by WorldTribune Staff, February 14, 2017
Mike Flynn on Feb. 13 stepped down as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser after serving in the post for less that four weeks.
Flynn resigned after revelations emerged that he didn’t fully explain communications he had late last year with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Just two days after Trump’s inauguration, U.S. officials disclosed Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador were part of a counterintelligence investigation.
Flynn had become a “lightning rod” for opponents of Trump during the transition period.
What was seen by many officials and media analysts as Flynn’s coziness with Russia had been on the radar since late 2015. Flynn had “advocated for a rapprochement with Russia on the basis that both countries should focus on countering Islamist terrorism and Iran’s nuclear ambitions rather than each other,” the Journal report said.
But he had also called President Vladimir Putin “a dictator and a thug.”
During his 33-year career in the U.S. armed forces, Flynn served in top roles including as director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and intelligence adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Though gaining a reputation as a “maverick,” Flynn continued to rise through the ranks. In 2012 he was appointment to run the Defense Intelligence Agency, the U.S. military’s answer to the Central Intelligence Agency.
In his two years leading the agency, Flynn tried to overhaul the way the U.S. military treats intelligence but also clashed with superiors and counterparts, officials and colleagues said.
James Clapper, then the director of national intelligence, and Michael Vickers, then-undersecretary of defense for intelligence, removed him from the post in 2014, forcing his retirement. In a July 9, 2016, article in the New York Post, Flynn wrote that he had been fired for the stand he took “on radical Islamism and the expansion of Al Qaida and its associated movements.”
Flynn argued that the Obama administration underestimated the depth of the threat from Al Qaida and its remnants. After U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq, operatives who had led Al Qaida in Iraq merged to form Islamic State (ISIS) and swept through the country in 2014, seizing large swaths of territory in the face of an ill-prepared Iraqi military.
Others suggested different reasons for Flynn’s dismissal. Colin Powell, the former secretary of state and onetime chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a July 19, 2016, email (released by hackers in September) that he spoke at DIA and asked the officials there why Flynn was fired. “Abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc.,” Powell wrote, going on to describe Flynn as a “right-wing nutty.”
Flynn, in an appearance on Fox News, responded to Powell’s comments by saying he doesn’t disparage people that way in his own emails. Flynn portrayed Powell as the sort of Washington establishment figure the Trump campaign was looking to replace.
“As a footnote in history, he is going to be always struggling for his credibility because of the statements that he made to the United Nations that brought us into the war in Iraq,” Flynn said. “And I’ll tell you what, when I think about some of the dumb decisions that have been made over the years by people who have lived in the bubble of Washington, D.C., we just can’t have that anymore.”
Flynn also rankled the establishment by calling out those who refused to say Islam itself is a problem, the Journal report said.
In a February 2016 post on Twitter, he wrote: “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”
“I don’t see Islam as a religion,” Flynn said. “I see it as a political ideology.
“In a way, it’ll mask itself as a religion globally, especially in the West and especially in the United States,” he added. “Because it can hide itself and protect itself behind what we call freedom of religion.”
Flynn said the U.S. needs to appreciate the scope of the threat from radical Islamists who want to destroy the country. “We’re in a world war,” he wrote in a book published last summer. “But very few Americans recognize it, and fewer still have any idea how to win it.”
In December 2015, Flynn visited Moscow to participate in 10-year anniversary celebrations for RT, the Russian state-sponsored English-language network, which former Secretary of State John Kerry described as a “propaganda bullhorn” for the Kremlin.
Flynn gave an interview with one of RT’s top presenters in front of an audience and was photographed sitting next to Putin at the gala dinner, “a public-relations coup for Moscow, which by then had been punished by Washington for seizing a swath of territory in neighboring Ukraine,” the Journal report said.
In an interview last year with the Washington Post, Flynn defended his trip. He said the Russian state network paid him through a speaking-engagement agent to attend the event, which he described as a “great learning opportunity.”