The third law of politics 16

These are Robert Conquest’s Three Laws of politics:

1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

2. Any organization not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will sooner or later become left-wing.

3. The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.

Of the Second Law, Conquest gave the Church of England and Amnesty International as examples. Of the Third, he noted that an example of a bureaucracy controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies was the postwar British secret service. (Learn more from the podcast we took this from, by John Derbyshire speaking at National Review.)

It is the Third Law that concerns us now.

It has become apparent during the US presidency of Donald Trump that the permanent bureaucracy of the government – what in Britain is called the civil service – is controlled by “a secret cabal of its enemies”.

And as a body it has long since become left-wing.

Charles Lipson writes at Real Clear Politics:

Donald Trump and Republicans are furious that U.S. Attorney John Durham has not brought indictments against senior people who spied on the president’s campaign, lied repeatedly to judges in order to do it, and based their intrusions on specious evidence, which they knew to be false — and had been commissioned by the opposition political party. We know the broad outlines of this coordinated operation, but we still don’t know its full extent, all those involved, and what precise roles they played.

Attorney General William Barr promised major developments in this probe by late spring, then mid-summer, then Labor Day, and now sometime after the election. If, as Republicans say (and the evidence seems to show), there was a systematic effort to weaponize federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political purposes, the public has a compelling right to know. This need-to-know is urgent because the Democrats’ presidential nominee, Joe Biden, served as the second-highest ranking member of the administration that conducted these acts.

Why have Barr and Durham delayed issuing indictments or producing a comprehensive report?

Durham met predictable resistance from the same agencies that had committed the very acts being investigated. The CIA, now headed by Gina Haspel, and the FBI, now headed by Christopher Wray, refused to turn over any documents they weren’t forced to. Their resistance significantly slowed Durham’s work. So did the pandemic, which prevented grand juries from meeting to consider the evidence he uncovered. …

The crimes being investigated were directed at political figures, had political consequences, and may have been politically motivated.

May have been? What other motivation could there possibly be?

Citizens have a right to know — right now, before another Election Day — how the results of the previous presidential election were undermined by the very agencies who are supposed to be the bulwarks of American democracy. The targeting by the FBI and CIA of Donald Trump’s campaign, transition, and presidency corrupts the very idea of free-and-fair elections, the peaceful transfer of power, and nonpartisan law enforcement. If that’s what happened, Americans must know who did it. …

How can citizens acquire the information they need between now and Nov. 3? How can they find out what senior officials in the Obama administration did to surveil political opponents and cover it up when they lost the election?

There aren’t many options. The only realistic one is exactly what President Trump is demanding: Executive branch agencies must release all relevant documents with as few redactions as possible. His demand is entirely political, designed to help him win reelection. Still, he has the legal authority to do it. Whether it helps the country depends on what the documents tell us and whether they disclose any secret intelligence techniques.

What we have seen so far is a textbook example of bureaucrats covering their tracks, even if it harms the country they were hired to serve. Although some redactions are necessary to protect national security and on-going criminal investigations, many others were likely made to protect government agencies from humiliation or worse. That self-protection is why the State Department, FBI, and CIA have refused to give up documents. Lower-level bureaucrats have an additional reason. They fear the disclosures will help Trump.

Now that Election Day is so imminent, these agencies have even more leverage to keep their secrets. Trump cannot fire the Slow-Walkers-in-Chief, Christopher Wray and Gina Haspel, since doing so would ignite a political firestorm, just as firing Comey did. Wray, Haspel, and their colleagues know that, so they try to wait out Trump and hope for the best.

Still, the president does have some levers. John Ratcliffe, who is the director of national intelligence, outranks Haspel and can overrule her. He should do so if he thinks she is stalling to protect her agency or her position. She is vulnerable because she headed the CIA’s London station when Obama’s CIA ran so many anti-Trump operations on her territory. As for Wray, he is Barr’s subordinate in the Justice Department. The AG should override the FBI director unless disclosures would imperil a Durham prosecution. The practical danger is that Wray would complain to the New York Times and Washington Post, just as Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, did. Those friendly [to the left] publications would undoubtedly reprise their old headlines: “Sources say AG undermining rule of law to help Trump”. 

So what if a political firestorm were ignited? Hasn’t there been an ongoing political firestorm ever since President Trump was elected? Is it not raging now with extra fury?

And why should the president or the Republicans or anyone fear the headlines of those gutter publications supporting the far-left, the New York Times and the Washington Post? They publish scurrilous headlines every day. For four years they have published lies and smears about President Trump in every issue.

The voters need Durham’s report before the election. It is theirs. They paid for it. By withholding it Barr and Durham are actively helping the far-left Democrats. 

Is the conclusion unavoidable that US Attorney General William Barr and US Attorney John Durham are members of the secret cabal of the administration’s – and America’s – enemies?