Tag Archives: national security

No briefings for ex-POTUS

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Millions of us are aware of all the norm-busting practices of Donald Trump’s administration, starting with Trump’s refusal to receive “daily presidential briefings” aimed at alerting him to national security needs and potential crises.

Here’s another norm that needs shattering into a million little pieces. Former presidents often are given national security briefings from their successors. Donald Trump should not get anything of the sort from President Biden’s administration.

Trump has demonstrated repeatedly, through his reckless use of Twitter — prior to it being yanked — to say things that could jeopardize our national security. He had that infamous meeting in the Oval Office with Russian visitors and blabbed about security issues relating to Israel’s defense posture.

I have noted several times that Trump is unfit to be president. He’s only got two days left before he hightails it to Florida. He will stand trial in the U.S. Senate for the second time. This allegation deals with incitement of insurrection.

Does this clown need to know the nation’s top secrets once he becomes a private citizen? Not a chance!

Giving former presidents intelligence briefings is not a requirement. It has been a common practice. Former presidents at times are given those briefings to alert them of what might lie ahead and also to solicit advice on how they might handle a situation that could arise.

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Trump is untrustworthy and must not be allowed access to anything regarding national security.

I could not agree more. Keep this individual as far out of the loop as one possibly can do.

‘Under control,’ Mr. POTUS?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Here is a word to the wise.

When you hear the words “We have it under control” come from Donald J. Trump, you should pull the blanket up tightly over your head and not move for as long as you can remain still.

Trump decided to utter that phrase when asked the other day about the Russian hacking of our security system, which intelligence officials have called the worst such incident in U.S. — if not world — history.

Trump said it’s “under control” and said China might be the culprit … not those Russians.

Well, let’s harken back to a previous time the POTUS declared something to be “under control.” It was earlier this year. The COVID-19 coronavirus had just stormed ashore. We had a handful of cases. Trump said then it was “under control.”

Well … it wasn’t. It isn’t yet. It has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. Help is on its way in the form of vaccines that have been developed and are being developed. However, Donald Trump’s so-called assurance that something is “under control” should be cause for serious alarm.

Therefore, I am terribly concerned about the latest Russian attack.

POTUS has gone AWOL

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Can there possibly be a more glaring, graphic and grotesque example of a president who has gone AWOL than what we are witnessing at this moment of dire peril?

Never mind (for just a moment) that the nation is suffering grievously from a pandemic that has killed more than 300,000 of our citizens. The pandemic is dire enough of a threat. Yet the president ignores it.

Russia has just conducted what is believed to be the largest national security breach in our history and Donald Trump — the current president of the United States — is silent. He hasn’t said a word publicly to or about his pal, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. The Russians are now believed to hacked into our national security network in a sophisticated full assault on our cyber system.

What has Trump said or done about it? Not a damn thing!

Hell no! Instead, Trump continues to rant and rail about election “corruption” that simply does not exist. He continues to insist that President-elect Joe Biden’s victory is illegitimate because of “widespread” voter fraud. Courts all over the land have dismissed Trump’s phony allegation out of hand.

Meanwhile, real threats have emerged that have placed the nation in dire peril. Trump’s response has been to, uh, not respond at all!

I’m going to say it one more time with extreme malice: Donald Trump is a menace to the nation he has governed for the past four years. Thank goodness — oh yes! — that Trump’s time in power is coming to an end.

Biden team is looking quite, um, normal

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President-elect Biden rolled out a good portion of his national security team today and I am struck by something about its composition that by all rights shouldn’t cause much of a ripple.

It is that they seem to be all so, oh, normal. They’re veterans of government, public service, policy setting.

Biden’s entire national security team hasn’t been revealed. We still do not know who will serve as defense secretary or CIA director or FBI director. But what we have seen so far is reassuring in an important regard, which is that they have vast experience in handling the complexities of the massive federal government.

Why is this a big deal? It’s solely because of what we have witnessed during the past four years. The Donald Trump administration operated on a constant theme of chaos and confusion. I do not expect to see such turmoil from the team that Joe Biden is assembling.

We have the first-ever immigrant leading the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorka; the first woman will serve as director of national intelligence, Avril Haines; and Biden has brought former Sen. and Secretary of State John Kerry out of retirement to serve as presidential envoy on climate, with a seat at the National Security Council table.

It’s being reported that President-elect Biden is gathering a team of men and women are loyal to him. More than that, though, they are experienced in government, which tells me they mirror the man in charge, who has served virtually his entire adult life in service to the public.

Biden’s presidential predecessor spent his entire adult life devoted to self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement. And it showed.

I sense we are heading back toward an administration that devotes its attention to the public that foots the bill for the government the new president will lead.

Biden enters office with loads of credibility

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President-elect Biden’s efforts to transition from private citizen to the highest public office in the nation has been difficult to watch from afar.

Donald Trump keeps trying to stymie his successor’s efforts to reach full speed on domestic, scientific and foreign policy matters.

However, I am going to take some comfort in the knowledge that Biden brings to the presidency owing to his nearly five decades in public service.

The president-elect served 36 years in the U.S. Senate before becoming vice president in 2009. During that time in the Senate he chaired the Foreign Relations and Judiciary committees for a total of 24 years. He built friendships and assorted professional and political relationships with hundreds of folks in this country and abroad.

Biden hasn’t yet received the kind of high-level briefing afforded customarily to presidents-elect, but he is able to reach beyond normal channels to experts from around the world for advice and  counsel.

The president-elect’s years of experience in public service will serve him well as he takes office, even if he is unable to obtain the kind of cooperation that outgoing president’s usually offer.

My hope springs eternal that eventually Donald Trump will put the country’s interests first and allow the transition to proceed as it should.

If that hope is never realized, I am going to believe that President-elect Joe Biden will be able to parlay his vast experience into an effective presidency … even as he struggles to get our new government up to speed.

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!

Bolton book: recipe for frustration

The more I hear about John Bolton’s book, the more frustrated and angry I am likely to become.

The former national security adviser for Donald Trump has laid bare what we have known all along. Trump is corrupt. He is self-serving. He doesn’t know anything about anything. He is an existential threat to the America we all love and cherish.

And yet the book, “The Room Where it Happened,” in reality doesn’t reveal much new. Many of us knew Trump had committed impeachable offenses when he sought political help from Ukraine.

To be sure, Bolton’s tome does reveal a ghastly new detail. It is that Trump gave China a pass on the concentration camps it was using to imprison political foes. Trump also sought political help from China.

All told, though, we are witnessing an example of a former national security expert parlaying his experiences in government into a handsome payoff. He should have blown the whistle loudly when he was given the chance during the impeachment proceeding against the Moron in Chief.

Yep. The frustration is reaching a boiling point.

C’mon, Mr. POTUS … let Bolton talk to Senate

Jumpin’ jiminy, Mr. President. Now we get word that you’re thinking about invoking “executive privilege” as a way to keep John Bolton from talking to the U.S. Senate during its impeachment trial.

How come? You keep yapping that the impeachment is a “sham,” a “hoax,” a “witch hunt,” a nothing burger. Then up steps your former national security adviser, who seemed to balk initially at talking to the Senate, now says he’ll answer a subpoena if the Senate issues it.

He wants to talk out loud. He wants tell us what he knows about that so-called “perfect phone” conservation you said you had with the Ukrainian president. Yeah, I know Bolton called it a “drug deal,” and reportedly didn’t like the request you made of the Ukrainians to deliver on a “political favor, though.”

However, Bolton was thought to be your guy, Mr. President. You brought him in to give you some national security cred. Then you fired him, or he quit … whatever. And for what purpose? Because you and he weren’t on the same page. Hey, I get that the national security adviser works at the pleasure of the president, that he or she is not a Senate-confirmed individual, that you can hire and fire whoever you want for whatever reason you deem appropriate.

Does any of that mean Bolton is going to knife you in the back? Maybe. Maybe not.

Back to my point, Mr. President. You continually tell us that you’re in the clear. You’ve done nothing wrong. You haven’t abused the power of your office or obstructed Congress. Democrats in the House and Senate are conducting a fishing expedition … you say.

If all that is true, then what gives with the “executive privilege” nonsense? That’s what I believe it is, Mr. President. Nonsense! It’s a diversionary tactic that looks to me like the action of a man with something to hide from the public.

That man, sir, is you.

Where’s the ‘intelligence’ at the briefing?

When a leading Republican supporter of Donald J. Trump comes out of an intelligence briefing and calls it the “worst” one he’s heard in his time as a U.S. senator, then it looks as though the president has some trouble on his hands.

Mike Lee of Utah came out of the briefing today to blast the briefers. He called the event “sophomoric,” and was highly critical of the national security team’s instruction to avoid any debate about what they learned behind closed doors.

Lee didn’t like what he heard. What’s more, he said so out loud.

The briefing came from some Trump administration heavyweights, including CIA Director Gina Haspel and Defense Secretary Mark Esper; a third briefer was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who I should add has emerged as a high-profile disappointment as the nation’s top diplomat.

At issue was the justification for killing Iranian Revolutionary Guard chieftain Qassem Solemaini. The president said Iran was planning an “imminent attack” on U.S. interests and that the air strike in Baghdad was meant as a “defensive” measure. He didn’t provide any evidence of such an “imminent” attack. Senators came out of today’s briefing saying the national security team didn’t provide anything new, either.

Iran responded with the missile attack against two U.S. bases in Iraq. The missiles didn’t inflict any casualties. Iran backed down. Trump said the United States would not pursue any further military action. “All is well,” the president said via Twitter. Well, it isn’t all well.

What is stunning to me was the anger expressed by Sen. Lee, who until now has stood foursquare behind the president. He said the briefers’ admonition was “insulting.”

This is the troubling aspect of the hit against Solemaini. The strike itself needed to happen. What also needed to occur was the development of a cogent after-action strategy by the Trump administration.

It appears that there is nothing of the sort available for public review.