Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Flynn Affair

Michael Flynn's resignation as President Donald Trump's first national security adviser won't end the controversy surrounding the new administration's purported ties to Russia.

Depending on which sources you consult, Flynn was either one of Vladimir Putin's stooges or a martyr to the swamp—the permanent bureaucracy in Washington. The truth is undoubtedly more complicated. And it's crucial that we get closer to it.
Flynn had a target painted on his back long before he ever joined Trump's White House. As head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagon's main intelligence shop, he often clashed with colleagues and the rest of the sprawling intelligence bureaucracy. He was forced to resign from this post in 2014. But Flynn wasn't an incompetent intelligence officer, as some detractors have claimed. He often got the big issues right.

In 2010, when he was deputy chief of intelligence for NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, Flynn coauthored a scathing report that concluded the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy in that war-torn country. That was correct—it is obvious from many independent sources that the quality of intelligence on Afghanistan has been abysmal.

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