Former CIA Operative Compares Trump to Saddam Hussein

Trump supporters rally at the state Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Donald Trump has not been in the White House for more than two weeks and has been silenced on social media platforms, but taxpayer-funded National Public Radio (NPR) still reports daily on the threat the former president and his followers pose, including during a Tuesday interview with former CIA operative Robert Grenier.

Grenier, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 with the CIA, said in the interview that he sees parallels between the violence in the Middle East and the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

“When it comes to domestic extremists such as those who stormed the Capitol, a longtime CIA officer argues that the U.S. should treat them as an insurgency,” NPR reported. “That means using counterinsurgency tactics — similar in some ways to those used in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

NPR decided to promote Grenier’s claim that Trump supporters are domestic terrorists after he wrote in the New York Times on the topic. 

Grenier called for a national response to the threat before “extremists who seek a social apocalypse … are capable of producing endemic political violence of a sort not seen in this country since Reconstruction.”

“So I think as in any insurgency situation, you have committed insurgents who are typically a relatively small proportion of the affected population,” Grenier said. “But what enables them to carry forward their program is a large number of people from whom they can draw tacit support. And that’s what I’m primarily concerned with here. I think what is most important is that we drive a wedge between those violent individuals and the people who may otherwise see them as reflecting their interests and fighting on their behalf.

“Is there anything that you think could be done with sense of urgency?” All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly asked.

“Part of it is simply setting the proper national tone,” Grenier said. “But another, I think, very important element that we haven’t talked about yet is what I would refer to as insurgent leadership.”

“The fact of the matter is that the most violent elements that we are concerned about right now see former President Trump as a broadly popular and charismatic symbol,” Grenier said. “He is their charismatic leader, whether he chooses to acknowledge it or not.” 

“You know, just as I saw in the Middle East that the air went out of violent demonstrations when [Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein was defeated and seen to be defeated, I think the same situation applies here,” Grenier said. 

Grenier said that even though Trump is a private citizen the threat of more violence exists.

“The fact of the matter is that Mr. Trump has lost,” Grenier said. “It’s very important that people see that he has lost, is a private citizen. But I think it’s extremely important that his potency as a symbol for the most violent among us is somehow addressed.”

Kelly noted that Grenier wrote that it is a “national security imperative” for the Senate to convict Trump in the upcoming impeachment trial.

“I think it’s a national security imperative precisely because he is seen as the charismatic leader of a great many violent people,” Grenier said. “And I think that that needs to be countered.”

“So long as he is there and leading the resistance, if you will, which he shows every sign of intending to do, he is going to be an inspiration to very violent people,” Grenier said.

He concluded that it would take rooting out the “violent elements.”

“Hunting down people who are criminals, that is something that which U.S. law enforcement is very well capable of doing and doing while preserving fundamental civil rights,” Grenier said. “That’s in some ways the easiest part of the problem. The difficult part of the problem is affecting the environment within which violent elements otherwise would be able to thrive.”

Neither Kelly nor Grenier addressed any of the violence from the left during Black Lives Matter and Antifa violent attacks on government buildings in Seattle, Portland, D.C., and other American cities.

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