2016-12-22 / Front Page

Flynn's Family Defends Claims

By Olga Enger


“We want people at home to understand what they are hearing in the news is a distortion to the truth about Michael. So much of it is nonsense,” said Joe Flynn, the younger brother of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (left). The Flynns grew up on Tuckerman Avenue in Middletown. (Photo courtesy of Flynn family) “We want people at home to understand what they are hearing in the news is a distortion to the truth about Michael. So much of it is nonsense,” said Joe Flynn, the younger brother of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (left). The Flynns grew up on Tuckerman Avenue in Middletown. (Photo courtesy of Flynn family) Middletown native Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was last month appointed to National Security Adviser by President-elect Donald Trump, has recently found himself in the national spotlight amid a flood of negative news reports.

“We want people at home to understand what they are hearing in the news is a distortion to the truth about Michael. So much of it is nonsense,” said his younger brother Joe Flynn in a conversation with Newport This Week. “My brother has been getting some one-sided, hit pieces in the media, especially coming from The Washington Post. The left is trying to say my brother is unfit for the job, which is absurd.”

A 2010 military investigation of Flynn’s alleged unauthorized sharing of classified information with foreign officials made headlines after The Washington Post published a Dec. 14 article, “Trump’s national security adviser shared secrets without permission, files show.” They also published the four-page document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The investigation itself remains classified.

“Let’s put this in context” said the younger Flynn, who maintains a close relationship with his brother. “There were two incidents where he gave a little more intelligence than he was authorized under certain protocols. But he gave it to allies, in order to fight the enemy.”

Although the report concluded there was “some inappropriate sharing of information,” the investigators concluded it “was not done knowingly” and there “was no actual or potential damage to national security.”

There was no action taken against then-Maj. Gen. Flynn, according to the document. In fact, the report applauded Flynn’s decisions under the circumstances: “There was no evidence of senior office misconduct, rather there was a keen attention to mission accomplishment in a coalition, combat environment.”

“What was so offensive to me is that The Washington Post compared the incidents to Clinton’s private email server,” said Flynn. “My brother was fighting a war and was in a race against time. He shared combat-related intelligence with allies, including Pakistan, who like it or not, is an ally in that fight. Clinton created a private email server while she was Secretary of State. It is a completely different situation.”

Flynn, 58, may not mince words, but since his appointment by Trump, the national media has distorted his nature, said his family.

“In the papers he appears strident. But if you know him personally, he’s not that way at all. He’s always open to listening to everyone,” said his brother Bill in a November interview with Newport This Week. “Some people are calling him a racist because of his comments about Muslims. But what he’s saying is there is an ideology that needs to be stopped. The terrorists are hiding behind religion.”

In 2010, Flynn authored a controversial report that claimed the U.S. intelligence community is not studying relevant information required to fight foreign enemies. Although then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates labeled the analysis a “candid self-assessment,” his conclusion did not sit well with many in the Obama administration.

Nevertheless, in 2011 Flynn was promoted to lieutenant general and assigned to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In 2012, Obama nominated Flynn to be the 18th director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Two years later in 2014, Flynn retired after 33 years in the military. He had continued to clash with the Obama administration, warning the United States was no safer from terrorism than before the Sept. 11 attacks. He regularly pointed to intelligence that advised against toppling Syrian President Assad, arming Syrian rebels and the growing terrorist networks.

However, his family claims recent media reports have misrepresented his departure from the DIA, often referencing a “disruptive management style.”

“He was asked to go in and shake things up at the DIA,” said Joe Flynn. “So he did just that. Also at the time, ISIS was forming. He kept providing intelligence to the Obama administration that things were falling apart; they were forming an Islamic State.”

He pointed to the current humanitarian crisis in Aleppo as a direct consequence of the administration’s failure to listen to his brother’s warnings.

“The administration wanted to say that terrorist networks were on the demise. He was saying no, they are growing. But he didn’t play the politics. He will tell you exactly how he feels. That rubbed people the wrong way. They asked for his resignation, so like a good soldier he gave his salute and signed off.”

Flynn was again hammered with bad press after his son Michael Flynn Jr., who was serving on the Trump transition team, tweeted fake news about Clinton’s connection to an underage sex ring at a D.C. pizzeria.

“He was very passionately involved in the campaign and may have become carried away. The incident was an unfortunate mistake,” said Flynn about his nephew.

Lt. Gen. Flynn has also raised eyebrows for speaking at a Putinsponsored dinner last year.

“He was a private citizen at that time and often did paid speeches,” Flynn said. “He was asked to speak by the Russian’s state-owned media, RT. It’s a propaganda arm, yes. He briefed his former organization, the DIA, both before and after he went. It was not a secret meeting and this type of thing is not uncommon,” said Flynn. He clarified that his brother has publicly maintained Russia is no friend to the United States.

Flynn referenced a Newport This Week article published last month (see “Flynn ‘Is an All-American Boy,’” Nov. 23, 2016). “That article describes the character of the guy who is urgently concerned with the national security threats this country faces. That is him; he really is an all-American guy. He has had the same girlfriend and wife for 45 years. That guy has not changed.”

Flynn grew up in a “very strong Democratic family” of nine siblings on Tuckerman Avenue in Middletown, and is described by his friends as a strong-minded athlete who played football and loved to surf. He is still close with many of his teammates from high school.

During the campaign, Flynn was one of the highest-ranking national security officials to support Trump and emerged as a leading possibility for vice president before Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was tapped as running mate. He later delivered what the Los Angeles Times described as a “fiery” speech at the Republican National Convention, where he said the nation was “tired of Obama’s empty speeches and his misguided rhetoric.” He criticized the administration’s “political correctness” and debates over transgender bathrooms.

“My God, war is not about bathrooms,” Lt. Gen. Flynn said in the speech. “War is not about political correctness or words that are meaningless. War is about winning.” He then joined the audience in cries of “Lock her up,” referring to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

“It was a controversial and brutal campaign that of course my brother participated in,” said Joe Flynn. “Trump represents change that no one on the left expected. It’s almost like they feel it is a coup d’├ętat, like a band of thugs are taking over.”

He added Trump’s Cabinet picks are all being portrayed as “apocalyptic characters” by the press.

“Trump is picking a Cabinet that is going to shake D.C. to its core,” said Flynn. “They aren’t what the press is used to, with lawyers and academics. The reality is, I feel like we are at a point in history when something like this had to happen.”

Is Flynn up for the job? A battle has always been part of his occupation, said his family.

“Look, he’s faced real bullets,” said his brother Bill. “These are paper bullets . . . I know he is a really intelligent guy, an American, and an inclusive person.”

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