Monday, February 13, 2017

General Flynn—some controversy for some time?

Michael T. Flynn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Michael Thomas "Mike" Flynn (born December 1958) is a retired United States Army lieutenant general who was the 18th Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and is the 25th and current National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump.[1]

Flynn's military career was primarily operational, with numerous combat arms, conventional and special operations senior intelligence assignments. He co-authored a report in January 2010 through the Center for a New American Security entitled Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan.[2] In addition, Flynn served as the commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, chair of the Military Intelligence Board, Assistant Director of National Intelligence,[3][4] and the senior intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command. He retired with 33 years service in the Army, a year before he was scheduled to leave his position.

On November 18, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump announced that Flynn would serve as National Security Advisor in his coming administration. As a member of the Executive Office of the President, Flynn will not require the advice and consent of the United States Senate.[5] Flynn has drawn criticism for his purported close relations with Russia,[6][7][8] and for his promotion and popularization of anti-Clinton conspiracy theories and fake news during the 2016 presidential campaign.[9][10] The Wall Street Journal reported on January 22, 2017, that Flynn was under investigation by U.S. counterintelligence agents for his communications with Russian officials.



Early life and education

Flynn was born in December 1958 in Middletown, Rhode Island,[4] the son of Helen Frances (Andrews), who worked in real estate, and Charles Francis Flynn, a banker.[11][12][13][14]

Michael Flynn graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science degree in management science in 1981 and was a Distinguished Military Graduate of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. He also earned a Master of Business Administration in Telecommunications from Golden Gate University, a Master of Military Art and Science from the United States Army Command and General Staff College, and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.[1]

Flynn is a graduate of the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course, Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course, Army Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies, and Naval War College.[1]

Military career

U.S. Army

General Stanley McChrystal and Flynn in Afghanistan, 2010

Flynn was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant in military intelligence, in 1981.[1] His military assignments included multiple tours at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps, and Joint Special Operations Command, where he deployed for the invasion of Grenada in Grenada and Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti.[15] He also served with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and the Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.[1]

Flynn served as the assistant chief of staff, G2, XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from June 2001 and the director of intelligence, Joint Task Force 180 in Afghanistan until July 2002. He commanded the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade from June 2002 to June 2004.[1] He was the director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command from July 2004 to June 2007, with service in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) and Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom). He served as the director of intelligence, United States Central Command from June 2007 to July 2008, as the director of intelligence, Joint Staff from July 2008 to June 2009, then the director of intelligence, International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan from June 2009 to October 2010.[1][16]

Defense Intelligence Agency, Director

Flynn speaks during the change of directorship for the Defense Intelligence Agency on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

In September 2011, Flynn was promoted to Lieutenant General and assigned to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. On April 17, 2012, President Barack Obama nominated Flynn to be the 18th director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.[17][18] Flynn took command of the DIA in July 2012.[19] In October 2012, Flynn announced plans to release his paper "VISION2020: Accelerating Change Through Integration", a broad look at how the Defense Intelligence Agency must transform to meet the national security challenges for the 21st Century.[20] It was meant to emphasize “integration, interagency teamwork and innovation of the whole workforce, not just the technology but the people.” [21]


On April 30, 2014, Flynn announced his retirement effective later in 2014, about a year earlier than he had been scheduled to leave his position. He was reportedly effectively forced out of the DIA after clashing with superiors over his allegedly chaotic management style and vision for the agency.[22][23][24][25] In a private email which was leaked online, Colin Powell said that he had heard in the DIA (apparently from later DIA director Vincent R. Stewart) that Flynn got fired because he was "Abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc."[24] According to the New York Times, Flynn exhibited a loose relationship with facts, leading his subordinates to refer to Flynn's repeated dubious assertions as "Flynn facts".[26]

According to what Flynn had told in one final interview as DIA director, he felt like a lone voice in thinking that the United States was less safe from the threat of Islamic terrorism in 2014 than it was prior to the 9/11 attacks; he went on to believe that he was pressed into retirement for questioning the Obama administration’s public narrative that Al Qaeda was close to defeat.[27] Journalist Seymour Hersh wrote that "Flynn confirmed [to Hersh] that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings ... about the dire consequences of toppling [Syrian President] Assad." Flynn recounted that his agency was producing intelligence reports indicating that radical Islamists were the main force in the Syrian insurgency and "that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria." According to Flynn, these reports "got enormous pushback from the Obama administration," who he felt "did not want to hear the truth." According to former DIA official W. Patrick Lang: "Flynn incurred the wrath of the White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria ... they shoved him out. He wouldn't shut up."[28] In an interview with Al Jazeera, Flynn criticized the Obama administration for its delay in supporting the opposition in Syria, thereby allowing for the growth of Al Nusra and other extremist forces: "when you don’t get in and help somebody, they’re gonna find other means to achieve their goals" and that "we should have done more earlier on in this effort, you know, than we did."[29]

Flynn retired from the U.S. Army with 33 years of service on August 7, 2014.[30]


Consulting firm

Main article: Flynn Intel Group

Flynn, along with son Michael G. Flynn, runs Flynn Intel Group which provides intelligence services for business and governments.[31] Several sources, including Politico, have written that Flynn's consulting company is allegedly lobbying for Turkey. A company tied to Erdogan's government, which supports Muslim Brotherhood, is known to have hired Flynn's lobbying firm.[32][33][34][35][36][37] On election day 2016, Flynn wrote an op-ed calling for U.S. backing for Erdogan's government and criticized the regime's opponent, Fethullah Gulen; Flynn did not disclose that Flynn's consulting firm had received funds from a company with ties to Erdogan's government.[38] In July 2016, Flynn said that the coup attempt against Erdogan was something “worth clapping for”, but two months later, when a company tied to Erdogan's government hired Flynn's firm, Flynn hailed Erdogan as a critical U.S. ally.[39]

Flynn sat in on classified national security briefings with then-candidate Trump at the same time that Flynn was working for foreign clients, which raises ethical concerns and conflicts of interest.[40]

Attendance of RT Gala Dinner

In 2015, Flynn attended a gala dinner in Moscow in honor of RT, a Russian government-owned English-language media outlet on which he made semi-regular appearances as an analyst after he retired from U.S. government service. Before the gala, Flynn gave a paid talk on world affairs.[7][8] Flynn defended the Russian payment in an interview with Michael Isikoff.[8] Journalist Michael Crowley of Politico reported that "at a moment of semi-hostility between the U.S. and Russia, the presence of such an important figure at Putin's table startled" U.S. officials, in reference to president Vladimir Putin's attendance of the dinner as the guest of honor.[7]

2016 U.S. presidential election

Flynn at a campaign rally for then-Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, in October 2016.

During one of the debates in the 2015 GOP primaries, presidential candidate Carly Fiorina promised that, if she is elected, she would bring back into the government “the warrior class” of generals, including David Petraeus, Jack Keane, James Mattis, Stanley McChrystal and Flynn.

Having already been consulted regarding national security by Fiorina as well as other candidates, including Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump,[41] Flynn was asked in February 2016 to serve as an adviser to the Trump campaign.[42] In July 2016, it was reported he was being considered as Trump's running mate; Flynn later confirmed that he had submitted vetting documents to the campaign and was willing to accept the Republican vice-presidential nomination if chosen.[43][44] Trump instead selected Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

As one of the keynote speakers during the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention Flynn gave what the Los Angeles Times described as a "fiery" speech, in which he stated: "We are tired of Obama's empty speeches and his misguided rhetoric. This, this has caused the world to have no respect for America's word, nor does it fear our might";[45] he also accused Obama of choosing to conceal the actions of Osama bin Laden and ISIS.[46] Flynn went on to critically address political correctness and joined the crowd in a chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!". During the chants he told those in the audience, "Get fired up! This is about our country."[45][47] During the speech, Flynn launched a blistering attack on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He led the crowd in chants of "Lock her up!" and called for her to withdraw from the race, saying that "if I did a tenth of what she did, I'd be in jail today."[48][49] He repeated in subsequent interviews that she should be "locked up".[50] While campaigning for Trump, Flynn also referred to Clinton as the "enemy camp".[48] Six days after the speech Flynn stirred up a controversy by retweeting anti-semitic remarks, which he later apologized for and claimed was unintentional.[51] During the election campaign, Flynn used Twitter to post links to negative stories about Clinton, including fake news.[9]

Flynn was once opposed to waterboarding and other extreme interrogation techniques that have now been banned; however, according to an August 2016 Washington Post article, he said at one point, in the context of Trump's apparent openness to reinstating such techniques, that "he would be reluctant to take options off the table."[48] In May 2016, Flynn was asked by an Al Jazeera reporter if he would support Trump's stated plan to "take out [the] families"[52][53] of suspected terrorists. In response, Flynn stated, "I would have to see the circumstances of that situation".[48] In an interview with Al Jazeera, Flynn criticized the reliance on drones as a "failed strategy", stating that "what we have is this continued investment in conflict. The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just … fuels the conflict.”[54][29]

National Security Advisor

On November 18, 2016, Flynn accepted president-elect Donald Trump's offer of the position of National Security Advisor.[55]

After the election of Donald Trump, Flynn met with Freedom Party of Austria leader Heinz-Christian Strache.[56] The Freedom Party of Austria announced on December 19, 2016, that it has signed a "cooperation agreement with Russia’s ruling party." The Freedom Party of Austria was founded by in the 1950s by ex-Nazis. The Trump campaign refused to comment on the meeting.[56]

On December 29, 2016, Flynn spoke with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the same day the Obama administration announced retaliatory measures in response to Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential campaign; if there was intent to interfere with or defeat said measures, this may constitute a felony under the Logan act. Trump's incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, said he doubted that Flynn and Kislyak discussed the retaliatory measures.[57]

The Wall Street Journal reported on January 22, 2017, that Flynn was under investigation by U.S. counterintelligence agents for his communications with Russian officials.[58] On February 9, 2017, U.S. intelligence officials shared an account of Flynn's interactions with Kislyak, which indicated that he did discuss the sanctions placed on Russia by the Obama administration,[59] and Flynn's spokesman released a statement that Flynn “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”[60]

Political views

Flynn is a registered Democrat, having grown up in a "very strong Democratic family".[61] However, he was a keynote speaker during the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention,[45] and he is a surrogate and top national security adviser for President Donald Trump.

During a July 10, 2016, interview on ABC News' This Week, when asked by host Martha Raddatz about the issue of abortion, Flynn stated, "women have to be able to choose."[61][62] The next day, Flynn said on Fox News that he is a "pro-life Democrat".[63]

Flynn has been a board member of ACT! for America,[55] and sees the Muslim faith as one of the root causes of Islamist terrorism.[26] He has described Islam as a political ideology and a cancer.[26][64] He stated in a Twitter post that "fear of Muslims is RATIONAL"[55] and included a video link claiming that Islam wants “80% of people enslaved or exterminated”.[65] Initially supportive of Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US, Flynn later told Al Jazeera that a blanket ban was unworkable and has called instead for "vetting" of entrants from countries like Syria.[55] Flynn has stated the U.S. "should extradite Fethullah Gülen" to Turkey and "work constructively with Russia" in Syria.[28][66] In 2016, he said that he had personally seen photos of signs in the Southwest border area that were in Arabic to help Muslims entering the United States illegally. An officer of the National Border Patrol Council responded that he had never seen any signs delineating smuggling routes, let alone any in Arabic.[67]


Flynn is the author of The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies, co-authored with Michael Ledeen, which was published by St. Martin's Press in 2016.[68] In reviewing the book, Will McCants of the Brookings Institution described Flynn's worldview as a confused combination of neoconservatism (an insistence on destroying what he sees as an alliance of tyranny, dictatorships, and radical Islamist regimes) and realism (support for working with "friendly tyrants"), although he acknowledged that this could be due to the book having two authors (it being co-authored by Michael Ledeen).[69]

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