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President McMaster Purges Donald Trump’s People From The NSC

Hire people who think like Obama. Get Obama’s policies.

Last week retired Col. Derek Harvey, the top Near East intelligence analyst on President Trump’s National Security Council, was fired by National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

Harvey, a career Army officer, served his country bravely in the field and played a crucial role in the successful McMaster Trumpsurge in Iraq. Prior to working for the NSC, Harvey was the first director of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence at U.S. Central Command. He also served at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Harvey was "a big advocate for Flynn" when Flynn was at the DIA, a think tank expert told AL-Monitor. Flynn, who served as DIA chief from 2012 to 2014, was reportedly forced out a year early for clashing with civilian intelligence chiefs, including the director of national intelligence.

After he was forced out of the DIA Flynn spoke of his frustration with what he described as the Obama administration's inattention to what he saw as the growing instability in Iraq and the rise of IS, and alleged that intelligence reports reaching the White House during his tenure as DIA chief were, in his view, downplaying the growing threat.

(Flynn’s book “The Field of Fight” is must read for anyone wishing to understand the war Islam has declared on us.)

Harvey joined the DIA as a civilian analyst in 2006 after serving 26 years as an army intelligence officer specializing in the Middle East. After working with him in Iraq, General David Petraeus, then-US commander in Afghanistan, later enlisted Harvey "to create his own intelligence agency inside [US Central Command]," Bob Woodward reported in "Obama's Wars." Based out of Centcom headquarters in Tampa, Florida, and working 15-hour days, Harvey concluded "the [Afghanistan] war could be won, but the US government would have to make monumental long-term commitments for years that might be unpalatable with voters," Woodward wrote.

According to another expert, Harvey "was the military intelligence officer on the ground who shrewdly figured out the nature of the Iraqi insurgency when everyone was grappling with it in the early days of the Iraq war," said Hassan Hassan, who interviewed Harvey for his book, co-authored with Michael Weiss, "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror."

Harvey, then working for Combined Joint Task Force 7, the US headquarters in Iraq, "found that the Sunni insurgency was a combination of Saddam loyalists, Iraqi Sunnis who were disaffected by the post-war de-Baathification policies and the disbanding of the Iraqi military that rendered thousands jobless overnight,” Hassan told Al-Monitor by email, drawing from his book. "With those, there were former Baathists who were radicalized during the 1990s as a result of the Faith Campaign that Saddam Hussain inaugurated in the wake of the First Gulf War."

"The conclusion was that it was the Sunni Arab identity, and the search for lost power and prestige, that motivated the Sunni insurgency," Hassan said of Harvey's early insights into the motivations for the Iraqi revolt.

Watching US gains made against the insurgency in Iraq lost after Obama withdrew US forces in 2011 was a deeply frustrating experience for many in the Centcom alumni community, around Tampa, where Harvey was based as a consultant and professor at the University of South Florida after retiring from the DIA, according to a think tank expert who briefed Harvey on his research.

And many in the Centcom community saw the Obama NSC and the Obama intelligence community as the source of the problem.

"I read the Presidential Daily Briefs and the minutes of the National Security Council's deputies meetings, and it was very, very clear to me that reporting on the terrorism threat that came up the intelligence community's chain of command was very different from what was being presented at the top levels of government," General Flynn told journalist James Kittfield, in a story published by Politico on Oct. 16, "How Mike Flynn became America’s angriest general."

Flynn said, "That intelligence made it very clear that Al-Qaeda and its affiliates were not on the run, but were in fact rapidly expanding. The number of terrorist attacks were on the rise, and Iraq was starting to burn again. So that was Obama's big lie — that the enemy was on the run, and we were beating these guys."

According to associates, Harvey was sympathetic to Flynn's views.

Harvey "was considered to be brilliant, a bit pugnacious … he kind of has a personality profile similar to General Flynn's,” the expert said. "Very sharp. When they are convinced that they know the truth of something, they go at it very hard. … That sometimes created problems and burnt bridges he had at DIA."

Harvey also shared Flynn's dim view of Iran based on his experience witnessing Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-backed militias' killing fellow US and allied forces in Iraq with improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

"All of these guys come out of that military experience, in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the Iranians were not on our side," said former CIA and NSC official Ken Pollack. "The Iranians were actively supporting the people who were killing us. And so, what they have seen, is Iran waging warfare against us with relative impunity."

This view of Iran clashes with McMaster’s view that Iran is complying with the terms of Obama’s nuclear deal and that President Trump should continue to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal’s Joint Plan of Action.

A senior White House aide told Politico that "McMaster wants his own guy" in the position, so Harvey’s sin was that he was brought in by former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, and that he understands the undeclared war between the United States and Iran, not that he was ineffective or that his intelligence assessments were wrong.

The problem here is obvious: The NSC isn’t H.R. McMaster's to mold to his views; it is President Trump’s and it should have Trump’s people, not McMaster's people, staffing it.

Derek Harvey’s departure is just the latest in a series of McMaster purges that will place “his people” on the NSC staff and return the NSC and the intelligence community to the Obama model where, as Mike Flynn put it, reporting on the terrorism threat that came up the intelligence community's chain of command was very different from what was being presented at the top levels of government.

George Rasley is editor of Richard Viguerie's A veteran of over 300 political campaigns, he served on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle, as Director of Policy and Communication for Congressman Adam Putnam (FL-12) then Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and as spokesman for Rep. Mac Thornberry now-Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

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