The D Brief: Carter’s transition team continues to form; Feinstein: P4 has suffered enough; Clapper loves North Korean food, not the company; Musical chairs for journos; And a bit more.
By Gordon Lubold with Ben Watson
While in Yemen, one of the Paris Charlie Hebdo attackers, Said Kouachi, lived across the hall from the attempted underwear bomber from Nigeria, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. WSJ's Margaret Coker and Hakim Almasmari: "Said’s education in jihad also appears to have corresponded to Mr. Abdulmutallab’s. There is no evidence that the older of the two brothers ever met with Mr. Awlaki, as Mr. Abdulmutallab did. But it is clear that the lives of Said Kouachi and Mr. Abdulmutallab overlapped in other respects during their time in Yemen, according to former neighbors and Yemeni officials...
"Initially, the U.S. played down the possibility that AQAP directed the gunmen. But on Sunday, American officials said intelligence agencies were looking at some indications the militant group in Yemen may have provided some “front-end direction” to the gunmen that the U.S. didn’t initially detect." More here.
The Paris suspect entered Syria on Jan. 8, the Turkish foreign minister asserts. Reuters this morning, here.
France deploys 10,000 troops amid the hunt for the attack’s accomplices. AP this morning, here.
One of the Paris attackers, Amedy Coulibaly, claims to have acted on behalf of ISIS when he killed four at a kosher market last week. War on the Rocks’ with the video and translation of Coulibaly’s words, here.
Germany arrests a suspected member of ISIS. AP, here.
Some angles European leaders can take to help the continent’s Muslim and immigrant populations, from The Atlantic’s David Frum writing in Defense One: “Yet European Muslim communities do have something to fear. Squeezed by high unemployment, frightened by violence and disorder, European electorates are turning to xenophobic and nationalist parties: anti-immigrant, anti-European Union… The most obvious, necessary, but alas unlikely thing is to redirect the EU’s economic policy away from currency preservation and toward job growth... A less fundamental, but maybe more immediately helpful, move would be for European leaders to reduce the flow of migration into the continent from less-developed countries outside Europe…”
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How much have five straight months of "kinetic operations" against ISIS cost the U.S.? As of Jan. 2, the tally comes to $1.2 billion with the average daily cost coming in at close to $8.2 million, CENTCOM tells Defense One's Kedar Pavgi.
Ash Carter’s transition team takes more form with a seasoned group of folks with whom Carter is well familiar. With Carter’s confirmation hearing to replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel now about month away, Carter has designated a number of people in and outside of the Pentagon to help him prepare for the hearing and make the transition back into the building. The transition team, as of Sunday night, is as follows: Army Maj. Gen. Ron Lewis, Matt Spence, James Swartout, Jody Bennett, Arnold Punaro, Dave Copp, Sally Donnelly, Michael Bayer, Michael Lumpkin and Hagel Chief of Staff Rexon Ryu.
Lewis, now the head of Army public affairs, who just pinned his second star on last week, is close to Carter as he served as the senior military aide when Carter was Deputy Secretary of Defense. He is continuing to serve as head of Army public affairs but is spending much of his time now on Carter and could be in the running to play a critical role as a uniform in Carter’s front office after confirmation. Lewis bio, here.
Spence is now the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy. Spence had announced he was leaving the administration after six years working for Obama, including a stint at the White House’s National Security Council and his work assisting in Obama’s own transition into office in 2009. When Spence announced his departure, he had left his actual departure date vague. Spence has now been asked to stay on to help Carter in his transition and is serving as Carter’s senior policy advisor, at least through the confirmation process. His bio here.
James Swartout had served as spokesperson for Carter when Carter was DepSecDef. Late last year, Swartout moved to a communications job within the Air Force. Now he’s back, at least for now, to help Carter on communications through the process and is Carter’s official spokesman.
Jody Bennett is the acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Office of the Secretary of Defense’ legislative affairs department, working on the Senate side of the house and is working to coordinate Carter’s Hill visits and helping to prepare him for the hearing.
Arnold Punaro, a retired Marine two-star who has played a role in and around the Pentagon and the military for years and is advising Carter in a number of areas.
The other officials on the team both inside and outside the building include Bayer, Donnelly and Copp, as well as Lumpkin and Ryu. The D Brief wrote about them already, here.
Carter’s transition team includes more than a dozen individuals who are not detailed to the team per se but who are assisting in one form or another as Carter prepares for confirmation. Each major department or office within the Pentagon has a point person who is tasked as needed. For example, there is an individual on the Joint Staff who is the go-to person for Carter’s transition team on any and all issues pertaining to the Joint Staff, but who is not considered part of the transition team itself, officials said.
From a senior defense official familiar with the transition process on the group: "The members of the confirmation and transition team are national security professionals with a deep understanding of the Pentagon and the Department of Defense. The team, with strong ties to Secretary Hagel and Dr. Carter, will over the coming weeks continue to be focused on ensuring a smooth confirmation and transition process."
Carter is spending most of his transition time Bob Gates-like, in office space in the gothic Old Executive Office Building next to the White House. But there is also “transition space” in the E-Ring of the Pentagon that some of Carter’s people have been using as well.
CNAS’ Shawn Brimley thinks Carter will focus on four things in the confirmation process: They include the Middle East and the linkage now between the Paris attack and the wars in Iraq and Syria; the military compensation review, due out in the next several weeks; the budget, also due out in the next month or so, depending; and procurement, something Carter knows much about.
Brimley on whether Carter can be his own man on Iraq and Syria: “Shawn’s view is that he’s going to have to speak his own mind. The political reality is that Secretary Carter can afford to have his own view and articulate his own view to Congress… I wouldn’t be surprised if even in his confirmation hearing, he puts some distance between current policy and what he thinks.”
Look on defenseone.com for a story on Carter’s transformation team later today.
Meantime, Gen. Marty Dempsey sat down with Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace to talk everything from ISIS, Obama, Gitmo, Iran, Russia and cyber attacks.
On Gitmo: It creates “a psychological scar on our national values” and “it’s in the national interest to close the prison.” And that's going to be a policy decision, he said, because “there's going to be dozens of these individuals that have to be detained. Our elected officials need to find a way to detain them.”
On is the White House micromanaging the Pentagon?: “[I]t's the wrong metric in terms of defining the relationship between the military and our elected leaders. What I can tell you is the metric that we should be focused on is access and whether my advice —influences decisions… I feel no constraints in providing my advice to him and that my advice, over the past three-and-a-half years, has influenced his decisions. “You know, whether someone wants to characterize the desire, the almost insatiable appetite for information about complex issues as micromanaging, they can have at it. But for me, the metric is access and advice.”
You can read the rest of the Dempsey-Wallace exchange, here.
Who’s up to what today – Secretary of the Air Force Debbie James will provide opening remarks at the U.S. Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Summit today at Andrews Air Force Base. The week-long event covers the active-duty, Guard and Air Force Reserves… Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert is in Chile today and tomorrow to visit his counterpart as part of a swing through South America which includes stops not only in Chile but in Peru and Colombia, to discuss various maritime issues…
Defense Information Systems Agency’s Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins moderates a panel discussion on DISA at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association DC Chapter “DISA Day” at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City at 11 a.m. … And Alan Estevez, the principal deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics attends a “Military Transportation System Lessons Learned” event at 3:30 p.m. at the Washington Convention Center…
Meantime, the hearing scheduled by Sen. John McCain for the Senate Armed Services Committee with Henry Kissinger has been postponed, at Kissinger’s request, we’re told.
It’s not jus the NSA: The FBI is now seen as broadening its surveillance role. The NYT’s Charlie Savage, here.
On Friday, we brought you an item about a letter California Republican Duncan Hunter sent to Army Secretary John McHugh about the Army’s controversial intel system known as DCGS, but the link to the letter was broken. The link is right here if you’d like to read the letter now. Apologies for the inconvenience.
Neither John McCain nor Lindsey Graham is happy about the way David Petraeus is being treated. On Friday, The New York Times broke the news about the investigation into whether Army uber Gen. David Petraeus had shared classified information with his biographer and then-girlfriend, Paula Broadwell. The F.B.I. and the Justice Department have now recommended that felony charges be brought against Petraeus, and Attorney General Eric Holder must consider if he should indict the retired Army general and CIA director. If found guilty, it could mean he could go to prison.
Such action would would be a devastating punctuation point to an amazing career that came to an abrupt end when Petraeus had to admit to an affair with Broadwell even as Petraeus has begun to put his life back together, teaching and working for a large private equity firm. Lesser beings have been charged and found guilty for lesser crimes. Holder will be in a hard spot if he pushes for an indictment – or if he doesn’t. Meantime, Petraeus supporters think he’s been treated poorly.
The McCain-Graham duo in a statement released over the weekend regarding Petraeus: "While the facts of the case involving General David Petraeus remain unknown and are not suitable for comment, it is clear that this investigation has been grievously mishandled. It is outrageous that the highly confidential and law enforcement-sensitive recommendation of prosecutors to bring charges against General Petraeus was leaked to the New York Times. It is a shameful continuation of a pattern in which leaks by unnamed sources have marred this investigation in contravention to fundamental fairness.
“No American deserves such callous treatment, let alone one of America’s finest military leaders whose selfless service and sacrifice have inspired young Americans in uniform and likely saved many of their lives."
California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, was clear: leave the general formerly known as “P4” alone. Feinstein: “This man has suffered enough, in my view. He's the four-star general of our generation… People aren't perfect. He made a mistake. He lost his job as CIA director because of it. I mean, how much do you want to punish somebody? Now, I don't know whether he directly gave material to her or not. I know she had access to classified data by her own classification. So, it's murky.”
Meantime: An airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition over Syria may have killed at least 50 Syrian civilians last month. Amid the Pentagon’s acknowledgement last week that U.S. Central Command is investigating some airstrikes in which civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria may have occurred comes a story that a coalition airstrike may have killed dozens. McClatchy’s Roy Gutman and Mousab Alhamadee, here.
Iran's influence in Iraq “has grown to an unprecedented level.” AP from Baghdad: “…Two to three Iranian military aircraft a day land at Baghdad airport, bringing in weapons and ammunition.” More here.
In the battle for Gwer in northern Iraq, the Islamic State have killed as many as 30 Kurds. AP, here.
In northern Africa, Boko Haram may have carried out their deadliest attack yet—possibly killing thousands in raids on a border town near Chad. The Atlantic’s Adam Chandler with more, here.
And Cameroon’s President Paul Biya is asking the international community for help fighting the Nigerian extremists. Reuters: “The Nigerian group is part of a ‘global’ movement that has attacked Mali, the Central African Republic and Somalia in its drive to establish its authority from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, Biya said.
“‘A global threat calls for a global response. Such should be the response of the international community, including the African Union and our regional organizations,’” he said. More here.
Will a deeper understanding of PTSD better explain the murder of a deputy sheriff 17 years ago in Georgia? WaPo’s Dan Lamothe on today’s clemency hearing for Vietnam vet Andrew Brannan, who is scheduled for execution on Tuesday: “‘Andrew’s combat experience forever altered his personality and his life,’ his lawyers say in the most recent petition. ‘Although he initially re-entered civilian life, he soon began to manifest signs of serious mental illness, which grew worse over time.’
“[I]t’s not the first time that Brannan’s defense team has attempted to use his history in combat to avoid the death sentence. This time, they say there should be a 90-day stay of execution and his sentence should be commuted on the basis that his fellow soldiers never testified at his initial trial.” More here.
Here’s how Pete Chiarelli made brain injury a big deal. In Politico magazine, “Pete Chiarelli’s Brain Crusade,” by Starbucks’ Howard Schultz and the WaPo’s Rajiv Chandrasekaren, here.
Victims of military sexual assault who were discharged are pushing for VA health benefits. Read that by the WaPo’s Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, here.
The Navy is considering not shaving recruits’ heads. Navy Times’ beloved Mark Faram, here.
A lot of national security journos are changing jobs. AP’s Lara Jakes left AP after more than 12 years and this morning begins officially at Foreign Policy, as deputy managing editor; Stripes’ Chris Carroll’s last day covering the Pentagon was Friday; he heads to the University of Maryland to be a senior science editor and writer there… Nancy Youssef left McClatchy after about a dozen years and started at The Daily Beast earlier this month… And Fox News’ Pentagon producer Justin Fishel, who has worked the beat alongside Jennifer Griffin for seven years, left the Pentagon Friday and begins this morning at ABC News working with ABC’s Martha Raddatz… Fishel, the grandson of the legendary Andy Rooney, got a big send-off from the Pentagon Friday, where this image of Fishel appeared on a good-bye cake…
Pentagon Pressec Rear Adm. John Kirby on Fishel before giving Fishel the first question of his last presser on Friday: “…You've been a bit of an institution around here yourself. And you come from great stock, as we all know. Your grandfather was right there on D-Day right at the very beginning covering for Stars and Stripes himself, Mr. Andy Rooney, a legend in journalism, an individual that we all look up to. We all look up to you, too...”
Chris Carroll, to colleagues, genuinely but a little tongue-in-cheek: “…It’s been great getting to know many of you, traveling around the world and together covering the advance of freedom. Freedom can advance without me, but I’ll miss working with you guys. Stay in touch.”
Robert Stone, a “seafaring seeker with roots in the literary past,” and a novelist of the Vietnam era and beyond, is dead. More on that here.
Last week, Jim Clapper talked about his big trip to North Korea late last year with some amazing details. Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper spoke at a cybersecurity event at Fordham University last Wednesday in which he went into some detail about his experience traveling to North Korea to free two imprisoned Americans. Clapper on landing in Pyongyang: “…I was also struck by how impassive everyone was. They didn’t show any emotion. They didn’t stop to greet each other, didn’t nod hello, and we didn’t see anyone conversing or laughing. They were just going about their business, going wherever they were going. It was almost automaton like. It was eerie.
“[Clapper host] General Kim spent most of the meal berating me about American aggression and what terrible people we were…He got louder and louder, and he kept leaning toward me, pointing his finger at my chest and saying that U.S. and South Korean exercises were a provocation to war. And not being a diplomat, my reaction was to lean back across the table, point my finger at his chest, [laughter] and respond that shelling South Korean islands wasn’t the most diplomatic course of action they could have taken either… But of course, my purpose was to secure the release of our two citizens. So at one point, my executive assistant suggested I take a head break to let things cool off, which I did.”
“And the plight of the citizens of Pyongyang stood in solemn contrast to the dinner I had the previous night, Friday the seventh, an elaborate 12-course Korean meal. Having spent time in Korea, I consider myself somewhat a connoisseur of Korean food, and that was one of the best Korean meals I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, the company was not pleasurable.” Read the rest of his remarks about the trip and his concerns about cyber, here.
NEXT STORY: Boko Haram Kills 'Too Many to Count' in Nigeria