The Return of the Shadow Warriors

American Thinker, by Daniel Ashman, Feb. 24, 2017:

Michael Flynn was fired from the Trump administration following vague, somewhat concerning, leaks about a phone conversation he had with the Russian ambassador. The intelligence community (IC) leaked this conversation to damage President Trump, who had previously tweeted, “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

These are glimpses into the soft civil war taking place between the IC and the democratically elected president.

shadow-wThis fight should be completely unsurprising. Kenneth Timmerman, in 2007, wrote a fabulous book called Shadow Warriors, which documented bureaucrats in the State Department and CIA, i.e. shadow warriors, nakedly harming President Bush. What Timmerman had the foresight to catalog years ago now serves as an explanatory backdrop to what is happening between Trump and the IC.

When IC people attack Flynn, it is not safe to take them at their word. They could be working for political reasons — or simply personal ambition. Timmerman provides many recent historical examples which show them doing exactly this. The IC has damaged their own credibility.

One example is the 2005 confirmation hearings for John Bolton as ambassador to the UN. The Democrats blocked Bolton’s nomination due to a confrontation he had with a State Department analyst, Christian Westermann. Democrats claimed Bolton’s actions had “grave and far-reaching implications for American credibility”.

What was Bolton’s horrible deed? He had written a speech, “Beyond the Axis of Evil,” to communicate the threats Americans faced from biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, from actors beyond North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. Bolton stated that Cuba had a biological weapons program and shared data with other states.

Westermann, based on the intelligence work of Ana Montes, went behind Bolton’s back to stop him. The problem is that Ana Montes was convicted in 2002 of espionage for Cuba. She avoided a death penalty by plea bargaining down to twenty-five years in jail.

Prior to conviction, Ana had been the top analyst on Cuba for the entire American IC. After her conviction, her disinformation remained in the system. Westermann was relying on the work of a Cuban spy to subvert Bolton. In response, Bolton had a frank conversation with Westermann.

In the confirmation hearings, Democrats and Westermann had turned the whole issue around on Bolton. Bolton was punished for speaking the truth about Cuba, and punished for confronting a bureaucrat in the IC about carrying water for a Cuban spy.

Like Bolton, Flynn has a reputation for calling stupid people out on stupid behavior. Maybe the IC took out Flynn because they are true patriots who think he posed a risk to America. Or maybe it’s because they didn’t like his political orientation and policy goals. Maybe it’s simply because he was going to tell the truth and make them look bad. One thing is certain, ascribing nefarious motivations to their actions is not a conspiracy theory, as Timmerman has documented this type of behavior.

The IC uses various disinformation methods to achieve their nefarious goals. One example Timmerman gives covers how CIA man Stephen Kappes hid important intelligence from the American people.

Kappes was in the CIA for over two decades so this is exactly the sort of “career IC” man one would expect to be nonpolitical. As deputy director, he was the second most powerful man in the CIA, so one would hope he would put patriotic love for America first.

The Bush administration had obtained media from an Arab television station which showed how the war had been effective at stopping terrorists. Bush wanted to share the video with the American people.

Timmerman writes what Kappes response was, “You’ve got to tell them they can’t use that tape unless they want to answer to me for getting one of my guys killed”. This would have been a laudable reason for Kappes to stop the information from coming out. The only problem was that Kappes was lying.

The CIA director and Bush appointee Porter Goss first told Bush not to publish the tape, to protect Kappes’s source. Then when Goss learned Kappes had lied, he went back to Bush to explain what had happened and clear release of the tape.

Bush lost trust in Goss. Only a couple of years later, in 2006, Goss was forced out of the CIA. Meanwhile, Kappes served as number two at the CIA into 2010. One lie from Kappes had served to hurt Republicans, prevent the truth from getting out to the public, hurt Goss, destabilized the administration, and furthered his own career. What a success! …for a shadow warrior.

Kappes’ deception figures as a relatively simple one in Timmerman’s book, in this instance anyway, as Kappes pops up fighting the shadow war numerous times.

Timmerman also recounts the Valerie Plame affair, which shows how the CIA carries out sophisticated psychological operations against America.

As readers will recall, CIA agent Valerie Plame arranged for her husband, Joe Wilson, to go to Niger to investigate whether Iraq was trying to buy uranium. Remarkably, Wilson was not bound to a confidentiality agreement. After the Iraq War started, Wilson went public bashing Bush. When Republicans defended themselves, Valerie Plame’s name came out, and Republicans got scorched again for leaking the name of a CIA agent

As then-senator Zell Miller wrote, “The rules on agents are clear. They can’t purposely distort gathered intelligence, go public with secret information or use their position or information to manipulate domestic elections or matters without risking their job or jail. But their spouse can!”

Wilson’s public attack on Bush wasn’t even truthful. Wilson focused on one piece of evidence, some forged documents, to discredit the idea that Iraq was trying to buy uranium. He completely bypassed the fact that an Iraqi delegation had gone to Niger in 1999 headed by Iraqi nuclear expert Wissam al-Zahawie. Wilson used a half-truth to deceive.

This CIA operation has permanently changed America. Many Americans now “know” that Bush lied. The Republican brand was damaged forever. And efforts to employ violence in self-defense against dictators working to procure uranium have been undercut.

What Trump is facing from the IC is nothing new. It is simply Shadow Warriors Part Two. As Timmerman has documented, a significant number of people in the IC, the shadow warriors, have a history of subverting America and democratically elected presidents, for political reasons. Anyone who says this is impossible is lying or ignorant of history.

Given the IC’s rabid lying attacks on Bush, there is no particular reason to believe them now. The attacks on Trump must especially be taken with skepticism as they come from anonymous sources, are vague, and merely hint at wrongdoing. Until the IC gives hard evidence that Flynn or Trump are Russian agents, these attacks say more about the IC than Trump. It suggests that certain shadow warriors perceive Trump as a threat to their well-being, and that they don’t like Trump’s policy stances. Never mind that he won the election in a free country.

One recurring theme in Shadow Warriors is that under the Bush administration, the shadow warriors didn’t face consequences. Westermann was not fired for spreading Cuban disinformation, nor for his political attempts to harm Bolton. Kappes was not fired for lying to Goss. And Plame actually got rich and famous.

Trump has approached these situations entirely differently from Bush. He has called out the IC for illegal subversive behavior in a direct and public manner.

There is a wonderful thread on Reddit in the Donald Trump forum (because the generic politics section of Reddit has banished Trump supporters), where users hypothesize that Flynn and Trump lured the IC into leaking Flynn’s private conversation on purpose, “In a single day, the deep state went from tinfoil hat conspiracy to common public knowledge. Amazing.”

It is impossible to know what Trump and Flynn’s intentions were, but these ideas are not so far-fetched. Shadow warriors exist. And by baiting them into leaks which self-expose, Trump would merely be using the same play that Plame and Wilson used when they baited Republicans into outing her, only this time the shadow warriors were the victim. Either way, Trump’s response to the IC has been strong.

As Zell Miller realized over a decade ago, “Something has to be done. We can’t let the CIA become the domestic dirty tricks shop, with Republican and Democratic agents each trying to pull down their opposing presidents.” Kenneth Timmerman has gone to great lengths to document these past abuses, which explain the current situation, and predict the future. A man ignorant of shadow warriors is but a wounded lion, staggering as the IC hyenas stalk from the shadows.

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Leaky John Brennan

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The American Spectator, by George Neumayr, February 17, 2017

Out of hatred for McGovernite liberals, a Republican president in the 1970s broke the law. Now those aging radicals break the law out of hatred for a Republican president.

Nested within intelligence agencies, they have fed a series of criminal leaks to a press corps that functions like an anti-Trump dirty tricks operation.

Donald Trump has publicly speculated that former CIA director John Brennan is one of the criminal leakers. In January, he tweeted out, “Was this the leaker of Fake News?” Trump has now charged the Justice Department with investigating “low-life leakers” in the government.

Former CIA analyst Tony Shaffer also suspects Brennan as one of the leakers. He said on Fox Business Network that the leaks which forced Michael Flynn out can be laid “squarely at the feet of” Brennan, among other embittered Obama aides.

What we know is that intelligence agencies taped Flynn’s call with the Russian ambassador, and we know that the contents of the call were leaked to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, who is a de facto stenographer for political liberals at the CIA. We also know that Brennan has made no secret of his opposition to Trump and Flynn. By opposing Brennan’s overtures to the Muslim Brotherhood and his refusal to grapple with the spread of Islamic terrorism, Flynn became enemy number one in the eyes of Obama holdovers at the CIA.

All of this gives the Justice Department ample reason to focus on Brennan. He had the means and motive to commit a crime.

“When I hear [former CIA head] John Brennan with the venom that seems to be in his voice after Donald Trump was elected president, it’s not hard to imagine that in the intelligence community, Donald Trump has his enemies and those enemies are not as restrained as they ought to be,” said Congressman Steve King on MSNBC.

Indeed, John Brennan brought with him to the CIA a coterie of political radicals and left-wing academics and gave them plum positions from which to leak to the press. So dedicated was Brennan to open political activism that he would walk the halls of the CIA in an LGBTQ “rainbow lanyard,” reports Bill Gertz of the Washington Times.

According to Gertz, Brennan turned his left-wing hires into “operatives” by fiddling with standards at the Directorate of Operations. These political hacks disguised as apolitical operatives had no more business receiving high-security clearances than Brennan himself did.

Recall the astounding admission Brennan once made at a “diversity” conference in 2016: that he thought he had “screwed” up his chances to enter the CIA after undergoing a polygraph test which smoked out his support for the American Communist Party during the Cold War. This sounds like a parody, but it isn’t. As he recounted:

This was back in 1980, and I thought back to a previous election where I voted, and I voted for the Communist Party candidate… I froze, because I was getting so close to coming into CIA and said, “OK, here’s the choice, John. You can deny that, and the machine is probably going to go, you know, wacko, or I can acknowledge it and see what happens.”… I said I was neither Democratic or Republican, but it was my way, as I was going to college, of signaling my unhappiness with the system, and the need for change. I said I’m not a member of the Communist Party, so the polygrapher looked at me and said, “OK,” and when I was finished with the polygraph and I left and said, “Well, I’m screwed.”

Unfortunately, he wasn’t. He entered the CIA, rose to its highest rank, and then salted the agency with fellow radicals, whose hatred for the “system” now takes the form of sabotaging the Trump administration.

Brennan and his leakers see no irony in becoming what they once opposed. In the 1970s, they cheered as the Church committee castigated the CIA for breaking laws. Now they use the CIA for their own dark arts and receive applause from ACLU-style liberals. They have gone from voting for communists to taping Russians, from fearing the unaccountable power of the system to wielding it shamelessly.

They marched through the institutions, stayed long enough to find the exits, and now booby-trap them as they file out. The trail of McGovernite liberalism ends as it began, in lawlessness, with a departing CIA director who behaved no differently than Daniel Ellsberg.

Also see:

Are US Intelligence Agencies Withholding Intelligence From President Trump?

Trump leaving the CIA headquarters with Michael Flynn after delivering remarks during a visit in Langley, Virginia, on January 21. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Trump leaving the CIA headquarters with Michael Flynn after delivering remarks during a visit in Langley, Virginia, on January 21. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, February 16, 2017:

According to a front page Wall Street Journal article today, U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised.  The Journal story cited former and current intelligence officials.  If true, this would be a dangerous and unprecedented act of defiance by unelected intelligence officers.  The acting Director of National Intelligence denied this report.

I suspect this story is only partly true for several reasons.  While I believe there are a handful of Obama appointees who are making such claims, most intelligence officers would  never do this because they know they work for the president and such behavior would cost them their jobs.  I also question whether any intelligence officials who have had actual contact with the White House did this.  I believe this story is being driven by a blogger and former intelligence officer who, although he has a wide following, has a history of making far-fetched and conspiratorial claims.

What this story does represent is the urgency that the Trump administration get its appointees in place in intelligence agencies to ensure they perform their mission to provide the president with the intelligence he needs to keep our nation safe.  Trump officials also are urgently needed at State and the Pentagon.

Once Trump officials are in place and assert control over the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, CIA, DIA, State and DOD, there should be a sharp reduction in leaks and anti-Trump press stories like today’s Wall Street Journal article.

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LISTEN TO TODAY’S SECURE FREEDOM PODCAST ON THE DEEP STATE

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General Flynn and Colonel Mustard: Let’s Piece Together Clues About the Leak

hith-checkpoint_charlie_sign-sized-770x415xcPJ MEDIA, BY CHARLIE MARTIN, FEBRUARY 16, 2017:

The most recent big scandal is LTG Michael Flynn’s resignation from the position of national security advisor — and just as an aside, I’ve heard at least three media people claim he’d resigned as director of the NSA, and no, being NSA isn’t the same as being DIRNSA. The Trump administration promptly complained about the leaks, to the mass amusement of the usual suspects.

But — is that amusement justified? Or is this more interesting than the usual suspects believe? Let’s give it a look.

There’s a phrase that comes up over and over when talking about classification of intelligence information: “sources and methods.” In fact, it comes up so often that it’s become one of those buzzword cliches that runs past — sourzeznmethdz — without people really hearing or thinking about it. So, just for once, let’s think about it.

Obviously, it breaks down into sources and methods: sources are where the information comes from, and methods are how we illicitly obtained the information. (Strictly it isn’t always illicit, since we derive useful intelligence from newspapers, but it’s also not interesting to know the CIA reads Russian newspapers.)

Now, we have a big scandal that is based on leaked reports of phone calls between LTG Flynn and the Russian ambassador, which apparently came from intercepts of the phone calls. But let’s look at this through the “sources and methods” lens for a minute: we have an overt leak that our intelligence services have intercepted communications of the Russian ambassador (a source) by “wire tapping” or something similar their phone calls (a method). What’s more, the other party to the call was LTG Michael Flynn. Technically, Flynn in this case is a United States Person (“U.S. Person”) under 50 USC 1801. Here’s the definition:

(i)“United States person” means a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence (as defined in section 1101(a)(20) of title 8), … .

Here’s a link to all of 50 US Code Subchapter I, which contains the whole section on FISA courts. I won’t go through the whole thing, but the gist is that there must be a FISA Court order to allow an intercept of a U.S. Person’s communications; if a U.S. Person’s communications are intercepted by accident, by law the U.S. Person’s communications must be “minimized” in such a way that information identifying the U.S. Person isn’t stored or disseminated except under some special conditions.

It looks like that rule was, shall we say, applied less than diligently here with these leaks.

But let’s go back to “sources and methods” — what we have here is “communications intelligence,” COMINT. This isn’t super sensitive — as a friend pointed out, it’s not like it’s a big secret the U.S. is listening to the Russians — but it still meets the qualifications to be something like CONFIDENTIAL and special compartmented intelligence: CONFIDENTIAL//SI. (You can read more details, if you’re interested, in my pieces on Hillary’s Air Gap Problem, on how It’s Not Classified because It’s Marked; It’s Marked because It’s Classified, and on L’Affaire Snowden and Computer Security.)

But the point for now is simply that this stuff must be classified at least CONFIDENTIAL//SI, which puts it under the Espionage Act; revealing it without authorization is a violation of 18 USC 793 (and some other sections. Again, the link is to the containing chapter). This is the same chapter that would have been used to indict Hillary Clinton if she hadn’t had friends in high places.

Finally, let’s ask the question that should be on every critical thinker’s mind at all times: Cui bono? Who benefits? Add to that: who could have been involved?

Probably not the Trump people (plus they wouldn’t have known to have access to it). Not the Russians. Decisions involving this kind of material are made in the executive branch (CIA, FBI, NSA are all in the executive branch). What’s more, very few people are going to have need to know on this stuff, even if it’s only CONFIDENTIAL: we don’t want to let the Russians know exactly what conversations we’ve actually intercepted.

The final piece of the puzzle here is that we know these calls were intercepted before the inauguration. Which means they were authorized during the Obama administration.

So now, like Colonel Mustard with a lead pipe in the library, pieces have come together: this has to have been authorized under the Obama administration, by someone pretty high up (or else they wouldn’t have access to the compartmented information), and leaked by someone pretty high up, also, almost certainly, either a civil service permanent employee held over from the Obama administration or a political appointee very high in the intelligence community. One who was pretty confident they also have friends in high places.

Why? It seems it must have been to make trouble for the incoming Trump administration.

This is going to get a lot more interesting.

(Last-minute update: It may be getting interesting.)

The CIA’s affront to Trump

CIA Bullies Trump Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

CIA Bullies Trump Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

The Washington Times, February 15, 2017:

The CIA has denied a security clearance to Trump National Security Council (NSC) official Robin Townley without any allegation, much less evidence of disloyalty to the United States. Quite simply, it is because the CIA disapproves of Mr. Townley’s attitude toward the agency, and this is unprecedented. President Trump appointed Mr. Townley to coordinate Africa policy at the NSC. The CIA did not want to deal with him. 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. This opens a larger issue: Since no one can take part in the formulation or execution of foreign or defense policy without a high-level security clearance, vetoing the president’s people by denying them clearances trumps the president.

Hence, 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. If Mr. Trump lets this happen, he will have undermined nothing less than the self-evident heart of the Constitution’s Article II: The president is the executive branch. All of its employees draw their powers from him and answer to him, not the other way around.

Using security clearances for parochial purposes — usually petty ones — while neglecting security, never mind counterintelligence, is an old story at the CIA which I got to know too well during eight years overseeing the agency as the designee of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s budget chairman. Because I did my quality control job vigorously, and because I placed on the budget cut list some of the many outside contracts that seemed corrupt, the agency made repeated attempts to withdraw my top-level, cross-cutting security clearances. After I left the Senate staff for Stanford, when the Naval Postgraduate School asked me to teach a highly classified course on signals intelligence, the school’s security office asked the CIA for my clearances. The bureaucrats there said they had never heard of me. I had to call Director of Central Intelligence Bill Casey, who ended up phoning them in personally to a startled Navy chief.

The CIA uses pretense about security to insulate itself from criticism, to protect its own, and to intrude into policymaking. Security against foreign intelligence ranks low in its priorities. For near a decade, its bureaucrats refused to look into obvious evidence that their own Aldrich Ames had sold out America’s entire agent network in the Soviet Union. Moreover, according to its inspector general, they continued to pass reports from that network to the president because they happened to agree with the direction in which these KGB-produced reports were pushing U.S. policy. The CIA also uses secrecy to avoid responsibility. It crafts the conclusions of its reports specifically to be leaked to The New York Times and The Washington Post, while making sure that the thin or nonexistent facts behind those conclusions never see the light of day.

The CIA’s denial of a clearance to a presidential appointee minus good cause, however, breaks new ground and shows truly revolutionary boldness. Traditionally, bureaucrats have used sticks and carrots to convince political appointees to play along lest they suffer unpleasantness. Thus, presidents have ended up having to choose between suffering appointees who have “gone native” or replacing them. Now, the CIA’s denial of Mr. Townley’s clearance removes all subtlety by demanding that Mr. Trump appoint only “natives.” If Mr. Trump indulges that demand for self-emasculation, the message will go out to all agencies: They need pay no attention to what political appointees tell them, and they need fear no retribution for this or for pressuring appointees in any way they want. The message to the people who Mr. Trump has appointed or who are considering working for Mr. Trump is just as clear: You have no choice but to make yourself acceptable to the bureaucrats because, if you don’t, they will hurt you and the president will not help you. This cannot help but skew the pool of potential members of the Trump administration.

We cannot know nor does it matter why Donald Trump seems to be deferring to bureaucrats who have gone out of their way to delegitimize him. But we can be certain about the kind of dynamic engendered by deference in the face of assaults.

Angelo M. Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University.

Media’s Flynn-Russia Narrative Quickly Collapsing as FBI Reportedly Clears Former National Security Adviser

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PJ MEDIA, BY PATRICK POOLE, FEBRUARY 15, 2017:

The media narrative that recently ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was involved in nefarious — nay, sinister and possibly treasonous!!! — dealings in his December call with the Russian ambassador is quickly collapsing, as CNN reports that the FBI will not be pursuing any criminal investigation involving Flynn’s phone call….

You must read the rest of Poole’s excellent debunking of the MSM’s shameful smear campaign.

The Latest Rundown on the Mike Flynn Deep State Hit Job

mike-flynn_-hit_-job_-run_-down_-sized-770x415xc-1PJ MEDIA, BY PATRICK POOLE, FEBRUARY 15, 2017:

Obama officials and the establishment media continue to wave the scalp of resigned National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and trying to squeeze every last drop of anti-Trump controversy out of the matter.

As I had said privately, Flynn was not long for remaining as NSA. It’s not because he’s a bad guy, and accusations that he was compromised by Russian intelligence are absurd as the Trump dossier Buzzfeed published last month. It’s just that Flynn wasn’t ready for prime time. Hopefully his replacement will be.

So here’s the latest.

The New York Times published a report last night claiming “Trump associates” had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence, which the media in turn breathlessly hyped.

Trying to spin this as definitive proof that Trump was involved in “hacking the election,” they failed to recognize the NYT report proved no such thing:

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.

OK, there goes that theory.

The other big story last night from Adam Kredo at the Washington Free Beacon was that the hit job on Flynn was driven by former Obama officials concerned about protecting the disastrous Iran deal:

A third source who serves as a congressional adviser and was involved in the 2015 fight over the Iran deal told the Free Beacon that the Obama administration feared that Flynn would expose the secret agreements with Iran.

“The Obama administration knew that Flynn was going to release the secret documents around the Iran deal, which would blow up their myth that it was a good deal that rolled back Iran,” the source said. “So in December the Obama NSC started going to work with their favorite reporters, selectively leaking damaging and incomplete information about Flynn.”

“After Trump was inaugurated some of those people stayed in and some began working from the outside, and they cooperated to keep undermining Trump,” the source said, detailing a series of leaks from within the White House in the past weeks targeting Flynn. “Last night’s resignation was their first major win, but unless the Trump people get serious about cleaning house, it won’t be the last.”

It’s curious then that the architects of the Iran deal are enthusiastic about the front runner to replace Flynn, former Vice Admiral Robert Harward, including former Obama NSC spox Tommy Vietor:

And the Iran deal must be preserved at all costs:

Our former PJ Media colleague Richard Pollock had the last interview with Flynn before his resignation reporting on what was actually discussed during that phone call with the Russian ambassador:

Flynn insisted that he crossed no lines in his telephone conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak: “If I did, believe me, the FBI would be down my throat, my clearances would be pulled. There were no lines crossed.”

Flynn said there was a brief discussion of the 35 Russian diplomats who were being expelled by Obama in retaliation for Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 campaign.

“It wasn’t about sanctions. It was about the 35 guys who were thrown out,” Flynn said. “So that’s what it turned out to be. It was basically, ‘Look, I know this happened. We’ll review everything.’ I never said anything such as, ‘We’re going to review sanctions,’ or anything like that.”

It’s important to recall what Flynn was accused of doing:

There has yet to be any evidence that anything in Flynn’s discussion with the Russian ambassador was illegal.

The heavy breathing by the media about supposed Logan Act violations is totally overwrought, as there has never been a successful Logan Act prosecution in two centuries.

But it bears recalling that in 2008 as the Bush admin was trying to negotiate on the Iran nuclear program, those efforts were scuttled by the Obama campaign without any complaint from the media or calls for Logan Act prosecutions.

As our own Michael Ledeen reported here at PJ Media back in 2014:

During his first presidential campaign in 2008, Mr. Obama used a secret back channel to Tehran to assure the mullahs that he was a friend of the Islamic Republic, and that they would be very happy with his policies. The secret channel was Ambassador William G. Miller, who served in Iran during the shah’s rule, as chief of staff for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and as ambassador to Ukraine. Ambassador Miller has confirmed to me his conversations with Iranian leaders during the 2008 campaign.

It is remarkable that invocations of the Logan Act (e.g. the letter from 47 Senate Republicans to the Iranian leader in 2015) only occurs when it is targeting Republicans.

Another issue coming out of the Flynn affair is the politicization of intelligence.

House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is demanding to know what Flynn’s conversations were being wiretapped. As one of the congressional “Big 8” if there were a covert program targeting Flynn, he would be one of the few to know.

“Any intelligence agency cannot listen to Americans’ phone calls,” Nunes told reporters Tuesday night. “If there’s inadvertent collection that you know is overseas there’s a whole process in place for that.”

He explained, “It’s pretty clear that’s not the case, so then they could have been listening to someone else and inadvertently picked up an American. If that happens, there’s a whole process in place to where they have to immediately get rid of the information unless it’s like high level national security issue and then someone would have to unmask the name — someone at the highest levels.”

“So in this case it would be General Flynn and then how did that happen. Then if they did that, then how does all that get out to the public which is another leak of classified information,” Nunes added. “I’m pretty sure the FBI didn’t have a warrant on Michael Flynn.”

Former House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Peter King says the intelligence disclosures to the press were clearly illegal.

No wonder then that many in the media are warning about the implications of former Obama officials leaking highly classified signals intelligence intercepts involving U.S. persons.

Eli Lake at Bloomberg:

There is another component to this story as well — as Trump himself just tweeted. It’s very rare that reporters are ever told about government-monitored communications of U.S. citizens, let alone senior U.S. officials. The last story like this to hit Washington was in 2009 when Jeff Stein, then of CQ, reported on intercepted phone calls between a senior Aipac lobbyist and Jane Harman, who at the time was a Democratic member of Congress.

Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.

In the past it was considered scandalous for senior U.S. officials to even request the identities of U.S. officials incidentally monitored by the government (normally they are redacted from intelligence reports). John Bolton’s nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was derailed in 2006 after the NSA confirmed he had made 10 such requests when he was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control in George W. Bush’s first term. The fact that the intercepts of Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak appear to have been widely distributed inside the government is a red flag.

Damon Linker at The Week:

Unelected intelligence analysts work for the president, not the other way around. Far too many Trump critics appear not to care that these intelligence agents leaked highly sensitive information to the press — mostly because Trump critics are pleased with the result. “Finally,” they say, “someone took a stand to expose collusion between the Russians and a senior aide to the president!” It is indeed important that someone took such a stand. But it matters greatly who that someone is and how they take their stand. Members of the unelected, unaccountable intelligence community are not the right someone, especially when they target a senior aide to the president by leaking anonymously to newspapers the content of classified phone intercepts, where the unverified, unsubstantiated information can inflict politically fatal damage almost instantaneously.

And John Podheretz at the New York Post:

This information might have come because the US intelligence community has an active interest in the Russian official to whom he talked.

Or it could have come because the FBI had been pursuing some sort of secret investigation and had received authorization to monitor and track his calls and discussions.

If this was intelligence, the revelation of the Flynn meeting just revealed something to the Russians we shouldn’t want revealed — which is that we were listening in on them and doing so effectively.

And if it was an FBI investigation, then the iron principle of law enforcement — that evidence gathered in the course of an investigation must be kept secret to protect the rights of the American being investigated — was just put through a shredder.

Keeping our intelligence-gathering assets hidden from those upon whom we are spying is a key element of our national security.

And as for playing fast and loose with confidential information on American citizens: No joke, people — if they can do it to Mike Flynn, they can do it to you.

But still, there are some who are loving them some deep state totalitarian tactics:

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Report: Obama Loyalists, Led by Ben Rhodes, Orchestrated Flynn Ouster

 

No Surprise Classified Report on Russia Leaked to Media to Hurt Trump

524204248-1Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, January 6, 2016:

The same day that a classified 50-page intelligence report was delivered to President Obama on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, its findings were immediately leaked to the Washington Post by “U.S. officials” – probably senior Obama officials at the National Security Council.  Making this worse, the leakers may have compromised sensitive intelligence sources and methods by revealing that the report was based on intercepted communications.

According to the Post story, the classified intelligence report says senior officials in the Russian government celebrated Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton as a geopolitical win for Moscow.  So-called “actors” involved in providing Democratic emails to WikiLeaks reportedly are identified.  The report also is said to discuss “disparities in the levels of effort Russian intelligence entities devoted to penetrating and exploiting sensitive information stored on Democratic and Republican campaign networks.”

After the Washington Post story was posted online, a senior U.S. intelligence official discussed the classified report with NBC News.  The intelligence official agreed to talk to NBC because he or she disagreed with the focus of the Post story and believes the Post overemphasized alleged Russian celebration of Trump’s win and did not focus on the thrust of the report.

Two other intelligence officials also leaked details of the classified report to NBC.  According to the NBC story, “Two top intelligence officials with direct knowledge told NBC News that the report on Russian hacking also details Russian cyberattacks not just against the Democratic National Committee, but the White House, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department and American corporations.”

It’s no surprise that Obamas officials would immediately leak to the news media details about the intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election since they have a history of leaking highly classified intelligence to the press – including sensitive intelligence sources and methods – to advance their political agendas.

For example, in 2012 then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reportedly told the Obama NSC staff to “shut the f— up” after they leaked sensitive details about the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound as part of a victory lap for the president’s foreign policy.

Not only do I believe the Obama White House raced to the phone to leak the new intelligence report on Russian hacking to the press, I believe this is why Mr. Obama requested this report in the first place – the president wanted an intelligence assessment undermining Trump’s election that his staff could leak to the news media before he left office.

But as bad as the leaking of classified reports to the press for political reasons by White House officials is, leaks about the Russia report by intelligence officers are far more serious, especially at a time of growing tension between President-elect Donald Trump and the U.S. Intelligence Community.  Trump’s team has attacked the accuracy of intelligence assessments and accused intelligence officers of leaking to the news media against Trump and politicizing intelligence.  Regardless of whether these accusations have merit (I believe they do), press leaks by intelligence officials on the Russia report will only widen the rift between Trump and U.S. intelligence agencies.  Trump tweeted in response to the NBC story:

How did the intelligence officials who leaked to NBC expect Mr. Trump to react?  Did they give any thought to the damage these leaks would cause to relations between their agencies and the president-elect?

President Trump will need and deserve a U.S. Intelligence Community that provides him with hard hitting and objective analysis devoid of politics.  It’s time for Director of National Intelligence Clapper and other intelligence officials to stop complaining about Donald Trump “disparaging” U.S. intelligence agencies and demand that intelligence officers stop trying to undermine our new president.  I am certain that the vast majority of intelligence officers welcome the opportunity to support Mr. Trump.  If the handful of intelligence officers who have been leaking against Trump cannot accept his election and their responsibility to loyally serve the next president, they need to resign immediately.

CIA and the Wizard of Oz

Brennan: Wizard of the CIA Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Brennan: Wizard of the CIA Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Washington Times, by , December 20, 2016:

An anonymous CIA official tells The Washington Post and The New York Times that Russia hacked to elect Donald Trump. Gives zero details. The CIA refuses to meet with the congressional intelligence committees. After a week of media echoes that the voters were victims of “fake news” conspiracies including from the Russians, The Hill reports: “Poll: More than half of Americans bothered by Russian interference in election.” Hence John Podesta, Hillary’s campaign manager, formerly President Obama’s senior counselor, was on firm public relations grounds when he contended that the 2016 elections were not “free and fair.” Presto: America’s electoral repudiation of the ruling class is on the skids toward delegitimization.

The Trump team helps grease those skids. The normally sure-footed Kellyanne Conway said President-elect Trump “totally does” respect the intelligence community, while Mr. Trump’s Chief-of-Staff-to-be Reince Priebus answered “no” when asked whether he thought CIA Director John Brennan was “politically motivated.” Truthfully, The Wall Street Journal reported “Trump team tones down skepticism on Russia hacking.” Mr. Trump’s failure to question the legitimacy of what the CIA is doing to delegitimize him reprises George W. Bush’s acquiescence as CIA embroiled his presidency in fake scandals.

But questioning the CIA’s intellectual authority and politics is essential to keeping it honest, to fulfilling the president’s and Congress’ own responsibility, and to the public’s grip on reality.

What is the CIA is doing to Mr. Trump? What is the point of anonymous accusations that Mr. Trump’s refusal to listen to some CIA briefings shows his pride in ignorance? How does Mr. Trump plan to react when — not if — the CIA will publicize “top secret” conclusions contradicting President Trump’s policies or when it will claim he failed to heed secret warnings that may never have existed? The CIA has done such things routinely to Republican administrations.

In short, the CIA has always been part of the left wing of America’s ruling class. The “Russian hacking affair” is another instance of the perennial effort by which this class defends its claim to be the arbiter of truth and authority. Since the CIA has always possessed far fewer facts with far greater incertitude than the body politic imagines, it confuses its officials’ socio-political predilections with facts. Over more than a half-century, the CIA has purveyed them as facts because very few outsiders ever get behind its layered curtains of secrecy — which it flashes open for favorite journalists. Secrecy, which is essential to intelligence, presents a well-nigh irresistible temptation to cover insufficiency and self indulgence with the standard objection: “Our conclusions are based on facts of which you are not aware and that we cannot share with you.”

The CIA has not resisted this temptation because the media and the movies have bought into its myths of omniscience and derring-do; and because only very rarely have the presidents and members of Congress whose duty it is to make judgments about foreign affairs questioned what there is behind the CIA’s curtains. Seldom have they exercised their right to look behind them. Had they looked, they would have seen that, behind all those code word classifications — with the exception of military intelligence and a few very “black” programs — there is often very little there.

Also see:

No, Hillary, 17 U.S. Intelligence Agencies Did Not Say Russia Hacked Dem E-mails

524204248Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, October 20, 2016:

Hillary Clinton in last night’s presidential debate tried to avoid talking about the substance of the damaging WikiLeaks disclosures of DNC and Clinton campaign officials by claiming 17 U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Russia was responsible for this. After Clinton made this claim, she scolded Trump for challenging U.S. intelligence professionals who have taken an oath to help defend this country.

What Clinton said was false and misleading. First of all, only two intelligence entities – the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – have weighed in on this issue, not 17 intelligence agencies. And what they said was ambiguous about Russian involvement. An unclassified October 7, 2016 joint DNI-DHS statement on this issue said the hacks

. . . are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow — the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europa and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.

Saying we think the hacks “are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts” is far short of saying we have evidence that Russia has been responsible for the hacks. Maybe high-level officials would have authorized them if Russian hackers were responsible, but the DNI and DHS statement did NOT say there was evidence Russia was responsible.

My problem with the DNI/DHS unclassified statement is that it appeared to be another effort by the Obama administration to politicize U.S. intelligence. Make no mistake, U.S. intelligence agencies issued this unprecedented unclassified statement a month before a presidential election that was so useful to one party because the Clinton campaign asked for it. The Obama administration was happy to comply.

Clinton tried to defend the DNI/DHS statement by repeating the myth that U.S. intelligence officers are completely insulated from politics. She must think Americans will forget how the CIA crafted the politicized Benghazi talking points in 2011 and how SOUTHCOM intelligence analysts were pressured to distort their analysis of ISIS and Syria to support Obama foreign policy. And that’s just under the Obama administration. Politicization of intelligence goes back decades, including such blatant efforts by CIA officers to interfere in the 2004 presidential election that the Wall Street Journal referred to it as “The CIA Insurgency” in an August 2004 editorial. I discussed the problem of the politicization of U.S. intelligence and the enormous challenge a Trump administration will have in combating it in an August 18, 2016 National Review article.

Maybe the Russians are behind the WikiLeak hacks of Democrat e-mails, possibly to influence the 2016 presidential election. I’m not convinced of this. I’m more concerned that these constant leaks of Democratic e-mails demonstrate that Democratic officials appear to have no understanding of the need for Internet security. This makes me wonder if John Podesta’s e-mail password is “password.” These are the people Clinton will be giving senior jobs with high-level security clearances. That is the real security scandal that no one is talking about.

Orlando Terror Attack ‘Triggered’ by Pentagon Drone Strike

Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a multiple shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a multiple shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Washington Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, Sept. 28, 2016:

The domestic terrorist behind the Orlando nightclub massacre was motivated by a Pentagon drone strike in Iraq a month before the shooting, according to police transcripts made public last week.

Conversations between Omar Mateen and an Orlando police negotiator on June 12 were kept secret by FBI and local police until Friday. The secrecy contributed to misleading media accounts of the terrorist’s motives in the days after the killings.

The transcripts were released by Orlando police Friday after a Florida court hearing held in response to a lawsuit filed by several news organizations.

Mateen killed 49 people during the attack on the Pulse, a gay nightclub, and wounded 53 others. Police eventually stormed the club and killed Mateen in a shootout after talks aimed at convincing him to surrender failed.

During an exchange in the early morning hours of June 12, an Orlando Police Department negotiator identified only as “Andy” asked Mateen, who was speaking by cell phone from inside the club, to tell him what was going on.

“Yo, the air strike that killed Abu Wahid a few weeks ago… that’s what triggered it, okay?” said Mateen, who earlier in the conversation identified himself as a follower the Islamic State terror group.

“They should have not bombed and killed Abu Wahid,” the former security guard declared. “Do your fucking homework and figure out who Abu Wahid is, okay?”

Additionally, Mateen praised one of the bombers of the 2013 Boston Marathon, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and another domestic terrorist whose name was transcribed as unintelligible in the released transcript.

At other points, Mateen told the negotiator that the United States needed to stop all bombing in Iraq and Syria.

Initial reports from several news outlets reporting on the mass shooting variously described Mateen as gay, a “homophobe” and a “wife beater,” despite his having made claims of allegiance to the Islamic State.

The New York Times, for example, stated in an editorial three days after the shooting that the “precise motive [of Mateen] remains unclear.” The editorial then said it was “evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians.” Investigators later dismissed as a false claim that Mateen was driven to the killing spree by gay self-hatred.

The Orlando attack was the deadliest terrorist incident since the September 11, 2001, attacks. The FBI would later reveal it investigated Mateen twice but claimed there was a lack of evidence he was linked to Islamic terrorism.

The Orlando attack came just over a month after the Pentagon announced on May 9 that a U.S.-led coalition air strike killed Abu Wahib, a middle-level Islamic State military leader in charge of Iraq’s Anbar province on May 6.

Wahib was blown up along with three other jihadists in a drone strike on the car they men were riding in. The terror leader had been a high profile figure who appeared in several gruesome execution videos.

A defense official said the raid that killed Wahib employed a missile-firing unmanned aerial vehicle against the terrorist’s car. The fact that a drone was used in the attack also may explain the government’s reluctance to release the transcript.

The secrecy surrounding the transcripts of Mateen’s comments appears based on Obama administration fears that publicizing the jihadist’s statements would fuel further attacks.

The administration has sought to play down domestic ISIS-inspired terror attacks as disconnected from the Islamic ideology. The number of ISIS-linked attacks has increased over the past year.

FBI and Orlando police spokesmen declined to comment when asked why the full transcript was not made public earlier.

Heather Fagan, deputy chief of staff in the Orlando mayor’s office, said the transcripts were withheld by the FBI during the Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation and released last week.

“The Department of Justice and the FBI recently advised the city of the FBI’s determination that the 911 calls no longer need to be protected as their release would not compromise the ongoing investigation into the Pulse nightclub massacre,” she told the Free Beacon.

The FBI and Justice Department released a partial transcript of the calls June 20—eight days after the attack. But those transcripts made no reference to the Iraqi airstrike that killed Wahid, or the Boston Marathon bomber.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said during his first call with the crisis negotiator, Mateen explicitly stated U.S. involvement in Syria and Iraq motivated the attack.

“This fact differs dramatically and widely from the initial media and police reports,” he said. “It is important for us to understand why that was the case. If officials intentionally sought to downplay the threat from radical Islamic terrorism, that would not only be wrong, but would also be a disservice to the American public.”

Counterterrorism experts questioned the FBI’s failure to release the full transcript sooner and suggested it is part of U.S. government efforts to obscure the nature of the domestic terror threat.

Sebastian Gorka, a counterterrorism expert, said the 911 transcript “completely destroys” the White House policy narrative of so-called “lone wolf” terror attacks.

“Omar Mateen isn’t a random individual discontented from a broader conspiracy,” Gorka said, noting the terrorist’s claim of allegiance to the Islamic State ties him to a broader global jihadist movement.

Also, Mateen’s references in the transcript to the Islamic observance of Ramadan and fasting the day of the attack “flies in the face of the administration’s argument that these attacks are wholly disconnected from Islam,” added Gorka, a professor of strategy and irregular warfare at the Institute of World Politics.

“Justifying the attack as a response to our targeting of Abu Wahib, the ISIS head of the Al Anbar Lions, reemphasizes to reality that this is a borderless war in which the individual neutralization of high value targets with not bring us ultimate victory,” Gorka said. “Only the delegitimization of the ideology that men like Mateen adhere to can do that.”

Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the failure to release the Mateen transcript earlier highlights the government’s reluctance to expose the threat.

“It is very disappointing that information like this is consistently withheld,” Hoekstra said. “It’s a pattern that is deeply troubling and calls into question the FBI’s whole strategy of keeping America safer by hiding information.”

Said Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who handled terrorism cases: “The catalyst for all jihadist terrorism is Islamic supremacist ideology and its agenda to impose sharia.”

“We remain willfully blind to this ideology, so we are increasingly vulnerable to attacks,” McCarthy added. “And by failing to expose and discredit the ideology, we fail both our security and our pro-Western Muslim allies at home and abroad.”

The transcript also reveals that Mateen used deception in his calls to police in an apparent effort to prevent SWAT teams from conducting a raid against his location. Mateen falsely told the negotiator that he had planted car bombs around Orlando and was preparing to outfit four explosive vests on hostages, which he described as similar to the suicide bomb vests worn by Islamic terrorists in the November 2015 mass shootings in Paris.

During the initial conversation, Mateen was asked his name and told the negotiator, “My name is I pledge of allegiance to (unidentifiable name) of the Islamic State.”

The FBI statement said the 911 calls made by Mateen would not be released “out of respect for the victims” of the mass shooting. It stated that Mateen wanted the United States to stop bombing in Iraq and Syria. The FBI said Mateen told police, “I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings” and that he pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.

A joint Justice Department-FBI statement issued June 20 included a partial release of the Mateen calls but did not disclose the details made public on Friday.

“The purpose of releasing the partial transcript of the shooter’s interaction with 911 operators was to provide transparency, while remaining sensitive to the interests of the surviving victims, their families, and the integrity of the ongoing investigation,” the statement said.

“We also did not want to provide the killer or terrorist organizations with a publicity platform for hateful propaganda.”

The statement went on to say that unreleased portions of the transcript that named the terrorist organizations and leaders “have caused an unnecessary distraction from the hard work that the FBI and our law enforcement partners have been doing to investigate this heinous crime.”

“As much of this information had been previously reported, we have re-issued the complete transcript to include these references in order to provide the highest level of transparency possible under the circumstances.”

The statement was referring to the first 911 call made by Mateen. The detailed calls to the police negotiator were withheld from release.

Police in Orlando released a number of 911 calls from victims in and around the club during the attack, but are withholding 230 calls made by victims to 911 emergency dispatchers under a law that allows keeping audio and transcripts secret when the calls involve a person being killed.

Also see:

Trump Will Face a Huge Challenge with U.S. Intelligence If He Wins

2074162454Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, Aug. 18, 2016:

Before his classified national-security briefing yesterday, Donald Trump said he didn’t trust U.S. intelligence. His comments attracted the expected condemnations and ridicule from the media pundits and foreign-policy experts. However, based on my 25 years working in U.S. intelligence, I believe Trump’s concerns are well-founded.

On Wednesday, Trump received the intelligence briefing traditionally provided by the U.S. Intelligence Community to newly nominated presidential candidates. This briefing was preceded by calls from the Clinton campaign, other Democrats, and, privately, by some intelligence officials that Trump be denied these briefings because, they claim, he can’t be trusted to protect classified information.

Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, actually asked intelligence analysts to give Trump fake briefings.

The Washington Post’s intelligence reporter Greg Miller reported on July 28 that a senior intelligence official told Miller privately that he would refuse to brief Trump because of concerns about Trump’s alleged admiration of Russian president Putin and because “he’s been so uninterested in the truth and so reckless with it when he sees it.” Reuters ran a similar story on June 2, reporting that eight senior security officials said they had concerns about briefing Trump; Reuters did not indicate how many of the officials cited were intelligence officials or Obama appointees.

These calls to deny intelligence briefings to a presidential candidate are unprecedented, but they also reflect a serious problem within the U.S. intelligence community that awaits a possible Trump administration: the politicization of American intelligence by the Left.

I saw this constantly during my 19 years as a CIA analyst. CIA officers frequently tried to undermine CIA directors Casey and Gates because they disagreed with President Reagan’s policy goal of defeating the Soviet Union. Several testified against Gates’s nomination to be CIA director in 1991 by lodging false claims that he and Casey had politicized intelligence. Former senator Warren Rudman, a moderate Republican who headed President Clinton’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, described these attacks by CIA analysts as “an attempted assassination, an assassination of [Gates’s] character . . . McCarthyism, pure and simple.”

The liberal tilt within the CIA, especially in the Directorate of Intelligence (the analysis office), grew worse during the Clinton years as personnel were hired and promoted to support Clinton-Gore policy objectives. These included wasteful initiatives such as the DCI Environmental Center, launched at the same time the CIA was dangerously downplaying counterterrorism analysis.

Unfortunately, the intensified liberal tilt at the CIA during the Clinton years was not reversed by the George W. Bush administration. Bush kept on Clinton’s CIA director, George Tenet, who had no interest in cleaning house or taking steps to ensure that CIA analysis would be balanced and not politicized. When his successor, Porter Goss, tried to clean up the agency, CIA careerists fought back aggressively by leaking to Congress and the media, eventually forcing Goss out.

As a result, intelligence careerists often paid no price for engaging in blatantly political activities to undermine the Bush administration. One officer in the CIA inspector general’s office was fired after she admitted she’d leaked classified information on Bush counterterrorism programs to aWashington Post reporter. In 2005, several intelligence officers attempted to sabotage John Bolton’s nomination to be U.N. ambassador — an act of political skullduggery for which they were never punished.

The most notorious example of partisan political activity by U.S. intelligence officers occurred just before the 2004 presidential election when Paul Pillar, the CIA’s national intelligence officer for Near East and South Asia, while giving a speech at a dinner on September 21, criticized President Bush and CIA director Tenet for ignoring critical intelligence that he claimed might have prevented the Iraq War. Incredibly, CIA management had cleared Pillar’s comments, saying that the substance of his remarks, but not the speaker or the audience, could be disclosed. The late columnist Robert Novak, who attended the dinner, sparked an uproar when he reported Pillar’s identity and the dinner anyway. Clearly, Pillar’s presentation was intended to affect the outcome of the 2004 presidential election.

The Wall Street Journal condemned such political activities by CIA officers in a scathing September 29, 2004, editorial titled “The CIA’s Insurgency”:

It’s become obvious over the past couple of years that large swaths of the CIA oppose U.S. anti-terror policy, especially toward Iraq. But rather than keep this dispute in-house, the dissenters have taken their objections to the public, albeit usually through calculated leaks that are always spun to make the agency look good and the Bush administration look bad. . . . Yet what the CIA insurgents are essentially doing here, with their leaks and insubordination, is engaging in a policy debate. Given the timing of the latest leaks so close to an election, they are now clearly trying to defeat President Bush and elect John Kerry.

Politicization of America’s intelligence agencies by the Left has grown worse during the Obama years. Recall that the CIA drafted the politicized (and later discredited) 2012 talking points on the Benghazi terrorist attacks. Additionally, the agency now uses racial, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, socioeconomic status, and other quotas for CIA hiring and promotions.

Significant examples of politicization in other intelligence agencies since 2009 include the congressional testimony of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. During a briefing to the House Intelligence Committee in February 201, Clapper tried to downplay the Muslim Brotherhood as a radical Islamist group, saying: “The term Muslim Brotherhood is an umbrella term for a variety of movements. In the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.”

And in 2015, as widely reported, more than 50 U.S. Central Command intelligence analysts lodged a formal complaint with the Pentagon’s inspector general. In the complaint, they alleged that their intelligence assessments were being intentionally manipulated by senior officials to downplay the threat from ISIS and the al-Nusra Front (the al-Qaeda branch in Syria) in order to support the Obama administration’s claim that the U.S. was making progress in defeating these Islamist terrorist groups. A recent congressional task force concluded this month that these complaints were valid and expressed alarm that nothing has been done to improve CENTCOM intelligence analysis in response to them.

In light of this history, it is no surprise that Democrats, intelligence officers, and the liberal media urged that Trump be denied an intelligence briefing as the GOP presidential candidate. Naturally, they did not raise similar concerns about briefing Hillary Clinton, although the FBI director determined she was “extremely careless” in handling classified information as secretary of state, even sharing classified intelligence with people who had no security clearance. Comey also stated that due to this carelessness, it’s possible hostile actors have gained access to the highly classified information that traveled through the multiple private servers Clinton used.

It’s true that intelligence briefings to presidential candidates are offered at the discretion of a sitting president. But calls to deny these briefings to Trump or to give him fake briefings are an affront to the American tradition of peaceful transfer of power and could undermine his presidential transition if he wins the election.

It is not up to Senator Reid or U.S. intelligence officers to prevent a duly elected major-party presidential candidate from receiving intelligence briefings because they don’t like him or because he is from the wrong political party. Of more concern is whether some intelligence personnel, out of political bias, would refuse to provide a President Trump with the intelligence support he would need to protect American national security.

Trump may have been too hard on U.S. intelligence agencies when he said that they got it wrong before the Iraq War; and perhaps he was unfair to lambaste Obama’s dismissal of ISIS as the “jayvee” team. Intelligence agencies must be held accountable for their work, but their analysis will never be 100 percent accurate. In addition, intelligence agencies only advise policymakers. They cannot force a president to use their analysis.

I was pleased to hear that Trump realizes he will have a lot of work ahead of him to fix the U.S. intelligence community if he becomes president. To get the objective, accurate, and hard-hitting intelligence support he will need if elected, Trump must name strong, decisive leaders — including good managers from the business community — to top intelligence posts. He must hire people who understand that America’s intelligence agencies do not work for themselves, for either party in Congress, or the foreign-policy establishment; they work for the president. Any U.S. intelligence officer who is not prepared to loyally provide whomever wins the presidency with his best efforts should find another job.

***

Former Brigadier General: Obama’s Briefer Told CENTCOM Official to Skew Intel on ISIS

United States President Barack Obama (Rex Features via AP Images)

United States President Barack Obama (Rex Features via AP Images)

PJ MEDIA, BY DEBRA HEINE,  AUGUST 15, 2016:

A former brigadier general revealed on Fox News Monday some new information about the White House’s role in U.S. Central Command’s skewing of intelligence to downplay the threats of ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Last week, a House Republican task force concluded in a 15-page report that U.S. military leaders altered intelligence reports “to paint a rosier picture” of the U.S.-led fight against ISIS than intelligence analysts believed was warranted.

The report blamed “structural and management changes” at the intelligence directorate for the distortions, but stopped short of explaining WHY the changes were made. According to Defense News, “the problems followed the change in Central Command’s leadership from Marine Gen. James Mattis, as CENTCOM commander, to Army Gen. Lloyd Austin.”

U.S. Army Brigadier Gen. Anthony Tata (Ret.) filled in some blanks on Fox News Monday afternoon, and if his allegations are true, the scandal reaches all the way to the president’s inner circle.

Tata explained that since Obama withdrew troops from Iraq, “there’s been chaos all over the Middle East.” But because the president campaigned on getting out of Iraq, he didn’t want to hear anything that countered his narrative that it was the right thing to do.

When the official narrative contradicted the facts on the ground, members of the intelligence community cried foul and there was a meeting to deal with the issue.

Via Fox News Insider:

Tata revealed that a source verified to him that he was directed by an individual from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, who conducts the president’s daily briefing, to stop producing “products of record” that did not fit the administration’s narrative of a defeated Al Qaeda and a non-threatening enemy in ISIS.Tata said that the president’s briefer told this individual to call him on secure line if he had any intelligence that portrayed ISIS in a stronger light than what the president had characterized to the public, which would not leave a paper trail.

He said that this distortion of intelligence on ISIS essentially led to the U.S. ignoring the growing threat and giving the terror group two years to take root.

Tata said that it was “highly irresponsible” for a senior official to downplay the intelligence because “now we have a real, valid national security threat that was borne out of this directive to Central Command.” He added that “now there are actually people being reprised against.”

“You have good American soldiers, sailors, Marines and civilians that are being isolated and targeted by people that are in the J-2 [CENTCOM’s intelligence directorate],” Tata said.

Asked if there had been people who were denied promotions, Tata indicated that it was worse than that: “I think they’ve been run out of the service,” he answered.

As PJ Media reported in April, two senior intelligence analysts at U.S. Central Command were allegedly forced out of their jobs because of their skeptical reporting on U.S.-backed rebel groups in Syria.

Tata cited for example “one young lady who spent $140,000 on legal bills” to defend herself against “this kind of thing.”

“She ultimately won,” Tata noted, but her career has been ruined.

As for the White House connection, the general said, “It could have been the president saying, ‘Don’t tell me this.’ Or it could have been the briefer going back after a rough meeting saying, ‘Hey look, don’t give me anymore of this stuff. I don’t want to bring it to the president.'”

‘Tantamount to Treason’: Gorka Condemns Distortion of ISIS Intel

694940094001_5081889583001_5276445d-e204-442b-84c6-2acd9539fc30Fox News Insider, Aug. 13, 2016:

Dr. Sebastian Gorka appeared on “Hannity” last night to react to a bombshell report that reveals officials from the U.S. military’s Central Command altered key data to downplay the threat of ISIS.

Gorka said the report, which comes from a House Republican panel, confirms allegations by dozens of intelligence analysts that their reports were altered by CENTCOM higher-ups.

“This act of willfully distorting and playing down the intelligence assessments when American is at war is tantamount to being a treasonous act,” Gorka said.

He likened it a member of the intelligence community “watering down” the assessments of what the Japanese or Germans were doing during World War II.

“If that person were found out, they have been court-martialed and they could have been executed,” Gorka said. “This is political interference in the intelligence cycle. It is absolutely outrageous, and it will endanger American lives.”

He said this is further evidence that the Obama administration will not allow any intelligence to counter their narrative that their policies are working and the fight against ISIS is going well.

“ISIS has become the Godzilla of international jihad. 80,000 jihadis, territory with six million people on their new Caliphate, and with attacks happening outside the war zone every 84 hours. That’s the truth. That’s the reality.”

Ten Most Troubling Finds Inside House Probe of Pentagon’s ‘Distorted’ Intel on Islamic State

islamic-state-executions-640x480Breitbart, by Aaron Klein, Aug. 13, 2016:

TEL AVIV – A damning investigation by House Republicans released on Wednesday has found that the intelligence arm of the U.S. Military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) routinely produced intelligence that “distorted, suppressed, or substantially altered” the results of the campaign against the Islamic State.

Breitbart Jerusalem reviewed the House report and herein presents the ten most troubling finds, in no particular order.

1 – Top CENTCOM leaders modified intelligence assessments to present an “unduly positive” assessment of combating the Islamic State and training the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).

The complaint alleges that senior leaders within the CENTCOM Intelligence Directorate and JIC, including the Director of Intelligence and other senior intelligence staff, violated regulations, tradecraft standards, and professional ethics by modifying intelligence assessments to present an unduly positive outlook on CENTCOM efforts to train the ISF and combat ISIL.

Media outlets have also raised allegations of possible reprisals against individuals within the CENTCOM Intelligence Directorate. …

According to multiple interviewees, operational reporting was used as a justification to alter or “soften” an analytic product so it would cast U.S. efforts in a more positive light. No interview provided any instances where operational reporting was used as a justification to come to a more pessimistic conclusion. Additionally, numerous interviewees indicated that analytical products which conflicted with operational reporting were routinely subject to more stringent scrutiny than those that did not.

2 – Intelligence analysts declined to be interviewed, possibly out of fear of reprisals from CENTCOM leadership, while the interviews that did take place were under the watchful eyes of DOD officials.

Additionally, the Joint Task Force requested interviews with four more analysts whose positions provided them with visibility into the allegations. These analysts declined to be interviewed. Although they did not express their reasons for declining, the Joint Task Force is concerned that some of the analysts may have done so out of fear of potential reprisals for their testimony.

For example, as the Joint Task Force’s interviews were commencing, the Director of the DIA publicly characterized reports of the whistleblower’s allegations as exaggerations.

It must also be noted that, pursuant to longstanding arrangements between DOD and the Armed Services Committee, DOD insisted on having department officials present during Joint Task Force interviews.

3 – CENTCOM intel agents operated within a ‘toxic’ leadership environment.

The Republican lawmakers fingered CENTCOM leaders, and noted the intelligence process was cleaner under previous officials and Lloyd Austin III, who served as commander from 2013 to 2016. Dozens of analysts viewed the “subsequent leadership environment as toxic”:

Survey results provided to the Joint Task Force demonstrated that dozens of analysts viewed the subsequent leadership environment as toxic, with 40% of analysts responding that they had experienced an attempt to distort or suppress intelligence in the past year.

4 – General Austin’s claim to Congress that IS was in a “defensive crouch” did not reflect the data possessed at the time by CENTCOM senior leaders.

Although no interviewee remembered the process of preparing the specific press releases and congressional testimony highlighted here, interviewees described a process in which congressional testimony and public affairs statements did not necessarily reflect contemporaneous intelligence assessments. In particular, the Joint Task Force was dismayed to learn that Intelligence Directorate senior leaders seemed unfamiliar with General Austin’s statements to Congress that ISIL was in a “defensive crouch” and indicated this characterization did not reflect their best assessments at the time.

5 – CENTCOM established an intelligence “fusion center” for IS-related intel, but kept out analysts whose views conflicted with senior intelligence leaders.

In June 2014, with the ISIL threat apparent, CENTCOM established an intelligence “fusion center,” a specially equipped JIC facility staffed around-the-clock, to serve as a “focal point” for ISIL-related intelligence. Interviewees recalled only informal communications noting the center’s establishment, and some were also uncertain about the center’s organizational structure, responsibilities, and how it was determined which JIC analysts would participate. The establishment of the Intelligence Fusion Center also removed some analysts who had the most experience with respect to ISIL and Iraq, including those whose analytic views often conflicted with those of CENTCOM’s senior intelligence leaders, from the production of daily intelligence products. This impact was especially significant given the critical analytic tasks of the Intelligence Fusion Center at this time of paramount importance in the theater.

6 – Restrictions were implemented for analysts whose views dissented from the mainstream inside CENTCOM.

Public statements by CENTCOM representatives emphasized close collaboration with other elements of the IC, but many interviewees indicated that in late 2014, senior CENTCOM Intelligence Directorate leaders instructed analysts to cease all external coordination with other IC analysts. The authority to coordinate was restricted to senior officials only, including to leaders of the Fusion Center. Other special arrangements were also put into place to notify the Director of Intelligence in the event that analysts sought to formally “dissent” from analysis produced elsewhere. The restrictions on collaboration have since been partially rescinded.

7 – Analysis was minimized in favor of details from coalition forces while intelligence was skewed to be ‘optimistic.’

Furthermore, senior leaders also relied on details reported from coalition forces rather than more objective and better documented intelligence reporting. The Joint Task Force can find no justifiable reason why operational reporting was repeatedly used as a rationale to change the analytic product, particularly when the changes only appeared to be made in a more optimistic direction. By supplanting analytic tradecraft with unpublished and ad hoc operational reporting, Joint Intelligence Center (JIC) leadership circumvented important processes that are intended to protect the integrity of intelligence analysis.

8 – Shocking survey results showed analysts believed data was “distorted, suppressed, or substantially altered” by their supervisors.

The annual Analytic Objectivity and Process Survey, directed by the ODNI, was conducted from August through October 2015, and included responses from 125 analysts and managers within CENTCOM. The survey results were significantly worse than those of other IC agencies or COCOMs, and showed that a substantial number of CENTCOM respondents felt their supervisors distorted, suppressed, or substantially altered analytic products.

Over 50% of analysts responded that CENTCOM procedures, practices, processes, and organizational structures hampered objective analysis, and 40% responded that they had experienced an attempt to distort or suppress intelligence in the past year. Yet despite receiving these results in December 2015, CENTCOM and IC leaders did not take corrective actions to address many of the issues identified in the survey results.

9 – Even after whistleblower complaints and the “alarming” internal survey last year, the Pentagon took no steps to correct its allegedly distorted intelligence process.

The Joint Task Force is troubled that despite receiving the whistleblower complaint in May 2015 and receiving alarming survey results in December 2015, neither CENTCOM, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, nor the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) took any demonstrable steps to improve the analytic climate within CENTCOM. The survey results alone should have prompted CENTCOM and IC leaders to take corrective action without other inducements.

10 – Mirroring the Benghazi House Committee’s complaints against the State Department, the Joint Task Force here writes it “did not receive access to all the materials it requested” and details a process of denying information and records.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

With research by Joshua Klein.