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Tag: mike pompeo

Newly Revealed Charges Of Misconduct Against Pompeo In State Dept. Documents

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Newly unredacted records from a whistleblower complaint in the State Department have shed light on more allegations against former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and members of his former staff.

According to documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Pompeo and others were accused of misconduct.

The organization reports: "The alleged misconduct included false or misleading statements to the agency's legal department, misuse of government resources on personal and political activities potentially prohibited by the Hatch Act, verbal abuse of employees by Mike and Susan Pompeo and directives to staff not to communicate in writing in order to evade transparency laws."

The unredacted documents come two years after the redacted version of the whistleblower complaint was filed with the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG is said to have excluded many of the previous redactions in the version of the documents released to CREW.

"The complaint alleges "[s]everal senior career Foreign Service officials who held positions of responsibility within the Executive Secretariat" turned a blind eye to Pompeo's "questionable activities" and, in some cases, "facilitat[ed]" them, according to CREW.

Employees in the State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser "expressed concern that some of these activities may have violated [the] Hatch Act or other regulations," but the whistleblower was "unaware that any resolution was reached, potentially because senior officials in the Executive Secretariat repeatedly declined to seek clarification or guidance from [the Office of the Legal Adviser] despite requests from subordinates to do so."

The new documents also detail the aftermath of former Inspector general Steve Linick's removal from his post, which was part of a larger Trump-led effort to oust inspectors. The report also indicated that staff members were "stunned" by the directive.

"[T]his is all so surreal three days later. I'm nervous about the future," the OIG employee wrote in a May 18, 2020 email. In a later email, the official added, "I just heard Trump say we needed to get rid of the 'Attorney Generals' as a whole…Oh dear."

CREW has also received other documentation as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit aimed at uncovering information about Pompeo's attempts to hinder the investigation into the allegations of misconduct against him.

Still Lying: Trump Claims Afghan Departure Left '$85 Billion' In Weapons

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On Monday, August 30, former President Donald Trump claimed that the Taliban — now in control of Afghanistan — has seized $83 billion worth of U.S. weapons. But that claim has been fact-checked and refuted by the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler.

In his August 30 statement, Trump said, "Never in history has a withdrawal from war been handled so badly or incompetently as the Biden Administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan. In addition to the obvious, ALL EQUIPMENT should be demanded to be immediately returned to the United States and that includes every penny of the $85 billion dollars in cost. If it is not handed back, we should either go in w/unequivocal Military force and get it, or at least bomb the hell out of it."

Trump failed to mention, of course, that the Biden Administration was following the Trump/Mike Pompeo plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, although at a slower pace. Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wanted the U.S. out of Afghanistan even sooner than President Joe Biden. While Biden wanted to withdraw troops before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Trump planned to remove them during the spring of 2021.

Kessler, discussing Trump's claims that the Taliban has seized $83 million worth of U.S. weapons, explains, "We don't normally pay much attention to claims made by the former president, as he mostly just riffs golden oldies. But this is a new claim. A version of this claim also circulates widely on right-leaning social media — that somehow, the Taliban has ended up with $83 billion in U.S. weaponry. Trump, as usual, rounds the number up."

Kessler adds, "The $83 billion number is not invented out of whole cloth. But it reflects all the money spent to train, equip and house the Afghan military and police — so weapons are just a part of that. At this point, no one really knows the value of the equipment that was seized by the Taliban."

The Post journalist notes that the $83 million figure "comes from an estimate in the July 30 quarterly report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) for all spending on the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund since the U.S. invasion in 2001."

According to Kessler, "The $83 billion spent on the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) goes back two decades, including almost $19 billion spent between 2002 and 2009."

Applying the Washington Post's "Pinocchio Test" to Trump, Kessler breaks down that $83 million some more.

Kessler notes, "U.S. military equipment was given to Afghan security forces over two decades. Tanks, vehicles, helicopters and other gear fell into the hands of the Taliban when the U.S.-trained force quickly collapsed…. But the value of the equipment is not more than $80 billion. That's the figure for all of the money spent on training and sustaining the Afghan military over 20 years. The equipment portion of that total is about $24 billion — certainly not small change — but the actual value of the equipment in the Taliban's hands is probably much less than even that amount."

Leaving Afghanistan Shows Wisdom, Not Weakness

The suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 169 Afghans was an atrocity that evoked horror in Americans of every political persuasion. But among those who want to continue the war, the loss was taken as proof that the U.S. should have persisted in a mission that had previously claimed the lives of more than 2,400 Americans.

Had we been willing to go on spilling American blood to stay in Afghanistan, we would not have had to spill blood leaving it. The logic is peculiar.

But the hawks always find a way to justify endless war. They can't very well pretend that we could win in Afghanistan, now or ever. So they find boundless reasons to criticize the manner of our withdrawal, which was bound to be a messy, dangerous process.

They also resort to hollow cliches. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the administration of "weakness." Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), asserted that "China and Russia will look to capitalize on Biden's weakness." Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass said the outcome "will reinforce questions about U.S. reliability."

Some of our European allies joined the chorus. A Conservative parliamentary leader in Britain said the withdrawal is "the biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez" — as though the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were not gargantuan catastrophes.

Carping about alleged displays of weakness and loss of credibility is the familiar fallback of those trying to sustain a pointless military undertaking. They insist that ending it will have harmful effects on how others perceive us — a claim so vaporous it is impossible to disprove.

Their logic is that if we do something stupid, we have to keep doing it no matter what, because, you know, only weak people repent of their stupidity.

But if committing 20 years — as well as nearly 25,000 American casualties and more than $2 trillion — didn't persuade other governments of our resolve and staying power, it's hard to believe that Year 21 would be a game-changer. Foreigners might instead marvel at our willingness to lavish so much for so long on a mission that did little or nothing to enhance our security. They could deduce that when genuine U.S. interests are at stake, the sky is the limit on what we'd be willing to do.

Biden has shown a dedication to strengthening our alliances that his predecessor did not. President Donald Trump showed much fonder feelings for Russian President Vladimir Putin than for German Chancellor Angela Merkel or French President Emmanuel Macron.

Trump, in fact, bitterly resented our support of NATO. He even raised the possibility of refusing to honor our obligation, under Article 5 of the alliance treaty, to come to the defense of any member of the alliance who was attacked. Privately, he repeatedly expressed his desire to pull out of NATO.

Biden, by contrast, proudly wore a NATO lapel pin to a summit with European leaders in Brussels and declared: "Article 5 we take as a sacred obligation. I want NATO to know America is there." His principal difference with Merkel and Macron at that meeting lay in his desire to take a tougher line against China.

History offers additional evidence that ending a foolish, costly war will not degrade our international standing. Hawkish types said our 1973 withdrawal from Vietnam would speed the march of communism throughout the world. But it somehow failed to prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union, the liberation of Eastern Europe, or the capitalist transformation of China.

Our adversaries have good reason not to test the proposition that the Biden administration is weak. Our military spending, after all, amounts to more than that of the next 11 countries combined. Our Navy has a dominant worldwide reach that no other country can come remotely close to matching.

Our ground forces have decades of combat experience that Russian and Chinese troops lack. Our peerless air power is a deterrent to adversaries from Tehran to Pyongyang.

Ending our involvement in Afghanistan doesn't weaken our posture against our adversaries. It strengthens it, by letting us direct our resources and attention to matters that directly implicate our national security. Biden, for better or worse, is not presiding over a retreat from our role in the world — merely a sensible reshaping of it.

Thursday's bombing was a disaster. But staying in Afghanistan would only have guaranteed more like it.

Follow Steve Chapman on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

VIDEO: Watch Angy Mike Pompeo Flip And Flop On Taliban

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

With the Taliban now in control of Afghanistan, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is vehemently criticizing President Joe Biden for withdrawing U.S. troops from that country — neglecting to mention that Biden was essentially following the plan that Pompeo and former President Donald Trump came up with in 2020. MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan, in response, has posted a video showing how badly Pompeo is now contradicting what he had to say about Afghanistan and the Taliban last year.

Some right-wing Republicans have at least been consistent in their views on Afghanistan. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and former National Security John Bolton have been slamming the Trump/Pompeo plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan as badly flawed and saying that Biden and his advisers were wrong to go along with it. But Pompeo, as Hasan's video demonstrates, is now contradicting much of what he had to say in 2020.

The video shows Pompeo, in 2020, praising "the senior Taliban leadership" for "working diligently to reduce violence," followed by the Pompeo of 2021 saying of the Taliban, "These are butchers…. These are evil people" and telling Fox News' Chris Wallace, "We never trusted the Taliban."

Pompeo is seen in 2020 saying with confidence, "There are a series of commitments the Taliban have made. We have every expectation they will follow through on them." And Pompeo, in 2020, expressed confidence that the Taliban would "break" their "relationship" with al-Qaeda and "work alongside" the United States "to destroy, deny resources to and have al-Qaeda depart from that place." But in a 2021 clip included in Hasan's video, Pompeo complains, "We have allowed al-Qaeda to run free and wild all around Afghanistan."

The video ends on a mocking note with a clip of Pompeo angrily saying, "No, I'm not defensive at all."

Here are some responses to Hasan's video:

Billionaire Ex-Blackwater Boss Exploiting Chaos And Misery In Kabul

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

With Afghanistan having fallen to the Taliban and countless Afghans desperately trying to leave the country, former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince has found a way to profit from the crisis, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The paper's Dion Nissenbaum reports, "Mr. Prince, whose Blackwater guards were convicted of killing civilians in 2014 while providing security for Americans during the Iraq War, said he was charging each passenger $6500 to get them safely into the airport and on a plane, and it would cost extra to get people who have been trapped in their homes to the airport. It remained unclear whether Mr. Prince had the wherewithal to carry out his plans."

Prince is the brother of Betsy DeVos, former secretary of education in the Trump Administration. When Donald Trump was president, Prince had an idea for getting U.S. troops out of Afghanistan: replacing them with a private security force. But that idea fell through.

Warren Binford, a University of Colorado law professor who has been helping with evacuation efforts in Afghanistan, told the Journal, "It's total chaos. What's happening is that we're seeing a massive underground railroad operation where, instead of running for decades, it's literally running for a matter of hours, or days."

The United States' 20-year war in Afghanistan started in 2001 following al-Qaeda's 9/11 terrorist attacks and has existed under four U.S. presidents: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and now, Joe Biden. Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo worked out an agreement with the Taliban for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and Biden followed through on the Trump/Pompeo agreement — although at a slower pace.

Mother Jones' Inae Oh, reporting on Prince's Afghanistan activities, reports, "Prince's plans to capitalize on tragedy come amid a broader effort by aid organizations to rescue as many people as possible as the U.S. struggles to process visas and evacuate both Americans still in the country and the tens of thousands of Afghans who worked from the U.S. government over the past 20 years of war…. Prince kept busy in recent years by overseeing operations to spy on so-called Trump enemies in government while misleading Congress in the Russia investigation. Now he's back, scrambling to make one last buck from the crisis in Afghanistan."

When The Beltway Press Is Unanimous, They're Usually All Wrong

Regarding the national news media's freakout over President Biden's role in the Taliban seizure of Afghanistan, we haven't seen such passionate unanimity among the Washington commentariat since they went all in on invading Iraq back in 2003.

They sold thAT war like an action/adventure film. The New York Times and Washington Post were particularly gung-ho. Even NPR covered the push into Baghdad like the world's largest Boy Scout Jamboree. CNN presented the US "shock and awe" bombing campaign like a July 4th fireworks show.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan got put on the back burner. Despite our NATO allies — Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands sent troops — that's basically where it stayed for 20 long years.

In my experience, the more Washington pundits agree, they more they're apt to be wrong. For most, it's a TV show. Dramatic shots of panicky Afghan youth trying to climb aboard departing USAF transport planes drives the coverage. File footage of Wolf Blitzer and Lester Holt wearing soldier costumes in Afghanistan only makes them look foolish.

As for all the retired generals and think-tank commandos, how about if we wait to see how the Pentagon's massive evacuation from Kabul Airport goes before making a judgement?

Things appear to be going smoothly, but that could change in a heartbeat.

So I have more questions than answers.

First, can anybody imagine Trump overseeing the orderly evacuation of thousands of Afghan Muslims into the USA?

To ask the question is to answer it.

Max Boot points out, "As recently as April 18, Trump said: "Getting out of Afghanistan is a wonderful and positive thing to do. I planned to withdraw on May 1, and we should keep as close to that schedule as possible." On June 26, he asked "Twenty-one years is enough, don't we think?"

Yeah, most people do.

So should President Biden or should he not have stuck to something pretty close to the timetable negotiated by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo?

It was either that or double down on a war he too vowed to end. Whatever they may say, no European leaders are about to send troops; their citizens wouldn't let them.

Also, It wasn't Biden who ramrodded the release of 5000 Taliban fighters last October. That was Trump and Pompeo.

Biden made a tough, you might say a ruthless, decision to cut our losses and get out.

But shouldn't he have anticipated the sudden surrender of Afghanistan's papier-mache government? Maybe so, although hardly anybody else did. That State Department cable uncovered by the Wall Street Journal concerned the period after, not before, US troops departed. That is, after August 31.

That's not how critics played it, but it's a fact.

But shouldn't Biden have evacuated US personnel and Afghan dependents before the military pullout?

Not unless he wanted to bring the Afghan government down even sooner. The first day of any evacuation would have been the last day it existed. The terrible scenes of last week would have happened sooner. As the president has said, it's on him either way.

So could the United States ever have turned Afghanistan into a democratic country?

Almost certainly not.

Way back in 1976, I observed to my wife that Russians invading Afghanistan would end up "sorry they ever heard of that place." My skepticism was based on three things: Rudyard Kipling's accounts of the British experience there, my own experience in neighboring Iran, and a knowledgeable friend who explained that Afghanistan isn't a nation, but eight or ten tribal regions more or less permanently in conflict with all the others.

Hardly anybody there thinks all men are created equal, or believes in one- man, one-vote. Pretending that a Kabul government could govern the territory as Paris governs France was a delusion. So of course the imaginary nation's make-believe army fell apart. Former Marine Captain Lance Kunce, a Democratic Senate candidate who did two tours there, wrote this in the Kansas City Star:

The truth is that the Afghan National Security Forces was a jobs program for Afghans, propped up by U.S. taxpayer dollars…populated by nonmilitary people or 'paper' forces (that didn't really exist) and a bevy of elites grabbing what they could when they could.

A boondoggle and a folly.

If Biden can get the US out without a catastrophic slaughter, he'll have done alright.

Trump’s Brilliant Plan? Bomb Our Afghan Bases,Then Withdraw US Troops

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

With the Taliban now in total control of Afghanistan for the first time since 2001, former President Donald Trump is claiming that President Joe Biden deserves all of the blame — failing to acknowledge Biden was essentially following Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from that country, although at a slower pace. And Trump is being mocked unmercifully on Twitter for his ludicrous statements.

Trump, in a statement, said: "First you bring out all of the American citizens. Then you bring out ALL equipment. Then you bomb the bases into smithereens — AND THEN YOU BRING OUT THE MILITARY. You don't do it in reverse order like Biden and our woke Generals did. No chaos, no death — they wouldn't even know we left!"

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted Trump's statement, commenting:

After reading Haberman's tweet, conservative attorney George Conway — one of Trump's most vehement critics on the right — posted:

Here are some more responses to Trump's statement:

Pompeo’s Hometown Paper Roasts His Afghan Hypocrisy

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

With Afghanistan having been taken over by the Taliban, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is slamming President Joe Biden for withdrawing U.S. troops from the country — neglecting to mention that Biden was essentially following the Pompeo/Donald Trump plan for withdrawal, although at a slower pace. The Kansas City Star's editorial board, in a scathing editorial published on August 18, slams Pompeo's total hypocrisy.

"That other Republicans are criticizing Biden's implementation of Trump's deal is one thing," the Star's editorial board explains. "But Pompeo personally oversaw the Trump Administration's Afghanistan withdrawal discussions with Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, whom the CIA had arrested in 2010. He'd been in a Pakistani prison until Trump got him out two years ago. So, it's a little bit stunning to watch Pompeo accuse Biden of 'leading with weakness' by finishing the troop withdrawal that Trump planned to accomplish even more quickly."

The "other Republicans" that the Star is referring to in its editorial could include Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, although the Star doesn't actually mention either of them by name. Cheney and Kinzinger have both been vehemently critical of the Biden Administration in the days following the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan, but they have also been vehemently critical of Trump and Pompeo — arguing that the Trump/Pompeo plan for withdrawal was horribly flawed and that Biden was wrong to go along with it. For that matter, some Democrats and Biden allies have made the same argument.

Pompeo, however, is blaming Biden for embracing a Trump-era policy that he aggressively promoted — which, as the Star points out, is exactly the type of gall, arrogance and "brass" one expects from Pompeo.

The Star notes, "Trump undermined the success of his own team's efforts by bringing more and more U.S. troops home without any concessions from the Taliban. The Taliban was supposed to negotiate a peace agreement with the Afghan government, and when that didn't happen, the withdrawal continued anyway…. Pompeo's gloating that this withdrawal would have gone very differently under the previous administration is unsupported by what did happen when Trump was president."

By slamming Pompeo, the Star's editorial board isn't saying that Biden is blameless in the Afghanistan debacle. But Pompeo, according to the Star, is the last person who should be pointing the finger at Biden over the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan.

The editorial board stresses, "Trump, you remember, even invited the Taliban to Camp David…. Pompeo pushed hard for this plan, which put him at odds with then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, who the New York Times reported at the time 'argued that Mr. Trump could keep his campaign pledge to draw down forces without getting in bed with killers bathed in American blood.' Yet in Wichita, we heard the chief proponent of this deal argue that Biden is weak for failing to stand up to the same Taliban that just a minute ago, Pompeo was talking up as our trusted partner in counterterrorism — and the same Taliban that both Trump and Biden failed to hold accountable."

"The execution of this long overdue withdrawal has been ugly," the Star's editorial continues. "How Trump could have somehow done the same thing both faster and more gently is unknowable at this point. A less disingenuous partisan would have acknowledged that, and would maybe even have shown some humility, given his role in what's playing out in Afghanistan."