Has Trump Kept His Word on Radical Islam?

King Salman welcomes the Trumps to Saudi Arabia (Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Meira Svirsky, Aug. 15, 2017:

In a foundational speech made on the campaign trail in Youngstown, Ohio, then businessman Donald Trump outlined his policy on Islamic extremism among other pledges relating to foreign policy.

Has Trump kept his promises? Do these first seven months indicate what we can expect to see in the coming years?

Clarion Project gives our readers an overview of now President Trump and his policymakers in the first seven months of this administration in light of those promises.   

Convene an international conference to halt the spread of radical Islam and “take on the ideology of Radical Islam” including “speak[ing] out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith”

The president got off to an impressive start in a ground-breaking keynote speech he made four months after his inauguration at the Arab Islamic American Summit held in Saudi Arabia in May 2017.

The summit was true to his promise of convening an international conference to halt the spread of radical Islam.

Trump delivered a bold speech in which he clearly laid out to the heads of Muslim states that they had arrived at a pivotal moment:

It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you.
A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out.
 DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship.
DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities.
DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and
DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.

In concept and execution, the Trump Administration used the summit to mark a clear U-turn away from the Obama doctrine of embracing Iran at the expense of America’s Sunni Arab allies.

During the trip, Trump inaugurated the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh, more than ironic considering the historical role of Saudi Arabia’s extremist form of Islam, Wahhabism, in fomenting terror and radicalism around the world.

Work “side by side with our friends in the Middle East…”

The trip to Saudi Arabia was followed by a positive visit to Israel where Trump affirmed his friendship with the Jewish state and used his time with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to excoriate Abbas for lying him during Abbas’ earlier trip to Washington about the role of the P.A. in inciting the Palestinians to violence against Israelis.

A good start. What has happened since Trump’s opening volley to the Muslim world?

On the very positive side, an alliance of Gulf and other Muslim states led by Saudi Arabia and including Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen and others severed all relations with Qatar because of Qatar’s funding of terrorism (Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taiban and Al Qaeda) and Qatar’s ties with Iran and Turkey.

For a documentation of Qatar’s terror-funding history, click here

Yet, while Trump himself expressed support for the Arab World’s unprecedented pressure on Qatar and described Qatar as a major terror-financier, Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson publicly criticizedSaudi Arabia, called Qatar “very reasonable” in its reaction to the pressure, said the U.S. is “mystified” by their complaints and made moves towards Turkey (who was aiding Qatar in the crisis).

Tillerson then signed a counter-terrorism agreement with Qatar, spitting in the faces of the Arab countries fed up with Qatar’s support of terrorism.

(Perhaps Tillerson’s favoring of Qatar has something to do with the close relationship he had with the Qatari government as a businessman with ExxonMobil, which has a decades-long association with Qatar’s rulers.)

Immediately after signing the deal, Qatar reiterated its commitment to Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization as designated by the U.S.

The Trump administration agreed to sell 36 fighter jets to Qatar right after the Arabs launched their campaign.

Tillerson also signaled his opposition to designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization in mid-June.

Under Tillerson, State Department lawyers are reportedly removing the word “genocide” in speeches and documents describing the persecution of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in Iraq and Syria. The move was described as “ideologicial” not bureaucratic by sources.

“Our great ally Israel”

In his Youngstown speech, Trump vowed to work side by side “our great ally Israel.” The State Department, again under the leadership of Tillerson, recently issued its annual country by country terrorism report. Shockingly, it put the majority of blame for Palestinian terror on Israel.

The report makes the blatantly false claim that the Palestinian Authority’s calls for terrorism are “rare.” The report flies in the face of facts, particularly the incessant incitement against Israel, Israelis and Jews by President Abbas and on his state-run media.

From paying salaries to terrorists and their families to naming schools, sports facilities and the like after the most brutal Palestinian terrorists to running TV shows for young children that glorify killing Jews, the P.A. has been responsible for mass incitement of its population for over a decade. Such incitement has been highly documented.

The report also flies in the face of the positions of Trump who forcefully called out Abbas over this incitement in a face-to-face meeting during the American president’s recent trip to Israel.

While the State Department plans a 28% cut in foreign aid to places around the world, the department is planning to increase aid to the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority reportedly uses the equivalent of half of the foreign aid it receives to sponsor terrorism. It is increasing its compensation for terrorists in Israeli prisons by 13% and its financial aid to families of killed terrorists by 4%.

“We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan…”

King Abdullah was singled out by Trump as one of America’s partners who realize the “ideology of death must be extinguished.” Yet, in a speech Abdullah gave to the U.N. General Assembly in which he addressed “extremist terrorists” and their desire to “erase human civilization, and drag us back to the dark ages,” he chided Western officials, media leaders and policy makers for not understanding the “true nature of Islam,” which he said “teaches that all humanity is equal in dignity. There is no distinction among different nations or regions or races. The Qur’an forbids coercion in religion. Every citizen is guaranteed the state’s protection for their lives, families, properties, honor, privacy, and freedom of religion and thought.”

Clearly, part of Trump’s challenge with such “American partners,” is their failure to acknowledge the extremist parts of Islam that contribute to Islamist terror – namely the lack of religious freedom in Islamic societies including Jordan (as well as a host of others who are called “American partners.”)

Islamic blasphemy is on the books in Jordan. Also, in Jordan, Jews are not even allowed to pray in privateor wear hidden articles of Jewish significance.

During the recent crisis on the Temple Mount in Israel – in which Israel installed metal detectors at the entrances to the mount after weapons were smuggled inside and used to kill Israeli police officers guarding the site for all worshipers — King Abdullah sided with the Waqf, the Islamic authority that administers the site and which demanded the metal detectors be removed. After the crisis was resolved (through Israel removing the detectors), Abdullah promptly pledged $1.4 million to the Waqf, which refuses to allow any prayer at the site except Islamic prayer.

“We will seek to starve funding for Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah”

Unfortunately, Trump’s recent agreement with Russia regarding a ceasefire in Syria empowers Iran, and hence Hezbollah, which expands its reach through the Syrian war.

In terms of Hamas, Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster chose as his top adviser on Israel Kris Bauman, who is known for blaming Israel and the West for failing to see “Hamas’ signals of willingness to moderate.” Bauman advocates a policy that includes “Hamas in a solution,” dismissing Hamas’ oft-stated pledge to destroy Israel and kill Jews until the end of time.

“Establish a Commission on Radical Islam”

In Youngstown, Trump vowed that “one of my first acts as president will be to establish a commission on radical Islam – which will include reformist voices in the Muslim community … This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators and immigration screeners.”

Unfortunately, such a commission has not been established and those voices have largely not been heard in the White House.

Instead, an Islamist coalition of Muslim Brotherhood front groups was recently invited to the State Department and boasted they were asked to provide their perspective on the Temple Mount crisis.

At the same time, anti-Islamist activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was scheduled to present a paper on radical Islamic terror at the National Security Council, was banned by McMaster and his senior director of counter-terrorism, Mustafa Javed Ali.

Hirsi Ali was also reportedly banned from visiting the White House.

A source reported, “Mustafa Javed Ali said she was Islamophobic, and that the only way she could present her paper would be to have someone from CAIR come in to refute her work.”

McMaster himself is against even using the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” which he says is counterproductive, however his boss (Trump) still uses the term.

“Aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS”

With the improved help of the American coalition under Trump, the president is well on his way to success in keeping this promise — at least in Iraq and Syria.  Particularly commendable is the decision by America to arm the Syrian Kurds, a worthy slap in the face to Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has used every opportunity to fight ISIS as an excuse to attack the Kurds.

The Kurds have arguably been the most successful fighting force against ISIS to date. It remains to be seen whether or not the Trump administration will back them in any future bid for independence.

Worldwide, however, ISIS will not be crushed until those in power address the ideology that drives the terror group and come up with a workable plan to stop the ideological radicalization of Muslim youth. Ideology. Merely concentrating on countering violent extremism is too little, too late.

Clearly, the apparent power play within the Trump administration between those who recognize this reality and those who don’t will be pivotal to whether or not the president will be able to keep his Youngstown promises.

***

Also see:

Sources: These McMaster Advisors Are Running the ‘Smear’ Campaign to Save His Job

National security adviser H.R. McMaster listens during the daily press briefing at the White House, Monday, July 31, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

PJ Media, by David Steinberg,Aug. 11, 2017:

Deputy National Security Adviser Rick Waddell, Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Gulf States Joel Rayburn, and Yll Bajraktari, a former special assistant to the deputy secretary of defense during the Obama administration, have been coordinating an extensive public relations campaign in support of embattled National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, according to multiple sources.

Members of the national security community who spoke with PJ Media describe the talking points used during this effort to defend McMaster’s tenure as NSA as “absurd,” “dishonest,” and “comically inaccurate.” But sources primarily expressed anger regarding insinuations that NSC members fired by McMaster or otherwise no longer in their positions — such as K.T. McFarland, Rich Higgins, Adam Lovinger, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, and Derek Harvey — are gone for reasons other than ideology.

Over the past week, several media accounts have painted them as “conspiratorial” members of the “alt-right,” possibly leaking information to the controversial Mike Cernovich, and possibly working in tandem with Russian social media accounts. Such claims, which have been picked up by several outlets, are reportedly doing lasting damage to reputations and careers.

Further, multiple sources believe McMaster and his allies within the administration are using such “career-ending” “swamp” tactics with the knowledge that the fired members and supportive colleagues — due to the nature of their careers within the national security realm — do not necessarily have the option of defending themselves in the public sphere.

This outreach reportedly coordinated by Waddell, Rayburn, and Bajraktari appeared to intensify on August 3, one day following Circa News investigative reporter Sara Carter’s publication of an article titled “A Letter From H.R. McMaster Said Susan Rice Will Keep Her Top-Secret Security Clearance.” That evening, the Heritage Foundation published a short defense of McMaster titled “5 Reasons H.R. McMaster Is the Right Leader for a Tough President.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank that has perhaps unanimously stood against the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, appears an unusual outlet to offer a full-throated support of McMaster. Much of the controversy around McMaster’s personnel decisions has centered on the former NSC members being stout defenders of President Trump’s JCPOA stance, and on McMaster’s hiring of former Obama administration figures and others who have been ardent supporters of the deal. (Indeed, one is hard-pressed to identify a member of the NSC brought in by McMaster with a history of aligning with President Trump on Iran or with his Mideast policy in general, most notably marked by his willingness to treat Islamic doctrine as the root cause of terror and related Mideast strife.)

However, sources claim the last week of public relations outreach did in fact heavily target conservative organizations that, while generally opposed to the JCPOA, may be willing to choose their distaste of Trump over McMaster’s actions that appear to spell out a more supportive stance on the deal.

Indeed, allies of McMaster reportedly reached out to Heritage, the Hudson Institute, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, perhaps among other right-leaning think-tanks. Sources say at least one of the above organizations had scheduled a private meeting with McMaster himself.

In short, McMaster appears to be banking on “NeverTrump” currents allowing him to retain his position … in President Trump’s administration. Meanwhile, accomplished national security careerists whom McMaster has fired, all of them loyal to Trump’s campaign stance on the JCPOA, are watching their reputations destroyed as “conspiratorial,” as “alt-right,” or as leakers — and with no means of rebuttal. Welcome to the swamp.

Newly installed Chief of Staff General Kelly is now restricting access to Trump, just as Waddell, Rayburn, and Bajraktari reportedly lead a media defense of McMaster. Sources believe the situation will not continue for long, however, as McMaster’s detractors are trying to reach the president. Whether further information will, or already has, reached Trump’s desk regarding McMaster looks to be the next development. Stay tuned.

Caroline Glick: McMaster’s Policies Completely Contradict Trump’s, Natural Continuation of Obama’s

AP/Getty

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Aug. 11, 2017:

Jerusalem Post contributor Caroline Glick criticized National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s leadership of the National Security Council on Friday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.

Glick said the problem with McMaster is that “in key issue after key issue, particularly in relation to the Middle East,” he “opposes the things that the president ran on and that he was elected on.”

She quoted Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one of the world’s leading activists against Islamic supremacism, writing in the Wall Street Journal that “President Trump, during the campaign, insisted that it was necessary to go after the political ideology of radical Islam, and he’s just completely stopped.”

“She called on Congress to pick it up and take it on since the president seems to have lost interest in it,” Glick said of Ali’s article. “Whether it’s Iran and countering Iranian influence and rising hegemony in Syria and in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain, and, of course, Iran’s nuclear weapons program, these are very, very key issues for the United States and for all of its allies in the Middle East. And on all of these issues, in practice, we see that the policies that the National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, is pushing are at loggerheads with – completely contradict – the policies that President Trump ran on and continues to say that he wants.”

“For instance, I wrote in my column in the Jerusalem Post this morning, the United States special forces are fighting side-by-side with the Lebanese armed forces, which are controlled by Hezbollah, to the side of Hezbollah, which is a global terrorist organization, against ISIS,” she said.

“This is President Obama’s policy, was to try to get the United States to help Iran to take over Syria, without allowing the American people to know that, by saying, ‘Well, we’re fighting ISIS in Syria,’” she explained. “Allow Iran and Hezbollah to take over Syria and present an existential threat to Jordan and a massive strategic threat to Israel and to U.S. interests, in the name of fighting ISIS.”

“This, we see, is a policy that President Trump continues to implement,” Glick said with dismay. “It’s a very, very troubling thing.”

Glick was further troubled by the way Western media is allowing McMaster supporters, “from the Council on American Islamic Relations to the Anti-Defamation League” to frame coverage of his move away from President Trump’s policy agenda.

She further implicated “Soros-funded groups that are working day and night to undermine and subvert, with the hope of destroying this president.” These forces have conspired to forge a media narrative that claims people only oppose McMaster because they are “racist or Islamophobic or what have you.”

“In other words, they’re turning this into the same thing that the left always turns their policy disputes into, which is the good guys against the racists, and everyone who opposes them is essentially a non-person, and we mustn’t listen to them,” said Glick.

“It’s even worse in a way than just saying this is a partisan squabble and this is domestic politics,” she said. “What they’re trying to do is dehumanize the people who oppose McMaster, in order not to have a substantive discussion. That’s what we see the left doing everywhere, all the time, throughout the United States and throughout the Western world. You don’t win by substance because your substance is antithetical to what most people want, so what you do is you say that anyone who opposes you is a racist. Anybody who opposes you is the enemy of the good, and, therefore, all right-thinking people have to be on your side, against their side.”

“It’s interesting that this is the dynamic that’s taking place around McMaster. It would seem to me that, particularly for the president himself, who knows these things, this should be just a glaring red light. The fact that yet again yesterday he embraced McMaster, sitting next to Vice President Pence at his golf club in Bedminster, is an indication that something is awry, and I don’t really know what it is,” she said.

“Again, it’s very troubling because the problem here is not whether H.R. McMaster has a temper or is just the nicest person in the whole world. The problem is that he is pushing and getting implemented a policy, in relation to Israel in particular – and Israel as an American ally in the Middle East, no less Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, and so on and so forth – that is a natural continuation of Barack Obama’s policy of realigning the United States away from its allies in the United States and in favor of Iran and Hezbollah,” she charged.

LISTEN:

The Battle for Trump’s Foreign Policy

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, August 9, 2017

  • National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said that an ongoing review of Iran policy will be completed by late summer. In the meantime, however, he has fired opponents of the Iran deal, including Derek Harvey, who reportedly drafted a comprehensive plan on how to withdraw from the agreement. A White House insider described Trump’s Iran policy as “completely gutted” in the aftermath of McMaster’s purge.
  • “Everything the president wants to do, McMaster opposes. Trump wants to get us out of Afghanistan — McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to get us out of Syria — McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to deal with the China issue — McMaster doesn’t. Trump wants to deal with the Islam issue — McMaster doesn’t. You know, across the board, we want to get rid of the Iran deal — McMaster doesn’t. It is incredible to watch it happening right in front of your face. Absolutely stunning.” — Former NSC official, Daily Caller.
  • “The President’s ultimate success will in large part depend on the degree of commitment to his agenda among the people he appoints to ensure its success…. The most important rule of presidential personnel management is to appoint people who are fully committed to the presidential agenda.” — “Personnel Is Policy,” The Heritage Foundation.

The ongoing purge of people loyal to U.S. President Donald J. Trump at the National Security Council, the main organization used by the president to develop national security policy, is part of a power struggle over the future direction of American foreign policy.

Trump campaigned on a promise radically to shift American foreign policy away from the “globalism” pursued by his predecessors to one of a “nationalism” which puts “America first.” He also vowed to: “defeat” Islamic extremism; “tear up” the nuclear deal with Iran; “reset” bilateral relations with Israel by moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem “on Day One” of his administration; and “direct the Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator.”

Trump’s election has set in motion a bitter power struggle between two main factions: those led by White House strategist Steve Bannon — who are devoted to implementing the president’s foreign policy agenda, and those led by National Security Advisor Herbert Raymond “H.R.” McMaster — who appear committed to perpetuating policies established by the Obama administration.

Since becoming national security advisor in February, McMaster has clashed with Trump and Bannon on policy relating to Afghanistan, China, Cuba, Islam, Israel, Iran, Mexico, NATO, North Korea, Russia and Syria, among others.

McMaster has also been accused of trying to undermine the president’s foreign policy agenda by removing from the National Security Council key Trump loyalists — K.T. McFarland, Adam Lovinger, David Cattler, Tera Dahl, Rich Higgins, Derek Harvey, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick— and replacing them with individuals committed to maintaining the status quo.

An analysis of the foreign policy views of McMaster and some of his senior staff at the National Security Council shows them to be overwhelmingly at odds with what Trump promised during the campaign.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster has been accused of trying to undermine President Donald Trump’s foreign policy agenda by removing from the National Security Council key Trump loyalists. Pictured: President Trump and McMaster at the announcement of McMaster’s appointment as National Security Advisor, on February 20, 2017. (Image source: White House video screenshot)

National Security Advisor

President Trump selected Army Lieutenant General McMaster to replace retired Air Force Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who resigned as national security advisor on February 13 after leaked intelligence reports alleged that he misrepresented his conversations with a Russian diplomat. McMaster’s views on foreign policy are — by and large — the mirror opposite of those held by Flynn.

Flynn, for example, argued that the West is in a civilizational clash with Islam and that the war on jihadism cannot be won unless the ideology that drives it is defeated. McMaster, by contrast, categorically rejects the notion of a clash of civilizations; his public statements on Islam are virtually indistinguishable from those of the Obama administration.

On February 23, during his first staff meeting, McMaster reportedly urged National Security Council employees to avoid using the term “radical Islamic terrorism” because, according to McMaster, groups such as the Islamic State represent a “perversion of Islam” and are therefore “un-Islamic.” McMaster added that he is “not on board” with using the term because it targets “an entire religion” and may alienate Muslim allies in the Middle East.

McMaster pleaded with Trump to remove references to “radical Islamic terrorism” from the president’s speech to Congress on February 28. At the time, Trump held his ground: he stressed a commitment to protect America from “radical Islamic terrorism.”

More recently, however, McMaster appears to have prevailed. Trump’s May 21 speech in Saudi Arabia — the world’s greatest purveyor of radical Islam — was conspicuous for its moderation: “We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership — based on shared interests and values.”

In a June 4 speech to the “Global Forum” of the American Jewish Committee, McMaster praised Trump’s Saudi address, calling it an “extraordinary speech” in which the president “outlined a path of unity and peace to people of all faiths.” McMaster also claimed that leaders throughout the Muslim world had condemned “those who are hijacking Islam to justify violence against innocents.”

McMaster’s public position on the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran remains ambiguous. In July, he spoke at length about why the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a bad deal and how it has not changed Iran’s behavior. On the other hand, he pressed Trump into certifying to Congress — twice in six months — that Iran is complying with the agreement, despite many indications that it is not.

McMaster said that an ongoing review of Iran policy will be completed by late summer. In the meantime, however, he has fired opponents of the Iran deal, including Derek Harvey, who reportedly drafted a comprehensive plan on how to withdraw from the agreement. A White House insider described Trump’s Iran policy as “completely gutted” in the aftermath of McMaster’s purge.

McMaster has also refused to publish the secret side deals the Obama administration signed with Iran which allow Tehran to maintain critical aspects of its nuclear program. Not surprisingly, many observers are convinced that McMaster will try to prevent Trump from honoring his campaign pledge to rescind or renegotiate the nuclear deal.

During the campaign, Trump repeatedly described the JCPOA as a “disaster” and “the worst deal ever negotiated.” On February 1, after Iran launched a ballistic missile, the White House signaled a tougher line on Tehran. “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Flynn had said.

Flynn’s ouster less than two weeks later was rumored to have been orchestrated by Obama loyalists in order to preserve the Iran deal:

“The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes — the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber — included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.

“The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration’s efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.”

Meanwhile, McMaster has been described as being “deeply hostile” to Israel, which he reportedly considers an “occupying power.” American-born Israeli journalist Caroline Glick, citing White House sources, elaborated:

“According to senior officials aware of his behavior, he constantly refers to Israel as the occupying power and insists falsely and constantly that a country named Palestine existed where Israel is located until 1948 when it was destroyed by the Jews….

“McMaster disagrees and actively undermines Trump’s agenda on just about every salient issue on his agenda. He fires all of Trump’s loyalists and replaces them with Trump’s opponents, like Kris Bauman, an Israel hater and Hamas supporter who McMaster hired to work on the Israel-Palestinian desk. He allows anti-Israel, pro-Muslim Brotherhood, pro-Iran Obama people like Robert Malley to walk around the NSC and tell people what to do and think. He has left Ben (reporters know nothing about foreign policy and I lied to sell them the Iran deal) Rhodes’ and Valerie Jarrett’s people in place.”

On May 16, just days before Trump’s visit to the Middle East, McMaster refused to comment on whether the Western Wall is within sovereign Israeli territory and dismissed the matter as a “policy decision.” McMaster also downplayed the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount: “He [Trump] is going to the Western Wall to connect with three of the world’s great religions,” McMaster said.

According to Glick, it was McMaster, not the U.S. consul in Jerusalem as initially reported, who pressed Trump into rejecting a request from Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu join the president during a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. “No Israeli leaders will join President Trump at the Western Wall,” McMaster confirmed.

McMaster has also attempted to thwart Trump’s outreach to Russia. On July 20, the Associated Press reported that McMaster objected to an extended dinner conversation between Trump and Putin on the sidelines of the recent G20 summit in Germany. McMaster then insulted Trump behind his back by expressing his disapproval of the president to several foreign officials:

“McMaster specifically said that he disagreed with Trump’s decision to hold an Oval Office meeting in May with top Russian diplomats and with the president’s general reluctance to speak out against Russian aggression in Europe.”

McMaster also advised the president against holding an official bilateral meeting with Putin. In the end, Trump held his ground: McMaster was not allowed to attend the meeting. Only Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and a translator made up the U.S. side.

In April, Trump said that he wanted South Korea to pay for the $1 billion THAAD missile defense system being deployed in the country to protect against missiles from North Korea. South Korean officials responded that, under a bilateral agreement reached with the Obama administration, the United States is responsible for bearing the cost. McMaster then “corrected” Trump by reassuring South Korean officials that the United States will indeed pay for the system. “The last thing I would ever do is contradict the president of the United States,” McMaster told Fox News.

A former NSC official told the Daily Caller that McMaster is “subverting” Trump’s foreign policy at every turn:

“Everything the president wants to do, McMaster opposes. Trump wants to get us out of Afghanistan — McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to get us out of Syria — McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to deal with the China issue — McMaster doesn’t. Trump wants to deal with the Islam issue — McMaster doesn’t. You know, across the board, we want to get rid of the Iran deal — McMaster doesn’t. It is incredible to watch it happening right in front of your face. Absolutely stunning.”

Another former official confirmed that sentiment:

“I just fear there is a real creeping of status quo thinking that is taking over the place. I was upset while I was there in seeing how empowered Obama holdovers under McMaster were to essentially perpetuate Obama-era policies.”

Jed Babbin, a former Pentagon official who served during the first Bush administration, reported that McMaster has retained “several dozen” Obama loyalists, many in positions of significant responsibility. In an essay for the American Spectator, he wrote:

“There are four people in positions of responsibility in the NSC who have been identified by a source as people who had been “direct reports” to Rhodes — i.e., who worked under his direct supervision — who McMaster has protected and retained. They are: Abigail Grace (Special Assistant), Fernando Cutz (NSC Director for South America), Andrea Hall (NSC Senior Director for WMD, Terrorism & Threat Reduction), and Merry Lin (‎Director for Global and Asia Economics).

“Why would any national security advisor working for Trump not rid the NSC of these people immediately and the dozens of others as soon as he could? One source told me there are over fifty such holdovers on the NSC staff.

“None of the four — and the other holdovers — should remain employed at the NSC. Every one of them should be viewed as a political operative dedicated to thwarting whatever Trump wants to do.

“McMaster recently told an NSC staff meeting, “There’s no such thing as a holdover.” That is simply bizarre.

“The problem is that McMaster is the ultimate holdover. He comprises a significant threat to national security.”

White House insiders told the Washington Free Beacon that McMaster is purging Trump loyalists who dare to clash with career government staffers and holdovers from the Obama administration “on issues as diverse as military strategies for Syria and Afghanistan, whether to tear up Obama’s landmark Iran deal, the controversial détente with Cuba, the U.S. role in confronting Islamic radicalism, and the Paris Climate Accord.”

More purges are said to be on the way: “McMaster basically has this list…. They’re taking out people who were chosen to best implement the president’s policy that he articulated during the campaign.”

Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy

McMaster’s first personnel decision was to name Dina Habib Powell, an establishment Republican and a veteran of the George W. Bush administration, to serve as Deputy National Security Advisor — a post already filled by K.T. McFarland.

Powell, an Egyptian-American, was originally brought into the White House as an informal advisor to Ivanka Trump. Powell, a former executive at Goldman Sachs, is said to have a “centrist” approach to politics; critics fear she will push for a softer line on national security, climate change policy and trade.

McFarland, a former official in the Reagan administration, has advocated for a hardline foreign policy. She has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s timidity in the face of radical Islam, which she has described as “the most virulent, lethal, apocalyptic death cult in history.” McFarland has warned that “global Islamist jihad is at war with all of Western civilization” and that “we are losing this war.” McFarland added:

“If we are to defeat radical Islam, it will be only with a multifaceted, comprehensive strategy that calls on all the aspects of the national power of ourselves and our allies — like we summoned to defeat the Nazis in World War II or the Communists in the Cold War.”

McFarland has also been a vocal supporter of Trump’s “America First” foreign policy: “Too many times in the last eight years, or even more, we’ve always thought, ‘What’s better for the global community?’ The question should be: ‘What’s better for America?'”

Powell, by contrast, was hired by the Bush administration to “defuse some of the misperceptions” about the United States in the Arab world. At a World Economic Forum event in Jordan, for example, Powell apologized for America’s alleged insensitivity to Arab culture. “So enthusiastic is our desire to help that we sometimes forget to stop and listen to others,” she said.

McFarland has criticized the 2015 Iran nuclear deal: “We gave them everything up front — the money, the sanctions, the path to nuclear weapons — and we demanded nothing in return.” She has also advocated stirring up popular discontent in Iran in order to bring about regime change.

Powell, however, is said to have a strong personal relationship with Iranian-born Valerie Jarrett, the brainchild of the nuclear deal with Iran and one of Barack Obama’s closest advisors. Jarret reportedly has moved into Obama’s home in Washington, D.C. to lead a resistance movement against Trump’s efforts to reverse his predecessor’s foreign policies.

In an interview with The Hill, a Republican operative said of Powell:

“This is not who we voted for. The base voted for Trump and his policies. Not Gary Cohn’s, not Dina Powell’s. Not the left wing of the Democratic Party. This is a Republican White House. No one is questioning their competence, but there are a lot of questions about whether they are trying to pull away from Trump’s agenda.”

McFarland has been offered the post of U.S. ambassador to Singapore.

White House Coordinator for the Middle East

On July 27, McMaster fired retired Army Colonel Derek Harvey, Trump’s top Middle East advisor. Harvey, who is fluent in Arabic and holds a Ph.D., served for more than two decades in the military and later joined the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). He has been described as an “out-of-the-box thinker who has shown a keen knack for identifying threats before they’ve matured.”

The Weekly Standard reported that Harvey was “driving a more aggressive approach to Iran than that of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Sources tell TWS that Mattis, in particular, had disagreements with Harvey and that he raised the issue with National Security Adviser HR McMaster. McMaster met with Harvey this morning to deliver the news.”

In May, Bloomberg reported that Harvey had compiled a list of Obama holdovers at the National Security Council who were suspected of leaking to the press. When Trump and Bannon pressed McMaster to fire those on the list, he refused, asserting his prerogative over personnel decisions.

In January, a month before McMaster was hired, Harvey was instrumental in pressing the U.S. State Department to reverse the Obama administration’s last-minute $221 million payment to the Palestinian Authority.

Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane called Harvey “one of the finest intel analysts that I’ve ever encountered.” Keane told NBC News he was “befuddled as to why he is being removed.”

Harvey has been replaced by Michael Bell, another retired colonel with a Ph.D. He reportedly sees eye-to-eye with McMaster.

Bell, who served in the first Iraq war, was the lead writer for the 2006 National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism, the U.S.’s global military strategy in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. The 40-page document does not once include the word jihad; it refers to the enemy only as “violent extremism” and “violent extremists.” The document, in fact, repeatedly denies any link between terrorism and Islam. It states:

“The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) is not a religious or cultural clash between Islam and the West, although our extremist enemies find it useful to characterize the war that way. These violent extremists see the U.S. and the West as primary obstacles to achieving their political ends.”

A section called “Nature of the Enemy” states: “The primary enemy is a transnational movement of extremist organizations, networks and individuals — and their state and non-state supporters — which have in common that they exploit Islam and use terrorism for ideological ends.”

Elsewhere the report states: “The belief that violent extremist efforts are harmful to the Islamic community, and contrary to the teachings of Islam, must come from within Islam itself.”

In a February 20 Washington Post hit piece on Sebastian Gorka, one of President Trump’s top counter-terrorism advisors, Bell accused Gorka of being an “uneven scholar” because of his belief that jihadism is rooted in Islam and the violent passages of the Koran. Bell, a former chancellor of the College of International Security Affairs (CISA), part of the Pentagon’s National Defense University, said that Gorka’s former supervisors had pushed him to incorporate other perspectives on Islam and to publish in peer-reviewed journals where his ideas would be challenged and perhaps tempered. Gorka insisted that he wasn’t interested in that kind of scholarship, Bell said.

Senior Director for Israel and Palestinian Issues

On May 4, McMaster hired Kris Bauman to be the Trump administration’s new senior advisor on Israel. Bauman’s views on Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are indistinguishable from those of the Obama administration.

Bauman’s first official function was to attend a reception honoring Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas — whose term of office expired eight years ago. Those in attendance included Martin Indyk, the Obama administration’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, who has blamed Israel for the failure of peace talks. Indyk’s chief of staff during the negotiations, Ilan Goldenberg, was also in attendance.

In September 2016, Bauman and Goldenberg published a document outlining “a security system for the two-state solution” based on “1967 borders with reciprocal swaps.” The report was presumably prepared with the expectation that Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election and eventually implement the plan.

Trump, by contrast, has said that Israel must be allowed to maintain defensible borders; Israeli leaders have long insisted that the 1967 borders are militarily indefensible. It is safe to assume that Bauman will use his new position on the NSC to advocate for pressing Israel into making substantial territorial concessions to the Palestinians.

Investigative journalist Daniel Greenfield has reviewed Bauman’s 320-page doctoral thesis on the Middle East peace process:

“In the hundreds of pages, Bauman makes occasional efforts to pretend that he’s delving into the narratives of both sides, but his conclusion makes it painfully clear whose side he’s on. Kris Bauman is eager to whitewash the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists of Hamas…. Bauman accuses, ‘Israel and the Quartet refused to engage with Hamas and instead turned Gaza into an open-air prison.’ This isn’t even an anti-Israel position. It’s Hamas propaganda….

“In Kris Bauman’s twisted mind, the obstacle to peace isn’t PLO and Hamas terrorism, but supporters of Israel in America. He favorably quotes Walt and Mearsheimer’s anti-Semitic tract, The Israel Lobby. Bauman urges overcoming the ‘Israel Lobby’ which he claims ‘is a force that must be reckoned with, but it is a force that can be reckoned with.

“Progress in the peace process requires that the United States apply diplomatic and economic pressure on Israel. And indeed, Bauman’s recommendations mirrored the policy of Obama, Hillary and Kerry.”

Greenfield also notes that Bauman’s dissertation extensively quotes Robert Malley, an anti-Israel apologistfor Hamas who was a key Middle East advisor to President Obama. In May, Conservative Review reportedthat Malley has continued to attend National Security Council meetings at the Trump White House, even while criticizing Trump’s policies:

“So who is bringing Malley into these National Security Council meetings? Sources close to the situation say that much of the NSC professional staff still consists of holdovers from the Obama administration and that some of these holdovers served directly under Malley when he was a senior director at the NSC for the Middle East region.”

On May 17, the Zionist Organization of America, one of the oldest and strongest pro-Israel groups in the United States, issued the following statement:

“The ZOA has asked General McMaster, Director of the National Security Council, to reconsider his appointment of new National Security Council advisor on Israel-Palestinian matters, pro-Hamas Kris Bauman. This Administration should be ‘cleaning out the swamp’ from proponents, architects, and protégés of the Obama administration’s dangerous Middle East policies. Mr. Bauman’s ideas are particularly dangerous.”

Bauman replaces Yael Lempert, a controversial NSC staffer from the Obama White House who remained in her position during the first four months of the Trump administration. During that time, she reportedly“poisoned” Trump’s mind by persuading him that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are to blame for the stalled peace negotiations.

In a February 10 interview with Israel Hayom, Trump surprised many when he adopted a harder line on settlements. “I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace,” he said.

Analyst Lee Smith reported that, according to a former official in the Clinton administration, Lempert “is considered one of the harshest critics of Israel on the foreign policy far left.” The source added:

“From her position on the Obama NSC, she helped manufacture crisis after crisis in a relentless effort to portray Israel negatively and diminish the breadth and depth of our alliance. Most Democrats in town know better than to let her manage Middle East affairs. It looks like the Trump administration has no idea who she is or how hostile she is to the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

In June, Lempert, a career foreign service officer, was promoted to acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Egypt and the Maghreb at the U.S. State Department.

Senior Director for Intelligence Programs

On August 2, McMaster fired Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the NSC’s senior director for intelligence programs, the main White House liaison to the intelligence agencies. McMaster had tried to fire Cohen-Watnick in March, but at the time he was overruled by Trump after an intervention by Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. It remains unclear why McMaster was not overruled again.

Cohen-Watnick, who was originally hired by Flynn, is a 31-year-old intelligence operative with the Defense Intelligence Agency. Conservative Review reported that he “sought to reform the intelligence community to rein in the ‘deep state’ of unaccountable bureaucrats with rogue agendas.” Politico reported that Cohen-Watnick and Flynn “saw eye to eye about the failings of the CIA human intelligence operations,” according to an operative who added: “The CIA saw him as a threat, so they tried to unseat him and replace him with an agency loyalist.”

Cohen-Watnick, described as an “Iran hawk,” advocated for the expansion of American efforts against Iran-backed militias in Syria. In June, the New York Times, citing multiple defense and intelligence officials, reported that Cohen-Watnick “wants to use American spies to help oust the Iranian government.” According to the Guardian, he was accused of trying to “take responsibilities for certain covert programs away from the CIA.”

In March, Cohen-Watnick gave Devin Nunes, a Republican congressman who was leading the House of Representative’s Trump-Russia probe, intelligence reports showing the president and associates were surveilled by U.S. intelligence.

A profile by the Atlantic described Cohen-Watnick as a “true professional and most importantly he is incredibly loyal to the president and this administration.”

McMaster reportedly wants to replace Cohen-Watnick with Linda Weissgold, a longtime CIA official. During the Obama administration, Weissgold, who served as director of the CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis, was involved in creating a counter narrative about the jihadist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Journalist Michael Warren wrote:

“In her position at OTA, she was also involved directly in drafting the now infamous Benghazi talking points, which government officials revised heavily to include factually incorrect assessments that stated the attackers were prompted by protests. According to the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s report, Weissgold testified she had changed one such talking point to say that extremists in Benghazi with ties to al-Qaeda had been involved in ‘protests’ in the Libyan city, despite the fact that no such protests occurred there on the day of the attack.”

Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Planning

On July 21, McMaster fired Rich Higgins, a former Pentagon official who served in the NSC’s strategic-planning office, after he argued in a memo that President Trump is under sustained attack from people both within and outside the government who are trying to defeat the president’s nationalist agenda.

The Atlanticpublished excerpts of the memo:

“Through the campaign, candidate Trump tapped into a deep vein of concern among many citizens that America is at risk and slipping away. Globalists and Islamists recognize that for their visions to succeed, America, both as an ideal and as a national and political identity, must be destroyed. … Islamists ally with cultural Marxists because, as far back as the 1980s, they properly assessed that the left has a strong chance of reducing Western civilization to its benefit. Having co-opted post-modern narratives as critical points, Islamists will co-opt the movement in its entirety at some future point.”

According to the Atlantic:

“Higgins had also “pushed for declassification of documents having to do with radical Islam and Iran,” according to a source close to the White House. A source close to Higgins said that specifically, Higgins had been pushing for the declassification of Presidential Study Directive 11, a classified report produced in 2010 by the Obama administration which presaged the Arab Spring, outlining unrest throughout the Middle East.”

PSD-11 reportedly remains classified because it reveals the Obama administration’s “embarrassingly naïve and uninformed view of trends in the Middle East and North Africa region.” In June 2014, Gulf News reported that as part of a Freedom of Information lawsuit, the U.S. State Department had released documents about the Obama administration’s dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood:

“The President personally issued Presidential Study Directive 11 (PSD-11) in 2010, ordering an assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood and other ‘political Islamist’ movements, including the ruling AKP in Turkey, ultimately concluding that the United States should shift from its longstanding policy of supporting ‘stability’ in the Middle East and North Africa (that is, support for ‘stable regimes’ even if they were authoritarian), to a policy of backing ‘moderate’ Islamic political movements.”

Before joining the NSC, Higgins had warned:

“National Security officials are prohibited from developing a factual understanding of Islamic threat doctrines, preferring instead to depend upon 5th column Muslim Brotherhood cultural advisors….

“The ‘Islam has nothing to do with terrorism’ narratives have effectively shut down the intelligence process for the war on terror in any meaningful sense. Sure, we CT officers could look at organizations and people and places, some of which had Islamic names, but we could never dig into the political and ideological reasons the enemy was attacking us — which is supposed to be the first order of business in any strategic threat assessment.”

CJR: If you have not watched this interview with Higgins yet, here it is:

Senior Director for Strategic Assessments

On May 1, McMaster fired Adam Lovinger, a seasoned national security official, after his top-secret security clearance was abruptly suspended. Lovinger had been dispatched to the NSC from the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment (ONA) at Flynn’s request.

Lovinger, an expert on South Asia, the Persian Gulf and sub-Saharan Africa, said he was fired for his hardline views on Iran, including his opposition to Obama’s nuclear deal with Tehran.

His clearance was reportedly revoked “as part of a larger, behind-the-scenes effort by anti-Trump officials in the national security bureaucracy to neutralize key Trump aides.”

Lovinger’s attorney, Sean Bigley, said in a statement:

“Mr. Lovinger’s security clearance has now been suspended for a month. Despite repeated requests, to-date (the Department of Defense) has failed to provide us with any factual basis for the absurd accusations made against Mr. Lovinger by known anti-Trump partisans. Mr. Lovinger is entitled to a prompt opportunity to prove these allegations for what they are: overt political retaliation.”

Angelo Codevilla, a former senior official on the Senate Intelligence Committee, noted:

“The Trump administration is letting itself be played by the bureaucracy, which is managing to exercise a veto on who will represent Trump in government.”

Senior Director for Africa: Cyril Sartor

On August 1, McMaster hired Cyril Sartor, a career CIA analyst, to fill the highest Africa position on the NSC. The decision was viewed as a victory for the CIA in its protracted battle with the White House over candidates.

In February, Robin Townley, the first nominee for the post, was denied the high level security clearance required for the job; the denial reportedly was an expression of the CIA’s opposition to him. Townley, a former Marine intelligence officer close to Flynn, was a critic of the current intelligence structure and advocated for reform.

“The CIA did not want to deal with him,” Angelo Codevilla, the intelligence expert, wrote in a column for the Washington Times. “Hence, it used the power to grant security clearances to tell the president to choose someone acceptable to the agency, though not so much to him.” He added:

“If Mr. Trump does not fire forthwith the persons who thus took for themselves the prerogative that the American people had entrusted to him at the ballot box, chances are 100 percent that they will use that prerogative ever more frequently with regard to anyone else whom they regard as standing in the way of their preferred policies, as a threat to their reputation, or simply as partisan opponents.”

In April, McMaster offered the position to Rudolph Atallah, a retired lieutenant colonel who served more than 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. In June, however, Atallah’s job offer was rescinded, ostensibly due to delays in approving his security clearance. McMaster apparently believed that Atallah, a scholar on radical Islam in Africa, was overly-concerned with counterterrorism rather than other issues affecting the continent, including development assistance and human rights.

Sartor, one of the few senior-level African Americans in the intelligence community, has said little in public that offers a fuller picture of his analytical bent. In July 2016, however, he participated in a panel on terrorism at the Aspen Forum, where he claimed that jihadism in Africa is being fueled by socio-economic factors rather than the founding documents of Islam:

“Violent Islamic ideology is a foreign import to sub-Saharan Africa and as such it only thrives where it can co-opt local grievances. I sincerely believe the international community can defeat terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa with a robust mix of long-term development and security assistance.”

Senior Director for Russia and Europe

On March 2, McMaster hired Fiona Hill as the senior director for Russia and Europe, a newly combined directorate that brings both regions under one chain of command. Hill, a Russia scholar at the Brookings Institution, has been a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During the campaign, Trump made better relations with Russia one of the central pillars of his foreign policy agenda. In a November 2016 interview with the Atlantic, however, Hill predicted that the U.S.-Russia relationship would remain tense: “Trump isn’t exactly the most diplomatic of people, so I imagine he’ll fall out with his new friend Vladimir pretty quickly.”

Personnel is Policy

In January 2001, the Heritage Foundation published a report titled “Personnel Is Policy: Why the New President Must Take Control of the Executive Branch.” The report, addressed to President-Elect George W. Bush, is even relevant for President Trump, a political neophyte:

“To be successful, the new President…must protect his right to select appointees based not only on their managerial prowess but also on their commitment to his policy agenda and their ability to advance, articulate, and defend it….

“It is often said, correctly, that personnel is policy. The nexus between personnel management and policy management is therefore crucial. Good policies cannot be advanced without good, capable, and committed personnel to formulate, implement, aggressively promote, and steadfastly defend them. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald W. Reagan were noteworthy in this respect for making strong and effective Cabinet appointments and solid White House staffing decisions. Reagan, in particular, demonstrated the value of having trusted ‘lieutenants’ in the policy and supporting roles of his Administration….

“The President’s ultimate success will in large part depend on the degree of commitment to his agenda among the people he appoints to ensure its success…. The most important rule of presidential personnel management is to appoint people who are fully committed to the presidential agenda.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. Follow him on Facebook and onTwitter.

Why President Trump needs to fire his national security advisor.

The American Spectator, by Jed Babbin, Aug. 7, 2017:

Many in the conservative media are urging President Trump to fire his national security advisor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster. McMaster should be fired forthwith, but the reasons being argued are subsidiary to the primary reasons McMaster has to go.

The debate over McMaster has been framed in terms of his loyalty to Trump. Though loyalty to the president is important, McMaster’s ideology and bad judgment are what make him unfit for the position.

For eight years the Obama administration relentlessly politicized everything it touched. Those dedicated to Obama’s ideology were embedded in every agency at every level.

Obama’s failures are numerous and highly damaging to our national security. His State Department produced an awful arms agreement with the Russians, tried desperately to pressure Israel into an untenable peace agreement, and proudly signed Obama’s nuclear weapons deal with Iran.

Obama’s Defense Department supported the massive spending cuts Obama engineered. Those cuts are the source of the readiness crisis we now face which, for example, leave about 70% of Marine Corps F-18s unfit to fly combat missions. Moreover, the Pentagon never took a stand against Obama’s Iran deal or his dangerous Russian strategic weapons deal.

The Pentagon failed to alert American forces on the anniversaries of 9/11 (on one of which the Benghazi attacks occurred) and dedicated itself to fighting climate change and social experimentation such as admitting women to special forces and welcoming transgendered people. The army secretary ordered commanders to compromise readiness in favor of lactation needs of serving soldiers.

How far down the politicization of the military penetrated was demonstrated in 2015 in the rebellion of dozens of Central Command’s intelligence analysts who had been ordered to change their findings to match Obama’s political decisions regardless of the facts.

The military became divided between those who supported Obama’s way of war — denying Islam had anything to do with terrorism, cutting military spending, and withdrawing American influence wherever it became noticeable — and those who could not get promoted to high rank.

In the Obama White House, the central political organization was the National Security Council, which became a sort of politburo, pushing Obama’s ideology, agenda, and falsehoods around the government and media.

For example, within about a dozen hours of the Benghazi attacks, the CIA had produced talking points for administration officials saying that the Libyan diplomatic outpost and CIA annex had been attacked by terrorists. That’s where NSC intervened.

Obama and Hillary Clinton wanted to spin a story against the truth. They called in UN Ambassador — later National Security Advisor — Susan Rice, who had heard from Ben Rhodes, then the deputy national security advisor for strategic communications. In an infamous memo, he changed the infamous Benghazi talking points to mislead the American people and claim that there were demonstrations, not planned terrorist attacks, that erupted in riots.

Their objective — as stated in their contemporaneous emails — was to claim that the Libyan intervention wasn’t a major policy failure by Obama. Rice, five days after the attacks, went on four Sunday political talk shows to tell that obvious lie.

Rice established herself as a champion liar then (and afterwards), for a time even exceeding Hillary Clinton’s reputation. Time after time, Rice and her staff tried to spin the facts away to help Obama.

President Trump’s first national security advisor, retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, didn’t last long enough to reform the NSC staff and rid it of the Obama loyalists. The holdovers from Rice’s staff, one source tells me, number in the dozens. Trump’s second advisor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, has been there for months but hasn’t removed most of the Obama hirelings. Several dozen remain, many in positions of significant responsibility.

There are four people in positions of responsibility in the NSC who have been identified by a source as people who had been “direct reports” to Rhodes — i.e., who worked under his direct supervision — who McMaster has protected and retained. They are: Abigail Grace (Special Assistant), Fernando Cutz (NSC Director for South America), Andrea Hall (NSC Senior Director for WMD, Terrorism & Threat Reduction), and Merry Lin (‎Director for Global and Asia Economics).

Why would any national security advisor working for Trump not rid the NSC of these people immediately and the dozens of others as soon as he could? One source told me there are over fifty such holdovers on the NSC staff.

None of the four — and the other holdovers — should remain employed at the NSC. Every one of them should be viewed as a political operative dedicated to thwarting whatever Trump wants to do.

McMaster recently told an NSC staff meeting, “There’s no such thing as a holdover.” That is simply bizarre.

The problem is that McMaster is the ultimate holdover. He comprises a significant threat to national security.

Since March I’ve written that McMaster should not be national security advisor because he believes that Islam has no relationship to terrorism. I pointed out several of his remarks to that effect including a 2016 speech in which he said ISIS is an example of the terrorist “…enemy who cynically use a perverted interpretation of religion to incite hatred and justify horrific cruelty against innocents.”

In that article, I demonstrated that McMaster’s view of Islam is the same sort of politically correct garbage that we’ve been fed since 9/11. There are, I wrote, two schools of Islamic jurisprudence. They believe either that the Koran requires Muslims to terrorize, slay or enslave everyone who isn’t a believer in Islam or that it only permits them to do so.

I concluded that either the terrorists are either the most faithful believers or they have an equal claim to their faith as all Muslims do. In either case, McMaster is profoundly wrong. Anyone whose view of the terrorist threat is so wrong should not be national security advisor.

Obama drove our military and foreign policy in this direction for eight years. In those years, McMaster was promoted by a military system that followed sheepishly in lockstep with the president. No general or admiral resigned on principle.

For more than a decade, I have written again and again that we cannot win the war against Islamic terrorism unless and until we defeat the ideology that drives them.

McMaster is part of the politically correct military who were promoted under Obama for fealty to his politics. Echoing Obama, McMaster has told NSC staff to not use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” because it is inaccurate and unhelpful, insisting that terrorists are “un-Islamic.”

A man dedicated to that PC belief will always advise the president to refuse to fight the Islamist ideology. Mr. Trump, who clearly is not an expert in any matters of national security, has and will continue listen to him. And continue to lose the wars we are fighting.

Contrast that with Trump’s first national security advisor, Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn. Flynn co-wrote The Field of Fight with my friend Michael Ledeen. In the book’s penultimate chapter, Flynn prescribed his formula to defeat the Islamic terror networks. He said defeating them means:

  • “Destroying the jihadi armies, and killing or capturing their leaders;
  • “Discrediting their ideology, which will be greatly helped by our military victories, but which requires a serious program all its own…”

McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis produced a strategy for Afghanistan that the president rejected angrily about two weeks ago. The president reportedly did so because it recommended another round of what we’ve been doing unsuccessfully in Afghanistan for almost sixteen years. If the president wants new ideas and a strategy that isn’t a rehash of past failures, he’s not going to get it from those two.

He could have gotten them from Mike Flynn. When Flynn was fired (properly so for lying to the Vice President), Trump was convinced reportedly by Sen. John McCain and disgraced Gen. David Petraeus to replace him with McMaster.

McMaster’s recent actions in firing several top National Security Council staffers proves that his deep-seated faithfulness to the Obama doctrine. He has fired people from the NSC staff who deviate from that doctrine by opposing Obama’s Iran nuclear weapons deal and who have a good understanding of the terrorist threat. He fires those people while retaining the Obama acolytes.

Former CIA director James Clapper admitted last week that both he and Susan Rice were engaged in unmasking the identities of U.S. citizens in 2016. Remember that NSA interception of communications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act sometimes intercepts communications between foreign agents and people in the U.S. The law requires that the identities of those people are “masked” — i.e., concealed from intelligence consumers — unless those consumers, in specific instances where a national security interest is in play, request that they be unmasked.

Clapper and Rice almost certainly abused their powers to unmask people for the political purpose of spying on Trump’s campaign. Who among the many Obama holdovers among the NSC staff — people who McMaster is retaining — helped Rice do that?

These aren’t just bad decisions by McMaster: they’re proof that he believes the Obamaites who helped the Obama NSC produce lies and may have helped the Rice and Clapper spy on the Trump campaign are essential to his functions.

Last, and importantly, is the fact that McMaster didn’t resign from the army to take the job he holds. He’s a careerist, more interested in getting one final promotion, to full general, than in anything else. He’s sure to write a tell-all book when he leaves the NSC.

That’s the person Trump now trusts with the job of national security advisor. The president continues to do so at our risk.

***

***

Jim Hanson, President at Security Studies Group, saying that since McMaster has Trump’s support we need to pick our battles and fight more pressing threats as a team. Evidently, he has McMaster’s ear:

Also see:

McMaster’s NSC Coup Against Trump Purges Critics of Islam and Obama

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, Aug. 4, 2017:

Derek Harvey was a man who saw things coming. He had warned of Al Qaeda when most chose to ignore it. He had seen the Sunni insurgency rising when most chose to deny it.

The former Army colonel had made his reputation by learning the lay of the land. In Iraq that meant sleeping on mud floors and digging into documents to figure out where the threat was coming from.

It was hard to imagine anyone better qualified to serve as President Trump’s top Middle East adviser at the National Security Council than a man who had been on the ground in Iraq and who had seen it all.

Just like in Iraq, Harvey began digging at the NSC. He came up with a list of Obama holdovers who were leaking to the press. McMaster, the new head of the NSC, refused to fire any of them.

McMaster had a different list of people he wanted to fire. It was easy to make the list. Harvey was on it.

All you had to do was name Islamic terrorism as the problem and oppose the Iran Deal. If you came in with Flynn, you would be out. If you were loyal to Trump, your days were numbered.

And if you warned about Obama holdovers undermining the new administration, you were a target.

One of McMaster’s first acts at the NSC was to ban any mention of “Obama holdovers.” Not only did the McMaster coup purge Harvey, who had assembled the holdover list, but his biggest target was Ezra Watnick-Cohen, who had exposed the eavesdropping on Trump officials by Obama personnel.

Ezra Watnick-Cohen had provided proof of the Obama surveillance to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes. McMaster, however, was desperately working to fire him and replace him with Linda Weissgold. McMaster’s choice to replace Watnick-Cohen was the woman who helped draft the Benghazi talking points which blamed the Islamic terrorist attack on a video protest.

After protests by Bannon and Kushner, President Trump overruled McMaster. Watnick-Cohen stayed. For a while. Now Ezra Watnick-Cohen has been fired anyway.

According to the media, Watnick-Cohen was guilty of “anti-Muslim fervor” and “hardline views.” And there’s no room for anyone telling the truth about Islamic terrorism at McMaster’s NSC.

McMaster had even demanded that President Trump refrain from telling the truth about Islamic terrorism.

Another of his targets was Rich Higgins, who had written a memo warning of the role of the left in undermining counterterrorism. Higgins had served as a director for strategic planning at the NSC. He had warned in plain language about the threat of Islamic terrorism, of Sharia law, of the Hijrah colonization by Islamic migrants, of the Muslim Brotherhood, and of its alliance with the left as strategic threats.

Higgins had stood by Trump during the Khizr Khan attacks. And he had written a memo warning that “the left is aligned with Islamist organizations at local, national, and international levels” and that “they operate in social media, television, the 24-hour news cycle in all media and are entrenched at the upper levels of the bureaucracies.”

Like Harvey and Ezra Watnick-Cohen, Higgins had warned of an enemy within. And paid the price.

McMaster’s cronies had allegedly used the NSC’s email system to track down the source of the memo. The left and its useful idiots were indeed entrenched at the upper level of the bureaucracy.

Higgins was fired.

Like Harvey and Watnick-Cohen, Higgins had also become too dangerous to the Obama holdovers. Harvey had assembled a list of names and a plan to dismantle the Iranian nuclear deal. Watnick-Cohen had dug into the Obama surveillance of Trump officials. And Higgins had sought to declassify Presidential Study Directive 11. PSD-11 was the secret blueprint of Obama’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Pete Hoekstra, the former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, linked PSD-11 to the rise of ISIS and called for its declassification.

Replacing Harvey is Michael Bell. When the Washington Post needed someone to badmouth Dr. Gorka, they turned to Bell: the former chancellor of the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University.  Bell suggested that Dr. Gorka was an uneven scholar. And Dr. Gorka was accused of failing to incorporate other perspectives on Islam.

The pattern has never been hard to spot.

McMaster forced out K.T. McFarland from her role as Deputy National Security Advisor. Slotted in was Dina Habib-Powell.

McFarland was an Oxford and Cambridge grad who had worked at the Pentagon for the Reagan administration. Dina Habib-Powell had no national security background. She was an Egyptian-American immigrant and former Bush gatekeeper whose pals included Huma Abedin and Valerie Jarrett.

Powell, who has been described as the Republican Humasaid that Abedin “feels a deep responsibility to encourage more mutual understanding between her beliefs and culture and American culture.”

When visiting Egypt, Habib-Powell had assured the locals of how Bush, after September 11, “visited a mosque, took off his shoes and paid his respects.” “I see the president talk of Islam as a religion of peace, I see him host an iftar every year,” she gushed.

K.T. McFarland had written that “Global Islamist jihad is at war with all of Western civilization.”

It’s not hard to see why McMaster pushed out McFarland and elevated Habib-Powell.

Habib-Powell had attended the Iftar dinner with members of Muslim Brotherhood front groups. You can see her photographed at the American Task Force of Palestine gala. The ATFP was originally Rashid Khalidi’s American Committee on Jerusalem. She was there as a presenter at the Middle East Institute after a speech by Hanan Ashrawi. Her achievements under Bush included cultural exchanges with Iran, as well as cash for the Palestinian Authority and for Lebanon after the Hezbollah war with Israel.

While President Trump fights to restrict Muslim immigration, at his side is the woman who had once bragged on CNN, “Over 90% of student visas are now issued in under a week, and that is in the Middle East.”

But that is typical of the McMaster revamp of the NSC. It’s populated by swamp creatures who oppose the positions that President Trump ran on. And who are doing everything possible to undermine them.

President Trump promised a reset from Obama’s anti-Israel policies. McMaster picked Kris Bauman as the NSC’s point man on Israel. Bauman had defended Islamic terrorists and blamed Israel for the violence. He had urged pressure on Israel as the solution. Ideas like that fit in at McMaster’s NSC.

Meanwhile Derek Harvey, who had tried to halt Obama’s $221 million terror funding prize to the Palestinian Authority, was forced out.

This too is part of the pattern. As Caroline Glick has pointed out, the personnel being purged in the McMaster coup “are pro-Israel and oppose the Iran nuclear deal.”

When Adam Lovinger urged that “more attention be given to the threat of Iran and Islamic extremism,” his security clearance was revoked.  Robin Townley was forced out in the same way.

Meanwhile, McMaster sent a letter to Susan Rice, Obama’s former National Security Adviser, assuring her that the NSC would work with her to “allow you access to classified information.” He claimed that Rice’s continued access to classified information is “consistent with the national security interests of the United States.”

Why does Susan Rice, who is alleged to have participated in the Obama eavesdropping on Trump people, need access to classified information? What national security purpose is served by it?

The same national security purpose that is served by McMaster’s purge of anyone at the NSC who dares to name Islamic terrorism, who wants a tougher stance on Iran, and who asks tough questions.

And the purge of reformers and original thinkers is only beginning.

The latest reports say that McMaster has a list of enemies who will be ousted from the NSC. And when that is done, the NSC will be a purely Obama-Bush operation. The consensus will be that the Iran Deal must stay, that Islam has nothing to do with Islamic terrorism, that we need to find ways to work with the aspirations of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that Israel must make concessions to terrorists.

If you loved the foreign policy that brought us 9/11, ISIS, and billions in funding to terrorists from Syria to Libya to the West Bank, you won’t be able to get enough of McMaster’s brand new NSC.

And neither will America’s enemies.

The swamp is overflowing. The National Security Council is becoming a national security threat.

President Bush was a good man. And he meant well. But he was surrounded by officials who lied to him. They filled his administration with appeasers and paraded Islamists through the Oval Office. And by the time they were done, thousands more Americans had died and Islamists had developed an even bigger foothold on American soil than they had before September 11. This cannot be allowed to happen again.

If you love America, if you believe that Islamic terrorism needs to be fought, not appeased, then it’s time to take a stand against the McMaster coup and his Obama holdover allies, for our security and future.

It’s not just about a bunch of names. It’s about the survival of America.

Also see:

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Was McMaster Protecting the Trump Surveillance Plot?

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, Aug. 3, 2017:

Sara Carter at Axios broke the story that McMaster, the NCS’s master of disaster, had written a letter protecting Susan Rice’s access to classified information. As I write in an upcoming article,

McMaster sent a letter to Obama’s former National Security Adviser assuring her that the NSC would work with her to “allow you access to classified information.” He claimed that her access to classified information is “consistent with the national security interests of the United States.”

Why does Susan Rice, who is alleged to have participated in the Obama eavesdropping on Trump people, need access to classified information? What national security purpose is served by it?

The answer given in Carter’s article is that it’s an effort to provide cover for Susan Rice over the unmasking allegations.

In a June tweet, Trump called the revelation that Rice and other Obama senior officials were unmasking members of his team the “big story… the ‘unmasking and surveillance’ that took place during the Obama administration.”

“Basically, this letter which was signed in the last week of April undercuts the president’s assertion that Susan Rice’s unmasking activity was inappropriate. In essence, anybody who committed a violation as she did would not be given access to classified information,” said a senior West Wing official, who was shown the document by Circa and verified its authenticity. “In fact, they would have their security clearance and right to ‘need-to-know’ stripped.”

“The point is, is that it lowers the bar for her,” the Senior West Wing official said.

“This memo McMaster sent to Rice makes it so that she doesn’t have to prove a continuing ‘need-to-know’ to have access to classified information and in effect is a White House pardon of Susan Rice and could be used by other Obama officials who conducted targeted unmasking of the campaign as a defense,” the official added.

Why indeed would McMaster feel the need to go out of his way to provide cover for Rice? Let’s pivot to a nugget from the great post by Caroline Glick.

He allows anti-Israel, pro-Muslim Brotherhood, pro-Iran Obama people like Robert Malley to walk around the NSC and tell people what to do and think. He has left Ben (reporters know nothing about foreign policy and I lied to sell them the Iran deal) Rhodes’ and Valerie Jarrett’s people in place.

And then to Andrew McCarthy’s dissection

The president is in charge of the executive branch, including its intelligence agencies. He has the authority to decide what intelligence information, and intelligence abuses, can be declassified and made public. When Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, he bashed the Bush administration’s “enhanced” interrogation techniques for high-value terrorist detainees. His campaign promised that there would be a public accounting. When he became president, Obama promptly ordered the declassification and public dissemination of government memos outlining the techniques.

…So, why hasn’t Trump taken a page out of this book? Why are we still guessing whether political spying occurred when the alleged victim is now in a position to tell us one way or the other?

But that road leads through those around him. The best way to protect the Obama surveillance state and its holdovers is by keeping people like McMaster around.

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Also see: