February 16, 2017
February 15, 2017
President Trump, like many other people including former President Obama, members of Congress, and the supposedly educated but woefully ignorant skews media, persist in referring to the unauthorized disclosure of national security information as “leaks” or “leaking.” Using those terms carelessly trivialize a very serious criminal act.
The Memorial Wall at NSA Headquarters identify 176 of our fellow citizens who have died protecting the integrity of signals intelligence or the sources and methods used to gather it so that the rest of us may live our lives comfortably and safely.
OpenCdA urges our three or four readers to read the February 14, 2017, column by Bloomberg View writer Eli Lake. Mr. Lake titled his column “The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn” . Please pay particular attention to the last paragraphs beginning at paragraph 7 which reads:
Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.
General Michael Flynn was asked to resign as President Trump’s national security adviser because the partial transcript of an intercepted telephone conversation between General Flynn and the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was provided to persons not authorized to reveal its contents to anyone else. General Flynn was not even permitted to see the transcript, so he could hardly affirm or refute its accuracy and completeness.
Yet some people who had lawful access to the transcript decided that using the information for political expediency was more important than national security. Those people who unlawfully revealed partial details of the Flynn-Kislyak conversation for personal and political gain betrayed more than the public trust; they dishonored the memories of all those who have served honorably in service to the United States.
OpenCdA hopes that Attorney General Sessions and his Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security have already convened a federal grand jury under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This unauthorized release of extremely sensitive national security signals intelligence must be investigated for the purpose of pursuing criminal prosecutions against all violators including elected and appointed officials as well as members of the skews media.
Given the limited distribution of signals intelligence (telecommunications) interceptions permitted by law and the stringent documentation associated with access to each interception (see my July 14, 2016, post “It’s a Bigot List“), we hope that every person who was given unauthorized access will be subpoenaed and compelled to give grand jury testimony under oath. It will not be a complicated investigation.
Regardless, we hope that from the resignation of General Michael Flynn, arrogant politicians and ignorant skews media members as well as private citizens will better appreciate the importance of safeguarding national security information.
We are not a police state. Yet.
February 11, 2017
In their latest efforts to undermine and subvert the presidency of Donald Trump, some national skews media are now asserting that after Trump’s election on November 8, 2016, but before his inauguration on January 20, 2017, his selected National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may have violated the Logan Act. Bezos’ Bozos at the Washington Post allege that Flynn “…privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office…”.
Here is the Congressional Research Service’s March 11, 2015, report entitled Conducting Foreign Relations Without Authority: The Logan Act. It explains what the Logan Act is and how it came to be.
OpenCdA suggests that if the skews media are seriously interested in pursuing allegations that Flynn violated the Logan Act, they need to also investigate with equal enthusiasm the conduct of US Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) in January 2017.
The issue is whether her supposedly spontaneous meeting in Syria with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been lawfully authorized and had unlawfully interfered in US foreign relations.
The media might want to determine exactly who paid for Representative Gabbard’s trip to Syria.
The media might also want to ask the State Department which passport Representative Gabbard used for the trip. Did she travel on a diplomatic passport, an official passport, or a regular passport?
As CRS noted in its report, there has never been a criminal prosecution for an alleged violation of the Logan Act. OpenCdA is pretty sure there won’t be one this time, either.
January 27, 2017
After reading a new non-fiction book iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age by newspaperman Bill Gertz, OpenCdA wonders if when it comes to information warfare awareness, President Trump and some of his designated appointees aren’t light years ahead of many of the Clinton-Bush-Obama straphangers that are now finding themselves being spun off the Washington merry-go-round.
Trump and his Tweeter machine are driving the national skews media nuts with his conflicting and ambiguous answers to their failing attempts at gotcha questions. It was a short drive for the rabidista Hillary Clinton worshippers at ABC, CNN, MSNBC, and of course Bezos’ Bozos at the Washington Past.
Gertz’s book is a remarkably readable account of the information war to which the United States has been subjected since after World War II. His book astutely shows how several recent US presidents including Ford, Carter, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama haven’t just been ignorant of information warfare; some of them were seemingly in denial of its existence. Reagan may have had the best understanding of what the Soviets were doing with it to undermine our national security.
President Trump not only seems to get it, but he also seems to be using it himself to keep the skews media and our international adversaries confounded.
That’s not to suggest that he doesn’t take the existence and continuing threat of information warfare seriously. Clearly, he does. In fact, he may take it more seriously and have a more intuitive understanding of it than any of his predecessors.
Gertz’s book is fascinating reading. It’s no doubt just coincidental that not long after comp’d copies were delivered to Foggy Bottom, Ft. Fumble, Langley, JB Anacostia-Bolling, and Ft. Meade, Rolaids and Prevacid were added to the GSA procurement schedule.
January 25, 2017
We heard it from candidate, then nominee, then President-elect Trump throughout his candidacy: “Drain the swamp!” But in the surreal world of Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac, what does it really mean? Does the new President hate all “government” employees? What will the remnants of the swamp look like when President Trump pulls the drain plug?
It will probably look like waterlogged mahogany furniture and even emptier $1000 suits than it has for decades. It is far less likely to look like unfilled JCPenney slacks and shirts and ties or Ross skirts, slacks and blouses. Most of the folks whose desks and chairs are gray painted sheet metal rather than mahogany, the folks at GS/GM-15 and below, are likely to be high and dry and still have jobs.
To the aforementioned occupants of the mahogany furniture: Welcome to the whirlpool.
Some Senior Executive Service officials are likely to be retained in the SES, some will be effectively demoted (though that’s not what it’s called in the SES).
Presidential appointees, the folks who “…serve at the pleasure of the President…,” should have already submitted their resignations. It is customary for appointees to offer to resign when the President who appointed them leaves office.
Some Obama appointees may be reappointed by President Trump. For example, President Trump said during the campaign that he intended to reappoint Preet Bharara to be the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Bharara had been appointed to that position in 2009 by President Obama, and he has administered that office without evidence of partisan bias. That is to say, Bharara has gone after many corrupt public officials without any apparent deference to the offender’s party affiliation.
The US Department of Justice Headquarters, often shortened to Main Justice, is one of the large swamps with subsidiary swamps in many of the federal judicial districts. Until the Senate gets around to confirming Senator Sessions to be the new US Attorney General, here is a list of the designates who will continue to oversee Main Justice.
The delay by the US Senate to confirm Sessions will result in some legal actions being delayed since the US Attorneys in each of the federal judicial districts needs to know what the new boss at Main Justice wants before making representations to the federal courts on his behalf.
Other federal agencies have likely filed similar memoranda which identify component heads. It is done for continuity of government operations.
January 13, 2017
The Coeur d’Alene Press published an article on Thursday, January 12th, headlined Nault’s Family Wants Answers. The article’s lead read, “A year and half after a popular Coeur d’Alene High baseball player drowned in Lake Coeur d’Alene, his mother and sister still don’t know exactly what happened.”
Unfortunately, it was a typical Press “emotion” piece, an article more focused on telling the public how the Nault family feels rather than giving the Nault family or us substantive information. It’s information the public needs to evaluate how well or how poorly the Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger and the Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh are performing their official duties.
The Nault family is absolutely entitled to know the answers to the questions Mr. James posed in the article.
So is the public. There is a valid public interest in determining if Reggie Nault’s death was thoroughly and competently investigated and if all those who contributed materially to his death were prosecuted. There is certainly a valid public interest in knowing if official favoritism was shown toward some who should have been prosecuted for incidental crimes (e.g., Destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence) but were not.
The county sheriff and the county prosecutor are elected officials. The questions posed by the Nault family in Thursday’s article and the questions OpenCdA raised in our earlier posts in 2015 and 2016 are still valid. It appears they’re also still unanswered. The results of the Nault death investigation and any investigations into the related conduct of involved adults and juveniles will allow the public to better evaluate the official performance of elected officials including the sheriff, the prosecutor, and judges.
Certainly the Nault family’s feelings are important. OpenCdA gives attorney Leland James respectful credit for pushing the feckless Coeur d’Alene Press to perform as a newspaper rather than the image protector of elected officials.
January 10, 2017
In its stories on January 5, 2017, and also on January 10, 2017, The Washington Free Beacon for-profit online newspaper has reported that “Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser who led the administration’s efforts to mislead Congress about the terms of the Iran nuclear agreement, is under [Congressional] scrutiny in the wake of disclosures he was declined interim clearance status by the FBI in 2008 …”
Under the circumstances, Congress is properly trying to determine if Rhodes was cleared by the FBI to receive access to national security information. Specifically, Congress wants to know if Rhodes had been denied an interim security clearance.
Being denied a security clearance after an appropriate background investigation has been completed and adjudicated is different from simply not applying for the security clearance. Clearances are generally denied when the applicant is unsuitable to hold the clearance. (more…)
January 7, 2017
On January 6, 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released its unclassified background report entitled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”.
The (U) background report makes it very clear that the Russian Federation government at the direction of President Vladimir Putin mounted an information campaign intended to influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election in the United States.
That revelation has provided the breathless headlines for many skewspaper articles and broadcast skews blather which would have us conclude that this has never happened before and that the United States of America has never and would never engage in anything so nefarious as to try and influence who controls other nations’ governments. Both conclusions are wrong.
Long before the Soviet Union dissolved, it had been using influence campaigns to try and influence western elections. It hasn’t stopped. If the incoming cast of Republican clowns think that Putin and his intelligence services (SVR, FSB, GRU) haven’t been laying the groundwork to disrupt the Trump administration using similar and even more aggressive tactics, then those Republicans need to re-read the report and be drug tested regularly. (It’s not only the Russians. The People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and several of our allies have the ability and very probably the will to do much worse.)
What the Russians did in the 2016 election campaign was attack the vulnerabilities of several electronic storage media to gather information for their influence campaign. Those vulnerabilities were known or should have been known to the systems’ administrators. For the past eight years efforts by the Intelligence Community to beef up counterintelligence (CI), including offensive CI operations, were largely rebuffed by President Obama.
The report offers no evidence the Russians successfully manipulated votes via cyberattacks.
As for any misplaced belief that the United States would never do unto someone else what the Russians did unto us, ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the efforts by President Obama and his henchmen at State Department to get Netanyahu ousted in 2015. Go back even further to the 1973 support by President Richard Nixon for the Chilean coup ousting President Salvador Allende and to the numerous efforts under President John F. Kennedy to remove and even kill Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro.
The links in the first paragraph provide a pretty good primer for those wanting to know more about how the Intelligence Community assesses threats and how it provides information to decision makers. It also hints at what worked in preventing the Russians from doing what our skews media wish had happened: actually manipulating the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.
December 8, 2016
On June 20, 1994, Dean A. Mellberg, a former US Air Force airman returned to Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, with a rifle. He specifically targeted Major Thomas Brigham, M.D., and Captain Alan Landon, Ph.D. After entering the base hospital and killing his intended targets, Mellberg continued to shoot and kill everyone he could including eight year old Christin McCarron. Mellberg’s mass murder attack was stopped only when he was shot and killed by Senior Airman Andy Brown, a security police officer assigned to the 92nd Security Police Squadron at Fairchild.
Then on June 24, 1994, a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress crashed at Fairchild Air Force Base while rehearsing maneuvers for an annual air show. The B-52 was piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Arthur “Bud” Holland. The crash killed Holland and three other crew members.
Aside from geographic coincidence, the two incidents had something else in common: There had been many credible warnings that both Dean Mellberg and Bud Holland represented a serious, likely life-threatening danger to their fellow airmen. The warnings had gone unheeded.
In his just-released book Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base, (WU Press, Spokane, Washington, (c)2016 Andy Brown, ISBN 978-0-9978634-0-6,) author Andy Brown explains the unheeded warnings in a remarkably well-researched and very readable book. If his book stopped there, it would be worth reading by every supervisor at every level of public service and private industry. But Mr. Brown went further and revealed the personal challenges he faced in his own journey from Trauma to Recovery. His revelation elevates the importance of his book to an entirely new level.
Andy Brown’s book has not received much national attention. It should. Warnings like the ones unheeded at Fairchild Air Force Base leading up to the events of June 1994 are not restricted to any particular institution or by geographic location.
Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base is available from Amazon.com. It is also available from the Hayden Branch of the Community Library Network of Kootenai and Shoshone Counties in Idaho.
Author Andy Brown is scheduled to appear on Saturday, December 10, 2016, from noon until 2 p.m. at a book signing at Center Target Sports, 3295 E. Mullan Avenue, Post Falls, ID 83854.
November 26, 2016
On September 22, 2016, former North Idaho College (NIC) student Reina Rodriguez filed a federal lawsuit (District of Idaho case number 2:16-cv-430) in Boise. The initial Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial alleges that while she was a student at NIC in 2013, Ms. Rodriguez “… had been gang raped by three male students at an off-campus event.” It further alleges that NIC failed to respond to her initial reports in compliance with various requirements of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 USC § 1681(a), commonly referred to as “Title IX”.
Both skews paper reports stated the alleged rape had been investigated by the Coeur d’Alene Police Department and that the Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney had declined to prosecute. That misses the point.
The validity of Ms. Rodriguez’s federal Title IX lawsuit is not dependent on the filing of any state criminal charges or even on her making a complaint to law enforcement. (more…)