Monday, July 25, 2016

National Security Officers Are Worried About Trump's Ties to Russia

The 1959 novel, The Manchurian Candidate is a political thriller about the son of a prominent U.S. political family who is brainwashed into being an unwitting assassin for a Communist conspiracy, the goal being the overthrow of the United States' constitutional government.  Now, we find ourselves face with a presidential candidate with strong financial ties to Russian oligarchs and Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin who voluntarily may be willing to sabotage our government for personal enrichment and satisfaction of his insatiable ego.   As more news outlets fortunately are picking up on the Russian hacking of the DNC and Trump's dependence on Russian financing since he has been cutoff by American banks, some in the national intelligence community are fearful of Trump gaining access to intelligence materials, especially those relating to Russia and Putin's never ending machinations and intrigue.   Both Huffington Post and The Daily Beast looks at the issue and the FBI's view that Wikileaks effort was facilitated by Russia and may have been aimed at electing Donald Trump in November.  First these highlights from The Daily Beast:
The FBI suspects that Russian government hackers breached the networks of the Democratic National Committee and stole emails that were posted to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks on Friday. It’s an operation that several U.S. officials now suspect was a deliberate attempt to influence the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, according to five individuals familiar with the investigation of the breach.
The theory that Moscow orchestrated the leaks to help Trump, who has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and practically called for the end of NATO, is fast gaining currency within the Obama administration because of the timing of the leaks and Trump’s own connections to the Russian government, the sources said on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing and developing quickly.
Current and former U.S. officials drew analogies to so-called “active measures campaigns,” or state-sponsored operations designed for political effects.
“The release of emails just as the Democratic National Convention is getting underway this week has the hallmarks of a Russian active measures campaign,” David Shedd, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told The Daily Beast. Shedd said that additional leaks were likely, echoing an opinion expressed by U.S. officials and experts who said that the release of emails on Friday may just be an opening salvo.
Officials also noted Trump’s own connections to the Russian government. . . . One of Trump’s top national security advisers, retired Army Gen. Michael Flynn, sat with Putin at a dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kremlin-backed media network RT and was paid to give a speech at the event; Flynn later re-tweeted an anti-Semitic message that called into question any Kremlin-Trump link. Another Trump adviser, Carter Page, recently denounced America’s “often-hypocritical focus on democratization” while in Moscow. And last week, Trump said that he might not come to the aid of U.S. NATO allies in the face of Russian aggression unless they paid what he thinks they owe for Europe’s common defense.
Officials also thought it was telling that the emails were given to WikiLeaks, which is perceived as being hostile to the U.S. government. “This wasn’t surprising to us,” said one U.S. official familiar with the investigation. 
"If the hack is linked to Russian actors, it would not be the first time cyber intrusions linked to the Kremlin and its supporters have sought to influence the political process in other countries,” Rep. Adam Schiff said in a statement. “Given Donald Trump’s well known admiration for Putin and his belittling of NATO, the Russians have both the means and the motive to engage in a hack of the DNC and the dump of its emails prior to the Democratic Convention. That foreign actors may be trying to influence our election—let alone a powerful adversary like Russia—should concern all Americans of any party." 

If the worse suspicions prove true, the irony will be that Trump is playing right wing nutcases' xenophobia even as he may be preparing to sell out America and European allies.  Never forget that with Trump the ONLY thing that matters is himself and his ego and self-enrichment.  

Huffington Post has these additional highlights:
Members of the intelligence community are worried that Donald Trump ― who has deep ties to Russia and is apparently the preferred presidential candidate of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin ― could have access to highly classified national security briefings as early as Friday.
Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will begin receiving the briefings after the Democratic National Convention ends on Thursday, ABC News reported Monday. As the Republican nominee for president, Trump is now among a handful of people who do not hold a security clearance but have the potential to get these briefings. But he also has closer ties to a foreign government than perhaps any presidential candidate in recent history.
Trump has called for following Moscow’s lead on various global issues and questioned whether it’s necessary for the U.S. to always defend other members of NATO, the alliance created during the Cold War to protect American partners from an expansionist Soviet Union. His rhetoric about foreign policy neatly matches the message coming out of Moscow: that America has little need for its long-time partners in Europe ― particularly in NATO ― or elsewhere, and that the U.S. should have less influence internationally. Trump has extensive business and financial ties to Russia.
“Never have we had a candidate so tied to a foreign power, especially one that is so hostile to the U.S. in many ways, and one that is actively messing with our election,” said one former senior intelligence official. “Many [in the intelligence community] don’t care about U.S. politics and pride themselves on being nonpartisan, but the ties to Russia are deeply disturbing.”
“The notion that the Trump team could request intel briefings on Russia when they clearly have close ties is horrifying, especially after the DNC leak,” said the former intelligence official.

Be very, very afraid.

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