Tag Archives: NSC

Looking for the leaker, but no answers on bounty

Well now, it appears Donald John Trump is really angry … at the individual who leaked the item about the Russians placing bounties on the heads of U.S. service personnel.

He is going after the person who spilled the beans to the media about what might shake out as arguably the most damning scandal we’ve seen during Trump’s scandal-ridden tenure as president of the United States.

He vows to root out the leaker and punish him or her to the extent that he can. Although it’s unclear to me what precisely he could do other than fire the individual.

But … what about the bounty? When is Trump going to speak directly to the issue of Russian intelligence officials reportedly paying $100,000 to Taliban terrorists who kill our men and women on the battlefield? He’s been stone-cold silent on that matter.

I happen to have a personal stake in this issue. Two members of my family have seen combat in Afghanistan since we went to war against the Taliban after 9/11. One family member is now retired from the Army and is living in Colorado. The other family member, though, is on active duty and well could be sent back to Afghanistan. Obviously, I do not want him harmed. Therefore, I am imploring Congress, the intelligence community, the executive branch of the government to get straight to the depths of what has transpired.

Trump’s initial reaction to the bounty story was to denigrate the reporting of it. He called it “fake news.” He said he never was briefed by his national security team when it first collected intelligence about the bounties.

Reporting on the matter, though, suggests something quite different. Normal National Security Council procedure compels officials to brief the president when it obtains information of this magnitude.

Did they tell Donald Trump when he should have been told? If they did and he ignored it, then I believe we have an act of treason on our hands. If they withheld that information because they feared how he might react to negative news about his pal Vladimir Putin, we have something quite different but also seriously egregious.

Trump keeps saying how much he cares about the troops under his command. He has yet to demonstrate that love and caring in a tangible manner as it regards this hideous story.

Now he’s going after the leaker? That is a shameful dereliction of duty and a disgraceful violation of the oath he took when he became our commander in chief.

Wanting to cheer Bolton … but now cursing him

I wanted to cheer John Bolton when word got out that his memoir would hit the bookshelves.

I am left now only wanting to curse him.

The former national security adviser to Donald John “Liar in Chief” Trump has written a book that lays even more bare what many of us knew already. “The Room Where it Happened” is a blistering tell-all.

He tells us that Trump asked China for help in his re-election effort; he confirms that Trump asked Ukraine for political help in exchange for weaponry; he also tells us that Trump gave China a pass on construction of concentration camps. There’s more, of course.

Why curse him instead of cheer the ex-national security adviser? Because he could have told us all of it during the impeachment of Trump. He didn’t. He sat on it. Why? Bolton says the impeachment was too narrowly focused and had become “too political.” What a crock of fecal matter!

I am cursing Bolton not because I believe his impeachment testimony would change enough minds to convict Donald Trump of abuse of power and/or obstruction of Congress — the charges the House brought to the Senate during the impeachment inquiry.

I curse Bolton because he withheld this information from a public that needed to hear it from someone who, as the book title suggests, was “in the room” when Donald Trump committed these impeachable offenses. He heard this stuff first hand, in real time, at ringside.

The Republican majority in the U.S. Senate that acquitted Trump of the charges brought against him likely would have been unmoved by any Bolton testimony. It’s just that Americans needed to hear this in the context of that impeachment trial and needed to hear GOP senators explain how Trump’s behavior didn’t rise to an offense worthy of his expulsion from office.

John Bolton choked.

I am glad he is speaking out now. I happen to believe what he has said about Donald Trump. I just wanted him to speak out when it really mattered.

Damn you, John Bolton!

Comparing this criminal to Mandela?

I will not use Michael Flynn’s name in the same sentence with one of the world’s greatest champions.

Yet the Donald Trump cultists who believe Flynn deserves to be treated as a persecuted champion of some glorious cause are committing absolute heresy.

They compare the convicted felon to Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison because he protested South Africa’s hideous racial policy of apartheid. Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and then became president of South Africa. He stands at this moment as one of the 20th century’s greatest statesmen.

Now we have Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his role in the Russian attack on our election in 2016. Donald Trump hired him as national security adviser, then let him go when he became entangled in the Russia probe launched by the FBI. Now the Justice Department has decided to no longer prosecute Flynn for the felony to which he admitted. Trump has hailed the DOJ decision.

Comparing this clown to Nelson Mandela, though, simply goes so far beyond the pale that I am left speechless. I cannot find the words that express adequately my outrage.

As Essence reported: “Years ago when Nelson Mandela came to America after years of political persecution, he was treated like a rock star by Americans,” John McLaughlin, one of President Trump’s chief pollsters, told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “Now after over three years of political persecution, General Flynn is our rock star. A big difference is that he was persecuted in America.”

Michael Flynn wasn’t “persecuted.” He admitted to committing a felony. He told the judge in open court that he was pleading guilty because he did the deed. There was no coercion. And there damn sure wasn’t any persecution.

Disgraceful. Again!

Nation is paying the price for Trump’s hunches

Here we are.

We hear now that Donald J. Trump heard multiple times early this year about the threat posed by the coronavirus. It came to him via the presidential daily briefings he received from the National Security Council.

Only one problem … and it’s a doozy: Trump didn’t read the reports. He blew ’em off. He doesn’t bother with such detail. Trump prefers to rely on his own alleged knowledge of matters about which he knows nothing.

The NSC kept at it. The intelligence network reminded him of what the PDB contained. He didn’t care to hear it.

OK. Now comes this from The Donald. He said the PDB informed him that the coronavirus problem would blow over. It wasn’t worth his time. It was nothing that should concern us. No sweat. It’ll disappear.

So, it falls along this line. Do you believe what medical and national security experts were telling us in February? Or do you now believe that the Liar in Chief was told that the coronavirus didn’t rise to the level of a potential pandemic when the PDB came to his attention?

Let’s see. I think I’ll go with the medical and national security team.

What is the consequence? It’s obvious. The United States is paying a terrible price for Donald Trump’s unwillingness to listen to experts, to actually read and study detailed reports — and to act on all of it!

Oh, no. Not this guy! He relies on his “best mind” that is full of expertise that does not exist.

This individual is not making America great again. He has put this already-great nation in dire peril.

How will this crisis change our beloved country?

The bad news is obvious: Too many Americans are suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, as are too many of our fellow human travelers around the world.

The good news is a bit harder to find, but it’s there: We will emerge from this crisis in due course. It likely won’t be as soon as Donald Trump keeps saying it will occur, but we’ll get through this.

Now for some  uncertain news: How will this crisis and our national reaction to it change this country we all love beyond measure?

My strong sense is that when we emerge on the other side that we won’t be quite the same as we were prior to the first death was recorded what seems to long ago.

Maybe we should adopt tighter personal hygiene habits. We should wash our hands more frequently than we did prior to the pandemic. Perhaps we should adopt some modified form of “social distancing.”

To be clear, I am a hugger. I tend to embrace good friends I haven’t seen in some time. That might change, particularly if my friends wave me off, suggesting I should keep my distance. I guess I’ll take on a case-by-case basis.

On a government level, we most certainly should reintroduce the pandemic watchdog element to our National Security Council. Donald Trump eliminated that arm of the NSC not long after he took office as president of the United States. We are paying for that inattention now. Each of our state governments perhaps ought to find the will and the wherewithal to establish pandemic-oriented agencies as well.

The change in our national psyche also is likely to linger long after the disease runs its course. I hope with all my strength for a vaccine, much like we developed in the 1950s with polio. Many other diseases have emerged since then, but we haven’t found cures for them; I think of HIV/AIDS in particular.

Our daily lives are likely to see changes. What they turn out to be remains one of the great unknowns, one of the uncertain elements that awaits us.

Until the end of this crisis arrives, I’ll concentrate on hoping for the best news … that it’s over. Then we can start planning for the uncertain future that lies ahead.

It was the manner of the firing that rankles us, Mr. POTUS

Hey, I absolutely understand that a president of the United States needs to trust those who are closest to him and that the POTUS has the authority to hire and fire staffers at will.

Thus, when Donald John Trump, the nation’s current president, fied Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council staff after Vindman offered negative impeachment testimony to congressional questioners, I get it.

However, the manner of the dismissal and the spectacle that Trump and his senior White House staff made of it is what gets under my skin.

Lt. Col. Vindman is a war hero. He is a decorated Army officer who has shed blood on the battlefield in defense of his adopted country. He is a Ukraine native who came to this country as a toddler when his parents fled the Soviet Union.

How did the president let him go? By ordering him escorted out of the White House in broad daylight. He was shown the door and told, in effect, to “hit the road.” What’s more, so was Vindman’s twin brother, who had not a single thing to do with the Ukraine matter that got Vindman on the wrong side of the president. Yevgeny Vindman’s only “sin” is to be related to twin bro Alex.

Why couldn’t Trump have shown just a touch of discretion, of class, of empathy for a war hero? He could have issued a private directive, told Vindman to vacate his White House office. Then he could have issued a simple statement declaring that he had relieved Vindman of his duties based on, oh, “differences in policy.” Sure, those who had paid any attention to what Vindman said during the House impeachment hearings would know what he means … but that would be for us to determine.

That isn’t how Donald Trump rolls. He wants to make spectacles of others around him, not to mention of himself.

Lt. Col. Vindman is entitled to wear his uniform whenever he wishes

Simply astonishing.

That’s my first reaction to questions raised today during Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s testimony before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee.

Vindman sat before the panel in his Army dress blue uniform. It then fell to a Republican member of the committee, Chris Stewart of Utah, to ask why he wore what was “not the uniform of the day.”

Vindman works on the National Security Council. He is an active-duty Army officer. He wears a civilian suit to work … usually. He chose to wear his uniform today, I suppose, because he thought it would be proper for him to wear the attire he is entitled to wear as a commissioned officer.

I want to mention this because other NSC officials have testified before Congress in their military uniform. One is most notable, as Roll Call notes: Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, who sat before Congress during his testimony into the Iran-Contra matter of 1987. Did anyone raise a ruckus then? I do not recall it.

Moreover, other active-duty officers have worn their uniforms while at work in the federal government. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the former national security adviser to Donald Trump, being one of them.

Vindman  was in Congress today to testify about what he heard during that infamous phone call with Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that has prompted the impeachment inquiry against the president. He said some important things today and made some important assertions.

So, let’s not get sidetracked by something as ridiculous as whether an Army field-grade officer is entitled to wear his dress uniform.

Of course he is!

Did ‘Libya model’ remark endanger summit?

If the planned summit between Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un doesn’t occur as scheduled, perhaps the president can take the opportunity to escort John Bolton to the proverbial woodshed.

The president needs to talk sternly to the national security adviser.

Kim has suggested the meeting might not occur as planned. Trump said there’s a “substantial” chance it would be delayed.

Why? Well, Bolton popped off the other saying something about applying the “Libya model” to dealing with North Korea. What is that model, by the way? Well, the United States sought “regime change” in Libya; Libyans rioted and rebelled; they captured dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Then they took the fallen despot somewhere — and then killed him. Dead! He’s a goner for keeps!

That’s the “Libya model” as espoused by the national security adviser? Trump, though, was quick to distance himself from that unfortunate example, which he did in Bolton’s presence while speaking to reporters in the White House.

No doubt Kim heard what Bolton said. He gets the implication that Bolton’s message conveyed. I mean, Trump did once refer to Kim as a “smart cookie,” isn’t that right?

There are other complications coming into play. Kim’s view of “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula well might differ from what Trump and the South Koreans want.

Thus, the summit might be in some immediate and hopefully temporary jeopardy.

Back to Bolton.

Trump has hired a serious hot head to be his national security adviser. Bolton is unafraid to recommend a war footing. Trump has entrusted this champion of regime change with the role of providing crucial national security advice to the commander in chief.

I just implore Bolton to lay off the “Libya model” rhetoric.

‘Mad Dog’ can’t work with Bolton? Who knew?

Imagine my non-surprise to hear this tidbit on a drizzly Texas Panhandle day. It is that Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis told associates he isn’t sure he can work with John Bolton were he to be named national security adviser to the Donald J. Trump administration.

Who knew? Yes?

You see, Mattis is a grownup. He’s a retired Marine Corps general with combat experience. He knows war. He’s seen it up close. He’s been to hell and lived to talk about it … were he so inclined.

Bolton is more of a “chicken hawk.” He doesn’t have the kind of real-world experience that Mattis has piled up. Yet he stands ready to recommend war at almost any turn. The Hill reports that White House chief of staff John Kelly, another retired Marine general, also is unhappy with Bolton’s selection as national security adviser.

Well, now the president has appointed Bolton to be the national security adviser. The decision appears to have isolated Mattis, who had a kindred spirit in the national security adviser’s chair for about a year. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is stepping down as national security adviser and reportedly is retiring from the Army.

He and Mattis double-teamed as a reasonable tandem of advisers who were willing to advise Trump against acting rashly — even though they weren’t always able to persuade the president to follow their advice.

Gen. McMaster is now gone. Is “Mad Dog” Mattis the next grownup to be shown the door?

Chaos is king in the Trump White House.

Get ready for Mattis vs. Bolton

Donald Trump’s national security team just cannot get its legs under it. It cannot function as a cohesive team that imparts advice to a president who is willing to (a) listen to it and (b) follow it.

With that we now have a new national security adviser, uber-super hawk John Bolton who quite likely will clash openly with Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

I’m going to pull for Mad Dog to win this fight, although Bolton now is the man of the hour, the guy who’s got the president’s ear.

Heaven help us if Bolton’s world view carries the day in the West Wing of the White House.

Bolton is known around the world as one with an itchy trigger finger. He favors pre-emptive military action against North Korea. Indeed, he has favored “putting boots on the ground” in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan … you name it, Bolton wants to flex U.S. military muscle.

He despises the nuclear arms deal worked out by the Obama administration that seeks to de-nuclearize Iran.

There’s Bolton’s profile in brief.

How about Mattis? He favors the Iran nuclear deal. He believes it is working and is worth retaining. And North Korea? Well, the retired Marine Corps general, a decorated combat veteran to boot, believes diplomacy should remain as Option No. 1 in our efforts to talk the reclusive Marxist regime out of striking at South Korea, or Japan — or the United States of America!

Mattis’s world view is forged by a career that has seen him serve up close in harm’s way. Bolton’s world view comes from a different perspective. He doesn’t have the kind of front-line military experience that Mattis does; Bolton served six years in the Maryland Army National Guard.

I want to bring this to your attention only to suggest that there might be yet another ideological storm brewing within the Trump White House.

As I have noted before, “Mad Dog” Mattis is one of the few grownups who have signed on to serve this president.

I do not believe John Bolton falls into that category of public servant.