Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Our Benedict Arnold Presidency

by Nomad

When we examine the most infamous traitors of American history, we inevitably turn to Benedict Arnold? His crime was treason but specifically, what were the details of that crime?
For this discussion, a few historical details are important.

Intentional Negligence as a Betrayal

According to his 1835 biography, in the summer of 1780, Benedict Arnold, as commander of the military base of West Point, made secret and treasonous arrangements with the British. For over a year, he had clandestinely been providing the British with troop locations and strengths, as well as the locations of supply depots, all the while negotiating over compensation.

In 1779, he was brought up on court-martial charges-unrelated to his actual crimes- and was acquitted. In addition to his financial problems, his public disgrace set the psychological stage for his most daring act of treachery.
Using back-channel communications with the British, Arnold offered detailed plans of West Point- a strategic fort at that time.  There was, however, something more he was willing to do for the nation's enemies. For a substantial fee, he promised to neglect the most basic duty of his command.  
The post at West Point was to be weakened by such a disposition of the troops, as would leave but a small force for its defence... The general principle, which served as a basis of the whole maneuver, was, that the troops should be so scattered, and divided into such small detachments, that they could not act in force, and would be obliged to surrender without any effectual resistance.
In this way, Arnold was to allow the capture of West Point, which would have proven to be a devastating blow to the defense of the new nation. 
Fortunately, the plot was exposed before it was carried out. Arnold, with General Washington's forces hard on his heels, managed an escape down the Hudson River to where the British sloop-of-warVulture awaited.

Arnold's crime- apart from espionage and selling of military secrets - was a matter of the purposeful neglect of the duty to defend the nation.  Prior to this, Arnold had been a military hero. In an abrupt volte-face, the hero sold out his country to the enemy for a price.
And it is for this, and this alone, he will be remembered.

Defending the Nation, or Himself?

Neıl Steınberg of Chicago's Sun-Times, in a recent op-ed piece, has drawn an interesting parallel to our current situation with President Trump.
Even though the mainstream media is largely consumed with the question of Trump collusion with the Russians in the 2016 election. There is, Steinberg writes, a second aspect which is being overlooked: the neglect of America’s defense against foreign interference.

Despite overwhelming evidence that Russian operatives attempted to subvert the outcome of the election, the president has taken no steps to defend the nation from further attacks. Trump has repeatedly dismissed conclusive proof of a coordinated attack. He has called the Russian plot a “hoax” and “fake news” for over a year.
Instead of taking the necessary step to ensure a repetition in the mid-term elections, Trump has, as Steinberg puts it, "leapt to defend, not the country, but himself."

It is hard not to see the willful neglect of national security. This week, NSA Director Mike Rogers told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee that has not received any specific direction from the Trump administration to disrupt Russian cyber attacks. Rogers would need the president to give him the authority to take action and, despite the obvious threat, none has been given.
The Russian cyberwar operation appears to be an ongoing one, with trolls and bots seizing every opportunity to sow discord and division. 

According to the group Alliance for Securing Democracy, pro-Kremlin Twitter accounts have been very busy since last year. They seek to stir up as much as animosity in the American mind as possible. In the past, this included topics such as NFL players refusing to stand during the national anthem and Al Franken's alleged sexual misconduct. Race issues have also been a hot topic for trolls and bots. Their basic mission is to add fuel to the flames as much as possible. 

Much more worrisome were the reports that Putin's troll army has made special counsel Robert Mueller its latest target. The mission is clear: to discredit the investigation that could spell the end of the Trump presidency. Wired reported:
On the website Hamilton68, the Alliance tracks some 600 Twitter accounts it says are associated with a Russia-linked influence network. According to newly released figures, in the month of December, by far the most popular articles shared by the trolls aimed to undermine Mueller and the Department of Justice's investigation into Russian interference.
Later in the article, we see:
[I]t's difficult to tell where the ever-circulating feedback loop between the President, the press, and the trolls begins.
One thing that isn't difficult to see: Putin troll armies are attempting to protect president Trump. On the other side, we witness Trump's refusal to implement sanctions mandated by Congress or to take the necessary steps against Russian cyber-attacks assists that operation.
(And let's not forget the moment in his campaign when he called upon Russian hackers- which denied actually existed- to hack his opponent's email accounts.)

Trump, in this way, may or may not have been a specially-selected Manchurian candidate. That might just be beside the point. 

At the present time, through his neglect, Trump has become very much of a Russian agent, doing the bidding of the Russian president, a man he literally trusts more than the US intelligence services.  
We cannot trust the president, not because of what he may or may not have done in secret in the past, but because of what he is clearly doing or, rather, not doing, right now: defending our country against foreign enemies. We need to thwart a Russian attack on our system of government, and the president isn’t helping.
Trump doesn't feel the need to explain why he hasn't issued one executive order implement a security check across the country on voting polls throughout the nation prior to the upcoming elections later this year. Instead, he has created the perfect stage for a second attempt by the Russians to sway the results.

The perfidy of the most infamous traitor in US history, Benedict Arnold, pales by comparison to that.