National Security

Pentagon Goes Into ‘Damage Control’ After NATO Summit

NBC News: “Hours after President Trump departed NATO headquarters Thursday, U.S. military leaders embarked on a full-scale ‘damage control’ operation with calls to their counterparts across Europe to reassure them that America will abide by its defense commitments in the region.”

“The outreach, directed by the Pentagon leadership, came after Trump threatened to reassess those commitments during a gathering with NATO allies in Brussels.”

Why GOP Effort to Smear Peter Strzok Could Backfire

On her show last night, Rachel Maddow told the incredible story of the FBI spying on Russian spies in the U.S., “Donald Heathfield” and “Tracey Foley,” and notes that Peter Strzok led many of those operations — the same Peter Strzok that Republicans are trying to smear in order to discredit the Mueller investigation.

It’s an extraordinary segment.

Strzok is testifying today before a joint hearing of two House committees responsible for FBI and Justice Department oversight.

Frustrated Trump Will Review Afghanistan Strategy

“The United States is preparing to undertake a review of its strategy in Afghanistan, U.S. officials told Reuters, a year after President Trump begrudgingly agreed to extend America’s involvement in the 17-year-old war,” Reuters reports.

“Officials said Trump has shown signs of frustration over the lack of progress since he unveiled a strategy last August that committed to an open-ended deployment of U.S. military advisers, trainers and special forces and increased air support for Afghan security forces. The goal was to force the Taliban militants to open peace talks with the Kabul government.”

“Trump was opposed to remaining in America’s longest war, but was convinced by his advisers to give it more time.”

U.S. Army Quietly Discharging Immigrant Recruits

“Some immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged,” the AP reports.

“The AP was unable to quantify how many men and women who enlisted through the special recruitment program have been booted from the Army, but immigration attorneys say they know of more than 40 who have been discharged or whose status has become questionable, jeopardizing their futures.”

U.S. Mulls Pulling Troops from Germany

“The Pentagon is analyzing the cost and impact of a large-scale withdrawal or transfer of American troops stationed in Germany amid growing tensions between President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” the Washington Post reports.

“The effort follows Trump’s expression of interest in removing the troops, made during a meeting earlier this year with White House and military aides, U.S. officials said. Trump was said to have been taken aback by the size of the U.S. presence, which includes about 35,000 active-duty troops, and complained that other countries were not contributing fairly to joint security or paying enough to NATO.”

Military Leaders Worried They Could Not Fend Off Russia

Washington Post: “Although many barriers would drop away if there were a declaration of war, the hazy period before a military engagement would present a major problem. NATO has just a skeleton force deployed to its member countries that share a border with Russia. Backup forces would need to traverse hundreds of miles. And the delays — a mixture of bureaucracy, bad planning and decaying infrastructure — could enable Russia to seize NATO territory in the Baltics while U.S. Army planners were still filling out the 17 forms needed to cross Germany and into Poland.”

“During at least one White House exercise that gamed out a European war with Russia, the logistical stumbles contributed to a NATO loss.”

Trump No Longer Listens to His Defense Secretary

NBC News: “The way these recent presidential decisions on major national security issues have played out, as detailed by current and former White House and defense officials, underscores a significant change in Mattis’s role in recent months. The president is relying less and less on the advice of one of the longest-serving members of his cabinet, the officials said.”

Said a former senior White House official: “They don’t really see eye to eye.”

“The president has cooled on Mattis, in part because he’s come to believe his defense secretary looks down on him and slow-walks his policy directives… The president is now more inclined to rely on his own instincts or the advice of Pompeo and Bolton.”

Trump Orders Creation of a ‘Space Force’

President Trump declared that he will move to make a new branch of the military focused solely on space, CNBC reports.

Said Trump: “I am hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.”

He added: “Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter of national identity but a matter of national security.”

Ex-CIA Engineer Charged In Massive Leak to WikiLeaks

Politico: “Joshua Schulte, 29, was charged in a new grand jury indictment with providing WikiLeaks with a massive trove of U.S. government hacking tools that the online publisher posted in March 2017, the Justice Department announced on Monday.”

“Schulte was previously facing child pornography charges in federal court in New York, but the indictment broadens the case to accuse him of illegally gathering classified information, damaging CIA computers, lying to investigators and numerous other offenses.”

Pentagon Puts Cyberwarriors on Offense

“The Pentagon has quietly empowered the United States Cyber Command to take a far more aggressive approach to defending the nation against cyberattacks, a shift in strategy that could increase the risk of conflict with the foreign states that sponsor malicious hacking groups,” the New York Times reports.

“In the spring, as the Pentagon elevated the command’s status, it opened the door to nearly daily raids on foreign networks, seeking to disable cyberweapons before they can be unleashed, according to strategy documents and military and intelligence officials.”

Signs of Cellphone Spying Found Near White House

“A federal study found signs that surveillance devices for intercepting cellphone calls and texts were operating near the White House and other sensitive locations in the Washington area last year,” the Washington Post reports.

“The discovery bolsters years of independent research suggesting that foreign intelligence agencies use sophisticated interception technology to spy on officials working within the hub of federal power in the nation’s capital. Experts in surveillance technology say that IMSI catchers — sometimes known by one popular brand name, Stingrays — are a standard part of the tool kit for many foreign intelligence services, including for such geopolitical rivals as Russia and China.”

Security Troops on U.S. Nuclear Missile Base Took LSD

“One airman said he felt paranoia. Another marveled at the vibrant colors. A third admitted, ‘I absolutely just loved altering my mind.’”

“Meet service members entrusted with guarding nuclear missiles that are among the most powerful in America’s arsenal. Air Force records obtained by the Associated Press show they bought, distributed and used the hallucinogen LSD and other mind-altering illegal drugs as part of a ring that operated undetected for months on a highly secure military base in Wyoming. After investigators closed in, one airman deserted to Mexico.”