Well, that didn't take long.
The morning after the Washington Post's Friday evening story that a "Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House," a "deeply disturbed" Bob Baer, appearing on CNN Newsroom, when questioned as to whether "we should have another election," said that if it's true, "I don’t see any other way than to vote again."
Here's the clip:
Transcript (bolds are mine throughout this post):
ROBERT BAER: We’ll never be able to decide whether they changed the outcome.
But I’ll tell you, having worked in the CIA, if we had been caught in interfering in European elections or Asian elections or anywhere in the world, those countries would call for new elections. Any democracy would. And I just, I don’t see it any other way.
The Electoral College, before the 19th, has got to know whether the Russians had an effect. Whether they went to Wikileaks, whether they hacked e-mail, and whether they affected American opinion. And they had a good reason not to go out, to go after Hillary Clinton, because Putin hates her for the Ukraine.
BORIS SANCHEZ: Bob, if I’m hearing you correctly, you’re saying we should have another election? How would that work? Is that plausible?
BAER: When a foreign country interferes in your election and the outcome is in doubt, the legitimacy of the government, I don’t know how it works constitutionally, I’m not a lawyer, constitutional lawyer, but I’m deeply disturbed by the fact that the Russians interfered.
And I would like to see the evidence. Because if the evidence is there, I don’t see any other way than to vote again. I mean, as an American citizen.
It is not a "fact that the Russians interfered." The Post article only describes it as an "assessment" without a "consensus," also apparently without direct evidence:
... “It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”
... The Obama administration has been debating for months how to respond to the alleged Russian intrusions ...
... U.S. intelligence agencies have been cautious for months in characterizing Russia’s motivations, reflecting the United States’ long-standing struggle to collect reliable intelligence on President Vladimir Putin and those closest to him.
... “I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence — even now,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Trump transition team. “There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”
We're supposed to have a complete electoral do-over based on that?
Tell you what. If we're going to start having election do-overs, let's look at having a Barack Obama-John McCain rematch. After all, we know that the 2008 election was influenced by something far worse than foreign-inspired disinformation (from the left's perspective until about five weeks ago). It was proactively influenced in Barack Obama's favor by millions of dollars in foreign money in the form of illegal contributions made to a campaign which deliberately disabled mechanisms designed to prevent such contributions from occurring. We'll never know if Obama would have won with a level playing field unless we do it all over again. (It will surprise no one that there was virtually no media interest in this very genuine story in 2008.)
Or maybe we need to have an Obama-Mitt Romney rematch, because we now know that the Obama administration's Internal Revenue Service, alarmed by the results of the 2010 congressional and Senate elections, deliberately harassed and hampered the activities of Tea Party, pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, vote-integrity and other conservative not-for-profit groups to the point where they couldn't effectively conduct their advocacy. I say that there's a high likelihood that if this illegal IRS conduct hadn't occurred, Romney would have won 69 additional electoral votes combined in Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia. He then would have won the presidency with 275 electoral votes. We'll never know unless we do it all over again. (The press has also virtually ignored every significant development in IRS harassment-related matters, even though meaningful developments continue to occur to this day.)
Bob Baer, despite his glowing CNN bio, is hardly a reasonable and objective observer of the national political and foreign-policy scenes. In June, he contended that Donald Trump "'Hasn’t Offered Any Solutions that Are Going to Work' to Stop Terror." Well, one can disagree with Trump's proposed "solutions," but one cannot say that he hasn't offered any. They're quite visible at his campaign web site.
Baer's "solutions" revolve around coddling Iran.
A fawning writeup appeared at the left-wing Counterpunch in 2009. At the time, he was (imagine that) a big proponent of one of President Barack Obama's most controversial foreign policy positions (additional paragraph breaks added by me):
We talked about his latest book, “The Devil We Know,” an intelligence analysis of Iran that suggests everything in the popular discourse in the US about Iran is wrong. It’s the sort of intelligence that likely would have been ignored if published inside the agency.
The US, offers Baer, should engage with Iran, a great power in the Middle East, the heir of the Persia of antiquity that is invested in a historical memory the American spy apparatus can’t be bothered to understand. The US should come to a détente with Iran’s rulers, recognizing them not as madmen intent on destruction but as players in the world of realpolitik – not so very different in their intent than the United States.
Iran, says Baer, has abandoned its penchant for funding terrorism against the US. Altogether this is a big-hearted argument, almost heroic, given the carnage visited on the CIA by the mullahs during Baer’s years in Beirut, the friends killed by Iran, the chaos spread by Iran. The book in that sense is a peace offering in spite of the awful past – a recognition of historical memory and an attempt at an answer to it.
In April 2008, Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal described Baer as someone who "believes the U.S. and Iran are ripe for the kind of alliance Nixon forged with Mao." Stephens ridiculed the notion, and noted:
It cannot surprise you that such ideas are now taking root with the American intelligentsia; useful idiots always contribute to the revolution.
Another less charitable assessment of Baer came in 2008 from longtime foreign policy scholar Nibras Kazimi at his Talisman Gate blog:
Bob Baer is a Gullible Fool
It seems that former CIA agent Bob Baer has authored a really stupid book about Iran, which is not surprising since he has a tendency for being really stupid.
... why would it be that anyone would take the word of a washed-up spy who fell so low so as to accept a paycheck from one of his country’s most horrendous enemies is beyond me. Did I mention that Baer is now saying that America should negotiate with Iran and learn to live with, and grow to love, an Iranian nuclear bomb?
The "horrendous enemy" Kazimi named is one Ali Ballout, whom he described as an agent at the time for Iraq's Saddam Hussein's mukhaberat, or intelligence service. A 2000 book on Saddam Hussein's life mentions an "Ali Ballout" as among a group of "accomplished journalists" who "were talked into spreading Saddam's message." Kazimi claims that Baer briefly worked as an analyst and "receptionist" at a propaganda front organization Ballout ran for a few years in DC.
There is little doubt that Bob Baer is a big fan of the U.S.-Iran deal, which will ultimately allow Iran to have nuclear weapons if it wishes to complete developing them, and that he's not a fan of Donald Trump's less charitable, more realistic assessment of that rogue nation — an assessment, despite the nuclear "deal," still shared by the U.S. State Department.
Baer's fevered call for the nation "to vote again" would appear to be driven by a fear that Donald Trump will take his pet project back to reality.
Sadly, his call probably won't be the last.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.