Tag Archives: CIA

‘You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard’

Of all the words written in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attack, which struck us 17 years ago, one essay stands out.

I want to share it here. It came from Leonard Pitts Jr., a columnist for the Miami Herald.

I was proud to publish it in real time on the pages of the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News, where I was working on that day in 2001.

I feel the need to show it to you once again. Pitts captured fully our sense of rage, fear, pain once it became known that terrorists had plunged the weapon deeply in our national heart.

Read the essay here.

The war against international terrorism continues. Yes, we were able to “bring justice” to the mastermind, Osama bin Laden, thanks to the bravery and immense skill and precision of the SEALs and the CIA commandos who carried out the dangerous mission in May 2011. More evil men have stepped up.

I hope you get as much from Pitts’s essay as I did then … and as I continue to do to this day.

‘Revoke my clearance, too’

William McRaven is an unabashed American patriot. He is a former Navy SEAL, former U.S. Special Operations Force commanding officer, a retired Navy admiral.

He also supervised the May 2011 Navy SEAL/CIA commando operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

He also is critical of the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

McRaven, who’s about to leave his current post as University of Texas System chancellor, has dared the president to revoke his security clearance. He said he wants the revocation so that he can stand in solidarity with former CIA Director John Brennan, who had his clearance yanked by the president.

Trump acted in a remarkable and breathtaking fit of pique at Brennan because the former top spook has been harshly critical of the president. Why, Trump just won’t have any of that.

As MSN.com reported: “[Brennan] is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him,” retired Navy Adm. William McRaven wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

“Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency,” he wrote.

I heard some chatter today that Trump supporters are actually questioning McRaven’s love of country because of his criticism of the president.

To think anyone would question this man’s patriotism simply boggles my mind. Or the minds of reasonable people anywhere.

Once again: What damage has Brennan done?

A few congressional Republicans have joined their Democratic colleagues in criticizing Donald Trump for revoking the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan.

The president’s reason? Brennan has acted “erratically” with his criticism of the administration.

I need to pose this question one more (and perhaps final) time: What has the ex-CIA boss said that has damaged national security?

The Hill has reported on the reaction. Read about it here.

Yes, he’s been harsh. And, yes, he has been vocal in his criticism of the president. Perhaps he should dial it back a bit, but he need not go silent just because Donald Trump dislikes the nature of his criticism.

The president’s reaction is, in the words of some Democratic members of Congress, the stuff of a “banana republic.”

Trump vs. Brennan: Gloves come off

I have no idea whether this Twitter exchange had anything to do with Donald Trump revoking former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance …

But I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some linkage.

The president has exhibited a shameful display of petulance and idiotic pique at a man whose expertise on vital national security matters he has just tossed into the crapper.

And I have to ask: Why in the world would the president do this?

Oh, I know. It’s because he is a thin-skinned narcissist with delusions of grandeur/godhood.

Brennan’s tweet speaks to the equally idiotic language he used to dismiss Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former White House aide who chief of staff John Kelly fired.

Don’t misunderstand me here. I do not trust Newman, either. However, the presidency used to demand that its occupant demonstrate some level of dignity, decorum and “probity,” a term that Brennan used.

Whatever her beef with the president — or his with her — she didn’t deserve to be talked about in that tone by the head of state of the world’s greatest nation.

And this circles back — every single time — to the issue of whether Donald Trump is morally or intellectually fit to hold the office to which he was elected.

He is unfit at every level imaginable.

Brennan has been denied a security clearance. That, by itself, is a shame. The good news is that Trump’s petulance won’t silence this erudite critic.

Trump revives concept of ‘enemies list’

The sometimes-sinister spirit of Richard M. Nixon apparently has returned from the dead to whisper in the ear of Donald J. Trump.

The current president mirrored the former president’s enemies list by revoking the top security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. In a remarkable fit of petulance, pique and piggishness, the president did this to punish Brennan for what he called “erratic behavior.”

Did the former CIA boss reveal any national security secrets? Did he blab classified information to enemy states? Did he in any way compromise our ability to defend ourselves against foreign foes?

No to all of the above.

Brennan’s “sin” is to criticize the president.

What is wrong with that? Oh, nothing at all. It’s protected speech, according to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But you see, Donald Trump just won’t have any of that. He just cannot stomach the idea of a former CIA director, a man with immense national security chops — who could be of invaluable assistance to the president’s national security team — speaking negatively about administration policy.

The New York Times reported: In a tweet this week, Mr. Brennan criticized Mr. Trump for the language that the president used to attack Omarosa Manigault Newman, his former top aide, who he called a “dog.”

Mr. Brennan wrote, “It’s astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity. Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, & honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our Nation.”

Years ago, President Nixon developed an enemies list comprising members of the Democratic Party, radical left-wing protest groups, certain members of the media and, frankly, damn near any prominent American who spoke ill of him in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Nearly five decades later, his most recent presidential descendant has resurrected that notion by revoking the security clearance of a dedicated public servant and a man with tremendous knowledge of all things relating to protecting this great nation.

Shameful.

Just how can they tolerate being undermined?

This is as baffling and confusing a circumstance as any I can find within the Donald Trump administration.

Several key intelligence and national security officials — including at least two Cabinet-level authorities — declare for all the world to hear that the Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016; they all say the same thing, that the Russians acted alone and that they are in the process of doing the same thing to our 2018 midterm election. They enter the White House press room, listen to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders say a few words, then they all speak in unison.

Then the president of the United States, Donald John Trump, flies to a campaign rally and declares the Russian attack a “hoax.” He blames Democrats and the so-called “fake and disgusting news” for fomenting the notion that the Russians interfered in our election, that they sought to manipulate the outcome.

The baffling and confusing part?

How do these individuals charged with administering our intelligence and national security agencies tolerate being undermine, undercut and undone by the commander in chief?

How in the name of their sacred oaths do they stay on their jobs while the president continues to disparage and disrespect them? He undermines their work, insults their intelligence and does damage to our national security.

Surely they cannot all be without principles. Surely they must understand what Donald Trump is doing to their credibility and that his insistence that the Russia attack is a “hoax” gives aid and comfort to a hostile foreign power.

I won’t call it “treason,” at least not yet … but damn!

It is inching very close to it.

Now it’s a hoax, Mr. President?

Which is it today, Mr. President?

You said just the other day that the Russian attack on our electoral system in 2016 occurred. You accepted finally the U.S. intelligence agencies’ view that the Russians did it.

Then you send a message out today that calls it a “hoax”?

Let’s look back for a moment.

All of our nation’s intelligence bosses — FBI, CIA, director of national intelligence, National Security Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff — have been singing off the same hymnal page. The Russians did it! They acted alone!

You have denigrated their work. You have stood next to the Russian president and accepted his lying, prevaricating denial.

Then you backed off of that and said you now believe the U.S. spooks.

Now you call it a hoax.

Man, oh man. I am getting confused, Mr. President. You’re making my ears bleed. My head is spinning. I need smelling salts. I’m getting a case of rhetorical vertigo.

You won’t listen to me. I mean, you don’t listen to DNI Director Dan Coats, or CIA Director Gina Haspel, or anyone for that matter on anything!

I’ll offer this bit of unsolicited advice: Why don’t you just keep your unpresidential trap shut, let the special counsel, Robert Mueller, finish his job and then let the chips fall where they will fall?

Putin surely ordered the ’16 election attack

Donald J. Trump has been fielding some direct questions to which he is offering some strangely oblique answers.

CBS News anchor Jeff Glor asked the president whether he thinks Vladimir Putin is “responsible” for the 2016 attack on the U.S. electoral system by Russian goons.

Trump’s answer has me scratching my noggin. Sure he’s responsible, Trump said, because “he’s the leader of his country” just as Trump is the leader of this country.

Huh? That’s it?

Actually, the consensus among the nation’s intelligence community has been pretty forthright: Vladimir Putin ordered the attack; he called the shots.

The CIA, FBI, National Security Agency … all of ’em … say the same thing. Putin was up to his armpits in this undeclared war against the U.S. electoral process.

So, for the president to pass it off solely as a function of Putin’s standing as the “leader of his country” once again demonstrates what many of us already have feared. Putin has cast some sort of spell over the Trump.

Or, he’s got some goods on the president. Allegedly. Maybe. Possibly.

I’m getting antsy. I hope the special counsel, Robert Mueller, finishes his investigation sooner rather than later.

Nice try, Mr. President … but there was no one else

Let’s try to speak with some clarity on this Russian meddling matter and whether the president of the United States actually believes the U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment of the situation.

Donald Trump said Monday he had no reason to believe the Russians would have attacked our 2016 election system.

Then today he said he had no reason to believe the Russians would not have done it.

Oh, but then he said that maybe “others” did it, too, all while expressing full faith and confidence in the CIA, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies’ belief in their conclusions about Russian meddling.

As The Hill reported: “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said, reading from a prepared statement in front of reporters at the White House.

But he added: “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”

Read my lips, Mr. President: Our spooks say the Russians did it! They did it by themselves. They had no help. There was no “400-pound guy lying on his bed.” The 29-page indictment handed down identifies 12 Russian military officers as the culprits … allegedly.

I have to ask, Mr. President: Do you support our intelligence network fully, or not?

And many of us are still waiting for a full-throated condemnation of Vladimir Putin and his Russian hierarchy for launching their attack on our political system, which the president took an oath to defend.

Resignations should be forthcoming … but will they?

Jon Huntsman should resign immediately as U.S. ambassador to Russia.

John Kelly, the retired Marine Corps general, should hasten his departure and quit as White House chief of staff.

Dan Coats, the former Republican senator, should quit as director of national intelligence.

John Bolton, newly installed as national security adviser, needs to quit, too.

These individuals all have been tossed under the proverbial bus by the president of the United States. Donald J. Trump managed during that jaw-dropping press conference with Vladimir Putin to castigate the U.S. intelligence agencies that have determined Russia attacked our system of government.

Trump has undermined U.S. diplomacy. He has denigrated our intelligence-gathering process. He has weakened the nation he pledged to defend and to strengthen. He has demonstrated a level of ignorance, arrogance and acquiescence that none of us thought would be possible in the president of the United States.

It is enough for Vladimir Putin, the former KGB boss — the top spook in the Evil Empire — to deny doing what the intelligence agencies said he did. Yep, Donald Trump takes Putin at his word, which is about as credible as anything that flies out of the president’s mouth.

I am not holding my breath for any resignations to be forthcoming.

Maybe, though, there might be some spine-stiffening taking place at this very moment.