Mayors challenge Barr’s forces; Esper and Pompeo, Aussie, Aussie, Aussie; Chinese facial recognition at RiteAid?; Big Tech’s day in Congress; And a bit more.
The late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., was the first Black lawmaker to lie in state inside the Capitol Hill Rotunda for a memorial service on Monday. Lewis died last Friday at the age of 80. His flag-draped coffin will rest on the East side of the Capitol Building for public viewing all day Tuesday.
SecDef Esper and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited Lewis’s casket in the Rotunda, on Monday. Here are photos, via Politico’s Jake Sherman.
Decidedly not visiting: President Trump. Here is video of the president declining when asked by reporters near Marine One on Monday.
Six U.S. mayors want militarized feds declared illegal in cities that don’t want them. Mayors of Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Chicago; Kansas City; Albuquerque, N.M; and Washington, D.C., wrote to House and Senate leaders Monday asking for new limits on the patchwork of law enforcement forces sent in by Attorney General Bill Barr, the Associated Press reports.
Why this matters: “The move came as a top official said federal militarized officers would remain in Portland until attacks on the U.S. courthouse cease.”
Today, a National Guard commander refutes Barr’s account of Trump’s Bible photo day and the use of tear gas. Army National Guard’s Maj. Adam DeMarco will submit testimony today saying that the U.S. Park Police began violently routing protesters from Lafayette Square, adjacent to the White House, on June 1 without apparent provocation or adequate warning, Defense One’s Katie Bo Williams reported Monday. The protesters were attacked and pushed out of the area ahead of a photo op for the president — who was escorted by Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley — where Trump held up a Bible in front of a church before sundown.
Was there tear gas, or not? Well… “I could feel irritation in my eyes and nose, and based on my previous exposure to tear gas in my training at West Point and later in my Army training, I recognized that irritation as effects consistent with CS or ‘tear gas,’” he writes. More notably, he says he spotted canisters on uniforms prior to the scrum, and spent canisters on the ground after.
For the record: Milley later addressed his role in the Lafayette Square events that evening — after 10 days of public criticism. “I should not have been there,” he said, because his participation with Barr and Trump “created the perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”
In his prepared statement to a House committee where he is expected to testify on Monday, Maj. DeMarco says that protesters gathered in Lafayette Park were “behaving peacefully, exercising their First Amendment rights” when Park Police abruptly moved in to clear the area so that President Donald Trump could get that photo. Although the Park Police issued three warnings over a megaphone, DeMarco says — warnings required both by law and court rulings — “the announcements were barely audible and I saw no indication that the demonstrators were cognizant of the warnings to disperse.”
Worth noting: DeMarco’s “testimony does not give any explicit details of anyone giving orders,” AP writes.
DeMarco is appearing this morning alongside Gregory Monahan, the acting chief of the Park Police, in front of the House Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Park Police. More to this story from Defense One, here.
From Defense One
National Guard Commander To Testify 'Excessive Force' Used on White House Protesters // Katie Bo Williams: Officer on the scene saw spent tear gas canisters, contradicting key details of Attorney General Barr's account of the controversial night.
Trump Should Teach Erdogan a Lesson in Law, Not Corruption // Aykan Erdemir and John A. Lechner: The president offered to help Turkey's strongman beat U.S. courts, John Bolton has revealed. It only helps Iran.
Defense One Radio: Monuments, domestic terrorism and the American white power movement // Defense One Staff: America is not only in the middle of a national reckoning on race; it's also facing a new surge in violent attacks from extreme right-wing organizations.
This Is Not Your Parents' Military. We Can't Fund It the Same Way // Dakota Wood: The price of arms and personnel has risen far faster than inflation.
Pompeo's Surreal Speech on China // Thomas Wright: The secretary of state has some nerve to now claim that what is upside down is right side up.
Democrats Are Allowing Trump to Frame the Debate on China // Peter Beinart: If they keep speaking the GOP's language, it will haunt them for years to come.
Energy Unveils Blueprint for Nationwide, 'Unhackable' Quantum Internet // Brandi Vincent: Impacts could be realized within the next decade.
The Pentagon's Platform One Offers an Ambitious Model for the Future of Software // Mariam Baksh: In an interview, the Air Force's chief software officer described the potential for a profound transformation for cybersecurity.
Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Kevin Baron and Marcus Weisgerber. 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 1854, the U.S. Navy commissioned its final sail-only warship, the USS Constellation.
SecDef Esper and State Secretary Mike Pompeo continue meeting with their Australian counterparts at the State Department on Tuesday for the 2020 Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations. They and Australia’s Defense Minister Linda Reynolds and Foreign Minister Marise Payne (notably, both women) are scheduled to brief the press at 1 p.m. ET. Catch that live on DOD’s site, here.
Also, today is the Senate confirmation hearing for new NORTHCOM and U.S. Space Command commanders. Air Force Lt. Gen. Glen VanHerck is the man President Trump tapped to lead U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command; and Army Lt. Gen. James Dickinson got Trump’s nod to lead U.S. Space Command (which is different than Space Force.) Check out the Senate Armed Services Committee at 2:30 p.m. ET. More here.
Just days after the Trump administration said it would relax arms export restrictions that would allow more foreign sales of armed drones like the MQ-9 Reaper, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said he would introduce legislation to block it. “Trump announced Friday he plans to sell Reaper armed drones into the Middle East,” Murphy tweeted Sunday. “It ranks among the dumbest, most dangerous ideas he has come up with.”
By the way: Murphy has tried to block arms sales to the Middle East before, Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber reminds us. And that’s particularly true in the recent case of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, whose militaries are estimated to have killed more than 17,500 civilians in air strikes in war-torn Yemen. In that instance back in mid-April 2019, President Trump vetoed Murphy and other lawmakers efforts, which failed to garner enough support to override POTUS45.
Bottom line: It’s tough for lawmakers to block arms sales, but they could slow them, Weisgerber writes. However, it’s too soon to know exactly how Murphy’s new effort will work, or not.
Say cheese. This week, China has formally rolled out mandatory facial recognition across “Chinese telecom carriers to scan the faces of users registering new mobile phone services,” Reuters reports. “The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) did not say which companies will provide the telecoms providers with these services but China is home to some of the world’s leaders in facial recognition software, including Megvii and SenseTime.”
What will happen to all those existing cell phones is still an open question. Otherwise, “The metro systems of some major Chinese cities have announced they will use the technology, with government-owned newspaper China Daily saying Beijing will use it to ‘classify passengers’ to allow for ‘different security check measures.’”
Say what? RiteAid has been watching Americans already, using Chinese facial recognition tech. And that’s especially the case for residents in “lower-income, non-white neighborhoods” in Los Angeles and New York City, Reuters reports this morning in an expose.
The pharmacy chain has been doing this sort of thing for about eight years; but the Chinese equipment had only been in place for “more than a year.”
Why? “[T]o deter theft and protect staff and customers from violence,” company officials told Reuters.
One big problem: The system appears to have mislabeled customers as thieves because — surprise, surprise — facial recognition technology is terrible at identifying people of color with pretty much any kind of practical precision.
One telling response: “Last week, however, after Reuters sent its findings to the retailer, Rite Aid said it had quit using its facial recognition software. It later said all the cameras had been turned off.”
There is A LOT more to this Reuters special investigation (including charts and maps and other retailers who have tried and reportedly dropped similar facial recognition software), and you can dive into it all, here.
Retry… the CEOs from Apple, Google parent Alphabet, and Facebook are now set to testify on Wednesday before lawmakers with the House Antitrust Subcommittee. The New York Times this morning calls them “captains of the New Gilded Age.”
Background: The hearing will be “the culmination of a year-long investigation by the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel into the tech giants' power that spanned 1.3 million documents and hundreds of hours of hearings and closed-door briefings,” NPR reports in a preview this morning. The Times predicts “a bizarre spectacle, with four men who run companies worth a total of around $4.85 trillion — and who include two of the world’s richest individuals — primed to argue that their businesses are not really that powerful after all.”
BTW: “Amazon, whose share price has risen by more than 50% this year and has a market value of about $1.5 trillion, has frequently disputed the notion that the company’s business practices drown out competitors,” the Wall Street Journal reported this weekend, with special emphasis on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s prepared testimony. More from the Washington Post, here.