Today's D Brief: Miller testifies on Jan. 6 riot; Israel-Gaza fight escalates; ‘Professional-scale hack-for-ransom’; US drops Xiaomi sanction; And a bit more.
Why was the U.S. military so slow to respond to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot? That’s the focus of a hearing today before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Key witness: Former Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who said he was aware protestors had entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 for roughly one hour before he met with top military leaders to coordinate a response, Defense One’s Tara Copp reports.
In his testimony, Miller said he became aware of the breach between 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. and met with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy around 2:30 p.m. National Guard members did not arrive on scene until 5:22 p.m., a time lag which Miller said in his testimony has been unfairly criticized.
“This isn’t a video game where you can move forces with the flick of a thumb,” Miller said in his written remarks. “We appreciated the seriousness of the situation, but we did not want to piece-meal National Guard forces into the zone of conflict.”
But the DC Guard commander testified earlier this year that he was prepared to send all authorized troops to the Capitol. If he’d been given the authority to do so, Maj. Gen. William Walker told lawmakers, he “would have immediately pulled all the guardsmen that were supporting the Metropolitan Police Department,” sent them to the Capitol, and told them to “report to the most ranking Capitol Police officer they saw and take direction.” Look that up, along with other events that weren’t listed on a Jan. 6 timeline released by the Defense Department, on a more complete timeline compiled by Just Security.
This morning’s hearing, entitled “The Capitol Insurrection: Unexplained Delays and Unanswered Questions” also includes former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee III. Catch the livestream here.
About President Trump, Miller reaffirms in his opening statement that, “I personally believe his comments encouraged the protesters” at the Capitol on Jan. 6. (In March, Miller blamed Trump for inciting the riot in an interview with Vice that aired on Showtime.)
Also happening today: House Republicans ousted their #3 leader, Wyoming’s Liz Cheney. They plan to soon replace her with Trump fan Rep. Elise Stefanik from New York. The New York Times has the latest tick-tock from Capitol Hill, describing the GOP vote this morning as “brief but raucous.”
Background: Cheney has repeatedly criticized the failed incumbent’s election fraud lies and has said she believed he stoked the Jan. 6 insurrection. That has not sat well with the top-ranking House Republican and key Trump booster, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.
You may recall McCarthy fled the Capitol on Jan. 6 and still tried to overturn the election later that evening, joining 146 other Republicans who attempted to reject the results of an election that Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security called “the most secure in American history.”
“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” Cheney told her fellow Republican lawmakers Tuesday. “I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.” Read more about the GOP’s autocratic tilt and what the Times calls its “tolerance for authoritarianism,” here.
From Defense One
‘Hype’ Over Military Coup Fears Delayed Troops’ Jan. 6 Response, Miller To Tell Congress // Tara Copp: In testimony, former Acting SecDef Christopher Miller will say he dismissed Trump’s warning that 10,000 troops should be ready for his rally in Washington, but blames the media and credits his own deliberations for slowing the military's response at the Capitol.
Old-Time Radio: Pentagon’s Electronic-Warfare Gear Is Dated, Experts Say // Patrick Tucker: Lawmakers say more of the EW budget should go to R&D.
A Surprising Lesson from the Stoics // Nancy Sherman: You need more than grit to survive and thrive.
When and Why China Might—or Might Not—Attack Taiwan // Jacob Stokes: U.S. policymakers can only guess at what’s driving Beijing, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing they can do about it.
Why National Cyber Defense Is a ‘Wicked’ Problem // Terry Thompson, The Conversation: Vulnerable supply chains, sloppy security, and a talent shortage made events like the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and the SolarWinds hack all but inevitable.
Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here.
Hamas rockets and Israeli airstrikes are still falling today across Israel, which is approaching 48 hours of near-constant bombardment in the newly-escalated war between Israelis and Palestinians over the holy city of Jerusalem.
Latest damage assessment: The New York Times reports “at least 53 Palestinians, including 14 children” have died in the Israeli strikes; and “At least six people were killed” in Israeli cities, including a soldier killed today by an anti-tank round.
Hamas’s top commander in Gaza City was killed in a recent airstrike, the group said Wednesday of Bassem Issa. He was killed “along with a few of his fellow brothers of leaders and holy fighters,” according to the group. AP reports the others included “the head of rocket development and cyber warfare, the head of rocket production, and the Hamas engineering chief.”
Israel says it also killed two Hamas intelligence officials in airstrikes. And that includes “Hassan Kaogi, head of the Hamas military intelligence security department & his deputy Wail Issa, head of the military intelligence counterespionage department. Looks like our intel was better,” the IDF boasted in a tweet.
“Hamas and Islamic Jihad have paid, and will pay, a very heavy price for their aggression,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday evening. “This campaign will take time,” he added.
UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is requesting an “urgent de-escalation” in tensions, he tweeted this morning.
Germany is “strongly on the side of Israel,” its Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht announced Wednesday.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan thinks Israel needs “a strong and deterrent lesson,” he reportedly said in remarks to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The view from Islamabad: “We stand with Gaza and Palestine,” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted.
Also: The International Criminal Court is watching for possible war crimes. More on that from the ICC’s Twitter feed, here.
It’s time to admit the “professional-scale hack-for-ransom threat is spreading rapidly,” the Wall Street Journal reports in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack first reported late last week.
Quick read: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation has for years told companies that they shouldn’t pay ransoms when victimized by hackers, but the cybersecurity firm Bitdefender says that at least half of all victims end up paying.” The Journal unpacks three other recent notable ransomware attacks, here.
Here are a few ways to possibly minimize the cyber threat next time, according to Reuters: “protections could include requirements for encryption, multifactor authentication, backup systems, personnel training and segmenting networks so access to the most sensitive elements can be restricted.”
U.S. officials are racing to meet petroleum supply with relaxed highway transport regulations as well as probing railroad and maritime routes, the Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.
Eighteen states are now under a “temporary hours of service exemption that applies to those transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products,” DOT said.
Those states include Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
For a $4 million ransom, hackers are holding some internal records of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department. The “Russian-speaking Babuk syndicate” is believed to be responsible, local WUSA9 news reported Tuesday. The hackers have already begun posting some of the documents — allegedly including background investigations on 22 officers — on the darkweb.
By the way: “The criminal syndicate has targeted at least five major enterprises, with one firm already paying an $85,000 ransom,” WUSA9 reports. Read on, here.
The Pentagon has dropped its blacklisting of Chinese tech giant Xiaomi Corp. “two months after Xiaomi won a key victory in a federal lawsuit challenging the listing,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Before the judge’s decision, U.S. “Officials cited an award given to company founder and Chief Executive Lei Jun for his service to the Chinese state in 2019, as well as its ambitious investment plans to develop advanced technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence,” the Journal writes. However, “In legal filings, Xiaomi said the evidence offered by the U.S. didn’t prove ownership by or affiliation with the Chinese military.”
One reason why this matters: “Xiaomi joins a small but growing list of Chinese tech companies including the owners of Chinese social-media apps TikTok and WeChat that have successfully won courtroom reprieves against Trump-era actions.” More here.
And lastly today, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond kicked off a series of high-profile Defense Department speakers (full slate here) attending this year’s two-day virtual McAleese “Defense Programs” Conference. Later this afternoon, Air Force Chief Gen. Charles Q. Brown is slated to speak a little after 3 p.m. ET. Details and more here.