Below is my column in USA Today on the disturbing comments of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in favor of a military coup. He later insisted that he was misquoted but the videotape confirms that he was for a military coup before he was against it last week. It is certainly positive to see Flynn deny support for a military coup, but the incident is the latest example of our growing addiction to rage — and the loss of our common constitutional faith.
Happy Memorial Day to everyone and a thanks to all of those who have sacrificed for our nation. On this day, I often think of my late father, Jack Turley, who served in the Pacific in the Navy during World War II. My grandfather Ed Turley served in World War I with the Fighting Irish out of New York and New Jersey. I hope everyone has a chance to spend time with their families and friends today. Continue reading “Happy Memorial Day”→
If you want to know why waste and conflicts of interests are so prevalent in the United States, you need to look no further than the recent report of he Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) on the so-called G222 program. I wrote about this program in 2013 but we now have the result of the criminal investigation. Under the program, the United States Air Force spent $549 million to buy 20 Italian-made cargo planes for the Afghan government. They were found to be unreliable and turned into scrap metal for $40,257. No action was taken against the company, Alenia North America, or the Air Force General responsible for the outrageous contract (despite a finding of a conflict of interest). The Justice Department refused to take action because such cases are “unheard of.” Perhaps, but government officials and contractor heard the message loud and clear: there is virtually no contractual waste that you can commit in the United States military that will result in sanctions. This picture from SIGAR is what remains of over half a billion dollars of U.S. taxpayer money.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has long been a diehard supporter of President Donald Trump. Indeed, on the day of the infamous speech preceding the riot in the Capitol, Lindell told media that he was confident that the day would bring vindication for the President. The statement left many of us scratching our heads since the certification of the victory of Joe Biden was only hours away. Now, the Washington Post has blown up the notes of Lindell leaving the Oval Office, which appear to refer to the Insurrection Act and the imposition of martial law. Media reports state that President Trump “cut short his meeting with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell within minutes, after the entrepreneur was spotted at the White House brandishing notes referencing martial law.”
Yesterday, the media erupted with the latest bombshell stories of how President Donald Trump is discussing plans for martial law and the appointment of former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell as a Special Counsel. It was a familiar bomb and bust pattern. A fair basis for coverage on the meeting quickly mutated into what bordered on panic coverage on the threat of a military takeover. This morning Jake Tapper headlined his show with “Conspiracy in the Oval Office” on how Trump discussed imposing martial law. He asked “How scared should we be?” The answer is not very on either count. President Trump publicly denied the report as “fake news.”
There continues to be a virtual news blackout on coverage of the scandal involving House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell reportedly having a long intimate relationship with a Chinese spy named Fang Fang. Some however were not content to simply ignore the story. In a more worthy of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Brad Woodhouse, the former DNC Communications Director, went on Fox News not to bury Swalwell but to praise him. Asked whether Swalwell should have been left on the House Intelligence Committee after an alleged intimate relationship with a Chinese spy, Woodhouse declared Swalwell did everything right after being notified by the FBI. He then added “we should give Eric Swalwell the congressional medal of honor his conduct.” As a military history buff, the comparison did not sit well with me, but it was particularly odd coming from Woodhouse. Continue reading “Former DNC Official: “We Should Give Eric Swalwell The Congressional Medal Of Honor For His Conduct””→
Republicans from Fox’s Brit Hume to GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger(Ill.) have rushed to the defense Fox New reporter Jennifer Griffin, who was attacked by President Donald Trump for simply confirming aspects of the recent explosive story in The Atlantic. My column this weekend discussed the article alleging that Trump has spoken in disparaging terms of our veterans and war dead. Trump called for Griffin to be fired despite other news organizations also reporting that Trump has referred to veterans as “losers” and “suckers.” Trump seemed most upset by the fact that Griffin was saying that she “confirmed” the story when in fact she confirmed comments allegedly made about Vietnam veterans, not the specific alleged comment on war dead in France from World War I. That is a valid point, though likely lost on most citizens who correctly view such references to veterans of any war as vile and disgraceful. Moreover, it is outrageous for a president to call for a respected reporter to be fired for doing her job. Yet, what is most striking is how, again, Trump’s attacks only magnify the attention and damage of the story.
The New York Times is under fire today for publishing the opinion of Sen. Tom Cotton (R, Ark.) on the use of troops to quell the unrest following the death of George Floyd. Journalists and opinion writers have insisted that such views should not be even published because they disagree with it. I have strongly opposed the suggested use of federal troops on both legal and non-legal grounds. It would be an unnecessary escalation of the tensions and curtail the exercise of important free speech activities. However, this view is shared by many and the use of troops has occurred previously in our history. The call for effective censorship of opposing views from journalists is a chilling example of how much ground has been lost in the protection of free speech values. Continue reading “New York Times Reporters and Writers Condemn Paper For Publishing Cotton Editorial”→
In Seattle, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein has issued a defiant, and somewhat curious, decision that not only denies some funding for the Southern Wall but seems to defy the Supreme Court in its recent decision in the area. Rothstein barred President Donald Trump from diverting $89 million intended for a military construction project in Washington state to build the border wall. While the Supreme Court recently lifted an injunction on such lower court rulings, Rothstein insisted that that case involved different plaintiffs and issues. I fail to see the clear distinction and the Rothstein decision, in my view, works too hard to find such a distinction.
A comparatively small burial plot of the World War I Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in France contains the remains of American military personnel who, following convictions in US Military Courts Martial, remain as nearly anonymous as the numbered markers above them. For nearly seventy-five years after their convictions, their grave markers only reveal one or two digit identification numbers and not the names of those so buried. Though they were convicted of capital crimes, do they deserve the dignity of a proper burial that all of us expect for ourselves?
Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s decision to report President Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president. Kelly referred to the call as an “illegal order” that had to be reported. Most of us support Vindman raising his concerns with the chain of command and hopefully Trump will not attack Kelly for stating his support for Vindman. This is a principled and reasonable view of one of our most respected military officers.
We recently discussed the shocking tweet from President Donald Trump that the United States might target cultural sites in retaliation of any response from Iran to our killing of an Iranian general. I suggested at the time that Trump may have been referring to legitimate target with dual cultural significance and strongly suggested a clarification. Well, he has now clarified and doubled down that he may target cultural sites — an act that is widely viewed as a war crime.
President Donald Trump is often incautious in his language when speaking on the international stage. Words matter in diplomacy which often reflect important distinctions of international law. President Trump’s latest tweet is an example of this pattern. In pledging to strike back “very fast and very hard” to any Iranian retaliation for the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Trump included striking Iranian cultural sites. Under international law, the targeting of cultural targets is viewed as a war crime. The U.S. military has a long history of avoiding such targets.
Recently, Joe Biden “clarified” his pledge to defy any Senate subpoena to testify in the Trump impeachment trial but stating the exact opposite in a later interview. Now, in a remarkable contradiction, Biden has denied that he advised against the Bin Laden raid in 2011 despite his statement to the contrary eight years ago. Given the importance of the issue to his views as president, the latest in a long line of contradictions could further undermine Biden’s position in a still competitive Democratic field.
In a break from long-standing intelligence practices, President Donald Trump ordered the Defense Department to confirm that the United States was behind the missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s secretive Quds Force, and six others, including Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The public acknowledgement of responsibility is a game changer. While Iran (like most of us) assumed it was the United States, the public confirmation of the assassination removes any doubt and forces Iran and Iraq to deal with a direct and official attack. International law treats the targeted killing of a ranking military figure on foreign sovereign soil as a presumptive act of war. As always however there is no shortage of hypocrisy in the condemnations from Capitol Hill.