defense

Trump Claims Proof Rep. Wilson Fabricated Words to Military Widow
President’s warning harkens back to initial Comey tapes claim

Rep. Frederica S. Wilson says President Trump told a military widow her killed-in-action husband “knew what he signed up for.” Trump calls Wilson’s story “totally fabricated.” (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

A Democratic Florida congresswoman became the latest target of a morning presidential twitter attack, with Donald Trump alleging Rep. Frederica S. Wilson “totally fabricated” details of his call to the widow of a U.S. soldier killed in Niger.

Trump called the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson on Tuesday afternoon, shortly before his body was returned to the United States during a ceremony at Miami International Airport. Wilson told several media outlets she was traveling with his widow, Myeshia Johnson, who took the call on her car’s sound system, allowing all passengers to overhear it.

Contrary to Rhetoric, Military Mishaps Have Been Declining
The Pentagon’s deadly accident-filled summer bucked a larger trend

The destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a chemical tanker in August, one of several deadly military accidents this year. Such incidents are on the decline, according to a Roll Call analysis. (Courtesy U.S. Navy)

Hawks in Congress have said military mishaps are up because the defense budget is down, but the data says otherwise.

The summer of 2017 saw a rash of fatal military accidents — ships colliding at sea, planes crashing and vehicles catching fire — that were deadlier than attacks from America’s enemies.

White House Tips Hand — Slightly — on Iran Deal
Fact sheet refers to nuclear pact beyond Trump speech

President Donald Trump is scheduled to weigh in on the Iran nuclear deal on Friday. A fact sheet released by the White House may indicate that the agreement isn’t dead. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Ahead of a much-anticipated announcement by President Donald Trump about the Iran nuclear deal, the White House tipped its hand a bit by signaling the agreement may not be dead.

The White House released a fact sheet late Thursday night laying out the administration’s new Iran policy that was subject to an early Friday morning embargo. While it did not specify if Trump will, as expected, decertify the deal with Tehran, it called for the pact to be implemented more stringently.

House Appoints Defense Bill Negotiators As Space Corps Fight Looms
F-35 fighter jets will be another point of contention as the chambers confer

The Senate so vigorously opposes the Space Corps proposal that it adopted by unanimous consent an amendment — offered by Sens. Bill Nelson and Tom Cotton, shown here in 2016 — to the Senate NDAA that would block it. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

The House on Thursday agreed by unanimous consent to begin negotiations with the Senate on the fiscal 2018 Defense authorization bill. Throughout the coming weeks, a panel of conferees from each chamber will negotiate a final version of the legislation before Congress votes to send the bill to the president.

The House will send to the conference 46 Republicans and 27 Democrats. Eighteen Republicans and 13 Democrats will represent the Armed Services Committee in the negotiations.

White House Aide Nielsen Picked for Homeland Secretary
Nominee previously served as John F. Kelly’s chief of staff at DHS

Kirstjen Nielsen, deputy White House chief of staff, speaks with John Kelly, White House chief of staff in August 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he has chosen Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Nielsen, 45, previously served as Kelly’s chief of staff at DHS when he led the department before taking the White House job in July. Nielsen would be leaving her role at the White House after having served as a top aide to Kelly for just a little over a month.

Trump Dismisses Nuclear Buildup Report, Reverses Stance
‘Let it be an arms race,’ candidate Trump said

A nuclear-capable U.S. Minuteman III missile in its silo. President Trump reportedly told his team in July he wanted an eightfold hike in nuclear weapons, which he is denying. (Defense Visual Information Center photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Updated at 4:43 p.m. | President Donald Trump on Wednesday reversed his position on the need for a massive buildup of the American nuclear weapons arsenal, calling such a move “unnecessary” after a report emerged alleging he told his team he wanted just that.

Trump dismissed as “fake news” a NBC News report that he signaled in late July to senior national security officials his desire for a major increase in the number of American nuclear weapons.

New Foreign Surveillance Bill Would Boost Privacy Protections
Top House Judiciary leaders reached decision last week

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte and ranking member John Conyers Jr. introduced the so-called USA Liberty Act on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte and the panel’s top Democrat Rep. John Conyers Jr. reached agreement last week on a new bill that would tighten privacy protections in a surveillance law considered vital by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The bill’s attempt to shore up civil liberties runs contrary to what the White House and intelligence agencies have sought, and is likely to face opposition from a group of national security hawks in the Senate who back the Trump administration position.

Space Growing More Contested for Military, Experts Say
‘A few dragons have been replaced by 100 snakes,’ one said

The space shuttle Discovery hitches a ride in 2012 on NASA’s Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747, on its way to be displayed in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Space is becoming an increasingly contested military domain, and U.S. assets may be increasingly at risk without a comprehensive strategy, experts told members of the National Space Council.

The council, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, met for the first time during the Trump administration on Thursday at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The council includes five Cabinet secretaries — State, Defense, Commerce, Transportation and Homeland Security — as well as the national security adviser, director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others.

Podcast: The Trump Doctrine on Foreign Policy
The Week Ahead, Episode 73

Tillerson at his confirmation hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump, the candidate, pledged to withdraw from foreign conflicts. As president, he has done the opposite, taking on North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Afghanistan. CQ Defense Editor Patrick Pexton and Reporter Patrick Kelley unpack what’s at stake at a time when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s future is also uncertain.

Senate Diluted Tough Oversight of Israeli Antimissile Program

Sen. Deb Fischer, seen here, and Joe Donnelly sponsored a provision that removed a key oversight element in the Senate defense authorization bill of the Arrow 3 antimissile program. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators quietly deleted from a defense bill last month a strict provision tying continued U.S. funding of a costly Israeli antimissile system to completion of two flight tests.

The retreat from tough oversight came at the request of the Israeli government, sources said.