Sunday, September 11, 2016

Morell and Vickers: An open letter to Donald Trump

By Michael Morell and Mike Vickers September 10 at 12:36 PM, WashPost

Michael Morell was acting director and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2010 to 2013. Mike Vickers was the undersecretary of defense for intelligence from 2011 to 2015. Both writers have served in Democratic and Republican administrations and endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

Mr. Trump, with all due respect to you as the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, you cannot credibly serve as commander in chief if you embrace Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader has repeatedly shown himself to be an adversary of the United States. Putin, during his long tenure, has repeatedly pursued policies that undermine U.S. interests and those of our allies and partners. He has steadily but systematically moved Russia from a fledgling democratic state to an authoritarian one. He is the last foreign leader you should be praising.

Abroad, Putin has interfered in the internal affairs of a host of nations on his periphery — through information operations, manipulation of elections and direct support, including providing weapons, to insurgent groups. Most significant, in the past decade, Putin has invaded two neighbors, Georgia and Ukraine — including annexing Crimea, the first major land grab in Europe since World War II. Putin’s goal in doing this is to keep the nations of the former Soviet Union from linking their futures to that of Europe and the West. Do you back these actions?

Putin’s support of insurgents in Eastern Ukraine resulted in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which killed 298 innocent civilians. Under Putin’s direction, Russian special forces provided the insurgents with the air-defense system that brought down the plane; Russian special forces trained them on how to use it. As intelligence officers who oversaw covert action, we can tell you that when a country provides overt or covert support to proxies, that nation is responsible for what those proxies do with that support. That makes Putin responsible for downing the airliner. Do you hold him responsible?

(More here.)

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