In light of the latest media Trump outrage spin cycle about a WH staffer’s email on preparations for Trump’s visit to troops in Japan, I want to write a post on why I am not part of the John McCain hero worship club, even though I do respect his military service to our country. It only feels right to warn you, this post also is about spin, sorry, it is, .
My negative opinion of John McCain deals with McCain the Washington politician, who wore his war hero mantle to deflect any criticism. I don’t believe in any public servant being placed on a pedestal, beyond reproach. Every public servant must be accountable and subject to criticism. I don’t want to be in the Trump Defense Camp or the McCain Deification Camp
At present, my understanding is the WSJ wrote about a leaked email, which they have shared a copy publicly – minus the pertinent information, like who sent it, who received it, and who leaked it to them. The email detailed a WH staffer requesting the Pentagon remove the USS McCain, stationed in Japan from Trump’s line of vision, when he visited the troops in Japan. Trump claims he had no knowledge of the email, but he made an excuse for the staffer, along the lines that the staffer meant well. The Pentagon’s responses indicated the request was not agreed to or carried out, but they opened an investigation.
Frankly, I am sick to death of these holier-than-thou McCain spin cycles – even his funeral was deliberately turned into a media Trump outrage spin cycle
JK, a frequent commenter on my blog since 2013, and I have been chatting back and forth in recent days in the comment section on my April blog post, A rambling blog post. We’ve tossed a lot of links and ideas back and forth on the endless Trump-Russia Collusion mess and while I don’t want to repeat all our comments, in another post I’ll paste some pieces of those comments, but first I want to explain how JK found my blog in 2013 and how McCain news was part of how this came about.
I started this blog in December 2012, writing mostly about American politics and foreign policy matters, especially the Obama administration policies and spin narratives I disagreed with or actions I found corrupt. In September 2013, the hot topic was whether the US should jump into the Syrian civil war and aid the Syrian rebel forces fighting to topple the Assad regime.
Often things in the news catch my attention, because the spin rams not only new, made-up phrases (often meaning the exact opposite of what the words mean) into the American lexicon, but also new faces. In 2013, Elizabeth O’Bagy a young woman, whom I had never heard of, even though I follow American politics closely, became a household name. She was on cable news, she was being quoted by top US officials, she was being pushed forward by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) as their trusted Syrian expert and she was part of a group, which escorted John McCain on a surprise “fact-finding” trip to Syria in the Spring of 2013.
Taking a step back to McCain’s surprise trip to Syria in the Spring of 2013, from news reports, McCain relied on a Syrian resistance group, Syrian Emergency Task Force, to arrange and guide him on that trip. A young woman, Elizabeth O’Bagy, was on that trip and also Evan McMullin. After that trip, photos emerged, I think British press was where I first saw them, of McCain in Syria posing with people these reports claimed were ISIS fighters. McCain vehemently denied that claim. He was there with this Syrian Emergency Task Force though and that’s what bothers me. Who were these people he went on this trip with, who vetted them???
By the fall of 2013, and the relentless “arm the Syrian moderate” media spin drumbeat, I was disturbed by how American foreign policy was driven by orchestrated spin campaigns and I was disturbed that so many powerful Washington politicians cluelessly are led by the spin and “experts” touted by some think tanks.
As I saw John McCain and John Kerry citing O’Bagy as the Syrian expert and the WSJ ran an op-ed she wrote, while O’Bagy was making the cable TV rounds, I wondered, who on earth is this young woman and how did she become the de facto Syria expert, whom McCain and Kerry are trusting? What about our own intelligence agencies and military intelligence VETTED intel? Why are they relying on this young woman, instead of our government intel products??? This all sounds so ironic in light of the cries about Trump not listening to our intel agencies, lol, but there you have it – at the highest levels of the Obama administration and in the Senate Armed Services Committee, they were relying on Elizabeth O’Bagy.
McCain and Kerry were trusting some woman pushed by the ISW and the ISW obviously hadn’t even done basic vetting on her… but there she was being touted as the trusted Syrian expert at the highest levels of our government. Don’t take this as excusing Trump’s decision-making process where he doesn’t listen to vetted US intelligence, because Trump says he relies on his gut. From what I can tell though, he is easily manipulated and listens to whatever FOX pundits are selling…
What in the hell is wrong with all of these people in Washington???
I did a few minutes of googling and realized that Dr. O’Bagy worked for the ISW as their Syria expert, but… she was also the political director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force. I did not believe it was wise for the US State Department to be relying on a person who was the political director of a Syrian resistance advocacy group. My blog is a backwoods spot on the internet, so I decided to write my concerns and questions about O’Bagy on a popular blog’s comment section. Other reporters started looking into Dr. O’Bagy too. Well, she wasn’t a Dr. is the first fact that hit me. NO ONE VETTED HER – not the ISW, who was promoting her as a Syrian expert, not John Kerry, not John McCain, NO ONE.
JK and some other people came to my blog after I posted my comment about O’Bagy on another popular blog.
Some right-wing news sites online ran a lot of other information about O’Bagy and to this day, I still haven’t reconciled who on earth her connections inside Syria or the region were. One report mentioned she used an alias and was the captain of a women’s soccer team in Egypt, another report claimed she signed an affidavit vouching for an accused American terrorist and so it went.
What I do know is that the ISW fired O’Bagy for lying on her resumé and less than a month later, John McCain hired her to work on his staff as a legislative assistant. I wondered if she would get a security clearance and how on earth she would pass a background check after lying about her doctorate degree. Even more than that, I wondered about John McCain’s judgment and integrity, where he would leap in to hire someone who had just been fired for lying on her resumé.
A lot of sensitive information passes through the office of the Senate Armed Services Chairman. I also wondered about those photos of McCain that circulated from his fact-finding Syria trip and wondered if he had been set up by this SETF group in those photos, even though he declared they were faked. It was all very bizarre.
This strikes me a lot like House Dems having the Awan brothers hired handling their IT stuff in Congress and Hillary having Huma Abedin, with her Muslim Brotherhood connected family as her closest aide and according to FBI Notes, the one Clinton aide said Abedin managed the SCIF in the Clintons home… She was Hillary’s close aide in the State Dept. She was working for the State Dept and a Clinton-Foundation connected company at the same time during part of Hillary’s State Dept tenure and then she had tens of thousands of State Dept and Hillary emails saved on her laptop… She even coordinated the Clinton server upgrade when Hillary became Sec. of State, but she told the FBI she learned about the server in 2015, when the news broke about the server…
Back to McCain, sorry for venting about Hillary corruption again. I never bought into the “Syrian Moderate” spin, because the Syrian rebels were Sunni resistance groups, many filled with jihadists and even more concerning, was even the more “moderate” resistance groups displayed a willingness to align with jihadist groups, as needed. The effort that emerged to arm the “Syrian Moderate” forces was a debacle. Media ran fawning stories selling the “Syrian Moderate” myth and the Obama administration and plenty of Republicans, especially John McCain, were all in on this arming “Syrian Moderates” idea, which the media spin pushed constantly, with stories like this Time story,The Frontman vs. al Qaeda: Meet Jamal Maarouf, the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies.
Obama refused to commit US troops, but what emerged was an Obama policy to arm “vetted” Syrian moderate rebel groups. The US military “vetted”, trained and armed Maarouf and his group with TOW anti-tank missiles and immediately upon returning to the battle in Syria, Maarouf made a deal with ISIS and declared a truce...
In a McCain ring-led public sideshow Senate hearing, McCain thundered on, berating the US military over failing to arm “vetted” Syrian Moderate rebels at a fast enough rate. McCain staged this sideshow hearing to berate the US military??? He worked to create a media spin cycle making the US military look inept. The truth was these Syrian rebel groups weren’t trustworthy and even the so-called “moderate” ones were willing to work with jihadists, when it suited their purposes. At least the US military was trying to do due diligence to their mission of “vetting” supposed Syrian moderate rebel groups. I have less confidence in the CIA’s vetting of Syrian rebel groups. I also have zero patience with people who cite an annointed “expert” knows this person as “vetting”. However, a McCain sideshow hearing berating a US general and a full-throated media spin cycle trashing the American military’s ineptitude followed, with plenty of Washington pols jumping in to attack the US military.
All of this was driven by a media-fueled SPIN effort.
Let’s move to the Trump/McCain feud and bizarre SPIN outrage cycles. Trump has made many outrageous comments about McCain. McCain in life, and even in death, seems to manage to become the center of media Trump outrage spin cycles.
In 2016, there was McCain on a trip being approached and fed info on the Steele dossier. McCain’s friend flew to England, to meet personally with Steele and get a copy of the dossier. The friend hand-carried that dossier to McCain and McCain personally delivered it to James Comey, in a private meeting. No one to this day has verified that Steele dossier and I am not even sure what efforts the FBI, our intel agencies or the Mueller team went to to verify and corroborate the Steele dossier. It looks to me like top Obama officials, (just like with the O’Bagy situation) relied on the Steele dossier based on Christopher Steele and John McCain being recruited as a dossier courier by some Brit:
“The Republican senator was attending an annual security conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia shortly after the presidential election in November 2016 when retired a British diplomat approached him.
According to McCain, he didn’t recall ever having a previous conversation with Sir Andrew Wood, but may have met him before in passing. Chris Brose, a staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and David Kramer, a former assistant secretary of state with Russian expertise, joined McCain and Wood in a room off the main conference hall.
After discussing Russian election interference for a few minutes, Wood explained why he’d approached McCain in the first place.
“He told me he knew a former MI6 officer by the name of Christopher Steele, who had been commissioned to investigate connections between the Trump campaign and Russian agents as well as potentially compromising information about the President-elect that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin allegedly possessed,” McCain wrote.”
My gut instinct was that McCain was either compromised and a willing conduit, for what strikes me, as malignant foreign actors creating mischief or he was easily duped from years of being part of the inside Washington, ” it’s all a matter of who knows who” mentality, where being connected to somebody important is the ticket to entry. Something stinks with McCain’s trip to Syria, then those photos splashed across international media alleging he was posed with ISIS fighters and then McCain being roped into the Steele dossier debacle. McCain bought into O’Bagy’s reliability, so did John Kerry, same with Christopher Steele, without any careful vetting. Even basic vetting would have shown she did not possess a doctorate from Georgetown.
This latest McCain controversy centers on an email someone leaked to the media. I wonder who leaked it most of all and why??? Any White House discussion with the Pentagon about POTUS travel plans abroad would strike me as a sensitive, probably classified communication.
Sitting back and watching McCain being at the center of so many media Trump Outrage spin storms, I am disturbed that perhaps there might be some malignant hostile foreign fingers in this effort. Then again, I’ve wondered for years how deeply our media, across the political spectrum, is infiltrated with hostile foreign influence operators looking to fuel controversy, make America look like a banana republic and fuel partisan divides. With so many Americans, who are connected to Washington, willing to leap to be lobbyists for foreign entities, even hostile foreign ones, there are assuredly plenty of American politicos willing to put big bucks over American interests. We’re not likely to ever get the answer to this hostile foreign influence question,because so much foreign money pours in to American politicians, lobbyists, think tanks, etc.
Even in death McCain still manages to become the center of very divisive media spin cycles, that are directed at fueling divides between Trump and the US military. Finding out who leaked that email and why seems like it should be at the center of the Pentagon investigation. These McCain vs Trump media spin attacks might be driven by more than just domestic partisans.
Yes, Trump’s conduct often deserves heaps of condemnation, but the bigger picture is these spin efforts might be meant to destroy Trump’s credibility as CINC and undercut the US military image abroad. There are massive media spin efforts to fuel these McCain vs. Trump’s outrage spin cycles and they not only attack Trump, they now include efforts to make the US military look bad . I suspect there’s a hostile effort (whether American leftists who hate the US military or hostile foreign actors, don’t know), but troop images that can be used to fuel more Trump Outrage spin too got played up in the media Trump Outrage spin too. The media effort this trip was a photo of described as sailors wearing MAGA-inpired patches. On Trump’s Christmas trip to visit troops in Iraq, the media hyped Trump signing MAGA soldiers’ hats.
This McCain vs. Trump outrage spin cycle falls right on the heels of Trump being manipulated by FOX News coverage hyping war criminals cases and urging Trump to pardon war criminals. How on earth that morphed into urging Trump to pardon war criminals on Memorial Day, boggles my mind and should be investigated by our national security people – it’s bizarre as hell and all driven by media and media Trump outrage spin cycles.
Even American cable news media networks are at war discrediting each other, with Fox attacking mainstream media coverage of Trump and mainstream media attacking FOX coverage of Trump – this constant pitting them against each other – leaves Americans totally divided and living in completely separate news bubbles. Trump lives in the FOX News bubble, but he watches and appears to long to be cheered by CNN and MSNBC, where his old friends reside. He frequently seethes about their betrayal of him…
How on earth ordinary citizens are supposed to sift through this 24/7 barrage of media-driven scorched earth spin disinformation and pile-on incitement effort, I don’t know. It’s getting harder and harder to keep track of details and facts in news stories with so much spin crap being flung in every direction.
All I know is I don’t want the US military being used as a political football by Trump, by Democrats, by the media and most especially by hostile foreign entities.