In Spies Battle, Trump Holds the High Ground

In Spies Battle, Trump Holds the High Ground

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In backing John Brennan’s right to keep his top-secret security clearance, despite his having charged the president with treason, the U.S. intel community has chosen to fight on indefensible terrain.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper seemed to recognize that Sunday when he conceded that ex-CIA Director Brennan had the subtlety of “a freight train” and his rhetoric had become “an issue in and of itself.”

After Donald Trump’s Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin, Brennan had called the president’s actions “nothing short of treasonous.”

The battle is now engaged. Trump cannot back down. He must defy and defeat the old bulls of the intel community. And he can.

For a security clearance is not a right. It is not an entitlement.

It is a privilege, an honor and a necessity for those serving in the security agencies of the U.S. government — while they serve.

Brennan is not being deprived of his First Amendment rights. He can still make any accusation and call the president any name he wishes.

But to argue that a charge of treason against a president is not a justification for pulling a clearance is a claim both arrogant and absurd.

Again, a security clearance is not a constitutional right.

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Said Defense Secretary James Mattis: “I have taken security clearances away from people in my previous time in uniform … a security clearance is something that is granted on an as-needed basis.”

Brennan is now threatening to sue the president. Bring it on, says national security adviser John Bolton.

With 4 million Americans holding top-secret clearances, and this city awash in leaks to the media from present and past intel and security officials, it is time to strip the swamp creatures of their special privileges.

The White House should press upon Congress a policy of automatic cancellation of security clearances, for intelligence and military officers, upon resignation, retirement or severance.

Clearances should be retained only for departing officers who can demonstrate that their “need to know” national secrets remains crucial to our security, not merely advantageous to their pursuit of lucrative jobs in the military-industrial complex.

Officials in the security realm who take clearances with them on leaving office are like House members who retain all the access, perks and privileges of Congress after they step down to earn seven-figure salaries lobbying their former congressional colleagues.

The White House statement of Sarah Huckabee Sanders on John Brennan’s loss of his clearances was spot on:

“Any access granted to our nation’s secrets should be in furtherance of national, not personal, interests.

“Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations — wild outbursts on the Internet and television — about this administration. Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct, characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary, is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation’s most closely held secrets, and facilitates the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos.”

Trump is said to be evaluating pulling the security clearances of Clapper, ex-FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

This is a good start. Some of these individuals have been fired. Some are under investigation. Some were involved in the FBI’s “get-Trump” cabal to prevent his election and then to abort his presidency.

Some have become talking heads on cable TV, exploiting the credibility of their former titles and offices to undermine an elected president.

Again, they have a First Amendment right to do this. But they should be stripped of their clearances to show the nation that the president is dealing with insiders who have joined the Resistance.

At bottom, the issue is: Who speaks for America?

Is it the mainstream media, the deep state, the permanent government, the city that gave Trump 4 percent of its votes? Or is it that vast slice of Middle America that sent Trump to drain the swamp?

Trump’s enemies, and they are legion, want to see Robert Mueller charge him with collusion with Russia and obstructing the investigation of that collusion. They want to see the Democratic Party take over the House in November, and the Senate, and move on to impeach and remove Trump from office. Then they want to put him where Paul Manafort sits today.

For Trump, a truce or a negotiated peace with these people is never going to happen. But this issue of security clearances is a battlefield where the president cannot lose, if he fights wisely.

Americans sense that these are privileges that should be extended to those who protect us, not perks for former officials to exploit and monetize while they attempt to bring down the commander in chief.

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An Obama Plot to Sabotage Trump?

An Obama Plot to Sabotage Trump?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Devin Nunes just set the cat down among the pigeons.

Two days after FBI Director James Comey assured us there was no truth to President Trump’s tweet about being wiretapped by Barack Obama, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Trump may have had more than just a small point.

The U.S. intelligence community, says Nunes, during surveillance of legitimate targets, picked up the names of Trump transition officials during surveillance of targets, “unmasked” their identity, and spread their names around, virtually assuring they would be leaked.

If true, this has the look and smell of a conspiracy to sabotage the Trump presidency, before it began.

Comey readily confirmed there was no evidence to back up the Trump tweet. But when it came to electronic surveillance of Trump and his campaign, Comey, somehow, could not comment on that.

Which raises the question: What is the real scandal here?

Is it that Russians hacked the DNC and John Podesta’s emails and handed them off to WikiLeaks? We have heard that since June.

Is it that Trump officials may have colluded with the Russians?

But former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and ex-CIA Director Mike Morrell have both said they saw no evidence of this.

This March, Sen. Chris Coons walked back his stunning declaration about transcripts showing a Russia-Trump collusion, confessing, “I have no hard evidence of collusion.”

But if Clapper and Morrell saw no Russia-Trump collusion, what were they looking at during all those months to make them so conclude?

Was it “FBI transcripts,” as Sen. Coons blurted out?

If so, who intercepted and transcribed the conversations? If it was intel agencies engaged in surveillance, who authorized that? How extensive was it? Against whom? Is it still going on?

And if today, after eight months, the intel agencies cannot tell us whether or not any member of the Trump team colluded with the Russians, what does that say of their competence?

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The real scandal, which the media regard as a diversion from the primary target, Trump, is that a Deep State conspiracy to bring down his presidency seems to have been put in place by Obamaites, and perhaps approved by Obama himself.

Consider. On Jan. 12, David Ignatius of the Washington Post wrote,

“According to a senior U.S. government official, (Gen. Michael) Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials … What did Flynn say?”

Now, on Dec. 29, Flynn, national security adviser-designate, was not only doing his job calling the ambassador, he was a private citizen.

Why was he unmasked by U.S. intelligence?

Who is this “senior official” who dropped the dime on him? Could this official have known how many times Flynn spoke to Kislyak, yet not known what was said on the calls?

That is hard to believe. This looks like a contract hit by an anti-Trump agent in the intel community, using Ignatius to do the wet work.

Flynn was taken down. Did Comey turn his FBI loose to ferret out the felon who had unmasked Flynn and done him in? If not, why not?

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Dan Henninger points anew to a story in The New York Times of March 1 that began:

“In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Trump and Russians — across the government.”

“This is what they did,” wrote Henninger, quoting the Times:

“At intelligence agencies, there was a push to process as much raw intelligence as possible into analyses, and to keep the reports at a relatively low classification level to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government — and, in some cases, among European allies.”

For what benign purpose would U.S. intelligence agents spread secrets damaging to their own president — to foreign regimes? Is this not disloyalty? Is this not sedition?

On Jan. 12, writes Henninger, the Times “reported that Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed rules that let the National Security Agency disseminate ‘raw signals intelligence information’ to 16 other intelligence agencies.”

Astounding. The Obamaites seeded the U.S. and allied intel communities with IEDs to be detonated on Trump’s arrival. This is the scandal, not Trump telling Vlad to go find Hillary’s 30,000 missing emails.

We need to know who colluded with the Russians, if anyone did. But more critically, we need to unearth the deep state conspiracy to sabotage a presidency.

So far, the Russia-connection investigation has proven a dry hole. But an investigation into who in the FBI, CIA or NSA is unmasking U.S. citizens and criminally leaking information to a Trump-hating press to destroy a president they are sworn to serve could prove to be a gusher.

As for the reports of Lynch-White House involvement in this unfolding plot to damage and destroy Trump the real question is: What did Barack Obama know, and when did he know it?

Will Russiagate Backfire on the Left?

Will Russiagate Backfire on the Left?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

The big losers of the Russian hacking scandal may yet be those who invested all their capital in a script that turned out to based on a fairy tale.

In Monday’s Intelligence Committee hearings, James Comey did confirm that his FBI has found nothing to support President Trump’s tweet that President Obama ordered him wiretapped. Not unexpected, but undeniably an embarrassment for the tweeter-in-chief.

Yet longer-term damage may have been done to the left. For Monday’s hearing showed that its rendering of the campaign of 2016 may be a product of fiction and a fevered imagination.

After eight months investigating the hacking and leaking of the emails of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta and the DNC, there is apparently no evidence yet of Trump collusion with Russia.

Former Director of National Intelligence Gen. James Clapper has said that, as of his departure day, Jan. 20, he had seen no evidence of a Russia-Trump collusion.

Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell also made that clear this month: “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all. … There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.” Morell was a surrogate for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

But while the FBI is still searching for a Trump connection, real crimes have been unearthed — committed by anti-Trump bureaucrats colluding with mainstream media — to damage Trump’s presidency.

There is hard evidence of collusion between the intel community and The New York Times and The Washington Post, both beneficiaries of illegal leaks — felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

While the howls have been endless that Trump accused Obama of a “felony,” the one provable felony here was the leak of a transcript of an intercepted conversation between Gen. Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador.

That leak ended Flynn’s career as national security adviser. And Director Comey would neither confirm nor deny that President Obama was aware of the existence of the Flynn transcript.

So where do we stand after yesterday’s hearing and eight-month FBI investigation? The Russians did hack Podesta’s email account and the DNC, and while the FBI has found no evidence of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, it is still looking.

However, the known unknowns seem more significant.

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How could DNI Director Clapper and CIA Director Morell say that no connection had been established between Trump’s campaign and the Russians, without there having been an investigation? And how could such an investigation be conclusive in exonerating Trump’s associates — without some use of electronic surveillance?

Did the FBI fly to Moscow and question Putin’s cyberwarfare team?

More questions arise. If, in its investigation of the Russian hacking and a Trump connection, the FBI did receive the fruits of some electronic surveillance of the Trump campaign, were Attorney General Loretta Lynch, White House aides or President Obama made aware of any such surveillance? Did any give a go-ahead to surveil the Trump associates? Comey would neither confirm nor deny that they did.

So, if Obama were aware of an investigation into the Trump campaign, using intel sources and methods, Trump would not be entirely wrong in his claims, and Obama would have some ‘splainin’ to do.

Is the FBI investigating the intelligence sources who committed felonies by illegally disclosing information about the Trump campaign?

Comey would not commit to investigate these leaks, though this could involve criminal misconduct within his own FBI.

Again, the only known crimes committed by Americans during and after the campaign are the leaks of security secrets by agents of the intel community, colluding with the Fourth Estate, which uses the First Amendment to provide cover for criminal sources, whom they hail as “whistleblowers.”

Indeed, if there was no surveillance of Trump of any kind, where did all these stories come from, which their reporters attributed to “intelligence sources”?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any role in the Russian hacking scandal. But the Justice Department should demand that the FBI put the highest priority on investigating the deep state and its journalistic collaborators in the sabotage of the Trump presidency.

If Comey refuses to do it, appoint a special counsel.

In the last analysis, as Glenn Greenwald, no Trumpite, writes for The Intercept, the real loser may well be the Democratic Party.

If the investigation of Russiagate turns up no link between Trump and the pilfered emails, Democrats will have egg all over their faces. And the Democratic base will have to face a painful truth.

Vladimir Putin did not steal this election. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama lost it. Donald Trump won it fair and square. He is not an “illegitimate” president. There will be no impeachment. They were deceived and misled by their own leaders and media. They bought into a Big Lie.