American Elephants

Where Has All the Trust Gone? Long Time Passing. by The Elephant's Child

Should the NSA “Whistleblower” go to jail? Of course. He signed contracts that guaranteed he would not release secret information under penalty of law. It’s that simple. If he believes there is actually something wrong in the agency in which he works, he is obliged to go to the inspector general for that agency.

Edward Snowden is a high school dropout, but later got a GED, a junior college dropout, an Army dropout after he broke his legs in a training accident, yet he was stationed by the CIA with diplomatic cover in Geneva in 2007, with widespread access to classified documents.  That access, and less than three years of being around CIA officers, made him question U.S. government surveillance policies.

After that he worked as a private contractor at an NSA facility in Japan, then as a private contractor with Booz-Hamilton, a private contractor for NSA in Hawaii, at a salary of around $200,000, from whom he requests leave to cope with his epilepsy. So he encamps for Hong Cong from where he reveals his government secrets to London’s Guardian newspaper.

He says he admires other accused leakers of government secrets such as Private Bradley Manning, and Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, but considers himself different. His admiration does not speak well for him.

“I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,” he told the Guardian. “There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”

This doesn’t add up. What kind of sloppy government hiring and assignments put an Army private or a high school dropout in positions where they have the capacity to steal important national security secrets?

Is the NSA doing something dastardly? Were it not for the incredible malfeasance in the IRS and the clumsy attempts to cover up, the targeting of innocent American citizens who just happened to disagree with the administration, the clumsy efforts to denigrate the opposition just before an election, we might not think so. Who knows?

We have an implacable enemy in Radical Islam. The president wants us to think that al Qaeda has been decimated, but this is not true. The president seems to want us to accept the idea that Iran having nuclear capability is not a big deal. The Secretary of State is arming Egypt’s Radical Islam, pledging to round up $4 billion for them from who knows whom? I will agree that it is quite essential to know what conversations or correspondence is going on between people in the United States and those in suspected locations who wish us ill. But there’s some sloppy thinking here.

Oddly, the Democrats seem far more excited about the idea that the government would monitor phone records or computer records far more troubling than the activities of the IRS in attacking conservative groups for disagreeing with the administration.  I guess the idea that a Republican administration might use the IRS against them does not occur, or more likely, they are fairly confident that Republicans wouldn’t do such a thing, and that is probably correct.

President Barack O’Blameless has hauled out his usual straw men—setting up questions that no one has asked— to assure everyone that he is indeed blameless, and gone out to hit the golf course. But the scandals are too big, too ugly, the lies pile up, and millions have been expended for no reason except the political advantage of the president and his party.

That’s not what the American people signed up for.  Americans don’t like being lied to, and they want to have some kind of trust in their government. That has been destroyed.

The National Security Scandal by The Elephant's Child


I indulged in a little schadenfreude in the piece below, but Chinese computer-based attacks are a serious matter. Over the past year, the Defense Department and private cyber-security experts have stepped up accusations that the Chinese government is directly involved in cyber espionage against the U.S.

In February, a U.S. based cyber-security firm issued a report accusing a secret Chinese military unit in Shanghai of years of cyber-attacks against more than 140 companies, most of them American. They are using their cyber capabilities to collect intelligence against U.S. diplomatic, economic and defense programs, and the report warned that the skills needed for such espionage are similar to those needed to conduct cyber-warfare.

The report said China is modernizing its short-range ballistic missile force and acquiring greater numbers of medium-range missiles to increase the range at which it can conduct precision strikes against land targets and naval ships, including aircraft carriers directly from China’s shores. More plainly they are stealing classified data about our most sensitive weapons systems. The systems designs and technologies compromised by cyber-exploitation — the B-22 Osprey helicopter, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, The Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile System, the Global Hawk drone, the Littoral Combat Ship, and the list goes on — and on.

Our response has been finger-wagging and mutual verbal warnings from Obama’s national security team that China had better stop this or we might do something.  We have, in the meantime invited the Chinese to join our 2014 Rim of the Pacific naval exercises, so they can get a closer look at our capabilities, I guess. A formal disinvitation should have been the immediate response to the Defense Science Board’s hacking report, as well as some firm talk.

The Obama administration doesn’t seem to have any strategy on how to deal with China, geo-politically, economically or militarily. Obama’s Pacific Pivot seems to be more of a smoke screen for drawing down our forces and abandoning our commitments in the Middle East. Obama wants the funds involved available to spend at home.

Obama’s Secret Exchange Caught On ‘Hot’ Mic by The Elephant's Child

The President of the United States takes a solemn oath at his inauguration,.  to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. The American people place a fundamental trust in a President that he will do all within his powers to defend the country from foreign military threats. That trust applies as well to the threats posed by ballistic missiles.

This is not the first time this President has been caught off guard, by a microphone still ‘hot’, making comments not intended to be heard by the American people. The President met today, March 26, with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Seoul, South Korea.

Baker Spring of the Heritage Foundation sketches the background:

President Obama has been willing to subordinate the missile defense program to his policies for arms control and nuclear disarmament for a long time. One need go no further than to read a portion of the preamble to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which is the new strategic nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, on the subject of missile defense. It states that U.S. missile defense capabilities must come down as the numbers of strategic nuclear weapons come down under the treaty.

The Obama Administration spared no effort to defeat an amendment in Senate to strike this language in the New START preamble. The President’s comments in Seoul are completely in keeping with this past behavior. What is now evident is the scope of the manipulation he is pursuing to fool the American people about something essential to their security. It is now undeniable that President Obama is breaking the most basic trust the American people put in any President.

The exchange caught by the ‘hot’ microphone was as follows:

President Obama: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.”

President Medvedev: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you.…”

President Obama: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”

President Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin].”

Russia’s definition of missile defense cooperation is problematic to say the least. Regardless of the level of knowledge Russia has of the U.S. missile defense program—a result of hours of unilateral U.S. briefings—Moscow insists on having veto power over Washington’s decision to shoot down a missile on its way toward its victims. On other occasions, Russia demanded binding limitations on speed or geographical coverage of U.S. interceptors.

Due to the pressure of concerned Senators, the President certified that “it is the policy of the United States to continue development and deployment of United States missile defense systems to defend against missile threats from nations such as North Korea and Iran, including qualitative and quantitative improvements to such systems” in New START’s resolution of ratification. It appears the President is ready to walk away from his own commitment.

After all, it would not be the first time that he failed to honor his promises made pursuant to New START ratification. He already failed to provide funding for U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure, deemed essential at the time of ratification. If left unchecked, the Administration’s policies will lead to America’s becoming increasingly vulnerable. This is the wrong posture for the United States. North Korea is preparing to launch its long-range missile, and ballistic missile proliferation is growing worse. Heritage research shows that a “protect and defend” strategy—which would combine offensive, defensive, conventional, and nuclear weapons—is the best response for this uncertain environment.

Obama has already betrayed our allies Poland and the Czech Republic, abandoning plans for ground-based interceptors and missile defense radars needed to defend against Iranian missile launches. He has also demonstrated that he has no problem with lying to the American public. He has his own goals for the nation, and he prefers to keep those hidden — until he is reelected and there are no more restraints on his actions. This is an appalling  betrayal of the American people — and not even the first one.  We’ll just have to see that there is no second term.

When the Slush Fund Hits the Fan! by The Elephant's Child

According to a story in The Marine Corps Times, the Navy’s Inspector General has found that, the “number one priority” at the Naval Academy is not finding, educating and graduating the best possible naval officers, but the academy’s diversity efforts.  The key is having the right skin color and ancestors from the right foreign countries.   Aside from that, it’s the “slush fund” for guests at VIP parties, the golf association, and perks for the football coaches.

Call it “fast-and-loose accounting,” with off-the-books funding, deviation from the usual mission intensive approach of our military and overly–enthusiastic football fans, with all the drama of the usual scandal. Sad.

Defense, Debts, Deficits and a Dangerous World. by The Elephant's Child

It remains a dangerous world out there.  Iran is developing nuclear weapons while our government yawns.  We just rolled up an 11 member Russian spy ring.  Russia is expanding its fighter forces more now than at any other time since the end of the Cold War.  They plan to field 300 Su-Fullback strike aircraft by 2022 and an additional 33 Sukhoi Pak fifth-generation fighters. China has ordered an estimated 76 Su-30MKK Flanker-Gs and can produce another 250 under license.

The reprehensible Representative Barney Frank’s “Sustainable Defense Task Force” issued a report in June titled “Debt, Deficits, and Defense; A Way Forward.” Designed by knowledgeable defense experts, leading minds from the military?  Not likely.  This is a pacifist manifesto designed by multiple representatives from the Project on Defense Alternatives, an envoy from Peace Action, and like-minded colleagues from the Center for American Progress, the Center for Arms Control and Non Proliferation, the New America Foundation, and according to Kevin Williamson of the Exchequer blog at National Review, a Professor Prasannan Parthasarathi of Boston College — an expert on the British empire and the author of a highly regarded history of cotton textiles.

The Obama administration intends to slash the defense budget because they would rather boost their spending on bailouts, “stimulus bills,” and support for unworkable “green” schemes — and other completely wasted uses of taxpayer funds.

— The Navy will be reduced to eight aircraft carriers (from a planned 12) and seven air wings.  Eight ballistic missile submarines will be cut from the planned force of 14, leaving only six. The fleet will be reduced to 230 combat ships, eliminating 57 vessels from a current force level of 287.  The new DDG-1000 destroyer program would be canceled.  And the four active guided missile submarines would be cut as well.

— The Air Force must retire six fighter air wings, and at the same time build 301 fewer F-35 fighters. The nuclear bomber force will be completely eliminated in the name of unilateral disarmament — the B-1, B-2 and B-52 and other bombers would still be able to drop bombs, but nuclear weapon wiring and controls will simply be removed.  The new refueling tanker and the C-17 cargo aircraft will be canceled. Advanced missile and space warfare defense projects will also be eliminated or curtailed.

— Active duty Army will be slashed from 562,400 to 360,000.  That’s elimination of about five active-component brigade combat teams.  Overseas bases would be cut.

— The Marine Corps would be cut by 30%, from 202,000 to 145,000, and other funding cuts mean the U.S. would not be able to mount a major amphibious landing on any hostile shore.

— Under “Resetting the calculation of military compensation and reforming the provision of military health care…” (bureaucratic obfuscation) the report shows a planned reduction of pay and benefits for the troops and their families to the tune of $120 billion.

Barney Frank has been working on this since October of 2008.  It’s a typical and very old Liberal agenda.  Higher taxes, weak National Defense, a tax-hike especially on the wealthy.  This “liberal renewal” has been eked out with party line votes with little effort at bipartisanship.

All this talk of change and newness is deceptive.  There is nothing new about the liberal agenda.  Though it has been a goal of the left for generations, it is only now that a dubious “right” to healthcare has been enshrined into law. Which is particularly stupid, since no one in America has gone without health care.

We have spent and spent and spent, most of the funds wasted.  Perhaps Keynesian economics is finally dead, far too late.  Just dumping money into the economy doesn’t seem to have much of a “multiplier effect.” Loan guarantees or grants for “green projects’ like ethanol pipelines, smart meters, smart grids, electric cars, high-speed rail, solar arrays, wind farms are simply waste.

They always overreach. They get excited about being able to tell people what to do, and intrude into private lives.  They’re sure that if they can just take enough money away from “the rich” then there won’t be any more poor.  They don’t like the military so they put that on the budget cutting block, and they give away our military secrets and  apologize to our enemies, and fail to understand when other countries take advantage of our apparent weakness.

Man-caused Catastrophic Global Warming Theory is Dead. Over. So Now the Defense Department Is Going Green? Go Figure! by The Elephant's Child

The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review gives an unusual amount of attention to the issue of climate change. Brett Schaefer and Baker Spring note, at National Review, that:

Previous QDR reports did not identify climate change, global warming, or other environmental issues as major concerns for U.S. security. The 2010 QDR, by contrast, dedicates three of its 105 pages (plus executive summary) to the issue, highlighting it (along with energy) in a section dedicated to its impact on the “future security environment.”

All in all, the report mentions “climate change” 19 times. China is mentioned only eleven times, Iran five times, Russia four times, and North Korea three times. It seems that the Obama administration views climate change as a major national-security concern. The QDR sees the potential consequences of global warming — retreating glaciers, extreme weather, rising sea levels and temperatures, food security and water scarcity, disease — as potential contributors to instability and conflict. (emphasis mine)

It appears that the Obama administration which has appeared to be somewhat uninterested in national security, regards climate change as a major security threat.  Probably no one in the administration is familiar with ClimateGate, or the subsequent collapse of the authority of the UN’s IPCC and relies instead on their friend, noted climate scientist Al Gore.

This summary comes from the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP).

• Mid-August, 2009, after repeated requests for data under the Freedom of Information Act, the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, one of the three international agencies that calculate global temperatures, announced that it had discarded the raw data used to calculate global surface temperatures.  Makes independent review and verification impossible.

• October, 2009 annual meeting Geological Society of America: Dr. Don Easterbrook presented graphs demonstrating how tree-ring data from Russia showing cooling after 1961 were artfully disguised in IPCC Assessment Report 4 contained deceptions making the entire document scientifically questionable.

• November: emails and code from the CRU leaked to the public, which reveals efforts to suppress independent studies that are contrary to IPCC conclusions of human-caused warming.  IPCC scientific review process has systematic bias in favor of anthropogenic warming.

• Mid-December: Russian Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) reported that the Hadley Center for Climate Change of the Met Office had probably tampered with Russian climate data, and the Russian station data do not support human caused global warming.  Met Office collaborates with CRU in reporting global temperatures. Reported global surface temperature trends are unreliable and have a strong warming bias of unknown magnitude.

• January: Joe D’Aleo and E. Michael Smith reported that the National Climatic Data Center (NOAA-NCDC) and NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) dropped many meteorological stations from their data bases— those in colder climates. Thus their reported temperature trends are unreliable and likely have a strong warming bias of unknown magnitude.

• All global surface temperatures and trends announced by the three major reporting international organizations probably have a warming bias of an unknown magnitude rendering their work scientifically unreliable.

• January: IPCC AR4 claimed that here was a probability of the disappearance of Himalayan Glaciers by 2035 or sooner. A possibility that could be devastating to India and S.E. Asia.  Investigated, it turned out to have no basis in scientific fact.

January: Claims in the 2007 IPCC report that climate change could endanger up to 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest came from activist who has worked for WWF and Greenpeace, and had no basis in scientific fact.  The disappearance of rainforest was due to logging.

February: No scientific basis for the claim that global warming could cut-rain-fed African crop production by 50% by 2020.

Beyond the QDR’s view that consequences of global warming could be potential contributors to instability and conflict, the approach leads to recommendations that limit the flexibility of the military.

If carbon dioxide is not a cause of global warming, and it isn’t, then just how far should we go to try to eliminate it?  And perhaps we should try to resolve more of the scientific questions before we start changing our national security strategies. And possibly we should find out if there is any warming at all, and who we can trust with those questions.

This is a very troubling basis on which to shift America’s defense strategy.  As Schaefer and Spring suggest: “In its oversight role, Congress should challenge the administration’s inclusion of climate change as a defense priority.”

I’ll bet you didn’t know this about Sarah Palin! by The Elephant's Child

Sarah Palin has always been a runner.  She says that her parents were marathoners, and coached high school track, so it was a family affair.  She is still trying to get back to her old routine of running 7 to 10 miles every day according to the Wall Street Journal, but since giving birth she is only running 3 miles every other day.

Governor Palin is also the Commander-in Chief of the Alaska National Guard, something she shares with other governors.  However Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system.  The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units.

Nearly 250 Alaska Guardsmen came from all over the country to serve in the 49th Missile Defense Battalion. Getting into the program is not easy, and passing the extensive training required is tough.  Applicants go through nine to 14 weeks of air defense training at Fort Bliss, Texas; a nine-week Ground Missile Defense operator course in Colorado Springs; then four more weeks of unit training in Colorado Springs before taking a certification test.

Major Joe Miley, the operations officer, explains that on order, they would fire an interceptor at the incoming missile in midcourse phase, which would destroy the target before it reentered the atmosphere.  Stationed at Fort Greely, about 150 miles southeast of Fairbanks, it’s a tough place to live and logistically support.  Winter temperatures, for example, can drop to 75 degrees below zero.

In the last 20 years, more countries are actually having intercontinental ballistic missiles, the number has increased from six nations to more than 20.  And the number of test launches has increased every year.  Training is continuous to keep skills sharp.  This is serious national defense.

Alaskan governors deal with a lot more national and international security issues than most do.  There is a lot of military in Alaska.  Sarah is briefed on highly classified security measures, homeland security and counterterrorism.  Russia is only a few miles away, and interested in claiming all of the Arctic for its energy reserves.  She also negotiated a pipeline deal with Canada.  And they were saying about her inexperience…

Our Sarah Palin has pretty sharp skills as well.

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