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DECEMBER 23 , 2016


Trump’s conflicts of interest could yield conflict


President-elect Donald Trump after a meeting Wednesday at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla.

Is ‘unpredictable’ Trump adopting Richard Nixon’s ‘madman theory’? Donald Trump appears to have embraced, with gusto, Richard JAMES Nixon’s “madman HOHMANN theory” of foreign policy. Trump thinks he can use his reputation for unpredictability and lack of respect for long-standing international norms to unnerve and then intimidate U.S. adversaries into making concessions that they would not otherwise make. The Chinese government’s decision Tuesday to return the naval drone that it had seized in the South China Sea, despite howls of protest about Trump’s braggadocio, might be the first vindication of this approach. A generation ago, Nixon wanted to convince the Soviets and their North Vietnamese clients that he was a hot-head willing to use nuclear weapons. The goal then was to scare the communists into negotiating. In some ways, this was the nub of the secret plan he talked so much about during the 1968 campaign — just as Trump insisted that he had a secret plan to get rid of the Islamic State during the 2016 race. “I call it the Madman Theory,” the then-president explained to H.R. Haldeman, his chief of staff, as they walked along a foggy beach one day. “I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We’ll just slip the word to them that, ‘For God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about Communism. We can’t restrain him when he’s angry — and he has his hand on the nuclear button!’ And Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.” Elites in Washington and across the world say Trump is crazy, but the president-elect has demonstrated repeatedly that he can be crazy like a fox. He knew exactly what he was doing when he called for a Muslim ban, for instance, or picked fights with people on Twitter to distract the media from much bigger problems. We’ve already learned

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that Trump’s phone call with the leader of Taiwan was not some spontaneous faux pas but a carefully planned recalibration of U.S. policy. For Trump’s stratagem to work, foreign leaders must continue to believe that he’s erratic and prone to irrational overreaction. “We must as a nation be more unpredictable,” Trump often said on the campaign trail. “We have to be unpredictable!” This is a dangerous gambit in the current geopolitical risk environment. Nixon played the game in a bipolar world, with two superpowers and nothing like the Islamic State to worry about. The world that Trump must lead is multi-polar. Asymmetric warfare is now a top-tier concern. Several events Monday — including the assassination of

“We must as a nation be more unpredictable. . . . We have to be unpredictable!” Donald Trump on campaign trail

the Russian ambassador in Turkey, the truck attack at a Christmas market in Berlin, the mosque shooting in Zurich, the on-again, off-again evacuation in Aleppo, Syria, and riots in Venezuela — offered timely reminders of the degree to which our interconnected world is a tinderbox, perennially on the verge of bursting into flames. In Europe, they’re already calling it Black Monday. What alarms so many foreignpolicy gray beards is that Trump is a flamethrower, not a firefighter, by his very nature. Since Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the RussoJapanese war, every U.S. president has prided himself on at least trying to defuse global tensions, not heighten them. As

Billy Joel sang: “We didn’t start the fire. No, we didn’t light it, but we tried to fight it.” The international order, which the United States sits atop, depends to some degree on stability, certainty and predictability. Allies need to know they can count on us, and the United States’ enemies need to know that the security guarantee for countries from Estonia to South Korea is real. Trump seems either unable or unwilling to pivot into using diplomatic speak. That should not come as a big surprise, and it’s not necessarily always a bad thing. A big part of his appeal during the campaign was his refusal to be “politically correct.” Why would he change now? Trump’s decision to adopt the “madman theory” highlights his longtime fixation with Nixon and underscores his pre-existing Nixonian tendencies. Henry A. Kissinger, Nixon’s national security adviser and secretary of state, has spoken to Trump several times before and since the election. They’ve had long meetings to talk about the world. Even as a nonagenarian, the German-born Kissinger has an uncanny ability to cast a spell on powerful Republican men — just as he did with Nelson Rockefeller a half century ago, then Nixon and finally Gerald Ford. On Monday, Kissinger sat with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who studiously took notes and then tweeted a picture of their meeting. Pence, 57, may not be old enough to remember when Kissinger, 93, was one of the biggest bogeymen there was on the right. Ronald Reagan’s 1976 primary challenge against Ford was fueled by conservative antipathy toward Kissinger, who was perceived as having Rasputin-like influence over the accidental president. Ford literally stopped using the word “detente” because Reagan was hammering him for being too soft on Russia during that campaign. How times change. . . .


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potential conflicts for Trump and his family. Yet, his businesses could present conflicts for federal employees, too. For example, if Trump doesn’t completely divest his business operations and one of them violated federal regulations, would agency staffers hesitate to impose enforcement actions that could harm the boss’s financial interests? If the regulations were not enforced, would workers fear being retaliated against for disclosing that dereliction of duty? In the BIA’s case, the “failure to defend its employee and, instead, to cave to a retaliatory demand is a PPP (prohibited personnel practice),” OSC’s 17-page report said. “The chilling effect is clear: BIA employees are silenced from disclosing violations of law if they anticipate that such disclosures will be unpalatable to a Tribe and that BIA will simply bend to the Tribe’s will.” Lerner told The Washington Post that “federal managers need to abide by merit system principles, even when there is outside pressure to retaliate. It’s important for the federal workforce to know about this case to help deter future acts of retaliation. It’s vital that federal managers protect employees who anger outside interests when they uncover potential wrongdoing as a part of their job.” Whatever implications stem from this case will be played out in the context of the disturbing news that the Trump transition team asked the Energy Department for the names of individual employees and contractors who attended conferences on climate change, a global phenomenon that Trump called a hoax. That inquiry worried workers concerned that there could be reprisals from incoming Trump officials for work done on policies he opposes. The OSC enforcement action in the Southern Ute case “sends a strong signal that agencies must

not retaliate against whistleblowers to mollify key stakeholders,” said Jason Zuckerman, a Washington lawyer specializing in whistleblower retaliation. “The troubling questionnaire that the Trump transition team sent to DOE to identify scientists performing research on global warming suggests that regulated industries might view the new administration as an opportunity to punish federal workers for enforcing regulations or force federal workers to abandon investigations or enforcement actions for political reasons.” In a letter to its members, the Southern Ute Tribal Council said the OSC misrepresented it “as actively trying to skirt environmental regulations, then seeking retaliation for a BIA employee ‘whistleblower’ who had refused to let environmental mandates slide. This is simply not the case.” The Tribal Council said it wanted the employee replaced because of incompetence, disrespect and “disregard for the Tribe’s sovereignty.” The BIA ignored most of my questions, saying only that it appreciated OSC’s review and intends to comply with its requests for the worker’s reinstatement and compensation. Federal employees who enforce regulations “may be understandably reluctant to put objections, stipulations and cautions in writing for fear that it may cause them to be put on White House hit lists,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Enforcing rules that conflict with Trump administration policies, under “a chief executive who is so thinskinned that he regularly gets into Twitter-spats with actors about comedy skits,” he added, “may require a profile in courage.”  Excerpted from washingtonpost. com/powerpost

House panel alleges that Snowden is in contact with Russian intelligence BY


A newly declassified House Intelligence Committee report states that Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who passed secrets to journalists, “has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services” — but says the evidence is classified. Snowden, 33, has been in Moscow since June 2013, when he left the country to avoid prosecution for sharing classified information about NSA and other intelligenceagency programs. His material, provided to outlets including The Washington Post, led to some significant changes to intelligence gathering, such as a ban on the government’s mass collection of Americans’ phone metadata. It also sparked controversy over whether some of the revelations damaged national security. The 37-page report, completed in September and issued in declassified form Thursday with sub-

stantial redactions, does not provide any evidence for the assertion. Instead it says the “cited material [is] classified.” Snowden has said he never gave information to Russian intelligence. He told Yahoo anchor Katie Couric in an interview this month that Russians did try to get him to talk: “And I said, ‘Look, guys, I don’t have any information. I don’t have any documents. I’m not going to cooperate.’” He said that “the government has left me alone, for the most part.” Ben Wizner, Snowden’s attorney and a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, said that if the committee “had any evidence to support that false accusation, they would show it.” The report also cites a NPR report that quotes a Russian parliament member who, the intelligence committee said, asserted that “Snowden did share intelligence” with the government. Snowden told Couric that the NPR report involved a “mistranslation” in which the individual

was “speculating” that Russia’s spy services would approach him. “It didn’t happen,” he said. “I’ve never shared information with Russia’s intelligence services.” In a June YouTube interview, former NSA deputy director Chris Inglis said he doubted that Snowden was “in the employ of the Chinese or the Russians.” Said Inglis, “I don’t see any evidence that would indicate that, and even if they were careful in terms of practicing denial and deception, I think there would be certain telltales” that would show that Snowden was giving up intelligence. The committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), said the report gives the public “a fuller account of Edward Snowden’s crimes and the reckless disregard he has shown for U.S. national security. . . . It will take a long time to mitigate the damage he caused, and I look forward to the day when he returns to the United States to face justice.”

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Will a barely noticed report from a little federal agency about whistleblower Federal retaliation have Insider larger implications after JOE the Trump era DAVIDSON begins next month? That question can’t be answered now, but there is concern among whistleblower advocates who find both comfort and warning signals in an Office of Special Counsel (OSC) case. The OSC investigates reprisals against federal whistleblowers. There are far too many acts of revenge, but “the unique aspect of this case is the third-party element,” said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner. Agency retributions against employees generally don’t involve retaliation on behalf of an outside party. That’s behind what the OSC says the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) did to a staffer after he complained that leases between energy firms and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Colorado appeared to violate BIA regulations and environmental laws. “The employee’s disclosures angered a Native American tribe, and the tribe put pressure on the highest levels of BIA and the Interior Department to reassign the employee from the BIA’s office on the tribe’s reservation,” an OSC statement released last week said. The BIA fired the employee in 2013. He was reinstated with back wages and compensatory payments in an agreement that the OSC negotiated. In normal times, this case might not make this column. But Donald Trump’s electoral college victory makes these times abnormal. With the presidentelect’s extensive business and financial holdings, this case could have larger implications. There has been much attention to

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The washington post december 23 2016  
The washington post december 23 2016