It seems to me than lotsa what passes for “news” about what goes on in Washington these days finds its roots in snitches, informants, and moles. The news media prefers using the term “sources” – as in unnamed “current and former highly placed individuals”. The fact remains, however, that these “sources” are folks who covertly spy on their colleagues at the bidding of their handlers and then report their findings which wind up in a “news” story. (By the way, the professionals, such as those working in intelligence who deal with human resources, are usually known as “case officers”, but I think “handlers” is a more appropriate term here.)
Human resources can be of great value in intelligence and law enforcement work. Didja ever wonder how a law enforcement officer patrolling a busy Interstate just happened to pull over a vehicle for something like an “improper lane change” violation (whatever that is). And how it just so happened that a dog trained at sniffing out illegal drugs was handy and found illicit cargo concealed and even sealed behind false panels and cleverly constructed storage bins. Wanna bet there was a “tip” by a “snitch” to look for that particular vehicle? Of course this can be very dangerous as we hear stories of “snitches” being found dead – killed execution style as a warning to others who might think of providing such “tips”.
Then too, there is the tragic story of the physician who provided definitive intelligence about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden that led to the SEAL raid and bin Laden’s death. Unfortunately the Administration, probably inadvertently, “outed” the doctor – which resulted in his arrest and reportedly an extremely painful death. Yep, being an informant or snitch can be perilous – except for those who exercise their craft “inside the beltway” by “leaking” information, often erroneous, to the news media. Although this practice has been going on for many years, to my recollection, not a single person has been ever identified as a “leaker”. Nope, they have been too well protected by the news media and powerful politicians.
Okay, so what do we know about these “leakers”? Well, from the types of information they provide, they obviously have or had security clearances. Security clearances are based on background investigations to determine an individual’s “trustworthiness” with more intensive probes being conducted as an individual’s access to higher level sensitive or classified material increases. Since what is being “leaked” involves very highly classified or sensitive material, these people must have been granted high level security clearances and include deeply embedded in-place career employees, or “moles”. Why conclude that? A couple of examples.
Shortly after President Trump assumed office he had private telephone conversations with the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Australia. Within a short time these conversations – including erroneous information, but why let facts stand in the way of a good story – appeared in the news. Did the FBI or NSA covertly monitor these discussions and someone therein inform the media? Or maybe it was someone working in the White House who provided the information. Regardless, it had to be someone deep within the infrastructure – a mole.
Then, too, there’s the celebrated memo reportedly written by the former director of the FBI about his one-on-one meeting with the president. (We used to officially call a memo like this a “Memorandum for the Record” but they were more commonly known as a CYA or “Cover Your A**” document.) Anyway, this “close hold” memo was reportedly seen by one or more of the then-director’s colleagues and information from the memo was passed to the press – something only a well-placed “mole” could have done.
How can this culture of “leakers” be countered? Frankly, it’s almost impossible given the climate where the news media and certain politicians rely on this covertly obtained information even when its accuracy is highly questionable. Do you think the president might have a tape of his conversation with the former FBI director showing the allegations are false? Likely wouldn’t matter anyway to those who prefer believing hearsay from a mole rather than truth from the “enemy”.
Well, one thing for sure, folks out here in the heartland of America have plenty of reason to distrust the Washington political swamp infested by unscrupulous informants, snitches, and moles who are fostered and protected by the news media and shameless politicians. That’s not the kind of folks we want to run this great country. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.