Today's D Brief: Mass shooting in Indianapolis; FBI links Trump campaign to Russian spies; US-Iran nuke talks end; Army’s low-flying-helo report; And a bit more.
A gunman killed eight people and wounded at least five others at an Indianapolis FedEx late Thursday evening before police arrived and the shooter apparently turned the gun on himself. “We’re still trying to ascertain the exact reason and cause for this incident,” police spokesperson Genae Cook told reporters. But so far, police say the shooter exited his vehicle and began shooting immediately before proceeding inside the FedEx and continuing his attack at around 11 p.m.
This marks “at least the third mass shooting this year in Indianapolis alone,” the Associated Press reports. Reuters notes that “At least 30 people have been killed in U.S. mass shootings in the last month alone.”
“[E]veryone should be concerned about the frequency that these are happening,” Indianapolis deputy police chief Craig McCartt told CNN. “There seems to be a lack of conflict-resolution skills and people are way too quick to pick up a gun and solve their problems with a gun today,” he added.
The Indy shooting brings this year’s total of mass shootings to 147, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines the term as four or more people injured or killed, not including the perpetrator. The U.S. is on pace for 506 this year, down from the 600-plus in 2020, but up from 417 in 2019. The New York Times has more, here.
From Defense One
The Capital’s ‘Complex’ Power Structure Keeps Causing Chaos Under Pressure // Elizabeth Howe: U.S. Army processes updated after last June’s protests failed again during the Jan. 6 riot.
It Was Never All or Nothing in Afghanistan // Mark R. Jacobson and Annie Pforzheimer: This is not something we hoped to see from national security leaders and a president we admire so much.
Biden Can Redeem His Mistake // George Packer, The Atlantic: In 1975, he failed to see what America owed the Vietnamese who had bet their lives on American promises.
Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1945 and just four days after the death of POTUS32, President Harry Truman addressed Congress for the first time as president, and promised to carry out the war and peace goals of his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt. “Tragic fate has thrust upon us grave responsibilities,” Truman said on this day 76 years ago. “We must carry on. Our departed leader never looked backward. He looked forward and moved forward. That is what he would want us to do. That is what America will do.”
Iran-U.S. nuclear talks ended this week with no real progress to speak of, so now officials are headed home from Vienna to prepare for the next round.
Granted, the talks were complicated by that alleged “nuclear terrorism” incident last weekend at Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility, which led Iran to announce it would increase its enrichment process significantly, to 60 percent. “Obviously this is not making the negotiation easier,” an EU official told Reuters today.
The Iran-watchers at FDD just published a “Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker” on Thursday. And in it (surprise, surprise), Biden gets his lowest marks for efforts to engage Iran. Another seven areas are “trending negatively,” according to FDD; just three are neutral, and four are positive — including POTUS46’s negotiations with Russia.
BTW: The White House on Thursday dialed back lingering allegations from the prior administration that Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday U.S. officials have just “low-to-moderate assessment in these reports,” though she added, “We still feel there are questions to be answered by the Russian government.”
Why the low assessment? “[I]n part because it relies on detainee reporting and due to the challenging...operating environment in Afghanistan,” said Psaki. Read over the full transcript here.
From the Trump campaign to the Kremlin: The FBI is offering $250,000 for information leading to the arrest of a Russian intelligence official whom the Treasury Department said Thursday was given Trump campaign polling data back in 2016.
His name is Konstantin Kilimnik, and he was a business associate of indicted former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who gave him the data. Kilimnik was one of Russia-linked 32 individuals and businesses hit with new sanctions Thursday by the U.S., which was the Biden administration’s second big foreign policy announcement this week (after Wednesday’s Afghanistan withdrawal decision).
Treasury’s “revelation” on Thursday “was all the more startling because it went beyond any allegation made in either special counsel Robert Mueller’s 2019 report or in an even more damning and detailed document released last year by the Senate Intelligence Committee,” the Associated Press reports. “The exchange of polling data was an eye-catching data point, especially since it suggested Russia could have exploited such inside information to target influence campaigns aimed at boosting Trump’s election bid in 2016.”
Now what? Maybe one day Kilimnik will be arrested; then again maybe not. Treasury declined to elaborate about the public charges Thursday. Continue reading at AP, here.
Poland just booted three Russian diplomats because their “activities incompatible with their status as diplomats,” the Polish government announced today. That follows the U.S. expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats Thursday in conjunction with the Treasury sanctions referenced above.
BTW: The U.S. backed off its plan to send destroyer ships into the Black Sea “due to concerns over Russia,” Politico reported Thursday, the same day as those new sanctions.
From (close to) the region: The defense chiefs of the U.S. and Norway just signed an agreement bringing their militaries a bit closer for the foreseeable future. The deal is known as the Supplementary Defense Cooperation Agreement, which the Pentagon says “will help the United States and Norway continue to work together to strengthen our bilateral cooperation, enhance NATO operations, and advance transatlantic security for decades to come,” according to a statement today from U.S. military spokesman John Kirby.
Biden will approve a $23 billion arms deal to the UAE that had been forged during the Trump era. The deal gives the Emiratis “50 F-35 Lighting II aircraft, up to 18 MQ-9B Unmanned Aerial Systems and a package of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions,” Reuters reported Wednesday.
Today, two Democratic lawmakers will introduce a bill slow-rolling F-35 sales to non-NATO members — with exemptions for Israel, Australia, Japan, South Korea or New Zealand. Reuters reports Sens. Bob Menendez and Dianne Feinstein have drafted what they call the “Secure F-35 Exports Act of 2020,” which would restrict F-35 sales “unless any president makes detailed certifications to Congress that the critical technology would not fall into the wrong hands.” More here.
President Biden will host his first in-person visit from a foreign leader today when Japanese Prime Minister H.E. Suga Yoshihide drops by the White House this afternoon.
And finally today: Where climate change and tech policy converge: This week we learned “More than half of Taiwan’s water supply comes from typhoons,” and that “As global temperatures rise, typhoons will become stronger over the Pacific Ocean but also are more likely to change course before reaching Taiwan,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Why this matters: It could be a very big problem “for the global semiconductor industry given the concentration of chip production in Taiwan.” That’s because the semiconductor manufacturing process requires a great deal of water “to clean the wafer base, etch patterns, polish layers and rinse components.” Read on for ways the Taiwanese government is trying to ease the pain now and in the future, here.
Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll see you again on Monday!