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Panetta: When Presidents Don’t Stand By Red Lines It Sends A Message Of Weakness To World


Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense under President Obama, criticized presidents who lay out a red line and do not follow through when it is crossed, namely the president he served under. Panetta said a message of "weakness" is broadcasted to the world when a president does not take action, particularly to Bashar al-Assad and Russia in Obama's case. From Panetta's interview on Friday's edition of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports: PANETTA: I always said that when a president puts his credibility on the line with a red line, as President Obama did saying we would not allow them to chemical weapons, I think it was the right step to take, but it was also important to stand by that red line and enforce it. I think when there was hesitancy to do go to Congress for permission, and not take action, I think it sent a message to Assad and Russia as well. I think it lines. When you say we will do something, you have to stand by your word. Otherwise, it sends a message of weakness to the world.

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Susan Rice: Trump Wiretap Claim “Absolutely False,” “No Basis In Fact”


Former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice responded to President Trump's claim that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower just before the election in an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday. "Absolutely false, there was no such collection or surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals," Rice said. MITCHELL: Is there any truth to President Trump's claim on Twitter exactly a month ago, early one Saturday morning on March 4th, that the Obama — that President Obama was eavesdropping on him at Trump Tower? RICE: Absolutely false. And the intelligence community, the director of the FBI, has made that very clear. There was no such collection, surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals. And it's very important to understand — by that I mean directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals. And it's important for everyone to understand the President of the United States, and people in the White House, do not have the ability to order such collection. That can only come from the Justice Department through an established process. It never originates in the White House. So not only did it not occur, it didn't occur and it couldn't have occurred, directed by the White House. MITCHELL: At the same time, the president, his associates, their names could have been bandied about by foreign officials. They could have been picked up in incidental collections. Is that not correct? RICE: Yes, they could have. That is possible. MITCHELL: And you could have asked for those names of American Number 1, American Number 2, however it's identified, to be unmasked so you would know how significant it was. RICE: That's exactly right, Andrea. The fact is if — whether we're talking about Russia or any other topic, if I saw an intelligence report that looked potentially significant — and understand, by definition, if it's being provided to me, it is significant. I don't solicit reports; I only receive what the intelligence community thinks I or any other senior official needs to see. So they're giving it to me. If I read it, and I think, you know, in order for me to really understand is this significant or not so significant, I need to understand who the U.S. person is. — I can make that request. The intelligence community then processes that request through their normal procedures. And if they feel they can give the answer, they will give the answer. That just comes back to me, not to anyone broadly in the national security world. And that's necessary for me to do my job. It's necessary for the Secretary of State, or the Secretary of Defense, or the CIA director to do their jobs. We can't be passive consumers of this information and not — and do our jobs effectively to protect the American people. Imagine if we saw something of grave significance that involved Russia, or China, or anybody else, interfering in our political process and we needed to understand the significance of that. For us not to try to understand it would be dereliction of duty. MITCHELL: What did you first think when the president tweeted that President Obama had eavesdropped on him? RICE: I was surprised. I was shocked. I think many people were. That's a very serious allegation. It had no basis in fact. And it wasn't typical of the way presidents treat their predecessors. And it's not indicative of the tone and the collaboration that we sought to achieve during the transition.

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Rice: I Learned From The Press That Flynn Was Unregistered Agent For Turkish Government


Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice told Andrea Mitchell she found out through the media that her successor, Michael Flynn, was an unregistered agent for the Turkish government. "Did you know at the time he was an unregistered agent for the Turkish government?" Mitchell asked. "No," Rice answered. "When did you learn that?" Mitchell asked. "In the press," Rice responded. Watch the full interview, courtesy of MSNBC: Transcript:
RICE: Well, Andrea, this is not anything political that has been alleged. The allegation is that somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes. That's absolutely false. Let me explain how this works. I was the National Security Advisor. My job is to protect the American people and the security of our country. That's the same as the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the CIA director. And every morning, to enable us to do that, we received from the intelligence community a compilation of intelligence reports that the IC, the intelligence community, has selected for us on a daily basis to give us the best information as to what's going on around the world. I received those reports, as did each of those other officials, and there were occasions when I would receive a report in which a U.S. person was referred to. Name not provided, just a U.S. person. And sometimes in that context, in order to understand the importance of the report, and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out, or request the information, as to who the U.S. official was. Let me give you just a hypothetical example. This is completely made up. But let's say there was a conversation between two foreigners about a conversation they were having with an American, who was proposing to sell to them high-tech bomb making equipment. Now, if that came to me as National Security Advisor, it would matter enormously. Is this some kook sitting in his living room communicating via the internet, offering to sell something he doesn't have? Or is it a serious person or company or entity with the ability to provide that technology perhaps to an adversary? That would be an example of a case where knowing who the U.S. person was, was necessary to assess the information. So when that occurred, what I would do, or what any official would do, is to ask their briefer whether the intelligence committee would go through its process — and there's a long-standing, established process — to decide whether that information as to who the identity of the U.S. person was could be provided to me. So they'd take that question back, they'd put it through a process, and the intelligence community made the determination as to whether or not the identity of that American individual could be provided to me. That is what I and the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, CIA director, DNI, would do when we received that information. We'd only do it to protect the American people, to do our jobs in the national security realm. That's the only reason. MITCHELL: Within that process, and within the context of the Trump campaign, the Trump transition, did you seek the names of people involved in — to unmask the names of people involved in the Trump transition, the Trump campaign, people surrounding the president-elect — RICE: Let me begin — MITCHELL: — in order to spy on them, in order to expose them. RICE: Absolutely not for any political purposes, to spy, expose, anything. But let me — MITCHELL: Did you leak the name of Mike Flynn? RICE: I leaked nothing to nobody and never have and never would. But let me explain this. First of all, Andrea, to talk about the contents of a classified report, to talk about the individuals on the foreign side, who were the targets of the report itself, or any Americans that may have collected upon incidentally, is to disclose classified information. I'm not going to do that. And those people who are putting these stories out are doing just that. I can't describe any particular report I saw, and by the way I have no idea what reports are allegedly are being described by those who are putting out this story. I don't know what time frame they were from, I don't know the subject matter, and I don't know who they think was collected upon. MITCHELL: The allegation is that, in one case, they are alleging in "The Daily Caller", that there was a spreadsheet that you put out of all of these names. RICE: Absolutely false. MITCHELL: And circulated. RICE: No spreadsheet, no nothing of the sort. Let me also elaborate and say that when the intelligence community would respond to a request from the senior national security official for the identify an American, that would come back only to the person requested it. And it would be brought back to them directly. MITCHELL: To you directly. RICE: To me, or to whoever might have requested it, on occasion, and this is important. It was not then typically broadly disseminated throughout the national security community or the government. So the notion that — which some people are trying to suggest, that by asking for the identity of an American person, that is the same as leaking it, is completely false. There's no equivalence between so-called unmasking and leaking. The effort to ask for the identify of the American citizen is necessary to understand the importance of an intelligence report in some instances.

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HuffPost Stein: “Can I Just Apologize On Behalf Of My Gender” For GOP Senator’s Comments?


Huffington Post scribe Sam Stein apologized on behalf of men for Sen. Pat Roberts' (R-Kansas) comments on the removal of 'Essential Health Benefits' in the Republican health care plan. "I wouldn't want to lose my mammograms," the Senator joked. "Well can I just, to start out can I just apologize on behalf of my gender," Stein said Friday on MSNBC. "Those were highly insensitive remarks." "I felt the need to apologize. I wanted to get it out there," Stein, an MSNBC contributor, said while laughing. Host Andrea Mitchell that Stein may have received a call from "Mama Stein" that prompted his apology.

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Brian Williams On Gorsuch: “It’s Tough To Lay A Glove On This Guy”


BRIAN WILLIAMS: Ari Melber, from the legal side of things, has been watching along with us. Ari, I think, the expression in English is "It's tough to lay a glove on this guy.†ARI MELBER: I didn't see a single glove laid on him. He performed himself admirably, calmly at almost all times and with detail, but never much candor about his views, which, many experts would say, he's not supposed to….in this first chapter, Judge Gorsuch, I think, showed exactly why legal conservatives and Trump fans could agree on him as a great pick for their goals, because he was measured, because he was thoughtful. At times conservative, but conservative in his words within the legal mainstream. (via Newsbusters)

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