Tag Archives: CIA

War on terror: a conflict with no end in sight

While the world digests the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at the hands of U.S. Delta Force and CIA commandos, it is grappling with what the Islamic State leader’s death means in the war against international terrorism.

I want to offer this perspective, which is that al-Baghdadi’s death won’t signal the end to the war against terrorists, let alone against the Islamic State.

It is my view at least that 9/11 signaled a new era in U.S. geopolitical activity that doesn’t appear to have an end anywhere in sight.

We’ve known for many decades that terrorists were out to “get” us. The 9/11 attack 18 years ago simply burst that awareness to the front of our minds. Al-Qaeda’s daring attack signaled to us all that we were perhaps more vulnerable than we ever thought.

So the war has commenced. I share the critics’ view that the war on terror has taken a bizarre turn at times, particularly with our invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the misery that the Iraq War brought, given that Iraq had no connection with al-Qaeda, nor did it possess weapons of mass destruction.

However, the war on terror is likely to continue until the world no longer contains terrorists willing to die for the perverted cause to which they adhere.

In other words, we’ll be fighting this war forever.

Whether we fight at the level we have been fighting remains to be seen over the span of time. If 9/11 taught us anything it should have taught us that we cannot let our guard down for a single moment.

Not ever.

National intelligence network takes another hit

The director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, is heading for the door Thursday. He served the nation with diligence and distinction. He spoke the truth about the threats to the nation.

The president of the United States, Donald Trump, didn’t listen to him. Coats will be gone very soon.

So, too, will his No. 2, the deputy director of national intelligence, Sue Gordon, a career CIA official. She’s a pro. Gordon also served for many years in the national intelligence network with supreme diligence.

Gordon is leaving office along with Coats.

What is wrong with this picture? Plenty. I now will explain briefly.

The DNI office now is without its top two intelligence officials. Coats is a politician, having served in the U.S. House and Senate before taking on the DNI job in the Trump administration. However, he stood behind the intelligence professionals who determined without equivocation that Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016 and are doing so yet again in advance of the 2020 presidential election.

Coats butted heads with Donald Trump. He “spoke truth to power.” The man with the power, Trump, isn’t hearing it.

As for Gordon, custom dictated that she would have stepped into the DNI spot as the acting director. She, though, took the advice of intelligence pros and submitted her resignation.

Trump now has Joseph Maguire as acting DNI. He comes from a counterintelligence agency. He could be a solid choice, but he lacks the overarching background that Sue Gordon would have brought to the office … had she chosen to stay on in the Trump administration.

Ladies and gents, we have a leadership vacuum at the top of our nation’s intelligence apparatus. As for the president, he continues to demonstrate utter cluelessness on how he intends to protect us from hostile powers that are threatening the integrity of our very system of government.

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?

DNI Dan Coats on his way out? That, too, is a shame

Donald Trump reportedly is preparing to rid his administration of yet another seasoned political professional, someone with experience, knowledge and credibility in the job he is doing on our behalf.

That would be Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, one of the remaining adults working within the Trump administration.

I understand the president hasn’t gotten over the way Coats reacted to the surprise announcement that Trump was going to meet with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in 2018. Coats was being interviewed by a network TV reporter when he got the news via Twitter that the president and Putin would meet.

“Isn’t that special?” Coats told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

Trump is seeking a DNI successor

Trump is supposedly conducting informal interviews with individuals who might succeed Coats as DNI, which I guess means that Trump has spilled the proverbial beans regarding Coats’ future.

I hate to see this happening. Dan Coats has done a credible and competent job as DNI, seeking to bring some semblance of order and discipline to the nation’s intelligence-gathering network. He has stood with other intelligence executives to declare, for instance, that the Russians indeed did attack our electoral system in 2016, a declaration that the president continues to dismiss.

The CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff all have said the same thing: The Russians did it! Trump’s response? He has sided with Putin, who told him he didn’t do it.

I don’t want Dan Coats to leave his post. He is a solid public servant with many years of service behind him. Donald Trump needs more — not fewer — men and women of Coats’ caliber around him.

Of course, none of that matters to the man with the self-described “big brain.”

POTUS said this in response to CIA agent death?

Donald Trump apparently, if I understand all of this correctly, defended North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un against reports that he had his half-brother killed because the half-bro was a CIA agent working for the United States of America.

Trump said this in response to a question about the reported murder of Kim’s kin. Read it perhaps you can make sense of it, as reported by The Atlantic:

“I see that, and I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un,” Trump said. “I think the relationship is very well, but I appreciated the letter. I saw the information about the CIA with regard to his brother or half brother, and I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices. I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un.”

Kim’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, reportedly was murdered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by agents who poisoned him in 2017 with nerve gas. This isn’t the first time Kim Jong Un has been associated with brutal murders of family members. In Trump’s world, though, it appears to be OK, given that the president is trying to build a relationship with the murderous dictator.

I’m just wondering what in the world Trump means that such an act “would not happen under my auspices. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices.”

But he got that “beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un.”

Is this man, our president, in possession of his faculties?

‘Happy anniversary,’ you monster … you

A hilarious Facebook meme came to my attention this evening.

It shows a mug shot of Osama bin Laden and notes that on May 2, 2011, he was snuffed out by a team of Navy SEALs, Delta Force and CIA commandos. It wished him a “happy anniversary . . . fu**er.” 

Wow. Eight years ago tonight, President Obama stood before the nation to tell us and the rest of the world that the “United States conducted a mission that killed Osama bin Laden.”

I remember that evening quite well.

My wife and I were watching TV when we got a news alert that the White House had announced that the president would make “an announcement” later in the evening. It didn’t specify the topic — quite obviously.

Hmm. What could it be? Why would Barack Obama come on in the evening to make some sort of an announcement.

Then it occurred to me. I blurted out to my wife, “I think they got bin Laden!”

Sure enough. There it was. The announcement came. Cheers broke out in front of the White House, and in Times Square and in town squares all across the nation. “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Yes, it was a moment that brought joy to households across the land. The man responsible for the worst singular act of violence on U.S. soil had been killed. He was as dead as dead gets. We cheered.

Sadly, though, bin Laden’s death did not signal the end of international terrorism. The fight has gone on past. It was being fought full throttle when Obama took over from George W. Bush. It was still being fought when Donald Trump took over from Barack Obama.

I don’t know when we can declare victory, or even if we’ll ever able to make such a declaration.

Our dedicated anti-terror network, though, did score a huge single victory when it sniffed out bin Laden, laid the groundwork for this most perilous mission and then waited as the skilled U.S. warriors carried out the order to kill this terrorist monster.

It’s worth noting here today. I only hope for many more such victories as the fight goes on.

Trump elevates Twitter as a communications platform

I want to hand out a compliment of sorts to Donald Trump.

Yes, I continue to oppose this man’s presence in the White House as president. However, I have to give him credit where it’s due. He has taken Twitter to a new phase of ubiquitous presence.

He used the social media platform to communicate his every thought seemingly in real time. Trump did it during the 2016 presidential campaign, then he promised to be “more presidential” and less Twitter dependent once he took office.

Hah! He hasn’t delivered on that promise. He’s become more Twitter oriented, not less.

But you see, here’s the deal: Damn near every other public official, elected leader, celebrity of any note, public figure has adopted the Trump Model of 21st-century communication. They’re all using Twitter as their medium of choice.

Trump tweets out an insult; the object of the barb responds with a tweet. The Twitter-verse is brimming with insults, responses to the insults, responses to the responses. They’re coming from all over the world.

Former CIA director John Brennan, a serious man who happens to be a fervent Trump critic, recently alluded to all of the president’s tweets about the late John McCain. He did so, yep, in a tweet.

Read the story here.

It’s an international — if not universal — phenomenon. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s amazing.

I use Twitter to distribute this blog, along with other social media platforms. I don’t have millions of followers like the president does, but I certainly understand and appreciate the value of Twitter as a communications device.

So it is with that I offer a hats-off salute to the president for elevating Twitter’s presence on the world stage.

If only Donald Trump would learn to be more circumspect and thoughtful as he uses it.

Fat chance of that ever happening.

Don’t believe what you see and hear!

Donald Trump thinks he governs a nation of rubes, boobs and goofs.

Why in the world would he tell the nation that the video it saw and the audio it heard of intelligence chiefs disputing the president’s assertions about national security threats were doctored, made up, taken out of context?

Their U.S. Senate committee testimony was “totally misquoted” he said by the media that are in the business of conveying “fake news.”

According to The Huffington Post: “Now the president contends that was not their testimony. “They said that they were totally misquoted . . . it was taken out of context. . . . They said it was fake news,” he said Thursday. He encouraged reporters to “call them.”

Huh? What the . . . ?

What in the world is this individual thinking, smoking or ingesting?

CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray and DNI Dan Coats all said the same thing: Donald Trump is wrong by saying ISIS is defeated, that North Korea is no longer a nuke threat and that Russia isn’t involved in attacking our electoral system.

I heard ’em say it, Mr. President. I heard ’em with my own ears and saw ’em with own eyes.

I believe our intelligence chiefs. Not you!

Intel chiefs providing ‘fake news’? Are you serious, Mr. POTUS?

Donald J. Trump’s penchant for prevarication has taken a stunning new turn. Yes, it’s stunning even for this president of the United States.

He now says that his intelligence brain trust — three individuals he appointed to their posts — are providing “fake news” while challenging his own (false) assertions about the U.S. effort at combating terrorism around the world.

Trump’s handpicked appointees — Gina Haspel at CIA, Christopher Wray at FBI and Dan Coats as director of national intelligence — all say that North Korea still poses a nuclear threat, that ISIS is not defeated, that Russia interfered in our 2016 election and is planning to do the same thing in 2020.

Trump now says they were quoted “out of context” and that the media twisted their comments.

Huh? What the . . . ? Is this clown for real?

Good, ever-lovin’ grief! I’ve heard their complete comments given this week during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. They weren’t taken out of context. There was nothing to dispute.

They have spoken, as the saying goes, “truth to power.” They are challenging Trump’s assertion that “ISIS is defeated,” that North Korea is “no longer a threat” and that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin has “denied” Russian interference in our election.

Simply astonishing!

New ‘grownups’ emerge in Trump administration

I was mistaken when I wondered whether former Defense Secretary James Mattis would be the “last” grownup who could serve in the Donald Trump administration.

Mattis quit as defense chief, citing Trump’s impulsiveness and the profound differences the president and the defense secretary had on their view of the world. He planned to stay until the end of February; but then Trump showed him out at the end of 2018, declaring that he “essentially” fired Mattis.

More of grownups have emerged. They are FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

These three counter terrorism experts have contradicted the president on the threats posed to the world by the Islamic State and the North Koreans.

And yet the president insulted all of them collectively. He insulted the agencies they run. The president hurled insults at the professional men and women who work day and night protecting us from forces that seek to do us harm.

Wray, Haspel and Coats need to stay put. They need to protect us not just against foreign forces and enemies of the state, but also against the ignoramus who masquerades as the president of the United States.

Trump has denigrated Wray, Haspel and Coats in their assessment of the threats posed to this country. The president said ISIS has been defeated. He said North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat. He is wrong on both counts. The three intelligence experts said so, but Trump responded by calling them “naïve” and said they need to be “educated.”

No, they do not. The president of the United States has demonstrated yet again that he is unfit to hold the office to which he was elected.