Today's D Brief: Proud Boys convicted of sedition; Hate, killings rise across the US; Army's HR snafu; Yemen war, revisited; And a bit more.
Far-right Proud Boys leader, veterans found guilty of sedition. Thirty-nine year old Miami native Enrique Tarrio, friend and ally of Donald Trump's long-time adviser Roger Stone, was convicted by a jury on Thursday of engaging in a conspiracy to commit sedition on Trump's behalf during the deadly January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Tarrio was the former leader and arguably the highest profile member of four Proud Boys who were convicted of the charge, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
“Tarrio was a top target of what has become the largest Justice Department investigation in American history,” the Associated Press reminds us. “He led the neo-fascist group—known for street fights with left-wing activists—when Trump infamously told the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by’ during his first debate with Biden,” the wire service noted. The Canadian government declared the Proud Boys a terrorist entity one month after the riot at the Capitol.
By the way: The three others convicted Thursday along with Tarrio had military backgrounds—Joseph Biggs (Army), Zachary Rehl (Marines), and Ethan Nordean (who began, but did not finish the Navy’s basic training program). The four men are also defendants in a separate civil lawsuit on behalf of the District of Columbia.
“This is the third successful sedition case the [Department of Justice] has made against Capitol stormer extremists,” said Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “It's not easy to make sedition cases, but prosecutors were meticulous in preparation and, perhaps most importantly, there was overwhelming evidence,” he wrote on Twitter Thursday.
You may recall: Six others from the far-right extremists Oath Keepers, including leader Stewart Rhodes, were previously convicted of seditious conspiracy for their involvement in the events of January 6; at least three of them had military backgrounds. Their sentencing is expected sometime later this month.
More than a thousand people have been charged with crimes related to the January 6 insurrection so far. A former FBI agent was arrested and added to that list just this week.
Related reading (and viewing):
- “What the Proud Boys did on January 6,” via the BBC, reporting in video Thursday;
- “Trump-backed Jan 6 choir includes rioters charged with attacking police,” the British Independent reported Thursday;
- “'The Donald' forum user convicted of assaulting officers on Jan. 6,” NBC News reported Wednesday;
- “Fresh January 6 convictions raise the stakes for Trump,” CNN reported following the convictions Thursday;
- “Americans take a dim view of the nation’s future, look more positively at the past,” the Pew Research Center reported two weeks ago;
- “Making People Uncomfortable Can Now Get You Killed,” wrote Yale professor Roxane Gay in the op-ed pages of the New York Times on Thursday;
- “Frequent shootings put US mass killings on a record pace,” the Associated Press reported Thursday;
- “Hate crimes in US surged 11.6% in 2021, fueled by racial, ethnic bias,” Reuters reported in March;
- And “California launches hate crime hotline and website,” San Diego’s CBS8 news reported Thursday.
From Defense One
Without A New Draft, Russian Offensive Operations Are Over, US Intel Chiefs Say // Patrick Tucker: It could take a decade before Russian ground forces are back to where they were before the war.
The Pentagon Wants to Peer Inside Its Cloud Providers’ Infrastructure // Lauren C. Williams: Recent leaks have the CIO’s office contemplating red teams and more IP scanning.
Lockheed Reorganizes Its Space Division, Adding Plans to Sell Satellite Parts to Other Companies // Marcus Weisgerber: The moves reflect the growing space market and particularly the military’s demand for speed.
Defense One Radio, Ep. 124: The war in Yemen, 8 years on // Ben Watson: Is a comprehensive peace process possible in Yemen? And what has the conflict revealed about the possible future of America’s relations with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and others in the region?
Space Force Hopes to Recoup Costs of Commercial Launches // Audrey Decker: A law that limits launch fees is under reconsideration as more private companies use government facilities to send rockets skyward.
Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad. On this day in 1865, the treasonous Confederate government was finally and officially dissolved in the southern city of Washington, Ga. Speaking of Georgia, the legendary Fort Benning will be renamed Fort Moore in a ceremony scheduled for next Friday. “Moore” comes from the values exemplified by Army Lt. Gen. Hal Moore (of the book and film, “We Were Soldiers”) and his wife, Julia. Read more about the ceremony and the Moore family’s legacy and contributions, here.
Serious oopsie in the Army’s S-1 shop: U.S. Army officials on Thursday said they accidentally let nearly 200 active-duty pilots resign years ahead of schedule because of an administrative error, Army Times reported. The mistake affected pilots who were commissioned between 2015 and 2020, and involved improper tracking of service commitments by the Army’s Human Resources Command. That command is in the midst of an audit, which it expects to complete within the next two months.
The news comes as the Army is set to miss its recruiting goals for the second year in a row. Read some of Defense One’s past coverage of the service’s recruiting crisis, here and here.
President Biden has chosen Gen. Ken Wilsbach to be the next head of U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command; if confirmed, he’ll take the reins from Gen. Mark Kelly. Wilsbach has led Pacific Air Forces since July 2020. As Air & Space Forces Magazine points out, ACC has the most active-duty members of the U.S. Air Force’s major commands. Lt. Gen Kevin Schneider has already been nominated to replace Wilsbach at PACAF.
Under most folks’ radar: The war in Yemen has been quietly smoldering for 13 relatively peaceful months under an ongoing truce that’s surprised observers and held since it was forged in April 2022. The ceasefire between the Iran-backed Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition was originally intended to span just two months; but it’s been formally extended twice since, and informally extended in the seven months since then.
So is peace on the horizon for the country’s nearly 33 million people, more than half of whom live below the poverty line? Perhaps, suggested two experts we spoke to for this week’s Defense One Radio podcast. The war in Yemen has been officially underway since March 2015 when Riyadh and Adu Dhabi freaked out as Houthi rebels began marching from the capital city in Sana’a to the legendary port city of Aden, in the south. The Saudis and Emiratis were able to successfully arrest that march, and send the Houthis back to Sana’a. But the country has largely remained fractured according to a classic highland-lowland divide in the years since.
Michael Knights of the Washington Institute shared years of reporting from the region as he explained some of what he learned while researching and writing his new book, “25 Days to Aden,” which tells the story of the first six months of the Yemen war. Knights visited Yemen and spent several months with Emirati troops there as they gave him an incredibly detailed look at Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s first-ever intervention abroad without the direct involvement of the U.S. military. We can’t recommend his book highly enough.
We’re also joined by Yemeni-American Shireen Al-Adeimi, who is now an Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy at Michigan State University, and Non-Resident Fellow in the Middle East program at the Washington-based Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. She shared her insight into apparent congressional inaction when it comes to the conflict on Capitol Hill—and inside the last three U.S. presidential administrations. At this point, she said, “There is no getting rid of the Houthis.” And so one of many vital questions is not just whether a comprehensive peace process is possible; but what is the future of America’s relations with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and others in the region?
Dive into that 48-minute episode this weekend on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
And lastly: This morning in Washington, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova is speaking at an event hosted by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. FDD’s Clifford May is slated to speak with the ambassador in an hour-long discussion beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Details and livestream, here.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin welcomes his Polish counterpart, Marius Blaszczak, to the Pentagon at the same time.
And later this afternoon, the topic of arming America’s allies is the focus of a discussion at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Here’s their promotional tease, and related report:
- “Using case studies from Afghanistan, Mexico, Uganda and Ukraine, the working group’s newly released final report, ‘Elite Capture and Corruption of Security Sectors,’ distills the phenomenon of elite capture and examines how U.S. assistance affects the dynamics, rationales and tactics of elite manipulation.”
That begins at 1:30 p.m., and runs until 3 p.m. ET. Details and livestream, here.
Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll be back again on Monday!