Please, mainstream news-consumers: do not let the distraction of Trump's Twitter claim that Obama tapped his phone distract you from the real and true distraction, which is Vladimir Putin's reputed stealth takeover of our great American democracy.
So admonishes "Career U.S. Intelligence Officer" Malcolm Nance, who has lately pivoted from decades of fighting in Middle East wars to becoming a self-proclaimed expert on the horrifying Russian invasion of the United States within the Trojan horse of one Donald J. Trump. Nance should know. He's such a conspiracy buff that long before Trump's political ascent, he hosted a screening and discussion of The Manchurian Candidate.
In an op-ed published in The Guardian, Nance has decreed that "the story of the week is Trump, Russia and the FBI. Everything else is a distraction."
Narrative switching. That is what the Trump administration is desperately trying to do around Russia right now. The White House reportedly interfered with the FBI in the middle of an active investigation involving counter-intelligence. This was not only foolhardy but also suspicious, as it directly undermined their apparent objective: distracting us.So pay no attention to the continued water crises in Flint, Michigan and in Standing Rock, North Dakota. It's a distraction. Ignore the huge crack in the Antarctic ice shelf and the spawning of the biggest, ocean level-disrupting and potentially climate-changing iceberg in all of recorded history. It's a distraction. Hide from the terrible reality that most people don't have enough money in the bank to pay for an emergency car repair, and are just one paycheck away from eviction. It's a distraction.
The only thing that you have to fear is TrumPutin itself. No matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, no matter who you love, no matter how precarious your socioeconomic status, we shall all be Stronger Together for patriotically uniting with the Deep State on the front lines of #Resistance, Inc.
Just in case you've been sensibly averting your eyes from the true mainstream news narrative these past couple of days, here's the scoop on the latest Trump distraction from the Official Washington Distraction. Donald Trump said he found out (he doesn't say how or where) that Barack Obama had tapped his phones during the campaign. Donald Trump called Obama a sick and evil guy for messing with our "sacred" electoral process. Donald Trump wants a full and thorough investigation into the transformation of Obama from glamorous president into glamorous super-spy.
Naturally, the Russophobic purveyors of the Official Distraction Narrative are having a field day with Trump's profound ignorance of how our spy agencies work, what with his preposterous supposition that Obama himself could ever have personally and single-handedly bugged all his phones. It's so darned silly that even the Master of the Macabre himself, Stephen King, was inspired to write a satirical short story about a nefarious scissor-wielding Obama skulking in Trump's closet, having only pretended to canoodle on a private island with billionaire playboy Richard Branson in the first leg of his post-presidency journey.
|Real, Fake, Distraction, or Counter-Distraction? You Decide|
Naturally, the Official Distraction-mongers are disingenuously interpreting Trump in their usual literal fashion. It seems never to have occurred to them that Trump is averse to context. When he says that Obama wiretapped him, he likely means that the Obama administration's intelligence agencies wiretapped him. At least I would hope that's what he means. But it's so much more fun to believe that a deluded Trump imagines that Obama personally ordered the mission instead of going through all the usual plausible deniability channels designed to keep presidential hands squeaky clean.
So when Obama spokesmen and former NSA Director James Clapper and FBI Director James Comey all splutter in unison that of course Obama never ordered any bugs in Trump Tower, they are technically being truthful.
Much of the mainstream punditocracy also pretends to assume that Trump got his info on the wiretapping from the "alt-right" Breitbart website, rather than reading about it in the alt-establishment New York Times like the rest of the sanity-based, content-consuming world.
Even Anti-Distraction Terror Expert Malcolm Nance repeats the salient paragraph from last month's unsourced Times blockbuster in his own Guardian op-ed, thus perhaps unwittingly giving credence and helpful context to Trump's buggy claim:
On 14 February, the New York Times reported that advisers and associates of Donald Trump may have been in direct and continuous contact with officers of the Russian intelligence agency, the FSB, during a tumultuous election campaign in which the American democracy itself was hacked. A major party – now in opposition – was the victim of an unprecedented cyber-attack.Making his counter-distraction efforts all the more scary and bizarre, Trump is said to have thrown a massive hissy fit right in the White House on Friday, unthinkably abandoning even his top aides as he and his short nuclear-itchy fingers fled to Mar-a-Lago for yet another demented overnight Tweet frenzy. The proximate cause of his wrath reportedly is Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal of himself as lead investigator into his own alleged ties with the Russkies. The president doesn't like being blindsided.
According to the Times, intercepted telephone calls and phone records indicated to American counter-intelligence officers direct contact with the Russians.
It's reached the point, says the ever-helpful Washington Post, that even his own aides are no longer defending him.
Here's the Sunday exchange, with bold type provided by the Post for purposes of emphasizing the doubts of the Trump staff, between ABC's Martha Raddatz and Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders (really)
RADDATZ: Was the principal source the Breitbart story, which links to the New York Times? But the New York Times doesn't say anything definitive. Donald Trump does. There is nothing equivocating about what he says. “I just found out that Obama had my wires tapped.” That's not “look into something.” He says it happened.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, I think the bigger thing is you guys are always telling us to take the media seriously. Well, we are today. We're taking the reports that places like the New York Times, Fox News, BBC, multiple outlets have reported this. All we're saying is, let's take a closer look. Let's look into this. If this happened, if this is accurate, this is the biggest overreach and the biggest scandal.
RADDATZ: The president of the United States is accusing the former president of wiretapping him.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think that this is, again, something that if this happened, Martha …
RADDATZ: “If,” “if,” “if,” “if.”
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I agree.
RADDATZ: Why is the president saying it did happen?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, I think he's going off of information that he's seen that has led him to believe that this is a very real potential. And if it is, this is the greatest overreach and the greatest abuse of power that, I think, we have ever seen and a huge attack on democracy itself. And the American people have a right to know if this took place.
…RADDATZ: Okay. Let me just say one more time. The president said, “I bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October.” So the president believes it is true?
HUCKABEE SANDERS: I would say that his tweet speaks for itself there.Cry Uncle, Trump! You are toast. You are destined for permanent commitment to an asylum for lunatics with a lot of bread. You are not only a textbook case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you are hereby officially diagnosed with a galloping case of paranoid psychosis.
I'm actually surprised that the Anti-Distraction shrinks have not yet written a story about how Trump believes that the crazy dude who climbed halfway up Trump Tower last summer with suction cups attached to his hands and feet was actually Barack Obama playing Napoleon Solo, wiretapping gizmos secreted in his backpack.
|Who's That Tapping On My Chamber Door?|
Don't laugh. If Ronald Reagan believed that The Man from U.N.C.L.E. TV series was real, why cannot the Reality Show President believe that Obama tapped phones in his spare time? Not for nothing does the Reagan Library contain a whole interactive section on Spies and Counterspies - complete with distracting and fun U.N.C.L.E. memorabilia. And since it was all put together with the help of the C.I.A., who's to say what's fake and what's not?
Meanwhile, Malcolm Nance wants you to believe that the Trump distraction from the Russian distraction is an earth-shattering pastiche of Spy Vs. Spy, the Civil War, and Watergate. Did I mention that Nance also runs his own anti-terror security agency and is trying to sell a book called The Plot to Hack America? It has real potential, given how Nance is feverishly making the rounds of the cable outlets and op-ed pages to plug it.
Like most mainstream Distractionists and Counter-Distractionists, however, Nance walks a very fine line between fiction and nonfiction. From a July 2015 Gawker piece:
Join us at the screening of The Manchurian Candidate (the original, obviously) on July 14, 7:30 pm, at the Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn, for the third installment in our It’s A Conspiracy series. We’re thrilled that Malcolm Nance, aka Kinja user kingpindaddyhoho (really), will be joining us for the panel following the movie. We plan on having alcoholic root beer floats and tater tots.
Nance is a 34-year veteran intelligence officer who has worked the Iraq mission since 1987, fighting in all of our Middle East wars since 1983. He has lived in and out of Iraq since 2003. Nance runs his own analytical organization, TAPSTRI, the Terror Asymmetrics Project and is author of, most recently, The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency, 2003-2014.
|Here's Looking At You, Counter-Distraction Insurgents!|
Georgetown law professor Jonathan Turley, whose sensible blog motto is, like Trump's Tweets, Res ipsa loquitur ("the thing itself speaks") suggests that if Trump Tower were indeed bugged, it was probably done "legally," through the Fisa Court. This does not, however, make such government eavesdropping on political campaigns morally right:
Trump is correct that, if true, this should be a matter for investigation. The government should show considerable restraint in targeting political opponents. The Trump Tower was well-known to be the nerve center of the Trump campaign. However, we still do not know how the surveillance was tailored, if it was requested or granted.My advice to Trump: declassify any pertinent documents, pronto. And release your tax returns while you're at it.
We're so sick and tired of these fake distractions from propaganda distractions from counter-distractions. It's extremely distracting.
And on that note, here's some distracting mood music to treat your distraction fatigue disorder: