The Pentagon has abruptly ended its cooperation with the transition team of President-elect Joe Biden, throwing the already-complicated process into further question.
The move by Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller to impose what he called “a holiday pause” in briefings drew sharp criticism from Biden’s transition team and has shocked Defense Department officials, despite claims by the Trump administration that the sudden change was part of some “mutually agreed” pause.
“Miller’s move, which stunned officials throughout the Pentagon, was the biggest eruption yet of animus and mistrust toward the Biden team from the top level of the Trump administration,” Axios reported.
President Donald Trump appointed Miller and a number of loyalists to key top positions in the Pentagon after firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper last month in moves that have been likened to a “purge” of the Defense Department.
Officials in both the administration and the president-elect’s transition team are unsure of what prompted the move by Miller to halt briefing.
However, the Washington Post reports that senior officials at the Pentagon were infuriated by a story published Wednesday revealing that $2.6 billion would be saved if Biden halted the construction of Trump’s border wall. The Trump administration has blamed the Biden transition team for leaking that information, despite the fact that the reporters who covered the story have received numerous White House leaks in the past.
Members of Biden’s transition team received news of the canceled briefings on Thursday before they “immediately and appropriately escalated” the issue, said Biden spokesman Yohannes Abraham.
“Our agency review teams continue making progress on a shortened timeline, and we’ve benefited from constructive cooperation within many departments and agencies, but we have met isolated resistance in some corners, including from political appointees within the Department of Defense,” Abraham said in a Friday briefing, according to Bloomberg.
“We were concerned to learn this week about an abrupt halt in the already limited cooperation there, and as indicated by DOD earlier today, we expect that decision will be reversed,” Abraham continued.
“Let me be clear: there was no mutually agreed upon holiday break,” he continued. “In fact, we think it’s important that briefings and other engagements continue during this period, as there’s no time to spare.”
Miller, for his part, continued to maintain that the “holiday pause” was consented to by both sides, and that the transition would continue come January, adding: “I remain committed to a full and transparent transition — this is what our nation expects and the DoD will deliver AS IT ALWAYS HAS.”
Miller also said that the administration would be mainly focused on Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s program to combat the surging pandemic.
Transition spokeswoman Jen Psaki dismissed Miller’s claims about a mutual agreement, responding to a question about whether the acting secretary was being truthful with the curt response: “I don’t think we need to communicate that. I think you can make your own judgments.”
This isn’t the first time that the Pentagon has sought to defend itself from claims that it was intentionally throwing a monkey wrench into the transition process, which formally began almost three weeks after Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
The Trump administration also reportedly blocked meetings between transition officials and intelligence agencies that fall under the authority of the defense secretary, such as the National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency, reported The Hill.
“No department is more pivotal to our national security than the Department of Defense, and a failure to work together could have consequences well beyond January,” Abrahams said, adding that it was important for there to be “constructive cooperation within many departments and agencies.”
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.