The authoritative biography of General Eric K. Shinseki, from November 28, 1942 to June 2003 on his retirement from The Army.
Big 7 Reb groups team up against Assad’s advances, success in Geneva is within reach, and Loya Jirga majority agrees to U.S. Soldier immunity to Afghan prosecutions – all in today’s defense headlines.
FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM
1. Security clearance reform on the Hill. Editor Lindy Kyzer reports, “Congress continues to debate next steps in the security clearance reform process. A senate hearing this week focused on position sensitivity designations. A new rule proposed by the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would streamline the process for determining which positions are deemed ‘sensitive.’ Such a designation applies to positions with a potentially adverse effect on national security but which don’t require a security clearance. . . . [meanwhile,] the White House pushed back this week on Senate efforts to reform clearance procedures within DoD as a part of the 2014 Defense Authorization Bill.”
2. . . . ask what your company can do for you. Contributor Diana Rodriguez – a.k.a. D-Rod – with good advice on interviewing the interviewer, for your own sake: “A successful interview requires input from both parties- the interviewer and the job candidate. Although many private firms, and federal and state government agencies, are actively seeking out veterans to hire, a percentage won’t be hired because they fail to ask the right questions during an interview. Asking the right questions can help the interviewer form an impression of the applicant that may, in many cases, be as important as the answers given about their skills. “
THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT
1. In Geneva, just don’t screw it up. Reuters’ Parisa Hafezi and John Irish report from Geneva, “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva on Saturday to join talks on Iran’s contested nuclear program with Tehran and six world powers appearing on the verge of a breakthrough to defuse the decade-old standoff. . . . Diplomats said a formidable sticking point in the intense negotiations, which began on Wednesday, may have been overcome with compromise language that does not explicitly recognize Iran’s claim to a ‘right to enrich’ uranium but acknowledges all countries’ right to their own civilian nuclear energy. But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Iran’s demand to continue construction of a heavy-water reactor near Arak that could, when operational, yield bomb-grade plutonium remained one of the main outstanding issues.” AP’s John Heilprin and Jamey Keaten, also in Geneva, report, “John Kerry and world’s other top diplomats joined Iran nuclear talks Saturday, cautioning there were no guarantees their participation would be enough to seal a deal . . . .”
2. In Syria, new alliances against al Assad. Aljazeera.Com reports, “Seven major Islamist rebel groups battling President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria have announced a merger to form an “Islamic Front” and pledged to build an Islamic state in a post-Assad Syria. . . . The factions joining the merger are Aleppo’s biggest fighting force Liwa al-Tawhid, the Salafist Ahrar al-Sham, the Idlib-based Soqour al-Sham, the Homs-based al-Haq Brigades, Ansar al-Sham, and the Damascus-based Army of Islam. The Kurdish Islamic Front also joined the front. . . . Amad Essa al-Sheikh, the head of the Consultative Council of the new Islamic Front, told Al Jazeera the goal of integrating the factions was to bring about ‘a paradigm shift in the armed rebellion by closing ranks and mobilising them to become the real alternative to the dying regime’. ”
3. Jan – Haqqani’s second – killed in Pakistan. LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, “The CIA-operated Reapers killed Maulvi Ahmed Jan, a top deputy in the al Qaeda-allied Haqqani Network, and two other commanders in an airstrike on a seminary in the settled district of Hangu. The hit was remarkable because US drones rarely stray outside of the designated kill boxes of Pakistan’s tribal areas, particularly the tribal areas of North and South Waziristan, where a host of jihadist groups operate unfettered. Of the 352 strikes recorded by The Long War Journal since the drone program began, 95 percent have taken place in the two tribal agencies. Only four of the remaining strikes occurred outside of the tribal areas; the last was in March 2009.”
4. In Afghanistan, Loya Jirga immunizes troops. Khaama.Com reports, “The immunity for US troops which is considered to be one of the controversial terms of the bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and United States, has reportedly been approved by majority. The national grand council (Loya Jirga) comprised of 50 working committees continued debate on the terms of bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and United States. According to reports, majority of the working committees have approved the article 13 of the bilateral security agreement, which gives exclusive US “the exclusive right” to try its soldiers accused of crimes in Afghanistan.” And, a big OOPS in Nangarhar.
5. Uni-Polar Disorder: DoD’s 8-point Arctic Prozac. The Defense Department’s new Arctic strategy is an 8-point approach to maintaining peace and security in a new frontier that climatic forces are poised to open in the coming years . . . . As global warming accelerates, the secretary said, Arctic ice melt will cause a rise in sea levels that could threaten coastal populations around the world — but it could also open a transpolar sea route. Hagel said that expanded tourism, commercial shipping, migrating fish stocks and energy exploration in the region will affect the eight Arctic nations — Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden, along with the United States –- most closely. All, he said, ‘have publicly committed to work within a common framework of international law and diplomatic engagement.’”
1. Microsoft on the cheap. FederalTimes.Com reports, “The General Services Administration is looking for better deals on Microsoft software, according to a request for quotations released Wednesday. The RFQ is part of the agency’s Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative and will reduce the prices agencies pay for purchases of Microsoft software . . . . Companies have until Dec. 18 to respond to the RFQ.”
2. Contractor windfall — $1.1 billion. NextGov.Com’s Bob Brewin explains, “The now moribund interagency program office charged with developing an integrated electronic health record for the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments spent $1.1 billion during its five year life, with the bulk of that going to support service contracts, based on a Nextgov review of Pentagon reports to Congress and testimony. The two departments in February ditched efforts to develop the iEHR after costs spiraled to $28 billion and decided to pursue modernization efforts on their own.”
TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY
1. Welcome to the Dark Side. A remarkable read from DefenseMediaNetwork.Com’s George Galdorsi: “The expanding use of armed unmanned systems (UxS) is not only changing the face of modern warfare, but also altering the process of decision-making in combat operations. Indeed, it has been argued that the rise in drone warfare is changing the way we conceive of and define ‘warfare’ itself. . . . While few today fear that a 21st century HAL will turn on its masters, the issues involved with fielding increasingly autonomous UxS are complex, challenging, and increasingly contentious. While advancing other aspects of UxS improvements in areas such as propulsion, payload, stealth, speed, endurance, and other attributes are – and will remain – important, coming to grips with how much autonomy is enough and how much may be too much, is arguably the most important issue we need to address with unmanned systems over the next decade.”
2. Congress to OPM – C’mon up. FederalTimes.Com’s Sean Reilly reports, “The chairman of a House oversight committee has subpoenaed the Office of Personnel Management for contracts and other documents as part of an investigation into the process for granting security clearances. . . . Both Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has since disclosed sensitive secrets, and Aaron Alexis, another contract worker who killed a dozen people two months ago in a rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, held clearances granted through a process ‘orchestrated’ by OPM . . . .”
3. “Staring down the Taliban in the Race to Eradicate Polio from Earth.” A special report from Wired.Com contributor Matthieu Aikins: “The smallpox campaign represented a new kind of success brought about by cooperation on a global scale, one that permanently made the world a better place. Researchers studying smallpox are the only people who have to be vaccinated against it anymore. It’s gone. With that success behind them, public-health officials naturally wanted to repeat it with other diseases. After a 17-year campaign, a cattle infection called rinderpest was officially eradicated in 2011. But the struggle to eliminate a second human affliction has proved more difficult than anyone imagined.”
1. They pushed the button, Jim. . . .The big red one. In Geneva, we work to diminish “nucular” options; on The Hill, Senate Dems leverage them: “the rule change represents a substantial power shift in a chamber that for more than two centuries has prided itself on affording more rights to the minority party than any other legislative body in the world. Now, a president whose party holds the majority in the Senate is virtually assured of having his nominees approved, with far less opportunity for political obstruction.”
2. If it’s not a secret, you can’t leak it. That was Easy!: “Excessive government secrecy feeds public mistrust and may be fostering a culture of leaks, a Democratic lawmaker said Thursday in urging a fundamental re-look at the scope of the classification system. ‘It totally undermines public confidence in our institutions,’ Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said at the National Archives and Record Administration’s headquarters in downtown Washington. ‘We simply classify too much information for too long at too great a cost.’”
OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS
1. “The Arabs’ Iran Dilemma.” Aljazeera.Com contributor Salah Nasrawi argues, “The best way to keep Iran in check, and to address the rise of sectarianism and its threats to internal security, would be to enact the long overdue democratic reforms that are vital for stability and to reduce tensions in the region through a new effective security and cooperation framework.”
2. “What the filibuster’s demise means for the Supreme Court.” Reuters’ contributor Reihan Salam argues, “Now that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has ended the filibuster for district and appeals court nominees and executive branch appointments, it’s only a matter of time before the filibuster goes away for Supreme Court nominations and legislation as well.”
3. “Without the filibuster, a tyranny of the majority.” WaPo contributor Senator Lamar Alexander argues, “This was the most dangerous restructuring of Senate rules since Thomas Jefferson wrote them. It creates a perpetual opportunity for ‘tyranny of the majority,’ which Alexis de Tocqueville called one of the greatest threats to American democracy.”
1. War on Xmas.
SecState Kerry seeks “concrete steps” from Iran to move forward, Iran claims Israel’s jealous of the U.S. potential new BFF, and, well, it’s still shut down, with no end in sight –– all in today’s defense headlines.
FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM
1. Resume risks. Posting your resume inevitably makes your identity vulnerable. Contributor Christopher Burgess explains how you can protect yourself: “Some items shouldn’t appear on a resume, including your Social Security Number (SSN) or your physical address. A telephone number or an email to a unique, one-off, email should be sufficient for an interested employer to reach out and engage. Only when an offer is to be made or when the interview process has advanced to the background check step should these key identity items be provided.”
2. Telecommuting tips. With government shutdown in full swing – or not – working from home might be the best fit for you. Also from Christopher Burgess, some tips on making work at home work: “by 2016, one can expect to see a 69% increase in telecommuters. . . . The employee holds the key to remote worker success. As an employee, you are now under your own direct supervision. . . . working remotely is a win-win-win for the employee, the employer and the clients, providing realistic expectations are set between the employee and employer (and clients if appropriate).
THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT
1. Kerry on Iran: concrete steps and Israeli security. Prove it. Reuters’ Lesley Wroughton reports from Tokyo, “Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that the United States hopes to engage with the new Iranian administration, but Tehran must first prove it is willing to end the stand-off over its nuclear weapons program. If Iran intends to be peaceful, ‘I believe there is a way to get there,’ Kerry told a news conference in Tokyo . . . . There is nothing here that is going to be taken at face-value and we’ve made that clear . . . . The president has said, and I have said, that it is not words that will make a difference, it’s actions, and the actions are clearly going to have to be sufficient.’”
2. Rouhani on Israel on the U.S. on Iran: Israel is just jealous. Aljazeera.Com reports, “President Hassan Rouhani said that Israel was ‘upset and angry’ with signs of an emerging new relationship between the Islamic republic and the West. . . . ‘We don’t expect anything else from the Zionist regime,’ Rouhani told reporters after a cabinet meeting. Israel is ‘upset and angry because it sees that its blunted sword is being replaced with logic as the governing force in the world, and because the Iranian nation’s message of peace is being heard better,’ the moderate cleric said.”
3. In Syria, Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq cooperate despite differences. LongWarJournal.Org’s Thomas Joscelyn reports, “Although there is no indication that a leadership dispute between the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been settled, the two al Qaeda affiliates continue to fight alongside one another against their common enemies in Syria. . . . Reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) throughout September and into early October point to the al Qaeda affiliates’ ongoing collusion against Assad’s forces, Kurdish foes, and other mutual enemies. . . . the two al Qaeda affiliates operate throughout Syria, including in provinces that are not controlled by rebel forces.”
4. In Afghanistan, Gen. Dostum throws support to Sayyaf. Khaama.Com reports, “Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf has reportedly reached an agreement with the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan on Thursday and appointed Abdul Wahab Urfan as his second vice-president. Abdul Wahab Urfan is a member of the Afghan senate and is being supported by National Islamic Movement party of Afghanistan led by Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum. . . . Sayyaf is expected to formally file nomination for 2014 presidential election along with his vice-president by this afternoon.” Also in the race, “Fazal Karim Najami filed his nomination along with his two vice-president, Sabir Tamkin and Sultan Ahmad Hajati. . . . Fazal Karim Najami has previously worked as advisor to ministry of agriculture and rural rehabilitation ministry.” Abdullah Abdullah is the third candidate.
5. AFRICAN WINDS blowing in AFRICOM. AllAfrica.Com reports from Nigeria’ capital Abuja, “Nigeria will today participate in a three-week joint military training with special forces from The Netherlands, U.S., UK, Spain and Italy. . . . [Nigerian Military’s Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Chris] Olukolade said the exercise, code named AFRICAN WINDS, is being spearheaded by the Nigerian Navy. . . . ‘It will be facilitated by a combined Mobile Training Teams, MTTs, of Marines and Special Forces drawn from The Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy under the auspices of African Partnership Station, APS. The Netherlands Navy Amphibious Support Ship, HMNLS ROTTERDAM, which is scheduled to arrive in Lagos and later proceed to Calabar, will feature as a major platform in the exercise.’”
1. $87 million to Gentex for advanced combat helmets (ACH). KeystoneEdge.Com’s Elise Vider reports, “U.S. armed forces will be wearing lighter and more comfortable, high-tech helmets made by the Carbondale-based Gentex Corporation. The company has a new $86.6 million multi-year contract to provide lightweight advanced combat helmets (ACH) to the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Gentex has been a helmet supplier to the U.S. government for more than 60 years. Gentex uses advanced technology and manufacturing resources to deliver a helmet that is eight percent lighter than previous ACH helmets and provides ‘added stability comfort and performance capability for the soldier,’ the company said.”
2. $15 million to LexisNexis. Maybe it’s better to stay shutdown. NextGov.Com’s Aliya Sternstein reports, “The day before the government shut down, the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded LexisNexis owner Reed Elsevier the potentially five-year deal to help victims of natural disasters such as the recent Colorado and New Mexico floods. At the same time, a service that traffics in personal information was revealed one week ago to have breached two systems at LexisNexis, likely to oblige ID thieves, according to an investigative report by cybersecurity researcher Brian Krebs.”
TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY
1. “’These weren’t all plots, and they weren’t all foiled.’” Gen. Alexander begins to come clean, admitting to Congress that he, well, exaggerated a little, well, a lot . . . . WashingtonTimes.Com reports that “the National Security Agency admitted that officials put out numbers that vastly overstated the counterterrorism successes of the government’s warrantless bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records. . . . Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.” See also Salon.Com, “NSA director admits to misleading public.”
2. Cyberthreats increase during shutdown, and beyond. NextGov.Com contributor Brittany Ballenstedt reports, “With electronic infrastructure still up and running despite the government shutdown, the lack of staff support in information security shops is likely affecting the government’s ability to respond to cyber threats and attacks and creating potential ripple effects for cybersecurity going forward. . . . ‘What I would expect is that, by and large, just like the other services, information security is vastly undersupported, and that means that the exceptional circumstances are a problem,’ said Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy at security software firm Tripwire.’”
3. Everything’s fine. McClatchyDC.Com contributor Anita Kumar analyzes Obama’s “independent group to review the vast surveillance programs” may not be so independent, after all: “The members of the review group are Richard Clarke, the chief counterterrorism adviser on the National Security Council for Clinton who later worked for Republican President George W. Bush; Michael Morell, Obama’s former deputy CIA director; law professor Geoffrey Stone, who has raised money for Obama and spearheads a committee hoping to build Obama’s presidential library in Chicago; law professor Cass Sunstein, administrator of information and regulatory affairs for Obama; and Peter Swire, a former Office of Management and Budget privacy director for Clinton. ‘At the end of the day, a task force led by Gen. Clapper full of insiders – and not directed to look at the extensive abuse – will never get at the bottom of the unconstitutional spying’ . . . .”
1. Duuuuuuh . . . he confused me. Powerful anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist’s argues that Cruz confused everybody with crazy riddle- logic: “Speaking with the Post’s Ezra Klein, Norquist argued that Cruz ‘confused people’ [Congressmen] when he insisted that a vote to fund the government that didn’t also defund Obamacare was effectively a vote for Obamacare . . . ‘He said if you don’t agree with my tactic and with the specific structure of my idea, you’re bad. He said if the House would simply pass the bill with defunding he would force the Senate to act. He would lead this grass-roots movement that would get Democrats to change their mind. So the House passed it, it went to the Senate, and Ted Cruz said, oh, we don’t have the votes over here. And I can’t find the e-mails or ads targeting Democrats to support it. Cruz said he would deliver the votes and he didn’t deliver any Democratic votes. He pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away.’” Read the entire WaPo interview with Norquist.
2. Rubber chickens. In a marketing move worthy of notice, and applause, Nando’s Peri-Peri gets straight to the point: “The company, which has several stores in the Washington area, is offering a ‘Boneless Chicken, Spineless Congress’ offer of a free butterflied chicken breast to all ‘non-essential’ workers. ‘Nando’s wants to soothe the ruffled feathers of government workers hurt by the shutdown,’ Burton Heiss, CEO of Nando’s Peri-Peri USA, told Secrets. All furloughed workers have to do is visit Nando’s Facebook page to redeem the one-day offer. ‘Members of Congress need not apply,’ said the firm.”
OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS
1. “Republicans against the Republic.” TheDailyBeast.Com contributor Lawrence Lessig argues, “Politicians are free to support legislation for whatever reason they want. Subject to the rules regulating bribery, they’re free to demand whatever they want in return for a vote. Democrats might not like that the Republicans have this power. But their exercising it within our constitutional system is not a crime. But freedom is different from responsibility. And the real question that Republicans need to be asking their party leadership is whether this is the kind of government that Americans should want.”
2. “Shutdown: A fight with no room for compromise.” Reuters contributor Bill Schneider argues, “To end the government shutdown, all Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) needs to do is let the House of Representatives vote on a budget. It would pass within 30 minutes. Virtually all 200 House Democrats would vote to keep the government open, as would as many as 50 Republicans. An easy majority. But no. Boehner and other Republican leaders refuse to do that because they are in thrall to Tea Party conservatives.”
3. Israel – how about a little help here? WaPo contributor Walter Pincus argues, “It’s time for Israel to stop making military threats and to propose an imaginative diplomatic move — risky as it may seem — to help ease nuclear tensions in the Middle East. It can start by acknowledging its own nuclear weapons program.”
Rouhani’s “government of prudence and hope” while Obama reassures Israel, U.S.M.C.’s General Amos asks for Gurganus’ and Sturdevant’s sabres, and the sidewalks are rolled-up in Washington, D.C. – all into today’s defense headlines.
THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT
1. In S. Korea, SecDef Hagel: “I love a parade.” In a pageant worthy of North Korea or Soviet-era Russia, the South Korean government rolled out its hardware for visiting dignitary Secretary Hagel. Reuters’ Jack Kim reports from Seoul, “The ballistic Hyeonmu-2, with a range of 300 km (190 miles), and the Hyeonmu-3, a cruise missile with a range of more than 1,000 km (620 miles) were put on public display for the first time in a rare South Korean military parade. Both of the indigenously developed missiles have been deployed. They were unveiled in February after the North conducted its third nuclear test in defiance of international warnings, two months after it successfully launched a long-range rocket and put an object into space.”
2. Obama to Israel on Iran: take a Prozac. Aljazeera.Com reports, “The United States reserves the right to keep all options, including military action, on the table with regards to engaging with Iran, the US president has said after holding talks with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. . . . Netanyahu would have been heartened by Obama’s reassurances that Iran would have to prove itself and that Israel had the right to defend itself.” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif calls Netanyahu a big, fat liar, and CBS call him a “wet blanket.”
3. Syrian rebels to Assad regime: bring us his head. Syria, peace talks unlikely. Time’s Aryn Baker reports from Tripoli, “Even if the two sides can overcome their significant differences to come to the table — the Syrians and the Russians say Assad is an integral part of the transition, even as the opposition insists it will not take part in any transition government that includes him — fighters on the ground say they have lost too much to accept anything short of Assad’s death.” See related from Reuters: “Russia doubts mid-November date for Syria peace talks.”
4. In Pakistan, Bilal Zadran named new drone target. Successor to Mullah Sangeen steps into the crosshairs. LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, “Bilal is said to have been named to succeed Mullah Sangeen as Sirajuddin Haqqani’s deputy during a ‘high level meeting of [the] Haqqani Network’ . . . . Mullah Sangeen, who was the Taliban’s shadow governor of Paktika and is on the US’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists for supporting al Qaeda, is thought to have been killed in a US drone strike on Sept. 5 in the Ghulam Khan area of Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.” Also, from LWJ’s Roggio, “Pakistan condemns latest drone strike in North Waziristan.”
5. Afghanistan’s next president? Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. Khaama.Com reports, “Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the main political opposition leader of Afghanistan has formally nominated for the upcoming presidential election of Afghanistan. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the leader of the national coalition of Afghanistan formally registered with the Afghanistan independent election commission to run for 2014 presidential elections. Karzai’s elder brother Qayum Karzai, foreign minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, Adbul Rab Rassoul Sayaf and Ali Ahmad Jalali are the other potential candidates who are expected to run for the presidential run-off.”
6. Gurganus and Sturdevant: Camp Bastion takes out two USMC general officers: USAToday.Com reports, “The Marine Corps commandant said Monday he has asked for the retirement of two general officers in the wake of an attack last year in which 15 insurgents breached a fortified coalition base in Afghanistan, killing two Marines and destroying or damaging more than a dozen coalition aircraft.”
1. Contractors might weather shutdown with rainy-day funds. GovExec.Com’s Charles S. Clark explains that “damage a spending lapse might inflict on contracting companies this year would depend on their ability to use past-year funds. . . . ‘people are saying prayers, but most companies have been to this movie’ . . . . They know what to expect and how to prepare – in contrast with sequestration because no one had thought of that.’”
2. $4.7 billion Army dollars for commo contracts. NextGov.Com reports, “The Army has awarded year-end communications contracts valued at $4.7 billion, including a $4.1 billion deal Thursday with 12 companies for long-haul communications and transmission systems. These companies will compete for task orders on the five-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract supporting the Defense Communications and Army Transmissions Systems program, which provides satellite and terrestrial communication systems to Army and Defense Department organizations, including the National Command Authority.”
TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY
1. Leaks alert al Qaida – worse than Snowden. McClatchyDC.Com’s Lindsay Wise and Adam Baron explain, “The U.S. government-ordered closure of 19 U.S. diplomatic facilities in August has prompted a new controversy, this one about whether news reports at the time alerted al Qaida leaders that their communications were being monitored. Obama administration officials, speaking anonymously to The New York Times, are claiming that those reports, especially one by McClatchy, caused, in the Times’ words, ‘more immediate damage to American counterterrorism efforts than the thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.’” Read New York Times’ original piece.
2. Azure is secure: Microsoft’s cloud seems ready. VentureBeat.Com contributor Eric Blattberg explains, “Microsoft federal chief technology officer Susie Adams announced that Azure was granted Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO) status from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program’s (FedRAMP) Joint Authorization Board. That’s one step away from a full Authority to Operate (ATO) status . . . . FedRAMP certification means the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. General Services Administration deem the platform secure — at least from nefarious hackers outside the NSA — which will help Microsoft snag lucrative government contracts.”
3. UNPLUG YOUR LAPTOP! 80% – 40% (remember the numbers) Wired.Com confirms the old spouse’s tale: “In order to squeeze as much life out of your lithium-polymer battery, once your laptop hits 100 percent, unplug it. In fact, you should unplug it before that. Cadex Electronics CEO Isidor Buchmann told WIRED that ideally everyone would charge their batteries to 80 percent then let them drain to about 40 percent. This will prolong the life of your battery — in some cases by as much as four times.”
4. Good news for our injured Vets: “Rewired nerves control robotic leg.” Nature.Com reports, “A 32-year-old man whose knee and lower leg were amputated in 2009 after a motorcycle accident is apparently the first person with a missing lower limb to control a robotic leg with his mind. A team led by biomedical engineer Levi Hargrove at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in Illinois reported the breakthrough last week in the New England Journal of Medicine1, including a video that shows the man using the bionic leg to walk up stairs and down a ramp, and to kick a football.”
1. We’re just warming up – Debt Ceiling is the real mosh pit. TheDailyBeast.Com explains, “An honorable Congress knows in its bones that the full faith of the United States of America is at stake. The mere threat to withhold authorization, in fact, is as damaging to our credit rating as actually defaulting. Sure, it’s great political theater, but it does lasting damage to America’s reputation and credibility, and makes one wonder how long the rest of the world will allow the dollar to remain the global reserve currency. . . . Neither President Obama—nor any president—should negotiate on the debt-ceiling authorization. Not now, not ever. The full faith, honor and credit of the United States of America must never become an ideological football that gets tossed under the domed Capitol in Washington.”
2. The Chicken Dance – White House and Vets pairing up. WaPo’s Steve Vogel reports, “Veterans groups have reacted angrily to news that an extended government shutdown will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs unable to make disability compensation and pension payments to veterans. Losing the payments could have a devastating impact, particularly on severely wounded veterans who are unable to work and depend on the VA checks, said Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. ‘Congress and the White House, they’re playing chicken with people’s lives,’ Tarantino said. ‘That’s where this becomes scary.’”
3. During shutdown, W.H. interns still won’t get paid. BuzzFeed.Com reports, “Advocates for ending unpaid internships in D.C. are cheering the White House’s decision to furlough its interns during the government shutdown. ‘The fact that they’re being treated the same as the workers is a step in the right direction,’ said Mikey Franklin, leader of the FairPay campaign, which is urging the White House and other federal agencies to pay their interns. ‘The fact that they’re not being made to take on even more of the roles of paid employees is a good thing.’”
OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS
1. The Debt Limit – the real fight. WashingtonExaminer.Com’s Timothy P. Carney argues, “A government shutdown won’t be a huge deal. It will have many bad effects, but a brief shutdown has little lasting effect. Hitting the debt ceiling, on the other hand, is a far more dangerous situation.”
2. “Obama has made a difference in Syria, but . . . .” WaPo’s Walter Pincus argues, “Obama Boo Birds, who mostly don’t believe in the United Nations, are whining that the U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the program doesn’t call for immediate military action if Syria doesn’t follow through. They ignore that Obama has ordered the U.S. Navy force to remain in the area.”
3. “Make a deal with Rouhani: Iran has hawks too.” Aljazeera.Com contributor Muhammad Sahimi argues, “Rouhani ran on a platform that promised the Iranians a ‘government of prudence and hope’, and ever since his election he has been busy trying to deliver by resurrecting many other dead corpses, ranging from Iran’s economy that contracted by more than five percent last year, to re-opening the national Movie House that had been closed by the Ahmadinejad administration, and allowing some of the politically-active university students that had been expelled over the past several years to enroll again. But, the most important dead corpse that Rouhani has been trying to revive is the US-Iran relations and the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.”
3. California hello.
The phone call heard around the world, the U.N. passes resolution on Syrian chemicals, and al-Shabaab’s plans for London – all into today’s defense headlines.
FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM
1. Falsified background investigations. Must read contributor Ashley LaGanga’s excellent primer on Reuters’ important Exclusive: “Hundreds of U.S. security clearances seen falsified.” LaGanga notes, “Of the more than 350 cases Reuters identified, the violators were both special agents of OPM as well as background investigators from private firms. While federal employees at OPM conduct many investigations, the majority are contracted to private entities such as USIS and CACI, among others.”
2. The National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI). Contributor Jeffrey Bennett deep-dives the NACI and explains its nuances: “The National Agency Check with Inquiries (NACI) is a background investigation primarily for federal employees who will not have access to classified information. This investigation is appropriate for positions designated as public trust positions that require responsible and trustworthy employees, but with no national security impact. The primary reason that the NACI is not an appropriate investigation for a security clearance is that a credit check is not required.”
THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT
1. On Iran, Khodahafez – The Presidents’ breakthrough.
a. A phone call from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to President Obama cracks the “taboo.” Reuters reports, Obama and Rouhani “spoke by telephone on Friday, the highest-level contact between the two countries in three decades and a sign that they are serious about reaching a pact on Tehran’s nuclear program. . . . Obama has said for years he was open to direct contact with Iran while also stressing that all options – including military strikes – were on the table to prevent Iran building a nuclear bomb. . . . [Rouhani] said Iran would bring a plan to resolve the decade-long dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program to an October meeting with the six powers in Geneva. He offered no details about that plan, but emphasized that Tehran’s nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful.”
b. Optimism in a sea of pessimism. AP’s Josh Lederman and Nedra Pickler describe, “Iranians awoke Saturday to learn that their president, Hassan Rouhani, had spoken directly to Obama, breaking through a barrier that had left American and Iranian presidents divorced from such contact for 34 years. . . . By the end of the call, Obama was suggesting that a breakthrough on the nuclear issue could portend even deeper ties between the U.S. and Iran, a notion that would have seemed unfathomable in recent years.”
c. Success. So Iran’s President Rouhani calls his week of diplomacy at the U.N. America.Aljazeera.Com reports, “Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Friday declared his first visit to the United States a success — and it was hard to argue with that assessment, if the measure was the number of important world leaders he met, the speeches he gave and the respectful audience he was given at and on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. But for Tehran, the measure of success of Rouhani’s outreach will be whether Iran achieves relief from punishing sanctions — and that will depend on the outcome of the tough, detailed bargaining on its nuclear program that gets under way in Geneva next month.”
d. The groundwork – SecState Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Thursday, setting the stage for the historic call, Kerry met his Iranian counterpart Zarif. Radio Free Europe reported, “The brief encounter between Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at UN headquarters in New York on September 26 was one of the highest-level meetings between the United States and Iran since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. . . . Kerry was upbeat, but cautious. . . . ‘Discussions were very substantive, business-like,’ Zarif told reporters.
2. U.N. Syria Resolution, but without a punch. No worries, we’ll be happy to oblige. Reuters reports, “The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on Friday that demands the eradication of Syria’s chemical weapons but does not threaten automatic punitive action against . . . Assad’s government if it does not comply. . . . The resolution does not allow for automatic punitive action in the form of military strikes or sanctions if Syria does not comply. At Russia’s insistence, Friday’s resolution makes clear a second council decision would be needed for that.” See also Aljazeera.Com, Syrian “Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem tells Al Jazeera his nation is committed to destroying its chemical weapons stockpile.”
3. Mercenaries. AP’s Larry Neumeister reports, “Two former American soldiers – one nicknamed “Rambo” – and a German ex-soldier faced charges Friday that they plotted to kill a U.S. drug enforcement agent and an informant for $800,000 in an assassination plan created by drug agents who wanted to catch trained snipers gone bad . . . . ‘The charges tell a tale of an international band of mercenary marksmen who enlisted their elite military training to serve as hired guns for evil ends’ . . . . The indictment described 48-year-old Joseph Hunter, also known as ‘Rambo,’ as a contract killer and leader of the group of ex-snipers.”
4. London – in al-Shabaab’s crosshairs. LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, “A document found after Somali troops killed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, al Qaeda’s former leader in East Africa and a senior Shabaab commander, details a plot to conduct multiple Mumbai-like attacks that target civilians in London. The plot highlights how al Qaeda and Shabaab seek to strike civilian targets outside Somalia, and foreshadowed Shabaab’s attack on the Eastgate Mall in Kenya this week. . . . Shabaab’s external terror teams are to emulate ‘the tactics used by our brothers in Mumbai.’ In the Mumbai attack, small teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters armed with assault rifles, grenades, and bombs fanned out across the city and attacked civilians. More than 170 people were killed during the Mumbai siege, which lasted for three days. Shabaab targeted train stations, a theater, two posh hotels, and a Jewish center during the attack.”
1. Contracting failures. Reuters Exclusive by Tabassum Zakaria explains the unfortunate facts: “Federal prosecutors have documented at least 350 instances of faulty background investigations done by private contractors and special agents for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management . . . . The inspector general’s office said it has referred 22 former background investigators for debarment, but no decisions have been reached by OPM. A debarment is usually for a specific time period and means the person cannot contract with another federal agency. The Senate Homeland Security Committee has scheduled an October 1 hearing on government clearances and background checks.”
2. $68 million worth of Raytheon Sidewinders for Belgium. Exactly why Belgium needs a Sidewinder . . . . DSCA.Mil posts, “The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress today of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Belgium of AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Missiles and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $68 million. The Government of Belgium has requested a possible sale of 40 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II All-Up-Round Missiles . . . . The principal contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, Arizona.”
3. $1 billion, practically, by Japan for Boeing AWACS. Also from DSCA.Mil, “The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress today of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan of an E-767 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) Mission Computing Upgrade (MCU) and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $950 million. . . . The principal contractor will be Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in Seattle, Washington.”
TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY
1. Information risk – get the Board involved. Wired.Com contributor Steve Durbin, global vice president of the Information Security Forum (ISF) explains, “From cyber to insider, organizations have varying degrees of control over evolving security threats. With the speed and complexity of the threat landscape changing on an almost daily basis, all too often we are seeing businesses being left behind, sometimes in the wake of reputational and financial damage.”
2. Action-Reaction: NSA’s quick response to Snowden. VentureBeat.Com contributor Kevin Poulson reports, “When on June 9 Edward Snowden stood up in Hong Kong and revealed himself to the world as an NSA whistleblower, the Justice Department wasted little time in targeting his email provider. A new appeals court filing today shows the government served a court order on Texas-based Lavabit the very next day, demanding metadata on an unnamed customer that the timing and circumstances suggest was Snowden.”
3. Sea-basing: our Navy’s sharp edge. DefenseMediaNetwork.Com reports that “only the U.S. Navy has a blue water fleet able to operate, simultaneously, on all the planet’s major oceans, providing a mobile force not needing any other nation’s permission when it moves into place during a crisis. That fleet is by far the largest in the world, with more supercarriers (100,000 tons or more) than all other navies’ smaller flat-tops combined, plus more large-deck amphibious warfare ships of similar size to most other carriers than the rest of the world’s fleets.”
1. The South’s gonna do it again. Led, mostly, by Southerner (well, Texas) Ted Cruz, hyperbolic hyperbole has reached “one of the most dangerous points in our history.” NationalJournal.Com paints the subtle, fluorescent picture: “This isn’t just congressional business as usual, Harkin said. It’s much, much more dire: ‘It’s dangerous. It’s very dangerous. I believe, Mr. President, we are at one of the most dangerous points in our history right now. Every bit as dangerous as the break-up of the Union before the Civil War.’” [See also, Charlie Daniels – Daniels fiddled while Washington burned.]
2. Anticipation of shutdown is worse than shutdown itself. WaPo reports that in the DoD, the scramble to respond to the threat of shutdown impedes work as much as a shutdown: “’The planning itself is disruptive,” an exhausted [DoD Comptroller Robert] Hale told reporters. ‘People are worrying right now about whether their paychecks are going to be delayed, rather than focusing fully on their mission.’” So, all cyber-terrorists should take note: cut the money and the mission goes in the toilet.
OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS
1. The Phone Call – 3 Takeaways. Time contributor Michael Crowley argues, “The call was only a symbolic step, but still a very important development in the showdown between Washington and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear program. Here are three reasons why: . . . Iran’s hard-liners must have allowed it. . . . Rouhani did the smart—and maybe cynical—thing. . . Diplomacy just got easier for Obama. . . . we’re closer to the beginning of this story than the end.”
2. “Rafsanjani and Khamenei: The Rouhani element.” In part III of his lecture on Iran (that we all should read), Aljazeera.Com contributor Akbar Ganji argues, “No other people in the region have as positive a view of the US as the people of Iran. If free elections are held in Iran, the pro-democracy majority would undoubtedly win handily. The Iranian society has gone through a real transformation in all aspects, and has grown enough that the garment of Velayat-e Faqih is too small for its body, and does not fit but by force.” Catch up on parts I and II of Ganji’s triptych: Rafsanjani and Khamenei: A brief history and Rafsanjani and Khamenei: The Ahmadinejad years.
3. “The key stumbling blocks U.S. and Iran face.” Reuters’ contributor David Rhode argues, “A historic phone call Friday between the presidents of the United States and Iran could mark the end of 34 years of enmity. Or it could be another missed opportunity. In the weeks ahead, clear signs will emerge whether a diplomatic breakthrough is possible.”
1. Chic Chicks.
At the U.N., Iranian President Hassan Rouhani extends an olive branch, al-Shabaab is defeated at Westgate but warns of more to come, and SOCOM extends competition for its Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) – all in today’s defense headlines.
FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM
1. Job security – first before salary. Contributor Tranette Ledford takes a look at which security jobs offer job security: “The technical sector is expected to rank high when it comes to staying power. It also happens to place a high value on security clearances and offers the salaries to prove it.”
2. Safe and secure with ClearanceJobs.Com. Contributor Eric Pecinovsky explains how ClearanceJobs.Com works hard to keep your private information private: “When creating ClearanceJobs.com, we contacted the U.S. Defense Security Service . . . to help us follow suggested guidelines, learn about potential threats, and fully understand what responsibilities employers and people with security clearances have to their country. Our system design maintains the U.S. Defense Security Service recommendations.”
THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT
1. On President Obama’s U.N. remarks. NYTimes.Com reports, “President Obama . . . laid down a new blueprint for America’s role in the strife-torn Middle East, declaring that the United States would use all its levers of power, including military force, to defend its interests, even as it accepted a “hard-earned humility” about its ability to influence events in Syria, Iran, and other countries. . . . Obama embraced a diplomatic opening to Iran, saying he instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to begin high-level negotiations on its nuclear program. He called on the Security Council to pass a resolution that would impose consequences on Syria if it failed to turn over its chemicals weapons. And he delivered a pitch for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, restarted at the prodding of Mr. Kerry.” See also, “Obama pledges diplomacy with Iran.”
2. On President Hassan Rouhani’s U.N. remarks. TheGuardian.Com reports, “Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, declared that ‘peace is within reach’ . . . in a hotly anticipated speech at the United Nations in which he offered immediate negotiations aimed at removing any ‘reasonable concerns’ over his country’s nuclear programme. Rouhani argued that in return, Iran wanted the international community to recognise its right to enrich uranium, the issue that has been at the heart of the diplomatic impasse over the past 11 years.” See also, a more moderate face of Tehran.
3. Syrian National Coalition rejected. Rebels in the fight jointly reject foreign-based opposition groups. Aljazeera.Com reports, “Key Syrian Islamist rebel groups say they do not recognise any foreign-based opposition group, including the Syrian National Coalition. . . . The groups include members of the main rebel Free Syrian Army, as well as Liwa al-Tawhid, the main rebel force in the northern province of Aleppo, and Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda-linked group. . . Ahrar al-Sham also signed on, as did the 19th Division, a significant but relatively new addition to the mainstream FSA. In their statement, they also called for Islamic law to be applied.”
4. al Shabaab: “wait for the dark days.” LongWarJournal.Com’s Bill Roggio caps the Westgate siege in Nairobi: “The Westgate attack is the worst terrorist act by al Qaeda and its allies in Kenya since the 1998 bombing at the US Embassy in the Kenyan capital that killed 212 people, including 12 Americans. . . . Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in East Africa, and the Muslim Youth Center, which is a branch of Shabaab, have conducted a string of smaller attacks and plots in northern Kenya and the capital since 2011. The incidents primarily consist of shootings, attacks on police and military outposts, and IED and grenade attacks.” See also Aljazeera.Com’s “al-Shabab ‘not acting alone’” and AP’s “137 killed in Kenyan Mall.”
5. In Egypt, The Daily Freedom shut down. Egyptian authorities close the Islamic Brotherhood’s daily. Aljazeera.Com reports, “Egyptian authorities have shut down the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice newspaper in Cairo. It is the latest move aimed at crushing the Islamist movement, the Brotherhood said on Wednesday. Police stormed the building overnight and removed the contents. A source at the Cairo Security Department said the raid followed Monday’s court ruling which banned the Brotherhood and ordered its funds seized.”
6. Napolitano – shoes too big to fill. TheDailyBeast.Com reports, “Many potential candidates see little upside in the DHS job and much that could go wrong, potentially harming their professional trajectories. Homeland Security is a sprawling agency that handles a vast array of pressing security and policy issues, including counterterrorism, immigration enforcement and cyber-security and disaster-relief. The 240,000-employee department was cobbled together from 22 separate agencies in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and reports to no less than 100 different congressional committees and subcommittees. While DHS has perhaps outgrown infancy, it is a long way from being a fully mature federal agency that fits smoothly into the wider federal government.”
1. SOCOM – extending its vision for TALOS solutions. DefenseMediaNetwork.Com’s Scott R. Gourley reports, “According to the Sept. 12 announcement, USSOCOM is inviting ‘industry, academia, individuals, and government labs to submit revolutionary low [emphasis added] Technology Readiness Level (TRL) technology demonstration nominations addressing revolutionary/novel technologies/developmental approaches leading to possible government/industry collaboration for development of USSOCOM technology capabilities supporting a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS).’ . . . proposed solutions ‘should take into consideration ‘lightening the load’ of the operator, mentally and/or physically while providing maximum protection, agility, and tactical dominance.’”
2. $406 million: The Rolls-Royce of Defense contracts, literally. Fool.Com’s Rich Smith reports, “The Department of Defense announced a staggering 51 new contracts Monday, the most contracts it’s awarded on any single day, at any time this year. In total, these contracts are worth more than $2.14 billion. The biggest contract of all went not to a U.S. defense contractor, but to . . . Rolls-Royce (NASDAQOTH: RYCEY ) [which] won two contracts yesterday. But it was the first one that was truly huge. Valued at up to $406 million, it will have Rolls performing engine supply support on Allison T-56 engines under a contract that runs through Sept. 30, 2019. Used primarily to power Lockheed Martin C-130 transport aircraft, T-56 engines are found in the militaries of many nations around the globe. This particular contract will have Rolls doing work for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force, as well as for the air forces of Poland, Jordan, and the Philippines.”
TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY
1. Kindle Fire on fire. Can’t get the iPhone you want? Try Kindle Fire HDX. AP reports, “Amazon is refreshing its line-up of tablet computers with new devices called Kindle Fire HDX, which are significantly faster and lighter than the previous generation. The 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions also have sharper, more colorful displays than older models, and both have more pixels per inch than the latest iPad.”
2. Security and Big Data don’t mix. If you think your data is secure, well, forget it. According to VentureBeat.Com contributor John Koetsier, it probably isn’t securable: “in many cases the people who create and manage the massive datasets that our social and advertising and search infrastructures rely on every day are the very same people who are helping the government collect and manage the terabytes of data that shadow three-letter agencies are collecting. So it should be no big surprise, I suppose, that almost two thirds of developers who think they could detect spying believe that spying is going on. Perhaps even more telling, almost three quarters of those developers also say traditional security doesn’t work with big data.”
3. Blackberry – DoD’s love affair. In spite of Blackberry’s woes, the Department of Defense remains a loyal follower. In fact, the likes of DoD is exactly what Blackberry was talking about. NextGov.Com’s Aliya Sternstein reports, “The Pentagon is outfitting military networks with software to support tens of thousands of BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 smartphones this year . . . . BlackBerry on Friday announced the new strategy, which hinges on sales to large enterprises, such as the federal government, rather than personal shoppers, who largely purchase Apple iPhones and mobile devices based on Google’s Android operating system.”
1. Oh, no he didn’t. Oh, yes, he did. The strange little man from Texas fashions one of the most strained similes imaginable: “During a floor speech Tuesday aimed at reviving the already-dim prospects for his effort to defund Obamacare, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) likened his doubters to Nazi appeasers. ‘If you go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany,’ Cruz said. ‘Look, we saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, ‘Accept the Nazis. Yes, they’ll dominate the continent of Europe but that’s not our problem.’” However, some argue that “Cruz Might Just Have Won the Future for the GOP” and “GOP Senators Will Bow to Ted Cruz.”
2. Twitter twerking. Who the hell has the time to generate a multitude of fake followers? Oh, the President. The Daily Mail reports, “Of the president’s 36.9 million Twitter followers, an astonishing 53 per cent – or 19.5 million – are fake accounts, according to a search engine at the Internet research vendor StatusPeople.com. Just 20 per cent of Obama’s Twitter buddies are real people who are active users. Overall, the five most influential accounts linked to the Obama administration – the first lady has two – account for 23.4 million fake followers.”
OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS
1. Terrorists Without Borders. Aljazeera.Com contributor Daniel E. Agbiboa offers an al-Shabaab primer and argues, “Resolving terrorism . . . requires a non-kinetic, coordinated response that fuses domestic, regional and international strategies along the lines of diplomacy, development, and demilitarisation. Declared wars on terror, including missile strikes, state terror, assassination, and invasion, have only a limited capacity to root out Islamist terrorism because they fail to engage with the underlying existential conditions and unifying ideologies that can shape jihadist groups, like al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Ansaru, and al-Qaeda, who reject the status quo and develop a violent pedagogy that aims for maximum casualties.”
2. “The Real Reason al-Shabab Attacked a Mall in Kenya.” DefenseOne.Com contributor Bronwyn Bruton, Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, argues, “Al-Shabab has declared that its attack on that Westgate Mall is retribution for Kenya’s meddling in Kismayo. But despite the claim, and Kenya’s obvious misbehavior, the attack probably has more to do with al-Shabab’s internal dynamics.”
3. “How President Rouhani and Ayatollah Khamenei could reform Iran.” CSM.Com contributors Hossein Askari, Dariush Zahedi, and Ali Ezzatyar argue, “It will take far more than symbolic visits and gestures, however, to restore Iran’s struggling economy or sense of justice. With Iran’s economy in total ruin, it will take unprecedented vision and courage. Even with the backing of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Rouhani’s task will be difficult, especially as he must challenge the power of the Revolutionary Guard and Iranian intelligence services.”
2. Acme politics.
The United Nations’ General Assembly comes to life, Afghan warlord Ismael Khan – “The Lion of Herat” – and other gear up for their future, and Congressional sniping hits new levels as shutdown looms – all in today’s defense headlines.
FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM
1. Because not everyone can be the 82d Airborne Division. But at least you can have a cool motto. Contributor D.B. Grady explains what “Otatsiihtaissiiststakio piksi makamo ta psswia” has to do with ““9ec4c12949a4f31474f299058ce2b22a.” All the way!
2. Why they can’t keep secrets, either. Also from contributor D.B. Grady, a quick tutorial on other nations’ clearance processes: “The security screening process is in many ways a measurement of how interesting your life has been. (Only the most fascinating of people can fill out all four boxes in Section 5, which asks for a list of the applicant’s aliases.) . . . there’s a remarkable overlap in structure and process by other nations.”
THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT
1. POTUS – building diplomatic opportunities in New York. AP’s Julie Pace’s read-ahead on President Obama’s address at the United Nations, which precedes Iranian President Rouhani: “Seeking to build on diplomatic opportunities, President Barack Obama is expected to signal his willingness to engage with the new Iranian government if Tehran makes nuclear concessions long sought by the U.S. and Western allies. . . . The president’s address will be closely watched for signs that he may meet later in the day with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, a moderate cleric who has been making friendly gestures toward the U.S. in recent weeks. Even a brief encounter would be significant given that the leaders of the U.S. and Iran haven’t had face-to-face contact in more than 30 years.” See also Time’s “Handshake that could shake the world.”
2. At the U.N., Syria tops the agenda. TheGuardian.Com updates on what’s happening – and not happening – at the United Nations:
a. Include Iran in a Syria solution: United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs said, “there is a fresh opportunity for a political, diplomatic approach to the Syria crisis, now that Damascus has acknowledge it has chemical weapons and agreed to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. . . . Jeffrey Feltman also suggested that Tehran would have to play a role.”
b. Thursday, time to talk nukes: “The last round of nuclear talks with Iran took place in Kazakhstan in April, but the negotiations have been stalled for eight years. . . . Since the election of a new pragmatist president, Hassan Rouhani, in June, Tehran has signalled that Iran might be ready for a compromise on the nuclear issue and Zarif, a American-educated former ambassador to the UN, is conducting an intense diplomatic offensive at the UN, arriving five days before the general assembly and meeting a large number of foreign ministers.”
c. Ladies and gentlemen, the new Iran: “There is little doubt Rouhani will deliver the rhetoric. The devil as ever will be in the fine print. It may be that the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has empowered him to make a deal that critically falls short of international expectations, in the hope that the momentum building around Rouhani would bounce the West into giving away more than it intended.”
3. Muslim Brotherhood outlawed in Egypt. Aljazeera.Com reports, “An Egyptian court has banned all activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, and ordered authorities to seize all of the group’s assets . . . . The ruling opens the door for a wider crackdown on the vast network of the Brotherhood, which includes social organisations that have been key for building the group’s grassroots support and helping its election victories.”
4. It’s been a long time, too long. Thursday, SecState Kerry will meet his Iranian counterpart in the first such conference in over 30 years. McClatchyDC.Com reports, “In a diplomatic milestone, Secretary of State of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet here Thursday for talks that analysts say could pave the way for warmer U.S.-Iranian relations after a decades-long freeze. . . . Thursday’s meeting, however, will be about Iran, and analysts who specialize in U.S.-Iranian relations say the time could be right for steps toward a detente: The U.S. and Iran are on opposite sides of the Syria conflict but both are looking for a solution to the bloodshed, and Iran is feeling the burn from sanctions on its petroleum exports.”
5. In Kenya, at least 62 dead . . . and counting. AP’s Jason Straziuso and Tom Odula report from Nairobi, “Nairobi’s city morgue is preparing for the arrival of a large number of bodies of people killed in the Westgate Mall terrorist attack in Kenya. The government official says morgue employees were told to prepare for many bodies. . . . Authorities have said they are involved in a final push to clear out the remaining attackers. But authorities have before referred to their operations as final.”
6. In Afghanistan, 49 Taliban dead over 24 hours. Khaama.Com reports, “The interior ministry of Afghanistan following a statement announced that the operations were jointly conducted by Afghan police, Afghan army, Afghan intelligence – national directorate of security and coalition security forces. The statement further added that the operations were conducted in Helmad, Farah, Herat, Logar, Uruzgan, Zabul, Kandahar, Balkh, Badakhshan and Kunduz provinces of Afghanistan.” In Kabul, Afghan security forces derail twin suicide attacks.
1. The Scorpion – “The world’s most affordable tactical jet aircraft.” DefenseMediaNetwork.Com reports, “Industrial powerhouse Textron (think Bell Helicopter, Cessna, and Textron Systems) and small startup AirLand Enterprises, LLC (website under construction) have joined forces to create the Scorpion light tactical aircraft. The joint venture, Textron AirLand, LLC, has boldly or foolishly designed the clean-sheet Scorpion without a requirement, in the midst of budget constraints both domestically and internationally. . . . Mission capabilities that the Scorpion hopes to fulfill include border security, maritime security, counter narcotics, aerospace control alert, humanitarian assistance/disaster response, and irregular warfare support.”
2. $60 million worth of avionics to Tunisia. DSCA.Mil announces, “The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on September 18 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Tunisia of F-5 avionics upgrades and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $60 million. . . . The principal contractor will be Northrop Grumman of St. Augustine, Florida.” [Given all the other distractions in Congress, expect this proposal to slide through unopposed. Good timing.]
TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY
1. IPOs aplenty in the tech world – NASDAQ and NYSE. Pull together the gambling money. VentureBeat.Com contributor Dylan Tweney reports, “Almost all of the . . . companies will have valuations well under $1 billion, although the largest by market capitalization will be Pattern Energy, which will hit the $1 billion mark almost exactly if its offering prices at $20, the midpoint of the proposed range. The next largest companies would be Violin Memory ($874 million valuation at the midpoint of its range) and RingCentral ($804 million). . . . Notably, 11 of the 13 companies will list their shares on the historically tech-friendly Nasdaq, while two — RingCentral and Violin Memory — will list on the NYSE.”
2. Sell it. If you need some extra cash now that you bought the new iPhone, here’s where to get the best deals. Time reports, “cashing in on old electronics is easier than ever. Take your smartphone to a retail store for an immediate trade-in, or sell it online if you don’t need the cash immediately.”
3. Go private. Blackberry takes itself out of the market. Reuters reports, “Smartphone maker BlackBerry has agreed to go private in a $4.7 billion deal led by its biggest shareholder, allowing the on-the-go email pioneer to regroup away from public scrutiny after years of falling fortunes and slumping market share. The $9 a share tentative offer, from a consortium led by property and casualty insurer Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, will set a floor for any counteroffers that might emerge for Blackberry, which has been on the block since August.”
1. Damn freshmen . . . . Senate freshman Ted Cruz (R-TX) turns the Good Old Party against itself and twerks the Congress along the way: “A master of fiery conservative oratory, the freshman senator is trying to block funding for President Obama’s health-care law with a strategy that, if successful, will almost certainly lead to a partial government shutdown next week. The Texan has become the face of an effort variously described as the ‘dumbest idea,’ leading Republicans to a ‘box canyon’ and ending with their political ‘suicide note.’” See also, “Republicans’ dangerous rationality” and “GOP Extremists.”
2. Obama + Clinton = Love. The President teams up with the putative next president’s husband to win on healthcare. Reuters’ Jeff Mason and Steve Holland report, “Clinton’s effort to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system while president, spearheaded by his wife, former first lady Hillary Clinton, failed in Congress, dealing them a major political blow. But it called attention to the plight of millions of Americans who did not have insurance. . . . Hillary Clinton, who is a potential presidential candidate in 2016 and served as secretary of state during Obama’s first term, will introduce the two men.”
OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS
1. Must Read: The Warlords Get Ready. Der Spiegel’s Christian Neef with an in-depth pregame on the Afghan warlords’ first moves after we leave: Ismael Khan, “The Lion of Herat,” “foresees a return of the fundamentalist Taliban, the collapse of the government in Kabul and the eruption of a new war between ethnic groups. He sees a future in which power is divided between the clans as it was in the past, and in which the mujahedeen, the tribal militias seasoned by battles against the Soviets and later the Taliban, remain the sole governing force.”
2. “Bring on the shutdown.” Slate.Com contributor Matthew Yglesias argues, “A little government shutdown isn’t the worst thing in the world, and it’s much better to have this fight now rather than entertain months of herky-jerky crisis.”
3. “Why diplomacy with Iran is doomed.” Aljazeera.Com contributor John Glaser argues, “There are a multitude of outstanding issues and grievances beyond the nuclear matter that have great potential to spoil this window for peaceful reconciliation. But the greatest spoiler of all lies in the fact that Ayatollah Khamenei, who holds ultimate control no matter who is president, is convinced Washington is out to overthrow his government. Worse still, he has good reason to believe it.”
3. More guns!