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15 Dec, 2016 01:07

Trump security adviser Flynn faces allegations of sharing secret data, despite being cleared

Trump security adviser Flynn faces allegations of sharing secret data, despite being cleared

Trump’s pick for national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is under fire after the Washington Post reported he “inappropriately shared” classified data with foreign military in Afghanistan. However, the report has been deemed biased and lacking details.

Retired US Army Lieutenant General Flynn came under scrutiny in 2010 after an unnamed Navy Intelligence specialist accused him - then a Major-General - of leaking secrets to “various” military officers and officials. At the time, Flynn served as US military intelligence chief in Afghanistan.

A number of US Army documents, obtained by the Washington Post, show that the informant shared “United States classified information” while in Afghanistan “without proper authorization.”

As the case remains classified, the Army’s Judge Advocate General pressed by the Post’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, released only four pages of the “secret” investigation.

Following the informant's tip, the head of US Central Command “initiated” a “thorough” probe. Titled AR 15-6, it was conducted by “a properly appointed official,” who found no misconduct in Flynn’s actions.

According to the papers, it was established that “the sharing of classified information was not done knowingly and there was no actual or potential damage to national security.” 

The Department of Defense Inspector General also reviewed the investigation and “concurred” with the findings.

“The Commander, CENTCOM review the AR 15-6 investigation and noted the efforts to properly cleanse the foreign officer’s read-books. He further stated that there was no evidence of senior officer misconduct, rather there was keen attention to mission accomplishment in a coalition, combat environment,” the documents read. 

Hence, no actions were taken against Flynn. Neither has the probe affected his promotion to Lieutenant General as no “legal objections to the nomination” were found by Office of the Secretary of Defense and General Counsel of the Department of Defense either. 

With Flynn’s “exceptional qualifications and dedicated service,” his promotion was strongly supported by the Department of the Army. According to the papers, his appointment as lieutenant general was said to be “in the best interest of the Department of Defense and the United States of America.”

While the documents provided by the Post do not reveal the nature of the information shared by Flynn, he himself did not make a secret of the case. In an August interview with the Post, he said that the investigation on him “was for sharing intelligence with the Brits and Australians in combat.”

Flynn called the probe “substantiated” because “actually I did it,” but stressed that he did it with "the right permissions.”

“Accuse me of sharing intelligence in combat with our closest allies, please,” he told the Post’s Dana Priest, stressing that he was “proud” of what he did.

The Post has drawn parallels between Flynn’s investigation and the case of Hillary Clinton, who has for months been under the FBI probe over the use of her home-brewed server and the use of her private emails during her tenure at the State Department.

While campaigning for Donald Trump in the race for the White House, Flynn supported “Lock her up” chants and speculated that if he was in Clinton’s shoes he would “be in jail today.”

The Washington Post’s report has stirred harsh criticism from Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn, Jr., who accused the newspaper of spreading “fake news.”

Flynn Jr. has further accused the Post of forgetting that his father was “twice appointed” by the Senate even after the investigation. 

Richard Grenell, who Trump was considering as US ambassador to the United Nations, has also accused one of the Post’s authors, Greg Miller, of failing to “tell readers that General Flynn shared info on the battlefield about the enemy.”

Nevertheless, two Democratic senators have requested senior US intelligence officials to review once again the security clearance granted to Flynn.

“Based on public reports, [Flynn’s] conduct in positions that require access to national defense information, and his subsequent private practice, appears inconsistent with the professionalism such access requires,” Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) wrote in a letter to FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and OPM acting Director Beth Colbert.