FBI’s Informant as a Russian Agent | DOD’s Industrial Base Problems | Investigating Neo-Nazis, and more

Some wore skull face masks, a common accessory for violent neo-Nazi groups, according to the photos they posted on Telegram, a social media messaging app popular with far-right extremists. One had a shirt with a skull and a message praising the Einsatzkommando, German death squads in the Holocaust. Another held a sign aimed at Green: “Freedom of press does not equal freedom from consequences.”
Jordan Green reports on extremists for the news website Raw Story, where his stories have included alleged neo-Nazis joining the U.S. military or protesting at drag shows. For the past few months, he has worked on an investigation into a teenage gang that local police had linked to a spate of racist vandalism, including a brick attack on a Jewish center in Pensacola, Fla.
As Green prepared to publish his story, neo-Nazis came to his house.
Green’s reporting had found that the Pensacola gang was part of a larger online network known as 2119 Blood and Soil Crew, with members operating in several states. On Feb. 10, five people connected to 2119 appeared outside his home in Greensboro, N.C., according to Green, as well as photos the group itself shared on social media.
Some wore skull face masks, a common accessory for violent neo-Nazi groups, according to the photos they posted on Telegram, a social media messaging app popular with far-right extremists. One had a shirt with a skull and a message praising the Einsatzkommando, German death squads in the Holocaust. Another held a sign aimed at Green: “Freedom of press does not equal freedom from consequences.”

How Many Sentinel Missiles Does the United States Need?  (Al Mauroni, War on the Rocks)
The U.S. Air Force deployed its first Minuteman missile in 1962. There’s no getting around this basic point, that America’s intercontinental ballistic missile fleet is a Cold War relic. At the height of the Cold War, there were more than 1,000 silos dotting the western United States. The latest iteration, the Minuteman III, was first deployed in 1970. Over the last 40 years, the Air Force has spent billions on replacing guidance systems, rocket motors, and power systems, in addition to patching up aging launch facilities and maintaining an outdated command and control system. Critics decry the land-based leg of the nuclear triad as having a “hair trigger” that threatens the world and would like to see the entire system disestablished. And recent events give this argument some justification.
The Air Force intends to replace the Minuteman III with the LGM-35 Sentinel missile. The Sentinel missile is getting increased scrutiny lately due to critical cost and schedule slips. Originally estimated in 2020 to cost $95.3 billion over its 10-year development, it now may cost upwards of $125 billion and slip past its expected initial deployment date of 2030. As a result, the average procurement cost per missile will rise to $162 million from an initial $118 million. This triggered a legal process known as the “Nunn-McCurdy breach” in which the Air Force must now justify the continuance of its program and develop a new cost and schedule estimate that is acceptable to Congress.
While this review will not necessarily result in the elimination of the program, one might question why the Air Force requires 400 missiles armed with nuclear warheads today. While the Cold War is over, the continued presence of nuclear threats to the United States demands a response. The combination of bilateral arms control agreements, deterrence theory, and presidential direction, along with bipartisan congressional approval, has resulted in the decision to retain 400 land-based missile silos for the purpose of strategic stability between nuclear-weapon states.

Shining a Light on the Defense Department’s Industrial Base Problems  (Jeff Decker and Noah Sheinbaum, Texas National Security Review)
With the recent release of the National Defense Industrial Strategy, the Defense Department has acknowledged the urgency of strengthening the linkages between a healthy defense industrial base and U.S. military power. Despite this, the views of defense-tech companies are often overlooked. Using original data derived from a new survey, Jeff Decker and Noah Sheinbaum offer a number of steps the Defense Department can take to lower the barriers that companies face in converting disruptive commercial technologies into widescale defense capabilities.

The Supreme Court Will Decide Whether to Let Civilians Own Automatic Weapons  (Ian Millhiser, Vox)
On February 28, the Supreme Court will hear a case that could effectively make it legal for civilians to own automatic weapons capable of firing as many as nine bullets every second.
The case, known as Garland v. Cargill, involves bump stocks, devices that use a gun’s recoil to repeatedly fire the weapon. Bump stocks cause a semiautomatic firearm’s trigger to buck against the shooter’s finger, as the gun’s recoil causes it to jerk back and forth — repeatedly “bumping” the trigger and causing the gun to fire as if it were fully automatic.
A “semiautomatic” weapon refers to a gun that loads a bullet into the chamber or otherwise prepares itself to fire again after discharging a bullet, but that will not fire a second bullet until the shooter pulls the trigger a second time. An “automatic” weapon, by contrast, will fire a continuous stream of bullets — though the shooter often must hold down the trigger to do so.
The Trump administration issued a regulation banning bump stocks in 2018, after a gunman used one to kill 60 people and wound hundreds more during a country music festival in Las Vegas. A 1986 law makes it a crime to own a “machinegun,” and the Trump administration determined that this law extends to bump stocks.
But federal courts have divided on whether federal law defines the term “machinegun” broadly enough to include bump stocks, and the law does appear to be genuinely ambiguous on this point.
If this case, which was brought by an individual gun owner who wants to own bump stocks, had arisen just a few years ago, it would have been a slam dunk victory for the government. The Supreme Court’s decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council (1984) generally calls for judges to defer to a federal agency’s reading of an ambiguous federal law, so Chevron calls for the courts to defer to the government’s interpretation of what constitutes a “machinegun.”
But the Court is likely to overrule Chevron in a pair of cases it heard in January, shifting final authority over a simply enormous array of policy questions away from the executive branch of government and to the Court itself. And that means that the fate of the current ban on bump stocks most likely rests entirely upon whether five justices want such a ban to exist.

Ex-FBI Informant Charged with Lying About Bidens Had Russian Intelligence Contacts, Prosecutors Say  (AP / VOA News)
A former FBI informant charged with making up a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and a Ukrainian energy company had contacts with officials affiliated with Russian intelligence, prosecutors said in a court paper Tuesday.
Prosecutors revealed the alleged contact as they urged a judge to keep Alexander Smirnov behind bars while he awaits trial. He’s charged with falsely reporting to the FBI in June 2020 that executives associated with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5 million each in 2015 or 2016. The claim has been central to the Republican impeachment inquiry in Congress.
Smirnov is due in court later Tuesday in Las Vegas. He has been in custody at a facility in rural Pahrump, about an hour drive west of Las Vegas, since his arrest last week at the airport while returning from overseas.
Prosecutors said that during an interview before his arrest last week, Smirnov admitted that “officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story” about Hunter Biden. They said Smirnov’s contacts with Russian officials were recent and extensive, and said Smirnov had planned to meet with one official during an upcoming overseas trip.
They said Smirnov has had numerous contacts with a person he described as the “son of a former high-ranking government official” and “someone with ties to a particular Russian intelligence service.” They said there is a serious risk that Smirnov could flee overseas to avoid facing trial.

How TikTok’s Lack of Trust & Safety Enforcements Are a Danger for Germany’s and the World’s Democracy  (Medium)
TikTok did not remove content which explicitly or through dog whistles support said party members, their actions or the ideology. The reject rate for actual violative content was 70%, TikTok only accepted 30% of the reports. Example 1: In these short images you see in the first one a demonstration of a nazi group (Deutsche Jugend), where else is one of the points of interest is showing a Nazi salute and the caption “Love for your country is not a crime” (also a German phrase), explicitly promoting Neo-Nazi actions, and violence, thus should have been removed and information of the user forwarded to the Verfassungsschutz.