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Bannon’s Dangerous Domination of National Security

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Bannon’s Dangerous Domination of National Security


The neutering of the National Security Council by White House adviser Stephen Bannon continues.

Not only has Bannon established a shadow NSC, known as the Strategic Initiatives Group in the White House, but he has also blocked National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster from naming his own staff.

Last week McMaster, a three-star general brought in to replace Gen. Michael Flynn, told Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the NSC’s intelligence director, to look for work elsewhere after CIA officials reportedly “expressed reservations about the 30-year-old intelligence operative and pushed for his ouster,” according to Politico.

Cohen-Watnick worked for Flynn at the Defense Intelligence Agency and “saw eye to eye” with his former boss “about the failings of the CIA human intelligence operations,” a Washington consultant told Politico. “The CIA saw him as a threat, so they tried to unseat him and replace him with an agency loyalist.”

Cohen-Watnick appealed to Bannon and Jared Kushner, and on Sunday Trump saved his job.

“The incident raises questions about just how much autonomy Trump is giving to McMaster, who was tapped last month as national security adviser amid questions about whether he’d have full staffing authority over the NSC,” said Politico.

Bannon’s unprecedented role as a statutory member of the NSC where he speaks as an equal with the Secretaries of Defense and State is “bizarre,” said Daniel Benjamin, a former State Department official, in an email to AlterNet. His position “gives him a power base to push back against the others in the room, as well as an outsized say in the whole interagency process.”

To have acolytes like Cohen-Watnick on the NSC only enhances his power, Benjamin said.

“As a statutory member, [Bannon] can send representatives to interagency working groups and deputies committee meetings,” he said. “Others in those meetings will be loath to cross his reps—especially given the icy chill running through the bureaucracy now.”

Bannon’s outsized role “seems like a recipe for ensuring that Trump gets muddled recommendations instead of the best policy advice, and, of course, it sets up a competing power center to McMaster and the NSC staff, which is no way to run a White House,” said Benjamin, a former NSC staffer under President Clinton. Benjamin also served as Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department in the Obama administration.

At stake, Benjamin said, is not just ideology or office politics but also the ability of the U.S. government to respond to a national security crisis.

Benjamin described McMaster as “a much more capable, intelligent individual” than Flynn, who was fired for dissembling about his pre-inauguration contacts with Russian officials.

“But he too has no background in diplomacy, no experience of note in European affairs or the Far East,” Benjamin said. “The State Department is gutted. It’s never clear who is in charge in the White House—you don’t know who will have the final word when you have someone like Bannon empowered as he is. Obviously, it depends on the crisis, but the possibility of a real crisis is something that keeps me up at night.”



  1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 17, 2017

    I spoke of a person named Siyyid Ali-i-Isfahani in another article, who Shoghi Effendi and his grandfather, Abdu’l Baha, had characterized as the “anti-Christ” of Baha’u’llah due to the repeated attempts to disrupt the lives of the early Baha’is. Siyyid Ali was a master manipulator and quite deceitful.

    Steve Bannon has similar qualities, and given Steve’s extensive university experience, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience he has accumulated—but used for the wrong purposes, including causing great distress and harm for other people.

    To think about Steve’s knowledge, and of knowledge in general, it might be helpful to think of this quality by perusing and reflecting on the following:

    “…Know verily that Knowledge is of two kinds: Divine and Satanic. The one welleth out from the fountain of divine inspiration; the other is but a reflection of vain and obscure thoughts. The source of the former is God Himself; the motive-force of the latter the whisperings of selfish desire. The one is guided by the principle: “Fear ye God; God will teach you;” the other is but a confirmation of the truth: “Knowledge is the most grievous veil between man and his Creator.” The former bringeth forth the fruit of patience, of longing desire, of true understanding, and love; whilst the latter can yield naught but arrogance, vainglory and conceit. From the sayings of those Masters of holy utterance, Who have expounded the meaning of true knowledge, the odour of these dark teachings, which have obscured the world, can in no wise be detected. The tree of such teachings can yield no result except iniquity and rebellion, and beareth no fruit but hatred and envy. Its fruit is deadly poison; its shadow a consuming fire. How well hath it been said: “Cling unto the robe of the Desire of thy heart, and put thou away all shame; bid the worldlywise be gone, however great their name. …”
    (from pgs 76-77of ‘The Kitab-i-Iqan’)

    1. Kristinjsimmons March 18, 2017

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    2. CPANY March 20, 2017

      Religious drivel. You’re right about Bannon, but you can’t get away from your fascination with offbeat religion.

      1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 20, 2017

        In every Religious Dispensation, the ignorant and the rebellious considered the new Religion as “offbeat”.

        How can you be so certain that something is drivel when you’ve never turned on your inert brain to investigate what the Baha’i Faith is? You clearly feel comfortable in being in the same company as Pharoah, Caiphas, Abu Sufyan in the Hijaz region, and Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahani—the “antichrist figures during the Mosaic, Christian, Islamic, and Baha’i Religions, respectively. They each thought as you do, and scoffed at the Message each of the previous Messengers brought to humanity.

        That’s very bad company to be in—however, in your case you’ve NEVER exposed yourself in an independent manner to investigate the Message of Baha’u’llah, nor were you privileged to be around during His presence to make any intelligent assessment. At least in the past, each of the persons I cited were actually contemporary, and in the very presence of the Messengers, and so they could actually claim they saw and heard the Messenger who appeared before them. And you are content to be an ignoramus merely because the name throws you off.

        Sort of like the dismissive attitude Trump has when confronted with facts and reality.

        So, at the end of the day, you’re a modern-day Pharoah who can’t be bothered to read and study about any major Religion, other than what you may pretend to believe in for the time-being.


  2. Dominick Vila March 19, 2017

    Steve Bannon is a master manipulator who may have considerable influence in Trump’s final decisions on foreign and domestic policy, but ultimately responsibility for what Trump and Ryan are doing rests solely on their shoulders. For better or worse, Trump is the President of the United States, not Bannon. Bannon did not ignore Geerman Chancellor Angela Merkel question “would you like to shake hands”. Trump, an arrogant low class man, did. Bannon did not claim that Germany owes NATO money, and must pay for the protection the USA military gives them. Trump did. Only he does not understand that the dispute over NATO funding is over a demand by the USA for other NATO members to allocate 2% of their national budgets to fund NATO, rather than pay our troops for what would be tantamount to mercenary services. Bannon did not encourage the Russians to spy on us and share their findings with the general public during the 2016 campaign, and he did not hire people with close business ties to Russia, including at least one that was being paid by that country. Trump did, and he is the one that is now enraged by the fact that some of his advisors were caught while having inappropriate conversations, including making deals or promises, to a country that has been an adversary of the USA for at least 7 decades. It was Trump, not Bannon, who claimed that the Trump Tower was wiretapped under orders by President Obama, not Bannon, and it is he who redefined the term wiretap to encompass everything in the Sun, including monitoring of Russian Embassy conversations. It is only he who does not understand that his acolytes were caught making deals with the Russians because their conversations were caught as a result of surveillance of a foreign Embassy, the same way the Russians conduct surveillance of our Embassy, consulates, and diplomats in that country. Bannon may have recommended a confrontational relationship with China, a Muslim ban, criticisms of the EU, accusing the British of wiretapping Trump Tower, deporting Mexicans and Central Americans, but it was Trump who either made the claims, doubled down on them, or signed EOs to make them enforceable.

    1. Bill Thompson March 20, 2017

      Be aware of the direction many want to follow. The father of the “alt right”, the brains in the White House, Steve Bannon’s model must be rejected at all costs. Bannons abrasive brilliance was demonstrated at every stop in his career. His extensive college career, the Navy, Goldman Sachs merger expert , entertainment industry financier, Extreme right wing documentary screenwriter and his leadership at Breitbart news, “the platform of the alt right”. He described himself as a “Leninist”, that wants to ” bring everything crashing down”. His enemies are the establishment, the press, “crony capitalism” and the current world order. Comments like “the press is the enemy of the people” derives its Pedigree straight out of the totalitarian play book. His recent comments at CPAC should send chills down anybody’s spine. “The deconstruction of the administrative state”,(absolutely unbelievable) which explains the majority of the current cabinet appointees. I described them as antimatter. Going back to Star Trek days anytime matter and antimatter touch it results in a nuclear like explosion. Anyone that has listened to this man speak in the past, understands he wants to return the country to a time before FDR. An isolationist society and world order . In other words a white, European, Christian theocracy (Catholics need not apply) where all people compete for survival. No labor rules, no environmental rules, no minimum standards, no school standards, no corporate standards, survival of the fittest. No social security, no Medicare, no Medicaid, it won’t be sold as such, it will be delivered under the guise of preservation. Which will inevitably lead to a system that will allow it to “wither on the vine” as Newt Gingrich once said. A true oligarchy, a return of the robber barons, while holding the Bible in one hand with the flag draped around oneself. Images of this history are well documented. Beware of people that will exploit the discontent of the times. The methods described above work because of the precariousness of the average persons future. Inequality, globalization, tribalism, Powerlessness. And the constant barrage of seemingly democratic failures throughout the world to keep up with digital disruption.

      1. Dominick Vila March 20, 2017

        Thank you for the outstanding analysis of Bannon’s record and agenda. I could not agree with you more. My point was simply that, ultimately, the person that makes the decision are not the Rasputins or Machiavellis in the background, but the leader of the country, who had the authority and duty to reject recommendations that are often unconstitutional, or detrimental to our well being, interests, and national security.


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