On Sunday The New York Times published a list of potential Trump administration cabinet picks. All of the candidates are establishment insiders and neocons left over from the Bush administration.
Over the weekend the Trump transition teamed announced Reince Priebus as White House Chief of Staff. Priebus is about as establishment as it gets. The chairman of the Republican National Committee previously served as RNC general counsel and is the former chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, where he brought nationally known figures such as Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, and Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin, to national prominence. Priebus is responsible for taming Wisconsin’s tea party and merging it with the Republican party.
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“The pick signals that Trump may look to build bridges in Washington and keep continuity with longtime Republican agendas, as opposed to make waves from the beginning,” reports CNN.
The "longtime Republican agendas” include the never-ending war on manufactured terror, ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, and a police surveillance state at home.
The Trump team headed up by vice president Mike Pence also announced Stephen Bannon as Chief Strategist and Senior Advisor. Bannon is executive chairman of the alt-right news outlet Breitbart News. He heads up the group Government Accountability with Peter Schweizer, a former William J. Casey Research Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Casey was Reagan’s director at the CIA. He played in key role in arming the Afghan mujahideen that would later become al-Qaeda and the Taliban. He was also a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal.
After earning a master's degree in national security studies from Georgetown University, Bannon served as an assistant in the Pentagon. He worked for Goldman Sachs. He used his experience in the entertainment industry to produce political propaganda, including the films The Face of Evil, Border War, Battle for America, and the Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated.
There are a number of people under consideration for secretary of state. Most notable on the list is John Bolton, George Bush’s combative recess appointed ambassador to the United Nations. He is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the neocon think tank responsible for drumming up support for Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq. He is also involved with the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Council for National Policy, and the Gatestone Institute, an organization at the forefront of anti-Muslim propaganda. He is a former board member of the Project for the New American Century, another neocon organization that pushed for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
In the 1980s prior to his recess ambassador appointment, Bolton held a series of posts at USAID before joining a team of Federalist Society lawyers under Reagan Attorney General Edwin Meese. Eva Golinger notes USAID is the principal entity that promotes the economic and strategic interests of the US across the globe as part of counterinsurgency operations.
In March, 2105 Bolton penned an op-ed for The New York Times calling for bombing Iran. “The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran,” he wrote.
Other candidates for secretary of state include Bob Corker, Newt Gingrich, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Stanley A. McChrystal, the former senior military commander in Afghanistan. Khalilzad is a staunch neocon. He served as ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations during the Bush administration. He is now a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a congressionally funded organization that does what the CIA did in the 1950s through the 1990s—overthrow governments. NED was established to create a “soft side” image for CIA fronts. It works with USAID.
Trump is looking at Stephen J. Hadley to possibly become defense secretary. Hadley was Bush’s national security adviser. He was at the center of the neocon coterie that dominated foreign policy and played an instrumental role in pushing a series of bogus claims about Iraq and Saddam Hussein. He said Mohamed Atta met with Iraqi intelligence agent Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani in the Czech Republic several months before the 9/11 attack, a claim later debunked as war propaganda. In 2009 he was elected to sit in the board of the mega-military contractor Raytheon.
Trump is also looking at Kelly Ayotte, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Arizona senator Jon Kyl, and Alabama senator Jeff Sessions for secretary of defense.
Sessions may also head up the Department of Homeland Security. He is interested in keeping the wars going and voted twice against redeploying troops out of Iraq. He also voted against investigating awards to contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan (military contractors have defrauded the US government for more than a trillion dollars).
Rep. Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is also being considered. McCaul has sponsored a number of war on terror related bills, including H.R. 5471, the Countering Terrorist Radicalization Act. The legislation further integrates the federal government in state and local law enforcement operations and creates a new Counterterrorism Advisory Board in the federal government. He also supported H.R. 159, Condemning the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the 1988 massacre of political prisoners and calling for justice for the victims. The bill supports the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian Marxist political–militant organization. MEK was considered a terrorist organization by the European Union until 2009, and by Canada and the United States until 2012. The Islamo-Stalinist-terrorist cult group is supported by the neocons, including Max Boot and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an Israeli lobbying group.
Jose Rodriguez, a primary architect of Bush’s illegal torture program, is being considered to head up the CIA. “Rodriguez, the former director of the National Clandestine Service, helped developed the CIA black sites, secret prisons operated in foreign countries where interrogators used a range of torture tactics, including the use of ‘waterboarding,’ the simulated drowning technique once used by the Khmer Rouge and Nazi agents to glean information from detainees,” writes Lee Fang for The Intercept. Rodriguez also played a key role in the destruction of CIA video tapes documenting the torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Rodriguez was CIA station chief in Panama, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, and ultimately director of the Latin American Division. The track record of the CIA in Latin America is well-known.
Trump targeted the Iran nuclear deal framework during his campaign. His advisors have also hinted President Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital and move the US embassy there.
“It was a campaign promise and there is every intention to keep it,” Trump’s Mideast adviser David Friedman told the Jerusalem Post. “We are going to see a very different relationship between America and Israel in a positive way.” The Israeli right is using Trump’s promise to recognize the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which mandated the embassy be moved by May 31, 1999, as cover to expand illegal settlements in Palestinian occupied territory.
The selection of government insiders and neocons discredits Trump’s claim he is anti-establishment and opposed to US intervention in the Middle East. His choices for secretary of state, secretary of defense, and homeland security demonstrate the Trump administration will more or less pick up where Bush and Obama left off.
Kurt Nimmo, Newsbud Producer & Analyst, is a writer, editor, producer and researcher based in New Mexico. His research centers on international geopolitics and national politics in the United States. He is the former lead editor and writer for Infowars and now edits Another Day in The Empire. His most recent books are Donald Trump and the War on Islam and Another Day in the Empire: The Reign of George W. Bush and the Total War Neocons.