NSC head Flynn was brought down by the very spying machine h

NSC head Flynn was brought down by the very spying machine h

Postby admin » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:18 pm

NSC head Flynn was brought down by the very spying machine he helped to build. Let’s also see this as a warning that the national security state has crossed a major line and needs to be unravelled.
by Dave Lindorff
February 16, 2017

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There’s a delicious irony in the downfall of Michael Flynn, President Trump’s National Security Advisor, who resigned his post just 24 days after his appointment.

A retired three-star Lt. General, Flynn had previously been director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration. In that role since 2012, he was a key player in the leadership of the sprawling $50-billion U.S. intelligence apparatus that has increasingly been spying not just on Americans but on U.S. allies and, to the extent possible, on the entire world. Flynn, as DIA director, was the top guy in charge of the so-called “Five Eyes” group of intelligence agencies –- all English-speaking nations including the U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada -– which has coordinated spying on citizens of those nations as well as on the citizens and leaders of such supposed NATO allies as Germany, France, Italy, Spain etc.

Knowing all this, it’s simply astounding to learn that Flynn himself was using apparently unencrypted email, phones and texting to communicate with, of all people, the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak, discussing such issues as potentially lifting sanctions imposed on Russia by the sitting president of the United States, Barack Obama.

His political implosion is doubly ironic because Flynn was one of those during the election campaign who was loudly condemning Trump’s presidential opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for her use of a private server for her official State Department business, and for her general lax security standards (he actually led a “Lock her up!” chant at one Trump rally!). However, it turns out Flynn himself was not using secure communications in his own conversations with the Russian ambassador -– communications that are now widely circulating in embarrassingly complete transcript form courtesy of U.S. spy agencies like the National Security Agency.

Talk about someone being hoist upon his own petard!

You’d think that seeing the kind of trouble the NSA’s “collect it all” motto can wreak even for the powerful and seemingly invincible, Washington’s elite might rethink what the NSA is doing?

But nah, I wouldn’t count on that happening. There’s more likely to be a lot of schadenfreude among those, both Democrats and traditional Cold War Republicans, who want to see Trump and his band of bozos go down, but hubristic to a fault, they’re not going to go so far as to think, “Hey, this could as easily happen to me!”

And yet, what we’re seeing here, besides the exposé of a thoroughly inept and out-of-his-depth President Trump, is the workings of the so-called “deep state” –- the permanent power structure that really runs things in the U.S. –- which is taking advantage of its vast powers to rein in the efforts of a loose cannon trying to steer things off on an unorthodox course.

That should, when you think about it, be a scary notion, and a major cause for concern. After all, one big thing that Trump campaigned on, quite openly and consistently, was the very rational and commendable idea of de-escalating the years of anti-Russia fear-and-war mongering that had been going on under the Obama Administration, and of moving the country’s foreign policy away from the chaos and regime-change-promoting policies of both the Bush and Obama years, to a more isolationist live-and-let-live stance.

I mean, let’s face it: Trump is a dangerously narcissistic and sociopathic individual, wildly unsuited to be running a country that has the capability to destroy the earth many times over, whether militarily or by rampaging climate change. And Gen. Flynn is a nut job who was pushing for a U.S. confrontation with Iran. How could the downfall of such whackos, and hopefully chief political advisor Steve Bannon along with them, be a bad thing?

Well, if the manner in which they’re brought to heel is by having secret government forces such as the intelligence services, which are unanswerable to anyone and which, clearly, have dirt on everyone, making them effectively immune from criticism and democratic control, handle the job, that means that we no longer live in anything approaching a democracy. It’s all just secret power games among elites in Washington, with the American people as simply spectators. Say what you want about Trump, but he was elected by voters the United States under the arcane rules laid down by the founders. If he’s going to be removed, it should be by an open process of impeachment, with charges brought publicly, debated publicly, and voted upon publicly by members of Congress who themselves are elected by the people. It should not be done by the strategically timed release of secret spying efforts by the intelligence agencies.

Good riddance to Flynn. He deserves to endure a fate that he helped to make possible. But let’s also see this as a warning that the national security state has crossed a major line and needs to be unravelled, scaled back tremendously, and put on a very short leash held by genuine Congressional defenders of the Bill of Rights – if there are any such people still getting elected in our thoroughly corrupted political system.
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Re: NSC head Flynn was brought down by the very spying machi

Postby admin » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:27 pm

Intelligence Official: Transcripts Of Flynn's Calls Don't Show Criminal Wrongdoing
by Camila Domonoske
National Public Radio
February 15, 2017

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A current U.S. intelligence official tells NPR's Mary Louise Kelly that there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the transcripts of former national security adviser Michael Flynn's conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, although the official noted that doesn't rule out the possibility of illegal actions.

The official also says that there are recordings as well as transcripts of the calls, and that the transcripts don't suggest Flynn was acting under orders in his conversations.

Flynn resigned late Monday, after allegations that he discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with Kislyak and then misled Vice President Pence about the nature of those conversations. Flynn initially denied discussing sanctions at all, but in his resignation Flynn said he "inadvertently" gave Pence "incomplete information" about the conversations.

NPR's Phil Ewing previously reported that it is not in dispute that Flynn spoke with Kislyak in late December. "The issue is what he said," Phil wrote.

Depending on the content of the conversations, Flynn could have violated a law called the Logan Act, which bars a private individual from conducting foreign policy without the permission of the U.S. government. For instance, if Flynn told the ambassador the Trump administration would drop the sanctions, that would have been illegal.

The intelligence official who has personally seen the transcripts told Mary Louise they contained "no evidence" of criminal wrongdoing, although the official said it can't be definitively ruled out.

The official also said there was "absolutely nothing" in the transcripts that suggests Flynn was acting under instructions "or that the trail leads higher."

"I don't think [Flynn] knew he was doing anything wrong," the official said. "Flynn talked about sanctions, but no specific promises were made. Flynn was speaking more in general 'maybe we'll take a look at this going forward' terms."

As NPR's Domenico Montanaro has reported, Flynn could face consequences even if there isn't evidence he violated the Logan Act:

"The White House is confident Flynn didn't say anything that could have violated the law. Of course, that could be open to interpretation. It would be up to the Jeff Sessions Justice Department to review the transcript and bring a case, if it saw fit. That is seen as unlikely.

"But there are other ways in which Flynn could be at risk.

"Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday it's possible that Flynn will be called to testify under oath. More could become known about the specifics of the call before then. The New York Times reports Tuesday evening that the FBI questioned Flynn in the early days of the Trump presidency about his conversations. And investigators believe Flynn 'was not entirely forthcoming':

" 'That raises the stakes of what so far has been a political scandal that cost Mr. Flynn his job. If the authorities conclude that Mr. Flynn knowingly lied to the F.B.I., it could expose him to a felony charge.' "
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Re: NSC head Flynn was brought down by the very spying machi

Postby admin » Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:33 pm

Glenn Greenwald on Flynn-Russia Leaks: Highly Illegal & Wholly Justified
by DemocracyNow!
February 16, 2017

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While congressional Democrats and some Republicans are pushing for probes into President Trump’s ties to Russia, Trump has focused largely on going after those who have leaked information to the press. On Monday, Trump’s national security adviser was forced to resign after The Washington Post reported on leaks of classified intelligence revealing that Flynn had engaged in talks with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the transition period, while Barack Obama was still president. In a tweet this morning, Trump wrote, "The spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!" On Wednesday, he wrote, "Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?).Just like Russia." We speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to look at the growing scandal over the Trump administration’s alleged dealings with Russia before and after the November election. There have been a number of developments in the past 24 hours. The Wall Street Journal is reporting U.S. intelligence officials are withholding sensitive intelligence from President Trump because they’re concerned it could be leaked or compromised. The New York Times is reporting Trump is considering ordering a review of the nation’s intelligence agencies led by Stephen Feinberg, a billionaire private equity executive who is close to Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner.

Meanwhile, Trump has publicly defended Michael Flynn, who resigned Monday as national security adviser after admitting he gave Vice President Mike Pence and others incomplete information about his calls with the Russian ambassador in December. Trump spoke about Flynn during his press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Michael Flynn, General Flynn, is a wonderful man. I think he’s been treated very, very unfairly by the media—as I call it, the fake media, in many cases. And I think it’s really a sad thing that he was treated so badly. I think, in addition to that, from intelligence, papers are being leaked. Things are being leaked. It’s criminal action. Criminal act. And it’s been going on for a long time, before me. But now it’s really going on. And people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton. I think it’s very, very unfair what’s happened to General Flynn, the way he was treated and the documents and papers that were illegally—I stress that—illegally leaked. Very, very unfair.

AMY GOODMAN: Trump’s comments came just a day after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump had lost faith in General Flynn.

PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER: This was an act of trust. Whether or not he actually misled the vice president was the issue. And that was ultimately what led to the president asking for and accepting the resignation of General Flynn. That’s it, pure and simple. It was a matter of trust.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: While congressional Democrats and some Republicans are pushing for probes into Trump’s ties to Russia, Trump has focused largely on going after those who have leaked information to the press. In a tweet this morning, Trump wrote, quote, "The spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!" On Wednesday, Trump indirectly accused the NSA and FBI of being behind the leaks. He wrote":https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/831840306161123328, quote, "Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?).Just like Russia."

AMY GOODMAN: Some supporters of Trump, including Breitbart News, have accused the intelligence agencies of attempting to wage a "deep state coup" against the president. Meanwhile, some critics of Trump are openly embracing such activity. Bill Kristol, the prominent Republican analyst who founded The Weekly Standard, wrote on Twitter, "Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state," unquote.

To help make sense of what’s happening, we’re joined by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept. His most recent piece is headlined "The Leakers Who Exposed Gen. Flynn’s Lie Committed Serious—and Wholly Justified—Felonies."

Glenn, welcome to Democracy Now! Explain what you mean.

GLENN GREENWALD: There’s no question that whoever leaked the contents of General Flynn’s telephone calls with the Russian ambassador and other Russian diplomats committed what the law regards as extremely serious crimes. As we all know from the last eight years under President Obama, they—the U.S. government treats it as a criminal act, a felony, to leak information that is deemed classified. In the scheme of what is regarded as criminal in terms of leaks, the most serious or one of the most serious bits of information that can be leaked is what’s called signals intelligence, or information gathered by the NSA or the CIA or other intelligence agencies in terms of eavesdropping on foreign governments. And that’s exactly what got leaked, was information that the NSA and the CIA say that they gathered as a result of targeting Russian officials with eavesdropping. And along the course of that eavesdropping, they happened hear General Flynn’s conversations with those Russian officials. That’s what they claim. It’s possible they actually targeted General Flynn. We don’t know. That’s the claim. And if that is true, what they’re claiming, it means that the leaking of this information is considered a very serious felony. In fact, the law says that it’s not just whoever leaks signals intelligence is guilty of a felony, but anyone who publishes it, too. So, theoretically, it makes the journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, all of whom have leaked signals intelligence, guilty of felonies. My view is that the First Amendment’s freedom of the press clause would bar any such prosecutions, but at least under the statute it is a crime.

So then the question becomes: Well, if it’s criminal, is it justified? And my view is the same view that I had for the eight years under President Obama and for the years before that under President Bush, which is that people inside the government who leak classified information that the public has a right to know, even if they’re breaking the law, are acting commendably and justifiably and heroically, and that those people ought to be celebrated and treated as people defending democracy and transparency, and not be treated as criminals. Unfortunately, over the last eight years, Democrats have had a completely different view of people who leak classified information. And the tweet that you just read from President Trump, saying whoever leaked this information are low-life leakers who deserve to be punished, that sounds very, very, very similar to everything I’ve heard from most Democrats over the last eight years as they called for the imprisonment of Chelsea Manning and Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden and the long list of other whistleblowers and leakers that President Obama so aggressively and vindictively prosecuted. But, for me, my view has not changed, which is, when an official as senior as General Flynn lies to the public, which is what he did—he denied publicly that he discussed the issue of sanctions with the Russian ambassador in his December phone call—information that shows that he lied is information that the public has the right to know. And even though I think there are very grave dangers and grave concerns, that I hope we’ll discuss, in terms of what the deep state is doing in trying to destroy the Trump administration, that was duly elected, in this particular case, whoever leaked this information helped the public to understand and to learn exactly how General Flynn lied, and therefore, despite being illegal, highly illegal, I actually think it’s also wholly justified, as I wrote in that piece.


[GREENWALD MISTAKENLY CONFLATING WHISTLEBLOWERS WITH DEEP STATE ACTORS -- NOT THE SAME. INFO VS. PROPAGANDA & MIND CONTROL]

GLENN GREENWALD: The deep state, although there’s no precise or scientific definition, generally refers to the agencies in Washington that are permanent power factions. They stay and exercise power even as presidents who are elected come and go. They typically exercise their power in secret, in the dark, and so they’re barely subject to democratic accountability, if they’re subject to it at all. It’s agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world’s worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads. This is who not just people like Bill Kristol, but lots of Democrats are placing their faith in, are trying to empower, are cheering for as they exert power separate and apart from—in fact, in opposition to—the political officials to whom they’re supposed to be subordinate.

And you go—this is not just about Russia. You go all the way back to the campaign, and what you saw was that leading members of the intelligence community, including Mike Morell, who was the acting CIA chief under President Obama, and Michael Hayden, who ran both the CIA and the NSA under George W. Bush, were very outspoken supporters of Hillary Clinton. In fact, Michael Morell went to The New York Times, and Michael Hayden went to The Washington Post, during the campaign to praise Hillary Clinton and to say that Donald Trump had become a recruit of Russia. The CIA and the intelligence community were vehemently in support of Clinton and vehemently opposed to Trump, from the beginning. And the reason was, was because they liked Hillary Clinton’s policies better than they liked Donald Trump’s. One of the main priorities of the CIA for the last five years has been a proxy war in Syria, designed to achieve regime change with the Assad regime. Hillary Clinton was not only for that, she was critical of Obama for not allowing it to go further, and wanted to impose a no-fly zone in Syria and confront the Russians. Donald Trump took exactly the opposite view. He said we shouldn’t care who rules Syria; we should allow the Russians, and even help the Russians, kill ISIS and al-Qaeda and other people in Syria. So, Trump’s agenda that he ran on was completely antithetical to what the CIA wanted. Clinton’s was exactly what the CIA wanted, and so they were behind her. And so, they’ve been trying to undermine Trump for many months throughout the election. And now that he won, they are not just undermining him with leaks, but actively subverting him. There’s claims that they’re withholding information from him, on the grounds that they don’t think he should have it and can be trusted with it. They are empowering themselves to enact policy.

Now, I happen to think that the Trump presidency is extremely dangerous. You just listed off in your news—in your newscast that led the show, many reasons. They want to dismantle the environment. They want to eliminate the safety net. They want to empower billionaires. They want to enact bigoted policies against Muslims and immigrants and so many others. And it is important to resist them. And there are lots of really great ways to resist them, such as getting courts to restrain them, citizen activism and, most important of all, having the Democratic Party engage in self-critique to ask itself how it can be a more effective political force in the United States after it has collapsed on all levels. That isn’t what this resistance is now doing. What they’re doing instead is trying to take maybe the only faction worse than Donald Trump, which is the deep state, the CIA, with its histories of atrocities, and say they ought to almost engage in like a soft coup, where they take the elected president and prevent him from enacting his policies. And I think it is extremely dangerous to do that. Even if you’re somebody who believes that both the CIA and the deep state, on the one hand, and the Trump presidency, on the other, are extremely dangerous, as I do, there’s a huge difference between the two, which is that Trump was democratically elected and is subject to democratic controls, as these courts just demonstrated and as the media is showing, as citizens are proving. But on the other hand, the CIA was elected by nobody. They’re barely subject to democratic controls at all. And so, to urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity. That is a prescription for destroying democracy overnight in the name of saving it.

-- Greenwald: Empowering the "Deep State" to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracyby DemocracyNow!
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Re: NSC head Flynn was brought down by the very spying machi

Postby admin » Sat Feb 18, 2017 11:03 pm

Greenwald: Democrats Seem to Consider Snowden's & Manning's Leaks Evil & Leaks Under Trump Heroic
by DemocracyNow!
February 16, 2017

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Over four years ago, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that he or other NSA analysts could spy on anyone, even the U.S. president. "I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge, to even the president, if I had a personal email," Snowden said in an interview with Glenn Greenwald in Hong Kong. We talk to Greenwald about the difference between how Washington reacted to Snowden’s leaks and today’s leaks about Gen. Michael Flynn.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Glenn, I want to turn to something NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said to you nearly three years ago, when he first spoke out against NSA abuses.

EDWARD SNOWDEN: Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector anywhere. Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that that analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything. But I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge, to even the president, if I had a personal email.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Glenn, can you talk about that and the response that was received to the leaks of Edward Snowden compared to now, the leaks of intelligence officials now?

GLENN GREENWALD: So, on the question of the eavesdropping powers of the NSA as revealed by the intercepts of General Flynn’s communications, we don’t actually know for certain what the methodology was that was used to eavesdrop on him. Was the NSA legally, pursuant to a FISA warrant, targeting General Flynn as part of an investigation, either an intelligence investigation or a law enforcement investigation, conducted by the FBI? Were they, as they claim, only doing routine surveillance on officials of an adversary country—in this case, Russia—and just coincidentally and by accident happened to catch the conversation that General Flynn was having with those targets of the surveillance in Moscow? We don’t know.

But what this does illustrate is—let’s assume for the moment that the NSA and the CIA for once are actually telling the truth and that the way that they eavesdropped on General Flynn was not by targeting him, but by targeting the Russians with whom he was communicating. What this reveals is something very important, which is, when the Edward Snowden story first broke and the debate around the world was triggered, the U.S. government kept saying over and over, "If you’re an American citizen, we can’t listen in on your calls unless we first get a warrant from the court, and therefore there’s nothing you have to worry about." Now, that was a very warped sort of thing to say, because that meant that for 95 percent of the world who are called non-Americans, what the government was saying: "Oh, for you, you have no protections. We can listen in on your calls at any time without getting a judge to approve," which is actually true. And that’s one of the reasons why people all over the world outside of the United States were so horrified to learn of what the NSA was doing. But the broader and more important point is that what the U.S. government was saying was actually completely false. The U.S. government constantly eavesdrops on the telephone calls of American citizens without getting a warrant of any kind, despite what the Constitution requires. And that’s because the law that was enacted in 2008, called the FISA Amendments Act, with President Obama’s approval, with—he was a senator at the time, he voted for it—actually authorizes the U.S. government to listen in on Americans’ calls with no warrant, as long as they’re talking to someone outside of the United States who the government says they’re targeting. And that’s what this episode shows, is they were able to listen in on General Flynn’s calls, if you believe them, with no warrant, because they say that they were targeting someone with whom he was communicating.

As far as the reaction is concerned in terms of how Edward Snowden’s leaks were received versus this leak, it’s like night and day. I have not yet heard, literally, not one Democrat condemn the leakers inside the CIA or the intelligence community who leaked signals intelligence and, in the process, alerted these Russian officials to the fact that their communications have been compromised. That’s what these leaks did. They told these Russian officials with whom General Flynn was communicating, "We have successfully penetrated your communications systems." And you can be sure that they are now, in response, fortifying the communications that they use and blocking out the NSA and CIA. There was probably harm done by whoever did this leak. I haven’t heard one Democrat condemn it on the grounds that it’s criminal. I haven’t heard one Democrat say that there should be an investigation to find these leakers and put them in prison for violating the law. And yet, all I heard from Democrats—not all I heard, because there were a lot of Democrats who supported Manning and Snowden and Drake—but certainly Democratic officials in D.C. were almost unanimous, under Obama, in saying that leaks—leakers should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, that they’re traitors. Chelsea Manning just spent seven years in prison under harsh conditions for leaking information way less sensitive than what these leakers about General Flynn just leaked. And, yes, President Obama commuted her sentence, but only after his administration imprisoned her, under conditions that the U.N. said was basically torture, and kept her in prison for seven years, even though there was no harm demonstrated from anything she leaked. So what Democrats seem to think is, leaks under President Obama, even if they show that high-level officials are lying, as Edward Snowden showed James Clapper was, are evil, are criminal, and the whistleblowers should be thrown in jail; leaks under President Trump, by contrast, are heroic and noble, and we should celebrate the people who are doing it and oppose any effort to hunt them down and investigate them and find them and punish them, as President Trump is vowing to do. The reality is that whistleblowers are a very valuable part of our democracy. They should be cherished and heralded and protected, regardless of which party controls the White House.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Glenn, what about the Republican response? You’ve talked about the Democrat—Democratic Party response, but how did the Republican Party, for the most part, respond to the Snowden leaks versus what’s happened now?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, ironically, the Republican response is actually consistent—consistently heinous, but at least it’s consistent. There were a few Republicans, usually former officeholders or some outliers in the Republican Party, like Rand Paul or Justin Amash, people from the libertarian wing, who were somewhat supportive of the Snowden leaks. But, overall, the Republican establishment was contemptuous of Edward Snowden. In fact, Mike Pompeo, the former Republican congressman who is now Donald Trump’s chief at the CIA, called for Edward Snowden’s execution. Donald Trump himself called for Edward Snowden’s execution. Lindsey Graham and John McCain and Marco Rubio all called Edward Snowden a traitor. So, in some sense, the Republicans are being consistent, because they’re now saying the same thing, which is that whoever leaked this information ought to be investigated, hunted down and punished to the fullest extent of the law, which is more or less the same thing they said about leakers and whistleblowers under President Obama. It’s the Democrats who have completely switched their position, as they so often do, the minute that the party controlling the White House changed.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion, also talk about what happened at the White House yesterday with the Netanyahu-Trump meeting and so much more. We’re speaking with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, one of the founding editors of The Intercept. His piece in The Intercept, "The Leakers Who Exposed Gen. Flynn’s Lie Committed Serious—and Wholly Justified—Felonies." Stay with us.
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Re: NSC head Flynn was brought down by the very spying machi

Postby admin » Sat Feb 18, 2017 11:04 pm

Greenwald: Empowering the "Deep State" to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy
by DemocracyNow!
February 16, 2017

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Some supporters of Trump, including Breitbart News, have accused the intelligence agencies of attempting to wage a deep state coup against the president. Meanwhile, some critics of Trump are openly embracing such activity. Bill Kristol, the prominent Republican analyst who founded The Weekly Standard, wrote on Twitter, "Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state." We talk about the deep state with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We’re looking at the growing scandal over the Trump administration’s alleged dealings with Russia before and after the November election. In early January, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show and suggested the intelligence community may try to get back at Donald Trump.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So, even for a practical, supposedly, hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, in January.

Some supporters of Trump, including Breitbart News, are now accusing the intelligence agencies of attempting to wage a "deep state coup" against the president. Meanwhile, some critics of Trump are openly embracing such activity, like Bill Kristol, the prominent Republican analyst who founded The Weekly Standard. He wrote on Twitter, "Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state."

So, still with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, speaking to us from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Glenn, explain what the deep state is, and respond.

GLENN GREENWALD: The deep state, although there’s no precise or scientific definition, generally refers to the agencies in Washington that are permanent power factions. They stay and exercise power even as presidents who are elected come and go. They typically exercise their power in secret, in the dark, and so they’re barely subject to democratic accountability, if they’re subject to it at all. It’s agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world’s worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads. This is who not just people like Bill Kristol, but lots of Democrats are placing their faith in, are trying to empower, are cheering for as they exert power separate and apart from—in fact, in opposition to—the political officials to whom they’re supposed to be subordinate.

And you go—this is not just about Russia. You go all the way back to the campaign, and what you saw was that leading members of the intelligence community, including Mike Morell, who was the acting CIA chief under President Obama, and Michael Hayden, who ran both the CIA and the NSA under George W. Bush, were very outspoken supporters of Hillary Clinton. In fact, Michael Morell went to The New York Times, and Michael Hayden went to The Washington Post, during the campaign to praise Hillary Clinton and to say that Donald Trump had become a recruit of Russia. The CIA and the intelligence community were vehemently in support of Clinton and vehemently opposed to Trump, from the beginning. And the reason was, was because they liked Hillary Clinton’s policies better than they liked Donald Trump’s. One of the main priorities of the CIA for the last five years has been a proxy war in Syria, designed to achieve regime change with the Assad regime. Hillary Clinton was not only for that, she was critical of Obama for not allowing it to go further, and wanted to impose a no-fly zone in Syria and confront the Russians. Donald Trump took exactly the opposite view. He said we shouldn’t care who rules Syria; we should allow the Russians, and even help the Russians, kill ISIS and al-Qaeda and other people in Syria. So, Trump’s agenda that he ran on was completely antithetical to what the CIA wanted. Clinton’s was exactly what the CIA wanted, and so they were behind her. And so, they’ve been trying to undermine Trump for many months throughout the election. And now that he won, they are not just undermining him with leaks, but actively subverting him. There’s claims that they’re withholding information from him, on the grounds that they don’t think he should have it and can be trusted with it. They are empowering themselves to enact policy.


Now, I happen to think that the Trump presidency is extremely dangerous. You just listed off in your news—in your newscast that led the show, many reasons. They want to dismantle the environment. They want to eliminate the safety net. They want to empower billionaires. They want to enact bigoted policies against Muslims and immigrants and so many others. And it is important to resist them. And there are lots of really great ways to resist them, such as getting courts to restrain them, citizen activism and, most important of all, having the Democratic Party engage in self-critique to ask itself how it can be a more effective political force in the United States after it has collapsed on all levels. That isn’t what this resistance is now doing. What they’re doing instead is trying to take maybe the only faction worse than Donald Trump, which is the deep state, the CIA, with its histories of atrocities, and say they ought to almost engage in like a soft coup, where they take the elected president and prevent him from enacting his policies. And I think it is extremely dangerous to do that. Even if you’re somebody who believes that both the CIA and the deep state, on the one hand, and the Trump presidency, on the other, are extremely dangerous, as I do, there’s a huge difference between the two, which is that Trump was democratically elected and is subject to democratic controls, as these courts just demonstrated and as the media is showing, as citizens are proving. But on the other hand, the CIA was elected by nobody. They’re barely subject to democratic controls at all. And so, to urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity. That is a prescription for destroying democracy overnight in the name of saving it. And yet that’s what so many, not just neocons, but the neocons’ allies in the Democratic Party, are now urging and cheering. And it’s incredibly warped and dangerous to watch them do that.

AMY GOODMAN: And The Wall Street Journal's report that says now intelligence officials are not giving President Trump all the information because they're concerned about what he’ll do with it, not to mention intelligence agencies of other countries deeply concerned about what Trump will do with it, and particularly concerned about what he might share with Russia?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, so, first of all, there’s a media issue here, which is that if you look at The Wall Street Journal report, it’s pretty much exactly the same as every other significant report about Russia over the last six months, many of which have proven to be completely false. It’s based on anonymous officials making extremely vague claims. Even The Wall Street Journal says, "We don’t know who’s doing this, withholding information. We don’t know how much information is being withheld."

Secondly, the idea that Donald Trump is some kind of an agent or a spy of Russia, or that he is being blackmailed by Russia and is going to pass secret information to the Kremlin and endanger American agents on purpose, is an incredibly crazy claim that has been nowhere proven to be true. It reminds me of the kind of things Glenn Beck used to say about Obama while he stood at his chalkboard and drew those—those unstable charts that he drew, these wild conspiracy theories that are without evidence.

We ought to have a serious, sober, structured investigation of the claims that Russia hacked the DNC and John Podesta’s emails and that there were improper ties between Donald Trump and the Russians, and that ought to be made public so that we can see the information. But this constant media obsession of leaking whatever someone whispers to them about Donald Trump and Russia, because they know it will get their reporters huge numbers of retweets on Twitter and tons of traffic by people who are being fed what they want to hear, is really feeding into the worst kind of hysteria and even fake news that the media says they’re trying to combat. These are really serious claims that merit serious investigation, and that’s exactly what we’re not getting.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, in a recent piece in The Intercept by one of your colleagues, they write, "If in fact all of this is 'non-sense,' Trump has the power as president to make that clear immediately—by declassifying all government intercepts of communications between Russian nationals and anyone in his orbit." So, do you think, Glenn, that Trump ought to be doing that?

GLENN GREENWALD: I mean, it’s an interesting point, because, for example, there have been lots of claims made about the communications that General Flynn had with Russian diplomats and what these transcripts supposedly reflect, and yet nobody has seen the transcripts. We’ve seen little bits and pieces of them. We haven’t seen the whole transcript. We ought to see that whole transcript. And my colleague, Jon Schwarz, who wrote that piece, is absolutely right that it’s within President Trump’s power to order it instantly declassified. There’s no review of that decision, and then it could be made public.

On the other hand, it is really bizarre, just as a reporter who has been in the middle of a controversy for the last four years about the leaking of classified information, to hear people suggest that the president now ought to take the most sensitive intercepts that the government is capable of obtaining, which is how they eavesdrop on Russian officials inside the Kremlin, and just toss them to the public like there’s no problem at all with doing that. I think that what you’re seeing here is this really disturbing double standard, that all we’ve heard since the war on terror is that classified information is sacred and anybody who leaks it is treasonous and satanic and belongs in jail for a really long time, and now classified information seems to be something that’s just a plaything, like something that we just toss around for fun if it serves a certain agenda. And I think that that’s one of the issues that’s bothering me about the way this discourse is unfolding.

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn, we’re going to break, then come back and ask you about the Trump-Netanyahu news conference yesterday. We’re also going to want to talk about Yemen and the news that the Pentagon is considering U.S. ground troops in Syria. This is Democracy Now! We’re talking to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. Stay with us.
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Re: NSC head Flynn was brought down by the very spying machi

Postby admin » Sat Feb 18, 2017 11:55 pm

Flynn's Calls With Russia's Ambassador: Who Knew What, and When? A timeline of the events that led to the national-security adviser’s resignation
by Krishnadev Calamur
February 14, 2017

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Mike Flynn resigned Monday as President Trump’s national-security adviser, capping a tumultuous few weeks that began with revelations he had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., before Trump’s inauguration on January 20.

The nature of the conversations, what Flynn told Vice President Mike Pence and others who denied sanctions were discussed, and a steady trickle of leaks to the news media on the matter ultimately became too much of a distraction for the administration, prompting Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, to reportedly ask for—and receive—Flynn’s resignation. But Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, said Tuesday it was Trump who sought—and received—Flynn’s resignation because the “level of trust had eroded to a point” Trump had to act.

But who exactly knew what about Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak and when? Here’s a timeline of what’s been publicly reported:

November 8, 2016: Donald Trump is elected the 45th president of the United States. Flynn, a former Army general who was an early and ardent supporter of the Republican nominee, is expected to get a senior position in the Trump White House.

November 18: Trump names Flynn as his national-security adviser.

December 29: President Obama announced measures, including sanctions, on Russia for its interference in the U.S. election. The sanctions are in addition to those imposed on Moscow following its invasion in 2014 of Ukraine’s Crimea region. Flynn and Kislyak speak that day, The Washington Post reports, citing a Trump transition official. The official says sanctions weren’t discussed. Additionally, CNN reports the Russian ambassador texted Flynn on December 28.

December 30: Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow will not retaliate. The Post says that prompted U.S. intelligence analysts to look for reasons why Putin declined to impose his own measures against the U.S. They found, the newspaper reported, Kislyak’s communications, including the phone call, with Flynn. Sally Yates, then the deputy attorney general, found Flynn’s comments in the call “highly significant,” the Post reported.

January 12: David Ignatius, the Post columnist, wrote that Flynn and Kislyak spoke several times on December 29, the day the sanctions were announced. “What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?” Ignatius wrote. He added a Trump transition official told him the calls, which occurred before the U.S. sanctions were announced, did not cover that topic. Ignatius added:

This official later added that Flynn’s initial call was to express condolences to Kislyak after the terrorist killing of the Russian ambassador to Ankara Dec. 19, and that Flynn made a second call Dec. 28 to express condolences for the shoot-down of a Russian plane carrying a choir to Syria. In that second call, Flynn also discussed plans for a Trump-Putin conversation sometime after the inauguration. In addition, a second Trump official said the Dec. 28 call included an invitation from Kislyak for a Trump administration official to visit Kazakhstan for a conference in late January.


January 13: Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, told reporters in a conference call that Flynn and Kislyak only discussed a post-inauguration call between Trump and Putin. “That was it, plain and simple,” he said.

January 15: Pence, on CBS’s Face the Nation, said Flynn “did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”

January 19: Yates, the deputy attorney general, and senior intelligence officials debated what to do with the information they had on Flynn. The Post reported that FBI Director James Comey argued against notifying Trump administration officials of the communications.

January 20: Trump was inaugurated; Flynn officially became national-security adviser.

January 23: Spicer told reporters he spoke with Flynn about the issue the previous night (January 22). He said Flynn and the Russian envoy spoke once. They discussed, he said, the Russian plane crash, the Syrian civil war, Christmas, and a call between their two leaders. Yates raised the issue again with Comey, who the Post said dropped his initial opposition to briefing the administration.

January 26: Yates briefed Donald McGahn, the White House counsel, about the conversation, Spicer said Tuesday. (The FBI interviewed Flynn immediately prior to this briefing, the Times reported Tuesday, but it’s unclear what date that interview occurred. The Times added the bureau believes Flynn wasn’t completely forthcoming during the interview.) The Post reported earlier Tuesday that Yates told McGahn that Flynn had misled Pence and others about the content of his conversations with Kislyak. Flynn, Yates reportedly said, was consequently vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Spicer said McGahn immediately briefed Trump and other senior officials. Trump ordered McGahn to look into whether there was a legal issue, Spicer said. After several days, Spicer said, McGahn concluded there was none. Spicer said the nature of the conversation between Flynn and the Russian envoy was not unusual, but “the president [then] evaluated the trust issue” and concluded there had been an erosion of trust. Explaining the time difference between the time Trump was briefed and the time Flynn resigned, Spicer said he didn’t understand how that was “due process.” Yates, he said, “didn’t come in and say there was an issue. She said, ‘Wanted to give you a heads-up there may be information.’ She could not confirm there was an investigation.”

February 7 and 8: Flynn told the Post he did not discuss the sanctions with Kislyak. A day later, his spokesman told the Post the national security adviser “couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”

February 9: NBC News reported Tuesday Pence was only informed of the Justice Department’s warning about Flynn 15 days after Trump and others were told.

February 10: An unnamed Trump administration official told the Post Pence either misspoke or was misled by Flynn. Further, The New York Times reported that transcripts existed of the conversation. While the alleged content of the conversations was a likely breach of protocol during a presidential transition—and could be a breach of the law—it’s unlikely to lead to any charges against Flynn.

February 11 and 12: When asked about it en route to Mar-a-Lago, Trump replied he was unaware of the controversy. Spicer said Trump was referring only to the Post’s article on the conversation. Here’s the exchange that took place:

Question: Mr. Trump, what do you think of reports -- sorry, Mr. President, what do you make of reports that General Flynn had conversations with the Russians about sanctions before you were sworn in?

Trump: I don't know about it. I haven't seen it. What report is that?

Question: There are a number of reports. The Washington Post is reporting that he talked to the ambassador to Russia before you were inaugurated about sanctions ...

Trump: I haven't seen that. I'll look at that.


Dan Merica ✔ @danmericaCNN
Here is Trump's Air Force One exchange where POTUS says he didn't know about reports re: Flynn and Russian sanctions. (h/t @gregorywallace)
11:45 AM - 14 Feb 2017


Still, Flynn went to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida retreat, with the president and the Japanese prime minister. He appeared to enjoy Trump’s confidence, and even huddled with the president when news broke of North Korea’s missile launch. Still, there was no public word from Trump over the reports about his national-security adviser.

February 13: Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s counselor, said on MSNBC Flynn enjoyed the president’s confidence. Hours later, Flynn resigned.

February 14: Conway said it was Flynn’s decision to resign; Spicer said Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation.
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