Yesterday, Adam Kredo of the Free Beacon ran a story that is frightening in its implications if even part of the story is true:
The abrupt resignation Monday evening of White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump’s national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who described to the Washington Free Beacon a behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media.
The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.
The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration’s efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.
Color me a more than a little dubious about the motivation for bringing Flynn down. There are enough people hostile to the Iran deal in the NSC that if they wanted to leak the scope of the US surrender to the Mullahs they would have done so by now. Having said that, I have no doubt that Kredo is right in linking Ben Rhodes’s merry platoon of Obama fellatistos to the operation. The leaks on Trump’s calls to foreign leaders can only have come from within the so-called (haha) professional staff of the National Security Council. The “former” intelligence officials quoted by the Washington post were almost certainly Obama hired staffers who lost their jobs on January 20.
Having said that, there is zero doubt that a war is underway against the Trump administration and it is being carried out by part of the US government. Yesterday, Eli Lake had a story in which he pointed out that it is illegal for the government to wiretap US citizens without a warrant and that counterintelligence surveillance of the Russian embassy is required to mask the identity of US citizens as it is not against the law for them to contact the Russian embassy.
Glenn Greenwald has a similar article today titled The Leakers Who Exposed Gen. Flynn’s Lie Committed Serious — and Wholly Justified — Felonies. Obviously, self-justification, which is what Greenwald is talking about, differs a lot from legal justification. Leaking information to bring down someone you have political differences with, and breaking several federal laws designed to protect Americans from state intrusion into their lives in the process, is hardly manly or noble and it will not take the US any place it really wants to go. Greenwald’s ends-justifies-the-means argument is the same specious bullsh** advocated by people who think physically assaulting people with different politics is okay. It’s all fun and games until you become the target.
That Flynn lied about what he said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was first revealed by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who has built his career on repeating what his CIA sources tell him. In his January 12 column, Ignatius wrote: “According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking.”
That “senior U.S. government official” committed a serious felony by leaking to Ignatius the communication activities of Flynn. Similar and even more extreme crimes were committed by what the Washington Post called “nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls,” who told the paper for its February 9 article that “Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials.” The New York Times, also citing anonymous U.S. officials, provided even more details about the contents of Flynn’s telephone calls.
That all of these officials committed major crimes can hardly be disputed. In January, CNN reported that Flynn’s calls with the Russians “were captured by routine U.S. eavesdropping targeting the Russian diplomats.” That means that the contents of those calls were “obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of [a] foreign government,” which in turn means that anyone who discloses them — or reports them to the public — is guilty of a felony under the statute.
Greenwald goes on to make a point that reinforces at least part of the Free Beacon article:
Moreover, Gen. Flynn has many enemies throughout the intelligence and defense community. The same is true, of course, of Donald Trump; recall that just a few weeks ago, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer warned Trump that he was being “really dumb” to criticize the intelligence community because “they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
It’s very possible — I’d say likely — that the motive here was vindictive rather than noble. Whatever else is true, this is a case where the intelligence community, through strategic (and illegal) leaks, destroyed one of its primary adversaries in the Trump White House.
Do we really want a government where agencies are free to use the power of the state to retaliate against you if you criticize them? Is that even government?
Another lefty, Damon Linker, identifies a different set of problems:
The United States is much better off without Michael Flynn serving as national security adviser. But no one should be cheering the way he was brought down.
The whole episode is evidence of the precipitous and ongoing collapse of America’s democratic institutions — not a sign of their resiliency. Flynn’s ouster was a soft coup (or political assassination) engineered by anonymous intelligence community bureaucrats. The results might be salutary, but this isn’t the way a liberal democracy is supposed to function.
Unelected intelligence analysts work for the president, not the other way around. Far too many Trump critics appear not to care that these intelligence agents leaked highly sensitive information to the press — mostly because Trump critics are pleased with the result. “Finally,” they say, “someone took a stand to expose collusion between the Russians and a senior aide to the president!” It is indeed important that someone took such a stand. But it matters greatly who that someone is and how they take their stand. Members of the unelected, unaccountable intelligence community are not the right someone, especially when they target a senior aide to the president by leaking anonymously to newspapers the content of classified phone intercepts, where the unverified, unsubstantiated information can inflict politically fatal damage almost instantaneously.
The intelligence community declared war on the Trump administration early on. John Brennan was the first CIA director in history to turn his position into one of partisan attack dog with his unfounded allegations concerning the scope of Russian influence on the US election, the impact of their meddling, and his utterly bizarre assertion that the Russians were consciously trying to get Trump elected. It is obvious now that the rot extended far below the level of political appointees.
Trump needs to act and he needs to act decisively. The people behind these leaks have left clues that even a layman can see. They have access to product from a very specific intelligence program. There are sufficient audit trails for that product that the field of suspects can be narrowed down. Those people need to be fired, indicted and prosecuted. They are not a danger to Trump as much as they are to the nation itself. If they will carry out this kind of campaign in defiance of federal law and their oath of office, then what chance do you and I have?
More to the point, if Trump doesn’t act decisively more and more people are going to decide that leaking highly classified information in order to settle personal scores is the way to go and that is going to slowly but surely become the norm for the US government.
A lot of people, myself included, have long believed that Trump was more interesting in BEING president than actually SERVING as president. If he is serious about carrying out the duties of president he’s going to find that is impossible unless he steps on some necks and does it real soon. If he’s not serious about carrying out the duties then he needs to hold a press conference, resign, and go off and send some angry tweets. He simply can’t survive under the current conditions.