October Surprise 2016
Daily News Reviews – March 1-16, 2023
By Tucker Reals
March 16, 2023 / 6:45 AM / CBS News
The U.S. military on Thursday morning released dramatic video that it said showed a Russian fighter jet intercepting and then colliding with the American MQ-9 “Reaper” drone that crashed into the Black Sea on Tuesday. The U.S. has accused Russia of operating its warplane in an “unsafe and unprofessional” manner during the encounter near Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula.
On Wednesday, a senior Russian official said Moscow would try to recover the wreckage of the drone. U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters the unmanned aerial vehicle had likely broken during the crash and whatever debris was left likely sank to a depth of thousands of feet in the Black Sea.
“That’s U.S. property,” Milley said Wednesday at a Pentagon news conference. “There’s probably not a lot to recover, frankly.”
An official told CBS News that the Russians had reached the site of the crash and would probably manage to collect some pieces of the debris, like metal chunks, but Milley said the U.S. had taken mitigating measures to prevent the loss of any sensitive intelligence.
“We are quite confident that whatever was of value is no longer of value,” he told reporters.
The video released Thursday by the Pentagon (above), captured by a camera on the MQ-9, first shows a fighter jet pass by at close range before making another pass during which it allegedly hit the drone’s propeller. The camera view is lost briefly after the apparent collision but it comes back to show what the Air Force said was damage to the propeller from the strike.
The Russian jet “dumped fuel upon and struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters,” the Air Force said in a statement accompanying the video.
The video released by the U.S. military’s European Command was “edited for length, however, the events are depicted in sequential order,” the statement said.
An image taken from video released on March 16, 2023 by the U.S. military shows what the Pentagon said is a Russian fighter jet approaching a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 drone over the Black Sea just before colliding with the drone, forcing it to be brought down, on March 14, 2023. The image was captured by a camera on board the MQ-9, the Pentagon said. U.S. Military handout
Speaking to reporters this week, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder wouldn’t say whether the drone was armed, and he referred to the unmanned aircraft as a MQ-9, but not by its other name, the Reaper. The U.S. uses Reapers for surveillance and strikes and has operated the aircraft from Europe to the Middle East and Africa.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday, speaking alongside Milley, that he had spoken with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu after the incident over the Black Sea, but the American defense chief didn’t provide details of the conversation.
“The United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows, and it is incumbent upon Russia to operate its military aircraft in a safe and professional manner,” Austin told reporters.
A MQ-9 Reaper drone flies by during a training mission at Creech Air Force Base on November 17, 2015, in Indian Springs, Nevada. Isaac Brekken/Getty
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Shoigu had told Austin that the collision was the result of “increased [U.S.] intelligence activities against the interests of the Russian Federation” and “non-compliance with the restricted flight zone” declared by Moscow amid its ongoing war in Ukraine. Ukraine’s southern coast is on the Black Sea, and Crimea, occupied by Russia since 2014 and claimed as its sovereign territory, sticks out into the body of water.
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The Russian ministry said it would react “proportionately” to any more U.S. “provocations” in the region, warning that “flights of American strategic unmanned aerial vehicles off the coast of Crimea are provocative in nature, which creates pre-conditions for an escalation of the situation in the Black Sea zone.”
“Russia is not interested in such a development of events, but it will continue to respond proportionately to all provocations,” the defense ministry said.
CBS News’ Eleanor Watson contributed to this report.
Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.
Credit…Mark Abramson for The New York Times
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So … it’s pretty clear Joe Biden is going to announce he’s running for re-election. What do you think he should do about Kamala Harris?
A) For heaven’s sake, keep her on.
B) For heaven’s sake, replace her.
C) Shouldn’t we be talking about banks or something?
Hey, this discussion is brought to you entirely because I don’t know enough about banking to write about it. How often do you find yourself chatting about the vice presidency when there’s another topic available?
The veep question did come up recently on a Boston radio show, where Elizabeth Warren was asked if she thought Harris should stay on the ticket. “I really want to defer to what makes Biden comfortable on his team,” the Massachusetts senator said, with what might be described as a lack of pumped-up enthusiasm.
Warren has reportedly tried to call Harris to apologize, without success. But the answer to our original question is super simple: If Biden runs again, Harris will be his running mate. Try to imagine him starting off a second-term campaign by dumping the first female vice president. Who also happens to be the first vice president of Black or Asian descent.
Veep-dumping does go back a long way. Thomas Jefferson turned on Aaron Burr — although rejecting someone who went on to shoot Alexander Hamilton is setting the bar pretty low.
The last time was the election of 1976, when Gerald Ford ditched Nelson Rockefeller for Bob Dole. Remember? No? Well, try to guess why that happened:
A) Rockefeller was tired of breaking tie votes in the Senate.
B) Rockefeller was too liberal and rich.
C) Bob Dole was just so charismatic.
Answer is the liberal-rich combo. Even moderate voters apparently found it difficult to relate to somebody with a billion dollars.
These days critics point out that Biden, now 80, would be the oldest president ever running for re-election — and therefore his veep should get special scrutiny. Eight vice presidents have succeeded to the presidency when their boss passed away. Some of those were terrible assassination stories, which left the voters who hadn’t really thought about the second slot doubly traumatized.
But four presidents simply … died. We will refrain from an extended discussion of Zachary Taylor, except to say that Joe Biden should not, under any circumstances, consume cherries and cold milk on a very hot summer day. Or the saga of William Henry Harrison, who made the very major error of drinking White House water that came from a marsh near a field of human excrement. Warren Harding died of a heart attack at 57 — possibly because he had run out of other things to go wrong with his administration. And F.D.R. ran for a fourth term even though a specialist had warned his physician that he’d never live through it.
Biden’s medical team says he’s in super shape, which certainly sounds plausible. He appears devoid of bad habits — works out all the time and his strongest drink is Gatorade. While there are different estimates of his life expectancy, pretty much all of them would get him through a second term. One, by a team of medical experts before the 2020 election, projected 96.8 years.
(The same team estimated Donald Trump would make it to almost 89 — that could keep him in your lives for about a dozen more years, people. Just letting you know.)
No matter how well Biden is doing, you’ve got to take a serious look at anybody who’s planning to be No. 2 to a guy in his mid-80s. With Harris, there’s definitely a downside. She was, you’ll remember, not a terrific candidate for president when she ran in 2020, and her staff was sort of a mess.
Staff seems to have been a problem for Harris, and when we’re thinking about a potential chief executive of the most powerful nation in the world, the phrase “not so great at running things” is a serious matter.
Her term in office under Biden didn’t begin well, although to be fair, Biden didn’t exactly give her the easiest portfolio. The biggest assignment was dealing with the migration crisis at the Mexico border.
“Do not come,” she helpfully suggested to our southern neighbors.
Time for the plus side. As vice president in a narrowly divided Senate, Harris has spent a lot of her time breaking tie votes. Before we get to the end of 2024, it’s a pretty good bet that she’ll be a record-setter — and who wouldn’t want to go down in history as having broken more deadlocks than John C. Calhoun?
I have to admit, I’ve been part of the let’s-replace-K.H. club. But I’ve come to grips with reality. It’s just not gonna happen. Meanwhile, her performance has definitely been improving — she made an important speech recently in Munich about the Russia-Ukraine situation. And she’s been a passionate voice for the administration on the issue of abortion rights.
And let’s admit that we’re talking here about whether, if we should lose Joe Biden during his second term, Kamala Harris would perform better as president than, say, Donald Trump. Suddenly, all our questions are washed away.
No fair saying Cocaine Bear would be a better president than Donald Trump.