National Security

Trump’s ‘Axis of Adults’ Is Breaking Apart

Eli Lake: “If you thought grownups like Mattis, McMaster and Tillerson were secretly running the administration, think again.”

“In the case of McMaster, administration officials tell me he is perceived not to be a reliable messenger of the president’s wishes. What’s more, administration figures tell me, principals including Tillerson, Mattis and CIA director Mike Pompeo have a direct line to Trump. They can go around McMaster and make their case on interagency disputes directly to the commander in chief. For a national security adviser, this dynamic is deadly.”

Inside the Secret Plan to Stop Putin’s Election Plot

Time: “On Nov. 1, the White House went so far as to war-game an Election Day attack. Over the course of five hours, the National Security Council ran a fictionalized sequence of events to rehearse how federal agencies would communicate and respond in a real attack. Some of the scenarios dealt with actual vote meddling, while others focused on disinformation efforts to undermine the election. As the nightmare scenarios unfolded—from voters turned away to violence at polling places—the team went over what actions each agency would take and what the legal constraints were on what they could do.”

Why Kushner Won’t Lose His Security Clearance

“The decision over whether Jared Kushner will be stripped of his security clearance could ultimately be made by one man — his father-in-law, President Trump,” Politico reports.

“Kushner’s actions — including initially failing to disclose meetings with Russian officials — would be more than enough to cost most federal employees their security clearances… But Kushner isn’t your average federal government employee.”

Mattis Says Obama Should Have Listened More to Clinton

Defense Secretary James Mattis told the MIHS Islander that President Obama should have listened more to Hillary Clinton’s advice.

Said Mattis: “I was a NATO officer and then a central command officer under President Obama and he was trying to reach out to the Arab people. He unfortunately didn’t always have the best advisors or he didn’t listen to his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, so we missed some opportunities there.”

The U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself

Just published: Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself — While the Rest of Us Die by Garrett Graff.

Graff was interviewed in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: “You’ve got 20 people in the line of official succession, but each office has a 20-person line of succession beneath it. You would have this very weird set of surprise leaders. It would include the UN ambassador, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, the top federal prosecutor in Chicago. You would have all of these people popping up and saying: Hi, we’re the new leadership of the United States!”

Leaks Crackdown Concerns National Security World

Politico: “National security officials across the federal government say they are seeing new restrictions on who can access sensitive information, fueling fears in the intelligence and security community that the Trump administration has stepped up a stealthy operation to smoke out leakers. Officials at various national security agencies also say they are becoming more concerned that the administration is carefully tracking what they’re doing and who they’re talking to — then plotting to use them as a scapegoat or accuse them of leaks.”

“One U.S. official voiced concern over even talking to their superiors about a benign call from a reporter. The agency this official works for had started limiting staff’s access to information, they said, and it would make it far easier to figure out who was talking to people in the media. There was suspicion, the official said, that the agency was even tracking what they printed, to keep tabs on what information they were accessing.”

Pentagon Plan to Defeat ISIS Looks Like Obama’s Plan

“The Pentagon is putting the final touches on a promised new counter-Islamic State strategy for Syria and Iraq, and it looks very much like the one the Obama administration pursued,” the Washington Post reports.

“The core of the strategy is to deny territory to the militants and ultimately defeat them, and to stay out of Syria’s civil war pitting the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, Iran and Russia against domestic opposition forces. The two fights in that country have come into increasingly close proximity in recent months, and there have been clashes.”

“Military officials from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on down have emphasized in recent days that they are not looking for a fight with the regime or the Iranians. That has put them at odds with White House officials who have expressed concern about Iranian expansion across a new battlefield in Syria’s southern desert.”

Pentagon May Help Deport Foreign-Born Recruits

“The Pentagon is considering a plan to cancel enlistment contracts for 1,000 foreign-born recruits without legal immigration status, knowingly exposing them to deportation,” the Washington Post reports.

“The undated action memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis by personnel and intelligence officials at the Pentagon… describes potential security threats of immigrants recruited in a program designed to award fast-tracked citizenship in exchange for urgently needed medical and language skills.”

Flynn Had CIA Briefings Despite Blackmail Concerns

“Senior officials across the government became convinced in January that the incoming national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had become vulnerable to Russian blackmail,” the New York Times reports.

“At the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — agencies responsible for keeping American secrets safe from foreign spies — career officials agreed that Mr. Flynn represented an urgent problem.”

“Yet nearly every day for three weeks, the new C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, sat in the Oval Office and briefed President Trump on the nation’s most sensitive intelligence — with Mr. Flynn listening.”

Intelligence Chiefs Refuse to Discuss Trump Conversations

“Two of the nation’s top intelligence officials said in a hearing Wednesday they would not discuss specifics of private conversations with President Trump, declining to say whether they had been asked to push back against an FBI probe into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government,” the Washington Post reports.

“Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats refused to say whether it was true… that Trump asked Coats if he could reach out to then-FBI Director James B. Comey and dissuade him from pursuing the Michael Flynn matter.”

Said Coats: “I don’t believe it’s appropriate for me to address that in a public session.”

NSA Found Russia Attempted Election Hacking

“Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election,” according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept.

“The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.”

Axios: “The NSA leaves no room for doubt for who carried out the attack by pointing the finger at Russian military intelligence — specifically, the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). That stands in stark contrast to Putin’s denial that Russia has ever engaged in hacking the U.S. election at the state level.”