Malcolm Nance is a regular commentator MSNBC and CNN. Maybe you’ve also heard him on WAMC. Last Friday he was in Albany, sharing his insight into current affairs with an audience of more than 200 at WAMC’s Linda Norris Auditorium.
According to his online bio, Nance is an Arabic-speaking former naval intelligence counter-terrorism and intelligence officer specializing in the Middle East; a combat veteran, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape expert, historian, and author.
He spent 35 years participating in field and combat intelligence activity including both covert and clandestine anti and counter-terrorism support to national intelligence agencies.
He also happens to live locally – in Columbia County – and helped to found Warrior’s Haven, a veteran-run nonprofit farmstead in Stockport that acts as a transition, skills and rehabilitation center.
Nance is also the author of The New York Times bestseller “The Plot to Hack America.” And now he’s out with a companion book of sorts, called “The Plot to Betray America: How Team Trump Embraced Our Enemies, Compromised Our Security, and How We Can Fix It.” (Hachette Books – November 12, 2019).
Nance’s appearance at The Linda was a breakfast, discussion and book signing offered as a premium to WAMC donors during the station’s October fund drive. Host Joe Donahue opened by asking Nance what he meant, specifically, when he decided to employ the phrase “betraying America” to describe the actions of the Trump administration.
Nance replied that he sees Donald Trump as “someone who, before he even became president, was engineering the process – a win-at-all-costs, Constitution-be-damned attitude…We’re now finding out that these operations had started well before 2016.”
Nance said he believes that Trump has been motivated – even obsessed – for years by the desire to develop a Trump Tower Moscow – he called it Trump’s “white whale.” He also spoke of Vladimir Putin’s training in the KGB to “flip humans” to aid Russia. When Putin became the leader of Russia, according to Nance, “he brought all those skills to the street, and…a narcissistic, self-serving individual like Donald Trump would be his easiest asset to flip.”
Audience member Eveyln Clarke, who was recently elected to the Esopus Town Board, asked Nance to weigh in on the upcoming anonymous book, “A Warning,” purportedly written by a senior member of the Trump administration.
He suggested that the author’s motivation might not be to defend the Constitution, but simply to make money. He alluded to the quote from Thomas Payne, “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman,” and said that more people in power should be looking out not for their wallet but for this nation.
Actor Martin Sheen wrote the forward to the book and includes a quote from the character he portrayed on the television series “The West Wing” – President Josiah Bartlett:
“This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars.”
Nance expanded on this theme.
“We must come back and be that nation that values and loves America not for the cheap flag or the B2 bomber flyover, but for the very fact that we have the right to drive through potholes and complain about it,” he said. “We have the right to petition our government, and to know that the people working there are loyal, and ethical, and will be held accountable.”
In the first few pages of his book, Nance makes the case that Trump will exceed Benedict Arnold as the greatest traitor to this nation. At the Linda, he said:
“Benedict Arnold fought fiercely for this nation in its first years.” (Arnold led a counterattack at the Battle of Saratoga and was shot in his left leg. Another bullet killed his horse, which fell and crushed Arnold’s leg beneath it.) “Donald Trump has never served this nation, he’s only taken from this nation.”
Clearly, this book has a partisan angle, for which Nance makes no apologies. But regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, it could be handy to have at your side during the impeachment hearings. With an index, 44 pages of notes with links to original sources, and an 11-page “Players Glossary,” it helps make sense of a complicated – and in many ways, existential – issue.
Colleen M. Ryan has always been a storyteller. An innovative communications professional with experience in government, nonprofit and business sectors, she recently launched CMR Communications.