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Mattis discusses U.S.-South Korean exercises, Iran protests

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 4, 2018 — Joint South Korean-U.S. military exercises have been “deconflicted” with the Winter Olympics, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said here today.

The secretary also discussed the demonstrations in Iran during an impromptu news conference with Pentagon reporters.

The military exercises in South Korea are needed to ensure U.S. and South Korean troops can work together in the event North Korea comes across the 39th parallel again. Still, the Olympics in Pyeongchang are the biggest event that South Korea will host this year. The games are Feb. 9 through Feb. 25, and are followed by the Paralympic Games, March 8 through 18.

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“Exercises are not just done on military bases in defense of [South Korea],” Mattis told reporters. “So we worked with [the South Koreans] on it and [the exercises] will start sometime … after the Paralympics.”

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Mattis said the proposed talks between North and South Korea, “are clearly the result of the amount of international pressure, and they are a way for North Korea to start talking while keeping it contained to a benign issue.”

Sanctions Working

The three unanimous U.N. Security Council votes that imposed sanctions on North Korea are having an effect, the secretary said. South Korea impounded two ships that were attempting to trade with North Korea, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is increasingly isolated. The secretary said he does not know if Kim’s offer to speak with South Korean leaders is a sincere olive branch or just a dodge.

Republic of Korea (ROK) Tanks with 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, head off firing line in formation after Battel Sight Zeroing their Tanks during Korea Marine Exercise Program (KMEP) 17-6 at SuSong Ri Range, Pohang, Republic of Korea, on March 23, 2017. The purpose of KMEP 17-6 is to enhance and improve the interoperability of both U.S. Marine Corps and Republic of Korea Marines at the tactical level to build warfighting capabilities as partners. This includes ground combat element staff planning, mechanized maneuvers, mountain warfare training, bilateral tank operations and live fire ranges. (Marine Corps photo by MCIPAC Combat Camera Cpl. Anthony Morales)

“It shows the democracies and the nations that are trying to stop this from going to war, and stopping the provocations of nuclear weapons development and ballistic missile launches are united in trying to find a diplomatic solution,” Mattis said.

All of the cautions, all of the attempts at logic with the regime, all of the efforts to halt the regime from its dangerous course did not work until the Security Council imposed its sanctions, Mattis said. North Korea’s longtime allies — China and Russia — voted for the resolutions, which sends its own message.

Iran Protests

The secretary also addressed the demonstrations and unrest in Iran. Tens of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets across the country protesting policies that led to a stagnating economy and price rises. These demonstrations morphed into anti-government protests in some areas, according to news reports.

The demonstrations are the largest public protests since the Green Movement arose out of the disputed 2009 presidential election. Those protests were crushed when the government deployed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

“We all remember what happened to the Greens when they came out and the merciless way they were treated by the regime there,” the secretary said. “We — the American people — do not have an issue with the Iranian people. We’ve got a big issue with the Iranian authoritarian regime and it appears there are an awful lot of Iranian people who have an issue with it as well. Because even after squashing the Green Revolution years ago, they obviously didn’t remove the irritants and dissatisfaction.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDODNews)

Big League National Security

DNI Ratcliffe: China Interfered in 2020 Election, CIA Suppressed Info

China interfered in the presidential election.

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Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has asserted his belief that China interfered in the 2020 federal elections according to a letter that was sent to members of Congress.

In the letter DNI Ratcliffe stated that he does not believe “that the majority view expressed by the Intelligence Community (IC) analysts fully and accurately reflects the scope of the Chinese government’s efforts to influence the 2020 US federal election.”

Citing a report by the Intelligence Community Analytic Ombudsman Barry Zulauf, Director Ratcliffe said some analysts were reluctant to describe China’s actions as election interference because they disagreed with the policies of President Donald Trump.

“China analysts were hesitant to access Chinese actions as undue influence or interference. These analysts appears reluctant to have their analysis of China brought forward because they tend to disagree with the administration’s policies, saying in effect, I don’t want our intelligence used to support those policies.” 

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Ratcliffe’s letter went on expose the role of the Central Intelligence Agency in blunting the publication of reports on Chinese interference in November’s election;

“There was strong efforts to suppress analysis of alternatives in August, and associated IC products…National Intelligence Council officials reported that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials rejected NIC coordination comments and tried to downplay alternative analyses…”

“Additionally, the Ombudsman found that CIA management took action ‘pressuring [analysts] to withdraw their support’ from the alternative viewpoint on China in an attempt to suppress it…”

Ratcliffe finished his letter to the Congress by stating, “Based on all available sources of intelligence, with definitions consistently applied, and reached independent of political considerations or undue pressure—that the People’s Republic of China sought to influence the 2020 U.S. federal elections.”

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