Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Trump Administration or Junta?

To describe the current US political landscape as conflicted would be an understatement. Nominally the Left is gearing up for an all out battle royale with Trump, one which is allegedly personal. After all, longtime Clinton insider Sidney Blumenthal has made dark charges in Europe concerning a coup d'etat carried out by "right wing FBI agents" to deny Hillary the presidency. Not to be out done, the alt-right has chalked up the rather suspicious mass protests that have broken out in the wake of Trump's victory on a plot by Obama, the Clintons and George Soros to stage a "color revolution" in these United States.

On the other hand, the Establishment has quietly been lining up behind Trump, the stock market has vigorously rallied since the election and Trump is finding little difficulty in forging alliances with the Republican Party hierarchy that he allegedly opposes. Just last week Trump tapped revered Republican insider Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff. This week Trump is meeting with 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, much despised by the Tea Party crowd and whom Trump frequently clashed with during the elections, to potentially discuss Romney taking on the post of Secretary of State.

While the alt-right is no doubt chewing nails over these developments, they likely still have a warm, fuzzy feeling over the appointment of Breitbart executive Steve Bannon as "chief strategist" and Trump's proclamations that Bannon would share power in his cabinet with Priebus. Bannon is a beloved figure in the alt-right that some credit with spearheading Trump's "surprise" victory. The mainstream media, whom Bannon likely dealt a mortal blow to during the election, has decried him as a bigot and misogynist. Bannon seems to relish this type of attention if recent proclamations he made such as "Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power" are any indication.

Of special interest to readers of this blog are no doubt Trump's selections for National Security Advisor and CIA director. As to the former, the president's National Security Adviser is one of the most powerful figures in the entire cabinet and a major indicator of the foreign policy the administration will be perusing. Former NSAs such as Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezenski and Condoleeza Rice all wielded enormous influence in the administrations of Nixon, Ford, Carter and Bush II, respectively. Kissinger and Rice parlayed their turns as the National Security Advisor into the even more prestigious post of Secretary of State. 

Typically the National Security Advisor is a civilian with a minor military background groomed in the Ivy League and having spent time with one of the major foreign policy think tanks such as the Council on Foreign Relations or the Brookings Institute before assuming the post. Kissinger, Brzezenski, Rice, Frank Carlucci and McGeorge Bundy all fall into this category. Even National Security Advisors such as Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft with strong military backgrounds come from the same type of privileged background. 

This is one of the reasons why the Establishment media is having such a meltdown over the appointment of General Michael T. Flynn as Trump's National Security Advisor. Flynn is a highly controversial career military intelligence officer with few ties to the Ivy League or elite think tanks. Indeed, Flynn has come as being rather contemptuous of the foreign policy put forth by such institutions and their acolytes.

The general is most well known now for having been Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), but he first rose to prominence for his work with General Stanley McChrystal, the infamous commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) during the Bush II years. His working relationship with McChrystal dated back before their JSOC days.
"Flynn, who was McChrystal's deputy at the 18th Airborne, deployed with him to Kabul, where her served as director of intelligence for CJTF 180. Known in his early years as a hard-partying surfer, Flynn was commissioned in 1981 as an army second lieutenant and became an intelligence officer, doing multiple tours at Fort Bragg. He participated in the 1983 invasion of Grenada and the invasion of Haiti in the early 1990s. He spent his career working on sensitive military intelligence programs and building up systems for developing intelligence collection in 'denied' areas. As McChrystal rose, Flynn rose with him. When McChrystal returned to Washington, Flynn returned to command the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade, whose members would, among other activities, deploy, 'equipped with low density systems' such as unmanned aerial vehicles 'to continue operations throughout the world.' This period marked a dramatic uptick in the use of a variety of drones that would later become central weapons in Washington's wars. Flynn would be on the knife's edge of the intelligence technology that would be at the center of the mounting, global kill/capture campaign."
(Dirty Wars, Jeremy Scahill, pg. 105)
Novel uses of drones were not the only "innovations" that Flynn introduced to the Pentagon's arsenal. He, along with McChrystal, established an intelligence gathering infrastructure known as by the acronym F3EA.
"McChrystal and Flynn's fusion approach to gathering intelligence relied on an infrastructure for targeting known by the acronym F3EA: Find, Fix, Finish, Exploit, and Analyze. 'The idea was to combine analysts who found the enemy (through intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance); drone operators who fixed the target; combat teams who finished the target by capturing or killing him; specialists who exploited the intelligence the raid yielded, such as cell phones, maps, and detainees; and and the intelligence analysts who turned the raw information into usable knowledge,' wrote McChrystal. "By doing this. we speeded up the cycle for a counterterrorism operation, gleaning valuable insights in hours, not days.' "
(Dirty Wars, Jeremy Scahill, pg. 145)
A key component of this rapid intelligence gathering were "enhanced" interrogation methods that allegedly produced results in a more timely fashion than "standard" methods.
"Strategically, Flynn and McChrystal were hailed as geniuses. But the whole system was ultimately dependent on human intelligence, not technology. And with an incredibly diverse spectrum of insurgents attacking the occupation forces, that was a major challenge. It was this urgent need for HUMINT and the pressure from the White House and the Pentagon to produce results to crush the insurgency (which they had declared did not exist) that would lead to a brutal regime of abuse and torture of detainees held by JSOC. Unsatisfied with the pace of interrogations being conducted by the CIA and other US agencies in the early stages of the Global War on Terror, Rumsfeld and Cambone developed a parallel rendition and detention program to the CIA black sites authorized under Greystone. The new Special Access Program went by various code names, including Copper Green, Matchbox and Footprint. With only some two hundred people read into the Special Access Program (SAP), the highly classified program put Stephen Cambone's private intel shop in the Pentagon on steroids..."
(Dirty Wars, Jeremy Scahill, pg. 145)
Here are some more details about the infamous "Special Access Program" (SAP):
"As the Iraqi insurgency erupted in August, Secretary Rumsfeld reportedly acted with characteristic decisiveness by ordering his special access program operatives into Iraq, inserting them into military prisons with the authority for harsh interrogation beyond Army regulations. Operating under the code name Copper Green, Rumsfeld's SAP, which included the CIA, soon ran into serious problems. The team focused, in part, on interrogations at Abu Ghraib, where, over Karpinski's objections, the CIA concealed some thirty ghost detainees who were logged into the system. Whether they were SAP or ordinary CIA, Karpinski began seeing mysterious operatives, whom she called 'disappearing ghosts,' around the prison in late 2003, who masked their identities with aliases and civilian clothes. Besides employing the usual psychological tactics, these interrogations reportedly introduced the practice of forced nudity and explicit photography, on the theory that 'Arabs are particularly vulnerable to sexual humiliation.' But by late fall of 2003, senior CIA officials were recoiling from the abuses at Abu Ghraib, saying, in the words of a former intelligence officer, 'No way. We signed up for the core program in Afghanistan --pre-approved for operations against high-value targets --and now you want to use it on cabdrivers, brothers-in-law, and people pulled off the streets.' And in a reference to the Vietnam War's Phoenix program, the sourced added, 'We're not going to use our guys to do this. We've been there before.' As the CIA quit the SAP on advise of its lawyers, others in the intelligence community became concerned that the Abu Ghraib interrogations might compromise what they viewed as an effective covert operation..."
(A Question of Torture, Alfred McCoy, pgs. 132-133)
one of the most notorious images to come out of Abu Ghraib
As I noted before here, the "enhanced" interrogation methods employed at Abu Ghraib and other "black sites" in the Global War on Terror were very much based upon the ARTICHOKE program that was originally initiated to investigate "special" interrogation methods. While ARTICHOKE is commonly linked to the CIA, it is important to remember (as noted before here) that the Pentagon was very much a partner in this program and incorporated many of the methods devised in this program into its own interrogation methods. This is noteworthy in no small part because the CIA appears to have become weary of the methods employed by Flynn and McChrystal. While the CIA is often depicted as controlling SAP, it was in fact run by the above mentioned Stephen Cambone out of the Pentagon.

It is also interesting to note that the head of ISIS was interred at Abu Ghraib at some point during 2004, when Flynn and McChrystal's operations were at their peak. It is suspected that other ISIS leaders did time at this facility as well. Given the possibility that these men may well have been subjected to "behavioral modification" techniques at Abu Ghraib, it puts Flynn's obsession with ISIS in a new light. He may have good reason to pin the rise of ISIS on Obama if in fact some rather unorthodox "interrogation" techniques were employed on the leadership during his watch. Certainly this sounds better than tasking the man who may have played a key role in indoctrinating the ISIS hierarchy with defeating the network. But moving along.

While Fynn's appointment as National Security Advisor was fairly predictable (Trump had considered Flynn as his possible VP pick at one point, so it was rather inevitable that he would have a role in the administration) his choice for CIA head is far more curious. Thus far Trump has largely appointed loyalists to key positions. But his nomination for CIA director, Mike Pompeo, had no real ties to Trump prior to the nomination. He was close to Trump's VP, Mike Pence, however. And like Pence, Pompeo is very close to the infamous Koch brothers. Here are some details about Pompeo's ties to the Koch brothers:
"Another defender of the committee was Mike Pompeo, a freshman Republican from Koch Industries' hometown of Witchita, Kansas, who was closely entwined with the billionaire brothers that he became known as the 'congressman from Koch.' The Kochs had once invested an undisclosed amount of money in the aerospace company that Pompeo had founded. By the time he ran for office, the Kochs were no longer investors in his business but had become major backers of his candidacy. Their corporate PAC and Americans for Prosperity also weighed in on his behalf. After his election, Pompeo turned to the company for his chief of staff, choosing Mark Chenoweth, a lawyer who had worked for Koch Industries' legislative priorities --opposition to Obama's plans to create a public EPA registry of greenhouse gas polluters and a digital database of consumer complaints of unsafe products..."
(Dark Money, Jane Mayer, pg. 276)
Already the Establishment media is in a tale spin over these developments, alleging that the CIA has been taken over the Kochs. Hardly, but there maybe a more stealth coup taking place.

Trump appeared to have vigorous backing from the CIA leading up to the election. As I noted before here, it was especially significant that former CIA director James Woolsey, one of the most well-connected spooks out there, threw in with Trump. As such, I expected a CIA veteran to be tapped for the post and initially Trump seemed to be going in this direction if the rumors of a Jose Rodriguez nomination were any indication. But instead he opted to go with Pompeo, a choice that has apparently puzzled some intelligence insiders. After all, Pompeo seemingly has no prior ties to the CIA.

He does, however, have ties to the US Army. Pompeo graduated from the US Military Academy and spent five years in the Army as part of the Armor Branch. He left the Army in 1991 and founded Thayer Aerospace in 1997 (with ample capital from the Koch brothers), a company that received numerous defense contracts. It is thus likely that Pompeo has longstanding ties to the Pentagon and may have even been groomed for his eventual role in the private sector.

Essentially, the top four posts in a president's administration for shaping foreign policy are the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Director of the CIA and the National Security Advisor. With the likely nomination of General James Mattis as the Secretary of Defense, Trump is thus staffing three of these four posts with military men. One of them, Flynn. has strong ties to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), an organization that ran into conflict with the CIA during the Bush II years.
"It was during this period that Rumsfeld, Cambone and JSOC ran roughshod over the 'covert' versus 'clandestine' divide and did so with the backing of the White House. The Pentagon began defining 'coordination' with the CIA as giving the Agency a seventy-two-hour heads-up that the JSOC would be conducting an operation, and Cambone altered the definition of military 'deployment orders ,' which are required to be provided to Congress. Cambone issued new guidelines that asserted the right of Special Ops Forces to 'conduct clandestine HUMINT operations' before alerting Congress. Not only was the CIA being boxed out of operations it historically he;d sovereignty over, but the use of the JSOC to conduct intelligence operations kept Congress even further at bay. Combined with the Copper Green program, this effectively meant that JSOC was free to act as as a spy agency and a kill/capture force rolled into one. Even some well-connected Republican allies of the White House were disturbed by what they were witnessing. 'Operations the CIA runs have one set of restrictions and oversight, and the military has another,' a Republican member of Congress 'with a substantial role in national security oversight,' told the Washington Post. 'It sounds like there's an angle here of, "Let's get around having any oversight by having the military do something that normally the [CIA] does, and not tell anybody." That immediately raises all kinds of red flags for me. Why aren't they telling us?' "
(Dirty Wars, Jeremy Scahill, pg. 171)

Essentially the JSOC set itself up as the Pentagon's very own rival to the CIA's Special Activities Division (SAD), historically one of the most powerful branches of the Agency. A part of the Directorate of Operations (which long dominated the Agency going back to the Office of Policy Coordination days) SAD is where some of the Agency's most notorious assets such as Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Ed Wilson cut their teeth. Under Mike Flynn's tenure, the Defense Intelligence Agency also unveiled the Defense Clandestine Service, effectively the DIA's answer to SAD. Thus, Flynn seems to have a longstanding history of eroding the CIA's covert operations authority.

All of this strongly indicates that the Pentagon is making a major power play in the Trump administration. Thus far it appears to dominate Trump's foreign policy team and may even be attempting to totally take over covert operations from its sometime rival, the CIA. This may explain why elements of the "liberal CIA" appear to be spearheading the protests against Trump.

Just how much of a divide exists between the CIA and Pentagon is highly debatable, however, as they both seemed to be on board the Trump train during the elections. But the decision to tap Pompeo instead of Rodriguez is certainly eyebrow raising in the context of Trump's other appointments. The distinct possibility exists that the Pentagon will wield unparalleled power in the Trump administration and rival factions within the elite may not be especially enthusiastic about this prospect.



    OMG, Trump just appointed Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education! This just gets worse and worse! It's like the dominionists have begun their all-out, open assault to take the "7 mountains."

    This is going to be very, very ugly.

  2. AW-

    Yeah, I saw that just as I was readying this post for publication. I guess Trump owed the Prince family a favor after Erik played such a key role in linking the Clintons to pedophilia in the days leading up to the election. The DeVos family is of course quite vile in their own right, but when even the Secretary of Education is the sister of one of the most infamous modern deep state players out there, one can't help but feel a chill down the spine.


  3. Per your point that Pompeo is very close to the infamous Koch brothers...
    It was very interesting to see the massive media blitz, including a significant and highly polished television commercial campaign on all the major networks, for Koch Industries. It seems they were prepping the television-watching public to view Koch Ind. as some kind of philanthropic NGO entity.

    Apparently, Koch felt the need to sanitize their image...

    1. Much like Trump, they're preparing to look more "presidential." When David Koch was the veep candidate for the Libertarian Party in the 1980 election, they ran on a platform of abolishing the CIA.

      Apparently he decided he would rather run it.


  4. The freaking cesspool is turgid and insidious. Time to be aware and awake me thinks. 87