Let’s be clear about how and why former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn was ousted from his post: a cabal of current and former members of the “intelligence community,” fanatically opposed to Donald Trump’s stated desire to “get along with the Russians,” leaked the top secret transcript of Flynn’s conversation with Russian ambassador Sergay Kislyak. Although we don’t yet know exactly what transpired – as of this writing, BuzzFeed hasn’t gotten their hot little hands on the transcript – there was apparently some discussion of lifting sanctions on Russia, which is something the cabal and its collaborators in Congress and the media are determined to prevent at all costs.
Flynn was in the crosshairs of the War Party because he’s the most prominent of those around Trump who advocated for détente with Russia. Also, his somewhat loopy belief that Islam, per se, is a pernicious political ideology rather than a religion, made him a natural enemy of the pro-Saudi faction within the intelligence community, which had long worked with Riyadh to, among other things, overthrow the government of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad.
Flynn’s alleged “crime” – supposedly lying to Vice President Pence about the content of the call – wasn’t a crime at all: James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, blatantly lied under oath to Congress and yet kept his position. What this non-scandal is all about is an attempt to criminalize the view that we have no real quarrel with Russia, that our common interests override any bumps along the road to détente. If you don’t go along with a new cold war with Russia then, ipso facto, you’re a “Russian agent” who needs to be investigated. This is what the neocon-liberal alliance is now pushing, and the first victim of this hate campaign is Flynn. He won’t be the last.
Democrats are now calling for an investigation into Flynn’s “Russia links,” in typical McCarthyite fashion, but what’s really called for is an investigation into the media’s links to the “intelligence community” – which leaked the transcript of Trump’s conversations with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mexican President Enrique Nieto as well as the transcript of Flynn’s conversation with the Russian ambassador. As Trump tweeted this [Tuesday] morning:
“The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N. Korea etc.?”
These leaks are clearly illegal: plenty of civilians have been prosecuted and jailed for much less. But legality is not something that worries the CIA and the national security bureaucracy, because they’re above the law. And you don’t bother with legality when you’re engaged in an attempted coup.
The Flynn resignation is just the beginning. As one Politico writer put it, it won’t stop there. They’ll move on to new targets, and they won’t rest until they’ve bagged their real target: the President of the United States
Hillary Clinton’s main campaign theme – that Trump is essentially a Russian agent, a kind of Manchurian candidate – is being given new life by this latest non-scandal. The anti-Trumpers in the GOP are now uniting with the Democrats in calling for an “investigation,” i.e. a fishing expedition, into Flynn’s “links” to the Kremlin. All that’s missing from this scenario is Sen. Joe McCarthy demanding to know “Are you or have you ever been …?”
While our deranged “liberals” are screaming that we mustn’t “normalize” Trump, the real danger is that we’re normalizing the illegal and unethical methods of his most determined – and powerful – opponents. Until and unless the Trump administration acts quickly and decisively to rid the nation of out-of-control intelligence agencies that are aggressively intervening in our domestic politics, we will soon resemble one of those Third World nations where coups are routine.
It looks to me like the White House is wired and that the nation’s law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are treating administration officials as if they were ISIS jihadis. It’s an outrage, and what’s even more outrageous is that ostensible “liberals” are cheering the political police.
And so it is left to the unlikeliest people, such as Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California), who chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to lead the pushback:
“I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer. The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.”
He added: “Where are all the privacy groups screaming now?”
Eli Lake, a journalist I rarely agree with, put it well:
“Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.”
If this keeps up, that’s just where we’re headed.
Since when does law enforcement reveal the content of intercepts to the media? These are some of the most jealously guarded secrets held by intelligence officials, and yet now they’re being spread far and wide in the interests of a Deep State clique that has a political agenda of its own.
By sacrificing Flynn on the altar of political expediency, and caving in to our out-of-control spooks, Donald Trump has just answered the question posed above with a resounding yes.
What he’ll discover, however, is that this kind of expediency is bound to backfire. His enemies, instead of being appeased, will be emboldened. As Lake writes:
“In the end, it was Trump’s decision to cut Flynn loose. In doing this he caved in to his political and bureaucratic opposition. Nunes told me Monday night that this will not end well. ‘First it’s Flynn, next it will be Kellyanne Conway, then it will be Steve Bannon, then it will be Reince Priebus,’ he said. Put another way, Flynn is only the appetizer. Trump is the entree.”
This isn’t about Mike Flynn. It isn’t even about Trump. It’s about the future of our republic. Will we allow rogue national security officials to run rampant and utilize police state methods to advance their policy goals? If the answer is yes, then we’re doomed.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.