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Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster has appointed Mike Barry to oversee the intelligence community on the National Security Council, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the decision.

Barry, who served in the intelligence community, replaces Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the intel operative who was appointed by Gen. Mike Flynn and gained notoriety as he fell out with McMaster and was eventually ousted, despite being in the unusual position of having warm relationships with both Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. (Barry's appointment was first foreshadowed — in pejorative terms — by Mike Cernovich, a controversial online foe of McMaster's.)

Why this matters: As special assistant to the president for intelligence programs, Barry will be crucial to the smooth functioning of President Trump's national security team, and will be responsible for aligning the intelligence community's policy with Trump's priorities. Barry will also manage covert action.

What we know about Barry: Not much, given the classification of the work he has been doing. A source familiar with his appointment told me:

Before Barry's service in the intelligence community, he served in the Air Force.H.R. McMaster asked CIA Director Mike Pompeo for recommendations for Cohen-Watnick replacements. Pompeo recommended Barry.Barry and McMaster bonded, partly "because they'd worked in similar environments," the source said.

Go deeper

Updated 13 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

14 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.