Friday Finales & This Time Last Year


1. Cleared technical writing. Contributor Jillian Hamilton explains, “Technical writing is a great field for the detail-oriented person who likes to explain things to others. The normal career path for a technical writer is to start as a junior technical writer and advance to the position of senior technical writer. Some technical writers may move on to be managers, whereas others might consider freelance or consulting work. Depending on education and experience, some can even branch into roles such as business analyst, usability specialist, information architect, or project manager.”

2. The natural: Omaha, Nebraska. Editor Lindy Kyzer reports, “Omaha is a great place to launch a defense career, and an even better one to send it soaring with commercial crossover opportunities, a great military community and more. What unlikely city could be the home of your next great career? Be willing to give one a try and you might be surprised. . . .”


1. Tortured relationships. AP’s Bradley Klapper reports, “Their disputes over who spied on whom and censoring the Senate’s scathing torture report are history. But the personal feud between Sen. Dianne Feinstein and CIA Director John Brennan may only be getting worse. Relations between the outgoing Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman and America’s top spy appeared to hit a new low Thursday as Feinstein live-tweeted comments contradicting Brennan as he publicly addressed her panel’s sweeping allegations of CIA wrongdoing.” See also, “CIA Director Brennan Tries To Put Torture In the Past” and “Whether harsh interrogation worked is ‘unknowable.’

2. ISIS’ Chechens threaten Russia. Rudaw.Net reports, “Security forces in Russia’s Caucasus region hit back against militant groups following an attack in the Chechen capital Grozny last week that killed 14 police officers. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov vowed this week to punish families of suspected militants by deporting the relatives and demolishing their homes. . . . ‘This is a message to you, oh Vladimir Putin, these are the jets that you have sent to Bashar, we will send them to you, God willing, remember that,’ said one ISIS fighter in a video . . . .”

3. DoD’s last detention center in Afghanistan closed. Reuters’ Frank Jack Daniel reports from Kabul, “The United States said on Thursday it had shut its last detention facility in Afghanistan and no longer had custody of detainees there, closing a much-criticized chapter in Washington’s fight against Islamic extremism. The U.S. Defense Department said it had recently transferred the last detainees from Bagram Airfield north of the capital, Kabul. It closed the prison there on Dec. 10, a day after a Senate report detailed abuse at a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan.” See also, “Afghanistan asks donors for more money.”

4. $1 trillion approved. DefenseNews.Com’s John T. Bennett reports, “The US House on Thursday narrowly approved a $1 trillion government-wide spending bill, but only after shouting on the floor, the changing of votes and arm-twisting behind closed doors. . . . For the Defense Department, the legislation would provide $554.1 billion for fiscal 2015, just smaller than the $554.3 billion the Obama administration requested.”

5. Worth a million words. The Atlantic reports, “Charlie Haughey was drafted into the US Army in 1967, and served a tour of duty in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division 2nd Battalion 12th Infantry, as a rifleman. While serving as a point-man for a rifle company, Charlie was commissioned to be the new battalion photographer, and ended up shooting nearly 2,000 poignant photos over the course of 13 months while he served with his rifle company. After returning home, he put the negatives in boxes, and didn’t return his attention to them for most of his life. . . .”


1. $60 million for High Performance Computing (HPC). MilitaryAerospace.Com Editor John Keller reports, “U.S. military researchers announced an influx of more than $60 million this week into a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) program to enhance high-performance computing (HPC) for advanced research work. . . . On Monday the Army Corps of Engineers announced a $30.75 million contract modification to Cray Inc. in Seattle, and announced a $30.75 million modification on Tuesday to Silicon Graphics Federal Inc. in Annapolis Junction, Md.”

2. Boeing courts South Korea. AviationWeek.Com’s Amy Butler and Bradley Perrett report, “Although South Korea has been planning to develop the indigenous fighter with help from Lockheed Martin, with Korea Aerospace Industries as the presumed prime contractor . . . . Korean Airlines is working with Boeing to offer an alternative. Boeing’s offer is the Advanced Super Hornet say other industry officials. The company’s other conceivable offering is the F-15, which is partly built in South Korea, but it is further from the technical level of a new aircraft than is the Super Hornet and was rejected in the F-X Phase 3 competition last year.”


1. Homeland Security: Cyber Command Central. NextGov.Com’s Aliya Sternstein reports, “Lawmakers have sent a raft of cyber legislation to President Barack Obama’s desk, breaking through a six-year logjam. No doubt congressional action was spurred on by escalating intrusions into government and contractor networks. In a move backed by the White House, but not necessarily all Pentagon hawks, each of the measures positions the Department of Homeland Security as head of governmentwide cyber operations.”

2. DARPA’s deep dive into complex computing waters. FierceGovernmentIT.Com’s Dibya Sakar reports, “Researchers at the Defense Department are seeking proposals to improve the understanding of complex computing environments with an eye toward identifying and preventing sophisticated and advanced cyber attacks. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency . . . issued a broad agency announcement last week to make ‘currently opaque computer systems transparent’ by providing visibility into their internal workings . . . . Proposals are due by Feb. 10, 2015 and DARPA anticipates awarding multiple contracts worth up to $60 million.”

3. Insider threat. Also from NextGov.Com’s Sternstein, “[R]esearchers say using technology to detect otherwise hidden behavioral patterns could help federal managers screen out mischief-makers of all stripes. Moreover, they could do so within the bounds of privacy. The profiling unit of the FBI popularized by the procedural drama ‘Criminal Minds’ has begun a multiyear project studying how technology can help identify insider threats. . . .”


1. Turn the lights back on: “In a big win for House Republicans and President Barack Obama, the House passed a $1 trillion-plus funding bill Thursday night that will keep the government open into next year. The final vote, which came after a high drama day of behind the scenes arm twisting and vote counting, was 219 to 206. The Senate passed a two-day funding bill following the House vote, avoiding a government shutdown starting at midnight Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), however, warned that the ‘cromnibus,’ as the massive spending package has come to be called on Capitol Hill, may not pass the Senate until Monday.” See also, “Christmas Miracle.”

2. I said I’m running for President! “Santorum’s past as a U.S. lawmaker and his modest showing during the 2012 Republican presidential primaries . . . means his remarks Tuesday merit at least some notice . . . . However, the only examples of Santorum’s 2016 ambitions being mentioned on cable news, which has an almost insatiable desire for 2016 gossip, have been a brief mention on ‘Fox and Friends’ and a segment on CNN’s ‘Inside Politics’ . . . . ‘That was it . . . . [I]t appears the major news outlets remain more fascinated with glitzier names like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mitt Romney 3.0, and even Lindsey Graham than they are with Santorum.’”


1. “The ‘Graywashing’ of CIA Torture.” The Atlantic contributor Conor Friedersdorf argues, “America’s post-9/11 torturing was far less defensible, in planning and execution, than even many torture opponents are making it out to be. Many aspects of it obviously failed consequentialist tests even at the time. And the number of egregious, needless abuses perpetrated by the CIA under Bush and Dick Cheney makes the case for punishing torturers especially strong. Had another country behaved just as we did, few Americans would object to prosecutions.”

2. “Torture is a crime, time to end the impunity.” Aljazeera.Com contributor Rob Freer argues, “December 10 marked 30 years since the adoption of the Convention Against Torture – an anniversary which the US would do well not to gloss over. The US ratified the treaty in 1994. President Obama should make a public commitment to end the impunity being enjoyed by those who authorised and carried out the crimes committed in the CIA programmes of rendition, interrogation and detention.”

3. “The US Needs a New Church Committee.” DefenseOne.Com contributor Michael German argues, “Rigorous oversight is essential to ensuring our intelligence agencies operate at peak efficiency and effectiveness.”


1. On his way.

2. War on Xmas.

3. CIA HQ.

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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.