Early Warning for 14 February 2019

Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Thursday, 14 February 2019.

 

Iran: Iranian leaders are blaming the United States for a suicide bombing that killed 41 Iranians, including 27 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. It’s typical for Iran’s officials to blame the United States for embarrassing attacks, but it comes after yesterday’s meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and other officials to discuss Iran. While the two events are unlikely to be related, a new report out this morning accuses the Trump administration of accelerating a secret program targeting Iranian rockets and missiles. Since the George W. Bush administration, CIA has been clandestinely supplying the space agency with parts designed to fail. Iran has had two satellite rocket launch failures this year — one in January and another earlier this month. In the past 11 years, the Iranian Space Agency has suffered a 67 percent failure rate in their attempts to launch orbital satellites. Last month, Secretary Pompeo accused the Iranian space program of launching rockets that are “virtually identical and interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles”.

Iranian leaders know they’re being targeted by the U.S. for internally-led regime change. The protests, riots, and social developments inside Iran have all been blamed on U.S. influence. But Iran also has its own tools to use against the United States. A failed cyber attack in 2013 targeted a dam in upstate New York, and two Iranians were later charged for that attack. We know that Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah has a global reach, which includes cells across the United States. I say this not to perpetuate fear, but to point out that Iran likely has options for carrying out attacks in reprisal not only inside the United States but against U.S. interests abroad. Critical infrastructure could be a future target.

 

White House

The President is scheduled to participate in a national pro-life conference call, then meet with DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

1: The number of days remaining for Democrats and Republicans to make a government funding deal. The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on a 1,159-page government funding bill today, and I’m reading that top Republican officials expect the president to sign it, albeit reluctantly. The move would avoid another partial government shutdown.

March: We’re now a couple weeks away from another potentially big Congressional battle: the debt ceiling. By 02 March, the House will have to come to an agreement on whether or not to raise it.


 

State Department

Secretary Pompeo is on travel this week to Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Belgium, and Iceland.


 

Defense Department

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has no publicly scheduled events.

 

These are the last publicly reported locations of deployed carrier groups. Conflict requiring an aircraft carrier/carrier strike group does not appear imminent.

The Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) is off the coast of Virginia for pre-deployment training. The Lincoln will rejoin the Indo-Pacific Command once it re-bases to San Diego, CA.

The John Stennis (CVN-74) was last reported as port in Thailand.

The Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.


 

Congress

Gun laws: Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee pushed through a bill that expands federal background checks. It’s set to hit the House floor, but is unlikely to pass the Senate.

Significant House Activity:

  • Nothing significant to report.

Significant Senate Activity:

  • Hearing to examine the status and outlook for cybersecurity efforts in the energy industry (Energy and Natural Resources Cmte)

* Only events pertinent to national security are listed. Significant reporting will appear in this week’s Strategic and National Intelligence reports


 

Economy/Finance

The German economy narrowly avoided a recession after last quarter’s economic growth came in a 0.1 percent. It had contracted by 0.8 percent the previous quarter. It’s part of a broader slowdown in Europe, as the entire Eurozone managed to eke out 0.8 percent growth last quarter. Japan’s economy grew at a 1.4 percent annualized rate last quarter, which follows a contraction of 2.8 percent in the third quarter. One analyst, however, says the Japanese economy may not be out of recession territory.

According to a recent Bankrate survey, there’s been an uptick in Americans who say that their credit card debt is larger than their savings. Some 29 percent said they had more credit card debt than savings in 2019, compared to 21 percent last year. That’s the highest in nine years, according to the survey. And 44 percent of those polled said they had more savings than credit card debt, which is down from nearly 60 percent last year. “The sharp deterioration in the relationship between credit card debt and emergency savings… is an ominous indicator of the financial health among American households,” said Bankrate’s chief financial analyst. [source]


 

Far Left Daily

“The tragic reality is this planet simply can’t sustain billions of people consuming industrially produced animal agriculture because of environmental impact. It’s just not possible, as China, as Africa move toward consuming meat the same way America does because we just don’t have enough land.” – Sen. Cory Booker

“[T]he issue of potential Gulf money is the second-largest area of concern after Russia… [T]hey may be distinct but overlapping when it comes to, for example, funding the [Trump] inauguration. There may have been efforts to illegally funnel Russian money as well as Gulf money.” – Anonymous member of Congress, speaking about the House Democrats’ investigations into President Trump


 

What I’m Looking at this Morning

AI: Are we losing the race?

Army’s new up-gunned Strykers have been hacked

Some Washington State sheriffs are refusing to enforce a new gun law


 

Notable Quotable

“Europe is sleepwalking into oblivion and its people need to wake up before it is too late. If they don’t, the European Union will go the way of the Soviet Union in 1991.” – George Soros, writing an op-ed in The Guardian [source]

Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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