Finally Friday’s Finale


1.  Security clearance shortfalls. Editor Lindy Kyzer reports, “A just-released Department of Defense Inspector’s General report criticizes the personnel security process, citing lack of policy, records-keeping, and methods for ensuring cleared personnel under investigation are identified. The report is the latest in a wave of recommendations for security clearance process and procedures, including calls for continuous monitoring of cleared personnel and the insourcing of investigation responsibilities.”

2.  Security clearance upgrades. Contributor John Holst explains the requirements: “The determination about what classification level is needed for your position is based on federal government requirement. An individual may find themselves in a position where they are working with a public trust or secret security clearance, and then need to obtain access to a higher classification. The federal government will determine whether you have reason, and characteristics, for being involved in a federal program with that requirement, or not.  There must be a federal need that is being met for an individual to get a clearance, no matter what level. . . .”


1.  Grave consequences aimed at Russia. Christian Science Monitor’s Howard LaFranchi reports, “With Ukraine moving to the brink of open confrontation with Russia, and Moscow ordering fresh military exercises on the countries’ common border, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a blunt warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday evening: Reverse his course of ‘provocation’ or face ‘grave’ and ‘costly’ consequences from a united international community. . . . Appearing to presage deeper Russian intervention, Putin said Russia would ‘have to react to such developments.’ Ukrainian security forces attempting to clear roadblocks and take back barricaded government buildings in eastern Ukraine killed as many as five separatists Thursday.”

2.  DoD’s bifurcated budgets—sequestration fallout. DefenseOne.Com contributor Charles S. Clark reports, “Sequestration is forcing the Defense Department to ‘literally build two budgets’ and, if the automatic cuts are continued, will damage the quality of U.S. weapons systems and deter innovation, a top Pentagon acquisition official said on Wednesday. . . . The shrinking defense budget ‘may be good, but where we’re headed is not clear,’ [Linda Hudson, the retired CEO of British-owned BAE Systems] added. ‘With the arbitrariness of the sequester’s cuts, we’re not working together as industrial base in national interest of the United States.’”

3.  Suicides down in active military. AP’s Lolita C. Baldor reports, “Suicides across the military dropped by more than 15 percent last year, but new detailed data reveals an increase in the number of Army National Guard and Reserve soldiers who took their own lives. . . . Not only did the Army National Guard and Reserve suicides increase from 140 in 2012 to 152 last year, but the 2013 total exceeded the number of active duty soldiers who took their own lives, according to the Army. There were 151 active duty soldier suicides last year, compared with 185 in 2012 . . . .”

4.  Blue angel. Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock reports, “The Navy has reassigned a former commander of the Blue Angels, its acrobatic fighter squadron, and is investigating allegations that the elite team of pilots was a hotbed of hazing, sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination, documents show. The Navy announced Friday that it had relieved Capt. Gregory McWherter, a two-time commander of the Blue Angels, of duty for alleged misconduct. . . . The Navy officer is the latest in a string of senior military commanders to come under investigation for sexual misconduct or other misbehavior.”

5.  When Iraq is refuge. Aljazeera.Com reports, “While the United Nations is warning that Lebanon could buckle under the pressure of hosting more than a million Syrian refugees, the situation in northern Iraq is a different story. Here, refugees forced from their homes by the war in Syria are slowly rebuilding their lives. Of the 250,000 Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan, nearly 120,000 live in cities like Dohuk and Erbil, while the remainder live in 10 camps spread throughout the region.”


1.  DynCorp’s windfall—Afghanistan. TheDailyBeast.Com’s Jacob Siegel reports, “DynCorp, one of the largest corporations working in the government’s army of private contractors, has long been known for corruption scandals and a questionable performance record. But none of that seems to have discouraged the U.S. government from awarding the company new contracts. The State Department paid nearly $4 billion for projects to aid in Afghan reconstruction from 2002 to 2013. $2.5 billion of that went to DynCorp—69% of all the money awarded by the State Department over almost the entire duration of the war.”

2.  Small business contract goals—check. GovExec.Com’s Charles S. Clark reports, “For the first time in seven years, all federal agencies in fiscal 2013 met their goals of steering 23 percent of contracting to small businesses, according to panelists at an industry conference on Thursday. . . . Last year, SBA reported that the government overall had just missed the goal of 23 percent for fiscal 2012, awarding small businesses $89.9 billion in government contracts, 22.25 percent of total contracting dollars.”


1.  Cyber-espionage: a report. FierceGovernmentIT.Com’s Zach Rausnitz reports, “Cyber espionage in 2013 tended to be committed by state-affiliated actors, target the United States, and originate in East Asia or Eastern Europe, says an annual report by security researchers at Verizon. The report, released Wednesday, reviewed a dataset of more than 60,000 cybersecurity incidents that resulted in 1,367 confirmed data breaches last year. Among those, the report says 511 incidents resulted from cyber espionage, including 306 cases where data was known to be disclosed. Victims of cyber espionage were in the United States in 54 percent of the incidents . . . .” Download and read the full Verizon report.

2.  Superpowered Autopilot—DARPA doing it again. Wired.Com’s Allen McDuffee reports, “Some think that the Defense Department couldn’t possibly reduce its forces as much as it claims it will. After all, who would fly the planes? Now DARPA has an answer. The Pentagon’s research arm is developing a sophisticated, drop-in autopilot that can replace as many as five crew members of a military aircraft, and turn the pilot into a high-level ‘mission supervisor’ issuing commands through a touch screen. The Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program is a tailorable, removable kit that will assist in all phases of aircraft flight — even dealing with emergency system failures in-flight. The agency says the system will reduce pilot workload, augment mission performance and improve aircraft safety.”

3.  Hybrid Harleys—well, not exactly Harleys. Also from Wired.Com, also from Allen McDuffee, and also from DARPA, “Now DARPA is developing a new vehicle to soundlessly race commandoes to their missions: stealthy, hybrid-powered motorcycles. The idea is to develop a hybrid power system that relies on both electric and gas power, allowing special ops to go off-road and zip past enemy forces with the silence of an electric engine, while also being able to handle extended missions and higher speeds with a supplemental gas tank. In February, DARPA awarded Logos Technologies a $100,000, six-month Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract for a preliminary design to see just how viable the project is.”


1.  Ten-foot-pole award: “Political figures and commentators of all stripes have denounced embattled Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy for making racially charged comments about African-Americans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called Bundy a ‘hateful racist’ after the New York Times on Thursday quoted the rancher using the word ‘Negro’ and suggesting blacks were better off as slaves. . . . Reid chided Republicans who have supported Bundy’s cause for using their influence to ‘glorify or romanticize such a dangerous individual.’ . . . ‘National Republican leaders could help show a united front against this kind of hateful, dangerous extremism by publicly condemning Bundy,’ he said. Nevada’s other senator, Republican Dean Heller, who previously called Bundy and his supporters ‘patriots,’ quickly disavowed him Thursday.”

2.  Boehner on GOP: “House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) mocked the rest of his GOP caucus on Thursday for being too scared to take on immigration reform. ‘Here’s the attitude. ‘Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,’ Boehner said at a lunch hosted by a rotary club in his home district, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Boehner said voters elect people to Congress to solve problems, but he said it’s ‘remarkable’ that many of his fellow Republicans don’t want to fulfill that obligation. ‘We get elected to make choices,’ he said. ‘We get elected to solve problems and it’s remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don’t want to…They’ll take the path of least resistance.’ Boehner said he’s been working for more than a year to try to push immigration reform through Congress.”


1.  “French jihadists in Syria and cyber-indoctrination.” Aljazeera.Com contributor Remi Piet argues, “Faced with this ideological vacuum, the idleness felt by the French youth and the surge of online indoctrination propaganda, the contributions of the French imams are essential to moderate the teaching of the Holy texts, confront the biased arguments of radical zealots and prevent the rise of terrorism inside and outside France. The problem is that the Muslim faith in France still suffers from its lack of institutionalisation.”

2.  “Is Menendez Knuckling Under Foreign Policy Hardball?USNews.Com contributor Peter Roff argues, “We’re not seeing a lot of leadership from the U.S. Senate these days on issues in the foreign relations arena. Perhaps that’s because the chairman of the relevant committee, New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez, believes his current ethical troubles make him politically vulnerable, making it best to keep a low profile.”

3.  “In defense of political lying.” Reuters contributor Jack Shafer argues, “Aside from money, nothing is more integral to a political campaign than lies. Campaigns lie about the other campaigns; they lie about their own positions, too. They lie about the consequences of the legislation and policies they propose. They lie in their speeches, they lie in their campaign literature, and they lie on TV, radio, on billboards, and over the Internet. Lies, integral as they are to campaigns, can’t be exterminated unless you snuff the campaigns themselves.”


1.  Oh, give me a home . . . .

2.  Kilroy’s still here.

3.  CNBC fallout.

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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.