03/21/17

Trump vs. Fox News on Wiretapping

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

President Donald Trump is usually a fan of Fox News, but his opinion may now be changing. Fox News has been caught misrepresenting its own interview with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) on the subject of alleged wiretapping of President Trump, in order to make Trump look bad. The cable channel also threw one of its own commentators, Judge Andrew Napolitano, under the bus for highlighting a possible British role in gathering intelligence on Trump and his associates.

After having Nunes on the network’s “Fox News Sunday” show, Fox News claimed that he said “that phones at President Donald Trump’s campaign headquarters in midtown Manhattan were never tapped during last year’s election campaign, contrary to Trump’s earlier, unsubstantiated assertion.”

But if you listen to the video clip or read the transcript, that is not what Nunes really said.

Nunes actually said, “…the President doesn’t go and physically wiretap something. So if you take the President literally, it didn’t happen.” But Trump has referred to “wiretap” in quotes, to refer to surveillance. Nunes went on, “I think the concern that we have is that are—were there any other surveillance activities that were used unmasking the names” (emphasis added).

Unmasking refers to acquiring the name of a U.S. citizen in a surveillance report, even though that citizen’s personal privacy is supposed to be protected under U.S. law because he/she was not the target of the surveillance that captured the conversation. Trump press secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday, “Before President Obama left office, Michael Flynn was unmasked and then illegally his identity was leaked out to media outlets, despite the fact that, as NSA Director [Mike] Rogers said, that unmasking and revealing individuals endangers ‘national security.’ Not only was General Flynn’s identity made available, Director [James] Comey refused to answer the question of whether or not he’d actually briefed President Obama on his phone calls and activities.”

Nunes explained, “…the one crime we know that’s been committed is that one, the leaking of someone’s name through the FISA system. That is—that is a crime that’s been committed.”

At Monday’s hearing, Nunes repeated in his prepared opening statement, “…it’s still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.”

The media highlighted FBI Director James B. Comey’s statement at Monday’s hearing that the FBI and the Justice Department had “no information that supports” President Trump’s tweets about wiretapping.

But where could these “other surveillance activities” have originated? We know that a former British intelligence agent was involved in gathering “intelligence” against Trump in the form of the fake “Trump Dossier,” and was paid by donors associated with the Hillary Clinton campaign. Parts of that “dossier” were passed on to Trump by the U.S. intelligence community.

As we note in our special report, “A Watergate-style Threat to the Democratic Process,” it is well-known that the British NSA, known as GCHQ or Government Communications Headquarters, collaborates with the NSA. In fact, a declassified document on the NSA’s own website confirms NSA/GCHQ “collaboration” dating back decades. Fox News senior judicial analyst and commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano said his sources confirm there was such an arrangement in the matter of the “wiretapping” of Trump and/or his associates.

Fox News immediately threw Napolitano under the bus. “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary,” Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said on-air. “Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-President of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way.”

The phrase, “knows of no evidence,” does not suggest any independent investigation of his information.

One of Napolitano’s sources, former CIA operative Larry Johnson, came forward to say, “I reached out to friends in the intel community and asked them about the possibility that a back channel was used to get the Brits to collect on Trump associates. My sources said, ‘absolutely.’ I later confirmed this via a cutout with a person who is a Senior Intelligence Service executive in the CIA.”

In the face of this evidence of collaboration, NSA Director Mike Rogers tried to insist at Monday’s hearing that the NSA never asked the British to conduct surveillance of Trump. So why did the intelligence community accept and circulate the Trump dossier?

In a letter to Comey, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) noted that not only was the former British intelligence agent Christoper Steele “creating these memos as part of work for an opposition research firm connected to Hillary Clinton,” but that The Washington Post had reported that the FBI had reached an agreement a few weeks before the 2016 presidential election “to pay the author of the unsubstantiated dossier alleging a conspiracy between President Trump and the Russians, Christopher Steele, to continue investigating Mr. Trump” (emphasis added).

Grassley said, “The idea that the FBI and associates of the Clinton campaign would pay Mr. Steele to investigate the Republican nominee for President in the run-up to the election raises further questions about the FBI’s independence from politics, as well as the Obama administration’s use of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political ends.”

At the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Monday, Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) was still quoting from the discredited Trump dossier.

Although Comey confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee that the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged relationship with Russian officials continues, there was no firm commitment to get to the bottom of the source (or sources) of the leaks to the media that are designed to damage the Trump administration.

Nunes said his committee wanted to pursue the matter, saying, “Numerous current and former officials have leaked purportedly classified information in connection to these questions. We aim to determine who has leaked or facilitated leaks of classified information so that these individuals can be brought to justice.”

As we argued in our column, “Investigate and Prosecute the Press,” there is a procedure to get to the bottom of at least one of these leaks. That is, to subpoena Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, the recipient of the illegal leak of the classified information naming or “unmasking” Michael T. Flynn.

Here’s what Ignatius, a known mouthpiece for the CIA, reported on January 12: “According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking.”

Subsequently, the Post revealed that, in regard to the Flynn matter, “Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.”

All of this leaking is illegal, a violation of the Espionage Act. It is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Jeff Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post, has a financial relationship with the CIA and the NSA through the provision of computer cloud capabilities.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Nunes said that “still remaining out there is the unmasking of names and the leaking of names…we have a lot of surveillance activities in this country and I think the concern that the Trump administration has is, you know, were they actually using surveillance activities to know what they were up to, because we know that that happened with General Flynn. We know that his name was unmasked and we know that it was leaked out to the press.”

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was unable to get exact figures from Comey or Rogers on the number of people at these agencies able to “unmask”—and therefore leak—a name. Such a number is absolutely vital in any identification of the leakers.

Comey did admit that the heads of the intelligence agencies and various Obama White House officials could have acquired access to unmasked names. But as Spicer noted at the White House press briefing, Comey would not talk about any discussions he may have had with President Obama on the matter.

It looks increasingly like any serious investigation of the illegal surveillance and leaking will have to be led and conducted by Rep. Nunes. But in going forward, it appears that the Fox News Channel has decided not to pursue the line of inquiry already opened up by one of its own commentators, Judge Napolitano.

Predictably, there are now demands that Fox News fire its senior judicial analyst for offering his own informed opinion based on the facts and his own sources of information.

[UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times and other media are now reporting that Judge Napolitano has been suspended by the Fox News Channel.]


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

03/17/17

Patriotic CIA Officers Abandoned by Obama

By: Cliff Kincaid | America’s Survival

President Obama ended the counterterrorism program known as rendition and put his people in place at the agency. Former CIA operations officer Bradley Johnson talks with Cliff Kincaid about the damage done by the Obama Administration to the CIA and why President Trump and his CIA director Mike Pompeo have to clean house.

03/10/17

Inside the CIA: Leaks, Moles and “Diversity”

By: Cliff Kincaid | America’s Survival

Former senior CIA Officer Michael Scheuer spent over 20 years with the CIA and talks in this interview about leaks, moles and “diversity” at the agency. The controversial and outspoken former chief of the Osama bin Laden unit in the CIA, he says the U.S. is losing the war on Islamic terrorism.

02/17/17

The “Permanent State” has a Press Office

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

President Donald Trump’s controversial complaint that the intelligence community was using police-state tactics against him has been confirmed in the forced resignation of his national security adviser Michael T. Flynn. When Trump made his complaint, he was referring to leaks of potentially damaging information about him from an unverified dossier. In the Flynn case, several commentators have noted the use of surveillance techniques that are probably illegal.

A Wall Street Journal editorial wonders if “the spooks” who were listening to Flynn obeyed the law, and what legal justification they had for their eavesdropping. The paper added, “If Mr. Flynn was under U.S. intelligence surveillance, then Mr. Trump should know why, and at this point so should the American public. Maybe there’s an innocent explanation, but the Trump White House needs to know what’s going on with Mr. Flynn and U.S. spies.”

In “The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn,” Eli Lake writes about the highly controversial tactic of using “government-monitored communications of U.S. citizens” against Flynn and leaking them to the press. He added, “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.”

In a column entitled, “Why you should fear the leaks that felled Mike Flynn,” John Podhoretz writes, “No joke, people—if they can do it to Mike Flynn, they can do it to you.” He said that “unelected bureaucrats with access to career-destroying materials clearly made the decision that what Flynn did or who Flynn was merited their intervention—and took their concerns to the press.”

Why was Flynn targeted? Lake writes that Flynn had “cultivated a reputation as a reformer and a fierce critic of the intelligence community leaders he once served with when he was the director the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama. Flynn was working to reform the intelligence-industrial complex, something that threatened the bureaucratic prerogatives of his rivals.” Podhoretz says Flynn “had an antagonistic relationship with America’s intelligence agencies” and was their “potential adversary.”

That Flynn wanted to reform the intelligence community is true. But the more serious concern about Flynn from the perspective of the intelligence community is that he was opposed to the Obama policy, carried out by John Brennan’s CIA, of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic terrorists in the Middle East. He had been outspoken about this since leaving the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Flynn’s links to Russia and the conversations he had with the Russian Ambassador are minor compared to the disasters in the Middle East that Flynn was exposing. The proxy war the Obama administration waged in the Middle East produced debacles in Egypt, Libya and Syria. In Egypt, the military rescued the country from a Muslim Brotherhood takeover engineered by Obama’s CIA. Libya is still in shambles, and Syria has been lost to the Russians and Iranians. The result in Syria alone is 500,000 dead and millions of refugees.

As documented extensively by AIM’s Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, the U.S. under Obama switched sides in the war on terror, in favor of the terrorists. There were, of course, terrorists on the other side as well. In Syria, the Russian/Iranian/Syrian axis employed terrorist tactics to drive back the U.S.-supported terrorists. That produced a humanitarian disaster that is still unfolding.

Trump has inherited this disaster, and he and Flynn were trying to do something about it. But Trump’s proposal for vetting refugees from failed states has been struck down by liberal judges, and Trump has unfortunately accepted their jurisdiction in the case.

As we explained in a previous column, in a review of Flynn’s book, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency “thinks that the administration he served, headed by Barack Obama, tried to accommodate our enemies, selling out American interests in the process.” This is the world that President Trump faces and is trying to rectify.

We said at the time that “if Flynn wants to turn things around, he will have to lead a purge of the Clinton and Obama agents in the Pentagon and other agencies who have been deliberately withholding information about the nature of the threats and how our lives are in peril from an ‘enemy alliance’ that Obama has been supporting as President of the United States.”

It now appears that Flynn, or rather Trump, didn’t move fast enough, and that these special interests from the swamp have struck first, nailing Flynn’s scalp to the wall.

The media know that the Obama administration helped to produce the humanitarian disasters in countries like Syria and Libya. They ran stories about CIA arms shipments to terrorists in the region through countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. But when Flynn got into a position of power and was able to do something about exposing these dirty wars, he became the target. He became a target of surveillance and was tripped up about what he said and remembered about discussions with the Russian Ambassador.

On Capitol Hill, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), seems to be one of the few legislators concerned about the illegal leaks that drove Flynn from his job. He is even quoted as saying that the leakers “belong in jail.”

The American people have a right to know whether there is a “permanent state,” as Eli Lake says, and what role it is playing. But since the major media have been complicit in the intelligence community’s assault on Flynn, there is no reason to believe the media will want to get to the bottom of this subversion of our democratic system of government. Their hands are dirty, too.

It looks like the permanent state has a press office.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

02/14/17

Why the CIA Wants to Destroy Flynn

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

The media have figured out they can’t bring down or impeach President Trump. So they are targeting his Cabinet officials and top advisers one by one. In the case of Michael T. Flynn, the media think they have hit pay dirt. The Washington Post has led the charge, using top-secret surveillance intercepts of communications between Flynn and the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. It’s more evidence that the CIA, and perhaps the National Security Agency (NSA), are out to destroy Trump’s national security adviser.

“The knives are out for Flynn,” said one administration official quoted in the paper. The knives are computer keyboards in the hands of scribblers for a paper whose owner, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, has a business relationship with the CIA. The Post is wielding the knives provided by anonymous intelligence officials.

Nobody knows this better than the Post’s Watergate reporter, Bob Woodward, who said on Fox News that the CIA was using unverified “garbage” allegations in a campaign to destroy Trump himself. Since Trump has survived, the campaign has taken a new form against Flynn, a close adviser to Trump on foreign policy who had campaigned with him and by his side.

At the heart of the story are secret surveillance intercepts of conversations whose disclosure is itself a violation of the law. In fact, these illegal disclosures to the press are far more serious than anything Flynn is accused of doing. But don’t think the media are going to investigate themselves for these illegalities. If they bring down Flynn, they will have wounded Trump. The sharks will smell blood in the water.

Remember that the FBI is said to have reviewed the intercepts and determined there was nothing illicit in what was discussed. That finding hasn’t stopped the CIA and the Post from continuing a campaign to sink Flynn. The so-called sensational news angle is that Flynn forgot what he told the Russian Ambassador and Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

The real explanation for the assault, as we have explained in several columns, is that Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and a retired Lieutenant General, doesn’t trust the CIA. And the CIA clearly doesn’t trust him.

Meanwhile, in a newsworthy development that went mostly unreported here in the United States, Trump’s new director of the CIA, former Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), traveled to Saudi Arabia to give a top Saudi official a CIA award for “counter-terrorism” named after a discredited former CIA director. The Saudi official was given the “George Tenet Medal” in recognition of his “excellent intelligence performance, in the domain of counter-terrorism and his unbound contribution to realize world security and peace.” Tenet is known for his embarrassing and false “slam dunk” comments about finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the U.S. invasion.

Pompeo’s tribute to the Saudi official, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, is astounding considering the evidence of the Saudi role in facilitating jihadist terrorism in Syria, a debacle that has helped to produce 500,000 dead and refugees streaming into Europe and the United States. Bin Nayef serves as Minister of Interior.

Rather than focus on Flynn, the media should be asking what Pompeo is doing paying tribute to a Saudi official whose regime is neck-deep in a conflict that has produced a major humanitarian catastrophe. And why is the CIA giving an award named after a director who failed in the intelligence mission of the agency he led?

Under these circumstances, if President Trump fires or forces the resignation of Flynn, it will be a huge victory for the CIA’s failed policies in the Middle East. These are policies Trump promised to reverse.

The assault on Flynn began on January 12, when Post columnist David Ignatius reported, “According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions? The Logan Act (though never enforced) bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about ‘disputes’ with the United States. Was its spirit violated?”

With subsequent stories and various Trump administration comments, a “scandal” has been created, with Flynn’s fate hanging in the balance.

Despite the FBI clearing Flynn, the issue is now whether Flynn talked about sanctions and to whom. He apparently first denied this, and later acknowledged that the subject may have come up. With multiple Obama-created foreign policy problems on his plate, it may be the case that he gave some misleading information to Vice President Mike Pence.

The real issue, as Flynn has talked about publicly since he left the DIA in 2014, is the evidence of a U.S. role under Barack Obama and his CIA director John Brennan in facilitating an increase of radical Islam in the Middle East. He has cited the evidence contained in a DIA document, declassified and publicly released by Judicial Watch.

While Flynn has been critical of the agency for carrying out the Obama/Brennan policy of supporting Islamists in the Middle East, he writes in his book, The Field of Fight, about how the Russian intelligence services have also been involved in supporting radical Islam. This proxy war has damaged mostly Europe and the United States, and lies behind President Trump’s desire to curb immigration from Middle Eastern countries racked by Islamist violence.

Rather than clean house at the agency, Pompeo reportedly jumped on the bandwagon against Flynn, with the CIA or some other anonymous intelligence community insider leaking information that the agency had denied a security clearance for one of Flynn’s associates on the National Security Council. “One of the sources said the rejection was approved by Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump’s CIA director, and that it infuriated Flynn and his allies,” Politico reported.

This is truly amazing since Obama’s CIA director himself should never have received a security clearance, and his policies were incompetent, if not anti-American. Brennan was a close friend and confidant to George Tenet and had served as CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, where he reportedly converted to Islam. As CIA director, Brennan told a congressional forum that even voting communist, as he once did, was not a bar to employment at the agency. Brennan admitted voting communist when attending Catholic Fordham University in 1976. He was also involved  in the cover-up of the Benghazi massacre of four Americans.

In his new book, iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age, Bill Gertz explains how the CIA has become “politicized,” dominated by a “liberal culture,” and resistant to probes of communist moles within.

Having had a pro-communist with Muslim sympathies once reach the top position of CIA director, it’s no wonder that the agency wants to get rid of Flynn. The CIA has a lot of baggage that needs to be exposed and swept away. The real mystery is why Pompeo decided to continue with the business-as-usual mentality and has not followed through on the President’s pledge to “drain the swamp.”


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

01/26/17

Obama’s Real Identity and Legacy

By: Cliff Kincaid | America’s Survival

Cliff Kincaid and Joel Gilbert discuss Barack Obama’s “real father,” communist Frank Marshall Davis, and the role played by his grandfather, Stanley Dunham, a reputed CIA operative, in selecting Davis as Obama’s mentor. They also address Obama’s cover-up of his links to Davis and why the CIA did not alert the American people to Obama’s revolutionary agenda for the nation.

01/25/17

Will Trump’s CIA Investigate Itself?

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

When President Trump was greeted with cheers and strong applause at CIA headquarters, you knew that Obama’s CIA director John Brennan would decide to strike back. The liberal media were quick to quote Brennan as saying that he was “saddened” and “angered” by Trump’s remarks. But where did these quotes come from? Who provided them to the media?

The rest of the story sheds light on how politically partisan the CIA became under Brennan, and how rank-and-file CIA officers who want to “Make America Great Again” seem so happy that he is gone.

Nick Shapiro, the source of the Brennan quotes, is a “former CIA Deputy Chief of Staff,” which sounds impressive until you learn that Shapiro was a partisan mouthpiece not only for Brennan but for President Obama and, before that, John Kerry.

The controversial Brennan admittedly voted communist before joining the CIA and reportedly converted to Islam when he was in Saudi Arabia as CIA station chief. He was in charge of President Obama’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood policy that decimated the Middle East with endless wars that have produced millions of refugees.

“Ex-CIA chief Brennan bashes Trump over speech during CIA visit” was the headline over the predictably partisan CNN story. “Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes,” Shapiro said in a statement. “Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself.”

Shapiro’s quotes, attributed to Brennan, were picked up by many other media outlets as well.

In his speech, Trump talked about winning the war against radical Islamic terrorism with the help of the CIA. He discussed his battles with the “dishonest media,” comments that were also greeted enthusiastically.

In contrast to employing a winning strategy against radical Islam, Brennan said it was “regrettable” that Obama’s policy in Syria was a failure, a remark that generated little media interest even though the number of dead in Syria is now estimated as high as 500,000.

It was clear to any objective observer with a set of eyes and ears that Trump’s speech at CIA headquarters was a tremendous success. He was interrupted by applause 11 times.

Brennan, on the defensive for Obama’s policies that have left Europe in a refugee crisis that shows no sign of ending, decided to use Shapiro, a public relations operative, to bash the President.

Despite his CIA affiliation, Shapiro graduated from Tulane University in 2002 with no background in intelligence matters or foreign affairs. He had a Bachelor’s degree in communications and went to work for a public relations agency. He worked on Democrat John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and then as Deputy Press Secretary on Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign. He went to work for President Obama, handling “national reporters on a 24/7 basis,” according to one account. It looks like he was then dispatched to the CIA to help Brennan with the national media.

Those kinds of media manipulation skills were on display when the media lapped up the anti-Trump allegations from Brennan’s CIA, packaged in the form of anonymous sources. They were designed to depict Trump as winning the presidential election unfairly with the help of the Russians.

During the current controversy, Shapiro put Brennan’s comments on his Twitter feed and then promoted a CNN story attacking Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Trump’s nominee to run the CIA.

In other words, this is more politics from those who were running the CIA under Obama. They seem to be afraid that Trump and Pompeo will shake up the agency and get to the bottom of the damage that Brennan has inflicted on the CIA.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, was absolutely correct on ABC News’ “This Week” when she called Brennan a “partisan political hack” for criticizing the President’s speech. She noted that Trump got a standing ovation.

On “Fox News Sunday,” White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus indicated that Brennan was “bitter” over being replaced. He also said that Brennan “has a lot of things that he should answer for in regards to these leaked documents,” a reference to the unverified sexual charges made against Trump that were leaked to CNN and BuzzFeed. Priebus added that “I find the whole thing despicable. I think that it’s unprofessional.”

Rather than quote Brennan, shouldn’t the media investigate the former CIA director? If that’s not possible because of past media collusion with Brennan’s CIA, the job will have to fall on the shoulders of Trump’s new CIA Director Pompeo, and the House and Senate intelligence committees.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

01/19/17

How Obama’s CIA Manipulated the Media

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

The CIA and its media allies have thrown everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at President Donald J. Trump. Media bias, anonymous sources, and intelligence “garbage” have been on display. But the 25-page Intelligence Community report on alleged Russian hacking activities deserves special consideration, since a significant part of it relied on analysts hard at work watching broadcasts of Russia Today (RT) television. You wouldn’t know it by reading the report, but RT has historically been a mouthpiece of “progressives” favorable to the Democratic Party. Indeed, the Obama administration saw RT in the past as part of the “progressive” media organizations supporting left-wing causes.

Not only that, but RT was useful in disrupting the 2012 Republican presidential primary. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) dismissed my well-documented 2012 complaint about RT’s open support for libertarian Ron Paul and his pro-Russia views. We cited evidence that RT was funded by the Kremlin and prohibited under law from intervening in U.S. elections. The FEC dismissed the complaint, saying RT was a legitimate press entity and a U.S. corporation with First Amendment rights.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which supposedly monitors extremists, found nothing objectionable about RT when its own “Intelligence Report” Editor Mark Potok appeared on the April 26, 2010 edition of Russia Today’s “CrossTalk” program to discuss the rise of “right-wing” groups and so-called “Christian militias.” That was at a time when RT was seen as an important “progressive” outlet.

The Obama administration’s official concern about RT and other Russian activities came late, after years of inaction on complaints from Accuracy in Media and others about RT propaganda activities. The Russians suddenly became scapegoats for the loss of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. This new-found interest in the influence of the channel was a tip-off that the left-wing complaints about RT echoed in the Intelligence Community report are not to be taken seriously.

What should be cause for concern are the agents of influence in the media who disguise their CIA contacts as anonymous sources and were part of an intelligence community (IC) effort to discredit President Trump.

Who was Putin’s Candidate?

Looking at the election objectively, it is possible to say that Russian leader Vladimir Putin may have had a personal vendetta against the former U.S. secretary of state for some reason, stemming from allegations of U.S. meddling in Russian internal affairs. On the other hand, Putin may have preferred that Clinton become the U.S. president because her failed Russian “reset” had facilitated Russian military intervention in Ukraine and Syria, and he believed he could continue to take advantage of her.

In addition to the expansion under the Russian reset, the Russians obtained favored nation trading status under President Obama, giving them access to U.S. capital, and New START, a nuclear weapons agreement giving Moscow a strategic advantage.

Historically, the Russians have always found the Democrats to be friendlier to their global ambitions. Professor Paul Kengor broke a story on how “the liberals’ lover-boy,” Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), had “reached out to Victor Chebrikov at the KGB and Yuri Andropov at the Kremlin” to work against President Ronald Reagan.

One FBI memorandum examined “contacts between representatives of the Soviet Union and members of staff personnel of the United States Congress,” and listed several senators, including Ted Kennedy and George McGovern of South Dakota, the Democratic presidential candidate in 1972. Another was Walter Mondale of Minnesota, President Jimmy Carter’s vice president, who ran against President Reagan in 1984.

Our anti-Trump media accepted the January 6 report, “Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” because it was designed to convey the impression that Trump was favored by the Russians.

Such a charge was welcomed by the liberal media, in particular because it allowed them to divert attention away from the substance of the WikiLeaks revelations that showed how major journalists worked hand-in-glove with Hillary Clinton-for-president staffers. These disclosures were in emails hacked from the account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee. Yet, the IC report says that WikiLeaks, an alleged Russian agent, disseminated truthful information. “Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries,” the report says.

This is quite a turnaround for the Russians. In the past the Russians would alter or forge documents to make people look bad. This time, the Russians revealed the truth. For this reason, AIM published the article, “Thank you Vladimir Putin.” Of course, the Russians do not provide accurate and truthful information to their own people and they conduct propaganda and disinformation campaigns targeting foreign audiences. Their alleged illegal hacking into the private accounts of Americans cannot be justified. But Podesta and other Democrats can be criticized for failing to safeguard their own information and virtually inviting foreign hacking.

Russian intentions in allegedly providing the emails to WikiLeaks are a subject worthy of attention. But the conclusion that the Russians favored Trump over Clinton cannot be sustained by the evidence in the report. The IC report fails miserably in articulating how the Russians use dialectical maneuvers in playing both sides of the political street in the U.S.

RT’s Intervention in 2012

One of the glaring omissions in the report on Russian interference in “recent elections” is the failure to address the evidence that RT television was giving enormously favorable coverage in the 2012 presidential campaign to then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a libertarian with pro-Russia views on foreign policy. He ran in the Republican presidential primary.

One RT show featured libertarian host Adam Kokesh endorsing Paul and highlighting a “money bomb” fundraising campaign for him. Some political observers at the time believed that Paul’s campaign had the potential to undermine the Republican Party as it went into the 2012 campaign, and thereby help guarantee Obama’s re-election.

Of course, Obama won that election, after dismissing his Republican opponent Mitt Romney’s claim that Russia was a geopolitical threat to the United States. Obama had been caught on an open mic before the election promising to be “flexible” in changing his positions to benefit Russia. These comments provide more evidence that Obama was never the anti-Russian figure he postured as in the final days of his second term.

In understanding Russian motives and intentions, seven pages of the new IC report are devoted to RT television being a front for the Russian government. We’ve published dozens of stories over the years about RT’s service to the Moscow regime. So why didn’t the Obama Justice Department act on TV producer Jerry Kenney’s complaint that RT should register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and be labeled as foreign propaganda? That’s what the law requires.

This wasn’t the only documented case of Obama administration inaction on the Russian threat at that time. Kenney had alleged violations of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules that had given foreign broadcasters such as RT access to taxpayer-funded public television stations. The FCC dropped the complaint when the TV stations amended their contract with MHz Networks, the distributor of RT, to allow the station to preempt the foreign programming.

The evidence is clear: Obama’s various federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, the FCC and the FEC, refused to take any direct action against RT over the years when it was engaging in anti-Republican activities and supporting the progressive movement. But when they saw they could use RT as a weapon against Trump, they suddenly became concerned about foreign interference in the U.S. political process.

RT Backed Bernie

Although the IC report insists that the Russians had a “preference” for Donald J. Trump for president, we noted back in August of 2015 that RT’s Thom Hartmann, a leading American progressive, was backing “Bolshevik Bernie” Sanders for president. In 2016 Sanders appeared on RT with new RT hire, Ed Schultz, formerly of MSNBC.

Yet the intelligence community report makes no mention of RT programs backing Sanders, whose Russian connections included visiting the Soviet Union on his honeymoon. Sanders was a fellow traveler of the Moscow-controlled U.S. Peace Council.

The focus on Trump runs counter to the stated purpose of the report and reflects the political bias therein. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) says that “On December 9, 2016, President Barack Obama directed the Intelligence Community to conduct a full review and produce a comprehensive intelligence report assessing Russian activities and intentions in recent U.S. elections.” (emphasis added). Yet, nothing is said about RT’s involvement in the 2012 contest that Obama won.

The U.S. IC is described as “a coalition of 17 agencies and organizations, including the ODNI,” but only three were involved in the report. They were the CIA, FBI and NSA. It is generally believed that CIA Director John Brennan was the guiding force behind the Obama administration effort to blame the Russians for Trump’s election victory. Former CIA officials Michael Morell, Michael Hayden and Philip Mudd had all denounced Trump. Former CIA operations officer Evan McMullin even ran against Trump as an independent presidential candidate.

It certainly looks as if the CIA interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Perhaps blaming the Russians was an attempt to get the attention off the agency.

Brennan was accused of converting to Islam when he was stationed in Saudi Arabia. His CIA under Obama’s orders directed the shipment of arms to jihadist groups in the Middle East. At a congressional panel on diversity in hiring, he admitted voting Communist when he was in college.

His focus at the agency has been on hiring people with “diverse” backgrounds, such as transgenders, and he even signed a policy document on a “Diversity and Inclusion Strategy” for the years 2016 to 2019, beyond his tenure as director.

Rather than go down in history with a reputation for defending America, The Wall Street Journal reports that Brennan “would prefer his legacy be the way he fought to nurture a workforce that reflected America’s diversity.” The Journal added, “During his tenure he has put particular emphasis on promoting the interests of gay, lesbian, and transgender officers. He was the first CIA director to attend an annual social gathering of LGBTQ employees and has been known to wear a rainbow lanyard around the office as a symbol of solidarity.”

It looks like the focus on “diversity” in hiring has taken precedence over getting the facts right about foreign threats. Indeed, some observers, such as former FBI agent John Guandolo, have suggested that President Trump should abolish and replace the CIA with a new organization. “In 15 years they haven’t gotten a strategic analysis of the threat right—yet,” he told me in a recent interview.

Partners in Crime

The CIA will have to answer to its new director, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Trump’s pick to run the agency.

But the media have a lot to answer for as well. If WikiLeaks has suddenly became a Russian front or conduit, why are American news organizations such as The New York Times and The Washington Post still included among the “partners” with WikiLeaks in distributing its information? Other partners include the British Guardian, The Intercept, The Nation, McClatchy, The Wall Street Journal, and, of course, RT.

If WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a Russian agent, why did major U.S. media organizations partner with him? Why did they not investigate him at that time? One of my groups did so, publishing the report, “Julian Assange: Whistleblower or Spy for Moscow?” At that time, Assange was considered a courageous whistleblower by the liberal press. They hailed WikiLeaks for releasing the classified documents that were stolen by Army intelligence analyst Bradley/Chelsea Manning, whose sentence for espionage has been shortened by Obama.

In addition to these issues and questions, some parts of the report lend themselves to a far different interpretation of Russian motives in U.S. politics.

For example, the IC report notes that RT ran a story against fracking, a technique that has sparked U.S. oil and gas production. The report says, “RT runs anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health. This is likely reflective of the Russian Government’s concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom’s profitability.”

The 2016 Democratic Party platform is highly critical of fracking. So does this mean the Democrats are doing the bidding of Putin? The progressive movement is almost completely against fracking. Does that mean that the progressives are puppets of Putin?

Consider this exchange between Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Director of Intelligence James Clapper:

Cotton: There’s a widespread assumption, this has been expressed by Secretary Clinton herself since the election, that Vladimir Putin favored Donald Trump in this election. Donald Trump has proposed to increase our defense budget to accelerate nuclear modernization, to accelerate ballistic missile defenses, and to expand and accelerate oil and gas production which would obviously harm Russia’s economy. Hillary Clinton opposed or at least was not as enthusiastic about all those measures. Would each of those put the United States in a stronger strategic position against Russia?

Clapper: Currently, anything we do to enhance our military capabilities, absolutely.

Cotton: There is some contrary evidence, despite what the media speculates, that perhaps Donald Trump is not the best candidate for Russia.

By this objective measure of actual policies, Trump will prove to be more harmful to Russia than Hillary Clinton could ever hope to be.

The report notes that RT ran stories promoting the Occupy Wall Street movement. It says, “RT framed the movement as a fight against ‘the ruling class’ and described the current US political system as corrupt and dominated by corporations. RT advertising for the documentary featured Occupy movement calls to ‘take back’ the government. The documentary claimed that the US system cannot be changed democratically, but only through ‘revolution.’ After the 6 November US presidential election, RT aired a documentary called ‘Cultures of Protest,’ about active and often violent political resistance.”

We had noted RT’s favorable coverage of the Occupy movement. Of course, Occupy Wall Street was a left-wing political movement aligned with the progressives and even encouraged by President Obama. So does this mean that Obama was doing the bidding of the Russians?

RT Evades U.S. Law

The IC report explains how RT bypassed American laws such as the Foreign Agents Registration Act “by using a Moscow-based autonomous nonprofit organization to finance its US operations.” The report goes on, “According to RT’s leadership, this structure was set up to avoid the Foreign Agents Registration Act and to facilitate licensing abroad. In addition, RT rebranded itself in 2008 to deemphasize its Russian origin.” Still, the financing for the channel comes from the Russian government, the report says.

So RT is, and has been, a foreign state-funded entity that should be subject to federal oversight from agencies such as the Department of Justice, the FCC, and the FEC. Yet, only now, after Hillary Clinton has lost the presidential election, has the IC been ordered to release a public report on what the Russian channel has been doing in U.S. elections.

The only thing that has changed over the years is that RT is now somehow considered to be a factor in Hillary Clinton’s defeat.

“RT hires or makes contractual agreements with Westerners with views that fit its agenda and airs them on RT,” the report says. Of course, we’ve documented this for years. However, RT hosts like Thom Hartmann and Ed Schultz are not Trump supporters or conservatives. They are progressives.

Over the years, the liberal media have treated Hartmann and Schultz as progressive heroes. A Politico article from 2013, “Thom Hartmann: View from the left,” didn’t even mention his work for RT.

Hartmann claims editorial control over his own show. But since the IC report says RT hires people whose views “fit” their agenda, a quick look at Hartmann’s RT website is worthwhile. It suggests that the Russians are interested in issues such as saving Obamacare and how the Trump presidency could bring on an economic crash.

Bashing Conservatives, RT-Style

It seems that RT has suddenly reverted to its anti-conservative style of coverage. Guests on Hartmann’s RT program come from the left and right, but mostly from the left. They have recently included:

  • Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council
  • Author Max Blumenthal
  • Media analyst and critic Jeff Cohen
  • Terry Tamminen, CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation
  • Chris Lewis of Public Knowledge
  • Alex Lawson of Social Security Works and Valerie Ervin of the Working Families Party
  • Democracy Spring Director Kai Newkirk and Sarah Badawi of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee

Years ago I had the opportunity to ask Hartmann face-to-face about his acceptance of Russian rubles to do his show. He tried to grab my camera to prevent me from taping his response.

If the liberal media are now truly concerned about Russian influence in the U.S. political process, rather than just using the issue as a weapon against Trump, they should take a look at Hartmann and his comrades on RT and review their own “partner” relationship with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

After this review is complete, they should take another look at the IC report and determine why and how agencies like the CIA became adjuncts of the Democratic Party with a partisan bias against the new Republican president.

Since we know that the media and the Democrats work hand-in-glove, perhaps it’s time to investigate the CIA’s relationship with the media.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

01/15/17

The CIA’s War on Trump, Continued

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

Echoing New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s warning that the intelligence community is out to “get” President-elect Trump, a Brookings Institution expert who served in the Clinton administration says that Trump’s treatment of his spies will “come back to bite him” in the form of “devastating” leaks to the media that will make him look foolish or incompetent.

Leaking by intelligence officials and analysts is, of course, illegal.

“The intelligence community doesn’t leak as much as the Pentagon or Congress, but when its reputation is at stake, it can do so to devastating effect,” says Daniel Benjamin of the Brookings Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence. Benjamin previously served as the principal advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on counterterrorism and was embroiled in the controversy over Mrs. Clinton’s failure to stop the massacre of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Benjamin’s article, “How Trump’s attacks on the intelligence community will come back to haunt him,” did not refute the widely held belief that President Obama’s CIA and its director John Brennan were behind the recent leaks to The Washington Post and New York Times  depicting Trump as a Russian puppet. In fact, the implication is that the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community will seek further revenge on Trump if he continues to criticize them.

At his recent news conference, in regard to the leaks about his meetings with intelligence officials, Trump noted that “I think it’s pretty sad when intelligence reports get leaked out to the press. I think it’s pretty sad. First of all, it’s illegal. You know, these are classified and certified meetings and reports.”

But it appears that some intelligence officials believe they are above the law and can use illegal leaks to damage an elected President who has been critical of their work product.

In the most recent case, CNN and BuzzFeed were leaked a document offering unsubstantiated claims of Trump being sexually compromised by Russian officials. CNN summarized the document; BuzzFeed published the whole thing.

Trump denounced these leaks, with Director of the Office of National Intelligence James Clapper disclosing that he had called Trump about them and had declared his “profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press…” He said that he and Trump “both agreed that they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security.”

Trump said Clapper “called me yesterday to denounce the false and fictitious report that was illegally circulated.”

“I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC [Intelligence Community],” Clapper said. However, he did not indicate what investigation, if any, he had conducted to make this determination.

“When something goes wrong—say a military deployment to combat jihadi insurgents in the Middle East blows up in the Trump administration’s face—the press will overflow with stories telling of intelligence reports that were ignored by the White House and briefings the president missed,” Benjamin wrote. Such stories, of course, would be based on illegal leaks.

“Imagine what an aggrieved intel community might do to a genuinely hostile president,” he said. Benjamin’s comments suggest that the intelligence community will use the media to blame Trump for things that go wrong in foreign affairs, in order to protect its own reputation.

Benjamin should know something about the relationship of the Intelligence Community to the news media. His bio says that he began his career as a journalist and held positions as the Germany bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal and Germany correspondent for Time magazine.

The Brookings expert said, “the CIA is usually one of the very first agencies to establish a relationship with new chief executives, because of the briefings it delivers before elections have even occurred and the beguiling prospect it offers of handling missions quietly and efficiently.”

It’s not clear what he means by this. The Obama CIA’s “covert” arms-running program in Syria has backfired in a big way, provoking a Russian military intervention, the loss of up to 500,000 lives, and a refugee crisis which threatens the future of Europe.

Benjamin speculated that Trump will ask the CIA to organize a covert operation to undermine the regime in Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism, and that the agency will offer him options that don’t guarantee success and which he may have to reject. He wrote that “…it is an iron law of bureaucracy that no agency will knock itself out for a leader it deems capricious, especially one who cannot be relied on to defend his own if something goes wrong.”

“The answer from the intel community will never be no,” he said. “Instead, the planners will brief the president on three different approaches. Then they will assess the risk of failure for each at 60-80 percent, providing the Oval Office with a dare it cannot possibly accept. For some, of course, this could turn out to be a silver lining in otherwise dismal story.”

In short, the CIA will look for excuses not to proceed, and then get back to the business of leaking damaging stories to the press when terrorist incidents and other problems occur.

Is the CIA really the “invisible government” that the so-called “conspiracy theorists” have warned about? Is there a “deep state” that tries to run the government behind-the-scenes?

Articles like those of Daniel Benjamin, a journalist who became a Hillary Clinton operative in the counter-terrorism field, seem to be more damaging to the idea of American self-government than anything the Russians have been accused of doing.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

01/13/17

Our Warmonger President and the Lapdog Press

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

President Obama has moved the nation toward war with Russia, up to 500,000 are dead in Syria, Libya is a disaster, and Germany is welcoming a Muslim invasion of Europe that threatens the collapse of the European Union and NATO. Two million refugees are leaving the Middle East, some of them destined for the U.S.

Yet, Department of Defense News, an official Pentagon public relations outfit, released a story announcing that “Defense leaders hailed the commitment and accomplishments of departing commander in chief President Barack Obama in a formal military ceremony as he closes out his presidency.”

We were told that “During the ceremony, the president reviewed the troops from the five military branches, and received from [Defense Secretary Ashton] Carter the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. The event featured a 21-gun salute, and music from the U.S. Army Band ‘Pershing’s Own’ and the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.”

If we had anything approaching an honest and objective news media, Obama would not even have attempted such a spectacle, out of fear that he would become a laughingstock. He has presided over a humanitarian disaster in Syria, where American troops are now dying, and his no-win war on the Islamic State has never been approved by Congress.

The CIA and the Terrorists

PBS Newshour ran an interview with Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan, in which he said regarding Syria: “If we had a chance to do it over again, would there have been some adjustments and changes? I can’t speak for policy-makers. I’m not a policy-maker. But when I look back, in light of the way things evolved, I think that there could have been some adjustments to some of the policies, not just by the United States, but by other countries, in order to address this question earlier or, and not allow the ISILs and the Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaidas to gain momentum and steam and taking advantage of the destruction of that country.” Brennan went on to say, “…I think the way that the situation unfolded was—is regrettable.”

How does Obama’s CIA director get away with simply saying that the human misery and suffering in Syria spilling over into Europe are “regrettable?” Where is the accountability for this debacle? And on what legal and constitutional basis is America at war in Syria anyway?

Welcome to the world of what can be called media malpractice. Our media have fallen and they can’t get up. These matters of war and peace, life and death, are not significant enough to rise to the level of sustained media interest. After all, they might interfere with Obama’s approval ratings and tarnish his legacy.

It’s not as if the media don’t understand what Obama’s CIA has been doing. The Washington Post reported that a secret CIA operation to train and arm rebels in Syria had cost $1 billion by the middle of 2015. The Post said the program the CIA program set up in 2013 was “to bolster moderate forces.”

But according to Brennan on PBS, more radical groups joined the fight, leading to a “regrettable” situation.

If we had journalists trained in objective news reporting, we would have a media demanding accountability from the Obama administration over a “regrettable” policy that has spun out of control, leading to a human disaster of astounding proportions throughout the Middle East and Europe. Some are calling the Russian/Iranian/Syrian counterattack “genocide.”

On the left, fortunately, the media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has taken note of the fiasco, highlighting the fact that The Washington Post ran a column by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) insisting that the U.S. had “done nothing” in Syria. That’s nothing to the tune of $1 billion by the middle of 2015. FAIR wondered, as did I, whether the editors of the Post considered attaching a note to the McCain column stating that “the CIA has spent up to $1 billion a year on the Syrian opposition, or roughly $1 out of every $15 dollars the agency spends.”

Our Warnings

Back in 2013, this columnist warned that Obama’s Syria policy, which was supported by McCain, threatened to embolden al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Syria. That is precisely what happened.

When Brian Kilmeade of Fox News objected to “moderate” Syrian rebels yelling “Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar,” McCain shot back: “Would you have a problem with an American or Christians saying ‘Thank God, Thank God?’ That’s what they’re saying. Come on! Of course they’re Muslims, but they’re moderates and I guarantee you they are moderates.”

“Jihad Watch” director Robert Spencer commented that “Allahu akbar” does not mean “Thank God.” Rather, he said, “It is a war cry which means ‘Allah is greater,’” and “is essentially a proclamation of superiority.” Spencer notes that it is the same cry that Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members shout as they kill Christians and destroy Christian churches.

At the time, however, many different publications, including Politico, The Huffington Post, Business Insider and Mediaite, ran stories about the exchange which claimed that McCain had somehow “shamed” Brian Kilmeade and Fox News, as if McCain knew what he was talking about and that Kilmeade had been exposed as an ignoramus.

Spencer wrote, “McCain’s appalling ignorance and Obama’s ongoing enthusiasm for all things Muslim Brotherhood, including the Syrian opposition, are leading the U.S. into disaster.”

That disaster has come to pass, not because the U.S. did “nothing,” as claimed by McCain, but because the U.S. did “something” to the tune of $1 billion and still failed. Now, McCain wants strong sanctions against Russia, over what he calls a hacking operation that constituted an “act of war” against the United States.

Using dubious “intelligence” reports, including one from the same CIA that engineered the Syrian disaster, Obama has announced sanctions against Russia and expulsions of Russian officials from the U.S.

No Declaration of War

Needless to say, Congress never declared war on Syria, in order to justify CIA funding of the “rebels” there. The Congress has also not declared war on the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, and yet we are at war in the Middle East against them, and American troops are dying on the battlefield.

In a matter-of-fact manner, The Washington Post recently reported, “In his first floor speech since he and Hillary Clinton lost the election, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) revived one of his signature issues Wednesday: urging Congress to authorize military force against the Islamic State terrorist group.”

That “signature issue” happens to involve the constitutional requirement that Congress alone can declare war. The term “signature” suggests that Kaine has made it into his own unique cause, and that other members don’t share his enthusiasm. The media certainly don’t care for what he is doing. After all, his analysis undermines the legal and constitutional basis of much of what Obama has been doing in the Middle East.

Is this not an issue about which the media, left and right, can agree: that the Obama administration and Congress should be held accountable when wars are conducted without proper authority? Does a Commander-in-Chief deserve the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service and a 21-gun salute for going to war without the advice and consent of Congress?

In a speech paying tribute to Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton of Woodbridge, Virginia, who was killed in combat in Syria, Kaine highlighted “the costs of two and a half years of war against ISIL.” Kaine said, “I continue to believe, and I will say this in a very personal way as a military dad, that the troops we have deployed overseas deserve to know that Congress is behind this mission. As this war has expanded into two-plus years…more and more of our troops are risking and losing their lives far from home, I am concerned and raise again something I’ve raised often on this floor—that there is a tacit agreement to avoid debating this war in the one place it ought to be debated: in the halls of Congress.”

It has been reported that there are approximately 300 American troops on the ground inside Syria. Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton, 42, was killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in November near Ayn Issa, Syria.

Department of Defense News reported his death in a tiny story which carried the headline, “Department of Defense Identifies Navy Casualty.” He lost his life on Thanksgiving Day, November 24.

Senator Kaine is Right

The war against ISIS is based on the Congressional passage of the authorization for use of military force in September of 2001 to go after al-Qaeda for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America. “We see that that authorization has been stretched way beyond what it was intended to do,” Kaine noted.

Demonstrating that he was not willing to get Obama off the hook, Kaine went on to say, “President Obama recently announced that the authorization is now going to be expanded to allow use of military action against al-Shabab, the African terrorist group—a dangerous terrorist group to be sure—but al-Shabab did not begin until 2007. So an original authorization that was very specific by this body to allow action against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks is now being used all over the globe against organizations that didn’t even exist when the 9/11 attack occurred.”

The New York Times reported Obama’s move in a matter-of-fact way under the headline, “Obama Expands War With Al Qaeda to Include Shabab in Somalia.” The Times explained, “The administration has decided to deem the Shabab, the Islamist militant group in Somalia, to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to senior American officials.”

The paper acknowledged this “stretching of the 2001 war authorization against the original Al Qaeda to cover other Islamist groups in countries far from Afghanistan—even ones, like the Shabab, that did not exist at the time—has prompted recurring objections from some legal and foreign policy experts.” The Times added, “Under the 2001 authorization, the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with a specific organization, not every Islamist militant in the world. But that authority has proved elastic.”

So the Constitution is being disregarded in favor of the “stretching” of an old resolution that has proven to be “elastic.” How can weasel words like these be reported in a paper that is supposed to hold the government accountable?

Senator Kaine noted, “When the new Congress is sworn in in early January, I think 80 percent of the members of Congress were not here when the September 14, 2001 authorization was passed. So the 80 percent of us that were not here in 2001 have never had a meaningful debate or vote upon this war against ISIL.”

Kaine pointed out that when Obama spoke about “the need to go on offense against ISIL” in September of 2014, “it took him six months from the start of hostilities to even deliver to Congress a proposed authorization.”

Congress never acted on it and Obama continued the war anyway. Kaine added, “As my President knows, who not only is a Senator but a historian, the founding documents of this country are so unusual still today in making the initiation of war a legislative rather than an executive function.”

He went on to say that “…it seems to me to be almost the height of public immorality to force people to risk and give their lives in support for a mission we’re unwilling to discuss.”

Obama’s lawless and unconstitutional actions had actually begun earlier, when he waged a war on Libya that ultimately produced the Benghazi massacre of four Americans. My June 2, 2011, column had noted, “In the Senate, McCain, who has turned into an advocate for Al-Jazeera, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the war, conducted with the approval of the Arab League and the United Nations but not Congress. Al-Jazeera, committed to the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region, openly backs the ‘pro-democracy fighters’ in Libya, playing down their links to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.”

Syria was a virtual replay of the Benghazi debacle, only on a much larger scale.

What was happening in Libya, as Accuracy in Media’s (AIM) Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi had documented, was that the U.S. under Obama had “switched sides” in the war on terror in favor of the terrorists.

The war in Libya was not only immoral but illegal and unconstitutional. But the media failed to acknowledge the facts. Under the War Powers Act, a president can go to war on his own only if there is an imminent threat to the U.S., and there is a 60-day deadline for the withdrawal of forces. Obama violated both provisions of the law. There was no direct or immediate threat to the U.S. from Libya, and Obama ignored the 60-day deadline for approval from Congress.

Yet in 2007 then-Senator Obama had loudly declared that “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Trump’s Challenges

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s detractors claim he is entering the presidency in the midst of a constitutional crisis stemming from alleged Russian hacking into the email systems of Democratic Party politicians.

But we are already in a constitutional crisis caused by Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional actions. The failure of the media to hold Obama accountable for the wars which take the lives of members of the Armed Forces is a dramatic indication of how “media malpractice” goes beyond false facts and fake news.

The facts are not in dispute in regard to Obama’s actions that committed the U.S. to wars in the Middle East without the approval of Congress. The issue is clear-cut.

Obama, the alleged historian and legal scholar, doesn’t want to talk about that. Instead, at the military ceremony in his honor, he said, “Service members can now serve the country they love without hiding who they are or who they love.” In fact, Defense Secretary Carter has opened up the military, under Obama’s direction, even to the transgendered, with the Pentagon paying for their sex change operations.

This is what it has been all about for Obama—social experimentation and diversity, not fighting or winning wars. But his wars have not been without cost—in lives and refugees and more global terrorism.

Senator Kaine has been willing to go beyond political partisanship to demand that the Constitution be obeyed. Let’s hope that he finds a sympathetic ear in President Trump. It would be a way to move forward on a bipartisan basis to confront foreign dangers and threats.

The media’s dereliction of duty in matters of war and peace would then be exposed for all to see.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.