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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Chelsea Manning issue needs to be kept in perspective.

Today President Obama issued a pardon to former US Army Private Bradley Manning, who identifies as a female named Chelsea and will be undergoing sexual reassignment surgery sometime in the future.  Last year Manning was convicted by a Military Tribunal of violating the Espionage Act by passing hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks.  For reasons which are still a mystery to me, then-Private Manning was given access to countless Top Secret documents and US government communications while serving in Iraq in 2009/10.  Manning claims that his decision to share classified information was greatly influenced by his discovery of war crimes committed by the US military.  Manning also claims to be suffering from a gender identity disorder, which has caused long bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts.  From the beginning, the liberal and leftist elements in our society have been openly supportive of Manning.  The left strongly opposed the Iraq war, and by extension, see Manning as a hero for exposing part of the corrupt system which created false justification for going to war.  A substantial number of political groups and well-known activists opposed Manning's Court Martial and subsequent trial, and after the verdict, put pressure on the Obama Administration to issue a pardon.

Manning has been on the winning side of a number of decisions since his conviction.  Last April, the military announced that the US government would pay for Manning to undergo sexual reassignment surgery.  So what exactly has happened since Private Bradley Manning chose to commit treason in 2009?  Manning was Court-Martialed and given a 35-year sentence.  Then the military announced that Manning would be undergoing a sex change procedure, paid for by the US taxpayer.  Fast-forward a few months to January 2017, and today Manning is pardoned by President Obama.  I assume that Manning will be released almost immediately, and the offers for a book deal will start piling up.  So the lesson here is, if you are in the military and you want the government to pay for your sex-change operation, just commit treason and become a hero to the liberal media and left-wing political movement.  At the end of the day, a multi-million dollar book deal will be waiting.  I wish I had an opportunity to ask President Obama if he has spent much time thinking about the persons whose lives were ruined by Manning.  The CIA cadre of reporting contacts includes many foreign nationals who are "assets of conscience".  They decide to clandestinely provide the US government with valuable information because they believe in the American system and the freedoms we enjoy, and hope to encourage change in their own countries.  We could be referring to citizens of nations like Iran, Russia, and China, for example.  These brave people take the chance that their secret relationship with the US is not revealed to their own government.  That being said, I can't fathom the number of foreign assets who may have been exposed within the seven-hundred thousand pages of documents that Manning passed to Wikileaks.  No doubt the imtellignce community conducted numerous damage assessments, imformation which hopefully will never been known to us.  I don't need to know the names and nationalities of persons who may have paid a heavy price for Manning's actions.  I understand the environment enough to realize how much more difficult it will be for our Intelligence Officers to find willing reporters on the issues that keep Americans safe day-in and day-out.

At times I have found myself feeling very sympathetic to Chelsea Manning.  Obviously she has struggled for years trying to find a place in the world.  I cannot imagine any sane person knowingly choosing the path that Manning has followed.  At the time, I doubt that Manning comprehended the ramifications of his actions, but every adult in our society has to be held responsible for their decisions.  I would not have opposed a commuted sentence of some sort, maybe a five-year sentence, with an agreement that Manning be prohibited from writing a book or benefiting financially from his actions.  Instead, Manning has been pardoned, and is about to hit the jackpot as far as money is concerned.  Seven years after breaking the oath that he took to serve his country, seven years after committing treason and very likely putting a number of very brave people and their unknowing families in harm's way, Chelsea Manning will be a free and very rich young woman.  The revisionist media in our country are jumping through hopes to create a legacy for Barack Obama that deos not include twenty trillion in debt, race relations at their lowest since the Civil Right's era, a flag that is disrespected at home almost as much as it is by the international community, an economy that is bleeding jobs because of over-regulation, and a precedence-setting willingness to abuse Executive Action to avoid working with Congress.  Will the Manning pardon be mentioned by the press as part of Obama's legacy?  Don't hold your breath.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A unique opportunity for the Trump Transition Team.

The last eight years were a time of uncertainty and frustration for many in the intelligence community.  In the beginning, no one knew exactly what to expect from the incoming Obama Administration.  I can't say I was terribly surprised with the now famous "apology tour", because during the 2008 campaign, Obama did not disguise his contempt for previous U.S. policy in support of pro-US dictators.  Obama also spoke out regarding attempts by US intelligence agencies to clandestinely impact foreign events, including elections and revolutions.  But 2008 was a far cry from 1965, and the CIA and NSA of the twenty-first century are built to collect intelligence in two directions: in suppprt of national security, and in furtherance of current Administration policy.  The intelligence community expected the incoming Obama Administration to continue efforts to collect against terrorist targets, but to also have a list of new targets, in support of Obama's diplomatic initiatives.  Almost from the start, it was difficult to determine the direction of Obama's foreign policy, although the Obama Administration did not takes steps to diplomatically re-align US foreign policy, at least not overnight.

Although the Obama Administration on occasion allowed US Army Special Forces into battle zones in support of our allies, most foreign policy initiatives were introduced through the end of a pen.  Obama was determined to avoid utilizing US military power at every opportunity, although he did not shy away from imposing sanctions.  Over time, the Obama foreign policy became more and more difficult to define.  The imtelligence agencies started to suffer a higher rate of officer turnover than usual.  I can't say for certain that the Directorate of Operations received more resignations and early-retirements that expected because of Obama's policies, but I believe they had a definite impact.  I have yet to meet a CIA employee who is not a true patriot.  One of the main reasons people apply to join the Agency is the opportunity to support US foreign policy from the front lines.  Regardless of personal politics, many officers became frustrated by their inability to decipher our long-term foreign policy goals.  I know numerous officers from different directorates who left the Agency during the Obama Administration, and in most instances it was because of job disastisfaction.  Don't misunderstand; I didn't hear complaints about management, working conditions, benefits, or inter-office issues.  Frequently I was told that the mission had lost its clarity.  The rapid withdrawal from Iraq impacted many Agency officers personally, and later during the Obama presidency, the nuclear agreement with Iran was oppposed by many in the intel community.

Of all the judgements being passed down by Democrat politicians, social agitators, and the entertainment community, no one has yet to accuse President-Elect Trump of being shy.  His pre-inauguration commentary has included certain harsh observations regarding the intelligence community.  With the exception of the Congressional 9-11 review and the investigation into Iraq's suspected WMD program, I don't recall the CIA having to deal with so much intense public scrutiny.  My how things have changed.  Agency employees, especially officers from the Directorate of Operations, are very familiar with the terms, "discretion", "confidential", and "covert".  Now it seems the Agency is in the news everyday.  My ability to understand recent events is limited because I'm now on the outside, looking in.  Frankly, I'm still waiting for the previously promised "proof" that Russia aggressively cyber-targeted the Clinton campaign in an effort to ensure a Trump victory.  I have no doubt that the Russians hacked the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).  Spies collect intelligence on targets of interest, and no one gets a day-off because a national campaign is unfolding.  I can assure you that the Russians also attempted to hack into the Trump Campaign and the RNC, and the Chinese were knocking on the door as well.  This feigned shock and indignation is all a bunch of affectation by people who should know better.  But this is the season for politicizing everything, folks.  The mainstream media wants the American people to believe that, in a determined effort to get Donald Trump elected, the Russians hacked a bunch of emails from Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta's email account.  Next, the Russians passed the emails to Wikileaks, who released the salicious details to the public.  This was Russia's determined effrot to get get Trump elected.  Have you read the emails?  I would be embarrassed if I were the Democrats (and royally pissed-off if I were Bernie Sanders), but I can't fathom how anyone would make their decision to vote, one way or another, based on the Wikileaks emails.  Then, before anyone had an opportunity to catch their breath, came the announcement that the CIA and FBI were investigating an allegation against Donald Trump that involved a ritzy Moscow hotel room and two Russian hookers in 2015.  Wow.  Could this announcement not have waited until after the inauguration?  Not when the goal is to deligitimize the results of the 2016 election, which seems to be the goal of every mainstream-media story these days.  Be that as it may, the Agency has been the target or subject matter of the press for too long.  The professionals at the CIA are trained to work discreetly, and many times in confidential locations.  The organization can't function effectively when it is under so much scrutiny, which sadly is the result of the politicization of just about every branch of the US government by the Obama Administration.

The positive side of the coin- this environment will result in more honest, experienced, hard-working intelligence officers who may have retired early, deciding to return to the work they love.  There is a new sheriff in town, as they say, and he seems sincerely determined to support the intelligence community in ways that will allow for a return to more humint collection and less politicization.  I supported Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, and I have great faith that his inauguration will herald positive change in the United States.  The intelligence community will do its part, and I expect the Trump Transition Team will recognize the opportunity that awaits with a review of resigned or retired intel officers who also strongly supported Donald Trump.  My case is a bit unique- I retired Medically Disabled, and have worked to regain my health so that I may return to work.  Like many others, I have submitted my application and resume because I want to do my duty, to be part of a rebust national security effort which President-Elect Donald Trump will inspire.  To quote President-Elect Trump, "much work needs to be done"; that work will not be accomplished by the entertainment industry multi-millionaire elite who, for some reason, believe that being a skillful actor equates to being entitled to decide the future of our nation.  Sixty-three million US citizens provided Donald Trump a clear and decisive electoral victory, which in the long-run will benefit even his greatest critiques.  Donald Trump is making America Great Again.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The effort to subvert the will of the American people continues.

This morning I had the misfortune of stumbling across an television interview with an actor named Kerry Washington.  I have no clue who Washington is, although she claims to have worked in the Obama White House.  Normally when I determine that an entertainer is lecturing on politics, I switch the station or shut off the television altogether, but in this instance, probably because of her claim to direct access to the White House, I listened in for a minute or two.  Washington regurgitated the usual crap that we get from the millionaire elite Hollywood community, including the claim that the American voter did not chose Donald Trump, and that President-Elect Trump only captured twenty-five percent of the vote.  These are just two of the bullets from a long list of talking points which is regularly disseminated amongst the Left, who have no interest whatsoever about the damage that this repudiation of our electoral system is causing.  You would think that Washington would take a few minutes away from polishing her Oscars to educate herself on the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012, during which Barack Obama won less than thirty percent of eligible voters.  No doubt she considers those two election results to be legitimate and a reflection of the will of the American people.

A month or so before the November election, I stumbled across an offensive and absurd accusation leveled against then-candidate Donald Trump.  While perusing some radical left-wing, seldom-read website, I discovered a story involving Trump which was quite similar to the "Russian prostitutes" story released by Buzzfeed earlier this week.  This accusation, that Donald Trump paid two Russian prostitutes to urinate on a hotel bed because the bed had been slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama, had been shared with numerous journalists and media organizations previous to Buzzfeed's mainstream dissemination.  Why did the mainstream media ignore the story for so long?  Because it arrived with absolutely no proof, and contained numerous outright errors and bits of incorrect information.  In short, the mainstream media determined that the piece was just another example of "Fake News", which arrived during a presidential election cycle which had become overwhelmed with unverifiable accusations against both candidates.

Roughly one week before the inauguration, the story has resurfaced, and this time around, no one seems to care about validity, source identification, or verification.  In fact, it appears that since the Trump victory, both the FBI and the CIA have provided Bona Fides to this unsubstantiated, disgusting story by treating it as some threat to national security.  Of course, if a President-Elect had actually engaged in such behavior, that individual would be a prime candidate for extortion, and the FBI and CIA would be obligated to investigate.  The problem is, everyone knows that the story is garbage.  The U.S. Law Enforcement and Intelligence communities must require the existence of some verification or validity in order to conduct full investigations and feel the need to brief President Obama and President-Elect Trump.  Now that the issue has hit the headlines and could end up causing the incoming Administration no small amount of headaches, we need to know what about this story reached the threshold that would justify this kind of attention from the FBI and the CIA?  Actually, this is second time we find ourselves in this predicament.  The Obama Administration showed no hesitation in announcing that the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin in particular, ordered its clandestine cyber operatives to interfere with the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election in a manner that would benefit GOP nominee Donald Trump.  I assume that both the Russians and the Chinese were busy attempting to mess around with our electoral process (its called espionage, folks), but to make this announcement weeks before the inauguration supports the false idea that Donald Trump won the election because of Russian interference.  Last week the CIA was front and center with the Russian interference accusation, and now the Agency finds itself back in the headlines, by apparently treated an obviously fake story as a legitimate threat of some sort.  Thanks, CIA and FBI- you've given this absurd, false story the validity that had been lacking.

As I sit here at my computer, safe in my Texas Hill Country home, more than a handful of CIA officers are working in denied environments, putting their lives in danger to collect the intelligence needed to win the war on terror.  When I think of the CIA, these men and women come to mind, not Russian prostitutes.  I can assure you that everyday, FBI Special Agents are out on the streets, putting their lives at risk in support of national security.  I can only imagine what the rank-and-file of these two patriotic, indispensable organizations must feel, when they realize just how politicized our government has become. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

I'm ready to serve, President-Elect Trump.

When I was obliged to medically retire from the CIA in 2010, I was convinced that eventually my health would improve to the point of allowing me to return to work.  I could not imagine permanently retiring at forty-four years of age, so I focused on obsessively following the instructions of my physicians and therapists.  The toxins which invaded my body did a number on my central nervous system, and I will never recover sensation in my legs, feet, or hands, but my mobility has improved, and I have learned to deal with the chronic pain that is a symptom of toxic neuropathy.  I can't say enough for the CIA Office of Medical Services and the Human Resources professionals who made every effort to simplify the transition to medical disability.  When I was an active member of the Case Officer cadre, I knew in the back of my mind that in the event of a catastrophic injury, the Agency would take care of me.  I will always remember with gratitude the officers who helped me through the complications that were unavoidable given the uniqueness of my case.  It was always my intention, though, to regain my health and rejoin my colleagues in the struggle against those who wish to do us harm.

I created this blog in order to introduce my memoir to the millions of persons on the internet who are interested in espionage and intelligence collection.  Once the book was published and the publicity tour was complete, I began to write less and less about my career, and more about current hot spots and the important role intelligence plays in everything from diplomacy to support for the military. When the 2016 election campaign began in earnest, I found myself commenting regularly on the candidates and foreign policy.  I had no qualms expressing my support for the Republican nominee Donald Trump, even though he was not my initial choice.  As the campaign heated up, I found myself utilizing my blog to correct the frustrating misconceptions, distractions and outright lies that littered the mainstream media reporting.  I'm proud of the record my blog represents, and I stand by my writing.

Until mid-November, I had never contemplated working in a Trump Administration.  Like many Americans, my entire focus was doing my part to ensure a Trump victory, but once the air had cleared a bit, and the media started reporting on the Trump Transition Team, it didn't take long for me to decide where to direct my efforts as I re-enter the work force.  I have confidence in my life and work experience, and the positive reputation I have earned.  I believe in President-Elect Trump and his plans for the future of our international relationships and obligations.  His cabinet choices to date only re-enforce my confidence in his ability to surround himself with the best and the brightest our nation has to offer. During the campaign, I did my best promote the Trump vision through my blog, and detail just how unavoidable successful will be once the nation has been pointed in the right direction.  I submitted an online application and my resume to the Trump Transition Team, and truly hope I am given the opportunity to join the effort to rebuild and reorient our nation, with Donald Trump at the helm.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

If you believe that President-Elect Donald Trump won the 2016 Presidential Election because of hacking on the part of Russia, then I've got some cheap ocean-front property in Nebraska to sell you.

My intention was to take a bit of a break this past December, clear my head from the nastiness of the 2016 election, and let the Christmas spirit re-energize my batteries.  I've slowed the blog to a crawl, with the intention of refocusing in 2017 on the international spread of terrorism.  Unfortunately, I've been obliged to occasionally deviate from that plan in order to shed some much-needed light on the actions and intentions of the lame-duck Barack Obama Administration.  Proceeding on the idea that if something is repeated often enough, it becomes fact, the Democrats continue to use different avenues in an attempt to "delegitimize" the incoming Trump Administration.  The Democratic Party continues to utilize the mainstream media as its military arm by deluging the public with stories about Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote and the Trump Administration's alleged ties to Russia.  Obama, never one to shy away from politicizing the tools of government, used sanctions against Russia and weak investigations by the intelligence community to validate the absurd notion that the Russian government, through the use of computer hacking, impacted the 2016 Presidential Election.  Juggling apples and oranges with great nerve, Obama managed to bring together three disparate elements: the WikiLeaks organization, Russia's history of hacking into US computer systems, and Donald Trump's 2016 decisive electoral victory.  Explaining the alleged plot takes a bit of effort, but I'm going to give it a try.

As a bit of background, WikiLeaks is the organization which is intent on releasing and publicizing as much US government classified intelligence as it can get its hands on.  Throughout 2016, WikiLeaks released various information which had been obtained from the emails of certain US government officials.  As the presidential election heated up, WikiLeaks focused on disseminating details which had been obtained through the hacking of John Podesta's email account (Podesta being Hillary Clinton's Campaign Chairman at the time).  The emails were embarrassing, but nothing which has been released to date should have caused any concern in the Clinton camp.  The real damage to her campaign was delivered by Clinton's illegal email server, and the concern that said server was used to share classified information with donors to the Clinton Foundation.  Be that as it may, The Obama Administration (and its media support network headed up by the New York Times and the Washington Post) is promoting the false narrative that the Russian government, in an effort to get Donald Trump into the White House, hacked the Democratic National Committee, the Hillary Clinton Campaign, and other Democratic useful targets, including, I assume, John Podesta.  The information that was allegedly obtained was then secretly passed on to WikiLeaks, who proceeded to release whatever details they considered damaging, at the most beneficial time for the Trump Campaign.  The end result, according to the Obama narrative, being that thousands of voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida chose to vote against Hillary Clinton because they were disturbed by the contents of the released emails.  Other bits and pieces of the allegation are difficult to decipher.  By accusing Russia of utilizing hackers to impact the 2016 election, does the Obama Administration mean to infer that the election offices of each and every State were under attack by Russian computer experts?  Were the Russians trying to change vote totals electronically, or was this effort limited to the targeting of the DNC and the Clinton Campaign, in order to obtain controversial email information which would cause enough of a scandal to cost Clinton the election?  I can't help but wonder exactly what the Russians might have discovered which would have been so damaging that it would have completely derailed the entire Clinton Campaign.

Please stick with me as I try and inject a bit of sanity into the conversation.  First and foremost, yes, the Russians are engaged in espionage which does not have our best interest at heart.  So are the Chinese, and our two new friends Cuba and Iran.  Anyone with even the slightest grasp of international diplomacy understands that countries are constantly spying on one another.  The real issue should not be if Russia attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential campaign, but why it took Donald Trump's unexpected electoral victory to finally get the Obama Administration interested in attempts by foreign nations to commit espionage against our government.  Put aside the bizarre idea that Russia was responsible for Trump victory for a second.  Without giving away any state secrets, I can guarantee you that the Chinese have been robbing us blind for decades through the use of espionage-related computer equipment.  Our Laboratories are under constant attack, and the numerous Universities that engage in highly classified Department of Defense research, are always a juicy target for Chinese.  In fact, the Obama Administration had been aware of targeted hacking operations by the Russians for months before last week's announcement of new sanctions.  It appears that Obama only became interested in this issue once a political angle was uncovered. 

At every opportunity, WikiLeaks founder and Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange has flatly denied that Russia is the source of the hacked emails in question.  In fact, one particular rumor that won't go away is that the emails were provided by a former DNC staffer who became disenchanted with the Clinton candidacy because of its treatment of former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.  Regardless, the actions taken by the Obama Administration to "punish" Russia for interfering in our electoral process do nothing but damage the efforts at a smooth administrative transition.  Obama continues to stress the importance of cooperation and good faith whenever the media are about, but as the old cliché reminds us, actions speak louder than words. Donald Trump is the President-Elect and he deserves the opportunity to put together his Administration with as little distraction and interference as possible.  This Russian hacking-to-impact-the-election "Red Herring" is a nasty distraction at best, and an organized effort to delegitimize the incoming Administration at worst.  Regardless of the protests and the never-ending despicable commentary from various members of the entertainment community, the majority of Americans are looking forward to the Trump Administration, and with good reason.  Since the election, thousands of jobs that were headed overseas have decided to stay.  Our economy is set for an expansion that we haven't seen since the Reagan Presidency.  I would give anything to be a part of the incoming Trump Team; they have my resume and application (a little reminder never hurt!).  Trump earned the opportunity to lead this nation, and the American people deserve a smooth transition and a united government that serves the people, not vice-versa.  I spent my career as a member of the intelligence community and even as a civilian, I remain dedicated to disrupting any foreign influence in our government, regardless of the target.  From the evidence that I've seen presented to date, The Obama Administration's claim that Russian espionage-through-hacking impacted the 2016 election rings flat and very hollow.