…If you criticize Trump you are an enemy…sounds like a Hitler to me…

…If you criticize Trump you are an enemy…sounds like a Hitler to me…

After week of withering criticism, Trump goes full-onautocrat with ‘enemies list’

 

Kerry Eleveld  ………Daily Kos Staff…………Monday July 23, 2018 · 6:37 PM PDT

Anyone who wasn’t already afraid for our country, should be now. After demonizing America’s free press as "the enemy of the people," casting doubt on our nation’s independent judiciary system, and undermining our country’s national security agencies, Donald Trump is now naming names of the people he wants to silence: former CIA director John Brennan, former FBI director James Comey,  former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, and former George W. Bush CIA and National Security Agency director Gen. Michael Hayden.

Those are all the former security officials from whom Trump is threatening to pull security clearances. On the one hand, it’s comical because the White House never bothered to verify that several of them no longer have clearances anyway, including Comey, McCabe, and Hayden.

On the other hand, it’s terrifying. A week after Trump ignited a firestorm by siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rejection of U.S. intelligence concluding that Russia attacked the 2016 election, Trump is now effectively singling out private U.S. citizens for punishment as enemies of the state. Most of those people had unique access to the most critical intelligence emerging in real time on Russian interference during 2016; most of them served in Barack Obama’s administration, and most of them have become high-profile and outspoken Trump critics. They are particularly dangerous to Trump because they are in position to know a great deal about what occurred in 2016 and even during the early part of Trump’s presidency regarding conspiracy, collusion, and obstruction.

However, they are no longer public servants and none of them have revealed classified information. So Trump’s threat represents nothing short of a blatant attempt to strip them of the very credentials that make them most potent when they exercise their First Amendment freedoms.

"This is a very dangerous day for American democracy," former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace Monday in her “enemies list” segment. "We don’t strip security clearances for political reasons from members of the opposition party who have served all of their careers, all of their lives, in defense of the country."

Former FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi called it "the next troubling step on this downward spiral toward weaponizing and politicizing intelligence for political purposes." Figliuzzi explained that many former national security officials keep their credentials for about a year after leaving their post specifically so they can assist current intelligence officials by providing background information as situations arise. Pulling the credentials of anyone who continues to have them weakens national security.

Once again, Figliuzzi noted, Trump is putting his "personal interests over the national interests."

But perhaps more troubling is this: Once Trump sets this precedent, where does it stop? Why wouldn’t he go after anyone whom he considers disloyal or who embarrasses him in any way? The White House was reportedly furiouswith current Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats after he laughed off Trump’s White House invitation to Putin as "special" upon first being informed of it. Coats was later forced to clarify that his initial reaction was "in no way” meant as a criticism of Trump.

Coats, of course, is bound by the fact that he serves the country at the pleasure of the president and must keep Trump happy. And although the immediate practical effects of this latest threat will likely do little to muffle Trump’s critics in the short term, tagging private citizens as threats precisely because they dare speak truth to power is the work of an autocrat. And if Trump successfully neutralizes those with more knowledge and power than the rest of us, it will only be the starting point of his assault on our First Amendment freedoms.

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