Monthly Archives: July 2013

Daily Intelligence — Mindless Sequestration, Drama in Egypt, Kerry and Syria, and Drone Fallout

Hot Cooler Chat & Dr. Hook on Current Events

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCEJOBS.COM

1.  Machiavelli on Prozac: “It is better to be loved.”  Contributor Christopher Burgess responds to the Harvard Business Review’s touchy-feely recommendations – “an approach of engagement, warmth and trust, enables the leader to garner the trust of their employees, and then follow with their strength, competence and credentials” – with Machiavellian-league wisdom:  “In setting your expectations of the employee, set them up for success and stay engaged. Demonstrative actions and engagement enable your cleared employee to operate with confidence and in doing so they are able to make the greatest overall contribution to the customer’s mission.”

2.  $38 billion for border security on the table.  Contributor Marc Selinger considers the growing opportunities border security reform represents for contractors waiting in the wings: “The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency expects to award a contract for its Integrated Fixed Tower (IFT) program sometime between October and December. . . . the winning contractor will have 12 months to build, install and test the system. The agency also indicated that it might eventually buy IFT systems for five more AORs in Arizona.”

3.  Editor tells all about dabbling in dating sites.  Lindy Kyzer fondly remembers the good old days:  “Managing social media for the U.S. Army I had an odd yet interesting task – keeping track of general officers’ online dating habits.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  SecDef: mindless sequestration threatens readiness and security.  Speaking from Charleston (you know, where the Civil War started), Hagel fires another shot across the congressional bow, according to American Forces Press Service’s Jim Garamone: “’We are unwinding from the longest war we’ve ever been in . . . . And as you do that . . . there are ramifications and consequences to budgets, to capacity, capability, priorities.’  The bottom line is that it is still a dangerous world, the secretary said, and while the challenges have changed, the need to confront them has not. ‘Sequestration is a mindless, irresponsible process. You know it; I know it,’ Hagel said. ‘I’m hoping that our leaders in Washington will eventually get that and come to some policy resolution.’”

2.  $200 million says we still care.  In Afghanistan, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is putting their money where Taliban gun sights are fixed:  women with a voice.  Khaama.Com reports, “Head of the USAID in Afghanistan Rajiv Shah said the figure that could double with international support and could reach to $416 million after Australia, Britain, Japan and the European Union had expressed interest in providing money.  The program called ‘Promote’ will . . . aim to create more than 3,500 small businesses to generate domestic growth to make up for an expected decline in foreign spending in Afghanistan.  Women between the ages of 18 and 30 will be covered under the program to jobs, to support women entrepreneurs with credit and microfinance, and provide training to women who want a role in policymaking.”  Also,Taliban leadership add insult to injury: “A senior commander of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) following a letter to Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousufzai said that he wish the attack never happened. . . . The Pakistani Taliban commander, Adnan Rasheed urged the 16-year-old girl to return back to Pakistan and called the attacked on her as ‘shocking.’”  Finally, formal invitation from Pakistan to Karzai this Saturday.

3.  Et tu, el-Sissi?  From Cairo, AP’s Hamza Hendawi describe the subtle drama leading to Morsi’s overthrow, which unfolds like a cross between The Tragedy of Coriolanus and The Tragedy of Julius Caesar :  “A series of interviews by The Associated Press with defense, security and intelligence officials paint a picture of a president who intended to flex his civilian authority as supreme commander of the armed forces, issuing orders to el-Sissi.  In turn, the military chief believed Morsi was leading the country into turmoil and repeatedly challenged him, defying his orders in at least two cases.”   And if you haven’t read Coriolanus and Julius Caesar, well, get on the ball.

4.  You do have to live like a refugee.  AP’s Matthew Lee, reporting from Zaatari, Jordan, reports on Kerry’s brush-off of refugee’s petitions for more help from the United States: failing to recognize that many refugees have no shoes, Kerry said, “’I think they are frustrated and angry at the world for not stepping up . . . . If I was in their shoes I would be looking for help wherever I could find it.  I share their passion and frustration for the plight that they face on a day-to-day basis.’”  Kerry gladly accepted his gift souvenir “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt.

5.  Like father, like son.  Dad and his kid serve the Nation together as Soldiers in 2nd “Lancer” Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment.  Army Sgt. Bailey Kramer, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, tells the story: “’We don’t have the same leadership style. What I do, wouldn’t fit his personality . . . . It would be fake coming out of him, and people would see that. . . . [But] he has identified things that are wrong that I would have identified as wrong, and he has come up with solutions I would have.’”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  U.S.M.C. working to bring the oldest platforms up-to-date.  Replacement, recapitalization, repair to increase reliability.  DefenseMediaNetwork’s Scott Gourley reports on the Leatherneck’s search for “industry assistance in exploring various approaches for a limited reset of the service’s AAVP7A1 personnel variants of its Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV). As outlined in a recently released request for information (RFI), the Marine Corps’ Program Manager for Advanced Amphibious Assault (PM AAA) is conducting market research ‘to analyze viable approaches for the sustaining maintenance of the USMC Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV).’”

 2.  Prove you’re worthwhile, or step aside.  As funding tightens to Victorian corset levels,GovExec.Com’s John Kamensky offers “4 Ways you can prove your program isn’t a waste”: “Within OMB, there is an active effort to catalyze agencies to develop and undertake a series of evidence and evaluation initiatives in ways that they can learn from each other and so they can quickly leverage promising practices. This was outlined in a memo to agencies in May 2012.  A former Obama budget appointee, Jeff Liebman, explains OMB’s interest as: ‘The only way to make progress in this fiscal environment is to produce more value with each dollar that government spends. . . . We need to reallocate funds from less-effective programs to more-effective programs.’”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Eye-tracking technology that fits.  VentureBeat.Com’s Ricardo Bilton reports on the rapid evolution of eye-tracking technology that, now, is small enough to compete with today’s technology: “While eye-tracking has been around for years, its underlying technology is finally getting small enough that manufacturers can implement it in smaller devices — including laptops, tablets, and, yes, smartphones.  Two years ago, none of this would have been possible, but by next year, it’ll be everywhere.  And the possibilities are exciting.”

2.  If you don’t tell us, Snowden will.  Tech giants politely ask POTUS for transparency in PRISM.  The petition is to be published sometime today:  According to AllThingsD.Comcontributor John Paczkowski,  “Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft are part of a broad alliance of technology companies and civil liberties groups that will tomorrow demand dramatically increased transparency around U.S. government surveillance efforts. In a letter to be published Thursday, the alliance — whose members include 63 companies, investors, non-profits and trade organizations — will call upon President Obama and congressional leaders to allow Internet, telephone, and Web-based service providers to report national security-related requests for information with greater specificity.” VentureBeat.Com’s John Koetsier adds, “Interestingly, . . . the companies are not asking that surveillance be stopped, merely that they be allowed to report more fully on government access to data: the number of government requests, the number of accounts or people the requests reference, and the types of requests.”

3.  The Dagger Sanction.  Der Spiegel’s Judith Horchert reports that a feisty German decided to tease the NSA with a “nature walk” around the NSA’s Dagger Complex in Griesheim.  It was all fun and games until the United States got involved:  “He described the outing as though it were a nature walk. He wrote on Facebook that its purpose was to undertake ‘joint research into the threatened habitat of NSA spies.’  He added: ‘If we are really lucky, we might actually see a real NSA spy with our own eyes.’  He suggested that those interested in coming should bring along their cameras and ‘flowers of all kinds to improve the appearance of the NSA spies’ habitat.’ Perhaps not surprisingly, not many of his friends showed much interest in the venture. But the authorities did. Just four days after he posted the invitation, his mobile phone rang at 7:17 a.m. It was the police calling to talk about his Facebook post.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Dick Dougies; Liz La Voltas.   Time.Com petitions the former VP for thoughts on his daughter’s run for the Senate: “’I’m a strong supporter of hers.’”  Politico.Com reports that Dick is Liz’s best weapon: “Disliked as Dick Cheney is nationally after his controversial tenure as vice president, he remains an esteemed figure in the state he represented three decades ago in the House of Representatives. Ironically, Liz Cheney’s last name will be her biggest asset in next year’s Republican primary against three-term incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi.”  See also, Cheney threatens Enzi.

2.  Republican Robot Dance.  USNews.Com’s Rebekah Metzler takes a look at the Republican party’s apparent identity crisis as elections start to loom: “Gathered at the liberal leaning think-tank the Brookings Institution, the GOP experts – including Republican consultant Alex Castellanos, National Review reporter Robert Costa, Republican strategist Liz Mair and Real Clear Politics demographic and trend specialist Sean Trende – agreed the party needs a shake-up. . . . the party may just need a transformational figure to come along, but he’s not convinced one is emerging yet.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  We killed him, but we didn’t mean to.  Nasser al-AWLAKI writing from Sana, Yemen, gets voice in the New York Times: “The Drone that Killed my Grandson”: “The missile killed him, his teenage cousin and at least five other civilians on Oct. 14, 2011, while the boys were eating dinner at an open-air restaurant in southern Yemen. . . . My grandson was killed by his own government. The Obama administration must answer for its actions and be held accountable. On Friday, I will petition a federal court in Washington to require the government to do just that.”

2.  We will respect you in the morning.  WaPo Opinionaire David Ignatius argues, “One of the worst recurring features of U.S. foreign policy is a process that might bluntly be described as ‘seduction and abandonment.’ Now it’s happening in Syria.”

3.  Three cheers for SecDef.  WashingtonExaminer.Com’s Paul Bedard gives credit where credit is due: “Hagel, a rare Republican in Obama’s inner-circle, has a long record of looking out for enlisted troops. Most notably, he quit the Veterans Administration years ago after the agency’s director suggested Agent Orange, the Vietnam-era defoliant that has had a devastating impact on some of the troops exposed to it, shrugged off the effects of the chemical.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Giant Twinkie.

2.  Cover of the Rolling Stone.

An open letter to Edward J. Snowden – Come Home.

Dear Mr. Snowden,

Come home.    

Inevitably, one way or another, you will return to the United States.  Of that, there is little doubt.

In fact, the last thing the United States government probably wants is for you to come home, voluntarily, and alive.    But if you do not return voluntarily, and soon, you will undermine and cheapen the very ideals to which you have so unquestionably allied yourself, and both you and your ideals will fade to the peripheries of history, at best.

You understand, of course, that until you do return, you will never enjoy the degree of freedom you did enjoy in the United States – as imperfect as that may be. While you are on the run, evading officials, you will enjoy no freedom at all.  Even if you fare better than Julian Assange and do not find yourself cloistered in an Embassy somewhere, your every move will be under surveillance of one sort of another, and since you will never suspect exactly when you will be grabbed, you will never be free to do as you wish.

I suspect you are coming to these conclusions yourself while you are holed up in Sheremetyevo Airport (though I do hope you have taken advantage of the opportunity to enjoy some of the finest vodkas in the world).

The message the world is sending you, implicitly when not explicitly, is this: what you imagined would be a welcomed gift to the world is nowhere near valuable enough for a national leader to compromise his or her relationship with the United States, with the West.  The world’s opinion is clear.  Otherwise, you would have national leadership lining up to seek you out.  Instead, you are received as a pariah, and that stance should inform your own opinion of your actions, to some degree.

You are not, however, a man without a country – the United States, whether you like it or not and whether any one of us likes it or not, is your country.

Returning home voluntarily is, in fact, in your best interest, and in the best interest of the ideals you hold so dear.

If you feel as strongly and as idealistically about genuine freedom in our nation as the fact of your recent choices would suggest, then returning to the United States with your head high is the only logical choice for you.  If, instead, you choose not to return and remain perpetually on the run – and, you know, your flight from authorities of the United States will be perpetual, an imprisonment in itself, but without any trial – then you explicitly compromise the very ideal you intended to promote.

First, consider the outcomes if you do not come home voluntarily.  No matter where you go, where you end up, where you might find asylum, the United States will continue to pursue you.  While you might first imagine that the United States would not chase you into another sovereign state, remember that any nation on the shortlist of those that might give you asylum do not enjoy the respect of the United States or the West, are internationally weak and irrelevant.  For the United States to temporarily endure one of those minor country’s contrived outrage when the United States captures you and brings you home is of little moment to the Administration and the national security apparatus.

Once you are captured and stolen home in the dead of night, any outrage of some minor South American country will be overwhelmed by the news of your capture.  Authorities need only strategize for about ten minutes to figure out how to respond to Venezuela’s, or Bolivia’s, or Nicaragua’s reaction to your apprehension from within their country.  More likely, at least as far as Bolivia and Nicaragua are concerned, your new country would ultimately cut a deal with the United States for your custody – arms, military training, some other kind of support:  $10 billion over the next twenty years is a drop in the bucket, and not a promise we would need to keep, anyway.  Hell, any of those nations would give you up just to gain a little favor from the United States – or to get us off of their backs.  And, frankly, we could not care less about what Venezuela has to say.

In any case, when they come for you, more than likely the nation in question will know the mission is going to go down and, then, only feign outrage as they count the money coming their way.  Everyone wins.  Except you.

Certainly, if a respected nation or a nation with some international sway – Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, even Russia, among many others – gave you asylum, you would find yourself in fairly safe hands.   But that is not happening.  And it is not going to happen.  And even if you can obtain – and take advantage of – asylum in Venezuela, Bolivia, or Nicaragua, discussions of Edward Snowden will dissipate over the next months in the United States and around the world.  The NSA will weather the storm – they have, already – and little will change.  American’s attention span is notoriously short, save but for a fringe group here or there that needs an organizing principal.  But, for the most part, you will live in understandable and appropriate fear and the world will continue to world.

If you voluntarily return to the United States, however, you will have the attention of the world and as your stage choice media platforms from which to make your arguments.  Even before you come home, you will have the opportunity to tell your story in your way and sway public opinion in your favor to the degree that you might.  Indeed, more than ever before, you will be able to share in an organized, thoughtful way the vast information that you have with whichever media outlet you respect the most: NPR, Radio Free Europe, CNN, The Atlantic, Time . . . your choice.

Further, with the simple gesture of coming home voluntarily, you could very likely get an agreement from the Administration or Department of Justice that your ultimate trial will be televised.  Imagine the windfall from that sort of contract – and that money, a reasonable percentage of it up front, could go to any organization or charity you think will most effectively advance your objectives over the next several decades.

T-shirt and bumper sticker sales, alone, would be completely out of control – every college kid and reluctant hippie in the nation would be wearing his “Free Ed Snowden” t-shirt, and those who not wearing them would be hoarding them, expecting a profit a decade later on eBay.

Additionally, you will have the best defense team in the United States representing you at trial – and you do want a trial, a big one that puts Manson, Rodney King (R.I.P.) O.J., and Zimmerman to shame.  And while on one hand you personally will be on trial, on the other hand, really, it will be the NSA and the larger intelligence apparatus under a degree of scrutiny they have never imagined, that could very likely render them completely ineffective, at least for the foreseeable future.

While you are at it, of course, your legal team will file suit after suit against the Administration and its agencies on an array of constitutional grounds, among which at least a reasonable percentage would find their way to the Supreme Court of the United States while the remaining percentage clogs up the justice system and employees the next generation of young lawyers.

In the end, you will be found guilty, of something.  Subsequently, you could be sentenced to a life in prison, and serve the better part of that sentence, if not all of it.

But while you are behind bars, you can continue to communicate with the world.  You can write your own biography.  You can supervise the screenplay of the Edward Snowden Story.  You can ensure your share of the proceeds are invested and awarded as you see fit in a trust fund that awards scholarships and grants to those whose work will most effectively keep your ideals alive.

In short, if you come home voluntarily, the potential for you to have a long-term effect on history is tremendous.   Right now, on the path you are traveling, your destiny is to be little more than a footnote.  If, during the course of your inevitable apprehension you resist and are killed, you will not even be a footnote.  And you will resist.

If you choose to remain on the run, your image, the ideals you represent, will continue to diminish.  Your association with and subordination to second- and third- rate nations (that, again, in the long run, cannot and will not protect you) will only ensure the irrelevance of both you and your ideals over the course of the next months or year, at most.

Do not misunderstand me — I think what you did was absolutely wrong, and you deserve the punishment that the justice system of the United States can provide.  The way you went about your leak was pretty bush league, at best, especially given the resources available to legitimately and legally blow the whistle, at least, at least as a first step.  Additionally, the NSA’s data collection — and the data collection of other nations — really, is not a secret at all.  I’m frankly surprised so many people seem so bewildered.

But you believe – no matter what anyone else believes – that your actions were of historic proportion and international significance. 

In your view, likely, you chose to sacrifice yourself to open the eyes of a world under unwarranted surveillance of Orwellian proportions paying lip service to the freedoms and liberties we profess to hold dear.

But your sacrifice has not even started.

Sacrifice is first about courage.

And the sacrifice necessary to perpetuate your ideals begins the day you voluntarily return to the United States, the moment you peacefully but powerfully extend your hands for cuffing and face the music to which you it is your chosen destiny to dance. Remember the closing scene of Billy Jack.

And sacrifice is the only thing that might begin to make your efforts of any significant and respectable value.