Category Archives: national security

What happens if Trump loses?

REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

This notion, as preposterous as it sounds, is worth pondering nevertheless, given Donald Trump’s extreme penchant for unpredictability.

What happens if Donald Trump loses the presidential election and (a) rejects the results and (b) refuses to vacate the White House?

You are entitled to snicker and maybe even guffaw at the notion. However, some learned political pros are talking about it out loud. That tells me that even though they dismiss the reject and refuse-to-leave notion as implausible, they are still talking about it … which means it’s, well, possible.

I have posed this notion already not long after Trump took office. Some of my Trumpster friends and acquaintances scolded me for suggesting such a thing. However, with this guy nothing on this good Earth is beyond the realm of possibility.

He has ranted already about “rigged” elections. He accused “millions of illegal immigrants” of voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016 but hasn’t yet produced a shred of evidence to back up the spurious claim. When every pundit on Earth was predicting Hillary would defeat Trump, the Huckster in Chief said he would lose only because the election would be rigged in Hillary’s favor.

Does anyone with a half a noodle in their noggin actually believe that Donald Trump would orchestrate a smooth and orderly transition to Joseph Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee?

The campaign already is shaping up to be the most hideous, the nastiest, the most innuendo-filled, defamatory campaign in anyone’s memory. It makes me shudder to ponder what could happen in case Donald Trump loses this election.

Trump will say anything, will resort to any tactic he can consider to win a second term. If he loses, well, we ought to prepare for the worst.

DNI pick one of the ‘best people’? C’mon, man!

I cannot help but circle back to one of the many idiotic promises Donald Trump made while he campaigned for the presidency.

He kept telling us he would surround himself with the “best people” to help him protect us against our enemies and enact all manner of public policy.

The nominee to be our next director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, is so far from the “best people” category, it is laughable on its face. Still, he is likely to be confirmed by the Republican-led U.S. Senate.

Ratcliffe got the call to be the DNI in 2019. Then we learned he had fudged on his background. The East Texas congressman had little of the requisite national security experience on his record. He had instead a reputation of being a loyal Donald Trump sycophant, which he demonstrated amply during the impeachment hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives. That qualifies him for the job as the nation’s top spook. Ridiculous! Then he backed out of that earlier battle.

The previous DNI, Dan Coats, left office after disagreeing with Trump over, um, national security issues. Coats was one of the few grownups Trump picked at the beginning of his presidential term. He said the Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016, while Trump defended the Russians. Coats didn’t do what Trump demanded, so he was out.

Now comes Ratcliffe — again! Oh, brother!

Added to all of this are questions about whether Trump ignored the obvious national security threat posed by the coronavirus that has killed more than 70,000 Americans. He got the briefing that the virus posed an imminent threat in January. He looked the other way.

Would a DNI Ratcliffe have insisted Trump listen to the advice of the medical experts? Would a DNI Ratcliffe pitch a fit if Trump didn’t act more proactively earlier? Based on what I watched as Ratcliffe — along with other Republican lackeys on the House intelligence and judiciary committees — did to defend Trump against obvious high crimes, well, I doubt it … seriously!

Donald Trump’s version of the “best people” is going to get the sternest test imaginable if John Ratcliffe gets confirmed to become the next director of national intelligence.

We all should say a prayer for the nation.

Don’t trust the Democrats … but trust Russians and Turks?

I am not sure I get how this goes.

Donald Trump did not notify congressional Democratic leaders in advance of the raid that killed the leader of the Islamic State over the weekend on grounds that he feared “leaks” that could jeopardize the critical element of surprise.

The president, though, did inform congressional Republicans of the raid as well as — and this is really rich — the Russians and the Turks! Yep, Russia and Turkey got a heads-up in advance of the raid, apparently because the president trusted those two hostile powers, one of which attacked our electoral system in 2016 and is doing so again in 2020.

But not the Democratic leadership. Not the individuals who are chairing key House committees charged with monitoring events related to our national security. Not the folks who need to be kept in the loop when our armed forces are deployed on these critical missions.

Did he really believe the Democratic House chairs and the Senate Democratic leadership would blab to the world about what was about to happen? Or is he miffed because House Democrats want to hold him accountable for the deeds that are likely to lead to his impeachment?

I believe the embattled commander in chief is suffering from a case of acute and destructive petulance.

Baghdadi is dead, but ISIS remains a threat

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death overnight in northwestern Syria at the hands of U.S. Army Delta Force and CIA commandos is a gigantic blow to the Islamic State terrorist organization he led.

But forgive me for emphasizing what ought to be the obvious: ISIS will remain a serious threat for as long as there are young men and women willing to buy into the terrorists’ religious perversion.

Donald Trump this morning confirmed what had been reported during the night, that special forces conducted a raid that killed Baghdadi. The commander in chief had authorized the raid after hearing extensive briefings from military and intelligence analysts that they had located the terrorist monster hiding underground near the Syria-Turkey border.

One cannot possibly overstate the importance of killing Baghdadi, just as the death of al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in May 2011 was a huge blow to that terrorist organization. Let us take stock in the fact that just as al-Qaeda was able to reconstitute its leadership after bin Laden’s death at the hands of a Navy SEAL team in Pakistan, so will ISIS likely be able to do the same thing.

I believe it is important, too, to salute the meticulous work done by our intelligence forces in tracking Baghdadi down and enabling our special forces to find him, hunt him down and deliver ultimate justice to him. The president, infamously I should add, has been critical of some aspects of the intelligence community’s work in certain areas … relating, for example, to the Russian interference in our election.

They did their job with great skill and professionalism, which we all know they are capable of doing.

As for the special forces team that completed this highly dangerous mission, their capabilities are unmatched all of the world’s military history.

All that said, the fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda and all other terrorists who declared war on the United States on 9/11 must go on.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. May he rot in hell.

Waiting on former national security adviser’s testimony

It was reported when John Bolton left the national security adviser’s post that the fiery foreign policy guru is no shrinking violet, that he wouldn’t sit quietly by while Donald Trump trashed him.

Trump said he fired Bolton, who then said he resigned. Trump said his decision to let Bolton go was over differences in how to handle Middle East policy.

OK, but now Bolton has become a key player in this impeachment inquiry. You see, we don’t know what Bolton might have heard when Trump was dealing with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinskiy and whether he sought foreign government help for personal political purposes.

It is now assured that Bolton will speak to congressional committees about what he knows and what he saw and heard while serving in the White House. I am one American — who, by the way, doesn’t think much of Bolton’s world view — who is awaiting what he has to say.

My hunch is that he won’t shy away one bit from providing whatever information he has about the president. House committee members already have gotten an earful from other former Trump administration officials, notably from one-time Ukraine envoy William Taylor, who reportedly has said that Trump did withhold military assistance to Ukraine in exchange for a political favor.

Will the former national security adviser’s deposition support that assertion? Will he add more grist for the impeachment mill? John Bolton doesn’t strike me as a shrinking violet. He is a tough guy clothed in a business suit.

If I were a betting man, I would wager that those close to Donald Trump are seriously worried about what John Bolton is going to say about how the president has violated his oath of office.

Memories of JFK’s death came pouring forth

DALLAS — Exhibits such as the one my brother-in-law saw today have this way of triggering so many memories.

We ventured to the Sixth Floor Museum, the one overlooking Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, where the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was murdered in front of the world.

The exhibit has been improved greatly since first time my wife and I visited it in the mid-1980s. It contains many more pictorial displays, more text, a wonderful audio tour, film and, of course, the window where the gunman fired on the president and Texas Gov. John Connally.

I was struck by the amount of attention paid at this museum to the slew of conspiracy theories that have kicked around since the Warren Commission filed its report in 1964. The new president, Lyndon Johnson, appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren to lead the panel to examine every detail it could about the assassination.

It returned with what I believe is the soundest plausible explanation: Lee Harvey Oswald, the disgruntled Marxist, sat in the window on the sixth floor of the Book Depository Building and fired three rounds from a bolt-action rifle, killing the president and wounding the Texas governor.

I was not quite 14 years of age when the world got the news.

My own theory in the moment was cut and dried: The Russians killed the president and were going to attack and invade the United States at any moment. That was how a 13-year-old mind worked in real time way back then. I guess I forgot that we would have a new president within minutes of the 35th president’s declaration of death. That’s what happened aboard Air Force One, when U.S. District Judge Sarah Hughes swore in President Johnson, who then asked for strength and prayers from the nation he was about to lead through this horrific tragedy.

I never have paid attentin to the idiotic conspiracy theories. I don’t believe any of them. I have retained faith in the commission headed by the nation’s chief justice.

Still, I was impressed to realize that the museum organizers saw fit at least to give many of those conspiracies a sufficient airing to at least present the many “other sides” of this most intriguing tragedy.

I remain convinced today, though, that Lee Harvey Oswald pulled the trigger … and that he did it all by himself.

How on Earth does this POTUS do the right thing?

U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe’s decision to pull out of the director of national intelligence job puts Donald John Trump squarely in the middle of a quandary he seems to have no interest in solving.

Trump selected the toadie Ratcliffe — a Northeast Texas congressman — to succeed Dan Coats as DNI, only to face a storm of criticism over Ratcliffe’s partisan leanings and allegations that he embellished his resume. Trump blamed the media for doing their job in “vetting” this individual.

Ratcliffe is out. Coats will be gone Aug. 15. Who will fill the vital job as head of the nation’s intelligence network? How in the world does this president do the right thing and find someone who (a) is willing to work for Donald Trump and (b) would provide Trump with the critical analysis of the existential security threats to the nation.

More to the point, how does Trump resist the impulse to rely on those who tell him what he wants to hear and ignores what he needs to hear?

Coats and other intelligence chiefs said the same thing: Russia attacked our election in 2016. Trump has dismissed them. Indeed, just this week he said former special counsel Robert Mueller — who said yet again that the Russians posed a serious threat to our electoral system — didn’t know what he was talking about.

The heads of the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff all have said the same thing: The Russians attacked us.

Coats spoke “truth to power.” Ratcliffe spoke quite the opposite.

What in the world is Donald Trump going to do to fill this job? He needs critical thinking. He needs to hear the truth. He needs to be told where the threats exist and he needs to consider strategies to protect our system against further assaults from Russia and perhaps other hostile powers.

Who in the world is willing to provide what the president of the United States won’t accept?

OK, Mr. President, look for a legitimate DNI nominee

Donald J. Trump has yanked John Ratcliffe’s name from consideration as the next Director of National Intelligence.

Ratcliffe, the congressman from Northeast Texas who also happens to be a staunch — damn near rabid — Trump supporter, had no business being considered for the top job in our nation’s vast intelligence-gathering and analysis network.

Why? Because he demonstrated a palpable disregard for the work done by Robert Mueller, the former special counsel who has said categorically that Russians attacked our electoral system in  2016 and were poised to do it again in 2020.

Ratcliffe, moreover, reportedly embellished his resume, suggesting he had taken part in anti-terror operations while serving as U.S. attorney in East Texas when he did no such thing.

Trump, though, said the media would “slander and libel” him, and suggested that Ratcliffe remain in Congress.

Hey, here’s an idea for the president to consider. He ought to find someone with the gravitas of the outgoing DNI, former U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, who is leaving because he and Trump had disagreements over the very thing we’ve been discussing here: the Russian threat to our democratic process. Coats blames the Russians for behaving with evil intent; Trump sides with the Russians. Game over for DNI Coats.

Oh, wait! Just how does the president find a grownup such as Coats to take over the DNI job if he’s going to insist that the intelligence presented to him is phony, that it’s wrong and that the Russians aren’t doing what the spooks are telling him?

Ratcliffe wasn’t qualified for the DNI job, the alleged embellishment notwithstanding. The POTUS needs a DNI to tell him what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear.

As for the media that did their job, they performed a valuable public service in outing Ratcliffe as a Donald Trump toadie who wasn’t up to the job.

Trump can’t stomach being told the truth

Donald Trump’s decision to nominate John Ratcliffe as the country’s next Director of National Intelligence reveals a frightening, outrageous aspect of how the president wants to run our national security network … as if we didn’t see this already.

Ratcliffe is a congressman from Northeast Texas, representing a district once represented by the late, great Sam Rayburn. Ratcliffe would succeed Dan Coats as DNI and would be charged — according to the playbook — with providing the president unvarnished analysis of the threats to the nation’s security.

Ratcliffe is not wired that way. Coats has done it, as have many of the preceding DNIs who have held the office.

Trump wants a “loyalist,” someone who likely adheres to his own idiotic view that the Russian hack of our 2016 election is a “hoax” cooked up by the “fake news” and Democratic opponents.

Can there be anything more inherently frightening than to have a DNI who cannot or will not tell the president the truth? More to the point, can there be anything more dangerous to the nation to have a president who won’t hear the truth?

Rep. Ratcliffe showed his partisan stripes while questioning former special counsel Robert Mueller this past week. He challenged Mueller’s probe into the Russian electoral attack. As some commentators have noted, Ratcliffe appeared to be auditioning for the nomination once it became known that DNI Coats would be “stepping down.”

For the ever-lovin’ life of me I cannot grasp how this president continues to lie, deceive and flim-flam his way through the duties to which he has been charged. Even more astonishing is how he manages to cling to that 38 to 40 percent core of Americans who insist he is “telling it like it is” and speaks for them.

John Ratcliffe comes from that fervent base of Trump supporters. The nation does not need a Trump lackey in the post of DNI, which requires someone who is unafraid to tell the president the hard truth about the existential threats that put this country in danger.

If the president has a vast reservoir of talent waiting for the call to come to work in the White House — which he boasts of having — he can do a lot better than John Ratcliffe as head of the nation’s intelligence apparatus.

My fear, though, is that he doesn’t care about quality. It’s all about political loyalty.

Dangerous.

Gun violence now crosses a second issue of the day

When gun violence erupts in this country, Americans naturally get drawn into the ongoing debate over how to stem the scourge of such insane acts.

More gun control? More guns? Longer waiting periods? No waiting periods? 

Now, though, the issue has crossed another issue line of demarcation.

How would building a wall along our nation’s southern border stop home-grown terrorists from erupting?

A corn-fed young American man killed three people at a food festival in Gilroy, Calif.; one of the victims was a 6-year-old boy, another was a teenage girl. Twelve more were injured in the melee. The shooter — whom the police shot to death — was not from south of the border. He wasn’t a Mexican gang member, nor did he hail from Central America. The shooter was far from the kind of individual that Donald Trump once said is being “sent” into our country “by Mexico.”

This lunatic was one of ours. He was one of us. He was just like any one of the other home-grown idiots who decide to open fire with an “assault weapon.”

These political calculations are becoming too complex for many of us. Count me as one who is getting mighty confused over how to handle this latest tragedy.