Dead Drop: February 3

GUTS OR NUTS?  Late last week, NBC News got their hands on a memo sent by four-star Air Force General Mike Minihan to his subordinates telling them that his “gut” tells him that the U.S. will go to war with China in 2025. Minihan, in charge of the Air Mobility Command which handles transportation and refueling, sounded pretty bellicose in the missive. The former C-130 pilot ordered all his personnel to “fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters most.  Aim for the head.” He also suggested that his troops consider getting their personal affairs in order. The Air Force confirmed that the note was legit but said it did not represent the service’s views on China.  At last report, Minihan was still in his job, despite firing a clip into his foot at less than a 7-meter range. Not everyone thinks he should be. For example, retired four-star Army general Barry McCaffrey tweeted that “This General officer needs to be placed on terminal leave. Bad judgment. Cowboy aggression.” The last time we recall a similar self-own by a senior officer was in 1990, during the run up to Desert Storm when Air Force Chief of Staff General Mike Dugan took several reporters with him on a flight from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia when the U.S. was still trying to build a coalition to oust Iraq from Kuwait.  Dugan told the reporters that the only way to do so was to “decapitate” senior Iraqi leadership and advocated bombing Saddam Hussein, his family and his mistresses. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney fired Dugan for poor judgment a day or two later. Dugan had been in his job for about two months at the time.

SHOW AND DON’T TELL:  If you think senior officials misplacing classified documents is a new thing, Associated Press reminds us that it is not so.  Turns out back in 1984, a 13-year-old girl took a stack of classified papers to her eighth-grade class for show and tell.  Kristin Preble’s dad reportedly found them in his Cleveland hotel room several years earlier and kept them as a souvenir. Apparently, the papers were intended to be used by President Jimmy Carter and his team to prepare for a 1980 presidential debate with Ronald Reagan. Some of the documents went missing and ended up in the hands of Reagan’s team. But another 4-inch-thick stack of documents were apparently left behind in a hotel by Carter press secretary Jody Powell and found by Kristin’s dad a few days later.  Years later, when Kristin took the docs to school, her teacher ratted her out to the FBI, but no special counsel was invoked.

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