Archive for the ‘Trump agenda’ category

McMaster’s Obama (Don’t call them) Holdovers

August 15, 2017

McMaster’s Obama (Don’t call them) Holdovers, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, August 15, 2017

According to the Daily Caller, about 40 of the 250 officials on the National Security Council (NSC) are Obama administration holdovers. Their boss, H.R. McMaster, has instructed that these folks not be called “holdovers.” This might make sense from a team-building perspective. But since I’m not part of the team, they will be referred to as holdovers in this post.

The Daily Caller’s Richard Pollock and Ethan Barton profile some of them. They report that Allison Hooker remains NSC director for Korea, no backwater job given current circumstances. According to Pollock and Barton, Hooker is “an architect of former President Barack Obama’s Korean policy.” This may be a reach because they also say she joined the NSC in 2014, by which time Obama administration Korea policy was in place.

Nonetheless, President Trump has denounced Obama’s Korea policy — “strategic patientce” — in harsh terms. Thus it’s surprising to find his administration’s NSC adviser on Korea still in place more than half a year into the Trump administration.

Pollock and Barton report that McMaster’s director for South America is Fernando Cutz. He received his master’s degree in international relations from the Clinton School of Public Service in or around 2010.

The Clinton School operates on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.

According to Pollock and Barton, Cutz, who previously reported to former deputy NSC advisor Ben Rhodes, enthusiastically endorsed Obama’s Cuba policy throughout his tenure as an NSC staffer. He helped plan and organize Obama’s trip to Cuba.

Andrea Hall is another holdover who reported to Ben Rhodes. She serves as NSC’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and threat reduction.

Pollock and Barton cite a paper she published in December 2002, while earning her doctorate, in which she criticized the West for not doing enough for Vladimir Putin. She wrote that “Russia has received few tangible benefits from its cooperation with the United States,” and claimed that Washington was “ignoring Russian concerns.” She added:

Given that Putin has received significant criticism for his foreign policy concessions and that he has valid concerns about the Russian economy, Washington would be wise to help Russia achieve some of its goals as well in order to cement this partnership.

In fairness to Hall, this thinking does not seem inconsistent with Trump’s. Coincidentally (or maybe not), it mirrors the “blame America first” attitude of McMaster’s Israel-Palestine guy, Kris Bauman. He blamed Israel and the Bush administration for undermining the peace process by failing to recognize Hamas’ moderation.

Rear Adm. David Kriete, another Obama holdover, is NSC’s director for strategic capabilities policy and responsible for policy on nuclear weapons-related issues. According to Pollock and Barton, he was a representative to the interagency panel that wrote Obama’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, which reflected the former chief executive’s vision of a “nuclear-free world.”

That document received considerable criticism from conservatives. According to Pollock and Barton, “National Review” found that it “undermines the basis of the deterrent policy that has helped maintain the peace for more than 60 years.”

Pollock and Barton discuss several other holdovers. However, the four discussed above strike me as the most problematic.

Michael Anton, an NSC spokesman and author of the famous “Flight 93 Election” article, told the Daily Caller that all of the holdovers (I assume he didn’t use that word) are “stalwarts” who faithfully follow the president’s foreign and military policies. I have no reason to believe that any holdover is insubordinate.

However, the NSC can help shape a president’s foreign and military policies. That’s particularly true where, as here, (1) the president lacks experience with, or apparent in-depth knowledge of, foreign policy issues and (2) the national security adviser is extremely aggressive.

Thus, the cliche “personnel is policy” seems particularly apt in the context of this NSC staff. That’s why it’s reasonable to be concerned about some of the Obama holdovers and about McMaster’s purge of some pro-Trump staffers.

H.R. McMaster foes slammed as ‘Islamophobes,’ ‘white supremacists’

August 13, 2017

H.R. McMaster foes slammed as ‘Islamophobes,’ ‘white supremacists’, Washington TimesCheryl K. Chumley, August 11, 2017

(Once again, McMaster has to go. Not just soon; now.– DM)

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster listens as President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after a security briefing at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

When CAIR labels someone an Islamophobe, or outs an organization as fueling Islamophobia, one has to wonder: Is this really Islamaphobia? Or is this rather the pro-Muslim-at-all-costs CAIR trying to silence any and all critics and criticisms of Islam?

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H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s choice of national security adviser, has what some say is a shady record of defense of Israel — and what others outright label as subversive to America’s interests.

Now, the Council on American Islamic Relations has jumped to McMaster’s defense. And that alone is a red flag.

CAIR isn’t exactly down the middle on Palestinian-Israel affairs — or kind to those who dare to criticize Islam and point to the religion’s oh-so-frequent tie-in with acts of terror and terrorists.

But worse, CAIR couldn’t just defend McMaster on his record. The group had to outright name-call and blast those who see McMaster as a poor national security adviser choice — and as everybody knows, the left’s most pulled weapon, when logic fails, is the verbal attack.

This is what CAIRtweeted: “#CAIR Islamophobia Watch: Islamophobes, white supremacists launch campaign to oust H.R. McMaster after he fired …” And the sentence is completed in a link to the article CAIR included: “… a number of their allies from the National Security Council.”

Suddenly, a story that’s stayed largely beneath the surface of a media world — one that’s been occupied by Russia collusion investigations, North Korea aggressions and Trump rhetoric — is front and center. The reason?

When CAIR labels someone an Islamophobe, or outs an organization as fueling Islamophobia, one has to wonder: Is this really Islamaphobia? Or is this rather the pro-Muslim-at-all-costs CAIR trying to silence any and all critics and criticisms of Islam?

The Center for Security Policy just this week called for the firing of McMaster for “disloyal and subversive behavior,” accusing the adviser of undermining Trump on “virtually every important and foreign and defense policy issue.”

A few days before that, a columnist with the Jerusalem Post wrote of her worry with McMaster’s penchant for “constantly refer[ring] to Israel as the occupying power and insist[ing] falsely and constantly that a country named Palestine existed where Israel is located until 1948 when it was destroyed by the Jews.”

And in between, the Zionist Organization of America — one of the few Jewish groups to stand strong in the pro-Trump camp — claimed McMaster was undermining the White House on Middle East policy, particularly relations between the United States and Israel. ZOA also accuses McMaster of intentionally firing pro-Israeli voices on the National Security Council and replacing them with individuals with more hostile takes on the Jewish nation.

In a report, ZOA called for Trump to “remove General McMaster from his current position and reassign him to another position where he can do no further harm on these critical national security issues.”

Trump, meanwhile, has doubled down on support for McMaster, saying he still has confidence in his adviser. At the same time, there was this, just in from The Week: “Trump is reportedly ‘furious’ that McMasterfired an NSC staffer behind a Trump-under-attack memo.”

That staffer’s name? Rich Higgins, now-fired director of strategic planning and the author of a seven-page memo, “POTUS & Political Warfare,” a reported roadmap of sorts to topple Trump that was being circulated among likeminded members of Trump’s administration.

That was all part and parcel of McMaster’s housecleaning of Mike Flynn holdovers — a determination of friend versus foe and subsequent purge.

But the whispers about McMaster’s anti-Israel bent are growing louder. And now that chatter’s been ratcheted with the entrance of CAIR.

One fact about CAIR: In 2009, a federal judge ruled the government had “ample evidence” linking CAIR to Hamas.

The fact this group has now risen to defend McMaster and slam his critics as white supremacists and Islamophobes is only further fuel — for the fiery calls for Trump to oust him.

Korea and the Democrats’ Deep Psychological Fear that Trump Is Right

August 12, 2017

Korea and the Democrats’ Deep Psychological Fear that Trump Is Right, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, August 11, 2017

(When everything else fails, perhaps it’s time to try something different. That’s what President Trump is doing and will continue to do, unless McMaster et al find ways to make him stop. I hope that President Trump gets rid of McMaster, soon. Please see also, Sources: These McMaster Advisors Are Running the ‘Smear’ Campaign to Save His Job. — DM)

President Donald Trump gestures as he answers a question regarding the ongoing situation in North Korea, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

One of the unspoken ‘indications’ in the medical sense of the ever-metastasizing Trump Derangement Syndrome is that the sufferers have a deep conscious/unconscious fear that Trump is right. What if the man they have excoriated unremittingly as a barbarian-racist-xenophobe-homophobe -misogynist-nitwit turns out to have been on the correct side of a fair number of issues on which they have failed, sometimes miserably, for decades?  Talk about personality disintegration — it would be hari-kari meets the Wicked Witch of the West. Well, emotionally anyway.

The current North Korea crisis is a perfect case in point. Susan Rice — has this woman no shame — took to the pages of The New York Times to inveigh against Trump for “bluster” regarding the NORKS.  The integrity-challenged former national security adviser was far from alone, however. Virtually all Democrats and their local media minions plus a good swatch of Republicans (including repellently vengeful John McCain) criticized the president for the same thing — using blunt language to counter the crazed dictator in Pyongyang when Trump should have been “diplomatic.”

This although almost any grown-up not comatose knows that “diplomatic” language has been employed by the U.S. ad nauseam for that purpose for the last twenty-five years through three administrations with no discernible impact whatsoever. Indeed, “abject failure” would be an accurate characterization of our diplomatic policy vis-a-vis the NORKS.  If you view this video of Bill Clinton extolling his administration’s “successful,” diplomatically-achieved nuclear deal with Pyongyang back in 2006, the word “nitwit” does come to mind, but it’s not about Trump. Here’s Madeleine Albright in another glorious moment of diplomatic achievement with Kim Jong-un’s dad Kim Jong-il laying on the splendor in Pyongyang Stadium before signing some meaningless agreement whose import is known only to Dennis Rodman.

How do you spell hornswoggled?

Of course, George W. Bush didn’t do much better and Barack Obama — who evidently hid the North Koreans’ development of mini-nuclear warheads for several years from the sensitive ears of the American public, only to leave us in the disastrous situation we are in today —  was considerably worse. This is the same Obama who pushed through the still mysterious Iran Deal handing the NORKs’ best friends the mullahs enough cash to run rampant in Syria. Soon thereafter Barack reneged on his pledge to prevent the use of chemical weapons by that very country’s leader. Sense a pattern?

And yet it’s the “blusterous” Trump who is supposed to be the problem.  Actually, he’s the one left to pick up the pieces of an American reputation in tatters.

Perhaps what we need is a little bluster. It’s an old technique and a sound one — good cop/bad cop. It was played out well by Nixon and Kissinger when Henry went to Beijing to negotiate with Mao and Chou. Kissinger threatened to let his “madman back home” (Nixon) loose unless the Chairman cooperated and made a deal. It worked.

Now we have Trump, Tillerson, Mattis and McMaster playing various levels of good cop/bad cop. They are even reportedly working the backchannels in the old diplomatic game. Let’s hope they learn from the past and do it better this time. Color me skeptical because without a serious military threat, I doubt the Chinese will listen.

Did I say Chinese? Of course, I did, because they are the true audience for what is going on. Mr. Kim is a whack job sideshow. The Chinese are the ones with the power to do something and stop a conflagration. And, like the Democrats and the Never Trumpers, they may be more afraid of Trump than they let on. Unlike Obama, he has shown he is not afraid to use force — and he did that while having dinner with Xi Jinping. Friday night he is supposed to be having a chat with Xi.

By now we may all know what happened — at least the part the leakers deign to tell us — but we do not know what will happen. The facts on the ground have yet to be revealed.

What has been revealed, however, is the psychology of those attacking Trump on this matter. They fear that they will be revealed as having been fools for the last twenty-five years — and indeed they were.

Fired NSC Aide Reveals Political Warfare Operation Targeting Trump

August 11, 2017

Fired NSC Aide Reveals Political Warfare Operation Targeting Trump, Washington Free Beacon, , August 11, 2017

Gen. H. R. McMaster / Getty Images

Higgins was fired by the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, July 21 after the memo came to McMaster’s attention as part of an internal search for leaks from the staff.

A White House official said McMaster appears to be trying to clear out anyone from the NSC staff who is outspokenly pro-Trump and has been slow-rolling the president’s directives that he disagrees with.

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A White House National Security Council official has charged that leftist opponents of President Trump are engaged in political warfare operations designed to subvert his presidency and drive him from office.

Rich Higgins, until recently director of strategic planning at the NSC, revealed the program in a seven-page memorandum produced in May that warns of a concerted information warfare campaign by the Marxist left, Islamists, and political leaders and government officials opposed to the populist president.

“The Trump administration is suffering under withering information campaigns designed to first undermine, then delegitimize and ultimately remove the president,” Higgins states.

“This is not politics as usual but rather political warfare at an unprecedented level that is openly engaged in the direct targeting of a seated president through manipulation of the news cycle,” he said.

Higgins, an Army veteran and former Pentagon official who specialized in irregular warfare and who was dismissed last month for writing the memo, said the attacks should not be confused with normal partisan political attacks or adversarial media attention.

The former aide criticized the White House for failing to counter the activities and said the political warfare attacks threaten the Trump presidency.

“The White House response to these campaigns reflects a political advocacy mindset that it is intensely reactive, severely under-inclusive and dangerously inadequate to the threat,” he said. “If action is not taken to re-scope and respond to these hostile campaigns very soon, the administration risks implosion and subsequent early departure from the White House.”

Higgins was fired by the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, July 21 after the memo came to McMaster’s attention as part of an internal search for leaks from the staff.

Higgins’s firing, along with that of two other NSC conservatives, Derek Harvey and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, has set off political infighting and charges from conservatives that National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is opposing Trump’s populist policies in favor of maintaining the policies of the former Obama administration.

Harvey, a retired Army colonel, recently complained to McMaster about the large number of officials who were kept on at the NSC from the Obama administration. He was told by McMaster that he has a “leadership problem,” according to people close to the matter.

Cohen-Watnick was senior director for intelligence programs at the NSC and ran afoul of McMaster because of his conservative views.

A White House official said McMaster appears to be trying to clear out anyone from the NSC staff who is outspokenly pro-Trump and has been slow-rolling the president’s directives that he disagrees with.

According to White House sources, Trump is said to be unhappy with McMaster and has considered dispatching him to Afghanistan.

A possible replacement is said to be CIA director Mike Pompeo, who is regarded as more of a Trump loyalist.

An NSC spokesman declined to comment.

Foreign Policy first published the memo on Thursday and quoted sources as saying Trump read it and “gushed over it.”

Higgins urged in the memo that immediate action be taken to counter what he described as a campaign of subversion reflecting “cultural Marxist” narratives used by political leftists who are aligned with Islamist groups.

“In candidate Trump, the opposition saw a threat to the ‘politically correct’ enforcement narratives they’ve meticulously laid in over the past few decades,” Higgins said. “In President Trump, they see a latent threat to continue that effort to ruinous effect and their retaliatory response reflects this fear.”

During the presidential campaign, Trump was able to break through the leftist narratives and as a result the political left regards him as “an existential threat to cultural Marxist memes that dominate the prevailing cultural narrative.”

“For this cabal, Trump must be destroyed,” he said. “Far from politics as usual, this is a political warfare effort that seeks the destruction of a sitting president. Since Trump took office, the situation has intensified to crisis level proportions.”

The opponents also include officials within the permanent government apparatus, also called the Deep State.

Other opponents are supporting the Marxist subversion, including those within government, along with “globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment Republicans.”

“Globalists and lslamists recognize that for their visions to succeed, America, both as an ideal and as a national and political identity, must be destroyed,” Higgins said.

The political warfare campaign seeks to exploit differences in society based on sexism, racism and xenophobia narratives. The program is implemented by mainstream media, and the academic community is the main driver promoting the imposition of cultural Marxism and derivatives of it.

Islamists, supporters of political Islam in the United States, also are working with leftists who they regard as having the best chance of reducing Western civilization to the benefit of Islamic supremacists. The Islamists are seeking to divide American society against itself as a way of undermining stability.

“This is the intended outcome of hostile information cum political warfare campaigns and today we see their effects on American society,” he said.

Higgins also said a complicating factor in the political warfare program is that “many close to the president have pushed him off his message when he was candidate Trump thus alienating him from his base thereby isolating him in the process.”

The political warfare follows the insurgency methods used by Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong. “In Maoist insurgencies, the formation of a counter-state is essential to seizing state power,” he said. “Political warfare operates as one of the activities of the ‘counter-state’ and is primarily focused on the resourcing and mobilization of the counter state or the exhaustion and demobilization of the targeted political movement.”

In the Marxist strategy and tactics, political correctness is being used to foster intolerance of political movements of the right and toleration of leftist movements.

The attack narratives being used are pervasive and can be seen in social media, television, and the 24-hour news cycle in all media, as well as within the foreign policy establishment. “They inform the entertainment industry from late night monologues, to situation comedies, to television series memes, to movie themes,” Higgins said. “The effort required to direct this capacity at President Trump is little more than a programming decision to do so. The cultural Marxist narrative is fully deployed, pervasive, full spectrum and ongoing.”

Information attacks against the president are carried out through overt publicity and covert propaganda and infiltration and subversion means.

The current campaign against Trump is seeking to delegitimize the president, his administration, and the vision of America he promoted as a candidate.

Key major opposition themes are that Trump is illegitimate, corrupt, and dishonest. Secondary political attacks include the notion that Russia hacked the election, Trump obstructed justice and is hiding Russian collusion, and that he is a “puppet” of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“Adversaries utilize these interlocking narratives as a defensive political and information warfare screen that silences critics and smears supporters of President Trump,” Higgins said.

“When people in the media question the behavior, actions and decisions of the Trump administration’s opponents, they are immediately said to be ‘working for the Russians’ or ‘supporting Russian propaganda.'”

Additionally Americans who support the president are deemed “deplorable” and “racist.”

“Attacks on President Trump are not just about destroying him, but also about destroying the vision of America that lead [sic] to his election,” Higgins said.

Higgins concluded the memo by noting that defending the president is a defense of the United States. “In the same way President Lincoln was surrounded by political opposition both inside and outside of his wire, in both overt and covert forms, so too is President Trump.

“Had Lincoln failed, so too would have the Republic. The administration has been maneuvered into a constant backpedal by relentless political warfare attacks structured to force him to assume a reactive posture that assures inadequate responses. The president can either drive or be driven by events; it’s time for him to drive them.”

After Six Months, a Shocking Clarity

August 6, 2017

After Six Months, a Shocking Clarity, American ThinkerJames G. Wiles, August 6, 2017

But for now, the current crisis is not some political sideshow for the annual August “silly season.”  It is a struggle over who controls the government of the United States.

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Perhaps one James Woods said it best on Twitter (@realjameswoods) over the weekend: “I’ve never witnessed such hatred for a man who is willing to work for free to make his beloved country a better place. It is pathological.”

Mr. Woods did not exaggerate.  The last time the United States saw such a wholesale refusal to accept the result of a national election – and to overturn it – the year was 1861.

As the Trump administration moves past its 200th day in office, we have arrived at a moment of extreme clarity.  It is even – even by the standards of Watergate (which did not start, remember, until President Richard Nixon’s second term) – unprecedented in the history of the American Republic.

Just consider what we’ve learned since January 20 – and especially in the last two weeks.

1. Persons holding top positions in our national government (including its national security apparatus) are seeking to force the removal of an American president lawfully elected less than a year ago.  To achieve that goal, they have shown themselves willing to compromise the national security of the United States, including the conduct of its foreign affairs, and to commit serious felonies.

2. The MSM has united with these criminals (that is what the leakers of classified information are) in seeking to achieve this goal.  In particular, they are willing to facilitate achieving their objective by publishing information they know has been leaked to them in violation of federal law.

3. Democratic elected officials, at all levels of federal, state, and local government, oppose all aspects of the president’s agenda, upon which he was elected, and vigorously seek to block its implementation.  They have made no secret (thank you, Maxine Waters) that, if given control of Congress again, they will impeach and remove the president and, possibly, the vice president.

4. In a return to the days of the George W. Bush administration, the left is using “lawfare” (litigation for its own sake) to obstruct or defeat implementation of the president’s agenda, upon which he was elected.  A blog, Lawfareblog.com, offers daily info.  Another blog, The Intercept, promotes leaks of classified and other information.

5. For the first time since the Vietnam War years, there is a national mobilization – calling itself the Resistance – that can put people onto the streets and, occasionally, is willing to use mob violence in furtherance of its goals of ousting this president and stifling free speech.  Democratic elected officials have tolerated that violence.

6. Some Republicans in Congress have joined the Resistance.  Many more, even where they deplore the  Resistance, openly (or privately) oppose this president’s announced agenda, upon which he was elected.

7. Some Republicans in the Senate and the House who, for the last seven years, voted to repeal Obamacare, in fact, have refused to repeal it now that  a Republican president is in the White House who would sign such a repeal.

8. Prominent conservative media outlets and opinion leaders, such as Erick Erickson of theresurgent.com, redstate.com, the National Review and Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard, oppose this president, hope for his removal or resignation from office and are, moreover, prepared to defend these national security breaches (which are occurring in an attempt to achieve that goal) asregrettable but necessary and to praise those who commit them.

In a signed editorial, Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard wrote on Friday (emphasis added):

Short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was an utterly forgettable political hack. But he said one thing before he was dismissed that’s worth reflecting on: “There are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this president. Okay?” Scaramucci was right about that. We know these people, and we admire them. We wish them every success.

9. Former Bush speech writer David Frum, writing in the Atlantic this week, both deplored and rationalized the leak of transcripts of presidential phone calls to foreign leaders.  Yes, he said, it’s illegal and compromises national security.  But it’s really Trump’s fault for making such breaches necessary.

Frum said (emphasis added):

The risk of national-security establishment overreach looms even larger. The temptation is obvious: Senior national-security professionals regard Trump as something between (at best) a reckless incompetent doofus and (at worst) an outright Russian espionage asset. The fear that a Russian mole has burrowed into the Oval Office may justify, to some, the most extreme actions against that suspected mole.

The nature of this particular leak suggests just such a national-security establishment origin.

10. It is quite obvious, in short, that the president of the United States has good reason to believe that he is, literally, being spied on in his own White House, by members of his own staff and by others elsewhere in the Executive Branch – especially including the national security apparatus.  And, furthermore, that his most confidential communications are not secure.

11. This exceeds, by some orders of magnitude, the national security threat faced by President Richard Nixon and national security adviser Henry Kissinger within the Nixon White House in 1970 and 1971.

Those are facts.  What does it all mean?

First, it means that next year’s congressional elections have grown enormously in importance since January 20.  The president will struggle to enact his agenda unless he has more allies on the allies on the Hill.

Second, it will probably take at least two full terms for the president to purge the Executive Branch.

But those are just politics and elections.  Here’s what should be concerning now:

If this pattern of the last six months continues, there will develop a real threat to the Republic and to the survival of democratic government.  While the national security threats the United States is presently facing – North Korean ICBMs, Chinese man-made islands in the South China Sea, and an expansive Russia – are serious and pressing, the most serious threat may be within.

We may be confronting a national security threat comparable to that which the United States (unknowingly) faced in the 1940s when American communists and fellow travelers penetrated the federal government, the Executive Branch, and the White House.  It was pooh-poohed at the time, called a “witch hunt” and a “Red Scare,” but, decades later,  the release of the Venona Intercepts and the opening of Soviet archives after the fall of the Soviet Union confirmed that, in fact, Soviet penetration of the highest levels of the U.S. government had occurred – and resulted in the loss of state secrets.

Here, there can be no dispute. The proof is appearing every day in our American media.

Attorney General Sessions is, therefore, amply justified in pursuing prosecution of the source(s) of these national security leaks – and, if necessary, targeting their media enablers.

The question of whether an American Deep State exists can be deferred until another time.  May cooler heads prevail until then.

But for now, the current crisis is not some political sideshow for the annual August “silly season.”  It is a struggle over who controls the government of the United States.

Trump Endorsement: McMaster “A Good Man And Very Pro-Israel”

August 5, 2017

Trump Endorsement: McMaster “A Good Man And Very Pro-Israel”, Hot Air, Ed Morrissey, August 5, 2017

(Confused yet about McMaster? Please watch the videos. — DM)

The campaign to undermine H.R. McMaster may have backfired with its intended audience of one. Two former National Security Council members and some in conservative media tried to raise the alarm that the national security adviser has usurped Donald Trump on foreign policy.  Late last night, the president made it clear that McMaster’s not going to go anywhere, and that Trump’s not buying into the attacks regardless of the source:

President Trump gave H.R. McMaster a vote of confidence after the national security adviser’s rivals seized on a letter McMaster sent to his Obama predecessor Susan Rice giving her continued access to classified information.

McMaster’s letter, which his supporters said was routine, was apparently leaked to imply that the Army lieutenant general was helping Trump’s enemies. McMaster’s feud with other powerful camps inside the White House has been well-documented, and a recent spate of firings by McMaster appears to have ratcheted up tensions. But Trump issued a statement late Friday supporting McMaster.

“General McMaster and I are working very well together,” the statement read. “He is a good man and very pro-Israel. I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country.”

Interestingly, the statement has yet to appear on the White House website. Nor has Trump tweeted about it, although he has yet to tweet about Jeff Sessions’ presser too, which is odd considering how much he publicly harangued the AG about prosecuting leakers. The statement as reported in the Fox story seems a little stiff and formal, too, as though someone wrote it for Trump for his approval. One has to see the calming hand of John Kelly in this development, the man on whom Trump now relies to lower the drama and get the administration back to business.

Still, Trump must have signed off on it, and the timing and one specific claim seem especially significant. The crescendo against McMaster was clearly intended to push the media-obsessed Trump into action, which worked — but not the way McMaster’s opponents hoped. The endorsement of McMaster’s pro-Israel stance is perhaps the strongest indication that Trump and his team want an end to the public attacks on McMaster, and that his critics may have overshot the hyperbole and conspiracy thinking. Painting him as an anti-Israel apologist for Islam was several bridges too far for any credibility.

One has to wonder now just what lies ahead for McMaster’s antagonists still remaining in the Trump administration. Instead of taking offense at McMaster’s supposed usurpation of his authority, Trump took credit for McMaster’s work and essentially put them in position of usurpers. The media-instigation tactic didn’t work, perhaps because it was soooooo obvious that Trump couldn’t help but see it coming … or Kelly, who’s likely to be another target of the tactic, explained it to the president. Get ready for a few more sudden departures over the next few weeks, unless they also suddenly make peace with McMaster.

Hugh Hewitt had a lengthy interview with the national security adviser this morning on Hugh’s new MSNBC show, covering a number of the same subjects on which McMaster was supposedly sideways with Trump. Contra the fever-swamp ramblings on McMaster, he’s no fan of the Iran deal, and tells Hugh no one should be surprised if Trump refuses to certify Tehran’s compliance in the near future, least of all the mullahocracy in charge there:

HH: Next review is in 90 days. Do you think the president is going to stay in the agreement 90 days?

HRM: Well, these reviews that come up every 90 days– these are internal reports to our Congress. And so they’re– they’re really two separate issues. Do we– do we certify that– that Iran is– is adhering to the deal? And we’re looking very hard at– at their adherence to it with– with our partners– and other signatories to– to the J.C.P.O.A. is what it’s called, the Iran nuclear deal. And then there– there’s also the question of whether or not you stay in the agreement, based on– on– on– on violations.

HH: Any prediction?

HRM: No– no– no predictions at all. I mean, we’re– we’re not prejudging this. We’re– we’re working hard at it every day. And we’re working hard on it as part of a broader approach to– to the problem of Iran, Iran’s destabilizing behavior, the humanitarian and political catastrophe they’re helping to perpetuate, along with, you know, the– those others responsible, including I.S.I.S.– and– and other ter– terrorist groups in the region. But I– I think Iran is behaving in a way that you could say is aimed at keeping the Arab world perpetually weak and enmeshed in conflict, so they can use this chaotic environment in the Middle East to advance their hegemonic aims. Their– their desire to– to dominate in the region.

HH: Should the Supreme Leader be surprised if the president withdraws from this agreement in the next six months, three months? Is it, would it be a shock to him?

HRM: You know, I don’t think it would be a shock to him or– or anybody, because the– the president has made clear that he will– he will judge whether or not Iran is– is sticking to this agreement based on the merits. And– and this president is not afraid to– to do what he sees is right for the security of the American people.

The biggest news out of this interview is how prepared Trump has become for a potential war on the Korean peninsula. A military freeze at this point is of no use, McMaster insists, because North Korea is already at the nuclear/ICBM “threshold.” The only option at this point is denuclearization, and we’re rapidly getting to a by any means necessary stage. McMaster even references the “just war doctrine” as part of their considerations:

HH: All right, let me switch if I can to North Korea, which is really pressing. And– and remind our audience, at the Aspen Institute ten days ago, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Joe Dunford, said, “There’s always a military– option. It would be horrific.” Lindsey Graham on Today Show earlier this week said– “We need to destroy the regime and their deterrent.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday, I believe, to North Korea, “You are leaving us no choice but to protect ourselves.” And then the Chairman of the Chief of Staff of the Army said, “Just because every choice is a bad choice doesn’t mean you don’t have to choose.” Are we looking at a preemptive strike? Are you trying to prepare us, you being collectively, the administration and people like Lindsey Graham and Tom Cotton for a first strike North Korea?

HRM: Well, we really, what you’re asking is– is are we preparing plans for a preventive war, right? A war that would prevent North Korea from threatening the United States with a nuclear weapon. And the president’s been very clear about it. He said, “He’s not gonna tolerate North Korea being able to threaten the United States.” Look at the (UNINTEL) for that regime if it– if– if they have nuclear weapons that can threaten the United States. It’s intolerable from the president’s perspective. So– so of course, we have to provide all options to do that. And– and that includes a military option. Now, would we like to resolve it short of what would be a very costly war, in terms of– in terms of the suffering of mainly the South Korean people? The– the ability of– of that North– North Korean regime to hold the South hostage to conventional fire’s capabilities, artillery and so forth, Seoul being so close. We’re cognizant of all of that. And so what we have to do is– is everything we can to– to pressure this regime, to pressure Kim Jong-un and those around him such that they conclude, it is in their interest to denuclearize. And there are really I think three critical things, came out of the president’s very successful summit with– President Xi of China that were different– that were different from past efforts to work with China, which has always been, you know, the– the desire, right, to work with China– on the– on the North Korean problem. The three things that came out of that are, first of all, that North Korea, Kim Jong-un s– armed with nuclear weapons is a threat not only to the United States, not only to our great allies, Japan and South Korea, but also to China. So that’s a big acknowledgement. The second thing was that– was that, we’re, the goal– the goal of working together with them cannot be the so-called “freeze for freeze.” Where we freeze our– our– our training and then they freeze their program. Because they’re at a threshold capability now. Freeze for freeze doesn’t work anymore. Right? It’s– it’s intolerable. So the goal is denuclearization of the– of the peninsula. That’s the second big thing. The third big thing that came out of it is, China acknowledged they have tremendous coercive economic influence here. They may not have a great political relationship with Kim Jong-un. I mean, who does these days, right? But– but they recognize that they do have a great deal of agency and control over that situation. And so we are prioritizing Secretary of State in the lead obviously, prioritizing an effort to work with the Chinese. As the president has said, as the president has tweeted, right? We– we also though have to be prepared to walk down a path that assumes not as much help from China as we would like. …

HH: How concerned should the American people be that we are actually on the brink of a war with North Korea?

HRM: Well, I think– I think it’s– it’s impossible to overstate the danger associated with this. Right, the, so I think it’s impossible to overstate the danger associated with a rogue, brutal regime, I mean, who murdered his own brother with nerve agent in a p– in– in an airport. I mean– I mean, think– think about what he’s done– in terms of his– his own brutal repression of not only members of his regime but his own family.

That’s not going to make the isolationists any happier, but it’s clearly in line with Trump’s public rhetoric. This interview makes it even more clear that Trump and McMaster are on the same page — for now, anyway. While last night’s personal endorsement of McMaster should make those waging a campaign against him very nervous, McMaster shouldn’t assume that his confidence is perpetual, either.

 

 

 

A letter from H.R. McMaster said Susan Rice will keep her top-secret security clearance

August 3, 2017

A letter from H.R. McMaster said Susan Rice will keep her top-secret security clearance, CircaSara A. Carter, August 3, 2017

Almost one month after it was disclosed that former President Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice was unmasking members of President Trump’s team and other Americans, Trump’s own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, sent an official letter giving her unfettered and continuing access to classified information and waiving her “need-to-know” requirement on anything she viewed or received during her tenure, Circa has confirmed.

The undated and unclassified letter from McMaster was sent in the mail to Rice’s home during the last week of April. Trump was not aware of the letter or McMaster’s decision, according to two Senior West Wing officials and an intelligence official, who spoke to Circa on condition that they not be named.

This is the letter from McMaster to Rice. Names, phone numbers and personal addresses have been blurred.

“I hereby waive the requirement that you must have a ‘need-to-know’ to access any classified information contained in items you ‘originated, reviewed, signed or received while serving,’ as National Security Adviser,” the letter said. The letter also states that the “NSC will continue to work with you to ensure the appropriate security clearance documentation remains on file to allow you access to classified information.”

Circa revealed in March that during President Obama’s tenure, top aides — including Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch — routinely reviewed intelligence reports received from the National Security Agency’s incidental intercepts of Americans abroad. They were doing so by taking advantage of rules Obama relaxed starting in 2011 to help the government better fight terrorism, espionage by foreign enemies and hacking threats, according to documents obtained by Circa.

In June, the House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Rice as part of the committee’s larger investigation into the unmasking of Americans under the Obama administration. Rice maintains that she never accessed the information inappropriately and has agreed to testify before the committee.

Under the law, and under certain conditions, it is common practice for some senior government officials to be given the unfettered access to classified information, and their “need to know” is waived under “Executive Order 13526 Section 4.4 Access by Historical Researchers and Certain Former Government Personnel.” But the White House officials told Circa that under the current congressional investigation, and given President Trump’s ongoing concern that members of his team were unmasked, Rice’s clearance should have been limited to congressional testimony only or revoked until the end of the investigation. Rice and Brennan have confirmed they sought the unredacted names of Americans in NSA-sourced intelligence reports, but insisted their requests were routine parts of their work and that they did nothing improper. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power also has legal authority to unmask officials.

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.

The White House has not responded to requests for comment.

An intelligence official told Circa “that the NSA decision to provide this level of access to the subject of several ongoing investigations and to waive her ‘need-to-know’ requirement raises serious legal, moral and ethical concerns.”

According to information obtained by Circa, dozens of times in 2016, those intelligence reports identified Americans who were directly intercepted talking to foreign sources or who were the subject of conversations between two or more monitored foreign figures.

Sometimes Americans’ names were officially unmasked; other times they were so specifically described in the reports that their identities were readily discernible. Among those cleared to request and consume unmasked NSA-based intelligence reports about U.S. citizens were Rice, his Brennan and Lynch.

Shortly after Circa released the redacted documents disclosing the change in rules, it was revealed that Power had also extensively requested permission to unmask American names in incidental foreign intercepts.