Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Jonathan Chait’s wild speculation on how far back the president may have been compromised by Russian intelligence forces is a lengthy and complicated read that I suggest you consume in several sittings. You will probably also need to have a conversation with yourself about how far you are willing to entertain the idea of a conspiracy of this length and magnitude.
For me, it comes down to the historical reality that intelligence operations of such scope have been devised time and again around many of the same principles as what is being laid out here. The possibility of such rampant success in this case — that an operation might have produced an asset at the peak level of a nation’s most powerful opponent — is not necessarily assumed, but is often planned for, and the fallout of such things can be devastating for decades to come.
Harold “Kim” Philby was one of the more infamous figures in Cold War espionage, having risen so high in the British apparatus that he received the honorific of OBE in 1946–and having proven so useful to the Soviet apparatus that he received the Order of Lenin in 1965, after his compromises had been revealed and he had escaped to Moscow. He was considered so otherwise above reproach that he was often trusted as a point of contact with Britain’s allies, working closely with such figures as James Angleton, chief of CIA counterintelligence.
When it was revealed to Angleton that his British counterpart had been a Soviet agent for three decades, it seemed to more or less unhinge him, prompting him to see betrayal at every level of society. While the FBI’s overreaching COINTELPRO sought to undermine activist and counterculture groups through surveillance and other nefarious means, the CIA’s complementary “Operation CHAOS,” supervised by Angleton, combed through the ranks of these groups looking for foreign influence. When genuine Soviet defectors attempted to provide American intelligence with information, Angleton retained the memory of having been burned badly once before, and the effectiveness of these assets was thereby compromised by his lack of trust.
My point being: Implausibility is not impossibility, and should the eventual revelations prove even wilder than imagined, be aware that the country will continue to tilt in less noticeable ways even as it might appear, on the surface, to stabilize.