Fears continue to swirl

Now about this coup at the Defense Department and how scared we should be…

Politico finds it pretty alarming:

The firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper kicked off a rapid-fire series of high-level departures at the Pentagon on Tuesday, setting off alarms on Capitol Hill that the White House was installing loyalists to carry out President Donald Trump’s wishes during an already tense transition.

In quick succession, top officials overseeing policy, intelligence and the defense secretary’s staff all had resigned by the end of the day Tuesday, replaced by political operatives who are fiercely loyal to Trump and have trafficked in “deep state” conspiracy theories.

Anybody who’s “fiercely loyal” to Trump is a danger in government.

Fears continue to swirl over what these newly installed leaders will do as Trump fights the results of last week’s election, and after he has shown he is willing to use troops to solve political problems.

Tuesday’s exodus led one top Democrat to accuse the administration of gutting the Pentagon in a way that could be “devastating” for national security.“It is hard to overstate just how dangerous high-level turnover at the Department of Defense is during a period of presidential transition,” said House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith.

“If this is the beginning of a trend — the President either firing or forcing out national security professionals in order to replace them with people perceived as more loyal to him — then the next 70 days will be precarious at best and downright dangerous at worst.”

Well, great. Do we just sit and watch, or what?

All told, the moves are stoking concerns that those who would serve as guardrails against rash Trump decisions have left the building, even though Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley has said repeatedly that politics holds no place in the military. Milley, for his part, has been able to push back on Trump’s threats to deploy active troops to deal with unrest, and demands from the White House to accelerate the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, all while keeping his job.

Julian Borger in the Guardian:

Extreme Republican partisans have been installed in important roles in the Pentagon, following the summary dismissal of the defense secretary, Mark Esper, at a time Donald Trump is refusing to accept his election defeat.

Democrats immediately demanded explanations for the eleventh-hour personnel changes and warned that the US was entering dangerous “uncharted territory” with the reshuffling of key national security roles during a presidential transition.

I think it’s considered, at a minimum, bad manners for the lame duck to make big changes after the election. With Trump of course the problem is never minimal.

However defence experts argued there was little the new Trump appointees could do to use their positions to the president’s advantage, given the firm refusal of the uniformed armed services to get involved in domestic politics.

There; that’s what I wanted to know. He’s making messes but there’s a limit to what he can do.

The fate of CIA director, Gina Haspel, was also in question. In a show of support, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell invited Haspel to his office on Tuesday and Republican Senator John Cornyn tweeted: “Intelligence should not be partisan”. But he was attacked on Twitter by the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, who asked if he or other Republicans backing Haspel had “actually discussed this with anyone in the Admin[istration] who actually works with her … or are you just taking a trained liar’s word for it on everything?”

What does the president’s idiot son on Twitter have to do with anything?

Former officials and military analysts argued that the post-election changes, while highly unusual, were not a reason to fear that the Pentagon would be weaponised in Trump’s desperate efforts to hold on to power.

“Remember all the senior military officers are still there,” said Mark Cancian, a retired US marine colonel and former senior defence official. “Their attitudes remain the same. They’ve been quite emphatic that the role of the military is very limited in civilian civil disturbances.”

Eugene Gholz, a former senior adviser in the Pentagon and the author of US Defense Politics: The Origins of Security Policy, agreed: “Among military officers at all ranks it is deeply, deeply ingrained that the military is not used for settling politics.”

Gonna be a long 70 days.

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