Congress To Pentagon: Hey Guys, Tell Us WTF You Are Doing

Code Red News

Buried deep inside Congress' recently published report on this year's National Defense Authorization Act, there's an interesting section, in dense legalese, that seems to say: Yo, Pentagon, you need to tell us what the hell you're doing when you're doing it.


It's buried on pages 310 and 311, inside a section on "notifications for sensitive military operations," which is pretty juicy, relatively speaking, in a mundane 600-plus-page congressional document. It says: "Despite the [Defense] Department's guidelines regarding notifications, recent notifications have been both untimely and insufficiently detailed for the committee to conduct necessary oversight."

In plain English, the report states, the Pentagon has apparently been running operations in God-knows-where and hasn't been very upfront with Congress about it. "Therefore," the report adds, "the committee directs the Department to comply with the following requirements for notifications of sensitive military operations going forward."

These sensitive military operations are defined by law as kill or capture missions conducted by the U.S. military outside of declared theaters of war, or operations outside declared theaters in self-defense or in defense of foreign partners. Think the Osama bin Laden raid, or a drone strike against a terrorist training camp in Sudan, for example.

As you can imagine, sensitive military operations are risky — involving plenty of moving parts and downsides, along with a chance of pissing off allies and enemies alike — so Congress is supposed to get a heads up.

Instead, the DoD has been using a loophole to keep lawmakers in the dark — or it's notified them using seemingly intentionally vague language.

According to the report's instructions, the Pentagon now is to notify lawmakers in writing of these operations within 48 hours with sufficient detail so they can actually carry out their constitutional role of, you know, oversight. And if there are opsec issues, Congress says, that's up to the congressional members to decide, not the DoD (emphasis added):

"In the rare case that a notice contains information that the Department believes must be closely held within the committee, the Department should inform the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the need for such handling. The committee, not the Department, will then determine how to handle that specific issue. The committee, not the Department, must make its own determinations about how to conduct the requisite oversight, and under no circumstances should the Department unilaterally exclude appropriately-cleared staff from receiving notifications to Congress that are required by law."

Read the full section below:

None

None

WATCH NEXT:

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid $13,000 over a three-month period for a senior official's biweekly commute to Washington from his home in California, according to expense reports obtained by ProPublica.

Read More Show Less
Saturday Night Live/screenshot

President Donald Trump said that "retribution" should be "looked into" after this week's opening skit of Saturday Night Live featured Alec Baldwin being mean to him again.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. John Eller conducts pre-flights check on his C-17 Globemaster III Jan. 3 prior to taking off from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii for a local area training mission. Sgt. Eller is a loadmaster from the 535th Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

CUCUTA, Colombia — The Trump administration ratcheted up pressure Saturday on beleaguered Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, dispatching U.S. military planes filled with humanitarian aid to this city on the Venezuelan border.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan speaks at the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval.

Read More Show Less
A pair of U.S. Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat aircraft from Fighter Squadron VF-211 Fighting Checkmates in flight over Iraq in 2003/Department of Defense

Since the sequel to the 1986 action flick (and wildly successful Navy recruitment tool) Top Gun, was announced, there's been a lot of speculation on what Top Gun: Maverick will be about when it premieres in June 2020. While the plot is still relatively unclear, we know Tom Cruise will reprise his role as Naval aviator Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, and he'll be joined by a recognizable costar: The iconic F-14 Tomcat.

It looks like the old war plane will be coming out of retirement for more than just a cameo. A number of recently surfaced photos show an F-14 Tomcat aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, alongside Cruise and members of the film's production crew, the Drive's Tyler Rogoway first reported earlier this week.

Read More Show Less