Trump versus Brennan and many others

Donald Trump escalated his feud with ex-CIA chief John Brennan, who has been critical of Trump. Trump has just symbolically stripped Brennan of his security clearance, but this has sparked more criticism of Trump, with claims that Trump is trying to punish people who criticise him and warn off others.

Reuters: Ex-CIA director stripped of security clearance says Trump punishing critics

Former CIA Director John Brennan said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke his security clearance was part of an effort to silence critics.

“This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics,” Brennan wrote on Twitter. “It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out.”

In an interview on MSNBC, Brennan said Trump’s action, announced on Wednesday by the White House, was politically motivated.

It’s hard to know whether it is political or petulance. Talking of which:

It is remarkable to see a president promoting a statement like “An incredibly corrupt FBI & DOJ “.

But there has been pushback against Trump’s attacks.

Washington Post: Revoke my security clearance, too, Mr. President

William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, was commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014. He oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Dear Mr. President:

Former CIA director John Brennan, whose security clearance you revoked on Wednesday, is one of the finest public servants I have ever known. Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John. He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him.

Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.

Like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became president, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs.

A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself.

Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.

If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.

LA Times: 13 former U.S. spy chiefs accuse Trump of trying to stifle free speech and politicize intelligence

In a remarkable rebuke to President Trump, 13 former U.S. intelligence chiefs have signed a harshly worded letter in support of former CIA Director John Brennan after Trump abruptly revoked his security clearance.

“We feel compelled to respond in the wake of the ill-considered and unprecedented remarks and actions by the White House,” reads the letter from the officials, who served both Democratic and Republican presidents.

They called Trump’s action “inappropriate” and “deeply regrettable.”Signing the letter Thursday was a virtual who’s who of American spy chiefs dating back to the late 1980s, a striking show of solidarity from the top ranks of the national security establishment.

They included former directors of central intelligence William Webster, George Tenet and Porter Goss; former CIA directors Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta and David Petraeus; former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; and former deputy CIA directors John McLaughlin, Stephen Kappes, Avril Haines, David Cohen and Michael Morell.

Robert Gates, the former CIA director and secretary of Defense, signed on to the letter Friday morning. Having served Republican and Democratic presidents, Gates is known for staying out of the political arena. His addition to the bipartisan list only served to underscore the alarm in national security circles following Trump’s punitive swipe at Brennan, seen by many as little more than an attempt to silence his enemies.

But as usual Trump lives in a different universe.

Leaving the White House for a trip to New York, Trump told reporters Friday he’s gotten a “tremendous response” since revoking Brennan’s clearance.

He also blasted the special counsel investigation into Russian collusion and obstruction of justice as “a rigged witch hunt,” claiming that many intelligence officials involved in it should be under investigation themselves.
“They should be looking at the other side,” Trump said.

He singled out Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, the only current government employee whose security clearance the White House claimed Wednesday to be reviewing. Ohr was an early Justice Department contact of Christopher Steele, the private investigator whose dossier on the Trump campaign’s Russia connections was a cornerstone of the government’s initial investigation. Ohr’s wife also once worked for the firm that compiled the dossier.

“Bruce Ohr is a disgrace,” Trump said, hinting that he would strip more security clearances soon. “I suspect I’ll be taking it away very quickly.”

So stripping and threats to strip security clearances is about Russian investigation.

Greg Sargent: Trump’s punishment of Brennan is actually all about the Mueller probe

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that President Trump had decided to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance, citing the former CIA director’s “erratic conduct and behavior”.

Oodles of irony in “erratic conduct and behavior””.

Trump’s full statement on the decision explicitly mentions Brennan’s criticism of his administration as a rationale for it.

Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations — wild outbursts on the internet and television — about this Administration. Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct, characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary, is inconsistent with access to the Nation’s most closely held secrets, and facilitates the aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos.

More broadly, the issue of Mr. Brennan’s security clearance raises larger questions about the practice of former officials maintaining access to our Nation’s most sensitive secrets long after their time in Government has ended. Such access is particularly inappropriate when former officials have transitioned into highly partisan positions and seek to use real or perceived access to sensitive information to validate their political attacks.

Sargent:

The key is that this suggests this move is all about striking a political blow against special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

Trump — who plainly feels constrained from trying to remove Mueller — cannot do anything about the Mueller investigation except tweet wildly about it and threaten not to sit for an interview. So instead, he is striking a blow against his deep-state enemies behind the investigation, and hoping his base sees him as taking decisive action. That’s the story this is meant to tell.

Trump supporters do think that doing things like revoking Brennan’s security clearance and attacking Mueller and his investigation is taking decisive action against critics and against legal processes.

And they parrot Trump’s lines about any criticism of his behaviour being part of some conspiracy – it was claimed by some that 300+ US newspapers denounce Trump attacks somehow proved Trump’s conspiracy claims rather than being widespread concern about Trump’s anti-media rhetoric, especially his tyrant-like promotion of ‘enemy of the people’.

I don’t expect Trump devotees to stop their admiration, nor their defence of Trump.

But there is obviously a lot of prominent people joining media in expressing their concerns about the petulant president who devotes a lot of time to attacking critics, attacking legal processes, and attacking his own judicial and security departments.

I think it’s just a matter of time before Trump becomes known as the president who won the election but lost the war of words. He surely can’t keep making enemies of some many people and organisations and win the long game, when he is increasingly obsessed with daily skirmishes on Twitter.

Trump is a twit who thought he could rule by Twitter – but he’s a dangerous twit will the Republicans keep aiding and abetting his dysfunctional and dangerous tenure.

Remarkably, torture is still being debated in the US

Fox News panel says torture while Gina Haspel was in the CIA was no big deal

‘Fox & Friends’ Host Brian Kilmeade Says Gina Haspel Should Be ‘Proud’ Of Torture Record

″Thirty-two-year career … and I think she should double-down and say, ‘I’m proud of what I accomplished ― whether it was black sites’ enhanced interrogation ― and I dare anyone to sit in my shoes and accomplish as much as I’ve done,’” co-host Brian Kilmeade said.

“Just keep in mind, whatever she did when she was in power at that point, she was doing it as a directive and it was all within the law,” co-host Steve Doocy added.

John McCain should know as well as anyone about the use of torture.

GERMANY: CIA DEPUTY GINA HASPEL MUST FACE ARREST ON TRAVELLING TO EUROPE

ECCHR’s legal intervention filed with the German Federal Public Prosecutor (Generalbundesanwalt – GBA) is aimed at securing an arrest warrant for CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel.

The information submitted to the GBA by ECCHR on 6 June 2017 documents Haspel’s role in the torture of detainees in 2002 at a secret CIA prison in Thailand. In the dossier, ECCHR argues that Haspel oversaw the torture of detainees at the black site in 2002 and failed to do anything to stop it.

 

 

Trump says CIA pick Haspel ‘under fire because she was too tough on terror’

On Friday, as White House officials prepared Haspel for a confirmation hearing on Wednesday, aides sought additional details about her involvement in the CIA’s now-defunct program of detaining and brutally interrogating terror suspects after 9/11, a program that involved techniques widely condemned as torture.

Donald Trump has expressed support for his nominee to lead the CIA, who offered to withdraw amid concerns that a debate over the past use of interrogation techniques now classified as torture would tarnish her reputation and that of the agency.

Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, on Sunday called Haspel a highly qualified nominee. “Her nomination will not be derailed by partisan critics who side with the ACLU over the CIA on how to keep the American people safe,” he said.

 

Donald Trump defends his pick to run the CIA, Gina Haspel, after she offers to withdraw over ‘torture’ role

Mr Trump has previously indicated his support for waterboarding terror suspects, a practice which was introduced by President George W Bush and ceased over a decade ago.

Mr Bush authorised the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Programme after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Mr Trump’s longstanding support for the deputy director has led to speculation that he may be considering a reintroduction of waterboarding.

January 2017: Donald Trump says he believes waterboarding works

US President Donald Trump has said he believes waterboarding works, stating “we have to fight fire with fire”.

“When they’re shooting, when they’re chopping off the heads of our people and other people, when they’re chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, when Isis (IS) is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since Medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding?”

“I have spoken with people at the highest level of intelligence and I asked them the question ‘Does it work? Does torture work?’ and the answer was ‘Yes, absolutely’.

In his election campaign, Mr Trump had said he might order troops to carry out waterboarding “and tougher” methods on terrorism suspects, although the next day he said he would not order the military to break international law.

But Mr Trump also said he would consult Defence Secretary James Mattis and CIA director Mike Pompeo and “if they don’t want to do it that’s fine”.

They have both indicated opposition to reintroducing the interrogation method, widely considered a form of torture.

US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, questioned on the waterboarding remarks at a news conference on Thursday, reiterated that torture was illegal.

And as usual Trump has been having his say:

However yesterday Haspel: Torture doesn’t work

President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee said Wednesday at her confirmation hearing that she doesn’t believe torture works as an interrogation technique and that her “strong moral compass” would prevent her from carrying out any presidential order she found objectionable.

Under questioning by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, acting CIA Director Gina Haspel said she would not permit the spy agency to restart the kind of harsh detention and interrogation program it ran at black sites after Sept. 11. It was one of the darkest chapters of the CIA’s history and tainted America’s image worldwide.

Senators asked how she would respond if Trump — who has said he supports harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse” — ordered her to do something she found morally objectionable.

“I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal,” said Haspel, a 33-year veteran of the agency. “I would absolutely not permit it.”

When asked if she agrees with the president’s assertion that torture works, Haspel said: “I don’t believe that torture works.”

Could she stand up to Trump?

 

US including FBI v CIA

News or views or issues from the USA.


Fox News: FBI’s specialized mole-hunting team deployed to catch CIA leaker

Less than 24 hours after WikiLeaks published what it described as the “entire hacking capacity of the CIA,” a federal criminal probe by a specialized FBI unit has begun, Fox News confirmed.

But while tracking down moles is nothing new for the FBI or the CIA, experts are suggesting that this search could prove to be particularly difficult.

FBI Director James Comey … made clear that since Snowden’s infamous leak, technology has made the search for criminals of all kinds, cyber or otherwise, much more difficult.

Dennis Kucinich: New WikiLeaks reveal proof we are sliding down the slippery slope toward totalitarianism

The U.S. government must get a grip on the massive opening that the CIA, through its misfeasance, nonfeasance and malfeasance, has created.

If Tuesday’s WikiLeaks document dump is authentic, as it appears to be, then the agency left open electronic gateways that make all Americans vulnerable to spying, eavesdropping and technological manipulation that could bring genuine harm.

That the CIA has reached into the lives of all Americans through its wholesale gathering of the nation’s “haystack” of information has already been reported.

It is bad enough that the government spies on its own people. It is equally bad that the CIA, through its incompetence, has opened the cyberdoor to anyone with the technological skills and connections to spy on anyone else.

 

CIA versus Facebook

 

Wikileaks released information today about how the CIA can hack devices for surveillance, like TV sets. Sounds terrible.

But what is the ordinary person most at risk of, the CIA spying on them (very slim chance especially here in New Zealand) or Facebook monitoring everything you do online and storing data history of millions of people, with that data being used to directly influence individuals?

And on WikiLeaks:

Trump v. US ‘intelligence’ agencies

I’m sure it’s been said before that US Intelligence is an oxymoron. They have somewhere around 20 intelligence agencies for a start (including the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the armed forces), with conflicting jurisdictions, and with rivalries and a lack of systems that prevents comprehensive consolidation of intelligence.

US intelligence agencies have long clashed with their democracy, notably in the Nixon era. Recently Director James Comey inserted the FBI into the presidential election, quite possibly swinging the result.

There have been controversial claims by multiple intelligence agencies that Russia interfered with the presidential election, and that Donald trump’s campaign team had ongoing contact with Russian interests.

And now that Trump is president things seem to be getting worse, with ongoing leaks from intelligence agencies that conflict with and and undermine the presidency.

There are some claims that intelligence agencies won’t tell Trump things for fear of their methods being passed on to Russia.

Salon covers much of this in Trump vs. the Deep State: This death match of American political power will forever change history -President Trump escalates his battle with the U.S security apparatus.

The firing of Gen. Michael Flynn has popularized the concept of the “Deep State” across the political spectrum.

Breitbart’s Joel Pollak attacks the disloyal “Deep State #Resistance” to President Trump, while conservative pundit Bill Kristol defends it.

“Obviously [I] strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics,” Kristol tweeted Tuesday. “But if it comes to it, [I] prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”

Glenn Greenwald is more even-handed: “Trump presidency is dangerous,” the Intercept columnist tweeted Wednesday. “CIA/Deep State abuse of spy powers to subvert elected Govt is dangerous.”

And the conflict is deepening. The New York Times reported Thursday that Trump wants to bring in Wall Street billionaire Stephen Feinberg “to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies.”

The idea is reportedly provoking “fierce resistance” from intelligence officials who fear it “could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview.”

They describe ‘Deep State’:

The Deep State is shorthand for the nexus of secretive intelligence agencies whose leaders and policies are not much affected by changes in the White House or the Congress. While definitions vary, the Deep State includes the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency and components of the State Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the armed forces.

The leaders of these agencies are generally disturbed by Trump’s cavalier treatment of their intelligence findings and particularly worried about contacts between Trump’s entourage and Russian intelligence officials.

There are known facts plus many claims and accusations that are at least partially unsubstantiated.

As Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire noted, the undisputed facts are accumulating:

  • Multiple U.S. intelligence services believe that Russian operatives, at Putin’s directions, tried to help Trump get elected. The FBI is investigating contacts between Russian officials and at least three people connected to Trump’s presidential campaign: Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone.
  • There were “continuous” contacts between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian intelligence officials. At least some of the claims made in a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence official have been confirmed, though none of the more salacious details.
  • Trump has had many financial dealings with Russian oligarchs, as shown in an investigation by the American Interest.

As a result, the intelligence agencies are withholding sources and methods from the president out of fear they will leak to foreign powers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Senior officials are also leaking the results of the ongoing investigation into Trump to reporters at The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

The leaking of classified information, which Trump welcomed during the 2016 campaign, is indeed a felonious violation of the law, although it has been standard procedure for Washington power players since the passage of the National Security Act in 1947.

It is a serious threat to US democracy, and a serious threat to Trump’s presidency:

Vanity Fair calls the crisis of Trump’s presidency Watergate 2.0. The historical analogy is apt because the Watergate scandal that engulfed President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s was also a struggle between the White House and the intelligence agencies. But today’s crisis is more accurately described as Trump vs. the Deep State.

It is the death match of American political power and it will determine the fate of Trump’s troubled presidency.

It could be said that Trump is a serious threat to his presidency and to the US, but his clash with ‘Deep State’ is particularly ugly, and is likely to make more of a mess of US democracy.

More on ‘Deep State’:

CIA visit ‘alternative reality’

There are claims that Donald Trump’s speech at the CIA was a PR presentation of an alternative reality, a stage managed event that has offended some in (and ex) the CIA.

CBS News: Sources say Trump’s CIA visit made relations with intel community worse

U.S. government sources tell CBS News that there is a sense of unease in the intelligence community after President Trump’s visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday.

An official said the visit “made relations with the intelligence community worse” and described the visit as “uncomfortable.”

Authorities are also pushing back against the perception that the CIA workforce was cheering for the president. They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

In Trump’s only media conference as president-elect he had staff cheering him on there too.

An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who’d been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams.

Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA’s senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks.

There were about 400 members of the workforce who RSVP’d for the event out of thousands who received an invitation in their email late last week. Officials dismiss White House claims that there were people waiting to get into the event.

And not everyone was cheering, nor cheerful about the disrespectful use of the CIA as a popularity prop.

Intelligence sources say many in the workforce were stunned and at times offended by the president’s tone which seemed to evolve into a version of speeches he’d used on the campaign trail.

The intelligence community sees itself as above politics even though as president-elect, Mr. Trump was critical of it and accused it of politically motivated leaks.

The CIA was Mr. Trump’s first official agency visit for a reason, it was to signal a new beginning.

A new beginning of a stage managed alternative reality?

It is what he said later in front of the CIA’s revered Memorial Wall (a monument to CIA officers killed in the line of duty) — complaints about the media’s coverage of his relationship with the intelligence community and its assessments of the crowd size at his inauguration —  that may be harder to erase from the minds of the intelligence community.

What Trump presents, or tries to present, may be quite different to they reality of what he achieves.

Trump at the CIA

Donald Trump has spoken at the CIA, stirring up a lot of controversy, again. In particular he has launched another attack on media, as has his press secretary Sean Spicer.

They have blamed the media for misrepresenting his relationship with the CIA and the intelligence community.

And Spicer has also blasted the media for misreporting the size of the crowd at the inauguration – so  such for focussing on the important things.

Donald Trump speaks to about 400 employees at the CIA’s Headquarters in McLean, VA. He says he knows that most of them voted for him. Trump has been at odds with the intelligence comment over its findings that Russia tried to tamper with the US election.

How the hell does he know who voted for him from the CIA?

I haven’t had a chance to listen through it yet.

Fox News: Trump moves to ease intel community tensions with CIA visit

President Trump visited the CIA on Saturday in a conciliatory bid to end a feud with the intelligence community — a dispute he suggested was overblown by the media — while making clear one of his top priorities will be to destroy the “evil” Islamic State terror network.

“We have to get rid of ISIS. We have no choice. Radical Islamic terrorism, it has to be eradicated,” said Trump, on his first full day in the White House and his first official agency stop of his presidency. “This is evil. … We’re going to end it.”

The CIA, FBI and other agencies in the so-called U.S. intelligence community recently issued a report that stated Putin and Russia meddled in the race, though it found no evidence of vote tampering.

However, Trump last week suggested outgoing CIA Director John Brennan may have leaked an unofficial dossier on him containing embarrassing and highly suspect allegations, and compared the situation to living in “Nazi Germany.”

John Brennan has denied such accusations and said Trump lacks “a full understanding” of Russian capabilities and the actions the country is taking in the world.

“Nobody feels stronger about the intelligence community than Donald Trump,” the president said Saturday to loud applause. “I love you. I respect you. There’s nobody whom I respect more. We are going to start winning again.”

Trump suggested the news media, which he has repeatedly argued are dishonest and have treated him unfairly, overplayed his concerns about intelligence officials. He also accused the media of mischaracterizing the size of his inauguration crowds.

Business Insider: Ex-CIA director John Brennan: ‘Trump should be ashamed of himself’ over CIA remarks

Former CIA Director John Brennan said President Donald Trump “should be ashamed” for using a speech at the agency’s headquarters to boast about himself, his former deputy chief of staff said Saturday.

“Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes,” Nick Shapiro said in a statement.

Trump had spoken to CIA employees earlier Saturday while standing in front of a wall honouring operatives who were killed in the line of duty. He pledged his support for the agency, “1,000%,” but also raged about the “dishonest media” and complained of coverage that showed underwhelming crowds during his inauguration on Friday.

“We had a massive field of people … Packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field,” Trump told the employees, although photos from the event show much sparser crowds than those that had attended former President Barack Obama’s inaugurations in 2009 and 2013.

“As you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” he continued.

Fox News: Spicer accuses media of ‘false reporting’ in fiery briefing

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer angrily accused the media Saturday of “false reporting” on the inauguration as part of what he called a “shameful” attempt to minimize enthusiasm for President Trump, beginning his tenure as the administration’s top spokesman on a combative note.

Spicer summoned the press to the briefing room at the end of Trump’s first full day in office to specifically condemn two pieces of reporting – a reporter’s erroneous claim, since retracted, that an MLK bust was removed from the Oval Office; and photos appearing to show light crowds at Friday’s inauguration.

Spicer called the former claim, made on Twitter, “irresponsible and reckless.”

He went on to say inauguration photos were framed to minimize their “enormous” support on the National Mall, while suggesting the reason crowds looked smaller was because floor covering used to protect the grass highlighted where people weren’t standing – and fences kept supporters from quickly accessing the scene.

Spicer also pushed back on what he called inaccurate crowd estimates, stressing, “No one had numbers,” since the National Park Service, which oversees the National Mall where spectators stand, no longer makes public an official crowd count.

Yet Spicer went on to put out their own estimate based on the capacity of certain spaces stretching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument and declared: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”

I’m sure that will be fact checked.

Trump made similar comments a couple hours earlier during a visit to the CIA headquarters, where he said reporting low-end crowd numbers was the media’s latest attempt to mistreat him, much like he suggested they did in exaggerating a rift between him and the U.S. intelligence community over Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

I think this is getting into dangerous territory, trying to discredit the media and effectively cut them out from any reporting of what he does, or at least to encourage his supporters to attack or ignore the media.

And control his own messages via alternate means.

More from McMullin:

Nothing says can be taken at face value. He consistently misrepresents and obscures truth on all topics he addresses.

Trump’s speech at CIA today was full of self-promotion and lies, ironically while he attacked the media for being “dishonest.

His attacks on the media are an attack on American democracy and we must not tolerate them.

His attacks are not routine disputes over bias, fairness or facts. They are intended to destroy the media’s ability to hold him accountable.

It hasn’t taken Trump and his administration to show how dangerous they could be.  I think this is seriously concerning.

Muldoon sought Reagan’s help in NZ election

David Fisher has been searching the database of CIA files that has just become available online. It shows that Robert Muldoon sought help from President Ronald Reagan to help him get re-elected in 1981.

Inside the top secret CIA files on New Zealand – who they spied on and what they said

The papers repeatedly mentioned Muldoon’s appreciation of the relationship with the US and a 1981 briefing from the CIA to the White House showed it was reciprocated.

A memo to President Reagan pointed out Muldoon had a “difficult” election that year and the visit to the US was an “opportunity to show the New Zealand people that he is an international leader of some stature who is taken seriously in Washington”.

It was suggested Muldoon would welcome an “expression of hope” from President Reagan “that he will emerge victorious”.

I don’t know whether Reagan publicly supported Muldoon. He had taken over as US president in January 1981.

National won the November 1981 election with a majority of just one after a recount gave them a 150 vote majority in the Gisborne electorate.

1981 was dominated by the Springbok tour, and National campaigned on their ‘Think Big’ policy, but a word from Reagan (if he gave it)may have made a difference.

By the time of the key 1984 election, the CIA prepared a full biography of Muldoon.

“Now in his 14th year as Minister of Finance, he fancies himself as one of the senior statesmen on the international financial scene.”

It described Muldoon’s success with NZ’s economy as “limited” but said it had “not deterred him from preaching international monetary reform to world leaders … at every opportunity”.

Muldoon’s ‘success’ was less than ‘limited’, his mismanagement and interventions had just about wrecked the New Zealand economy.

The country’s economy was in a dire situation when National under Muldoon lost the snap (or schnapps) election in 1984 in a landslide to Labour under David Lange.

The CIA also warned that a Labour victory “would create difficulties in the US relationship”. It was also concerned at the resurgent nuclear-free movement which was being pushed by Labour.

Self interest. The nuclear ships ban that eventuated led to the US creating difficulties for themselves in their relationship wit New Zealand, pretty much out of spite.

“Unable to come up with policies of its own to cure New Zealand’s economic ills, Labour sees political benefit in identifying with a fear of nuclear contamination that is widespread and growing in New Zealand and which spans the political spectrum,” the CIA report stated.

So Labour duped the US just as they duped the New Zealand voters.

Before Lange was sworn in a foreign exchange crisis arose. The NZ dollar was overvalued and following the announcement of the snap election in June traders started selling it off on the assumption that Labour would win the election and devalue the currency.

Muldoon refused to follow Lange’s instruction to devalue the currency, making the dollar’s situation more untenable, but eventually relented.

Lange’s government had to deal with a severe balance of payments crisis as a result of the deficits fueled by Muldoon’s  two-year freeze on wages and prices and his maintenance of an unsustainable exchange rate.

This prompted the incoming Minister of Finance Roger Douglas to launch into economic reforms that were largely successful in starting a cure of New Zealand’s economic ills (Muldoonitis).

It would be interesting to know whether it was common for New Zealand politicians to seek public support from US presidents in our elections, and whether any presidents openly chose sides.

CIA database online

The CIA has just put a large database of documents online.

Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room

This includes things like the declassified President’s Daily Briefs (PDBs) from the Nixon and Ford presidential administrations.

It also has documents related to New Zealand. David Fisher has done some searching.

NZH: Inside the top secret CIA files on New Zealand – who they spied on and what they said

…reveals internal Central Intelligence Agency reports which detail the inner workings of New Zealand political parties, briefings on our Prime Ministers and the times we have upset the most powerful nation in the world.

Among the 13 million pages of records are almost 4000 CIA documents which reference New Zealand, dating from as early as a 1948 report on US claims to islands in the Pacific.

The bulk of the CIA’s previously top-secret reports come from the 1970s and 1980s with a strong focus on New Zealand’s move towards becoming nuclear-free.

The most recent report discovered by the Herald is from 1988, when the CIA wrote of its perceived increase in “racial tension” as a result of Waitangi Tribunal findings.

On New Zealand’s nuclear stance:

The CIA’s belief former Prime Minister David Lange accidentally backed himself into a corner on the nuclear-free issue, and US concerns the policy could spread throughout the Pacific.

While it stated that “Lange has privately assured US officials that he is personally satisfied that nuclear propulsion is safe” and it was weapons over which he held concerns, the CIA stated that Labour’s policy appeared to cover both.

A report after Lange became Prime Minister blamed “his penchant for speaking off the cuff in press interviews” which had “inched him into a trap from which he could not extricate himself”. The CIA believe that sank Lange’s expectation the US would be forced to compromise on his terms.

The revelation that New Zealand’s nuclear free stance – for which we were punished for decades – didn’t make any difference to the US from a military perspective.

This isn’t surprising, the nuclear issue was mostly political posturing from both New Zealand and the US, although it was important for New Zealand as being prepared to hold our ground against the attempted coercion of a super power.

On Muldoon:

A detailed biography of former Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon and detailed accounting of his pro-US sympathies, including that Muldoon saw himself as a world leader in financial leadership despite “limited achievements” at home.

 

In a 1978 report, Muldoon was described as “second to none in his high regard for the US” who believed “more than his predecessors” that NZ needed the US for security. However, with “characteristic bluntness” Muldoon had told the US that he felt it did not do enough to balance out NZ’s contribution to the Anzus relationship.

McCarthy and communism:

A McCarthy-era report into communism in New Zealand – a concern which was present throughout the documents into the late 1980s.

Pervasive through the reports was the CIAs fear that Soviet Russia would take advantage of the situation, with reports detailing suspected communist activity across the Pacific and inside the Labour Party.

Ken Douglas – mentioned in the CIA reports – was in trade union leadership at the time and said he was not surprised to be mentioned. “That was just a reaction to the Cold War hysteria that was around at the time.”

More in Muldoon sought Reagan’s help in NZ election.

Outgoing CIA director warns Trump

In an interview on Fox News Sunday the outgoing CIA director John Brennan (an Obama appointment) has given Donald Trump some public advice.

Brennan also suggested that Trump should avoid off-the-cuff remarks (on Twitter) once he takes office.

Fox News: CIA’s Brennan warns Trump, says he doesn’t ‘fully understand’ Russia threat

“I don’t think he has a full understanding of Russian capabilities and the actions they are taking on the world,” Brennan told “Fox News Sunday.”

He also suggested that Trump lacks “full appreciation” of Russia’s aggression or about why President Obama imposed sanctions on the Kremlin for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

“Mr. Trump has to understand that absolving Russia is a road that he needs to be very, very careful about moving down,” Brennan said.

Brennan said Sunday, “there is no interest in undermining the president elect.”

“Our responsibility is to understand dangers on the world stage so (Trump and his Republican administration) have the intel we have so they can make best decision.”

However, he said Trump “needs to be disciplined” and that he’ll face numerous challenges” in his presidency that begins Friday — with terrorism, cybersecurity, North Korea and Middle East instability among those at the top.

“So many issues on Day One,” Brennan said.

RNZ: CIA head warns Trump to watch his tongue

Mr Brennan said “talking and tweeting” was not an option for Mr Trump, who takes office next Friday.

“Spontaneity is not something that protects national security interests and so therefore when he speaks or when he reacts, just make sure he understands that the implications and impact on the United States could be profound,” he said.

“It’s more than just about Mr Trump. It’s about the United States of America.”

No sign of a response from Trump on Twitter yet.

Brennan also criticised Trump over comments likening the US intelligence community with Nazi Germany.

The CIA director also took Mr Trump to task for accusing the intelligence services of leaking an unverified dossier which suggests Russian security officials have compromising material on him, which could make him vulnerable to blackmail.

“What I do find outrageous is equating the intelligence community with Nazi Germany,” he said, referring to a tweet by Mr Trump last Wednesday.

“There is no basis for Mr Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly.”

Brennan will be replaced with Trump appointment Mike Pompeo.

Trump’s relationship with the Intelligence Community will require some sorting out.