Monthly Archives: October 2013

Sandbags Iraq

Kerry on Iran, Iran on Israel, and Government Shutdown D+3

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.

Farewell Tom Clancy & Shutdown D+3.

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.’”

CONTRACT WATCH

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’ . . . .”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

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.”

3.  While you’re surfing the web, tunes to lull by.

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.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Not About Shutdown #1.

2.  Not About Shutdown #2.

3.  Not About Shutdown #3

Playing for change 640x185

Daily Intelligence: Iran of “Prudence and Hope,” Marine GOs fired, and Shutdown Government

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.

Tumbleweeds and Tuesday’s Crib Sheet.

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.”

CONTRACT WATCH

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.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

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 fightWashingtonExaminer.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.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  No More Cash Bash – BYO.

2.  Good global warming.

3.  California hello.