The Tower May Have Fallen

REUTERS/Gary Cameron.

Michael McGrady Director of McGrady Policy Research
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What a week… A certain North Korean leader’s brother is assassinated after some lovely ballistic missile tests, the G20 meets in Bonn, and one of America’s lead national security advisors is fired. Oh, what fun!

In one of my prior op-eds from earlier this week, I pointed to how General Michael Flynn, the now former National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, resigned from his position. Since then, to add some clarity and to clarify my corrections, General Flynn was forced out of his position by the President, himself; yet, soon after such realizations surfaced, major media outlets lit up yesterday’s news cycle of reports that alleged several claims that Trump’s staffers made contact and worked with foreign actors, some being foreign intelligence officials, prior to Flynn’s fall.

In addition, many questions have arisen surrounding how Flynn’s communication with Russian diplomats was brought to the public eye.

Simply put, the “tower,” being the nearly impenetrable wall of security surrounding the Executive Office of the President, may have fallen to informational leaks that now leave millions of people, myself included, scratching their heads.

One important component that needs to be addressed is finding the answer to the million-dollar question: Who or what prompted a major security leak costing a White House aide his position and clearance? To be frank, there is going to be neither a short answer nor a single answer to this prying question.

For The Washington Post’s editorial board, the answer seems easy, per the usage of alleged anonymous sources bringing forward the narrative that Flynn compromised the transition period into Trump’s presidency when he spoke with Russian officials on lifting sanctions, among other topics.

“Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters,” the Post’s coverage communicated. The same report cited that the nine intelligence officials all came forth to expose Flynn’s misdealing. Whether the sources are real or not, there is a clear and evident “rift” between the U.S. Intelligence Community (I.C.) and the White House.

The I.C. is a group of 17 federal agencies and military elements working under the coordination of the Director of National Intelligence, DNI. With the Director of the CIA being the only agency head to report to DNI, all the civilian and military entities have integrated programs to cooperate, share, and conduct espionage operations. However, given the fact, if there is any truth to this, that intelligence officials who held high-ranking positions within the intelligence bureaucracy released vital and sensitive information to the public poses a major issue.

This entire situation can even be elements of the I.C. spying on the man they are sworn to serving, the president.

Let me say now that I am a major advocate for the openness and accountability of government, especially when it comes to the intelligence community acting lawfully and constitutionally; but, when the spies of our country are allegedly spying on our leaders, their superiors, something needs to be addressed.

I like to use the Snowden scandal for cases like this. As we all know, Snowden did millions of Americans an honor in exposing the mass data capturing efforts of the National Security Agency to the public. Yet, in an effort to rebuff me of being inaccurate, he did violate the law, ergo punishment must be handed down just like any violator of the law. Incidentally, if these anonymous sources really did come to publications like The Washington Post, The New York Times, and many others, to bring to light a miscreant action parted by a government official, they violated the law, as well.

This, then, opens up the debate surrounding whistleblowing in the intelligence community and whether the practice should be protected and streamlined. Regardless of that, though, not even the slightest effort of going to an independent auditor or even up the food chain appeared, according to our public knowledge. Besides the instance of President Trump being briefed on the Flynn incident, allegedly, prior to his removal, nothing even remotely similar has materialized.

The interception and monitoring of the Flynn communications also can shed some light on how the entire release of this information shows how a small group of “activist analysts” is making the problem even worse. Must I point out that these anonymous sources from the I.C. have an entire surveillance state at their disposal to spy on and violate the individual rights of all Americans? One columnist for The Week pointed out that, “Procedures matter. So do rules and public accountability… But the answer isn’t to counter it with equally irregular acts of sabotage — or with a disinformation campaign waged by nameless civil servants toiling away in the surveillance state.”

Only something that truly is against the American people, liberal or conservative, regardless of how you voted or believe, is at work if these anonymous sources are real.

In the end, though, I have to still contend that Flynn needed to be removed after facing such a compromised fate. Plus, I also have to contend that someone taking a stand to point out unacceptable actions within the White House needs to be recognized with a positive outlook. However, even the most righteous of whistleblowers, real or not, cannot just leak highly classified information to vultures in the press. Such claims are unsubstantiated, incredible, and too politically charged. Nevermore, the right way to hold your leaders accountable in precarious positions, as in this situation, is to approach this, possibly in-house, and directly to the perpetrator.

Intelligence officials, White House officials, and the president himself aren’t above the law.