On Tuesday, Secretary Mayorkas announced the establishment of the Homeland Intelligence Experts Group, whose members are among the most ironic picks one can possibly imagine if factual intelligence investigations are what you seek. The "Experts Group" will be led by Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) Ken Wainstein and Counterterrorism Coordinator Nicholas Rasmussen.
Mayorkas will use this "'Experts Group' to collect, generate, and disseminate actionable intelligence to our federal, state, local, territorial, tribal, campus, and private sector partners...in a time of unprecedented challenge." The group will allegedly investigate threats that include "foreign nation-state adversaries, domestic violent extremists (DVEs), cybercriminals, drug-trafficking cartels, and other transnational criminal organizations," said Wainstein.
All kinds of red flags are associated with this dubious list of experts, raising suspicions as to whether there will ever be any semblance of a good-faith effort to pursue said threats without political or cognitive bias. Frankly, it is downright scary. We already know the FBI and the DOJ have been weaponized to target white supremacists and grandmothers walking around the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6.
Ironically, in a universe where such groups are set up to combat threats to our national security, cognitive bias of any kind should be avoided at all costs. Investigations premised on unexamined cognitive bias can be catastrophic for our national security and our confidence as a nation.
In its article on the effect of cognitive bias on investigations, Media Sonar explains the importance of avoiding the pitfalls of cognitive bias, especially in the realm of national security and intelligence. Cognitive bias can have a "dangerous" impact on rational decision-making processes, resulting in "gathering the wrong type of evidence, or worse yet, identifying the wrong person responsible for the threat." One needs only to look at how the DOJ and FBI have conducted preordained investigations into "election deniers" or pro-life advocates to understand what we are talking about here. A good investigation requires as much objectivity as possible, a real challenge even with the best intentions.
The members who populate this new Homeland Intelligence Experts Group do not engender confidence when it comes to objectivity. It is a who's who of political operatives whose job is to obfuscate and mislead in many provable instances.
The top three alone have been signatories to some of the most dishonest and destructive information campaigns in American history. Much of their activity revolved around their undeniably bitter hatred of one man, Donald J. Trump. Their campaigns to destroy him and anyone associated with him in the name of national security have almost single-handedly destroyed trust in a whole array of issues. As a result, our country is less safe, our electorate is less confident, and our ability to discern the truth is meaningfully compromised.
First on the list is Attorney John Bellinger, who was a Bush appointee. His contribution to "security" in 2016 was to sign a highly politicized letter designed to undermine Trump's election. He and the other signatories stated they would not vote for Trump. Incidentally, Bellinger hated Trump so much that he voted for Hillary in 2016. Prior to the 2016 election, he and 49 other "prominent Republican foreign policy and national security experts" claimed Trump was "dangerous" and "would put at risk our country's national security and well-being." They said he "lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary."
Given the current, abject state of all the institutions mentioned in their letter, these are some of the most ironic statements ever uttered. I would argue that all big government agencies and institutions have gone rogue. Any semblance of following the Constitution has wholly disintegrated in real time before our very eyes.
The signatories assail Trump's temperament, inability to "separate truth from falsehood," and inability to "encourage conflicting views." They say he "would be the most reckless President in American history." All are wildly predictive statements based on their crystal ball of opinions—opinions produced to behave as credible facts and influence the electorate.
The argument is not to counter their arguments to lionize Trump's character or ability to lead. We are not talking about the merits of one opinion or another. Rather, we are talking about the dangers of permitting individuals with an inarguable, vengeful bias to seep into the serious job of investigating intelligence threats and protecting our national security. Presupposed conclusions and rabid bias are not conducive to the robust, objective intelligence collection endeavors required to keep our nation safe.
The following two members on the list, John Brennan and James Clapper, are laughable given their involvement in all manner of influence operations before and during Trump's presidency. Everything they touched, almost every statement they uttered, is completely false or, at the least, completely disingenuous and designed to mislead. They were among the 51 "intelligence experts" who signed a letter 15 days before the 2020 election stating Hunter Biden's laptop was "Russian disinformation."
Brennan has since admitted it was all "political." Clapper later said his statements were "deliberately distorted" and admitted they never had any proof the laptop was Russian disinformation. Many believe the letter and the well-oiled disinformation campaign involving the media and numerous state operatives helped Biden win in 2020. That's how this stuff works, you know. Run disinformation campaigns online and through puppets in the media, obfuscate the truth, and destroy lives while you're at it. In parallel, censor and suppress countervailing narratives and later beg forgiveness or feign outrage once the desired outcomes are achieved, and it is too late to fix it all.
Their lies significantly damaged the lives and perceptions of many, including key Trump administration people like General Flynn. As a result, he could not correct the egregious practices in agencies that have since been shown to be utterly dysfunctional and corrupt. By the way, Nick Rasmussen (co-leads the Experts Group) and Paul Kolbe, who is on the "Experts" list, both signed the Oct. 2020 letter.
Tashina Gauhar was a FISA lawyer and Deputy Assistant Attorney General (DAAG) in the Department of Justice National Security Division (NSD). She was removed from her position in charge of FISA applications immediately after IG Michael Horowitz submitted his first draft report to Attorney General Bill Barr for classification review. The dossier on her is as deep as it is wide.
Gauhar played nice with the Clintons—she was the DOJ lawyer "at the heart of the Clinton email investigation." She has been caught lying while working in key intelligence positions. Her dossier concludes she is anything other than a political operative with the well-honed subversive skills needed to navigate the governmental apparatus and to potentially achieve preconceived, desired outcomes that may or may not keep our nation safe.
Further down on the list, we have Benjamin Wittes. He has been at the forefront of the political weaponization of the law with his involvement in the Leftist Lawfare Group. The Lawfare Group ran campaigns to weaponize key agencies like the IRS, the DOJ and the FBI, the intelligence community, and others. The group also was behind efforts to delegitimize Trump's presidency, General Flynn, AG Jeff Sessions, Bill Barr, DHS, ICE, and Brett Kavanaugh. Wittes was "the first published reference to an 'insurance policy' to subvert the Trump presidency should he win. He published it after Peter Stzrok first used the term to explain the reason for FISA abuse [to his alleged lover], Lisa Page."
Wittes is also associated with the Brookings Institute, where Ukrainian Igor Danchenko worked for five years. Danchenko was a primary sub-source for the Steele Dossier, whose claims were ultimately and entirely proven to be nothing more than disinformation. The FBI was "investigating" claims that he was a threat to national security, but we found out later that Danchenko had been hired by the FBI as a paid confidential informant in March 2017.
The list of members in this Homeland Intelligence Experts Group is filled with Washington elite, careerists, activist lawyers, and disingenuous spooks. Surely, if such a group should exist, Mayorkas could do better to at least try to find ONE that would offer an objective mindset.
But we are well past the time when facts matter, and national security is paramount. There is no pretending anymore. Their power is so great they don't even care to hide their plans. Instead, they are recycling the same goons who destroyed our confidence in Trump's presidency, even the ones who are now proven liars and have been shown to care only about the power and influence they can wield. Nothing is safe about this list of individuals, and Americans should take note. Unfortunately, there is almost nothing we can do about it.