Syrian War Spreading, the Snowden Effect, McCaskill takes on McContractors – Daily Intelligence

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Droned to death & Nieman (not Marcus).


1.  The Nice Security Clearance candidate.  Empathetic contributor Tranette Ledford inventories the soft, underbelly of security clearance jobs: “In addition to a security clearance, employers are beginning to look for what they commonly refer to as “soft skills.” These include personal traits and characteristics like integrity, optimism, a sense of humor, good manners, empathy, even common sense.”  Snowden had a pretty good sense of humor.  My soft skills?  Sarcasm, cynicism, apathy, and disregard.  Who’s hiring?

2.  The Snowden Effect.  Contributor Jillian Hamilton evaluates the wake of the leak dripped ‘round the world – “The Effect of Edward Snowden on Security-Cleared Professionals.”   Hamilton describes good ol’ group punishment: “One kid in the class takes advantage of the system or ignores the rules, and everyone else suffers for it. Trust violated by one person can ruin trust for all. Whether it is right or wrong, it is still understandable. When national security is at risk and classified information has been compromised, the backlash on the rest of the cleared contractor community is unavoidable.”  New term “pulling a Snowden” ignites outrage.


1.  In Afghan parliamentary elections, nomads and women are in, but Hindus and Sikhs are out.  In what may be one more positive, incremental step for Afghan governance, the Afghan parliament refines election law, with Karzai’s endorsement:  “Head of the parliamentarian commission on election law and lawmaker Asadulah Sadati said that the controversial points of the electoral law included election of ten nomad representatives in Afghan parliament, one representative of Hindus and Sikhs and the number of women representatives in provincial and district council.  He said the controversial points were resolved after eliminating the dedicated seat for Hindus, approving seats for Nomads and accepting 20 percent seats for the women in provincial council.”  Also in Afghanistan, one to watch as it develops: “Afghan interpreter blame Americans for civilians torture,” reported earlier in UPI, “Afghanistan-American translator arrested for alleged slayings.”

2.  Syria’s civil war spreading, perhapsReuters reports that “militants assassinated a well-known supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Lebanon early on Wednesday, security sources said, the latest sign of Syria’s civil war spreading to its smaller neighbor. . . . Lebanon, whose own 15-year civil war ended in 1990, is struggling to stay on the sidelines of Syria’s conflict.  Car bombs and clashes between groups supporting opposite sides of Syria’s war have become increasingly common.” See also, “bomb hits Hezbollah convoy in Lebanon”: “Syrian Sunni rebels have threatened to strike Hezbollah, one of Lebanon’s most powerful political and military forces, in Lebanon following its military intervention in Syria on the side of President Bashar al-Assad.”

3.  Women and Christians are in: new government in EgyptAP Cairo lays out the starting lineup: “Egypt’s new interim Cabinet brings in a number of prominent figures from the country’s liberal and secular factions into top positions, particularly from the National Salvation Front, the main coalition of opponents to ousted President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. It has three women, one of them a Christian, and two other Christians, more than any previous government.”

4.  Niger gets security boost.  U.S. Africom Public Affairs reports an $11 million boost to Nigerian forces: “Niger Armed Forces are now better able to perform their duties after the recent delivery of some new airplanes and trucks obtained through U.S. security cooperation programs.”  See also, U.S. Navy and Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service partner against piracy.

5.  Mess with the best . . . . U.S. Marine punished for peeing on dead Taliban feels no regret, the UPI reports: “the act will serve as a deterrent for future Jihadists.  ‘[If] anything, it was more of a psychological effect on the enemy because if an infidel touches the body, they’re not going to Mecca or paradise,’ Chamblin said. ‘So, now these insurgents see what happens when you mess with us.’”  War is hell.


1.  McCaskill takes on McContractors in oversight hearingGovExec.Com’s Charles S. Clark reports, “McCaskill’s examples of ongoing problems included a contractor who refuses to cooperate with an inspector general’s investigation and a recent debacle involving a $34 million Marines facility in Helmand Province that sits empty, with no plans for U.S. troops to use it. . . . ‘I’m on the edge of my seat, and I won’t stop until we know who let the contract. I’m worried that some who’re making these decision think $34 million is chump change.’”  Looks like the Afghan money hydrants are being turned off.

2.  Space fence contract award on hold.  Martians zipping over space border.  DefenseNews.Com’s Aaron Mehta reports that Gen. William Shelton, the head of Air Force Space Command told lawmakers, “the decision to hold off on awarding the Space Fence contract [is] a ‘smart management decision’ that avoids awarding a contract that may need to be terminated as a result of the SCMR. But with no real options to replace the program’s capability, ‘we have to get moving on the Space Fence pretty quick.’”  What is Space Fence?  “The program consists of a ground-based S-band radar system stationed on Kwajalein Island, part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Because of the planet’s rotation, the stationary radar creates a “fence” which will cover the entirety of space over the course of a day. The fence will replace the aging Air Force Space Surveillance System, which consists of three transmitter stations and six receiving stations across the southern portion of the US.”  See more on Space Fence.


1.  Ghost in the machine – the NSAVentureBeat.Com contributor Steve Blank explains how the NSA may very well have backdoor access to your own personal computer and why Putin is typing rather than word processing:   “The National Security Agency has decided it needs the ability to capture all communications in all forms. Getting inside of a target computer and weakening its encryption or having access to the plaintext of encrypted communication seems likely. Given the technical sophistication of the other parts of their surveillance net, the surprise would be if they haven’t implemented a microcode backdoor. . . . And that may be why the Russian president is now using a typewriter rather than a personal computer.”

2.  Snowden’s Plan BWired.Com considers Snowden’s “dead man’s switch,” meant to ensure everything is leaked in case he gets droned: “Snowden . . . reportedly passed encrypted copies of his cache to a number of third parties who have a non-journalistic mission: If Snowden should suffer a mysterious, fatal accident, these parties will find themselves in possession of the decryption key, and they can publish the documents to the world.”

3.  IT Job Growth and Volatility.  While other sectors struggle or suffer, the IT industry cannot get enough people: WaPo’s Mohana Ravindranath reports, “IT jobs totaled 4,473,000 in June, according to a new report from the TechServe Alliance, an Alexandria-based group representing IT and engineering staffing firms. This represents a 0.51 percent growth since last month, and a 5.71 percent increase since last year.”  However, Challenger, Gray & Christmas sees things differently: “the numbers reflect cuts in the technology business sector — hardware manufacturers, for instance — and not in the IT profession overall, but could shed light on the challenges of remaining employed while technology rapidly changes.  ‘What it does suggest is that volatility is up’ . . . . many of the technology job cuts were linked to shifting technology trends.  ‘Technology [is] becoming quickly obsolete . . . . [Companies] are having to adapt to what comes next, and cut jobs’ . . . . ‘The status quo is not quite holding.’”


1.  Hagel’s dance with the devil:  more cuts, more cuts.  SecDef warns Congress that readiness – and their jobs – is next on the chopping block:  “[Hagel] would slash spending on his office and those of the top military commanders by 20 percent in the coming years, and he warned that new budget cuts next year would force layoffs across the department. . . . The secretary said cuts in the future could eventually affect not only jobs but compensation packages, such as retirement benefits, healthcare and pay, which combined represent about half of the Defense Department’s budget.”  Not sure which Congressman wants to be responsible for those cuts.  Anyone?

2.  Filibuster Farruca.  Dems back down on Republican promises: “Senate Democrats backed away on Tuesday from a possible historic crackdown on filibusters in exchange for a Republican commitment not to use the procedural hurdles to stop some of President Barack Obama’s long-stalled nominations. The bipartisan agreement, reached after days of talks and jockeying for political position, will allow Obama to fill out his second-term team with top administrators overseeing efforts to protect workers, consumers and the environment.  It will also permit Republicans to retain their right to stop future nominees with filibusters, which have been used for years by the Senate’s minority party against the majority.”  Wow, those Dems are tough negotiators.  Not.  And, the Farruca:  “The dance often has fast turns, quick intense footwork, held lifts and falls, dramatic poses and bursts of filigrana (often with a flat hand). It can also be danced with a cape.”  In other words, politics as usual.


1.  Scowcroft speaks – we listen:  President Ford’s National Security Adviser argues, “Ultimately, Egyptians will define their own destiny, but it is also true that outside assistance and advice can be useful. And while the United States may no longer be the sole leader of the post-Cold War world, it remains the only country able to mobilize international action on such pressing issues (despite sharply divided opinions within Egypt today about the United States).”

2.  We’re #1.  We’re #1.  Stand up and cheer, argues UPI contributor Harlan Ullman, anyone who says ‘Merica is on the decline is a big, fat liar:  “A specter is haunting the United States. That specter is one of American decline. But this specter isn’t merely exaggerated. It is poppycock. . . . Unfortunately, too many who long for the days when the United States seemed dominant refuse to understand that the current realities in which all forms of power are diffusing create new opportunities, opportunities that the United States could readily exploit provided it is prepared to shed rigid beliefs about the past and the virtues of unilateralism for a new and more relevant mindset.”

3.  Schieffer on America:  Read Bob Schieffer’s take on the state of the Union, available at Face the Nation Transcripts:  Schieffer says, “America has always led best when we led by example. . . . But as I look at the growing list of things Washington has made a mess of lately, immigration reform, food stamps, farm aid, student loans, deficit reduction, a tax system, regardless of its fairness or unfairness, so complex no one can understand it, a health care plan that even the administration that passed it can’t figure out how to administer, an Air Force where a third of the combat squadrons are grounded because Congress can’t figure out how to fund them, I have to wonder, who would want to be like that? . . . I still think America is the greatest country in the world, but convincing others of that is probably a harder sell than it used to be.”


1.  The Mummy Lives.

2.  Going west.

3.  Get over it.


Visit Ed at 

Ed Ledford enjoys the most challenging, complex, and high stakes communications requirements. His portfolio includes everything from policy and strategy to poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., and retired Army Aviator, Ed’s currently writing speeches in D.C. and working other writing projects from his office in Rockville, MD. He loves baseball and enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring anything. Follow Ed on Twitter @ECLedford.

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