An Islamophobic "master assassin" once described by former Secretary of State Colin Powell as a "right-wing nutty" (and worse) has been appointed by President-elect Donald Trump to the post of national security adviser, placing Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn in one of the administration's most powerful roles in shaping military and foreign policy.
Flynn formerly ran the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) before being ousted in 2014 for reportedly clashing with other intelligence offices and, according to Powell, being "abusive with staff" and "work[ing] against policy."
However, Flynn himself wrote an op-ed in the New York Post this summer, titled "The military fired me for calling our enemies radical jihadis." The former DIA chief detailed his view of the "global war"—which he says "runs from Pyongyang, North Korea, to Havana, Cuba, and Caracas, Venezuela," and throughout the Middle East—and his aggressive plan for combating "the vicious enemy we [are] facing."
Throughout the piece, he denounced the Muslim world as "an epic failure, desperately needing economic, cultural, and educational reform of the sort that has led to the superiority of the West."
On Thursday, the New York Times likened Flynn's frequent espousal of Islamophobic ideas to the views of the president-elect.
"Mr. Trump and General Flynn both see themselves as brash outsiders who hustled their way to the big time," the Times reported. "They both post on Twitter often about their own successes, and they have both at times crossed the line into outright Islamophobia."
What's more, the Times added: "They also both exhibit a loose relationship with facts: General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States (it is not). His dubious assertions are so common that when he ran the Defense Intelligence Agency, subordinates came up with a name for the phenomenon: They called them 'Flynn facts.'"
In addition to his outlandish and bigoted behavior, Flynn's relationship with the autocratic regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also drawn scrutiny in light of his appointment.
Though not a lobbyist himself, his firm, Flynn Intel Group, is registered as a lobbying organization whose client list includes Turkish businessman Kamil Ekim Alptekin, who told The Intercept on Thursday "that one of his companies, Inovo BV, paid Flynn's company 'tens of thousands of dollars' for analysis on world affairs."
Notably, Flynn penned an op-ed on election day calling for renewed U.S. support for the "strongman president," as the Intercept put it, as well as extradition of the U.S.-based cleric and Erdogan's political rival, Fethullah Gülen.
Though Flynn has said he would "sever" his relationship with his company should he "return to government service," critics point out that he's already sat in on classified national security briefings with Trump while working for foreign clients. "This is profoundly troubling and should be disqualifying," said former ethics adviser to President Barack Obama Norm Eisen.
Compounded by the suite of other controversial appointments made by Donald Trump, Flynn's ascension to power is troubling for many, particularly in light of the fact that the post requires no confirmation hearing.
Flynn does not see a distinction between Islam and radical Islam. This is quite a worldview to bring into the NSC. https://t.co/sIGzWbktSg
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) November 18, 2016
Colin Powell says Flynn is a "fucking lunatic," and having worked with Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bolton, Colin Powell knows fucking lunatics.
— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) November 18, 2016
When the former head of the Ku Klux Klan thinks all your presidential appointments are great https://t.co/686AxKE1tP
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) November 18, 2016
The nominations of Sessions & Flynn, with Bannon, confirm this is the worst case. It's no different than if David Duke were setting policy.
— It can happen here. (@anildash) November 18, 2016
I know 6 people who've worked directly for Flynn. 1 loves him, other 5 use terms like "raving asshole," "maniac" and "shitstain with stars."
— John Schindler (@20committee) November 18, 2016