Tag Archives: Political Cartoons

101ST CE

“Peace is within reach,” Terrorists without borders, and SOCOM’s vision for TALOS.

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.

 

U.N. Speeches:  Obama’s & Rouhani’s   and  Hump Day help.

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. remarksNYTimes.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.”

CONTRACT WATCH

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.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

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.”

THE FUNNIES

1.   A bite of the Big Apple.

2.  Acme politics.

3.  Not new camouflage.

Playing for change 640x185

Daily Intelligence: Egypt taking on the Sinai, Syria on hold, and the iPhone cometh

Israel applauds Egypt’s efforts in the Sinai, a surprise pause in the run-up to Syria, and Apple’s iPhone launch may eclipse Obama’s oration, all in today’s defense headlines.

by Ed Ledford

September 10, 2013

 

 

Photo of the Day & Ten things for Tuesday.

 

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  VetNet – Google’s tip of the hat to Vets and their families. Contributor Diana Rodriguez explains Google’s developments specifically for the war weary: “’Google for Veterans and Families’ was created in 2011 by veterans, families of veterans, and friends who work at Google. The developers and administrators of the site have special understanding of the challenges of service members and those who are making the transition to civilian life. . . . In November of 2012, Google partnered with other veteran and family advocacy organizations that are providing support and resources to veterans and families. VetNet is collaboration between veteran-focused non-government agencies designed to help and their families find careers.”

2.  Rhyme to the reason – the logic of classification. Contributor Jeffrey Bennett reminds exactly why the government classifies certain information: “The US Government relies on a system of security classification to ensure users protect sensitive information at the right level. . . . Contrary to popular spy novels and movies, a classification cannot be assigned to hide legal violations, inefficiencies or mistakes. Nor can the OCAs assign a classification just to prevent embarrassment, prevent or restrict competition or delay the release of information that hasn’t previously required such a level of protection.”

 

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Call it – DoD’s Crisis Line is there for Vets and families. American Forces Press Service’s Terri Moon Cronk explains, “When someone is in crisis and feeling despondent, reaching out for help is a stronger step to take than doing nothing, which can lead to a worsening state . . . . people contact the crisis line to discuss a variety of issues, from feeling suicidal, depressed or anxious to feeling pressure from finances or relationships, among a wealth of other concerns . . . . callers can expect a live person and not an electronic menu to answer their calls.”

2.  Egypt takes on Sinai terrorists. TheGuardian.Com’s Patrick Kingsley reports from Cairo, “Egypt’s army has announced a full-scale assault on militant areas in the restive northern Sinai desert, in what a senior Israeli official has approvingly called Egypt’s first-ever serious counter-terrorism campaign in the region. . . . observers argued that this latest campaign, which began on Saturday, may be the largest in years.”

3.  The President speaks to America – tonight. AP’s Bradley Klapper and Donna Cassata set the scene for tonight’s speech: “President Barack Obama is heading to Congress on Tuesday with fresh hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough that would allow Syria’s government to avert U.S. missile strikes if it surrenders its chemical weapons arsenal. Obama had planned to use the meetings with Democratic and Republican senators to personally lobby for his plan of targeted strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in retaliation for last month’s massive chemical weapons attack outside of Damascus. Instead, he signaled in interviews ahead of his trip to Capitol Hill that new diplomacy involving Russia and others could eliminate the risks of a repeat chemical attack without requiring an American intervention. He presents his case to the American people Tuesday night.”

4.  Kerry said what? Slip of the tongue or well-played olive branch, SecState’s apparent gaff gets legs. Reuters’ Mark Felsenthal and Steve Holland report, “Russia’s offer to work with Damascus to put its chemical weapons under international control could be a big deal – if it is serious. . . . The president said he had explored the possibility of a proposal for Syria to cede control of its chemical weapons stockpile to international authorities with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting last week in Russia.”  Aljazeera adds, “Russia is working on an ‘effective, concrete’ plan for putting Syria’s chemical weapons under international control and is discussing the details with Damascus . . . .”

5.  Human Rights Watch – “Assad did it.” Time reports that Human Rights Watch (HRW) is convinced: “Human Rights Watch claims that all evidence suggests that forces loyal to Bashar Assad were behind the infamous chemical-weapons attack in Damascus. . . . HRW’s extensive investigation, which relied on expert analysis from chemical-weapons and arms specialists along with witnesses’ accounts, concluded that the surface-to-surface rocket systems used to carry out the attack, along with the large quantity of nerve agent that was deployed during the assault on Aug. 21, match up with equipment that is only possessed by government troops in Syria.”

6.  AFRICOM – Armed Forces of Liberia bring Fort Jackson to Monrovia. Marine Corps Forces Africa’s Master Sgt. Brian Bahret reports, “U.S. Army instructors teamed with [Liberian First Sergeant James] Gant in a weeklong refresher course to help reinforce the concepts the drill sergeants learned at Fort Jackson. The refresher training revisited fundamentals including the importance of maintaining professional relationships, leadership skills, and core subjects designed to create a productive learning environment for the recruits.”

 

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Boeing – on time and on target with KC-46 refuelersAmerican Forces Press Service’s Jim Garamone shares Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning’s good news: “Fanning said the program ‘is in a real healthy place.’ . . . Fanning visited Boeing’s KC-46 plant in Everett, Wash., recently. Two KC-46s now in production there will be ready for flight next year. The KC-46 is based on the Boeing 767 aircraft, which had its first flight in 1981. The company has 32 years of experience with the plane.”  Read about the mighty KC-46.

2.  Sequestration costs – rather than saves – $64 million. GovExec.Com’s Charles S. Clark reports, “Offering one of the more concrete examples of sequestration’s impact, the Defense Contract Audit Agency has calculated that the $11 million in cuts it absorbed this year likely prompted its auditors to take a pass on retrieving as much as $74 million in unmerited contractor billing.”

3.  Contractor-Bashing at an all-time high, reports GovExec.Com’s Charles S. Clark: “Current budget constraints, curbs on contracts and congressional hostility toward the federal workforce have combined to create a climate in which ‘anti-contractor rhetoric has become at least as common a political tool as public employee bashing,’ a leadership commission convened by the Professional Services Council wrote in a report released Monday. . . . A sign of the tension, the leadership commission found, is the rise in contract award protests in response to the government’s increased preference for lowest price, technically acceptable proposals.”

 

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Save the NSA the trouble – scan your own fingerprints. Big news for the soon-to-be-announced iPhone: “There are plenty of potential use cases for a fingerprint sensor in your smartphone, from making it easier to unlock the phone, to adding another level of security to your mobile wallet. The sensor would be the equivalent to the introduction of Siri in the iPhone 4S — it’s not an Earth-shattering feature, but it’s one that clearly distinguishes the slightly refreshed phone from its predecessor.”  See also 10 iPhone predictions.

2.  Facebook, Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft – their bid to regain some public trust. UPI.Com reports, “Facebook Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. sued a secret court for authority to reveal aggregate information about the national security orders they receive from Washington. . . . All four tech companies, in rare coordinated but separate lawsuits, say they want permission to reveal the aggregate number and nature of the national intelligence requests to respond to growing public concern and to regain the trust of users. . . . The tech companies, prevented from disclosing information under national security rules, say they also want permission to correct false allegations and incorrect news reports about what they supply to the FBI for National Security Agency use. They argue their constitutional free-speech rights are being violated.”

3.  If you’re serious about secrecy, you might still outsmart the NSA. PCWorld.Com contributor Jaikumar Vijayan reports, “Though the National Security Agency spends billions of dollars to crack encryption technologies, security experts maintain that properly implemented, encryption is still the best way to maintain online privacy. . . . Steve Weis, chief technology officer at PrivateCore and holder of a Ph.D. in cryptography from MIT, said despite the NSA activities, the mathematics of cryptography remains very hard to crack. He suggested that it’s likely that the NSA managed to break through insecure and outdated implementations of some encryption technologies.”

 

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Syrian Shimmy. Mixed messages and exaggerations confuse the whole damned thing: “Secretary of State John Kerry said in London Monday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a U.S. attack by ‘turning over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting.’ The Russian foreign minister subsequently made that offer to Syria, and the Syrian foreign minister reportedly welcomed the idea. Since then, the State Department has tried to walk back Kerry’s statement, with spokeswoman Marie Harf calling it a ‘rhetorical statement about a scenario that we think is highly unlikely’ at a press briefing.”

2.  Dancing with the devil. The Hill asks Putin, “May we have this dance?”  BuzzFeed.Com reports, “Russian President Vladimir Putin could be giving lawmakers — and the White House — at least a temporary out. However, not all lawmakers are pleased with Washington’s sudden embrace of the Russian proposal. ‘I think they’re playing us like a fiddle,’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the chief proponents for military action against Assad.

 

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  The difference between intelligence on Syria and Iraq. Reuters contributor David Wise argues, “There are important differences between the intelligence fobbed off on the public to justify the 2003 Iraq war and what is being said by government officials today. For one thing, the Syrians essentially admitted Monday that they have chemical weapons, when they started talking about turning them over to the international community. Nonetheless, the U.S. intelligence on Syria still leaves some critical unanswered questions.”

2.  “Press Pause on the Rush to War.”  USNews.Com contributor Michael Shank argues, “If America wants to reassert its moral weight in the world, there are more efficient and effective exercises that are less expensive and less likely to result in increased chaos, escalated violence and additional chemical weapons usage.”

3.  God Bless America: Criticize our troops and we’ll kill you. An interesting social experiment proves a Salon.Com writer’s theory: “I had published an essay about the problems of uncritically repeating the slogan ‘Support Our Troops.’  Not everybody was happy with my argument. . . . Suddenly I went from being a troop-hating fag to a jihadist, awash in the new vocabulary of apocalyptic struggle — dhimmitude, swine, Taliban, anti-Semitism, Allah, terrorism, hijab, pedantry, oppressed women — informing the limitless Clash of Civilizations.”  Read Salaita’s original opinion piece.

 

THE FUNNIES

1.  Computer Cam.

2.  Sequestration and foreign policy.

3.  Priorities, priorities.

 

Bagram Air Base Sandbags

Power on Syria, Nigeria’s fight with Islamists, and The Final Rule explained.

The latest debates over Syria as POTUS (and Congress) returns to D.C., Nigerian troops’ hard fight with Islamists, and a review of The Final Rule for hiring Vets,  all in today’s defense headlines.

September 7, 2013

Syria talks raise the dead: Wolfowitz & Rumsfeld

 

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  Navy braces its ships for a hit.  Contributor Marc Selinger reports, “The U.S. Navy will probably have to cut about 25 aircraft and several ships from its planned purchases in the coming year if deep federal spending cuts remain in place . . . The affected aircraft in fiscal year 2014 will likely include helicopters, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and P-8A maritime patrol aircraft . . . . The Navy also could lose such vessels as a Littoral Combat Ship and an Afloat Forward Staging Base, as well as advance procurement for a Virginia-class submarine.”

2.  Put your money where your next big threat will be.  Contributor Charles Simmins reports, “The nations of Africa are increasing their spending on defense. The sum budgeted by these nations is expected to top $20 billion in the next ten years. Both local and multinational firms in the defense industry are rushing to participate in this growth spurt. . . . Islamic terrorism and regional instabilities have continued to grow. African governments recognize that their militaries must be modernized, better trained and better equipped. The increase in prices for minerals and oil of the last several years have left many nations with the cash to invest in their armed forces.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Super Tuesday. Congress returns and the Administration prepares the press. Reuters’ John Whitesides and Richard Cowan report, “Obama’s address to the nation from the White House on Tuesday will be part of a rejuvenated lobbying effort on Syria as Congress returns to Washington next week. A Democratic congressional aide said the administration is planning ‘a full-court press’ aimed at undecided lawmakers. . . . only 23 senators have been willing to go on record in favor of military force, while 17 are against. It will likely take 60 of the Senate’s 100 members to advance the measure to the House of Representatives. In the House, where 218 votes will be required to pass the resolution, only 25 members are on record in support of military action so far, according to the Post, with 106 opposed.”  And AP reports, POTUS taking the plunge while Sen. Al Frank lends his support.

2. U.S. UN rep explains Syria. American Forces Press Service’s Cheryl Pellerin reports, “Speaking to an audience at the Center for American Progress, Ambassador Samantha Power characterized Syria as lying at the heart of a region critical to U.S. security . . . . The Bashar Assad regime, Power said, has stores of chemical weapons that it recently used on a large scale and that the United States can’t allow to fall into terrorists’ hands. The regime also collaborates with Iran and works with thousands of extremist fighters from the militant group Hezbollah.”

3.  Egyptian military attacks Islamists and Al Qaeda in the Sinai. AP’s Ashraf Sweilam reports from el-Arish, Egypt, “Egyptian helicopters and tanks are attacking Islamic militants in villages in the northern Sinai Peninsula. He says ‘dozens’ have been killed or wounded. The Saturday assault came after Egypt deployed a column of armored vehicles and trucks carrying infantry into the region, a militant stronghold, in a major new counterinsurgency offensive . . . . Multiple al-Qaida-inspired militant groups have stepped up attacks against security forces in the Sinai . . . .” Aljazeera reports, using those pesky quotation-mark-fingers, “Egypt’s military sends reinforcements to the Sinai border area to ‘clean’ villages in the area of ‘terrorists.’”

4.  In Pakistan, drone takes out Haqqani network’s Mullah Sangeen Zadran. LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, “Yesterday’s drone strike in the Ghulam Khan area of Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan is reported to have killed Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a senior Haqqani Network leader who is on the US list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists for supporting al Qaeda . . . . Sangeen has long been a supporter of al Qaeda and has encouraged foreign fighters to wage jihad in Afghanistan.” Also, Pakistan releases Taliban to facilitate Afghan peace efforts.

5.  In AFRICOM, Nigerian troops taking on Islamists and Sharia law. Reuters Lanre Ola reports from Maiduguri, Nigeria, “Nigerian soldiers have tracked down and killed 50 members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram in its northeastern stronghold . . . . Army units mounted the operation after suspected Boko Haram fighters killed 20 people in two attacks on Wednesday and Thursday in villages in  northeastern Borno State . . . . Boko Haram, which wants to impose sharia law in northern Nigeria, and other splinter Islamist groups, are the biggest threat to stability in Nigeria, Africa’s top oil exporter.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  $4.3 billion Veterans Health Administration contract awarded. AZCentral.Com reports, “TriWest secured the five-year contract to manage behavioral health and specialty care in Arizona and 27 other states. The company will arrange health care for veterans in rural regions not served by the VA or in communities where the VA cannot accommodate such care. . . . The VA contract means TriWest will ramp up hiring in Phoenix and Washington state, where it plans to open a call center at a yet-to-be-selected location. The company expects most of its 600 to 700 full-time positions will be in Phoenix.” Review TriWest.

2.  The Final Rule is out, “good faith” just wasn’t cutting it.  NationalLawReview.Com explains how they are meant to help Vets: “With the Obama Administration’s recent appointment of Tom Perez as Secretary of Labor, the enactment of these new regulations signals a renewed focus on increasing the numbers of veterans and disabled individuals in the U.S. workforce. . . . the Final Rule largely formalizes recruitment practices that, up until recently, have been considered ‘good faith efforts.’”

 

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  The NSA is tracking you.  Are you tracking you?  Time’s TechLand covers the latest in Activity Trackers that will make lazy people fell not so lazy: “You can buy an inexpensive pedometer to gauge your steps, but a slew of new self-tracking devices are available that do so much more, calculating things such as how many calories you’ve burned or how well you’re sleeping at night. Here’s what the best of the next-gen devices have the offer.”

2.  Straight to the moon. NASA is at it again, [hoax] rocket launch to the moon. USNews.Com reports, “NASA’s newest robotic explorer rocketed into space late Friday in an unprecedented moonshot from Virginia that dazzled sky watchers along the East Coast. . . . Scientists want to learn the composition of the moon’s ever-so-delicate atmosphere and how it might change over time. Another puzzle, dating back decades, is whether dust actually levitates from the lunar surface.”  [That’s $280 million well-spent, I’d say.]

3.  Better than the real thing – a man chooses prosthetics over pain. At Salon.Com, Norbert Nathanson tells his story: “I was relieved that those feet and lower legs that had been the source of life-long pain and humiliation, and a magnet for mindless stares of legions of strangers, were gone. . . . The impact was significant. As I recovered from surgery, tension flowed out of me and relaxation set in. For the first time in my life I was completely at ease.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Impending side-step?  At the G-20, President Obama subtly opened another door as many congressmen get spanked by their constituents: “President Barack Obama hinted Friday that he might not strike Syria if Congress rejects his authorization request. ‘I’m not itching for military action . . . . and if there are good ideas that are worth pursuing, then I’m going to be open to them,’ he told one reporter who asked if he was seeking alternatives to a missile strike.”

2.  The Screw-Up-and-Move-Up. What do we do with a lawyer unfamiliar with the Fourth Amendment?  Make her a federal judge in terrorism court, of course. TheGuardian.Com reports, “Valerie Caproni, the FBI’s top lawyer from 2003 to 2011, is scheduled to receive a vote on Monday in the Senate for a seat on the southern district court of New York. Caproni has come under bipartisan criticism over the years for enabling widespread surveillance later found to be inappropriate or illegal. During her tenure as the FBI’s general counsel, she clashed with Congress and even the FISA surveillance court over the proper scope of the FBI’s surveillance powers. . . . Even before the Guardian’s phone records revelations, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, lawmakers found Caproni to be complicit in surveillance abuses.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  Six reasons to attack Syria. TheDailyBeast.Com contributor Michael Tomasky argues, “What most liberals are passionate about is one thing: opposition to U.S. militarism. That’s what really roils the loins. . . . Here are six consequences of not launching a strike against Syria, all of which could harm small-d democratic hopes in the region and, indeed, potentially increase the carnage.”

2.  “For Obama, a contradiction too many.”  Reuters’ contributor David Rohde argues, “The president should have demanded that Congress be called back from recess immediately. He should also have immediately made a far more personal and passionate case for strikes. But what may doom the president’s effort, in the end, is not his short-term tactics. It is years of contradictory policies and unfulfilled promises by Obama himself.”

3.  The folly of empire?  Unlikely-but-regular contributor to Aljazeera Paul Rosenberg argues, “Attacking Syria is not the same as invading Iraq, we are told. And of course, that’s right. . . . There are two things that attacking Syria and invading Iraq have in common, which US elites utterly ignore. First is the sheer frequency with which the US attacks other countries. Second is the casual disregard for dire and deadly negative consequences, so long as US elites convince themselves their motives are pure. . . . This is what it means to be an empire. The players change endlessly. The folly never does. It only grows darker and more dire over time.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Anticipation of attack is worse . . . .

2.  The real holdup in Congress.

3.  Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

 

IMG_0213

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

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

by Ed Ledford

September 4, 2013

 

Short-life sentence & the de-bearding.

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

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

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

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONTRACT WATCH

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

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

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

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

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

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

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

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

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

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

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

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

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

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

THE FUNNIES

1.  Swift kick in the pants.

2.  Damned red tape.

3.  New axis of evil?

 

COW HILLS - LEDFORD

Syria’s broad effect, Afghan National Police outnumbered, and DEA’s Hemisphere Project

Refugees fleeing Syria threaten stability in neighboring nations, the ANP dwindling in the face of combat losses, and the NSA has nothing on the DEA, all in today’s defense headlines.

by Ed Ledford

September 3, 2013

Diana – Perseverance Incarnate & Ten Things for Tuesday.

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  How (not) to squander your security clearance.  From the vaults, contributor Janet Farley with 7 deadly security sins: “There are a number of ways you could potentially jeopardize possession of your ever-so marketable credential. Let’s count some of the ways, extrapolated from the 2011 annals of industrial security clearance decisions made, shall we?”

2.  Cover letters – first impressions. Also from the vaults and contributor Janet Farley, 5 steps to an effective cover letter: “a cover letter is what introduces your sterling credentials to a potential employer. It is that segue that matches their needs with your qualifications. It is the valuable chance to use your real voice vice resume sentence fragments to pique the interest of the reader.”

 

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

*Israel-U.S. fire missiles in Med: breaking news from AP, among others: “Israel says it has carried out a joint missile test with the U.S. in the Mediterranean Sea amid heightened tensions as Washington weighs sea-launched strikes against Syria.”

1.  Losing in Afghanistan – the Afghan National PoliceTheGuardian.Com reports Gen. Dunford’s fair but dire conclusion: “Afghanistan’s police and army are losing too many men in battle, and may need up to five more years of western support before they can fight independently, the top US and Nato commander in the country has told the Guardian. . . . Dunford admitted that Nato and Afghan commanders are concerned about Afghan casualty rates, which have regularly topped more than 100 dead a week. ‘I view it as serious, and so do all the commanders,’ Dunford said. ‘I’m not assuming that those casualties are sustainable.’”

2.  Syria – diving too deep?  Reuters’ Steve Holland and Thomas Ferraro evaluate the stakes this Tuesday morning: “President Barack Obama’s efforts to persuade the U.S. Congress to back his plan to attack Syria were met with skepticism on Monday from lawmakers in his own Democratic Party who expressed concern the United States would be dragged into a new Middle East conflict.”

3.  Syria – pressure on neighboring countries reaching crisisAP’s Karin Laub and John Heilprin lay out the tides as refugee numbers mount to disastrous proportions: “Antonio Guterres, the head of the Office for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said Syria is hemorrhaging an average of almost 5,000 citizens a day across its borders, many of them with little more than the clothes they are wearing. Nearly 1.8 million refugees have fled in the past 12 months alone, he said. The agency’s special envoy, Angelina Jolie, said ‘some neighboring countries could be brought to the point of collapse’ if the situation keeps deteriorating at its current pace. Most Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.”  See also Aljazeera.Com’s report, “UN: Syrian refugee numbers cross two million.”

4.  Marines heading to West AFRICOM. Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa reports, “An international task force of Marines embarked the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) landing platform dock HNLMS Rotterdam (L800) Aug. 30 as part of a 3-month comprehensive effort to strengthen capabilities with African partner forces in West Africa. The ship and combined security cooperation task force, comprised of U.S., U.K., Spanish and Dutch Marines, will conduct practical application exercises in security techniques and tactics alongside forces from partner nations Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Benin.”

 CONTRACT WATCH

1.  DoD’s clean energy contract race – two front-runnersChicagoBusiness.Com contributor Paul Merrion reports, “With more than a hundred firms in the running, New Generation Power Inc. and Acciona Energy North America Corp. were among 22 solar-power contractors selected . . . by the Army Corps of Engineers, allowing them to compete for contracts with individual bases and other military sites. Congress has mandated that military installations must get 25% of their power from renewable energy by 2025.”

2.  Government contracting in plain EnglishPRWeb.Com covers Government ContactingTips.Com and new recommendations for succeeding in contract competition: “GovernmentContractingTips.com is a website that is devoted to showing small business contractors all the opportunities there are in government contracting. The website’s home page breaks down their new ‘First Steps to Government Contracting’ guide into easy to follow lessons. Each lesson displays all the basic knowledge a contractor should be aware of when entering the federal marketplace.”  Check out GovernmentContractingTips.Com.

 TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  NASA – vision for the futureAviationWeek.Com wakes us up to NASA’s relevance to the future of technology: “So NASA’s unveiling of a new strategy for aeronautics research is a bold and welcome move from a bureaucratic agency that often seems to have lost its sense of direction . . . . The aeronautics reset is based on the fundamental assumption that U.S. leadership in civil aviation will be at risk in as little as 20 years unless the nation acts to keep the pipeline of new technologies flowing. The revitalization plan—spearheaded by the associate administrator for aeronautics, Jaiwon Shin—was inspired by the story of Kodak, which through complacency and lack of vision saw its domination of the photographic film and camera market wiped out by digital imaging and smartphones.”

2.  Terrorism, drugs, . . . the incremental erosion of the Fourth Amendment?  NYTimes.Com contributor Scott Shane covers the latest and previously unreported government data collection project, The Hemisphere Project: “Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Some four billion call records are added to the database every day . . . . the program at least touched on an unresolved Fourth Amendment question: whether mere government possession of huge amounts of private data, rather than its actual use, may trespass on the amendment’s requirement that searches be ‘reasonable.’”  Related, read VentureBeat.Com’s “Have we passed peak surveillance?”

3.  The professional-scale DSLR camera you’ll want to own – and can.  At $399, it’s time to get serious about your photography bent.  Time exposes Sony’s new Alpha 3000 DSLR: “a DSLR that is small, inexpensive and easy for beginners to use, while still being powerful enough for a more experienced photographer . . . .”  [I’m getting one of these.]

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Rhetoric-ing himself into a corner: Obama’s backdoor might just force him to use it. TheDailyBeast.Com’s Michael Tomasky unravels the riddle and concludes, “I think this posture invites an avalanche of no votes. Obama and Kerry should have just used very oblique language suggesting that in the event of a congressional defeat, they’d reassess the situation or something like that. A posture such as that would at least let members of Congress know that their votes here really matter.”

2.  A confession: “’. . . I’m the idiot?’” asks Palin.   With one eye on the White House – and the other spinning counter-clockwise – Sarah Palin offers her Middle East policy.  WashingtonTimes.Com’s Jessica Chasmar writes, “In a Facebook post titled ‘Let Allah Sort It Out,’ former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin condemned President Obama’s decision to get further involved with the ongoing civil war in Syria. ‘So we’re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria? And I’m the idiot?’ Mrs. Palin asked on Friday.  [Incidentally, Palin can see Syria from her back porch.]

 OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  “Striking Syria: Illegal, immoral, and dangerous.”  Aljazeera.Com contributor Phyllis Bennis argues that “whatever Congress may decide, a US military strike against Syria will still be illegal, immoral and dangerous, even reckless in the region and around the world. Congress needs to say no.”

2.  “On Syria: Be Clear, Then Hit Hard.”  Time contributor Walter Russell Mead argues, “What needs to come next is more clarity about what he plans to accomplish in Syria. I don’t ask that the President share his innermost thoughts with the world at this time; I only ask that he develop a clear strategic concept in his own mind. If he has a serious strategy, the rest of the world can watch it unfold; military leaders are under no obligation to telegraph their moves.”

3.  America’s identity is the pointChristian Science Monitor’s Editorial Board argues, “If US lawmakers accept that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons, they too must weigh the balance between affirming America’s identity as a global ideal leader against a humility in knowing the history of America’s war-waging disappointments.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Punishing Assad.

2.  Palin’s Middle East policy.

3.  Politics, as usual.