Tag Archives: CIA

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.

Trump tosses needless insults at intelligence brass

Try for a moment to wrap your arms around this bit of idiocy.

Donald J. Trump, the guy admits to not wanting to read policy briefings, has declared that the nation’s top-level intelligence command is “naïve.”

He wrote this on Twitter:

The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong! When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but….

….a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!

These individuals, all seasoned political figures and national intelligence experts, have contradicted the president’s assertions about Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State.

CIA Director Gina Haspel, a career spook who has spent her entire career with the spy agency, says Iran is complying with previous restrictions enacted designed to keep the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons. Trump calls Iran an existential threat to the Middle East.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a veteran U.S. senator from Indiana with serious foreign policy chops, said the Islamic State poses a dramatic threat to the civilized world. Trump says the United States and our allies have “defeated” ISIS in Syria.

FBI Director Christopher Wray, who’s forged a career in law enforcement and counter-terrorism, joined his colleagues in suggesting that North Korea is still looking to develop nuclear weapons. Trump has said that North Korea is no longer a threat.

Who do you believe? The seasoned, experienced and serious intelligence professionals? Or do you believe a political novice with zero experience in anything even remotely connected with intelligence, counter-intelligence or counter-terrorism? The serious public servants or the man who spent his entire public life devoted to self-promotion, self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment?

I am going to go with the intelligence and law enforcement pros.

Now I must ask: How much of this denigration of their skill, knowledge and experience are they going to take from the carnival barker who managed to get elected president of the United States?

Trump vs. Intelligence Brass

Let’s just ponder for a moment a remarkable U.S. Senate committee hearing.

Donald Trump says the Islamic State has been defeated; he says North Korea no longer presents a nuclear weapons threat; he stands by his decision to pull the United States out of a deal that bans Iran from obtaining nukes.

Then we heard this from our nation’s intelligence leadership, CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats:

  • ISIS has thousands of fighters and is planning guerrilla attacks against innocent victims and nations it considers to be enemies.
  • North Korea is working toward developing nuclear weapons and that those weapons are likely to pose a direct threat to the United States of America.
  • Iran is continuing to comply with the agreement that seeks to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.

I am left to ask: What in the name of national security is the president of the United States thinking?

Oh, I know the answer. He isn’t thinking.

Intelligence chiefs do it again: they’re contradicting Trump

Those pesky intelligence professionals are at it once more.

Donald Trump says “ISIS is defeated.” The intelligence community says “not so fast.” The Islamic State is still planning terror attacks. They’re still recruiting members. Their ranks still number in the thousands.

Yet the president would have us believe that ISIS in Syria has been dealt a mortal blow. They’re gone. Destroyed. Wiped out.

ISIS isn’t defeated

CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told members of Congress today that they are not willing to buy into the commander in chief’s seat-of-the-pants “assessment” that ISIS is done for as a national security threat.

Who do we believe? I’ll stick with the intelligence pros any day of the week. Trump, as I’ve noted before on this blog, doesn’t know what he’s doing, what he’s talking, nor does he know to whom he is talking. He thinks the nation comprises hundreds of millions of rubes who buy into every single lie that flies out of his mouth.

Haspel and Coats did say today that ISIS has been “weakened” by sustained U.S. and allied attacks. For that I am grateful. The organization isn’t defeated, they said. ISIS is still capable of inflicting serious damage, causing significant misery. ISIS keeps taking responsibility for terror attacks against Muslims, which of course belies the notion that our war against terror is in fact a war against Islam; as Presidents Bush and Obama have declared, it is no such thing, that the terrorists aren’t “religious leaders,” but merely are religious perverts.

I am now wondering how the president is going to react to this contradictory testimony. Might there be more firings in store?

Donald Trump: classic RINO

I know a lot of Republicans. They are friends of mine. By that I mean they’re actual friends, people with whom I’ve shared many ups and downs, highs and lows.

I haven’t yet had the nerve to ask any of them in person a question that has been bugging me ever since Donald Trump rode down the escalator in the summer of 2015 to run for president of the United States — as a Republican.

Why do they continue to support a guy who is a classic Republican In Name Only? Trump is the living embodiment of the term RINO.

He had no serious ties to the Republican Party before he declared his presidential candidacy. Those who fancy themselves as pure-bred Republicans, descendants of the Party of Lincoln, surely were aghast when he launched his campaign by invoking xenophobic rhetoric against Muslims and Latino immigrants.

Trump’s international trade policy is about as anti-Republican as any I can think of. He is a protectionist in the mold of labor-union bosses who tilt heavily toward the Democratic Party. Most GOP politicians I’ve encountered favor free trade, detest tariffs and do whatever they can avoid international trade wars; they damn sure avoid those wars when it involves our allies and strong trading partners.

Republicans used to detest federal budget deficits, let alone deficits that spiral out of control. That’s what the current GOP president is delivering with his tax cuts coupled with spending increases.

GOP politicians used to stand foursquare behind our intelligence community and law enforcement officials. Not this POTUS. He undermines and undercuts the CIA, the DNI and other spooks who say in unison that Russia interfered with our 2016 election. He blasts the FBI and the Justice Department, two agencies that usually are the darlings of GOP officials.

Donald Trump alienates our allies. He eschews virtually every normal diplomatic channel to communicate with them. Republicans normally would chafe against all of that, too.

But they don’t. They let Trump trample all over them.

Too few of them call out the president for what he is: a RINO. Yet they blast others of their own party to have the stones to criticize the president for being unfaithful to the political banner under which Donald Trump was elected as president.

Weird.

Danger still lurks in Syria, Mr. POTUS

Donald Trump, the self-described “stable genius,” has given us yet another demonstration of why he is so damn dangerous as commander in chief of history’s greatest military machine.

With all the combat-experienced officers surrounding him, he either (a) ignored their advice or (b) never consulted with them prior to announcing a decision to pull all 2,000 or so troops out of Syria.

Trump declared that the Islamic State in Syria “has been defeated.” Really? Has it? Do we believe this president’s simple declaration? Do we take anything he says about such matters as a statement of irrefutable fact? I certainly do not!

The Pentagon got a major surprise Wednesday when the president tweeted a decision to pull the troops out. So did the State Department. Same with the CIA and the director of national intelligence.

No one saw it coming, according to reports.

One theory being kicked around is that Turkey’s president talked the president into pulling out of Syria. What do you suppose might have prompted that request? It might be that the Turks wanted our forces out of the way so they can deal more aggressively with Kurdish forces along the Turkey-Syria border; the Turks, you see, hate the Kurds and want to eliminate the threat posed by the Kurds — who have been fighting against the Syrian government — to the Turkish government.

Let’s not forget another party that is happy with this decision: That would be Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Enough said about that one, yes?

To be clear, Trump acted within his presidential authority. He is the commander in chief. He possesses broad executive authority to do what he did.

It’s the so-called “wisdom” of the decision that has riled so many observers in Congress, most notably many of the president’s supposed “allies” within the Republican caucus in both congressional chambers. Congressional Democrats, of course, are shaking their heads in astonishment.

They, too, were surprised. The president didn’t consult with them, either.

Many of the president’s more ardent critics point out another curious dichotomy. It is that a New York attorney general has ordered the shuttering of the Trump Foundation because of what is alleged to be misuse of charitable donations, but still . . . the creator of that foundation maintains control of the nation’s nuclear launch codes.

Is this how you make America great again?

I think not.

They have become the face of persecuted journalists

Talk about an inspired choice.

Time magazine has unveiled its “Persons of the Year.” The lead “person of the year” is none other than Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the U.S. resident who was tortured and killed by his countrymen in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Because he gave his life reporting on and commenting on the issue of free political expression, Khashoggi has joined a group of other journalists to earn the honor bestowed by Time on those who had the most impact on the world — for better or worse.

Khashoggi, who’s been in the news quite a bit of late, has become the face and the voice of persecuted journalists around the world.

They are “The Guardians” saluted by Time. Oh, there are others worth recognizing, too.

Such as the five employees of The Capital in Annapolis, Md., who were gunned down by a madman. Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters also are the faces of persecuted journalists. The editor of the Capital made it clear that “We’re going to publish a newspaper” the next day. So they did. They carried on in memory of their slain colleagues.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quyhn, a Vietnamese blogger, has been calling out her government’s repression of human rights. She goes by the pen name of Mother Mushroom. She was taken captive and sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, this brave woman of letters was released. She, too, is the face and the voice of persecuted journalists.

Time magazine has held up the cudgel for journalists who seek to report on the affairs of the world, their communities and to tell the truth. They aren’t enemies of any people, although it is clear that Jamal Khashoggi was the enemy of the autocratic government that had him tortured and murdered. The CIA has put the finger on Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, who denies it. Donald Trump has sided with the prince and has disrespected the work of the CIA.

I am going to stand with Time magazine and with the men and women who have fought for — and died for — the cause of reporting the truth to their audience.