A frequent media mouthpiece for the intelligence community who published the classified leak that launched the Russia collusion hoax is retaliating against the senior government official who debunked it.
In a meandering Washington Post column, first mocking the idea of a “deep state” before repeatedly and effusively praising it for its work thwarting the will of the elected government, David Ignatius uses anonymous sources to attack Kashyap Patel for exposing misbehavior by intelligence officials, holding them accountable, and mostly for the crime of behaving as if the duly elected President Donald Trump, not unelected bureaucrats, was the real head of the executive branch of government.
Ignatius is a Mouthpiece
David Ignatius has been used for decades as a conduit for anonymous intelligence officials to spew their claims, no matter how erroneous, partial, or unsubstantiated those claims are. And he doesn’t mind being so used. For example, after the anonymously sourced claims he helped peddle to launch the Iraq War were found to be false, he said, “Personally I don’t much care if the U.S. reports about weapons of mass destruction prove to be imaginary.”
In the last year alone, he pushed the fake news about Russia paying bounties for American soldiers in Afghanistan. He pushed the anonymously sourced Atlantic claim — disputed by more than a dozen on-the-record and first-hand sources, contemporary weather reports, government documents, and other sourced information — that Trump avoided paying respects at Aisne-Marne cemetery in France because he hated soldiers.
As the corporate media and its Big Tech allies aggressively censored legitimate news about Biden family business engagements with foreign adversaries, Ignatius aided the effort, claiming a nameless “Eastern European expert in digital forensics” who examined some Hunter Biden laptop documents “told me he found anomalies — such as American-style capitalization of the names of ministries — that suggest fakery.” Not even the Biden campaign itself made such a claim.
Most notably, when intelligence operatives couldn’t get even otherwise credulous Washington Post reporters to run with their absurd suggestion that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn may have violated an obscure and never-used 1799 law called the Logan Act by doing the expected and prudent thing of talking to a Russian ambassador as President Trump’s incoming National Security Advisor, they had no trouble getting the columnist Ignatius to regurgitate their spin on the criminal leak of classified information about those phone calls. Ignatius’ complicity was a key component driving the continued investigation of Flynn by his political opponents and launching the hysterical belief among many on the left that Donald Trump had won in 2016 by being a traitor who had colluded with Russia to steal the election. It and follow-up regurgitations from the intelligence community also helped secure the expensive and cumbersome Special Counsel probe that caused the Trump administration so much pain. It turned out that not a single American was found to have colluded with Russia to steal the election. Nevertheless, Ignatius clings bitterly to the conspiracy theory.
“He has ruined his reputation by being a purveyor of left-wing gossip,” former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell said of the Post opinion writer. Ignatius promotes unsubstantiated, left-wing rumors that more often than not turn out to be information that is wrong, partially wrong, or unverified bits of raw intelligence that lack context, other former intelligence officials say.
Political Retaliation Against Kash Patel
As a senior staff member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Patel was responsible for much of the work debunking the conspiracy theory that arose out of the criminal leak of classified information to Ignatius, a crime that was never really investigated and certainly never prosecuted. The people Patel exposed worked with liberal journalists to attack him for years.
The Daily Beast had a source, anonymous of course, calling him Devin Nunes’ “Torquemada,” in the early days of his work. The New York Times also singled him out for abuse for his work exposing the Russia collusion hoax that they had pushed. The attacks always use anonymous sources. (Incidentally, the best thing about the Times attack was when it strongly suggested Patel’s hockey team “The Dons” — named for legendary Canadian hockey announcer Don Cherry — was actually named in honor of Donald Trump.)
Now, Ignatius’ anonymous sources claim that it is Patel who is “facing” an investigation by Department of Justice officials for “possible improper disclosure of classified information.” It’s impossible to know if such a potential investigation is real or just another one of the made-up claims that Ignatius is always eager to peddle.
He doesn’t say that Patel is “under” investigation, but “facing” one. He claims this potential investigation would be something that arose out of a complaint from an “intelligence agency,” but it’s impossible to know if that’s true or just something being said for the purpose of another Russia collusion hoax-style operation. One intelligence official said that while anyone can start an investigation, if Patel’s enemies had a legitimate claim against him, some evidence would have been provided. Ignatius provides no substantiation for the claim. But at least he didn’t accuse him of violating the Logan Act!
Like all of Ignatius’ other work, it’s labeled “Opinion,” something that bothers Blake Hounsell, a managing editor at Politico, and prominent Twitter journalist Yashar Ali. Hounsell called it an “impressive display of reporting.” It’s a weird thing to say about something absolutely riddled with errors, as this piece is.
To take just one example, Ignatius claims that Patel was “a senior adviser to acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell and his successor, John Ratcliffe, helping lead their efforts to remove senior career intelligence officers.” In fact, Patel was never an adviser, senior or otherwise, to Ratcliffe. And Ratcliffe never removed any senior career intelligence officials when he was Director of National Intelligence. But other than the complete lack of accurate information in the sentence, an “impressive display of reporting” indeed!
As one former intelligence official told me, “Like everything that David Ignatius writes, it’s so false it seems intentionally false. It’s hard to tell if he’s a bad reporter or a bad person or both.”
Ignatius also regurgitates previous false reporting about Patel’s investigation of the since-debunked Christopher Steele dossier. He asserts that Patel went to London to engage in hijinks to track Steele down on a “quixotic hunt.” In fact, Patel, who was in London on separate intelligence committee business, merely stopped by the address for Steele’s attorney as found in public court documents and left a card saying that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence would like to interview his client. Steele’s attorneys quickly ran to the media and other Democratic operatives to spin an alternate and more dramatic, but less factual, version of events.
BlueAnon on the March
Much ink has been spilled about “QAnon” — an umbrella term for a set of conspiracy theories including one that “Trump would not actually leave office as scheduled but would declare martial law, announce mass arrests of Democrats and stop Mr. Biden from taking office,” according to the New York Times. So it was pretty weird when Ignatius put forth that very same conspiracy theory, with Patel as the central figure!
As with so many other still-mysterious aspects of the Trump presidency, there’s a riddle at the center of Patel’s many activities. Beyond the basic goal of advancing Trump’s personal agenda, was there a larger mission? Was there a systematic plan, for example, to gain control of the nation’s intelligence and military command centers as part of Trump’s effort to retain the presidency, despite his loss in the November 2020 election?
Ignatius is just asking questions! Questions about whether Kash Patel was QAnon! It’s difficult to characterize how insane the question is. Ignatius never returns to this ridiculous speculation that Patel was trying to overthrow the government, he just chucks it out there and moves on. Despite its lack of substantiation, CNN contributor Garrett Graff seems to agree, saying the country came close to a “literal coup” and how the guardrails against it nearly broke.
The article goes through Patel’s work as senior counsel for Rep. Devin Nunes on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as it exposed wrongdoing in the Russia collusion hoax, with the National Security Council as the senior director for counterterrorism, as senior adviser to acting DNI Grenell, and as chief of staff for acting defense secretary Christopher Miller. It also claims a role Patel never had, the aforementioned imaginary position with Ratcliffe.
Ignatius relies exclusively on snippets from anonymous sources to bash Patel, an easy accomplishment given their anonymity and the fact that Patel was involved in efforts to reform the massive bureaucracy. Ignatius alternates between describing Patel as a genius mastermind and ineffective.
Before describing Patel’s story as an “American immigrants’ dream,” he describes Patel as New York-born (though he gets the city of his birth wrong). He claims that “One top Pentagon official saw Patel as a direct threat to lawful government” but nothing in the story supports this. To the contrary, it shows that Patel was trying to implement the policies of a lawfully elected president, and unelected appointees and bureaucrats were trying to stop him because they thought they knew better.
A Stunning Admission that Nunes was Right
Ignatius quietly and briefly admits that “Patel sometimes hit pay dirt,” citing his report on the FBI’s abuse of its application to spy on the Trump campaign, later vindicated by the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report and the guilty plea a former FBI lawyer filed for falsifying information used to apply for warrants.
It’s a stunning admission for a Washington Post writer to make, since the paper could not have been more hostile to the work of those who exposed the malfeasance. The paper ran an op-ed from the former deputy director of the CIA, calling on bureaucrats to do everything in their power to keep the American people in the dark about the abuse of Trump campaign affiliate Carter Page’s civil liberties. Once the abuses did come to light, Philip Bump, a Post employee who does not know where babies come from, said that the release of the completely flawed wiretap applications actually made the Nunes memo “even less credible” than it already was. And that’s quite the claim from the Bezos newspaper since when it came out, Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman screeched that it was a “joke and a sham.” Aaron Blake suggested that the problems and surveillance abuses outlined by the memo were “fatally” flawed “conspiracy theories.”
“The trumped-up charges and cherry-picked evidence of the Nunes memo discredit the House majority. Republicans who should know better, starting with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), have enabled this assault on independent law enforcement and accelerated the GOP’s disgrace,” harrumphed the entire Washington Post editorial board in a piece headlined “The Nunes memo continues to backfire.”
A “nothingburger” exclaimed the Post’s Michael Cavna, before showing cartoons that also showed the “Nunes memo backfired.” Bezos’ Post could not have been more invested in the messaging. “The Nunes memo is looking like a bust for Trump,” Blake wrote. Blake also wrote a piece disparaging the “6 tortured arguments” Republicans were making about FISA abuse.
It’s hard to keep that line of propaganda going after the failure of Special Counsel Mueller to find a single American colluding with Russia to steal the 2016 election, after the Inspector General Horowitz wrote 400+ pages outlining the abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by the intelligence community, and after a lawyer pleaded guilty to falsifying information as part of the process. But the begrudging admission is still remarkable for what a complete turnabout it is from the Post’s previous line about FISA abuse.
Much of Ignatius’ lengthy piece is about how intelligence officials fought efforts to release more information about the Russia collusion hoax. While the information would have been helpful to those who had exposed the failings and malfeasance of the Russia collusion hoax, it apparently would have brought great embarrassment to the intelligence community, including at least one key official who fought its release.
Releasing Classified Info While Claiming Someone Else Did
The article includes massive amounts of details on a successful rescue mission by SEAL Team Six. While Ignatius’ version of the event and analysis of same is wrong in key respects, such as completely misidentifying the problem caused by some top officials always looking for ways to not do what Trump directed, the bigger issue identified by multiple officials was the level of detail that was publicized by the Post. It was their view that if the story contained truth, it was an inappropriate level of detail to be revealed outside of a classified setting. And that’s particularly noteworthy considering that the purpose of the story was to assert that Patel was under investigation for inappropriate handling of classified information.
Praising the Deep State
Ignatius writes, with grave concern, that Trump’s more loyal political appointees were “motivated partly by a desire to restrict the intelligence agencies’ power, and partly to deliver on Trump’s promise to end overseas wars.” First off, how telling that Ignatius thinks it’s bad to restrict intelligence agencies’ power to abuse the civil liberties of American citizens and to meddle in presidential elections and administrations. Secondly, how telling that Ignatius thinks it’s bad — although he’s been quite open about this — to end overseas wars even decades after they’ve been won.
The general perspective is reminiscent of Lt. Col. Alex Vindman launching what became the first impeachment of Trump for the crime of not following “the interagency consensus.” Vindman and some of his fellow bureaucrats had a particular idea about how to do foreign policy with Ukraine and Trump disagreed with him. That so concerned Vindman that he began talking to others — including the ostensible whistleblower — to stop the president from running the foreign policy of the country in a manner at odds with, well, the interagency consensus.
Ignatius writes of the concerted effort to keep Americans from learning about the origins of the Russia probe and other problems with the intelligence community’s Russia collusion hoax, that “Haspel’s apparent crime was that for months she had been resisting efforts by Trump and Patel to declassify the information he had gathered for Nunes back in the 2018 report.” In fact, resisting orders from the president is a perfectly legitimate reason for a president to want to replace her.
After beginning the column by mocking the idea of a deep state, then writing an entire column about how awesome the deep state is, Ignatius concludes:
The truth is that for all the roadblocks these aides put in Trump’s way, he had the authority as commander in chief to do what he wanted in national security: declassify and release documents, hire and fire people, direct agencies to take actions he wanted. Facing resistance from courageous officials who sought to protect the government, Trump in many cases simply backed down. As bad as this story was, in other words, it could have been much worse.
Ignatius ends by unambiguously praising appointees and bureaucrats for thwarting the elected president’s will. That’s a story that doesn’t just sound bad, but worse than many feared.