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Daily Intelligence: Syria in the House, Fed hiring tips, and two-factor authentication

On Syria, the administration faces a tough fight Wednesday in the House, the role of leadership in hiring, and two-factor authentication gadgets, all in today’s defense headlines.

by Ed Ledford

September 4, 2013

 

Short-life sentence & the de-bearding.

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  Thought police – the Insider Threat Task Force. In the wake of Bradley Manning’s Wiki-leak, the Administration established the Insider Threat Task Force. Contributor Chandler Harris revisits this strange, surreal tale: “program presses managers and employees of federal agencies to monitor their co-workers for ‘indicators’ such as stress, divorce and financial problems and report them. Those who fail to report such signs could even face criminal charges. Leaks to the media are considered espionage.”

2.  K.I.S.S. – Old principles are hard to break. Like those in most every profession, we spoke a specialized language among our military colleagues. In the civilian job market, it sounds like Greek. Contributor Tranette Ledford’s offers great – and understandable – advice on translating you into civilian: “Your training may be unparalleled and having a security clearance is a definite asset.  But your ability to demonstrate these assets comes down to your ability to communicate them clearly to hiring managers. . . . If you still aren’t sure about how your resume translates, get some feedback from civilians.  They’ll be the first to question terms with which they’re unfamiliar.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Senate on Syria – 90-day window, no bootsDefenseNews.Com contributor Susan Davis reports, “Members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee hammered out a deal on Tuesday evening that would set a 60-day deadline for military action in Syria, with one 30-day extension possible, according to a draft of the resolution. The proposal, drafted by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would also bar the involvement of US ground forces in Syria, according to the draft.”

2.  Senate Syria vote today & a “broader strategy.” Reuters’s Jeff Mason and Yara Bayoumy report, “Leaders of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said they reached an agreement on a draft authorization for the use of military force in Syria . . . . However, the draft is much narrower than the request made by Obama and includes a provision barring the use of U.S. troops on the ground. . . . Obama said on Tuesday the United States also has a broader plan to help rebels defeat Assad’s forces. ‘What we are envisioning is something limited. It is something proportional. It will degrade Assad’s capabilities,’ Obama said. ‘At the same time we have a broader strategy that will allow us to upgrade the capabilities of the opposition.’”

3.  Now comes the House of Representatives – a tough fight. AP’s Bradley Klapper’s pre-game for the Administration’s House debates: “While the administration was making progress in the Senate, it also needed to persuade a Republican-dominated House that has opposed almost the entirety of Obama’s agenda since seizing the majority more than three years ago. Several conservative Republicans and some anti-war Democrats already have come out in opposition to Obama’s plans, even as Republican and Democratic House leaders gave their support to the president Tuesday.”

4.  Even Egypt suspects AljazeeraAljazeera.Com reports, “Egyptian authorities are deliberately jamming [Aljazeera’s] satellite signals . . . . Trackers have pinpointed locations east and west of Cairo, and specifically identified military installations as the source of the satellite interference. After the military takeover in Egypt on July 3, Al Jazeera became one of several media outlets that have come under increasing pressure. . . . Egyptian authorities deported on Monday three members of a TV crew working for Al Jazeera English, the sister channel of Al Jazeera’s Egypt channel, Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, after they were detained for nearly a week and accused of working illegally.”

5. In Afghanistan, $1.1 million bank heistKhaama.Com reports, “Shegofa, an Afghan female employee transferred USD 1.1mn from Azizi Bank and has left Afghanistan. According to reports, the employee has transferred the amount to a relative’s bank account outside of Afghanistan and has escaped from the country together with her family.”  Take the money and run.  Also in Afghanistan, Minister of Finance Mohammad Aqa Kohistani works to privatize the New Kabul Bank: “Kabul Bank was seized by the government in 2010 after the exposure of a staggering $900 million fraud, which led the International Monetary Fund to temporarily halt its hundreds of millions of dollars of loans to the country. Renamed New Kabul Bank, the institution was bailed out by the government.”

6. In Iraq, democracy is on shaky groundCSMonitor correspondent Tom A. Peter reports from Baghdad, “Many Iraqis are worried that democracy, never firmly rooted here, is sliding away from their country. On Saturday, Iraq’s security forces stopped demonstrators from protesting against the parliament’s pension program, which activists say is excessive. In Baghdad, police closed off several main roads and bridges to stop protesters from reaching designated gathering places. . . . Iraqi officials said they forbade the protests because a large gathering would have been susceptible to a terrorist attack.”

7.  In AFRICOM, Sailors in schools for stability.  Amphibious Squadron Four, Public Affairs’ Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sabrina Fine reports from Port Victoria, Seychelles, “Although school was not currently in session, Sailors and Marines also were able to interact with local children who were playing music in a classroom. Sailors showed the children some American dance moves, and the children demonstrated their dance steps as well. . . . Service projects like the one conducted with the school serve to continue Naval Forces Europe-Africa efforts to strengthen maritime partnerships with East African nations like Seychelles in order to enhance regional stability.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Fed-Hiring: It’s a leadership issue  WaPo contributor Tom Fox offers some savvy tips for getting the right people: “Given the current fiscal climate and an ever-increasing workload, it is imperative that as a federal manager you make smart hiring decisions. While this should be the norm even during ordinary times, it is not always an easy task to get the best talent given the obstacle-laden nature of the federal hiring process. Managers often view hiring as an HR function, but the truth is that it is a leadership issue.”

2.  $58 million Alliant Techsystems Operations win. DefenseIndustryDaily.Com covers Australia’s buy of “low rate initial production of the XM1156 Precision Guidance kit . . . . ATK was already the US Army’s top supplier of artillery propellant and fuses, so this is a natural extension for them. . . . This is a very fast turnaround, and would be impossible for many countries, but Australia sits alongside NATO allies in a category that can negotiate contracts just 15 days after DSCA notifications.”

3.  One to watch: Army aviation contracting under investigation. Reuters reports, “The Pentagon has opened a criminal investigation of an Army aviation unit that awarded tens of millions of dollars worth of contracts to Russian and U.S. firms for maintenance and overhaul of Russian-made helicopters . . . . Investigators are examining potentially improper payments by the Army aviation office to contractors as well as possible personal connections between members of the Army unit and the contractors, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Two factor authentication – the new standardWired.Com contributor tracks GitHub’s release: “Coding platform Github released two-factor authentication today, one of the many tech companies putting that extra step between you and hackers who want access to your account. . . . Two-factor authentication gives your login username and password combination a bit of backing. When you login using these credentials, instead of immediately being approved, the two-factor authentication will send a special code either by text message or through an app for you to enter as a second form of proof.”

2.  iPhone announcement – 10 September. Time’s Jared Newman reports, “Apple has sent out invitations to the press for a September 10 event, and unless the rumors are completely off-base, that’s when the company will announce the next iPhone. . . . rumored features include a better camera, faster processor and maybe even a fingerprint reader. New color options, such as gold-colored plating, are rumored as well.”

3.  Wireless pitfalls in the small-business office. PCWorld.Com contributor Paul Mah navigates obstacles to successful wireless networks for the small business: “Mobile devices are now as essential to workplaces as copy machines and coffee makers. That means a fast, reliable wireless network is essential as well. But building one isn’t as simple as plugging in your ISP-supplied router and connecting your smartphone. In fact if you’ve never done it before, putting together a Wi-Fi network robust enough to support your business can be pretty tricky. To shorten the learning curve, we’ve highlighted some common pitfalls and how to avoid them.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  D.C.’s delegate’s insightful foreign policy: love of the manPJMedia.Com reports on Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton’s reason she would support Obama on Syria: “’If [Obama] gets saved at all, I think it’ll be because, it’ll be because of loyalty of Democrats. They just don’t want to see him shamed and humiliated on the national stage.’”  [Thankfully, Norton cannot vote in Congress, being a D.C. rep.]

2.  McCain is a betting man. I’m betting he supports Obama on Syria. HuffingtonPost.Com, among hundreds of others, reports, “At some point during the conversation, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) – who has been skeptical about President Barack Obama’s proposal for “limited” action in Syria – was taking a break to play poker on his phone.”  [In related news, McCain later consulted his Mystical Magical 8 Ball to answer his question, “Should I support Obama in Syria?”  The answer: “Concentrate and ask again.”]

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  Deconstructing ghosts of the ‘Nam. DefenseOne.Com contributor Kevin Baron deconstructs our defense leaders’ language: “In questioning the automatic flag-waving of Americans for the troops, Hagel wrote, ‘I wonder how many of us here at home actually picture the grunt in the mud and grime with the cold stench of death hanging over him . . . .’ Get the picture? One man prosecuted military strikes from above. The other smelled their effects on the ground.”

2.  If you must, go alone, but go nonetheless. CSMonitor.Com contributor Jonathan Zimmerman argues, “I’m glad that President Obama decided to seek congressional approval before proceeding with a strike against Syria, which would give any such action more legitimacy at home. And I also admire his efforts to get the rest of the world behind a strike. But if that doesn’t work, the US – and Mr. Obama, as commander in chief – might have to go it alone.”

3.  “GOP should support Obama on Syria.”  WaPo contributors Mike Pompeo and Tom Cotton argue, “We are Army veterans. One of us served in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq; the other conducted patrols along the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. We understand the gravity of using force. . . . Congress has its own constitutional duty to defend U.S. interests, and those interests shouldn’t be neglected simply because we have doubts about Obama.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Swift kick in the pants.

2.  Damned red tape.

3.  New axis of evil?