Current Events Explainer

Devin Nunes Dramatically Changed his Positions on Russia in the First Half of 2016. Why?

Want to blow your mind? Go read Devin Nunes’ 2014 position on Russia, you’ll be shocked at what he wrote. Here’s his policy plan for dealing with “the bear out there”:

1. Give more help to nations that are threatened by Russia. President Obama is supporting a stronger NATO presence in the Baltics and throughout Central and Eastern Europe, but he is doing close to nothing to help besieged Ukraine. These NATO efforts need to be accelerated, and the alliance should begin supplying Ukrainians with lethal weaponry to help fight off Russian encroachments. We should also isolate Russia diplomatically in every conceivable forum and confront Russia over its violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

2. Encourage the EU to free itself from its debilitating dependence on Russian energy, including, among other measures, by easing our own self-defeating restrictions on cultivating domestic energy sources, with the goal of becoming an energy supplier to Europe. Keep in mind that around half of Russia’s state budget revenues derive from the sale of fossil fuels.

3. Resurrect the Central European missile defense shield scrapped by the Obama administration amid Russian objections.

4. Launch a sustained public communications campaign to ensure Russian speakers receive factual accounts of international events. Voice of America’s Russia service has a paltry $13 million budget, which is no match for the Kremlin’s estimated $300 million budget for RT alone. Voice of America and Radio Free Europe’s Cold War operations provide an effective blueprint for this sort of programming, which should include satellite, radio, and on-line dimensions. In light of the Putin regime’s campaign to control on-line news outlets, our effort should include a comprehensive strategy to promote Internet freedom.

He calls out Russian disinformation and says the US and NATO should be “supplying Ukrainians with lethal weaponry to help fight off Russian encroachments.” Step forward to the the 2016 GOP convention, however, and the only change Trump made to the GOP platform was to weaken US aide to Ukraine. The only change. That should’ve set Nunes off right? After-all, his position on Russia was 100% counter to the Trump change.

In late 2015 New Yorker (A House Divided – How a radical group of Republicans pushed Congress to the right) published a long story about how some Republicans were resisting the takeover by the crazy right wing, in it Nunes was portrayed as one resisting the crazies. There were several stories on the issue; Devin Nunes Explains Why He’s Less Conservative Than He Used to Be & A telling — and disturbing — anecdote about conservative media from a House Republican to name a couple.

From the New Yorker article:

Nunes, who is the chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence, told me that the biggest change he’s seen since he arrived in Congress, in 2002, is the rise of online media outlets and for-profit groups that spread what he views as bad, sometimes false information, which House members then feel obliged to address. The change has transformed Nunes from one of the most conservative members of Congress to one of the biggest critics of the Freedom Caucus and its tactics.


Nunes told me that Ryan needed to figure out how to counter the rising populist forces in the Party. “It’s the difference between a democracy and a democratic republic,” he said. “We are a democratic republic, and yet populist rhetoric, speaking in platitudes, can lead to bad things happening when it’s just pure, unfettered kind of mob-style movements that are out there. And that’s what we’re kind of facing now.”

What in the holy hell happened in the first half of 2016 that resulted in Devin Nunes completely changing his positions on Russia?

Some thoughts:

Nunes has personal/family connections to the Portuguese Island of Lajes, which was very dependent on the US military base there for their economy during the Cold War.

The base, being a submarine hunting operation, fell out of use over the past 20 years as the Cold War came to a slow end. Nunes tried unsuccessfully to pass funding bills and get projects allocated to the island to help boost their economy:

For decades, the most concrete bond between the United States and the Azores was an American military installation on Terceira Island called Lajes Field. During the Cold War, American P-3 planes used Lajes to chase Soviet submarines all over the Atlantic; it also served as a fueling station for cargo planes and fighter jets en route from the United States to military installations in Europe and the Middle East. But the end of the Cold War and technological advances brought an end to Lajes’s strategic importance. The United States no longer needed to worry as much about maritime supremacy in the Atlantic. Cargo planes and fighter jets had sufficient flying ranges that they no longer needed to make as many stops to refuel. Lajes was a natural target for cutbacks, and in 2012, the Air Force announced that it planned to scale back its presence there, ultimately reducing its head count to around 165 from 650.

Even before he was Intelligence Committee chairman, Nunes tried to fight the cuts. He proposed locating an Air Force drone base at Lajes that could be used to target Islamic militants in Northern Africa. He introduced a bill to move the military’s Africa Command from Stuttgart, Germany, back to the continental United States — with the provision that Lajes be made Africom’s forward operating base. He suggested making Lajes a training facility for F-16 pilots. None of the ideas were deemed practical.

More controversial, according to two former government officials, Nunes tried to use his junior perch on the Intelligence Committee to install a National Security Agency listening post at Lajes.


Once he became chairman, Nunes unveiled a new proposal for Lajes: making it the home of the Joint Intelligence Analysis Complex (JIAC), which included a huge new “intelligence fusion center” for the United States and its NATO allies. But the Pentagon was already planning to build the JIAC at the Croughton Royal Air Force base near London.

In 2011-12, Russian sub activity increased in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, possibly after someone leaked info to them about NATO tactics and defenses.

In June of 2013, the government of Portugal named Nunes a Grand Officer of the National Order of Prince Henry the Navigator.

Aníbal António Cavaco Silva, the same President of Portugal who gave the award to Devin Nunes, is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. And in the same year that Portugal gave Nunes the award, a Portuguese spy began giving NATO secrets to the Russian government.

Putting that altogether, it would make perfect sense that Nunes, along with some pro-Russian Portuguese, leaked this information in attempt to use the increased Russian sub activity to justify re-opening the base as a sub hunting base.

Flynn & Nunes Parallels

I’d like to point out some parallels between Nunes and Flynn here, seeing as they’ve been friends for a long while.

Flynn argued heavily for the arming of Ukraine during Obama’s presidency, and also warned Obama that Ukraine was in danger from Russia. When Ukraine was invaded he was frustrated and angry, and felt as if Obama had ignored him regarding the danger from Russia.

Flynn, fired from his post at the DIA in 2014, for a chaotic and dangerous management style, then went on a global tour making money speaking out against the Obama administration.

Then in 2016 Obama warned Trump not to hire Flynn due to his contacts with Russian cutouts.

So we see a similar swing in both Nunes and Flynn, following a similar timeline. Somewhere between 2014 and Trumps transition team, Flynn started hugging the Russian bear.

Also of note/things to really start to twist this story.

Putin really doesn’t want Turkey to join NATO, and in intelligence circles it’s known that Turkey has a very high percentage of Russian species in its government and embassies. Remember that story about Flynn kidnapping the Turkish National off of US soil for Erdogan?


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