Tag Archives: KGB

FBI doesn’t deserve bashing from POTUS

Maybe my memory is failing me. Or maybe it isn’t.

I’m having trouble remembering the last president of the United States to disparage the nation’s foremost law enforcement agency, the FBI.

Therein is where Donald J. Trump is doing things so very differently from his predecessors. He’s calling the FBI a lot of names. He alleges that morale is in the crapper; he says its leadership is in shambles; he is saying the FBI needs to be rebuilt.

Oh, and he’s calling the FBI’s role in the examination of Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election a “sham” and a “Democratic hoax.”

I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of an FBI agent. How would I like working for a government being run by a head of state and government who is so distrustful of my agency?

Trump keeps savaging FBI

If the president is going to contend that morale is so lousy, perhaps he is playing a major role in flushing it down a sewer hole.

He’s also been disparaging the attorney general, whose agency — the Justice Department — controls the FBI. Trump dislikes that AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia-election meddling probe, as he should have done. The president’s reaction has been to send signals that Sessions’s time as AG might be dwindling.

Of course, there’s also the issue of Trump questioning the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia did meddle in the election and that Vladimir Putin issued the order to do it. Putin told the president he didn’t meddle — and that denial from the former head of the Soviet spy agency is good enough for Donald Trump.

Strange. Very strange.

And we’re supposed to believe Putin’s word?

Vladimir Putin denies the Russian government played any role in trying to influence the 2016 presidential election.

So that’s it? That’s the final answer? The Russian president — and former head of the KGB, the super secret Soviet spy agency — has declared once and for all that his government didn’t hack into our electoral process?

Pardon my deep and abiding skepticism, but I don’t believe him.

Putin appeared on NBC News tonight. He was Megyn Kelly’s first interview since joining the network. He said something about “Russian patriots” hacking into the U.S. electoral system. What the hell does that mean?

Frankly, he is about as believable as his buddy Donald J. Trump yammering about President Barack Obama ordering wiretaps of his campaign office.

I’ll go with how former national security adviser Susan Rice characterized Putin’s “denial.”

Rice said, simply and directly: He’s lying.

Trump continues scorched-Earth rhetorical policy

We’ve been wondering around our house for, oh, the entire length of the election season and now as the new president gets ready to take office.

It is this: Is Donald J. Trump seeking to undermine his presidency the way he seemed to inflict damage on his candidacy?

You’ll recall the campaign. He offended Hispanics right off the bat; he denigrated Sen. John McCain’s record as a Vietnam War hero; he criticized a Gold Star couple; he mocked a disabled New York Times reporter; he admitted to Billy Bush that he’d groped women by grabbing them in their private parts.

None of that mattered. Trump won the election, despite his seemingly deliberate effort to torpedo himself.

Now he’s getting ready for the inauguration. What does he do?

He continues to disparage intelligence professionals who insist that Russian spooks launched a cyberwar to influence the election; he keeps tweeting idiotic messages in response to criticisms great and small; he declares war on the media; he declines to say he trusts German Chancellor Angela Merkel more than he trusts Russian President Vladimir Putin; he fires back at a legendary member of Congress, John Lewis, who questioned Trump’s legitimacy as president, saying Lewis is “all talk, no action”; he accuses CIA Director John Brennan of possibly leaking classified information about alleged Russian hacking.

Sheesh, man!

What’s this guy doing?

He’s got to work with the intelligence pros beginning the moment he takes his hand off the Bible on Friday, shakes the hand of Chief Justice John Roberts and becomes president. How in the world does he work with the dedicated intelligence staffers who will remain after John Brennan leaves to make way for Trump’s pick to be CIA director?

How is he going to work with African-Americans after labeling Lewis — Congress’ most venerated member and a champion of civil and voting rights marches — be an “all talk” kind of individual?

And how is this individual going to assure staunch and trusted allies, such as Chancellor Merkel, that he trusts her implicitly and really and truly doesn’t equate her trust level with that of the former head of the KGB in Moscow?

Let’s all get ready, dear reader, for the roughest ride imaginable.

Political leanings turned upside-down

I am listening to U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters rail, rant and ramble about a dastardly human being, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The California Democrat — so help me — is sounding like a 1950s Republican! She is not alone among congressional Democrats who are calling Putin a war criminal, a monster and no friend of the United States of America.

Meanwhile, we have the nation’s leading Republican — the president-elect — continuing to bite his tongue as it regards Putin. Donald J. Trump just won’t — or cannot — bring himself to say what Democrats are saying. Which is that Putin is a seriously bad guy.

What’s going on here?

Republicans traditionally have hated the Russians, especially when they were governed by the communists who created the Soviet Union. Indeed, Putin is a creature of the monstrous Soviet era, the KGB, the notorious and ruthless spy agency he once ran.

These days, though, we’re mired in debate over what role the Russians played in influencing our 2016 presidential election. Democrats are enraged. Republicans, well, are not … generally.

Sure, some GOP senators have spoken out against the Russians. Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio are three harsh critics of Putin and they all have openly challenged Trump’s relationship with him and the rest of the Russian government.

The president-elect? He’s keeping quiet.

Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party, the traditional enemy of Russia. Democrats used to be accused of being squishy-soft on the Russians.

Talk about a reversal of roles.

Cruz is proving a point about topsy-turvy politics

Oh, that junior U.S. senator of ours.

He is dismissing concerns about possible Russian hacking of the U.S. election process, claiming it’s an effort to “discredit” Donald J. Trump’s election as president.

What might Ted Cruz of Texas say, though, if Hillary Clinton had won amid concerns that the Russians sought to influence her victory? My strong hunch is that the Cruz Missile would be screeching a different set of gripes.

https://www.texastribune.org/2017/01/05/cruz-dismisses-concerns-over-russian-role-election/

This is more or less a point I sought to make in an earlier blog post about how the political world has gone all topsy-turvy on us. Republicans historically have stood foursquare behind our intelligence-gathering professionals. Not this time.

Tables have been turned upside down

They’re standing against their conclusions that Russian hackers sought to tilt the election in Trump’s favor, apparently at the behest of the former head of the KGB who now is Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.

I get the politics of it all. The GOP’s guy won. They want his election to stand as a “mandate” to do things as president.

For the record — yet again — I don’t believe the Russians’ activities actually tilted the election toward Trump. That’s not the point. The point is that our election system is supposed to be immune from anyone seeking to do some skullduggery, to use our sacred voting process for nefarious purposes.

I don’t believe our election system is as bullet-proof as it should be. It’s also shocking to me that Ted Cruz would be so dismissive of what the CIA spooks have concluded.

Tables have been turned upside down

Imagine this scenario, say, around 1972.

The Democratic nominee for president, George McGovern, wants Americans troops pulled out of Vietnam immediately. The North Vietnamese’s major benefactor, the Soviet Union, starts deploying spooks to influence the presidential election that year.

KGB agents infiltrate U.S. voting stations, tinker with ballots, perform all kinds of skullduggery to get McGovern elected. They fail. President Nixon wins anyway … in a landslide.

Then the word goes out about the Soviets’ meddling. What do you suppose would be the Republicans’ response? They’d be outraged. They would call for heads to roll. They would insist that the president slap sanctions on the Soviets.

Today, though, is a different era.

Democrats are yammering at possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Republicans led by the president-elect are dismissing intelligence experts’ opinion that the Russians — under orders from Vladimir Putin –tried to get Donald J. Trump elected. They cheered when Trump actually was elected.

Why aren’t GOP leaders as incensed now as they historically would have been?

Is it because their guy won? Is it because they don’t want to rile the president-elect, who’s been dismissing and disparaging our intelligence community that Republicans historically have trusted implicitly as behaving honorably?

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/us-intel-report-putin-directed-cyber-campaign-to-help-trump/ar-BBxZbvk?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

Trump got an earful today when he met with CIA, DIA, NSA and Homeland Security officials. They told him the same thing: The Russians tried to influence our election through cyberattacks. Trump’s response has been, well, tepid at best.

If the president-elect is truly interested in protecting the integrity of our electoral process, he needs to stop making excuses for “smart man” Putin and get on board with what his intelligence experts are telling him.

As president, it’s a sure bet that he’ll need their expertise when the time comes.

Secretary of State Tillerson? We’ll see about that one

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Rex Tillerson will get the nod from the president-elect as the next secretary of state.

Let’s hand it to Donald J. Trump: He appears unafraid to pick a major fight with the U.S. senators who will be asked to confirm his appointment.

Tillerson’s pending nomination troubles a lot of senators, Republicans and Democrats alike.

He has zero diplomatic experience. Tillerson is a 40-year employee of ExxonMobil, the oil giant he now runs as CEO. He is friends with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he has worked in cutting big deals on behalf of his company. Oh, and Putin’s government now has been fingered by the CIA as seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor.

Gosh, do you think Tillerson brings some serious baggage to this job at Foggy Bottom?

http://www.politico.com/blogs/donald-trump-administration/2016/12/trump-to-name-secretary-of-state-pick-tuesday-232544

Donald Trump has selected a number of unconventional nominees for various Cabinet posts. The Tillerson pick likely takes the cake.

His friendship with Putin is going to drive Senate Republicans nuts. One of them, John McCain, is emerging as the top GOP lawmaker who is set to become the inquisitor in chief of this selection.

McCain calls Putin a “thug” and a “butcher.” He is in no mood to reset our nation’s relationship with the former head of the KGB, the Soviet Union’s dreaded spy agency.

Then we have this ongoing discussion about what role Russia played in seeking to undermine the U.S. presidential election. The CIA says the Russians interfered with the electoral process. Trump’s reaction? He said the intelligence pros at the CIA are wrong, that they don’t know what they’re talking about. He said he doesn’t believe the CIA’s analysis.

So, we have a Putin pal getting the call from the president-elect to serve as secretary of state and the CIA saying that Russia — which Putin rules — has sought to interfere with our election.

I believe Tillerson and his political benefactor — Donald Trump — are going to get roughed up big time by the U.S. Senate.

From major threat to potential ally?

putin_trump_and_i_are-a2fab9090657f98b004db89c40af5dfd

It seems like yesterday. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president of the United States, said Russia had emerged as the most dangerous “global geopolitical threat” to the United States.

Many of us scoffed at that notion. It seemed so, oh, Cold War-ish. I mean, c’mon, Mitt! We won the Cold War. The Soviet Union vanished in 1991. Democracy was returning, albeit in dribs and drabs, to a new Russia. Isn’t that what many of us said and/or thought?

Well, it turns out Mitt was right. His critics were wrong. Russia has sought to do a lot of harm to the world and, quite possibly, to the U.S. electoral process.

But wait! This new Republican Party is being led by someone with an entirely different view of the Big Bear. Donald J. Trump is about to become president. He is forming his government. He is building his Cabinet.

Who is the new president apparently about to select as the nation’s secretary of state, its top diplomat, its foreign policy vicar? It appears to be a fellow named Rex Tillerson, head of Exxon Mobil — and a close ally of the nation Mitt ID’d as America’s top threat.

Exxon Mobil has extensive business ties in Russia. Tillerson is said to be friends with Putin.

For that matter, let’s recall that Trump has said some flattering things about the man who once ran the Soviet Union’s spy agency, the hated KGB. He called him a “strong leader”; he accepted Putin’s praise with gratitude; he invited Russia to find some missing e-mails that Hillary Clinton had deleted from her personal server while she was working as secretary of state; he suggested that Russian forces should enter Syria and take on the Islamic State; he said “wouldn’t it be great?” if we got along better with Russia.

You’ve heard the term “identity politics,” yes? It’s meant to pigeonhole certain groups and political affiliations into categories. Democrats once were identified as the party that was “soft on communism” and, thus, soft on the Soviet Union. Republicans were identified as the opposite of that squishy label.

Communism officially has died in Russia. What has emerged in its place, though, appears to be its oppressive equal.

Democrats now are alarmed at the budding U.S.-Russia coziness. Republicans — with a few notable exceptions — seem somewhat OK with it.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee and one-time Vietnam War prisoner, has expressed “concern” about Tillerson’s relationship with Putin. You would expect McCain to raise those questions; he dislikes the president-elect and he damn sure detests the Russians, given what their former agents — the North Vietnamese — did to him for more than five years in that POW cell in Hanoi.

Frankly, I am beginning to long for the good old days that, in the grand scheme, were just a little while ago.

I also am thinking the reason Mitt likely won’t get the State job has less to do with what he said about Trump — the “fraud” and “phony” stuff — and more to do with what he said about the Russians.

Listen to this guy, Mr. President-elect

mccain

One might not expect Donald J. Trump to take much of what Sen. John McCain has to say all that seriously … even about things with which he is intimately familiar.

After all, Trump said McCain wasn’t “really a war hero” during the Vietnam War, adding that “I like people who weren’t captured, OK?”

McCain, though, offers a serious word of advice to the president-elect: Do not make nice with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/john-mccain-trump-no-putin-231423

According to Politico: “Vladimir Putin has rejoined Bashar Assad in his barbaric war against the Syrian people with the resumption of large-scale Russian air and missile strikes in Idlib and Homs,” the Arizona senator who was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said in a statement. “Another brutal assault on the city of Aleppo could soon follow.”

“With the U.S. presidential transition underway, Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States,” McCain added. “We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America’s allies and attempted to undermine America’s elections.”

And Trump wants to try to get Putin on our side? He wants to link arms with the Russians in a fight to the death against the Islamic State?

McCain is correct to underscore Putin’s one-time role as the head of the Soviet spy agency, the KGB.

I’m no fan of McCain, although I certainly honor his service during the Vietnam War. He’s a war hero, no matter what Trump has said about him. McCain also understands the world stage in a way that Trump hasn’t even begun to grasp.

I almost can hear Trump now: “Who is this guy McCain telling me how to conduct foreign policy. I mean, I won a presidential election. He’s a loser.”

Sure, McCain lost the 2008 election. He knows his way around the world stage. The new president would do well to heed this man’s advice.

Here come those ‘damn e-mails’ again

hillary

I have been trying for weeks to grasp the significance of the e-mail controversy that keeps swirling around Hillary Rodham Clinton’s quest for the presidency.

Her one-time Democratic presidential primary opponent Bernie Sanders said he was tired of “hearing about your damn e-mails.” Me, too, senator.

But … here they come again, courtesy of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and — more than likely — the former head of the Soviet KGB spy agency and current president of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

They’re leaking these e-mails near the end of a bitter and ugly presidential campaign between Clinton and Republican nominee Donald J. Trump.

Their intent clearly and without equivocation is to embarrass and undermine Clinton’s bid to become president of the United States. They contain communication on a whole array of issues, from her speeches to well-heeled groups and backers, the LGBT response to Clinton’s reaction to the death of former first lady Nancy Reagan and her thoughts on how U.S. policy should deal with the crisis in Syria.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/emails-show-clintons-response-to-lgbt-backlash/ar-AAj2xdX?li=BBnb7Kz

I get the intent, which is my clearest takeaway from it all. Indeed, Clinton hasn’t been very forthcoming on explaining many of these issues raised by the e-mails.

She and Trump are squaring off this week for the third and final (thank God in heaven) joint appearance. I’d bet real American money that moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News is going to ask her some tough questions about the e-mail dump and what it all means about the way she would govern as president.

I’m also willing to bet some serious greenbacks she’ll be ready to respond. Trump? Well, time tell us very soon how he intends to respond to her response.

Perhaps a follow-up question for Trump from Wallace might go something like this: Mr. Trump? You all but invited the Russian government to deliver us the content of those “missing” e-mails. Is this what you had in mind?

Oh, and another one could go this way: You’ve been critical of our intelligence operation and our military. Intelligence officials now seem to believe that President Putin — about whom you’ve spoken quite highly and who has returned the compliment — is responsible for the e-mail dump in these waning days of the campaign. Are they wrong, sir?