Friday, October 7, 2016

Dozens of Afghan soldiers have gone AWOL in the US in the past two years

Dozens of Afghan soldiers have gone AWOL in the US in the past two years

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Forty-five Afghan soldiers have disappeared during training on U.S. military installations in the past two years, Pentagon officials said, exposing a hole in security as many presumably stay in the country illegally.
     

Russian-US calls to guarantee flight safety over Syria could stop

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The Pentagon said Thursday that the United States would protect coalition and U.S. aircraft over Syria, hours after Russia warned it might stop the flight-safety calls used to avoid incidents between U.S. and Russian pilots.
     

6 Fort Campbell soldiers charged in theft of restricted Army equipment sold online

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Six Fort Campbell soldiers were indicted on federal conspiracy charges Wednesday for allegedly stealing more than $1 million worth of sensitive military gear that was sold on the Internet, in some cases to anonymous buyers in foreign countries.
     

Justice Dept. curtailing election observers inside polling places

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U.S. officials say that a 2013 Supreme Court decision now limits the federal government's role inside polling places on Election Day.
     

The US Army Equipment That Ended Up on eBay - The Atlantic

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The Atlantic

The US Army Equipment That Ended Up on eBay
The Atlantic
NEWS BRIEF Eight people, including six U.S. soldiers, have been charged with conspiring to steal equipment from the U.S. Army, federal prosecutors said Thursday. The six soldiers allegedly stole more than $1 million worth of sensitive military ...

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Russia strongly warns US against striking Syrian army

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The statement underlined high tensions between Moscow and Washington after the collapse of a U.S.-Russia-brokered Syria truce and the Syrian army's offensive on Aleppo backed by Russian warplanes.
     
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Nagorno-Karabakh Is Ready for Another War 

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Micah Spangler
Security, Eurasia
The first Armenian tank to roll into Karabakh. Flickr/Vladimer Shioshvili

The breakaway republic won't be caught by surprise again.

It takes a lot to surprise someone in the rogue republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
This tiny nation’s 150,000 residents have been conditioned to expect the unexpected, caught in perpetual political limbo as citizens of a country that technically doesn’t exist, combatants in a two-decade-long conflict that rarely ever makes headlines.
And yet that’s exactly what happened here just a few months ago.
“The April war was a complete surprise for us,” Nagorno-Karabakh’s minister of foreign affairs told me the day after his unrecognized country celebrated its twenty-fifth independence day.
The holiday was a triumphant, yet somber event. The mass parade and jubilant fireworks were deeply overshadowed by the deaths of nearly one hundred soldiers five months prior, when Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh fought a full-scale, four-day battle in what is now recognized as the region’s deadliest encounter since the two states signed a ceasefire in 1994.
The magnitude of the attack, which Azerbaijan actually claims inflicted three hundred casualties on Armenians occupying land that’s belonged to them since 1924, clearly shook Nagorno-Karabakh’s leadership.
It’s a mistake that the breakaway is determined not to repeat.
While the Karabakh military is grossly outspent by its Azeri neighbors to the east, Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia—the unrecognized nation’s economic and security patron—have made major moves to ensure Azerbaijan doesn’t catch them flat-footed again.
“We are strengthening our front line very actively, very intensively,” Artak Beglaryan, the spokesman for Nagorno-Karabakh's prime minister, told me inside his third-floor office in downtown Stepanakert in early September. “In April, we didn’t have enough cameras on the front line. Now we are installing [a] modern C4ISR system on the front line, which allows us to observe the entire line with certain depth.”
Using this new advanced system, the Nagorno-Karabakh government claims they’ll be able to “significantly decrease the chance of an Azerbaijani sudden attack, because any kind of movement in the deep territory of Azerbaijan” will be detected by short- and long-distance cameras, “giving the Karabakh army an opportunity to get prepared for strong protection and counter-attack, as well as to target their military units and equipment in advance.”
And even more, additional kinetic military power is on its way, courtesy of Mother Russia.
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The Weird Logic Behind Russia's Alleged Hacking

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Eugene Scherbakov
Security, Eurasia
Moscow Kremlin at night. Flickr/Pavel Kazachkov

The reason is counterintuitive, but perfectly clear.

One of the biggest stories of the U.S. election cycle has been the allegedly Russian hack into the computer network of the Democratic National Committee. Sidestepping the embarrassing implications of what the hack revealed about the DNC’s behavior during the primaries, the Democratic campaign, along with major U.S. news organizations, framed the story as one of Russia’s nefarious meddling in American democracy. That story has since become central to the U.S. election. In the first presidential debate, it was a key point of disagreement between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Both candidates emphasized the cyber threat, but while Clinton laid the blame for the DNC attacks squarely with Russia, Trump suggested that the hack could have been perpetrated by anyone, from a state security organization to a lone individual.
The case is much more complicated than it may appear.
The evidence for Russian involvement in the hack is based upon research done by three independent security firms, which discovered that similar hacking techniques had been used in previous attacks by operatives allegedly working for Russian state security. Soon after these findings were released, however, an individual hacker calling himself Guccifer 2.0 came forward to dispute them. Identifying himself as a Romanian unaffiliated with the Russian government, he claimed that he had carried out the DNC hacks alone and said he had the evidence to prove it. While experts agreed that his evidence—previously unreleased emails and other data pilfered from the DNC—was authentic, they also made the case that it contained further proof of a Russian plot:
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China firms happy to sell killer opioid "weapon" to anyone in US - CBS News

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CBS News

China firms happy to sell killer opioid "weapon" to anyone in US
CBS News
SHANGHAI -- It's one of the strongest opioids in circulation, so deadly an amount smaller than a poppy seed can kill a person. Until July, when reports of carfentanil overdoses began to surface in the U.S., the substance was best known for knocking out ...
Chemical Weapon for Sale: China's Unregulated NarcoticABC News

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The Latest: Russia lauds its military experience in Syria

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BEIRUT (AP) - The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):
12:45 p.m.
The Russian defense minister says the military will rely on its experience in the Syrian conflict to further improve its weapons.
Sergei Shoigu said on Thursday that new Russian weapons have "shown their reliability and efficiency" ...

Inside Russian 'spy base' in the Balkans

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NIS, Serbia (AP) - In the command room there are large surveillance screens, in the warehouse rescue equipment; an unfinished gray concrete building serves as a training site. Is this a Russian-run disaster relief center in Serbia as Moscow claims, or is it an outpost for Kremlin spies in the ...

Russia strongly warns US against striking Syrian army

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MOSCOW (AP) - The Russian military on Thursday strongly warned the United States against striking the Syrian army, noting that its air defense weapons in Syria stand ready to fend off any attack.
The statement underlined high tensions between Moscow and Washington after the collapse of a U.S.-Russia-brokered Syria truce ...
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White House says latest alleged NSA leak case is 'unique'

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Responding to the latest major leak of sensitive government documents, the White House said Thursday the case of a National Security Agency contractor charged with removing classified material was "unique" from the episode of fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
"The case of Mr. Snowden and this individual is unique," said ...

Relentless hackers may have manipulated medical records of Olympic athletes, WADA says 

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Hacked documents recently stolen from a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) database may have been manipulated before being leaked online, the organization said Wednesday.
The confidential medical records of Olympic athletes from around the globe have wound up online in recent weeks after hackers gained access to WADA's Administration and Management ...

NSA Contractor Arrested in Possible Theft of Top Secret Materials 

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The FBI recently arrested a National Security Agency contractor on suspicions that he stole highly classified computer codes used to hack into foreign government networks, senior intelligence officialstold the New York Times on Wednesday.
Disclosure of the stolen documents would “cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the U.S.,” the Justice Department said in a statement detailing the federal criminal complaint filed against Maryland resident Harold Thomas Martin.
Martin, 51, was charged with theft of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials by a government employee or contractor.
FBI agents raided his home in August, where they recovered documents and electronic devices that contained classified information. Many of the seized materials bore “top secret” markings.
Martin worked for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, the same company that Edward Snowden was contracting with in 2013 when he leaked a trove of stolen documents to journalists exposing the NSA’s surveillance programs. If Martin is convicted, the incident would mark the second time in three years that an insider was able to steal highly classified documents from the NSA.
Martin appeared in court on Aug. 29. He initially denied taking the materials during an interview with the FBI. He later told agents “he knew what he had done was wrong and that he should not have done it because he knew it was unauthorized,” according to the complaint.
Martin is suspected of stealing top secret “source code” developed by the NSA to break into the networks of U.S. adversaries including Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, according to the New York Times.
Lawyers for Martin said there is no evidence that he “intended to betray his country.”

DHS: Half of U.S. States Seeking Federal Help to Stop Election Hackers 

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Half of the states in the country have sought help from the Obama administration in efforts to stop potential election hackers, Politico reports.
According to an official from the Department of Homeland Security, 25 states have reached out for federal aid, and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said he hopes more will seek assistance. A DHS official reportedly confirmed last week that hackers were detected trying to get into state voter registration systems in more than 20 states
Federal and state election officials insist the country’s balloting is secure from a widespread hacking attack–they note the diverse nature of 50 different state jurisdictions, plus thousands more at the county and local level. In addition, voting itself doesn’t involve any connections to the internet, officials insist.
But weaknesses do exist across the system, too. A DHS official last week confirmed that hackers had been detected seriously probing into state voter registration systems in more than 20 states, and they actually had varying degrees of success getting into the rolls in Arizona and Illinois.
Hackers have played a surprisingly large role in the U.S. election, such as the cyber attacks on the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, which officials believe were perpetrated by groups connected to the Russian government.

Top Pentagon Aide Used Govt Credit Card to Charge $1800 at ‘Cica Cica Boom’ Strip Club 

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A top aide to Defense Secretary Ash Carter used his government-issued charge card to pay for personal expenses at a strip club and engaged in “unbecoming” behavior like drinking too much in public.
According to a report released by the Pentagon inspector general on Thursday, Maj. Gen. Ron Lewis, Carter’s former senior military assistant, used his government charge card to pay for hundreds of dollars in personal expenses at clubs in Seoul and Rome last year and also had “improper interactions with females.”
The report provides detailed insight into allegations that got Lewis fired from his high-ranking position last year.
For instance, Lewis went to a club called “Cica Cica Boom” in Rome on an official trip last October and used his government-issued card to pay for nearly $1,800 in expenses at the club, which has signs advertising “sexy show” and “lap dance.”
Lewis told investigators that he drank to “more than moderation” at the club and unsuccessfully tried to pay the large bill with his personal credit card. He was then forced to return to his hotel early in the morning with a female club escort and retrieve his government card from a subordinate to pay the expenses.
Records reviewed by investigators also showed that, on official travel last April, Lewis went to the “Candy Bar” club in an area of Seoul commonly referred to as “Hooker Hill” that was largely off-limits to U.S. military personnel. Government charge card receipts showed that Lewis charged more than $1,120 in personal expenses at the club during the trip. He later disputed the charges and got the bank to remove them from his card.
The report also spotlights official trips to Hawaii, Malaysia, and California during which Lewis exhibited poor conduct.
News broke last November that Carter had fired Lewis over allegations of misconduct. The inspector general investigation, first reported by the Associated Press on Thursday , substantiated allegations that Lewis misused his government-issued charge card for personal expenses and made false officials statements about it.
Lewis also “engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman on multiple occasions, which included patronizing an establishment off-limits to U.S. military personnel, drinking to excess in public, and improper interactions with females,” investigators found.
Lewis disagreed with the conclusions of the report and criticized the investigation, though the inspector general stood by the findings.
The department’s watchdog has previously investigated the use of government-issued credit cards for personal expenses, including bills racked up at casinos and strip clubs. A report issued in August concluded that the Pentagon reimbursed employees for personal charges on their government cards.
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More Than 40 Afghan Troops Missing From Military Training in U.S. 

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At least 44 Afghan troops who were in the United States for military training have gone missing over the last year, likely in an attempt to find work and live illegally in the country, Pentagon officials said Thursday.
Defense officials told Reuters that while other foreign troops visiting the U.S. for military training have sometimes gone missing, the pace of Afghan troops running away is “out of the ordinary.”
Eight Afghan troops have left military bases without authorization since September alone, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said while disclosing for the first time the total number of troops who have gone missing this year.
The Washington Free Beacon first  reported last month that several Afghan military trainees had disappeared from U.S. bases in September and were being pursued by federal authorities.
Afghans participating in the country’s training program are vetted before they arrive in America to confirm they have not committed human rights abuses and do not have ties to terrorist groups, Stump said. Still, the disappearances raise questions about the security procedures in place for the programs.
“The Defense Department is assessing ways to strengthen eligibility criteria for training in ways that will reduce the likelihood of an individual Afghan willingly absconding from training in the U.S. and going AWOL [absent without leave],” Stump said.
An unnamed defense official told Reuters the U.S. had not found evidence that any of those who went missing had committed crimes or posed a threat to the homeland. Heightened security measures have reduced incidents of Taliban militants infiltrating the Afghan army.
Roughly 2,200 Afghan troops have undergone military training in the U.S. since 2007. The program, intended to train and equip those troops, has cost the U.S. $60 billion since 2002.
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30 Former Republican Lawmakers Denounce Donald Trump

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Thirty former Republican members of Congress announced their opposition to Donald Trump on Thursday, calling his “disgraceful candidacy indefensible.”
“As Republican members of Congress, we took pride in representing a political party that stood for honest and principled public leadership in which the American people could place their trust,” the retired lawmakers wrote in an open letter.
“Sadly, our party’s nominee this year is a man who makes a mockery of the principles and values we have cherished and which we sought to represent in Congress.”
The group includes influential lawmakers who served key battleground states, including former Iowa Rep. Jim Leach, former Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Clinger, and former Virginia Rep. G. William Whitehurst.
Clinger notably spearheaded the investigation into the Clintons in the 1990s over the White House’s “Travelgate” controversy.
While the lawmakers do not mention Hillary Clinton, the letter’s organizer, Andrew Weinstein, toldCNN some of the GOP signatories would cast a vote for the Democratic nominee while others will back Libertarian Gary Johnson.
“In nominating Donald Trump, the Republican Party has asked the people of the United States to entrust their future to a man who insults women, mocks the handicapped, urges that dissent be met with violence, seeks to impose religious tests for entry into the United States, and applies a de facto ethnicity test to judges,” the former lawmakers wrote.
“He offends our allies and praises dictators. His public statements are peppered with lies. He belittles our heroes and insults the parents of men who have died serving our country. Every day brings a fresh revelation that highlights the unacceptable danger in electing him to lead our nation,” they continued.
In August, 50 senior Republican national security officials, including former cabinet members to former President George W. Bush, penned an open letter denouncing Trump’s candidacy. The signatories called Trump a “dangerous” leader who would put U.S. national security at risk.
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Russia Indicates It Will Shoot Down Coalition Jets That Strike Assad Forces 

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The Russian Defense Ministry indicated Thursday that it would shoot down U.S.-led coalition jets that target Bashar al Assad’s forces with air strikes in Syria.
The warning followed a Washington Post report that the Obama administration was again considering targeting Assad regime forces with strikes, after Russian and Syrian air strikes hammered civilians in the war-torn region of Aleppo as the latest ceasefire deal broke down.
Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said at a briefing Thursday that any strikes against Syrian government forces would present a “clear threat” to Russian forces on the ground, according to statements published in Russian media outlets and other sources.
“Any missile or air strikes on the territory controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat to Russian servicemen,” Konashenkov said. He urged the U.S. military to “carefully consider the possible consequences” of such strikes.
His remarks came one day after Russia announced that it had deployed more advanced missile defense systems to Syria.
“Today, the Syrian army has effective S-200, Buk, and other air defense systems, which have undergone technical renovation in the past year,” Konashenkov said Thursday.
“I remind US ‘strategists’ that air cover for the Russian military bases in Tartus and Hmeymim includes S-400 and S-300 anti aircraft missile systems, the range of which may come as a surprise to any unidentified flying objects,” he said.
Konashenkov also suggested that Moscow forces would not “have time” to determine what country was responsible for a hypothetical strike targeting pro-government forces before responding.
“Russian air defense system crews are unlikely to have time to determine in a ‘straight line’ the exact flight paths of missiles and then who the warheads belong to. And all the illusions of amateurs about the existence of ‘invisible’ jets will face a disappointing reality,” Konashenkov said.
Asked to respond to the statement, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook underscored the importance of the memorandum of understanding established between the U.S. and Russia last October to avoid miscalculations and potential problems above Syrian airspace.
“The MOU, up to this point, has served its purpose,” Cook told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday afternoon. “We’ll leave it to the Russians to participate in that as they see fit.”
Cook said that the U.S. military is “always taking precautions with regards to the safety of our aircrews” as well as those of its allies.
The United States on Monday halted communications with Russia regarding Syria in the wake of the bungled ceasefire, shortly after Moscow said that it was suspending a nuclear pact with Washington to clean up weapons-grade plutonium.
Still, Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, spoke over the phone Wednesday about Syria and other issues amid the suspension of communications.
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NSA contractor arrested for alleged theft of top secret classified information

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Harold Thomas Martin, who worked at same consulting firm as Edward Snowden, may have stolen codes developed to hack foreign governments
The FBI has arrested a National Security Agency contractor on suspicion of the theft of top secret classified data and documents in an alleged security breach at the same intelligence agency whose spy secrets were exposed by Edward Snowden.
Disclosure of the documents stolen “could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the US”, claimed the justice department in a press release giving details of the criminal complaint against Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, of Glen Burnie, Maryland.
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U.S. national security experts warn of threats to military space ... - SpaceNews

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SpaceNews

U.S. national security experts warn of threats to military space ...
SpaceNews
“The threat has outpaced our creation of policy and strategy appropriate to the need,” retired Navy Adm. James Ellis Jr., who led U.S. Strategic Command when it ...

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US VP debate: Trump a danger to national security, Kaine takes aim at Republican nominee - Daily News & Analysis

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Daily News & Analysis

US VP debate: Trump a danger to national security, Kaine takes aim at Republican nominee
Daily News & Analysis
Democrat Tim Kaine tried to make the vice presidential debate all about Donald Trump on Tuesday, calling the Republican presidential nominee a danger to US national security and someone who denigrates women and minorities and appears to pay little in ...
Kaine, Pence Squabble on National Security in Vice Presidential DebateDefenseNews.com
Pence, Kaine spar over national security in vice presidential debateMilitary Times
2 winners and 4 losers from the vice presidential debateVox
RTE.ie
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Obama orders diversity measures for national security agencies - USA TODAY

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USA TODAY

Obama orders diversity measures for national security agencies
USA TODAY
But the White House said national security agencies have their own unique challenges. And with some exceptions — like enlisted service members and the civil service employees of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development ...
Obama directs national security agencies to boost minorities - PoliticoPolitico
Obama orders review of diversity hiring at national security agenciesWashington Times
Building a National Security Workforce That Fully Reflects America ...The White House (blog)
Whitehouse.gov (press release) 
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National Security Agency Contractor Arrest Highlights Challenge of Insider Threat - U.S. News & World Report

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U.S. News & World Report

National Security Agency Contractor Arrest Highlights Challenge of Insider Threat
U.S. News & World Report
The arrest of a National Security Agency contractor for stealing classified information was the second known case of a government contractor being publicly accused of removing secret data from the intelligence agency since 2013. ... Schiff, D-Calif ...
NSA contractor arrest comes after increased security with Snowden disclosuresLas Vegas Review-Journal

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China's cyber and trade war has US firms, national security in crosshairs - The Hill (blog)

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The Hill (blog)

China's cyber and trade war has US firms, national security in crosshairs
The Hill (blog)
One assistant attorney for U.S. National Security describes the Chinese hacking campaign against the United States a true, “national security emergency.” China has created what some describe as an army of hackers — numbering in the thousands — high ...

Politicization of the FBI Threatens American Democracy

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Obama and Hillary have allowed our secret police to become a tool of the Democrats—which should trouble all Americans
During the presidency of George W. Bush, Americans heard a lot about the “politicization of intelligence” after Operation Iraqi Freedom went disastrously wrong. Without reopening that whole can of top secret worms, it’s clear our Intelligence Community made some bad calls on Iraq—specifically regarding Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.
I know, because I was there. In the early stages of OIF—before it went off the rails—I headed an intelligence task force that spied on the Iraqi military. We didn’t have hard evidence of WMDs, but there wasn’t evidence of their absence either. I, like all my colleagues, assumed Saddam had WMDs because he’d had them in the past, moreover he wanted his enemies to think he still did.
Saddam was a cagey fellow and he had an intricate scheme—what spies call Denial and Deception—to convince Iran (which he considered a much bigger threat to his regime than the Americans) that he had WMDs, when in fact he really didn’t. Alas, that plan worked too well. Saddam successfully fooled Tehran, Washington, and pretty much every intelligence service on earth. We know what happened next.
The consequences of that are still with us today. In Iraq, America got a painful lesson in the politicization of intelligence, particularly what happens when spies tell policymakers what they want to hear. Politicization of intelligence hasn’t gone away, in fact President Obama has done much the same regarding the Islamic State, with the White House making clear the “correct” answers to intelligence questions. As with so many issues, the media considered this a really big problem when George Bush did it, but much less so when Barack Obama does.
However, politicization of intelligence is a manageable problem compared to what’s transpired during Obama’s two terms as our commander-in-chief. I’m talking about the politicization of our secret police—an alarming development that threatens democracy itself.
Read the rest at The Observer…

Filed under: CounterintelligenceEspionageTerrorismUSG  

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Has the Russian Mole Inside NSA Finally Been Arrested?

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The FBI has a yet another defense contractor in custody on espionage charges—what did he really do?
Six weeks ago in this column I explained that the National Security Agency, our nation’s most secretive spy service, almost certainly remains penetrated by one or more Russian moles. Not only is Edward Snowden hardly the super-spy he’s claimed to be, in truth he’s no more than a patsy whose purpose has been to distract attention from the real Russian intelligence penetrations of NSA.
The idea that the Kremlin has more moles lurking inside NSA made front-page news in August with the public appearance of Top Secret hacking tools apparently stolen from the Agency. Embarrassingly, those were posted online by the mysterious “Shadow Brokers,” which gave every appearance of being yet another front for Moscow and its spy services. How had it obtained such closely guarded secrets?
Today we learned from the Justice Department that, just four days after my column appeared, the FBI executed a search warrant on the residence of Harold Thomas Martin III of Glen Burnie, Maryland, which is an NSA bedroom community. The 51-year-old Martin was employed with Booz Allen Hamilton, the very same big-league defense contractor which employed Edward Snowden at the time of his fleeing Hawaii and subsequent defection to Moscow.
Inside Martin’s residence and his car, the FBI found evidence of criminal activity including possible espionage. The arrest affidavit (which on security grounds never mentions NSA, though that was Martin’s place of employment) spells out what Bureau agents found: information that was classified at the Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information level—including six documents of recent vintage from an unnamed government agency which is certainly NSA.
Read the rest at The Observer….

Filed under: CounterintelligenceEspionageUSG  

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Chemical weapon for sale: China's unregulated narcotic

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For a few thousand dollars, Chinese companies offer to export a powerful chemical that has been killing unsuspecting drug users and is so lethal that it presents a potential terrorism threat.
     

3 charged with unlawfully shipping military tech to Russia

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A New York City man and two Russian nationals have been arrested and charged after federal authorities say they were involved in a scheme to unlawfully export advanced military technology used in missile guidance systems to Russia.
     
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Chemical weapon for sale: China's unregulated narcotic

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SHANGHAI (AP) - For a few thousand dollars, Chinese companies offer to export a powerful chemical that has been killing unsuspecting drug users and is so lethal that it presents a potential terrorism threat, an Associated Press investigation has found.
The AP identified 12 Chinese businesses that said they would ...

Lobbyist advised Trump campaign while promoting Russian pipeline

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A Republican lobbyist was earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote one of Vladimir Putin’s top geopolitical priorities at the same time he was helping to shape Donald Trump’s first major foreign policy speech.
In the first two quarters of 2016, the firm of former Reagan administration official Richard Burt received $365,000 for work he and a colleague did to lobby for a proposed natural-gas pipeline owned by a firm controlled by the Russian government, according to congressional lobbyingdisclosures reviewed by POLITICO. The pipeline, opposed by the Polish government and the Obama administration, would allow Russian gas to reach central and western European markets while bypassing Ukraine and Belarus, extending Putin’s leverage over Europe.
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Burt’s lobbying work for New European Pipeline AG, the company behind the pipeline known as Nord Stream II, began in February. At the time, the Russian state-owned oil giant Gazprom owned a 50 percent stake in New European Pipeline AG. In August, five European partners pulled out and Gazprom now owns 100 percent.
This spring, Burt helped shape Trump’s first major foreign policy address, according to Burt and other sources. Burt recommended that Trump take a more “realist,” less interventionist approach to world affairs, as first reported by Reuters. Trump’s April 27 speech sounded those themes and called for greater cooperation with Russia.
“I believe an easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia — from a position of strength — is possible,” Trump said in the speech. “Common sense says this cycle of hostility must end. Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out.” The Russian ambassador to the United States broke the diplomatic norm against attending campaign events to sit in the front row.
But the revelation of Burt’s lobbying activity raises new questions about Russian influence in Trump’s campaign. In August, his campaign chair Paul Manafort resigned amid revelations about his ties to pro-Russian forces in Ukraine and the campaign’s reported role in changing the Republican Party platform to favor Kremlin interests. It also comes as the Trump campaign struggles to maintain a unified message on Russia, with Trump having called Putin a "strong leader" and "a leader, far more than our president has been” while his running mate Mike Pence called Putin "small" and "bullying" in Tuesday’s vice presidential debate.
In addition to helping shape Trump’s speech, Burt attended two dinners this summer hosted by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who had been named chairman of Trump’s national security committee. Burt was invited to discuss issues of national security and foreign policy, and wrote white papers for Sessions on the same subjects, according to Burt and another person with knowledge of the situation.
According to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, one of the papers was about “key foreign policy themes” and another was about “national security decision-making and structure; relationships between Defense, State, [the National Security Council] and so on and how to sort of think about the transition.” According to a second person with knowledge of the situation, Sessions was “very impressed” with the latter paper. A spokesman for Sessions did not respond to a request for comment.
All the while, Burt continued to be paid for his Nord Stream II lobbying work, which is ongoing. Asked about the simultaneous lobbying and advising, both sides downplayed the relationship.
“We have no knowledge of this,” wrote Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks in an email. “In fact, our team cannot verify his self-proclaimed contributions to Mr. Trump's speech and, I don't believe Mr. Trump or our policy staff has ever met Mr. Burt. To our knowledge he had no input in the speech and has had no contact with our policy team.”
For his part, Burt, a former Reagan State Department official and U.S. ambassador to Germany, said he does not consider himself an adviser to the campaign and that he would provide Hillary Clinton with advice if asked. Burt said that while he has discussed Trump with Russian officials, his work for Nord Stream II has only involved contact with the project’s European staff in Zug, Switzerland. He said his firm, McLarty Associates – headed by former President Bill Clinton’s ex-chief of staff Mack McLarty – was referred the Nord Stream II work by a financial PR firm in New York.
According to congressional disclosures signed by Burt and another member of the firm, the lobbying work consists of “monitoring and supplementing Washington discussion of EU energy security.”
Initially, when asked about his input on the Trump campaign, Burt said it was limited to input on the April speech.
But in August, he told a POLITICO reporter that he had advised Sessions and sent him white papers: “I’ve sent him some papers and given him some ideas and sent him some people. I won’t name them but they’re Washington types,” Burt told POLITICO in August.
This week, Burt acknowledged, “I did write a one-pager on national security organization but it was for a think tank. I also attended two dinners, each with 8-10 people, to discuss foreign policy issues and Sessions was present. But it was made clear that this was designed to discuss foreign policy substance not campaign issues. In fact, one participant in the dinners later endorsed Hillary.”
Burt said he delivered his written advice for the Trump campaign through an intermediary whom he declined to name, and that he has not had contact with Sessions or anyone else working with the campaign since the dinners this summer.
Burt’s connections to Russia go back many decades. In 1989, former President George H.W. Bush appointed Burt to negotiate the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the USSR, which was concluded in 1991. In recent years, the 69-year-old Burt said he has advised Russia’s Alfa Bank, and he continues to work with the bank’s co-founder, Mikhail Fridman. Burt has also registered for recent lobbying work on behalf of the Ukrainian construction firm TMM, the Polish government-owned airlineLOT and the Capital Bank of Jordan.
Russia’s incursions in Ukraine, as well as its stepped-up efforts to undermine Western democracies and the European Union by funding fringe nationalist parties and disinformation campaigns, have stiffened resistance to Nord Stream II. In American foreign policy circles, Burt's work on behalf of the pipeline is a source of consternation.
The pipeline would undermine Poland's burgeoning shale gas sector, and it would strengthen Europe's dependence on Russia as its main provider of energy. Unlike an existing pipeline, Nord Stream II would bypass Ukraine and Belarus, two former Soviet republics, thus diminishing their importance to Europe and helping to keep them within Moscow’s sphere of influence.
Burt is not alone in his ties to Russia’s state oil giant. Carter Page, whom Trump named as a foreign policy adviser in March, has said he advised Gazprom on some of its biggest deals from 2004 to 2007, when he lived in Moscow. In September, after months of scrutiny from the press, Congress, and American intelligence officials, Page said he had finally divested himself of a stake he held in Gazprom.
In recent years, the Kremlin has made influencing Western think tanks a more prominent component of its soft power strategy. And in recent weeks, Burt has gone to work on the think tank circuit, pitching the pipeline in private sessions in Washington and Europe.
“He’s a tremendously sophisticated operator. He comes across as a tremendously polished, knowledgeable doyen of the foreign service,” said a person who witnessed Burt sell the pipeline at a meeting at the Atlantic Council last month and spoke on the condition of anonymity because the session was meant to remain private. “There are huge holes in what he’s saying, but I can imagine that to many congressmen, senators and officials, it’s all very convincing.”
Burt described his work on behalf of Nord Stream II as, “Making sure the client understands what’s going on in the debate here and providing information to people in the administration on Nord Stream’s views.”
“If we want to speak to people in the United States, he helps us set up meetings with people,” said Jens Mueller, a spokesman for the pipeline project, who said the meetings were with “the normal stakeholders involved in the debate: think tanks, embassies.” He said only Burt’s firm is working on the pipeline’s behalf in the United States.
The revelation of Burt’s simultaneous lobbying and campaign-advising comes at a time of mounting concerns about Russian attempts to manipulate the presidential election. Private security experts and American intelligence officials have concluded that recent hacks of the Democratic National Committee, state elections systems, and political figures were likely carried out by Russian government hackers. Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly professed admiration for Putin and called into question whether he would honor the United States’ mutual defense obligations to NATO allies should they face Russian invasion.
Said Burt of the apparent attempts to subvert the election, “It does appear to be a lot of suspicious activity on the part of the Russian government.”
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NSA Contractor Arrested for Stealing Classified Info

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Hot on the heels of a New York Times story revealing that an NSA contractor was arrested in August for theft of classified info, DOJ has just released some initial details of an arrest that seems sure to be about this situation (the press release is not posted on their site yet, but the press office has circulated by email a statement along with the FBI affidavit underlying the arrest warrant application). (Note: the press release and underlying affidavit don't actually say that "NSA" was the impacted agency). The defendant is Harold Thomas Martin III of Maryland. According to the arrest affidavit, FBI executed a search warrant at his home in late August, and found "hard copy documents and digital information stored on various devices and removable digital media." The materials included TS/SCI information, though of course the particulars are not specified. The affidavit says nothing about Martin's motivations or other details of that kind. It does assert that Martin confessed when confronted with the materials, after initial denials. Stay tuned...

Prepare For Electoral Chaos 

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It is now clear to effectively everybody except those blindly following Donald Trump that the Russians are actively tampering with the U.S. election. It may have started largely by accident, when the transparently bad "Romanian" Guccifer 2 persona deliberately muddled attribution of the DNC hack, but the subsequent disclosures and resulting disruption have turned this bit of improvisation into a significant strategy: sow chaos.
Making the problem worse, the United States is now distinctly vulnerable to chaos. With the rise of a dangerous post-fact demagogue in the form of Donald Trump and a more general hyper-polarization of parties that equates "compromise" with "betrayal," any actor who wishes to cripple the United States for a generation only needs to destabilize the election. Given Trump's talk of a "rigged" election, his defeat will already seem suspicious by his followers. Add in actual voting disruptions and the results may be catastrophic.
I won't discuss how a hostile actor could disrupt the voting process, simply because there are so many possible methods. Gather two or three security experts around the table and you will end up with a pile of horrors. Add both a case of beer and an expert in dirty tricks to the mix, and the scenarios will ensure that you will never sleep again. 
Although there has already been a lot of focus on preventing specific methods, we also need to focus on more general plans for handling post-election chaos. A hostile attacker might launch disruptive attacks resulting in closed polling places, corrupted vote counts, or disrupted voter rolls.
Preparation begins with state and local governments. Local officials need to have plans in place for extending voting past the deadline at both single precincts or across entire counties.  They should also ensure that there are large stocks of provisional ballots in case of disrupted rolls. These plans should factor in the possibility of corrupted votes where there aren't proper audit trails, perhaps even necessitating a re-vote. Officials should focus not just on "security" through planning to prevent particular scenarios, but also on resiliency, so that no matter what happens there is an ability to recover.
But preparation also requires a private commitment from Republican leaders. The party needs to quietly plan on how to respond should Trump lose. It seems highly likely that in a maliciously disrupted but still definitive election, Trump will refuse to concede and instead actively incite his base. The Republican party has no hope of preventing their candidate from doing destructive things, but can at least attempt to mitigate the damage by presenting a unified front against the worst Trump might offer on November 9th.
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Cybercrime Roundup: A Pivot to Asia in Espionage Prosecutions 

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After indicting five People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officers for cyberespionage in 2014, the Department of Justice was criticized for the lack of effectiveness of its action. However, a FireEye report released this summer showed a dramatic and continual decrease in Chinese intrusions since mid-2014. The DOJ credits both prosecutorial pressure and the ability to apply economic sanctions. That pressure does not appear to be over.
Late last month, FBI Director Comey gave remarks at the Symantec Government Symposium, emphasizing a continual campaign against cyberespionage:
We want to lock some people up, so that we send a message that it’s not a freebie to kick in the door, metaphorically, of an American company or private citizen and steal what matters to them. And if we can’t lock people up, we want to call (them) out. We want to name and shame them through indictments, or sanctions, or public relations campaigns—who is doing this and exactly what they’re doing.
The department has been doing a bit of calling out of late. During his speech, Director Comey also said, that “We are working hard to make people at keyboards feel our breath on their necks and try to change that behavior. We’ve got to get to a point where we can reach them as easily as they can reach us and change behavior by that reach-out.”
The recent quantity of cases provides at least some evidence that Chinese spies may be feeling the breath of the FBI. The following are some recent criminal cases of Chinese cyberespionage, along with more old-fashioned espionage for technological gain:
  • On June 14, 2016, Jiaqiang Xu was charged in a superseding indictment with three counts of economic espionage and one count each of theft, distribution, and possession of trade secrets. Xu allegedly stole source code from the proprietary software of an American software company, where he was previously employed as a developer. Xu intended for this information to benefit the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) National Health and Family Planning Commission.
  • Kun Shan Chun pled guilty on August 1, 2016 to acting in the United States as an agent of the PRC without providing prior notice to the Attorney General. An employee of the FBI, Chun had a Top Secret clearance and was assigned to the Computerized Central Monitoring Facility of the FBI’s Technical Branch. During the investigation, Chun stated that his Chinese associates asked him to “‘consult’ by providing ‘ideas’ relating to ‘technology’ and to ship materials from the United States to them in China.” According to the DOJ press release, Chun repeatedly shared sensitive information with Chinese government officials, including sensitive information on multiple surveillance technologies. Chun faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.
  • On June 9, 2016, Fuyi Sun was indicted for attempting to illegally export high-grade carbon fiber, typically used for military and aerospace purposes, to the PRC. Sun, a Chinese national, allegedlyused email and Skype to negotiate the deal with an U.S. company which  had an online showroom featuring various export-controlled items and, unbeknownst to Sun, was run by undercover agents. In 2013, he nearly came to the United States to obtain the carbon fiber but was spooked by an article about the FBI’s efforts to deter the export of carbon fiber to the PRC. In 2015, Sun recommenced negotiations, and he flew to the United States in April 2016. Before he was arrested, Sun offered many stories for where the carbon fiber was going, including a suggestion that he was selling it to a Chinese military research lab.
  • On July 9, 2016, Wenxia Man was convicted of conspiring to export and cause the export of defense articles without a license. Man attempted to procure fighter jet engines and a MQ-9 Reaper drone, as well as all the accompanying technical data, in order to ship them to her partner-in-crime, Xinsheng Zhang. According to the superseding indictment, Zhang was a resident and an official agent of the PRC. Man repeatedly referred to Zhang as a “technology spy.” Man was sentenced to 50 months in prison on August 19, 2016.
  • As previously discussed, Su Bin was charged with conspiracy for a six-year Chinese operation that stole designs for cutting edge U.S. military aircraft by hacking into defense contractors’ networks. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison on July 13, 2016.
  • On September 26, 2016, Amin Yu was sentenced to 21 months in prison based on her guilty plea to acting as an illegal agent of a foreign government in the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General and conspiracy to commit international money laundering. In an 18-count indictment, the 53 year old Chinese national was also charged with conspiring to defraud the United States and to commit offenses against the United States and smuggling goods from the United States, among other things. Prior to moving to the United States, Yu was the Laboratory Manager at the Marine Control Equipment and System Research Division of Harbin Engineering University (HBU), which conducts research and development for the PRC, the PLA navy, and other government entities. While a resident of the United States, Yu allegedly obtained items for use in the development of marine submersive vehicles and exported them to the PRC for the use of HEU, the PLA navy, and others.
  • On June 29, 2016, Kan Chen, a Chinese national, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years supervised release. After being arrested in Saipan, Chen pled guilty in early March to conspiring to and attempting to violate the Arms Export Control Act and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Chen caused, or attempted to cause, the illegal export of more than 180 items. Over 40 of those items were night vision and thermal imaging scopes. Adding to the severity of the crime, Chen sold the military technology indiscriminately.
  • On April 14, 2016, a two-count indictment against Szuhsiung Ho, a naturalized U.S. citizen, wasunsealed. Ho, China General Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC), and Energy Technology International (ETI) were charged with conspiracy to unlawfully engage and participate in the production and development of special nuclear material outside the United States. Ho was also charged with conspiracy to act within the United States as an agent of a foreign government. Ho was a nuclear engineer employed by CGNPC, and he owned ETI, a U.S. corporation. Allegedly, he recruited U.S. based civil-nuclear experts to assist CGNPC with producing special nuclear material in the PRC. After recruiting the experts, Ho executed their contracts, arranged their travel, and facilitated their payments. The maximum sentence for conspiracy to unlawfully engage and participate in the production and development of special nuclear material outside the United States is life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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Today's Headlines and Commentary 

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New details have emerged regarding the FBI’s arrest of an NSA contractor for reportedly stealing documents from the agency. It remains unclear whether Harold Thomas Martin III, a Booz Allen employee, leaked the information, and the FBI is investigating whether he brought the files home without the intention of disseminating them. According to the Daily Beast, Martin worked in NSA’s elite hacking unit and was working on a dissertation at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. TheNew York Times writes that, in the words of an intelligence official working on the investigation, Martin’s is “a sad case.”
The Times provides further reporting on a recent Reuters story regarding Yahoo’s cooperation with a government order to scan emails for a digital “signature” using technology developed to identify malware and child pornography. According to the Times, the search was conducted pursuant to an order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court under Title I of FISA. However, in a conflicting report, Reuters writes that the order was issued under Section 702 of FISA, which is up for renewal in Congress in December 2017. The details of the story remain heavily ambiguous.
An impending decision by the European Court of Human Rights on U.K. mass surveillance programs could have significant implications for American counter-terrorism operationsreports the Washington Post. A group of human rights organizations filed the lawsuit following the Snowden revelations, challenging the United Kingdom’s mass surveillance policies and its intelligence cooperation with the Five Eyes—Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Syrian military announced it will reduce the tempo of its air and artillery strikes in Aleppo to give civilians time to leave the besieged citywrites the Wall Street Journal. The decision follows widespread international condemnation of the humanitarian consequences of Syrian and Russian operations. The reduction will likely soon give way to a continued government offensive, given that the regime threatened anyone left in Aleppo after the window “would face their ‘inevitable fate.’” Reuters has more.
A bomb killed 25 people, mostly Syrian rebels fighting with the support of the Turkish military, west of Aleppo along the Turkish-Syrian border. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Germany may lead an effort to impose new European sanctions on Russia for its involvement in the Syrian civil warnotes the Journal. Chancellor Angela Merkel first cobbled together European support for sanctions against Russia after its annexation of Crimea two years ago, and there are reports that Germany is in the early stages of discussing a new round of sanctions. Domestic political pressure—both in Germany and in other European states—may ultimately kill the effort, but the possibility highlights the international frustration with Russian adventurism.
France is pushing for a U.N. Security Council resolution to renew the Syrian ceasefire and ground all military flights over Aleppo. French diplomats acknowledged that Russia will certainly veto the resolution, but said that the veto would only highlight Moscow’s complicity with the Syrian regime’s war crimes. Reuters has more.
Russia announced it will no longer cooperate with the United States on nuclear research, following Moscow’s decision on Monday to abrogate an arms control deal, reports the Washington Post. Officials blamed American sanctions against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine as the spoiler, largely sidestepping the key dispute over Syria.
Shiite militias from Iraq are joining Syrian government forces in the siege of Alepponotes theJournal. Over 1,000 soldiers have left the fight against the Islamic State in the past month, which brings the tally of foreign fighters working with the regime to 5,000—half of the government’s military strength in the siege.
As the Islamic State gradually atrophies, Iraq will face tremendous challenges not only from inter-sectarian rivalries but also from intra-sectarian fighting within the Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish communitiesargues the Financial Times. The mobilization and armament of almost every significant group in Iraq to repel the Islamic State has laid the groundwork for competitive infighting to gain dominance within and across communities.
Despite disagreements over the conflict in Syria and sectarian differences, Turkey and Iran are strengthening their bilateral cooperation, including in trade and energy. Turkey’s unique political and historical legacy makes it possible to set aside the sectarian rivalries that have poisoned other Sunni nations’ relationships with Iran, writes the Journal.
The war of words between Iran and Saudi Arabia continues with Revolutionary Guard Corps General and leader of the Quds force Qassem Soleimani suggesting that the Saudi prince—defense minister Mohammed bin Salman—“is very impatient and might kill his king.” Saudi Arabia does not take allusions to regicide lightly. The Washington Post has more.
The United States sharply criticized Israel for violating its promise to halt construction of new settlements after Israeli officials announced development plans in the West Bankreports the Times. The timing of the announcement is particularly galling to the White House given that the United States only recently announced a $38 billion military aid deal to Israel, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu did not inform President Obama of the decision when the two discussed settlements at the United Nations last month.
The battle for Kunduz between Taliban and Afghan government forces has stretched into its fourth dayreports the AP. Despite government assurances that it had recaptured the city the day after it fell, local sources claim that there is still heavy fighting. Almost 10,000 civilians have abandoned the city. While Afghan security units with U.S. backing will likely repel the Taliban from Kunduz, the operation highlights that the Taliban is still capable of challenging government forces fifteen years after the start of the war. The Journal has more.
Almost fifty Afghan soldiers training in the United States have left training sites to live illegally in the United States, Reuters writes. The unusually high frequency of disappearances among Afghan trainees illustrates the problems with developing a professional Afghan National Army, in which the United States has already invested $60 billion.
The Indian military announced today that it repelled an attack on an Indian military base and targeted militants along the Line of Control in Kashmir, ultimately killing seven fighters, reports the Post. The operation is the latest retaliatory move after a Pakistani-sponsored terrorist group attacked an Indian military base last month. Pakistan’s army chief denounced the attack, threatening to retaliate in turn,adds the AP.
The U.N. Security Council has formally voted to approve António Guterres of Portugal as the next U.N. Secretary Generalnotes the Post. All five permanent members of the Council voted in favor of Guterres’ appointment. After serving as the Portuguese prime minister from 1995 to 2002, Guterres was the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015, where he grappled with the onset of the refugee crisis.
The Paris Agreement on climate change will enter into force on November 4thwrites the AP. After the European Union, Canada, and Nepal finalized their ratification of the agreement, the treaty met the key threshold to come into force by including all states responsible for 55 percent of global emissions.
The United States is largely ignoring the controversial statements of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, even as it spars with Duterte over his apparent approval of extrajudicial killings, observes theFinancial Times. In addition to drawing parallels between himself and Hitler, President Duterte has explicitly threatened to subvert the Philippine’s alliance with the United States by canceling military cooperation and pivoting toward greater engagement with China. Polls show that Duterte still retains significant domestic support despite these controversies, and President Obama seems content with letting the next administration tackle this issue.
The Swedish military announced that women may be eligible to be drafted, the Post commented. The decision reflects concerns about the growing Russian threat as well as emerging norms of gender equality in the armed forces. Sweden only recently announced plans to reinstate the draft after abolishing it in 2010.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for killing six people in an attack targeting Christians in Kenya, thePost writes. Kenya’s decision in 2011 to deploy troops in Somalia to fight al-Shabaab has prompted numerous retaliatory attacks over the years.
Two former CIA officials will be deposed on the agency’s post-911 interrogation program in a lawsuit brought by the ACLUreports the Post. Three former detainees are suing the two contractors who developed the CIA’s interrogation program, which is now widely considered to have included torture. Former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Jose Rodriguez and former CIA general counsel John Rizzo will submit to depositions.
ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare
John Bellinger suggested presidential waiver authority as a potential remedy to mitigate the effects of JASTA.
Nicholas Weaver warned of the need to prepare for electoral chaos from Russian electronic interference with the election.
Bobby Chesney provided information on the NSA contractor who was recently arrested for bringing home classified materials.
Zachary Burdette and Quinta Jurecic outlined the national security highlights from the vice presidential debate.
Emma Borden delved into the details of the $1.7 billion payment that the United States made to Iran earlier this year.
Dan Byman explored the insights that historical analogies can provide into the Middle East’s contemporary problems.
Emailthe Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us onTwitterandFacebookfor additional commentary on these issues.Sign upto receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit ourEvents Calendarto learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on ourJob Board.
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Are Companies Bulk-Scanning E-mails for Spy Agencies?

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UPDATE: Charlie Savage and Nicole Perlroth have an article in The New York Times resolving quite a few of the questions raised here; I’ve added comments as appropriate.
Reuters dropped a bombshell story Tuesday afternoon, reporting that in 2015 Yahoo agreed to scan all their users’ incoming e-mails on behalf of a U.S. intelligence agency, hunting for a particular “character string” and turning over messages where it found a match to the government. Yet the vagueness of the story—which appears to be based on sources with limited access to the details of the surveillance—leaves a maddening number of unanswered questions.  Yahoo has not greatly helped matters with a meticulously worded non-denial, calling the story “misleading” without substantively denying it and asserting that the “scanning described in the article does not exist on our systems.” (Obvious follow-up questions: Did it exist in 2015? Does it now exist on some other systems?) Here’s the core claim from Reuters:
Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company complied with a classified U.S. government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said two former employees and a third person apprised of the events.
Some immediate questions prompted but unanswered by the piece: What exactly were the e-mails being scanned for?  Was this conventional scanning for a “selector” associated with an intelligence target, such as the sender’s e-mail account or originating e-mail server, or something else?  Was scanning limited to message headers, or did it extend to the content of messages or file attachments? What was the legal authority used to make this demand? If such scanning does not currently “exist on [Yahoo’s] systems,” is it happening elsewhere in the communications stream, or likely to exist there again in the future? Was Yahoo unusual in receiving such a demand, or have other providers been asked to do something similar?
We can start with the last question: Sam Biddle of The  Intercept  queried some major providers and got relatively straightforward denials from Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple—though it remains possible that this is a byproduct of the Reuters story having gotten some details of the story wrong. Microsoft said they had “never engaged in the secret scanning of e-mail traffic like what has been reported” but “would not comment on the record as to whether the company has ever received such a request,” which could reflect simple legal caution—intelligence surveillance requests are invariably covered by broad gag orders, and it gets awkward quickly if you deny getting some types but “no comment” others—or could be an indication that the company received a similar demand, but successfully fought it.
Update: Disregard these two paragraphs; per the New York Times report, this was pursuant to a conventional FISA surveillance order, not §702—presumably one the Reuters sources were not privy to, as I’d parenthetically considered.  What about the likely legal basis for the “demand”?  The story conspicuously uses the word “demand” rather than “court order,” which suggests that we’re looking at a directive under the controversial Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.  Yet the article also implies that the demand was not merely a request: The company considered “fighting” it but concluded they would likely lose in court, and felt sufficiently constrained to keep it secret that they kept their own security team in the dark, eventually prompting the resignation of security chief Alex Stamos. So this was a demand with the force of law, which in the absence of a court order implies §702. (It is possible there was an order that the Reuters sources were not privy to, but let’s tentatively take that wording to indicate the demand did not take that form.) Bolstering that conclusion are the comments of Sen. Ron Wyden, who sits on the intelligence committee, referencing §702 in connection with the Yahoo story and insisting that the “the executive branch has an obligation to inform the public” (not, conspicuously, “the public and Congress”—perhaps implying this is not news to him) if surveillance under §702 is no longer limited to specific user accounts, but involves scanning content.
Unlike traditional surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA),  which requires the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to issue specific orders authorizing monitoring of specific targets, §702 permits the intelligence community to issue “directives” requiring communications providers like Yahoo to provide the government with messages pertaining to foreign targets selected by the agencies without any specific court approval: The court only approves the general procedures used to select targets.  At last count, there were 94,368 such “targets” being monitored under the a single blanket authorization.
Thanks to Edward Snowden’s disclosures, the public now knows there are two primary ways the NSA conducts §702 surveillance: the PRISM programinvolves obtaining content directly from American providers like Yahoo, Microsoft, or Google.  The government would build a list of “selectors”—identifiers such as e-mail addresses—linked to their foreign targets, and then “task” collection on those selectors, requiring companies to hand over data associated a specific user account.  Separately, the government also used §702 to conduct what it dubbed “Upstream” surveillance—meaning scanning communications traffic in motion as it flowed over the Internet backbone.  Upstream surveillance, too, is targeted at particular “selectors,” but crucially, it is not limited to messages sent to or from the target.  Rather, communications are scanned in their entirety, and anymatch for one of the approved selectors—including, for example, a mention of the target’s e-mail address in the body of an e-mail between two other people—would trigger interception of that communication.  This practice of acquiring messages that pertain to the target, but are neither communications to or from the target, has been widely referred to as “about collection,” and is one of the more controversial aspects of §702. One limitation, however, was that the National Security Agency would filter the communications using Internet Protocol addresses in an effort to exclude completely domestic communications—e-mails between two people inside the United States—which they are not supposed to collect under §702. At least as of 2009, such filtering was required by the§702 targeting proceduresthe FISC had approved.
What’s new here, if the Reuters story is at least broadly accurate, is that Yahoo was not just asked to turn over the communications of specific targeted Yahoo users, but apparently scanning the incoming e-mails of all users and turning the matches over to the government.  What might be going on here?  Well, the simplest explanation would simply be that the government—or perhaps more specifically the FBI, which normally has full access to PRISM databases, but not the Upstream take gathered by NSA—decided to replicate the “about collection” they were doing via Upstream within the systems of e-mail providers.  Why would they need to do that?  One possibility is just that FBI wanted access to the results of “about” searches in the PRISM databases they have access to. The most likely answer, however, is that especially since the Snowden revelations began, more and more companies have been encrypting their traffic by default.  That means data that would have been visible to an NSA sniffer sitting on the Internet backbone is now scrambled and unintelligible, making Upstream increasingly useless.  Even for NSA, breaking the encryption on traffic wholesale is likely infeasible—but aside from any message content separately encrypted by individual users, that traffic would be readable once it had arrived at Yahoo and been decrypted with the company’s private keys.  Yahoorolled out default HTTPS encryption for Webmail users in 2014.
Nothing at this point is absolutely certain, but I feel at least reasonably confident about this much, and other surveillance experts I’ve spoken to have come to similar conclusions.  On the million dollar question of what, exactly, Yahoo was asked to scan for, it’s necessary to get somewhat more speculative.  There are several possibilities.
The most innocuous of these would be that the government only asked Yahoo to look at e-mailheaders for the purpose of collecting messages from specific foreign targets—specified by their e-mail addresses or originating e-mail servers—who were not Yahoo users.  But this seems doubtful for at least three reasons. First, it doesn’t sound like the sort of thing that would be the source of significant internal controversy, or need to be kept secret from the security team. Second, it seems unlikely to require the production of significant new code: E-mail providers routinely filter incoming e-mail from known spammers or cyberattackers.  Third, it seems hard to believe the government would be making requests of this kind for the first time in 2015, or that it would be necessary to specifically scan all and only incoming e-mail in realtime for this purpose.  Intelligence agencies often learn about a new e-mail address associated with a surveillance target, and would naturally want to obtain older messages to or from that address from cooperative providers.
More probable, then, is the possibility alluded to earlier: That the Yahoo request represented an expansion of Upstream “about collection” rendered increasingly ineffective by pervasive encryption.  The scans, on this scenario, would still be looking for selectors like e-mail or IP addresses associated with §702 targets, but would include the contents of e-mail messages, not only headers.  One reason to find this legally unsettling is that the government has previously justified “about” collection on the grounds that it is too technically difficult to isolate header information from message contents in realtime as it flows over the Internet backbone. The claim, in other words, was that they don’t want to go poking through the contents of messages, but since Internet packets all look the same from the outside, this is the only way to ensure they’re not missing messages that are to or from the target.  The trouble is that while this argument has some plausibility when it comes to backbone searches, it is not really credible when collection is conducted by a service provider like Yahoo:  At that point, the various packets making up a message have not only been decrypted, but stitched together and processed as a particular type of communication with a particular format and characteristic structure.  I can’t speak in any detail to Yahoo’s setup, but there is no obvious technicalreason they would be unable to pull out messages to or from particular users without looking at message content.  It’s a more complicated question whether this casts doubt on the legality of such scans, but at that point it would seem to be a matter of wanting to conduct “about” searches, not a technical necessity.
Yet another possibility is that these scans are related to the expanded use of surveillance authorities for cybersecurity purposes.  As Charlie Savage of The New York Times reported last year,  NSA and FBI are increasingly turning to these tools to detect cyberattackers.  An e-mail scan, then, might target either text or a Web link associated with an ongoing “spear-phishing” attack, a signature associated with a malware payload in a file attachment, or a fragment of a file containing stolen data. This would be extremely useful, of course, when the government knows what a particular cyberattack looks like, or what particular data has been exfiltrated by hackers, but does not know either the identity of the culprit or which particular disposable e-mail accounts their target will be using.  But it would also be extremely concerning to the extent that it represents a shift from a familiar and relatively uncontroversial model of surveillance—identify your target, then look specifically at the contents of their communications—to a mass surveillance model where all content is scanned indiscriminately for the purpose of identifying the target.
Update: Ding ding ding.  This appears to be the right answer.  A related possibility would be scanning for electronic signatures associated with cryptographic tools used by known adversaries—such as a string of characters indicating that a message is encrypted with the Mujahideen Secrets softwareused by Al Qaeda.  NSA’s targeting procedures for §702 seem to contemplate keying surveillance to such signatures. One of the criteria mentioned for verifying the “foreignness” of a surveillance target is:
Information indicates that  Internet Protocol ranges  and/or specific  electronic  identifiers or signatures  (e.g., specific types  of cryptology  or steganography)  are  used  almost  exclusively by individuals  associated with  a foreign power  or foreign territory,  or are extensively  used  by individuals  associated  with a foreign power  or foreign territory.
Again, it is not hard to see why intelligence agencies would find such scans useful, but it would be a serious mistake to normalize the bulk scanning of communications content—an indiscriminate Fourth Amendment “search” of people not known to be foreign intelligence targets—even if one is not overly dismayed by a particular application of that approach.  Surveillance architectures create their own institutional momentum, and a software tool designed to scan for digital signatures can just as easily scan for words or phrases in messages written by humans—a possibility that becomes far more tempting once the necessary technical infrastructure is in place.
It is hard to chose between these possibilities—or rule out others I may not have considered in detail—with the scant information provided by Reuters. Some features of the story are at least suggestive, however.  Why was the e-mail scan described as specifically limited to realtime monitoring (rather than applying to all messages in storage) of incoming messages (but not, apparently, outgoing messages sent by Yahoo users).  One way to read this would be as supporting the cybersecurity hypothesis: If you are monitoring an ongoing attack, or track some piece of data that has just been stolen, there’s no need to waste time digging through old messages, and speed may be essential to an effective response.
Alternatively, there’s a possible legal or procedural rationale for the limitation that might make sense if the intent was to replicate Upstream “about” searches.  In NSA jargon, there is the “target” of surveillance (the person or entity about or from whom information is sought); the “selector” (the specific term used to filter out the information to be collected); and the “facility” at which surveillance is directed (the physical or virtual communications channel from which the information is obtained).  In the simplest type of case, these could all be the same:  There is a target known only as the user of a particular e-mail address, which serves as both the “selector” and—when communications are obtained from the provider who hosts that account—the “facility” at which surveillance is directed.  But they might also all be different.  An individual target might have several associated “selectors” (different e-mail accounts or other digital identifiers), and as the case of Upstream “about collection” shows, the “facility” might be an Internet routing switch rather than a particular repository of stored messages associated with that account.  My (possibly incomplete) understanding from discussions with intelligence officials is that a scan of the content of message sitting in a particular user’s inbox would be considered surveillance “directed at the facility” of the individual user’s account, even if the scan was based on some different selector.  And that probably requires that the user whose inbox it is has either been designated as a foreign target or, if they’re a U.S. person, is named in a particularized warrant issued by the FISC.  Conceivably, however, intelligence community lawyers have decided the situation is different if the scans are conducted before messages are routed to specific inboxes—at which stage they’re treated analogously to Upstream traffic.  Before arriving in the recipient’s inbox, in other words, there might be no “particular, known U.S. person” who could be considered a “target” of the scan, triggering a laxer set of rules constraining searches.
Much of this is speculative, and we’ll doubtless learn more in the days and weeks to come.  But anyone who cares about digital privacy should be keeping a close eye on this evolving story.
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The Early Edition: October 6, 2016 

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Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
SYRIA
The Syrian military said it will decrease airstrikes on Aleppo’s rebel-held areas following an international outcry over its bombardment of the city over the past few weeks, backed by Russia, Noam Raydan reports at the Wall Street Journal.
The Assad regime warned civilians and rebels inside Aleppo to leave or face their “inevitable fate” in a statement released last night, Reuters reports.
Iraqi militia are fighting for the Assad regime in Aleppo, further complicating the tangled web of US alliances against the Islamic State in the region, Tamer El-Ghobashy and Maria Abi-Habib report at the Wall Street Journal.
An explosion in a village in northwestern Syria close to the border with Turkey killed at least 20 people today, Syrian activists said. [AP]  The Islamic State claimed the attack, which targeted Turkey-backed rebel factions on the Syrian side of the Atmeh crossing, west of Aleppo. [Reuters]
Russian warplanes are using new Kh-101 long-range missiles in their campaign in Syria, according to Russian Defense Minister Shoigu. [Interfax]
The Russian military will use its experience in the Syrian conflict to further improve its weapons, the Russian defense ministry said. [AP]
The Obama administration has no plan to save Aleppo, Nancy A. Youssef observes at The Daily Beast. While US officials are working to find ways to slow down the Syrian-Russian advance on the besieged city, none of the options being developed would stop Aleppo from falling into the hands of President Assad and his Russian allies.
It’s not just that the US has done so little to directly assist Syrian rebels. A more fundamental failure is that it has refused to arm those who are willing to fight on their own behalf against Assad, Daniel Henninger writes at the Wall Street Journal, likening Aleppo to “Obama’s Sarajevo.”
Inaction by the US, Britain and France is essentially green-lighting the Syrian government and its allies’ war crimes, Samer Attar, a surgeon volunteer with the Syrian American Medical Society and the Aleppo City Medical Council, writes at the Washington Post.
It is too late for the US to intervene in Syria without risking a major war, Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson argue at the New York Times.
IRAQ
The US-led coalition in Iraq is investigating reports that an airstrike killed at least 19 pro-Iraqi government fighters in a village south of Mosul, it said yesterday. Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.  The airstrike took place at 2 a.m. yesterday after hours of clashes between the pro-government fighters and the Islamic State in the Islamic State-held village of Haj Ali, the leader of the pro-government fighters said. [AP’s Sinan Salaheddin]
Iraq has requested an emergency UN Security Council session to address the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq, an Iraqi foreign ministry spokesperson said today. [AP’s Sinan Salaheddin]
RUSSIA
Russia suspended an agreement with the US on research cooperation in the nuclear and energy sectors, a suspension decree posted on the Russian government’s website yesterday, the APreports, calling it the latest move in worsening tensions between the two nations.
The US must “revisit its overall approach” to the Russian government, ranking Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin said. POLITICO’s Nahal Toosi reports.
AFGHANISTAN
Residents of Afghanistan’s Kunduz have accused Afghan and coalition officials of playing down the violence in the city, saying a large number of Taliban fighters were still in the city as fighting for control of Kunduz continued for a third day yesterday, Jessica Donati, Julian E. Barnes and Habib Khan Totakhil report at the Wall Street Journal.
Civilians are increasingly leaving Kunduz to escape the fighting, which officials said is now in its fourth day. [AP]
In less than two years 44 Afghan troops visiting the US for military training have gone missing, Pentagon officials said. [Reuters]
The “strategic and tactical muddle” that is the US’s ongoing intervention in Afghanistan will be President Obama’s “sorriest legacy,” according to Mark Perry at POLITICO Magazine.
ISRAEL and PALESTINE
The Obama administration criticized the Israeli government for approving plans to create a new Jewish settlement in the West Bank yesterday, the New York Times’ Mark Landler reports.
“Israel remains committed to a solution of two states for two peoples, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state of Israel,” Israel’s government said in a statement released after the US’s rebuke. [Wall Street Journal’s Rory Jones]
INDIA and PAKISTAN
Indian forces fired without provocation across the de facto border in Kashmir yesterday, wounding one woman, Pakistan’s military alleges. [Al Jazeera]
The Indian army says it foiled an attack on an army camp and killed three suspected rebels in India-controlled Kashmir today, the AP reports.
The international community should “condemn” the “distortion of facts by India” regarding Kashmir,Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif said today, adding that any “aggression” will not go unpunished and will be “met with a befitting response.” [DAWN]
CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY
A former NSA contractor was covertly arrested in August by the FBI, which is investigating whether he stole and disclosed highly classified computer code designed by the agency to hack into the networks of foreign governments, the New York Times’ Jo Becker, Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo report.
A new Snowden? Josh Gerstein and Cory Bennett ponder at POLITICO, noting the arrestee Harold Martin III worked at Booz Allen Hamilton, the same company that employed former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Booz Allen Hamilton is ironically the provider of a special service called Insider4Sight designed to help the government spot “insider threats,” observes Lee Fang at the Intercept, who reports that Martin was charged yesterday.
Yahoo’s “carefully-worded” statement in response to Tuesday’s story by Reuters apparently exposing the company’s government-ordered surveillance program amounts to a “non-denial,” is Sam Biddle’s interpretation at the Intercept.
“Unusual restrictions” on the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state were attacked by Republican committee chairmen questioning Attorney General Loretta Lynch yesterday, Katie Bo Williams reports at the Hill.
The FBI treated Clinton with “kid gloves,” agree lawyers Noel J. Francisco and James M. Burnham, writing at the Wall Street Journal, illustrating their point with a comparison between the Clinton investigation and the FBI probe into former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnel, whom they defended.
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Former Portuguese prime minister António Guterrer will be the next UN secretary general after all 15 ambassadors from the UN Security Council agreed, Julian Borger reports at the Guardian.
Clear front-runner Guterres previously ran the UN refugee agency for 10 years, Somini Sengupta writes at the New York Times. He will face a formal Council vote today and will then have his name submitted to the 193-member General Assembly for approval, which will likely happen next week.
Two former CIA officials will be compelled to answer questions under oath regarding the agency’s interrogations of terror suspects, a federal judge ruled Tuesday as part of a lawsuit against former CIA contractors by the American Civil Liberties Union, reports Greg Miller at the Washington Post.
The FBI and US Customs and Border Protection work together to exploit the vulnerabilities of travelers arriving at US airports from abroad to recruit informants, according to government documents obtained by The Intercept’s Cora Currier.
A suspected al-Shabaab attack has left six people dead in northern Kenya near its border with Somalia, Tom Odula reports at the AP.
A “potential terrorist attack” left two police officers in Brussels with knife wounds yesterday, Milan Schreuer and Alissa J. Rubin report at the New York Times.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is being pressed to bring up a straight 10-year extension of key Iran sanctions by Senate Democrats when lawmakers return to Washington next month, Jordain Carney reports at the Hill.
Recruits to Islamic militant groups are most likely to be well educated and relatively wealthy, a study by the World Bank has found. Jason Burke reports at the Guardian.
The US and the EU can “go ahead” and withdraw their assistance to the Philippines if they are unhappy with his drugs war, President Rodrigo Duterte said today. [Reuters]
Thousands of Colombians took part in a “March for Peace” demanding that the government and the FARC rebels not give up on a peace deal that was narrowly rejected by voters in a referendum last weekend, Joshua Goodman reports at the AP.
Germany’s defense minister warned the UK against exploiting the run-up to Brexit to block EU efforts to increase security co-operation among bloc members, Stefan Wagstyl reports at the Financial Times.
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If the Saudi-Led Coalition is Committing War Crimes, the US is Aiding and Abetting Them 

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A few days ago, Ryan Goodman announced on Twitter that we should expect “a challenge to (some) critics of Defense Department support to Saudi Arabia.” Jay Shooster published that challenge onJust Security earlier this week, arguing that the US is not necessarily liable for aiding and abetting war crimes when the US offers targeting assistance for Saudi strikes in Yemen, and that human rights groups are hypocritical in arguing that the US is necessarily liable. Much of this argument relies on an erroneous conflation of targeting assistance and international humanitarian law (IHL) assistance. On that and other grounds, I disagree.
To start, an important disclaimer: I cannot confirm the existence or extent of Saudi war crimes, though this post, like Jay’s, assumes they have taken place. Neither I nor my organization has investigated civilian casualty incidents in Yemen. Reports from Amnesty and Human Rights Watch – along with my own observations in Yemen – confirm a pattern of attacks that have consistently damaged schools, hospitals, critical civilian infrastructure, and major economic facilities that generally may not be targeted.
The argument against automatic liability is framed as a challenge to human rights and humanitarian organizations that have supposedly staked out a hypocritical position. It begins:
“In 2010, human rights organizations argued in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project that if we want to promote compliance with the law of armed conflict, we cannot punish advocacy groups who help human rights violators comply with the law. If we accept that argument, then why should human rights advocates suggest that the United States is automatically liable “as a matter of law” for unlawful Saudi-led coalition military strikes in Yemen on which the US Defense Department provides targeting assistance?”
Setting aside the fact that the organizations arguing in Holder are not all the same organizations advocating against defense assistance to Saudi Arabia, this first paragraph gives the reader the impression that the human rights community has trained its sights on “targeting assistance” as the problematic aspect of US-Saudi defense cooperation. This is wrong. Like some other humanitarian organizations, Oxfam (where I work) opposes the transfer of arms and provision of operational support (such as aerial refueling) to any party to the conflict, on the grounds that this kind of support facilitates fighting, legitimizes the conflict, and relieves pressure on parties to make concessions toward a political settlement (these are policy arguments, not legal ones). Oxfam also believes, like human rights organizations, that arms should not be provided where there is an overriding risk that they will be used to commit gross violations of human rights or war crimes (the Arms Trade Treaty standard). For most organizations, US targeting assistance is an afterthought compared to US arms sales and refueling, which constitute critical support to the disastrous Saudi war in Yemen.
Rather than grapple with actual NGO arguments or properly contextualize the one with which he wants to engage, the earlier post pulls out one line from the sixth paragraph of an op-ed column by Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson in the LA Times and proceeds against it as the argument of “the human rights community.” It neglects to mention that Sarah Leah devotes the first five paragraphs of her op-ed to arms sales before turning to targeting assistance, and he chooses to ignore human rights organizations’ other principal concerns.
Putting aside his representation of human rights organizations and their views, the core of Jay’s argument appears to be: if Saudi Arabia conducts airstrikes that are war crimes with targeting assistance from the US, the US is not necessarily liable. First, let me say what I agree with Jay in part: under certain circumstances, it is possible that IHL education and compliance assistance would not aid and abet war crimes. Jay allows for this possible agreement when he writes:
“First off, maybe those arguing that the US is necessarily liable for providing targeting assistance on unlawful strikes did not intend to extend that argument to cases where the DOD merely provided assistance directed towards ensuring compliance with IHL.”
The problem is, when it comes to US-Saudi cooperation in Yemen, the possibility that US targeting assistance might be so limited is precluded by the circumstances and available information.
It’s unclear on what basis targeting assistance is assumed to be the same as IHL assistance, but they are not. For one thing, it’s entirely counterintuitive: if targeting assistance were limited to IHL assistance, particularly in a war that is subject to Congressional and public scrutiny, the Department of Defense would surely call it something other than targeting assistance. They might call it “civilian protection advice” or “legal support,” for example. In fact, it is called targeting assistance precisely because it is substantially broader than the narrow provision of legal advice. Jay dismisses the fact that US support is motivated more by self-interest than humanitarian concerns, but it’s precisely these mixed motives that make it impossible to segregate IHL advice from other forms of targeting assistance that the US may be offering, such as assessments of targets’ strategic and tactical value, input on the sequencing of targets, and advice on weapons use for particular targets. These kinds of support aren’t inherently malicious or unlawful. They may reduce civilian harm, but they may also increase it – particularly when the recipient is engaged in a consistent pattern of violations. For example, advising a state to avoid bombing a bridge that’s essential for humanitarian assistance and commercial trade could help minimize civilian harm – or, if the state aims to fight a war of attrition, could result in the bridge’s destruction.
This is where the Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project analogy falls down. The engagement of the Humanitarian Law Project and its amici with designated terrorist groups was limited to trainings on and assistance with peaceful dispute resolution and IHL. Moreover, the exclusive aims of those groups were to reduce violence and enhance respect for international norms.  Targeting assistance that co-mingles IHL advice and other forms of support would be akin to a HLP course on “winning over the public,” including IHL compliance but also including the provision of public services and the conduct of propaganda and public relations – techniques that may tend to reduce reliance on nonviolence but still may also enable and legitimize use of violent terrorist tactics.
To make matters more complex, US targeting assistance takes place alongside US refueling of Saudi jets, arms sales, and intelligence support, and simultaneously with a US effort to shield Saudi Arabia from accountability for violations of IHL in international organizations. Therefore, even if IHL-related targeting advice were segregated from other forms of assistance, the nature of US assistance as a whole calls into question the purpose of the targeting advice. If HLP’s IHL compliance training were sandwiched between courses like “How to Manufacture a Pipe Bomb in Five Easy Steps” and “Keeping Your Head After the School Blows Up,” and accompanied by the sale of explosives, the human rights community would not be quite so sympathetic. Underlying the HLP arguments is a presumption of good faith by the trainers. I admit I’m not sure if this presumption should be legally relevant; after all, I wouldn’t mind terribly if terrorist groups were training each other on IHL compliance. But it is certainly relevant as a matter of good, professional human rights practice. And it’s one more reason that the charge of hypocrisy against human rights organizations is misguided.
The author writes here in his personal capacity; his views do not necessarily reflect those of his employer.
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US|Another Breach Shines a Light on Booz Allen's Ubiquitous Spy Business - New York Times

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New York Times

US|Another Breach Shines a Light on Booz Allen's Ubiquitous Spy Business
New York Times
The director of national intelligence during the George W. Bush administration, Mike McConnell, was an executive at Booz Allen; President Obama's director of national intelligence, James R.Clapper Jr., worked for the firm before returning to ...

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Director of the NSA Discusses Future of International Cyber Security ... - Harvard Crimson

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Harvard Crimson

Director of the NSA Discusses Future of International Cyber Security ...
Harvard Crimson
Admiral Michael S. Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, discussed cyber security and political controversy surrounding the NSA at the John F.

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Comment: Far-right militancy is just as dangerous as Islamist extremism 

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Many in the United States associate terrorism with contemporary versions of militant Islam. The data, however, tells a different story: since 2002, domestic extremists who hold far-right ideologies have struck more often and have killed more people than Islamic-inspired radicals. 



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Obama administration considering strikes on Assad, again

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Top national security officials in the Obama administration are set to discuss options for the way forward in Syria.

What Donald Trump got right about PTSD — and what he left out 

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Donald Trump continues to be hammered for suggesting that soldiers and veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder are somehow weaker than those who do not.

DHS: Hackers Probing Presidential Election Systems

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As the United States gears up for the presidential election in November, lawmakers are raising concerns over the cybersecurity of US voting systems.

Global security frayed under Obama - Albuquerque Journal

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Albuquerque Journal

Global security frayed under Obama
Albuquerque Journal
Obama's speech was preceded by some sickening reminders of how global security is fraying: The day before, a Syrian, or perhaps Russian, airstrike had ravaged a U.N. aid convoy trying to relieve Aleppo; over the weekend, a lone-wolf terrorist had tried ...

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How Far Will Obama and Putin Go in Their Duel over Syria?

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October 6, 2016, 10:50 PM (IDT)
He has no intention of sinking any further into the Syrian war quagmire.

Egypt’s El-Sisi Falls out with Saudis over Syria’s Assad

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October 6, 2016, 10:50 PM (IDT)
All their monumental joint projects are put on ice by their dispute on Syria.
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The US and Russia Put out Identical Disinformation for Opposite Goals in Syria

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October 6, 2016, 10:50 PM (IDT)
Obama uses this tool to evade military action, while Putin flexes muscles.

Columbian President awarded Nobel Peace Prize

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October 7, 2016, 12:19 PM (IDT)
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Announcing the award in Oslo Friday, the judges praised him for negotiating a peace deal with Farc rebels, signed last month after four years of negotiations. However, the agreement was narrowly rejected by Colombians in a referendum last weekend. The 52-year conflict has led to the deaths of an estimated 260,000 people with more than six million people internally displaced.

3 Charged With Unlawfully Shipping Military Tech to Russia - ABC News

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The Denver Channel

3 Charged With Unlawfully Shipping Military Tech to Russia
ABC News
A New York City man and two Russian nationals have been arrested and charged after federal authorities say they were involved in a scheme to unlawfully export advanced militarytechnology used in missile guidance systems to Russia. Authorities say ...
Russian nationals arrested in Denver on charges they helped send military technology to RussiaThe Denver Channel

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Chemical weapon for sale: China's unregulated narcotic - The Seattle Times

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The Seattle Times

Chemical weapon for sale: China's unregulated narcotic
The Seattle Times
In this June 27, 2016 photo provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, members of the RCMP go through a decontamination procedure in Vancouver after intercepting a package containing approximately 1... (Royal Canadian Mounted Police via AP) ...

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Joint Chiefs of Staff, CIA director, White House Convene: Threat of US-Russia Clash Grows After Washington Cuts Off ... - Center for Research on Globalization

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RT

Joint Chiefs of Staff, CIA director, White House Convene: Threat of US-Russia Clash Grows After Washington Cuts Off ...
Center for Research on Globalization
According to the official cited by the Post, both the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have already “expressed support for such 'kinetic' options.” Another unnamed senior administration official told the Post that both the Pentagon and the CIA were ...
Amid Deteriorating U.S.-Russia Relations, Questions Grow About CyberwarWHQR

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CIA Poke at DoD Intelligence Was Not “Substantiated” - Secrecy News (blog)

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CIA Poke at DoD Intelligence Was Not “Substantiated”
Secrecy News (blog)
In a dispute that pitted member agencies of the U.S. intelligence community against each other, the Central Intelligence Agency claimed that “a questionable intelligence activity” had been carried out in 2014 by agents of the Department of Defense.