Tag Archives: ISIS

Trump ends radio addresses … does anyone care?

First, I will make an admission.

I rarely listened to a presidential radio speech as it was being broadcast. I do so maybe twice dating back to the Reagan administration (1981-89).

Presidents dating back to Franklin Roosevelt — who revived the tradition when he took office in 1933 — would record these messages to be broadcast across the country.

President George H.W. Bush didn’t follow up on President Reagan’s consistent delivery of the message. Then came Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama, all of whom were faithful to the habit of talking to Americans directly over the radio airwaves about policy matters.

Donald Trump, though, has tossed the practice aside. Are you surprised? Neither am I.

He relies on Twitter to announce policy decisions, usually with mangled syntax, misspelled words, lots of capitalization and extraneous punctuation.

I find it mildly distressing that Trump would discontinue the weekly radio speechmaking. After all, they have been known to make a bit of news. Media report on what the president says and on occasion they might say something newsworthy enough to make us sit up and pay careful attention.

Trump sees, I’ll presume, as a waste of time. Probably like those daily presidential national security briefings he once told us he didn’t need to hear. He asked, rhetorically, “What’s the point?” He had no need to listen to someone on his national security team tell him something he said he already knew, Trump said.

I mean, he did tell us he knew “more about ISIS than the generals.” Isn’t that what he said?

Being something of a presidential traditionalist, I would prefer a return to the weekly radio speeches, rather than the Twitter tirades that are replete with misspellings, assorted nonsensical rants and, oh yeah, a total absence of credibility.

Central Command not consulted? Well, what’s new?

I guess none of us should be surprised to hear this bit of news from near the very top of the U.S. military chain of command.

Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commanding officer of the nation’s Central Command — which has authority over deployment of personnel in the Middle East — told Congress that Donald Trump didn’t consult with him before announcing his decision to withdraw our forces from Syria.

The president, though, did declare the Islamic State to be “defeated badly,” which was his seat-of-the-pants justification for leaving Syria and turning the fight over to . . . Syrian resistance forces.

The non-surprise comes in the form of those idiotic 2016 presidential campaign boasts that Trump made. He told us he was the smartest man in human history, that he knew the “best words,” had the “best mind,” would surround himself with the “best people” and, here’s my favorite, how he knows “more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.”

Trump knows all

The tragedy of it is that the Republican presidential candidate persuaded just enough voters living in just the right states to score an Electoral College victory to be elected the 45th president of the United States.

So he now gets to govern without consulting the “best people” who ought to include Gen. Votel, a combat Army veteran with vast knowledge of the Islamic State and the threat it still poses in the region and around the world.

According to Time.com: When Trump announced his decision to pullout on Dec. 19, it sent shock waves through Washington and the rest of the world. “Our boys, our young women, our men, they’re all coming back and they’re coming back now. We won.” 

But did we? ISIS has claimed responsibility for terror attacks after the announcement, suggesting to many of us that the Sunni Muslim terror outfit isn’t “defeated.”

However, Donald Trump is wired to be all-knowing all the time, or so he would have us believe.

Except that I don’t believe a single word that flies out of his mouth.

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!

Trump didn’t read what he’s criticizing?

This is amazing, even for Donald John “Liar in Chief” Trump.

The president has acknowledged that he didn’t read the intelligence report that challenges his assertions about ISIS, North Korea, Russian election interference and Iranian nukes.

And then he criticizes the reporting on it, saying that the media reportedly mischaracterized the intelligence chiefs’ analysis of what they have concluded. He called the reporting “fake news” and then declined to support the work of the people he appointed to lead our nation’s intelligence apparatus.

So, he didn’t read the report. He doesn’t know what it contains. He is jumping to conclusions about the most sensitive of national security matters.

Oh, wait! He went to the best schools, hired the best people, he knows the best words.

Donald Trump doesn’t need to read these reports. He gets his national security advice from “the TV shows.”

Yep. That’s how you make America great again.

I am scared.

What? GOP is about to stand up to POTUS? Wow!

I had to blink once or twice, shake my head a bit, clean my eyeglasses and rub the sleepy stuff out of my eyes to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.

The U.S. Senate Republican caucus is poised to issue a stern rebuke of Donald J. Trump, who continues to exhibit shocking, stunning, jaw-dropping naivete regarding foreign policy crises.

The Senate is planning to push forward an amendment that warns the president about the dangers of a “precipitous withdrawal” from Afghanistan, given the ongoing threat posed by the Taliban and the Islamic State.

Trump (in)famously declared ISIS to be “defeated” in Syria. He is wrong. The Senate is going to respond by saying in a resolution that ISIS and al-Qaida pose a “continuing threat” to the United States and our allies around the world.

So, there you go. The Senate GOP majority has finally grown a set of . . . you know.

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?

Trump doesn’t ‘know’ his key anti-ISIS diplomat? Huh?

Brett McGurk, who I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015. Was supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving. Grandstander? The Fake News is making such a big deal this nothing event!

— Donald Trump

Let’s consider this statement for a moment, OK?

It came from the president’s Twitter fingers. He doesn’t “know” the man who has resigned as the administration’s top diplomat who works with forces that seek to destroy the Islamic State.

Brett McGurk quit to protest the manner in which the president announced the planned withdrawal of 2,000 troops from Syria. Trump declared that ISIS is “defeated.” So he’s leaving the fight to, I guess, the Russians and the Turks.

Defense Secretary James Mattis also quit to protest the president’s decision and the manner in which he arrived at it.

But for the president to say — again, via Twitter — that he doesn’t know the man charged with working to destroy the pre-eminent terrorist organization speaks volumes about the president’s astonishing inattention.

Think of it. Donald Trump declares his intention to destroy the Islamic State. He campaigned for the presidency saying he knows “more about ISIS than the generals, believe me.” He said ISIS’s destruction would be among his major foreign policy priorities.

And he doesn’t “know” the guy charged with leading the diplomatic effort in conjunction with our allies?

Astonishing.

Brett McGurk’s resignation is far more than a “nothing event.”

The cascade continues

I’ll admit to not knowing anything about Brett McGurk . . . until today.

That’s when I learned that our nation’s leading envoy in the fight to eradicate the Islamic State has decided to quit early. He is angry with Donald J. Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria, to abandon the fight against ISIS in that country. It was a decision that prompted Defense Secretary James Mattis to quit.

Now it’s McGurk who’s hitting the road.

This is a big deal, too.

McGurk had planned to leave in February, but decided to submit his resignation to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

McGurk joined the George W. Bush administration and stayed on through the Obama administration, where he was appointed to his current post.

Two years into the Trump administration, McGurk seems to have had enough.

As NBC News reported: Trump’s decision left McGurk flat-footed, unable to explain to U.S. allies who have been fighting ISIS with the United States why they were neither consulted nor informed in advance. Nor have senior Trump administration officials been able to tell allies and Kurdish forces whether U.S. air strikes will continue in Syria to support the mission against ISIS.

Mattis was quite clear in his resignation letter that part of where he differed with Trump is in the treatment of our allies. They cannot trust us to be faithful to our pledges and commitments.

Neither can key administration operatives who are charged with doing the most serious work possible. In McGurk’s case, it is the task of working with allies in the fight to defeat the monstrous terrorists known as the Islamic State.

The chaos is showing signs of taking a terrible toll on U.S. influence in a world that has grown accustomed to what we once touted as our national indispensability.

No longer can we make that make assertion.