National Security

Schooling Trump on American Power

Associated Press: “There, in the windowless meeting room known as ‘The Tank’, Trump was to be briefed on the state of America’s longest-running war as he and his top aides plotted ways ahead. But, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the meeting, it was, in reality, about much more.”

“Trump’s national security team had become alarmed by the president’s frequent questioning about the value of a robust American presence around the world. When briefed on the diplomatic, military and intelligence posts, the new president would often cast doubt on the need for all the resources. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson organized the July 20 session to lay out the case for maintaining far-flung outposts — and to present it, using charts and maps, in a way the businessman-turned-politician would appreciate. The session was, in effect, American Power 101 and the student was the man working the levers.”

McCain Opposes Transgender Troop Ban

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) is backing a bipartisan bill that would block President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, The Hill reports.

Said McCain: “When less than one percent of Americans are volunteering to join the military, we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country.”

Sessions Wants NSC Staff to Take Lie Detector Tests

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has told associates he wants to put the entire National Security Council staff through a lie detector test to root out leakers. It’s unclear whether this will ever happen, but Sessions floated the idea to multiple people, as recently as last month,” according to Jonathan Swan.

“Sessions’ idea is to do a one-time, one-issue, polygraph test of everyone on the NSC staff. Interrogators would sit down with every single NSC staffer (there’s more than 100 of them), and ask them, individually, what they know about the leaks of transcripts of the president’s phone calls with foreign leaders. Sessions suspects those leaks came from within the NSC, and thinks that a polygraph test — at the very least — would scare them out of leaking again.”

Trump Looking at Deploying ‘Mini-Nukes’

“The Trump administration is considering proposing smaller, more tactical nuclear weapons that would cause less damage than traditional thermonuclear bombs — a move that would give military commanders more options but could also make the use of atomic arms more likely,” Politico reports.

“Approval of such weapons — whether designed to be delivered by missile, aircraft or special forces — would mark a major reversal from the Obama administration, which sought to limit reliance on nuclear arms and prohibited any new weapons or military capabilities. And critics say it would only make the actual use of atomic arms more likely.”

Mattis Warns of ‘Massive Military Response’

Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a stark warning to North Korea if it threatened the U.S. or its allies, The Hill reports.

Said Mattis: “Any threat to the United States or its territories including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response.”

He added: “Kim Jong Un should take heed the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice. All members unanimously agreed on the threat North Korea poses. And they remain unanimous in their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Because we are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely, North Korea.”

CIA Russia Probe Unit Reports Directly to Pompeo

“As CIA director, Mike Pompeo has taken a special interest in an agency unit that is closely tied to the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, requiring the Counterintelligence Mission Center to report directly to him,” the Washington Post reports.

“Officials at the center have, in turn, kept a watchful eye on Pompeo, who has repeatedly played down Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and demonstrated a willingness to engage in political skirmishes for President Trump.”

White House Sets Rules for Transgender Ban

“The White House is expected to send guidance to the Pentagon in coming days on how to implement a new administration ban on transgender people in the military, issuing a policy that will allow Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to consider a service member’s ability to deploy in deciding whether to kick them out of the military,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The White House memo also directs the Pentagon to deny admittance to transgender individuals and to stop spending on medical treatment regimens for those currently serving,”

How Trump Ultimately Gave In to Generals on Afghanistan

President Trump’s “skepticism about America’s involvement in Afghanistan was no secret to his staff. But his top national security officials were still taken aback at a meeting in the Situation Room on July 19, when an angry Mr. Trump began ripping apart their latest proposal to send thousands of additional American troops to the country,” the New York Times reports.

Politico: “The plan – which will maintain an unspecified U.S. troop presence without withdrawal timetables and intensify pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terrorist safe havens – was the product of a months-long strategy review in which the president’s national security team talked him out of ending the costly 16-year war.”

Washington Post: “Trump’s private deliberations — detailed in interviews with more than a dozen senior administration officials and outside allies — revealed a president un­attached to any particular foreign-policy doctrine, but willing to be persuaded as long as he could be seen as a strong and decisive leader.”