Unrest across America; Trump takes to bunker; Taliban, al Qaeda still a team; IC seeks COVID tools; And a bit more.
Protestors and police clashed across the country. And in the nation's capital, the National Guard, along with more Secret Service and U.S. Park Police, have been sent to protect the president and his family at the White House, the Associated Press reports today. That follows a raucous and violent weekend that capped six days of unrest over police brutality toward people of color in multiple cities across the U.S., triggered by the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last week.
Nonviolent protests occurred in dozens of cities, with some — as in Camden, N.J. — turning into scenes of unity and shared frustration between both citizens and police.
But it’s the violent ones (as well as violent and questionable reactions from law enforcement) that grab our attention and lead TV news coverage. Overnight, “Hundreds of store fronts were smashed and buildings vandalized in multiple cities as protesters and police clashed,” Reuters recounts this morning. Confrontations in Washington, D.C., included one in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House. The Washington Post has more on that, here.
One dead in Louisville. AP reports today that “Police officers and National Guard soldiers enforcing a curfew in Louisville, Kentucky, killed a man early Monday when they returned fire after someone in a large group shot at them first, police said. In Indianapolis, two people were reported dead in bursts of downtown violence over the weekend, adding to deaths recorded in Detroit and Minneapolis.”
At least 16 cities called in the National Guard to help try to quell protests, according to the New York Post. The latest count put the number of Guard troops called up nationwide at 16,000 just for the unrest, according to Fox News; and that includes all 1,700 of Washington, D.C.’s Guard forces. Along with its COVID-19 response, the National Guard now has 62,000 troops deployed inside the continental U.S.
Guardsmen are primarily freeing up local police to act, Guard leaders told reporters Sunday. Their missions include guarding hospitals or infrastructure normally protected by local police, Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reports.
But in Louisville, the Guard was sent to help clear a crowd. The city’s police chief said in a statement that about 12:15 a.m., his officers and Guardsmen were sent to a parking lot to break up a gathering. “Officers and soldiers began to clear the lot and at some point were shot at,” Conrad said in a statement. “Both LMPD and National Guard members returned fire, we have one man dead at scene.” NBC has a bit more, here.
Today Trump is meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr ahead of a phone call with governors as well as law enforcement and national security officials. Coverage continues below the fold.
From Defense One
When Civilian Protest Is Labeled 'Urban Warfare' // Nick Baumann, The Atlantic: When state officials say they face "a sophisticated network of urban warfare,” they're looking through the lens of a militarized police force.
Weekend of Violent Protests Leaves Trail of Damage for Feds // Katherine McIntire Peters, Government Executive: A Federal Protective Service officer was killed, dozens of Secret Service officers were wounded, and government buildings and monuments were vandalized.
On Chaotic Day, Trump Vows To ‘Eliminate’ Hong Kong’s Special Status // Katie Bo Williams: The move is intended to dissuade China. Some analysts believe it will do the opposite.
The Intelligence Community Wants New COVID-19 Tracking Tools // Patrick Tucker: A call has gone out for contactless testing, contact tracing without smartphones, mutation mapping, and more.
New Air-Ops Software to Get 5G Test Outside Las Vegas // Patrick Tucker: The Air Force will build a 5G network at Nellis AFB, the latest U.S. base to host experiments with the next-gen comms gear.
To Boost NATO’s Presence in the Black Sea, Get Creative // Luke Coffey: Alliance fleets aren't getting bigger to match Moscow's moves in the region, so it's time to think differently.
Trump Wants to Leave Afghanistan Before Election Day? Hold Him to It // Bonnie Kristian: None of the arguments for delaying the inevitable make sense.
It’s Time to Listen to the Doomsday Planners // Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic: Another pandemic, or a terrorist attack, could cripple an unprepared executive branch.
New Spy Chief Takes Reins Amid a Work Environment Reshaped by Coronavirus // Courtney Bublé, Government Executive: Telework, staggered schedules, and new technology are some of the ways intelligence officials are keeping themselves and the information they gather safe.
Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1980, CNN first began broadcasting, marking the birth of around-the-clock TV news.
America’s coronavirus death toll is now more than 103,000 and unemployment is rising above 40 million. The New York Times rolls up the latest trends — including an East Coast that's improving considerably, and a Midwest "still troubled by persistent coronavirus outbreaks" — here.
POTUS to the bunker. Trump has “been shaken by the size and venom of the crowds” that gathered near the White House Saturday and Sunday, AP's Jonathan Lemire and Zeke Miller reported in their account of how POTUS spent an hour or so in a White House bunker for terrorism attack evacuation on Sunday. With protests spreading over the weekend, Trump “told advisers he worries about his safety” as he tried to “project strength, using a series of inflammatory tweets and delivering partisan attacks during a time of national crisis.”
WH advisors pitched an Oval Office address for Trump on Sunday “in an attempt to ease tensions.” But AP reports “The notion was quickly scrapped for lack of policy proposals and the president’s own seeming disinterest in delivering a message of unity.”
And as far as messaging goes, the president retweeted conservative commentator Buck Sexton, who called for “overwhelming force” against violent demonstrators, on Saturday. Otherwise, “In tweets Sunday, Trump accused anarchists and the media of fueling violence. Attorney General William Barr pointed a finger at ‘far left extremist’ groups. Police chiefs and politicians accused outsiders of causing the problems.”
Big picture: Tensions across the U.S. are “Now reaching boil in a foul brew,” tweeted John Mclaughlin of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, who continued, “No national leadership; Trump models [and] fuels bad behavior; justice system shaky; law enforcement confused; racial, other problems neglected; political courage gone AWOL; pandemic overlay. Feels like democracy crying for help — light blinking red.”
Bigger picture: “The scale of the coast-to-coast protests has rivaled the historic demonstrations of the civil rights and Vietnam War eras,” AP writes today. “At least 4,400 people have been arrested for such offenses as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to a count compiled by The Associated Press.” More on 1968 and today, here.
Someone who seems to have an idea, a suggestion, something: Rep. Justin Amash, Republican-turned-Independent lawmaker from Michigan. He went on Twitter Sunday evening to pitch a new bill — the Ending Qualified Immunity Act — which he said could “eliminate qualified immunity and restore Americans’ ability to obtain relief when police officers violate their constitutionally secured rights.” Amash explains the bill in a Twitter thread, here.
The Taliban has failed to "break ties with al-Qaeda — undermining Trump’s biggest foreign policy win as he seeks re-election in November," Time's Kim Dozier writes off a new UN report (PDF) released Friday.
Topline read: “Al-Qaeda has 400 to 600 operatives active in 12 Afghan provinces and is running training camps in the east of the country,” Dozier reports. What’s more, the UN report alleges “the Taliban has played a double game with the Trump Administration, consulting with al-Qaeda senior leaders throughout its 16 months of peace talks with U.S. officials and reassuring Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, among others, that the Taliban would ‘honour their historical ties’ to the terrorist group.”
But despite all that, Kabul says it will continue releasing Taliban prisoners. Tolo News reports today. “So far, the government has released 1,700 detainees of this latest pledged tranche, bringing the total number of Taliban released to 2,700.” And for the Taliban, they’ve “released over 420 prisoners, 73 of them during the last few days from Balkh, Logar, Kunduz, Paktia, Paktika and Khost provinces.” More on all that, here.
And finally today: SpaceX at last made history Saturday when it became the first private company to send U.S. astronauts into space. Relive the moment, via NASA, on Twitter, here.