Former Obama spy chief supports Trump’s proposal for US Muslim immigration ban
In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera English’s current affairs show UpFront, the retired US lieutenant general and former Obama spy chief, General Michael Flynn, discusses Donald Trump, who he has advised on foreign and defence policy:
- Refuses to disown Donald Trump’s controversial proposal to kill the families of suspected terrorists: “I would have to see the circumstances of that situation.”
- Supports Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States: “Yes… we must understand where these individuals are coming from.”
- Agrees with Trump that waterboarding should remain an interrogation option: “I am a believer in leaving as many options on the table…”
- But criticises Trump’s loose language on “complicated” foreign policy issues and urges clarity from the candidate: “There must be more precision in the language that he uses as the potential leader of the free world.”
(Washington DC – 19th May, 2016) – General Michael Flynn, former head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under President Obama, has spoken for the first time about his role as an informal adviser to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
When asked if he supported Trump’s proposal to kill the families of suspected terrorists, General Flynn told UpFront host Mehdi Hasan, “I would have to see the circumstances of that situation.”
“These are very difficult political decisions,” he added.
Asked if he also backed another of Donald Trump’s controversial proposals, a ban on Muslims entering the United States, General Flynn replied: “Yes. What I support…is that we must understand where these individuals are coming from.“
“I support the vetting of individuals and the proper screening of individuals who are coming from certain parts of the world like Syria,” he added.
General Flynn did, however, say that he’s advising Donald Trump to be more precise with his language. “There must be more precision in the use of the language that he uses as the potential leader of the free world,” he said. “Those are the… pieces of advice that I’m trying to get into him.”
Hasan also asked General Flynn to respond to former CIA and NSA director General Michael Hayden’s assertion that Trump’s comments on Muslims were incendiary and being used as a recruitment tool by violent groups such as ISIL.
“I don’t agree with that,” said Flynn, who also defended Trump’s rhetoric from accusations of bigotry and Islamophobia: "It’s not. I don’t agree. No.”
During the interview, Flynn - who also ran intelligence for JSOC in Afghanistan and Iraq - was asked to comment on Trump’s pledge to bring back waterboarding, which is now an illegal interrogation technique. “I’m going to be a bit unpredictable here with you Mehdi,” he said. “I am a believer in leaving as many options on the table right up until the last possible minute.”
Despite expressing support for many of Trump’s proposals, General Flynn included this caveat. “I don’t agree with everything he said…But he’s an individual who’s willing to take on a challenge.”
Flynn explained: “Read his book, The Art of the Deal: start really, really high, and really, really hard, okay? And then be prepared to get down to where you think you can actually negotiate."
Watch this interview in full here: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/upfront/2016/05/top-general-defends-donald-trump-160519081014660.html
A new series of UpFront returns to Al Jazeera English next Friday May 27th at 19.30GMT.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
If using quotes please credit Al Jazeera English and UpFront and please add this link to online copy www.aljazeera.com/upfront
UpFront airs Fridays on Al Jazeera English at 19.30 GMT.
Follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront