President Trump and his close ally insist they were never informed of intelligence at the end of 2020, indicating that the Chinese military is preparing for a surprise US attack. The chairman forced the Joint Chiefs of Staff to launch private, back-channel diplomacy. Perceived war tensions
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said there were no signs of fear of a Chinese war in the last weeks before the 2020 presidential election.
Former officials have questioned such intelligence reporting, saying the president and top aides would have been alerted if information about a possible conflict with China had been gathered by US intelligence agencies.
His advisers’ comments with former senior officials call into question the credibility of General Mark Millie, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who defended the People’s Liberation Army general for two years during a September 28 Senate testimony. Channels These calls were first revealed in a book written by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
General Milli insisted that there was a “significant degree of intelligence” that indicated that the Chinese military was on high alert for a US attack in the run-up to the October 2020 US presidential election.
General Millie told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “This is a complete body of intelligence that has led us to believe that the Chinese are misinterpreting our actions and misinterpreting what is happening inside our own country.” Explaining. ”
On October 30 and January 8, the Four Star General remarked to his counterpart, PLA General Lee Zhoucheng, in defense of the two back-channel phone calls that tensions should be reduced and misunderstandings avoided. During the call, according to the book “Pearl”, General Milli promised to inform the PLA in advance of any US attack on China.
Intelligence of the impending conflict is considered one of the most important signals of danger, which is usually the highest priority for reporting to inform the President and senior aides.
Nevertheless, according to Trump officials, there were no intelligence reports – including a long, daily secret briefing called President’s Daily Brief – indicating that the Chinese military was on alert and that the amazing American The military was preparing for the attack.
Mr Ratcliffe, the DNI from May 2020 to January 2021, said in September that he was unaware of the intelligence that Chinese troops had been placed on high alert in the face of a US military strike and that such intelligence was being passed to the White House. Given
“There was no intelligence to call his Chinese counterpart,” Mr. Ratcliff told Fox News.
Mr Ratcliffe said the idea that General Milli, the president’s principal military adviser, would cover up such information and failed to inform Mr Trump or him as the president’s chief intelligence adviser. That didn’t happen. ”
Mr Pompeo, a former secretary of state, also said he had never been informed by intelligence that China feared a surprise US attack, according to two people working with him.
A former White House official said White House National Security Adviser O’Brien had not been notified of the report. The former official said, “Senior officials were not aware of any such intelligence.
General Milli said in his memo that he was a senior military adviser to the president, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council and the Secretary of Defense.
Interviews with current and former officials who had access to intelligence, and a timeline drawn up by General Milli last month, show that China’s fear of war was limited to Pentagon officials, and then-Defense Secretary Mark Asper. Under began in mid-2020. Mr Esper, fearing the Chinese military’s miscalculations, instructed a Pentagon official to open back-channel talks with the People’s Liberation Army, which is proposing a Beijing terror attack based on intelligence.
A few weeks after the opening of this secret channel, General Milli decided to open his own channel with General Lee.
Army Colonel Dave Butler, a spokesman for General Milli, said: “General Milli stands by himself with Milli’s remarks at the swearing-in and the evidence he provided to Congress.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence also did not respond to an email request for comment.
Mr Ratcliffe said he had been approached by members of Trump’s cabinet to ask who General Milli was talking about after the news of the war broke out.
“There was nothing to de-escalate. We did not hold a meeting of the National Security Council in the first days of the election,” he said, adding that the chairman of the joint chiefs should not be “biased and political”.
The Trump administration restricted all exchanges with the Chinese Communist Party and military officials to exchanges, with tangible results. However, the Pentagon appears to be pursuing a policy of maintaining regular contact with its Chinese counterparts in an effort to build trust with the Chinese military.
Alleged intelligence appears to be based on anti-US propaganda in Chinese state media reports.
General Milli cited Chinese state media propaganda reports in an appendix to a memorandum for the record, dated September 27, which indicated the expectation of a US attack by China and other anti-US propaganda that Beijing feared. That US military action is possible.
For example, in August 2020, General Milli noted that “several PRC scholars have sounded the alarm that the Trump administration will stir up controversy with the PRC to win the November election.” A month later, the timeline stated that “PLA officials claimed that the PRC leadership was disturbed by the conspiracy to provoke a dispute with the PRC.”
And in late September, he wrote, “The PRC’s state media speculated that the Trump administration wanted to create a military crisis with the PRC as an ‘October surprise’ to escalate its re-election challenges.” ۔ ”
Then on October 21, anonymous “foreign media” claimed that five PLA military districts had been placed on high alert in response to regional tensions.
A video conference with the Pentagon and military leaders was held a day later, when General Milli was instructed to contact his counterpart.
On October 29, a PLA spokesman publicly discussed the “October Surprise” rumors, saying that then-Defense Secretary Mark Asper had assured China that according to the timeline, the US military crisis would begin. No plans.
The spokesman’s remarks about Mr Esper’s assurances now appear to be undermining General Mill’s claims of a crisis with China.
A day later, on October 30, General Milli made a television call with General Lee.
Notorious media reports.
The intelligence behind General Milli’s fear of Chinese misunderstandings was not disclosed. However, in his Senate testimony, the chairman cited several Chinese state media reports as a sign.
However, a former senior State Department official said there was no intelligence to indicate that China was in danger of a surprise attack. For years, China’s communist government has used US control and fears of horrific attacks for large-scale propaganda operations aimed at influencing US decision-makers such as General Milli.
Another former senior State Department official said there were no signs that China was ready for war in the fall of 2020.
I wish Patel, who served in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and served as Chief of Staff to Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller in the last days of the Trump administration, said he had access to a high level of intelligence. It was cleared, but nothing was seen of the Chinese war-torn scene, as General Millie claims.
He said there was no intelligence that showed China feared a US attack. “If there was an Intel to support Millie’s claim, I would see him as chief of staff.”
In addition, such serious information could spill over into Washington’s rumor mill. “If there was information to support such intelligence, it would have come out. Congressional intelligence oversight committees should demand that intelligence be seen as part of a regular inquiry.”
The Pentagon was removed from the Trump administration’s efforts in 2020 to highlight the growing threat from China that key Pentagon officials are in favor of reconciliation policies on China. One of those officials, then-acting Assistant Secretary of Defense David Halloway, a longtime supporter of military exchanges with China, wrote that the Pentagon’s new military exchange policy was implemented in December.
According to Mr Woodward and Mr Costa’s “threat”, General Milli called Chinese General Li after seeing “dangerous” intelligence indicating that the Chinese military was on “high alert” ahead of the presidential election. The book quotes General Milli as saying that Mr. Trump did not want a war with China, but he was certainly ready to launch military strikes, as he did in Iran, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.
General Milli feared that China might choose to call it a “first move advantage” or a “pearl harbor” and strike.
During a call to General Lee on October 30, 2020, General Milli said that the US government was stable and that “we are not going to attack you or take any action.”
“If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not surprising. It won’t be out of the blue,” he said.
General Lee replied that he had taken the four-star general to task.
The book quoted General Milli as saying that the exchange was valuable and had successfully eliminated miscommunications “which could lead to an incident or even a war between the United States and China.” General Milli said in his Senate testimony that he had spoken to the book’s authors but said he had not read their account of the controversy.
The chairman did not disagree with the book, which described him as an anti-Trump party.
He said that military-to-military contacts are important for the security of the United States at the highest level in order to end military operations, manage crises and prevent war between the world’s most deadly weapons. can go. .
On January 8, based on his call to General Lee – two days after a riot by Trump supporters in the US capital – the chairman called the commander of the Indo-Pacific Command and urged him to cancel the US military exercise. ۔ It is considered provocative by the Chinese, “the book quoted the chairman as saying.
Retired Navy Capt. Jim Fennell, former intelligence chief of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet, said China believes the United States is preparing or intending to attack. [indications and warning] The matrix on which the entire American and DoD intelligence community revolves on a daily basis.
“From my point of view, the PRC leadership believes that the United States intends to attack China,” he said, using the acronym for the People’s Republic of China.
Captain Fennell said that in November, the Indo-Pacific Command sent its director of intelligence, Rear Adam Mike Stodman, to Taiwan. He said the visit was “a difficult process for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who was serious about miscommunication in a cross-street environment.”