January 30, 2017


Amateur hour for Donald Trump and the National Security Council (Richard Clarke, 1/30/17, NY Daily News)

General Flynn, the current NSC Advisor, has never served as an NSC Deputy, or as an NSC Senior Director, or as a regular attendee at the crucial Principals Committee or Deputies Committee representing the Defense Department or any other component. His Deputy, K.T. Mcfarland, who every day will run what is in effect the U.S. Government's Operating Committee for national security, has never held a policy position in the U.S. Government and was last a government employee as a press liaison thirty years ago. She has spent her time since on Fox television.

Why does this matter? Because national security is not bumper cars. You cannot just walk in off the street and assume you know how to run the millions of people, civilian, military, law enforcement, intelligence and civil servants deployed all around the world in dangerous places doing important jobs.

I suspect that Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon, would be aghast at the thought of Flynn and Mcfarland showing up to run Exxon. After years at Exxon, Tillerson knows how hard and complex that task is. Well, running a Superpower is even more difficult and cannot be done by people who have never held any position of responsibility before in the NSC system.

The first proof of this team's incompetence has been the drafting, vetting and implementation of their ban of people from any of seven nations entering the United States, including those that already live here. Whether or not you agree with the idea, which I do not, the chaos at airports around the country and the massive and spontaneous popular protest of the move might well have been avoided if the NSC system had been used to draft, vet and implement the idea. That system, properly employed, analyses proposals, identifies what will not work, prepares the groundwork with the Congress, media, and interest groups, and ensures that federal agencies are ready to carry out the new policy. Most importantly, the NSC system makes sure that any new policy is actually legal.

is that this clown show comes only at a time when we face no security challenges.

Trump's Signing of Immigrant Ban Puts Pentagon in Uncomfortable Light (HELENE COOPER, JAN. 28, 2017, NY Times)

In a building where uniformed men and women work alongside civilian officials, several rank-and-file workers expressed outrage that Mr. Trump would use the Defense Department, home to a military that includes people of many faiths, including Islam, to announce that he was blocking visa applicants from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

"Using the military as a backdrop for politically charged activities is bad for the military," said Kori Schake, a Hoover Institution fellow who edited the new book "Warriors and Citizens: American Views of Our Military" with Mr. Mattis. She added that associating the military with "unconstitutional policies is especially damaging, since our military take their oath to the Constitution, not to the president."

The president cited the Sept. 11 attacks in his decision to issue the immigration restrictions, which he cast in national security terms. "We will never forget the lessons of 9/11," he said, nor the people "who lost their lives at the Pentagon."

But none of the 19 terrorists who were on the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa., were from any of the countries on Mr. Trump's visa ban list.

Instead, Iraq, where the American military is fighting with Iraqi security forces against the Islamic State, is among the countries on the list. Military officials have repeatedly called the nation an American ally.

"After all the money and lives spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon knows better than anyone that terrorism is a problem of a small number of enemies embedded in a population of people you need to win over," said Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "I don't see the part of this that's meant to win over anyone."

Two people close to Mr. Mattis, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they said they were wary of undercutting him, said he was still sharply opposed to the Muslim ban. But he spent this week battling the White House on other issues, including the establishment of "safe zones" in Syria, something the Pentagon has long opposed because it would deepen American involvement in the war there, out of the executive order.

Posted by at January 30, 2017 8:09 AM