NSA Still Funded, CJCS on Syria – Daily Intelligence

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Texas National Guard in Uganda. DoD Photo

Thursday’s Cheat Sheet.

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCEJOBS.COM

1.  How to fire, er, “off-board,” the dead wood.  Contributor Christopher Burgess reminds HR professionals that the firing process can be nearly as important as hiring procedures: “Many do the hiring and acclimating part of the employee experience equation well, fewer do the termination or separation well, and history is replete with exemplars of what happens when the execution is lacking when an employee departs. Employee off boarding is often one of the most overlooked elements in human resources, even in the defense industry.”  Yes, it matters, at least from a security perspective.

2.  Practical ways to avoid cost overruns.  And, maybe, budget salaries.  Contributor Jillian Hamilton explains, “Cost overruns for major acquisition programs can be up to 70 percent. Given the size of some acquisition programs, even a 10 to 20 percent savings could make a substantial difference to the defense budget over time. . . . with the right leadership and managers, changes can be made to the Pentagon’s acquisition system. Any savings in the acquisitions process could easily be better applied within the defense budget.”

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  CJCS thanks Poland and encourages continued presenceAmerican Forces Press Service reports from Warsaw, “Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey today thanked the Polish Armed Forces for their friendship and support in Afghanistan and said he hopes the Polish military will continue its work in the country after 2014 as part of Operation Resolute Support. . . . ‘What I would add that it is clear that we will have some enduring interests in Afghanistan and in development of their security forces beyond 2014 . . . . So, hopefully, I won’t have to be helping with the withdrawal of all of the equipment, because I would like to think that we will have a continued coalition of partners to help the Afghans beyond ’14.’”  Christian Science Monitor reports that the “zero option” in Afghanistan is “a serious possibility . . . [though that] would be a dangerous way forward for the Pentagon, warn some lawmakers who say they are increasingly concerned about the prospect.  Yet US officials nonetheless continue to use the threat of such a move in an effort to gain leverage over Afghan officials who refuse to grant US forces the legal immunities that the Pentagon insists they need to remain in the country, adds Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona.”

2.  CJCS hints at role for U.S. military in Syria – part of a larger plan.  American Forces Press Service reports that Dempsey said, “’we need a strategy to tie military options together with the other instruments of power to include the diplomatic and economic . . . .’” Meanwhile, Syrian rebels excited over U.S. propositions: “The main Western-backed Syrian opposition group has welcomed the decision by the Obama administration to send arms to rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad’s regime. . . . [the Syrian National Coalition] said it’s committed to ensuring weapons reach only those loyal to the Coalition and its affiliated military councils – indicating the SNC will try to prevent U.S. weapons from reaching al-Qaida fighters in Syria.”  For a strategic look at Syria, read the Christian Science Monitor’s “What’s going on in Syria? A stepped-back look.”

3.  Pro-Morsi supporters overwhelm Army chief’s call for reconciliationAljazeera.Com reports, “Supporters of the deposed President Mohamed Morsi continued to rally after an apparent call by Egypt’s army chief to crack down on dissenters.  Thousands of pro-Morsi supporters filled Nasr City on Thursday, repeating their weeks-long demand that the deposed president  . . . is reinstated.”  For background, see Time.Com’s report yesterday, “Egyptian Military Calls for Demonstrations as Threat of Greater Violence Looms.”

4.  DepSecDef Ash Carter encourages growing partnership with Uganda.  Reporting from Kampala, Uganda, American Forces Press Service’s Cheryl Pellerin reports, “The multiyear U.S. strategy seeks to help the governments of Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan, and the African Union and the United Nations end the LRA [Lord’s Resistance Army ] threat to civilians and regional stability, defense officials said.  [The strategy’s] four objectives are to increase civilian protection, apprehend or remove Kony and senior LRA commanders from the battlefield, promote defections of those who follow Kony and urge them back into the community and provide continued humanitarian relief to affected communities . . . .”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Amazon courts CIA to save $600 million cloud contract awardPCWorld.Com contributor John Ribeiro reports that Amazon Web Services has asked for a September 23, 2013, decision in response to an IBM challenge: “The CIA deal is important for AWS as it targets opportunities to set up clouds for governments in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.  The Amazon.com company already runs AWS GovCloud in the U.S. for government agencies, and plans to set up similar ‘mini-clouds’ or gated configurations for governments around the world . . . .”

2.  Contract audit backlog approaching $1 trillion (trillion) and statute of limitations without disposition.  According to HuffingtonPost.Com contributor Scott Amey, the current audit backlog — $558 billion in 2011 – is a product “what some call an excessive focus on compliance with Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS).”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  NSA-snooping opponents will fight another dayAP’s Donna Cassata reports from the front lines of the civil liberties battle:  “Opponents of the National Security Agency’s collection of hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone records insist they will press ahead with their challenge to the massive surveillance program after a narrow defeat in the House. . . . The showdown vote marked the first chance for lawmakers to take a stand on the secret surveillance program since former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden leaked classified documents last month that spelled out the monumental scope of the government’s activities.”  See also UPI’s report, “NSA defunding amendment squashed”: the “amendment would have barred the NSA from citing the Patriot Act to collect data on individuals not being investigated, effectively ending the huge Internet and cellphone data collection programs leaked last month by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden . . . .”  Wired.Com’s “House Fails” and VentureBeat.Com’s writes, “The DefundTheNSA amendment has failed, just barely. But it came close enough to passing to make the men in black wet their panties.”

2.   9 virus inoculations tested – F-Secure Internet Security 2013 on topPCWorld.Com contributors Nick Mediati and Sarah Purewal “teamed up with the fine folks at AV-Test, a respected antivirus testing lab based in Germany.  AV-Test ran each suite through a comprehensive battery of tests to find out how well each would stand up to the worst malware currently in existence. AV-Test also performed speed testing to determine whether the suites will slow your PC to a crawl. We analyzed the data that AV-Test provided, and then tried each of the products ourselves to give you an idea of which suites you should go for—and which ones you should pass on.”

3.  Blueprints of NSA’s data-collection centerForbes.Com contributor Kashmir Hill reports, “The NSA will soon cut the ribbon on a facility in Utah built to help house and process data collected from telephone and Internet companies, satellites, fiber-optic cables and anywhere else it can plant listening devices. . . . based on blueprints of the facility obtained by FORBES – and published here for the first time — experts estimate that the storage capacity of the data center is lower than has previously been reported given the technology currently available and the square footage that the center has allocated for its servers.”  [I guess that’s good news?]

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Chicken dancing around Gitmo question.  According to TheDailyBeast.Com’s Daniel Klaidman, Obama Administration officials avoided the Senate’s hearings on Guantánamo Bay’s detention facility “to duck some tough questions. Chief among them is whether the administration plans to use its existing authority to start transferring detainees out of Guantánamo. Of the 166 prisoners who remain in the camp, 86 have been cleared for release. And while Congress repeatedly has imposed onerous restrictions on repatriating or moving detainees to third countries, more recently it has provided waivers for the administration to bypass those limitations.”

2.  GoP trackers hustling the hallways of Congress.  According to BuzzFeed.Com’s Evan McMorris-Santoro and Kate Nocera, Republican opposition firms are deploying “Trackers” – little staffers who “record a foe’s every word, in hopes of catching a damaging gaffe” – into congressional office buildings:  “In the unwritten rules of Washington, it’s perfectly fine to have a tracker follow a member of Congress around when he or she is outside or at an event away from the Capitol complex. But Hill veterans on both sides of the aisle say a tracker in congressional office buildings and members’ offices is unprecedented, and Democrats suggest the presence of a tracker in the Capitol complex is an intimidation tactic” although tracking, itself, “is a time-honored part of the campaign process.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  “Sky darkens for American journalism.”  Aljazeera.Com contributor Chase Madar, a New York civil rights attorney, argues that “The court-martial of Pfc. Manning, finally underway over three years after his arrest, is likely to cause a great deal of collateral destruction in its own right. In this case the victim will be American journalism. . . . If this charge sticks, it will be a serious blow to American journalism, as it puts all kinds of confidential informants at risk of being capital cases. A soldier in Afghanistan who blogs about the lack of armoured vehicles – a common and very public complaint from the ranks in the Iraq War – could be prosecuted for tipping off the Taliban.”

2.  Do-nothing Congress unhappy with VA’s progressWaPo’s “Federal Diary” contributor Joe Davidson makes a nice point: “The notably unproductive House wants to cut the pay of top Veterans Affairs officials if the department doesn’t significantly reduce its disability claims backlog by next year,” while Secretary Shinseki reminds, ‘Today, VA has the lowest total claims inventory since August 2011 . . . Barring any changes in entitlements, this number will continue to decline, and VA remains committed to eliminating the backlog in disability claims in 2015.’ During the past three months, ‘the backlog has dropped from 591,000 to 515,000 . . . . ‘Claims over two years old have dropped from over 42,000 to about 1,700.’”

3.  The Government might backdoor you, again.  In response to the pending revision and renewal of the 1995 and 2005 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA II) – which “allowed the government to tap phone conversations . . .  to include interconnected Voice over IP and broadband Internet – Politico.Com contributor Gary Shapiro argues that “Our national security requires constant vigilance. But we can keep Americans safe without intrusive policies that would destroy our innovative edge.”  [No, our innovators will just find a way to side-step the back door.]

THE FUNNIES

1.  Sorry – couldn’t pass it up.

2.  Blue Jays.

3.  From Egypt.

4.  Crossroads.

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.