National Security

Trump’s security adviser inappropriately handed out sensitive info

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President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for White House national security adviser “inappropriately shared” classified material about CIA operations in Afghanistan, a secret U.S. military investigation determined in 2010.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s sharing “was not done knowingly” and “there was no actual or potential damage to national security as a result,” the investigation concluded according to Army records obtained by The Washington Post.

But the outcome of the investigation, which Flynn had previously dismissed, raises new questions about a figure who has been criticized by Trump’s opponents for offensive comments about Islam and a propensity to boost conspiracy theories.

{mosads}According to a four-page summary of the investigation obtained by the Post under the Freedom of Information Act, a Navy intelligence specialist complained that Flynn, who was then serving as head of U.S. military intelligence in Afghanistan, had wrongly shared information with “various foreign military officers and/or officials in Afghanistan.”

“[I]nappropriate sharing of United States classified information with various foreign military officers and/or officials occurred as a result of [Flynn’s] guidance and actions,” the investigation concluded.

Former U.S. officials speaking with the Post said that the material included classified slides about CIA operations in Afghanistan.

The documents do not detail which country or countries Flynn allegedly gave the material to.

However, Flynn said in August that the case concerned British and Australian forces, both allies.

“The investigation on me was for sharing intelligence with the Brits and Australians in combat, and I’m proud of that one,” he told the Post in an August interview. “That was substantiated because actually I did it. But I did it with the right permissions when you dig into the investigation.

“I’m proud of that one. Accuse me of sharing intelligence in combat with our closest allies, please.”

There was an investigation, he added, “because that’s what the government does.”

The files claim that his sharing of information was done “without proper authorization.”

Flynn has also been accused of disclosing sensitive U.S. intelligence powers to the government of Pakistan, but there appears not to have been a formal investigation into the incident. Instead, he was reportedly verbally scolded by James Clapper, then the military’s chief intelligence official. Clapper is currently the outgoing director of national intelligence. 

Flynn has separately described to the New Yorker how he would avoid “insane” rules set by the CIA and other intelligence agencies in Iraq and at the Pentagon.

The investigation was conducted by U.S. Central Command, which at the time was led by Marine Gen. James Mattis. Trump has announced that he intends to nominate Mattis for secretary of Defense.

The investigation delayed a promotion for Flynn, but its outcome ultimately did not result in any punishment.

Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, called the story a “lie” on Twitter and appeared to cast doubts about the integrity of the investigation, which he placed in quotation marks. He also called the Washington Post a “FAKE news” organization and referred to it as “the Compost.”

Trump’s transition team unceremoniously cut ties with the younger Flynn earlier this month, after he refused to publicly back down from a conspiracy theory involving a Washington pizzeria. Earlier that day, an armed North Carolina man inspired by the false story went to the pizzeria and fired one or more shots, though no one was injured.  

The new revelations are ironic for Trump’s transition team.

During the presidential campaign, Trump castigated his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for allegations that her private email server jeopardized the security of sensitive material. A yearlong FBI investigation failed to yield evidence that her arrangement amounted to criminal mishandling of classified materials, though Director James Comey claimed that she was “extremely careless.”

Flynn was a frequent critic of Clinton’s behavior.

“If I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth — a tenth — of what she did, I would be in jail today,” he said at the Republican National Convention this summer. 

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

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