Tuesday’s Tops


1. Clearance fears. Editor Lindy Kyzer reports, “Just as a security clearance is a valued credential for those in the Washington, D.C. area, it appears some Silicon Valley firms fear it will reduce their street cred in the slightly edgier international tech industry. For international firms, there is a particular concern that security-cleared staff may lead to the appearance they’re running a government operation behind closed doors. . . .”

2. Spy story—Virginia Hall. Contributor Charles Simmins tells the tale: “Virginia Hall was an educated, woman of privilege. Crippled in an accident, she could have sat out the war collecting tin and selling bonds. Instead, she chose country before self. She is just the type of American woman that we should tell our daughters and granddaughters about, and hold out as an example. . . .”


1. ISIS setbacks. Homeland Security News Wire reports, “The Islamic State (ISIS) seems to be facing setbacks as a result of attacks from a coalition of Iraqi and Kurdish government troops, as well as local non-ISIS fighters residing near the group’s territory. There have also been reports of rising tensions between foreign and local ISIS fighters. According to activists living near the Syrian border with Iraq and Turkey, while Syrian fighters are required to serve in rural outposts more vulnerable to attacks, foreign fighters are allowed to live in cities where coalition airstrikes are rare because of the risk of civilian casualties.”

2. Boko Haram and ISIS. Christian Science Monitor’s Michael Holtz reports, “The most immediate payoff from Boko Haram’s new pledge of allegiance to the self-described Islamic State is likely a propaganda boost: Boko Haram gets an expanded social media presence with the help of skilled IS propagandists, while IS gains the support of its largest affiliate yet. But while the two militant Islamist groups have much in common – from terror tactics to the vision of establishing an Islamic caliphate – their stark differences could diminish the chances of a cohesive partnership.”

3. Venezuela: our new enemy. Reuters’ Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton report, “The United States declared Venezuela a national security threat on Monday and ordered sanctions against seven officials from the oil-rich country in the worst bilateral diplomatic dispute since socialist President Nicolas Maduro took office in 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama signed and issued the executive order, which senior administration officials said did not target Venezuela’s energy sector or broader economy. But the move stokes tensions between Washington and Caracas . . . .”

4. Army’s European Reassurance Initiative. Defense News’ Joe Gould reports, “As shrinking budgets push the US Army (and the other services) to shutter facilities in Europe, the president’s European Reassurance Initiative is surging dollars — some for military construction — to counter Russian aggression against Ukraine. What sounds contradictory is anything but, as explained by Army Assistant Secretary Katherine Hammack . . . .”


1. Solutions for Enterprise Wide Procurement. In Federal Times’ Aaron Boyd’s interview with NASA’s SEWP Program Manager Joanne Woytek, Woytek offers, “’I think what most is exciting about SEWP right now is the growth that we are seeing, not in the number of agencies, but the growth in agencies’ understanding that we can give them more than just a buy one item here and there. We can actually give them that infrastructure that will make them successful. That we can give them more control, more reporting . . . . They know that if they do it with us, we can actually do it better, and we have had several agencies that have gone off on their own and come back to us.’”

2. Lockheed wins $30 million sonar job. Military & Aerospace Technology’s John Keller reports, “Sonar signal processing experts at Lockheed Martin Corp. will upgrade sonar signal processing capability in six U.S. Navy submarines under terms of a $29.2 million contract modification . . . . Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington are asking experts at the Lockheed Martin Mission System sand Training segment in Manassas, Va., to provide purchase Technology Insertion (TI14) system upgrades for six ships including spares and pre-cable kits, as part of the Acoustics-Rapid COTS Insertion (A-RCI) program.”


1. Drones over Donetsk. Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reports, “While drones have been an aspect of U.S. wars for a decade, the Ukrainian conflict represents the most significant use of drones in warfare on two opposite sides of a battlefield. Groups like [Donetsk People’s Republic] use highly sophisticated Russian-made unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to collect data to target missiles and artillery fire, which has proven to be an enormous advantage on the battlefield.”

2. Pakistan and al Qaeda. The Long War Journal’s Thomas Joscelyn reports, “Recently released files recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound show that parts of the Pakistani government made attempts to negotiate with al Qaeda in 2010. The letters were released as evidence in the trial of Abid Naseer, who was convicted on terrorism charges by a Brooklyn jury earlier this month. . . . Al Qaeda’s negotiating tactic was simple. Either the Pakistanis leave them alone, or they would suffer more terrorist attacks. Rahman’s letter reveals how bin Laden’s men sought to convey their message.”

3. Internet of Things: a congressional resolution. Fierce Government IT’s Dibya Sakar reports, “A bipartisan group of senators wants to foster innovation and economic growth through a national strategy on the so-called Internet of Things. Last week, it submitted a resolution seeking to do just that. ‘Our Internet of Things resolution would commit our nation to a national strategy incentivizing the use of new technologies to maximize consumer opportunity and to facilitate economic growth,’ Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), one of four co-sponsors, said . . . . ‘This forward-thinking initiative would call for a modern framework that encourages innovators. By doing so, we can usher in new ideas and solve problems in the years to come.’”


1. Sign away: “Forty-seven Republican U.S. senators warned Iran’s leaders on Monday that any nuclear deal with President Barack Obama could last only as long as he remains in office, an unusual partisan intervention in foreign policy that could undermine delicate international talks with Tehran. The open letter was signed by all but seven of the Republicans in the Senate and none of Obama’s fellow Democrats, who called it a ‘stunt.’ Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif dismissed it as a ‘propaganda ploy’ from pressure groups he called afraid of diplomatic agreement.” See also, “Democrats denounce GOP letter.”

2. I haven’t been charged, yet: “Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.) on Monday dismissed speculation that he would step down as the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee because of pending Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal corruption charges against him. ‘You know what? I haven’t been charged with anything, so you guys are way ahead,’ he told a mob of reporters. He also shrugged off suggestions by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and others that the corruption charges against him are political retribution for opposing the White House’s negotiations with Iran.”


1. “Tech Companies Should Cooperate on National Security Spying.” Defense One contributor Amitai Etzioni argues, “Terrorists cannot be deterred as criminals typically are, by bringing them to trial and punishing them after the fact, because many commit suicide when they attack. And, because the harm they cause can be so great, the government must seek to stop them before they strike.”

2. “The real lesson from the Hillary Clinton email imbroglio.” Reuters contributor Suzanne Garment argues, “The quest for transparency has almost always been a partisan one; and this fact, perhaps more than any other, prevents us from taking a proper measure of the balance we should strike between privacy and disclosure.”


1. Changing rainbows.

2. Nice lawn.

3. What really happened.

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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.