The Note: Mother of all messages

The U.S. military dropped a 22,000-pound bomb in Afghanistan yesterday.

ByVeronica Stracqualursi
April 14, 2017, 8:21 AM


Day No. 85

THE BIG STORY: The “mother of all bombs” is intended to send the mother of all messages. That message is, of course, aimed particularly at North Korea, which could this weekend conduct its first nuclear test during the Trump presidency. The pictures of the U.S. dropping a huge bomb Thursday are an unmistakable part of the message President Trump wants to convey, with U.S military might lighting up world hot spots. But are actions again getting ahead of strategy? This is a whole lot of ordnance to drop on Afghanistan, with unclear objectives and little clarity from the new administration regarding the mission. With Vice President Mike Pence traveling to South Korea for an extended Asia trip, the concern has to be that all of Trump’s message-sending may elicit a response but without the next American steps clearly defined.

THE SLEEPER STORY: The “deportation force” looks like it’s coming together – just more quietly than anticipated. The Washington Post obtained an internal Department of Homeland Security document that identifies plans for tens of thousands of additional detention beds and details conversations with local law-enforcement agencies about increasing their authority to enforce federal immigration laws. As Attorney General Jeff Sessions told border patrol agents on Tuesday, “This is a new era. This is the Trump era.” Without much fanfare, some of the most significant accomplishments and policy shifts are emanating out of Sessions’ department. And for all the talk of congressional pushback around the border wall, and the low likelihood of passing actual bills on immigration policy, this looks like one big Trump priority that’s on its way to becoming reality.

THE SHINY STORY: Flip-flops by politicians are often artfully termed “evolutions.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is getting even more creative than that. “The entity itself is moving toward his, or the issue is evolving toward, the position he articulated,” Spicer said. Translation: Trump was so right in his campaign positions that he got what he wanted without doing anything, and therefore he’s free to support doing the opposite of what he said he wanted to do. That’s downright nonsensical when it comes to his position on the Export-Import Bank, China’s currency manipulation, the wisdom of low interest rates, or even – if you look at the timeline and the history – the question of NATO’s obsolescence. One thing that has evolved is who holds sway inside the Trump White House. The president is proving himself malleable to forces both internal and external – and that means more policy shifts are likely.

TLDR: The U.S. military dropped a 22,000-pound bomb nicknamed "the mother of all bombs" on an ISIS target in Afghanistan yesterday, sending a message amid speculation that North Korea is preparing for a nuclear weapons test.

PHOTO OF THE DAY: The U.S. military dropped a 22,000-pound bomb nicknamed "the mother of all bombs" yesterday, targeting an ISIS cave complex in eastern Afghanistan. The GBU-43/B massive ordnance air blast bomb that was developed in 2003 is the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the U.S. Here is one that was prepared for testing at the Eglin Air Force Armament Center in Florida in 2003. (Department of Defense/Reuters)

PHOTO: A Pentagon spokesman said it was the first-ever combat use of the bomb, known as the GBU-43, which he said contains 11 tons of explosives.
A Pentagon spokesman said it was the first-ever combat use of the bomb, known as the GBU-43, which he said contains 11 tons of explosives. The Air Force calls it the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb. Based on the acronym, it has been nicknamed the "Mother Of All Bombs."
Eglin Air Force Base via AP Photo


--US DROPS 'MOTHER OF ALL BOMBS' ON ISIS FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN: Targeting an ISIS cave complex in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, the U.S. military dropped a 22,000-pound bomb nicknamed "the mother of all bombs," the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the U.S. Formally known as the GBU-43, or massive ordnance air blast (MOAB) bomb, it was developed in 2003, writes ABC's LUIS MARTINEZ. Asked Thursday if he authorized the strike, President Donald Trump said he authorized the military. “Everybody knows exactly what happened, and what I do is I authorize my military … we’ve given them total authorization," he said.

--ANALYSIS: TRUMP FLIP-FLOPS TOWARD POLITICAL CENTER – FOR NOW: With little explanation and no real denials, President Trump has flip-flopped on a dizzying array of policies in a stunningly brief period of time. China as a currency manipulator. The future of the Export-Import Bank. NATO’s relevance. A federal hiring freeze. The Federal Reserve chair. The wisdom of low interest rates. Syria air strikes. Russia as friend or foe. ABC's RICK KLEIN has more:


COALITION AIRSTRIKE IN SYRIA MISTAKENLY KILLS 18 US-BACKED FIGHTERS. An airstrike on Tuesday by the coalition fighting ISIS south of Tabqah, Syria, killed 18 U.S.-supported fighters, U.S. Central Command announced. The strike killed members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a local group of fighters that the U.S. and a coalition of 67 other nations and organizations support in the shared goal of defeating ISIS, explains ABC's ADAM KELSEY.

2 SECRET SERVICE AGENTS LET GO OVER WHITE HOUSE FENCE JUMPER INCIDENT IN MARCH, AGENCY SAYS. Two U.S. Secret Service agents have been let go after a March incident in which a man scaled a White House fence, spending approximately 16 minutes on the grounds before he was caught, according to the agency. Both agents had been with the Secret Service for less than two years, meaning they were still in the probationary period, explain ABC's JULIA JACOBO and JACK DATE.

CIA DIRECTOR BLASTS WIKILEAKS AS 'NON-STATE HOSTILE INTELLIGENCE.' CIA Director Mike Pompeo blasted anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks on Thursday calling it a "hostile" intelligence-gathering service that is often "abetted by state actors like Russia." "WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service," Pompeo said during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, saying, "it's time to call out WikiLeaks for what it is." ABC's MARIAM KHAN has more:

CARTER PAGE: 'SOMETHING MAY HAVE COME UP IN A CONVERSATION' WITH RUSSIANS ABOUT US SANCTIONS. Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, said that he has "no recollection" of discussing, during a trip to Moscow last summer, a possible easing of U.S. sanctions against Russia but that "something may have come up in a conversation." Page traveled to the Russian capital in July 2016 to give a speech at the New Economic School, reports ABC's MORGAN WINSOR.

WHAT PRESIDENT TRUMP'S COMING OBAMACARE DECISION COULD MEAN FOR AMERICANS. President Donald Trump has predicted Obamacare's demise for months. As president, he has the ability to unravel the law from the Oval Office by altering its parts. Currently on his schedule: deciding whether to end the federal government's payments to insurers providing health care to low-income Americans under the Affordable Care Act. The move would likely raise the cost of health insurance for millions, according to experts, notes ABC's BENJAMIN SIEGEL.

PRESIDENT TRUMP CHANGES STANCE ON 4 CAMPAIGN POSITIONS IN JUST 1 DAY. Over the course of just one day, President Trump declared different positions than he took during the campaign on four issues. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal and at a press conference on Wednesday, President Trump declared that China is not a currency manipulator, entertained the possibility of re-appointing Janet Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve, asserted that NATO is a relevant alliance and expressed a favorable view of the Export-Import Bank, note ABC's ALEXANDER MALLIN and JORDYN PHELPS.


@JenniferJJacobs: No Trump senior staff are on Air Force One, and none are meeting him in Florida this Easter weekend, a White House aide tells @jeneps.

@rebeccaballhaus: In letter to Spicer, Anti-Defamation League CEO offers to hold a Holocaust education session for Spicer and other White House staffers.

@EliStokols: Trump doesn't intend to make staff changes but also isn't sure: "from day to day, I don't know." w/ @MichaelCBender

@PhilipRucker: Nice look at Gary Cohn, Trump's ascendant economic adviser, by @damianpaletta

@BenjaminBell: Video released of the 'mother of all bombs' being dropped #moab h/t @LMartinezABC

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