Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Obama, is now an informal adviser to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump — and he’s not shying away from the candidate’s most controversial policy proposals.
In a new interview with Mehdi Hasan on Al Jazeera English’s UpFront, Flynn suggested he’s largely on the same page with Trump on issues like the use of torture, the killing of terror suspects’ families, and a ban on all Muslim immigration.
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Flynn, who has previously told Hasan on Al Jazeera that those responsible for torturing detainees in Iraq should be held accountable, took a cue out of Trump’s handbook on predictability when asked whether he, like Trump, supports waterboarding. “I’m going to be a bit unpredictable here with you Mehdi, because I am a believer in leaving as many options on the table right up until the last possible minute,” Flynn said.
Flynn also refused to come out against Trump’s proposal to kill the families of terror suspects as a counter-terrorism strategy, saying that he “would have to see what the circumstances of that situation were.”
Regarding Trump’s idea of banning all Muslims from the country, which at one point the candidate defined as including Muslim Americans currently living abroad, Flynn said, “What I support is that we must understand where these individuals are coming from.” When pressed further about whether there should be a blanket ban on Muslims, he again repeated, “Yeah, I think we have to be cautious about where the people are coming from. Where are they coming from?” (He relented only a little, suggesting that a thorough vetting of people from specific countries, like Syria, would be better.)
Flynn’s willingness to defend Trump’s proposals puts into question former CIA director Michael Hayden’s claim that some members of the U.S. military would refuse to follow some of Trump’s most controversial proposals during the campaign, like the killing of terror suspects’ families, if he were elected.
Trump has called for killing of terror suspects’ families, the use of waterboarding and torture in general, and the creation of a national database to track and spy on Muslims. He at one point even declared that “Islam hates us.”
But Flynn brushed away concerns about Trump’s policy ideas, claiming that under a President Trump, “We wont see orders like that, because he won’t give orders like that.”
Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL: please forward this to others: the truth fears no questions… https://t.co/NLIfKFD9lU
— General Flynn (@GenFlynn) February 27, 2016
Flynn — who as Hasan noted during the interview, has previously tweeted that “fear of Muslims is rational” — also said during the interview that despite Trump’s rhetoric and policy proposals, he isn’t actually Islamophobic or bigoted.
Flynn instead explained Trump’s proposals as the art of negotiating, and even as a cry for help from Muslims to fight the spread of radical groups like ISIS. “He’s saying to the rest of the Muslim world, essentially, ‘Come to grips with this. And help. We need your help.’”