“SHE LIED TO ME AND THEN CALLED ME A LIAR” National security was the theme of the first day of the Republican National Convention, and Hillary Clinton’s role in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi four years ago was front and center. Some of the most cutting remarks last night came from the mother of a State Department employee who was killed in the attack. Pat Smith, the mother of Sean Smith, accused Clinton of lying to her and other families of the victims and argued that Clinton belongs behind bars, not in the presidency. "I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son — that's personally," she added, noting that her son had predicted the attack and his own death the day before it happened.
“Lock her up,” was a theme of many speakers, including retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was considered a possible running mate for Donald Trump. "I have called on Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race because she put our nation's security at risk with the careless use of a private server," Flynn told the delegates, who chanted "lock her up!"
Among the speakers with national security cred who attacked Clinton’s qualifications: Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst Ernst, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard, "Our men and women of the armed services do not fail us: They cannot fail us. The veterans beside me did not fail us ... They too are individuals of the highest integrity," Ernst said. "Our presidents cannot fail us either. How can we accept Hillary Clinton when she has failed them, failed us and cannot be trusted? She has proven time and again that she is entirely unfit to serve our nation as commander in chief.”
Sen. Tom Cotton, meanwhile, said “help is on the way” in the form of a Trump-Pence administration. "We'd like a commander in chief who speaks of winning wars and not merely ending wars," Cotton said. "We'd like a commander in chief who calls the enemy by its name. And it would be nice to have a commander in chief who could be trusted to handle classified information."
Speaking to reporters at the convention earlier in the day, Cotton said Trump will put a stop to illegal immigration, make America safer, rebuild the military and get rid of the sequester. All this, despite the fact that the two have disagreements. "No one is going to agree with everyone all of the time. I have a lot of disagreements with my colleagues in the Senate issue to issue – I have some disagreements with Donald Trump as well.”
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MORE MISSILES FROM THE NORTH: U.S. Strategic Command says it detected and tracked near back-to-back launches of two presumed Scud tactical ballistic missiles by North Korea yesterday. The Scud missiles were followed about an hour later by the launch of what appeared to be Nodong intermediate range missile. NORAD said the three missile launches from the North posed no threat to North America.
A TIMELY LESSON: President Obama said retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettle’s heroism during the Vietnam War, which earned him the Medal of Honor in a ceremony on Monday, shows a compassion for fellow humans that Americans could stand to learn from today as the country is repeatedly shaken by violence and shootings. "This story is quintessentially American — looking out for each other, the belief nobody should be left behind," Obama said at the White House. Today Kettle is inducted into the Medal of Honor Hall of Heroes at a Pentagon ceremony hosted by Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
CARTER’S OWN EMAIL MESS: It’s not getting as much attention as Clinton’s email scandal, but Politico reports attorneys for The New York Times and the Justice Department are due in federal court today as part of a lawsuit seeking full copies of more than 1,000 pages of work-related emails Carter sent and received from his personal account. The emails were released last year but were heavily redacted.
DOCUMENT DENIAL: A State Department spokesman said he was unaware of an Associated Press report on a secret document showing that Iran will be able to assemble a nuclear weapon in a little more than a decade under the current terms of the deal, Pete Kasperowicz reports. Still, spokesman Mark Toner rejected the overall notion that the Iran nuclear deal allows this to happen. "I don't have any reference to that," he said. "We stand by the [deal] and our belief that it will continue to prevent Iran from being able to pursue any pathway to obtain a nuclear weapon."
SHOW US THE EVIDENCE: As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demands the U.S. turn over the cleric he considers responsible for Friday’s coup, the White House is saying they’ll talk when they see a request, Susan Crabtree reports. "To suggest that the U.S. is harboring Mr. Gulen is factually incorrect," spokesman Josh Earnest said. He was referring to Fethullah Gulen, who now lives in Pennsylvania.
NO LOOSE NUKES: The Pentagon stuck to its longstanding policy of neither confirming nor denying the location of U.S. nuclear weapons, but nevertheless Press Secretary Peter Cook gave assurances that all weapons, facilities and people are safe and secure in Turkey following the failed coup. The Federation of American Scientists claims that as of 2014, there were 50 B-61 nuclear bombs stored at the NATO base at Incirlik.
LOSING GROUND IN LIBYA: Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford, speaking in Stuttgart yesterday said the Islamic State is suffering setbacks in Libya. "The trendline for Libya is positive from my perspective," Dunford said in a press conference with Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, who just took over the U.S. Africa Command. Dunford said ISIS terrorists suffered "significant casualties" in and around Benghazi, and that it now seems like only a few hundred remain in the northern city of Sirte.
Dunford also has a pointed message for the troops in the U.S. and around the world. Writing in the latest Joint Force Forces quarterly, Dunford warned against politicizing the military. “What we must collectively guard against is allowing our institution to become politicized, or even perceived as being politicized.”
TALKING LIKE A SOLDIER: Flynn, before the convention got underway, said people are attracted to Trump because “Americans are fed up with the bulls---,” Kelly Cohen reports. In an interview with Der Spiegel, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency said Trump “will never give up his style, his way to target his enemies. Trump is such an underdog, a fighter — a man who rebels against the establishment, against all kinds of resistance. That is what Americans love."
I’LL MAKE A MAN OUT OF YOU: Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, wrote in a 1999 op-ed, that Disney’s “Mulan” was essentially liberal propaganda to plant the idea in children’s heads that women could serve in combat. Pence argued the movie actually shows the opposite, why they can’t. The heroine Mulan, he points out, who runs away to join the army and poses as a man, ends up falling in love with one of her commanders. The lesson, says Pence: “Many young men find many young women to be attractive sexually. Many young women find many young men to be attractive sexually. Put them together, in close quarters, for long periods of time, and things will get interesting. Just like they eventually did for young Mulan. Moral of story: women in military, bad idea,” Pence wrote in the op-ed, obtained by Buzzfeed News. Following his assumption that the outcome of the fictional movie will play out in real life, we’re wondering when magical dragons will start accompanying our troops into battle.
COOL TIME-LAPSE: Check out this video of ships as they stream out of Pearl Harbor during the recent Rim of the Pacific mega-exercise. Video courtesy of U.S. Pacific Command.
COOK TIMER: Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook is inching closer to starting his 1:30 p.m. briefings on time. Monday’s was only nine minutes late, under the Broadway tradition of holding the curtain 10 minutes.
DON’T PANIC IT’S JUST A DRILL: The Pentagon Force Protection Agency will be conducting an active shooter exercise outside at 3 p.m. near the Pentagon visitor entrance. The visitor screening facilities will be cordoned off. Visitors will still have access through the Metro entrance. No live munitions will be used, we are assured.
AP: Turkey’s Erdogan Recounts Night of Coup, Mulls Death Penalty
Breaking Defense: Have Jet, Will Travel: Training F-35s Vs. 1950s Fighters
Military Times: Boeing’s KC-46 Tanker to Receive Production Green Light
Defense News: Defense News TV: Israel-Turkey Relations, Cybersecurity & Farnborough
Defense One: Congress Should Demand Wiser, Not More, War Spending
Breaking Defense: Strategic Capabilities Office Is ‘Buying Time’ For Offset: William Roper
UPI: Boeing gets $127 million presidential aircraft contract modification
Marine Corps Times: Marines' F-35B preps for air wars during major combat exercise
UPI: GenDyn to refurbish 107 U.S. Army Stryker vehicles
Military Times: U.S. officers hopeful as Taliban violence unexpectedly slips
Defense One: Beijing Announces New Plans to Break International Law in South China Sea
Wall Street Journal: Attacker in Nice Showed Online Fascination With Islamic State
TUESDAY | JULY 19
10 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. The Brookings Institution will host a discussion on President Obama’s role in African security and development. brookings.edu
10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. CSIS hosts a panel of experts to discuss the risks and security of Afghanistan and Central Asia. csis.org
11 a.m. Pentagon Auditorium. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter provides remarks at the Medal of Honor Hall of Heroes induction ceremony for Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles (Ret.)
WEDNESDAY | JULY 20
3:30 p.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Brookings hosts a discussion with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on numerous security challenges in light of his meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. brookings.edu
THURSDAY | JULY 21
9:30 a.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Wilson Center will host a panel discussion on post-ISIS politics, deal-making, and the struggle for Iraq’s future. wilsoncenter.org
FRIDAY | JULY 22
10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. CSIS and the U.S. Naval Institute host Rear Adm. Mathias Winter, chief of naval research, to discuss naval innovation and capabilities. usni.org
1 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. CSIS hosts a panel to discuss Russia’s undersea warfare in Northern Europe. csis.org
TUESDAY | JULY 26
8:30 a.m. The Watergate Hotel. Defense One hosts a conversation with Air Force Secretary Deborah James on the readiness crisis. defenseone.com