Sunday, August 7, 2016

Ex-CIA chief endorses Clinton; calls Donald Trump "an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation"

Michael Morell spent several years as Deputy Director of the CIA during his 33 year career in the agency under both Democratic and Republican presidents.   He was with George W. Bush as Deputy Director when we were attacked on Sept 11;  he was with President Obama when we took out Osama bin Laden in 2011.   He is now retired, and has written an op-ed, published Friday by the New York Times.  Morell identifies himself as having no party affiliation and, as a career governmental official, has always remained silent about his preference for president.   But . . .
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"No longer. On Nov. 8, I will vote for Hillary Clinton. Between now and then, I will do everything I can to ensure that she is elected as our 45th president.

"Two strongly held beliefs have brought me to this decision. First, Mrs. Clinton is highly qualified to be commander in chief. I trust she will deliver on the most important duty of a president — keeping our nation safe.  Second, Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security.

"I spent four years working with Mrs. Clinton when she was secretary of state, most often in the White House Situation Room. In these critically important meetings, I found her to be prepared, detail-oriented, thoughtful, inquisitive and willing to change her mind if presented with a compelling argument. . . . 

"Mrs. Clinton was an early advocate of the raid that brought Bin Laden to justice, in opposition to some of her most important colleagues on the National Security Council. During the early debates about how we should respond to the Syrian civil war, she was a strong proponent of a more aggressive approach, one that might have prevented the Islamic State from gaining a foothold in Syria. . . .

"In sharp contrast to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has no experience on national security. Even more important, the character traits he has exhibited during the primary season suggest he would be a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief. . . . his obvious need for self-aggrandizement, his overreaction to perceived slights, his tendency to make decisions based on intuition, his refusal to change his views based on new information, his routine carelessness with the facts, his unwillingness to listen to others and his lack of respect for the rule of law.

"The dangers that flow from Mr. Trump’s character are not just risks that would emerge if he became president. It is already damaging our national security. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated. . . . 

"In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation. . . .    

"My training as an intelligence officer taught me to call it as I see it. This is what I did for the C.I.A. This is what I am doing now. Our nation will be much safer with Hillary Clinton as president."
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This is a serious, non-partisan man who speaks from experience in the CIA and in the White House Situation Room.  Further, everything he says adds up to a coherent narrative.   This is not a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist.  I believe him.

I am somewhat less convinced by an article by Mark Sumner that I will quote from in a coming post that suggests that Trump is not  an "unwitting" agent but may actually be more calculated in his tilt toward cooperating with Putin's attempt to undermine European unity and NATO in particular.

Or at the least that his campaign chief, Paul Manafort, is manipulating him that way.   What former CIA chief Morell says here does nothing to undermine Sumner's charges;  and we know that Manafort has long-time close ties and business relationships in Russia and Ukraine.    And there's a strong possibility that Trump is in debt to some Russian oligarchs that would be revealed in his tax returns, which he refuses to release.   Clinton has a new tv ad that raises a lot of these questions about Trump's connections with Putin and the Russians.

I repeat a question I have often raised;  I still do not know the answer.    Why are presidential nominees not required to have a security clearance before being given highly classified security briefingsI seriously doubt that Donald Trump could pass even the basic level clearance.  I suppose it's the old principle that our civil government ultimately controls the military.    But shouldn't you have to qualify for a security clearance as a basic requirement to be commander-in-chief?   I've never heard this discussed.  Stay tuned.


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