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Trumps picks national security team

US President-elect Donald Trump has announced three members of his national security team.

Published: November 21, 2016, 10:32 am

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    He has picked Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general, Representative Mike Pompeo for CIA director, and retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

    Contentious hearings are possible in the Senate for Sessions and Pompeo, but Flynn’s appointment is not subject to confirmation.

    The first senator to endorse the president elect, Alabama’s Sessions is known for his tough stance on immigration enforcement. Sessions served as US attorney for the Southern District of Alabama and Alabama attorney general before his election to the US Senate.

    Democrats say Sessions, 69, is discredited because he made “racially charged remarks” while serving as US attorney in Alabama.

    The Kansas congressman Pompeo is a relatively new face. He has heavily criticized the landmark Iran nuclear deal, exposed Hillary Clinton’s role in the attack on a US diplomatic outpost in Libya and her use of a private email server, and believes Edward Snowden is a traitor.

    Pompeo actually served on the House Select Benghazi Committee: “Officials at the State Department, including Secretary Clinton, learned almost in real time that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack,” Pompeo said at the time. Hillary and Obama then pretended that the killing of four US official had nothing to do with her decision not to intervene to stop the attack.

    CNN has complained that the retired Army lieutenant general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Mike Flynn who served as the president-elect’s top military adviser during the campaign, has “ties with the alt-right” because he retweeted some remarks by alt-righters.

    In August, Flynn retweeted a Breitbart article by alt-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, who was banned from Twitter earlier this year, titled “Hillary Clinton Is About To Embarass(sic) Herself On The Alt-Right.”

    After retiring in 2014, Flynn, a Democrat, accused the Obama administration of being soft on terrorism. Flynn is a member of ACT For America and on the board of advisers of the “largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America”, according to the SPLC with 280 000 members across the country.

    In a June 2016 post for ACT For America’s website, Flynn wrote that “Radical Islam has declared war on America”. He criticized the Obama Administration for not using the term “radical Islam”.

    The annoucement on 18 November, did not include names to fill the key posts of US defense secretary and secretary of state. Trump met with several high-profile figures in Bedminster, close to the Trump National Golf Club, over the weekend working on his transition to office.

    James Mattis may have the inside track to run the Pentagon after Trump gushed about the retired U.S. Marine Corps general for a second day.

    As he interviewed potential cabinet members at his New Jersey golf club for a second day on Sunday, Trump indicated that he may have found a defense chief in James “Mad Dog” Mattis, praising the retired military commander as a “true general’s general”.

    The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, from Wisconsin and Washington insider, is already poised to be one of Trump’s most important gatekeepers, controlling access to the president and providing counsel.

    Trump’s most controversial choice so far has been Stephen Bannon. The Breitbart editor joined Trump’s campaign as CEO in August after serving as the head of a politically incorrect news outlet that is one of Trump’s biggest backers.

    Meanwhile in Peru, outgoing president Barack Obama told an audience on his last world tour on Sunday night that America has often “fallen short of our ideals” of democracy, rule of law, a free press, an independent judiciary, free markets, and a social welfare system to help the disadvantaged.

    This is not the first time the president has criticized his own country while traveling abroad. On Saturday he accused America of sexist banking rules, claiming women were required to have men co-sign loan applications up until 1996.

    karin@praag.org

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