Michael Flynn and the revenge of the bureaucrats

Michael Flynn and his son Michael G. Flynn (left) (Associated Press/File)

Michael Flynn and his son Michael G. Flynn (left) (Associated Press/File)

The Washington Times, , February 15, 2017:

The resignation of White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Monday was the result of a coordinated effort by current and former U.S. intelligence officials to undermine the Trump administration using the disclosure of highly classified communications intercepts.

President Trump voiced his displeasure in a tweet Wednesday stating that misuse of the intercepts was un-American.

“The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy. Very un-American!” the president stated.

Mr. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and former Defense Intelligence Agency director, was let go after admitting he did not fully explain to Vice President Mike Pence and other officials the content of telephone conversations he had with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak late last year when Mr. Trump was president-elect.

According to a White House national security official, the intelligence bureaucrats went after Mr. Flynn not because of his contacts with the Russian ambassador. The real concern was his plan to reform U.S. intelligence agencies that during the Obama administration became mired in political correctness and lost much of their effectiveness, the official said.

The anti-Flynn campaign was launched prior to Inauguration Day and targeted not just the national security adviser but also at least one of his aides.

The National Security Council’s staff specialist for Africa, retired Marine intelligence officer Robin Townely, had his request for “top secret, sensitive compartmented information” clearance rejected by the CIA. Under current rules, the NSC can issue top-secret clearances. But the higher SCI-level clearance must be approved by the CIA. The White House official said the denial was unjust and an indirect political attack on Mr. Flynn.

Yet it was just such SCI-level information that was shared with reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post and other news outlets in disclosing details of Mr. Flynn’s pre-inauguration phone calls to Mr. Kislyak.

Chris Farrell, a former counterintelligence official and director of investigations and research at Judicial Watch, called the disclosures “reckless endangerment of national intelligence sources and methods to advance a political smear job.”

 

Mr. Flynn is a critic of U.S. intelligence agencies and was planning to oversee a major overhaul of the spy agencies — something that upset entrenched intelligence officials concerned about protecting bureaucratic rice bowls.

In 2010, then-Gen. Flynn co-authored a landmark report, “Fixing Intel,” calling for sweeping reforms after criticizing intelligence as misaligned with the objectives in the Afghanistan War.

“Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy, Having focused the overwhelming majority of its collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, the vast intelligence apparatus is unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which U.S. and allied forces operate and the people they seek to persuade,” the report said.