I watched Mission Impossible at a very impressionable age.
It was something I shared with my Mom on Sunday nights. She would lie on the sofa and I would be on the floor in front of the TV, wrapped in a blanket with a pillow under my head. We would share a big bag of potato chips, bought especially for the occasion. It is one of my few happy memories of those days. (It also created a “Sunday night means indulging in snack food” habit I am still trying to break, but that is another story...)
A few days ago we were discussing the importance of Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek as a black actress who was not playing a maid. Similarly, having Francis Gregory Alan “Greg” Morris playing Barney, the electronics genius, on Mission Impossible, was another formative moment for the self-esteem of TV-watching black folks.
James Bond was boy fantasy with guns and gadgets and girls in bikinis and left me unmoved, but I never missed an episode of Mission Impossible. It was spy mystery for thinking people.
Just as important, it left me with the idea that spies were the good guys.
Of course, as I grew older, I grew more cynical and fearful of what intelligence gathering agencies could do if the people running government were untrustworthy or evil. I freaked out like everyone else at the expansion of information gathering powers and surveillance after 9/11.
My mom had a long career as a proud competent government bureaucrat. She worked for decades for the Department of Health Education and Welfare and later for the Department of Education. I came to understand that there were career people serving all over DC whose loyalty was to government service in the abstract and not to a particular ideology or president.
It never occurred to me until tonight that there were similar people working in the intelligence gathering agencies.
Suddenly I feel grateful for that, and maybe even hopeful, to know that some of them might be using their very particular set of skills as a check on the otherwise unchecked power of DJT.
Tonight Chris Hayes interviewed Carter Page. If you don’t recognize that name, that’s one of the many reasons you need a scorecard to keep track of the people who are casting suspicion on DJT’s possible connections with Russia. It was an amazing interview. Page bobbed and weaved and danced and did the little sidestep, and Hayes pushed back hard enough to get some real answers:
But the truly thrilling part was what came after that interview, when MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance decided to THROW DOWN in a way that made my heart skip a beat for more than one reason.
That tape is not up yet, but I hit rewind and did my own transcript (and if the video comes available later I will add it to the diary).
When asked for his response to the Page interview, Nance started out slow, calling Page “weaselly” and “evasive”.
Then oh my God he looked right into the camera and said this:
To be quite honest, I have a message for him, all right?
U.S. intelligence is not going to be coming at him like a lawyer, right?
We will turn on the entire power of the U.S. collection system.
And if he is lying, it is going to become very well known very quickly.
We have allies, and you know if he thinks that he is being slick, it's going to become very clear once this thing is brought to light.
Chris Hayes frankly looked alarmed, and like a good liberal jumped in to defend the idea of the rule of law in the abstract:
Hayes: Although we should be clear right, he's an American citizen, he has due process, he says he's innocent, you know
Hayes: He's not being accused of committing any crime… I just want to be very clear about the status of this with respect to Mr. Page…
Then Nance really let it fly:
Absolutely. But if there's a FISA warrant out there all of what you just said goes out the window, OK?
Nance continued without missing a beat:
We have the ability to collect ANYthing on him.
Including all of his finances and every relationship that he has with anybody in this world.
So I certainly hope that he is being truthful.
I hope that he's actually an asset for U.S. intelligence (!!!) and that he's the innocent character in this.
But I would be very, very careful in case he is subpoenaed and brought before Congress.
And Nance wasn’t through!
A little later, Hayes asked him for a comment about steps the Obama Administration took in its final days to safeguard the information about what Russia had done to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Once again, Nance did not mince words:
I think its actually disturbing, and its disturbing not for the reasons that the Trump administration would think.
It’s disturbing in that U.S. intelligence, not just the White House, right, we’re talking in-depth components of U.S. intelligence, thought that this information, which was sensitive, which may implicate people in the next administration, would be the first thing to hit the burn bag when the new administration comes in, the first thing to be destroyed, so they deep dropped this information into subcompartmented areas, and seeded it, legally, done with right classifications in the right places, as a form of intelligence continuity of government.
So that itself is indicative of the mindset of the intelligence community about who they think the loyalties of this administration is, and it is not to the United States.
If Carter Page was watching, he saw his future drip, dripping down the drain.
The best part of this exchange was watching the face of John Dean on the other side of the split screen. while Hayes was looking more and more horrified, Dean was sitting there calmly like, yep, that’s the way the game is played.
No, the best part was realizing that everything Nance said about Carter Page is true of DJT as well.
The current occupant of the Oval Office has been quite cavalier about his attitude toward the U.S. intelligence agencies, saying he doesn’t trust them, trying to bring in his own people, ignoring briefings, and generally dismissing them and their concerns.
And I get the impression they are PIST.
I also get the impression that these are people you do not want to piss off.
They have access to information about DJT that he may not even know about himself.
They can find out things and leak things and, those of us who grew up idealizing the folks on Mission Impossible figure that they pretty much always get their man.
If the intelligence community is ready to “go nuclear” on him, if the “he will die in jail” comment is really true, then maybe we are going to win this thing, not only because we outnumber them but because some serious AF people are also working to bring him down.
There’s a whole lot of smoking guns left to be uncovered in this mess, and they are just the people to do it. Strange bedfellows to be counting on help from Langley et al., but at this point we are fighting for our lives and maybe for the future of the whole world, so in this instance I welcome their help.
As Nance said at the very beginning of his “All In” interview:
In every major fire it always starts with smoke. And smoke is what kills you. Right? Not the fire itself.
We may not have any hard proof yet in this Trump/Russia scandal. But no one is giving any straight answers. There are a lot of smokescreens and a lot of smoke.
And it’s the smoke that kills you.
Previous TRUE BLUE REPORT diaries
Mar 1: Am I the only one whose skin crawled at the Carryn Owens BIRGing moment?
Feb 28: Spinspotting 101: Special Prosecutor for what? It’s so easy to answer that question
Feb 27: Spinspotting 101: I’ve seen no evidence because I haven’t looked for any evidence!
Feb 26: If Neil Gorsuch were a man of integrity, he would decline the S.Ct. appointment
Feb 25: True Blue Ribbons: Russia Flag trolling, Dixie Swastika grabbing, District Days demonstrating
Feb 24: There is no such thing as a compassionate conservative
Feb 23: Chief of Staff, Nat’l Security Advisor, GOP Head, President Bannon—too many hats!
Feb 22: DJT has a few questions for you—SMURF THIS POLL!
Feb 21: The end of “access journalism” means it’s time to #sendtheinterns
Feb 20: KAC lying low for now… can we banish her (and all her ilk) from the airwaves completely?
Feb 19: DeVos cartoon, Ruby Bridges, unearned unhappiness and childlike faith
Feb 18: Blue Ribbon Winners—Vice Adm. Harward, Melissa McCarthy, and intel whistleblowers
Feb 17: And Ain’t I an American?
Feb 16: Please tell your family and friends—If you regret your DJT vote, speak up NOW
Feb 15: R-supported forced childbirth laws deny the autonomy of women
Feb 14: What did the president know? Everything. When did he know it? From the beginning.
Feb 13: Coping with The Madness of King Donald by hoping political comedy will save us
Feb 12: The Poverty and Justice Bible
Feb 11: Blue Ribbon Winners: Swastika removers, Ninth Circuit Panel, and the Persisterhood!
Feb 10: The first three words of the Constitution are “We, the People” not “I, the President”
Feb 9: Who first inspired your political activism? Who inspires you now?
Feb 8: We cannot and will not be silenced—Here’s what to do if they try to silence you
Feb 7: Plain Talk Tuesday: Tell people the Affordable Care Act is the same as OBAMACARE
Feb 6: Interview Skills 101—Internalized oppression and what Ryan Lizza did right. BRAVO!
Feb 5: These protest signs with Bible cites will confuse and befuddle RWNJs
Feb 4: Blue Ribbon Winners: Temple B’Nai Israel, Judge Robart, CNN, Senate Phone Callers
Feb 3: Not rich, not smart, not a good businessman, not a winner—DJT is NOTHING he claims to be
Feb 2: Thursday action—Encouragement, thanks, and apologies (pick one or more)
Feb 1: July 7, 2009 to August 25, 2009 and September 25, 2009 to February 4, 2010
Jan 31: If you’re on overload that’s part of their plan—there’s more than one way to #resist
Jan 30: Interview Skills 101 for reporters attempting to interview KAC and other Rcons
Jan 29: Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness
Jan 28: Blue Ribbon Winners: Women's March participants and #NoMuslimBan demonstrators and...
Jan 27: I wish Steve Bannon would tell me to keep my mouth shut
Jan 26: Thursday Action—Have you ever written a letter to the editor? Here’s how to start
Jan 25: The Asch Conformity Study, inauguration crowds, and the importance of speaking out
Jan 24: #ResistTrumpTuesday—good news day or another paying dues day?
Jan 23: Spy the Lie 101: How to enjoy watching Rcon spokesbot interviews, even KAC!
Jan 22: Why I prayed for the President* today
Jan 21: The only silver lining in the midst of these clouds
Inaugural (!) diary: Stop expecting Republicons to make sense