FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM
1. Dark shadows. Unlucky Thirteen. Nightmares. Must be October. Contributor Jillian Hamilton’s black tidings: “A recent Gallup poll showed that only 13 percent of employees worldwide like their job. Results are gathered from more than 140 countries. While not all employees report feeling actively disengaged, many report feeling unmotivated. Change is the name of the game.”
2. Ok, everybody’s essential again. Now, get back to work. Contributor Diana Rodriguez pulls out the shutdown Geiger counter: “The government shutdown has caused immense hardship on the DoD workforce as a whole. Although civilians workers have been told that they will eventually be paid for the time they have been forced to remain home from their jobs, there has still been serious damage to morale and financial hardship in the interim. The workforce group hardest hit in this situation are the government contractors who are unable to continue working, and will not be paid for hours lost during the government shutdown.”
THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT
1. MoH recipient Swanson – Welcome to the Hall of Heroes. American Forces Press Service’s Claudette Roulo reports on the event with a succinct narrative of the incident: “Swenson proved his heroism over and over again through his actions that day, Hagel said. And Swenson continued to prove it even after the battle, when ’he dared to question the institution that he was faithful to and loyal to. Mistakes were made in his case. Now, that’s courage, and that’s integrity and that’s character.’”
2. AFRICOM’s Mali seeks more U.N. support. The BBC reports, “The UN force, which took over security duties in July, has less than half of its mandated strength of more than 12,000 military personnel. . . . French forces led an operation to oust Islamist militants from the region in January. A presidential election was held in Mali in July but militant attacks have resumed in the north where separatist Tuareg rebels and Islamist fighters are based. . . . The UN peacekeeping force was dealt a further blow in August by the withdrawal of a large Nigerian contingent who returned home to tackle their own Islamist insurgency.”
3. Geneva outcomes – snap inspections, uranium scale-back, more talks in November. Aljazeera.Com reports, “The latest round of talks between Iran and world powers have concluded in Geneva, Switzerland, with Iran indicating a willingness to scale back uranium enrichment, as well as allowing for snap inspections of its nuclear sites as part of a new proposal to end a decade-long standoff with world powers. . . . in a clear sign of hope, the two sides agreed to hold follow-up negotiations on November 7 and 8 in Geneva, a Western diplomat told Reuters. . . . Iran, diplomats said, has made much more concrete proposals than in the past, to the point that Tehran’s negotiators were concerned about details being aired in public before they had had a chance to sell them back in Tehran.” See also, “Cautious Optimism” and “Peace Talks Nov. 23-24.”
4. Confidence on chemicals, in Syria. Reuters’ Anthony Deutsch reports from The Hague, “Inspectors from the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which won the Nobel Peace Prize last week, have visited nearly half of more than 20 sites declared by Damascus, Malik Ellahi, special adviser to Director General Ahmet Uzumcu, said on Thursday. ‘We are on track. The team is confident, the morale is high and cooperation from the Syrian authorities has been forthcoming,’ he said. Under a Russian-American brokered deal, Syria has until November 1 to destroy or render unusable all chemical agent production and weapon filling facilities. Ellahi said the team had been ‘making good progress in making those sites inoperable’ by destroying equipment and facilities.” And Assad’s cooperation on chem gives the regime leverage to walk through the door in Geneva: “’ “Geneva is a way out for everyone: the Americans, Russia, the Syrian regime and the opposition.’”
5. CSTC-A’s spare parts rave party, in Afghanistan. Khaama.Com reports from Kabul, “The US Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) . . . has criticized the NATO-led military coalition regarding unnecessary expenditure for the purchase of spare parts for the Afghan national army vehicles in 2012. . . . the NATO military coalition was unable to account for about $230 million worth of spare parts for Afghan National Army vehicles. . . . Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A), which orders spare parts for the Afghan National Army, ordered $138 million worth of parts it may not have needed.” Also from Afghanistan, night raid turns deadly.
1. Affordable Care Act – Tech Contracting Boon. Reuters’ Sharon Begley reports that “the contract to build the federal Healthcare.gov online insurance website – key to President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform – tripled in potential total value to nearly $292 million as new money was assigned to the work beginning in April this year. The increase coincided with warnings from federal and state officials that the information technology underlying the online marketplaces, or exchanges, where people could buy Obamacare health insurance was in trouble. . . . In its third week of operations, the website continues to experience problems, which government officials say they are working day and night to repair. Even allies of the Obama administration have been highly critical, with former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs calling it “excruciatingly embarrassing” and calling for “some people” to be fired.” They could have just sold healthcare on Amazon.
2. Army’s Network Integration Exercise – all systems go. NextGov.Com’s Bob Brewin reports, “The Army will go ahead with its semi-annual Network Integration Exercise at Ft. Bliss, Texas, in early November . . . . The Army originally planned to kick off the NIE on Oct. 28, but the shutdown pushed the start of the exercise to Nov. 4 . . . . The NIE will evaluate hardware and software of the Command Post of the Future developed by General Dynamics C4 Systems. The project combines feeds from different mission command systems so all the data is live and shared in real-time. It is referred to as ‘WYSIWIS,’ or ‘what-you-see-is-what-I-see.’”
3. Oracle: They suck! We rule! Surprised that Oracle slammed the Vet Admin for looking to open sources for software? Don’t be. Oracle kept clearing its throat and pointing at itself: “Oracle has a simple solution to the problems posed by open source software ‘DoD customers need a vendor that understands their complete environment ….’ And if Defense or VA wants to use open source, Oracle will gladly help integrate it (at a good price, I’m sure). I have a feeling that once the government reopens, the Oracle federal sales team will have quite a challenge in explaining this broadside to its federal customers.”
TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY
1. NSA + CIA = LOVE. WaPo’s Greg Miller, Julie Tate and Barton Gellman report on NSA’s e-mail straw that broke Bin Laden’s back: “It was an innocuous e-mail, one of millions sent every day by spouses with updates on the situation at home. But this one was of particular interest to the National Security Agency and contained clues that put the sender’s husband in the crosshairs of a CIA drone. Days later, Hassan Ghul — an associate of Osama bin Laden who provided a critical piece of intelligence that helped the CIA find the al-Qaeda leader — was killed by a drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal belt.” See also AP’s “NSA and CIA Collaborate.”
2. Backdoors – the NSA’s knocking. Wired.Com’s Bruce Schneier explains, “Yes, we need legal prohibitions against the NSA trying to subvert authors and deliberately weaken cryptography. But this isn’t just about the NSA, and legal controls won’t protect against those who don’t follow the law and ignore international agreements. We need to make their job harder by increasing their risk of discovery. Against a risk-averse adversary, it might be good enough.”
3. Alexander to step down. Reuters’ Warren Strobel and Mark Hosenball report, “The director of the U.S. National Security Agency and his deputy are expected to depart in the coming months, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, in a development that could give President Barack Obama a chance to reshape the eavesdropping agency. . . . While both Alexander and Inglis are leaving voluntarily, the dual vacancies give Obama an opportunity to install new leadership following Snowden’s revelations and to decide whether the NSA and Cyber Command should have separate leaders.”
1. Surprised a House stenographer lost her mind? Surprised she didn’t lose it sooner: “A shouting stenographer was removed from the House floor as lawmakers voted on a deal to reopen the government and avoid a debt crisis. The stenographer began shouting as the House approved the number of votes needed to pass the bill. According to reporters, she was yelling about God and Freemasons . . . .” Reports indicate she will be the new Speaker of the House. Video.
2. McConnell (R-KY) charges $3 billion to open the government: “Language in a draft of the McConnell-Reid deal . . . shows a provision that increases funding for the massive Olmsted Dam Lock in Paducah, Ky., from $775 million to nearly $2.9 billion. . . . Since 2009, McConnell has been an outspoken supporter of the project, and has been working on getting its funding for some time.” Take that, Tea Party.
3. Greed and Lust. Finally, the D.C. we know and love is back: “Evangelist Franklin Graham says greed, lust, and wickedness are at the heart of Washington’s woes. In an exclusive interview with CBN News, the leader of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association says America is in crisis because we’ve taken God out of the picture. . . . [oh, and by the way,] Graham is promoting his father’s latest book, The Reason for My Hope.” The hope is that the book will sell.
OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS
1. “Oliver Stone on the Tyranny of Obama’s ‘Exceptional’ America.” TheDailyBeast.Com’s Andrew Romano sits down with director Oliver Stone: “In terms of our military, defense, and security spending—I don’t think the average American understands how big it is. When we make a little sound over here, it echoes through the world at a far higher reverberation. One hint from Mr. Obama and it goes into Asia and Japan and our allies and China.”
2. “Ted Cruz, one sore loser.” WaPo’s Dana Milbank argues, “The amount of wreckage Cruz has caused in such a short time is truly awe-inspiring. He has damaged his party, hurt the economy, lowered the nation’s standing and set back the conservative cause. But appearing at the Capitol on Wednesday morning, he wore a broad smile as reporters and cameras surrounded him to learn what further mayhem he was planning. . . . For Cruz, the victory is not the achievement but the fight.”
3. “The deep roots beneath 1,000,000 dead Iraqis.” Aljazeera.Com contributor Mark LeVine argues, “Iraq is crucial here because it reminds us that simply blaming America or the forces of imperialism does nothing to unfold the structural causes of such large-scale and long-term disasters.”
1. Warm Fuzzies.
2. Cold Pricklies.