The deep state now works for the ‘good guys’

US progressives are clinging on to false heroes like the FBI and CIA in their existential battle to dethrone Trump.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey speaks at the Intelligence National Security Alliance Leadership Dinner at the Hilton Mark Center
Comey and the FBI are no longer considered card-carrying members of the "deep state", writes Mitrovica [Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters]

From arch villain to superhero. Lately, that’s been FBI director James Comey’s unlikely career trajectory courtesy of many so-called progressive writers.

Recall that late last October these scribes seemed poised, even eager, to get their angry mitts on Comey so they could tar and feather him (or worse) after he made public a letter that revealed the FBI had resurrected its probe into Hillary Clinton’s email habits.

A dubious case, which just months earlier had been declared closed emphatically by Comey had suddenly been re-reopened, once again, by Comey.

The letter’s jarring timing and Comey’s curious, unprecedented intervention into a fiercely contested US election shocked and outraged many. The FBI director had, ironically, become Public Enemy Number One.

Saviour of democracy

Fast forward to today. While scores of progressives still blame Comey in large part for Clinton’s numbing loss, their near apoplectic enmity towards him has waned considerably.

Comey and the FBI are no longer considered card-carrying members of the “deep state” and, as such, prime enemies of democracy. Instead, they are viewed as would-be saviours of democracy, the US Constitution and apple pie.

This remarkable volte-face by progressives is symptomatic of a prevailing pathology that has caused once rabid ideological adversaries to come together to confront and ultimately vanquish a common monster: Donald Trump

This pathology manifests itself in several astounding ways and involves several powerful institutions and characters.

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In Comey’s case, his rather abrupt and miraculous transformation from devil to saint came after his March 20 testimony before a House Intelligence Committee where he finally, belatedly, confirmed that the FBI was indeed investigating the disturbing, cob-web-like connections between the Trump campaign team and Russia before, during and after the presidential election.

Ah, now that the G-men are on the case, the indictments would surely follow, the familiar progressive chorus wrote. Trump’s days are numbered. Resignation and impeachment are in the offing. The cavalry is riding to America’s rescue. 

Comey’s role in torpedoing Clinton’s chances at becoming America’s first female president has fast receded into the rear-view mirror. The political executioner has become a prince of probity and the rule of law.  

Defying history and credulity, joining Comey and the FBI in the progressives’ new-found white knight brigade are, incredibly, the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA).

Like the FBI, the spooks are also being widely celebrated as guardian angels in the existential battle to dethrone the treasonous King.

Anyone, including experienced journalists, who raises questions or recommends caution is immediately dismissed as a Putin stooge or a Trump apologist by an army of progressives convinced, with obdurate certainty, of who is guilty and what is true.


The thinking – such as it is – goes something like this: the CIA and NSA must have the surreptitious “goods” on Trump and his gang of Russian mob and FSB consorting thugs that they will, in time, share with Americans and the world.

The “goods” perhaps involves oodles of various types of intercepted and incriminating communications and possibly even a notorious Moscow hotel videotape, starring the deviant king himself. And the hope is that, taken together, it will all eventually expose and doom him.  

The deep state

Apparently, these days, the “deep state” is no longer working for the bad guys, but the good guys. It has, in effect, changed sides.

Sure, the deep state may have denied Clinton her rightful and long overdue crown and has, for years, systematically spied on, collected and stored intimate details about the lives of countless people with little or no oversight, let alone a warrant.

But progressives are too busy letting bygones be bygones to remember. The good guys have fixed their crosshairs on Trump and treacherous company and that’s all that matters.

In this convenient, self-serving arrangement, former CIA officer turned independent presidential candidate, Evan McMullin, is cast by progressives suffering from a stubborn case of amnesia as a prominent and popular leader of the nascent Trump “resistance” movement.

It’s an odd position for an ex-spy to occupy. There, alas, it is. Still, two hard-right US senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, now accompany McMullin as La Resistance poster boys.

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McCain and Graham are routinely lauded by progressives for their occasional bouts of dissent vis-a-vis Trump’s habitual lunacy. Despite the fact that, until just before the election, McCain supported the reckless braggart for president and almost, without fail, both senators have sided with his nihilistic regime’s destructive legislative agenda in Congress.  

Not surprisingly, these easily impressed progressives have, as well, welcomed the who’s who of neo-con scribes and think-tank foreign policy wonks aboard the Trump resistance train. 

Forgotten, of course, is their long, ghastly record of acting as giddy cheerleaders for the “liberation” of Iraq engineered by the man they universally touted as a geopolitical genius, George W Bush.  

The revisionism is as instructive as it is appalling.

Even Bush Jr’s tattered reputation and disastrous tenure as president are being rehabilitated by agreeable “liberal” talk show hosts who treat him like he’s a cuddly, if somewhat misunderstood, elder statesman principally because president 43 doesn’t remotely resemble that nasty narcissist, president 45.

Changing alliances

The necessary corollary to this re-writing of history is to paint former philosophical allies like WikiLeaks and Julian Assange as not only nefarious tools of Trump, but indeed, Russian collaborators.

Gone permanently, it seems, are the halcyon days when progressives rushed to Assange’s defence as a free speech martyr who was being persecuted and trapped in Ecuador‘s London embassy for sharing uncomfortable state secrets with you and me. 

Instead, progressives wish that Assange gets what’s coming to him quickly and bluntly – whether it’s in Sweden, Britain or the United States.

They’re also thirsting for a definitive showdown – diplomatic or otherwise – with Russia, quietly applauding, no doubt, Dick Cheney’s combustible hyperbole that Vladimir Putin is guilty of “an act war” for unleashing his internet-savvy security services to skew the last US election in Trump’s favour.

Anyone, including experienced journalists, who raises questions or recommends caution is immediately dismissed as a Putin stooge or a Trump apologist by an army of progressives convinced, with obdurate certainty, of who is guilty and what is true.

We are living in strange and dangerous times. 

Andrew Mitrovica is an award-winning investigative reporter and journalism instructor.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.