Which Washington Crimes Matter Most?
Michael Flynn participated in mass murder and destruction in Afghanistan and Iraq, advocated for torture, and manufactured false cases for war against Iran. He and anyone who appointed him to office and kept him there should be removed from and disqualified for public service. (Though I still appreciate his blurting out the obvious regarding the counterproductive results of drone murders.)
Many would say that prosecuting Al Capone for tax fraud was a good move if he couldn’t be prosecuted for murder. But what if Al Capone had been funding an orphanage on the side, and the state had prosecuted him for that? Or what if the state hadn’t prosecuted him, but a rival gang had taken him out? Are all take-downs of major criminals good ones? Do they all deter the right activities by up-and-coming criminals?
Michael Flynn was not removed by public demand, by representative action in Congress, by public impeachment proceedings, or by criminal prosecution (though that may follow). He was removed by an unaccountable gang of spies and killers, and for the offense of seeking friendlier relations with the world’s other major nuclear-armed government.
Now, in a certain sense, he was taken down for other related offenses, just as Bill Clinton was not technically impeached for sex. Flynn lied. He may have committed perjury. He may have obstructed justice. He supposedly made himself susceptible to blackmail, although the logic of Russia wishing to reveal its own secret and punish those who help it seems weak. Flynn also dealt with a foreign government on behalf of an election campaign.
Some of these are very serious charges. If you removed all liars from the U.S. government, you’d suddenly have room in their empty offices to house all the homeless, but even the selective punishment of lying has a certain merit. And electoral campaign dealings with foreign governments has a nasty history including Nixon’s sabotaging of peace in Vietnam, Reagan’s sabotaging of the release of U.S. hostages in Iran, etc.
But what did Flynn supposedly talk about with the Russian ambassador, before or after the election? Nobody accuses him of trying to keep a war going or people locked up. He’s accused of talking about removing sanctions, possibly including sanctions used to punish Russia for things it did not do. The notion that Russia was the aggressor in Ukraine or invaded Ukraine and conquered Crimea on the model of the U.S. invasion of Baghdad is simply false. The idea that Russia hacked Democratic Party emails and gave them to WikiLeaks is a claim for which we have not been shown credible, non-ludicrous evidence. Despite somebody leaking it every time Donald Trump blows his nose, nobody has yet leaked actual evidence of this supposed Russian crime.
Then there’s what members of the U.S. public tell you that it’s obvious Flynn simply must also have talked about. Supposedly he must have arranged for Russia to steal the U.S. election for Trump, either by informing the U.S. public of the crimes and abuses of the Democratic Party in its members own words, which supposedly swayed huge numbers of voters — though there’s no evidence Russia did this or that it had this impact, and a better informed electorate is a stronger democracy, not one that has been “attacked” — or by somehow directly altering vote counts or manipulating our minds or something. If anything along these lines were proven it would be serious indeed, although it would be one of a great many fatal flaws in the U.S. electoral system alongside legalized bribery, corporate media, the electoral college, gerrymandering, unverifiable counting, open intimidation, purging of rolls, etc.
And then, finally, there’s what journalists and members of the public will tell you Flynn’s offense consists of, once it’s been established that Russia is evil. He was friendly with Russia. His colleagues in the White House love Russia. They’ve visited Russia. They’ve met with other U.S. business tycoons in Russia. They’re planning business deals with Russians. And so on. Now, I’m opposed to corrupt business deals, if they are corrupt, anywhere. And if Russian fossil fuels, like Canadian and U.S. fossil fuels, don’t stay in the ground, we’re all going to die. But the U.S. media treats U.S. business deals in other countries as ordinary respectable plundering. Any association with anything Russia has become a sign of high treason.
Coincidentally or not, that is exactly what weapons profiteers say they want. Is what they want good for us? Is there a legitimate reason to be taking their route toward punishing people in power, when other routes stand wide open with plush red carpets unrolled from massive golden doorways?
(David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee)