Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Russia Exploits US Weakness in Foreign Policy | Russia Deploying Air Force Contingent to Syria

Today's Headlines and Commentary 

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We start today in Syria, where Islamic State forces have moved closer into central Damascus, displacing other Syrian rebels in their wake. According to the AFP, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that “this is the closest IS has ever been to the heart of Damascus.” A government military official confirmed the news, and celebrated the in-fighting among rebels group’s in the country’s capital.
Away from the country’s political heartland, the United Nations has used satellite imagery to confirmthat ISIS militants have indeed destroyed the Temple of Baal in the ancient city of Palmyra. The temple building, which was nearly 2,000 years old, was the best preserved of the ruins at the site. Last week ISIS militants also destroyed another ancient building, the Temple of Baalshamin. Maamoun Abdulkarim, the director of Syria’s antiquities department, told New York Times, this is “a cultural battle, and everybody should participate in defending this heritage, this civilization.” The Washington Post provides a map of 9 more heritage sites in Iraq and Syria that are in danger of falling to the Islamic State.
The Long War Journal brings us evidence of the dueling brutality of the Islamic State and the Iranian-backed Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces. This time, ISIS militants in Anbar province have released a grisly execution video in which they burn alive four men accused of "spying." The video is clearly meant to mirror another snuff film released just days ago by the Shiite militias, showing a well-known commander, Abu Azrael (also called the “Angel of Death”), killing a Sunni man in similar fashion.  
The new image of violence by the Popular Mobilization Forces is just one more indicator of the complications the United States faces in attempting to combat the Islamic State. With so few credible partners on the ground, it has resorted to de facto alliances with groups that have questionable records on human rights, to put it lightly.  
Yet Shane Harris and Nancy A. Youssef of the Daily Beast report that retired Army general and former CIA Director David Petraeus suggests adding one more---al Qaeda. According to anonymous sources in the goverment, the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has urged U.S. officials to “consider using so-called moderate members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front to fight ISIS in Syria.” The move, designed to replicate the Anbar Awakening in Iraq, would be extremely controversial, and as Harris and Youssef note, incredibly ironic considering the United States began its war fourteen years in Afghanistan fighting against al Qaeda.
And while the United States is still floundering for a strategy, the United Kingdom just released its own public strategy to combat the Islamic State. Read that here.
Finally, don’t miss Will McCants’s profile of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, which explores “how an introvert with a passion for religion and soccer” became the leader of the world’s most successful and violent insurgency.
A Turkish court has authorized the arrest of three journalists associated with Vice News on terrorism-related charges. The Wall Street Journal reports that the reporters were covering the ongoing Kurdish insurgency in the country’s southeast. For its part, Vice released a statement condemning the arrests and calling the charges “baseless and alarmingly false.” At the moment, it is unclear exactly what group the three reporters are charged with assisting, with some reports suggesting they were members of the PKK while others charged that they were supporters of ISIS.
In Yemen, two leaders of a loyalist militia were killed by unidentified gunman in the city of Aden on Monday. The two men, Rasheed Khaled Saif and Hamidi al Shutairi, were military leaders of the Popular Southern Resistance, a militant group backed by Saudi Arabia that helped fight the siege of Aden by Houthi rebels. Reuters has more on the ongoing chaos inside the country.
Al Monitor reports that King Salman of Saudi Arabia plans to push the White House to combat Iranian “mischief” as part of his official visit to Washington this week. Riyadh has signalled that it seeks support in managing regional conflicts in Yemen and Syria, as well as a tougher inspection regime and assurances that the United States will not hesitate to invoke snapback sanctions. The potential for a regional missile defense shield is also likely to be on the agenda.
In what is surely an inconveniently timed announcement for the Obama administration, Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akhbar Salehi signalled yesterday that his country will put together a 15-year plan to expand its nuclear capabilities with the goal of achieving commercialization of atomic capabilities as well as the construction of two more nuclear power plants. The Times of Israel has more.
Over the weekend, however, Iranian state media highlighted that Iranian citizens had painted over “Death to America” graffiti on the walls of what used to be the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. TheJerusalem Post wonders if the event signalled the beginning of a “new era.” The nuclear deal is supported by a majority of Iranians, many of whom hope for greater diplomatic and economic relations between Iran and the United States.  
Finally, take a few moments to read this teaser on the “U.S. Commandos’ Shadow War Against Iran,”from Sean Naylor’s new book Relentless Strike: The Secret History of Joint Special Operations Command.
An Israeli raid in the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin turned into an armed confrontation on Tuesday night, as Israeli soldiers clashed for hours with Palestinian gunmen. The Times writes that the clash was the most serious violence in the area in at least 18 months. 
Al Shabaab militants in Somalia attacked an African Union base early this morning, driving a car bomb into the base as gunmen dashed inside. Residents in the area said that dozens of soldiers had been killed, although ANISOM disputed these numbers, saying the base remained under its control.
Militants from Boko Haram have killed nearly 80 people in three separate village attacks in recent days, reports Al Jazeera. One attack occurred in Baanu village during a meeting with the parents of the 219 girls abducted last year. The girls have now been held by Boko Haram for over 500 days.
A suicide bomber in Pakistan’s northwest tribal region killed at least four people and wounded dozens more in an attack on Tuesday, Reuters shares. Both the Pakistani Taliban and the militant group Lashkar-e-Islam claimed responsibility for the attack.
Following pressure from U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice to clamp down on militants in the country, Pakistan’s national security adviser denied that the Haqqani Network, a key insurgent group in Afghanistan, is using his country as a base. According the Islamabad, 80 to 90 percent of the network’s “capacity” is in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, ToloNews reports that the Afghanistan National Security Directorate has arrested 30 militants associated with the Haqqani Network in relation to a recent attack in Kabul.
As China prepares for an enormous military parade to honor the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Bloomberg reports that Beijing plans to announce a major overhaul of its armed forces, attempting to restructure it along the lines of a U.S.-style joint command over the next three decades.According to those familiar with the plan, it aims to shift China away from a land-based military with regional commands and towards a force structure that is capable of projecting force far from its coast.
The BBC shares that authorities in Bangkok have arrested a second foreign suspect in connection with the deadly bombing of a Buddhist shrine in August that killed 20 people. According to Thai police, the suspect carried a Chinese passport that identified him as Yusufu Mierali, 25, from Xinjiang province. While much of the information about the suspect remains unconfirmed, the information could shed some light on the motive behind the bombing---Thailand repatriated 100 Uighur Muslims from Xinjiang back to China in July of this year. The BBC notes that Thai police have issued 7 arrest warrants in recent days, suggesting that the attack could have been carried out by a more extensive network than previously thought.
In Ukraine, one officer was killed and more than 100 injured when a grenade exploded during a clash between police in Kiev and nationalist protesters who oppose measures to give greater powers to separatists in the eastern part of the country. Inside the country’s parliament, the measure won preliminary approval, with 265 of the 450 member parliament supporting it; however, the bill will ultimately need 300 votes in order to amend the constitution. Opposition parties have called the bill “capitulation to the Kremlin” and vowed its final defeat regardless of the implications for the ongoing peace talks.
Another day, another leak that the United States is weighing potential sanctions against another country for cyber attacks. This time, the Obama administration is “considering sanctions against both Russian and Chinese individuals and companies” for attacks targeting U.S. commercial targets. Yet Reuters confirms that no “final decision has been made,” stressing that new sanctions could further strain relations with Russia and “cast a pall” over Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit in September.  
As the Obama administration weighs its response, Newsweek shares that China has allegedly hacked the computer system of Marion Bowman, a former FBI lawyer and counterintelligence official.Bowman serves as the chairman of the board of directors of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.
William C. Bradford, the West Point professor behind a controversial recent national security law journal article, has resigned. The news comes after the journal behind its publication denounced the piece and on the heels of a Guardian report that showed he had inflated his academic credentials. The Atlantic has an overview of the article, which argued that U.S. legal scholars are assisting radical Islamists and are legally targetable under the laws of war.  Among the target list? Academics likeLawfare’s Bobby Chesney and Gabriella Blum, Ryan Goodman of Just Security, and Michael Walzer of Princeton, who---if you did not know---are all wielding their expertise in “the service of Islamists seeking to destroy Western Civilization and re-create the Caliphate.” Who knew?
ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare
Ben cleared up the “standing” confusion rampant in media reports in Obama v. Klayman.
linked to the final FISC order authorizing the extensions of the NSA’s collection of bulk telephony metadata under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
Daniel Reisner continued his series reflecting on the UN Commission of Inquiry Gaza Report, this time exploring the target audience of the report.
Don’t know much about Wu Tien Lu-Shou v. United States? Eugene Kontorovick explains what the case means for the political question doctrine to non-traditional military operations such as anti-piracy.
Finally, Jack shared his thoughts on the “harmful public hand-wringing on possible sanctions against China for cyber theft.”
Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us onTwitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.
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Russia Exploits US Weakness in Foreign Policy

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By John Ubaldi
Contributor, In Homeland Security
With all of the attention focused on ISIS and the Iran nuclear agreement, missing from the foreign policy debate, and something which needs to be discussed is this: Has Russia been exploiting the weakness in U.S. foreign policy?
President Obama assumed the presidency in 2009, with one goal in mind, to repudiate the go it alone and unilateralism of the Bush administration’s foreign policy approach, especially after the terror attack on September 11, 2001.
Editor of Foreign Affairs, Gideon Rose writes, the Obama administration came into office determined to reverse what it saw as the Bush administration’s mistakes, to “rebalance our long-term priorities so that we successfully move beyond today’s wars, and focus our attention and resources on a broader set of countries and challenges,” as the administration’s initial National Security Strategy put it.
Foreign affairs columnist for the Wall Street Journal countered the assessment by Rose in Foreign Affairs that every president should be judged on a few fundamentals—his ability to deliver what he promised, weaken the country’s foes and strengthen its friends, elaborate a concept of the American interest that is persuasive and true, and pass on a world heading in the right direction. Obama rates well on none of these.
This brings us back to the original question, has Russia exploited the weakness of U.S. foreign policy?
This question needs to be addressed, because in 2016 the United States will be electing a different president with a different vision for the nation, and the same foreign policy challenges will still remain.
Again, the question needs to be addressed, has Russia exploited U.S. weakness in foreign policy?
One only has to review recent events in how Russian President Vladimir Putin views the United States and President Obama.
First, Putin was emboldened by the minimal response of the United States to the recent decree by Russia this month to deliver S-300 anti-missiles to the Iranian regime. The president’s response was tepid and showed little concern, except he stated it technically wasn’t illegal and “frankly surprised” Russia waited this long.
The second aspect was the Obama administration’s overturning of the conventional weapons and ballistic-missile embargoes against Iran, which Russia readily agreed to during the last minute nuclear agreement negotiations.
The main segment that Russia views as American weakness was during Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and intervention in Ukraine. At first, President Obama sent a signal to Russia that “Further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world.”
The president continued, “The international community will continue to stand together to oppose any violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, and continued Russia military intervention in Ukraine will only deepen Russia’s diplomatic isolation and exact a greater toll on the Russia economy.”
A year in half later Russia still occupies the Crimea and is deeply involved in the Ukraine. Even after Russia signed the Minsk ceasefire agreement last February, Russian forces still continue to stream across the border with little resistance from the United States.
Even before the Ukrainian crisis boiled over, the United States looked feckless in its handling of the Syrian crisis in September 2013, with which the president issued a redline with regard to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, then failed to follow through when it was breached.
Weakness by the U.S. during this crisis, and subsequent actions by the U.S., brought Russia back into the Middle East politics for the first time since the mid-1970s, especially as it relates to the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia now acts with impunity, as Saudi Arabia is looking to buy Russian made weapons, and other nations throughout the region are questioning the reliability of the United States.
In June 2014, Kori Schake wrote an article in Foreign Policy magazine regarding how our allies view the U.S. foreign policy, that the Obama administration has achieved a landmark heretofore considered impossible: they are making America’s allies homesick for the administration of George W. Bush.
Schake continues that Poland’s foreign minister was caught on tape earlier this year disparaging the United States. Radek Sikorski bitterly said Warsaw’s ties to Washington were “worthless,” then followed it up with some even saltier language.
A year later the same view is still held of U.S. foreign policy, which is that our enemies do not fear us, and our allies do not trust the resolve of the United States
With the 2016 presidential election in full swing, what are the foreign policy visions of both Republican and Democratic candidates? Maybe it’s time to ask that question now, as all these problems will still be there, with solutions growing more difficult with time.


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NATO activates six command units on eastern flank with Russia

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NATO Secret­ary Genera­l Jens Stolte­nberg will attend ceremo­nies on Thursd­ay formal­ly inaugu­rating the string of units
A file photo of NATO's chief Jens Stoltenberg. PHOTO: AFP
A file photo of NATO's chief Jens Stoltenberg. PHOTO: AFP
NATO on Tuesday activated command units in six central and eastern European members to boost defence amid regional tensions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Lithuania’s defence ministry said.
“NATO today officially activated NATO force integration units in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania,” ministry spokeswoman Asta Galdikaite told AFP.
The Baltic nation’s foreign minister Linas Linkevicius said the move was “a clear sign that NATO takes it’s commitments very seriously”.
“It is a clear message both to allies and, of course, opponents who have recently increased the tensions,” the minister told AFP, without directly naming Russia.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will attend ceremonies in Vilnius Thursday formally inaugurating the string of units, an alliance statement said.
The six multinational units with around 40 officers each were set up to facilitate the deployment of the newly forged NATO rapid reaction force and coordinate military drills.
It is the latest NATO move to boost defences in the eastern flank since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine last year.
NATO has increased the number of military exercises, deployed planes and ships while the US pledged to keep heavy weapons in the region that lay behind the Iron Curtain a quarter of a century ago.
Latvia confirmed Tuesday that two US Army Predator surveillance drones and 70 airmen had deployed to its Lielvarde Air Base for a training mission.
“They are here… they will be staying for two weeks for training purposes — it is not a permanent deployment,” Latvian Defence Ministry spokesperson Anete Gneze told AFP.
Intelligence training will involve two intelligence officers from Poland and each of the Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
The moves come less than two weeks after NATO opened a new Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in the Latvian capital, Riga.
Though officials have been at pains not to describe it as a counter-propaganda centre, part of its brief is to analyse aggressive messages emanating from media operated by Russia.
The three Baltic states and Poland have also repeatedly called for a permanent NATO presence to deter Russia but the Western alliance has so far stuck to back-to-back troop rotations.
Critics contend that permanent military bases could breach a 1997 agreement with Russia and trigger an arms race as Moscow accuses NATO of closing in on Russia’s borders.
Linkevicius insisted Russian military exercises have recently been much larger than NATO drills.
“We’ve repeatedly said our steps are not directed against anybody. We are only meeting the commitments to secure NATO countries and citizens,” he said.
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Russia Deploying Air Force Contingent to Syria

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Russian MIG-29 plane performs a flight during a celebration marking the Russian air force's 100th anniversary in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, Russia
Russian MIG-29 plane performs a flight during a celebration marking the Russian air force's 100th anniversary in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, Russia / AP
JERUSALEM—Russia has begun to deploy an air force contingent to Syria in order to undertake air attacks against the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) and other Islamic groups battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, according to the Israeli news site, Ynet.
Citing western diplomatic sources, Ynet reported Tuesday that an advance Russian party has already arrived in Syria and will be followed in the coming weeks by thousands of military personnel, including members of an “aerial protection division.” This presumably is a force to protect the air contingent, which is to include fighter jets and attack helicopters, from ground attack. The Russians will reportedly be making use of an existing Syrian air force base in the Damascus area.
The report was written by the news site’s military correspondent, Alex Fishman, who has a reputation for reliability.
The United States and allies began air strikes against IS a year ago. Last month American warplanes, which had been launching from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf and from Gulf states, began operating from an airbase in Turkey. Should the report of direct Russian intervention prove true, coordination between the Russians and Americans would be mandatory. Until now, wrote Fishman, there has been no reaction from Washington to the Russian move although the Obama administration is well aware of it.
“The Russians do not harbor offensive intentions towards Israel or other sovereign states in the area,” he wrote. “Their main stated goal is batting ISIS and preserving Assad’s rule.”  Moscow fears the spread of the Islamic State’s influence in the former Islamic Soviet Republics unless it is stopped in the Middle East. For Iran too, halting the group’s advance is its most important immediate aim—important enough to permit cooperation with the ‘Big Satan”, Washington.
Although Israel has not undertaken direct strikes against the Assad regime aimed at unseating it, it has periodically launched air strikes against missiles and other advanced armaments being transshipped through Syria by Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon. This, theoretically at least, raises the possibility of Russian and Israeli aircraft coming into contact unless an accommodation between them is reached beforehand. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, a number of Soviet lives were lost during Israeli raids in Damascus and Syrian ports. The two countries did not have diplomatic relations at the time. There are at present sound diplomatic relations between them.
The Russian air effort will be focused on Islamic targets in Syria. It is not clear whether the aircraft will operate over Iraq. The reported visit to Moscow last month of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the al-Quds force, which operates outside Iranian territory, is believed to have included talks about Russian air intervention in Syria.
Informal coordination is also underway between the United States and Iran over the battle against IS in Iraq. Washington regards Iran as a central player in the struggle against the radical Islamic group.
The Ynet report said the Russians will also operate against “rebel-aligned targets” within Syria. Although all nations active in Syria and Iraq oppose IS, many support rebel groups, including the United States and other Western and Arab states. This would be a potentially explosive issue if not headed off quickly.
While Iran and Russia are interested in preserving Assad in place, each for its own reasons, most nations attacking IS are opposed to the Damascus regime. It is seen as responsible for the Syrian civil war, which has led to more than 200,000 deaths and the uprooting of millions. Throughout this period, the Russians have sent a vessel to Syria every week carrying military supplies and Tehran has been airlifting military supplies to Damascus airport. Arab media reports that the Russians are planning to double their shipments. However, with the Syrian army losing key ground to rebel forces and losing personnel through desertion and in battle it is questionable if these efforts will succeed in propping up the regime.
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D.C. crimefighter takes over Detroit’s FBI office

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David Gelios(Photo: Kern County Law Enforcement Foundation)
Detroit — A veteran crime fighter from Washington, D.C., was named Tuesday the new head of the FBI office in Detroit, the bureau’s fifth leader in the last three years.
David Gelios, 53, takes over an FBI office that has seen continued turnover and, last month, drawn criticism from Muslim leaders after The Detroit News revealed agents were flying secret surveillance flights over Dearborn and Metro Detroit.
The office also has yet to solve arguably its most high-profile case: the March shooting of U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg.
Berg was wounded March 5 in a shooting outside his Detroit home near Seven Mile and Livernois.
Two men, believed to be aged 18-25, demanded to be let inside Berg's house as he was collecting his trash cans. When he refused, he was shot. His wife and 16-year-old son were home at the time. The two fled in a dark-colored sedan, possibly a Dodge Charger, according to the FBI.
Berg underwent surgeries and was undergoing physical therapy following the shooting.
A $50,000 reward is being offered. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at (313) 965-2323 (select 0), the U.S. Marshals Service at (313) 234-5600, or Detroit Police Department at (313) 267-4600.
Gelios is an Ohio native who has served in Kentucky, California, Connecticut, Alaska and Washington, D.C.
Most recently, he oversaw FBI field office inspections, national program reviews and agent-involved shooting investigations.
A trained crisis negotiator and investigator who has worked on complex financial and violent crime cases, Gelios replaces Paul Abbate, who was named last month assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office.
<a href="mailto:rsnell@detroitnews.com">rsnell@detroitnews.com</a>
(313) 222-2028
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Russia gearing up to be first world power to insert ground forces into Syria

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Despite strong denials from Moscow, Russian airborne troops are preparing to land in Syria to fight Islamic State forces. The surprise attack on Monday, Aug. 31, by ISIS forces on the Qadam district of southern Damascus, in which they took over parts of the district - and brought ISIS forces the closest that any Syrian anti-Assad group has ever been to the center of the Syrian capital - is expected to accelerate the Russian military intervention.
Moscow is certainly not ready to endanger the position of President Bashar Assad or his rule in Damascus, and views it as a red line that cannot be crossed. If Russia intervenes militarily in this way, Russia will be the first country from outside the Middle East to send ground forces into the Syrian civil war.    
debkafile’s military sources report that discussions by the Russo-Syrian Military Commission, which was established last month in Moscow to coordinate the intervention, accelerated during the last few days.
Our intelligence sources point out that the concerted activities of the commission are taking place amid the nearly complete paralysis of the US Central Command-Forward-Jordan (CCFJ), where operations against the rebels in southern Syria, including those holding positions across from Israel’s Golan, are coordinated. Officers from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel are attached to the CCFJ.  
Most of the operations of the CCFJ have been halted due to a conflict that erupted between the Syrian rebels and the U.S. Central Command, CENTCOM. The US military is opposed to the rebels cooperating with Al-Qaeda-linked groups, such as the Al-Nusra front, while the rebels claim that this cannot be avoided fir they are to defeat the forces of Bashar Assad and Hizballah.
The paralysis of the CCFJ is spurring the Russians to try to show that their “central command” for Syria is operating without any difficulties.
In recent weeks, the Russians have taken four military steps related to Syria:      
1. On Aug. 18, six of Russia’s advanced MIG-31 Foxhound interceptor aircraft landed at the Syrian Air Force’s Mezze Airbase, which is the military section of Damascus international airport. After the fighters landed, they were immediately followed by giant Russian Antonov AN-124 Condor cargo planes carrying 1,000 of Russia’s 9M133 Kornet anti-tank missiles.
The advanced jets are intended to serve as air support for the Russian units that arrive in Syria. 
2. Before the Russian planes landed in Damascus, Moscow reached an agreement with Washington for the removal of NATO’s Patriot missile batteries from Turkey. The removal was carried out gradually during the month of August, thus preventing the possibility that NATO Patriot missiles could hit Russian fighters carrying out operations in Syrian airspace.  
3. During the last week of August, a large number of Russian troops, mostly logistical teams whose job is to lay the groundwork for the arrival of the combat units, arrived in Syria. The troops were seen in Damascus and in Jablah district of Lattakia province, where the Russian forces are building a military base. 
4. Our intelligence sources also report that Moscow has started to supply Damascus with satellite imagery of the ground situation on the different fronts.
debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report that all of these preparatory steps by Moscow for the introduction of ground forces are being carried out in coordination with Washington and Tehran. 
The more that the three capitals tighten their coordination in support of Assad, the sooner the Russian intervention is expected to take place.
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FBI names counterintelligence expert to head Boston division

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BOSTON (AP) - The FBI has named a counterintelligence expert as the new special agent in charge of the agency’s Boston division.
FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday named Harold Shaw to the post. Shaw most recently worked as the special agent in charge of the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI’s New York division.
Shaw has worked for the FBI since 1999. He investigated international and domestic terrorism cases, including the USS Cole bombing. He worked as a case agent following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks.
In 2003, he was promoted to supervisory special agent and was detailed to the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, where he worked as one of the first liaison officers between the FBI and CIA in the post 9/11 era.
Shaw will succeed Vincent Lisi, who retired last week. He is scheduled to start in October.

U.S. considering sanctions against China, Russia for cyberattacks, officials say 

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Cyberattacks purported to have been waged against American targets from China and Russia have prompted the Obama administration to seriously consider implementing new sanctions against Beijing and Moscow, officials say.
Several administration officials told Reuters and The Washington Post this week that the White House is weighing whether ...

Police Officer Shot and Killed in Illinois, Manhunt Underway for 3 Suspects

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A police officer was shot and killed Tuesday morning in the northern suburban area of Fox Lake, Illinois, giving way to a massive manhunt involving multiple law enforcement agencies.
The officer was gunned down when chasing three suspects on foot.
CBS Chicago reported:
At a late morning news conference, Lake County Sheriff’s Det. Chris Covelli said, around 7:50 a.m., the officer radioed he was pursuing three suspects, after looking into their “suspicious activity.” Police lost radio contact with the officer, who was later found with a gunshot wound. Shortly after the news conference, Covelli confirmed that the officer died.
According to Covelli, police are  conducting a ground and air search for the three suspects, two of whom are white and one black. Reports unconfirmed by police indicate that the suspects may have stolen the slain officer’s gun and pepper spray.
As the manhunt continues, police have directed individuals in the area to remain inside and call 911 to report any suspicious activity. Area schools have been placed on lockdown and some trains have been stopped because of the police activity.
Officers from at least six different agencies, many of whom are substantially armed, are currently aiding with the manhunt. K-9 units and helicopters are also being used. Forces appear to have focused on a particular marshy area.
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Report: Threats Against Israel Made It a Cybersecurity Superpower

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Checkpoint Firewall-1. Israeli cyber technology was born out of the need for defense against enemies. Photo: Facebook.
Checkpoint Firewall-1. Israeli cyber technology was born out of the need for defense against enemies. Photo: Facebook.
Israel is at the center of cybersecurity innovation, largely because the country has to constantly be prepared to battle enemies on its borders, Fortune magazine reported on Tuesday.
“The challenging environment Israel faces in the Middle East in the physical world has reflections also on the cyber world,” said Dudu Mimran, CTO of the Cyber Security Research Center at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev. “Security is a subject that can be taught theoretically, but nothing is a substitute for a real hands-on experience and we’ve got lots of it.”
Israel accounts for 10 percent of global security technology and sales of its security software reached $60 billion in 2014, according to Israel’s National Cyber Bureau. Fortune reported that the country’s high-tech power is a result of innovation in Internet security, anti-virus software and other cyber defense technologies.
Israel’s cyber security expertise has evolved from the need to make sure Israelis can take on all types of threats, according to the publication. The concern has become the center of Israel’s governmental strategy and turned the cyber security industry into a booming sector of Israel’s economy.
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said the increasing use of computer technology for military operations has strengthened ties between the military and the IT sector. There has also been a steady flow of former military personnel into defense and IT industry positions, he told Fortune.
“You could argue that this combination of factors—historical, political, societal and cultural—have all combined to make Israel a natural epicenter of security innovation,” King said. “It is certainly timely, especially considering the growing power and threat of global cyber attacks.”
Those who graduate from certain military units dealing with Internet-based technologies, including cyber warfare, become highly desired talent in private companies, Fortune reported.
One of the first cyber security solutions created for Internet-connected computers,
was developed by Tel Aviv-based Check Point in 1993 and transformed the company into one of the biggest tech giants in Israel. The defense software was developed by Israeli entrepreneur and former IDF soldier Gil Shwed, who served in a unit responsible for collecting intelligence signals.
“Connecting the talent pool coming out of defense organizations with the strong entrepreneurial spirit that exists here, and you get the perfect ingredient for a powerhouse, in terms of cyber security startups and technology companies,” Mimran said.
Most major IT companies have opened research facilities in Israel and are looking to the Jewish state for investment opportunities. Microsoft and many other multinational companies already identify Israel as a “cyber powerhouse with the right talent,” Mimran told Fortune.
Microsoft revealed in July its plans to acquire Adallom, the creator of cloud security, for $320 million. Adallom was founded in 2012 by three former IDF soldiers and has some 80 employees in offices in Israel and the U.S., according to Fortune. The company has developed security technology for servers running Microsoft’s or Google’s cloud services.
Adallom is set to become Microsoft’s center of security business in Israel. Microsoft also recently purchase Israeli security software developer Aorato for a reported $200 million.
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VA Examinations of Medical Errors Decreased 18 Percent Since 2010 

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A new audit shows that the Department of Veterans Affairs has decreased its efforts to determine the cause of medical mistakes over the course of a four-year period despite a host of scandals, failures, and deaths plaguing the department-run medical centers in recent years.
The Government Accountability Office, tasked with reviewing the VA’s processes and procedures for responding to adverse events that occur within its health care system, found that the VA failed to make use of an oversight procedure known as a root-cause analysis. The agency performed these analyses 18 percent less in fiscal year 2014 than in 2014.
Adverse events are defined as “incidents that pose a risk of injury to a patient as the result of a medical intervention or the lack of an appropriate intervention,” according to the GAO. A root cause analysis process at VA medical centers initially begins when a patient safety manager learns of an adverse event and determines a “safety assessment score” in relation to the problem. A medical center director then puts together a multidisciplinary team that identifies and documents root causes, actions, and outcome measures.
The team presents the RCA report to leadership and a patient safety manager, then submits the final RCA report to the National Center for Patient Safety. The process, up to this point, takes 45 days to complete. The patient safety manager is tasked with following up on the implementation of actions recommended in the analysis.
The audit found that 1,862 such analyses were performed in 2010. This number dipped to 1,743 in 2011 and decreased yet again to 1,664 in 2012. In 2014, the number fell once more to 1,523, an 18 percent decrease from 2010.
During the same time frame the decrease in examinations of medical problems occurred, the amount of adverse events within the system was found to increase by 7 percent.
The investigation states that it is “unclear whether the 18 percent decrease in total RCAs completed from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2014 is a negative trend reflecting less reporting of serious adverse events, or a positive trend reflecting fewer serious adverse events that would require an RCA.”
The accountability office also says that in recent years staff have felt less open about making adverse events known.
“Officials stated that they have observed a change in the culture of safety in recent years in which staff feel less comfortable reporting adverse events than they did previously,” the report found.
The accountability office recommended an investigation into the decline in root-cause analyses. It also advised medical centers to determine the extent to which they used alternative processes to address the root causes of adverse events when a regular analysis may not be required.
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Iran Vows to Violate UN Restrictions on Ballistic Missiles

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed that the Islamic Republic would violate outstanding United Nations restrictions governing the country’s ballistic missile program and that the behavior would not violate the recent nuclear accord, according to a translation of the leader’s remarks performed by the CIA’s Open Source Center.
Iran is “not committed to the restrictions on its missile program,” according to a recent comment made by Rouhani, who said  a violation of  international restrictions would not impact the nuclear accord recently reached with global powers.
“We have formally announced that we are not committed to these provisions [related to missiles] mentioned in [the] U.N. resolution,” Rouhani was quoted as saying in an Aug. 29 Persian language speech broadcast on Iran’s state-controlled television networks.
It is written into the nuclear accord that a violation of U.N. bans on Iran’s missile program will not impact the deal.
Within the deal “we have explained that a violation of the U.N. resolution does not mean violation of the JCPOA,” or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, according to Rouhani, who bragged that Iran’s missile stockpiles have grown under his tenure as president.
Critics of the accord have warned that Iran will bolster its missile arsenal and develop technology to launch a nuclear weapon.
Under the parameters of the deal, U.N. restrictions on Iran’s missile program will expire within the next decade.
Rouhani said Iran is not seeking technology to launch a nuclear warhead.
Rouhani went on to tout Iran’s defensive capabilities, saying that the country is prepared to defend itself from any potential attack.
“In general, we have increased our overall deterrence,” Rouhani said. “However, in the defense area, in recent two years [of presidency], compared to the five or 10 years that preceded these years, there has been greater progress in the defense technology. Our military infrastructure has become stronger and our arsenal of equipment and weaponry has also increased.”
Iran will continue to build arms and strengthen its military, Rouhani said.
“We should pursue deterrence in national power against various types of threats,” he said. “Such deterrence can be in the area of military, rights, foreign policy, economic issues, etc.”
Senior Obama administration officials stated before Congress that the U.S. would seek to constrain Iran’s ballistic missile program as part of the deal.
“It is true that in these first six months we’ve not shut down all of their production of any ballistic missile that could have anything to do with delivery of a nuclear weapon,” lead U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman told lawmakers in February 2014. “But that is indeed something that has to be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement.”
That position shifted as the final details of the deal were worked out.
Pro-Tehran advocates, for instance, launched a lobbying campaign to pressure the Obama administration into dropping all restrictions on Iran’s program.
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, said the Obama administration walked back many of its promises in pursuit of a final nuclear deal.
“Obama and Kerry violated well over a dozen red lines to reach a deal with Iran on everything from anytime, anywhere inspections to the underground facility at Fordow to Iran using a heavy water reactor,” Rubin said. “Basically, every time the Iranians dug in their heels, Kerry caved. He might think such compromise is a path to peace, but to Iran it was weakness to exploit.”
These concessions have emboldened the Iranians and led the regime to believe it can violate the deal without any serious repercussions, Rubin said.
“Rouhani sees Iran’s commitments as an a la carte menu from which to pick and choose. Every senator who endorses this deal is, in effect, blessing a White House which will bend over backward to allow Iran to get its way,” he said.
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