On today's BradCast: The Fox "News"-ification of Donald Trump's U.S. Government ramps way up with the terrifying late Thursday appointment of far-right neo-con, controversial former George W. Bush Administration official, and longtime Fox "News" contributor John Bolton as the President's third National Security Advisor. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Last week, national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel joined us to discuss the sudden firing of Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, and the move of wingnut CIA Director Mike Pompeo into Tillerson's role, with Pompeo's Deputy Director, Gina Haspel's nomination to become the next CIA Director. Haspel oversaw torture and the destruction of evidence of it while in charge of a secret overseas U.S. prison in 2002. But, unlike those positions, which require U.S. Senate confirmation, the President's National Security Advisor is a direct appointment, as Wheeler noted at the very end of the show last week, explaining that there would be nothing to prevent Bolton's appointment. If Trump wants Bolton as NSA, she chillingly warned, "he's in charge of nuking North Korea."
Well, sure enough, on Thursday, H.R. McMaster was pushed out as NSA and Bolton was named to replace him. So, Wheeler returns today discuss the many concerns --- from right, left and center --- about the dangerous new appointment of a man who strongly supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, arguing at the time that the role of the U.S. there, after removing Saddam's (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction, would be "fairly minimal". He is also long and loudly on record calling for similar first-strike U.S. aggression against both Iran and nuclear-armed North Korea.
As Iraq War veteran and chair of VoteVets Jon Solz warned in a statement upon the news: "Let there be no mistake – there is no war for regime change, anywhere, that John Bolton wasn’t for. He sees troops not as human beings, with families, but as expendable resources, in his real-life game of Risk." He added: "To the Trump voters out there we say: You were suckered. John Bolton and Mike Pompeo represent the neocon foreign policy that Donald Trump falsely said he was against."
Bolton, according to one former senior Bush Administration official "was by far the most dangerous man we had," adding that his hiring is "an invitation to war, perhaps nuclear war." Senior Bush Administration diplomat Richard Haass cautions: "This is the most perilous moment in modern American history." They aren't the only ones very panicked about the appointment, charging Bolton's appointment puts us "on the path to war."
Wheeler offers her own additional concerns about Bolton, citing the very curious, potentially "casus belli" timing on Friday morning of Justice Department indictments of nine Iranians said to have been sponsored by their government to hack and steal academic papers (not U.S. Government secrets!) from thousands of university professors around the world.
She also cites the observation of former Bush Administration attorney Matthew Waxman at Lawfare, as "the most frightening thing I've read" about Bolton's appointment.
Waxman, she explains, "worked with Bolton, and he basically says, unlike everybody else who has worked with Trump, Bolton is very, very, very bureaucratically competent, like Dick Cheney. We've been blessed so far --- if we can use that term --- in the Trump Administration, in that he keeps hiring incompetents. Or, even if they're competent, people who don't understand how government bureaucracy works. John Bolton was trained by the master, Dick Cheney. He knows how government bureaucracy works. He's a vindictive man, and he knows how to get the bureaucracy to do what he wants it to do. And that is, I think, the most terrifying part of John Bolton being named National Security Advisor."
We discuss why Defense Secretary James Mattis may now suddenly be the most important man in the world. And, in related Trump Foxification news, Wheeler also offers reason to be dubious about the reports that Fox "News" wingnut contributor Joe diGenova and his Fox "News" wingnut contributor wife, Victoria Toensing, will actually be joining Trump's personal legal team dealing with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
Other related stuff covered today: Trump signs the massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress to keep the government open as of midnight Friday, after pretending to threaten to veto the 2,200-page bill just hours before signing it as is --- and then lying about it. (He also seems unaware that a Presidential line-item veto he called for today was long ago found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.); A former Fox "News" anchor with no government or foreign policy experience has been quietly promoted to become the 4th highest ranking diplomat at the U.S. State Department; One longtime Fox "News" military analyst finally quits after ten years, charging that Trump's favorite "news" outlet is now "a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration."; And, in case you needed more proof for that charge, we've got an hilarious disturbing compilation of video clips comparing the way the outlet's anchors and contributors (including Bolton!)blasted the nation of Barack Obama meeting Kim Jong Un face-to-face some years ago, versus Trump's plans to actually do so in May...
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