National Security

US ignores China ‘at our peril’ and lags on missile tech, Pacific commander warns

The top U.S. military commander in the Pacific warned Congress that American missile technology had fallen so far behind China due to a decades-old arms control treaty with Russia, the United States may not be able to win a future war against Beijing. “China’s intent is crystal clear. We ignore it at our peril,” Adm. Harry Harris, recently nominated by President Trump to be his next ambassador to Australia told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday. “China’s impressive military buildup could soon challenge the United States across almost every domain,” Harris warned. Harris said the United States is blocked from fielding ground-based intermediate range missiles because of the intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) treaty. China is not a party to the agreement between Washington and Moscow signed in 1987 banning short and intermediate range ground-launched missiles with ranges between 310 and 620 miles and 620 to 3,420 miles. The treaty does not cover sea-launched or air-launched missiles. Harris said better than 90 percent of China’s ground-based missiles would violate the INF treaty. China’s pursuit of state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles that travel over 7,500 miles per hour through space and could potentially break through the current U.S. missile defense shield worries the Pentagon. “I think that China’s hypersonic weapons development outpaces ours now, and I think we are falling behind,” Harris warned. A similar view was held by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, on Tuesday during testimony by the nation’s spy chiefs: “I feel we may be buying the best 20th-century military that money can buy when many of the threats in the 21st century will be in cybermisinformation, disinformation, and we need to be better prepared.” Intelligence chiefs warned this week China could turn U.S. telecommunications networks into a spy network, warning Americans not to use certain Chinese cellphones made by Huawei and ZTE. They also raised alarm bells about academics and Chinese students sent to the U.S. to gather secrets for the Chinese government. Admiral Harris, who oversees 375,000 military personnel and is responsible for threats to the U.S. across 100 million square miles – half of the earth’s surface – is known as a China hawk. Last week, President Trump nominated him to be ambassador to Australia. Harris also weighed in on the other major threat to the United States in the Pacific. He warned lawmakers not to be fooled by North Korea’s recent charm offensive during the Winter Olympics. Harris said Kim Jung-Un ultimately wants “reunification [with South Korea] under a single Communist system,” what his grandfather and father failed to do. Harris said he rejected the notion that North Korea’s nuclear ambitions were solely about regime survival, but instead intended to “blackmail” South Korea and other countries in the region, including the United States. Should war break out on the Korean Peninsula, Harris said the number of people requiring evacuation would be “staggering.” 200,000 American civilians would have to be evacuated from South Korea. 1 million Chinese. 60,000 Japanese would all require immediate evacuation. “The Republic of Korea and Japan have been living under the shadow of [North Korea]’s threats for years, and now that shadow looms over the American homeland,” said Harris. He and others on the House Armed Services Committee warned about being lulled into complacency by North Korea’s presence at the Olympics under a unified Korean flag. Vice President Pence today, just back from South Korea, explained how he gave Kim Jong Un’s sister the cold shoulder. “I didn’t avoid the dictator’s sister, but I did ignore her. I didn’t believe it was proper for the USA to give her any attention in that forum,” said Pence. Harris also told lawmakers he was concerned about the growing threat from Russia and China in outer space. “We’ve been led astray by viewing space as some kind of a fuzzy panda bear thing,” said Harris. “I think the Chinese … the Russians and others, they view space as the ultimate high ground. They are preparing for battle in space.”

And we fail to look at it in a similar manner “at our peril.”  The good Admiral is exactly right.  Having spent a couple years in the space industry as an Army officer, I personally can attest to the importance of viewing Space as the “ultimate high ground.”  The Russians, Chinese, and to a smaller extent even the North Koreans see it exactly that way.  It’s WAY past time we got our act together and addressed our military space programs with a sense of urgency.

Pompeo: North Korea ‘Handful of Months’ Away from Threatening U.S. with Nuclear Weapons

Speaking at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) forum on the future of U.S. intelligence operations, CIA Director Mike Pompeo warned that North Korea could be a “handful of months” away from plausibly threatening the continental United States with nuclear weapons. Pompeo warned North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is advancing at a “very rapid clip.” He added that U.S. intelligence fears Kim would aggressively use nuclear weapons as a tool to conquer the entire Korean Peninsula. Pompeo repeated his recent warnings that “North Korea is ever closer to being able to hold America at risk,” but said the intelligence community is helping to hold them just shy of achieving their goals. “I said that was a handful of months,” he recalled. “I said the same thing several months before that. I want everyone to understand that we are working diligently to make sure that a year from now, I can still tell you they are several months away from having that capacity.” Later in his appearance, Pompeo clarified that he was not laying out a timeline where North Korea might be fielding nuclear missiles by the end of the summer, or anything quite so immediate. He said it was inappropriate to think in terms of timelines to landmark missile test launches. Instead, the real issue is reliability—“Can they reliably deliver the pain which Kim Jong-un wants to be able to deliver against the United States of America?” He explained: ” It’s one thing to be able to say, ‘Yes, it’s possible if everything went right, if the missile flew in the right direction, we could do it,’ as opposed to certainty. This is the core of deterrence theory. In the deterrence model, you have to be certain that what you aim to deliver will actually be successful. At the very least, you need to make sure your adversary believes that it is certain.” “That’s what Kim Jong-un is driving for. He is trying to put in our mind the reality that he can deliver that pain to the United States of America. Our mission is to make the day that he can do that as far off as possible,” Pompeo said. He disputed the commonly reported notion that the intelligence community was caught by surprise when North Korea’s nuclear program surged forward. “We’ll never get the week or the month right on something that’s this complicated, but we can get the direction of travel and the capacity for the rate of change right, and we did,” he insisted. During a question-and-answer session with AEI’s Marc Thiessen, Pompeo cautioned that he was not at liberty to divulge sensitive intelligence about North Korea, other than to say, “They have moved at a very rapid clip, make no mistake about it.” “They’re testing capacity has improved. The frequency that they have tests which are more materially successful has also improved, putting them ever closer to a place where Americans can be held at risk,” he said. Pompeo said the CIA believes Kim Jong-un to be a “rational actor,” and that his rational strategy is about more than achieving deterrence against conventional military action by the United States and its allies since the massive North Korean artillery threat to South Korean cities already provides such deterrence. Pompeo said the CIA believes that Kim wants “more than just regime preservation,” which is why the Trump administration is so determined to prevent him from achieving nuclear ICBM capability. They suspect Kim will not be content to become merely the latest authoritarian ruler sitting on an inventory of nuclear weapons he would never dare to use. Thiessen asked if Kim’s status as a “rational actor” meant limited military action to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program is possible since a rational state would not respond in a manner that guaranteed its own destruction. “I’m thrilled that you asked that. I’m equally happy not to answer,” Pompeo replied. “Let me say this, though: the American people should know we’re working to prepare a series of options to make sure that we can deliver a range of things, so the president will have the full suite of possibilities.” “We are in a much better place today than we were twelve months ago,” he said. “We are still suffering from having gaps. Part of that is not the intelligence community’s fault per se. These are difficult target sets. I’ll concede that at the outset. But it’s completely inadequate for the CIA to say, ‘Well, that’s a hard problem.’ Of course it’s a hard problem. That’s why you pay us.” He said the CIA’s top priorities in North Korea included analyzing its command structure, determining how sanctions affect various individuals and layers of North Korean society, and who might be helping the Kim regime mitigate the effects of sanctions.

US OKs selling Japan missiles to shoot down North Korean missiles

The Trump administration has approved a $133.3 million missile defense sale to Japan to meet the escalating threat from North Korea — by shooting down the rogue nation’s own ballistic missiles. The State Department says Congress was notified Tuesday of the proposed sale of four missiles for the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor. A State Department official told Fox News that, “Also included are four Mk 29 missile canisters, and other technical, engineering and logistics support services.” The department said the sale would support the U.S. defense industry and underscore Trump’s commitment to improve the defense of allies threatened by North Korea. The system was jointly developed by Japan and the U.S. The missiles could be used at sea with Japan’s current Aegis-equipped destroyers and with the land-based Aegis system its Cabinet approved for purchase last month. That’s intended to bolster Japan’s current missile defense and perhaps curry favor with President Donald Trump who is eager for U.S. allies to buy more American military hardware. “If concluded, this proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States,” the State Department official told Fox News. “It will bolster the security of a major treaty ally that has been, and continues to be, a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region. It will also improve (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s) interoperability with U.S. missile defense systems, and increase the protection for U.S. installations in the region.”

State Department announces indefinite freeze on security aid to Pakistan

Relations between the United States and Pakistan hit a new low Thursday with the Trump administration announcing a broad suspension of nearly all bilateral security aid to Islamabad and calling out the Pakistani government over its weak record on religious freedom. In a sign of the administration’s mounting frustration over what it says Pakistan’s refusal to confront terrorist networks operating in the South Asian nation, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the halt in aid will remain in place indefinitely — until Islamabad “takes decisive action” against Taliban and other jihadist groups. Pakistan, which claims its military has already engaged in a costly internal crackdown on terrorists over the past three years, appeared poised on Thursday to respond to the Trump administration’s move by cutting key American supply routes that run through the nation to U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan. Ms. Nauert did not specify how much U.S. assistance would be halted, saying only that details were still being worked out. Her announcement Thursday followed a statement earlier in the week by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who said Washington was already withholding $255 million in aid because of Pakistan’s unreliability as a counterterrorism partner. The United States has given more than $30 billion in aid to Islamabad since 2001, with much of the money tied to military training and Pakistani purchases of U.S.-made weaponry. The relationship has been tumultuous though, with the last low point coming in 2011 after U.S. intelligence and special forces found and killed al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden at a hideout inside Pakistan. While relations had strengthened again in recent years, as the Pakistani government launched military operations against jihadists in the country, things deteriorated over the summer amid complaints from U.S. officials that the Pakistanis weren’t doing enough to go after a group known as the Haqqani network, which is accused of targeting American forces in Afghanistan. In August, President Trump accused Pakistan of providing “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror.” A tipping point came more recently, when Pakistan captured an alleged Haqqani operative that Pakistani forces had captured during the rescue of a Canadian-American family in October. The New York Times has reported that U.S. officials demanded access to the operative, who may have valuable information about at least one other American hostage, but that Pakistan rejected the request. It was not clear Thursday how far the Trump administration intends to go in suspending aid to Islamabad, although there were reports that more than a billion dollars earmarked for the nation could be halted. Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, said on Twitter Thursday that he is introducing a bill to end aid to Pakistan. While he also did not give a specific dollar figure, the senator said his legislation would take the money and “put it in an infrastructure fund to build roads and bridges here at home.” Speculation swirled Thursday over the geopolitical implications of a major cut in aid to Islamabad. Some have raised concerns that Islamabad may shift toward a military alliance with China, which is reportedly planning to construct its second overseas military base in Pakistan.

DHS Announces Program To Scan American Faces

As TSA agents continue to prove their incompetence in the “War on Terror,” the Department of Homeland Security is now allocating $1 billion in taxpayer funding to create a facial recognition program that will scan Americans’ faces. A study conducted by Georgetown Law’s Center for Privacy and Technology looked at the biometric scanners that are creating an inventory of the faces of individuals leaving the country at airports across the United States. While they are only at certain major airports right now, the full implementation of these scanners could cost Americans up to $1 billion. The study noted that while the “9/11 Response and Biometric Exit Account” created by Congress has the funds for the program, “neither Congress nor DHS has ever justified the need for the program.” In addition to the fact that Congress has never provided a reason why the system is needed in the U.S., the study claimed that DHS has “repeatedly questioned ‘the additional value biometric air exit would provide’ compared with the status quo and the ‘overall value and cost of a biometric air exit capability,’ even as it has worked to build it.” Not only is a government agency pouring $1 billion into a program to increase the country’s security measures even though it lacks full confidence, and has no evidence that the program it is implementing will do so, there is also the fact that the program requires Americans to give up their civil liberties, and it has never been explicitly authorized by the government. As the researchers from Georgetown Law noted: “DHS’ biometric exit program also stands on shaky legal ground. Congress has repeatedly ordered the collection of biometrics from foreign nationals at the border, but has never clearly authorized the border collection of biometrics from American citizens using face recognition technology. Without explicit authorization, DHS should not be scanning the faces of Americans as they depart on international flights—but DHS is doing it anyway. DHS also is failing to comply with a federal law requiring it to conduct a rulemaking process to implement the airport face scanning program—a process that DHS has not even started.” The study also found that the biometric scanners used by DHS are not reliable, and often make mistakes. In fact, “according to DHS’ own data, DHS’ face recognition systems erroneously reject as many as 1 in 25 travelers using valid credentials.” This means that at the country’s busiest airports, more than 1,500 travelers could be wrongfully denied boarding in a single day. As The Free Thought Project has reported, while the biometric scanners are currently located at the major airports in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, New York City and the District of Columbia, DHS has made it clear that they plan to roll this program out nationwide by January 2018. Sens. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, criticized the privacy implications, and called for Homeland Security to halt the facial recognition scanning program in a letter to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson: “We request that DHS stop the expansion of this program, and provide Congress with its explicit statutory authority to use and expand a biometric exit program on U.S. citizens. If there is no specific authorization, then we request an explanation for why DHS believes it has the authority to proceed without congressional approval. Additionally, we ask that you address a number of our privacy concerns with the program.” Markey told The Hill that DHS should never have started testing and implementing the biometric scanners without first receiving congressional approval, and the United States Congress should take the time to weigh the implications of the program before handing the department a blank check. “When American citizens travel by air internationally, they should not have to choose between privacy and security,” Markey said. “The implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s facial recognition scanning program for passengers leaving the country raises a number of concerns around accuracy, transparency and basic necessity.”

Definitely some disturbing implications here..  This is a toughy..and it pits two competing conflicting values; privacy and security.  Here at The Daily Buzz we are ALL for securing biometric data from those NON-U.S. citizens coming to America, especially illegal aliens.  With the ever growing threats to our national security and our homeland, that is just basic common sense.  However, we need to be VERY careful that such efforts, and the technologies used to implement those efforts, are not used against law-abiding American citizens, without a proper warrant or other court order.  We’ll keep an eye on this developing story…

Classified Documents Found Among Huma Abedin’s Emails on Weiner’s Laptop

The State Department released emails Friday that investigators found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop which were sent from his estranged wife—top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin—some of which contained classified information. At least five of the found emails were marked classified, the New York Post reports. One email from Abedin to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was preparation for a phone call with Prince Saud of Saudi Arabia. The call was intended to warn the Saudis of classified material Bradley Manning had given to Wikileaks and was about to become public. Most of the content of the emails was heavily redacted when released by the State Department: “I deeply regret the likely upcoming WikiLeaks disclosure,” read one of the talking points. “This appears to be the result of an illegal act in which a fully cleared intelligence officer stole information and gave it to a website. The person responsible will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law” the message continued. “This is the kind of information we fear may be released: details of private conversations with your government on Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton released a statement after the release of the emails. “This is a major victory. After years of hard work in federal court, Judicial Watch has forced the State Department to finally allow Americans to see these public documents,” Fitton said. “It will be in keeping with our past experience that Abedin’s emails on Weiner’s laptop will include classified and other sensitive materials.” “That these government docs were on Anthony Weiner’s laptop dramatically illustrates the need for the Justice Department to finally do a serious investigation of Hillary Clinton’s and Huma Abedin’s obvious violations of law.” Judicial Watch has filed numerous lawsuits for official emails found on Clinton’s private email server to be made public.

Major kudos to Judicial Watch for its efforts in getting this information and making it available to the American public.  We the people have a right to know just how corrupt Hillary and her minions are/were.  And, we believe that Congress and/or AG Jeff Sessions need to reopen the probe into the Hillary email scandal with this new information that has come to light this past year.  It’s way past time Hillary and Huma were held to account for their clear violations of handling of classified information, among other things.

Trump Administration Removes ‘Climate Change’ from List of National Security Threats

Fulfilling yet another campaign promise, the Trump administration has eliminated “climate change” from its list of national security threats, preferring instead to “embrace energy dominance.” The national security strategy (NSS) released on Monday stressed the importance of balancing energy security with economic development and environmental protection while rejoicing in America’s energy independence as an achievement to be proud of. “Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system,” the national security strategy states. “U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth, energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests. Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty.” During his presidential campaign, President Donald Trump mocked President Obama’s consideration of climate change as a threat to national security. In his campaign speech in Hilton Head, South Carolina, for example, Trump sought to contextualize “climate change” among the many real threats faced by the American people. “So Obama’s always talking about the global warming, that global warming is our biggest and most dangerous problem,” Trump said. “I mean, even if you’re a believer in global warming, ISIS is a big problem, Russia’s a problem, China’s a problem. We’ve got a lot of problems. By the way, the maniac in North Korea is a problem. He actually has nuclear weapons, right? That’s a problem.” The new NSS incarnates this approach, emphasizing national security and economic growth over the supposed threat of global warming. “For the first time in generations, the United States will be an energy-dominant nation,” the communique states. “Energy dominance—America’s central position in the global energy system as a leading producer, consumer, and innovator—ensures that markets are free and U.S. infrastructure is resilient and secure,” it adds. In his Rose Garden speech in which he announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, President Trump made clear that he believed that the agreement disadvantaged the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers and taxpayers to “absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.” This agreement, Trump said, “is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.” In that speech, the president observed that the United States has “among the most abundant energy reserves on the planet, sufficient to lift millions of America’s poorest workers out of poverty,” while the accord would effectively put these reserves “under lock and key, taking away the great wealth of our nation.” Staying in the agreement would have posed serious obstacles for the United States as “we begin the process of unlocking the restrictions on America’s abundant energy reserves,” the president added. According to the new NSS, access to “domestic sources of clean, affordable, and reliable energy underpins a prosperous, secure, and powerful America for decades to come.” “Unleashing these abundant energy resources—coal, natural gas, petroleum, renewables, and nuclear—stimulates the economy and builds a foundation for future growth,” the strategy continues. “Our Nation must take advantage of our wealth in domestic resources and energy efficiency to promote competitiveness across our industries.” The new strategy does not diminish the American commitment to environmental responsibility but integrates ecological awareness with economic realism. “We are committed to supporting energy initiatives that will attract investments, safeguard the environment, strengthen our energy security, and unlock the enormous potential of our shared region,” the text states.