mardi 14 février 2017

The CIA Really Is Out to Get General Flynn

How come no-one is accusing NSA Director Michael Flynn of taking bribes from Turkey's dictator Recep Erdogan? Not long ago, they did. Last November 18,Commentary Magazine's Noah Rothman called Flynn a "dubious choice" for the National Security Council because his consulting company had a Turkish client, adding that Flynn’s views on Turkey raised a “conflict of interest.” Flynn had published an article in The Hill on Nov. 8 warning that America's dalliance with the messianic Turkish Islamist and alleged coup plotter Fethullah Gulen might undermine the country's relationship with NATO, at a time when Russia was giving Turkey the full-court press.

On Dec. 2, I wrote in Asia Times that Commentary's Rothman probably was stooging for a CIA disinformation campaign against Flynn. Not only did Flynn propose to deep-six Gulen, a longstanding friend of the CIA, but he had blown the whistle on CIA incompetence in Syria. Flynn's Defense Intelligence Agency produced a now-notorious 2012 report warning that chaos in Syria's civil war enabled the rise of a new Caliphate movement, namely ISIS. For full background, see Brad Hoff's July 2016 essay in Foreign Policy Journal: Flynn humiliated the bungling CIA and exposed the incompetence and deception of the Obama administration, and got fired for it. If anyone doubts the depth of CIA incompetence in Syria, I recommend an account that appeared this month in the London Financial Times.

In November, Flynn warned that the U.S. stood to lose its Turkish ally, to the benefit of Russia--and got attacked as a Turkish agent. That doesn't square with the current round of disinformation, which paints Flynn as pro-Russian. Flynn's detractors rely on a fake-news media which forgets the story it spun a couple of months ago when it contradicts the story it is spinning today.

I don't know why Flynn talked to the Russian ambassador about the incoming Trump administration's prospective policy on sanctions, or what transpired in the White House regarding mis-statements that Flynn may or may not have made about such discussions. Senior officials speak to their counterparts in other countries all the time, and for obvious reasons do not want these conversations to become public. The intelligence community, though, was taping Flynn's discussions, and the transcripts (of whose existence we are told but whose contents we have not seen) were used to embarrass him.

First, the allegation of various Democrats that Flynn violated the 1799 Logan Act is silly. No-one ever has been prosecuted under the Logan Act. It forbids U.S. citizens from communicating with foreign governments "with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States." Flynn reportedly was talking about prospective policies of an administration that would take office in a matter of days; it is absurd to construe such discussions, whatever they may have contained, as an intent to undermine disputes with the United States.