Ex-presidents normally keep security clearances. Trump shouldn’t be trusted!


Brendan Smialowski/AFP

When David Priess was a CIA officer, he traveled to Houston, he recalls, to brief former President George H.W. Bush on classified developments in the Middle East.

It was part of a long tradition of former presidents being consulted about, and granted access to, some of the nation’s secrets.

Priess and other former intelligence officials say Joe Biden would be wise not to let that tradition continue in the case of Donald Trump…

They argue soon-to-be-former President Trump already poses a danger because of the secrets he currently possesses, and they say it would be foolish to trust him with more sensitive information. With Trump’s real estate empire under financial pressure and his brand suffering, they worry he will see American secrets as a profit center.

Not that I have beaucoup confidence in any of the standards guiding our “national security” boffins. But, I wouldn’t trust Trump any farther than I could throw him uphill into a heavy wind.

Hundreds of former national security officials endorse Biden

We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States. We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors, and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven America needs principled, wise, and responsible leadership. America needs a President who understands, as President Harry S. Truman said, that “the buck stops here.”

Many of these folks recorded videos about their endorsement. I simply picked one at random to illustrate their call for responsible leadership. Look and listen. Think about why we dare not leave this dangerous buffoon in power a minute longer than required by law.

And, then, think about joining the fight to change the out-of-date Electoral College law that put this dolt into office.

300+ former national security officials support impeachment inquiry

❝ More than 300 former national security officials have come out in support of an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, arguing the President’s actions in regard to Ukraine are a “profound national security concern.”

“President Trump appears to have leveraged the authority and resources of the highest office in the land to invite additional foreign interference into our democratic processes…that would constitute an unconscionable abuse of power.”…

❝ The bulk of the statement’s signees are former Obama officials, but the list also includes officials who have served in both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Former officials of the intelligence community, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Security Council staff are among the signees.

In the same vein, I’m confident there are large numbers of traditional centrist and conservative Republicans who support the impeachment inquiry. No chance of any of them speaking out, though, if they hold a position of significance in the Republican Party…if they wish to keep their job.

Recent Wars of the American Empire

This essay is the introduction to Tom Engelhardt’s new book, A Nation Unmade by War

❝ As I was putting the finishing touches on my new book, the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute published an estimate of the taxpayer dollars that will have gone into America’s war on terror from September 12, 2001, through fiscal year 2018. That figure: a cool $5.6 trillion including the future costs of caring for our war vets. On average, that’s at least $23,386 per taxpayer.

Keep in mind that such figures, however eye-popping, are only the dollar costs of our wars. They don’t, for instance, include the psychic costs to the Americans mangled in one way or another in those never-ending conflicts. They don’t include the costs to this country’s infrastructure, which has been crumbling while taxpayer dollars flow copiously and in a remarkably — in these years, almost uniquely — bipartisan fashion into what’s still laughably called “national security.”

❝ That’s not, of course, what would make most of us more secure, but what would make them — the denizens of the national security state — ever more secure in Washington and elsewhere. We’re talking about the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. nuclear complex and the rest of that state-within-a-state, including its many intelligence agencies and the warrior corporations that have, by now, been fused into that vast and vastly profitable interlocking structure.

Of course this rape of the national pocketbook – in the course of building a new imperial empire to replace the failed British model – is bipartisan in Congress and throughout our government. When did you expect political standards, history-based ethics, to replace the simple profit motive driving most American politicians?

Trump is a threat to National Security

A retired four-star Army general said that he thinks President Trump is a “serious threat to US national security” because the president “is refusing to protect vital US interests from active Russian attacks…”

❝ McCaffrey, a military analyst for NBC News and president of his own consulting firm, BR McCaffrey Associates, was director of Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Clinton from 1996 to 2001.

He received three Purple Heart medals for injuries sustained during his service in Vietnam, two Silver Stars for valor, and two Distinguished Service Crosses.

RTFA. Nice to know our Fake President can’t screw over this brave man’s’s pension.

Trump’s White House is run like Game of Thrones for Morons


Way too honest to last with Trump

❝ National security adviser H.R. McMaster has become the latest target of the leaks and infighting that have dogged the Trump administration’s early days.

❝ President Trump has tried to put an end to White House staffers placing palace intrigue stories, which peaked last month with a war of words between chief strategist Stephen Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner that played out in the press.

Now, McMaster, a favorite of Washington’s GOP and foreign policy establishment, finds himself in the crosshairs of anonymous White House officials as the administration mulls ramping up the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.
Those close to the White House describe the latest scuffle as another power struggle between rival spheres of influence. Foreign policy experts see the leaks as a reflection of a broader internal dispute over the appropriate level of U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

❝ Once again, Bannon is rumored to be at the center of it.

❝ …Bloomberg View columnist Eli Lake reported that Trump was boiling over with rage at McMaster and had berated him in front of White House staff…The story said that Trump at one point “screamed” at McMaster on a phone call for assuring South Korean officials that the U.S. would foot the bill for a missile defense system, contradicting the president.

RTFA for all the plot lines, mis-characterization of characters, myths and legends counter to any rational evidence-based history. It makes for comic opera. It also describes a swamp filled with competing bigots and fools sucking up to the ignoranus-in-chief.

NSA has already tested tracking the GPS in your cellphone


You thought they were listening to a ballgame in there, eh?

The director of the U.S. National Security Agency has admitted the agency tracked the location of Americans’ cellphone calls as part of a pilot program.

NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander said the tracking took place in 2010 and 2011 and was authorized under a portion of the Patriot Act and with the knowledge and approval of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Those who were tracked were not suspected of any wrongdoing or had any known connection to terrorist elements abroad, The Hill reported Wednesday.

Alexander said the program was halted because the NSA doesn’t need to collect the information itself. Instead, Alexander said, the NSA passes phone data to the Federal Bureau of Investigations where agents can determine whether there’s probable cause to seek a warrant for cellphone data tracking, including GPS information.

“This may be something that would be a future requirement for the country, but it is not right now because when we identify a number, we can give that to the FBI,” Alexander said. “When they get their probable cause, they can get the location data they need.”

Alexander knows damned well he needn’t worry about any interference with the NSA’s star chamber permit. Neither the White House nor Congress will offer significant protest.

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Obama uses “national security” as excuse for blocking Chinese wind farms project — WTF?


Gallo/Getty

A Chinese-owned company has filed a lawsuit against US President Barack Obama for blocking its purchase of wind farms near a US military base on national security grounds…

Obama signed the decree on Friday banning the sale of four wind farms in Oregon to the Ralls Corp and its Chinese affiliate, Sany Group.

In the decree, Obama said companies linked to Chinese nationals “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States”…

Who says the Cold War is over in the minds of our politicians?

It asked the court to declare the executive order “arbitrary and capricious” in contending that the transaction posed national security risks to the United States.

Ralls defended the wind farm project as one that will generate jobs in Oregon “at a time when American people need more jobs.”

In filing its complaint, the company said, “Ralls continues to show its profound faith in transparency and due process, and seeks only fair treatment under the law and the constitution.”

The same crap politicians who whine that “China needs to invest in the United States” consistently block that participation in anything more complex and productive than investments in American oil companies and their mineral rights.

Obama’s hypocrisy is not especially less than Romney’s, Congressional liberals no less than the US Chamber of Commerce. Politics 60 years out-of-date is no excuse for standing the way of mutual commercial interests. That this particular case concerns jobs and clean energy just adds to the stink of phoniness.

Lockheed Martin network hacked – RSA tokens probably involved

SecurID key RSA

The computer network at the largest U.S. defense contractor is suffering what’s being described as a “major disruption”…according to a report from Reuters, and the word is that somehow, RSA SecurID tokens–those little keychain dongles that generate seemingly random strings of numbers every 60 seconds–are involved.

Remember, if you will, that RSA disclosed it was under what it described as an “extremely sophisticated attack” in March. Later in April, the EMC-owned security outfit disclosed some of the anatomy of the attack, though it didn’t say much about what information was taken.

A few days ago, Robert Cringely reported that a major U.S. defense contractor had a very bad weekend, as a network issue took down remote access, meaning that anyone who routinely worked remotely had to go instead into the nearest office. The way he tells it, the incident was followed by word that all employees using the tokens would be issued new ones and would be required to change their passwords. The tokens are used to provide two-factor authentication to the corporate network from outside the firewall that’s meant to keep outsiders out…

EMC isn’t commenting on the incident. But Reuters is quoting Steve Winterfeld of TASC, a company spun off from Northrop Grumman, as saying RSA hasn’t provided enough details on how its network was breached, and that this has led him to consider the RSA devices as no longer secure. People are, he says, “freaked out.”

He’s likely not alone. As of 2009, there were more than 40 million people either using RSA tokens or RSA number-generating software on their smart phones.

My only question is – how did Lockheed manage to waste so much time before deciding to, uh, change out the possible compromised RSA keys?

The smallish community bank I do business with made that decision within a day or so of learning of the breach at RSA. Maybe it cost them a few bucks extra to replace every SecurID key – because I doubt if RSA was willing to pick up the tab for their sloppiness – but, safety and security for your customers is worth a lot more.