What You Need to Know About the New National Security Advisor

November 18th 2016

Mike Rothschild

On Friday, President-elect Donald Trump continued to fill out his administration by selecting retired Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn as his national security advisor.

The appointment of the outspoken and controversial Flynn to a position that doesn't require Congressional approval signals President Trump's foreign policy is likely to prioritize anti-terrorism actions, at the likely expense of Muslim Americans' sense of privacy and safety in the United States.

Flynn has extensive experience in the field of military intelligence. He was the highest ranking Army intelligence officer in the Joint Special Operations Command, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan. President Obama tapped him to serve as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012, but a combative relationship with superior officers and the Obama administration ended with him leaving in 2014, before his term was completed.

Officers serving under Flynn claimed he had a chaotic and ineffective management style, often relying on dubious pieces of information his subordinates called "Flynn Facts."

He then started a consulting group, and served as an informal national security advisor to a number of Republican candidates before formally joining the Trump team in February 2016.

Despite being a registered Democrat, Flynn gave a Republican National Convention speech filled with dubious assertions, including accusations that President Obama was hiding information about ISIS and Osama bin Laden.

Trump has also stoke fear of Islam through his Twitter account and in his public statements.

In February, around the time he joined the Trump campaign, Flynn tweeted that "fear of Muslims is RATIONAL [sic]", and during a Texas speaking event in August, he referred to Islam as a "political ideology" and a cancer. In July, he responded to the terrorist attacks in Nice by tweeting "In next 24 hours, I dare Arab & Persian world 'leaders' to step up to the plate and declare their Islamic ideology sick and must B healed."

A CNN story also found that Flynn regularly retweeted white nationalist and anti-Semitic accounts, shared and responded to news stories found to be fake, and disseminated conspiracy theories about both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

He's also been criticized for his lobbying firm having links to the Turkish government, a relationship that would theoretically violate Donald Trump's pledge to permanently ban anyone who's ever lobbied for foreign governments from working in the White House.

Flynn has been sharply rebuked by former military leaders, including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, who told the Washington Post that "for retired senior officers to take leading and vocal roles as clearly partisan figures is a violation of the ethos and professionalism of apolitical military service."

Without the need for Congressional approval, Flynn will be able to immediately working with the Trump administration to turn his anti-Islamic views into policy.