About the "Nine Current and Former Officials" Losing Security Clearances

In February 2017, “nine current and former officials” confirmed classified information leaked to the Washington Post and the New York Times. That information was intelligence obtained from NSA intercepts of several telephone calls between incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Kislyak.

Each of those nine could have been prosecuted for violating their security oaths which expressly forbids officials from revealing, or confirming, the contents of classified materials until they have been formally declassified by the agency that created them. Those officials could have been charged with, among other felony crimes, violation of the Espionage Act, 18 USC Sec. 793, punishable by ten years imprisonment. See, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/secrecy/RS21900.pdf

Having a security clearance revoked after such a felony violation is a mere slap on the wrist.

Here’s how the WaPo reported that mass breach of secrecy when it broke its own story that incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had been conducting back-channels diplomacy with the Russian Ambassador:


[T]he fuller account of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak provided by officials who had access to reports from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies that routinely monitor the communications of Russian diplomats. 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.

All of those officials said ­Flynn’s references to the election-related sanctions were explicit. Two of those officials went further, saying that Flynn urged Russia not to overreact to the penalties being imposed by President Barack Obama, making clear that the two sides would be in position to review the matter after Trump was sworn in as president.

Before his phone calls were intercepted, disseminated and leaked, Mike Flynn had long been the target of intense hatred within the New Cold Warrior and NeoCon circles. This is because of his central role as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) that worked with the Russian military to block the takeover of Syria by Saudi Arabian-backed Jihadists working with the CIA and Clinton State Dept.

Flynn was appointed Director of DIA by Obama in 2012. The same Obama who eventually agreed to his firing two years later at the urging of Clinton, Brennan, Rice and most of the rest of the NSC basement crowd after DIA and the Joint Chiefs worked with the Russian military to prevent ISIS from taking Damascus. The head of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey, also opposed the program to arm Saudi backed militants in Syria. Nonetheless, Flynn took the fall for that.

This is the context of Brennan, Rice and others losing who are now having their security clearance revoked. Apparently, the WaPo and NYT have to be reminded of events they themselves first leaked. Here’s the missing context behind the leaks they aren’t now providing:

Military to Military
Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war


Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. Their criticism has focused on what they see as the administration’s fixation on Assad’s primary ally, Vladimir Putin. In their view, Obama is captive to Cold War thinking about Russia and China, and hasn’t adjusted his stance on Syria to the fact both countries share Washington’s anxiety about the spread of terrorism in and beyond Syria; like Washington, they believe that Islamic State must be stopped.

The military’s resistance dates back to the summer of 2013, when a highly classified assessment, put together by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya. A former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs told me that the document was an ‘all-source’ appraisal, drawing on information from signals, satellite and human intelligence, and took a dim view of the Obama administration’s insistence on continuing to finance and arm the so-called moderate rebel groups. By then, the CIA had been conspiring for more than a year with allies in the UK, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to ship guns and goods – to be used for the overthrow of Assad – from Libya, via Turkey, into Syria. The new intelligence estimate singled out Turkey as a major impediment to Obama’s Syria policy. The document showed, the adviser said, ‘that what was started as a covert US programme to arm and support the moderate rebels fighting Assad had been co-opted by Turkey, and had morphed into an across-the-board technical, arms and logistical programme for all of the opposition, including Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State. The so-called moderates had evaporated and the Free Syrian Army was a rump group stationed at an airbase in Turkey.’ The assessment was bleak: there was no viable ‘moderate’ opposition to Assad, and the US was arming extremists.

Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. Turkey wasn’t doing enough to stop the smuggling of foreign fighters and weapons across the border. ‘If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,’ Flynn told me. ‘We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.’ The DIA’s reporting, he said, ‘got enormous pushback’ from the Obama administration. ‘I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.’

‘Our policy of arming the opposition to Assad was unsuccessful and actually having a negative impact,’ the former JCS adviser said. ‘The Joint Chiefs believed that Assad should not be replaced by fundamentalists. The administration’s policy was contradictory. They wanted Assad to go but the opposition was dominated by extremists. So who was going to replace him? To say Assad’s got to go is fine, but if you follow that through – therefore anyone is better. It’s the “anybody else is better” issue that the JCS had with Obama’s policy.’ The Joint Chiefs felt that a direct challenge to Obama’s policy would have ‘had a zero chance of success’. So in the autumn of 2013 they decided to take steps against the extremists without going through political channels, by providing US intelligence to the militaries of other nations, on the understanding that it would be passed on to the Syrian army and used against the common enemy, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State.

Here’s more on how the efforts publicly led by Flynn within the Joint Chiefs to work more closely with the Russian military to prevent the Saudi and CIA-backed Islamists from taking over Syria won him the enduring hatred of Brennan, Rice and others in the NSC, the same figures who would later leak and confirm classified raw intelligence intercepts to the media to sink Flynn and prevent the incoming National Security Advisor from continuing to work to deconflict relations with Russia. https://www.thedailybeast.com/michael-flynn-had-a-plan-to-work-with-russ...

Another idea, known as “Enhanced Deconfliction,” emerged last fall, before the election. Advocated by General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his strategic planning chief, Lt. General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie Jr., Enhanced Deconfliction sought to expand the deconfliction channel, making it more of a forum for senior-level military discussion, and without Pentagon policy officials on the line. But McKenzie, whose planning shop put together a memo on the idea, was vague about what the purpose of the higher-level talks would be. (Some understood it to include a technology upgrade.) The outgoing defense secretary, Ashton Carter, nixed the idea.

Several former defense officials do not consider Enhanced Deconfliction to be a sop to Trump or his closeness to Russia. Instead, they understood it as the military taking an opportunity to see what it could get out of Barack Obama’s successor. When the idea began floating around the Joint Staff, most at the Pentagon assumed Hillary Clinton would be their next commander in chief.

Into this dynamic stepped Mike Flynn. But in January, Flynn went beyond any earlier proposal to hyperturbocharge the deconfliction channel. Flynn’s comfort with Russia had been on display for years. As chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, he visited the Moscow headquarters of Russian military intelligence and later boasted of being the first U.S. official to ever do so.

These are the same people — Brennan, Rice, and the others — who will do anything and risk everything to prevent peace from breaking out, particularly in that part of the world, even if they have to violate their security oaths to get Flynn. Yes, that’s what this is all about. I guess nearly everyone at the WaPo and NYT have already forgotten the multiple serving and recently retired intelligence officials who “outed” Flynn’s conversations with the Russian Ambassador, revealing classified materials and violating the Espionage Act in so doing.

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dkmich's picture

You're right. In context, it is the ol' slap on the wrist while Snowden twiddles in Russia and Assange is in danger of spending the rest of his life behind different bars. It isn't just my advancing age. I have been following politics a long, long time, and it has never been this thoroughly rotten.

21 users have voted.

"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

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The precedent is now set

All that a politically involved Intelligence operator need do to overthrow or disrupt an incoming President is unmask intercepts, disseminate them widely enough within the IC so they leak, and sit back as allies in the media have a field day denouncing the illegally wiretapped official as a Traitor. The leaker might even get a nice contract as a “news analyst” instead of an indictment. Take for instance,

James Clapper

President Obama’s top intelligence officer, James R. Clapper, admitted to the committee that he leaked salacious material about the dossier and Mr. Trump to CNN’s Jake Tapper.
The House report said Mr. Clapper, an ardent Trump critic, first denied that he leaked any details.

Mr. Clapper discussed the dossier with Mr. Tapper in early January 2017. On Jan. 10, CNN reported that Mr. Trump was briefed privately on the dossier section that claimed he frolicked with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room and that Russia could have compromising information. The CNN story legitimized the dossier as a news story and prompted BuzzFeed to post the entire document that day, forcing the White House to rebut a series of unverified charges.

The next day, Mr. Clapper issued a statement condemning the leak. CNN hired him in August 2017 as a national security analyst. He again denied on CNN in April that he was the leaker.

And then, there's Sally Yates:

Sally Yates is also tied into the controversy over leaks concerning Flynn

Sally Yates, former Acting Attorney General, is also mentioned among those slated to lose her security clearance. Yates’ role in the controversy over leaks of classified materials involving Flynn came after the “unmaskings” at the NSC carried out by Rice and another top official, subsequently distributed widely around Washington until it was leaked to The Post. Trump subsequently fired Yates and tweeted about her on May 8 as she was preparing to testify the next ay before the Senate Intelligence Committee: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/sally-yates-acting-attorney-ge...

“Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel,” Trump tweeted, referring to Yates’ conversation with White House counsel Donald McGahn.
It was more than a week after Yates raised concerns about Flynn with McGahn that the story leaked to the Washington Post, prompting a series of events that led to Flynn’s ouster from his White House job.

Yate’s refusal to answer that question apparently didn’t make it into the media’s reporting and memory of those events. In response to questions about how classified matters had made it into the newspapers, not surprisingly, she and DNI Clapper hid behind the twin veils of secrecy and cut-outs. As CNN reported that part of the hearing: https://www.cnn.com/2017/05/08/politics/sally-yates-senate-testimony/ind...

Yates also warned in her opening testimony that there were some issues she could not address publicly because they involved classified information. Similarly, she said that as a former official she was not authorized to discuss Department of Justice or other executive branch deliberations. It was not immediately clear how those constraints would affect her testimony on the Flynn question. Neither Flynn nor Trump were directly referenced in her opening statement.
“The efforts by a foreign adversary to interfere and undermine our democratic processes — and those of our allies — pose a serious threat to all Americans,” Yates said.
Graham asked Yates whether she had any information about whether there was collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russia.
“My answer to that question would require me to reveal classified information,” Yates said.
At one point in the hearing Graham asked both Clapper and Yates how information about Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador, that eventually led to his sacking, made it into the newspapers. Trump asked a similar question earlier on Twitter. Both former official said they did not know how that happened.

13 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Not content to just destroy Libya and let terrorists run amok, bring slavery into vogue, looting Gaddafi's gold and giving his weapons to terrorists moderate Syrian rebels, Obama wanted to do the same thing to Syria and would have been content letting ISIS run the government. Well why not? He overthrew Ukraine's government and let neo Nazis run its country. I'm still reading that 'he ended two wars and didn't started any new ones'.

Of course he didn't prosecute any of them because they didn't have noble intentions like Chelsea, Assange and Snowden. Or the bank CEOs who were doing gawd's work.

Each of those nine could have been prosecuted for violating their security oaths which expressly forbids officials from revealing, or confirming, the contents of classified materials until they have been formally declassified by the agency that created them. Those officials could have been charged with, among other felony crimes, violation of the Espionage Act, 18 USC Sec. 793, punishable by ten years imprisonment.

Bush dropped the espionage charges against Risen after he leaked classified information to the press, but Obama charged him again after he became president. There is no reason why Trump can't bring charges against them now as well as revoking their security clearances. I think he should do that to expose how they were working with ISIS and committing treason. This way people won't think that he is just trying to silence his critics. But does he have the power to do that?

Before his phone calls were intercepted, disseminated and leaked, Mike Flynn had long been the target of intense hatred within the New Cold Warrior and NeoCon circles. This is because of his central role as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) that worked with the Russian military to block the takeover of Syria by Saudi Arabian-backed Jihadists working with the CIA and Clinton State Dept.

Flynn's action should have been reported on every news site because he was upholding his oath not to give aid and comfort to our enemies. Hillary, her staff and the CIA goons should have been charged for treason. I guess we know who was in the contingency that broke the ceasefire conditions and attacked the Syrian soldiers who had been fighting ISIS for control of an airport. 182 of them were killed and ISIS got control of it again.

Every incoming president has talked to foreign governments before they were sworn in. We know that Reagan had Iran hold onto the hostages until he won the election. The military should have crucified him for doing that and making the hostages continue living in hell just so he could become president.

BTW. Guess which ex president is working behind the current ones back right now? Yup. BHO. Guess which one of his sidekicks is helping him? HRC.

Great essay. Thanks.

12 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
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snoopydawg's picture


doesn't it? I'm not sure why I started out with talking about what Obama did during his tenure regarding the wars. I'm not sure what I was thinking about when I wrote it. Just too many thoughts running through my head while I was reading this essay I guess.

Jeffrey Sterling was the one who leaked classified information to James Risen and he was the one that Obama's justice department prosecuted under the espionage act after Bush dropped the charges against him.


6 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

snoopydawg's picture

ISIS given ‘breathing space’ in parts of Syria under US-backed forces' control

Islamic State managed to regain access to Syrian oil fields and make profits from selling oil, a new UN report reveals. While the UN did not point fingers, the IS reemergence seems to occur in areas held by the US-backed forces.

“Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS], having been defeated militarily in Iraq and most of the Syrian Arab Republic during 2017, rallied in early 2018. This was the result of a loss of momentum by forces fighting it in the east of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the recent report from the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Monitoring Team reads. The document is dated July 27, but was only released to the public this week.

The slow-down gave IS “breathing space to prepare for the next phase of its evolution into a global covert network.” As of June 2018, the terrorist group has been controlling “small pockets of territory in the Syrian Arab Republic on the Iraqi border,” effectively carrying on with its quasi-state ways.
“[IS] was able to extract and sell some oil, and to mount attacks, including across the border into Iraq,” the reports stated, adding that the terrorist group regained “access to some oil fields in northeastern” Syria.

While the report did not specify which forces exactly were having troubles with “momentum,” northeastern Syria is located on the left bank of the Euphrates river, controlled by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia backed by the US-led coalition.


The soldiers should turn the guns on the truck or arrest the people in them. How can they stand to be working with the terrorists? "Just following orders" should be null and voided when it goes against the oath that they swore. ISIS has been declared our enemy.

Then there's this picture of McCain with the leaders of various terrorist groups.


12 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

behind the transparent cop-out of bowing to VP Pence, he might have won Russiagate as it started in early 2017. He didn't even have to have anyone actually indicted.

All he had to do was put Flynn front and center and have him tell his story in the White House Rose Garden. It would have flipped the entire New Cold War narrative on its head.

But, Trump isn't built for being a hero or even being smart. That's why they chose him.

He blew it for all of us. That should surprise no one. So, we're stuck with another Half Century of the Cold War and the McCarthyism that goes with it. We'll have to deal with that, but at least we go into that long twilight knowing how it happened. Grab the facts before they disappear altogther down the Memory Hole and repeat them to your friends and family while you still can.

10 users have voted.
Alligator Ed's picture

@leveymg Rusiagate. This was a plan, actually dating back to 2015 and initiated in earnest the next year. Clintonites already were planting Gates, Papadopolous, and who knows who else in early 2016. Then came Stefan Halper after the election. The FISA process was a deception planned before the Steele Dossier was peddled, in anticipation of its subsequent release. The Dims had too much invested in HRC to let her lose, and conversely, to let Drumpf stay in power. Even the notoriously myopic Dims realized, to some small degree, what would happen to them should Her lose. They however never thought she would lose.

As far as setting precedent, don't expect much if Trump's warriors actually clean the Obama swamp. Not many people would repeat this misadventure so brazenly and clumsily if they thought they had a realistic chance of life in an nonairconditioned sweatbox in Gitmo.

So let's see what happens with the possible October surprise this year. Jeff Sessions, you hearing' this?

1 user has voted.

I used to have a Secret/crypto clearance. When I left the Navy for private industry, it was revoked automatically because I no longer had a need to know. That should be the case for the brass as well.

8 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

over there at our “sister site” JackPine Radicals.

There are some, um, major propagandists for hogwash over there.

6 users have voted.

The Cold Warriors and Neocons lost. The American people, given the choice, voted for peace and cooperation with Russia not regime change and military confrontation in Syria and Ukraine.

The outcome of the election was an enormous shock to those who make their livings by sustaining the Cold War. This is their revenge. When you cut right to it, Russiagate is sedition.

It would have entirely changed the public narrative and, I believe, the outcomes had Trump or someone prominent in his Administration had the clarity of thought to articulate that. Flynn was the obvious man for that role, but Trump threw him to the wolves after only 24 days of seige.

3 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture


So true about Flynn, too. He was such a threat to the Neocon wars that the NSA leaked transcripts of his legal phone calls downstream to have him sabotaged.

3 users have voted.

The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus

warrant issuance. It predated the first known application in the Trump case, that was denied, in June 2016. As I have pointed out in diaries here, several figures who are routinely identified as Russian agents in most accounts have a preexisting documented history as FBI and CIA informants. Carter Page is readily identifiable in 2014 court records and a later DOJ press release as having testified against several SVR officers arrested and expelled in 2014-15. Page is described in court documents as handing bugged materials to a Russian SVR officer operating out of the UN in a counter-intelligence operation that ended up with the closure of the NY SVR residence. Obviously, Russian Intelligence has long known who Carter really is, yet the pretense is maintained that he was acting as a Russian agent in his dealings with Manafort and others. No wonder that Mueller's actual prosecution of Manafort never really charged him with any act directly related to "Russian collusion" - all that would have had to come out in open court, again.

Another example of double-agents I have examined is Oleg Deripaska whom the Steele Memo identifies as a direct intermediary between Putin's intelligence and the Trump campaign. However, the public record also records that he worked with the FBI and CIA as early as 2009 in exchange for permission to enter the US to move his funds into New York banks. Again, the idea that Russian intelligence would use a figure as visible and with the record of working with US intelligence as a go-between in a highly secret program is beyond credibility.

Of course, this has been an elaborate set-up with multiple prongs orchestrated by multiple western intelligence agencies originating long before there was legal FISA warrant coverage. The corporate media has been central to furthering this multinational political spoiling operation that was originally intended to merely entrap and compromise Trump, intending to sink his candidacy. In a way, the Steele memo gets it right, only Putin skillfully managed to flip the operation to his own benefit by paralyzing the U.S. government as it, befuddled and divided, tried to deal with the results, staggering around in a partisan lock-grip, crushing its own clumsy feet.

1 user has voted.