Pompeo people, who were coming to see him sworn in, except that Vietnam draft dodger and campus radical Chuck Schumer went back on his word on Pompeo’s confirmation).

Now, the question is, whose fake news was it?

  1. Did Pegues (or Portnoy) make it up? Given the weaselly character Portnoy-or-Pegues displays asking questions, that’s how Occam would slice it. But it’s not the only possibility.
  2. Did he actually have real sources from among CIA’s tuskers tell him that because, even though they knew it was false, they were trying to mislead him? That’s probably the next most probable attribution. But there’s still one more:
  3. Did he actually have real sources from among CIA’s tuskers tell him that because, even though it actually was false, they leaped to a wrong conclusion?

The last and least possibility is not off-the-charts impossible. Remember, CIA managers are the bureaucratic descendants of the guys that argued with Your Humble Blogger that “there is no resistance potential in East Germany, because the people there love Communism even more than the Soviets do.” The brilliant brain trust that took the lead in creating the free and democratic Libya and Syria that we don’t have today. Never rule out blind, paralytic ignorance, especially the further you go from the operational area in question.

86 thoughts on “A Master Class on Influence Operations at CIA

  1. Fred

    As to your last paragraph, the CIA had a vested interest in keeping the cold war and east west paradigm alive. And they have a vested interest in the CREATED chaos in today’s middle east. We need them more and more don’t we? Job security.

    The CIA has been writing news stories since before it was officially created. I have no proof, but if I were a betting man…

    1. LCPL Martinez USMC

      From reading Ishmael JONES’ and other more recent CIA type books ,

      the Dir. of Operations are more Republican types ; whilst Dir. of Intelligence (the guys with PhDs) are more Democrat types; while Science & Tech are a bit of both; and Dir. of Support , mostly local hires, are Democrats.

      Add to Group 3 folks who retired and now double dipping (ie. pension plus contract work), but same mindset, though many have well deserved reps.

      There was much hoopla over how sacred or hallowed that wall was on Saturday, I forgot which book or article I read awhile back, but it’s a damn lobby period.

      The Dept. of State started the idea of listing those who died, the CIA post-WWII copied this idea. Can you imagine if DoD did the same over at the Pentagon?

      So as far as hallowed goes, the Vietnam War memorial would be hallowed de facto, while Arlington cemetery would be hallowed de jure , for a place to hallowed you’d have to have a certain number of people agreeing that it’s hallowed ground.

      By definition it’s a lobby with 1950s decor and wall art. An old lobby seldom used since most of parking surround the New HQ (Google maps).

      If you know one (or more ) of the stars maybe to you it’d be hallowed or sacred (the CIA guy who died over Lockerbie , Bob Baer’s boss for instance) is on that wall—- which begs the question if dying in a plane accident gets you on that wall, how did others get on that wall?

      So it’s not hallowed ground by any stretch, and Trump can talk about his numbers all day long for all I care, IMHO.

      ***“And they have a vested interest in the CREATED chaos in today’s middle east. We need them more and more don’t we? Job security.”***

      That’s sooooo Cold War, gone are those days. You want chaos, keep an eye on the National Debt:

      “Beijing has been dumping U.S. government debt to prop up its currency. China uses the dollars it gets from selling U.S. Treasuries to buy the yuan, which has sunk to an 8-year low as the world’s second largest economy slows.

      China’s huge holdings of U.S. debt fell to $1.12 trillion at the end of October, their lowest level in more than six years, according to U.S. Treasury Department data. Japan held $1.13 trillion.

      Both countries offloaded Treasuries during the month, but China dumped far more: its holdings dropped by $41.3 billion, while Japan’s fell by just $4.5 billion.” http://money.cnn.com/2016/12/16/investing/china-japan-us-debt-treasuries/

      Like I said gone are the days of over throwing Banana Republics, the ones sowing chaos these days is Wall Street.

      China’s anticipating something big, and as any country worried about a bigger country’s demise, in this case US, which usually means the bigger country will go to war as a prelude, so also defense becomes central to national interest— hence the Chinese build up.

      That last bit is predictive in nature (so I could be wrong, LOL!) but my point is the CIA need not sow chaos, bigger actors are playing this role right now.

      1. LCPL Martinez USMC

        ooooops, sorry didn’t mean to say *accident, but plane crash… Libya was implicated. Though Bob Baer to this day, insists it was Imad Mughniyeh from Hizbullah (from “the Perfect Kill”, very good book!)

    2. TomS

      ReD American Betrayal by Diana West and Secret Team by Prouty,this will answer your premise.
      Also lost history.

  2. Scott

    Typo:

    3. Did he actuallyhave real sources

    P.S. and unrelated to anything… I actually got a certificate of occupancy for the house yesterday.

  3. John M.

    A stylistic quibble:
    “They can be expected to undermine him and already have, if the reporters can be believed (more on that in a moment), been the wellspring of a veritable Niagara of leaks that thunder back at them from the headlines of their morning Washington Post.”

    This sentence reads awkwardly. It asks the reader to buffer an awful lot between “have” and “been.” I’d suggest, as a minimum:
    “They can be expected to undermine him, and already have been the wellspring of a veritable Niagara of leaks that thunder back at them from the headlines of their morning Washington Post, if the reporters can be believed (more on that in a moment).”

    And I might suggest a more extensive rewrite:
    “They can be expected to undermine him. And if the reporters can be believed, the tuskers already have been the wellspring of a veritable Niagara of leaks that thunder back at the tuskers from the headlines of their morning Washington Post.”

    -John M. (hopefully helpful)

    1. Hognose Post author

      I’m adopting that just the way you rewrote it. Much clearer than trying to follow the thought as I twisted and turned the verbiage.

  4. John M.

    The ongoing war between Trump and the Deep State is fascinating. All these agencies are pretty opaque to me in terms of what their interests are and how they pursue them, and I’m interested to see how this plays out.

    That, and, may the Lord speed the sword of our glorious leader as he smites our enemies before us.

    -John M.

    1. Hognose Post author

      The Russians get by with a couple or three intelligence agencies, and they don’t seem to suck at it any more than our horde of the things.

      1. Sommerbiwak

        seems to be an american habit to open new agencies instead of reforming and/or retasking existing ones.

  5. DaveP.

    “…CBS newsman, Steven Portnoy or Jeff Pegues, kept insisting that his high-level sources in CIA had said that the people President Trump spoke to were not CIA officers, but were 40 supporters bused in by Trump.”

    So I suppose there are pictures of these buses? Maybe some enterprising journalist (hint hint) has checked with the bus chartering companies and found who rented them and who hired them? Three buses at a time, that’s gonna stick out and there’s not that many companies that rent buses. Should be a slam dunk, Mr. Journalist. Where’s the proof?

    1. Sommerbiwak

      Haven’t you got the memo that we are now in the post truth era of alternative facts? Investigation is so last millennium. ;-)

      1. DaveP.

        Sorry, but we’ve been “post truth” since Walter Duranty. It’s just these days it’s easier to notice and people have figured out that it’s a game both sides can play.

  6. Jim Scrummy

    From personal experience, a helluva lot of people at DoD in the Pentangle are in Group 3. The forest underbrush needs to be cleared. If Trump is serious about reducing the Fed head count, start with the people in the old CSRS retirement system, particularly the ones 60+ in age. Make 60 the mandatory age for retirement in that system. That would start the ol’ ball rolling in reducing the head count. That’s what happens in the corporate world. Welcome to reality, DC.

    Oh, and point 4 about McLean. You better have a cool million in cashish to purchase something there in a few of the neighborhoods. I think the DC real estate bubble may be getting an overdue deflation.

    1. John M.

      I’d say that lower home prices in D.C. in 2020 compared to higher home prices in, say, Ohio in 2020 would be an excellent marker of a successful (first) Trump administration.

      -John M.

    2. Boat Guy

      GREAT suggestion Jim – and easily implemented. If those folks can’t live on their CSRS retirements they’ve either woefully mismanaged or have a heroin habit; I have NO sympathy for them in either case .

      Gotta small quibble here; much as I DETEST Shumer; if his number didn’t get called (#182 in 1971 according to t he linked story) then he’s NOT a draft dodger; he just didn’t get called. He’s an anti-American statist *sshole – but he’s not a draft dodger.
      My number in the last lottery was 52; they only called through 30 or so. Moot point; I’d enlisted by then.

      1. Hognose Post author

        He rode deferments from approximately 67 till the deferments ended, and THEN lucked into a high number. If he hadn’t gotten a high number, he’d have got some commie doctor to certify him as a bedwetter or something. That’s how they did it back then.

        1. Boat Guy

          Alles Klaar, Danke.
          There’s always “the rest of the story”; too bad he didn’t get drafted in 67-68; they were sending some draftees into the Marine Corps around then.

    3. Hognose Post author

      Re Point 4 and McLean. Yeah, and do you think Joe Sixpack understands that his tax money goes to make sure OFTPOT bureaucrat couples can live in seven-figure homes?

      1. Steve M.

        It would do much of the nation good to drive through the D.C. area and see how the public servants are living. It is an eye opening experience. It is really a strange feeling when you drive through a neighborhood you could never afford to live in yet you help pay for others to do so.

  7. Mike_C

    > a CBS newsman, Steven Portnoy or Jeff Pegues
    Portnoy’s Complaint: “A disorder in which strongly felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature…” [Philip Roth, 1969]
    Updated for the new millennium — PC2017: the delusion you are nobly doing God’s* work for Truth and Justice while actually grunting and slavering, desperately trying to f#ck [over] America.

    * substitute non-patriarchical, nophallocentric deity of your choice, or Gaia or whatever your little heart desires.

    @Scott
    >got a certificate of occupancy
    Congratulations! While I was an undergrad our department (Electrical Engineering) moved from its old digs into a brand new building. While I can’t imagine they didn’t have a CoO, the building was decidedly unfinished, with bare 110V and 220V wires sticking out of the odd junction box in the hallways as the workmen scrambled to finish up during the first week of classes. A few students complained on the basis of safety, but were silenced by those of us pointing out that we were EE students, for goodness sake. “Think of it as a practical pass/fail test,” the “you idiot” part being left unspoken but conveyed nonetheless.

    1. Sabrina Chase

      My giggling has disturbed the cat. Report yourself for discipline!

      Posting signs near the wires that say “lemon flavored electrons, lick to taste!” and the like are considered hunting over bait, and unsporting. Tempting, but unsporting. There were times, when I was teaching undergrad physics, that I *really* wondered about the whole “sapiens” designation…

  8. Roger

    Your last sentence “Never rule out blind, paralytic ignorance, especially the further you go from the operational area in question.” Is the line that Occam’s Razor was made for.

  9. staghounds

    I thought the AD was genuinely, and not ruefully, happy. Do any of you all with the normal human face reading skills I lack agree?

  10. Ti

    isn’t this part of the tradecraft? If somethin’ is out you neither don’t bring it up and hope it goes away or create some much f’in noise that your brain drown’s it out and it goes away like olfactory fatigue of the diving bell.

  11. Kirk

    It will be interesting to watch the deep state do its thing. Not sure who will come out on top, either…

    One should remember that Nixon was toppled by the deep state, in a lot of significant ways. Mark Felt was Deep Throat, and his masterful manipulation of the two dumbasses Woodward and Bernstein was basically motivated by the fact that Nixon had had the rank temerity to bring in an outsider after Hoover died.

    It is far past the time for these unelected court eunuchs to be reined in, and I hope Trump succeeds. Hopefully, the way these jackasses have discredited themselves will help enable it, but it may wind up requiring an armed revolution to make it happen. Look for “evidence” of Trump’s supposed corruption, perversion, or malfeasance to appear, shortly. How that goes over, and how he responds will be telling.

    1. John M.

      I’ve been thinking a lot about Nixon lately. And Kennedy.

      I’ve also thought for a while that it would be a significant boon to our country to abolish the Civil Service Act and just go back to the Spoils system. But that’s probably too much to ask.

      -John M.

      1. Stacy0311

        Maybe start by repealing (or whatever the term is) the Executive Orders that allowed federal workers to unionize. And listen to them squeal like the proverbial pig

    2. DaveP.

      Journalism had a lot more credibility then. It also had a powerful position, in that if it reported something false there was almost no way to get a correction made of equal magnitude (lie on page 1, publish ‘correction’ on page 38B below “Word Jumble”).
      These days the populace as a whole holds journalists in about the same esteem as child molesters.

      1. Quill_&_Blade

        “These days the populace as a whole holds journalists in about the same esteem as child molesters.”
        I hear that from other quarters, and hope it’s true; but I have to wonder, don’t they still hold a lot of sway? We just had an election where half the country voted to end the country. If there hadn’t been a second round of email (leaks?) then H-witch would have won. This presidency will be like none other, these run ins with the media and the left will be incessant, what we’ve seen the the first few days has about 1456 more days to run its course, that being for just 1 term. They almost had it; they were -this- close to driving America off the cliff. They certainly have no intention of asking that the car be pulled over so they can be let out, or to relax in the back seat and have a smoke. The wrestling match for the steering wheel will go on 24/7. If people had any idea that we can take a breather now that the election is over, think again. Game on, what we got to work toward is that this blatant agenda becomes obvious even to some on the left.

        1. John M.

          OTOH, judging by results to date, the media have met their match in President Trump. I think there’s a very good chance that the legacy media’s influence come 2020 will be but a hollow shell of what we saw in 2016.

          Fake news, indeed.

          -John M.

          1. LCPL Martinez 29 Palms

            You notice also less Black Lives Matter “news”? Who would’ve thought if you stopped (since Trump’s got the media now on blast) airing and feeding Black Lives Matter stuff, you’d have less protests and riots. Genius!

            Kinda proves the point that Black Lives Matter was media generated, no?

          2. Hognose Post author

            Actually the same people run the BLM protests, the Occupy protests, and the Trump NOOOOooooooooo!!!1!! protests. Put ’em on a GANTT chart, and you’ll see that as one of the “causes” loses its resonance in the media, the same ancient commies move on to something new. All the way back to Second Front Now “rallies” in WWII. And actually, rallies for the left side of the Spanish civil war.

          3. Steve M.

            I have been thinking the same thing. If the media doesn’t limit itself to actual news and journalism, they will lose all credibility with their audience.

      2. Hognose Post author

        Same with broadcast media. When I was a kid, you had national news on three stations, all broadcasting “received wisdom” from New York.

        1. Haxo Angmark

          those were the Daze: you could get your left-lib brainwash via Huntley-Brinkley (NBC), Walter Cronkite (CBS), and (a slightly less stupid) Howard K. Smith @ ABC. And nary a Weaponsman to trouble your thoughts.

    3. Quill_&_Blade

      I was wondering if somebody should make a meme about Nixon and some Ashley-Madison exposees wishing they could blame Russian hackers.
      OT, as per our discussion on the other thread, I just tried an Android app today, called Timesheet. (By rauscha.com) This app actually -is- a data base, as opposed to the notes I was leaving myself before. It’s pretty slick, I can check total time on one job today, or this week, or month. I can check all my time on various jobs today; plus whatever other cross reference I want. The page of the app has a start, pause, and stop button prominently visible. Neat stuff, it’s free, but if you choose to donate, they only want $4.99.

    4. Hognose Post author

      Mark Felt … was basically motivated by the fact that Nixon had had the rank temerity to bring in an outsider after Hoover died.

      As far as I can tell the offense was not promoting Mark Felt. What’s that saying, “Show me a hero, and I’ll show you a bum”? True if the press made the hero.

    5. TRX

      I read Felt’s book, and reviewed some of my Watergate books.

      Felt claimed he was Deep Throat, but I really doubt it. I think he was just a sad old git who was trying for his fifteen minutes of fame. Not that anyone cared, by that time.

  12. John M.

    “They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump’s campaign.”

    These jokers know the campaign is over, right? And the inauguration? And that, no matter how much it pains them, they now have to say “President Trump’s administration”?

    -John M.

    1. LCPL Martinez USMC

      Occam’s Razor and how bureaucracies work, IMHO it’s as simple as getting a mass email on a Wednesday or Thursday, and call for volunteers, ie.

      Trump will be here on a Saturday, who wants to come? Common sense, Trump supporters would wanna come.

      And…

      To ensure there will be folks in attendance, volunteer new hires (and interns), those still under probationary period—- and those guys/gals whether they voted for or against Trump will clap and laugh at anything.

  13. rotorhd

    Q? Are rumors of a (ex or soon to be ex) senior management Muslim convert true?
    I’m sure I’ll be traced for asking this Q…..shhhhh as I spray from my can of Sharia Repellent.

    1. LCPL Martinez USMC

      There were a couple of documentaries , I think , on Showtime that mentioned this.

      If you look at it from a “Know thy enemy” perspective, it makes perfect sense. But also keep in mind that many new hires for GWOT were sought, precisely because of their backgrounds, ie. culture and language, as well as other qualifications.

      I think i’d be more worried if there were less converts and actual Muslims. similarly, if there were less Chinese speakers, who can rattle off Chinese history and Chinese thought, ie. Confucianism and Taoism.

      But then again I’m more a Thomas Paine/Thomas Jefferson type Christian, which is to say between an agnostic and atheist, so religions are more arbitrary than absolutes for me, hence the ability to go Muslim or Taoist is a matter of convenience , not so much dogma.

      I’m more concerned with how useful converting to Islam is , and in this case i’d wager super useful.

      1. Mike_C

        This is a bit of a sidebar comment (big surprise there, huh?) but I’d submit that while knowledge of Confucianism and Taoism is useful, neither of those drive Chinese thought and policy. As I’ve recently noted elsewhere, the Chinese consider everyone not Chinese to be a barbarian. There are clever, dangerous barbarians (e.g. English/Americans), clever hateful barbarians (the dwarf rapists, er, Japanese), not-nearly-smart-as-us-Chinese but potentially useful barbarians (Koreans, some SE Asians), dumb barbarians (other SE Asians, the browner ones), and hopelessly retarded, so-stupid-it’s-hilarious barbarians (Africans). Also they have internal barbarians (Uighur, Hui, Tibetans, etc) who are of course “not real Chinese” because they are not Han, and are not to be trusted; this goes double for the Muslim Hui and Uighur. Oh, and the “clever barbarian” thing? Clever in this context has overtones of “sneaky, devious and backstabbing” more than “really smart.”

        Zhong Guo is always (mis)translated as “The Middle Kingdom” but it’s not. It means “The Central Nation” in the same way that Boston calls itself “The Hub of the Universe.” Even though the current nominally-communist government is decades subsequent to, and indeed didn’t exist during the Opium Wars, China has never forgotten its humiliation at the hands of western powers and wants desperately to be recognized as the greatest nation and culture on earth.

        I am far from a China expert (in fact I cannot think like a typical Chinese; I am hopelessly American, and a midwesterner at that), so I’d welcome more informed commentary and corrections, but I would say that the communist years (c.f. Red Guards/Hong Weibing – children trained to denounce their parents, etc) have done much to undermine traditional filial piety, thus minimizing Confucian influences. And many Chinese always regarded the Taoists as a bunch of mysticism-spewing nutjobs. In the “old” China much was made of being of the scholarly class (literally “book-reading person”) and government officials were selected on the basis of examinations (often widely impractical), while merchants were considered low-class grubbers (only actors were lower, really), but money of course talked. In the current China, money (and the influence it buys) predominate.

        In short, China wants power and respect, which it feels it is owed; partly to redress prior humiliation at the hands of the English, and later other western powers, but mainly because everyone else is a dumb (for values of “dumb”) barbarian and the natural order of things is for China to be on top.

        1. Looserounds.com

          Your comment on how Chinese view everyone not Chinese is pretty spot on in my experience. This is an attitude that is pretty widespread in other asian countries as well. though not quite as bad. Now I dont say that cause I dont like asians, my girlfriend is asian ( VN) and I have a lot of asian ( not born here) friends by strange circumstances. One thing all non-chinese asians have in common is they all hate china and vice versa.

  14. LFMayor

    With luck (and skill) some younger Machiavelli types will arrange a few of tuskers to meet their political doom. Closets, skeletons etc. A following wave of panicked retirements would go a long way towards clearing the air.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Most of the tuskers have skeleton-free closets because, as God is my witness, they haven’t done anything. Hey, at least Brennan voted for Gus Hall… proving that he was an imbecile as a young man, but at least it was doing something.

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  16. JohnMc

    Trump closed his speech to the assembled with “… ‘by someone who knows how to build and we won’t have columns, do you understand that?’”

    That was a direct threat to the Tuskers.

    1. Hognose Post author

      The columns are a physical feature of the room, and officers were trying to peer around the structural columns to see the President. What in crummy stadiums (like the old Boston Garden) is called “obstructed view seating”.

      1. LCPL Martinez 29 Palms

        I count 4 columns before the turn styles, and compared to Trump Tower lobby, higher ceiling and no columns, I’m thinking Trump didn’t mean more than just that,

        that cathedral type lobbies can be built without so many columns involved (nothing more, JohnMc):

  17. Aesop

    The CIA does so little to provide actual intelligence that the value of abolishing it in total, and building a new animal from the ground up cannot be overestimated.

    In the CIA’s defense, they only missed the North Korean War invasion, Hungary riots, the Suez Crisis, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban revolution, Prague Spring, the Vietnam War, every war in the Mideast since 1948, the communist takeovers of Nicaragua and Venezuela, Solidarnosc, the fall of the Soviet Union, the Iran/Iraq War, the Falklands invasion, Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, and 9/11. (I’ve left the serial failures in Africa from 1945-present out from sheer pity at their fecklessness.)

    But hey, they did notice Grenada.

    The only use I have for them is that their online encyclopedia regarding country basic facts is superior to purchasing an annual ink-and-paper almanac, or relying on the accuracy of Fakeipedia.

    If Trump were to whittle them down to 20 or so people to keep that enterprise going, I wouldn’t object.

    1. Quill_&_Blade

      Missed? On a scale of 1-10 I probably have a .5 idea of how these people operate; but does ‘missed’ mean “Oh gosh, heck, gee wiz, how did that EVER get past us? We had NO IDEA anything was about to happen over there.” (Looking as pure as fresh snow).

      1. Aesop

        By “missed”, I mean their first clue is usually when the “Breaking News” bar comes across over CNN now, or when the newspaper hit the porch back in the day.

        They make retards look like Mensa candidates.

        Looking at their obvious failures, there is no pile of imaginary “successes” that could come close to balancing the scales, in any actual universe of events.

        Frequently, they are worse than no CIA, because they actively misdirect things the other way.
        It would be helpful to require that only blind people run the agency, and that they arrive for briefings with a white-tipped cane and dark shades, to give those victimized by their prognostications fair warning.

        I hope that wasn’t too subtle.

        1. Mike_C

          >their first clue is usually when the “Breaking News” bar comes across over CNN
          So you’re saying they are of presidential caliber then? At least circa 2009-19JAN2017 presidential that is.

    2. Kirk

      The problem with your position is that, while we know about the failures, we don’t know about the successes. There could be a bunch of shit out there we just don’t know about, and that’s a huge problem when you go making decisions like this.

      I’m sort of at a place where I think that it might be an interesting experiment to just open-source everydamnthing, and see what happens. A lot of intel work actually seems to just come down to wanting to read other people’s mail, and maybe the answer is to just go with total transparency, and use agencies like the CIA to enforce that on the rest of the world. Let the cards fall where they may…

      1. Dyspeptic Gunsmith

        If we had big successes, then we’d have a better foreign policy posture in the world. We wouldn’t have foreign powers hacking the OPM, we wouldn’t be watching trainloads of intellectual property, weapons system designs and other data leaving the country in massive hacks of computer systems. We’d actually take down some of the terrorists who have shot up dozens of people in this country before they did so. We would have scooped up the two Tsarnaev brothers, Speedbump and Ballast, who were handed to us on a plate by the Russkies.

        Instead, we got a three-year effort inside the agency to link “global warming” [*] with national security, probably at great expense, and then they shut it down with a Emily Litella “never mind.”

      2. Quill_&_Blade

        “The problem with your position is that, while we know about the failures, we don’t know about the successes.”
        I may get flogged for this, and maybe I deserve it, but on a similar note, I once saw an online rant about the DCS taking someone’s child. I realized they can say whatever they want, but the agency is bound by confidentiality laws, so they can’t tell you the real story, if it varies from the rant.
        That said, I’m no fan of said department. At the time, we had just suffered the armed home invasion -official version- ourselves. They came with 3 police officers, asking loaded questions, acting all relaxed the whole time. Later it was revealed that they felt the need for armed personnel because I had a graphic on the back window of my truck that depicted a copy of the Constitution going down a toilet, with arched lettering above it saying:” In loving memory, US Constitution” They figured I was a dangerous type. The family stayed intact, but it felt close.
        They often operate on an anonymous phone call, I figure it’s similar to a cell phone detonated IED, make the call and blow somebody’s family to bits. No warrant, no facing your accuser, etc…

        1. John M.

          If you homeschool, you should join HSLDA, who can help with stuff like that.

          And if you don’t homeschool, you should start. :)

          -John M.

        2. LCPL Martinez 29 Palms

          DCS or over here called DCFS (Dept. of Child and Family Services), don’t usually generate their own calls… meaning they don’t go to the field based on a citizen’s call, it’s the police that handle citizen calls for suspected or actual child abuse.

          DCFS goes to the field after a call for service is generated by other gov’t entities (ie. police, the courts, etc.) at least that’s how it goes over here—– i’ve had family involved in similar story, Quill.

          Did you have police contact first, then DCS followed up; or did they just show up out of nowhere to investigate? Don’t know how they do it in your neck of the woods, but if it is a DCS case and police were contacted to stand-by, that’s called a civil stand-by,

          essentially they are there to keep the peace, and not get involved. So you can totally exercise your right, not to comply with DCS, and say we’ll see you in court.

          Now if it is a police generated call, ie. from neighbors, family or passers-by, and police have reasonable suspicion or probable cause, they can detain to actual arrest, at which point they contact DCS to care for the child (or children).

          But those two work separately DCFS and Police,

          when it’s the first scenario, police are usually wary since DCS are staffed by social science major types, who think they can tell police to simply kidnap kids for them—– not knowing anything about justifications for detention and arrests.

          So police usually make sure that they are only there to keep the peace… but many times the folks who have beef with DCS think the police are there under DCS ‘s authority, if there’s no crime, it’s not police matter , hence the courts is the proper recourse— at which point at court , the court can deem complainants in criminal violation for something (hence police involvement at this point, but this is something else, now a court generated arrest).

          But more importantly, what’s DCS have to do with CIA, Quill?

          1. Quill_&_Blade

            “But more importantly, what’s DCS have to do with CIA, Quill? ”
            The last part of my comment was kind of a CYA for mentioning them in regards to an agency bound by confidentiality. As for the actual incident, there were three, in a short time frame. Ours, a close friend, and another family we met at a church across town. The close friend said his encounter was from an anonymous call. The other family, I don’t know. Both of the other families lost children. The close friend got them back after a lot of headache.
            You’re right in regards to our situation, it was preceded by a large police search; looking for relatives gone astray of the law. Female officer got in a bit of a spat with wife about education, before I got home. There is somewhat of an interacting of all the big, conservative families in the area, and close friend said every one has been visited by the DCS. Of course not being there personally, maybe there -was- reasonable cause in each case.

          2. LCPL Martinez 29 Palms

            Makes sense now, except for this part…

            ***“Female officer got in a bit of a spat with wife about education, before I got home. “***

            I’m in liberal Socal, Quill, but I’ve never heard of a police case involving just education, usually there’s other factors such as actual neglect, from dirty home conditions to malnutrition (which would be abuse).

            But just on grounds of education (I’m assuming you guys home school?) , that’s really minuscule (but then again, if there was some spat with the officers, then the officers were just giving your guys a hard time, is my reading of this… which is still messed up).

            Did you guys lodge a complaint, or a lawsuit against the officers (or their dept.) after everything was said and done? I’m not such a big fan of the ACLU, but this is just their cup of tea.

          3. John M.

            @LCPL Martinez:

            The essential posture of pretty much any DCS-type agency is that the State should raise kids. That means public school. An issue that you see as “minuscule” strikes directly at the heart of their worldview and raison d’être. So they, as a rule, hate hate hate homeschooling and can use the substantial power of their bureaucracy to make life very unpleasant for homeschooling families.

            This has become much less common as homeschooling has grown over the last ~25 years, but harassment from DCS-type agencies was once pretty commonplace. The Home School Legal Defense Association has a protocol for how to handle it.

            I don’t know if ACLU would give a rat’s turd about this situation. But HSLDA literally exists for this stuff.

            -John M.

      3. Gray

        Kirk,

        I get the impression that we are probably close to the same age, and that also probably correlates with why a lot of what you say resonates.

        I think that generally, success(es) would be demonstrated by a decrease in both size and activity of those who would harm us. We might not know specifics. I may not be privy to a weather forecast, but I can detect a change in the weather.

        1. Kirk

          I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate, really. I suspect, based on my experience kn ghe military, that there is a lot of dead weight and stupidity.

          That is, however, a far different thing than knowing it, or knowing which bit of the puzzle needs to be taken off the table.

    3. Dyspeptic Gunsmith

      I’d have to agree. The CIA has done nothing since the fall of the USSR to cover themselves with glory.

      They didn’t predict even that, and they ridiculed Reagan, who set the end of the USSR in motion.

    4. TRX

      The station in Tehran found out about the fall of the Shah from the TV reports. It came as a complete surprise to them.

      Oddly, a story from a KGB officer stationed there at the same time was exactly the same…

      I bet all their paperwork was in order, though.

  18. Steve M.

    The federal government has been growing unchecked for many years. I have no idea when it really started to take off, but it would appear the last 30-40 years have been insane. Agencies and services have exploded into full fledged armies of paper pushing, office occuppying, self preservationists. What do they all do? Truly, only God knows.

    When a new administration comes in fire everybody getting paid over $150k and make them all re-apply.
    Make it illegal for federal employees to unionize.
    Remodel every federal office building to an open floor plan. No cubicles, no offices, just a desk, a chair, and the equipment needed to do the job. On a lot of levels this would help every agency. Not ideal for national security at times, but that hasn’t been much of a concern lately.

    1. TRX

      Sometimes I feel that the Fed feels the “national security” hammer is more to defend themselves from the citizenry than from foreign powers.

      What was that line from “In Like Flint”? “It’s so secret, only the three of us know. You, me, and the Russians.”

  19. Haxo Angmark

    the day before he gave his speech to the CIA, I sent Trump this tweet:

    “remember JFK? If you don’t purge the CIA, the CIA will purge you”

    this is still the situation.

  20. Quill_&_Blade

    To LCPL Martinez, yeah it was only an education complaint. When the DCS came, that was their first and main query, but they must have figured “hey, while we’re at it, let’s investigate everything else.”
    Context is important here; the inlaws had a court judgment saying they lost custody of their kids, they apparently took said kids and went on the lam. Instant kidnapping case, we had a big front yard, but there was still a parking issue for all the police cars. Seriously, multi jurisdiction deal, only thing missing were a few helicopters. I had a creationist sign out front, the TV cameras were having a field day with all of it. I came home, had to park out on the street, felt like keep on driving. But no, close truck door, chest out, stride up there and face the music. Are we having fun yet?
    So I guess my wife was feeling a bit stressed, understandably; and you know how women are, I think they can perceive other peoples’ emotions, so the tension with the female officer must have escalated… As I said, there were multiple agencies. I live in Sevier County, Tennessee, not too far from where Dolly Parton was raised, and folks here look out for each other more than other places. A few days after the DCS thing, every_single_one of the county officers came by to express their regrets. Probably one of the more economically depressed regions, but you could do worse.

    1. LCPL Martinez

      I see, Quill, essentially it was a cluster. either way, I think you guys were in fact screwed by authorities (who took it personally) , I’m no lawyer but there is a grievance here that should be rectified… and if it is outside agencies, then your local law enforcement may be able to back you.

      Now off the top of my head, ACLU is the only organization that prosecutes civil rights type cases where in gov’t abuses the little guy (basically what happened with you). John M. above suggested HSLDA (check ’em out too, I don’t know what their track record is, but I know ACLU’s been around since WWI).

      “The essential posture of pretty much any DCS-type agency is that the State should raise kids. That means public school. An issue that you see as “minuscule” strikes directly at the heart of their worldview and raison d’être. “

      John M. , I’m sure you’re right, I’m just saying if in liberal Socal this type of call is minuscule , I assumed especially in the South or the Bible belt , where there’s more home schooling , that this call for DCS would be considered an aberration, as it would be over here, but

      not so much because of DCS’s original mission , or the prevalence of homeschooling (although it is on the rise here as well, but because of creativity and innovation, like how Jobs & Elon Musk created their own schools for their kids, and similar homeschooling options) ,

      a DCS call based solely on homeschooling would be minuscule here because the Juvenile court system and DCFS is just overwhelmed with real abuse and neglect cases, yeah they dip in minuscule cases too and get suit heartily for it.

      So I can totally see your point that a bored DCS agency would jump at any police generated suspicion of neglect and abuse.

      either way, I still think Quill should push back. This is the first time i’ve heard of HSLDA, I ‘m just reading about them now, re cases they’ve fought for, but I think Quill’s case is more police type harassment than it is a right to homeschool (right Quill?, it’s not like they told you you can’t homeschool), hence ACLU.

      Whatever the instrument used here, but the my point is that he should definitely push back.

      1. Quill_&_Blade

        LCPL Martinez, I appreciate the concern, but will pass on this one. I wasn’t there when the original spat occurred, so I can only guess what actually happened, and I’ve been deliberately vague about it There is a time for being in someone’s face, and a time to just cheerfully put your best foot forward, to be a salesman for your own cause. Not sure it happened that day.
        At any rate, sorry if it sounded recent, it was probably 8 years ago. The memory is fresh enough because we live so disconnected from government that having all this uninvited interaction was a bit of an affront. I have a rather jaded, pessimistic view of these matters, I figure if they don’t get you one way, they’ll get you another; that is, if they want to make life difficult, they’ll find a way. Besides, we’re doing OK. I’ve had other less that stellar encounters with LE, but all the recent assassinations have put things in a different perspective. It’s not like there’s much in the way of patterns to beware of, it seems that it happens in cities or out in the boondocks. The fact that the officers still put on that uniform every morning and go back to it carries a lot of weight in my book, and my run ins don’t seem so important.
        They say one should choose his battles carefully. I only have so much time, and I direct it elsewhere. Because of my activism, I’ve had rocks thrown at me, a car window broken, and been yelled at. The election didn’t fix everything, one thing it did was buy some time to expose and defeat the destructive progressive agenda. At this time, that’s where I want to focus my efforts.

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