Today's D Brief: Capitol fortified; Trump is impeached, again; Defense contractors, ranked; Renaissance plague rules; And a bit more.
More than 20,000 National Guard troops are now expected in the nation’s capital for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, the new acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police said Wednesday. That’s a roughly 5,000-troop increase over previously reported topline Guard numbers. And those Guard troops will be coming from nearly every state, NPR reports.
The inauguration has now officially become a “national special security event,” Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee told reporters. And that’s why, he said, “I think you can expect to see somewhere upwards of beyond 20,000 members of the National Guard that will be here in the footprint of the District of Columbia.”
By the way: At least one National Guard leader in DC wants lawmakers to wear masks if they’re going to go talk to the soldiers, Steve Beynon of Stars and Stripes relayed Wednesday on Twitter.
Security measures around the Capitol “and other key buildings also continues to expand,” CNN reports. “Road blocks and steel barriers are extending many blocks from the Capitol. Road blocks are also being set up further out from the White House and the National Naval Observatory, where the vice president lives.”
Parking garages are shutting down, beginning Friday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday in her “situational update.” That could mean if you happen to leave your car in one of these garages after 6 a.m. Jan. 15, you’ll have to wait until Jan. 21 to retrieve it. More from WTOP news, here.
The Capitol Police’s Office of Inspector General is opening an investigation into the Capitol riot, Roll Call reported Wednesday, and it’s postponing all other work until the report is completed. The “review is not limited to officer conduct and could be much broader to include intelligence failures, planning failures, leadership and management shortcomings surrounding last week’s takeover of the Capitol complex.” More here.
For the record, “the crime of conspiring to commit sedition” is considered easier to prove than treason, and comes with a maximum 20-year sentence under Section 2384 of the federal criminal code, the Wall Street Journal reports Thursday in a sort of “sedition explainer,” here.
Seven days after his supporters’ failed insurrection, Trump finally asked those supporters not to riot next week in a five-minute video released on the White House’s Twitter feed Wednesday. The New York Times describes the effort aides put into getting Trump to make that video, here.
From Defense One
Feds Can’t Buy Chinese-Made Drones Through GSA Anymore // Aaron Boyd, Nextgov: By Feb. 1, all but five unmanned aerial vehicles will be removed from the General Services Administration’s offerings.
We Need to Know Who Is Getting Vaccinated // Erin Kissane, The COVID Tracking Project: The federal government must release demographic data about vaccine recipients.
Former Air Force Chief Goldfein Joins Blackstone // Marcus Weisgerber: The retired general picked the investment firm over opportunities at defense companies.
Kim Jong-un’s Shot Across Biden’s Bow // Bruce Klingner: Last year was relatively quiet in U.S.-North Korean relations. That’s likely to change.
Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson. 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 1943, the first day of the so-called “Casablanca Conference” was held in Morocco. There, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill plotted out the next phase of the Second World War, which included the controversial determination that nothing less than Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender would end the conflict.
“He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.” That was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s message as President Trump was impeached for a historic and unprecedented second time on Wednesday. Ten Republicans joined every House Democrat in voting to impeach the president for a single charge of incitement to insurrection. Among them was Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, who declared, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” The Associated Press produced a two-minute video marking the occasion on YouTube, here.
What’s next: A Senate trial on the charge — most of which will likely take place after Trump leaves office. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has said he will not call the body back into session earlier than its scheduled return on Jan. 19, one day before Joe Biden is sworn in as president. (Vox)
We now know a bit more about the U.S. military’s racial discrimination problem thanks to Reuters, which today got its hands on “a long-withheld Defense Department survey that underscore[s] concerns about racism in the ranks.”
Among the findings: “31.2% of Black servicemembers reported suffering racial discrimination, harassment or both, compared with 23.3% and 21% for Asian and Hispanic troops surveyed, respectively, figures that were still high,” Reuters reports.
Worth noting: “Of the U.S. troops who chose not to report an incident of racial discrimination or racial harassment, 39% thought nothing would be done and an even greater percentage thought it would make their work situation unpleasant,” Reuters writes. And: “Of those who reported an incident, the vast majority did not know the outcome of their complaints, the survey found.” Continue reading, here.
Which U.S. states and contractors get the most money from American defense spending? The Defense Department released metrics Wednesday from FY2019 addressing that question, as well as which defense contractors rake in the most in U.S. defense spending.
Here are the top states, ranked by defense spending (figures listed in billions)
- California — $66.2
- Virginia — $60.3
- Texas — $54.8
- Florida — $29.8
- Maryland — $26.1
- Connecticut — $19.7
- Pennsylvania — $18.1
- Washington — $17.8
- Alabama — $16.0
- Massachusetts — $15.8
A note on impact and scale: Although California, Virginia and Texas take the lion’s share of the money pile for defense spending, the Pentagon said “Virginia, Hawaii, and Alabama ranked highest when considering defense spending’s impact on their states’ GDP.”
In terms of recent trends, West Virginia, Maine and Wisconsin led the way when it comes to defense spending gains from FY2018 to FY2019, the Defense Department said. “This was driven by large contracts to Northrop Grumman in West Virginia, General Dynamics in Maine, and Oshkosh Corp. and Fincantieri Marine Systems in Wisconsin. These contracts were related to rocket motor production, shipbuilding and military vehicle production.”
And here are the top contractors, ranked by U.S. defense spending (figures listed in billions as well):
- Lockheed Martin — $45.6
- Boeing — $25.7
- Northrop Grumman — $19.5
- General Dynamics — $18.6
- Raytheon — $15.7
- United Technologies — $10.3
- BAE Systems — $7.3
- Huntington Ingalls — $6.7
- Humana — $6.7
- L3 Technologies — $4.9
Leading the way in terms of year-over-year gains: United Technologies (with a 47 percent increase from FY2018), Northrop Grumman (at 41 percent), and General Dynamics (with 29 percent). Read on, here.
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to lay out a multi-faceted COVID-19 plan in a televised address this evening. Measures include much that’s familiar by now, such as “wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and avoiding indoor gatherings, particularly larger ones.” More from AP, here.
FWIW: Scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research believe their “vaccine will work against significant mutations of COVID-19, as well as entirely different coronaviruses,” McClatchy news reported Wednesday.
After “months of diplomatic wrangling,” WHO officials have arrived to Wuhan, China, to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus, AP reports from the centrally-located province. The group includes researchers from the United States, Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam.
AP’s forecast: “A single visit by scientists is unlikely to confirm the virus’s origins; pinning down an outbreak’s animal reservoir is typically an exhaustive endeavor that takes years of research including taking animal samples, genetic analysis and epidemiological studies.” Read on, here.
China’s national security police in Hong Kong arrested several people who allegedly helped activists try to escape the new and draconian laws by fleeing to Taiwan in a speedboat back in August. China’s Coast Guard intercepted them back then, and now their alleged enablers have been rounded up, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Bigger picture: The arrests come “a week after 55 activists were apprehended in the largest move against Hong Kong’s democracy movement since Beijing imposed a new national security law last June to quell dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory,” AP reports.
Why this matters: “The clampdown has intensified concerns that Beijing is asserting more control over the city and breaking its promise of Hong Kong maintaining separate civil rights and political systems for 50 years from the handover from Britain control in 1997,” AP writes. More here.
Four UN peacekeepers were killed in central Mali, and another five were wounded when their vehicle hit what appears to have been a roadside bomb, Reuters reports. The now-deceased troops were from Ivory Coast.
It’s unclear just yet who placed the bomb, but militants linked to both ISIS and al-Qaeda roam the region fairly freely. More from Reuters here.
Spotted over Somalia: A U.S. Air Force F-16. DVIDS has the photo here.
Do we all need another reminder not to click suspicious links in emails and texts? Perhaps, because another spear-phishing campaign might have nabbed a few professionals around the world over the Christmas break, ZDNet reports. This trick this time? The nefarious websites were hidden behind Google URLs. Those links then asked for login credentials to an array of email services, and the links even came in the form of SMS and text messages.
This latest known campaign originated in Iran, according to CERTFA, a cybersecurity organization specialized in tracking Iranian operations. And it reportedly targeted “members of think tanks, political research centers, university professors, journalists, and environmental activists...in countries around the Persian Gulf, Europe, and the US.” More from ZDNet here.
And finally today: Travel back in time more than 400 years to the Italian port city of Alghero. There in 1582, an unusually insightful physician would create some 57 rules for coping with the plague that had descended upon his small city that winter. Among them: “people are advised to keep six feet apart, avoid shaking hands and only send one person per household out to do the shopping.”
The doctor’s name: Quinto Tiberio Angelerio, and his booklet of 57 rules is called “Ectypa Pestilentis Status Algheriae Sardiniae.” The BBC picks up the story from there, here.