Friday, December 16, 2016

I’ve Worked With The Electoral College And The CIA. Here’s My Take On Both - By Stella Morabito

Donald Trump's detractors are overestimating the powers of the Electoral College—and, at the same time, underestimating the politicization of the CIA.

DECEMBER 16, 2016
Ten—count ‘em, 10—of the 538 electors in the Electoral College wrote an open letter to the director of National Intelligence, directing him to brief all electors days before they meet in their respective state capitals to certify the election of Donald J. Trump. Just one of the signatories is a Republican. The other nine are Democrat electors, including Nancy Pelosi’s daughter. (At least 46 more Democrat electors are reported to have signed on.)
The dream of this “Pelosi Ten” is, of course, to de-legitimize and possibly derail the results of the November 8 presidential election, from which Trump received 306 electoral votes.  They asked for this briefing so that the body could be “informed” before they each vote their consciences—all 538 of them—never mind the millions they were entrusted to represent.  Of course, this is also about building a case for abolishing the Electoral College down the road.
These electors claim that the election isn’t valid, because the Russians may have tampered with the election to get Trump—allegedly the Russians’ fave candidate—elected. Why? Because a leak from some anonymous source about a report from the CIA seems to insinuate just that.
The Electoral College Isn’t Meant To Prevent Someone From Taking Office
As both a former candidate for elector and a former CIA analyst myself, let me say two things about all this:
1. The Electoral College is simply not equipped to act as a deliberative body. Voters voted for electors, who were entrusted to vote for the voters’ choices—not for completely unknown people who would get into a debate about it all and then vote for whomever. That’s why voters’ ballots at their polling places were marked “Electors FOR [candidates’ names.]”
2. The CIA has long been highly susceptible to politicization. I suspect it is especially so after eight years of an administration that politicized every department and agency it touched.
The underlying pipedream of the “Pelosi Ten” is that the Electoral College was set up to prevent “someone like Trump” from taking office.  Why, pray tell, wasn’t it also devised to prevent “someone like Hillary Clinton” from taking office? Or Richard Nixon?
If electors are to certify anything, it is that Americans went through the due process of electing their president. Whether any foreign actors tried to influence the election—which they have in the past—is irrelevant to the process of voting. Neither is the question of whether an elector personally believes the winner is fit to serve.
The process is over.  Each party deliberated—via the primaries, conventions, campaigning, and debates—and produced their candidates.  Then we had a general election and tabulated the results.  Everyone on both sides concurred with this process—until the results were in, and all Hell broke loose on the left side of the aisle.
We Need a High School Civics Lesson On The Electoral College
We should all know that the Electoral College was devised as a safeguard against mob rule, not as a support for it. Hamilton extolled the fact that electors did not meet in one place, but in their respective states, where decentralization would make them less susceptible to pressures.  Of course, today, with the internet and all the threats to Republican electors by angry Clinton supporters, there will still be pressures.  I imagine (funded, by the way, by George Soros and foreign money) is planning protests in the state capitals on Monday when the Electoral College meets.
No matter who the president-elect may be, electors are not in the least equipped to be a “deliberative body” as the letter from the 10 electors claim it is, citing the newly chic name of Alexander Hamilton.
Few people today even know what the Electoral College is.  We can thank radical education reform for that. Civics used to be a requirement for graduation from high school, but no more. The good news is that you can compensate for some of that intellectual theft by checking out this five-minute video on the Electoral College from Prager University.

In the meantime, consider the electors: Who are these 538 people? And how did they get picked to be electors?
The Electoral College Is Not a Deliberative Body
Let me tell you a little story.  I was a delegate to a Maryland Republican Party Convention in 2008.  It was near the end of the session and the hotel ballroom had thinned out a bit, but there was a still some unfinished business.
“Now we have to select the members of the Electoral College,” the State GOP chairman announced. Granted, Maryland was a deep blue state, and Republican electors were unlikely to meet in Annapolis to vote for John McCain that December.
Nevertheless, it might interest you to know about the process in which I participated. The chairman directed delegates to meet in various corners of the ballroom according to their congressional district.  Once gathered, we chose someone from our district to represent the GOP nominee, should he win the state.
There were maybe 15 of us gathered from District Eight. And it was a veritable “Oh, pick me, pick me!” kind of thing when we surveyed who was interested. (Perhaps the Maryland Democrats had a bit more vetting than that. But every state party goes about it in their own way.)
Then all went back to their seats, and we voted collectively for the electors who would represent the state’s senate seats: two. One of them was the State GOP’s longtime hardworking office secretary. The whole process lasted maybe 20 minutes, tops.
Moral of the story: this is not the stuff of which any “deliberative body” is made. If Alexander Hamilton could survey this picture, I think he’d concur. Electors today are, for the most part, loyal party activists chosen to take on the ceremonial role of certification. And it’s an honor to be chosen. But that doesn’t qualify the 538 members to be a “deliberative body.” Not by a long shot.
CIA Is as Susceptible to Politicization as Any Other Agency
Of course, I haven’t read the CIA report about Russian hacking. I’m not sure who has. But cyber warfare—by Russia or any other foreign actor (George Soros-funded globalists, anyone?)—is a very big deal. And it’s too bad our nation seems to be so behind the curve on that. Whether such hacking occurred —and whether the intent of such hacking (assuming the Wikileaks information was due to hacking rather than being an inside leak by disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporters) was to elect Trump—is not only unknown, but beside the point.
More likely the intent would be to undermine the U.S. electoral process, an intent which seems to be getting the full cooperation of the Pelosi Ten. At best, the claim is barely even debatable, considering the Democrats’ stance on Russia till now. In any case, as Winston Churchill put it, “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
First, I will say I’ve no doubt that there are very fine people analyzing intelligence at the CIA. Such folks are professionals, able to put passions aside and look hard at the evidence before making any conclusions. I just wonder how many such analysts remain, given reports from 50 whistleblowers about political manipulation of intelligence analyses during the Obama administration.
Bureaucracy Curses Even the CIA
The sad truth is that intelligence analysts live in a great big fat government bureaucracy, further complicated by the academic nature of its analytical work. Its social dynamics can be compared to the politicized environments found at university social science departments. There are pecking orders, turf wars, peer reviews, political correctness, and a tendency towards left-of-center ideological conformity.
Add to this picture the possibility that the poohbahs above have no qualms about using and abusing analysts’ work for political purposes, and I’m very inclined to believe in the department’s politicization.
No doubt such politicization went into hyperdrive during the Obama Administration. Take, for example, how the National Security Strategy of 2015 was obviously written to enshrine gender politics into the military. Attorney General Eric Holder’s re-writing of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act—to claim out of the blue that the word “sex” also means “gender identity”—is just one more example of an extremely politicized act.
There Has Always Been Politicization Among CIA Analysts
The leftward politicization of the Agency was a work in progress, even when I was there during the Reagan era. My career as an analyst at the CIA was not long-term. I resigned after about nine years to be a stay-at-home mother. But I believe being a more “junior” analyst who worked in more than one office allowed me to see more clearly how difficult it was for some—especially more senior analysts—to put politics aside and resist groupthink.
Several of my fellow analysts were what you’d today call “politically correct.” For example, they railed loudly against the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. They didn’t hide their utter contempt for President Reagan, particularly when it came to his policies on the Soviet Union. And I would often hear them refer to anyone who expressed concern about communism as “a screamer.”
This caused me no small amount of cognitive dissonance: my mission was to preserve freedom and constitutional rule of law.  In retrospect, I don’t believe most who expressed such views really believed them, as much as they followed the pressures of groupthink. Young professionals always take their cues from the mentors and chiefs who write up their performance appraisals. We can hope that most career analysts bear up well under such social pressures, but that’s difficult for any human being, even if they manage to avoid it affecting their work. My immunity was due in part to my greater ambition: to eventually become a stay-at-home mother, rather than develop a long career there.
But I wasn’t fully immune, because I tended not to express opinions that could get me derided by my peers. Perhaps this is why one of my chiefs once asked me to do something political and, I thought, weird. She claimed that President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative violated the ABM Treaty.
So one day, she handed me a thick computer print-out of quotes about the ABM Treaty from American policy-makers. She basically wanted me to dig up and highlight anything in their words that would expose a violation. Never mind that I was an analyst, not anybody’s research assistant. Never mind that there were legions of Washington Postand other media reporters who did that stuff. Essentially, a superior at the CIA asked me to do a form of opposition research on American policy makers. (I decided to “just say no.”)
Anyway, that was way back then.  I can’t imagine what it is like today.  I do still have faith that there are highly professional analysts at work there. But I also suspect that the partisan residue on the walls of Langley these days is capable of spawning a politically motivated report about a presidential election the Democrats unexpectedly lost.
Stella Morabito is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Follow Stella on Twitter.