A Side Note on the Flynn Transcript

Yet again, this administration puts Trump's political fortunes ahead of the national interest.

As I wade into the declassified phone transcripts and notes pertaining to the Flynn-Kislyak calls, let me highlight the following (which struck me as I read the transcript, especially the last several pages):

The declassification was itself highly unusual; intercepted calls are some of the government’s most closely guarded secrets. The documents also revealed highly sensitive F.B.I. abilities, showing that the bureau was able to monitor the phone line of the Russian Embassy in Washington even before a call from Mr. Kislyak connected with Mr. Flynn’s voice mail.

Source: “Flynn Discussed Sanctions at Length With Russian Diplomat, Transcripts Show” NYT

Emphasis mine.

While I often find the “sources and methods” argument for not being more transparent to the public about US intelligence operations to be an over-used shield, it is still true that revealing US intelligence-gathering capabilities should not be done capriciously. They certainly should not be done for the personal political gain of the President (which is what all this Flynn/”Obamagate” stuff is).

It is especially frustrating, if not galling, to see an administration be so cavalier with national security issues when a major “argument” about HRC was the ever-famous, “her e-mails” and the potential that there was a threat to classified information.

Indeed, had it been the case that information about US intelligence gathering capabilities had been hacked from HRC’s private e-mail server, there would have been legitimate criticism to be levied, if not genuine outrage to be displayed. And here we have the newly-confirmed DNI releasing this information so that Trump and his allies can further fulminate about the FBI for campaign purposes.

Can anyone tell me what national security, or even criminal justice, purpose was served by revealing that information here?

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, Intelligence, National Security, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Mikey says:

    It is especially frustrating, if not galling, to see an administration be so cavalier with national security issues when a major “argument” about HRC was the ever-famous, “her e-mails” and the potential that there was a threat to classified information.

    The Trumpies don’t actually give a shit about any of that except as far as it was useful to unjustifiably slime Mrs. Clinton. Nikki Haley forgot the password to her high-side e-mail account so she deliberately and knowingly sent actual classified information on the low side, and it didn’t merit a word of protest from them.

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  2. reid says:

    It’s nothing but tribal hypocrisy, of course. They aren’t serious about anything.

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  3. Erik says:

    @reid: They are serious about gaining, keeping, and exploiting power. Their actions, motivations, and values/principles make sense when power/money is the goal.

    3
  4. reid says:

    @Erik: Indeed. I thought about clarifying my comment. They aren’t serious about anything serious. It’s just about greed and power. Once upon a time Republicans weren’t entirely like this.

    2
  5. gVOR08 says:

    I would expect that Kislyak assumed from his acceptance of the post that we were tapping his phones, just as one assumes they do to ours in Moscow. And Flynn should have also expected we were tapping Kislyak’s phones. And this is hardly news. It’s struck me since this this mess started three plus years ago that we were being very loose about disclosing sources and methods, including that we were tapping Kislyak. One hopes we’ve only been disclosing stuff we know they already know.

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  6. Romancewritr says:

    No sense mentioning in this article that the transcript exposes the greatest abuse of deep state power in history. Indictments will follow.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    trump uber alles.

    @gVOR08: Flynn either knew and did it anyway, or he was too stupid to ever be considered for Director of NS. My money is on C) Both.

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  8. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “Flynn either knew and did it anyway, or he was too stupid to ever be considered for Director of NS”

    Or the third possibility, which isn’t mentioned nearly enough:

    That he didn’t care he was being recorded because he was informing Trump and Pence of exactly what he was doing all along.

    That becomes inconvenient once you factor in Flynn being fired for “lying” to Pence — because it means he was really fired to keep secret the fact that Trump and Pence were in on it all along.

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  9. gVOR08 says:

    @wr: Informing? He was reporting he’d done what Trump told him to do.