(…) Michael Flynn: …embers. Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s no doubt, there’s no doubt. I mean, when we, you know, history will not be kind to the decisions that were made, certainly in 2003.
Mehdi Hasan: And here’s the thing I don’t – really don’t –
Michael Flynn: [INTERRUPTING] Going into Iraq, definitely not.
Mehdi Hasan: And not just with Iraq, obviously there’s Syria. You’re on record as saying that the handling of Syria by this administration has been a mistake. Many people would argue that the US actually saw the rise of ISIL coming and turned a blind eye, or even encouraged it as a counterpoint to Assad. And a secret analysis by the agency you ran, the Defence Intelligence Agency, in August 2012 said, and I quote, “There is the possibility of establishing –
Michael Flynn: [TALKING OVER] Not so secret.
Mehdi Hasan: – “declared or undeclared Salafist” – it’s not secret anymore, it was released under FOI. The quote is: “There is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want in order to isolate the Syrian regime.” The US saw the ISIL caliphate coming and did nothing.
Michael Flynn: Yeah, I think that what we – where we missed the point. I mean, where we totally blew it, I think, was in the very beginning. I mean, we’re talking four years now into this effort in Syria. Most people won’t even remember, it’s only been a couple of years: The Free Syrian Army, that movement. I mean, where are they today? Al-Nusra. Where are they today, and what have … how much have they changed? When you don’t get in and help somebody, they’re gonna find other means to achieve their goals. And I think right now, what we have allowed is we’ve got –
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] But hold on, you were helping them in 2012. While these groups are –
Michael Flynn: Yeah, we’ve allowed this, we’ve allowed this extremist, you know, these extremist militants to come in and –
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] But why did you allow them to do that, General? You were in post. You were the head of the Defence Intelligence Agency.
Michael Flynn: [TALKING OVER] Well, those are – those are – yeah, right, right. Well those are – those are policy – those are policy issues, yeah.
Mehdi Hasan: [TALKING OVER] I took the liberty – I took the liberty of printing out that document. This is the memo I quoted from. Did you see this document in 2012? Would this come across your table, one of your analysts wrote –
Michael Flynn: [TALKING OVER] Oh yeah, yeah, I paid very close attention to all those, sure.
Mehdi Hasan: [TALKING OVER] OK, So when you saw this, did you not pick up a phone and say, “What on earth are we doing supporting these Syrian rebels who are -“?
Michael Flynn: [TALKING OVER] Sure. That, that kind of information is presented and those become –
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] And what did you do about it?
Michael Flynn: Those become – those become – I argued about it.
Mehdi Hasan: Did you say, “We shouldn’t be supporting these groups”?
Michael Flynn: I did. I mean, we argued about these, the different groups that were there and we said, you know, “Who is that is involved here?” and I will tell you that I, I do believe that the, the intelligence was very clear, and now it’s a matter of whether or not policy is going to be as clear and as defining and as precise as it needs to be, and I don’t believe it was.
Full Interview – August 2015