In the wake of the U.K.’s most recent terrorist attacks, its prime minister is talking tough on Internet regulation, but what she’s suggesting is impractical.
Tragically, there have been three major terrorist attacks in the U.K. in less than three months’ time. After the second, in Manchester, May and others said they would look into finding ways to compel tech companies to put cryptographic “back doors” into their services, so that law enforcement agencies could more easily access suspects’ user data.
May repeated her stance in broaders terms Sunday, following new attacks in London. “The Internet, and the big companies” are providing “safe spaces” for extremism, she said, and new regulations are needed to “regulate cyberspace.” She offered no specifics, but her party’s line, just days from the June 8 national election, is clear: a country that already grants its government some of the most sweeping digital surveillance powers of any democracy needs more and tougher laws to prevent terrorism (see “New U.K. Surveillance Law Will Have Worldwide Implications”).
The trouble is, this kind of talk ignores how the Internet and modern consumer technology works. As Cory Doctorow points out in a detailed look at how you would actually go about creating services with cryptographic holes, the practicalities of such a demand render it ludicrous bordering on impossible. Even if all of the necessary state-mandated technical steps were taken by purveyors of commercial software and devices—like Google or Apple, say—anyone who wanted to could easily skirt their restrictions by running open-source versions of the software, or unlocked phones.
That isn’t to say that May and the Conservatives’ general idea that the government should be able to probe user data as part of an investigation should be dismissed out of hand. The balancing act between national security and digital privacy has become one of the central themes of our digital lives (see “What If Apple Is Wrong?”). And while there are advocates aplenty on both sides, simple answers are hard to come by. Read the rest of this entry »
Do you suspect that the noise over Trump campaign contacts with the Russians is just a political hit arranged by Obama insiders before they left?
You got fresh evidence of that Monday, with news that then-national security adviser Susan Rice was behind the “unmasking” of Trumpites in transcripts of calls with Russian officials.
Again, nothing on the public record so far shows that anyone on Team Trump said anything improper on those calls.
It’s no surprise that US spooks intercept foreign officials’ calls. But intelligence community reports don’t disclose the names of US citizens on the other end. To get that info, a high official must (but rarely does) push to “unmask” the Americans’ names.
Bloomberg’s Eli Lake now reports that Rice started doing just that last year.
That was perfectly legal. But we also know that the Obama administration later changed the classification of the “unmasked” transcripts, and other similar material, in order to spread the information as widely as possible within the government.
The motive for that was (supposedly) to prevent Team Trump from burying it all once it took over. But the result was that it made it relatively safe for someone (or someones) to leak the info to the press.
Which made it likely somebody would leak. So Team Obama’s “spread the info” initiative certainly broke the spirit of the laws. Read the rest of this entry »
Kelly, a four-star general who had been head of the U.S. Southern Command, retired from the Marines in 2016.
Peter Layton reports: American air supremacy is in a bear market of long-term decline with no end in sight. The RAND Corporation recently determined: “continuous improvements to Chinese air capabilities make it increasingly difficult for the United States to achieve air superiority within a politically and operationally effective time frame. . . .” These improvements are part of the reason the Center for Strategic and International Studies considers that: “ at the current rate of U.S. capability development, the balance of military power in the [Asia-Pacific] region is shifting against the United States.”
“The advantage that we had from the air, I can honestly say, is shrinking…This is not just a Pacific problem. It’s as significant in Europe as it is anywhere else on the planet…I don’t think it’s controversial to say they’ve closed the gap in capability.”
America’s current air supremacy rests on the F-15 fighter fleet complemented by small numbers of F-22s. The elderly F-15s are though having problems handling the latest, new-build Russian and Chinese fighters. In assessing performance against the Russian Su-35 fighter (now being acquired by China), the National Interest’s Dave Majumdar observes: “Overall, if all things were equal, even a fully upgraded F-15C with the latest AESA upgrades would have its hands full…”
As regards the much higher performance F-22, only about ninety are available for global air supremacy tasks. This is arguably too small for winning air supremacy in one theatre, let alone both Europe and the Pacific. Ongoing peacetime training attrition is further gradually reducing this small fleet. The 2009 decision ceasing F-22 production early was based in part on beliefs that it was irrelevant to countering Islamic extremists or the counterinsurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Events have now overtaken this perspective.
Today, the dangers of a resurgent Russia and a more assertive China have become both more apparent and important. America’s current air supremacy force structure remains highly effective for wars against third world tyrants, such as Saddam Hussein in 2003. These kinds of wars though are not the only conflicts now possible. Instead, there is a growing need to be able to deter, and potentially to win, wars involving near-peer competitors.
Some consider the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will in time address declining air supremacy. Countering this sanguine view, the worrying RAND study earlier noted included the F-35 (and the F-22) albeit not the new Chinese J-20 or J-31 stealth aircraft. This study, in looking at 2017, may actually understate what China will be capable of later this decade when it has more than 1,000 advanced fighters in service.
So what? Does air supremacy matter? Air supremacy will not win a war but it will stop a war being lost. America has not won a war without air supremacy—a point that has been widely recognised. It’s no surprise that China sees air superiority as one of the key “Three Superiorities” that can decide a conflict’s outcome. Nor is it a surprise that a major part of Russia’s force modernisation is fighter development and procurement.
The still-in-development F-35’s contribution to future American air supremacy is mixed. The aircraft was designed as a short-range aircraft primarily for attacking ground targets while having a secondary air-to-air capability. Twenty years ago American air supremacy was unquestioned except for Russian-built SAM systems that the F-35 was built to defeat. But times change, albeit the F-35’s 1990’s era airframe design cannot.
Given that, the F-35s avionics have now been tweaked to compensate for the F-35’s designed-in constrained air-to-air fighting capabilities. The idea is that data received from the aircraft’s onboard systems fused with information from accompanying aircraft and distant sensors will provide the pilot with a god’s eye view of the battlefield. With this, the pilot will be able to kill hostile aircraft at long range before opposing fighters can close and engage the F-35 where it is weakest. Close-in manoeuvrability is then irrelevant. There are several concerns with this concept.
Data fusion is an inherently complex business. Before every flight the F-35’s mission data files must be updated with the latest electronic signatures of friendly and hostile forces. Without this, the pilot’s god’s eye view may be inaccurate and dangerously misleading. In broad terms, the process involves advanced in-theatre and national intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems collecting the tetra-bytes of data necessary, skilled teams analysing this before on-forwarding to the United States, on-call software teams quickly translating the evolving tactical circumstances into mission data files and then retransmitting back out to the field to load onto each F-35 before every sortie.
Where would you draw the line between liberty and security?
Stephen Green writes: Here’s the setup.
San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook owned an iPhone 5c, which may have been used — probably was used — in planning and perhaps even executing the holiday party terror attack with his wife, Tashfeen Malik.
That iPhone 5c, just like any other up-to-do-date iOS or Android smartphone, has disc-level encryption baked into the OS for users who want that level of privacy, for good or for ill.
Yesterday,U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple to bypass the phone’s security functions, and furthermore “to provide related technical assistance and to build special software that would essentially act as a skeleton key capable of unlocking the phone.”
Here’s what happened next:
Hours later, in a statement by its chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, Apple announced its refusal to comply. The move sets up a legal showdown between the company, which says it is eager to protect the privacy of its customers, and the law enforcement authorities, who assert that new encryption technologies hamper their ability to prevent and solve crime.In his statement, Mr. Cook called the court order an “unprecedented step” by the federal government. “We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,” he wrote.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond publicly to Apple’s resistance.
The F.B.I. said its experts had been unable to access data on the iPhone 5c and that only Apple could bypass its security features. F.B.I. experts have said they risk losing the data permanently after 10 failed attempts to enter the password because of the phone’s security features.
The Justice Department had secured a search warrant for the phone, owned by Mr. Farook’s former employer, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, which consented to the search.
Because Apple declined to voluntarily provide, in essence, the “keys” to its encryption technology, federal prosecutors said they saw little choice but to get a judge to compel Apple’s assistance.
Mr. Cook said the order amounted to creating a “back door” to bypass Apple’s strong encryption standards — “something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create.”
Security hawks are on solid ground when they worry (as I do) that Farook’s encrypted iPhone might contain data valuable to government efforts to stop future terror attacks on U.S. soil, or to aid intel efforts to locate, track, and kill Farook’s ISIS contacts overseas.
But that’s not the only worry, as Doug Mataconis explains:
From Apple’s point of view, there seem to be a myriad of issues motivating the decision to take what has the potential to be an unpopular decision given the circumstances of this case. First of all, there is the fact that ever since the company made the decision to strengthen security on its phones in a manner that essentially allows customers to encrypt data in a manner that makes it nearly impossible to access without the appropriate pass code, the concerns about data security have only become more prominent and that providing a backdoor that does not exist right now would only serve to make the data itself less secure overall. Second, as the Post article notes the use of the All Writs Act in this manner appears to be unprecedented and, if upheld, would essentially allow the government to do almost anything in the name of law enforcement and intelligence gathering. Finally, and perhaps most strongly, it’s important to note that law enforcement isn’t asking Apple to provide information that it already has, which is what an ordinary search warrant does. It is essentially asking a Federal Court to compel Apple to do something, in this case create a backdoor that does not exist. This arguably falls well outside the scope of the Fourth Amendment and, if upheld, would give law enforcement authority to compel technology companies to do almost anything conceivable in the name of a purported investigation or surveillance of a target. That seems to go well beyond what the Constitution and existing law permits law enforcement to do.
The Making of Asian America: A History, by Erika Lee, 528 pages, Simon & Schuster, Nonfiction.
Nicolas Gattig reports: In 1922, a Japanese immigrant to the United States named Takao Ozawa applied for citizenship with the U.S. Supreme Court. Having lived in America for almost 30 years, Ozawa was fluent in English and an active Christian, assuring the court that his skin was “white in color” and that he wished to “return the kindness which our Uncle Sam has extended me.” Still, his appeal was denied — naturalization at the time was exclusive to Caucasians.
“Asian-Americans have experienced both the promise of America as well as the racism of America. As we debate what kind of America we want to be in the 21st century — with concerns about immigration policy, racial equality and our ties to the rest of the world — Asian Americans and their long history in the U.S. can inform on these issues.”
— Author Erika Lee
A recurring theme in Erika Lee’s new book “The Making of Asian America: A History” is the humiliations of immigrant life — the “collective burden” of people who have to keep proving they are worthy. With a keen eye for telling quotes, Lee shows the human dimensions of Asian immigration to the U.S., which now spans 23 different groups and makes up 6 percent of the total population. Incidentally, she tells of a nation expanding its identity, of the inclusion of people once vilified.
From the start, Japanese sojourners feature prominently in this history, as the second largest group of Asian immigrants —the bulk being Chinese — during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hailing mostly from Okinawa, Kumamoto, Fukuoka and Hiroshima prefectures, they were mainly young men dodging military service or farmers fleeing the taxation of the Meiji Era (1868-1912) government.
The immigrant dream was soon interrupted. The “gentlemen’s agreement” between the U.S. and Japan was signed in 1908, barring all Japanese laborers from entering the U.S. This spurred illegal immigration via Mexico, and in a quirky aside Lee quotes a letter by a stateside contact named Nakagawa, who advised border-crossers laconically: “Some people go to Nogales. But sometimes they are killed by the natives. So you had better not go that way.”
The book reminds us how hedging the “Yellow Peril” was a part of U.S. immigration policy, culminating in 1924, when “immigration from Asia was banned completely, with the establishment of an ‘Asiatic Barred Zone.’”
“There is widespread condemnation. But there is also a lot of amnesia about WWII incarceration, a lot of misinformation and misremembering. So the lesson still needs to be learned by many, and with great urgency.”
Fitting this theme, two whole chapters here are devoted to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Imperial Army, the “military necessity” allowed for the U.S. government to round up all persons of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast, without due process or proof of wrongdoing. In fact, the measure was unwarranted: reports by the FBI and other offices showed that second-generation Japanese Americans were “pathetically eager” to show their loyalty to the U.S.
“Since the 1980s, American media have been praising the ‘rise of Asian America,’ pointing to Chinese and Indian Americans who enjoy better schooling and salaries than many whites. Still, it is misleading to speak of a ‘model minority.’ A wildly disparate community, Asian Americans also grapple with lower income and high crime rates.”
More than 120,000 Japanese Americans spent the war in camps, many losing their homes and livelihood. About 5,500 internees renounced their U.S. citizenship — becoming “Native American Aliens” — and some of them were deported to Japan. Read the rest of this entry »
He has failed to persuade enough of the public that he is comfortable as a wartime president, largely because he doesn’t enjoy the role.
“Part of Mr. Obama’s problem is that, far from exaggerating the jihadi threat and overdoing the rhetoric, he seems to have underestimated the challenges.”
I had the same reaction Monday listening to President Barack Obama talk about how much he’s doing to defeat Islamic State. Speaking from the Pentagon, the president listed some impressive-sounding accomplishments: identifying ISIS leaders killed, the large areas in Syria and Iraq that ISIS no longer controls, air and ground efforts to destroy the jihadis. Yet 60% of the public has little confidence in Mr. Obama’s policies, a CNN/ORC poll found this month.
After almost seven years in office, the image of a risk-averse president is tough to shake. It matters little that Mr. Obama’s administration has killed Osama Bin Laden, taken out al-Qaeda core leadership and infrastructure, and expanded the drone war (making him a sort of George W. Bush on steroids when it comes to counterterrorism). He has failed to persuade enough of the public that he is comfortable as a wartime president, largely because he doesn’t enjoy the role. The image he conveys is that of a cool, non-emotive leader who prefers diplomacy (see: Iran and Cuba), who is convinced of the rightness of his policies on Iraq and Afghanistan, and who shies away from the emotional rhetoric of his predecessor (wanted: dead or alive). Read the rest of this entry »
In the surveillance area, I believe the public is mostly wrong.
Andrew C. McCarthy writes: Should private companies that provide users with encryption technology be required to assist law-enforcement and intelligence services to defeat that technology? This question is a more pressing one in the wake of November’s Paris terrorist attacks. But it is a very tough question that has vexed both the government and providers of communications services for years.
“The problem is that encryption technology has gotten very tough to crack and very widely available. Consequently, if terrorists or other high-level criminals are using it to carry out schemes that endanger the public, government agents cannot penetrate the communications in real time.”
Part of what makes it so difficult is the new facts of life. As I noted during the debate over the NSA’s bulk-collection of telephone metadata, we are operating in a political environment that is night-and-day different from the aftermath of 9/11. Back then, a frightened public was demanding that the government do a better job of collecting intelligence and thwarting terrorist plots. Of course that sentiment was driven by the mass-murder of nearly 3,000 Americans, coupled with the destruction of the World Trade Center and a strike against the Pentagon. But it also owed in no small measure to the fact that government had done such an incompetent job gathering and “connecting the dots” prior to the attacks. There was a strong public sense that intelligence agencies needed an injection of muscle.
“That they have a legal basis to conduct surveillance is beside the point; all the probable cause in the world won’t help an agent who lacks the know-how to access what he’s been authorized to search.”
Today, the public’s sense tends in the other direction. There have been spectacular abuses of government power (e.g., IRS scandal), and intrusive security precautions infused by political correctness (e.g., airport searches). Americans understandably suspect that government cannot be trusted with enhanced authorities and that many of its tactics are more about the appearance of security than real security.
It is, moreover, no longer sufficient for the national-security right to posit that security measures pass legal muster. The public wants proof that these measures actually and meaningfully improve our security, regardless of whether they are justifiable as a matter of law.
This makes it a very uphill environment in which to suggest, as FBI Director Jim Comey has recently done, that communications providers should provide the government with keys to unlocking their encryption technology – encryption-key repositories or what is often called “backdoor” access.
The problem is that encryption technology has gotten very tough to crack and very widely available. Consequently, if terrorists or other high-level criminals are using it to carry out schemes that endanger the public, government agents cannot penetrate the communications in real time. That they have a legal basis to conduct surveillance is beside the point; all the probable cause in the world won’t help an agent who lacks the know-how to access what he’s been authorized to search. Read the rest of this entry »
Sean Davis reports: A review of recently released e-mails shows that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly originated and distributed highly classified national security information. Clinton’s classified e-mail missives were not constrained to State Department staff, either. She also sent classified information to Sidney Blumenthal, a former Clinton White House operative banned by the Obama White House.
An analysis by The Federalist of e-mails released by the State Department late Monday shows that scores of e-mails sent by Clinton contained highly confidential national security information from the beginning, even if they weren’t marked by a classification authority until later.
The original date of classification of Hillary’s e-mails can be discerned by noting the declassification dates noted next to redactions in the e-mails. Under a 2009 executive order signed by President Barack Obama, classified material in most circumstances is to be automatically declassified after 10 years. In some instances, that duration may be extended up to 25 years. In certain circumstances, classification authorities may adjust the classification duration based on the nature of the underlying information.
In this July 2010 e-mail, for example, the entirety of Hillary Clinton’s message was redacted prior to its public release under the federal FOIA law. The redactions of the material were provided pursuant to a provision of law protecting national security information. The printed redaction code “1.4(D),” cited next to the redaction and at the top of the document next to the official classification date, pertains to information on “[f]oreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources[.]” At the top of the document, a declassification date of July 1, 2025 is clearly noted:
That declassification date is highly significant because it is precisely 15 years after the date on which the e-mail was sent, rather than the date on which it was marked. Read the rest of this entry »
The House on Wednesday approved a $3.8 trillion spending plan for fiscal 2016 that balances the budget in a decade, reforms Medicare and Medicaid, and eliminates Obamacare.
The resolution passed by a vote of 228 to 199, and over the objections of some conservatives who opposed additional defense money because it would increase funding for a special defense spending account that does not require reductions elsewhere in the budget.
Lawmakers passed the budget after hours of debate on a half-dozen spending plans, three from Democrats and three from Republicans.
The GOP gave their rank and file the choice of voting for a budget blueprint that did not boost defense spending.
But that measure had little chance of passing because 77 defense-minded Republicans, citing the threat of terrorism at home and abroad, pledged to vote against it.
They cited warnings from the military that the current funding levels are too low to maintain the nation’s defense.
Some fiscal conservatives decided to back the measure with extra defense funding, authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., because the proposal includes a a bigger priority for the far Right: A provision that would make it easier for the Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act with 51 votes, instead of 60.
The Senate is expected to approve its own budget blueprint early Friday morning. The plan is similar to the House version but not identical, so the two plans will have to be merged in a conference committee in April, when Congress returns from the two-week Easter recess. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a terrible trial balloon to float out of spite. http://t.co/XL9AVelPVd
— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) March 19, 2015
BREAKING: Chinese Hackers Reveal They Have Archive of Hillary’s State Department Emails, Offer them to GOP in Rare DealPosted: March 12, 2015
Chinese hackers offer Clinton Archive in Exchange for Exclusive Access to Future Celebrity Porn Leaks
HONG KONG – Chinese hackers contacted John Boehner‘s office this week, offering their archived record of Hillary Clinton’s email database, in exchange for a guarantee of exclusive access to future leaks of celebrity nude images and videos, sources inside the capitol have confirmed. The Department of Homeland security, however, denies any knowledge of a deal being offered by the Chinese, and authorities in Beijing decline to comment. “This is either a rogue operation, or a prank”, said Eric Holder, when contacted for comment. “There’s no evidence the emails they claim to have are authentic.”
Other officials disagreed, conceding that military and non-military hackers inside Chinese have long held copies of every email written and received by cabinet officers in the U.S. “We know they keep records of our correspondence, probably even more complete ones than we do”, said one official. “There’s really not a lot we can do about it. We might as well benefit from it.” Boehner agreed, and suggested that negotiations with A-list actresses are already underway.
“I’d do my part, if it meant this scandal could be neutralized”, said actress Kirsten Dunst, “but only if other actresses do it, too, and only if the images don’t appear outside China.” A spokesperson for Jennifer Lawrence said that under certain conditions she might allow personal photographs to be shared among Chinese hackers, but declined to say what those conditions are. “Jennifer is a patriot,” her spokesperson said. “But she’s also a realist. She doesn’t necessarily trust the Chinese to honor non-disclosure agreements. Another actress, Kate Upton, declined to participate, “If they wanted picture of me, they’d have them by now. Everyone else does”, she said. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON — Anyone who has tried to pry information from the federal government may have been surprised on Tuesday by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s assertion that in all her emails in four years as secretary of state she never strayed into the classified realm.
“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”
After all, a consensus of both Republicans and Democrats for many years has been that the government routinely overclassifies information, reflexively stamping “secret” on mountains of documents with marginally sensitive content. The government classified more than 80 million documents in 2013, according to the Information Security Oversight Office, which publishes an annual count.
“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email,” Mrs. Clinton said at a news conference on Tuesday at the United Nations. “I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.” Read the rest of this entry »
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) January 7, 2015
“For something like this to happen, it had to happen over a long period of time. You cannot just exfiltrate one terabyte or 100 terabytes of data in a matter of weeks.”
WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A former hacker for Anonymous doesn’t believe North Korea has the infrastructure to be behind the Sony hack attack.
“Do you really think a bunch of nerds from North Korea are going to fly to New York and start blowing up movie theaters? No. It’s not realistic. It’s not about ‘The Interview.’ It’s about money. It’s a professional job.”
Hector Monsegur told “CBS This Morning” that the communist regime doesn’t have the technical capabilities to pull off the hack.
“In my personal opinion, it’s not. Look at the bandwidth going into North Korea. I mean, the pipelines, the pipes going in, handling data, they only have one major ISP across their entire nation. That kind of information flowing at one time would have shut down North Korean Internet completely…They don’t have the technical capabilities.”
— Hector Monsegur
He continued, “They do have state-sponsored hackers very similar to China, very similar to Russia and very similar to our good, old USA.”
Sony Pictures Entertainment took the unprecedented step of canceling the Dec. 25 release of the Seth Rogen comedy “The Interview.”
A former CIA official, though, believes that North Korea could pull of this type of cyberattack.
“North Korea has significant cyber capabilities. They use them quite frequently against South Korea. For a backwards state that might be a little surprising but they also have a nuclear weapon. They are capable of achieving things when they focus on them.”
— Mike Morell, a former deputy director of the CIA
The cancellation announced Wednesday was a startling blow to the Hollywood studio that has been shaken by hacker leaks and intimidations over the last several weeks by an anonymous group calling itself Guardians of Peace.
“This attack went to the heart and core of Sony’s business — and succeeded. We haven’t seen any attack like this in the annals of U.S. breach history.”
— Avivah Litan, a cybersecurity analyst at research firm Gartner
A U.S. official said Wednesday that federal investigators have now connected the Sony hacking to North Korea and may make an announcement in the near future. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to openly discuss an ongoing criminal case.
“It doesn’t tell me much. I’ve seen Russian hackers pretending to be Indian. I’ve seen Ukrainian hackers pretending to be Peruvian. There’s hackers that pretend they’re little girls. They do this for misinformation, disinformation, covering their tracks.”
Monsegur stated that Sony’s hacking had to have happened over a long period of time. Read the rest of this entry »
Scott Shackford writes: This morning’s news cycle has temporarily shifted away from fretting about what might happen in Ferguson, Missouri, to the news that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is resigning after serving less than two years.
“One of the top choices to replace Hagel is Michéle Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense under Hagel’s predecessors. She’s also an administration insider…Rather than proposing a different course for the administration’s foreign policy, she appears to possibly be the person to entrench it for rest of Obama’s term.”
The New York Times got the news, which will apparently be announced formally in a statement this morning:
The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration.
Taken as a whole, the original New York Times story paints a pretty damning picture of the White House’s national security policy setting. Mr. Hagel, so long as he was a loyal foot soldier for the President, was okay even if he was on the outside of the White House cool kidz team.
But the moment Hagel spoke up on ISIS, contradicting the White House, it was game over.
In other words, Chuck Hagel was not fired for incompetence. He was fired for telling the truth on ISIS — calling it an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” thereby forcing Barack Obama to deal with a threat he very much would like to ignore.
It’s only made more interesting by the New York Times’s decision to complete delete that bit explaining the motivation for his firing….(read more)
A very important vine from yesterday: https://t.co/hK3W3I21Dj
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) November 25, 2014
Scott Shackford: …But now “the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus,” one administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired, saying that he initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it was time for him to leave.
But Mr. Hagel’s aides had maintained in recent weeks that he expected to serve the full four years as defense secretary. His removal appears to be an effort by the White House to show that it is sensitive to critics who have pointed to stumbles in the government’s early response to several national security issues, including the Ebola crisis and the threat posed by the Islamic State.
Well, that’s one way to put it, but later on in the story, reporter Helen Cooper notes Hagel’s struggles to fit in with a White House full of intense Obama campaign insiders and their need to control all messaging:
A respected former senator who struck a friendship with Mr. Obama when they were both critics of the Iraq war from positions on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Hagel has nonetheless had trouble penetrating the tight team of former campaign aides and advisers who form Mr. Obama’s closely knit set of loyalists. Senior administration officials have characterized him as quiet during Cabinet meetings; Mr. Hagel’s defenders said that he waited until he was alone with the president before sharing his views, the better to avoid leaks. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Goldberg: Secret Service Cartagena Hooker Cover-Up a Glimpse Inside the Politicized, Control-Freak White HousePosted: October 9, 2014
“The most important thing is this is national-security emergency for the United States.”
For National Review Online, Andrew Johnson writes: Former United States ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey warned that the ongoing crisis in the Middle Eastern country poses a serious threat to the U.S. and its allies.
“It’s a huge terrorist threat, it’s our allies and partners under stress, it’s a possible civil war in the middle of the Middle East, and it’s even an impact on our oil and energy security. We need to act and we need to continue acting very quickly.”
For The Washington Times, Douglas Ernst reports: The Pentagon’s research agency tasked with developing breakthrough technologies for national security has come up with a plan for dealing with shrinking budgets: robotic flight crews..
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently working on technology that will be able to replace up to five crew members on military aircraft, in effect making the lone human operator a “mission supervisor,” tech magazine Wired reported.
The Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) would offer the military a “tailorable, drop-in, removable kit that would enable the addition of high levels of automation into existing aircraft to enable operation with reduced onboard crew,” DARPA said….(read more)
I saw this press conference, early this morning. A few things stood out. One, the Dutch press was blunt and direct, asking the U.S. President uncomfortable questions. More than we see here. No softballs. Two, Obama talked too much, long, meandering, answers. And three, he was on the defensive, for the entire press conference.
“With respect to Mr. Romney’s assertion that Russia is our number one geopolitical foe, the truth of the matter is that America has a whole lot of challenges…”
He goes in circles for a long time, barely making sense.
“So my response then continues to be what I believe today, which is: Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the number one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.”
Tom Rogan writes: When America and China have a falling out, the world tends to take notice.
That’s no surprise, of course. This relationship doesn’t just shape the interests of two nations; it heavily influences the economic, military, and political trajectory of the world. Indeed, because of this reality, the prospective consequences of a serious U.S.-Chinese dispute actually help decrease the likelihood of such a dispute’s occurring.
Still, I think there are three lessons that we can take from the present crisis.
1. In order to be real, American power must be projected.
As I suggested earlier this week, it’s very likely that this new ADIZ flowed from China’s desire to test American resolve. Yet even as the Obama administration has (thus far) acted courageously, the very fact that China decided to launch this challenge should be a serious cause for concern.
For all the imagery of American military power — jets shooting off carrier decks, tanks storming across deserts, vast ground deployments abroad — American power isn’t real unless it’s perceived practically. Just as our aircraft carriers cut waves through the sea, those vessels also cut waves of geopolitical consequence. This is a truth that we must embrace. In order to positively influence American foes and consolidate American friends, the United States must apply its power without apology.
Tommy Christopher reports: On Wednesday morning, CNN Newsroom anchor Carol Costello made a rather stunning, if cryptic, revelation. In discussing the firing of national security official Jofi Joseph, Costello agreed with panelist Jason Johnson that the Obama administration can be thin-skinned, and said that “President Obama’s people can be quite nasty. They don’t like you to say anything bad about their boss, and they’re not afraid to use whatever means they have at hand to stop you from doing that, including threatening your job.”
Johnson’s reaction to the firing was that “we had to see more of the tweets. It’s kind of inappropriate, so I can understand him being fired. But the Obama administration is very thin-skinned.” Read the rest of this entry »
By Daniel Halper
President Obama, speaking earlier today in Sweden about America’s proposed intervention in Syria:
“We may not be directly imminently threatened by what’s taking place in a Kosovo or a Syria or a Rwanda in the short-term but our long-term national security will be impacted in a profound way and our humanity’s impacted in a profound way.”
Source: The Weekly Standard–Daniel Halper