As convention gets underway, Trump’s favorite general leaves waterboarding on the table

Michael Isikoff
·Chief Investigative Correspondent

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — a top foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump — said today, “We must maintain all options,” including a return to waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques when the U.S. government captures terror suspects.

“At the end of the day, this is about U.S. selfish self-interest,” Flynn said in an interview with Yahoo News. “And if the situation that we are faced with is for the potential for a dirty nuke to go off in New York City … we must maintain all options.”

Flynn, who has been widely discussed as a likely candidate to be the director of national intelligence or another top national security post if Trump is elected, spoke to Yahoo News on the eve of a primetime speech he is scheduled to deliver on the opening night of the Republican National Convention.

His main message, he said in the interview, is that the United States needs to wage a vigorous, new, multifront war against “radical Islam” that includes stigmatizing the jihadi enemy as “sick.” He noted that at one point 80 percent of the laptops captured from jihadi fighters had pornography on them.

“It just tells me that these guys are sick — they’re sick beyond belief, and they also have a vile perception of their own belief system,” he said. “But it’s deep seated. It’s not 10,000 or 20,000 or 30,000 guys. We’re talking potentially millions of people that are influenced by this sickness. And it has to be excised from Islam.”

Flynn acknowledged he was fired in 2014 as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency by President Obama’s director of national intelligence — he says because he pushed back against Obama administration claims that “core al-Qaida” had been degraded. (Other accounts say Flynn clashed with another top Pentagon official over his plans to expand the DIA’s use of human spies — a move that potentially would have put his agency in conflict with the CIA.)

Over the past year, he has authored a new book, “The Field of Fight,” about how to win the war against radical Islam (co-written by Michael Ledeen) and has emerged as a trusted confidant of Trump’s. He says the presumptive GOP nominee first reached out to him last February, and he has been providing Trump with advice “on everything under the sun … I’ve had conversations and I’ve offered him papers and other things on everything from cyber, transnational organized crime, homeland security, China, Russia, military readiness, so you name it.”

But some of Flynn’s extracurricular activities have proven controversial, especially a trip he took to Moscow last December to participate in a celebration of the 10th anniversary of RT, the TV network that serves as a propaganda arm of the Russian government. Critics have charged that Flynn’s mere appearance at the event — which included a talk and a dinner, where he sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin — was itself a propaganda coup for Moscow.

Flynn appeared to acknowledge for the first time that he was compensated for his appearance, saying, “You’ll have to ask my speakers’ bureau” for the details. But he said he went to Moscow to deliver a message to the Russians. “I wanted to tell Russia to get Iran the hell out of the four proxy wars that they’re involved in in the Middle East.”


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