Tag Archives: KGB

Is this ‘leading from behind’?

I cannot resist asking the question: Is the president of the United States “leading from behind” with his decision to join in the expulsion of Russian “diplomats”?

About two dozen nations have joined a sort of class-action expulsion of Russian officials as a way to punish the Russian government over its poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in Great Britain.

The United States joined that effort. Indeed, Donald Trump has ordered the closing of the Russian consulate in Seattle, citing its proximity to the giant Boeing aircraft assembly plant and the big U.S. Navy base in nearby Bremerton, Wash.

Don’t misunderstand this point: I applaud the president for joining this allied effort to punish the Russians. They are bad actors on the world stage.

However, we heard a drumbeat of criticism from Republicans that then-President Barack Obama was “leading from behind” on issues relating to, oh, Syria, Libya and the continuing war against international terror. Critics accused the president of failing to take the lead on diplomatic and military efforts.

So, does that criticism apply here? The president of the world’s most powerful nation has acquired some valuable political cover by joining other nations in this punishment of Russia, which is governed by that former KGB spy, Vladimir Putin.

Doesn’t the world’s pre-eminent military and economic power have an obligation to take the lead, rather than stand among the crowd?

Press flack keeps insulting the public’s intelligence

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fielded a direct question today from a member of the White House press corps: Is Russia a friend or foe of the United States?

Her answer defies all logic and it insults the intelligence of Americans across the board.

Sanders said “it is up to the Russians to decide” if they are going to be friendly or unfriendly toward the United States. Such a goofy response causes many of us out here to say: What the … is she talking about?

I need to remind Sanders what her boss, Donald John Trump, used to say about “identifying our enemies.” While running for president, Trump excoriated President Barack Obama for refusing to identify “Muslim terrorists” by name. Obama’s response was that we are not at war with Islam, but we are at war with those who are mass murderers of Muslims.

Why, then, does the current president identify Russia as a supreme foe of this country? Why does his press flack sing from the White House song book that refuses to identify our adversary — by name!

The Russians have all but declared war on our electoral system. They have sown discord, dismay and discontent among Americans, many of whom have lost total and unvarnished faith in our nation’s election system.

The Russians and their president, Vladimir Putin, are not our friends. Putin is a trained spook. He once ran the Soviet Union’s spy agency. He is, in the words of former Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly, “a killer.” Putin has sanctioned the murder of journalists and anyone who dissents from his public policy.

This man is a friend? It is up to the Russians to “decide” if they are our friend?

Listen up, young lady: You insult our intelligence constantly by spouting such idiocy.

Now this: Mueller indicts Russians for meddling

Let’s see. If we’re keeping score, the tab is piling up against Donald Trump’s claim that the Russians didn’t interfere in our 2016 presidential election.

The nation’s top spooks, the folks who run our intelligence agencies, say in unison that the Russians meddled in our election.

Now, today, we get word that special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies for — drum roll! — interfering in our election.

But … the president of the United States is willing to take the word of a former KGB boss, Vladimir Putin, that he didn’t do what our intelligence experts say he did. Donald Trump is the lone denier in all of this.

To be clear, the indictments don’t suggest any collusion from the Trump campaign. The president might take some solace in that knowledge, although there’s still more to be determined by Mueller’s legal team as it pores through all the material that has piled up.

Nor do the indictments say that the Russian hackers’ activity actually affected the outcome. They did not determine the outcome. I get that, too.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who announced the indictments, said the Russians did accomplish their mission in their meddling, which was to cause “discord” and to throw doubt over our nation’s electoral process.

When will the president ever acknowledge what is now widely known? My hunch: He’ll take his denial with him to the grave.

Weird.

When will POTUS ever recognize the Russia threat?

I guess there’s not a single thing I do can do except keep yapping out loud about it. So, therefore, I will.

When is the president of the United States going to acknowledge publicly what many of his fellow Americans already know: Russia threatens our sacred political process.

Instead, Donald John Trump Sr. continues to disparage our law enforcement agencies, our counterintelligence organizations, our criminal justice system, our key protectors.

Trump ratcheted up that criticism of our law enforcement agencies today by allowing the release of a Republican-authored memo that accuses the FBI of bias in its investigation into Russian hacking of our electoral process.

The president attacked the leadership of the FBI and the Justice Department. Oh, sure, he managed to say a good word about the “rank and file” within the FBI. The men and women on the front line, though, work for the very leadership that Trump has continued to criticize, undermine and — some might argue — defame.

I won’t accuse the president of defaming the FBI and DOJ leadership, but I keep returning to a fundamental question: When is the president going to admit in the open that Russia is a bad actor?

Russian President/strongman Vladimir Putin is no “friend” of the United States. I don’t know this as fact, but I cannot believe for an instant that the former KGB boss thinks as highly of Trump as the president says he does. A large part of me believes Putin is laughing his backside off at the confusion, chaos and controversy he has delivered to the United States as a result of the Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential election.

Putin committed an act of aggression against this country and for the life of me, I cannot accept why the president of the United States refuses to call that aggression what it is.

I have my share of theories as to why he remains quiet on Russia. I maintain my belief that Americans deserve to see the president’s full tax returns and financial disclosure. They very well could tell us plenty about the president’s reluctance to call the Russians out.

Donald Trump’s silence is deafening in the extreme.

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.