Tag Archives: CIA

Meghan McCain won’t ‘forgive’ POTUS … good!

Meghan McCain clearly loves her father with all her heart.

Thus, she is taking a deserved hard line against the man who has disparaged, disrespected and disregarded her war-hero dad.

U.S. Sen. John McCain is battling brain cancer. He has faced down the toughest foes imaginable, given his more than five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

So, when Donald John Trump insults Sen. McCain — and doesn’t ever rebuke a White House staffer who did so as well — one can expect the senator’s daughter to take it personally.

Meghan McCain has become a celebrity in her own right, as a co-host of “The View.” She said this recently about the president, according to Time.com: “[Trump’s] comments are never going to be OK with me, especially at this moment in my life. I’m never going to forgive it,” the co-host of ABC’s The View said on stage. “I’m never going to move on from it.”

Why should she?

Trump once disparaged McCain’s Vietnam War service by saying he is a hero “only because he was captured.” Then he has continued to harp on the senator’s thumbs-down gesture that doomed Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

And then we had the gem fly out of the mouth of former White House aide Kelly Sadler after McCain urged his Senate colleagues to reject Gina Haspel as the CIA director, given her role in torturing enemy combatants. “It doesn’t matter” what McCain said, Sadler muttered. “He’s dying anyway.”

Has the president called Sadler out? No. He got angry because her comments were leaked.

Meghan McCain said this, too: “If anyone wants to say anything to me in any way, they have to do it publicly,” she said. “I don’t take private phone calls from the Trump Administration anymore.

As for Sadler’s crack, Meghan McCain said this: “Kelly … it is not how you die. It is how you live.”

John McCain has lived a life of public service that is totally foreign to the president of the United States. I, too, admire Sen. McCain’s sacrifice in defense of our nation.

As for his daughter’s declaration that she cannot “forgive” the way the president has treated her father, I am in her corner.

Another Trump allegation proving false?

I am not a betting man, but if I were I might be willing to wager some real American money that Donald John Trump’s allegation of spying within his 2016 presidential campaign is going to go the way of earlier allegations that flew out of his guy’s mouth.

You know … that Barack Obama wiretapped his office; that millions of undocumented immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton; that thousands of Muslims cheered the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11; that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father might have been complicit in President Kennedy’s murder; that Obama was born in Africa and not in Hawaii and, thus, was ineligible to run for president in 2008.

It’s all crap. Now the latest.

He accuses the FBI of planting a “spy” in his campaign. He says the deed was done for “political purposes.” He has produced as much actual evidence of this latest assertion as he did for all the others.

None. Zilch.

Even some congressional Republicans are backing the FBI in the face of these allegations from Trump.

The president is reaching deep into his bag of tricks to discredit the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, who the Justice Department appointed in 2017 to look into the “Russia thing,” meaning whether Trump might have worked with Russians who meddled in our election.

The FBI has become one of Trump’s preferred bogeymen. He fired the former FBI director, James Comey, because of the Russia investigation. He is calling Comey a liar; he is disparaging the reputation of former CIA boss John Brennan, former director of national intelligence James Clapper and, yes, also Robert Mueller.

Where, though, is the evidence to back up the allegation of “spying” within his campaign? No one has seen it.

If I were inclined to place a bet on this one, my hunch is that there is no evidence to be found. Why? Because it didn’t happen.

Which brings me to the question: How in the name of political sanity does this guy, the president, get away with lying at this level?

It’s the intent that matters

James Clapper is the expert on national security and matters relating to deep-cover operations.

I am not.

Still, I want to take issue with an assertion that the former director of national intelligence has said about the Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential election. Clapper has said the Russians actually tilted the election in Donald John Trump’s favor; he said their attack on our electoral process was decisive that Trump essentially is an illegitimate president.

I have trouble buying into that assumption.

Clapper says the Russians targeted three states that Trump won over Hillary Clinton: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Trump won those states by a grand total of 77,000 votes; their electoral vote count put him over the top and, thus, he was elected president.

My own view — albeit from afar — is that Clinton’s last-minute strategy backfired. She didn’t visit Wisconsin after being nominated by the Democrats. She paid only cursory attention to Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Having said that, I want to make an assertion of my own, which is that the Russians’ intention to swing the election toward Trump is grievous enough on its own.

Clapper is far from alone in his belief that the Russians actually meddled, that they attacked our electoral system. Every national security chieftain on board now or who was aboard during the 2016 election have said the same thing. Even the president’s own team has acknowledged as much; and I include the current secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who was CIA director when he told a congressional committee that he had no doubt the Russians meddled.

Trump’s response has been shameful in its negligence. He continues to spread the blame around to others who “might” have interfered. He fails to acknowledge publicly that Russian strongman/president Vladimir Putin was involved, which is another assertion that the intelligence committee has made.

James Clapper, a retired Air Force general, is an intelligence professional. He brings strong credibility to any argument about the integrity of the 2016 election. I am just unwilling to buy totally into the idea that Russian meddling actually turned the tide in Trump’s favor.

What matters as much — if not more — is that they intended to sow discord and mistrust in our electoral process.

The Russians have succeeded.

If only the president would acknowledge it, too.

C’mon, Ms. Sadler, just say you’re sorry

Kelly Sadler works in a White House where the Big Man — the president — never apologizes for anything.

She need not follow Donald John Trump’s lead. All she has to do to make an idiotic story dissipate is to apologize publicly to the man she disparaged so cruelly.

The man is Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain. He is fighting a grievous illness, brain cancer. Sadler, a mid-level White House communications office staffer, was attending a private meeting when she blurted out an insult directed toward Sen. McCain.

McCain had spoken against CIA director nominee Gina Haspel. He doesn’t like her stance on torturing enemy combatants. He has urged his Senate colleagues to reject her nomination to lead the CIA.

Sadler said McCain’s objection “doesn’t matter because he’s dying anyway.”

The story won’t go away. It should go away. All the staffer has to do is to stand before the nation and say she is sorry for her disparaging remarks aimed at a genuine war hero. You see, Sen. McCain’s opposition to torture comes the hard way: He experienced more than five years of it while being held captive during the Vietnam War.

Sadler’s demeaning remark has no place coming out of the mouth of a White House official who, I hasten to add, works for the public. That’s you and me, dear reader.

The president is entitled to withhold any apology if he chooses. My hope is that he hasn’t instructed Kelly Sadler to follow him down the path of arrogance.

My fear, though, is that he has done precisely that very thing.

Shameful.

‘A little bit of a victim’? Give it up, man!

Matt Schlapp needs to be slapped bald-headed.

The conservative activist has taken up some form of defense for the White House communications aide who said that Sen. John McCain’s criticism of CIA nominee Gina Haspel “doesn’t matter, because he’s dying anyway.”

The aide’s name is Kelly Sadler. Schlapp has defended her saying she’s a “little bit of a victim.”

No she’s not! She’s a thoughtless mid-level clown who popped off in private with what has been described as a “bad joke.”

McCain doesn’t like Haspel’s view of torturing enemy combatants. He urged the Senate reject her confirmation. Yes, he’s battling a life-threatening disease. However, he is of sound mind and is entitled to speak his mind about an important policy matter. And there is no one in the U.S. Senate who is more qualified to speak about torture than McCain, a former Vietnam War prisoner who endured years of torture at the hands of his captors.

Sadler popped off thoughtlessly.

Schlapp said this, according to The Hill: “Kelly is my friend. I feel bad she is going through this. She immediately called to apologize. She’s also a little bit of a victim here,” Schlapp told CNN “New Day” co-anchor Chris Cuomo.

The story has gotten national attention. It has serious legs and is threatening to keep on running until Sadler owns up publicly to her idiotic comment.

Spare us the indignation, too, over the leaking of the comment to the media. Big deal. All of those in the room are answerable to the public in the first place and millions of us out here way beyond the Beltway are damn angry that a White House functionary would be so cruel — even in “private.”

Senate should confirm Gina Haspel as CIA boss

Gina Haspel has spent her career as an undercover agent for the Central Intelligence Agency. She’s no politician or bureaucrat or think-tank wonk.

She’s a career spook. Haspel also should become the next head of the CIA, despite the criticism she has gotten from some quarters about her role in torturing enemy combatants since the onset of the war against terrorism.

I am troubled as well by her declining to declare torture to be immoral. U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called that refusal a “disqualifier.” I happen to disagree with the brave senator/war hero who knows a lot about torture.

Haspel did tell the Senate committee conducting her confirmation hearing that she wouldn’t “restart such a detention and interrogation program” on her watch. That program includes waterboarding and other forms of “intensive interrogation techniques.”

I am willing to take Haspel at her word, even though the president of the United States said more than once while campaigning for the office that waterboarding “doesn’t go far enough.”

Donald Trump has sought to place the CIA  in the hands of a career intelligence officer. She knows her business. I have to maintain faith that she is alert to the fact that the nation — and the world — are watching her every move as she takes command of the nation’s top spy agency.

So, I will maintain that faith as Gina Haspel takes command of an agency that plays arguably the most vital role in our ongoing worldwide fight against those who seek to do us harm.

That is some defense of a ‘bad joke’

I guess you can stop referring to a White House aide’s tasteless and crass remark about a stricken war hero and U.S. senator as a “reported” or “alleged” utterance.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has confirmed that Kelly Sadler made the hideous statement about Sen. John McCain in a “private meeting” at the White House.

What did Sadler say? Well, Sen. McCain came out against CIA nominee Gina Haspel because of her role in torturing enemy combatants. McCain knows about torture, as he was subjected to years of it at then hands of his captors during the Vietnam War.

Sadler said McCain’s opposition to Haspel “doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.” Man, that’s a knee-slapper, ain’t it? No. It isn’t.

McCain is battling an aggressive form of brain cancer. He is fighting for his life. For a minor-leaguer such as Sadler to say such a thing — even in telling a bad joke — is hideous in the extreme. These kinds of statements do have a way of slipping through the cracks and into the public domain.

Budget director Mulvaney is trying to excuse his colleague? Nice try, Mick. It won’t work.

What’s just as bad, though, is that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, has been silent on this matter.

Sickening.

The Hill reported: “You have to have freedom to speak in a private meeting. We have all said things in private … that we would never say publicly. I think she handled it appropriately,” Mulvaney said.

No, sir. She works for the public. As do you … and the president. Public figures should be smarter and more sensitive than what Kelly Sadler has demonstrated.

She said that about a war hero?

Here is another of the “best people” Donald J. Trump said he would hire to work with him in the White House.

Her name is Kelly Sadler, a special assistant in the White House communications office. Sadler reportedly said the following in a closed-door meeting about criticism leveled against CIA director nominee Gina Haspel by U.S. Sen. John McCain:

“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.”

Words escape me. I’ll try: disgraceful, detestable, reprehensible.

I cannot even begin to fathom how someone at any level could think — let alone say … allegedly — something so crass.

McCain criticized Haspel because she wouldn’t during her Senate confirmation hearing condemn torture as an “immoral” act. McCain, you see, knows torture when he sees it. He experienced it as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.

Sen. McCain also is fighting a dangerous, life-threatening disease. The nation is hoping for his recovery.

Kelly Sadler’s comments — allegedly — are disgraceful in the extreme. Ah, but she’s one of the “best people.”

Sen. McCain weighs in on CIA nominee: vote ‘no’

U.S. Sen. John McCain is a bystander in the drama unfolding in Washington regarding Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Arizona Republican, though, is no ordinary cheap-seat chump. He is battling brain cancer and likely won’t get to vote on Gina Haspel’s nomination to lead the CIA. He also knows more than your average American politician about torture.

Haspel declined this week to answer a question from Sen. Kamala Harris, who demanded a yes-or-no response: Do you believe torture is immoral. Haspel didn’t provide the answer that Harris wanted. Haspel took part in “enhanced interrogation” of enemy combatants while working as a deep-cover agent for the CIA.

McCain said Haspel’s non-response to Harris’s question is a deal-breaker and he has urged his Senate colleagues to vote “no” on her nomination.

I won’t join the senator in calling for the Senate to reject Haspel’s nomination. But I do understand his belief that torture is not in keeping with who we are as a nation. He knows of which he speaks.

McCain was a Navy aviator when he was shot down in 1967 over Hanoi, North Vietnam. He parachuted during the Vietnam War into a lake and was taken captive. He spent the next five-plus years as a prisoner of war. He was tortured, held in solitary confinement for years on end. He has never recovered fully from the injuries he suffered when he was shot down or from the injuries inflicted by his captors.

So, when Sen. McCain says torture is wrong, I listen carefully to what he says. I happen to agree with him and I disagree vehemently with what Donald J. Trump said while campaigning for the presidency, which is that waterboarding doesn’t go far enough in trying to extract actionable intelligence from our enemies.

I’m still pondering my own thoughts about Haspel’s nomination. I like the fact that she’s a career spook who knows the ins and outs of the agency she has been asked to lead. I am troubled by her inability or unwillingness to declare her view on the morality or immorality of torture as an interrogation technique.

If there is a moral authority on torture among today’s crop of U.S. politicians, it would be Sen. John McCain.

Pompeo to become diplomat with thin backing

Mike Pompeo is likely to be confirmed as the nation’s next secretary of state, but he’ll take strange route on his way to leading the nation’s diplomatic corps.

Pompeo is the CIA director whom Donald Trump selected to succeed Rex Tillerson at the State Department. He has run into trouble on his way to confirmation: Pompeo won’t have the blessing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which conducted confirmation hearings on Pompeo’s nomination.

A Republican committee member, Rand Paul of Kentucky, is going to vote against Pompeo’s nomination. That will result more than likely in a vote of no confidence from the panel.

That won’t derail his confirmation. The full Senate will get to vote on it, but Pompeo will gain the support of Senate Democrats who might be in trouble in states that Trump carried in the 2016 presidential election. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe  Manchin of West Virginia come to mind; let’s toss in Bill Nelson of Florida while we’re at it. They’re all running for re-election, which seems to give Pompeo a leg up in this strange journey toward confirmation.

Actually, I hope Pompeo does get confirmed. The State Department needs a steady hand and I think Pompeo can provide it … if only the president will allow him to lead the agency.

Tillerson had to fight the occasional battle against being undercut by the president. Tillerson would make a pronouncement and then Trump would countermand him. I don’t want that to happen with the new secretary of state, who’s got a big job awaiting him immediately — which happens to be the preparation for the planned summit between Donald Trump and North Korean despot Kim Jong Un.

What’s more, as head of the CIA, Pompeo has joined other U.S. intelligence officials in confirming the obvious: that the Russians meddled in our 2016 election.

This man needs to be our secretary of state.