Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
It feels like eons ago, but there was a time in 2015 when a bunch of liberty-loving vets and assorted imaginative thinkers believed, balls to bones, that then-President Barack Obama was preparing the U.S. military for a merciless, rights-eviscerating takeover of America's heartland.
What happens when a White House staffer gets a photo snapped with a yellow sticky note showing the cellphone number of the Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis? First, everyone freaks out, understandably. Then, people start calling that phone number — and if you’re an enterprising journalist like Terry Fischer, a sophomore at Mercer Island High School, you manage to turn the administration’s PR blunder into an excellent interview with the military’s top dog.
From September 2013 to April 2015, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Branden Baker stole nearly $100,000 in night vision equipment from Marine One, the helicopter used to ferry then-President Barack Obama to and from the White House, reported The Daily Beast. He then tried to sell everything on eBay and got caught.
Defense Secretary James Mattis, U.S. Marine Corps (retired), contains multitudes. An enigmatic figure lately spotted around the Pentagon’s E-ring looking out of sorts in a suit and tie, the DOD chief has earned praise not just as a blood-makes-the-grass-grow enemy-killer, but also as a well-read, soft-spoken “warrior-monk.” Depending which breathless wing of the media you consume, Mattis is either America’s best hope to check an erratic and unreasonable president, or the Trump administration’s angel of swift vengeance; a consummate diplomat, or a gruff jarhead who solves all his problems with maneuver and firepower; a deeply loyal subordinate, or a self-confident thorn in successive presidents’ sides.