Karzai Takes a Number, Google Goes Constitutional, Administration Rolls for Snake Eyes – Daily Intelligence

Privacy versus the bottom line, technology sharing, why pessimism is realism when it comes to Afghanistan, and other top intelligence headlines.

Afghanistan

U.S. Army photo

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  Facebook – the first block on your resume.  Tranette Ledford reminds how social media defeats our best efforts in landing that cleared job.  “Increasingly,” writes Ledford, “hiring managers are getting to know you before they meet you, capitalizing on their own social networking to learn more about prospective hires and what they don’t see in bullet points on a resume.”

2.  Seven days left.  Report due date extended.  In September 2012, ClearanceJobs.Com’s Charles Simmins reported on FAR proposed rule change that would require “that contractors and subcontractors use anti-virus software, regularly update programs including operating programs and provide both physical as well as programmed security to systems. Along with other requirements, the rule represents the DoD mandating private sector cybersecurity controls that prudent businesses ought to have been using from day one. The proposed rule would make intelligence gathering through data theft much more difficult.”  Mr. Richard T. Ginman, Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy and Defense Acquisition Regulations Council (DARC) extended the due-date of the report on proposed FAR change 2011-020, Basic Safeguarding of Contractor Information Systems, to June 26, 2013. Time to revisit Simmins’ primer.

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  It ain’t peace yet.  Taliban spokesman Mohammad Sohail Shaheen warned, “’There is no ceasefire (with the US) now. They are attacking us and we are attacking them. . . . simultaneously follows political and military options.’”  Also see, “US soldiers killed hours after US announces peace talks with Taliban” and “Taliban defy peace bid with deadly attack.”

2.  Recognize usNew York Times’ Rosenberg and Rubin report, “The Taliban may have other goals in moving ahead. Their language made clear that they sought to be dealt with as a legitimate political force with a long-term role to play beyond the insurgency. In that sense, in addition to aiding in talks, the actual opening of their office in Qatar — nearly a year and a half after initial plans to open it were announced and then soon after suspended — could be seen as a signal that the Taliban’s ultimate aim is recognition as an alternative to the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.”

3.  Tough conditions for talks with TalibanBBC reports that “talks are on condition that the Taliban renounce violence, break ties with al-Qaeda and respect the Afghan constitution – including the rights of women and minorities.”  (In exchange, the Taliban demands the letter be M stricken from the English alphabet.)

More perspectives on Taliban talks:

a.  Optimism is idealism; pessimism is realismCBS News reports, “According to a senior administration official, direct negotiations will begin within days with the understanding there is no guarantee that an agreement will happen quickly, if at all. They believe the opening of the office could be significant but that peace is not necessarily imminent.”

b.  Talks represent new hope for Army’s Sergeant BergdahlABC News Mary Bruce outlines expectations: “In addition to encouraging the Taliban to sever ties with Al Qaeda, detainee exchanges are also expected to be on the U.S-Taliban agenda, including the return of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.”

c.  Karzai takes a number.  According to Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung, “Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government will not participate in the initial U.S. talks. But U.S. officials said they had persuaded [Karzai] that the U.S. meetings would be a first stage that ultimately would lead to direct Afghan-to-Afghan negotiations. That process of persuasion began when President Obama met with Karzai early this year, they said.”

4.  On Syria, Putin says, “никоим образом.” (for non-Russian speakers, that means, “No way.”).  The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour reports on G8 Summit in Ireland, “Hopes that the G8 summit would set out a clear route map to end the bloody civil war in Syria have been dashed after Vladimir Putin, insisted he could not back a peace conference convened on the assumption that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, would step down.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Boeing, UK, and ScanEagles. Defense News reports, “Boeing has secured Britain’s Royal Navy as the latest customer for its ScanEagle unmanned air vehicle. The British want the machine to improve detection of fast-moving targets like the high speed attack craft operated by the Iranians.”

2.  More on Whistleblowing and Federal Contractors: It’s a gray area. Melissa Dawkins of FederalNewsRadio.com affirms and dives deeper, “Federal contractors with security clearances are in a gray area when it comes to whistleblowing. There are whistleblowing rules for contractors without security clearance, and there are procedures for federal employees with security clearances.”  Also see ClearanceJobs.com’s “Security Clearances and Employee Rights.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Not privacy; bottom lines.  Washington Post’s Craig Timberg reports, “Google asked the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Tuesday to ease long-standing gag orders over data requests it makes, arguing that the company has a constitutional right to speak about information it’s forced to give the government.  The legal filing, which cites the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, is the latest move by the California-based tech giant to protect its reputation in the aftermath of news reports about sweeping National Security Agency surveillance of Internet traffic.”

2.  Nok Nok.  Who’s there?  Two-factor authentication.  $4 million says they’re onto something.  Venture Beat’s Meghan Kelly reports, “Nok Nok Labs is working on its Unified Authentication Infrastructure product — a form of two factor authentication that companies can build off of. The technology takes advantage of existing features in the devices their employees already have. Say if an employee is trying to access something on their smartphone, they may have to swipe a finger to prove they are really there.”

3.  Sharing the spectrumAmerican Forces Press Service’s Claudette Roulo explains, “The explosive growth of wireless communications has resulted in a shortage of available spectrum for both federal and civilian uses. In response, President Barack Obama last week issued a memorandum establishing a spectrum policy team that will monitor and support spectrum-sharing technologies in concert with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. In the memo, federal agencies are tasked with finding ways to enhance spectrum efficiency and free up more spectrum for consumer services and applications.”

4.  GoogledTime.com’s Christopher Matthews reports, “Google has structured itself in such a way as to keep control in the hands of its founders, and to keep investors obsessed with a quick buck from messing with their vision.”  (I’m not sure that’s bad news.)

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  More strokes than an Ivy League rowing meet.  Dave Milbank of the Washington Post recaps Tuesday’s congressional love-in:  “The hearing was really a pep rally, as lawmakers praised the officials involved in the surveillance programs and then yielded the floor for an hour so the officials could make statements about how responsible and restrained they’ve been. The congressional overseers of the intelligence agencies quite clearly are captivated by — if not captives of — the people they are supposed to be supervising.”

2.  For your dance card.  Josh Hicks of Washington Post provides pre-game of today’s NSA hearings:  “The hearing on Wednesday will feature testimony from OPM’s inspector general and an associate director of investigations for the agency, as well as from the head of the Defense Department’s defense security service, among other officials.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  Six five, no jive.  In PJ Media, Barry Rubin wonders if 10 western failures weren’t enough: “There is a long history of Western powers believing that they could manipulate or work with radical Arabic-speaking states or movements to redo the regional order.  All have ended badly.”

2.  Talks with Taliban inevitable.  Acceptable settlement, not so much.  New York Times editorial: “Given Afghanistan’s history, it’s hard to be optimistic after 12 years of war. A recent barrage of deadly attacks, including a bombing outside the Supreme Court complex in Kabul last week that killed at least 17 civilians, is a reminder that the Taliban are still intent on creating havoc and trying to take over the country. But American military commanders long ago concluded that the Afghan war could end only in a negotiated settlement, not a military victory.”

3.  Wait and see on Iran.  Managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Michael Singh writes, “[The Administration] cannot dismiss the possibility that international pressure on Iran has finally produced the sort of change it has been waiting for, but it also cannot risk alleviating that painstakingly-accumulated pressure based on mere hope or speculation.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Creepy.

2.  iPhones for prisoners.

3.  T(aliban)-Rex.

4.  We’ll see you now.

Ed Ledford appreciates the most challenging, complex, and high stake communications requirements. As his principal’s spokesman and speechwriter in Afghanistan, Ed composed, edited, and presented operational guidance and strategies to national and international elected and appointed leaders and the media during the McChrystal-Petraeus era. His portfolio includes policy and strategy papers; correspondence with Members of Congress, senior Department of State and Defense officials, foreign counterparts, chiefs of industry, and innumerable speeches. Ed edits and writes blogs, fiction, nonfiction, poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., Ed currently writes speeches in D.C. and continues other work from his office in Charlottesville, Va. He enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring. You can find Ed online at EdLedford.com and follow him on Twitter @ECLedford,.