The D Brief: Afghanistan killings; Jan. 6 subpoenas; Ransomware arrests; Tomb of the Unknowns access; And a bit more...
Killings across Afghanistan belie Taliban claims to have brought security. The murder in eastern Afghanistan of a local politician is “one of a steady stream of assassinations and bombings that have undermined Taliban claims that they have brought greater security to Afghanistan after 40 years of war,” Reuters reports. “Many targeted killings remain unclaimed and some may be the result of local vendettas. But others look the result of increasingly open conflict between the Taliban and a local affiliate of Islamic State, a development which the new U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tom West, said on Monday was causing concern in Washington.” A bit more, here.
Unknown: the whereabouts of the suspected ISIS safe house that was the intended target of the Aug. 29 drone strike that killed civilians in Kabul, the NYT reported Monday.
Lt. Gen. Sami Said, Air Force inspector general: The intelligence about the safe house was “not faulty,” it just was “not specific.”
The strike was supposed to have killed the planners of the Aug. 26 terror attack at the Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. troops, Instead, it killed an aid worker and his family.
NYT’s Eric Schmitt: “Nearly everything senior defense officials asserted in the hours, then days and weeks, after the drone strike has turned out to be false.” Read on, here.
The Pentagon says U.S. troops’ family members still stuck in Afghanistan are eligible for assisted evacuation, Military.com reports. They’re asking for help getting the information they need to get them out.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby: “I think it’s safe to say that we would expect dozens of service members would have concerns over family members.”
From Defense One
Adding India to the Five Eyes Would Cause a New Cold War, Pakistani Official Says // Patrick Tucker: Proposal in the U.S. Senate draws harsh words as Islamabad works up a new anti-terrorist effort.
Lawmakers Push DOD to Share its Data to Help U.S. Make AI Gains // Brandi Vincent: New legislation to pilot easy-access data libraries could be included in the fiscal 2022 NDAA.
The Future of COVID // Sara Sawyer, The Conversation: Why some viruses become endemic, and how they can be stopped.
Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Bradley Peniston and Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. Today in 1979: Warnings of a nuclear attack are sent after a NORAD technician loads a test scenario but fails to switch the system to “test.”
House investigators subpoena six more people involved in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. “The subpoenas reflect an effort to go beyond the events of the Capitol riot and delve deeper into what committee investigators believe gave rise to it: a concerted campaign by Mr. Trump and his network of advisers to promote false claims of voter fraud as a way to keep him in power,” writes the New York Times.
Among those ordered to testify:
- Former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who “discussed seizing voting machines and invoking certain national security emergency powers after the election.”
- John Eastman, a lawyer “who drafted a memo laying out how Mr. Trump could use the vice president and Congress to try to invalidate the election results.”
- Bernard Kerik, who “participated in a planning meeting at the Willard Hotel in Washington on Jan. 5 after backing baseless litigation and ‘Stop the Steal’ efforts around the country to push the lie of a stolen election.”
REvil ransomware arrests in Europe. Two alleged hackers were arrested in Romania, part of a “wide-ranging criminal investigation” mounted by U.S. and European authorities. “The Biden administration has also launched what it calls a “whole-of-government” approach to marshal the resources of several agencies to confront the problem,” the Washington Post writes.
Bounties offered: The State Department is offering up to $10 million for information leading to the identification or location of key members of the REvil group. Chris Krebs of Krebs on Security explains why it’s not so far-fetched that a member of the public might be able to suss out such information.
In an under-the-radar national security ruling out of San Francisco, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just cleared the way for Facebook to sue Israel-based NSO Group for allegedly installing malware on the devices of thousands of journalists and dissidents through an exploit in WhatsApp.
By the way, it was only last week that the U.S. Commerce Department blacklisted NSO and another Israeli firm, Candiru, both for their apparent use of spyware.
NSO’s legal team argued for immunity since the firm “acted as a foreign government agent,” according to Reuters. But the judges weren’t convinced and ruled 3-0 for the suit to proceed. More, here.
Israel is going to bat for NSO: “The company’s biggest backer, the government of Israel, considers the software a crucial element of its foreign policy and is lobbying Washington to remove the company from the blacklist,” two senior Israeli officials told the New York Times on Monday.
North Korea staged an artillery firing competition for mechanized units on Saturday, the Associated Press reports, noting that while some military and government officials watched the exercise, Kim Jong Un likely did not attend. The latest weapons test comes just a few days after Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reported that it looks like activity at North Korea’s Pyongsan uranium mine ramped up between 2017 and 2020.
Strike that: Japanese defense officials today are walking back its assertion that North Korea fired two ballistic missiles Oct. 19; the country only launched one, Kyodo News reports.
Lastly today: today and tomorrow, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is open for closer viewing than ever before at Arlington National Cemetery.
What’s going on: “Since 1948, a 24-hour military guard has kept the public from getting near the white marble sarcophagus,” the New York Times reported Friday in a preview. “But on Tuesday and Wednesday, people will be able to walk close to the tomb again and place flowers to commemorate 100 years since its dedication.”