(CNN) — President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday removed several high-profile members of the Defense Policy Board. It’s yet another purge of veteran foreign policy experts and national security figures from power established in the waning days of the Trump era, according to three defense officials.
Members suddenly removed include former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, former senior House Intelligence committee member Jane Harman and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, two of the officials said. officials.
What is the Defense Policy Board?
The Defense Policy Board is an external advisory group of high-profile former national security officials who “provide the Secretary of Defense and the Assistant Secretary of Defense with independent and informed advice and opinions on defense policy issues in response to specific tasks of the Secretary of Defense, of the undersecretary of Defense ”, according to its website.
“As part of the long-considered changes, we can confirm that several members of the Department’s Defense Policy Board have been removed. We are very grateful for your dedicated service, commitment, and contributions to our national security. Future announcements for new board members will be made soon, ”said the third official.
The first two officials said the removed members also included former chief of Naval Operations, retired Admiral Gary Roughead, former Pentagon operations director Rudy De Leon and former Bush deputy national security adviser JD Crouch II.
Foreign Policy was the first to report on the impeachments.
Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who made an unannounced trip to Bahrain and Qatar on Wednesday, nearly a week after announcing that US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan would be further reduced, said in a statement Thursday: ” I am grateful to the outgoing members of the board, many of whom have served for decades. “
“As we tailor the Department for a major power competition, I look forward to appointing new board members in the coming days,” Miller said.
Radical changes at the Pentagon
After Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper earlier this month, the Pentagon made sweeping changes to its leadership and removed several of the top officials, replacing them with alleged figures loyal to the president. The move fueled alarm among military and civilian officials who were concerned about what might happen next.
The new appointments include retired General Anthony Tata, now a senior Pentagon official, who once called former President Barack Obama a terrorist leader and suggested that a former CIA director was using a Cicero quote to activate a sleeper agent to kill a Trump. Kash Patel, a former adviser to Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, is Miller’s chief of staff and leads the Pentagon’s transition efforts with the incoming Biden-Harris administration.
Ezra Cohen-Watnick will also serve as the acting undersecretary of defense for intelligence. Cohen-Watnick gained notoriety in March 2017 for his alleged involvement in supplying intelligence materials to then-House Intelligence Speaker Nunes, who claimed that US intelligence officials were improperly monitoring Trump associates. .
CNN’s Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.
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