The White House now has an “anti-Dr. Fauci,” as one senior administration official described Scott Atlas. The Washington Post reported Monday that Atlas is “a neuroradiologist and fellow at Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, who joined the White House in August as a pandemic adviser.”
Why this matters: Atlas is a big fan of “herd immunity” for the coronavirus, current and former officials told the Post. And that, if you’re unclear, is a kind of policy of surrender, which “relies on lifting restrictions so healthy people can build immunity to the disease rather than limiting social and business interactions to prevent the virus from spreading.”
Make no (more) mistake(s): a herd immunity strategy could cost the lives of millions more Americans, experts inside and outside the government told the Post.
Worth noting: Atlas “does not have a background in infectious diseases or epidemiology,” the Post writes. Atlas also declined the Post’s request for an interview — and then he lied about that at an event Monday in Florida with Gov. Ron DeSantis. Continue reading, here.
The president retweeted more coronavirus misinformation on Monday, so Twitter deleted the post for spreading false information. The Washington Post reports the post “was copied from a Facebook post and claimed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had ‘quietly updated the Covid number to admit that only 6%’ of reported deaths — or about 9,000 — ‘actually died from Covid.’”
What’s really going on here: “The claim appears to be a reference to the CDC’s Wednesday update to its death data and resources page, which noted that in 6 percent of reported deaths, covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, ‘was the only cause mentioned,’” the Post reports. “However, that does not mean only 6 percent of reported deaths are attributed to the virus — it means 94 percent of people had at least one additional factor contributing to their deaths. In addition, the information is no secret addendum: It’s been on the CDC site since at least May.” More to that, here.
You may remember in early August Trump’s reelection campaign spread COVID misinformation (about its effect on children), which caused Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to all remove the post from their platforms. Reuters unpacked that dangerous whopper, here.
The president and his son spread coronavirus misinformation in late July, too, and Twitter ordered DJT Jr., to delete that associated tweet as well. (His POTUS dad had just retweeted the misleading video, which was deleted by Twitter.) More from the Washington Post, here.
Think you got what it takes to “defeat despair and inspire hope” about the coronavirus? Then the Department of Health and Human Services wants to give your communications firm a $250 million contract for that very task, according to an internal HHS document obtained by Politico.
Why: “In the run-up to a vaccine that’s going to save American lives, there is a lot of amount of public health information that we need to get out there and it includes how to live your lives, run your offices and businesses in the time of Covid, but it’s also about the flu vaccine and the Covid vaccine,” an unnamed senior HHS official told Politico, adding, “Defeating the mental health challenges of the coronavirus, the despair, is nearly as important as defeating the physical dangers of the virus.”
So far, “Around 10 to 12 firms have expressed some amount of interest in the contract, most of which are not major well-known communications firms,” Politico reports. Read on, here.
From Defense One
Biden: Trump’s ‘Subservience’ to Putin Is ‘Humiliating’ to the US // Katie Bo Williams: “Never before has an American president played such a subservient role to a Russian leader,” the Democratic candidate said.
The Week QAnon Became Everyone’s Problem / Nicholas Grossman: The conspiracy theory-based movement poses a different type of terrorist threat.
Bad Cyber Actors Don’t Fear the Law. We Can Change That. // Frank J. Cilluffo and Val Cofield: Better coordination among law enforcement agencies at home and abroad are key to the layered deterrence strategy we need.
The Most American COVID-19 Failure Yet // Olga Khazan, The Atlantic: Contact tracing works almost everywhere else. Why not here?
Welcome to this Tuesday 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 1880, British military elements in Kandahar, Afghanistan, recovered from their embarrassing loss and retreat in late July’s Battle of Maiwand after reinforcements arrived from Kabul to help break a siege by Afghan forces under the command of Ayub Khan. This Battle of Kandahar, as it’s remembered, effectively ended what historians call the Second Anglo-Afghan War.
The president travels to Kenosha, Wisc., today to look at “property affected by recent riots,” according to the White House’s public schedule. He’ll visit a “roundtable on Wisconsin Community Safety” before heading back to D.C. around 3 p.m. ET. The Associated Press previews the Kenosha trip, here.
When are America's federal counterterrorism and counterintelligence activities legal and when are they not? The Justice Department just replaced the official who makes that determination, and put in his place “a political appointee with relatively limited experience,” ABC News reported Monday.
Gone: Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brad Wiegmann, 54, who led the Office of Law and Policy in the Justice Department's National Security Division. Wiegmann was “a 23-year career public servant, not a political appointee,” ABC News reports. And he “led the office since the Obama administration and for almost all of the Trump administration.”
The new guy is “36-year-old Kellen Dwyer, a cyber-crimes prosecutor who joined the federal government six years ago and made international headlines in November 2018 when he accidentally revealed that federal charges had been secretly filed against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.”
About this DOJ office: Its small group of attorneys “participates in almost every National Security Council meeting, works with congressional staff to draft new legislation, and conducts oversight of the FBI's intelligence-gathering activities.” Continue reading, here.
The State Department would love to create a kind of NATO for the Pacific region, and it wants to include Japan, India and Australia for that alliance, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said Monday in remarks to former U.S. Ambassador to India, Richard Verma.
It’s pretty much “all about counterbalancing the rise of China…or is there more to it?” Verma asked Biegun. “Our strategy is to push back against China in virtually every domain,” Biegun said. “We’re doing it in the security area. We’re doing it in terms of outsized demands to claim sovereign territory, whether it’s in the Galwan Valley of India on the India-Chinese border, or whether it’s in the South Pacific. We’re also doing it economically.”
About an Asia-Pacific NATO, Biegun said, “It is a reality that the Indo-Pacific region is actually lacking in strong multilateral structures. They don’t have anything of the fortitude of NATO or the European Union.” And starting with those four nations — known informally as “the Quad” — “might be a very important start, and it’s something that I think in the second term of the Trump administration or, were the President not to win, the first term of the next president, it could be something that would be very much worthwhile to be explored.”
Even Biegun pointed out this all sounds like the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a proposed 12-nation trade agreement envisioned as the cornerstone of a new American-led order in the Pacific region but axed by Trump on his first day in office. (Background, here.) Said Biegun: “I’m afraid what happened with TPP is the ambitions got too big and ultimately it fell under the weight of excessive ambition, so I think also we have to be careful and modest here.”
Moving forward, Biegun said, “So as long as we keep the purpose right and as long as we keep the ambitions checked to start with a very strong set of members, I think it’s worth exploring…although it only will happen if the other countries are as committed as the United States.” Read over his full remarks, here.
Today: The U.S. military’s top China policy official opens up. The Pentagon’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China, Chad Sbragia, talks about China’s military during an hourlong webinar with the American Enterprise Institute at 1 p.m. ET. Details at AEI, here.
Related: The U.S. Air Force’s new chief says “urgent action” is needed to keep pace with China and Russia, Air Force Magazine reported Monday after obtaining Gen. Charles Brown’s eight-page memo (PDF).
In short, Brown argues, “Our Air Force must accelerate change to control and exploit the air domain to the standard the nation expects and requires from us. If we don’t change—if we fail to adapt—we risk losing the certainty with which we have defended our national interests for decades. We risk losing a high-end fight. We risk losing quality Airmen, our credibility, and our ability to secure our future.” Read on, here.
A U.S. Navy E-2C Hawkeye crashed on Virginia’s coast Monday afternoon. Fortunately, the four personnel onboard were able to safely bail out with parachutes before the aircraft hit the ground just south of the Maryland coast, near Virginia’s Wallops Island. The incident is under investigation.
And ICYMI: Two U.S. Army special operations soldiers died Thursday when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed while training over California’s San Clemente Island. Their names are Staff Sgt. Vincent P. Marketta, and Sgt. Tyler M. Shelton — both with the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne).
Worth flagging: “In June, a Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed into the Philippine Sea,” Task & Purpose reminds us in its report on Monday’s E-2C crash. And “the Air Force suffered seven mishaps from May to July, two of which were fatal.” Read on, here.
And finally today: A “guy in a jetpack” flew near a plane approaching Los Angeles’s airport on Sunday night, Fox11 reported Monday — along with the recorded dialogue between an American Airlines pilot and the control tower at LAX.
It is LA, after all, which has no shortage of thrill- and attention-seekers. But still, flying at the altitude of an approaching passenger airliner at about 3,000 feet “is not typical,” Fox11 writes.
So what could it have been? The Drive takes some guesses, here.