As the dust cloud settles around the resignation of Mike Flynn, some observers are seeing a deeper game here than that of an arrogant National Security Adviser who lied to the vice president. One of those is Eli Lake. Lake is a pretty rational reporter and opinion writer so to see him go this direction caught my attention:
There is another component to this story as well — as Trump himself just tweeted. It’s very rare that reporters are ever told about government-monitored communications of U.S. citizens, let alone senior U.S. officials. The last story like this to hit Washington was in 2009 when Jeff Stein, then of CQ, reported on intercepted phone calls between a senior Aipac lobbyist and Jane Harman, who at the time was a Democratic member of Congress.
Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.
In the past it was considered scandalous for senior U.S. officials to even request the identities of U.S. officials incidentally monitored by the government (normally they are redacted from intelligence reports). John Bolton’s nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was derailed in 2006 after the NSA confirmed he had made 10 such requests when he was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control in George W. Bush’s first term. The fact that the intercepts of Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak appear to have been widely distributed inside the government is a red flag.
And yet, these same transcripts are made available to the Obama hold over that was later fired for refusing to defend Trump’s executive order, this Sally Yates creature.
Representative Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told me Monday that he saw the leaks about Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak as part of a pattern. “There does appear to be a well orchestrated effort to attack Flynn and others in the administration,” he said. “From the leaking of phone calls between the president and foreign leaders to what appears to be high-level FISA Court information, to the leaking of American citizens being denied security clearances, it looks like a pattern.”
Indeed, I’ve commented in the past that there is obviously a slow-motion coup underway instigated by the US intelligence community. If was really obvious when former CIA director John Brennan was leading the charge with unfounded innuendos. The Washington Post story that started Flynn’s decline and fall was based on 9 “current and former” intelligence officials, according to the Post’s own sourcing. Ben Domenech, in today’s The Transom, observes:
I am not personally a fan of Flynn, so it is not a huge loss to see him go. But the simple fact here is that we have FBI, DOJ, and other intel service officials actively leaking confidential information to undermine the new administration. They are going to continue to do so, because they are political actors, seeking their own ends. This extends to the political bureaucracy as well, which has taken to encrypted apps to communicate behind the scenes and plan ways to undermine the new administration. http://vlt.tc/2q2e In their targeting, they will start with the people who tend to be blowhards or hotheads with contentious relationships with the press. These are the easiest to displace.
Here is the reality: you are going to be fed narratives in the press driven by intentional leaks from bureaucrats and intel services in Washington over the next four years that are intentionally framed. Flynn appears to have lied to the Vice President, which is a fireable offense, certainly, and was likely right to resign. But whenever you see something like this happen, do not make the mistake of assuming the honor of the individuals who made it happen and sought this result by advancing an intentional campaign against the official. Do not believe that everything you see is as it seems on the surface. Underneath, there are ripples. Ignore them at your peril.
Lake finishes up:
Flynn was a fat target for the national security state. He has cultivated a reputation as a reformer and a fierce critic of the intelligence community leaders he once served with when he was the director the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama. Flynn was working to reform the intelligence-industrial complex, something that threatened the bureaucratic prerogatives of his rivals.
He was also a fat target for Democrats. Remember Flynn’s breakout national moment last summer was when he joined the crowd at the Republican National Convention from the dais calling for Hillary Clinton to be jailed.
In normal times, the idea that U.S. officials entrusted with our most sensitive secrets would selectively disclose them to undermine the White House would alarm those worried about creeping authoritarianism. Imagine if intercepts of a call between Obama’s incoming national security adviser and Iran’s foreign minister leaked to the press before the nuclear negotiations began? The howls of indignation would be deafening.
In the end, it was Trump’s decision to cut Flynn loose. In doing this he caved in to his political and bureaucratic opposition. Nunes told me Monday night that this will not end well. “First it’s Flynn, next it will be Kellyanne Conway, then it will be Steve Bannon, then it will be Reince Priebus,” he said. Put another way, Flynn is only the appetizer. Trump is the entree.
I completely agree.
The game of delegitimizing Trump and his administration is well underway and the longer it takes Trump to unleash federal law enforcement on the people doing this the more bold they will become.