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Pompeo Formed CIA ‘Advisory Board’ To Build His Political Network

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Before Mike Pompeo was secretary of state in the Trump Administration, he served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency — a position he held from January 2017 (the month Trump was sworn into office) to April 2018. Journalist Natasha Bertrand looks back on Pompeo's activities as CIA director in an article for Politico, reporting that he "put together an undisclosed board of outside advisers" that "some at the agency viewed as inappropriately weighted toward wealthy individuals and well-connected political figures."

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Secretary Of State Pompeo Debunked Trump’s ‘Deep State’ Conspiracy Theory

As part of his absurd “deep state” conspiracy theory about U.S. intelligence agencies being out to get him, Trump has ordered an investigation into how the CIA handled its investigation of Russian election interference. Specifically, Trump is hoping that an investigation led by one of his loyalists, Attorney General William Barr, will cast doubt on the CIA’s conclusion that Russia wanted Trump to win the race.

There’s just one problem, as Politico reported Friday. Trump’s own secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, already debunked this theory — two years ago, in a thorough inquiry he led when he was the head of the CIA.

The inquiry, which Politico noted was conducted at the CIA’s “highest levels,” verified that the CIA did nothing improper in its investigation.

Pompeo “ultimately found no evidence of any wrongdoing, or that the analysts had been under political pressure to produce their findings,” the outlet reported.

The investigation was more extensive than simply a briefing.

“Pompeo asked the officers tough questions about their work and how they determined Putin’s specific objectives,” a source familiar with the process told Politico.

Despite Pompeo’s investigation and its conclusions, however, Barr has brought in U.S. attorney John Durham to re-investigate the CIA.

The CIA investigation is just one part of Durham’s inquiry, which many in the national security community find to be inappropriate and alarmingly broad, Politico notes.

“The Justice Department’s job is to see whether a crime has been committed, not to assess the quality of intelligence analysis,” former acting CIA director Michael Morell told Politico. “They have no training or experience in that.”

Former CIA analyst Jeffrey Edmonds told the outlet that he fears the Barr inquiry “is a political attempt to undermine the intelligence community’s assessment.”

House Republicans allied with Trump have also tried to attack the agency’s work on the Russia investigation — even though the inquiry led by Senate Republicans affirmed the CIA’s findings.

The U.S. intelligence community has very clearly found that Russia intended to help Trump when it interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Even Trump’s own secretary of state came to the same conclusion.

Yet Trump is still pushing his loyalists to find another explanation that makes him look better.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

IMAGE: Mike Pompeo testifies before a Senate Intelligence hearing on his nomination to head the CIA on Capitol Hill in Washington January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria


Trump Befriends Authoritarian Rule Everywhere — Except Cuba

Donald Trump has often been faulted for recklessly upending established U.S. government policies, inviting harmful consequences. But in the case of Latin America, he has chosen to follow in a long U.S. tradition that has its own harmful consequences: pushing our neighbors around like it’s our job.

Last Tuesday, he expanded Washington’s campaign to starve the Cuban government into submission. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced a ban on organized group travel to the island, which had been allowed for the first time in decades under Barack Obama.

Never mind that the United States has conducted a 60-year experiment in using economic ostracism to force a change in the Communist government of Cuba — and it has been a failure. The regime has held fast to power despite — or because of — the enmity of the colossus to the north.

The comical part of the new travel restriction was Mnuchin’s explanation. “Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere,” he claimed, “providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes.”

Fomenting instability and propping up undemocratic governments, you see, are activities that only the United States is allowed to do. Much of the turmoil in the Middle East stems from the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a massively destabilizing venture whose consequences are still being felt.

Trump, of course, does not fret about the undemocratic governments in Saudi Arabia, Russia and Egypt. Of North Korea’s dictator, he said: “He likes me. I like him. Some people say, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t like him.’ I said, ‘Why shouldn’t I like him?'”

“Communist foothold” is one of those phrases that had meaning during the Cold War, when Washington and Moscow strove to maximize their influence around the world. But the Havana regime is no longer the spearhead of Soviet expansionism; it’s an established homegrown entity. It supports the leftist president Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela because of a common ideology and a common enemy — natural behavior for any government.

Trump’s policies follow a clear pattern. He has called for regime change in Venezuela and raised the possibility of military action. He suspended aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to punish their people for seeking asylum here. He has announced a plan to impose 25 percent tariffs on goods from Mexico unless it stops unauthorized migration. He behaves as though he is not just president of the United States but anointed ruler of the Western Hemisphere.

That approach has a lengthy, embarrassing pedigree. The CIA helped military officers mount a coup against an elected president in Guatemala in 1954. It supported the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, an effort to overthrow Cuba’s Fidel Castro. In 1965, it sent troops to install a friendly regime in the Dominican Republic.

The CIA assisted a military coup against an elected leftist president in Chile in 1973. The U.S. financed a right-wing insurgency in Nicaragua in the 1980s. It invaded Grenada in 1983 to depose a pro-Castro regime. It invaded Panama in 1989 to remove a hostile dictator.

The presumption that we are entitled to impose our will anywhere in Latin America goes back even further. President Theodore Roosevelt asserted a sweeping U.S. prerogative in the region.

“All that this country desires is to see the neighboring countries stable, orderly and prosperous,” he said in 1904. “Any country whose people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship.” But “chronic wrongdoing” or “a general loosening of the ties of civilized society” may “require intervention” by the U.S. In his view, we had the right to use force whenever we saw a need.

Trump is reviving a tradition that never really lapsed. George W. Bush was exceptionally unpopular in the region for a variety of reasons, including his suspected support of an attempted 2002 coup in Venezuela, his stance toward Cuba, and the prison camp at the Navy base in Guantanamo Bay — itself a relic of U.S. imperialism. Even Obama, who restored diplomatic relations and allowed more travel, didn’t entirely lift the embargo.

In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt announced a shift in the American approach, declaring that he was “opposed to armed intervention” in the region. In the end, his Good Neighbor Policy didn’t last. To Latin America, we have often been a very bad neighbor. But there is always room to be worse.

Steve Chapman blogs at Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

IMAGE: Cuban President Raul Castro reacts during a news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama (not pictured) as part of President Obama’s three-day visit to Cuba in Havana, March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Republicans Blame Obama (And Biden) For Russian Election Meddling

Republicans have decided to blame President Barack Obama for the extensive contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.

“We need a full accounting of what Obama and Biden knew and when they knew it,” Ronna McDaniel, the Republican Party national chairwoman, wrote on Friday.

The day before that, Trump’s reelection campaign released a video and email that fabricated a “stand down” order from Obama, after he purportedly learned that Russia was interfering in the election.

Sarah Sanders parroted the lie while speaking to reporters on Thursday, arguing that the Obama administration “actually didn’t do anything to stop interference in the election.”

In reality, when the Obama administration tried to raise the alarm on Russian election interference, it was blocked.

The Obama administration learned about Russia’s infiltration attempts in July 2016 and held a briefing with congressional leaders in August of that year.

When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell caught wind, he threatened to publicly accuse Democrats of trying to throw the election if the CIA came forward with the information they had.

“I will condemn you and the Obama administration for trying to mess up this election,” McConnell reportedly told then CIA-director John Brennan.

And now, thanks to the Mueller Report, we know there was repeated contact between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives.

Trump campaign leaders, including Trump’s son Donald Jr., sought out the Russians in 2016 for information that they believed would be damaging to Hillary Clinton.

So, at the same time that President Obama and his national security team were trying to prevent Russia from interfering in the election, Trump’s campaign was reaching out for Russian help.

And Mitch McConnell was actively working against American interests in service of short-term Republican Party gains.

The reality is completely the opposite of the story being peddled by Trump, his campaign, and his underlings.

Obama tried to stop a foreign government from perverting one of America’s most sacred institutions, and now the Trump team is clumsily trying to blame him for Trump’s own violations of national trust.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

IMAGE: President Barack Obama waves as he leaves the podium after speaking to journalists during his last news conference of the year at the White House, December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria