Amidst the debacle surrounding General Flynn’s resignation from President Trump’s staff over his contact with Russian officials before taking up his job in the administration, there is another potential scandal that hasn’t been getting much airtime on the news channels. Did the CIA deliberately leak the private conversations of an American citizen for partisan political purposes?
Here’s how it goes. During the campaign, it is alleged that General Flynn had conversations with the Russian Ambassador to the United States. They apparently discussed the sanctions President Obama had placed on Russia in the light of the supposed interference by the Russians in the presidential campaign. While this is certainly highly questionable behavior and potentially illegal for General Flynn to have involved himself in this manner, the real damage came when he apparently lied to the Vice President about these conversations.
It’s important to remember that the transcript of these conversations has not been released, so it’s impossible to tell exactly what was said between General Flynn and the Russian Ambassador. Nevertheless, the perception and misleading accounts of what occurred has damaged the administration.
General Flynn has since apologized to the Vice President.
Much of the damage of this entire incident has focused around President Trump’s judgment in hiring General Flynn. Questionable as that might be, it’s perhaps even more disturbing that we learned of General Flynn’s contact with the Russian Ambassador only because their conversation was secretly recorded by the CIA. This is troubling.
It’s certainly not uncommon for Intelligence agencies to covertly record the movements and conversations of foreign nationals with suspicious agendas, particularly in the highly charged atmosphere of post-election rumors and paranoia about foreign interference. However, it’s not common, and it’s not legal, to covertly record the conversations of an American citizen. All American citizens are accorded the right to privacy by the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, it’s legitimate to ask whether General Flynn’s rights were violated when the CIA leaked information about his meeting with the Russian Ambassador.
There are several points to ponder here. It is possible that the American people are in a situation where an Intelligence agency doesn’t like the people running the government? Moreover, can and should that agency have the power to destroy the career of an official appointed by the democratically elected President of the United States? If that is the case, it has profound implications for democracy itself. And every single American should be concerned about it.
Remember, it is not the job of the intelligence agencies to govern the country. The CIA is there to gather, process and analyze information necessary for the President to make judgment calls on issues of national security. They are not there to dictate who governs the country. Are the CIA, in deliberately leaking information that General Flynn had talked with a Russian official to the media, interfering in the democratic processes of U.S. governance just as much as the Russians are accused of doing in the election? It’s not an unreasonable question.
According to Fox News political analyst Brit Hume, speaking on Tucker Carlson Tonight, this may be a case of Flynn being “more sinned against that sinning.” Worryingly, during his segment on the show, Hume related a story about how many officers in the intelligence community have registered their displeasure at the thought of directly working for President Trump and have asked “to return to the agencies they came from.” He made the valid point that in America today there are people both outside the Trump Administration who want to bring down the President, but there are also many individuals within it who want the same thing.
[Featured Image by Lauren Victoria Burke/AP Photo]