Flynn–The Case That Will Not Go Away

No that is not Errol Flynn…..this is that criminal the Trump tried to force onto the nation as a natsec adviser…..after pleading guilty he has decided that he will change his tune…..and there are several views of this situation…..

Michael Flynn is trying to get his case dismissed, with his lawyers arguing that newly released FBI documents show that agents set him up before interviewing him in 2017. “What is our goal?” reads one handwritten note. “Truth and admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” The former national security adviser eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the Trump transition to the White House. Here are some early takes on the new developments, from both sides:

  • Unfair: At Bloomberg, Eli Lake writes the FBI went after Flynn over obscure violations under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse, as they say, but at the same time justice demands that the law be applied fairly and consistently,” he writes. “Flynn was being squeezed for crimes that are rarely, if ever, enforced. He relented only under financial pressure and a promise that his son, who worked with him in his consulting group, would not be prosecuted.” Lake wonders if Democrats would be so quick to forgive the FBI tactics if the target were in the Obama administration.
  • Not unfair: The idea he was “set up” is absurd, writes Randall D. Eliason at the Washington Post.Any witness interviewed by the FBI has essentially three choices: tell the truth, lie, or assert the right to remain silent,” he writes. “The FBI had no way of knowing which option Flynn would choose when he walked into the interview. All Flynn had to do was tell the truth, or tell the agents he wasn’t comfortable talking to them. He chose instead to lie.”
  • Dismiss: Toss the case, writes law professor Jonathan Turley at the Hill. “These new documents further undermine the view of both the legitimacy and motivations of those investigations under former FBI director James Comey,” he writes. “For all of those who have long seen a concerted effort within the Justice Department to target the Trump administration, the fragments will read like a Dead Sea Scrolls version of a ‘deep state’ conspiracy.”
  • Business as usual: Actually, “framing what happened to Flynn primarily as a ‘deep state’ conspiracy to take down Trump obscures the reality that this is a routine and completely legal FBI practice that will continue unless there are serious statutory reforms,” writes at Scott Shackford at Reason. He points to a similar tactic used against Martha Stewart. “What the agency did to Flynn was wrong, not because he worked for Trump, but because it is wrong to induce an otherwise not-guilty person to break the law,” argues Shackford. “And it’s something FBI interviewers do regularly so that they can use their dishonesty as leverage when there’s little evidence of actual criminal behavior.”

Then there is the “pardon” by the president that is always dangling out there…..but if a person accepts the pardon then they are admitting that they are guilty of the crimes they have been charged with…..

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

What The Burning Hell Has Happened To National Security?

It is so very sad what is happening to this nation’s national security…..and the sad state of our NatSec can be blamed on the president…..

Bill Taylor, the US’s chief envoy in Ukraine, revealed on Wednesday that a member of his staff overheard a conversation in Ukraine between President Donald Trump and Gordon Sondland, the US’s ambassador to the EU.

According to Taylor, the conversation happened at a restaurant in Kyiv and the volume was apparently loud enough that they were overheard.

Sondland was almost certainly spied on while talking to the president in that restaurant, Politico reported. But this incident is just one out of many in which Trump or the people around him have compromised US national security.

https://www.businessinsider.com/how-trump-administration-puts-national-security-at-risk-2019-11

Then Newsweek takes a shot at Trump and his failure with our NatSec……

“The President is a threat to our national security, the integrity of our elections, and the rule of law. Every day he remains in office is an unacceptable risk,” Richard Primus wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night. Primus is a law professor at the University of Michigan.

“I’m a big reasonable-disagreement guy. But sometimes there’s a right side and wrong side. Now is one of those times,” he added.

https://www.newsweek.com/trump-threat-national-security-constitutional-professor-says-1462631

I know that rabid Trump supporters will take exception to these points……but think about it….blind faith has destroyed a many empire…..

I read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Let’s Talk National Security

National Security is always a good reliable political prop….my favorite is “all options are on the table”…..

From here on we shall call it NatSec…

What is it? This NatSec thing.

National security is a corporate term covering both national defense and foreign relations of the U.S. It refers to the protection of a nation from attack or other danger by holding adequate armed forces and guarding state secrets. The term national security encompasses within it economic security, monetary security, energy security, environmental security, military security, political security and security of energy and natural resources. Specifically, national security means a circumstance that exists as a result of a military or defense advantage over any foreign nation or group of nations, or a friendly foreign relations position, or a defense position capable of successfully protesting hostile or destructive action.

Or another look……

National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic power, diplomacy, power projection and political power. The concept developed mostly in the United States of America after World War II. Initially focusing on military might, it now encompasses a broad range of facets, all of which impinge on the non military or economic security of the nation and the values espoused by the national society. Accordingly, in order to possess national security, a nation needs to possess economic security, energy security, environmental security, etc. Security threats involve not only conventional foes such as other nation-states but also non-state actors such as violent non-state actors, narcotic cartels, multinational corporations and non-governmental organizations; some authorities include natural disasters and events causing severe environmental damage in this category. Measures taken to ensure national security include: ⁕using diplomacy to rally allies and isolate threats ⁕marshaling economic power to facilitate or compel cooperation ⁕maintaining effective armed forces ⁕implementing civil defense and emergency preparedness measures

Matters not which definition one prefers….the fact is we will soon pick a president and so far NatSec has not shown its head in the debates….if it is so damn important then why not?

… national interests are the DNA of strategy and the underlying structure upon which every nation bases its strategic thinking.  To understand America’s current actions on the international stage requires a look deeper than the partisan-inspired rhetoric in the headlines. One way to approach this is to elevate the discussion beyond threats and adversaries to an analysis of national interests.  Interests drive political decision-making and help us understand U.S. foreign policy. They describe the “why,” reveal the underlying logic, and provide the standards of measurement upon which to base decisions.

Strategic thinkers with military backgrounds often tend to fixate on threats.  Without question, at the tactical and operational level, threats provide a valuable lens.  However, when facing strategic-level complex adaptive problems, such as great power competition and trans-regional violent extremism, a focus solely on threats could quickly lead to miscalculation and loss of focus.  If this occurs, the U.S. could find itself trying to chasing competitors everywhere, thereby remaining reactive instead of proactive, hence, strategically adrift.   

Beyond this, discussion of interests is valuable because it helps strategic thinkers approach problems with a more open mind.  Fundamentally, if strategic thinkers focus on interests it helps move beyond one-dimensional discussions on positions.  Positions change, interests are less dynamic and remain more stable over time.  Where positions are solutions, interests reveal the concerns, desires, and motives that underpin those positions.

https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/starting-why-national-security-strategy-and-americas-national-interests

Maybe if candidates put more emphasis on NatSec we could start a real conversation about it…instead of platitudes.

https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2020/01/14/national-security-has-barely-made-the-debate-stage-here-comes-the-iran-crisis/

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Closing Thought–17Jan20

I think most Americans agree that this Iranian general was a “bad guy”….and it is a matter opinion on whether he deserved assassination….my opinion is that he did not especially since he was carrying some peace offering to the Saudis.

There seems to be a disconnect between the officials and the American people…..a new poll shows the divide…..

A new poll from Politico-Morning Consult shows the American public substantially less on board with escalatory violence against Iran than media coverage of the situation would generally lead one to believe.

The poll showed the decision to assassinate top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was highly controversial. Despite weeks of vilifying Soleimani, only 44% support his killing, and 38% continue to disapprove.

There was a lot more unity on the response to Iran’s retaliation for the killing, with 71% approving of not responding militarily to that, and only 14% disapproving. It seems further escalating the conflict is something almost nobody wanted.

(antiwar.com)

That said….the president and his boyz have said that the US embassies were in danger is one reason he was taken out…..okay but so far their explanations have been far short of convincing…..and since their story has fallen apart the Pentagon has decided that Congress does not need that briefing they were promised…..

The State Department’s cancellation of two classified congressional briefings to address embassy security and Iran policy sparked lawmakers’ ire in Wednesday, according to Politico.

“This briefing is required by law every month, and today’s was the most important we’ve had scheduled in a long time,” a House aide told the publication. “The State Department has given us no explanation whatsoever.”

Several senior Foggy Bottom officials — including Brian Hook, special envoy for Iran, and David Schenker, assistant secretary of State for the Middle East — were scheduled to brief the Senate Foreign Relations Committee prior to the cancellation, Politico reported, citing a Senate aide.

Initially the embassy security briefing was to address conditions in the East African nation of Burundi, but the topic was broadened to general facility security amid U.S./Iran tensions following the U.S. killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike.

The White House initially claimed the strike was in response to an unspecified imminent threat posed by Soleimani, but President Trump later told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that Soleimani was plotting attacks on four U.S. embassies, which contradicted a briefing that administration officials gave lawmakers in the aftermath of the strike. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday conceded that he had not seen intelligence showing an imminent embassy attack.

(thehill.com)

Just thought you might like to know the rest of the story……

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Rest Easy, We Have A NatSec Adviser

With Bolton gone there is the hope (by some me not included ) that there will be a reset of American foreign policy…..

Tom Wright makes the case that Trump is about to make a “foreign policy pivot”:

Trump wants to write a new chapter, closing the one marked “Militarism and Maximum Pressure” and opening one called “Dealmaking and the Pursuit of the Nobel Peace Prize.” He wants a summit with Iran’s leaders and deals with the Taliban, Kim Jong Un, and Vladimir Putin on arms control. He does not care about most of the details, as long as he gets the credit.

Few of his officials are particularly enthusiastic about this pivot, but led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, they accept it and will seek to shape it.

The pivot metaphor has been used many times during Trump’s presidency to describe an impending change in direction, but the pivots never seem to take place. Like the expectation that Trump will eventually grow and learn while in office, the expectation that the president will become more responsible in his policies is always disappointed. It would make sense for Trump to deescalate tensions with Iran after creating the current crisis, but I see no evidence that he really intends to do this. Trump absolutely should extend New START, and without Bolton acting as an anti-arms control gremlin he could do this, but there has been no sign of interest in keeping the treaty alive. Trump should conclude negotiations to end the war in Afghanistan, but he just blew up the negotiations earlier this week. Negotiating with Iran requires ending “maximum pressure,” but so far the post-Bolton line from the administration is that “maximum pressure” isn’t going anywhere:

A Foreign Policy Pivot? I Wouldn’t Bet On It

A reset?  Not a chance!

The village peasants may now rest easy.

The revolving door at the NatSec desk is still working….Bolton Out now O’Brien in…..

President Trump has named hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien to be his new national security adviser, reports the AP. Trump tweeted Wednesday that he has “worked long & hard” with O’Brien and that “he will do a great job!” Trump’s announcement about O’Brien comes a week after he ousted John Bolton from the national security adviser’s post, citing policy disagreements. Bolton was Trump’s third national security adviser

He is a professional….maybe not my idea of a good choice but Hell NO one asked me….but that said where does he stand on some of the major issue of the day?

O’Brien – a fierce critic of former President Barack Obama – published a collection of his national security essays in 2016 called “While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis.”

Here are passages from his book that shed light on some of his views:

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-trump-adviser-obrien-factbox/factbox-trumps-new-national-security-adviser-in-his-own-words-idUKKBN1W32P2

While he may be a pro he is in direct opposition to Trump’s ideas for making American great again….will he adjust his opinions to conform with the president or will he be a short lived adviser?

Since the only thing on Trump’s mind these days is KSA and Iran and O’Brien fits nicely with Trump’s position…..

O’Brien was a critic of the Iran nuclear deal, and sees Iran’s nuclear programme as a major threat.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world and is building an archipelago across the Middle East using proxies and Revolutionary Guard forces from Yemen to Syria to Lebanon.”

We will see if he makes the transition from Neocon to Trump thug.

Learn Stuff!

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Bolton Is Out Excuses

Let me say here and now….I did not like the ideas and policies that John Bolton spent decades pushing…..and he should have known better than go to work for a person that takes NO advice but his own.

The president has lots to say about Bolton now that he is gone…..

The Hill calls it a “public rebuke of a top aide that would have been extraordinary before the Trump White House”: The president on Wednesday elaborated on his firing of John Bolton in an Oval Office meeting with reporters. Five standout things he said about his former National Security Adviser:

  • 1. “He made some very big mistakes.”
  • 2. “Frankly he wanted to do things—not necessarily tougher than me—you know John’s known as a tough guy. He’s so tough he got us into Iraq … but he’s actually somebody I had a very good relationship with. But he wasn’t getting along with people in the administration that I consider very important.”
  • 3. “As soon as he mentioned that, the Libyan model, what a disaster. Take a look at what happened to Gadhafi. I don’t blame Kim Jong Un for what he said after that. And he wanted nothing to do with John Bolton. And that’s not a question of being tough. That’s a question of being not smart to say something like that.” (Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake notes that comment was made 16 months ago. See this story for more context.)
  • 4. “John wasn’t in line with what we were doing and actually in some cases he thought it was too tough what we were doing. Mr. tough guy, you know, you had to go into Iraq.”
  • 5. “I hope we left on good stead, but maybe we haven’t,” the Guardian quotes Trump as saying.
  • CNN sees Trump as keeping his eye on the prize, and needing Bolton out of his way: “Trump’s first term, while succeeding in traumatizing US allies and causing global disruption, is largely bereft of the big wins the great dealmaker promised back in 2016.” With Bolton gone, “US diplomacy is likely to reflect its principal author even more closely. It will be more impulsive, less strategic, and more geared to creating iconic moments, like the President’s stroll into North Korea with Kim Jong Un.”
  • The Wall Street Journal similarly frames Bolton as a now-departed “counterweight” to Trump, and predicts his “exit could remove a barrier to a meeting at the United Nations with Iran’s president later this month, or to talks with members of the insurgent Afghan Taliban movement.”
  • Robert Schlesinger echoes that, writing at NBC News: “Bolton had become a foreign policy Dr. No, tamping down Trump’s desire to go for big, showy deals with North Korea, Iran and the Taliban. Whoever replaces him will know to cheer on Trump’s ideas, no matter how ill-conceived.”

Like I have said…I did not agree with much Bolton had to say but at least he was a professional in a White House staffed with amateurs.

Not all conservatives thought Bolton was a good hire for Trump……

It took far too long to happen, but Bolton’s firing is undeniably good news. Bolton is the embodiment of everything wrong with hawkish Republican foreign policy, and his role in the administration has been without question a purely destructive one. I have to admit I didn’t think it would happen. Bolton had prevailed again and again on policy, and despite pushing his own agenda and doing an abysmal job as National Security Advisor he remained in place. Whatever Trump’s reason was for getting rid of him, it was the right decision. Bolton ends his career as one of the worst National Security Advisors in U.S. history. He should never have been hired, but at least he is out of government. Now he can go shill for the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) full-time.

Good Riddance, Bolton

Now we have another “interim” staffer…..

President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, that joy is likely to be shortlived due to the character of Bolton’s acting replacement, Charles M. Kupperman.

Kupperman has been a member of the boards of a number of defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing. He served in the Ronald Reagan administration and boasts a decades-long relationship with Bolton.

The rumor mill is working over time with the departure of Bolton and the newest one involves Pompeo….

…administration officials are discussing the possibility of replacing Bolton with his chief rival, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Under this scenario, the country’s top diplomat would absorb the national security adviser role and do both jobs, according to a senior administration official and a source familiar with the possibilities.

That would make Pompeo the second person in history to have both jobs at the same time. The first, Henry Kissinger, was already President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser when he was appointed secretary of state in 1973, and filled both roles for two years.
 
(cnn.com)
As a foreign policy wonk I will be watching this situation as the results of the firing of Bolton unfolds.  The media likes to state that this is the 4th NatSec adviser in 3 years and they keep emphasizing the point…but keep in mind that them GOP God Reagan had 6 in 8 years….so this is nothing new for a Repub president to go through multiple advisers (that is my history lesson for the day)
 
“Lego ergo Scribo”

Is Bolton Out?

I have made NO secret that I do not like the policies and the ideas of Trump’s adviser John Bolton.

I have disliked this man for decades when I first became acquainted with him and his war hawk ideas…..I shuddered when he became ambassador to the United Nations under GW.

He then became a hit man against Obama foreign policy on FOX where he fit in well with the spreading of crap news.

And then Trump installs this hawk into his inner circle of adviser as the NatSec Adviser……and every since he has not been on the same page as his president…..and now it looks like His Majesty may have had enough crap out of Bolton….

John Bolton doesn’t seem like a sidelines kind of guy—but the hard-talking national security adviser appears headed that way as he opposes his boss yet again, the Washington Post reports. Their latest conflict? Afghanistan, where President Trump is considering a reduction in US troops if the Taliban will cut ties with al-Qaeda and stop them from training, fundraising, recruiting, and so on. Bolton opposes the Taliban talks and wasn’t invited this month when Trump huddled with top officials to discuss Afghanistan at the president’s golf club. Officials say they feared Bolton and his aides would oppose the deal and leak details to the media. “His team has a reputation for losing and leaking,” says a top White House official.

Bolton later got into the meeting and did disagree with Trump. Bolton has also clashed with US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who’s leading the talks and apparently refused to let Bolton have a copy of the draft agreement with the Taliban. One official said Bolton was enraged. “I can’t think of another example where a national security adviser was sidelined like this,” says an international security expert. But Bolton has already disagreed with Trump on Iran and North Korea—playing the hawk to Trump’s quasi-dove—and maybe that helps. “I think Bolton loves it, and I think the president does too,” the head of a think tank told the New York Times in May. “It opens up some diplomatic space for him to go back and forth between a very hard-line position and holding talks.”

It is about time!

His departure cannot come soon enough to my way of thinking……now we need to work on that slug Pompeo who is in the same vane as Bolton….time for him to look to the exit door.

“Et Certa Apud Verbis”