“The acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center was fired Wednesday night in what insiders fear is a purge by the Trump administration of career professionals at an organization set up after 9/11 to protect the nation from attacks,” the Washington Post reports.
Politico: “As the response to the outbreak from governments at all levels has shown, the U.S. was completely unprepared for a slowly creeping pandemic — let alone a biological attack that would overwhelm it all at once.”
“Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell has declined to appear before Congress on Tuesday to speak about foreign election threats, citing apprehension about his preparedness to address sensitive subjects that tend to upset the president,” the Washington Post reports.
“The top intelligence community official asked President Trump to be excused from the briefings because he anticipated pointed questions from Democrats about politically volatile subjects — such as intelligence assessments that Russia is once more interfering in American politics, two of the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.”
“President Trump is tightening his grip on the intelligence community as part of a post-acquittal purge of career officials and political appointees deemed insufficiently loyal, and the abrupt firing of his last intel chief is only the tip of the iceberg,” Politico reports.
“Trump’s decision to replace acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire with a loyalist with no intelligence experience, Ric Grenell, shocked the national security world and has raised questions about who the president will nominate to serve in the post after Grenell’s ‘acting’ status expires next month. In India, Trump hinted that his decision would come soon.”
“But it also revealed a deeper trend: namely, the steps Trump has taken to shield the public from intelligence that could be politically damaging for him, and keep the flow of information coming out of the agencies firmly under his control.”
“A National Security Agency system that analyzed logs of Americans’ domestic phone calls and text messages cost $100 million from 2015 to 2019, but yielded only a single significant investigation,” the New York Times reports.
“Moreover, only twice during that four-year period did the program generate unique information that the F.B.I. did not already possess.”
President Trump is revisiting the idea of nominating Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) to be the next Director of National Intelligence, CNN reports.
“It would be a controversial pick as Ratcliffe withdrew his name from consideration for the same job last year amid bipartisan concerns about his qualifications.”
Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven — U.S. special forces commander from 2011 to 2014, including the 2011 SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden — writes in the Washington Post:
“As Americans, we should be frightened — deeply afraid for the future of the nation. When good men and women can’t speak the truth, when facts are inconvenient, when integrity and character no longer matter, when presidential ego and self-preservation are more important than national security — then there is nothing left to stop the triumph of evil.”
Garrett Graff: “While vacancies and acting officials have become commonplace in this administration, the moves by President Trump this week represent a troubling and potentially profound new danger to the country. There will soon be no Senate-confirmed director of the National Counterterrorism Center, director of national intelligence, principal deputy director of national intelligence, homeland security secretary, deputy homeland security secretary, nor leaders of any of the three main border security and immigration agencies.”
“Across the government, nearly 100,000 federal law enforcement agents, officers, and personnel are working today without permanent agency leaders, from Customs and Border Protection to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.”
“All the posts, and many more top security jobs, are unfilled or staffed with leaders who have not been confirmed by the Senate. Trump has done an end-around, installing loyalists without subjecting them to legally mandated vetting and approval by Congress.”
“The Pentagon’s top policy official is expected to depart his post soon,” CNN reports.
“John Rood, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the Pentagon, lost support among senior national security leadership and has been asked for his resignation… Rood is the Pentagon’s top policy official and oversees aspects of the Pentagon’s relationship with US allies and partners.”
“Rood was involved in certifying to Congress that Ukraine had embarked on significant reforms to justify its receipt of $250 million in security assistance. That certification undermined one of the justifications — concerns about corruption in Kiev — that some members of the Trump administration made to defend blocking aid to Ukraine.”
“Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, uniting against a Trump administration idea to withdraw U.S. troops from part of Africa, pushed back during a fiery exchange with Defense Secretary Mark Esper here over the weekend,” NBC News reports.
At one point, Graham warned Esper that there would be consequences if the Pentagon withdrew all troops from the region. Graham told Esper that he could “make your life hell.”
Politico: “The surprise reprogramming of another $3.8 billion… means the Pentagon will have forked over nearly $10 billion since last year to help pay for President Trump’s border wall.”
“But this shift in funding marks a new phase for the administration, which until now had used money set for military construction and counterdrug operations, not combat equipment. The fiscal 2020 money will be moved into drug interdiction accounts that the Pentagon tapped last year to fund border barrier projects.”
Washington Post: “The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades, navigating waves of technology from mechanical gears to electronic circuits and, finally, silicon chips and software.”
“The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican.”
“But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages.”
“Over 100 U.S. service members have been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries in the wake of the January 8 Iranian missile attack on the al Asad military base in Iraq,” CNN reports.
“The Pentagon and President Trump had initially said no service members were injured or killed in the Iranian missile attack… Last month, Trump said he does not consider potential brain injuries to be as serious as physical combat wounds, downplaying the severity of the injuries suffered in Iraq.”
“The Trump administration is expected to loosen restrictions on the US military’s ability to use landmines in the coming days, weapons that have been banned by more than 160 countries due to their history of killing and wounding civilians,” CNN reports.
“The move represents a major reversal from the approach of the Obama administration which in 2014 committed the US to largely adhering to the 1997 Ottawa Convention, the international agreement which banned the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines.”
“The Pentagon on Tuesday raised to 50 the number of U.S. service members who suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iran’s missile strike earlier this month on an Iraqi air base, the third time the number of injuries has been increased,” the AP reports.
“A retired Navy SEAL whose war crimes trial made international news has launched a video attack on former SEAL teammates who accused him of murder, shooting civilians and who testified against him at his San Diego court-martial in June,” the San Diego Union Tribune reports.
“In a three-minute video posted to his Facebook page and Instagram account Monday, retired Chief Special Operator Edward Gallagher referred to some members of his former platoon as ‘cowards’ and highlighted names, photos and — for those still on active duty — their duty status and current units, something former SEALs say places those men — and the Navy’s mission — in jeopardy.”
The Pentagon has confirmed that 34 U.S. service members were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after the Iranian missile strike in Iraq. Eight of them were flown back to the United States for medical treatment, CNN reports.
President Trump originally said there were no casualties.