OpenCDA

April 20, 2017

A Glimmer of Hope?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 12:27 pm

Homeland_Security_Kelly_55629.jpg-360ab_c0-301-4996-3213_s885x516With the election and inauguration of President Donald Trump, there may finally be a glimmer of hope that the federal law enforcement behemoth known as the Department of Homeland Security will either get its stuff together or be broken up into its component sub-agencies.

The glimmer of hope is John F. Kelly.

Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, its sub-agencies have successfully worked hard to become the worst places to work in the federal government.

Among large government agencies, DHS is ranked last among places to work.

Among the responding 305 sub-agencies in the federal government, the bottom three agencies (303-TSA, 304-IA, and 305-USSS), the worst of the worst places to work, reside in DHS.

General Kelly succeeds four political hacks (Ridge, Chertoff, Napolitano, and Johnson) who were selected by equally inept hyperpartisan presidents (Bush and Obama) and confirmed by US Senators with the attention span of fruit flies.

Our glimmer of hope is revealed by his April 18, 2017, speech at George Washington University.  Consider the last few lines of his speech:

Employee Morale

But for too long, the men and women of my Department have been political pawns. They have been asked to do more with less, and less, and less.

In many ways similar to the treatment suffered by law enforcement over the last few years, they are often ridiculed and insulted by public officials, and frequently convicted in the court of public opinion on unfounded allegations testified to by street lawyers and spokespersons.

If lawmakers do not like the laws they’ve passed and we are charged to enforce—then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws. Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines. My people have been discouraged from doing their jobs for nearly a decade, disabled by pointless bureaucracy and political meddling, and suffered disrespect and contempt by public officials who have no idea what it means to serve.

During my confirmation process and in hearings, members of congress, the press and other public officials frequently asked me about the morale problems the Department has experienced over the last few years. My response has simply been –when you discourage, disable, unjustly criticize and default to believing the self-serving accusations of a wrong doer rather than the DHS police official at the point of the action, and focus disrespect on an individual for doing his or her job, what else do you expect?

It stopped on January 20.

My people—the men and women of the Department—do a difficult and at times nearly impossible job in the service of the American people. They deserve our nation’s thanks and respect. They deserve to be proud of the jobs they do.

We are moving in exactly the right direction.

Why? Because the best way to improve morale is to let employees do the jobs they were hired and trained to do, and recognize them for doing it.

Never Apologize

We will never apologize for enforcing and upholding the law.

We will never apologize for carrying out our mission.

We will never apologize for making our country more secure.

We ask for nothing more than respect and your support. We don’t do this for the thank yous—we do this keep America strong, secure, and free.

We live in a dangerous world. Those dangers are increasing, and changing speed and direction every single day.

But every day, we are vigilant. We are prepared. And we will do our jobs.

He sounds like a former Marine who is concerned for his troops’ morale and the national security. He sounds like a leader the troops will follow.

 

March 30, 2017

SSCI Hearings: Russian Influence on the 2016 US Presidential Election

On Thursday, March 30, 2017, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) held an entire day of public hearings in Washington, DC.  The SSCI was looking into the allegations that the Russians had influenced the outcome of the 2016 presidential election which elected Donald F. Trump to be the 45th President of the United States.  The nature of its duty, Congressional oversight of US intelligence activities, results in very few open public hearings.

OpenCdA watched these hearings lasting just over five hours.   Congressional hearings are nearly always predominantly boring speechifying by self-serving elected Congressional representatives.  These two hearings today were not boring, and there was nearly no partisan speechifying.

The Senators on the SSCI were exceptionally well-prepared and asked on-point, insightful questions.  The content of their questions and the perspectives and expertise offered by the witnesses suggested that Congress has finally recognized the ongoing threat that information warfare or information operations presents to the United States.  Senators took these hearings and the information from them very seriously.  We should, too.

OpenCdA urges citizens who are serious about understanding how effectively the Russians use information warfare strategies and tactics to offset a superior kinetic warfare force will find these five hours of hearings remarkably understandable and educational.  The same readers will also better understand just how effectively Russia has manipulated our free press (AKA:  the skews media) to influence public opinion.  Unfortunately, the hearings also revealed in living color just how derelict our elected officials have been since about 1990 in recognizing the existence, let alone the gravity of info war and info ops.

Here are links to video of Thursday’s hearings.

Morning Hearing:  Disinformation:  A Primer in Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns

Afternoon Hearing:  Disinformation:  A Primer in Russian Active Measures and Influence Campaigns

OpenCdA hopes that especially younger readers will take time to watch these hearings.   You need to understand just how your choice of news delivery platform, often social media like Twitter and Facebook and not just the traditional print and broadcast media, is being manipulated to shape the disinformation you read every day.  You will also hear just how easily the Russians turned President Trump’s frequent Tweets against him.

March 29, 2017

In ___ We Trust; All Others We Monitor

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 12:08 pm

In-Obama-We-Trust-Patch-DownsizeI urge you to read this article entitled Obama’s Rule Changes Opened Door for NSA Intercepts of Americans to Reach Political Hands.

Here is a link to Executive Order 12333.  Pay particular attention to Section 2.3, Collection of Information.

Here is the document that Obama approved just before he left office.  It amends E.O. 12333, primarily Section 2.3.  This document expands the number of people who can be given permission to view raw signals intelligence (SIGINT) information.

The result of expanding that list is to make it more difficult to find and prosecute persons who unlawfully and without authorization disseminate SIGINT, some of the most sensitive information the US Intelligence Community handles.   Thus, it is highly probable that sensitive information about political candidates will find its way into the hands of those candidates’ opponents.

OpenCdA has two questions:

(1) Why did our elected representatives in Congress allow this to happen?  (Answer:  Complacency, cowardice, and incompetence)

(2) Why did our supposed news media not cover this subversion of the national security by President Obama as closely as it has covered President Trump’s trips to Mara Lago? (Answer:  Complicity and incompetence)

Lukey Doody & Buffalo Butch

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:06 am

Comparison

When OpenCdA reviewed our local legislators’ voting records on the Idaho Legislature’s House Bill 67 (that’s the ‘repeal the grocery tax’ bill that Governor Otter has indicated he might veto), the monochrome image of the stars of our favorite television program of the 1950’s popped into our small mind.

Striking similarities, aren’t they?

March 25, 2017

Reevaluate the US Secret Service

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:15 am

TSD LogoIf the recent penetration of the White House grounds and the theft of a laptop computer with sensitive security and investigative information are an accurate indication of the present security awareness and readiness of the US Secret Service, then once again a major reevaluation of the organization is needed.

First, the protective mission of the Secret Service needs to be restated with renewed emphasis.  “Gunshot mentality” must be culturally replaced with “Secure environment mentality.”  It was supposed to happen after the Warren Commission report, but complacency dies hard.

Second, the present Secret Service Director must be replaced with someone from outside the Secret Service.  In addition to all of the administrative and management knowledge, skills, and abilities taxpayers would expect in a 21st century chief executive law enforcement officer, the new Director must also have a very strong and extensive experiential background in counterintelligence.  The new Director should come with extensive experience from a counterintelligence component inside the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Defense Department (DoD), or Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).   OpenCdA’s preference would be to select a new Director from the DoD.

The two recent incidents linked above and others that preceded them are clear indicators that some of the more sensitive findings of the September 24, 1964, President’s Commission to Report Upon the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Warren Commission) were not fully culturally embraced by the US Secret Service.  The various Congressional committees examining the recent performance of the US Secret Service needs to look back at all those findings including those still under the seal of secrecy. (more…)

March 13, 2017

What Standard of ‘Evidence’?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 12:39 pm

In-Obama-We-Trust-Patch-DownsizeArizona U.S. Senator John McCain is demanding that President Trump either produce evidence or retract the allegation his telecommunications system at the Trump Tower was ‘wiretapped’ by someone at the direction of former President Obama.

There are at least two Congressional committees which will apparently be including Trump’s allegations of wiretaps in broader investigations.

OpenCdA wonders:   By what standard would the sufficiency and validity of any Trump-produced evidence be judged?  What would be acceptable evidence in the eyes of John McCain, Charles Schumer,  and the other Capitol Hill Clowns?

Our opinion is that the standard for evaluating Trump’s comments before and during the investigations needs to be based on the broader requirement for probable cause rather than the narrower federal rules of evidence.

Probable cause amounts to more than a mere suspicion but less than evidence that would justify a conviction.  Would a reasonable man considering the information available conclude that some of Trump’s or his associates’ wire and oral communications may have been lawfully or unlawfully intercepted?

OpenCdA very strongly suspects that in the eyes and small minds of establishment rabidista partisans among the Clowns, no evidence submitted by President Trump will be sufficient to do anything other than give them an opportunity for more face time on the network news and talk shows. (more…)

March 11, 2017

You’re Fired — No, Really!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 4:20 pm

Preet BhararaIn our OpenCdA post yesterday we expressed hope that President Trump would ask Preet Bharara to remain as the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.   Bharara was fearless, absolutely unimpressed with a suspect’s political office, social position, connections, or wealth.  He had a remarkable record of successfully prosecuting some of the worst of the worst criminals in New York, including several prominent corrupt state legislators and other officials as well as financiers.

Bharara had met with President-elect Trump in November and had reportedly been told by Trump and Attorney General nominee Sessions he would be asked to stay on as the US Attorney.

After refusing to submit his resignation, Bharara was formally fired today at President Trump’s direction by acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente.

Bharara will do just fine on the outside.  In fact, OpenCdA thinks he would make a pretty good federal district court or appeals court judge.   Hopefully that’s what President Trump has in mind for him.

Unfortunately, the real losers are the people in the southern district of New York who had come to trust Bharara and his very capable Assistant US Attorneys to stand up against corrupt public officials, white collar crime predators, and organized crime families.  Bharara’s office was so successful because he attracted high-quality, experienced lawyers to leave often lucrative private practices and enter the public service.

Unlike Main Justice in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York didn’t have any swamp water that needed to be drained.  We can only hope that whoever President Trump nominates to replace Preet Bharara will be able to continue to attract and retain the best AUSAs.

The capable career prosecutors, the AUSAs, need a strong US Attorney to keep the political hacks off their backs.   Preet Bharara did that very effectively.  We hope that’s not why President Trump fired him.

March 10, 2017

You’re Fired!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 4:55 pm

AG SessionsAn article in the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has requested the resignations of the remaining 46 US Attorneys in their respective federal judicial districts.

Of the 93 US Attorneys heading each of the 94 federal judicial districts, 47 of them had already resigned (districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands share a USA).  Each US Attorney is a political appointee who serves at the pleasure of the President.

Idaho’s former US Attorney, Wendy Jo Olson, bailed out on February 25, 2017.  Olson joined the Boise law firm of Stoel Rives LLP.

First Assistant US Attorney Rafael Gonzalez Jr. will serve as the interim US Attorney for the District of Idaho until a permanent replacement is nominated by the President and confirmed by the US Senate.

Some of the US Attorneys may be asked by President Trump to remain.  OpenCdA hopes Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, will be one who is.   In fact, we think it would be fun to watch some of Idaho’s roaches scramble for cover if Bharara were to seek appointment in the District of Idaho.  The reality is Idaho is likely to get some politically-connected local loser who will recuse himself or herself from any case with even a hint of personal political jeopardy and who will be guided not by the law but by certain key political and business figures here.

March 8, 2017

‘Wiretaps’ – Part 2

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 5:04 pm

In Obama We Trust PatchDid someone in the Obama administration either with or contrary to statutory authority order some form of technical interception to acquire information being passed through or stored on telecommunications systems or equipment in the Trump Tower in New York during the time that now-President Trump was Candidate Trump or Nominee Trump?

That was a mouthful.  That may be why President Trump use some variation of the simpler but much broader term ‘wiretap’ in his March 4 Twitter messages.   Unfortunately, ‘wiretap’ means different things to different people.

‘Wiretap’ was romanticized in the radio dramas and movies of the 30’s and since.   It meant using a simple device such as a telephone lineman’s handset (buttset) or an audio amplifier and headphones attached to a telephone line to listen and maybe record the people talking to each other on the line.  Their conversations were analog, not digitized, and there was almost always only one conversation at a time on each line.

As telecommunications technology evolved to include more than analog communications and to pass data in addition to voice audio, the term ‘wiretap’ became less and less accurate, less precise, to describe an array of wire and non-wire audio and non-audio interceptions, usually nonconsensual.    We’d go so far as to say that in 2017, it has become too imprecise to have much meaning at all in either law or technical surveillance.

OpenCdA wishes that President Trump’s staff (especially Press Secretary Sean Spicer), the Capitol Hill Clowns , and the remarkably inept skews media had directly asked President Trump what he meant when he accused former President Obama of directing a  ‘wiretap’ on his phone lines at the Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Apparently, they didn’t ask or he chose not to explain what he meant.

March 6, 2017

‘Wiretaps’

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 5:17 pm

In Obama We Trust Patch

 

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