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President-elect Donald Trump’s top pick for national security adviser is reported to be Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn, an army veteran who was dismissed from a Pentagon intelligence post in 2014.
Late Thursday the New York Times published that the job had been formally extended to Flynn. The retired three-star general boasts an impressive 33-year army career and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but his Islamophobic comments and very public stance against Islam make him a controversial appointee.
The Times reported that Flynn believes Islam is an “existential threat” to the United States, and that he has openly described the religion as “sick” and a “political ideology based on a religion.” His public social media accounts suggest that this is more than an eccentric fascination or media exaggeration:
We are facing violent, but very serious and cunning radical Islamists. We can be war weary when we win. If we lose, we have nothing.
— General Flynn (@GenFlynn) November 16, 2015
In next 24 hours, I dare Arab & Persian world “leaders” to step up to the plate and declare their Islamic ideology sick and must B healed.
— General Flynn (@GenFlynn) July 15, 2016
Flynn is also noted for his ties to Russia and respect for Vladimir Putin, an affection which may also bode him well in Trump’s administration. He has been paid to participate in a number of formal speaking events in Moscow.
When he joined Trump’s campaign trail, Flynn, who is 57 years old, took aim at the Democrats delivering fiery speeches in which he called Clinton a “clone of Obama” and “somebody who will leave Americans behind on the battlefield.” On one occasion he is recorded leading a rally in chants of “lock her up.”
The prospect of Flynn’s appointment to national security adviser has drawn praise from the far right. Ex-imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist David Duke expressed his support of the nomination on Twitter:
The role of national security adviser is an extremely important one which leads and energizes a number of major governmental departments. Flynn, should he accept, will wield massive influence within the Trump administration.
Californian Democrat and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff criticized Trump’s decision on Thursday evening, sharing his belief that the Trump would be “best served by a National Security Advisor who brings a steady and thoughtful demeanor to the Oval Office and can help offset the potentially impulsive nature of the next president.”
He warned: “These are not qualities readily apparent in observing General Flynn over the last few years.”
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology.