by WorldTribune Staff, October 19, 2021
Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has justified his two calls late last year to his counterpart at China’s People’s Liberation Army by insisting that “a significant degree of intelligence” indicated the Chinese military was on alert for a surprise U.S. attack in the run-up to the November 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Top administration officials who, like President Trump were not informed by the general about those calls, are questioning Milley’s credibility, saying they received no such intelligence, according to an Oct. 12 report by Bill Gertz in The Washington Times.
Kash Patel, chief of staff to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller in the final days of the Trump administration, told WorldTribune, “There is no body of evidence to support his backpedaling efforts.”
“Even if there was, he still does not have the authority to tip off the Chinese,” Patel said. “It’s illegal.”
Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe all said there were no indications of such a scenario, adding that President Donald Trump and his aides would have been alerted as a top priority if intelligence agencies had gathered information about a potential conflict with China.
“Intelligence of an impending conflict is considered one of the most critical indications of danger and is normally given the highest priority for informing the president and senior aides,” Gertz noted.
Patel, told Gertz he was cleared for high-level access to intelligence but saw nothing suggesting what Milley was claiming.
“There wasn’t any intelligence” indicating China feared a U.S. attack, Patel said. “If there was any intel to support Milley’s claim, I’d have seen it as chief of staff.”
Also, such serious information likely would have leaked out in Washington’s rumor mill, Patel said: “If there was information to support such intelligence, it would have leaked out.”
Patel added that Congress’s intelligence oversight committees “should demand to see the intelligence as part of a formal inquiry.”
Retired Navy Capt. Jim Fanell, a former intelligence chief for the Navy’s Pacific Fleet, said the idea that China believed the United States was preparing to invade or was intending to do so “is simply not supported by any measures on the [indications and warning] matrix, which the entire U.S. and DoD intelligence community revolves around on a daily basis.”
Fanell added: “From my perspective, any assertion that the PRC leadership believed the U.S. was intending to attack China is totally unsubstantiated by the facts.”
Milley claimed during Senate testimony on Sept. 28 that two calls he made to a People’s Liberation Army general were appropriate and cleared through the proper channels. The calls were first revealed in a book written by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
“It’s an entire body of intelligence that led us to believe that the Chinese were misinterpreting our actions and misinterpreting what was happening inside our own country politically,” Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Milley was defending two back-channel phone calls to PLA Gen. Li Zuocheng, his counterpart, on Oct. 30 and Jan. 8. Milley said the calls were made in an effort to ease tensions and avoid misunderstandings. During the calls, according to the book “Peril,” Milley promised to give the PLA advance notice of any U.S. attack on China.
Ratcliffe, the DNI from May 2020 until January 2021, said in September that he was unaware of intelligence suggesting Chinese military forces had been placed on high alert in anticipation of a U.S. attack and that such information would have been reported to the White House.
“There was no concerning intelligence that merited a call to his Chinese counterpart,” Ratcliffe told Fox News.
Ratcliffe said the idea that Milley, as the president’s principal military adviser, uncovered such information and failed to notify Trump or him as the president’s chief intelligence adviser “would tell you that it just didn’t happen.”