This is the first of several posts on Michael Flynn’s resignation, all taking a different line of analysis. When Edwin Snowden disclosed the intelligence community’s massive electronic surveillance, one concern raised by SLL and many others was the danger that information collected would be used for the political ends of those doing the collecting. That appears to be what is going in Flynn’s case. So one question for President Trump: do you still think Edward Snowden is a “traitor”? From Nick Gillespie at reason.com:
Like Scott Shackford, I’m pro-leaks about government activities, especially when they serve to reveal covert actions and limit the power of the state. Revelations by the likes of William Binney, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden have all served this purpose even as they have proved catastrophic (in various degrees) to the leakers themselves.
The resignation of President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, after it became clear he lied about contact with the Russian ambassador before Trump’s inauguration, is not so cut-and-dried, though. According to all reports, transcripts of calls involving Flynn showed considerable contact between Flynn and Russian state actors. Flynn was ostensibly cashiered because he lied to Vice President Mike Pence, which is a good-enough reason to can any employee. But as Eli Lake writes at Bloomberg View, that explanation is hardly convincing for an administration that is constantly bullshitting about everything from the size of the president’s crowds to his business acumen. Something more is at work here, says Lake, and attention must be paid:
It’s not even clear that Flynn lied. He says in his resignation letter that he did not deliberately leave out elements of his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when he recounted them to Vice President Mike Pence. The New York Times and Washington Post reported that the transcript of the phone call reviewed over the weekend by the White House could be read different ways. One White House official with knowledge of the conversations told me that the Russian ambassador raised the sanctions to Flynn and that Flynn responded that the Trump team would be taking office in a few weeks and would review Russia policy and sanctions. That’s neither illegal nor improper….
Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.