One of the key things that jumped out at me reading the 316-page Durham Report is the obsession with which the Washington security establishment was trying to prove the non-existent Trump-Russia “collusion,” a dubious theory that has kept America unsettled for more than half a decade. Having served at the Defense Intelligence Agency as a top senior intelligence analyst on the Russia-Putin target for eight years, I can state with near certainty that this obsession of the bureaucracy has made America less safe, leaving us exposed to the real Russia threat and costing the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.
The Durham Report exposed an unprecedented level of corruption among key Obama-Biden security officials. FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, foreign policy adviser for the Clinton campaign and current White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and many others repeatedly publicly pushed the Trump-Russia collusion narrative.
Special Counsel John Durham indicated the Department of Justice and FBI “failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law” when it launched the Trump-Russia investigation. (Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)
Behind closed doors, however, in classified testimonies before the House Intelligence Committee, they admitted having no “empirical evidence” of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, watches then-President Trump, right, walk past him as they gather for the group photo at the start of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Associated Press )
The focus would have moved toward the labor-intensive task of sifting raw intelligence to find something that substantiates the top management’s agenda of proving the “collusion” hoax. The bureaucracy’s typical reaction to any new priority du jour, coming from the top, is an immediate creation of an interagency taskforce, “tiger team,” crisis response squad, and the like. Throughout my intelligence career, I participated in several. It takes an analyst who is a subject-matter expert on a particular target away from his or her account, often leaving a gap in intelligence collection and analysis.
Between July 31, 2016, when the FBI launched Cross Hurricane, and through the years of Donald Trump’s presidency, a frequent question analysts were asked by their seniors was “What does Putin have on Trump?” What they should’ve been asking is questions about Putin’s state of mind and Russia’s cyber weapons, space warfare, nuclear doctrine, and the like.
It is likely that such misuse and misalignment of analytic resources to prioritize the sham investigation eroded our intelligence posture on Russia. In addition, both the Mueller and the Durham probes – while they turned out to be necessary and useful – placed a significant burden on analytic and investigative cadre.
Consequently, no strategy to deter Putin was developed, leaving the Pentagon with only one tool in the toolbox – high-tech, high-priced weaponry, some of which the U.S. urgently needs for itself, that Team Biden has been throwing at Ukraine. That Biden is demanding Americans funnel military aid to Ukraine “indefinitely” only proves that Washington is now engaged in fighting another endless war – this time a proxy one with Moscow. And, as usual, the bureaucracy is having Americans pay for it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, attends the Victory Day military parade marking the 77th anniversary of the end of World War II in Moscow May 9, 2022. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
The high-profile Mueller and Durham investigations carried the price tags of $32 million and $6.5 million respectively, a justified investment given that they debunked the “collusion” hoax, putting to rest the saga that has polarized American society for years. But the nearly $200 billion in promised or already sent aid to Ukraine, and counting – all because those entrusted with detecting and neutralizing foreign threats to America failed to do their jobs – is a dangerous precedent. It encourages the bureaucracy to continue using ordinary Americans as a cash cow, rather than figure out smart ways of keeping our enemies at bay.