Tag Archives: DNI

Mr. POTUS … the spooks say the Russians are still at it

There he goes … again!

Donald John Trump has shoved a proverbial dagger into the back of the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.

The DNI has declared that “red lights should be blinking” as the Russians prepare to interfere in our midterm election later this year. What does the president say this morning in advance of a Cabinet meeting?

He said Russia “is not targeting” the United States. The Russians aren’t attacking our national political process, he said.

So, the president’s chief spook — a one-time Republican U.S. senator from Indiana — says one thing. The president says another.

Who do you believe? I’ll stick with DNI Coats.

Good grief, dude!

The president said in Helsinki that he doubted the intelligence networks’ findings that Russia had attacked our system in 2016. Then he sought — more than 24 hours later! — to take it back. He said dropped a word — the contracted version of “not” — in explaining that he meant to say the Russians meddled in our election.

He has made a mess of this explanation, his backing away from his earlier remarks and his belief in the pros who seek to keep Americans safe from our foreign adversaries.

Now this. The DNI says the Russians are coming after us again. Trump says they aren’t.

How much more of this Oval Office idiocy can Dan Coats take?

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.

It’s the Russians, Mr. POTUS, who pose the threat

Donald J. Trump has called previous intelligence chiefs all sorts of bad names: liar, loser … you name it.

Dan Coats, though, is the current director of national intelligence. He once was a U.S. senator from Indiana. He’s a Republican. He’s a solid public servant. He said in a tweet that the “Russians are actively seeking to divide our Alliance, and we must not allow that to happen.”

He is a Trump appointee.

What has been the president’s response to his DNI’s assessment? Nothing. He’s not paying attention. He is instead denigrating our allies in Canada, Mexico, Germany, the UK, the European Union, Japan because — according to Trump — their trade policies pose a “national security threat” to the United States of America.

C’mon, Mr. President. DNI Coats has it right. You, sir, have it wrong!

The Russians want to break up the EU. They still fear the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, set up after World War II as a hedge against expansion from the Soviet Union and its bloc of Eastern European nations.

Coats has joined other intelligence officials in declaring that without a shred of doubt the Russians meddled in our 2016 presidential election. They all have declared, in one figure of speech or another, that the interference constituted a “direct attack” on our government and our electoral process.

Trump’s response? He keeps giving the Russians a pass all the while talking harshly about our trading partners and our military allies.

‘Speaking truth to power’

When historians start chronicling the events surrounding Donald J. Trump’s time as president of the United States, they will face an enormous challenge in trying to find an answer to this question: How in the world did this man manage to get elected to the nation’s highest office?

An article about a former director national intelligence reminds me of what has perplexed, angered and outraged millions of Americans since the November 2016 presidential election.

James Clapper has written a memoir that tells of how his post public service life took a dramatic turn when Trump won that election. Clapper wanted to retire quietly and “clean out my basement.” He has remained in the public eye while becoming a ferocious critic of the president.

He considers Trump a threat to national security. The president has embraced Russia, the nation that — in Clapper’s view — meddled in our electoral process and well might have produced a Trump victory. As Clapper told Wired: As Clapper writes, in explaining his decision to write a memoir, Trump’s embrace of Russia “made me fear for our nation.”

Trump doesn’t speak the truth. He cannot tell the truth. His aim is to twist facts to enrich his own standing. He thinks first of himself and then, if he thinks at all about the nation, he gives a cursory nod to the well-being of others. That’s according to Clapper.

Is the former DNI perfect? Has he always been totally truthful himself? He acknowledges misspeaking during a Senate hearing in 2013. Wired reports: He duly addresses his much-criticized and picked-over comment in a 2013 hearing where he appeared to mislead Senator Ron Wyden about whether the NSA gathered call details on American citizens. He later said that he misunderstood which program Wyden was asking about and that he couldn’t later correct the record because of the demands for secrecy.

No one is perfect, right?

Still, I give a retired Air Force general — and a veteran of intelligence work at the highest levels — a fair amount of credence when he speaks of the shortcomings he sees in the president of the United States.

Again, from Wired: The truth, Clapper argues time and again, is critical. “I don’t believe our democracy can long function on lies,” he writes. “I believe we have to continue speaking truth to power, even—or especially—if the person in power doesn’t want to hear the truth we have to tell him.”

Read the Wired piece here.

Presidential historians will have their hands full, indeed.

Spooks say it again: Russia meddled in 2016!

The nation’s leading intelligence agency heads all sat in a row in front of a congressional committee.

Then they all said the same thing: Russia interfered in our 2016 presidential election and they intend to do the same thing during our 2018 midterm election.

There you have it.

Except that the men’s boss, the president of the United States, isn’t buying it. Donald John Trump continues to insist that it’s not yet proven that Russia meddled. The president, moreover, says that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, told him he had no hand in the meddling. Trump apparently has bought into Putin’s denial … as if the Russian strongman is going to say a single thing different.

The Hill reports: “There should be no doubt that Russia perceived its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said during his opening remarks at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

He also warned lawmakers that Moscow is “likely to pursue even more aggressive cyberattacks” against future elections in an effort to undermine U.S. democracy.

I don’t need to remind anyone — but I guess I will anyhow — that Coats is no squishy Democratic liberal. He’s a former Republican senator from Indiana, whom Trump appointed to lead the national intelligence team.

I think I’ll accept Coats’ version of what he and the others — including the director of the FBI and the CIA — are saying about Russia’s acknowledged effort to subvert the U.S. electoral process.

If only the president himself would admit the obvious.

If only …

‘Political hacks’ strike back at Trump

Donald John Trump showed his stripes yet again over the weekend.

So help me, the president sickens me constantly.

He met with Vladimir Putin in Da Nang, Vietnam. They shook hands. Trump and Putin had a brief meeting. Putin said he didn’t interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump said that he accepted Putin’s denial on its face.

Then the idiot in chief called former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper “political hacks” because they have asserted that the Russians did interfere with our electoral process.

Can you imagine how Republicans would react if, say, Barack Obama had called two distinguished American intelligence officers “political hacks”?

Brennan and Clapper, of course, weren’t taking the president’s disparagement lightly. They have scolded him seriously, suggesting that Putin is “playing” Trump like a fiddle.

Trump did attempt to walk back his comments about Putin’s phony denial, but he managed to botch that as well, saying he backs the U.S. intelligence community, while continuing to suggest that Putin is “sincere” in his denial of election interference.

Sigh.

Oh, so very sad.

Shut down the government … over a wall?

So much grist poured out of the president’s relentless and reckless rant in Phoenix …

Let’s take a nibble at this tidbit: Donald John Trump Sr. says he’s willing to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t approve money to pay for the wall to be built along our nation’s border with Mexico.

Yep, the guy who said this past summer that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems now is blackmailing congressional Democrats to provide money to build the wall. If they don’t, he said, the government shutdown is on their hands.

But wait!

Trump has vowed that Mexico is going to pay for the wall. Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto says “no … we won’t!” Trump reportedly has zero relationship with the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, who has declared there is “zero chance” the government is going to shut down; “We are not going to default,” said McConnell.

The president is insulting congressional Republicans as frequently as he insults Democrats. He is destroying — one insult at a time — any chance of getting anything done once Congress returns from its summer recess.

So now the guy who wants to “unify” the country, who declares it is time to “heal our divisions” is now threatening to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t do something he has promised never would happen.

I believe former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — a serious and sober man — has it right. Donald Trump is unfit for the job to which he was elected.

Ex-DNI: Evidence of hacking points to Moscow

James Clapper has contradicted the president of the United States, who says “others” might have hacked into the U.S. electoral system along with the Russians.

Not so, says the former director of national intelligence. The Russians did it. There’s no evidence of any other nation getting involved.

I’ll go with ex-DNI Clapper on this one.

Clapper is clear: It’s the Russians

Donald J. Trump keeps trying to blanket Russian government goons in political cover by suggesting that other nations might be involved. He famously alluded to some 400-pound guy lying in bed somewhere who might be hacking into our electoral process.

The president keeps demonstrating this outrageous reluctance to drop the hammer on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, the intelligence professionals — the folks who do that kind of work for a living — say something quite different.

I’m inclined to believe the career spooks’ assessment of what went down during the 2016 presidential election.

Trump makes sound national security move … finally!

I have been highly critical of Donald J. Trump’s assembling of his national security team.

But then — what do you know? — the president does something that makes eminent sense. He has removed his political hack/senior adviser Steve Bannon from the National Security Council and has elevated two men who should have been seated on the NSC’s principals committee in the first place.

Good call, Mr. President. May it be the first of many.

Bannon had no business serving on the principals committee. He is the former Breitbart News editor. He has the president’s ear on all matters political. His national security experience is next to zero.

Trump also demoted his homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, and elevated Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford. They now will be regular attendees of the principal committee.

Oh, there’s more. National security adviser H.R. McMaster has received full authority to set the agendas for meetings of the principals committee.

Someone got hold of the president’s ear and advised him in the strongest language possible of the folly of seeming to politicize the NSC’s principals committee — which is what Bannon’s presence on the committee did.

If there’s any aspect of a president’s duties that demands non-political consideration, it must be matters dealing with national security.

Donald Trump is entitled to have a top-drawer political hand giving him political advice. That adviser doesn’t need to be anywhere near where national security concerns are discussed.

Hey, what about Bannon and the NSC?

It’s almost impossible to keep up with all the stories that pass through the light of intense publicity only to disappear into the darkness … as it relates to Donald John Trump’s administration.

Remember the story about Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart.com executive, alleged white nationalist, political adviser becoming a member of the principals committee on the National Security Council?

Bannon is still on the NSC. He’s still getting the regular briefings, sitting in a chair that should be filled by the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman and the director of national intelligence. Trump demoted those two military and intelligence leaders in favor of partisan political animals such as Bannon.

He’s a political hack who serves on one of the most ostensibly non-political bodies in our massive federal government.

Why is this guy still there? Why is the new national security adviser, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster sitting or standing still for this travesty?

Bannon doesn’t belong on the principals committee. He now serves as chief political adviser for the president. He fulfills an entirely different role, vastly separate from anything that the National Security Council does. The NSC’s role is to provide the president with keen, sharp and non-political analysis of national security threats. The national security adviser essentially is the chief administrative official of the NSC. From all that I’ve read and heard about Lt. Gen. McMaster, he appears to be a scholar with a superb military mind.

Bannon status as political hack in chief ought to disqualify him from such his posting as a member of the principals committee.

Yet this story stays hidden in the background.

What kind of advice does Bannon give the president when, say, a Middle East nation moves on another one? What kind of advice does he offer when North Korea lobs a missile into Seoul, South Korea? Or when Hamas starts firing ordnance from Gaza into neighborhoods in southern Israel?

Bannon offers no national security credibility. There he is, though. He’s perched among the other “principals” offering advice to the president of the United States.

This guy frightens the crap out of me.