Tag Archives: DNI

‘Over the horizon’ reach? Is it enough?

Although I stand firmly behind President Biden’s decision to end our military involvement in Afghanistan — despite the horrifying rollout of the evacuation plan — I remain concerned about one aspect of our post-Afghan policy and posture.

It’s that “over the horizon” strategy the Pentagon, the White House and the intelligence community plan to employ to protect us from terrorists.

We went to war in Afghanistan 20 years ago to rid the nation of the Taliban hosts who gave al-Qaeda safe haven from which to plan and then launch an attack on 9/11. We rid the government of the Taliban. Now we’re giving it back to them. Wise call? Ultimately, it will save us lives, heartache, misery … not to mention money.

How do we plan to conduct intelligence-gathering in Afghanistan with no physical presence on the ground? President Biden assures us we have assets and know-how and resources to confront terrorists if they emerge to pose threats to us.

Thirteen of our military personnel died in that horrific suicide blast the other day. Joe Biden pledged to make ISIS “pay” for its act of terror. We struck ISIS with a drone strike, killing a couple of terrorist planners. Americans should applaud that effort. However, we still have human beings on the ground there.

In just a couple of days our presence will be gone.

What happens then? I know we have the best intelligence gatherers on Earth. Our director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, is among the best of the best at what she does. I retain faith in her ability and in those at the top of the Pentagon chain of command.

They will have to be on top of their game 24/7 … likely forever, if we’re going to remain safe from terrorists intent on doing bringing harm and misery to our shores.

I just hope they can do so “over the horizon.”


DNI takes ironic action

Surely, I am not the only observer who sees the irony in Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s decision to forgo direct briefings to Congress on foreign government election interference.

Ratcliffe, who formerly represented a Northeast Texas congressional district once served by the late, great Rep. Sam Rayburn, has declared that from now on all briefings will be submitted to Congress in written form. Ratcliffe said he wants to prevent leaks. Hah! As if they won’t occur anyway?

There will be no interaction between the DNI and House Intelligence Committee members, most of whom I should add are Democrats.

Why the irony? Well, when Ratcliffe served in Congress he was none too bashful about grilling those who appeared before the Intel panel, particularly those who were critical of Donald Trump, for whom Ratcliffe often carried a lot of water in defense of his policies.

Now that he’s a member of the executive branch of government, Ratcliffe is trying to shield information about Russian interference in our 2020 election, or so it appears.

This is absurd. It’s ridiculous. It’s also stupid.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff issued a statement that said, in part, according to National Public Radio:

“This is a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed, and a betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy,” Pelosi and Schiff said in the statement.

“This intelligence belongs to the American people, not the agencies which are its custodian. And the American people have both the right and the need to know that another nation, Russia, is trying to help decide who their president should be,” they said.

Americans deserve to know the whole truth in real time and they need the DNI to provide the public with the knowledge they must have about the security and sanctity of our cherished right of citizenship: our ability to elect a president without foreign hostile government interference.

Have you given Vlad fair warning, Mr. POTUS?

OK, Mr. President … the cat is out of the bag.

Our nation’s intelligence network — yeah, the folks you have denigrated in front of Vladimir Putin — have come up with some intel that says Russian spooks are paying Taliban terrorists money for every American serviceman or woman they kill on the battlefield in Afghanistan.

You said you weren’t briefed on it by the CIA, the DNI, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the FBI, the National Security Council or the national security adviser. I don’t believe that for a second.

Still, the word is out. The New York Times has reported it. You dismiss it as “fake news.” C’mon! Get real. The Times is standing foursquare behind its story and the reporting that went into it.

You now need to get on that secure phone in the West Wing, you need to call Russian goon in chief Vladimir Putin and read him the riot act. Except you likely won’t do that. Why? I only can figure that Putin has some goods on you.

I mean, former national security adviser John Bolton says Putin plays you “like a fiddle.” I happen to believe Bolton. You dismiss your former adviser — one of the so-called “best people” — as a “wacko” and a “disgruntled employee.”

So now that the whole world has heard the story about the bounty, what in the name of tough-guy leadership are you going to do about it? Anything? Or are you going to roll over to get your overfed gut patted by the strongman who is laughing his a** off at the havoc he is creating within our system of government.

Trump didn’t know about bounty on U.S. troops? Huh?

Donald John “Liar in Chief” Trump likely is lying yet again, which is not even a little bit of a surprise to those of us who don’t believe a single word that flies out of his mouth.

He says he didn’t know anything about reports of Russian government officials putting up bounty money to pay Taliban fighters who kill U.S. troops fighting them in Afghanistan.

He got no briefings from the Joint Chief of Staff; nothing from the CIA; nothing from the office of National Intelligence; not a word from field commanders. Trump instead is calling the New York Times report another bit of “fake news” and says that “no one has been tougher on Russia” than he has. “We stand by our story, the details of which have not been denied by the President’s own National Security agencies,” a New York Times spokesperson told The Hill.

I believe Donald Trump is lying to us, ladies and gentlemen. I believe further that the CIA knew about the bounty, as did the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the FBI, the office of National Intelligence.

Are we to accept the notion that none of these agency heads reported a single thing to the commander in chief? That no one told him that Russians are paying Taliban terrorists a bounty for the U.S. warriors they kill on the battlefield?

I have to ask: If Trump was not briefed, why wasn’t he told? If the military and intelligence officials were keeping this information from the man in charge, then they are guilty of the most grotesque mismanagement of our war effort imaginable.

Except that I believe Donald Trump knew about it … and that he is lying to us. 

GOP looking for another Trump toadie

BLOGGER’S NOTE: This blog was published originally on KETR.org, the website for KETR-FM public radio based at Texas A&M/Commerce.

John Ratcliffe is likely to be confirmed as the nation’s next director of national intelligence.

How and why that will happen is a mystery to me, given that he was nominated to the post in 2019 but then pulled out when questions arose about his resume, his background and intelligence-gathering credentials. I don’t believe Ratcliffe is any more qualified now to become DNI than he was a year ago … but that’s out of my control.

Meanwhile, the Fourth Congressional District of Northeast Texas that Ratcliffe represents needs to find a successor to Donald Trump’s fiery defender.

Republican activists have set an Aug. 8 election to select a successor. They have their favorites in mind.

The Fourth Congressional District is a reliably Republican stronghold. I am fascinated by that factoid, given that the district once was represented by the late, great House Speaker Sam Rayburn, the legendary Texas Democrat who mentored many members of Congress from this state, including one of them who later became president of the United States … a guy named Lyndon Baines Johnson.

That was then. The here and now suggests that the next member of Congress from this district will be a Donald Trump loyalist. The three favorites to succeed Ratcliffe, according to the Texas Tribune, are:

Jason Ross, Ratcliffe’s former district chief of staff who is campaigning on continuing in Ratcliffe’s footsteps, promising to “stay the course with a principled conservative and proven leader.”

Floyd McLendon, the runner-up in the March primary for the Dallas-based 32nd Congressional District. McLendon, a former Navy SEAL, finished behind Genevieve Collins, who narrowly won outright in the five-way primary, capturing the nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, a national GOP target.

A third candidate is TC Manning, a Navy veteran who unsuccessfully ran in the March primary for the Houston-based 18th Congressional District.

Here is my major takeaway, though, from the Tribune’s reporting on these candidates. Two of the three top individuals are, dare I say it, “carpetbaggers.” McLendon and Manning ran in districts a good distance from the Fourth Congressional District. So they have decided that with an opening about to occur in Northeast Texas, they must figure it’s time to jump into the fray in a district where they might – or might not – have any knowledge of its specific needs.

Unless, of course, the prevailing “qualification” for service in this GOP bastion is a candidate’s commitment to Donald John Trump.

DNI pick one of the ‘best people’? C’mon, man!

I cannot help but circle back to one of the many idiotic promises Donald Trump made while he campaigned for the presidency.

He kept telling us he would surround himself with the “best people” to help him protect us against our enemies and enact all manner of public policy.

The nominee to be our next director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, is so far from the “best people” category, it is laughable on its face. Still, he is likely to be confirmed by the Republican-led U.S. Senate.

Ratcliffe got the call to be the DNI in 2019. Then we learned he had fudged on his background. The East Texas congressman had little of the requisite national security experience on his record. He had instead a reputation of being a loyal Donald Trump sycophant, which he demonstrated amply during the impeachment hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives. That qualifies him for the job as the nation’s top spook. Ridiculous! Then he backed out of that earlier battle.

The previous DNI, Dan Coats, left office after disagreeing with Trump over, um, national security issues. Coats was one of the few grownups Trump picked at the beginning of his presidential term. He said the Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016, while Trump defended the Russians. Coats didn’t do what Trump demanded, so he was out.

Now comes Ratcliffe — again! Oh, brother!

Added to all of this are questions about whether Trump ignored the obvious national security threat posed by the coronavirus that has killed more than 70,000 Americans. He got the briefing that the virus posed an imminent threat in January. He looked the other way.

Would a DNI Ratcliffe have insisted Trump listen to the advice of the medical experts? Would a DNI Ratcliffe pitch a fit if Trump didn’t act more proactively earlier? Based on what I watched as Ratcliffe — along with other Republican lackeys on the House intelligence and judiciary committees — did to defend Trump against obvious high crimes, well, I doubt it … seriously!

Donald Trump’s version of the “best people” is going to get the sternest test imaginable if John Ratcliffe gets confirmed to become the next director of national intelligence.

We all should say a prayer for the nation.

GOP seeks fast-track confirmation of a fraud for DNI

John Ratcliffe was revealed to be a fraud when Donald Trump nominated him the first time to become the Director of National Intelligence.

The Northeast Texas congressman then pulled his name out of the running. Then the president, who still needed someone to fill the DNI post permanently, resubmitted Ratcliffe’s name.

He’s still as fraudulent a pick now as he was then, but now Senate Republicans want him confirmed as quickly as possible.

What a joke!

Ratcliffe’s only “qualification” to serve as the nation’s top spook is that he is an avid, fervent, fanatical Donald Trump loyalist, which is the president’s seeming top criterion for anyone seeking to become a member of the Cabinet. Actual qualifications be damned!

Trump has told us many times about how qualified individuals are lining up to work in the White House. Well, that’s a lie, too. How do I know that? Look at who he has nominated — for the second time! — to be DNI.

John Ratcliffe inflated his resume when he sought the job the first time. He has virtually none of the international intelligence experience he said he had. GOP senators got cold feet when Ratcliffe got the call to succeed former DNI Dan Coats.

For the ever-lovin’ life of me I don’t know what’s changed now. I cannot fathom what commends Ratcliffe now for this most important task.


When did Ratcliffe get the cred to become next DNI?

Donald John Trump wanted to nominate John Ratcliffe to be director of national intelligence this past summer.

Then questions surfaced about the U.S. representative from East Texas’ credentials. It was alleged that he fudged on ’em. He wasn’t nearly as qualified to lead the spook network as he claimed to be.

Senate Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in questioning the wisdom of this selection. Ratcliffe withdrew his name.

But wait! Here he is again! Trump has renominated him to be DNI.

What happened? Has he built any additional credibility or credential to be the nation’s leading spy?

No. He hasn’t! All he’s done is defend Donald Trump ferociously during the House impeachment inquiry that resulted in Trump being impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Ratcliffe represents a congressional district that is thought to be as reliably Republican as any in the nation. He is on the ballot this fall. The GOP primary occurs on Super Tuesday next week. He once was a U.S attorney, but his prosecutorial experience is extremely limited, having little to do with matters involving national intelligence.

I am left to wonder what in the world the president is doing with this nutty appointment. He selected a U.S. ambassador to Germany as temporary DNI with zero credibility; he fired Joseph Maguire because the former acting DNI contradicted Trump’s national security assessment.

Now we get another Trump toadie to provide unvarnished intelligence? What the heck is that all about? Trump wouldn’t listen to the unfettered truth if it slapped him in the puss!

I do not feel any safer. Do you?

Trump denies Russians are helping him … imagine that!

(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Of course Donald John Trump would deny the Russians are helping him win re-election.

Of course, too, that he would blame the story on Democrats seeking to undermine his effort to win a second presidential term.

Except for this known fact: The president asked another foreign government, Ukraine, to help him win re-election by digging up dirt on a potential political rival. There’s also the denial that Russians delivered in Trump’s presence, which Trump endorsed despite the analysis of the U.S. intelligence network.

Donald Trump’s corrupt tendencies are on full display as this story continues to grow more legs and wings.

Trump fired former acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire because the former DNI had the temerity to brief congressional leaders of both parties about what his office had learned, that Russians are working to attack our electoral system this year, just as they did in 2016. The source of Trump’s anger? That Maguire would tell Democrats while doing his job as the nation’s top intelligence officer.

He now has installed Richard Grenell, a longstanding Trump loyalist, as the latest acting DNI. Grenell has no intelligence experience; he has no background on which to draw even as he fills this post on a temporary basis. He’s a Trump toadie who won’t give an honest and unvarnished assessment of national security threats to the commander in chief.

You want more corruption evidence? How about reports that Trump has instructed the White House personnel office to purge the administration of anyone who has even whispered a negative statement about the president? He wants nothing but yes men and women.

Donald Trump scares the daylights out of me.

Trump reaction to intelligence on Russian attack appears highly instructive

If you’re the president of the United States and your intelligence gurus give you information about a hostile foreign power’s effort to undermine our electoral system, you would want to blow the whistle on the foreign power. Isn’t that right?

Not if you’re Donald John Trump, the current president.

He wants to keep it secret. He didn’t want Congress to know about a report from the intelligence community that Russia had launched another attack on our election. Trump was so adamant about keeping it secret that he fired the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, because he had the nerve to spill the beans to congressional overseers that Russians are working to help Trump win re-election.

Nope, can’t do that, Joe. Trump then brought in a fierce loyalist, Richard Grennell, to become the new acting DNI. Grennell is going to do Trump’s bidding.

This is all being reported with extreme credibility by The New York Times.

Donald Trump is demonstrating to us all yet again how fundamentally dangerous he is as the president. He wants to obstruct Congress from knowing this information not because of any concern over the integrity of the electoral system. Oh no. His reason is because he fears that congressional Democrats are going to use this information against him as he campaigns for re-election.

How many ways does this guy have to demonstrate that he is interested only in his own political backside? How many times does he have to show that he cares next to nothing about protecting our political institutions against foreign interference?

How many times does he have to violate his oath of office in order for Republicans in Congress to become as enraged at this guy’s conduct as the rest of us?

I have to say it again, with gusto: Donald Trump is not fit to serve as president of the United States. The nation needs for him to lose the next election. The nation needs as well to be protected from this guy’s abuse of power.

Donald John Trump is an existential threat to all the values we cherish as a nation.