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Trump left a key position unfilled — and it may explain mistakes in the Suleimani assassination

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President Donald Trump’s failure to fill a key position at the Pentagon may explain some of the criticism the administration is receiving following the assassination of Iranian General Qassim Suleimani.

While Trump often brags about his success in filling judicial vacancies, the president has failed to fill key vacancies in the executive branch — a problem compounded by the high rate of people leaving government during his presidency.

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One key vacancy is in the spotlight following the assassination.

Luke Hartig, the former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council (NSC), explained the situation in an analysis published by Just Security.

“In killing Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, the U.S. military has just conducted one of its most important and consequential special operations missions ever. And it has done so without a crucial player – the Pentagon’s civilian chief of special operations,” Hartig explained. “Much has been said about the Trump administration’s failure to fill several key Senate-confirmed positions, but today, perhaps none of these is more significant than the Assistant Secretary of Defense (ASD) for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC).”

The position has been vacant since Owen West resigned in June. Mark Mitchell, who had been West’s principal deputy, left in October.

Hartig, who worked in SO/LIC for five years, detailed the importance of the position.

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“Why should we care, you might ask. The mission appears to have been well-executed and successful even without a civilian overseer. What could a civilian possibly bring to the table that our highly professional special operators lack? The short answer is that the ASD SO/LIC combines expertise in operational oversight with foreign policy judgement to ensure that our operations are conducted as prudently as possible,” he explained. “This is essential because special operations almost always have strategic and political ramifications that go beyond the military’s execution of them.”

“In an operation like this one, the ASD SO/LIC would be a critical voice in vetting the proposed mission and advising the Secretary of Defense and the White House on its risks and rewards. The assistant secretary would provide a check on those within the military who might be overly focused on the operational upside and largely neglect the broader foreign policy fallout and risks. This is a high-stakes task that requires an experienced professional who is ready for the pushback that comes from asking hard questions about the military’s plans,” he noted.

The administration has been slammed for how people were informed of the raid.

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“Beyond these operationally-focused duties, the ASD SO/LIC would be particularly attuned to ensuring appropriate congressional oversight of operations. This is particularly notable since several key members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), appear to have learned of the operation only after the fact, even while other members, notably Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), were notified in advance,” Hartig explained. “It’s also not clear whether Congress has been offered a legal justification for the operation, a critical component of congressional notification.”

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Paul Krugman debunks Trump’s bogus claims about the ‘Obama economy’

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that his policies alone are responsible for the economic recovery in the United States, claiming that he inherited a broken economy from his Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama. But Trump’s claims are wildly misleading, and economist/New York Times columnist Paul Krugman debunked some of them this week in a Twitter thread.

Krugman tweeted, “So, I see that Trump is bad-mouthing the Obama economy. Two points. First, there was absolutely no break in economic trends after the 2016 election.”

The 66-year-old Krugman posted a chart showing GDP (gross domestic product) from 2010 (when Obama was serving his first term) to 2020 (three years into Trump’s presidency). GDP, the chart shows, gradually improved during Obama’s eight-year presidency.

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Right-wing extremists using Facebook to recruit for ‘boogaloo’ attacks on liberals and cops: report

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A right-wing extremist movement is recruiting on social media to target liberals and law enforcement in a violent uprising called the "boogaloo."

The loosely organized movement is trolling for members on mainstream platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter, in addition to 4chan and other fringe sites, to promote a second Civil War, reported NBC News.

“When you have people talking about and planning sedition and violence against minorities, police, and public officials, we need to take their words seriously,” said Paul Goldenberg, of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

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2020 Election

Bernie Sanders was so close to a primary against Obama in 2011 that Dems were ‘absolutely panicked’: report

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In an article for The Atlantic this Wednesday, Edward-Isaac Dovere recounts the time that Bernie Sanders tried to primary Barack Obama -- a move that Sanders was close to achieving that former Democratic Senator Harry Reid had to intervene to stop him.

The event, which hasn't been previously reported, took place in the summer of 2011 and reportedly had the Obama campaign "absolutely panicked"

While Sanders' Obama plan never went through, the relationship between the two has been strained ever since. "Now Obama, the beloved former leader of the Democratic Party, and Sanders, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, are facing a new and especially fraught period in their relationship," Dovere writes. "To Obama, Sanders is a lot of what’s wrong with Democrats: unrelenting, unrealistic, so deep in his own fight that he doesn’t see how many people disagree with him or that he’s turning off people who should be his allies. To Sanders, it’s Obama who represents a lot of what’s wrong with Democrats: overly compromising, and so obsessed with what isn’t possible that he’s lost all sense of what is."

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