The Rare Norm a couple of months ago Share Tweet Pin Share Not my comment: but there is a lot of confusion about Nunes’ motivations. Here is why Nunes is doing what he is doing and why he is soiling himself in fear/acting like someone who is beyond guilty of something with no regard for how it looks: Nunes was named a “Grand Officer of the National Order of Prince Henry the Navigator” in 2013, an award that is only given to those who have performed “relevant services to the country of Portugal,” but he hadn’t done anything with the exception of being of Portuguese-Azorean decent. Publicly, that is. On a tangent, I have done a lot of research on Nunes (and unrelated reading about Lajes Field over the years, as I am a huge U.S. Air Force buff), and I think I know a) exactly why Nunes is shitting his pants and compromised by Russia; and b) why he is being so foolishly overt in his pro-Trump actions, despite the personal impact. I am convinced that his role in this entire saga is tied to the boner that he has for Lajes Field in the Azores. Granted I DO think the abandonment of the base by the American military is a really, really bad idea given that Lajes is a important strategic location for mid-Atlantic force projection with large amounts of base housing and infrastructure that was created but a short time ago. The economic devastation that has resulted from the wind-down of the American military presence on the island is significant, and it has adversely impacted the lives of much of the population of Terceira Island. In fact, China has expressed a willingness to quickly assume control of the base should the United States abandon the facility wholesale–this would greatly expand the sphere of their influence. That said, why did Nunes get that award, and why has he been trying so vociferously to expand American operations on the island at the expense of bases located within the heart of Europe and the United Kingdom over the last five years? (It is of course interesting that his impassioned defense of the facility and attacks on the Pentagon for raising the specter of base closure came around the time of his receipt of the award, beginning in December 2012-January 2013.) In order to better understand this, one must look at the primary role Lajes Field has historically played for the U.S. Military Forces stationed there. Lajes’ primary strategic function since World War II has been two-fold: a) to serve as a stop-over point for U.S. Military aircraft in cross-Atlantic transit and to provide a staging area for KC-135s and other in-flight refueling aircraft; and b) as a staging area for anti-submarine patrols using ground-based surveillance equipment and submarine hunting aircraft like the P-3 Orion. That said, when the Cold War ended and Russian submarines stopped sneaking throughout the Atlantic, that reduced the usefulness of Lajes by 50%. With the advent of expanded midair refueling operations coupled with the difficulty of landing at Lajes due to frequent and horrible cross-winds, this further diminished the importance of the airbase. Over the years Lajes became a shell of itself, and despite significant investment in base housing and other construction at the facility in the 2000s, it has largely sat empty for several years now–even though the facility is still currently operated by American forces, their presence is negligible and thus the people of the island who once relied on American servicemen to come to their markets and restaurants are now struggling to make ends meet. With the diminished need for the two primary functions of the island, the minimal levels of permanent staff present there, the weather-related drawbacks of Lajes for use as an airport, and the emphasis on force and budget reductions in the U.S. Military following the Great Recession and the ballooning debt that resulted from the recovery, the decision was made to abandon the island. Immediately Nunes went on the offensive, recommending all sorts of EUCOM units in mainland Europe and the UK to relocate to the island. Of course, being 1,000 miles out in the Atlantic, many of the proposals were foolish (including his most recent quixotic effort from 2015-current to block construction of the Joint Intelligence Operations Europe Analytic Center at RAF Molesworth, an established Sigint facility already in existence/use with significant equipment present that is located in the relative proximity of London; he instead wants an entirely NEW facility constructed at Lajes, a base no one wants to move to and work on given its isolation and an absurd proposition given the costs of transporting equipment and forces there on a regular basis). However, Nunes continued to attempt to insert Lajes-friendly provisions in several bills and held numerous hearings attempting to shame Pentagon brass into relocating their operations to the island. At one point I think he even tried to eliminate housing subsidies for U.S. Intelligence Officers living in the UK in an attempt to hold them hostage in exchange for the relocation of operations to Lajes. Nothing he has done over the years has seemed to work. Lajes is a base that is just too isolated to serve as a viable location for anything other than its previously established two-fold mission. Going back to the beginning years of Nunes’ struggle, however, and around the time of his receipt of the Portuguese award, there was an interesting development–someone with Portuguese connections had been leaking NATO military intelligence to Russia (Note that Portugal is a NATO member, and further note that the President of Portugal who awarded the honor to Nunes is a good friend of Putin and close to Russia). It was right around the exact time of the decision to draw-down at Lajes that Russian submarines began sneaking around the Atlantic in a manner similar to Soviet operations. A news story from late 2012 details a Russian sub that skirted U.S. Naval defenses and patrolled the Gulf of Mexico unhindered for weeks. Other stories speak about a Russian sub sitting off the eastern coast of the U.S. and still others patrolling the North Atlantic on a more frequent basis. This activity has grown at an average of 50% year-over-year since late 2012/early 2013 when the battle over the future of Lajes began, with Russian sub patrols reaching Cold War-levels in 2015/2016. Why would this be? Let’s recall the two important purposes Lajes had served for decades, particularly during the Cold War: it was a stopover and refueling hub, and… it was vital for submarine hunting in the Atlantic Ocean. The one way to make Lajes important again and increase American funding and personnel investment on the island? Raise the specter of a severe Russian submarine menace that would need to be countered by American sub hunters based out of Lajes. Reinvestment in the island would bring with it a revitalized local economy, along with annual appropriated money for upkeep and expansion of the facility–a possible gateway to the construction of a larger permanent American listening post on the island, lessening the importance of the proposed JIAC at RAF Molesworth and increasing the probability that Lajes will remain a priority military facility for years to come. So who leaked the troop and asset movements, strategic planning, and other sensitive intel to Russia? They clearly were Portuguese or had Portuguese connections and clearly stood to benefit from Russian exploitation of the knowledge of NATO military tactics and operational priorities in some fashion. I will let everyone draw their own conclusions from the evidence, but I believe it is clear that Nunes, with his boner for Lajes (it should also be noted that he flies into Lajes regularly to vacation and visit family, I believe), collaborated with President Anibal Antonio Cavaco Silva of Portugal in order to provide Russia with highly-sensitive NATO intelligence that would allow Putin to anticipate the levels of opposition among NATO members and degree of possible retaliation were Russia to preempt Ukrainian efforts at NATO membership by invading strategic portions of the country–the Crimean incursion occurred a matter of mere months after connections were established between the FSB and their Portuguese asset. Additionally, the information allowed them to expand Atlantic naval operations which was mutually-beneficial: Nunes/Portugal had a case for the expansion of American forces at Lajes to combat the Russian sub threat, while Russia could play upon this and use it as a diversionary tactic to spread American forces thin and draw them away from Eastern European bases towards the Azores, which would alleviate pressure on him and allow for the continued expansion of the Russian diaspora. That said, I think that is why Nunes is shitting his pants about this: he had an established relationship with Russia via Portugal before Trump even announced a Presidential run, and may possibly have served as an asset in back-channel communications with Putin and the FSB. In any event, Russia would certainly have SIGNIFICANT kompromat on Nunes, and they could be using this as leverage against him to force him into providing continued insider assistance to Trump in order to prop up the Trump regime as long as possible. I am convinced Nunes is very aware of how bad the optics of his actions are, but given that he has Putin lurking over his shoulder with a bag of evidence that Nunes committed treason against the United States to save his fucking stupid pet project, I think this is what is driving his insane, obvious, and flurried attempts at deflection and diversion. That said, I do think we should maintain some level of forces at Lajes for the sole purpose of strategically blocking China’s attempt at projecting influence in the Atlantic area, the one place on Earth where it has made no real inroads. Again however, fuck Nunes. He is a rat, he is compromised, and he will be going to prison for the high crime of espionage.