Cover up or coup—whatever Trump is doing at the Pentagon can’t be good

first_imgDonald Trump has now purged several top-tier civilian officials at the Pentagon and replaced them with a handful of bootlicking loyalists. None of Trump’s new minions are up to the jobs they now hold and these abrupt personnel changes are as destabilizing to the Pentagon as they should be deeply concerning to the country. Here are the Cliff’s Notes on the personnel changes. Newly installedActing Defense Secretary: Christopher Miller, a combat veteran turned right-wing talkerChief of Staff: Kash Patel, a former Devin Nunes staffer who was part of the White House National Security Counsel (NSC) and worked to discredit the Russia investigationActing Undersecretary of Policy: Retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, whose appointment to DOD was yanked earlier this year after he was exposed as a racist Obama-hating conspiracy theoristUndersecretary of Defense for Intelligence: Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a Michael Flynn ally and former NSC staffer who allegedly supplied Rep. Nunes with information that Trump’s communications were incidentally swept up by U.S. intelligence agencies conducting foreign surveillanceGeneral Counsel, National Security Agency: Michael Ellis, also a former Nunes and NSC staffer (he allegedly joined Cohen-Watnick in supplying intel to Nunes and later moved Trump’s Ukraine call to the super secret server) who will now hold one of the most powerful legal positions in the U.S. Intelligence Community- Advertisement – Resigned/Forced outDefense Secretary: Mark EsperUndersecretary of Defense for Intelligence: Joseph KernanActing Undersecretary of Policy: James AndersonIt’s unclear what Trump intends to do with his newly installed team of reality-adjacent loyalists and disinformation specialists, but nothing good can come of it. One theory—and again, it’s a theory—is that some sort of cover up is underway. Nunes coupled with abuse/mishandling of intelligence and intimate knowledge of what happened at the NSC throughout Trump’s tenure are central to so many of these players. And whatever happened with Trump, Russia, Flynn, and Nunes, the other chief intelligence agencies (CIA/FBI) likely know far more than what has been publicly disclosed. Something simply doesn’t feel right about all of those Nunes/NSC insiders being deployed to powerful positions at the last second.Another possibility that seems equally as far-fetched and yet not out of the realm for the era is that Trump is trying to orchestrate a coup of some sort. Retired four-star Gen. Barry McCaffrey told MSNBC Wednesday he had every confidence that the military leadership would never go along with any unconstitutional orders they were given, but he also said that Trump’s intentions are very worrisome.  – Advertisement – “If I was a CIA officer trying to understand what was going on in a third-world country, and I saw this pattern of behavior, I would say, the strongman is trying to take over the government and defy an election,” McCaffrey said. “And I think they’re playing with that idea inside the White House.”This is all pure conjecture, but Trump’s erratic moves at these uncertain times warrant the type of conjecture that under usual circumstances would serve no purpose. In this case, we all need to keep a watchful eye on Trump’s next moves, as we may have only seen the tip of the iceberg.As McCaffrey said, “I have been shot at a lot and nearly killed a bunch of times. I’m not an alarmist. I stay cool under pressure. Mark me down as alarmed.”- Advertisement – – Advertisement – TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump sits before holding a roundtable discussion with several Administration officials and Hispanic American business, community, and education leaders in the cabinet room at the White House on July 9, 2020 in Washington,DC. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)last_img read more

Report ranks cities’ terrorist attack risks

first_img They calculated a place-based vulnerability index (PVI), which includes measures of social and built-in vulnerabilities, as well as a community’s experience in responding to extreme events. Mar 11, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Researchers who specialize in geography and environmental risk recently assessed the vulnerability of the nation’s major urban areas to terrorism events and found that the highest risk areas were broadly located across the eastern and southern seaboards. The researchers, led by Walter Piegorsch, PhD, an environmental risk expert from the University of Arizona, based their benchmark risk assessment on data from past terrorist incidents and several environmental factors. For example, when considering infrastructure vulnerability, they considered bridges, tunnels, and water and sewer systems, along with the robustness of buildings and skyscrapers to sudden shocks. They also factored the age of roads and housing into their risk analysis, according to the report. Piegorsch WW, Cutter SL, Hardisty F. Benchmark analysis for quantifying urban vulnerability. Risk Analysis 2007;27(6):1411-25 [Abstract] The findings of the study contain useful information for cities that seek to lower their risk of a terrorist attack, the authors said. They also said the results may help officials prioritize national and regional funding for homeland security preparedness and response. Cities that were assessed as having the highest terrorist attack risks exceeded the authors’ statistical benchmarks for casualties and incidence. Locations that were ranked as moderate risks exceeded only the incidence benchmark. Those that scored lowest on the risk assessment did not exceed either benchmark. Locations with the greatest risks had PVIs higher than 0.917, and 19 cities exceeded that measure. Some of the cities that scored highest include New Orleans, Baton Rouge, La., New York City/Newark, Charleston, S.C, Norfolk, Va., and Washington, D.C. The authors pointed out that the cities with the highest risk are port cities. A national map showing the color-coded risk assessment for each of the 132 towns is available on a press release link on the University of Arizona’s Web site.center_img See also: The study, published in the December issue of Risk Analysis, was funded by the US Department of Homeland Security, according to a Mar 3 press release from the University of Arizona. Researchers focused on 132 cities that the US government believes are at highest risk to terrorism incidents, ranging from Albany, N.Y., to Youngstown, Ohio. “Our capacity to adequately prepare for and respond to these vulnerabilities varies widely across the country, especially in urban areas,” they wrote. “We see that ‘place matters,’ and so anyone-size-fits-all strategy of resource allocation and training will ignore the reality of geographic differences.” Mar 3 University of Arizona press release read more