58 former national security leaders oppose Trump climate panel

A military police officer walks near a destroyed gate in Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida after Hurricane Michael in October 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 60 former national security and intelligence community officials sent a letter to the White House on Tuesday opposing the formation of a White House panel to conduct an "adversarial peer review" of climate science information. The panel would also be tasked with reviewing whether climate change really poses a national security threat, as numerous assessments have concluded.

Why it matters: The opposition from these former leaders indicates the extent to which many in the national security and intelligence community see such a panel as undermining national security. "It is dangerous to have national security analysis conform to politics," the letter states. "Our officials' job is to ensure that we are prepared for current threats and future contingencies. We cannot do that if the scientific studies that inform our threat assessments are undermined."

Details: The letter, put together by the Center for Climate and Security, includes some big names, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and former Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Stanley McChrystal.

  • Other signatories include the ex-commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, a leader of the National Intelligence Council, along with a slew of former Navy and Air Force officials.
  • Numerous reports from the Pentagon and intelligence community have shown that by causing extreme weather events and raising sea levels, climate change is likely to serve as a destabilizing force in the world as well as a threat to U.S. military bases at home.
  • The Air Force experienced this firsthand when Hurricane Michael rapidly intensified to become the strongest-ever hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle, wiping out much of Tyndall Air Force Base in the process. At the time, Tyndall was one of the military's largest bases for the F-22 Raptor fighter jet.

Go deeper: Scientists slam report of White House climate change review panel

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Mike Pence: Federal aid will arrive soon for flood-hit Midwest towns

Photo: Offutt Air Force Base

Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday federal aid would soon arrive for communities impacted by historic flooding in the Midwest.

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Residents in Mozambique try to protect themselves after Cyclone Idai. Photo: Adrien Barbier/AFP/Getty Images

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Satellite view of flooding at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, HQ of Strategic Command. Image: DigitalGlobe.

A combination of a cold winter, rapid snowmelt due to mild air and heavy rain from a massive "bomb cyclone," and other factors led to some of the worst flooding on record in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is beginning to affect downstream states. The extreme nature of the floods — which have overtaken large parts of Offutt Air Force Base, where America's nuclear forces are coordinated — is best seen from high above.

Why it matters: The floods have wiped out farms, killed an unknown amount of livestock, marooned entire towns and destroyed large infrastructure as rivers have risen, sending surges of water and chunks of ice churning downstream. While waters are receding in many locations in Nebraska, flooding is occurring further southeast into the Mississippi River Valley.

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Data: Associated Press analysis of NOAA data; Graphic: Chris Canipe/Axios

Historic Midwest flooding: Warnings in place as torrent continues

Photo: Nebraska National Guard

Much of the Midwest continued to be inundated with historic flooding Monday night.

The latest: The National Weather Service issued flood warnings and advisories for the Plains, the Mississippi Valley, and parts of the Ohio Valley region.

Go deeper: In photos: Staggering destruction from historic flooding in the Plains

The big picture: Vice President Mike Pence would survey the damage from the "terrible flooding" in Nebraska Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

  • Two-thirds of the town of Hamburg, just east of the Missouri river, was "lost,"Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said, according to NBC News, and 42 of Iowa's counties had declared emergencies.
  • Mills County Emergency Management Director Larry Hurst told the Des Moines Register nobody knew when the water would subside, as it continued to smash through a levee break near the point where the  Platte and Missouri rivers converge at Plattsmouth Toll Bridge. "I've got water all the way to the Loess Hills, he said. "There's water on this entire basin."

Why it matters: At least three people have died in ferocious flooding in the regions around the Platte and Missouri rivers, caused by melting snow and heavy rain from the "Bomb Cyclone" in the Midwest. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said it's the worst flooding in the state for 50 years. Dams have failed, levees breached and other infrastructure stripped away as raging floodwaters and chunks of ice move downstream.


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In photos: Staggering destruction from historic flooding in the Plains

Photo: Nebraska National Guard

Melting snow and heavy rain from the "Bomb Cyclone" in the Midwest has caused historic flooding from the Platte and Missouri rivers.

Why it matters: Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said it's the worst flooding the state has experienced in 50 years, with at least two flood-related fatalities this week. Dams have failed, levees breached and other infrastructure stripped away as raging floodwaters and chunks of ice move downstream.