US-Russian steps vs Iran await new NSC chief

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DEBKAfile, February 14, 2016

Michael Flynn’s abrupt resignation as National Security Adviser Monday night, Feb. 13, was a crippling blow to Donald Trump’s foreign policy strategy, less than a month after he entered the White House. Flynn was the architect and prime mover of the president’s plans for close cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was brought down by misinforming Vice President Mike Pence – and very likely the president too – on the content of the conversation he held with the Russian ambassador before Trump’s inauguration.

Although retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg takes over as acting NSA, the White House is urgently considering a permanent replacement to fill Flynn’s large shoes. Former CIA Director David Petraeus’ name has come up, but his indiscretions over state secrets still count against him. Vice Admiral Robert Harward, a former Navy SEAL, is a strong contender, although more may emerge.

Even before picking his next national security adviser, Trump will need to determine how to proceed with his détente with Putin, the highly sensitive details of which were managed personally and confidentially by Mike Flynn as the centerpiece of the new administration’s foreign policy.

His contacts with Moscow were under heavy fire from the president’s friends and foes alike, both before and after the November election. It was defended stalwartly by Trump himself, Pence and Flynn. However, neither the president nor the vice president can tell exactly what Flynn promised the Russians and to what deals he committed them. Therefore, his successor will be required to start building Washington’s ties with Moscow from scratch.

While Flynn’s departure has caused havoc in the Trump administration, it is a catastrophe for the Middle East, because a core objective of the US-Russian partnership, which he shaped as a model for other regions, was to have been to clip Iran’s wings and cut down its standing down as premier Middle East power conferred by Barack Obama.

(How the Flynn mechanism was to work plus detailed analysis of the fallout from his departure will be covered exclusively in the coming issue of DEBKA Weekly out next Friday).

Flynn alone was privy to arrangements concluded with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman, President Putin in Moscow, Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisis in Cairo and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Some of his output began taking shape on the day he stepped down, when Syrian rebel groups led by Jordanian special operations officers attacked Syrian army positions in the southern town of Daraa. This was the start of an operation to drive Syrian government forces and their Iranian and Hizballah allies from the lands bordering on Jordan and Israel.

In Cairo, too, President Michel Aoun of Lebanon and his host, El-Sisi were hashing out a plan for the Egyptian army and Gulf forces to go into action against Hizballah in Syria and Lebanon.
Wednesday, Feb. 15, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to visit the White House for his first meeting with Trump as president. They too were scheduled to discuss US operations against Hizballah and the role Israel would play.

In the coming hours, Trump will have to decide whether to go ahead with these initiatives in the absence of Flynn and his detailed knowledge of how they should go forward, or simply put them on hold until his successor is in place and has time for a full study of their complicated ins and outs. At the same time, a different national security adviser in the White house might have different plans to those laid out by his predecessor.

Three candidates emerge to replace Flynn as national security adviser

Vice-Admiral Bob Harward, Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg, Jr. and former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus.

Vice-Admiral Bob Harward, Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg, Jr. and former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus.

Fox News, February 14, 2017:

President Trump’s embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned Monday night and three names have emerged as possible replacements.

Vice Adm. Bob Harward is one name that has come up to replace Flynn as national security adviser, and the leading candidate to get the job, a senior official told Fox News.

Harward is a U.S. Navy SEAL, but also has a previous relationship with Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Harward was the deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command under Mattis and was also the deputy commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command.

He also served on the National Security Council for President George W. Bush and commissioned the National Counter Terrorism Center.

White House sources described Harward as the “toughest guy in the SEALs” and a “real rock.”

A senior administration official added that if Howard is the choice to replace Flynn, he could be in place by the end of the week.

Lt. Gen. Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr. has been floated as a permanent replacement for Flynn. Trump named him the acting national security adviser after Flynn resigned.

Kellogg is a decorated U.S. Army veteran, having served from 1967 to 2003. He earned the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with “V” device and the Air Medal with “V” device during his time in the Vietnam War.

Kellogg was chief operating officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, the interim governing body following the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. He previously worked as executive vice president of research and technology for Virginia-based information technology firm CACI International, which works as a contractor for defense, intelligence and homeland security agencies.

Another name floated as a possible replacement for Flynn is retired Gen. David Petraeus.

Trump routinely dropped Petraeus’ name during his election campaign. Trump said that Petraeus was punished more severely for leaking classified documents to his mistress than Hillary Clinton was punished for setting up a private email server during his time as Secretary of State.

READ: MICHAEL FLYNN’S LETTER OF RESIGNATION AS NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER

Petraeus was briefly considered for the secretary of state job, but was passed up because of his rocky tenure as CIA chief and the possibility that he wouldn’t be confirmed in the Senate because of those issues.

According to the Washington Examiner, Bush’s former national security adviser Stephen Hadley and Tom Bossert, a former national security aide under Bush have been considered a Flynn’s replacement. The paper added that Adm. James Stavridis, a dean at Tufts University, is also on the table.

Flynn’s resignation ended speculation about his fate following reports he had misled Vice President Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russia.

Flynn conceded that discussions of sanctions may have come up during several calls with the Russian ambassador during the transition period leading up to Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

He acknowledged that he gave “incomplete information” about those discussions to Pence who, apparently relying on information from the national security adviser, initially said Flynn had not discussed sanctions with the Russian envoy.

Whoever emerges as Trump’s choice will take the helm of the National Security Council at a time when the young administration is grappling with a series of national security challenges, including North Korea’s reported ballistic missile launch. The president, who was joined at his Mar-a-Lago estate by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the weekend, voiced solidarity with Japan.

The White House is also dealing with fallout from the rocky rollout of Trump’s immigration executive order, which has been blocked by the courts. The order was intended to suspend the nation’s refugee program and bar citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

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Petraeus would be a disaster — a stalwart of the old establishment in an administration that said it would “drain the swamp.”

In May 2016, he published what was essentially an anti Trump screed, saying that proposals to restrict immigration from Muslim countries that are hotspots of jihad terror shouldn’t even be made, so as to avoid offending Muslims.

He was in favor of using al Qaeda jihadis to defeat the Islamic State, which would give us a region full of al-Qaeda jihadis with American weapons and materiel who hate the United States and want to destroy it. (This is essentially what we have now in Syria, where Obama armed “moderates” who were really al-Qaeda jihadis.)

When he headed up the international coalition in Afghanistan, he said that Florida pastor Terry Jones’ plan to burn the Qur’an was “hateful, it was intolerant and it was extremely disrespectful and again, we condemn it in the strongest manner possible.” He warned that the Qur’an-burning would endanger American troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere. He issued a statement saying that he hoped “the Afghan people understand that the actions of a small number of individuals, who have been extremely disrespectful to the holy Quran, are not representative of any of the countries of the international community who are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people.”

I opposed the Qur’an-burning, but not for the reasons Petraeus did. I don’t like the burning of books. And I’d rather that the contents of the Qur’an, and the ways that jihadists use those contents to justify violence, be known. However, Jones was free to do what he wanted to do. Petraeus would have done better to have told the Afghans that in America we have freedom of speech and expression, and that we put up with speech and expression that we dislike without trying to kill the speaker.

He has never shown evidence of having a clue about the jihad threat.

Flynn Resignation Raises Tough Questions for FBI, Intel Services

Michael Flynn

Breitbart, by Joel Pollak, February 14, 2017:

The resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Monday evening raises troubling questions about the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the intelligence services.

Flynn ostensibly resigned because he provided Vice President Mike Pence with “incomplete information” about a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador, which turned out to include a discussion of recent sanctions, contrary to his earlier denials. Trust is crucial; the resignation was warranted.

That said, the sanctions were largely bogus, and were applied not just to punish Russia for spying on the U.S. (both countries clearly spy on each other), but to substantiate the Democratic Party’s sore-loser conspiracy theory that Russia was responsible for electing Donald Trump.

There is no concrete evidence to support that theory, and there is no evidence (yet) that Flynn did anything but discuss sanctions in the most general terms. He did not break the Logan Act, nor any other law, apparently.

Whether Flynn deliberately concealed the contents of his conversation from Vice President Pence, or merely forgot what had been said, he was “caught” because the Department of Justice had been eavesdropping on the conversation. And one of the officials responsible for ordering the eavesdropping was none other than Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who forced President Trump to fire her when she defied her duty to enforce his executive order on immigration, however, controversial.

Four possibilities emerge. One, which the media and the Democrats (largely one and the same) clearly believe, is that Flynn really was a potential Russian plant, perhaps indicating much deeper Russian penetration of the campaign and administration.

A second possibility is that things really are what they seem, on the surface, to be. Russia’s unusual response to the sanctions — declining to retaliate — was so bizarre that it warranted investigation, which then raised legitimate suspicions about Flynn.

The remaining possibilities are more worrying. The third explanation is that President Obama deliberately, and cleverly, used the bogus sanctions as a “blue dye” test to expose which strings Russia might try to pull to relieve them. Flynn, with a prior relationship with the Russian government, may have been a natural, innocuous point of contact — or perhaps something more.

The fourth and most worrying explanation is that the government was not merely monitoring the communications of Russian diplomats, but of the Trump transition team itself. The fact that the contents of Flynn’s phone conversation — highly sensitive intelligence — were leaked to the media suggests that someone with access to that information also has a political axe to grind.

Democrats are clamoring for a deeper investigation of Russian ties to Trump. But the more serious question is whether our nation’s intelligence services were involved in what amounts to political espionage against the newly-elected government.

We know that there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of federal bureaucrats already using shadow communications systems. How far does that “shadow government” go?

The FBI, CIA and other agencies ought to reassure Congress, or come clean.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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Flynn Out as National Security Advisor, Admits Telling VP ‘Incomplete’ Story of Russia Contacts

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

PJ MEDIA, BY BRIDGET JOHNSON, FEBRUARY 13, 2017:

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, stepped down late Monday after only three weeks on the job in the wake of reports that he had discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador and could be vulnerable to Kremlin blackmail.

Trump named Flynn’s retired Lt. Gen. Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr., as the acting national security advisor. Kellogg is a former director of the Command, Control, Communications, and Computers Directorate of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Gen. David Petraeus, who was at one point a candidate for secretary of State, is reportedly visiting the White House on Tuesday. The former CENTCOM commander and CIA director testified on Capitol Hill at the beginning of the month that “we especially need Muslim allies” and that Trump’s travel ban could be counterproductive. “Our Muslim country partners are the ones who are on the front lines and it is, again, a struggle within their civilization, even more than it is between our civilizations — and we don’t want to heighten the differences between those civilizations,” Petraeus told the House Armed Services Committee.

National security advisor is not a position that requires Senate confirmation, so Trump can fill the position as quickly as he likes.

Flynn, a retired three-star Army general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, campaigned for Trump and spoke at the Republican National Convention. On Dec. 29, after the president-elect appointed Flynn as the incoming national security advisor, then-President Obama levied additional sanctions on Russia in response to the intelligence community finding that the Kremlin waged an influence operation, including hacking, against the U.S. presidential election. That same day, Flynn spoke with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Flynn claimed he and Kislyak exchanged holiday greetings and didn’t talk about sanctions, but soon after their conversation Russian President Vladimir Putin raised eyebrows by announcing he wouldn’t retaliate for Obama’s expulsion of Russian diplomats. Vice President Mike Pence also publicly denied that sanctions were discussed on the call.

The Washington Post and New York Times both reported that Flynn did talk sanctions with the Russian envoy, information reportedly gleaned from intelligence services’ transcripts. The Post reported today that Sally Yates, the acting attorney general recently fired by Trump for refusing to defend his travel ban, had warned the White House while still at the Justice Department that Flynn was not telling the truth about his conversations with Russian officials and was vulnerable to Kremlin blackmail.

In a statement released by the White House, Flynn said that during the transition he “held numerous phone calls with foreign counterparts, ministers, and ambassadors” to “facilitate a smooth transition and begin to build the necessary relationships between the president, his advisors and foreign leaders.”

“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president, and they have accepted my apology,” Flynn said.

“I am tendering my resignation, honored to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way. I am also extremely honored to have served President Trump, who in just three weeks, has reoriented American foreign policy in fundamental ways to restore America’s leadership position in the world.”

Flynn further declared Trump’s administration would “go down in history as one of the greatest presidencies in U.S. history.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC earlier Monday that Flynn “does enjoy the full confidence of the president.”

“General Flynn has said he can’t recall and that he had about 30 phone calls with, I guess, leaders at the time and since then, 70, I’m told, with different leaders,” Conway said. “And I’ll just leave his comments at that.”

“You’re asking me what did he talk about with people when I wasn’t on the phone. So the only way for me to answer that is to tell you what he has said, which is that he can’t recall. And what he informed the vice president at the time, through a conversation, was that he had not, the vice president went out on TV, as you know, in January, and repeated that based on the conversation he had with General Flynn,” Conway added before admonishing the network for covering the Flynn story.

Republican lawmakers tread carefully around the story during the day, as well. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told CNN Monday afternoon that he was sure Trump was “trying to find out what General Flynn told the vice president, what really General Flynn’s recollections were.”

“He wasn’t privy to those conversations either, so he’s probably gathering the facts. I’ve always thought that telling the truth is the best policy,” Johnson said. “…It’s really not my role to advise and consent on this particular position, so I’ll leave that up to the president. He’ll get to the bottom of it, and he’ll make his determination.”

Democrats began the day, though, going for the kill. “This comes on the heels of a troubled past, when he was the head of the DIA,” House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told MSNBC. “But if this is someone who can’t remember whether he discussed with the Russian ambassador sanctions that the president placed on Russia that very day, that really strains credulity. It’s very hard to believe. And we need a national security adviser that the president can trust, that the American people can trust.”

Schiff said Flynn’s contacts should be within the scope of the Intelligence Committee’s probe into Russia’s covert influence operations in the United States.

“Certainly, if there were contacts between Flynn as a chief surrogate for the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the campaign, that’s well within our purview,” he said. “If those contacts continued after, and, indeed, the subject of sanctions was raised and then Flynn was misleading about it, that ought to be something that has to be investigated.”

The CIA really is out to get General Flynn

gettyimages-623849086PJ MEDIA, BY DAVID P. GOLDMAN, FEBRUARY 13, 2017

How come no-one is accusing NSA Director Michael Flynn of taking bribes from Turkey’s dictator Recep Erdogan? Not long ago, they did. Last November 18, Commentary Magazine’s Noah Rothman called Flynn a “dubious choice” for the National Security Council because his consulting company had a Turkish client, adding that Flynn’s views on Turkey raised a “conflict of interest.” Flynn had published an article in The Hill on Nov. 8 warning that America’s dalliance with the messianic Turkish Islamist and alleged coup plotter Fetullah Guelen might undermine the country’s relationship with NATO, at a time when Russia was giving Turkey the full court press.

On Dec. 2, I wrote in Asia Times that Commentary’s Rothman probably was stooging for a CIA disinformation campaign against Flynn. Not only did Flynn propose to deep-six Guelen, a longstanding friend of the CIA, but he had blown the whistle on CIA incompetence in Syria. Flynn’s Defense Intelligence Agency produced a now-notorious 2012 report warning that chaos in Syria’s civil war enabled the rise of a new Caliphate movement, namely ISIS. For full back ground, see Brad Hoff’s July 2016 essay in Foreign Policy Journal: Flynn humiliated the bungling CIA and exposed the incompetence and deception of the Obama Administration, and got fired for it. If anyone doubts the depth of CIA incompetence in Syria, I recommended an account that appeared this month in the London Financial Times.

In November, Flynn warned that the U.S. stood to lose its Turkish ally, to the benefit of Russia–and got attacked as a Turkish agent. That doesn’t square with the current round of disinformation, which paints Flynn as pro-Russian. Flynn’s detractors rely on a fake-news media which forgets the story it spun a couple of months ago when it contradicts the story it is spinning today.

I don’t know why Flynn talked to the Russian ambassador about the incoming Trump Administration’s prospective policy on sanctions, or what transpired in the White House regarding mis-statements that Flynn may or may not have made about such discussions. Senior officials speak to their counterparts in other countries all the time, and for obvious reasons do not want these conversations to become public. The intelligence community, though, was taping Flynn’s discussions, and the transcripts (of whose existence we are told but whose contents we have not seen) were used to embarrass him.

A couple of observations are in order.

First, the allegation of various Democrats that Flynn violated the 1799 Logan Act is silly. No-one ever has been prosecuted under the Logan Act. It forbids US citizens from communicating with foreign governments “with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.” Flynn reportedly was talking about prospective policies of an administration that would take office in a matter of days; it is absurd to construe such discussions, whatever they may have contained, as an intent to undermine disputes with the United States.

Second, two narratives are running simultaneously in the media which appear to support each other, but actually consist of entirely independent bubbles of hot air. One is that Flynn misspoke about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, an allegation I cannot evaluate but find neither important nor interesting. The second is that the “Intelligence Community pushes back against a White House it considers leaky, untruthful and penetrated by the Kremlin,” as retired intelligence officer John Schindler alleged today in The Observer. Not a single fact is presented in Schindler’s account nor in several similar accounts circulating in the media. What leaks? Penetrated by whom? Sen. Joseph McCarthy could do better than that.

Third, the CIA has gone out of its way to sandbag Flynn at the National Security Council. As Politico reports: “On Friday, one of Flynn’s closest deputies on the NSC, senior director for Africa Robin Townley, was informed that the Central Intelligence Agency had rejected his request for an elite security clearance required for service on the NSC, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.” Townley held precisely the same security clearance at the Department of Defense for seventeen years, yet he was blackballed without explanation. At DoD, Townley had a stellar reputation as a Middle East and Africa expert, and the denial of his clearance is hard to explain except as bureaucratic backstabbing.

Fourth, Gen. Flynn is the hardest of hardliners with respect to Russia within the Trump camp. In his 2016 book Field of Fight (co-authored with PJ Media’s Michael Ledeen), Flynn warned of “an international alliance of evil movements and countries that is working to destroy us….The war is on. We face a working coalition that extends from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran, Syria, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua.” The unsubstantiated allegation that he presides over a “leaky” National Security Council tilting towards Russia makes no sense. The only leaks of which we know are politically-motivated reports coming from the intelligence community designed to disrupt the normal workings of a democratic government–something that raises grave Constitutional issues.

Flynn is the one senior US intelligence officer with the guts to blow the whistle on a series of catastrophic intelligence and operational failures. The available facts point to the conclusion that elements of the humiliated (and perhaps soon-to-be-unemployed) intelligence community is trying to exact vengeance against a principled and patriotic officer. When the Turkish smear against Flynn came out in November, I smelled a rat. The present affair stinks like a dumpster full of dead rats.

Here’s What Trump Administration Officials Think Of The Muslim Brotherhood

Daily Caller, by Chuck Ross, February 9, 2017:

The Trump administration is reportedly weighing whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization along with ISIS, al-Qaeda and dozens of other groups.

The internal deliberations were reported earlier this week by The New York Times. Critics have come out against the designation, claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood, despite having some jihad-minded offshoots, is the best firewall available to the U.S. in its fight against violent terrorist groups in the Middle East.

Politico reported on Wednesday that CIA officials urged against the terror designation in a briefing prepared last month.

It is still unclear how the Trump administration would go about enacting any terror designation for the Muslim Brotherhood. An executive order enacting a designation may not meet legal standards. Trump could order the State Department to explore the Muslim Brotherhood’s status.

However any terror designation would unfold, several players in the Trump administration have been heavily critical of the Muslim Brotherhood. And at least one, CIA director Mike Pompeo, has explicitly endorsed the terror designation.

The White House declined a request for comment on the status of any terror designation plan. During a Wednesday press conference, White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to elaborate but also did not deny that discussions about the terror designation are taking place.

Mike Pompeo, CIA director

Pompeo’s past stance on the Muslim Brotherhood would appear to conflict with his new agency’s position, as stated in the brief the CIA compiled last month.

Mike Pompeo at January 12, 2017 Senate confirmation hearing (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Mike Pompeo at January 12, 2017 Senate confirmation hearing (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

As a member of Congress from Kansas, Pompeo supported a proposed bill which would have designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terror group. The bill also linked the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim activist group in the U.S., to the Muslim Brotherhood.

A similar bill was reintroduced last month by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

CAIR and other groups like the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) were named unindicted co-conspirators in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) case. HLF officials were found guilty of funneling money to Hamas, the terror group that was founded by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. CAIR has come out against designating the Brotherhood a terror organization.

Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist

Bannon, the former chairman of Breitbart News, has long spoken out against radical Islam and the threat posed by jihadis. Breitbart is perhaps the largest news outlet in America focusing on the issue.

And as The Washington Post recently revealed, Bannon submitted a film proposal in 2007 that referred to the Muslim Brotherhood as “the foundation of modern terrorism.”

Stephen Bannon (REUTERS)

Stephen Bannon (REUTERS)

The film, which Bannon was to direct, was entitled “Destroying the Great Satan: The Rise of Islamic Fascism in America.”

Bannon has also discussed the Muslim Brotherhood extensively on a radio show he hosted while still with Breitbart. After Bannon emerged as a Trump campaign adviser, liberal groups, including Media Matters, accused him of making false claims about Muslim Brotherhood’s links to various public figures.

Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to President Trump

Gorka, a counterterrorism expert and former Breitbart News editor, has commented extensively on the Muslim Brotherhood.

His now-defunct website has Muslim Brotherhood labeled under its “Terrorism” section.

One link on the website is to a 2014 speech he gave at the U.S. Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

In it, Gorka tied to ideological underpinnings of modern terrorist groups to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded by Egyptian scholar Hassan al-Banna in 1928.

“We must understand al-Qaeda, not as something that was created by Osama bin Laden simply on the foundations of the Arab mujahedeen movement. Rather, it is the product of decades of ideological evolution that started with the Muslim Brotherhood,” Gorka said.

“I am afraid of al-Qaeda’s soft jihadi colleagues, those who will not use violence — organizations such as The Muslim Brotherhood — that use legal tools, economic tools and lawfare as a weapon to undermine our constitutional order,” he added.

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Last year Gorka wrote a piece going after CAIR and the Islamic Society of North America, two prominent activist groups that were founded by Muslim Brotherhood members.

“Both CAIR and ISNA will be fully aware of the significance of November 14th, seeing as both organizations were declared by a federal court to be unindicted co-conspirators of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood terror group, in the largest terrorist financing trial in US history,” he wrote, referring to the Holy Land Foundation case.

He also asserted that Muslim members “of Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood” have a “supremacist understanding” of Islam.

Gorka spoke most extensively about the Muslim Brotherhood in an interview last year with Frank Gaffney, the head of the Center for Security Policy and a vocal critic of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“What we face today and have done since 9/11…is really a totalitarian ideology that has deep roots going back to the Muslim Brotherhood, to the disillusion of the caliphate originally in the 20th century and that we have to understand that this ideology has various expressions,” said Gorka.

Frank Gaffney, former Donald Trump and Ted Cruz adviser (The Daily Caller)

Frank Gaffney, former Donald Trump and Ted Cruz adviser (The Daily Caller)

He also suggested comparing the U.S. Constitution “to the founding charter of the Muslim Brotherhood, or Hamas, or…any of the organizations associated with front groups connected to the Brotherhood.”

“They define themselves against individual liberty, against freedom and democracy,” he said.

Asked to describe the Muslim Brotherhood, Gorka called it “a many faceted thing.”

“The Brotherhood represents itself in different ways to different audiences,” he said. To diplomats, Brotherhood members claim to support democracy.

“Unfortunately, people who don’t crack open a history book don’t understand that this organization has killed prime ministers, killed heads of state, blown up civilians, murdered all kinds of individuals who resist them,” Gorka said.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is an overt political organization in the Middle East, banned in many countries, and also a covert and underground subversive organization with an international network.”

He went on to say that groups like al-Qaeda, Hamas and Brotherhood-linked political groups like CAIR are “all fathered…all sired by the Muslim Brotherhood.”

He said that the Muslim Brotherhood in U.S. uses “agents of influence” like CAIR and ISNA to shape U.S. policy.

Gorka’s wife, Katie, supports designating the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

In 2014, Gorka, who is serving in a transition role at the Department of Homeland Security, asked in an article at Family Security Matters: “Given the Brotherhood’s long history of violence, including assassinations and attempted assassinations of Egyptian leaders, the question is why were they not designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) long before now?”

KT McFarland, deputy national security adviser

In a 2011 radio interview, McFarland, who served as Pentagon spokeswoman during the Ronald Reagan administration, said that the Muslim Brotherhood has not, despite their long-standing claims, renounced violence.

In an interview on WMAL, the host noted that the Muslim Brotherhood has said it has disavowed violence.

“Well they haven’t,” McFarland interjected.

“The Muslim Brotherhood was the godfather of al-Qaeda. The number 2 guy in al-Qaeda was Muslim Brotherhood,” she added.

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McFarland then said that she frequently visited the Muslim Brotherhood’s English-language website. That version preached unity and cooperation with non-Muslims, she said. But the Arabic version espoused a more radical worldview, she claimed.

“They’ve got the crossed scimitars, and they say ‘be prepared, be ready,’” said McFarland of the site.

Michael Flynn, national security adviser

Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, famously broke with the Obama administration regarding the threat posed by Islamic terrorists. He spoke out after leaving his DIA post in 2014, accusing Obama of failing to curtail ISIS. He has also said that U.S. foreign policy is too politically correct regarding the threat of radical Islam.

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn at Trump Tower (REUTERS)

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn at Trump Tower (REUTERS)

Flynn has not said much publicly about the Muslim Brotherhood. But he has sung the praises of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian general who took power after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in 2013.

“He took his religion on. He took this ideology on,” Flynn said of el-Sisi during a speech in July.

As Trump’s top adviser on national security issues, Flynn would have significant input on any decision regarding designation.

Rex Tillerson, secretary of state

As secretary of state, Tillerson would also have a prominent role in deciding whether the Muslim Brotherhood should wear the label of “terror group.”

The former Exxon Mobil CEO had said nothing in public about the Muslim Brotherhood until last month, during his Senate confirmation.

Rex Tillerson at Senate confirmation hearing (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Rex Tillerson at Senate confirmation hearing (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

During the hearing, Tillerson lumped the Muslim Brotherhood in with groups like al-Qeada.

In his opening statement, he said that the U.S. government must “increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran.”

Media Covers Fake Mike Flynn Story, Ignores Bombshell on Secret Obama/Iran Meetings

(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

PJ Media, by David Steinberg, January 25, 2017:

If mainstream media truly wishes to repair its image with the general public, these outlets must recognize they do not merely suffer from a “bubble” reinforced by overwhelmingly liberal staffing, or from supposedly insufficient outreach to working class communities.

The mainstream’s issues are apparent in their content choices, suggesting an intractable problem. Following decades of allowing the Democratic Party to select the day’s narrative, they possess no measure of professional competence for objectively judging the importance of information.

The media’s remarkably different responses to the following two stories offer a definitive example:

1. Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, President Trump’s national security adviser, made a series of phone calls and texts to Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak on December 29, 2016. On that day, then-President Barack Obama had revealed that he was issuing sanctions against Russia for its supposed hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

2. Per the Washington Free Beacon: “Two high-level Iranian government backers, including a former Islamic Republic official and another accused of lobbying on Tehran’s behalf, were hosted at the Obama White House for more than 30 meetings with top officials at key junctures in the former administration’s contested diplomacy with Iran …

“Sources familiar with the nature of the meetings told the Washington Free Beacon that both Parsi and Mousavian helped the White House craft its pro-Iran messaging and talking points that helped lead to the nuclear agreement with Iran. These efforts were part of a larger pro-Iran deal ‘echo chamber’ led by senior Obama administration officials who were tasked with misleading Congress about the nature of the deal …”

Just about every mainstream outlet has covered the Michael Flynn story with multiple articles: Newsweek, CNN, Daily Beast, CBS News, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and others — a thorough search returns dozens of high-profile sources that published highly trafficked pieces.

Several pundits demanded answers, pointing to the calls as further evidence of Donald Trump having aligned himself with Vladimir Putin’s dictatorial regime, and having allowed Putin to direct elements of his campaign and his coming presidency. Later, these same outlets announced that an “FBI investigation” into Flynn’s calls and texts had commenced.

But this week, we learn the hysteria about Flynn and the FBI appears to have been unwarranted. The outlets which had previously inflated the story have since backed down.

As you read their follow-up stories below, note the cause of their initial hysteria: you know of the Mike Flynn story simply due to journalistic ineptitude — specifically, the journalists’ ignorance of diplomatic practices — combined with their predetermined acceptance of the Trump/Russia narrative.

Yesterday, per NBC News:

FBI Finds Nothing Amiss in Flynn-Russia Eavesdrop: Official

The FBI eavesdropped on telephone calls between President Donald Trump’s national security adviser and the Russian ambassador but found nothing improper, a U.S. intelligence official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said late Monday that there was never a formal “investigation” of the calls in December between retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn and Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador in Washington.

According to the source, who was confirming a Washington Post report earlier Monday, intelligence officials merely listened inas part of routine eavesdropping on Kislyak.

The former official, who requested anonymity to speak about sensitive information, said it was not uncommon for diplomats or other U.S. officials to garner such attention to if they are recorded talking to foreign counterparts. Rarely anything comes of this, however, because U.S. officials have wide latitude in how they communicate as part of their jobs.

And this is how the Washington Post article referenced above described the calls:

The FBI’s counterintelligence agents listen to calls all the time that do not pertain to any open investigation, current and former law enforcement officials said. Often, said one former official, “they’re just monitoring the other [foreign official] side of the call.”

Both Flynn, a former head of the Pentagon’s intelligence agency, and Kislyak, a seasoned diplomat, are probably aware that Kislyak’s phone calls and texts are being monitored, current and former officials said. That would make it highly unlikely, the individuals said, that the men would allow their calls to be conduits of illegal coordination.

Has the damage been done, however? When you hear “Mike Flynn,” do you immediately consider him through the lens of this story?

Objectively, you should not, and further, you should not trust anything you have heard regarding Mike Flynn that traces to those outlets. They have shown both incompetence on the subject and vulnerability to a cynical Democratic Party narrative intended to damage Donald Trump’s presidency.

Re-watch the Clinton-Trump debates: Clinton pulls focus towards Russia to minimize coverage of the scandalous content of John Podesta’s emails. Further, following Trump’s victory, President Obama announced the aforementioned sanctions against Russia, knowing such sanctions brought no tangible punishment to Putin — then-President Elect Trump could rescind them within a month’s time. Obama’s motivations bear no rational explanation beyond continuing the narrative of Trump as an illegitimate president and pawn of Vladimir Putin.

Obama was successful — these outlets proved to have been primed to run with later information, such as the Mike Flynn story, to further the Trump/Russia narrative.

Now, return to yesterday’s exclusive story from Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon:

Seyed Mousavian, a former Iranian diplomat and head of its national security council, was hosted at the White House at least three times, while Trita Parsi, a pro-Iran advocate long accused of hiding his ties to the Iranian government, met with Obama administration officials some 33 times, according to recently updated visitor logs.

The implications of this story, considering Obama adviser Ben Rhodes later opened up about the extent of the Obama administration’s duplicity with the public on the Iranian nuclear deal, are objectively relevant to anything else an America voter may read or believe regarding our national security. The Obama administration was surreptitiously welcoming counsel from two enemies of the state while crafting a treaty supposedly intended to prevent that enemy — a genocidal regime with a messianic bent — from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Here’s how that Ben Rhodes article described how Obama misled America (link is to David Reaboi of The Federalist):

In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. ‘ We created an echo chamber,’ [Rhodes] admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. ‘ They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.’

Rhodes has become adept at ventriloquizing many people at once. Ned Price, Rhodes’s assistant, gave me a primer on how it’s done. The easiest way for the White House to shape the news, he explained, is from the briefing podiums … “But then there are sort of these force multipliers,” he said, adding, “We have our compadres, I will reach out to a couple people, and you know I wouldn’t want to name them—”

“I can name them,” I said, ticking off a few names of prominent Washington reporters and columnists who often tweet in sync with White House messaging.

Price laughed. ‘I’ll say, “Hey, look, some people are spinning this narrative that this is a sign of American weakness,”’ he continued, “but—”

“In fact it’s a sign of strength!” I said, chuckling.

These same “often-clueless” reporters the Obama administration was “ventriloquizing” were just utilized as gleeful political pawns yet again. Mike Flynn’s brief calls and texts with the Russian ambassador should have immediately been dismissed as common diplomatic activity; they weren’t, in service of a cynical political end sought by not just the Democratic Party, but by the media outlets themselves.

However, the Obama White House meetings with Mousavian and Parsi — dozens of meetings — can not rationally be attributed as common diplomatic contact. Even after Ben Rhodes spilled his secrets — and not due to the weight of guilt, but due to pride in his work — we still do not know the extent of the Obama administration’s deceitful behavior during the passage of a bill that holds ramifications for global stability.

To summarize, the information uncovered by Adam Kredo is real news.

The Flynn story has been exposed as nothing notable beyond its potential as a political club; it was fake news.

As of this moment, not a single mainstream outlet has picked up the Adam Kredo story.

PJ Media and other “new media” outlets have, though.

As the mainstream continues to humiliate itself in an attempt to maintain a monopoly on information exiting Washington, D.C., the general public — and certainly, the voters — has developed an awareness that the mainstream’s status as gatekeeper has always been artificial. It certainly never had anything to do with competence.