Imagine a fictional spy caper where the CIA and FBI collaborate to humiliate a powerful U.S. politician by gathering bizarre rumors about him and including them as an addendum to an intelligence report.
The document is then leaked to news organizations who don’t bother to verify the information because, well, it was contained in a briefing paper handed to both the targeted politician and the President of the United States.
“None of the information contained in the report has been validated by us,” news organizations contend. “We have not been able to confirm any of the information.”
But what the heck, we’re going to report it anyway.
The public is told the stuff in the briefing papers was originally put together by a former British intelligence agent with sources in Russia who was initially doing opposition research for Republican candidates running for president fearful they were going to lose to a billionaire businessman called Donald Trump.
When Trump became the Republican nominee, Democrats hired the former British intelligence officer because they wanted to see what sort of stuff he had come up with on Trump.
The information initially was leaked to certain news media outlets who refused to report on it because it could not be verified. It was also distributed to certain congressmen before it was placed in the briefing papers for Trump.
No one took it seriously because it appeared to be part of a political smear campaign and unsubstantiated.
In our spy story, U.S. intelligence officials are angry at Trump because he suggested they were idiots responsible for undermining his victory by claiming Russian hacking influenced the presidential election. Worse, the president-elect contends these same American intelligence officials previously supplied incorrect information to a president of the United States that resulted in a war.
To prove Trump wrong and validate their findings about Russian tampering in the election, the intelligence agencies schedule a briefing for the president-elect and decide to include a summary containing the salacious rumors about Trump and suggestions that blackmail could be involved. The news media is made aware of this and can now report the unverified and unsubstantiated information it had previously ignored.
The president-elect of the most powerful nation in the world responds by holding a news conference at which he denounces the salacious rumors now being widely reported on TV, in newspapers and on internet sites. He blames the intelligence agencies for leaking the information and compares the political situation in the United States to Nazi Germany.
Trump states that the Russians themselves have said the information contained in the U.S. intelligence documents about him is false and they are not blackmailing him. Hey, the Russians wouldn’t lie about that sort of thing, would they?
Finally, the president-elect admits these very same Russians may have hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s computers and stolen e-mails that were later widely distributed through the internet in an effort to influence the election. But Trump explains that could be a good thing.
If Vladimir Putin, the Russian dictator, likes Trump, the president-elect, they may be able to work together to end world terrorism. Such a relationship would be an asset, not a liability, Trump proclaims.
It looks as though the Russians not only helped Trump win the national election, but succeeded in humiliating the U.S. intelligence services while making it appear to the rest of the world that the Three Stooges are now in charge of America.
Of course, no one had the imagination to write a novel containing this sort of complex, bizarre behavior. It is actually strangely funny in a “Mad, Mad World” sort of way. Americans, unfortunately, seem to be taking their politics way too seriously these days.
Only the Russians are in a position to appreciate the humor.
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