Gen. Michael Hayden, the former NSA and CIA director, has inadvertently revealed the ultimate subtext for the political establishment’s antagonism towards President Trump.
He writes in a recent New York Times editorial:
When asked for counsel these days by officers who are already in government, especially more junior ones, I remind them of their duty to help the president succeed. But then I add: ‘Protect yourself. Take notes and save them. And above all, protect the institution. America still needs it. [Emphasis mine]
This is the buried lede in an essay adapted from Gen. Hayden’s forthcoming book The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies.
The focus of his piece is that we are moving into a new “post-truth era,” making it impossible for intelligence agencies to do their job.
But as I show in a new piece at The Federalist, this premise masks the true animating factor behind the words and deeds of the national security and foreign policy establishment in relation to President Trump from the 2016 campaign on.
The establishment has served under presidents before who have not been, to put it politely, paragons of truth and virtue — sometimes to the great detriment of our national security.
What really differentiates the current president from his predecessors is his willingness to speak one major inconvenient truth: The world has gotten progressively more dangerous and chaotic under establishment leadership in the post-Cold War era, in particular under the Obama-Clinton administration.
Calling out this failure, and challenging the worldview that has led to the actions that caused it, is what these individuals cannot abide because it represents an attack on their power, influence and credibility.
“[A]bove all, protect[ing the institution” is a sentiment that would suggest those in our bureaucracies would condone all manner of actions that undermine our constitutional order.
And what have we seen over the last two years in the national security and foreign policy establishment, as well as our justice system?
Game-playing with redactions; stonewalling over documents; endlessly leaking on the most sacrosanct of matters; engaging in limitless investigations against institutional rules and procedures marked by brazen and heavy-handed tactics; and refusing presidential orders outright — not to mention the weaponization of intelligence.
It is hard not to read Gen. Hayden’s statement as justifying the supplanting of the judgment of the American people by way of their duly elected commander-in-chief with the wisdom of the president’s subordinates.
The prioritizing of institution above all else is far more detrimental to the integrity of our system than the president who — to date more than checked by our Constitution — the establishment loathes.
This is an issue, maybe the issue, that transcends the Trump presidency, and will have ramifications for decades to come.