National Security

Russian fighter jet intercepts US Navy plane

A US Navy reconnaissance aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian fighter jet Monday in an unsafe and unprofessional manner, according to three US defense officials and a statement from the Navy. During an encounter that lasted a total of 25 minutes, the Russian SU-27 jet passed directly in front of the US EP-3 aircraft at a high speed, the officials said. The US crew reported turbulence following that initial interaction in which the direct pass occurred. The SU-27 then made a second pass of the US plane and applied its afterburner while conducting a banking maneuver, which is believed to have caused a vibration that was experienced by the American crew. “This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-27 conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk. The intercepting SU-27 made an additional pass, closing with the EP-3 and applying its afterburner while conducting a banking turn away. The crew of the EP-3 reported turbulence following the first interaction, and vibrations from the second,” according to a statement from the US Navy. Officials so far, have not been able to estimate how close the Russian aircraft came to the US plane, but described the flight behavior of the Russians as the key factor in making the determination the encounter was unsafe. US officials were not initially aware of whether the Russian aircraft was armed. The Navy EP-3 was operating out of Souda Bay, Greece, according to Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon. The Navy plane had its transponder on for the duration of the mission but there was no communication established or attempted between the Russian and US aircraft, Pahon said. A Twitter account for the Russian embassy in the US posted a brief statement about the encounter on Monday saying the fighter jet “followed all necessary safety procedures.” “The Su-27 jet’s crew reported identifying the #US EP-3 Aries spy plane and accompanied it, preventing a violation of Russian airspace and followed all necessary safety procedures,” the tweet said. The last reported unsafe intercept of a US Navy aircraft by a Russian jet occurred in January when a Russian Su-27 jet flew within five feet of a US Navy EP-3, forcing the Navy plane to fly through its jet wash. The US Navy deemed that intercept unsafe and unprofessional. Following that incident, the US State Department issued a statement accusing the Russians of “flagrantly violating existing agreements and international law.” In May, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet performed an “unprofessional” intercept of a US Navy P-8 surveillance plane while it was flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea. The Russian jet came within about 20 feet of the US aircraft, one official said, adding that the encounter lasted about nine minutes. That intercept was described by officials as safe but unprofessional..

Foiled Iranian plots in Europe raise concern in US, spotlight Israeli intelligence sharing

On the heels of explosive revelations that Iranian operatives – allegedly under direct orders from Tehran – plotted to carry out deadly attacks on dissidents across Europe, U.S. intelligence is on heightened alert of similar Iran-orchestrated operations, according to several analysts and insiders. “Given recent geopolitical developments, there is a growing concern of Iran orchestrating assignations and potential attacks,” said Michael Rozin, president of Minneapolis-based threat detection firm Rozin Security, and a former Israeli security agent, told Fox News. “Iranian intelligence services typically leverage local residents or citizens for pre-operational activities and use their own trained operatives … They leverage local sympathizers or those with families in Iran.” In August, the Department of Justice arrested two Iranians suspected of spying and “acting on behalf of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran by conducting covert surveillance of Israeli and Jewish facilities in the United States, and collecting identifying information about American citizens and U.S. nationals.” In particular, the Iranians targeted those involved with the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) – also referred to as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The MEK has long been deemed a terrorist organization by Tehran. It was also designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 1997, but was removed from the list in 2012. Eight years earlier, then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld designated the group as civilian “protected persons” under the Geneva Convention. One man identified as Ahmadreza Mohammadi Doostdar was a dual national with U.S. and Iranian citizenship, accused of conducting illicit snooping on a Jewish organization in Chicago. The other, Majid Ghorbani, is an Iranian citizen and California permanent resident, who was arrested after allegedly taking photos at an Iranian opposition rally held in New York, in September 2017 and passing them on to Iranian intelligence. The indictment against Ghorbani says he was involved in an operation to kidnap and kill Ali Safavi, a leading Iranian opposition figure. “I remember him. He came to the rally and upon seeing me, asked why I don’t go to California to visit anymore,” Safavi, a senior official with the NCRI, said..

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North Korea amps up currency scams to raise funds, avoid sanctions, report says

North Korea is turning to cryptocurrency scams to raise money and circumvent sanctions, a new report says. The biggest change in North Korea’s recent cyber activities has been the exploitation of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, Recorded Future, a threat intelligence firm, said in a report published on Thursday. Cryptocurrencies are decentralized, encrypted digital currencies, such as Bitcoin and they don’t rely on financial intermediaries like banks and governments. In June, Recorded Future researchers began to notice a large amount of data transfer associated with altcoin currencies – a cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin – and discovered a blockchain scam, called Marine Chain Platform, tied to North Korea, according to the report. One prominent Marine Chain Platform employee tracked down by researchers was the CEO, a man named Capt. Jonathan Foong Kah Keong. Foong has been connected to Singaporean companies that have assisted North Korean sanctions circumvention efforts since at least 2013, the report said. “Cryptocurrencies are highly fluid, volatile, and in many cases, anonymous tools that are used by North Koreans to circumvent international identification and financial controls,” Priscilla Moriuchi, director of strategic threat development at Recorded Future and author of the report, said…

Indeed..  For more, click on the text above.

U.S. military to deploy 5,000 troops to southern border: Report

The U.S. will send 5,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico to counter a massive migrant caravan, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The new estimate is a dramatic increase from Thursday, when the military planned to only deploy 800 troops. According to The Journal, troops will be stationed at ports of entry divided among Texas, Arizona and California and will later help with administrative tasks on the U.S.-side of the border. President Trump aimed another warning at the caravan, stressing that “our military is waiting for you!”

Trump turns tables, scores wins over Russia

President Trump’s often-criticized effort to forge better relations with Russia has morphed into a confrontational stance that this week scored economic and national security wins. German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that her government is backing construction of a shipping depot for importing liquefied natural gas from the U.S., bowing to Mr. Trump’s demand that she loosen Russia’s grip on the country’s energy supply. Mr. Trump then went directly after Moscow. He announced that the U.S. was pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that for the past 31 years limited the development and deployment of missile or launch systems that can threaten Russia’s European neighbors. The president accused Russia of violating the missile system ban for years and, to the Kremlin’s dismay, vowed to force an expensive new arms race. Russian President Vladimir Putin was riled. At a meeting Tuesday in Moscow with National Security Adviser John R. Bolton, Mr. Putin described the developments as “unprovoked moves that are hard to call friendly.” He said a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Trump was in order. Later, Mr. Trump said he is willing to sit down with Mr. Putin when the two men are in Paris next month for events marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. “It hasn’t been set up yet, but we probably will” meet, Mr. Trump said at the White House. When he last faced off with Mr. Putin at a July summit in Helsinki, Mr. Trump was roundly criticized for being too soft and timidly accepting the Russian’s denial that his country meddled in the 2016 presidential election. In Paris, Mr. Putin might be looking to reset the relationship. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce told The Washington Times that he welcomed the advances against Russia, saying the LNG terminal would help make Germany “less vulnerable to Russian manipulation.” The California Republican backed up Mr. Trump on quitting the nuclear missile treaty. “The Russians have been violating INF for years, making this deal unsustainable. We need durable arms control agreements,” he said. Russia’s violations of the missile system ban go back 10 years, with allegations of cheating leveled by the Obama administration and European leaders.

More winning!!  For more, click on the text above.     🙂

NSA Finalizes $6.7 Billion in Classified Tech Contracts

The National Security Agency is quietly beginning work on a new series of three communications contracts valued at $6.7 billion. Details are sparse because the classified contracts—collectively called Greenway—were secretly awarded to telecommunications giant AT&T and defense contractors General Dynamics and ManTech International over the past year. Redacted legal documents following a protest of one of the contracts in March indicate the NSA’s goal is to “technically evolve” its IT environment. NSA’s Greenway program is a continuation of its classified Groundbreaker program, which dates back to then-NSA Director Michael Hayden’s decision to outsource the agency’s IT operations to industry. At the time, Hayden said the contract would allow NSA to “refocus assets on the agency’s core missions of providing foreign signals intelligence and protecting U.S. national security-related information systems by turning over several information technology infrastructure services for industry’s purview.” NSA awarded the first $5 billion Groundbreaker contract in 2001 to a joint alliance of contractors called the Eagle Alliance, led by Computer Science Corp., which became CSRA. The same Eagle Alliance companies, which included Northrop Grumman, held the business for well over a decade before the NSA decided to break the Groundbreaker program up into smaller pieces, resulting in Greenway. As Nextgov reported in September 2017, CSRA won the first Greenway contract worth up to $2.4 billion over the next decade. The company announced the award through a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, where it acknowledged the value and duration of the contract without naming the customer agency or contract’s name. Months later, a redacted decision by the Government Accountability Office on a protest of the contract revealed CSRA’s portion of Greenway is called “Global Enterprise Services.” The documents state “Global Enterprise Services” will focus “on services on a global scale and more virtual in nature.” Following the contract, CSRA was purchased by General Dynamics, a northern Virginia-based defense contractor. In January 2018, AT&T won the second Greenway contract, called “Regional Infrastructure Services I.” AT&T’s award became public following two protests lobbied against it by competitors DXC Technology and Enterprise Services LLC. According to GAO, Regional Infrastructure Services I has a maximum value of $3.3 billion over 10 years. According to the redacted documents, AT&T will “operate, maintain and technically evolve” the NSA and Central Security Service’s IT environment. ManTech International captured the third and final Greenway phase, called “Regional Infrastructure Services II.” As reported by Washington Technology, ManTech announced the contract—worth up to $1 billion over 10 years—in a May 1 earnings call. Little else is known about the deal, although the redacted GAO documents state Greenway’s Regional Infrastructure Services will provide “services more localized and physical in nature and provisioned at specific zones throughout the world.”

Judge Jeanine: ‘The Military Needs to Be Deployed to Our Southern Border Immediately’

Saturday on Fox News Channel’s “Justice,” host Jeanine Pirro opened her show with an “Opening Statement” aimed at the so-called caravan originating in Central America attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Pirro laid out her criteria for allowing anyone within the caravan into the country, which included public safety, what the crosser would have to offer the country and their willingness to pledge their allegiances to the U.S. flag and not the flag of where they had originated. “The military needs to be deployed our southern border immediately to stop the caravan of thousands of illegals pouring into our nation,” she said. “Right now is a very dangerous time for Americans. Border control is essential to your safety and the safety of your family. The military, the National Guard, ICE, Border Patrol and DHS needs to block this caravan from entering our nation. Now, I’m not saying they are all criminals. What I am asking is, who are they? What I am saying is I want to vet them, screen them. I want to find out who among them is a criminal, who among them is a gang member like the notorious MS-13 gang members who arrogantly rode into our country during the Obama years and they are in New York and elsewhere brutally and savagely murdering innocent American citizens.” “I want to know who is a pedophile, who is a sex offender, who thinks they are entitled to beat their wives?” Pirro continued. “I want to know who has an alcohol problem, who has a drug problem, who likes to drive drunk and who has no problem hauling drugs for the cartel? And if you can prove you are not a criminal, I want to know what you have to offer us. What do you bring to this great nation? What are you going to contribute? Why should we be proud to count you as an America, other than adding to the Democrats voting bloc and continuing the mob mentality that you already exhibited you are proficient at. Now, if you are not a criminal I want you to get to the back of the line behind everyone else who waited for a visa, came here legally, hired a lawyer, learned American history and sworn allegiance to this great nation. And only then am I interested in even talking to you about entering. I, for one, am sick and tired of the sense of entitlement that illegals have to enter this country then immediately claim their constitutional rights as they carry the flags, not of America, but the flags of their country. And God forbid if we try to deport them to the flag of the country they so proudly wave. “They break our laws to come here,” she added. “They are not entitled to be here. They break our laws to come here. This is not a left or right issue — this is a security issue. A safety issue. We simply cannot have people about whom we know nothing living next door to us, working next to us or driving next to us.”

Agreed Judge!  Only one small hyper-technical issue.  Having the regular Army, or other branch of the military wouldn’t be an option because of the Posse Comitatus Act.  Only the National Guard, which is the only military branch with police powers.  So, the risk of running afoul of some legal technicality is reduced significantly.  Plus the Army National Guard of states like Texas, Arizona, and other border states are compromised of soldiers who live in those states…and have skin in the game.  So, they’ll really step up to the challenge, if mobilized (put on “active duty orders”) to protect our southern border, whether it’s to stop this so-called “caravan of migrants”…or to just protect our southern border against the regular invasion by illegal aliens that we’ve been experiencing for a couple decades now.