Mattis Statement Means Trump Not Bluffing

Secretary of Defense James Mattis made the following statement:

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Mattis making a statement like this indicates not only that military operations are possible, but that active planning is underway if not completed.  This situation looks to get more tense in the near future and the outcome as to whether military action takes place may lie with China’s ability to bring the DPRK under some sort of control.

One scenario would be for China to take preemptive action to remove the regime and occupy the North as a buffer to the South.

Withdrawing from Overseas Bases: Why a Forward-Deployed Military Posture Is Unnecessary, Outdated, and Dangerous

Introduction In contemporary foreign policy debates, analysts and policymakers largely take America’s worldwide constellation of overseas military bases for granted. But America’s forward-deployed military posture—that is, its policy of maintaining a large overseas military presence—incurs substantial risk.

Source: Withdrawing from Overseas Bases: Why a Forward-Deployed Military Posture Is Unnecessary, Outdated, and Dangerous

Chechnya’s Leader Claims “Russian Doomsday Device” Is Activated

  1. Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com, Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Chechnya, gave a rare interview to a media outlet in the United States that aired Tuesday, and what he said is taking many aback… While speaking to HBO’s Real Sports , Kadyrov denied that gay people are humans, that they exist in his region , and that his government regularly detains or tortures them, despite ample reports to the contrary .

Source: Chechnya’s Leader Claims “Russian Doomsday Device” Is Activated

Is This Why Snowden Had to Break the Law to Become an NSA Whistleblower?

Is This Why Snowden Had to Break the Law to Become an NSA Whistleblower?

by Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge / 2016-12-17 10:37

Submitted by Nick Bernabe via TheAntiMedia.org,

National Security Agency (NSA) inspector general George Ellard, an outspoken critic of whistleblower Edward Snowden, personally retaliated against another NSA whistleblower, Adam Zagorin reported at the Project on Government Overreach (POGO) on Thursday.

An intelligence community panel earlier this year found that Ellard had retaliated against a whistleblower, Zagorin writes, in a judgment that has still not been made public.

The finding is remarkable because Ellard first made headlines two years ago when he publicly condemned Snowden for leaking information about the NSA’s mass surveillance of private citizens, wherein Ellard claimed that Snowden should have raised concerns through internal channels. The agency would have protected him from any retaliation, Ellard said at the time.

Politico reported on Ellard’s 2014 comments:

“‘We have surprising success in resolving the complaints that are brought to us,’ he said.

“In Snowden’s case, Ellard said a complaint would have prompted an independent assessment into the constitutionality of the law that allows for the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone metadata. But that review, he added, would have also shown the NSA was within the scope of the law.

“‘Perhaps it’s the case that we could have shown, we could have explained to Mr. Snowden his misperceptions, his lack of understanding of what we do,’ Ellard said.”

Yet documents confirmed earlier this year that Snowden had, indeed, reported concerns to several NSA officials—who took no action and discouraged him from continuing to voice concerns. Moreover, as Snowden told Vice News:

“I was not protected by U.S. whistleblower laws, and I would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about law breaking in accordance with the recommended process.”

Ellard’s 2014 criticism of Snowden appears particularly threadbare after he has been found personally guilty of whistleblower retaliation.

The judgment also came from an external panel of Ellard’s fellow intelligence agency watchdogs. Zagorin writes:

“[L]ast May, after eight months of inquiry and deliberation, a high-level Intelligence Community panel found that Ellard himself had previously retaliated against an NSA whistleblower, sources tell the Project On Government Oversight. Informed of that finding, NSA’s Director, Admiral Michael Rogers, promptly issued Ellard a notice of proposed termination, although Ellard apparently remains an agency employee while on administrative leave, pending a possible response to his appeal from Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

The closely held but unclassified finding against Ellard is not public. It was reached by following new whistleblower protections set forth by President Obama in an executive order, Presidential Policy Directive 19. (A President Trump could, in theory, eliminate the order.) Following PPD-19 procedures, a first-ever External Review Panel (ERP) composed of three of the most experienced watchdogs in the US government was convened to examine the issue. The trio—[Inspectors General (IGs)] of the Justice Department, Treasury, and CIA—overturned an earlier finding of the Department of Defense IG, which investigated Ellard but was unable to substantiate his alleged retaliation.”

“The finding against Ellard is extraordinary and unprecedented,” Stephen Aftergood, director of the Secrecy Program at the Federation of American Scientists, told Zagorin. “This is the first real test drive for a new process of protecting intelligence whistleblowers. Until now, they’ve been at the mercy of their own agencies, and dependent on the whims of their superiors. This process is supposed to provide them security and a procedural foothold.”

Ellard served as inspector general of the NSA for nine years, Zagorin notes.

The revelation about Ellard echoes other reports of retaliation against whistleblowers from the internal watchdogs meant to protect them, and further affirms Snowden’s repeated argument that he had no choice but to go public with his mass surveillance leaks.

“More generally,” observes Zagorin, “there are few if any incentives for intelligence whistleblowers to report problems through designated authorities when the IG of [the] NSA is found to have retaliated against such an individual.”

The Intercept Publishes A Post From James Clapper’s Classified Blog… the ‘Intercept’

The Intercept Publishes A Post From James Clapper’s Classified Blog… the ‘Intercept’

by Tim Cushing

Techdirt. / 2016-12-16 13:25

from the stupid-spoiled-Americans-and-their-rights dept

The Intercept, a site that regularly publishes classified documents, reports that the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, also publishes a classified internal blog

Georgia Confirms Homeland Security Attempted To Hack Election Database 10 Separate Times

Georgia Confirms Homeland Security Attempted To Hack Election Database 10 Separate Times

by Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge / 2016-12-14 20:03

Last week we noted a letter from Georgia Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, to the Department of Homeland Security questioning why someone with a DHS IP address (216.81.81.80) had attempted to hack into his state’s election database on November 15, 2016 at 8:43AM. Now, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta, we learn that Georgia’s election systems were actually the target of hacking by DHS on 10 separate occasions.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office now confirms 10 separate cyberattacks on its network were all traced back to U.S. Department of Homeland Security addresses.

In an exclusive interview, a visibly frustrated Secretary of State Brian Kemp confirmed the attacks of different levels on his agency’s network over the last 10 months. He says they all traced back to DHS internet provider addresses.

“We’re being told something that they think they have it figured out, yet nobody’s really showed us how this happened,” Kemp said. “We need to know.”

Kemp told Channel 2’s Aaron Diamant his office’s cybersecurity vendor discovered the additional so-called vulnerability scans to his network’s firewall after a massive mid-November cyberattack triggered an internal investigation.

Meanwhile, Kemp pointed out that all of the attempted hackings occurred around critical registration and voting deadlines calling into question whether “somebody was trying to prove a point.”

The Secretary of State’s Office manages Georgia’s elections, and most concerning for Kemp about the newly discovered scans is the timing.

The first one happened on Feb. 2, the day after Georgia’s voter registration deadline. The next one took place just days before the SEC primary. Another occurred in May, the day before the general primary, and then two more took place in November, the day before and the day of the presidential election.

“It makes you wonder if somebody was trying to prove a point,” Kemp said.

Of course, the Obama administration, a pillar of “transparency” for sure, has confirmed the attacks originated at the DHS but has refused to provide a straight story on why the attempted hackings occurred. Furious with the lack of answers, Kemp has now written a letter to the Trump administration asking for a formal review after his inauguration next month.

Last week, the DHS confirmed the large Nov. 15 attack traced back to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection internet gateway. But Kemp says the DHS’ story about its source keeps changing.

“First it was an employee in Corpus Christi, and now it’s a contractor in Georgia,” Kemp said.

Unsatisfied with the response he got from DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson this week, Kemp fired off a letter Wednesday to loop in President-elect Donald Trump.

“We just need to ask the new administration to take a look at this and make sure that we get the truth the people of Georgia are deserving to know that and really demanding it,” Kemp said.

Kemp says several of those scans came around the same time he testified before Congress about his opposition to a federal plan to classify election systems as “critical infrastructure,” like power plants and financial systems.

As we’ve said before, despite all the media attention on “Russian hackers,” this cyberattack, originated from within our own Department of Homeland Security, is the only actual confirmed case of hacking related to the 2016 election.

* * *

For those who missed it, here is what we wrote last week after the initial hacking was discovered.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is anxiously wondering, as are we, why someone with a Department Of Homeland Security IP address would try to hack into his State’s voter registration database. Even though DHS offered cyber security help to states prior to the election, the Wall Street Journal notes that Georgia was one of the states that specifically denied assistance.

The secretary of state of Georgia is asking the Department of Homeland Security to explain what appears to be an attempted breach of the state’s voter registration database by someone in the federal government.

In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson dated Thursday, Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp said the state had discovered an unsuccessful attempt to breach the firewall of state computer systems. That attempt was linked to an IP address associated with DHS, he said.

“At no time has my office agreed to or permitted DHS to conduct penetration testing or security scans of our network,” wrote Mr. Kemp, a Republican. “Moreover, your department has not contacted my office since this unsuccessful incident to alert us of any security event that would require testing or scanning of our network.”

The alleged attempted intrusion by the federal government on a state computer system responsible for election security was detected by a third-party security firm working for the state of Georgia. The attempt was unsuccessful, according to the state. The computers also house information about company incorporations.

According to a letter written by Kemp to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, the attempted intrusion occurred 1 week after the election on November 15, 2016 at 8:43AM and came from an IP address associated with DHS (216.81.81.80).

GA

Of course, since the hacking a state’s election database it technically illegal, even for DHS, Kemp had some fairly pointed questions for Johnson on who authorized the scan and how many other states were scanned without authorization.

GA

Meanwhile, the potential hacking followed threats from Jeh Johnson leading up to election day to declare election systems “critical infrastructure” which would have given the federal government more authority over state databases.

The Department of Homeland Security made a major push in advance of November’s elections to help states secure election systems against possible hacking, as fears of foreign interference in the U.S. election process reached a fever pitch in the months leading up to Election Day.

The department also considered declaring election systems “critical infrastructure,” which would have given the federal government additional authority to protect the systems. DHS didn’t take that step, however, as many states expressed concern about additional federal authority over their election systems and said the constitution provided states the right to run their own elections.

As a result of some of the concerns, the department clarified that assistance on election-related security matters was voluntary and encouraged states to take advantage of DHS resources and expertise to help secure state election systems.

“DHS assistance is strictly voluntary and does not entail regulation, binding directives, and is not offered to supersede state and local control over the process,” Mr. Johnson, the DHS chief, said in September.

Georgia was one of the states that had declined the federal government’s assistance for election security, citing state sovereignty. “Right now, we’re just demanding answers,” said David Dove, a top aide to the Georgia secretary of state. “My boss, Secretary Kemp, has been a very vocal critic of the Department of Homeland Security declaring election systems critical infrastructure.”

After all the talk about Russian hackers, wouldn’t it be just perfect if it turns out that the Obama administration was the only group to actually attempt to illegally hack into a state election database? That said, we won’t hold our breath waiting for Jill Stein and disaffected Hillary supporters to express their outrage over this incident.

Brian Kemp’s full letter can be viewed below: