Secret Services and Totalitarianism (Trump vs. Biden)

Not Just the Same Old Reasons to Hold Your Nose and Vote for Biden

By Steve Brown

By now you have probably been told innumerable times by friends, colleagues and progressive commentators why holding your nose and voting for Joe Biden is absolutely necessary to save America from four more destructive years of Donald Trump.

I agree with all those voices. And I endorse all their reasons—which I will not repeat here, because you are no doubt more than familiar with them.

But here are some reasons you may not be familiar with—which I offer in accordance with CovertAction Magazine’s mission to expose and condemn illicit covert action by governments and corporate interests that subvert democracy and destroy civil liberties.

I am under no illusion that a Biden administration would rein in the dangerous and destructive power of America’s 17 (acknowledged) government intelligence agencies, or discourage those agencies from colluding with the many other secret intelligence agencies run by corporate interests and/or foreign governments.

Nevertheless, no matter how dangerous our intelligence agencies would continue to be under Biden—as they were under Obama and Clinton—they would be far more so under Trump. This may seem counter-intuitive, since Trump has famously been at war with the intelligence community—and with good reason, since, for its own unsavory reasons, the intelligence community has been trying to discredit and undermine Trump ever since he took office.

However, it is important to understand that Trump’s public war with the intelligence community is not a war against the existence of an intelligence community, per se, but only with an intelligence community that Trump cannot control and which has not sworn unswerving fealty to him personally.

Therefore, if re-elected, Trump will move swiftly to rectify that situation by purging all 17 intelligence agencies and re-staffing them with cronies and collaborators who will be loyal—not to America or to the Constitution—but to him personally.

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Trump has already done this, brazenly and ruthlessly, at every other government agency under his legal control (and at some that are not). If his past actions are any indication (and why should they not be?), Trump will do the same at the intelligence agencies. He will then proceed to use them for his own purposes (or whims) even more extensively, more brutally, more illegally than anything we have ever experienced in this country. He has already increased the use of covert military mercenaries, and has escalated the drone war at the very same time he has reduced Congressional oversight and public transparency surrounding those strikes.

Ironically, Trump might not even have to bother reconstructing the intelligence agencies in his image. His “shadow advisor,” Erik Prince (CEO of Blackwater, the “mercenaries-for-hire” corporation whose security guards murdered 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007), has a better idea. According to The Intercept, Prince offered to build Trump a private covert action army—his own personal CIA—trained, armed, totally loyal, and more than willing to execute (in both senses of the word) any and all orders from their supreme commander-in-chief.

Could one conjure up a more chilling prospect than a private army of Trump Sturmtruppen?

With Trump in control of the White House and possibly Congress as well—and backed by a judiciary that is now majorly filled with judges vetted by the right-wing Federalist Society, from the lowest state and federal courts all the way up to SCOTUS—we can expect an onslaught against democratic norms and civil liberties that may approach those of Savak, Stasi, or the KGB. This may seem inconceivable to many Americans, who fervently believe that “It Can’t Happen Here”—except that, in a Trump second term, it can.

As abusive, as undemocratic—and as illegal—as covert activities have been under every Democratic president from Truman, Kennedy and Johnson to Carter, Clinton and (arguably the most abusive) Obama, those abuses would be even worse under a second Trump administration.

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At least, under a Biden administration, we will be able to anticipate (albeit rarely) the one feature that has been totally absent during Trump’s first term, and which will certainly not miraculously emerge during his second. That feature—however embarrassingly feeble a reed it may be to clutch at in a supposedly democratic society—is the barely vestigial capacity of some Democratic politicians … to be shamed. Not necessarily shamed into doing something Totally Good—but perhaps, sometimes, into doing what might not be Totally Horrible.

Not a rousing endorsement of Biden, to be sure. But imagine, if you will, how much more feared the CIA might be under a second Trump administration if, as he will surely do, he appointed directors who embodied—not merely the amorality of its current director, Gina Haspel—but directors who also nurse a ferocious personal loyalty to Trump, as well as a total willingness to lie, cheat, and implement without question any and all of his directives, no matter how base or illegal they might be. Imagine, that is, our 17 intelligence agencies staffed and led by Trump zealots in the mold of Rudy Giuliani, Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway, John Bolton, Steve Bannon, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Mike Pompeo, Steven Mnuchin, Paul Manafort, Louis DeJoy, and (pessimus pessimus) Bill Barr.

I emphasize that I am under no illusions about Joe Biden and the crew of war hawks and Wall Street predators he has already assembled to advise him, should he win in November. This is a strictly practical, and shamelessly naked, plea to vote for the lesser of two evils, despite the commonly repeated protest that “the lesser of two evils is still evil.” For as Princeton University Professor of Bioethics, Peter Singer, puts it,

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if the only way to prevent something very bad from happening is to do something which would itself be bad—but not as bad as the very bad thing that you’re trying to prevent from happening—then you’re justified in doing the lesser evil rather than allowing the greater evil to occur.

So I repeat, however reluctantly: Please hold your nose and vote for Joe Biden. Doing so need not cripple us, nor stop us immediately after the election from renewing our efforts to educate and organize against everything that Joe Biden and his administration stand for.

* Steve Brown is on the editorial board of CAM.

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