FIRST BLOOD; MIKE FLYNN

February 16, 2017

“…never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” – John Donne

Trump haters have drawn first blood. Michael Flynn was the first casualty. General Flynn could come back into the fold at some later date. Exile, followed by reprieve might be something Donald Trump would do.

Alas, for the moment, the President doesn’t look like he can take a punch. The entire “sanctions” kerfuffle, conversations with the Russian ambassador, is inside baseball stuff.  Nobody cares much about sanctions, Beltway candor or character anyway.

If every lawyer/politician in DC was fired for mendacity, Washington would be a ghost town.

Flynn was outed by a rabid press corps with a seditious agenda. Trump has been blooded. Sadly, Trump didn’t cut his losses. Like the man he replaced, the President simply folded like a cheap tent.

Adding insult to injury, Flynn, like Steve Bannon, is probably anathema to every Obama era hack hired by Trump to date. The establishment has no taste for parvenus.

Mike Flynn, of course, had his share of baggage, but if the truth be told, he was low hanging fruit, an exposed position that the new Commander-in-Chief chose not to defend. The tone is set at the top.

You can fib to anyone in D.C., but the home office. Being called to account for candor by the Washington Post or CNN is a little like getting a chastity pitch from one of Marion Barry’s hookers.

The so called “trust” issue is a hoot too. No soldier was more loyal to Trump in 2016. Indeed, Flynn was one of a precious few prominent Intelligence officials or flag officers, active or retired, to make Trump possible.

Fibbing is a venial sin. Support for Donald Trump is literally a mortal sin.

Flynn knows that the real threat isn’t Russia. Flynn knows that Islamism is the real danger. Flynn knows that Israel is our only reliable ally in a very nasty neighborhood. Flynn knows where the bodies are buried in a bloated and hostile US national security establishment, DOD and the Intelligence Community in particular.

Flynn knows too that the national security community has unsheathed the long knives. Leaked intelligence is a two way street. Oddly enough, Trump doesn’t seem to realize that he too, like Flynn, is on the regime change hit list after just a few weeks in office.

Political pathology at Intelligence agencies like CIA is not confined to domestic machinations.

Shortly after his anointment, Mike Pompeo rushed off to Saudi Arabia to give Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, an award for “counter terrorism.”  Ironically, the award is named after former CIA director George Tennent who you may recall was the author of the fake intelligence that underwrote two fake wars in Iraq.

If CIA can honor the ideological authors of 9/11 with a medal, the revised edition of Mein Kampf should be in the mix for a 2017 Pulitzer Prize.

Clinton, Bush, and Obama have had a quarter century to pack Washington sinecures with like-minded drones. Politically correct, largely liberal, District of Columbia zombies and media partisans will not go quietly into the night.

To such, Flynn was as dangerous as he was expendable. Indeed, the general is now an ugly precedent too, a loyal chump hung out to dry by Trump era Intelligence leakers.

Adding insult to bizarre injury, we now hear that David Petraeus is a candidate to replace Flynn. You might recall that Petraeus was the Obama flag who had a yen for bimbo subordinates. Before that, he was the intellectual godfather of three decades of losing strategy in the Ummah. Petraeus still believes that the global Muslim jihad is a basket of unrelated local insurgencies.

If any name says more of the same, it is General David Petraeus.

Back on team Trump, Steve Bannon is probably next on the hit list. If the new President is naive enough to expect a partisan CIA or FBI to be honest brokers in any leak investigations, he needs to go back to selling condos.

By any measure Donald Trump is an odd duck; not a lawyer, not a politician, and, apparently, not very savvy about the flora and fauna that breeds in the Washington swamp.

The General Flynn fiasco was never about Putin, Russians, sanctions, trust, or candor. The Flynn hit is merely the specter of Trump’s future.

Flynn, like Trump, was in the crosshairs from the very beginning because neither one of them wears a fuchsia pantsuit. The President won a hard election and now loses an easy round one to seditious Beltway louts who know how to hit below the belt. Hard to believe that even a novice CEO can be that naïve.

If any moron at NSA or CIA can drop a dime to the Washington Post and get someone fired, team Trump is in for a thrashing.

Looming hazards to Trump are not so much his rubber knees or glass jaw as it is his future as a populist. The people are a fickle bunch. Early events suggest that Trump might not have anybody’s back but his own.

If loyalty is not a two-way street, then all bets on Donald Trump, or real change in the nation’s capital, are off

*

For a more detailed analysis of the Flynn affair see Eli Hunt at https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-02-14/the-political-assassination-of-michael-flynn

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A TALE OF TWO COUPS

January 27, 2017

Moscow 1991 and Washington 2017

The other day I received an email from a schoolgirl in Moscow; New Year’s salutations, thanks for a gift, and a request that read:

“Get your troops out of Poland; love, your Russky niece.”

I laughed about her presumption about my influence on US troop movements. At the same time, I couldn’t help but think of her mother, Tatyana Arkadyevna Malkina, “the girlfriend of Russian democracy.” Apparently, true grit is genetic, that rare courage of a few to speak truth to power.

Malkina was the sole journalist who, at age 24, had the courage to defy the Kremlin establishment, recidivist coup plotters who would have undone the Russian elections, that “revolution without guns” in 1991; those Gorbachev, then Yeltsin, reforms. The ancien regime, totalitarian Communists, were humiliated by a girl who had the courage to face down the old guard and ask:  “Could you please say whether or not you understand that last night you carried out a coup d’etat?”

Faced with an accusation of sedition and treason, the coup plotters slunk back into the dustbin of history. The long dark night of totalitarian Communism was over in Russia.

Since 1991, Tanya Malkina pursued a distinguished career in Russian arts and letters, reporting on social issues, editing a culture magazine, and hosting a thoughtful TV weekly.

Tanya later married an American. She now has two children, two cats, and a vintage tortoise. Although Malkina was once a fixture of the Yeltsin, then Putin, press entourage; she has never been a knee-jerk echo of Kremlin cant nor any party line.

Hot flashes of deja vu

The events of 1991 and Malkina’s brass got me to thinking about American coup plotting in Washington circa 2016; the efforts of Beltway establishment totalitarians to cook the primaries, undo an election, and discredit a new president; all under a smoke screen of dissent and fake news.

The parallels between Moscow in 1991 and Washington in 2016 are a tale of two coups, the first a clear failure and the latter still playing out.

Alas, the Trump revolution has no “girl friend of American democracy.” Not yet anyway.

The feminist American left now whines and protests in Washington, captive to a bimbo’s tantrum over a flawed heroine who lost badly in November. Sexist hysteria, hypocrisy, childish pique, misandry, and sour grapes are now regularly conflated with principled dissent. Geriatric Hollywood matrons like Madonna Ciccone say they are thinking about “blowing up the White House.”

Secret Service supervisor Kerry O’Grady says that she will “not take a bullet” for President Trump. Apparently no one at CIA and the Secret Service has heard of the Hatch Act.

Hysteria indeed! American feminists have few adult profiles in courage like Malkina today.

And the CIA, unlike the late KGB, also stages public rebukes to the new POTUS and erstwhile notions of American democracy. For good or ill, Russian intelligence operatives at home, unlike their American counterparts, seem to be under civilian control.

Ironically, some of the best political analysis on these matters comes out of the Kremlin these days. Sergei Lavrov, contrasted with John Kerry, seems to know the difference between an Islamic terrorist and a freedom fighter. And Vladimir Putin is perceptive enough to observe that Obama’s political party, and an American press corps that calls itself “democratic,” is giving democracy a bad name.

And when Obama’s intelligence sycophants are called out by Donald Trump for partisanship during the recent primaries and the election, CIA Director John Brennan plays the victim, openly attacking the president-elect before and after the inauguration. Prior to the election, Brennan’s colleagues, James Clapper (DCI), Michael Morrel (CIA), and Michael Hayden (NSA) were all on the hustings for Hillary Clinton right up to her November defeat.

Clearly, CIA is signaling the 15 other intelligence satraps, that the “dump Trump” campaign should continue into 2017. Brennan has cooked the books on the Islamic threat for eight years. Small wonder that he seeks to torpedo the realpolitik of Mike Flynn and Donald Trump.

CIA partisans, unlike Caesar’s wife, are not above reproach.

Washington, DC voted for Clinton in November by wide margins. A demographic of hostile federal apparatchiks, including intelligence officers and FBI agents, are digging in as Donald Trump takes office.

Beltway national security nabobs, inveterate regime change aficionados, are now on the wrong side of world history. With any luck, the coup plotters are also on the wrong side of Donald Trump – and in the crosshairs.

If the president intends to drain the swamp, he could do worse than start with sedition in the intelligence community and the Justice Department. The first great political struggle of 2017 may be with a partisan, DC based 5th column inside the Beltway.

The loser’s revolt is not confined to the intelligence community. State Department and Department of Defense fixers have done their level best to paint Trump into a corner at the UN and in Eastern Europe. That UN vote against Israel and those 11th hour tank deployments to Poland come to mind.

I do not have an answer for Malkina’s daughter, Agatha in Moscow, or her prescient observation about the stupidity of US tanks in Poland. Was it my choice to make, I would send troops to Chicago, Illinois or Langley, Virginia sooner than send them to the Russian frontier.

After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, John Kennedy is alleged to have expressed a desire to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces.” After Kennedy was assassinated, such sentiments were seconded by Harry Truman. Indeed, Truman expressed profound regret about the rogue agency he had created. The Truman warning, like later Eisenhower cautions, were early symptoms of national “security” corruption, clandestine cowboys, and regime change fiascos.

The Chicago threat is existential, especially to black Americans. Pervasive sedition in the American intelligence community may be existential too, especially to democracy in America.  The Russian threat, at best, is a ploy to ignore the Islamist threat; Putin, on his worst day, is a US DOD budget emolument.

Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Truman must be rolling in their graves today. Trump haters, coup vultures, have come home to roost inside the Beltway.

As new American policy unfolds in 2017, let’s hope that Trump has adults calling domestic and foreign policy shots. Withal, we might hope that America finds its own girlfriend of democracy too.

Sooner is better.

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The “girlfriend of Russian democracy,” circa 1991, can be seen in action at:

http://www.politforums.net/eng/other/1375981611_0.html

 

Tags: Donald trump, CIA, Intelligence Community, coup plots, Hatch Act, Secret Service, Madonna Ciccone,

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fake News & Fake Intelligence

December 24, 2016

Fact and belief are often very different things. With fact, a thing is or it is not, a fairly simple binary calculation. An assertion might be a fact and at the same time not necessarily true. Belief is an amphibian, a sinister specter, often festooned with weeds and barnacles. Indeed, beliefs are scientific, seasonal, ethnic, sexual, political, theological, philosophical, and historical; just to name a few of the veritable infinity of adjectival consorts.

Truth is, as artists well know, part tart and part goddess, ephemera often bought and sold if the price is right. Indeed, she’s more than a bit of an oxymoron too, emphasis on the last two syllables.

The gap between fact and fiction might be narrowed by time, but history and conventional wisdom are selective too, frequently a world apart from reality. The conventional wisdom is often neither true nor wise.

Most arbiters of truth or reality are self-anointed.

Mark Zuckerberg is a modern example, the poster child for millennial vacuity and the nerd generation. The CEO of Facebook, infant terrible of herd exploitation, is about to appoint a posse of thought police to monitor and censor “fake news” on internet.

If you are devotee of Facebook news, you might have the civic awareness and attention span of a gerbil. Still, Zuckerberg is a good modern example of how digital wealth gets confused with maturity or wisdom.

Having Zuckerberg, or any cyber cohort, as a digital news cop is a little like appointing Bill Clinton as scoutmaster for a Girl Scout troop. Clinton and Zuckerberg are indeed soulmates. Just as Clinton uses political position for personal gain and exploitive sex, Zuckerberg exploits and monetizes personal data – and in turn uses gullible adolescents of all ages.

In this respect, Facebook is no different than Nielsen, the   National Security Agency, or the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). All three are accomplished data miners, albeit for different ends. Truth or verifiable fact in those venues, if anything, is probably an afterthought.

Nielsen Creates Truth

Nielsen Holdings PLC is a global data mining corporation that has been in business since 1923. Its signature survey is in-home monitoring of television viewing habits. TV content, programming, and advertising dollars are a of function of Nielsen ratings and statistics.

Well north of eighty percent all domestic purchasing decisions are made by American women who watch television or use TV as a surrogate for child care.

Nielsen is in the business of both monitoring and creating truth in the American marketplace.  All so-called “Nielsen families” are aggressively recruited “volunteers,” a demographic that has been led to believe that their household habits and tastes might be typical – or trend setters.

The Nielsen monitoring pitch appeals to a passive, vain feminine demographic, all of whom volunteer, with incentives, to provide Luxemburg corporate snoops with a veritable gold mine of personal and family behavioral data. Nielsen data is ubiquitous in entertainment, politics, marketing, advertising, retail, and manufacturing.

How volunteer victims, monitored electronically, became a “typical” demographic is a question seldom asked or answered by statisticians. More to the point, the personal is not just political, as Ms. Hamish likes to say, but monitoring female behavior in American homes and numb nut behavior on the Internet is also very lucrative for admen and madmen alike. The emphasis here again is on the second syllable. Hype is still a boys club.

Think of all the fake news embedded in daily the drumbeat of advertising and the daily orgy of vacuous TV News and amusements. Calling TV content “art” is a little like calling Hip Hop and Rap music.

You can hardly scratch the surface of the daytime digital wasteland. Fake news and vulgar memes are created daily on an industrial scale with the assistance of data conglomerates like Nielsen and now internet social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Data isn’t truth either.  Most truth is too painful. The data mining and communication industries cook the books and clueless demographics every day of the week. Fake news today is just another part of the mindless media mix.

The Intelligence Community and “Meta Data”

The federal government and the Intelligence Community are Johnny-come-latelies to data mining on an industrial scale. You would have thought that someone in those 16 federal Intelligence agencies would have noticed those Nielsen families, those Orwellian patriots who volunteer year after year to have their homes and habits monitored.

Wiretap warrants are not required for passive volunteers.

Nielsen and NSA are similar to the extent that they both monitor behavior to recognize and exploit patterns. Industry does it for profit while government does it in the name of security. Both offer no assurances for privacy other than “trust us.”

Nielsen is different from NSA to the extent that commercially profiled demographics get feedback in the form of advertisements and content.

If you believe in permanent erections, believe face cream will make you beautiful, believe a diet will make you a size 2, and believe Bart Simpson or the Kardashians are solid role models for your kids; then you should thank every Nielsen family that you know.

Nielsen creates statistical truth and television remixes those numbers into American culture, such that it is.

Ironically, while consumers seem to trust Nielsen implicitly, citizens have a very different take on Big Brother and the federal Intelligence Community. Trust in God is a much better bet these days than trust in Charlie Rose, Martin Baron, Arthur Sulzberger, or James Clapper.

DCI Clapper likes to call terrorists “nefarious characters.” Household snooping is “meta-data,” an attempt to put lipstick on the state surveillance pig.

Peeping Toms and fake news makers are brothers by the same mother.

The 2016 primaries, the election, and the run up to the Electoral College are all examples of fake news gone awry; all characterized by near universal media and Intelligence ridicule and contempt for the Republican candidate. Pundits and polls were unanimous in predicting that Donald Trump should lose by a landslide. The vast majority of the gainsaying and polling “data” turned out to be wrong.

Hard to believe that what passed for reporting and analysis in 2016 wasn’t a political flash mob, engineered “fake news” on an epic scale.

For American journalists, 1984 seems to be the future.

Adding insult to injury, Clinton Inc., the American media, the Intelligence Community, and team Obama now double-down, claiming that Russian meddling was the reason for the Clinton defeat.  Adolescent pique and lame excuses seem to be the exit strategy for James Clapper and a flailing, if not failing, Barack Obama.

Former Director of CIA, Michael Morell, Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi cut-out, appeared on public television no fewer than ten times to vilify the Republican candidate. The former director of NSA and DCI, James Clapper, played similar roles in the campaign season. Clapper resigned after Trump won, but the demonization of Trump and the Russians continues unabated.

The Russians Are Not Coming

Russians are now sucked into the tawdry post-election recriminations inside the Beltway. Washington political, academic, and media elites, right and left, bereft of any adult capability for reflection, are desperately seeking excuses for failure. Russians in general and Vladimir Putin in particular are convenient scapegoats.

Fake news threads associated with the DNC email leak are probably designed to do three things: divert attention from the Hillary nomination fixers, cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Trump win, and queer the prospects of improving relations with Russia.

Putin’s mortal sin seems to be that he thinks that Trump will be a better Commander-in-Chief than Obama or Clinton. Such a claim is not much of a stretch, yet still heresy to the American left and social globalists everywhere.

Putin’s venial sins are legend also. Two stand out.

After the Beslan massacre, the Russian 9/11, the FSB went after Chechen terrorists with a vengeance. In less than two years, Shamil Baseyev was cornered and executed on the crapper, literally in a porta-potty. Only one of Basayev’s colleagues lived long enough to get life in prison. Nobody calls Chechen Islamists “freedom fighters” any more.

Osama bin Laden was at large for ten years before Uncle Sam brought him to justice. Al Qaeda and ISIS are still in business.

Another Putin sin is Syria. NATO has been mucking in the Levant for decades now, five times as long as it took to win WWII on two fronts. In the last couple of years, Russia did more to defeat terror in the Levant than Brussels and Washington have done in 30 years.

Aleppo and Syria are not Benghazi and Libya redux. Thanks to the Kremlin.

The fake news campaign against Russia and Trump persists nevertheless, a tactic pregnant with domestic and foreign policy blowback. Fake news and fake Intelligence are now fast friends. If 16 Intelligence agencies cannot deny hackers or interference, what does that say about the competence, or impartiality, of Clapper’s legions?

Partisans at NSA and CIA might be the best things to happen to Chekist spies since fur hats and vodka.

Withal, Russia is a better ally to Syria than the US ever will be to the Kurds. For good or ill, the Russian president can make a decision, act, and stand by allies long enough to succeed.

Putin seems to be an effective action hero who swings a big stick whilst critics like Barack Obama, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and the Clintons seem to be a cabal of vindictive losers, fey wannabees who suffer from terminal political penis envy.

The real threat to the integrity of the American political system is a mirror. Sadly, political reflection, right and left, apparently died with Pat Moynihan.

Media hostility to a reform minded presidential candidate is predictable, given the social globalist cast of American journalism. However, the open hostility of Intelligence Community leaders to an incoming president is unprecedented and seditious in ways that should be obvious by now. American Intelligence is too big and, arguably, now out of control.

If America continues to tolerate partisans on the taxpayer dime, especially in the Intelligence Community; “crooked” Washington will surely breed more of them.


Previously published at American Thinker

Tags: James Clapper, Vladimir Putin, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, DNI, CIA, NSA, FSB, and US Intelligence Community

Images:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bd/Pietro_Liberi_-_Time_Being_Overcome_by_Truth_-_WGA12980.jpg/800px-Pietro_Liberi_-_Time_Being_Overcome_by_Truth_-_WGA12980.jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b7/FSB.svg/150px-FSB.svg.png

 


See Something Say Something (about Benghazi)

January 23, 2016

Clandestine Intelligence agents meet with the press for one of three reasons: to betray, to leak in support of policy, or spin the narrative when policy fails. Hard to know what was in play the other day when the former CIA Benghazi station chief, cover name “Bob,” met with two Washington Post reporters, Adam Goldman and Greg Miller. When an administration yarn needs to be spun on the front page, there’s no better venue than the Washington Post.

For the record, the stated purpose of CIA meeting with the Post was to deny the Hollywood version of the Libya fiasco, a 15 February release called 13 Hours, the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Michael Bay, director. It is possible also, in fairness, to imagine that John Brennan’s CIA is slipstreaming with the Post and Mrs. Bill Clinton as she approaches her own trial by fire in the 2016 presidential primaries.

The Bay film was based on a book written by four GRS contract soldiers who served under euphemist Bob at the CIA Annex in Benghazi. The former special ops warriors said that CIA choked, Bob ordered a “stand down,” when Ambassador Chris Steven’s residence came under fire. CIA denied this to Post reporters. With Clintonian hair splitting, the agency may be correct,

There were not one, but two stand-down orders, maybe three. The first delayed the GRS team from rescuing the ambassador. A second probably came from a national authority, yet to be disclosed, that prevented American air or ground reinforcements from reaching the CIA Annex when it subsequently came under fire after the residence was abandoned.

When the US ambassador and three other dead were recovered, the body bags were extracted from Tripoli on a Libyan aircraft, not a USAF asset. The third stand down was more about humiliation than failure of national leadership.

No rescue for the ambassador, no reinforcements for the besieged CIA Annex, and no dignified removal of the dead and wounded. Brave men and women thrice betrayed by an administration that released the Taliban high command from Guantanamo in exchange for an American slacker now on trial for treason.  The Bowe Bergdahl deal with the Taliban was rationalized by the White House as a statement of American values (sic), “no man left behind”. Team Obama left more than its credibility in Libya.

Who, what, where, when, and why are the traditional elements of both exposition and fiction. Cinema is often a little of both. A filmed version of history is of necessity a distillation if not condensation. Bay’s Benghazi flic, 13 Hours,                       is all of these things and less. The “what, where, and when” are both good and dramatic, the “who and why” are a little limp. We still do not know what Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, James Clapper, or Martin Dempsey were doing while an embassy residence and a CIA “black” facility in Libya were being sacked by Sunni jihadists. Surely the White House, the State Department, the Intelligence Community, and the Department of Defense were monitoring the Benghazi blitz in real time. The command and control principals are not featured or mentioned in Bay’s epic; a curious omission for a film based on “real events.”

The “why” of Benghazi, that large CIA presence at the “Annex,” gets short shrift too. There is one scene where agents purchase some shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles from nefarious characters, but the gun running operation probably had a much broader charter that had little to do with keeping lethal weapons out of the wrong hands. The CIA Annex was very likely moving all manner of Gadhafi era weapons to Iraq and Syria to other Sunni jihadists. Once Muamar Gadhafi had been lynched in Libya, Bashar Assad in Syria was next on the regime change shit list.

Michael Bay may have whiffed on the “who” and “why,” but he hit it out of the park with CIA trade craft, or lack of it. 13 Hours takes deadly aim at the agency practice of buying local Arab or sectarian tribes and then believing that the perfidious will stay bought. Ambassador Stevens was lost because Sunni Arab “allies” cannot be trusted, especially those who must be paid by Americans to defend their own country. CIA paying for “protection” in the Arab world is a little like some John wearing only a smile for protection after he buys a hooker.

The US State Department is apparently tone deaf on both national and personal security. Sending an openly gay ambassador to yet another failed Muslim state has to be some version of assisted suicide. Sexual orientations are no secret these days at Foggy Bottom; however, that culture plays no part in Bay’s film. Posting a gay man to Libya makes about as much sense as sending a petite blond reporter, Lara Logan for example, to cover an Arab Spring riot in Egypt – reckless endangerment  in both cases.

Chris Stevens, as portrayed in 13 Hours, is a weak sister too; at once naïve, another Foggy Bottom naif, a cowering victim, not a guy in charge of anything. We don’t really know how Ambassador Stevens died. Dead or alive, he was dragged out of the ambassador’s residence and through the streets of Benghazi before being recovered by Americans. The Steven’s autopsy is still a state secret, another CYA caveat designed to protect jihadist and Arab reputation – or keep Americans in the dark.

A gay diplomat in an Arab or Muslim country is not a role model; he’s a magnet, if not a target. Blatant homosexuality in most of the Ummah is a crime, indeed often a capital offense. Sending a gay representative to a Muslim country is an insult to Islam and common sense, a slur likely to be repaid with body bags. Well should we wonder why an American cabinet secretary and her staff could not know how Islamists treat homosexuals. It’s as if putting gay employees in harm’s way has become a closet strategy to poke the Prophet in the eye!

The summary execution of Chris Stevens, a career foreign service officer, is not as instructive about Arab and Muslim culture as it is about the kind of arrogance that thrives at Foggy Bottom, the US State Department. In the main, Americans deployed overseas live in a bubble. Ambassadors, for the most part political hacks, often do not speak the language and/or have little experience with diplomacy, culture, or foreign policy.

The same might be said of pampered embassy staffs that often rely on local or imported contractors. Embassy and consulate employees often live in gated, secured, isolated communities where contact with locals is discouraged, limited, or impossible. American embassies, even in free world countries, have special pay allowances, servants, pools, gyms, commissaries, liquor stores, chauffer services, and other perks that replicate or surpass the amenities of a Washington, DC posting. The ugly American is not just a metaphor; it is the reality of most American ambassadors and now an established culture in the Foreign Service.

We might add that the title “ambassador” today is another word for political baksheesh. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump take a candor bow here. If a government post can be bought, so can the appointee. The State Department is one of those American institutions where most of the principals are naive amateurs by design. Chris Stevens discovered the truth about his fey colleagues the hard way.

CIA, NSA, and DIA are embedded in the same bewildered bubbles where State Department vacuity flourishes. The cluelessness of Benghazi “Bob,” is of a piece with the legendary George Cave at the US embassy in Teheran in the 1970s. It’s not just that these guys couldn’t or wouldn’t see what was coming. When “it” got there, they didn’t recognize the threat, suffered indignities gladly – or were more concerned with covering their asses than they were worried about saving the day.

The theocratic coup in Iran was a landmark victory for the Shia jihad and theocracy, just as 9/11 was a benchmark triumph for the Saudi/Sunni jihad. Benghazi is just the Libyan feather in the Islamist keffiyeh. Thanks to regime change folly and blowback, Libya may now fall to ISIS just as Persia fell to the Ayatollahs.

The venality of CIA’s Benghazi station chief is an eerie echo of Barbara Bodine’s arrogance after the USS Cole disaster in Yemen, another jihad triumph. In both cases, US apparatchiks on station didn’t play well with real men carrying real guns. Both Ambassador Bodine, and now agent Benghazi Bob, were more concerned with Muslim sensitivities than they are with American lives. In both cases, Washington deferred to fear, flaccid diplomats, and timid Intel pukes, not real warriors. Foreign policy is not a team sport anymore.

The message to Americans abroad today; for citizen, soldier, and diplomat alike is clear now. Washington does not have your back. You are expendable.

The film 13 Hours gets it exactly right with “Bob,” the CIA apparatchik in Benghazi. Bob is timid by his own admission, he can’t make a timely decision in a crisis, and when things go south, he looks for someone to blame. In the Washington Post piece, CIA has Bob saying that he was waiting for help from Arab “locals.” Hard to believe that CIA has yet to admit that the locals in Benghazi were the problem all along. Muamar Gadhafi used to claim that so-called freedom fighters in Libya were jihadists. Now we know that he was correct. The Benghazi fiasco is just one symptom of chronic national security stupidity about small wars, Islam, jihad, and terror in the Obama era.

The very fact the CIA and State must rely on contractors gets to the heart of bureaucratic darkness. Every contractor attached to every embassy or CIA station abroad must ask the same question every day: “If we contractors are paid to do the heavy lifting, what are all these government slugs getting paid for?”

Withal, those CIA/State “contractors” at Benghazi, all former warriors, were patronized if not abandoned by their government handlers. Now those heroes have come home and returned the contempt in kind – in a book and on film. Two thumbs way up.

Where there is no justice, getting even will have to do. See something, say something, indeed!

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  1. Murphy Donovan, erstwhile military Intelligence officer, writes about the politics of national security. Colonel Donovan is a Vietnam veteran and was an Intelligence director under James Clapper when Clapper ran USAF Intelligence.

Images:

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRxc9KcBhjr-_1uwWZ3rlaHzlwK7L3GhlG_xtyDkInH5wcrWMJm

http://www.globalresearch.ca/obamas-gun-running-operation-weapons-and-support-for-islamic-terrorists-in-syria-and-iraq-the-objective-was-to-create-constructive-chaos-and-redraw-the-map-of-the-middle-east/5450832

Key Words: Washington Post, CIA, GRS, US State Department, Foreign Service, Benghazi, Chris Stevens, Adam Goldman, Greg Miller, Michael Bay, John Brennan, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bodine, 13 Hours, national security, Islamism, and foreign Policy.

 

 


Realism about Realists

January 12, 2016

See: http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/01/08/what-would-a-realist-world-have-looked-like-iraq-syria-iran-obama-bush-clinton/

Not bad, I could agree with all these FP assessments save Israel. There’s no deal to be made with the Palestinians. Fatah and Hamas are extensions of a much larger Muslim problem. Creating another radical Sunni Arab state is not going to do anything for Israel, the Ummah, or the rest of us. Israel’s mistake was not taking a larger part of the traditional Jewish homeland to begin with – including the Temple Mount.

If you want an example of realists today, outside of America, Netanyahu and Putin are the most prominent examples. Aside from real politic deficit, there’s still an invisible elephant in the American mix; zero tolerance for dissent. Kennan couldn’t get a job on State’s PPS today. Indeed, Frank Fukuyama may have been the last original voice at State, as Mike Flynn was the last independent thinker at DOD. Look what happened to him.

The meme on both the Intelligence and policy sides of the national security megaplex is now a political monoculture. You either go along or get gone. Politics has always been an emotional, vice rational discipline. Yet, political venality, both Left and Right, is as bad today as I have ever seen it. A realist today is just another apostate; and as such, like the infidel, an enemy not an ally.


Cooking the Intelligence Books

March 23, 2015

“Love is whatever you can still betray.” – John Le Carre

There was a time that intelligence estimates were cloaked in secrecy. Peer review, such that it was, was limited to a few analysts with security clearances, analysts that were not necessarily substantive experts. The iconic Intelligence report is the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a document that is supposed to represent an Intelligence Community consensus. In practice, a recurring NIE might be dusted off once a year and circulated to up to 17 agencies for “coordination” where “happy” might be changed to “glad.” With the exception of statistics, estimates were seldom changed substantially before being filed away for another year.

Any agency within the IC that might have a factual or analytical disagreement is allowed to take a “footnote” to an NIE which will contain the specifics of any disagreement.

An NIE footnote is as likely to be read as the body of an NIE itself is read. Recurring intelligence reports are read with the same relish as congressional bills are read by congressmen. As long as estimates contain enough threat data to justify departmental budgets, as with domestic spending bills, few politicians care much about analytical effectiveness or any correspondence with the real world. Spending, not truth, reflection or restraint, is the sine qua non of American politics and governance.

The link between Intelligence and defense spending is fairly explicit. The circuit between Intelligence and Intelligence spending is even more direct. With the IC, the folks who define the threat get to write their own meal tickets. Take the Islamist threat since 9/11. Any agency that can work “terror” into their mission statement is likely to enjoy a funding windfall.

Alas, were funding tied to performance, the IC and the DOD might have to have to raise funds like Public Television or the Girl Scouts.

Nonetheless, the national security business has changed in significant ways since the advent of an Intelligence czar in 2004, the so-called Director of National Intelligence. Heretofore, Intelligence estimates were classified. Now big reports also have a redacted version available to the Press. All the while, the specifics of threat might be obfuscated.

Unlike German Nazis, Japanese Imperialists, and Russian Communists of yore, the Arab/Persian/Muslim threat does not have any official cognates where the shooters, bombers, or throat cutters might be named or tied to race, religion, country, or ideology. Words like Arab, Persian, terrorist, Islam, Islamism, Muhammadanism, Islamofascism or the like are prohibited by fiat.

Unlike previous global threats, contemporary Intelligence reports would have you believe that the last fifty years of terror and small wars are without a common thread, without an ideology. Ninety or more nations might be sending religiously motivated jihadists to Sunni Arab ISIS, yet that statistic is of little consequence. Terror victim statistics might have reached an apogee but that fact is of little moment either. You might speak of radicals, militants, extremists, and criminals, but none of these are to be paired with religion, ideology, or Islamic culture.

Thus a national security assessment today is at once officially transparent and functionally opaque at the same time – for the political hustler, the best of both worlds. Alas, transparency, or should we say propaganda, cuts two ways. The 2015 DNI Worldwide Threat Assessment for Congress compared to the 2014 edition is an example. The deus ex machina has now been added to the DNI’s bag of tricks.

Shia Hezb’allah, and Shia Iran disappeared from the threat index in 2015. This is the same Hezb’allah that is the Shia equivalent of Sunni ISIS. Clearly, the latest DNI unclassified threat assessment was written with Shia readers in mind.

The elevation of Cuba to BFF is negligible because Havana hasn’t been a threat to Miami Beach since Khrushchev went shoeless at the United Nations. Any diminution of the Hezb’allah (literally, the party of God) and the Nuclear Persian threats is another matter. A nuclear/terrorist Shia theocracy in the Middle East changes every strategic dynamic; with Israel, with Arabia, with the larger Sunni world, and with NATO.

The motives for cooking the Shia threat are a grab bag of possibilities. Foremost is the specter of concessions to Iran designed to prime the pump for team Obama legacy, in short, a nuclear deal with Tehran at any price. A weak and/or failing American President is an easy mark for Shia ayatollahs with unlimited tenure.

Like the Cuba rapprochement, a lame duck American administration would like to put a Persian “peace” paper in the plus column. Never mind that the Persian priests are unlikely to sacrifice their parity ace to the numerically superior Sunni. At the moment, the Islam bomb is a Sunni monopoly. Only a Shia bomb balances the Sunni/Shia sectarian equation. Nuclear parity for apocalyptic Muslim sectarians would be the strategic equivalent of certain Armageddon for Israel.

Then there is the Syria/Iraq conundrum, two pariah regimes, fast friends of Shia Tehran. Sunni ISIS has made a caliphate of Syria and Iran, a budding empire that aspires to devour what remains of two failing pro-Iranian basket cases. ISIS is also making more than a bit of a splash in Yemen, Tunisia, and Libya.

Washington and Brussels are unwilling to confront Iran or ISIS in the flesh. Such dilemmas make for strange bedfellows. Thus America and Europe now find themselves shagging Syrian Assad, the Iranian ayatollahs, Hezb’allah, and a veritable host of unsavory anti-Sunni mercenaries and miscreants. The Levant is starting to look like a necrotic Abbott and Costello routine. Who’s on first?

And last, but not least, there is the possibility that the dangerous liaison with Shia priests is designed to punish or poke Israel, especially Bibi Netanyahu. In every Arab or Persian political stew, anti-Semitism is sure to be one of the ingredients.

Given the number of times that America has changed sides in the Middle East, only one thing is certain. Neither Sunni nor Shia can trust Washington today, especially an erratic if not incoherent team Obama. Israel especially, with existential skin in the game, has every reason to be wary of motives in Brussels and Washington too, lest Israel become so much collateral damage like the women, children, and Christians of North Africa the Levant.

Withal, one other conclusion is now possible. The American Intelligence Community just might be another Beltway hooker, similar in many respects to the academic and think tank camp followers that surround Washington.  As long as the funding is unlimited, the Intelligence Community seems willing to provide any service or any answer that pays.

Alas, truth is a candid bitch, she can’t be bought. The American Intelligence Community, in contrast, has become just another Washington DC streetwalker.

…………………………………………..

This essay appeared in the 3/23/2015 edition of American Thinker.

 


The Age of Musterbation

February 3, 2015

                                               

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”  – E. R. Morrow

Media icons are often given credit for thoughts that originated with their betters. The “nation of sheep” metaphor is an example. Thomas Jefferson addressed the subject in the Federalist Papers, long before Edward R. Morrow. And before that, herd similes might be traced to the Old and New Testaments. William J. Lederer wrote a book on the subject in 1961, a follow up to the best-selling Ugly American (1958).

Lederer’s lament focused on a passive electorate, arrogant foreign policy apparatchiks, and myopic politicians;  the tendency of Americans to fail to educate themselves about issues and then throw good money after bad at home and abroad. In short, Lederer despaired of passive voters and venal politicians, a nation where profligate spending sustained failed institutions.

Much has changed in the last 50 years, including language and internet culture. Neologisms abound, the most telling of which is “musterbation.” Albert Ellis (1913-2007) coined the term to describe clients who felt that they “must, should, or ought” to do things that had no rational basis. Much online activity could be described as grazing, peeping, or musterbation. Just one vowel away from onanism, the musterbater is compelled to join, mimic, exhibit, and conform. In such culture, the poorly read are easily led.

Former Congressman Anthony Wiener (D/NY) might be a chronic musterbator, compelled to use the internet in ways that defy reason, reputation, and common sense.

The modern tax dollar still buys votes but few solutions. Indeed, popular music has escalated the zoological hyperbole in a bit of telling doggerel by Otep Shamaya:

We’ve become a nation of wolves, ruled by sheep.
Owned by swine, overfed, and put to sleep.
While the media elite declare what to think,
I’ll be wide awake, on the edge, and on the brink.

On the brink of what is the question? Clearly a herd culture is the dominant social artifact of the early 21st Century. The most obvious symptoms are the internet and associated “social” networks.

So who are the wolves today? Here we could borrow an analogy from the “Occupy” movement, that 99 percent majority alleged to be victimized by the wealthy one percent. Such comparisons are true to the extent that all politics, right or left, are dominated by a small elite, a “vanguard” of one sort or another: commercial, political, or military mandarins. Art, too, is fashioned by elites for the herd.

On occasion, a sacred cow is trashed and the herd is spooked. Salman Rushdie, the Danish cartoon Press, Sony Pictures, and Charlie Hebdo might take a bow here.

The Occupy model is, however, poor arithmetic. Surely wealth is a consideration, but the middle class is as big today as it has ever been and America’s “poor” would be rich by any Third World metric.  Nonetheless, the Occupy lament does help to distinguish between wolves and sheep.

Alas, the real difference is power not wealth.  All wealth is power, but power is not necessarily wealth.  The Clintons, for example, left the Oval Office claiming to be broke. And we may not have seen the last of that poverty- stricken power pair either.

Autocratic, inherited, or democratic power is difficult to parse today. The despotism of dictators seems to have been supplanted by a tyranny of democratic tenure. Here, again, the Clintons come to mind. The reality of all politics, in the end, is consumption. Neither wolves nor shepherds care much about the venue as long as there’s something or somebody to eat.

Apex predators breed and feed in industry and government. The National Security Agency (NSA) and Facebook are examples. Indeed, there’s a chicken or egg conundrum between the two. No matter, both operate with the same business model; a one-way mirror that monitors, collects, and exploits “meta data” for different ends.

The social network/sheep herding meme is not just another simile. Numbers matter to both every day. The digital and grazing worlds only make sense when the numbers are large enough. Facebook has a billion members and makes billions in advertising revenues on those numbers. Mark Zukerberg says he wants the world on the internet – and by implication, in the Facebook pasture too.

Facebook is just one example here, but most telecoms, internet providers, social networks, or financial service companies are operating varieties of the same model, recruiting a large “voluntary” membership and then exploiting “metadata” (the antiseptic euphemism for behavior) for profit. Chaps like Zuckerberg are not your “friend” and he is not in your “circle.” Mark and his dot.com colleagues are the new elite, wolves, one percenter’s who have developed clever schemes to monetize your behavior – and your privacy.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and General Keith Alexander’s NSA are both fond of uniforms too. Zuckerberg‘s tee shirt, jeans, and hoodie are as symbolic as Alexander’s Class A bemedaled greens. Zuckerberg is suited to look like a hip populist just as surely as Alexander is dressed to look like a guardian, Big Brother’s goal keeper.

The infamous “back doors” of the telecoms, internet providers, and social networks are both collaborative and invasive. Hard to know whether industry or government is the worse offender. There’s no mystery, however, about who is getting buggered.

The Lavabit story is illustrative. Lavabit was one of the few secure internet companies that tried to provide email services free of snoops and data miners. Their motto was “privacy before profit.” When Lavabit’s owner/operator, Ladar Levison, refused to play catamite for FBI/NSA agents, Lavabit was forced out of business with an avalanche of subpoenas, court orders, gag orders, fines, and threats of prison time. After l’affaire Snowden, official Washington, including the judicary, fell on Levison like a ton of bricks.

Ironically, chaps like Edward Snowden are made possible by such federal excess. Contemporary whistle blowers and disloyalty are created problems. Federal mandarins, with NSA and FBI on point, are the top dogs on the internet, the most voracious wolves. Alas, their appetites and capacity for abuse are funded with federal tax dollars.

Predator and prey are separated by perspective, scopophiliacs and exhibitionists joined by uncommon interests. Self-consciously Orwellian language defines cyber space. Sheep are corralled as members, followers, or friends. ‘Search’ on the net is often described as “surfing” as if stroking a laptop or smart phone required skill or exertion.

Measures of merit in cyberspace are mostly about affirmation: membership, pseudonyms, likes, tweets, retweets, page views, site visits, or comments. Belonging and ego are the weft and warp of cyberspace. Joining the flock, growing the flock, controlling the flock, and exploiting the flock are the shared interests of the needy, seedy, and greedy alike.

The “tweet” is the ideal medium for sheep, hustlers, or underachievers – cryptic faceless bursts confined to 140 characters. Tweets are to literature what rap is to music.

Each social circle has different passwords as if privacy were really a consideration. In fact, social networks, the telecoms, police, and intelligence agencies are co-conspirators in the “meta data” roundup. The stealth of wolves is reinforced by anonymity of sheep.

Pseudonymous internet usage has little to do with privacy, or freer speech, and everything to do with mischief.

Hacking is an example. If there are no privacy standards for government or commercial voyeurs, why expect rogue sheep to worry about private or privileged commercial or classified information? Edward Snowden is not just the product of a culture of deception, but his revelations about NSA, like those about Sony Corporation, are a kind of poetic justice.

To mix some metaphors, a culture of wolves and sheep is sure to be a free fire zone. The age of musterbation is a target rich environment.

Mandarins like Zuckerberg might pay lip service to the privacy concerns of his Facebook flock, but in the real world ironies abound.  Zuckerberg just purchased four neighboring estates in California to assure his personal privacy. Would that he and the rest of the cyber moguls had as much concern for the privacy of computer users,

The difference between political and commercial wolves is profound. The Director of NSA is an appointed official who serves at White House whim. Social satraps like Zuckerberg at Facebook, in contrast, are elevated by acclamation, thousands of stockholders and billions of sheep voting with each equity purchase or each new membership.

If you believed the recent Zuckerberg interview in Time (15 Dec 14) you might think that Facebook is all about connectivity, compassion, education, democracy, and globalization. Compared to Zuckerberg, former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is an honest man. Zuckerberg’s hip hop, photo shopped double talk makes Weiner’s junk shots look like tweet candor.

The Facebook czar would have us believe that connectivity is more important than other human needs, things like: employment, potable water, good nutrition, civil society, or flush toilets.

Really, Mark? Giving internet access to the poor and semi-literate is like feeding infants flip phones instead of strained bananas.

With Facebook you can “like” a post as much as you like, however, there is no button to click for disapproval, no way to dissent. On Facebook, the sentiment is yes or nothing, a virtual kindergarten for musterbaters. Internet culture is at once nurturing and infantile.

Cyber herding is a kind of electronic fascism in other ways. Try resigning from or removing a post from a social network, especially data that has been rebroadcast! Try restraining or identifying a bully or an obnoxious troll!  See how much help you get from providers, social forums, or the telecoms with civility complaints of any sort.

Indelible membership is aggravated by the spread of real world political fascism over the internet. Just a few examples would include al Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, Boko Haram – NPR or CNN.

The virtual world is not fertile ground for peace, civility, or democracy either. Online games are a pathological subculture where blowback can be measured with shell casings or body bags at schools, theaters, and on the back streets of  Newark or Washington, DC.

Indeed, cyberspace amplifies the science, reason, and morality debate. The internet has been weaponized. And like its nuclear, chemical, or biological cousins, another example of scientific and engineering vacuity, the moral void that asks what and how – but seldom asks should.

Zuckerberg’s world view is just another mutation of engineering arrogance refracted through a progressive lens, a view that confuses technology and the passage of time with progress. The ideological assumptions behind technical optimism are even more naïve. Democracy is not a default setting beyond the EU or the US. Zuckerberg may have been touched by the romance of Hegel and Marx, but he was never exposed to pragmatism of Huntington and Kissinger.

Kissinger argues that there are only two primal narratives in the political world: hegemony and balance of power. In short, the pragmatic politician either imposes his will or negotiates a modus vivendi. The first option is expensive, tenuous, and dangerous; the second requires patience, creativity, and mutual trust. Option one is a zero sum game and option two is a plus sum roll of the dice.

Like the political world, the internet is a clash of civilizations, a win/lose enterprise for guys like Zuckerberg, parsing the universe into firsts or thirds, developed or emerging, educated or ignorant, rich or poor. The “emerging” story is usually just another narrative, the marketing of wishful thinking at the expense of experience. Some social problems are insolvable.

The internet accelerates a binary tautology nonetheless, populated as it is by mustabators and manipulators, digital sheep and wolves.

Like the world of politics, the internet requires a narrative. The story line may have little to do with truth, fact, or reality. Like a fairy tale, acceptance is a function of skillful telling and guileless belief. Indeed, truth is a handicap in both worlds. No one wants to hear that they are being used or manipulated.

Alas, truth is a bitch. She doesn’t care whose feelings get hurt. Government and industry moguls, on the other hand, are more circumspect. Federal or industry mendacity is not a vice in the information age. Lying is necessary – and apparently sufficient.

If modern Media is a “wasteland,” the metaphorical lexicon might be too shallow to characterize social network or virtual culture. Exhibitionists, voyeurs, thugs, and manipulators litter the digital landscape. Sixty years ago, the ugly American was a clueless State Department drone. Today, Media curs and federal voyeurs are the top dogs – and just as ugly.

“Those who know the least obey the best.” – George Farquhar

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The author is an NSA alumnus. GMD does not belong to any social networks except LinkedIn where he has been a hostage for years. No amount of phone calls or emails have severed the link with LinkedIn. This essay was published in the February 2015 edition of the New English Review.

Images:

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Tags: Facebook, NSA, Mark Zuckerberg, Keith Alexander, Otep Shamaya, Albert Ellis, Garrett Hardin, Sony Pictures, back doors, self-censorship, hacking, social networks, musterbation, nation of sheep, and ugly Americans.