Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Intelligence


John Bolton leaves the Trump regime

There goes another one.

[Donald] Trump on Tuesday pushed out John R. Bolton, his third national security adviser, amid fundamental disputes over how to handle major foreign policy challenges like Iran, North Korea and most recently Afghanistan.

The departure ended a 17-month partnership that had grown so tense that the two men even disagreed over how they parted ways, as Mr. Trump announced on Twitter that he had fired the adviser only to be rebutted by Mr. Bolton, who insisted he had resigned of his own accord.

Calling it a partnership seems like a stretch. It was more like an arrangement.

Few people can last long doing the bidding of neofascist Donald Trump, except for perhaps his children and a few other soulless sidekicks.

The Trump regime has been characterized by turnover since its very first days, when Michael Flynn was forced out as National Security Advisor.

And there’s an even bigger problem that goes beyond turnover. The regime has neglected to nominate people to key posts, leaving lots of holes in the country’s executive branch. As National Security Action noted:

“The senior echelons of our national security institutions may be hollower than ever. The administration has no National Security Advisor, no Secretary or Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, no Director or Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and features acting officials in nearly twenty top positions at the Pentagon and several key ambassadorial posts.”


Recommended Link

Trump smashed months of FBI work to thwart election interference

Via Politico: “Trump’s willingness to accept foreign assistance has essentially invited overseas spies to meddle with 2020 presidential campaigns, undoing months of work, said law enforcement veterans.”


I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nutjob… I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off… I’m not under investigation.

— Donald Trump told visiting Russians that firing ‘nut job’ Comey eased pressure from investigation (The New York Times).

Recommended Link

Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador

An exclusive from The Washington Post: “The president’s disclosures to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in their Oval Office meeting last week jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State — an information-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, current and former U.S. officials said. “


I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.

— Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey (Excerpts from the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia)

Recommended Link

U.S. airstrike kills more than 150 at Somalia terrorist camp, military says

The Republican presidential candidates probably won’t talk about it or give Barack Obama credit for it, but a U.S. airstrike has just resulted in the deaths of more than a hundred terrorists at a camp in lawless Somalia, the Pentagon says.


Not only did he call the Iraq war a failure, but when Jeb Bush insisted his brother kept the country safe, Trump pointed out that the [September 11th] attack happened on Bush’s watch, and that Bush lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction, and then returned to the point again. This is one of the deepest heresies in Republican politics. Republicans invoke Bush’s response to the 9/11 attacks, but they must discuss his record on terrorism as if he took office only after the attacks. The copious evidence that the administration received, and ignored, extensive warnings of a forthcoming attack has never pierced the Republican bubble.

— New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait (In most heretical Republican “debate” yet, Trump goes after George W. Bush… again and again).

Recommended Link

Senate probing whether Ted Cruz leaked classified surveillance data during debate

North Carolina Republican and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr says he is looking into the possibility that Ted Cruz may have inappropriately released classified mass surveillance information during last night’s Republican presidential debate spectacle.


The questions are increasingly badgering, I would even say increasingly vicious… It seems to me that really, the majority simply wish to wear you down. It is clear that they are trying to attack you personally.

— U.S. Representative Adam Smith, of Washington’s 9th District (The Washington Post: GOP lands no clear punches while sparring with Clinton over Benghazi).

Recommended Link

Ousted Benghazi committee staffer: Republicans pursuing ‘partisan investigation’ targeting Hillary ClintonAn intelligence officer formerly employed by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, who describes himself as a conservative Republican, has charged that the committee’s investigation has morphed into a partisan witch hunt “targeting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton instead of the thorough and objective fact-finding mission it was set up to pursue.” CNN has the story.


Republicans want to distance themselves from [Iraq] without divorcing themselves from it… This was a Republican president, and it never serves the party well to say that everything the last Republican president did was wrong. And for Jeb, it is even trickier because he is talking about his brother.

— Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University (The Hill: Questioned on Iraq, Bush misfires).


Dear Judy,

No one is crediting you with starting the Iraq war. We know you were not actually on the team that took us into the biggest, most tragic US foreign policy debacle ever. You were just cheering from the sidelines. Your attempt to re-write history is both pathetic and self-serving.


Valerie Plame

Former CIA covert operative Valerie Plame Wilson, responding to this column by disgraced New York Times reporter Judith Miller.


The disaster they helped create is so urgent, they claim, that we can’t waste time arguing about why the disaster exists in the first place. Their argument for taking them seriously is to ignore everything they’ve said up to this point. For neoconservative pundits, it’s a sort of guaranteed job security: push for armed conflict, and if it descends into chaos then that’s just another reason to push for more armed conflict.

— Simon Maloy, taking aim at the Sunday morning talk shows and op-ed pages for Salon (Stop treating war-crazy buffoons as experts! They got it wrong, remember?)


They were wrong then and they’re wrong now

Neoconservatives who were in charge of setting and selling national policy during the Bush years have been coming out of the woodwork this week to insist that America’s withdrawal from Iraq was a mistake, and that President Obama is to blame for the insurgency led by ISIS against the government of Maliki.

They do not deserve any ink, airtime, or pixels. They were wrong back when the administration was plotting to go into Iraq, and they’re wrong now. And they need to be held accountable. Thankfully, Media Matters is holding Ari Fleischer’s feet to the fire, while MSNBC’s Chris Hayes has done the same for John McCain.

Meanwhile, Amy Goodman had an excellent discussion on her show this week about how American-made and supplied weapons ended up in the hands of ISIS.


In the movies, radar screens show incredible detail about everything. In real life, radar is easily confused, doesn’t see small planes, and may have trouble determining altitudes. Transponders solve this by reporting an aircraft’s altitude, speed, directional heading and identification code to air traffic controllers and nearby aircraft, using an electronic format that syncs with radar. And the identification codes tell controllers which blip is which flight, something radar has no way to detect.

— The Atlantic’s Gregg Easterbrook, making the case that all passenger aircraft should be equipped with transponders that can’t be turned off.