Friday, July 29, 2016

"Loose lips sink ships" -- Trump and the Russians

I'm old enough to remember World War II in the 1940s.   Movies about the war, patriotic posters everywhere, learning to identify the various US Air Force planes that flew overhead with the idea to be on the lookout for an unidentified German plane.   We saved our nickles and quarters to buy $25 war bonds.

One of the slogans that was a prominent reminder from war flims about spies and what today we would call counterintelligence was:  "Loose lips sink ships."    The meaning was obvious to us:   Be careful what you say because the spies are always listening and you might say something that gives away  information about where the Nazi U-boats might torpedo our ships.

Of course, we ordinary people didn't have that kind of information.  But part of patriotism at the time was feeling that we were all in it together;  nobody wanted to do anything to harm our fellow Americans.  That slogan suddenly surfaced in my mind Wednesday on hearing about Donald Trump's loose talk, actually encouraging the Russians to hack into private email accounts in the U.S. to find, and share with us, the 33,000 emails they claim that Hillary Clinton deleted from her private server.

You might say that was just loose talk.   Yeah, right.   It seems even more serious, however, when you put it in the context of these known facts:

1.  Donald Trump has expressed admiration for the kind of leadership that Vladimir Putin exerts in Russia.  And Trump likes to boast that Putin likes him and has complimented him.  Trump said, if elected president, he "will look into" having the U.S. recognize Putin's illegal annexation of Crimea.

2.  Trump has made negative comments about NATO -- our most important mutual defense alliance -- and about Europe, pitting it as a competitor rather than a vital trading partner and diplomatic and military ally.    There is no question that Putin would like nothing better than to undermine NATO and to weaken our ties with Europe so that he can increase his sphere of control over Eastern Europe and the Balkans.   At the least, Trump is unwittingly playing into Putin's hands.

3.  Trump's campaign chair, Paul Manafort, has spent much of the past decade on the payroll of the deposed president of Ukraine, who is living in exile under Putin's protection and has close connection with Russian oligarchs who are close to Putin.   In addition, I can't confirm this, but I read a credible source that said Manafort is working for Trump without pay.   Why would he do that, unless he expects to get something in return? . . . perhaps from the Russians?

4.  Reports document Trump's own financial ties to Russian oligarchs.   He claims that he has no investments in Russia.   The important issue is how much these Russians have invested in Trump enterprises?   The question is:   is he in debt to them?    Have they been lenders for his projects?   We know that U.S. banks will no longer lend to the Trump Corporation, because he is a known poor credit risk;  so he has to turn to foreign lenders.

5.   Trump refuses to release his tax returns, which might reveal his financial involvement with Russians, especially any indebtedness to them.    That would be an unacceptable position for a U.S. president -- to be subject to financial ruin by a foreign adversary, who he is now cozying up to.

Wake up, people.   This man could be dangerous, on so many counts, as our commander-in-chief.   Yes, I am questioning Trump's patriotism, because he always thinks first of his own interests before U.S. interests.   I am questioning the security risk of him being briefed on sensitive intelligence -- which he will start receiving this Friday, as all candidates for the presidency do once the conventions are completed.   Even if he didn't intend to, his "loose lips" could spill sensitive intelligence to our enemies.


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