Washington Loves General McMaster, But Trump Doesn’t

In happier times… Photographer: Nicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The national security adviser has lost sway. The White House says everything’s fine.

Bloomberg, by Eli Lake, May 8, 2017:

For the Washington establishment, President Donald Trump’s decision to make General H.R. McMaster his national security adviser in February was a masterstroke. Here is a well-respected defense intellectual, praised by both parties, lending a steady hand to a chaotic White House. The grown-ups are back.

But inside the White House, the McMaster pick has not gone over well with the one man who matters most. White House officials tell me Trump himself has clashed with McMaster in front of his staff.

On policy, the faction of the White House loyal to senior strategist Steve Bannon is convinced McMaster is trying to trick the president into the kindof nation building that Trump campaigned against. Meanwhile the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, is blocking McMaster on a key appointment.

McMaster’s allies and adversaries inside the White House tell me that Trump is disillusioned with him. This professional military officer has failed to read the president  — by not giving him a chance to ask questions during briefings, at times even lecturing Trump.

Presented with the evidence of this buyer’s remorse, the White House on Sunday evening issued a statement from Trump: “I couldn’t be happier with H.R. He’s doing a terrific job.”

Other White House officials however tell me this is not the sentiment the president has expressed recently in private. Trump was livid, according to three White House officials, after reading in the Wall Street Journal that McMaster had called his South Korean counterpart to assure him that the president’s threat to make that country pay for a new missile defense system was not official policy. These officials say Trump screamed at McMaster on a phone call, accusing him of undercutting efforts to get South Korea to pay its fair share.

This was not an isolated incident. Trump has complained in front of McMaster in intelligence briefings about “the general undermining my policy,” according to two White House officials. The president has given McMaster less face time. McMaster’s requests to brief the president before some press interviews have been declined. Over the weekend, McMaster did not accompany Trump to meet with Australia’s prime minister; the outgoing deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland, attended instead.

Even McMaster’s critics acknowledge that he has professionalized the national security policy process and is a formidable strategist in his own right. Trump credits McMaster with coming up with the plan to strike a Syrian air base last month, which won bipartisan support in Washington.

At the same time, White House officials tell me that in recent weeks, Trump has privately expressed regret for choosing McMaster. Last Monday, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, who was a finalist for McMaster’s job, met with Trump to discuss a range of issues with the National Security Council. White House officials tell me the two discussed the prospect of Bolton coming in as McMaster’s deputy, but eventually agreed it was not a good fit.

The roots of the McMaster-Trump tensions begin in February, when the general was hired after his first meeting with the president. McMaster replaced another general, Michael Flynn. Both Vice President Mike Pence and Priebus supported getting rid of Flynn, after they alleged he misled his colleagues about conversations with the Russian ambassador.

Trump himself has defended Flynn publicly. The two shared a bond from the campaign trail, where they often discussed sports and movies during long evenings on the road. For a president who puts so much value in personal relationships and loyalty, Flynn’s departure was a blow.

In this sense, McMaster came into the job with one strike against him. He has accumulated more. The first conflict between McMaster and Trump was about the major speech the president delivered at the end of February to a joint session of Congress. McMaster pleaded with the president not to use phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” He sent memos throughout the government complaining about a draft of that speech that included the phrase. But the phrase remained. When Trump delivered the speech, he echoed his campaign rhetoric by emphasizing each word: “Radical.” “Islamic.” “Terrorism.”

Then Trump’s inner circle began clashing with McMaster over personnel. This began with Ezra Cohen Watnick, who remains the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council. McMaster initially sided with the CIA and wanted to remove this Flynn appointee from his position, but eventually McMaster changed his mind under pressure from Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

That dispute was followed by a bigger one. Bannon and Trump, according to White House officials, pressed McMaster to fire a list of Obama holdovers at the National Security Council who were suspected of leaking to the press. The list of names was compiled by Derek Harvey, a former Defense Intelligence Agency colonel who was initially hired by Flynn. McMaster balked. He refused to fire anyone on the list and asserted that he had the authority to fire and hire National Security Council staff. He also argued that many of these appointees would be ending their rotation at the White House soon enough.

And finally, the White House chief of staff himself blocked McMaster this month from hiring Brigadier General Ricky Waddell as his deputy, complaining that McMaster failed to seek approval for that pick. McMaster had asked his inherited deputy to leave by May 10; she is now expected to stay on for the time being.

For now the White House is saying the president and his national security adviser are in sync. Trump said in his statement to me that he couldn’t be happier with the general. Of course, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway assured the public in February that Trump had full confidence in McMaster’s predecessor. Only a few hours later, he was forced to resign.

Pentagon Pulls Security Clearance of Trump White House Aide

Getty Images

Washington Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, May 4, 2017:

The Pentagon this week suspended the security clearance of a White House National Security Council analyst that U.S. officials say was the target of political retribution by government bureaucrats opposed to President Trump’s appointees.

Adam S. Lovinger, a 12-year strategic affairs analyst with the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment (ONA), has been on loan to the NSC since January when he was picked for the position by then-National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn.

Lovinger was notified in a letter from the Pentagon on Monday that his Top-Secret, Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS-SCI) clearance had been suspended and that he had to return to the Pentagon.

The letter cited unspecified outside activities by Lovinger. The notice said the suspension was approved by Kevin Sweeney, chief of staff for Defense Secretary James Mattis.

One official said Lovinger was targeted by Trump opponents because of his conservative views and ties to Flynn, specifically his past association with the Flynn Intel Group, Inc., a consulting business.

Flynn was forced out as national security adviser in February after top-secret intelligence communications intercepts were disclosed to the press revealing he had discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.

Disclosure of the clearance suspension followed a report in the Washington Free Beacon Monday stating the security clearance process at the White House has been politicized by government officials opposed to Trump and his advisers.

Suspending or revoking clearances is a frequent tactic used by government officials to sideline officials whose views and policies they oppose.

Documents disclosed last year revealed the FBI in 2009 had rejected issuing an interim security clearance for Ben Rhodes, who eventually would be granted access to top-secret intelligence as former President Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.

Lovinger is the second NSC staff official under Trump to lose his clearance. In February, Robin Townley, an African affairs specialist on the NSC staff, was denied a TS/SCI clearance by the CIA. Townley, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, had worked with Flynn in the past.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. James Brindle denied that the security clearance was suspended as a result of political retribution. “This is a personnel matter that we do not discuss,” he said.

Spokesmen for the NSC did not return emails seeking comment. Lovinger could not be reached for comment.

Lovinger, a lawyer, is expected to challenge the clearance suspension. But the process is expected to take months and could prevent him from continuing to work on the NSC staff.

Officials familiar with the matter said Lovinger’s clearance was suspended after he wrote several memos criticizing the director of the Office of Net Assessment, James H. Baker.

According to the officials, the clearance dispute appears to involve a bureaucratic turf battle, as well as a larger, behind-the-scenes effort by anti-Trump officials in the national security bureaucracy to neutralize key Trump aides.

Lovinger is senior director for strategic assessments at the NSC. In that position, he has proposed shifting the Office of Net Assessment from the Pentagon to the White House, where it was located when established during the Nixon administration.

Lovinger wrote a memo to current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on the need for a net assessment capability within the NSC.

Net assessments are highly classified reports that assess foreign threats and U.S. capabilities. Unlike intelligence estimates that are focused solely on foreign targets, assessments include details of U.S. strategic vulnerabilities. The assessments are used by national security leaders for strategic planning.

Lovinger, who holds a doctorate in law, also has been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy and McDonough School of Business.

At ONA, Lovinger specialized in issues related to U.S.-India relations, the Persian Gulf, and sub-Saharan Africa. He also worked as a Pentagon general counsel focusing on reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to his Georgetown biography.

Other aides on the NSC staff said to be targeted by anti-Trump officials include Lovinger’s supervisor, Kevin Harrington, deputy assistant to the president for strategic planning, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, senior director for intelligence programs.

Cohen-Watnick was present during the recent review of intelligence documents at the White House by Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Nunes has charged the intelligence documents exposed improper electronic surveillance of Trump and members of his transition team by the Obama administration.

Baker has come under fire from critics for his role in managing ONA, until recently headed for several decades by Andrew Marshall, who was considered one of the U.S. government’s premier strategic thinkers.

Emails made public from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private server revealed last fall that Clinton had arranged meetings in 2009 between senior State and Pentagon officials and Jacqueline Newmyer Deal, a close friend of Chelsea Clinton and long-time contractor for ONA.

Deal is head of the defense consulting group Long Term Strategy Group and has received millions of dollars in contracts from ONA for studies such as “On the Nature of Americans as a Warlike People.” Another study the group completed for ONA was called “War and the Intellectuals.” It concluded that American elites hold stronger anti-war attitudes than the general public.

The Pentagon has defended the Long Term Strategy Group’s studies for ONA.

The group’s work “has consistently informed ONA’s internal analysis and they continue to be a responsive vendor,” ONA said in an October statement. “The firm, however, is just one of 90 sources that ONA has commissioned work from over the past decade.”

CIA’s Pompeo rips WikiLeaks as ‘hostile intelligence service’ abetted by Russia

Fox News, April 13, 2017:

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, in his first speech since taking over the agency, lambasted WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange — calling the group a “non-state hostile intelligence service” that is often abetted by “state actors like Russia.”

Speaking Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Pompeo called Assange a “fraud,” someone with no “moral compass” and a “narcissist who has created nothing of value.”

He asserted that Assange and former National Security Agency staffer and famed leaker Edward Snowden “seek to use that information to make a name for themselves” and they “care nothing about the lives they put at risk or the damage they cause to national security.”

Asked why he would focus on WikiLeaks rather than other issues, Pompeo said he felt it was vital to inform the American people about the threat they pose.

In the case of Snowden, Pompeo said the detrimental impact of his leaks was expansive and that more than 1,000 foreign targets attempted to change their means of communication as a result of the Snowden disclosures.

“The bottom line is that it became harder for us in the intelligence community to keep Americans safe. It became harder to monitor the communications of terrorist organizations that are bent on bringing bloodshed to our shores.  Snowden’s disclosures helped these groups find ways to hide themselves in the crowded digital forest,” he said.

Last week, WikiLeaks released the latest chapter in its ongoing “Vault 7” series of cyber and hacking tools that it claims were stolen from the CIA.

According to its release, the new leaked information contains 27 documents from the CIA’s Grasshopper Framework, which is allegedly the software tools used by the CIA to infiltrate Microsoft’s Windows platform.

The former Kansas congressman began his speech by telling the story of Philip Agee, a founding member of the magazine Counterspy, which advocated for the exposure of intelligence agents.

In September 1974, Agee’s magazine publicly identified Richard Welch as the CIA chief of station in Athens, Greece and published his address. One year later, Agee was assassinated.

“Today, there are still plenty of Philip Agees in the world, and the harm they inflict on U.S. institutions and personnel is just as serious today as it was back then,” said the director.

In an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Wednesday, Assange said he shared the goal of the Post and The New York Times “to publish noteworthy content.”

The director also came to the defense of his agency and CIA agents who cannot “speak up for themselves” given their positions.

He said that “regardless of what you see on the silver screen, we do not pursue covert action on a whim without approval or accountability” and that when covert action takes place, “there is oversight and accountability every step of the way.”

Did the Obama Administration’s Abuse of Foreign Intelligence start before Trump?

One clue: The Russia story is a replay of how the former White House smeared pro-Israel activists in the lead-up to the Iran Deal

Tablet Magazine, by  Lee Smith, April 5, 2017:

The accusation that the Obama administration used information gleaned from classified foreign surveillance to smear and blackmail its political opponents at home has gained new traction in recent days, after reports that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice may have been rifling through classified transcripts for over a year that could have included information about Donald Trump and his associates. While using resources that are supposed to keep Americans safe from terrorism for other purposes may be a dereliction of duty, it is no more of a crime than spending all day on Twitter instead of doing your job. The crime here would be if she leaked the names of U.S. citizens to reporters. In the end, the seriousness of the accusation against Rice and other former administration officials who will be caught up in the “unmasking” scandal will rise or fall based on whether or not Donald Trump was actively engaged in a conspiracy to turn over the keys of the White House to the Kremlin. For true believers in the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy theories, the Obama “spying and lying” scandal isn’t a scandal at all; just public officials taking prudent steps to guard against an imminent threat to the republic.

But what if Donald Trump wasn’t the first or only target of an Obama White House campaign of spying and illegal leaks directed at domestic political opponents?

In a December 29, 2015 article, The Wall Street Journal described how the Obama administration had conducted surveillance on Israeli officials to understand how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, like Ambassador Ron Dermer, intended to fight the Iran Deal. The Journal reported that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

Despite this reporting, it seemed inconceivable at the time that—given myriad legal, ethical, political, and historical concerns, as well as strict National Security Agency protocols that protect the identity of American names caught in intercepts—the Obama White House would have actually spied on American citizens. In a December 31, 2016, Tablet article on the controversy, “Why the White House Wanted Congress to Think It Was Being Spied on By the NSA,” I argued that the Obama administration had merely used the appearance of spying on American lawmakers to corner opponents of the Iran Deal. Spying on U.S. citizens would be a clear abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance system. It would be a felony offense to leak the names of U.S. citizens to the press.

Increasingly, I believe that my conclusion in that piece was wrong. I believe the spying was real and that it was done not in an effort to keep the country safe from threats—but in order to help the White House fight their domestic political opponents.

“At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”

This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And—with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access—terrorize them.

Once you understand how this may have worked, it becomes easier to comprehend why and how we keep being fed daily treats of Trump’s nefarious Russia ties. The issue this time isn’t Israel, but Russia, yet the basic contours may very well be the same.

***

Two inquiries now underway on Capitol Hill, conducted by the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee, may discover the extent to which Obama administration officials unmasked the identities of Trump team members caught in foreign-intelligence intercepts. What we know so far is that Obama administration officials unmasked the identity of one Trump team member, Michael Flynn, and leaked his name to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

“According to a senior U.S. government official,” Ignatius wrote in his Jan. 12 column, “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. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?”

Nothing, the Times and the Post later reported. But exposing Flynn’s name in the intercept for political purposes was an abuse of the national-security apparatus, and leaking it to the press is a crime.

This is familiar territory. In spying on the representatives of the American people and members of the pro-Israel community, the Obama administration learned how far it could go in manipulating the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for its own domestic political advantage. In both instances, the ostensible targets—Israel and Russia—were simply instruments used to go after the real targets at home.

In order to spy on U.S. congressmen before the Iran Deal vote, the Obama administration exploited a loophole, which is described in the original Journal article. The U.S. intelligence community is supposed to keep tabs on foreign officials, even those representing allies. Hence, everyone in Washington knows that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer is under surveillance. But it’s different for his American interlocutors, especially U.S. lawmakers, whose identities are, according to NSA protocol, supposed to be, at the very least, redacted. But the standard for collecting and disseminating “intercepted communications involving U.S. lawmakers” is much less strict if it is swept up through “foreign-foreign” intercepts, for instance between a foreign ambassador and his capital. Washington, i.e. the seat of the American government, is where foreign ambassadors are supposed to meet with American officials. The Obama administration turned an ancient diplomatic convention inside out—foreign ambassadors were so dangerous that meeting them signaled betrayal of your own country.

During the long and contentious lead-up to the Iran Deal the Israeli ambassador was regularly briefing senior officials in Jerusalem, including the prime minister, about the situation, including his meetings with American lawmakers and Jewish community leaders. The Obama administration would be less interested in what the Israelis were doing than in the actions of those who actually had the ability to block the deal—namely, Senate and House members. The administration then fed this information to members of the press, who were happy to relay thinly veiled anti-Semitic conceits by accusing deal opponents of dual loyalty and being in the pay of foreign interests.

It didn’t take much imagination for members of Congress to imagine their names being inserted in the Iran deal echo chamber’s boilerplate—that they were beholden to “donors” and “foreign lobbies.” What would happen if the White House leaked your phone call with the Israeli ambassador to a friendly reporter, and you were then profiled as betraying the interests of your constituents and the security of your nation to a foreign power? What if the fact of your phone call appeared under the byline of a famous columnist friendly to the Obama administration, say, in a major national publication?

To make its case for the Iran Deal, the Obama administration redefined America’s pro-Israel community as agents of Israel. They did something similar with Trump and the Russians—whereby every Russian with money was defined as an agent of the state. Where the Israeli ambassador once was poison, now the Russian ambassador is the kiss of death—a phone call with him led to Flynn’s departure from the White House and a meeting with him landed Attorney General Jeff Sessions in hot water.

Did Trump really have dealings with FSB officers? Thanks to the administration’s whisper campaigns, the facts don’t matter; that kind of contact is no longer needed to justify surveillance, whose spoils could then be weaponized and leaked. There are oligarchs who live in Trump Tower, and they all know Putin—ergo, talking to them is tantamount to dealing with the Russian state.

Yet there is one key difference between the two information operations that abused the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for political purposes. The campaign to sell the Iran deal was waged while the Obama administration was in office. The campaign to tie down Trump with the false Russia narrative was put together as the Obama team was on its way out.

The intelligence gathered from Iran Deal surveillance was shared with the fewest people possible inside the administration. It was leaked to only a few top-shelf reporters, like the authors of The Wall Street Journal article, who showed how the administration exploited a loophole to spy on Congress. Congressmen and their staffs certainly noticed, as did the Jewish organizations that were being spied on. But the campaign was mostly conducted sotto voce, through whispers and leaks that made it clear what the price of opposition might be.

The reason the prior abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus is clear only now is because the Russia campaign has illuminated it. As The New York Times reported last month, the administration distributed the intelligence gathered on the Trump transition team widely throughout government agencies, after it had changed the rules on distributing intercepted communications. The point of distributing the information so widely was to “preserve it,” the administration and its friends in the press explained—“preserve” being a euphemism for “leak.” The Obama team seems not to have understood that in proliferating that material they have exposed themselves to risk, by creating a potential criminal trail that may expose systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection.

Another Attempt at “Extreme Vetting”

By Daniel Pipes, April 4, 2017, Cross-posted from National Review Online

McMaster staffing NSC with traditional GOP foreign policy hands

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster looks on as President Trump announces him as his national security adviser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 20. (NICHOLAS KAMM/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

McMaster chose GOP foreign policy expert Nadia Schadlow to be senior director for strategy and charged her with drafting the administration’s new national security strategy.

Washington Post, by Josh Rogin, April 4, 2017:

National security adviser H.R. McMaster is continuing to fill out his national security staff with conservative foreign policy experts from the establishment think-tank world, preferring them to the military intelligence types favored by his predecessor, retired Gen. Michael T. Flynn.

Two White House officials confirmed that McMaster has offered the post of senior director for South and Central Asia to Lisa Curtis, a well-known conservative expert and senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Curtis has accepted the offer and is going through the entry process now. Curtis has been a leading voice on the GOP side of the South Asia expert community for decades, having worked at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as an adviser to the State Department during the George W. Bush administration and as an analyst with the CIA.

What’s illuminating about the pick is that McMaster decided to scuttle Flynn’s choice for the post, Brig. Gen. Robin Fontes, who is currently the defense attaché at the U.S. embassy in New Delhi. The Pentagon had already announced that Fontes was going to the NSC to take the senior director job, as she was offered the post by Flynn before his firing.

“General McMaster is doing the hiring and it reflects his priorities but it’s not a reaction against [Flynn],” one White House official told me. “This is going to give us significant person-power in an area where we need it.”

The Curtis appointment is only the latest McMaster choice that steers the NSC staff away from Flynn’s penchant for military intelligence officers he happened to know well. Last month, McMaster chose GOP foreign policy expert Nadia Schadlow to be senior director for strategy and charged her with drafting the administration’s new national security strategy.

Officials also confirmed that Fiona Hill, a Brookings Institution scholar and traditional GOP Russia hawk, will be senior director for Russia and Europe, a newly combined directorate that brings both regions under one chain of command. Originally, Flynn had selected Tim Shea, the defense intelligence officer for Eurasia at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Shea actually decided to go back to the DIA before Flynn was fired, a DIA spokesperson said.

Several other Flynn hires have also left since his departure, for a variety of reasons. Senior director for strategy Dave Horan left the same day as Flynn. Senior director for the Western Hemisphere Craig Deare, a former Marine intelligence officer, was shown the door after it was revealed he criticized Trump in a private think-tank meeting. Robin Townley, another former Marine intelligence officer, was forced to leave his post as senior director for Africa after the CIA denied him his security clearance.

Replacements for both of those regional senior director roles are in the works, officials said. The officials also confirmed reports that K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser who arrived before McMaster, has been offered other roles outside the NSC, including a possible foreign ambassadorship. No transfer has been decided and McFarland might end up staying at the NSC, officials said.

McMaster wanted to get rid of Flynn’s senior director for intelligence programs, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, but top White House officials reportedly intervened on his behalf. Now that Cohen-Watnick is part of the controversy over the alleged unmasking of Trump transition officials who were caught up in incidental collection by American spy agencies, the White House is even more determined to keep him in place, officials said.

As for Curtis, she will soon be the only senior official appointed in the Trump administration who deals with the South Asia region, which includes the strategically important countries of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, among others. There’s no permanent assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, no Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the State Department and no assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Pentagon.

“It’s rather disheartening I’m sure for the people in the region,” said Shuja Nawaz, distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council. “They are still fumbling for some direction as to how the Trump administration will deal with this region.”

No world leader from the region has visited the White House and the Trump administration has said very little about its plans for the region. It’s been particularly quiet about Afghanistan, where thousands of U.S. troops are stationed.

Also up in the air is whether the NSC staff will play a major role in foreign policymaking. In the recent visit of the Saudi crown prince and the upcoming visitof Chinese President Xi Jinping, senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has taken the lead. Also, several senior GOP foreign policy hands interviewed for top administration jobs have been rejected by the White House because they expressed some anti-Trump views during the campaign, shrinking the pool from which candidates can be chosen.

McMaster’s filling out of the NSC staff with experts and professionals rather than Flynn’s battle buddies is a positive step toward normalizing the foreign policymaking process in the Trump administration. But that effort still has a very long way to go.

***

On Watch: Episode 11 – “Corrupt Weaponizing of Intelligence Collection”

Judicial Watch, March 28, 2017:

Dear Editor/Broadcaster,

Below, you will find the video/transcript for On Watch: Episode 11 – “Corrupt Weaponizing of Intelligence Collection”

***After the On Watch transcript please watch the extremely relevant MSNBC interview with former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Dr. Evelyn Farkas regarding the Obama administrations surveillance of the Trump transition team. Dr. Farkas revelations provides further support of Mr. Farrell’s disclosure’s.

Transcript: I’m Chris Farrell . . . and this is “On Watch

If you’re paying attention to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence – and you should be – you’re seeing a titanic struggle for the future of the United States play out.

I am not exaggerating.

I know a great deal about intelligence collection, retention and dissemination.  I have personally conducted intelligence missions involving electronic surveillance, concealed monitoring and physical surveillance – and I am well-versed in the authority and reporting requirements to do all those things against both US persons and foreigners, in the United States and overseas.   As a commissioned officer and Special Agent of Army Counterintelligence, I commanded both of the two Army Intelligence detachments responsible for physical, technical and aerial surveillance supporting counterintelligence and human intelligence operations.  I understand, and have had access to Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and the subset intelligence discipline of Communications Intelligence or COMINT.

If the misuse and abuse of national intelligence collection systems and procedures, for partisan political purposes by the Obama Administration cannot just slide on by.  Hillary Clinton’s national security crimes included running the most highly classified material the U.S. possesses across her outlaw server without legal consequence.   If Communications Intelligence is used as a partisan political weapon without people going to jail, we will have crossed the point of no return for institutional corruption in our government, our intelligence services and law enforcement.
It might not seem that way, but believe me, it is exactly that way.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has confirmed in writing, and to the press, that the Obama Administration conducted the following activities against President-Elect Trump and his team between November 2016 and January 2017 . . .

  • On numerous occasions, the Intelligence Community “incidentally” collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.
  • Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming Trump administration — details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value—were widely disseminated throughout the government, and apparently leaked to Obama administration allies in the media.  Those leaks are felonies.
  • Names of Trump transition team members were “unmasked” – their identities revealed and circulated – again, more felonies.
  • None of this surveillance was related to Russia or any investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.

This is illegal domestic political espionage on a scale never before imagined.  It is, however, totally consistent with the Obama Administration’s weaponizing of the IRS, as well as other unlawful manipulations of government programs to fund the operations of political allies and non-governmental organizations with tax-payer money – just think about the group ACORN.

In a classic effort to deflect the publics’ attention, Rep. Adam Schiff, has tried to controversialize and sensationalize the actions of Committee Chairman Nunes.   Schiff scrupulously avoids discussing the felonies – the actual crimes we all know have been committed – and instead, attempts to smear the committee chairman for briefing the commander-in-chief.

Political ideologues of The Left have criminally betrayed their oaths and violated national security to attack President Trump and his staff.

Here are the questions that MUST be answered:

  • Who was aware of what was going on?
  • Why was it not disclosed to Congress?
  • Who requested and authorized the unmasking?
  • Who directed the intelligence community to focus on Trump associates?

I’m Chris Farrell –  On watch.

***

Also see: