National Security

Top General Says He Would Resist ‘Illegal’ Nuclear Order

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), told an audience that he has given a lot of thought to what he would say if President Trump ordered a strike he considered unlawful, CBS News reports.

Said Hyten: “I think some people think we’re stupid. We’re not stupid people. We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?”

“As head of STRATCOM, Hyten is responsible for overseeing the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Hyten said he has been trained every year for decades in the law of armed conflict, which takes into account specific factors to determine legality — necessity, distinction, proportionality, unnecessary suffering and more. Running through scenarios of how to react in the event of an illegal order is standard practice, he said.”

Trump’s Nuclear Authority Questioned

“A decades-old presidential authority to use nuclear weapons is suddenly coming into question as US allies and some lawmakers from both parties want the Trump administration to assure them that President Donald Trump cannot rashly launch a nuclear strike,” CNN reports.

“The potential that Trump could use existing law to authorize the deployment of a nuclear weapon on his own is becoming the subject of frequent conversation — and bipartisan anxiety — on Capitol Hill. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker will hold a hearing Tuesday on the authority of the President to maintain sole authority to launch nuclear weapons.”

“A NATO partner country raised concerns about the President’s command of the US launch system.”

Quote of the Day

“I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.”

— Former CIA Director John Brennan, quoted by the Washington Post, on not confronting Russian president Vladimir Putin over his election interference.

Trump Calls for Execution of Suspected Terrorist

President Trump posted a message on Twitter declaring that the suspect in the recent terrorist act in New York City should be executed, the New York Times reports.

“Presidents are typically advised never to weigh in on pending criminal cases because such comments can be used by defense lawyers to argue that their clients cannot get a fair trial — especially when the head of the executive branch that will prosecute the charges advocates the ultimate punishment before a judge has heard a single shred of evidence at trial. But Mr. Trump has disregarded such advice in other instances, as well.”

Trump Calls U.S. Justice System a ‘Laughing Stock’

President Trump called for “quick” and “strong” justice for terror suspects in the wake of the deadly New York City attack, saying that it is not surprising terror attacks happen because the way the United States punishes terrorists is “a laughing stock,” CNN reports.

Trump also said he would consider sending the attacker to the controversial prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Mattis Says Threat of Nuclear Attack Accelerating

“In remarks in Seoul with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo at his side, Mattis accused the North of illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear programs — and vowed to defeat any attack,” the AP reports.

“Mattis said North Korea engages in ‘outlaw’ behavior and that the U.S. will never accept a nuclear North. He added that regardless of what the North might try, it is overmatched by the firepower and cohesiveness of the decades-old U.S.-South Korean alliance.”

Over 500 Military Officials Sanctioned for Misconduct

USA Today: “Since 2013, military investigators have documented at least 500 cases of serious misconduct among its generals, admirals and senior civilians, almost half of those instances involving personal or ethical lapses.”

“Many cases involve sex scandals, including a promiscuous Army general who led a swinging lifestyle, another who lived rent-free in the home of a defense contractor after his affair fell apart and another who is under investigation for sending steamy Facebook messages to the wife of an enlisted soldier on his post. Yet despite the widespread abuses, the Pentagon does no trend analysis to determine whether the problem is worsening, nor does it regularly announce punishments for generals and admirals — all public figures.”

Quote of the Day

“One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never, ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest-income level of America and the highest-income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur. That is wrong. That is wrong. If we’re going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.”

— Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), on C-SPAN.

‘He Knew What He Signed Up For’

President Trump told U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow Tuesday that “he knew what he signed up for… but when it happens it hurts anyway,” when he died serving in northwestern Africa, according to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), WPLG reports.

The Washington Post reports Wilson was riding in a limousine with Johnson when the president called and heard the conversation on speakerphone.

Wilson said Johnson broke down in tears: “He made her cry.”

Trump responds: “Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!”

Cotton Eyed for Possible CIA Vacancy

Mike Allen: “We told you about internal administration conversations about sliding CIA Director Mike Pompeo over to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whenever he heads back to Texas.”

“Now we’re hearing about a top possibility for the next chess move: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) was considered for CIA director (and SecDef) during the transition, and is a candidate for CIA again.”

“Cotton is one of the few senators with an easy relationship with Trump, talking to him a few times a week, giving him advice about top jobs (that Trump has taken), and planting the seed for the Iran policy announced Friday.”

Trump Wanted Tenfold Increase In Nuclear Weapons

President Trump “said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest ranking national security leaders,” NBC News reports.

“Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.”

“According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the build-up. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.”

“The July 20 meeting was described as a lengthy and sometimes tense review of worldwide U.S. forces and operations. It was soon after the meeting broke up that officials who remained behind heard Tillerson say that Trump is a ‘moron.'”

Russian Hackers Stole NSA Data on U.S. Cyber Defense

“Hackers working for the Russian government stole details of how the U.S. penetrates foreign computer networks and defends against cyberattacks after a National Security Agency contractor removed the highly classified material and put it on his home computer,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The hackers appear to have targeted the contractor after identifying the files through the contractor’s use of a popular antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab.”

“The theft is considered by experts to be one of the most significant security breaches in recent years. It offers a glimpse into how the intelligence community thinks Russian intelligence exploits a widely available commercial software product to spy on the U.S. The incident occurred in 2015 but wasn’t discovered until spring of last year, said the people familiar with the matter.”

Head of Air Force Academy Tells Racists to ‘Get Out’

“The head of the Air Force Academy stood all his 4,000 cadets at attention Thursday to deliver a message on racial slurs found written on message boards at the academy’s preparatory school,” the Colorado Gazette reports.

“Chins in and chests out, the cadets were flanked by 1,500 officers, sergeants, athletic coaches and civilian professors inside cavernous Mitchell Hall. Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria told them to take out their smartphones and record his words.”

Said Silveria: “If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.”

Hawaii Prepares for Nuclear Attack

Honolulu Civil Beat: “Dozens of legislators and their staffers met behind closed doors Tuesday to hear a briefing by state Emergency Management Agency officials on preparedness for a North Korea nuclear strike on Hawaii.”

“Some lawmakers who attended stressed that the secret meeting was not called because of any immediate threat to the islands. Instead, it was a discussion of how to help the public prepare.”