The military fired me for calling our enemies radical jihadis

Gen. Michael Flynn told Defense bosses the intel system was too politicized to defeat terror. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Gen. Michael Flynn told Defense bosses the intel system was too politicized to defeat terror. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

New York Post, by Michael Flynn, July 9, 2016:

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is reportedly being vetted by Donald Trump as a potential running mate, was fired as head of the ­Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in the winter of 2014 after three decades in the military. Here he tells the real story of his departure from his post and why America is not getting any closer to winning the war on terror.

Two years ago, I was called into a meeting with the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and the director of national intelligence, and after some “niceties,” I was told by the USDI that I was being let go from DIA. It was definitely an uncomfortable moment (I suspect more for them than me).

I asked the DNI (Gen. James Clapper) if my leadership of the agency was in question and he said it was not; had it been, he said, they would have relieved me on the spot.

81ko5s8gshlI knew then it had more to do with the stand I took on radical Islamism and the expansion of al Qaeda and its associated movements. I felt the intel system was way too politicized, especially in the Defense Department. After being fired, I left the meeting thinking, “Here we are in the middle of a war, I had a significant amount of combat experience (nearly five years) against this determined enemy on the battlefield and served at senior levels, and here it was, the bureaucracy was letting me go.” Amazing.

At the time, I was working very hard to change the culture of DIA from one overly focused on Washington, DC, to a culture that focused on our forward-based war fighters and commanders. It was not an easy shift, but it was necessary and exactly the reason I was put into the job in the first place.

In the end, I was pissed but knew that I had maintained my integrity and was determined in the few months I had left to continue the changes I was instituting and to keep beating the drum about the vicious enemy we were facing (still are).

I would not change a lick how I operate. Our country has too much at stake.

We’re in a global war, facing an enemy alliance that runs from Pyongyang, North Korea, to Havana, Cuba, and Caracas, Venezuela. Along the way, the alliance picks up radical Muslim countries and organizations such as Iran, al Qaeda, the Taliban and Islamic State.

That’s a formidable coalition, and nobody should be shocked to discover that we are losing the war.

If our leaders were interested in winning, they would have to design a strategy to destroy this global enemy. But they don’t see the global war. Instead, they timidly nibble around the edges of the battlefields from Africa to the Middle East, and act as if each fight, whether in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya or Afghanistan, can be peacefully resolved by diplomatic effort.

This approach is doomed. We have real enemies, dedicated to dominating and eventually destroying us, and they are not going to be talked out of their hatred. Iran, for example, declared war on the United States in 1979 — that’s 37 years ago — and has been killing Americans ever since. Every year, the State Department declares Iran to be the world’s primary supporter of terror. Do you think we’ll nicely and politely convince them to be good citizens and even (as President Obama desires) a responsible ally supporting peace? Do you think ISIS or the Taliban wants to embrace us?

No, we’re not going to talk our way out of this war, nor can we escape its horrors. Ask the people in San Bernardino or South Florida, or the relatives of the thousands killed on 9/11. We’re either going to win or lose. There is no other “solution.”

I believe we can and must win. This war must be waged both militarily and politically; we have to destroy the enemy armies and combat enemy doctrines. Both are doable. On military battlefields, we have defeated radical Islamic forces every time we have seriously gone after them, from Iraq to Afghanistan. Their current strength is not a reflection of their ability to overwhelm our armed forces, but rather the consequence of our mistaken and untimely withdrawal after demolishing them.

We have failed to challenge their jihadist doctrines, even though their true believers only number a small fraction of the Muslim world, and even though everybody, above all most living Muslims, knows that the Islamic world is an epic failure, desperately needing economic, cultural and educational reform of the sort that has led to the superiority of the West.

So first of all, we need to demolish the terror armies, above all in the Middle East and Libya. We have the wherewithal, but lack the will. That has to change. It’s hard to imagine it happening with our current leaders, but the next president will have to do it.

As we defeat them on the ground, we must clearly and forcefully attack their crazy doctrines. Defeat on battlefields does great damage to their claim to be acting as agents of divine will. After defeating al Qaeda in Iraq, we should have challenged the Islamic world and asked: “How did we win? Did Allah change sides?”

We need to denounce them as false prophets, as we insist on the superiority of our own political vision. This applies in equal measure to the radical secular elements of the enemy coalition. Is North Korea some sort of success story? Does anyone this side of a university seminar think the Cuban people prefer the Castros’ tyranny to real freedom? Is Vladimir Putin a model leader for the 21st-century world?

Just as the Muslim world has failed, so the secular tyrants have wrecked their own countries. They hate us in part because they know their own peoples would prefer to live as we do. They hope to destroy us before they have to face the consequences of their many failures.

Remember that Machiavelli insisted that tyranny is the most unstable form of government.

It infuriates me when our president bans criticism of our enemies, and I am certain that we cannot win this war unless we are free to call our enemies by their proper names: radical jihadis, failed tyrants, and so forth.

With good leadership, we should win. But we desperately need good leaders to reverse our enemies’ successes.

Flynn is the author of the new book “The Field of Fight” (St. Martin’s Press), out Tuesday.

Also see:

Former DIA director: Obama White House made “willful decision” to support al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood in Syria

Mehdi Hasan goes Head to Head with Michael T. Flynn, former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, on how to deal with ISIL and Iran. http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/headtohead/2015/07/blame-isil-150728080342288.html

Mehdi Hasan goes Head to Head with Michael T. Flynn, former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, on how to deal with ISIL and Iran. http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/headtohead/2015/07/blame-isil-150728080342288.html


Jihad Watch, by Robert Spencer, Aug. 8, 2015:

Mehdi Hasan is a highly suspect analyst and Foreign Policy Journal appears to be a pro-jihad paleocon publication, and Al Jazeera is certainly a pro-jihad propaganda outlet. All that is noted, but if this transcript is accurate, former DIA director Michael Flynn is confirming that the Obama Administration knowingly decided to support al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, and directly enabled the rise of the Islamic State. And given the Obama Administration’s general stance toward the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, what would be unbelievable about that?

In a sane political atmosphere, this would be enough to bring down the Obama presidency. Instead, it will get little notice and no action whatsoever.

“Rise of Islamic State was ‘a willful decision’: Former DIA Chief Michal [sic] Flynn,” by Brad Hoff, Foreign Policy Journal, August 7, 2015 (thanks to Joshua):

In Al Jazeera’s latest Head to Head episode, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn confirms to Mehdi Hasan that not only had he studied the DIA memo predicting the West’s backing of an Islamic State in Syria when it came across his desk in 2012, but even asserts that the White House’s sponsoring of radical jihadists (that would emerge as ISIL and Nusra) against the Syrian regime was “a willful decision.” [Lengthy discussion of the DIA memo begins at the 8:50 mark.]

Amazingly, Flynn actually took issue with the way interviewer Mehdi Hasan posed the question—Flynn seemed to want to make it clear that the policies that led to the rise of ISIL were not merely the result of ignorance or looking the other way, but the result of conscious decision making:

Hasan: You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?

Flynn: I think the administration.

Hasan: So the administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?

Flynn: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.

Hasan: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?

Flynn: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.

Hasan himself expresses surprise at Flynn’s frankness during this portion of the interview. While holding up a paper copy of the 2012 DIA report declassified through FOIA, Hasan reads aloud key passages such as, “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”

Rather than downplay the importance of the document and these startling passages, as did the State Department soon after its release, Flynn does the opposite: he confirms that while acting DIA chief he “paid very close attention” to this report in particular and later adds that “the intelligence was very clear.”

Lt. Gen. Flynn, speaking safely from retirement, is the highest ranking intelligence official to go on record saying the United States and other state sponsors of rebels in Syria knowingly gave political backing and shipped weapons to Al-Qaeda in order to put pressure on the Syrian regime:

Hasan: In 2012 the U.S. was helping coordinate arms transfers to those same groups [Salafists, Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda in Iraq], why did you not stop that if you’re worried about the rise of quote-unquote Islamic extremists?

Flynn: I hate to say it’s not my job…but that…my job was to…was to ensure that the accuracy of our intelligence that was being presented was as good as it could be….

As Michael Flynn also previously served as director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) during a time when its prime global mission was dismantling Al-Qaeda, his honest admission that the White House was in fact arming and bolstering Al-Qaeda linked groups in Syria is especially shocking given his stature….

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Spy General Unloads on Obama’s ISIS War Plan

1422368403396.cachedDaily Beast, by Kimberly Dozier, Jan. 27, 2015

Former DIA Chief Michael Flynn likens the fight against Islamic militants to the Cold War and calls for an international chain of command akin to that of the Allies in World War II.
The former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency slammed the Obama administration on Monday as “well intentioned” but paralyzed and playing defense inits the fight againstIslamic militancy.Recently retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn called for the U.S. to lead the charge in a sweeping, decades-long campaign against the Islamic State group, al Qaeda, and its ilk—a fight like the one against the former Soviet Union—against a new enemy he said is  “committed to the destruction of freedom and the American way of life.”

“There is no substitute, none, for American power,” the general said, to occasional cheers and ultimately a standing ovation from a crowd of special operators and intelligence officers at a Washington industry conference.

He also slammed the administration for refusing to use the term “Islamic militants” in its description of ISIS and al Qaeda.

“You cannot defeat an enemy you do not admit exists,” Flynn said.

He said the administration is unwilling to admit the scope of the problem, naively clinging to the hope that limited counterterrorist intervention will head off the ideological juggernaut of religious militancy.

“There are many sincere people in our government who frankly are paralyzed by this complexity,” said Flynn, so they “accept a defensive posture, reasoning that passivity is less likely to provoke our enemies.”

Flynn refused to name President Obama as the focus of his ire in comments afterward to The Daily Beast, saying that he was simply “sending a message to the American people.” But the comments show the widening rift between some in the national-security community who want to see more special-operations and intelligence assets sent into the fight against ISIS and other groups in Syria and beyond.

Flynn’s comments echo calls by other former Obama administration officials like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta who all say they urged more intervention earlier in the Syrian conflict.

Flynn left his DIA post in the summer of 2014, with close associates muttering about his frustration with the Obama White House’s inaction against al Qaeda, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, widely known as ISIS or ISIL, and more. Since his departure, he has been speaking to business executives and contemplating several offers from corporate America and academia, but has stayed mum about why he left his DIA post earlier than planned.

Within the shadowy world of special operations-driven intelligence, Flynn developed a reputation for bluntly speaking his mind, working for Gen. Stanley McChrystal at the elite Joint Special Operations Command and later serving as McChrystal’s intelligence chief in Afghanistan before McChrystal had his own run-in with the Obama administration for impolitic remarks in Rolling Stonemagazine.

Flynn caused controversy during his Afghan stint when he went outside military channels to a think tank, publishing a monograph called Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan. That broadside was maligned for the delivery method but widely praised for its message—that traditional military-intelligence practitioners were too focused on targeting the enemy rather than understanding the cultural and economic environment driving the enemy to fight.

In this latest critique, Flynn accused the administration of failing to understand what drives ISIS or al Qaeda.

“They want us to think that our challenge is dealing with an undefined set of violent extremists or merely lone-wolf actors with no ideology or network. But that’s just not the straight truth,” said Flynn. “Our adversaries around the world are self-described Islamic militants—they say,” he told the crowd at the annual National Defense Industry Association’s special-operations meeting. There were many nods of approval.

The current head of Special Operations Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, was more circumspect in comments to the same audience about whether or not the United States “should be” expanding the fight against Islamic militancy.

“The bigger issue is whether we are allowed to do that,” Votel said, measuring his words carefully. The famously reticent U.S. Army Ranger—who just came from leading the shadowy and elite Joint Special Operations Command—said the issue “falls into the realm of uncomfortable topics” he has to bring up with the administration.

Votel described the foreign-fighter flow into the Middle East in support of ISIS as “staggering,” adding that “over 19,000 foreign fighters from more than 90 different countries have traveled to Syria and Iraq.”

Flynn described the enemies arrayed against the U.S. as varied, but “fueled by a vision for worldwide domination, achieved through violence and bloodshed. They want to silence all opposition. They hate our ideals and they hate our way of life.”

In the fight against militant extremism, Flynn said the problem is so sweeping, the world should create a “single unified and international chain of command, probably civilian-led,” like the coalition championed by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower during World War II. He made further references to former President Ronald Reagan’s all-out war against the Soviet Union, not only outfighting them in proxy wars, but outspending them and outthinking them in terms of fighting their ideology.

Flynn said that since 1960 there had been more than 30 insurgencies, conflicts, and wars, “and in two-thirds of these cases, the bad guys won.”

“A strong defense is the best deterrent,” against such fights, he said, adding that, “the dangers to the U.S. do not arise from the arrogance of American power, but from unpreparedness or an excessive unwillingness to fight when fighting is necessary.”

“Retreat, retrenchment, and disarmament are historically a recipe for disaster,” he added, making reference to budget cuts and troop drawdowns faced by the current military as the Obama administration attempts to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan, as it did in Iraq before sending small numbers of trainers and advisers to assist the government there in the current crisis brought on by the territorial gains of ISIS.

The White House did not respond immediately to requests for comment on Flynn’s remarks.