It's been an extraordinary week for the leadership at the Pentagon. It started on Monday, with Donald Trump firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper, but it didn't stop there: over the course of three days, the Department of Defense lost its acting policy chief, its undersecretary for intelligence, its chief of staff, and as of yesterday, a deputy chief of staff.
Making matters worse, as we discussed yesterday, the White House has replaced outgoing DOD officials with unqualified Trump loyalists, some of whom have an unsettling track record of peddling fringe, radical beliefs.
Yesterday, the list grew a little longer. CNN reported:
An ardent opponent of the US military's presence in Afghanistan who once called for the use of lethal force against illegal immigrants and has made a litany of racist comments has been made a senior adviser at the Pentagon. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed Wednesday that retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor "will be serving as a Senior Advisor to the Acting Secretary of Defense. Mr. MacGregor's decades of military experience will be used to assist in the continued implementation of the President's national security priorities."
Much of the discussion about Macgregor yesterday focused on whether he'll help the president accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East before Trump leaves office in January. And while that's obviously an important policy to watch for, it's worth taking a moment to consider exactly what kind of record Macgregor brings to the table.
Media Matters had a report in April on the retired Army colonel:
Macgregor has made at least 42 weekday appearances on Fox since August 2017 -- 36 of which came on Tucker Carlson Tonight -- according to a review of Media Matters' internal guest database. Tata has appeared at least 51 times on Fox's weekday programming over the same period. Politico reports that Macgregor would be a "controversial choice" for [a possible State Department] post because he "is a lightning rod in military circles" with "an army of detractors," in part because he "enjoys being a contrarian."
Among other things, Macgregor has peddled strange conspiracy theories about George Soros, criticized Europe for being welcoming toward "Muslim invaders," and spoken in support of using deadly force against those who try to immigrate to the United States illegally.
This is who'll help lead the Defense Department for the next 10 weeks.
To reiterate a point from yesterday, the Pentagon is one of the largest and most powerful institutions on the planet. As of this week, several of its top leaders are folks you probably wouldn't trust to run a lemonade stand.
If we're fortunate, there won't be a national security crisis between now and Inauguration Day, which is now 69 days away.