Journalist Nicholas Schmidle writes an in-depth review of the military career of three-star General Michael Flynn, removed in short order from his position as National Security Adviser to US President Donald Trump. Like Trump's key adviser Steve Bannon, General Flynn became deeply influenced by the rise of right-wing nationalism, leaving thoughtful Americans confused and concerned about Trump's intentions.
In part through his son, Flynn began flirting with an online community of conspiracy theorists and white nationalists who referred to themselves as the “alt-right.” The neo-Nazis among them called Trump the “God Emperor.” On Twitter, Flynn frequently tagged Mike Cernovich, an alt-right activist, in tweets, and encouraged others to follow his feed. Michael, Jr., promoted stories from Alex Jones, the right-wing radio host who believes that the 9/11 attacks, and the 2012 school shooting in Sandy Hook, were inside jobs. A little more than a year ago, Michael, Jr., tweeted @billclinton, “You’re a Rapist.”
Flynn’s own views seemed to be tilting increasingly toward the fringe. He, as Trump has, publicly insinuated that Obama was a secret Muslim, and not a true American. “I’m not going to sit here and say he’s Islamic,” Flynn said of Obama, during remarks last year before the American Congress for Truth, an anti-Muslim group. But Obama “didn’t grow up an American kid,” Flynn said, adding that the President’s values were “totally different than mine.”
Spies Keep Intelligence From Donald Trump The Wall Street Journal
An explosive report by the WSJ claims U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump. They are taking this unusual action over concerns it could be leaked or compromised, "according to current and former officials familiar with the matter."
The action of withholding information from the President underscores the deep fissure of mistrust that has developed between the intelligence community and the president over his team’s contacts with the Russian government, Trump further amplified the bad blood with the enmity he has shown toward U.S. spy agencies. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump accused the agencies of leaking information to undermine him.
In some of these cases of withheld information, officials have decided not to show Mr. Trump the sources and methods that the intelligence agencies use to collect information, the current and former officials said. Those sources and methods could include, for instance, the means that an agency uses to spy on a foreign government.
A White House official responded to the WSJ report: “There is nothing that leads us to believe that this is an accurate account of what is actually happening.”
US Allies Conduct Intelligence Operation Against Trump Staff and Associates, Intercepted Communications Newsweek
The Internet has no borders and neither does international spying. If Trump tries to take over direct control of America's spy agencies -- de facto dictating the control of info -- will America's real news media turn to European intelligence operations for help? Will the US intel community -- with its long history of cooperation with the Europeans -- bank info with international colleagues, in case Trump and Republicans refuse to act on info the incriminates the Trump administration? ~ Anne
Related: White House Plans to Have Trump Ally Review Intelligence Agencies New York Times
What Steve Bannon Wants You To Read Politico
A book at the top of Steve Bannon's reading list is “The Fourth Turning” by William Strauss and Neil Howe, which explains a theory of history unfolding in 80-100 year cycles or “turnings,” the fourth and final stage of which is marked by periods of cataclysmic change in which the old order is destroyed and replaced—a current period that, in Bannon’s view, was sparked by the 2008 financial crisis and has now been manifested in part by the rise of Trump.
Note that Politico writes that Bannon may hire a staffer to follow nationalist movements worldwide. We know that he is committed -- and assisting -- nationalist Marine Le Pen to become president of France.
I consulted on 'The Fourth Turning" in-depth with clients, and it is indeed a sober book. But my own learnings from the book did not take me into Steve Bannon's dark authoritarianism.
Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World? TIME
There is only one President at a time, and Donald Trump is not one to cede authority. But in the early days at 1600 Pennsylvania, the portly and rumpled Bannon (the only male aide who dared to visit Trump's office without a suit and tie) has the tools to become as influential as any staffer in memory. Colleagues have dubbed him "the Encyclopedia" for the range of information he carries in his head; but more than any of that, Bannon has a mind-meld with Trump. "They are both really great storytellers," says Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the President, of their bond. "The President and Steve share an important trait of absorbing information and weighing consequences."
They share the experience of being talkative and brash, pugnacious money magnets who never quite fit among the elite. A Democrat by heritage and Republican by choice, Bannon has come to see both parties as deeply corrupt, a belief that has shaped his recent career as a polemical filmmaker and Internet bomb thrower. A party guest recalled meeting him as a private citizen and Bannon telling him that he was like Lenin, eager to "bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's Establishment."
People trying to understand Bannon’s political philosophy should focus on three elements he believes are critical to a successful America: Capitalism, nationalism, and “Judeo-Christian values.” These are all deeply related, and essential write Gwynn Guilford and Nikhil Sonnad in What Steve Bannon Really Wants. .
America, says Bannon, is suffering a “crisis of capitalism.” In past centuries, capitalism was about moderation, an entrepreneurial American spirit, and respect for one’s fellow Christian man. Note that "Christian" man is central to Bannon's thinking, although elsewhere he speaks of "Judeo-Christian" men. In remarks delivered to the Vatican in 2014, Bannon says that this “enlightened capitalism” was the “underlying principle” that allowed the US to escape the “barbarism” of the 20th century.
Bannon argues that America's downward spiral began with the 1960s and ’70s counterculture. “The baby boomers are the most spoiled, most self-centered, most narcissistic generation the country’s ever produced,” says Bannon in a 2011 interview.
Steve Bannon and I agree about America being at a crossroads, but we don't agree at all about the nature of the problem. Bannon, Flynn, Trump -- they all scare the wits out of me and I'm becoming more afraid every day. ~ Anne