Posted tagged ‘Politicization’

White House Clearance Process Increasingly Politicized

May 2, 2017

White House Clearance Process Increasingly Politicized, Washington Free Beacon, May 1, 2017

Ben Rhodes, Michael Flynn / Getty Images

“The CIA did not want to deal with him,” Codevilla stated. “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.”

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Security clearances granting access to state secrets have become increasingly politicized in a bid by opponents to block senior advisers to President Trump from joining the closed White House community of those with access secret intelligence.

In February, intelligence agencies denied a high-level security clearance to Robin Townley, an African affairs specialist and close aide to then-White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The denial of the Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance, the high-level security clearance known as TS/SCI, was widely viewed as a bureaucratic power play by opponents of both Flynn and Townley inside intelligence agencies.

Angelo Codevilla, an intelligence expert, said the denial of clearances was engineered by the CIA and came despite Townley’s holding of the high level clearance for many years when he worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The clearance denial drove Townley out of the White House National Security Council staff.

The apparent motivation was political, as Townley was known inside government as a critic of the current intelligence structure. Townley, like Flynn, advocated for intelligence reforms designed to improve what many critics regard as an outdated system of intelligence agencies.

“The CIA did not want to deal with him,” Codevilla stated. “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.”

Flynn also is under scrutiny from the Pentagon inspector general over foreign payments he received after retiring as an Army three-star general and whether they were reported on security clearance forms.

Several months before Townley’s clearance denial, Democrats on Capitol Hill complained about plans to give high-level security clearances to Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner. Both were granted interim TS/SCI clearances and currently are presidential advisers.

The blocking of security clearances under Trump contrasts with the handling of clearances during the Obama administration when a key liberal adviser with a questionable security background was given a high-level clearance.

Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser for strategic communications under Obama, was denied an interim TS/SCI clearance by the FBI in October 2008, according to an email obtained from John Podesta last year.

The email stated that Rhodes was the only White House official out of 187 prospective White House aides to be denied the interim TS/SCI clearance.

Yet, despite the denial, Rhodes would later be granted access to some of the most secret U.S. intelligence information and emerge as one Obama’s closest aides who boasted of a “mind-meld” with the president on various issues.

Rhodes became one of the most active originators and shapers of key American foreign and national security policies under Obama.

He engineered what he dubbed the “echo chamber” of pliable news reporters and think tank experts who could be relied on to spread White House propaganda, including false and misleading information, to the American public on the Iran nuclear deal in a bid to win congressional backing for the accord.

Two House Republicans asked the FBI in January to investigate how Rhodes was granted access to secrets for eight years after the initial denial of an interim clearance in 2008.

Regarding Ivanka Trump and Kushner, two House Democrats, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.) complained on Twitter in November that granting clearances to the couple would be improper and a conflict of interest because they were in business and lacked government experience.

High-level security clearances are granted to White House officials so they can participate in various activities, including policy development work, meetings with the president and senior advisers, working groups, and intelligence briefings.

Most internal meetings are classified and thus a security clearance is required for access. Denying a clearance to an official can be tantamount to firing.

In the White House complex, junior clerical staff members often are granted TS/SCI clearance.

Most jobs inside the White House complex, which includes the executive mansion and the adjacent Eisenhower executive office building, where the National Security Council and other key posts are located, require the TS/SCI clearance. Other clearance levels include Secret and Confidential.

The process for gaining a clearance includes filling out Form SF-86 that requires disclosing details of past employment and finances.

Chinese hackers were able to gain access to millions of the secret and highly sensitive forms during the hack disclosed last year of the Office of Personnel Management. The stolen SF-86s were among some 22 million documents on federal employees stolen and could greatly assist Chinese intelligence agent recruitment and cyber espionage operations.

Ground for clearance denial can include illegal drug use, contacts with foreign governments, or a history of bankruptcy.

The TS/SCI clearance grants a holder access to special intelligence, such as information obtained from foreign recruited agents and electronic communications intelligence.

The clearance also can include signing extensive non-disclosure agreements.

Defending Our Police Officers

March 25, 2017

Defending Our Police Officers, PJ MediaDavid Solway, March 24, 2017

Police officers leave flowers on Westminster Bridge Aftermath of terror attack outside parliament, London, UK – 24 Mar 2017 (Rex Features via AP Images)

When the fire alarm was pulled by a cohort of rowdy student demonstrators prior to my wife’s anti-feminist talk at the University of Toronto in March 2013, she was hustled for her protection into a nearby patrol car. I appreciated the sympathetic police officer who stood guard beside me at the car door. When I muttered that I would destroy anyone who laid a finger on Janice, he replied: “I’m with you, bro.”

I recall, too, an event at St. Paul University in Ottawa where a masked rabble, calling itself the Revolutionary Student Movement — Marxists in the making — disrupted a talk by journalist and author Cathy Young. When I suggested to the police officers present that the paddy wagon should be called in and the protestors arrested, the officers were plainly uncomfortable, one of whom confessed that they had no authority to do so. A good man, he shrugged his shoulders and gave me a rueful look. I later met one of this honorable cadre of officers at a conservative conference, who told me he often felt ashamed of his superiors and resented some of the orders he was compelled to follow.

Of course, there were, and are, bad apples among ordinary cops, but I have always respected the orchard. Indeed, some of my best students were to be found in the Police Tech classes I regularly taught. Their interests were not strictly academic or distinctively intellectual, but they were diligent, reliable and unfailingly courteous — in this regard, they formed an ideal body of students and citizens who took their responsibilities seriously. Regrettably, one cannot say the same for the general run of their compromised and politically correct superiors, who will often order their subordinates to “stand down” during protests, street demonstrations and riots.

Clearly, it is in the leadership where the general rot sets in, that is, where career and perquisites tend to take precedence over duty and conscience. We have seen many instances of reprehensible conduct on the part of higher authority, of which the most outrageous in Canada was the Caledonia scandal in which the police, under orders from former OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, allowed “First Nations” vandals to rampage for years over a land dispute — giving them “space to destroy,” as in the Baltimore riots. Authorities like LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck or Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy preventing police from carrying out their prescribed duties in enforcing immigration orders, or Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announcing he will defy Trump’s cut in Planned Parenthood funding also spring immediately to mind. The roster of civic and political disreputables doesn’t end there.

While it is heartening to see President Trump offer his respect and support for the nation’s police officers who carry out their lawful mandate, even when it goes against the individual’s grain, it is equally distressing to note the lawless disobedience of many in the top echelons who refuse to accept his presidential orders. In the law enforcement community, this is the point at which the police unions, where they exist, should step in to enable their members to perform both their lawful and morally legitimate duties, whether by wielding the strike option or work-to-rule policy. Canadian policemen are on the whole better off than their American colleagues, but they too are frequently countermanded by the police bureaucracy and forced to act against their moral judgement or are cruelly harassed on the flimsiest of grounds. In such instances officers may have recourse to the courts, though such an expedient may be hazardous to their employment prospects and service record.

But not always. In a case that lasted for 12 years, a certain Sgt. Peter Merrifield of the fabled Mounties has just won a major decision against his superintendent, who persecuted him mercilessly for running for a Conservative Party nomination. The RCMP, reports the National Post, “has been dogged for years by accusations of a toxic internal culture rife with bullying and harassment.” One can readily detect how senior officials, generally of a left-liberal stamp, are influenced by political considerations, to the detriment of their subalterns. Merrifield is now advocating for RCMP unionization.

Obviously, in the present ideological milieu, it’s not good for one’s reputation or bank balance to praise or come to the defense of rank-and-file policemen, as I can attest from personal experience. For example, an article I wrote, inter alia defending policemen and ordinary citizens who found themselves under attack by thugs like Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin, appeared in one of Canada’s literary journals. It was very quickly scrubbed and de-archived. The editor wrote a blogpology in which I was, in effect, branded as a systemic racist, and my métier as a published author in this country soon crashed and burned.

Policemen Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, as well as neighborhood-watch civilian George Zimmerman, whom I had in mind in the offending article, were all eventually vindicated, but progressivist sympathy is almost instinctively extended, often on racial grounds, to criminal perpetrators. As Heather Mac Donald writes in City Journal, “On the left, it is only acceptable to speak about the loss of a black life if a police officer is responsible. But police shootings, overwhelmingly triggered by violently resisting suspects, cause a minute fraction of black homicide deaths.” To imply as I did that Wilson, Pantaleo and Zimmerman had reason and justice on their side leads, in our left-oriented, “social justice” climate of identity politics, to social and professional ostracism — my case is by no means unique — and far worse to on-and-off duty policemen. According to reports, 64 police officers were shot and ambushed in the U.S. in 2016 in a veritable war on cops.

Ordinary policemen, who daily put their lives on the line to ensure public security, are getting a raw deal. Often handcuffed by their politically appointed superiors and the object of much public odium and media calumny, they run the double threat of violence and misprision. “Our officers, deputies and troopers believe the political leadership of this country abandoned them,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the National Association of Attorneys General Annual Winter Meeting; “Their morale has suffered.”

I think back to my Police Tech students and wonder about the life they have chosen for themselves. Canada is a more temperate country than the U.S., but they run real risks and receive little in the way of gratitude or respect for a service most of us are not willing to perform.

“I’m with you, bro,” as the officer standing beside me said, protecting my wife from possible assault. It’s time we returned the favor.

Column One: Our estranged generals

April 21, 2016

Column One: Our estranged generals, Jerusalem Post, Caroline B. Glick, April 21, 2016

(But, but if Israel accepts that weakness is strength and strength is weakness, as Obama and Europe have agreed, they will support Israel and a lasting peace will break out. Not. — DM)

IDF generalsIDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot (R), Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit:GPO)

It’s been a long time coming, but it finally happened.

The IDF General Staff has lost the public trust.

This is terrible for the General Staff. But it is more terrible for the country, because the public is right not to trust our military leaders. They have earned our distrust fair and square.

The final straw came in less than optimal circumstances.

But such is life. Things are never cut and dry. On Purim, Sgt. Elor Azaria killed a terrorist in Hebron as he lay on the ground, shot, following his attempted murder of one of Azaria’s comrades.

Still today, we don’t know whether Azaria acted properly or improperly. He claims that he believed the terrorist had a bomb beneath the heavy jacket he was wearing in the middle of a heat wave.

Azaria claims that he shot him because he feared that the terrorist – who was moving – was trying to detonate the bomb. This view was shared by emergency personnel at the scene caring for the wounded soldier.

But even before he had a chance to tell his story, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had already declared Azaria guilty of murder. Based on an initial field investigation and a snuff film produced by the European-funded anti-Israel group B’Tselem, Eisenkot and Ya’alon excoriated Azaria and pronounced the soldier, who was decorated for his service just last year, a rotten apple.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initially joined them in their condemnations. But when he realized that the public wasn’t buying it and that the evidence was far from cut and dry, to his credit, Netanyahu walked back his remarks.

Ya’alon and Eisenkot, in contrast, have refused to let the uncertainty of the situation affect them.

Their continued assaults on the soldier have compounded the damage. Their stubborn refusal to give Azaria the benefit of the doubt and admit that he may well have comported himself properly indicates that they have no idea how their statements are being viewed by the public, or worse, they may not care. They may simply be playing for another audience.

And here lies the beginning of the real problem.

For the public – including the five thousand citizens who came to the support rally for Azaria at Rabin Square on Tuesday – the critical moment was when the film of Azaria being led away from the scene in handcuffs was broadcast on the evening news. That image, of a combat soldier who killed a terrorist being treated like a criminal, was the breaking point for the public. Whether he was guilty or innocent was beside the point. The point was that his commanders – beginning with the defense minister and the chief of General Staff – were treating him like a criminal instead of a combat soldier on the front lines defending our country from an enemy that seeks our destruction.

This image, combined with Ya’alon’s and Eisenkot’s increasingly shrill and caustic condemnations of Azaria, was a breach of the social contract between the IDF and the public. That social contract says that we serve in the IDF. We send our children to serve in the IDF. And the IDF values us and values our sons and daughters as its own.

The sense that our generals are not on the same page as the rest of us has been gnawing at us since at least April 2002, in the aftermath of the battle in Jenin, during the course of Operation Defensive Shield.

Back then, fearing CNN and the UN, IDF commanders sent a reserve battalion into Jenin refugee camp, the epicenter of the Palestinian murder machine, without air cover and without armored vehicles. Thirteen reservists were killed in one day. Twenty-three soldiers were killed in the three-day battle.

The sense of alienation continued through the war in Lebanon four years later when the IDF conducted one of the most inept campaigns in its history. Soldiers were sent willy-nilly into battles with no strategic purpose because the General Staff wanted to “stage a picture of victory.”

This sense has been maintained in successive inconclusive campaigns in Gaza.

Now, with the General Staff’s decision to turn Azaria into a scapegoat at a time when it is failing to defeat the Palestinian terrorist wave in Judea and Samaria, that gnawing sense that something is amiss has become a certainty.

Our generals are not on the same page as the rest of us. In fact, they aren’t even reading the same book.

Our generals are motivated by three impulses and strategic assumptions that are not shared by the majority of Israelis.

The first of those is their willingness to sacrifice soldiers in battles, and, in the case of Azaria, in show trials, in the hopes of winning the support of the Europeans and other Western elites. This impulse is not simply problematic. It is insane, because for more than a decade, it has been continuously proven futile.

At least since the battle in Jenin, it has been abundantly obvious that the Europeans will never support us. The Europeans, along with the UN and the Western media, ignored completely the lengths Israel went to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties in Jenin. They accused us of committing a Nazi-style massacre despite the fact that not only wasn’t there a shred of evidence to back their wild allegations. There were mountains of evidence proving the opposite. The Palestinians were massacring Israelis and would have continued to do so, had the IDF not retaken their population centers and so ended their ability to strike us at will.

And yet, despite the trail of UN blood libels from Jenin to the Goldstone Report and beyond, despite the faked media images of purported IDF bombings of civilians in Lebanon and Gaza, despite the hostility of EU diplomats and politicians and the open anti-Semitism of the European media and public, our generals still care what these people think about us.

Eisenkot and his generals still believe that by giving soldiers sometimes life-threateningly limited rules of engagement, by forcing every battalion commander to have a legal adviser approve his targeting decisions, the Europeans will be convinced that they should stop supporting our enemies.

The second impulse separating our generals from us is that almost to a man, members of the General Staff want a Palestinian state to be established in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem and they want that state to be joined in some way with Gaza.

After 15 years of Palestinian terrorism and political warfare, our security brass still believe that the PLO is Israel’s partner. It doesn’t matter to them that the PLO is driving the current wave of terrorism just as it drove all the previous ones.

This is the reason that Eisenkot and his ideologically driven generals insist that we leave the Palestinian population centers after we spent so much blood and treasure fighting our way into them 14 years ago.

This is the reason that while Eisenkot and his generals insist that the PA security services are helping us fight terrorism even though no help would be necessary if the PA wasn’t inciting terrorism.

The generals’ stubborn faith in the notion that Palestinian terrorists who seek the destruction of our country will magically be transformed into allies the minute we turn the keys to our security over to them, sets them apart from the vast majority of Israelis.

Most Israelis support a theoretical Palestinian state that is at peace with us. Most Israelis would be willing to give up substantial amounts of territory if doing so would bring peace with the Palestinians.

But most Israelis also recognize that the Palestinians are not interested in peace with us and as a consequence, it makes no sense to give them any land. Most Israelis recognize that you can’t trust the good intentions of leaders who tell their school-age children to stab our school-age children.

The third impulse separating our generals from the public is their embrace and glorification of weakness. On every front, for more than 20 years, members of the General Staff have embraced the notion that there is no military solution to any of the security threats facing the country.

Until the Syrian civil war, the generals believed that if we left northern Israel vulnerable to attack and invasion by giving the Assad dynasty the Golan Heights, then the Assads would be magically convinced to ditch their Iranian sponsors and make common cause with an Israel that could no longer defend itself.

They have opposed attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, insisting that we can trust the US, even though it has been obvious for years that the US would take no action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

As for the US, the IDF embraces strategic dependency on the US. They insist that we can trust the Americans even though the Obama administration sided with Hamas in Operation Protective Edge. They continue to argue that we can depend on American even though the Obama administration is actively enabling Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. Utterly foreign to them is the notion that Israel would strengthen its alliance with the US by acting independently against Iran’s nuclear facilities, because doing so would prove that Israel is not a strategic basket case but a regional power that commands respect.

They oppose destroying Hamas’s military capabilities.

As a consequence, they have conducted four campaigns in Gaza since the 2005 withdrawal that all lacked a concept of victory. And by the way, the General Staff enthusiastically supported the strategically irrational withdrawal from Gaza.

When the public gets angry at our generals for not striving to defeat Hamas, for instance, they look at us like we fell off of Mars. Why would they want to defeat Hamas? Their job is to contain Hamas. And they are doing their job so well that Hamas managed to dig a tunnel right under their feet.

What explains our generals’ embrace of positions that most Israelis reject? Why are they willing to sacrifice soldiers and embrace Orwellian notions that weakness rather than strength is the key to peace? It is hard to say. Perhaps it’s groupthink. Perhaps it’s the selection process. Perhaps it’s overexposure to Europeans or Americans. Perhaps they are radicals in uniforms. Perhaps it is none of those things.

But whatever the cause of their behavior, the fact is that behavior has alienated them from Israeli society. In treating Palestinian terrorists with more respect than it accords its own soldiers, the IDF General Staff is earning the public’s fury. And in their contemptuous dismissal of the public’s loss of trust, our generals – including Ya’alon – are demonstrating that they have become strangers to their own society. This of course is a calamity.

The IDF lost the public’s trust at Purim. Let us hope that at Passover, our generals will leave their bubble and begin repairing the damage they caused. They are not in Europe. They are here.

And they need to be with us.

The Perilous Politicization of the Military

April 18, 2016

The Perilous Politicization of the Military, American ThinkerJonathan F. Keiler, April 18, 2016

We are looking at a permanent structural change in the American armed forces that will not only weaken the nation’s ability to defend itself, but endanger constitutional principles. A year ago in an article titled “Obama’s Generals,” I described an American military increasingly politicized under the current administration.  The evidence at the time was already abundant:  the military’s refusal to identify the Fort Hood shootings as terrorism, the coddling of Bowe Bergdahl, the relief or prosecution of politically unreliable generals, and unrealistically rosy appreciations of the campaign against ISIS being the major points.  If anything, things have worsened since, most especially with the purely political decision to remove all restriction on women in combat, and as noted in a recent AT posts the mostly symbolic but still significant decisions by the Navy to issue “gender neutral” uniforms and to ignoreregulations regarding naming ships to honor Democrat politicians and leftwing social activists.  Add to this, ongoing and increasingly aggressive recruiting policies that mandate “diversity” and the situation becomes scary.

Arguably there has been some good news here and there, but even that must be taken with a large grain of salt.  Last year Congress passed legislation allowing for the soldiers wounded at Fort Hood to receive Purple Hearts, and the Army belatedly acknowledged former Major Nidal Hassan’s terrorist ties, though has yet (to my knowledge) formally remove the “workplace violence” moniker it attached to the shooting, despite the fact that Obama late last year reluctantly acknowledged the Fort Hood shooting as a terror attack.

Similarly, in the Bergdahl case, also after incredibly long delays, the Army decided to try the soldier at a General Courts Martial.  This is seen by some as the “old Army” reasserting itself in a case that reeks of liberal political influence.  Perhaps this is so.  However, the decision to try Bergdahl only came after he badly embarrassed the Army by going public with his account of his desertion and capture on NPR, practically forcing the hand of convening officer, General Robert B. Abrams.   Moreover, though the decision to try Bergdahl was made last December (four days after the first NPR appearance), the trial will not take place until August, scarcely demonstrating a hard charging prosecution in a relatively simple case.  Even assuming Bergdahl is convicted, his attorneys will argue that Bergdahl has successfully served on active duty for over two years since his release by the Taliban in May 2014, and thus deserving of leniency, undermining the contention he is a bad soldier.  This might sound ridiculous to some, but the jury will have to consider it, and it is part of the reason why military prosecutions are usually expeditious, though the Army has not demonstrated any sense of urgency in the case.

Meanwhile the low level war against ISIS goes on. The U.S. continues operate under ruinous rules of engagement which result in countless wasted strike sorties, wearing out men and equipment to no gain.  While ISIS is probably weakening under the bombardment, the campaign’s military logic is held hostage to politically correct dogmas.  The Pentagon goes along with this, hyping over-optimistic casualty reports with promises that ISIS is close to breaking.  While the Pentagon and some commentators trumpet the arrival of B-52 bombers in the region, those expecting carpet bombing will be disappointed.  The B-52s replace more capable B-1s which flew many hours but dropped only a small fraction of the munitions they are capable of throwing at the enemy.  The B-52s will do the same.  By contrast, Russia’s politically incorrect but effective Syrian intervention seems to have accomplished much more, in a much shorter time span, with inferior equipment, money and support.

I got to see some of the strain on Marine pilots, ground crew and aircraft when I visited the Beaufort Marine Air Station a few months ago.  While there I also learned a lot about recruiting, and especially political influences that are pervasive and potentially permanent. Beyond the already divisive, controversial and standard-destroying policy of allowing women in all combat billets is the military’s intensive drive to fill the ranks with as many women and other categories of “diverse” recruits as possible, at almost any cost.   Diversity is now effectively the primary goal of military recruiters, even beyond meeting basic quotas.  Recruiters that enlist too many qualified and ready applicants (read Caucasian males) that don’t meet the description of “diverse” can be sanctioned for going after easy pickings.  Recruiting goals are first defined by diversity rather than by quality, availability or cost.  In a situation in which the Marines say over 70% of young American adults are unqualified for service, and in an era in which officer quality is a serious concern, this program verges on folly.

Officers and senior enlisted who wish to progress must effectively buy into this program, and the folks they recruit and advance will too.  While diversity is not a bad thing (I live and work in very diverse environments) its empirical benefits are extremely debatable, and when adopted forcefully as a matter of policy, it is a completely political matter that reflects a strong leftist bent.  It may be desirable to have a military that reflects demographic reality in the country, but effectively favoring some categories of citizens willing to serve over others is a recipe for ineffectiveness, tension, conflict and potentially serious political turmoil.  That is not a price worth paying for a cherry-picked military selected to fit an idealized demographic template.

While to some extent the services have always been and will continue to be organizations affected by politics, among the many departments of government, the services are probably the most sensitive to political influence in terms of maintaining a free society.  The openly leftist orientation that the Obama administration continues to force on the armed forces not only damages morale and national security, but is potentially a serious long term (if not permanent) phenomenon.  Senior officers have to be sympathetic to the administration’s moves in order to advance, and junior officers are oriented politically both by selection and doctrine from the get-go.  On the other hand, mid-grade officers who do not buy in are forced out via the evaluation process or through their own disgruntlement.

While plenty of former senior officers (and Defense secretaries) have criticized the administration, and some were eventually maneuvered out, I’m not aware of any who explicitly resigned on principle, which at least might offer some encouragement for those disturbed by this process.  Whether senior officers continue to soldier on based on loyalty to the military-political system or just plain careerism is hard to say (and certainly in many cases both are true), but the practical effect of going along to get along allows this extremely dangerous politicization to snowball, a process which will only worsen if another Democrat is elected in November.