Tags: Trump Administration | Donald Trump | Mullen | Bannon | NSC

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen: Bannon Doesn't Belong on NSC

Image: Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen: Bannon Doesn't Belong on NSC

 Michael Mullen in 2011. (Reuters)

By    |   Monday, 06 Feb 2017 12:39 PM

Michael Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says President Donald Trump's top political adviser, Steve Bannon, does not belong on the National Security Council.

In a column for The New York Times, Mullen, a retired Navy admiral and one-time member of the NSC, says some of Trump's NSC reorganization is welcome, particularly including the director of the CIA as a full voting member.

"But some of Mr. Trump's other plans are unsettling and should be remedied as soon as possible — in particular the role he has given to his top political adviser, Stephen K. Bannon," Mullen says.

"What's more, according to Mr. Trump's plans for the National Security Council, neither the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation's highest-ranking military officer and the president's primary military adviser, nor the director of national intelligence, the president's primary intelligence adviser, will be a permanent member of the council's 'principals committee,' a core group responsible for formulating policy.

"In my experience there are very few — if any — meetings of the principals committee at which the input of the military and the intelligence community is not vital," he says. "With an increasingly belligerent Russia, tensions in the South China Sea and a smoldering Middle East, it makes little sense to minimize the participation of the professionals leading and representing these two groups."

Mullen notes the White House insists the NSC reorganization will not downgrade the roles of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs or the direction of national intelligence.
If so, Trump should make them permanent members of the principals committee, he added.

"The second much needed adjustment to Mr. Trump's arrangement of the council is the removal of Mr. Bannon from the principals committee," he said. "Putting aside for a moment Mr. Bannon's troubling public positions, which are worrisome enough, institutionalizing his attendance threatens to politicize national security decision making.

"Having Mr. Bannon as a voting member of the principals committee will have a negative influence on what is supposed to be candid, nonpartisan deliberation. I fear that it will have a chilling effect on deliberations and, potentially, diminish the authority and the prerogatives to which Senate-confirmed cabinet officials are entitled. They, unlike Mr. Bannon, are accountable for the advice they give and the policies they execute.

"…partisan politics has no place at that table. And neither does Mr. Bannon."

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Michael Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says President Donald Trump's top political adviser, Steve Bannon, does not belong on the National Security Council. In a column for The New York Times, Mullen, a retired Navy admiral and one-time member of...
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Monday, 06 Feb 2017 12:39 PM
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