“American withdrawal would only benefit Russia.”
While the world was focused on President Donald Trump’s overnight blindsiding of the Pentagon and U.S. allies, announcing he is pulling troops out of Syria so Turkey can crush Kurdish forces that have helped the U.S. fight ISIS, the Trump administration was quietly laying plans to pull out of a key and critical compact, the Open Skies Treaty.
First proposed in 1992, since 2002 the Open Skies Treaty has allowed the now 34 signatory nations to fly over each others’ territory for the purpose of monitoring and recording military deployments and movements.
In the real world, the Open Skies Treaty allows the most powerful nations on earth to monitor Russian military movements.
And President Trump wants to end that.
U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel on Monday sent Trump’s Acting National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, a letter demanding he “ensure that the United States does not unwisely and rashly withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty.”
Chairman Engel also called the possible withdrawal “reckless,” and noted “American withdrawal would only benefit Russia.”
Chairman Engel’s letter was followed by this tweet:
Observation flights under the Treaty have generated additional info regarding Russian military action in Ukraine & provided a check on further Russian aggression. @NATO allies have stressed the importance of the Open Skies Treaty for their efforts to monitor Russia’s military.
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) October 7, 2019
Experts are perplexed and outraged.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia:
We are now pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty? Really? Please tell me this can’t be true. https://t.co/2KfZoYA8ep
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) October 7, 2019
Investigative journalist and expert on Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe says “Trump is acting like a kamikaze pilot destroying America in any way he can and in a hurry”:
Trump is considering pulling out of the open skies treaty. Definitely a birthday weekend for Putin
At this point trump is acting like a kamikaze pilot destroying America in any way he can and in a hurry. At home and especially abroad. We will pay for a long time from his damage pic.twitter.com/92ts8tzDbm
— Olga Lautman (@olgaNYC1211) October 7, 2019
Dr. Michael Carpenter’s résumé says all you need to know:
“Dr. Carpenter previously served in the Pentagon as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense with responsibility for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia, the Balkans, and Conventional Arms Control. He also served in the White House as a foreign policy advisor to Vice President Joe Biden as well as on the National Security Council as Director for Russia. Previously, Dr. Carpenter was a career Foreign Service Officer with the State Department.”
He says pulling out is a bad idea:
I’ve been very critical of Russia’s cheating on the Open Skies Treaty and I do believe we need a serious discussion of its pros and cons. But a precipitous unilateral withdrawal is the wrong way to address those concerns and will damage the unity of the NATO alliance.
— Michael Carpenter (@mikercarpenter) October 7, 2019
Russian Media Analyst:
The Trump administration is pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, which allows the United States and our allies and partners in Europe to monitor Russian military deployments. Withdrawal risks dividing the transatlantic alliance. #Russia https://t.co/Zqst365U4J pic.twitter.com/UmbPR7cuRO
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) October 7, 2019
Image via Wikimedia
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Trump to Meet With Ukrainian President Amid Bombshell Whistleblower Allegations
President Donald Trump will meet with the foreign leader who may have been named in a whistleblower complaint filed against the American president by an as-yet unknown U.S. intelligence official. Trump will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in New York, according to multiple sources, including AFP.
Both presidents will be in New York City next week to participate in the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
“In New York, the head of state will hold a series of bilateral meetings with foreign leaders, in particular with President of the United States Donald Trump,” Ukrinform, the Ukrainian state news agency reports.
Based on reports from multiple news outlets, especially The Washington Post, the whistleblower complaint is believed to allege Trump strong-armed Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate and dig up dirt on his top political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, who is now running for president. Trump withheld $250 million in military aid, which some suggest may have been his bargaining chip.
The complaint also alleges Trump took multiple actions that were troubling, including making a disturbing “promise.” What that promise was is currently unknown.
President Trump’s personal attorney admitted, in a crazed rant on CNN Thursday night, that he asked Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son.
If true, experts say, Trump’s actions could be both criminal and impeachable.
The intelligence community’s inspector general characterized the whistleblower complaint as both “credible” and “urgent.”
The Trump White House has, in direct contraction to law, experts believe, refused to give Congress the whistleblower’s complaint.
‘Very Grave Situation’: Rep. Jackie Speier Hints at ‘Violation of Law’ as She Leaves Whistleblower Hearing
California Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier blasted the Trump administration on Thursday after it refused to turn over information about a whistleblower.
In a five-hour closed-door hearing on Thursday, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community reportedly refused to hand over information about a whistleblower, who allegedly felt a duty to report on President Donald Trump’s connections with a foreign leader.
“We’ve got a very grave situation on our hands,” Speier was quoted as saying. “He is answering some questions not on the specific subject matter but it’s deeply troubling.”
Speier suggested that the Trump administration has committed a “violation of the law.”
Rep @JackieSpeier, emerging from closed hearing, says on record what NYT reported earlier: that the IG has been unwilling to discuss the substance of the complaint
Said the situation was “deeply troubling” https://t.co/zTq0NJZELJ
— Nicholas Fandos (@npfandos) September 19, 2019
“He is answering some questions not on the specific subject matter but it’s deeply troubling,” Rep Jackie Speier just said as leaving House Intel IC IG briefing. She followed up that the “violation of the law” is what’s troubling as whistleblower complaint wasnt sent to Congress
— Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) September 19, 2019
Dem Rep. Quigley says IC IG has not concerned basic details of whistleblower complaint. Says it is – his belief – that DOJ and President Trump were part of covering this up
— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) September 19, 2019
Here Are 3 Frightening Trump Phone-Call Scenarios That Would Set Off Whistleblower Alarms: Terrorism Expert
Former FBI agent Asha Rangappa and former Department of Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem on Thursday explained on CNN that there is no way that a reported “promise” that President Donald Trump made to a foreign leader would have been deemed a credible threat by Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson unless it was a deadly serious matter.
When asked to break down the process for flagging a presidential interaction with a foreign official, Rangappa pointed out that the bar for whistle blowers in this instance is very high because the president has a great deal of flexibility to shape foreign policy.
“When the complaint concerns the president’s interactions with another head of state or foreign leader, the bar for it to pass, to be an urgent concern under the definition that’s laid out in the statute, is very high,” she said. “And this is because the president has incredibly wide latitude in conducting foreign affairs and in negotiating with world leaders… this can’t simply be, you know, bad policy or unwise policy or some kind of objection in that way.”
Kayyem then chimed in to outline the three possible things Trump could have done to warrant such a response from the intelligence community.
“The first, of course, is that President Trump did something for his own personal gain,” she said. “The second is that he was willing to cede control or direction of an intelligence operation to another country. And then the third, of course, is some disclosure of sources and methods of a covert action. Almost nothing else is going to rise to the level of grave concern.”
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