News Update: Standoff in Egypt, War in Afghanistan, and POTUS & Putin

Mini-Cooper-Camper-Craze & Save your quarters.

 FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  A big sandwich, and everyone has been taking a bite.  Editor Lindy Kyzer’s blog about 30 days ago pretty well predicts the trends in the security debate: “Of the 20 investigators who have been convicted of fraud, it’s an even split as far as who’s done the lying (contractor or government employee). Abuse isn’t solely in the hands of private contractors. While unreasonable deadlines and antiquated reporting procedures may incentivize shortcuts by contractors, government employees face the same things. If, perhaps, a reduced likelihood of being fired for failure.”

2.  Want to be a spy?  From the vaults, D.B. Grady reminds us, “Honesty is the best policy, whatever your past. . . . Investigations are thorough, and you need to assume that they will find out everything about you. This includes juvenile records—‘even those that are sealed, purged, burned, rocketed into the sun.’ Complete disclosure is essential, because it’s the investigators’ jobs to determine if you’re susceptible to blackmail. Some past transgression won’t necessarily disqualify you; lying about it will.”

 THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Money driven strategyDefenseNews.Com reports that drastic defense budget cuts are forcing DoD to redraw Combatant Commands.  Marcus Weisgerber explains, “The Pentagon is considering a major overhaul of its geographical combatant commands, possibly realigning oversight within hot-button areas of the world and eliminating thousands of military and civilian positions, according to defense sources. . . . Regional experts agree the Pentagon could reorganize its combatant commands to better align the headquarters with long-term strategic goals.”

2.  Mexican standoff, Egyptian style. Committed to Morsi, his supporters are dug in and swear their not moving until the ousted leader is reinstated.  Police in Egypt are ready to oust them, too.  AP’s Aya Batrway reports from Cairo, “Supporters of Egypt’s ousted president have dug in at their two Cairo sit-ins after security officials said police would besiege the entrenched protest camps within 24 hours – perhaps as early as Monday morning. The development sets the stage for a possible confrontation between the military-backed government and the thousands gathered at the protest sites in support of ex-President Mohammed Morsi.”  According to Reuters’ Michael Georgy, “Officials had said police would move at dawn to disperse the camps in what could prove a bloody confrontation with those seeking Mursi’s restitution, but by midday they had not done so.” Aljazeera reports that protesters are battening down hatches and shoring up their lines.  Stay tuned – looks like there’s gonna be a showdown.

3.  Afghanistan.

a.  “Afghanistan’s Poorest Are Bearing the Brunt of the War.”  Time.Com’s  Mujib Mashal and Dasht-e-Qala report from Kabul, “Nearly 12 years into the war, the mission for the Americans and their international allies (operating in a joint coalition known as ISAF) has shifted: the coalition forces mostly stay out of the field, letting Afghan soldiers assume the brunt of the fighting. Western officials hail the security transition as a success on the grounds that ISAF casualties have reduced significantly. June, the bloodiest month for them this year, saw 27 soldiers killed. But on the Afghan side, about 300 soldiers died in the same period — a reported 22% increase from the same month last year. This, combined with a monthly attrition rate of over 3% — British officials report the rate of recruits leaving the Afghan army is around 63,000 every year, or more than a third of the current size of the force — paints a gloomy picture.

b. In Afghanistan, Afghan Local Police under more UNAMA scrutinyKhaama.Com reports, “According to reports, UNAMA has requested the government of Afghanistan to have strict observation of the background and history of those individuals who are being recruited in Local Police forces. Afghan Local Police forces have been accused of human rights violations and other violent actions. The local police forces are recruited by the interior ministry of Afghanistan, and are separate from the Afghan National Police (ANP).”

c.  Committed to Afghanistan – don’t let the forces heading out the backdoor fool yaAP’s Patrick Quinn reports from Kabul, “The top U.S. and coalition commander in Afghanistan stressed Saturday that the signing of a stalled bilateral security agreement between America and Afghanistan was needed to send a clear signal both to the Afghan people and the Taliban that the international community remains committed to the country’s future stability even as foreign forces withdraw.”

4.  Two more Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula hit by dronesLongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, “The US launched yet another airstrike in Yemen, killing two al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operatives in a strike on a vehicle in southern Yemen. . . . The strike, which took place in the southern province of Lahj, targeted a vehicle as it traveled ‘on a mountain road late on Saturday evening,’ Reuters reported. The vehicle was ‘believed to be carrying arms and its occupants were suspected members of al Qaeda.’”

5.  Happy Eid al-FitrMcClatchyDC.Com reports from Baghdad, “At least 64 people were killed and nearly 200 injured in a series of bombings in Iraq during weekend Eid al-Fitr celebrations, Interior Ministry sources said. Other sources put the casualty tolls at 91 dead and some 300 injured in the attacks, mostly against Baghdad districts that are predominantly Shiite, sources said.”  Peace be with you.

 CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Fall & Winter Defense Contract outlookWaPo’s Ashley Bergander gives us the season’s pregame: “Several noteworthy Defense Department contracts are up for competition this fall and winter.  All three contracting programs are being re-competed, and incumbent contractors are expected to take part in each competition.”

2.  POTUS, Putin, and Contracts.  $1.1 billion going to Russian arms industry.  TheAtlantic.Com contributor Sonni Efron gives 10 good reasons to dump the Ruskies: “Even if Obama breaks up with Putin, he can’t take the ring back; Moscow won’t give refunds for aircraft DOD has already paid for. But we needn’t rush to buy Afghanistan 15 more choppers it can’t yet fly.”

 TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  NSA thumbs its nose to Congress: backdoor battle over a year oldTheGuardian.Com’s Spencer Ackerman reports, “In letters, hearings and one big legislative push last year, senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have tried to close what Wyden calls a ‘backdoor search loophole’, to ensure that communications from Americans that inadvertently turn up in NSA databases are promptly purged. And they have tried to stop intelligence officials from publicly saying they can do no such thing when, behind closed doors, the officials acknowledge to the Senate intelligence committee they have that authority.”  See related at TheGuardian.Com, “Spy agency has secret backdoor permission to search databases for individual Americans’ communications.”

2.  Calm down . . . new iPhone just over the horizonVentureBeat.Com’s Matt Marshall gives us the 411 on the gadget: “The most heavily anticipated phone is the iPhone 5S, which will feature the next generation operating system, iOS 7, and is expected to have a new fingerprint sensor to boost security and offer other interesting features. The biometric security feature comes in part from a company AuthenTec that Apple acquired last year.”  See related, “Apple’s ‘iPhone 5S’ rumored convex home button.”

3.  Get the most out of your iPadTelegraph.Co.UK discovers, “More adventurous users have . . . discovered some hidden features that are perhaps not so obvious and have shared them. Here we provide give you a quick tour of the best hidden features of the iPad and show just what it can do.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Getting on the Peace TrainWaPo’s Sari Horwitz reports that common sense is breaking out in the Department of Justice as it falls in behind Sanjay Gupta, Washington state, Colorado, and others in the pot parade: “Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is set to announce Monday that low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with no ties to gangs or large-scale drug organizations will no longer be charged with offenses that impose severe mandatory sentences. . . . The Justice Department has not said how it will respond to the measures in Colorado and Washington, leaving state and local officials confused about exactly how to proceed. A Justice Department spokesman said the matter is still under review.”

2.  “He let out a little ‘Oooooh.”  How POTUS puts and parties.  WaPo covers President Obama’s escape to Martha’s Vineyard:  “Taking a break from wrangling over immigration reform and planning for federal budget debates, the president began his first full day of vacation with a midday round at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs. He was joined by aide Marvin Nicholson and White House chef Sam Kass, with Robert Wolf, a former UBS Americas chairman and one of Obama’s principal Wall Street allies, completing the foursome.”  A new dance – POTUS’ Putting Pogo.

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  “Obama giving up some executive power.” TheDailyBeast.Com’s Michael Tomasky argues, “I think it’s pretty remarkable that a president, any president, announced, without absolutely being forced to, a series of steps that relinquish some degree of executive power. . . . I’m hardly jumping up and down that the National Security Agency is going to have a full-time civil liberties and privacy officer. But two of Obama’s other recommendations might have some bite.”

2.  Putin’s political prisonerUSNews.Com’s Daniel J. Gallington argues, “Just in case you’re curious, or for that matter to confirm your worst suspicions, there was no way that the Russians (and former KGB agent Vladimir Putin) were about to allow perhaps their greatest intelligence windfall in history – that being NSA leaker Edward Snowden – to slip through their fingers. So they didn’t allow it, and they won’t. Instead, Putin gave Snowden ‘temporary asylum’ in Russia or some other such nonsense status – and a ‘job,’ to keep him there. Will they exploit him? Sure, and my guess is that he won’t be able to leave until they get all he knows, one way or another.”

3.  Snubbing Putin – what can it mean?  Reuters’ Ian Bremmer argues, “By snubbing Putin when he did, Obama will allow Secretaries of State and Defense John Kerry and Chuck Hagel and their Russian counterparts to work back up from this low-water mark when they meet this week. If he had waited to snub Putin, it would unwind any progress that might come out of the current meetings. Obama clearly understands there is more room for productivity among senior diplomats than between the heads of state, where the relationship has always been icy, and any shortcomings are higher profile.”

4.  Al Qaeda – it’s getting worse.  So argues CNSNews.Com contributor Patrick Goodenough: “The al-Qaeda terrorist threat against America is “getting worse, not better,” it’s “deceptive” of President Obama to suggest otherwise, and a lack of U.S. leadership is contributing to the problem, two senior Republican lawmakers charged on Sunday.”

 THE FUNNIES

1.  Hit the beach!

2.  NSA Jobs.

3.  NSA Transparency.

 

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