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Kiriakou writes: "Many Americans, at least most in my circle, are enjoying watching Donald Trump self-destruct. It's bad for the country, but to some of us it's as much fun as watching a train wreck."

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan prepare to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, January 29, 2014. (photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan prepare to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, January 29, 2014. (photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

A Warning for Democrats, and Indeed for All Americans

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

11 January 18


any Americans, at least most in my circle, are enjoying watching Donald Trump self-destruct. It’s bad for the country, but to some of us it’s as much fun as watching a train wreck. And maybe if the Democrats can get their act together, they can win back the House in 2018 and the Senate and White House in 2020. Trump is making it look like it might be easy.

But I have a warning for Democrats, and indeed for all Americans. For God’s sake, don’t elevate the likes of former CIA directors Michael Hayden and John Brennan and the former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, to the position of “senior statesmen.” They are not the voices of reason, either for the Democrats or for anybody else. They are monsters who have ignored the Constitution, the US code, and international law. They have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. We should shun them, not celebrate them.

Hayden is probably the most public of the three. The former director of both the NSA and the CIA has never seen a camera that he didn’t want to get in front of. He’s a regular on the Sunday morning talk shows, the cable news networks, and even Comedy Central. He sucks up to the right and then sucks up to the left if he thinks it’ll get him a little screen time. But let me tell you something from personal first-hand experience: I am convinced that he’s a danger to the American way of life.

Hayden headed the NSA from 1999 to 2005. It was on his watch that the NSA made the decision to spy on American citizens when he championed the Trailblazer Program. It was Hayden who targeted whistleblowers Thomas Drake, Bill Binney, and Kirk Wiebe. It was Hayden who created a domestic call telephone database to keep a record of every phone call and text message made by every American and to hold it forever. And he’s been utterly unapologetic. Hayden said during his confirmation hearings that intercepting the communications of Americans was “consistent with the Constitution,” even if it meant overriding or ignoring laws forbidding warrantless wiretapping.

Hayden served as CIA director from 2006 to 2009, where he oversaw the agency’s system of secret prisons and the extraordinary rendition program. While there, he steadfastly supported the agency’s torture program, lied to Congress about it, and tried to loosen regulations that would have allowed drone strikes based on the “behavior of ground vehicles.”

And don’t forget that Hayden, along with others relegated to the dustbin of history like former CIA leaders George Tenet, Jose Rodriguez, Mike Morrell, John McLaughlin, and Philip Mudd, all co-authored a “rebuttal” of the Senate Torture Report, saying that torture worked. And it wasn’t really torture. Shameful. (“Won’t somebody please think of the torturer!”)

Like Hayden, John Brennan did incredible damage to our civil liberties during his tenure as Barack Obama’s deputy national security advisor for counterterrorism and as CIA director. It is impossible to calculate the number of people John Brennan killed during his time in government, none of whom had the Constitutional benefit of having been charged with a crime, of having evidence presented against them, or of facing their accusers in a court of law. Brennan, the keeper of the infamous “kill list,” decided who would live and who would die. It was as simple as that. Brennan had no respect for the law and no tolerance for any journalist or citizen who challenged him on it.

Brennan also had no respect for the Congressional oversight committees. He famously ordered his spies to hack into the computer system of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, lied about it, and then when caught, filed a “crimes report” with the Justice Department asking that the Intelligence Committee investigators be arrested. If that isn’t anti-Constitutional authoritarianism, I don’t know what is.

An even more important thing that we should remember about Brennan is that he was not a johnny-come-lately to intelligence. He didn’t just appear in the Obama campaign as a fresh-faced CIA Democrat. He had been the Number 3 at the CIA during the George W. Bush administration. He was up to his neck in the torture program, his denials notwithstanding. He was no liberal.

Brennan is now a fellow at Fordham University, his alma mater, where he is free to propagandize the young people of our country. He’s also a frequent talking head at the Council on Foreign Relations and other groups where the swells meet to think the big thoughts. The rumor in Washington is that he’s on every Democrat’s short list for Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense post-Trump. God help us.

James Clapper is perhaps most famous, or infamous, for looking Senator Ron Wyden in the eye in an open hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee and telling him point blank that the NSA was not, repeat not, spying on American citizens. Lying to Congress is a crime. Spying on Americans is a crime. But Clapper paid no price for his insolence.

When Clapper finally submitted his resignation in 2016, Wyden said, “During Director Clapper’s tenure, senior intelligence officials engaged in a deception spree regarding mass surveillance. Top officials, officials who reported to Director Clapper, repeatedly misled the American people and even lied to them.” That’s Clapper’s legacy. He’s a liar.

That brings us back to the issue of statesmanship. It is possible, and in this case obvious, that you can have a situation where there is no good guy. It’s time for the Democrats to clean up their act. They’re going to be the party of freedom, civil liberties, and human rights or they aren’t. They need to choose. They can still end up on the right side of history. But that’s only if they shun monsters like Mike Hayden, John Brennan, and Jim Clapper and others like them, and if they start paying a little more attention to the Constitution.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act – a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration's torture program.

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+29 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-01-11 16:02
This is excellent advice for democrats. I would add to the list people like Comey and Mueller. They are all criminals and used their offices and power for criminal acts. It is very shortsighted of democrats to latch on to these people just to get back at Trump. As Kiriakou says, Trump will welf-destruct on his own. Democrats should take the high road and focus on people-centered policies. Leave the Gestapo criminals to Trump or anyone who will take them.

I'd say the same thing about democrats teaming up with neo-cons. Obama stacked his foreign policy staff with neo-cons and Hillary has also moved them into her circle.

Democrats need to become the party of democratic socialism. They need to capture the populism of Jeremy Corbyn and others who are looking beyond war, Israel, and neo-liberalism.
+22 # davehaze 2018-01-12 10:11
The prevailing Democratic Party does not want John Kiriakou's advice; they put him in prison! Put him in prison for exposing torture! They love Obama and Clintons Schumer Clapper Hayden Brennan Goldman Sachs etc.

Hey, I would be thrilled if they became an opposition party to the Republicans and represented us but it is not going to happen.
0 # crispy 2018-01-25 19:03
I agree!
+7 # hectormaria 2018-01-12 11:02
Rodion, you always couch your comments to throw us off, but your real agenda (to criticize Democrats and non-Trump supporters) comes out full force in them. I hope Comey, Mueller and Dems continue to call Trump's unconstitutiona l and un-American actions out and make him accountable for them. My question to Trump supporters remains: Is the "White Messiah?" incapable of being a 'false prophet'?
+15 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-01-12 19:47
hector -- I'm really not throwing anyone off. I'm trying to be straight forward. The demo party took a wrong turn in the 1980s with the Democratic Leadership Council, which pledged to make the party more attractive to corporate donors, the military, and the American oligarchs. They wanted to be rid of the old liberal democratic party that was identified with labor unions, peace, civil rights, medicare/social security, and a lot more.

This was a wrong turn. Now the democratic party is the home of the neo-cons and the oligarchs. The republicans have drifted into tea party and Trump lunacy and that is not functional for the neo-cons. So criminals like Hayden, Brennan, Comey, Mueller, Rogers are behind the democrats.

There is little need to criticize Trump. We all know what he is. The real need is to cleanse the demo party of the criminal element and reform it. A reformed, democratic socialist party will beat Trump any day.

Don't you see that in the 80s and earlier, the "liberal" democratic party held both houses of congress and most state governments (ok, there were blue dog demos in the south). Bill Clinton was the first DLC president and he lost control of the house. There have been steady demo losses since then. Obama was the worst. He lost everything.

Now we need to change directions. Attacking Trump is a distraction and a waste of time. It keeps the same people in control of the demo party. We need to attack them.
+9 # banichi 2018-01-13 18:43
Rodion, while I think your analysis is generally accurate, your conclusions seem to be stuck in reforming, or taking over, or whatever, the Democratic party. This is a waste of time. Those in control of it have no intention of giving up the power of the donors who actually control those same politicians. I don't know how you can understand the Third Way political turn of the 1980's DLC and its consequences since, that have given us the situation today, without concluding that there is no possibility of reforming or taking over the Democratic Party. IT left US behind, not the other way around.

As a loyal Democrat for 50 years until the primary of 2016, I supported what I thought was the best possible outcomes - until Bernie Sanders stepped up and his campaign tore the veil off the Party. I don't know why Bernie continues to try to change the dialogue from within, supporting change within a party that is determined not to do so.

I left the Democratic Party when the convention showed how venal and corrupt it had become. It can not be reformed, the heroin of power and money has taken it over completely. The best you will hear from the DLC, DNC, or the Party establishment is the same faux progressive BS that Hillary Clinton tried to pass off when she said that all Sanders supporters would just "Get in line" behind her. Didn't happen, in enough numbers to count. She and the party had poisoned the well and no progressive believes the BS.
+22 # Benign Observer 2018-01-11 22:03
This is such an important warning. I dearly hope the crazed left will heed it. Almost nothing shocks me more than the liberals' embrace of these monsters.

Today the House voted to reauthorize FISA, including section 702, which allows the capture and storage of US citizens' emails, texts, webcam footage etc. The measure would not have passed but for the YEA votes of 26 Democrats, including Pelosi, Wasserman-Schut lz, Schiff and Swallwell.

Please let's vote out every single one of them.
+4 # crispy 2018-01-14 20:12
YES thanks for reminding us as this was not well covered by MSM including NPR. In fact I had to dig DEEP to find of about a REPUBLICAN amendment that would have protected us somewhat for FBI-NSA investigations without approval of a judge.
Mancy Pelosi talked to enough of her fellow democrats that this amendment protecting our liberties was voted down with 55 democrats voting against it. Seriously! A bipartisan amendment which slightly limited the impact of section 702 on our liberties and made it slightly less unconstitutiona l (4th amendment)voted down BECAUSE of democrats. HERE is a link to vote results.
IF your representative voted against the Amash amendment you MUST ask them WHY.
Her is a link to Glen Greenwald article in the Intercept which would be nice if posted by RSN BUT it is NOT.
+3 # PCPrincess 2018-01-14 23:43
Can we stop calling them liberals? They are neither liberal, nor progressive.
+14 # Farafalla 2018-01-12 00:19
Thanks John for this reminder of who is who. I see liberals get so desperate they want Oprah for president.
+14 # harleysch 2018-01-12 00:33
Excellent article. Kirakou is making an extremely important point about the crew involved in "Russiagate." The only names missing are Mueller and Comey. Mueller ran an FBI-directed cover-up of the Saudi role in terrorism, working closely with Brennan, and Comey continued the job.

The involvement of this crew in pushing the "Russia-did-it- Trump-colluded" narrative has nothing to do with alleged hacking, which Bill Binney and the VIPS have disproven. They were opponents of the idea that an incoming President was not part of the "team," that Trump said he would scrap regime change and the geopolitical confrontations that these characters thrived on, and develop a collaborative relationship with Russia.

Hillary would have continued the game. We may never know what Trump might have done differently to improve ties with Russia, since from Day One he was scrambling to avoid being seen as a puppet of Putin.

Unfortunately, many of those who hate Trump have embraced those rogues identified by Kirakou who, in former days, they would have scorned as war mongers and killers.
+11 # banichi 2018-01-12 02:09
Well, the bad guy spies are dangerous, no matter how you look at it. The fact that they have avoided prosecution and jail for their behavior is an indication that the PTB either support them, or fear them, or both, for what they could tell - if they could be forced to testify in an open court. Seems unlikely,doesn' t it?

I doubt that the Democratic party has any intention of really returning to being the party of the People, no matter what faux skins they try to assume. Their behavior in the 2016 primary demonstrated an arrogance, as well as contempt, where honest democracy is d they have neither admitted to their culpability in the election, nor changed their skin - or shown any desire to really do so.

If they really did, they would be courting Bernie Sanders to be their presidential candidate in 2020, but I see nothing in the news or any other sources that indicates they have any intention of doing so. In spite of him being the most liked politician in the country, by all reports including polls. Not going to happen in the Democratic party.
+20 # futhark 2018-01-12 06:10
Thank you John Kiriakou! It is definitely not enough to oppose Trump Republicanism. To really serve the nation requires forming and publishing a positive national agenda on issues of peace, justice, environmental protection, and a widely shared sustainable prosperity. Without such a positive vision, Democrats will inevitably slide back into groveling for campaign money from wealthy donors, to whom they will be bound under these financial obligations to support Trump-like positions, continuing the charade of the vaunted two-party system.

And, as Kiriakou points out, do not appoint to federal law enforcement positions persons who routinely indulge in legal violations about which they subsequently lie to members of Congress with impunity.
+22 # California Neal 2018-01-12 06:41
I'm really pleased to see this article. People like me who follow the news know that it's absurd for Democrats to be lionizing these monsters, as Kiriakou properly calls them. But none of us could have written this thoroughly well-informed article. I'm glad he did & that RSN published it. We can only help it impacts at least progressive Democrats.

My fear right now, which I think progressives generally share, is that the corporate Democrats are going to have too large a role this year, as they did in the previous election. There will be too many timid, boring Democratic candidates who talk an insufficiently progressive, & therefore insufficiently attractive, party line.

We need fresh leadership pledged to make the changes needed for government to serve the interests of Americans in general--middle class, formerly middle class, striving to be middle class, working class, labor movement, artists, unemployed, poor, disabled, etc. All of us, in other words--not just the 1% being served by the GOP & at times by compromised Dems. Progressive values are attractive to most Dems & even some Republicans. Progressive changes are what America needs, & what Dem leaders must espouse & work for.

As a final comment, I am deeply saddened that this fine upstanding man, John Kiriasou, was persecuted by the Obama Administration for exposing Bush's torture program, & imprisoned for 23 months. He was a hero, not a bad guy.
+12 # djnova50 2018-01-12 10:09
John, I saw Jimmy Dore's interview with you. You were great then and you still are. But, the Democrats only care about winning. With few exceptions, they do not care about the voters. People are waking up to that fact. That is probably why the largest group of registered voters identify as Independent.

Why do we need Republicans or Democrats? Both parties serve the same masters. People rail on about Donald Trump and don't stop to think that he is just a puppet.

If both parties would find a way to break free, then perhaps they could get down to actually representing the people instead of the masters.
-3 # sbessho 2018-01-13 09:50
The way to break free is the We the People Amendment. Support it and pressure candidates to support it, too.
0 # crispy 2018-01-15 17:55
Why is this getting negative votes? This is 's amendment that ALL Americans, especially people here should be for AND CALL their representative about!
-18 # Depressionborn 2018-01-12 13:11
RR is nutty? democratic socialism. really?

"Democrats need to become the party of democratic socialism."

Unrest over food shortages spreads through the country SAN CRISTOBAL/BARIN AS, Venezuela, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Hungry mobs ransacked a food collection center, and a supermarket in Venezuela's western Andean state of Merida on Thursday and reportedly even slaughtered cattle grazing in a field as unrest over food shortages spread through the country
+16 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-01-12 19:57
Depression -- Sanders is a "democratic socialist" and he is the most popular politician in the US. Very likely he would have beaten Trump, had the demo primary not been rigged against him.

Democratic socialism is the politics of Europe where standards of living are much higher than in the US, esp. in Northern Europe.

Why would you quote Reuters on Venezuela? Reuters is a London based news agency owned by the Rothschild family. It circulates news useful to the world's oligarchs -- something the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela is trying to do away with. Why not read people who actually report from there?
+8 # tedrey 2018-01-13 04:52
When you factor in that the most powerful government in the world has actively worked on sabotaging Venezuela's economy in every way (including regime change) for decades, and done this *because* Venezuela has sought to institute democratic socialism, starvation in that country points to a different set of villains.
+11 # kyzipster 2018-01-13 09:29
The socialist boogeyman isn't frightening people the way it used to, even Trump complimented socialist Sweden recently.

Of course it was because of their lily white skin and blond hair but Scandinavia has become one the top models for successful socialist policies. All the working poor in the US want is a decent wage and basic health care like those awful commies in Canada and Australia.
+10 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-01-14 07:33
kyz -- yes, good point. The millenial generation does not object to the term in the way baby boomers still do. But just don't call it socialism. Call it something else. Progressivism is OK. The fact is that the US has some very good socialist programs but they have all been woefully neglected since Reagan began shifting all of federal spending to the military. Our socialist programs are as decayed as our bridges and waterways.

You are right -- what all people want is decent wages, universal healthcare, secure pensions (social security), good schools, efficient social infrastructure. We could do all of these things if we did not piss away $2 trillion a year on wasteful military.
+1 # kyzipster 2018-01-15 08:11
It may be too late to abandon 'socialism', the Democratic Socialists have been holding meetings in my town. I think Sanders' embrace of the word has set it in motion. It will take time but I think there's a positive, taking this word back from the right-wing propaganda masters.

Back in the Bill Clinton years, they had managed to turn 'liberal' into a dirty word in the minds of many. That's where the increased use of the word 'progressive' may have come from. Democrats in Congress actually calling themselves 'Reagan Democrats.'
+9 # Depressionborn 2018-01-12 13:28
Best post in a long time. Gov attracts crime families. No solution known.
+14 # randrjwr 2018-01-12 23:17
Quoting Depressionborn:
Best post in a long time. Gov attracts crime families. No solution known.

I can suggest one--get the big money out of politics. Everyone is bought off.
+12 # DianaLeeLtd 2018-01-12 14:53
Thank you John for keeping us in reality! Thank you for assimilating all the facts in one easy to read, understand article that will be easy to share with those being manipulated to follow Pied Pipers.
+7 # elizabethblock 2018-01-12 15:44
James Clapper, March 2013, asked by Sen. Ron Wyden if the NSA collects data on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans. "No, sir." "It does not?" "Not wittingly."
We need a new verb: to clapper.

-- Timothy Garton Ash, "Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World," p. 327
+11 # lfeuille 2018-01-12 19:22
Kiriakou is right about Russiagate, but that is the least of what Trump can be criticized for. He is leading the most corrupt administration in modern history by introducing his private mob style business practices to the government. He is a blatant racist and Nazi sympathizer. He is killing more people in our wars than even Obama. His policies are destroying the environment for at least decades and possibly making the earth unlivable for humans with his denial. He is killing people outright with denial of healthcare and attempted denial of public assistance. He is loading the courts with people who think like he does who will be plaging us for decades. And he is an international embarrassment. Too many people take the CIA overstepped on the Russia thing as justification to let all his crimes slide. Do people really want to let his calling African nations and Haiti "shithole countries" stand as a reflection of the attitudes of the people of the US? It is absolutely necessary to call him out or the rest of the world will believe we are all like him.
+7 # tedrey 2018-01-13 12:55
I agree with everything you say here, Rodion. Still, you would get more traction if you also made it clear that Trump and his set are not acceptable leaders either. The "better of two evils" mantra doesn't work in either direction.

Having said that, I repeat that I agree with all you have said here.
+7 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-01-14 07:40
ted - thanks. Yes, I believe that Trump is not an acceptable leader. In fact, he is a horrible president. But I also know why he IS president. The reasons are very complex and require complex thinking. The Demo party right now does not want that kind of thinking because it involves the sort of analysis of the Demo party that was done in the Democratic Party Autopsy. Rather they want knee-jerk hatred of Trump. The knee-jerk, however, allows the people Kiriakou names and others like Comey and Meuller to become heroes of Democrats. That's just too dangerous for me. Trump is horrible, but Comey, Clapper, Brennan, Rogers, Mueller -- all hatchet men of the Deep State -- are much worse.

Trump is a protest candidate and a transitional figure. He smashed the old Bush/Rove controlled republican party. It is too soon to see what the party will be after Trump. the Bush/Rove republicans hate his as much as the Clinton democrats do, but they don't know what to do about him. Trump has unleashed a big pool of voters they can't control. American politics would be going through this transition with or without Trump. It is time. The Demo party has not yet faced its changes. They are still coming.
+1 # crispy 2018-01-14 20:45
Exerpt from Glen Greenwald article:
Despite opposition from GOP House leadership and the Trump White House, Amash was able to secure the commitment of dozens of House Republicans to support his amendments to limit the ability of Trump’s FBI to spy on Americans without warrants. The key provision of his amendment would have required that the FBI first obtain a warrant before being permitted to search and read through the communications of Americans collected by the National Security Agency.
To secure enactment of these safeguards, Amash needed support from a majority of House Democrats. That meant that House Democrats held the power in their hands to decide whether Trump ... would be subjected to serious limits and safeguards on how his FBI could spy on the conversations of American citizens. became quickly apparent that leading Democrats intended to side with Trump and against those within their own party who favored imposing safeguards on the Trump administration’ s ability to engage in domestic surveillance.
+1 # crispy 2018-01-14 21:10
cont... The most bizarre aspect of this spectacle was that the Democrats who most aggressively defended Trump’s version of the surveillance bill — the Democrats most eager to preserve Trump’s spying powers as virtually limitless — were the very same Democratic House members who have become media stars this year by flamboyantly denouncing Trump as a treasonous, lawless despot in front of every television camera they could find.
Leading the charge against reforms of the FBI’s domestic spying powers was Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee
Standing with Schiff in opposing these safeguards was his fellow California Democrat Eric Swalwell. Swalwell echoed Schiff in demanding that no warrant safeguards were needed on the spying power of Trump’s FBI.
+1 # dquandle 2018-01-15 02:55
Just like the Republicans, the "Democrats" have always been happiest surrounded by murderous, blood-encrusted , traitorous, democracy-subve rting thugs. That is not going to change. What needs to change is unqualified "progressive" support for such "Democrats".
+2 # lezlie 2018-01-15 13:05
The only way to defeat the criminal duopoly is with a new party of the people. Reforming the Democrats is a fool's errand. They are basically Republican-lite . That is not a bug, it's a feature. They like it that way.

Check out
+1 # crispy 2018-01-15 18:04
How do you finance a "people's party" under the current conditions? We need to amend the Constitution!

Elections should be 100% publicly funded. Any money from individuals, corporations or unions should be capped to a reasonable amount like perhaps $5/candidate/te rm or simply to ZERO.
Foreign contributions should be made illegal and penalized by life in prison for those who take them.

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