The Swamp strikes back: Trump's ex-NSA Michael Flynn meets his match
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of 'Midnight in the American Empire,' How Corporations and Their Political Servants are Destroying the American Dream. @Robert_Bridge
Before First Lady Melania Trump starts redecorating the White House, she would be well-advised to call in a team of exterminators first. The Beltway is infested with some of the most invasive assortment of vermin in 'God's Country,' including rats, moles, stool pigeons, weasels, snitches and finks.
This much was confirmed when it was reported, yet again, that "a senior US government official" leaked classified intelligence to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius that helped to eliminate a star player from the ranks of Team Trump.
According to the intercepted transmissions, NSA Director Michael Flynn had apparently committed the mortal sin of exhibiting polite, diplomatic decorum with the much-maligned Russians before Trump was formally inaugurated. Flynn was said to have been carrying on "extensive" conversations with [cue in thunder and bloodcurdling scream soundtrack] "suspected Russian operatives" and "Russian nationals known to US intelligence," as CNN sensationally spun it.
However, as is the case with most stories out of D.C. of late, this one comes dripping in molten irony. First, despite the media's insinuations that Mike Flynn had committed some sort of heinous crime, the reality is far less sensational. Under normal circumstances, it is natural for officials of incoming administrations to reach out and establish contacts across the geopolitical spectrum. But these are not normal times.
Holding a couple telephone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak - not some "suspected Russian operatives," as CNN crowed - at the same time the outgoing Obama administration was working at cross purposes on the Russian front may not have been the most prudent decision Mike Flynn ever made. After all, there are powerful groups on Capitol Hill - defense sector lobbyists as the most obvious example - who have a vested interest in making sure Donald Trump doesn't stray too far from the anti-Russia ranch.
Ironically, the real crime here - a felony, in fact, punishable by up to 10 years in jail - is not Flynn's conversations, but divulging classified communication intelligence involving a foreign government. Even reporter David Ignatius could potentially face criminal charges for willfully releasing the leaked information, and if Trump really wanted to send a spooky message to the swamp, opening up a criminal investigation into the leak would certainly be the way to do it. Liberals would have little ground for criticism considering that Barack Obama had one of the harshest records for punishing leakers and whistleblowers (Incidentally, some experts say Flynn may have acted in violation of The Logan Act, a 1799 statute that prohibits private citizens from interfering with diplomatic relations between the US and foreign governments).
Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing @nytimes (and others) must apologize!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2017
In any case, Trump said he accepted Flynn's resignation, not because of his conversations with Russian officials, which were legitimate, but because the latter failed to inform Vice President Mike Pence about them. As White House counselor Kellyanne Conway explained on NBC's "Today Show": "Misleading the vice president really was the key here."
However, that doesn't sound like the full story. Given the tremendous pressure being placed on Trump, Flynn may have been thrown under the bus to keep the wolves at bay.
Annie Machon, former MI5 officer, told RT in an interview she said Flynn may have been sacrificed because he was a strong advocate of "building a better relationship with Russia."
"I think what we’re seeing, perhaps, is a sort of a deep-state attempt to pick-off Donald Trump’s chosen advisors who might be Russia-friendly," Machon continued. This may be the establishment's way of dealing with Trump "if they can’t impeach... and get rid of him altogether," she added.
Whatever the case may be, Trump, a champion at verbal dueling using weapons limited to 140 characters or less, took the conversation to another level in a well-aimed Tweet thrust.
"This Russian connection nonsense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton's losing campaign," he wrote.
And here is where the "political assassination of Michael Flynn," as Eli Lake of Bloomberg View delicately put it, starts to get interesting.
Hacks versus Leaks
On July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks did the unthinkable, like, for instance, lighting up a cigarette in a Chinese fireworks factory, when it dumped thousands of leaked emails from the Democratic National Party's computer server just as the US had entered the campaign season for one of the most powerful political offices in the world. In other words, the stakes were about as high as they could get. And when stakes are high, politics gets very dirty, very fast.
So, in order to offset the political fallout of the devastating emails, a story was spun that blamed the 'hacked' emails (as opposed to leaked from inside the DNC) on a convenient bogeyman, Russia. Thus, no surprise that relations between Moscow and Washington got progressively worse as the US mainstream media began mass-producing unsubstantiated reports of 'Russia hacking that appeared in direct proportion to every Clinton scandal that erupted.
Suddenly, Russian hackers became the convenient explanation behind every scandalous setback Clinton experienced on the campaign trail - from revelations showing she had received debate questions, to evidence the DNC had been deliberately sabotaging Bernie Sanders' chances of a nomination. It brought back memories of the old arcade game 'Asteroids' where players could activate the 'hyperspace' key anytime they were about to be pulverized by an incoming rock. In similar fashion, the DNC just kept pounding the 'Russia hacker' button whenever there was a new scandal, which was becoming embarrassingly frequent.
Eventually, the so-called 'Russian cyber-threat,' much like so-called 'Russian aggression,' became engrained in the historical record and public memory, at least for the poorly informed part of the population. At that point, the media was running with the 'Russian hacking' stories with less evidence than if they were reporting on the latest Bigfoot sighting.
Eventually, this fantastic fearmongering over Russia's incredible computer prowess, against the backdrop of America's apparent helplessness at defending itself from this great hacking horde (and despite the already proven effectiveness of the NSA, thank you, Edward Snowden), began popping up like cheap pulp fiction. It argued on the basis of nothing that Trump was "a puppet of Vladimir Putin." And Julian Assange at WikiLeaks, despite living under asylum in the Ecuador Embassy in London since 2012, was somehow managing to evade the UK's powerful cyber surveillance system in order to join up forces with Putin and Trump. Marvel Comics has nothing on US mainstream news.
The punch line behind this zaniness is that it all began as a harmless joke uttered by Donald Trump to attract attention to the question: why did Hillary Clinton delete 33,000 emails from her private server, and more importantly, where the heck did they go?
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump joked at a rally. "I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
The mainstream media complex, which apparently lost its sense of humor at about the very same time it lost its credibility, jotted down the one-liner as if it were hearing holy gospel.
From there the insanity, like a category-5 hurricane, could not be contained. The best course of action was to fasten your seatbelt and don goggles in front of the television each evening as the fake news onslaught came fast and heavy. Following this intense indoctrination process, Russia was accused of being the dark force behind just about everything, including the rise of alt-right media, which many open-minded people have turned to out of disgust with mainstream news content, and attempting to throw a monkey wrench into America's power grid.
Meanwhile, as was the case with other issues throughout his presidency, Barack Obama vacillated wildly on the question of Russian interference in the US electoral system. As late as November 26 he seemed convinced Russia was innocent. “The federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day,” a senior government official told Politico. “We believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.”
Yet just one month later, smack in the middle of the Christmas holidays, Obama out-did Scrooge himself when he suddenly expelled 35 Russian diplomats and their families. Although it was trumpeted as punishment for 'Russian hacking,' in reality, it was a last ditch effort to sabotage any chances the Trump administration might have in mending relations with Moscow. To his credit, Vladimir Putin, in response to the Obama administration's truly despicable act, invited the children of US diplomats to a holiday celebration at the Kremlin.
Although few things are predictable these crazy days, we may say with absolute certainty that the mainstream media will never blame Flynn's fall from grace on a dirty hack, and particularly a 'Russian hack.' No, Flynn was brought down to earth by nothing less dishonorable than a Made in America Leak, undoubtedly from some Left-leaning patriot who views his manicured corner of 'God's Country' from behind red, white and blue shades lest cruel reality cast a harsh glare on his myopic worldview.
In a recent interview with RT, Coleen Rowley, former FBI agent turned whistleblower, expressed bewilderment at the media's reaction to the so-called “leaks” since the same people who have been harshly criticizing whistleblowers are now heaping praise on those “unnamed officials” who provided information of questionable veracity, Rowley said.
‘Democrats & neocon warmongers formed unholy alliance against Trump’ (Op-Edge) https://t.co/CnAh9daR5I— RT (@RT_com) February 16, 2017
Misinformation is routinely being spread through “journalists, who are cozy with the CIA and other top officials,” she continued, before asking a question few US reporters would dare raise: where's the proof?
“Right now we have leaks, but we still haven’t seen any documents. The public still doesn’t know the full truth of this,” she said while describing the situation in Washington as "extremely polarized."
“We’re living in this moment when we have a polarized government in Washington D.C., extremely polarized. The media has taken sides with the Democrats and actually some of the neocon warmongers. It’s really an unholy alliance,” Rowley concluded.
In other words, for definition purposes, the media treats 'hackers' as one of those unshaven foreign characters, most likely a Russian or 'Gee-Hadi,' in cohorts with Julian Assange. These usual suspects would gladly jump a firewall to make mischief against some innocent Americans, like Hillary Clinton and her dodgy server. Here, the crime is not what was found on Clinton's computer, by the way, but rather the security breach that made the damning information available in the first place. By blaming Russia for the invasion, without a drop of physical evidence to support the allegations, these fiction writers posing as journalists get more bang for the buck as far as intrigue and distracting the public from the real story goes.
Meanwhile, a 'leak' comes from the inside, from a source who has become disillusioned with business as usual, which of course could never happens in the fun-loving paradise park of the Liberal party. Indeed, when the muzzled media was forced to choose between whether Clinton's emails were compromised by an internal leak from one Seth Rich, 27, who was Director of Voter Expansion at the DNC, or from the outside by Russian hackers, it never doubted for a moment who was guilty.
Even though Rich was fatally shot on the street in Washington, D.C., and Julian Assange personally offered a reward for information leading to the arrest of his killer(s) without saying if he was the source of the DNC leak, US media shrugged and called it a "conspiracy theory" to suggest he could have been the source of the leak (Police say Rich was possibly the victim of an attempted robbery in a shady part of town, yet none of his personal belongings were taken).
The Leakers Who Exposed Gen. Flynn Committed Serious — and Justified — Felonies https://t.co/qXNJZxPtC2— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) February 15, 2017
What is disturbing here is the media's total lack of interest in examining any other line of investigation that does not lead back to Russia's front door. Perhaps Seth Rich actually did fall victim to a robbery gone awry. However, we'll never know. That is not only a tremendous disservice to the memory of Mr. Rich, who may or may not have been the source of the leak, but it has also become disastrous to the state of US-Russia relations.
Finally, it goes far at explaining why Mike Flynn is out of a job today. By peddling the lie of 'Russian aggression' on a daily basis, it was easier to sell the idea that there was something inherently wrong with Flynn attempting to speak to the Russian ambassador and bring some sanity back to the bilateral relations.
The US media's obsession with peddling fake news with regards to Russia has actually helped to deprive the world of the one man who could have really mended relations between the world's preeminent nuclear powers.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.