General Barry McCaffrey has not been silent about his misgivings over President Trump. He’s called the president a “serious threat to U.S. national security.” Now he’s saying Trump has finally done something right — protecting Seattle’s industry from spies.
The United States shut down the Russian consulate in Seattle this week. Gen. McCaffrey says it’s a positive move after a series of tragic steps by Trump while dealing with Russia.
“The Russians have been using their consulates throughout the United States, and their Embassy — (they’re) chock-full of espionage agents …. doing electronic collection of intelligence right out of their consulates and their embassy,” McCaffrey told KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don.
Russia specializes in industrial espionage, the general says. That’s likely why the Seattle consulate was closed. Seattle is home to a bevy of tech companies and Boeing. Another Russian consulate in San Francisco was closed in late 2017.
“The two most creative places on the face of the earth, arguably, are Silicon Valley and Seattle,” McCaffrey said. “I do think that was probably the principal threat to U.S. national security; it was against economic and intellectual interests.”
The general is no stranger to national security issues. He has three purple hearts, two distinguished service crosses, two silver stars, and he spent 32 years in the Army. When he retired in 1996, he was the most decorated general serving in the military. He drew from that experience to add some context to Russian/American relations as of late. He says that Russian leader Vladimir Putin is “basically a KGB thug.”
“The current Russian state has an economy a 10th the size of the United States,” McCaffrey said. “It’s less than the State of California. Their military power is pretty modest. The only thing they have that anybody cares about is nuclear power, and oil and gas.”
Russia, Trump, and McCaffrey
McCaffrey said that despite having such a small economy, Russia has grown to become a threat to the United States and its allies. He notes that there was a battle between Russian mercenaries and U.S. forces in Syria. The general argues that Russia is opposing American interests in Afghanistan. Not to mention that Russia has hacked into the United States’ power grid and has attempted to meddle in U.S. elections.
Trump has been silent on these issues, however. Instead, the president has congratulated Putin on his recent election.
“I think the breaking point for me was the attempt at assassination of the two Russians in the United Kingdom; what was obviously a Russian intelligence operation,” McCaffrey said. “It was a signature assassination using a nerve agent that was only made in the former Soviet Union. Putin was telling the world that ‘if you oppose me, I will murder you no matter where you are in the world.’”
“We’ve got some huge problems,” he said. “The President of the United States has tended to be impulsive. He finds it hard to pay attention to presentations, to read about the issues he’s acting on. He’s been a disaster with our allies … we’ve got some problems with Mr. Trump that far outshadow his serial affairs with dubious people.”
“I’m calling upon our president to defend U.S. national security interest,” he added. “What is going on here?”