August 21, 2018

Intelligence Community Weighs in on Brennan

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

. (Reuters, The Flip Side)

Also on Monday, Trump responded to reports that Brennan is contemplating challenging the decision in court: “

See past issues

The left sees Trump’s actions as “personal retribution” and “another instance of the Trump administration bailing on important precedent.”

Wired

Rep. Jim Himes

D-CT), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, writes, “John Brennan is an invaluable asset to our national security and to the United States as a whole. You could count on one hand the number of individuals with more expertise in his field... To take revenge on one more individual on his enemies list, the president is once again putting political consideration and personal animosity above national security.”

The Hill

Some point out that an executive order issued by then-President Bill Clinton requires a comprehensive process including appeals for revoking security clearances. “If Brennan chooses to challenge Trump’s action, he could stir up quite a fuss, presenting the president with yet another continuing struggle on top of all the others he’s facing. And it could be a long one... lasting years.”

Washington Post

Finally, some point out that “far from trying to silence Brennan, Trump is elevating him. He wants to make Brennan the face of the so-called resistance. This is the Trump playbook… Trump understands that singling out Brennan will only amplify Brennan’s voice. If mere punishment were Trump’s goal, he would have simply urged the CIA to revoke Brennan’s clearance. Instead, he did it himself — thereby letting the world know that Brennan is his foil. And so far, Brennan has obliged.”

Bloomberg

Regarding the deployment of an aircraft carrier and bombers, many note that the US “has a long history of provoking, instigating, or launching wars based on dubious, flimsy, or manufactured threats… The most egregious case was the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in 2003, which was based on bad intelligence that Baghdad had active weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. The repercussions are still playing out sixteen years (and more than four thousand American deaths) later… The sense of foreboding is tangible.”
Robin Wright, The New Yorker

Trump's “goal, it seems, is to put so much pressure on Tehran that it has no choice but to completely change its behavior — but he could end up leading the countries to the brink of war in the process… Now is typically the time when cooler heads prevail, but it’s unclear if there are cooler heads around… It’s hard to overstate how avoidable this situation was.”
Alex Ward, Vox

“In theory, there’s no reason why a bad businessman can’t go on to become a good president. But a commander-in-chief whose signature legislative achievement expanded tax loopholes that he himself describes as grossly unfair is pretty much a bad president, by definition.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

The right believes that Trump was correct in revoking Brennan’s security clearance.

The right believes that Trump was correct in revoking Brennan’s security clearance.

Many argue that “Brennan monetized his security clearance to flavor his ‘commentary’ with the tang of inside knowledge. There is no government interest in that, and the government has no place allowing Brennan to hold a clearance for his own profit... A clearance isn’t a gift; it’s a tool issued by the government so employees can get work done. Brennan is working now only for himself. He deserved to lose his clearance.”

The American Conservative

“[Brennan] speaks out in a nod-and-a-wink manner, the undercurrent of which is that if he could only tell you the secrets he knows, you’d demand Trump’s impeachment forthwith... For the overwhelming majority of officials, the presumption should be that security clearances lapse when they leave their government jobs. Intelligence access is a ‘need to know’ proposition; upon exiting, a now-former official no longer needs to know... As is often the case with President Trump, the right thing has been done here for the wrong reason.”

National Review



Others point out that “

New York Post

“We've got to suck it up. Indeed, we must be bold here. Chinese President Xi Jinping's tariffs escalation reflects his bet that he can spike U.S. domestic fears over the economy, and a corresponding popular pressure on Trump to back down… if we stand firm, Xi will have to back down because China's economy is already weakened by foreign investor doubts, caught between rural poverty and urban wealth, and vulnerable to low-cost labor competition from the region.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“The broader context here is North Korea's crop crisis. If Kim hasn't got sanctions relief by August's end, a painful winter is coming… Absent Kim's commitment to suspend all ballistic missile tests, the U.S. should not support the provision of food supplies to the North Korean people. A North Korean long-range nuclear strike capability poses an existential threat to American society… Trump must not allow North Korea's coming suffering to dictate his decisions. Supporting North Korea with food will both prolong North Koreans' suffering under Kim and directly undercut U.S. interests.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

Some argue, “It stands to reason that if Kim is willing to starve his own people, deprive his economy of any growth, and pour billions of dollars into missile tech, he will, at some point, develop weapons America and its allies mastered decades ago. And short of an invasion or a diplomatic agreement, under the present circumstances, there is very little we can do to stop him… Taking a hardline approach—what many call the ‘big deal’—or only granting sanctions relief after full denuclearization and the end of Kim’s missile programs is completely impractical and something North Korea would never agree to… only a step-by-step process of disarming Pyongyang, where each side gets a benefit for making a concession, will work.”
Harry J. Kazianis, The American Conservative

Others posit that “the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea… If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…

“After an exhausting two weeks [between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others], one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not the time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, ‘Why is this our problem?’”
Pat Buchanan, Townhall

Counterpoint: “after the War of 1812, President Madison… enacted the Tariff of 1816 to price British textiles out of competition, so Americans would build the new factories and capture the booming U.S. market. It worked. Tariffs [also] financed Mr. Lincoln’s War. The Tariff of 1890 bears the name of Ohio Congressman and future President William McKinley, who said that a foreign manufacturer ‘has no right or claim to equality with our own… He pays no taxes. He performs no civil duties’… [A tariff’s] purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities.”
Patrick J. Buchanan, The American Conservative

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

On the bright side...

Two goats seenroaming along the N line tracks in Brooklyn for nearly two hours before being rescued.

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