THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: The ATF’s Fake Retail Stores, Bad Behavior… And Why It Only Came Out Because They Failed To Pay Rent.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Maryland’s Assistant Attorney General For Consumer Protection Falls For Urban Legend.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Why the US Had Only 1 Wrench for 3 Nuclear Bases. “A prime example of the problems Hagel cited Friday was a toolkit that included a wrench needed to install a nuclear warhead atop an ICBM. Only one of the toolkits remained available, so the three bases that maintain the fleet of 450 Minuteman ICBM’s would share the toolkit. How? Hagel said they would use Fed Ex to ship it to the base that needed it at the time.”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: CDC Spokeswoman Not Sure if Agency Has List of People Entering U.S. from Ebola Countries.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: U.S. diplomat and longtime Pakistan expert is under federal investigation.
A veteran State Department diplomat and longtime Pakistan expert is under federal investigation as part of a counterintelligence probe and has had her security clearances withdrawn, according to U.S. officials.
The FBI searched the Northwest Washington home of Robin L. Raphel last month, and her State Department office was also examined and sealed, officials said. Raphel, a fixture in Washington’s diplomatic and think-tank circles, was placed on administrative leave last month, and her contract with the State Department was allowed to expire this week.
Two U.S. officials described the investigation as a counterintelligence matter, which typically involves allegations of spying on behalf of foreign governments. The exact nature of the investigation involving Raphel remains unclear. She has not been charged. . . .
The 67-year-old longtime diplomat was among the U.S. government’s most senior advisers on Pakistan and South Asian issues. She is a former assistant secretary of state for South Asia and a former ambassador to Tunisia. At the time of the FBI search of her house, she had retired from the Foreign Service but was working for the State Department on renewable, limited contracts that depended in part on her security clearances.
Hmm. Stay tuned.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: NSA Chief Bet Money on AT&T as It Spied on You.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: ‘Ebola Czar’ Absent from White House Ebola Strategy Meeting.
MORE CHEERY NEWS: New Texas nurse with Ebola had slight fever on airliner. “Frieden said Vinson had been monitoring herself for symptoms of Ebola and failed to report that her temperature had risen to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (37.5 degrees Celsius) before she left for Dallas. Even so, Frieden, who has come under pressure for apparent lapses in U.S. preparedness to fight Ebola, said the risk to other passengers was ‘very low’ because she did not vomit on the flight and was not bleeding.”
You know, a doctor from my area self-quarantined after treating Ebola patients. That wouldn’t have been a bad idea for people who treated Thomas Duncan — especially after one of them had already become ill.
The federal government spokesman who spoke with NBC News said that Vinson called the CDC on Monday before flying from Cleveland back to DFW on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143, and she reported that she had a temperature of 99.5 degrees.
According to the government spokesperson, when Vinson called in, the staff she talked with looked on the CDC website for guidance. At the time, the category for “uncertain risk” had guidance saying that a person could fly commercially if they did not meet the threshold of a temperature of 100.4.
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden had said earlier Wednesday on a phone press briefing that Vinson “should not have traveled on a commercial aircraft.”
The country’s in the very best of hands.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Ebola airport checks: ‘A net with very wide holes.’
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: U.S. lacks a single standard for Ebola response. “As Thomas Eric Duncan’s family mourns the USA’s first Ebola death in Dallas, one question reverberates over a series of apparent missteps in the case: Who is in charge of the response to Ebola? The answer seems to be — there really isn’t one person or agency. There is not a single national response.”
So, pretty much like everything else under this administration.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: War against Isis: US strategy in tatters as militants march on. “American-led air attacks are failing. Jihadis are close to taking Kobani, in Syria – and in Iraq western Baghdad is now under serious threat.”
DHS CHIEF: “Porous” Border Is A Myth.
Fusion’s Jorge Ramos spoke to one of the doctors, Dr. Aileen Marty, who recently returned home to Miami after spending 31 days in Nigeria. She says she was surprised what happened when she arrived at Miami International Airport.
“I get to the kiosk…mark the fact that I’ve been in Nigeria and nobody cares, nobody stopped me,” Marty said.
“Not a single test?” Ramos asked her, surprised.
“Nothing,” Marty answered.
The country’s in the very best of hands.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Ebola Omission in Key CDC Disease Report a Cause for Concern.
The MMWR for the week ending October 4, 2014 is out, and may be found here. The important sections for this story are Table I and Table III.
Table Table I makes no mention of the Ebola case in Dallas, despite the fact that it was confirmed on September 30, 2014 — well within the week that this MMWR covers.
Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever. The CDC specifically lists it as a notifiable disease in this 2010 report.
Yet the column covering such diseases for the week ending October 4, 2014 is empty of any diagnoses. Here is a screenshot of the relevant section of that chart. Click to enlarge.
We have top men on this. Top men.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: San Diego District Attorney Issues Warning About Dangerous Spyware She Purchased & Distributed; But Still Stands By It.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Report reveals illicit romance, leaks and insider info in Veterans Affairs contract.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: CDC Director Confuses CNN with Conflicting Information on How Ebola Is Transmitted. Video at the link.
UPDATE: Chris Matthews: Didn’t Obama tell us it was “unlikely” Ebola would come to America? Yeah, well, he also told us if we liked our health insurance, we could keep our health insurance.
WELL, THIS IS COMFORTING: Centers for Disease Control Confirms First U.S. Case of Ebola. It’s in Dallas.
Plus: Report: Just Four Hospitals in the US are Ready to Handle Ebola. Better lay in more N95 masks and bleach, I guess.
And the country’s in the very best of hands: Armed Former Convict Was On Elevator With Obama In Atlanta. “A security contractor with a gun and three prior convictions for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with President Obama during a Sept. 16 trip to Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocols, according to three people familiar with the incident. President Obama was not told of the lapse in his security during his trip. Director Julia Pierson , according to two people familiar with the incident, took steps to have the matter reviewed internally and did not refer it to an investigative unit that reviews violations of protocol and standard.”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: “The Senate Armed Service Committee hearing on the war against the Islamic State yesterday was not a confidence booster. You got the distinct feeling the administration hadn’t thought through its own plan and was motivated not by the end goal of defeating the Islamic State, but by its desire to keep the U.S. at arm’s length from a war it knows must be fought and won.”
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) November 6, 2012
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Senior Obama official makes terrible geography error.
Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria.
Er, no they don’t.
UPDATE: From the comments: “If you don’t study in college, you may get a job in the Obama Regime talking about the Middle East, working for John Kerry. Which is similar to getting stuck in Iraq, I think.”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Emails: IRS worker got $138,000 to do ‘nothing’ — and union saved her job.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Former HHS Cyber Security Director Convicted For Child Porn. “In addition to viewing and soliciting child pornography, reportedly asking another member of the site whether he’d share pictures of his son, he suggested meeting a fellow pedophile in person to violently rape and murder children together.”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS. The Hill: White House struggles with message on threat of ISIS.
The White House is struggling to deliver a clear message on the threat posed by radical Islamist group ISIS and what the administration might do to counteract it.
Officials have sowed confusion by giving different statements at different times on the level of danger posed by the Islamic group, whose full name is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Obama’s decision last year to ask Congress for authority to level Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces with air strikes is also haunting the administration as it mulls strikes in Syria against ISIS. There have been no guarantees that similar Congressional approval will be sought this time around.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest was peppered with questions on the issue Monday. Referring to the proposed strikes against the Assad regime last year, Earnest responded, “That was a different situation, right?”
But he said little that was definitive about whether attacks against ISIS in Syria are now being considered. Any such action would represent a major escalation from the current situation, in which the U.S. is carrying out airstrikes against ISIS positions in northwestern Iraq.
Strikes within Syria would not merely represent a significant ramping-up of U.S, military action. They would also risk providing de facto assistance to the Assad regime, even while the United States hopes that government will be deposed.
The issue of congressional approval for strikes inside Syria was given another twist late on Monday when Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.), a Democrat known to be close to Obama, issued a statement insisting that “I do not believe that our expanded military operations against ISIL are covered under existing authorizations from Congress.”
Our junior-varsity administration is in over its head, and even they’re starting to notice. But they’re still dragging their feet.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: In effort to shield Obama from criticism on ISIS, White House makes everything worse.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: The sad but common irony that lawbreakers such as Lois Lerner are in positions of law enforcement.
ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: The Hill: Report finds detention center workers exposed to contagious diseases.
Some Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees have become sick after exposure to contagious diseases at detention facilities housing child immigrants, according to an inspector general report.
The report found “many” of the children detained after crossing the border needed treatment for communicable diseases, including tuberculosis, chicken pox and scabies. . . .
The report was issued Thursday by DHS Inspector General John Roth.
It highlighted one instance at a Del Rio facility in Texas in which Customs and Border Patrol employees reported contracting scabies, lice and chicken pox. At other facilities in Santa Teresa, N.M., and Clint, Texas, employees said they could have been exposed to tuberculosis.
“Unfamiliarity with bathroom facilities resulted in unsanitary conditions and exposure to human waste in some holding facilities,” the report concluded. “Contract cleaners and DHS employees are working to maintain sanitary conditions.”
The nine-page report is based on information gathered from 87 unannounced visits to 63 centers in the first party of July, and is expected to be updated in the coming months.
The facilities include Border Patrol checkpoints and holding facilities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers and one holding facility in Artesia, N.M.
Along with the illnesses, the report found that the children are being held longer than the maximum three days because permanent shelter is not available. In one instance, a facility was not giving children enough food, but that was quickly corrected.
The country’s in the very best of hands.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Federal review stalled after finding forensic errors by FBI lab unit spanned two decades. Hell, I was writing about this kind of stuff in the first week or two of InstaPundit.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Elijah Cummings admits he doesn’t know fellow committee members’ names.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Hackers Steal Personal Information of US Security-Clearance Holders. “This is a big deal. If I were a government, trying to figure out who to target for blackmail, bribery, and other coercive tactics, this would be a nice database to have.”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF (8TH GRADER) HANDS: Smart Power State Department ends tumultuous day with stirring, relevant tweet.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: TSA Agent Who Stopped Man From Boarding Plane Didn’t Know Where District Of Columbia Was. Demanded a passport because he thought it was another country.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: The U.S. Just Sent Thousands of Draft Notices to Men Born from ’93 to ’97—1893 to 1897.
Alternate headline: John Scalzi, call your office!
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: The appalling Obama foreign policy team: The case of Tommy Vietor. Then, of course, there’s Ben Rhodes, whose chief qualification is that his brother is President of CBS News.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Eleanor Holmes Norton: Iraq could be the most catastrophic war of the 20th century.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: The worst excuse ever: The Rhodes memo debacle. “This was a surreal answer from Jay Carney. Now, this is a prep session with Susan Rice, getting ready for five Sunday talk shows. This is three days after 9/11 when four Americans, including the American ambassador to Libya, are killed. Everybody in the chain has said it’s a terrorist attack, everyone in the chain is saying there’s no protest. And yet this email, if we’re to believe Jay Carney at the White House, had nothing to do with Benghazi.”
Plus: “Jake Tapper was similarly dubious, observing ‘The context of Rhodes’ emails is, of course, that President Barack Obama was in the midst of a heated re-election campaign where one of his talking points was that he had brought a steady hand in fighting terrorists, indeed that ‘al Qaeda is on the run.’”
So the coverup of the coverup has now pretty much unraveled.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: State Dept Launches ‘Free the Press’ Campaign Same Day DOJ Asks Supreme Court To Jail Reporter.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Senate probe: Ex-DHS watchdog altered reports as favor to senior officials.
The official tasked with keeping watch over the Department of Homeland Security was instead watching out for senior officials he considered his “friends,” according to a Senate probe.
A subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs released a scathing report on Thursday that effectively confirmed many of the ethical allegations that have trailed Charles Edwards ever since he resigned his post in December as acting DHS inspector general. The report determined that he “jeopardized the independence” of his office by socializing with senior DHS officials and had reports “altered or delayed” to accommodate the department he was supposed to oversee.
The report also included, though did not confirm, allegations that Edwards’ office sat on information about the 2012 Secret Service prostitution scandal that could “influence an election.”
I’m beginning to think that we can’t rely on the nonpartisan professionalism of the bureaucracy.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Arizona VA boss accused of covering up veterans’ deaths linked to previous scandal.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: AP Report: Government Says Report On Power Grid’s Detailed Vulnerabilities Mishandled, Should Have Been Kept Secret. “Federal energy regulators improperly allowed widespread access to a sensitive document that outlined specific locations where the nation’s electric grid is vulnerable to physical threats, a government investigator said Wednesday. The document created by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should have been kept secret as a national security matter, Energy Department Inspector General Gregory Friedman said. Instead the information was provided in whole or in part to federal and industry officials in uncontrolled settings.”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Yes, the Obama SEC was colluding with banks on CDO prosecutions. “Now that this information is public, the SEC should apologize to all of us for its behavior, and promise not to collude with Wall Street again.” Er, at the very least.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Shocking details of rampant racism, sexism prompt Rep. Sean Duffy to ask if it’s time for CFPB’s Richard Cordray to resign.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Secret Service incident in Netherlands was on heels of car wreck during Obama’s Miami trip. “As the U.S. Secret Service arrived in the Netherlands last weekend for a presidential trip, managers were already on high alert to avoid any further embarrassing incidents involving agents. The agency’s director had admonished supervisors after two counter-sniper officers suspected of drinking were involved in a March 7 car accident during a presidential visit to Miami, according to several people with knowledge of the incident. The driver passed a field sobriety test and was not arrested.”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Secret Service agents on Obama detail sent home from Netherlands after night of drinking. “Three Secret Service agents responsible for protecting President Obama in Amsterdam this week were sent home and put on administrative leave Sunday after going out for a night of drinking, according to three people familiar with the incident. One of the agents was found drunk and passed out in a hotel hallway, the people said. . . . The alleged behavior would violate Secret Service rules adopted in the wake of a damaging scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, in April 2012, when a dozen agents and officers had been drinking heavily and had brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms before the president’s arrival for an economic summit.”
Remember, only trained law enforcement officers can be trusted with guns. Plus, from the comments: “It’s time for serious look at how the culture of government employment could get to a place where people in a life and death professional job could get so bombed that they are lying in a hallway.” A fish rots from the head.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Former NSA Official Thinks A Blog Containing Nothing But His Own Tweets Is ‘Defamatory.’
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: A former policeman convicted of tipping off a terror suspect is now a senior official at the IRS.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Treasury investigator led life of lies, government dependence.
A high-ranking investigator in charge of rooting out fraud by Treasury Department employees was himself fraudulently drawing simultaneous salaries from both the military and the Treasury.
The same investigator then petitioned the government for a full disability retirement.
But wait, there’s more!
He also pretended to be a peace officer and lied about it, all while racking up massive debts and filing for bankruptcy, according to documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.
The very best.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Top Treasury employees swindled thousands of dollars, in-the-know bosses did nothing. One in the Bureau of Public Debt, amusingly.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Why a prominent academic was rejected from the National Council on the Humanities. Key bit: “I was not willing to commit to never criticizing the administration, nor to restricting my publishing agenda to topics that were unlikely to be controversial.”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Exclusive: HHS official found White House in ‘disarray’ months before health law rollout.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Iranians hacked Navy network for four months? Not a surprise.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Money for nothing: Feds in D.C. closed 25% of the time. “Between snow days, official holidays and the government shutdown, federal employees have worked a normal business day less than 75 percent of the time since Oct. 1, marking a startlingly chaotic beginning to the fiscal year.”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: New Details Emerge In Massive Army Financial Scandal.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Senate cybersecurity report finds agencies often fail to take basic preventive measures. “They aren’t even doing the simple stuff.”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Stark warning: Admiral concedes U.S. losing dominance to China.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Director of National Intelligence Counterterrorism Map Misspells ‘Israel.’
WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Federal Election Commission Vulnerable To Hacking, Inspector General Warns.
Deficient computer security at the Federal Election Commission has already led to high-level breaches and puts the agency “at high risk” of continued hacking, according to a federal Inspector General report released this month.
FEC information systems, which in the previous election tracked more than $6 billion in political spending, “have serious internal control vulnerabilities and have been penetrated at the highest levels of the agency,” according to the FEC Inspector General’s final audit for fiscal 2013.
The report, which reiterates security concerns flagged by federal auditors for several years running, identifies two specific, high-level hacking incidents. In May of last year, an adversary identified as an “Advanced Persistent Threat” compromised a commissioner’s personal user account, as well as several FEC systems, for eight months running.
During that period, the unidentified hacker had potential access to such sensitive information as details of FEC investigations; General Counsel’s reports; briefs; subpoenas, and personal identifying information.
The second intrusion took place in August of this year and involved the FEC’s public disclosure website, forcing the agency to shut down portions of the system while it investigated. While the FEC was working on remediating the August breach, “another intrusion was detected on the agency’s website in early fiscal year 2014,” according to the report.
The country’s in the very best of hands.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Obamacare delays create New Year’s confusion.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Chief Judge For 9th Circuit Cites “Epidemic” Of Prosecutor Misconduct.
I’ve had some thoughts on the subject myself.
NOTHING SHADY ABOUT THIS: NPR: Report Details ATF’s Use Of Mentally Disabled In Gun Stings.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel just : Based on court records, police reports and dozens of interviews, the paper details how the ATF used “rogue” tactics — including providing underage youths with alcohol and allowing them to smoke pot — to run storefront gun and drug stings across the country.
In our estimation the most explosive allegation made in the report is that the agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used mentally disabled people to run their stings.
The country’s in the very best of hands. Here’s the original report.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Two Secret Service agents cut from Obama’s detail after alleged misconduct. “The disruption at the Hay-Adams in May involved Ignacio Zamora Jr., a senior supervisor who oversaw about two dozen agents in the Secret Service’s most elite assignment — the president’s security detail. Zamora was allegedly discovered attempting to reenter a woman’s room after accidentally leaving behind a bullet from his service weapon. The incident has not been previously reported.”
How, exactly, do you leave behind a bullet from your service weapon? Like this: “The review found that Zamora had removed ammunition from the chamber of his government-issued handgun during his stay in the room and then left behind a single bullet. He returned to the room when he realized his mistake. The guest refused to let him back in.” But why? Shouldn’t it have just stayed in the holster, whatever hanky-panky went on?
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: FBI: Help us find our missing sniper rifle, M16.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Obamacare ‘tech surge’ experts are White House fellows. Basically, a step or two above interns, a few hundred steps below the Zuckerberg/Bezos level.
INSPECTOR GENERAL: IRS Made $133 Billion in Improper EITC Payments in Past Decade, 25% Error Rate Violates Executive Order. The country’s in the very best of hands.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Anonymous Twitter Troll Turns Out To Be White House Official. Well, he’s fired now, but he left us with gems like this: “I’m a fan of Obama, but his continuing reliance and dependence upon a vacuous cipher like Valerie Jarrett concerns me.” I don’t think she’s vacuous at all. I think she knows exactly what she’s doing.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Health Website Woes Widen as Insurers Get Wrong Data: New Errors Indicate Technological Problems Extend Issues Already Identified.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: NSA Agent’s son caught downloading kiddie porn on dad’s NSA laptop. Er, if you’ve got an NSA secure laptop, shouldn’t you keep that, you know, secure? Also, the story says that most of the kiddie porn was anime, but the Supreme Court has ruled that child porn laws can’t apply to porn without actual children. Not clear if that mattered in the case.
IT’S COME TO THIS: Ezra Klein calls the ObamaCare launch a “failure.” And there are more failures hiding behind today’s failure:
In the weeks leading up to the launch I heard some very ugly things about how the system was performing when transferring data to insurers — a necessary step if people are actually going to get insurance. I tried hard to pin the rumors down, but I could never quite nail the story, and there was a wall of official denials from the Obama administration. It was just testing, they said. They were fixing the bugs day by day.
According to Bob Laszlewski, those problems aren’t resolved. They’re just not getting much attention because the health-care law’s Web sites aren’t working well enough for people to get that far in the process.
The country’s in the very best of hands.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: NSA’s Own Hardware Backdoors May Still Be a “Problem from Hell:” Revelations that the NSA has compromised hardware for surveillance highlights the vulnerability of computer systems to such attacks. “In 2011, General Michael Hayden, who had earlier been director of both the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, described the idea of computer hardware with hidden “backdoors” planted by an enemy as ‘the problem from hell.’ This month, news reports based on leaked documents said that the NSA itself has used that tactic, working with U.S. companies to insert secret backdoors into chips and other hardware to aid its surveillance efforts. That revelation particularly concerned security experts because Hayden’s assessment is widely held to be true. Compromised hardware is difficult, and often impossible, to detect. Hardware can do things such as access data in ways invisible to the software on a computer, even security software. The possibility that computer hardware in use around the world might be littered with NSA backdoors raises the prospect that other nations’ agencies are doing the same thing, or that groups other than the NSA might find and exploit the NSA’s backdoors.”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Fed Chair Nominee Janet Yellen:
“For my own part,” Ms. Yellen said, “I did not see and did not appreciate what the risks were with securitization, the credit ratings agencies, the shadow banking system, the S.I.V.’s — I didn’t see any of that coming until it happened.”
Well, okay then.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Shutdown overreach: More personnel sent to WWII memorial than Benghazi; Park Service closes park it doesn’t run.
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: Obama waives ban on aiding regimes that use child soldiers.
Obama first waived the provision in 2010. Samantha Power, then the National Security Council senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights, promised “at the time that the waivers would not become a recurring event,” as The Cable recalled.
“Our judgment was: Brand them, name them, shame them, and then try to leverage assistance in a fashion to make this work,” Power said. “Our judgment is we’ll work from inside the tent.”
country’s world is in the very best of hands.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: 12 True Tales of Creepy NSA Cyberstalking. “It’s a fascinating look at what happens when the impulse that drives average netizens to look up long-ago ex-lovers on Facebook is mated with the power to fire up a wiretap with a few keystrokes. . . . Some of the abuses were referred to the Department of Justice, but none resulted in prosecution.”
ONE OF OBAMACARE’S WEAKEST LINKS: Information Technology.
During the design and passage of the Affordable Care Act, its architects and supporters described a fantastic new system for buying insurance. You would go onto a website and enter some simple information about yourself. The computer system would fetch data about you from various places — it would verify income with the Internal Revenue Service, check with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that you were a citizen or legal resident, and tap a database of employer coverage to make sure that you were not already being offered affordable coverage (defined as 9.5 percent of your income or less) by your employer. Provided you passed all those tests, it would calculate what subsidies you were eligible for, and then apply that discount automatically to the hundreds of possible policies being offered on the exchange. You would see the neatly listed prices and choose one, buying it as easily as you buy an airline ticket on Travelocity.
Before I went to business school, I used to work in an IT consultancy, and setting up this system sounded like an enormous job to me — a five- to eight-year job, given government procurement rules, not a three-year rush special. But Obamacare’s stewards seemed very confident, so I assumed that they must have it covered.
As time wore on, the administration has steadily stripped major components out of the exchanges and the data hub behind them as it became clear that they couldn’t possibly make the Oct. 1 deadline when all of this was supposed to be ready. The employer mandate was delayed, and then it was announced that at least some of the exchanges would be relying on self-reporting of income, rather than verifying with the IRS. . . .
How did we get to this point? The exchanges were the core selling point of Obamacare. (The Medicaid expansion was actually a bigger part of the coverage expansion, at least until the Supreme Court ruled that the administration couldn’t force states to take part, but it tended to be downplayed, because no one’s exactly a huge fan of Medicaid.) They were going to introduce competition to a fragmented and distorted marketplace, and make it easy for middle-class people to buy affordable coverage from a bevy of insurers. How can it be that one week before the deadline for opening, no one’s really sure the exchanges are going to work?
The country’s in the very best of hands. Plus, from the comments:
If Obamacare were merely an IT project I wouldn’t think twice about it. I would take it in a heartbeat over what Obamacare actually is.
Obamacare is not about the exchanges and I’m stunned that you would say that it is. Obamacare is a five-fold reentrenchment of the insane health care payment system that we have somehow allowed to evolve from its origins as a wretched socialist mistake made in the 1940s by the wretched socialist FDR administration attempting to put price caps on salaries.
Obamacare is a giant leap forward on the path of more bureaucracy, less choice, worse quality, and higher cost. It continues removing decisions from consumers and providers and placing them with third parties. It makes health care decisions even more contingent upon rulings by the IRS (THE IRS!!!) than they already were – and the fact that our health care financing system is largely overseen by our tax collection agency should be absurd on its face, and yet Obamacare doubles down on this absurdity.
If it were all about the exchanges I’d be ECSTATIC. Write the specs then take bids from Amazon and IBM and Raytheon and call it a day. It’d be full of problems but it would work eventually.
What we have instead will never work, even if the exchanges someday do. What we have instead will only serve to make things worse.
Amazing that this dumb law, and huge financial costs for the nation, ultimately stem from FDR’s dumb wartime wage controls, but in fact that’s correct.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
Glenn, first off, please do not use my name if you choose to mention anything I say in this email.
I work for one of the largest Telecom providers in the country. I’m an engineer who designs dedicated data links (DS3s, OC3s, etc…) for major companies across the US.
For background, some of these circuits can be put up fairly quickly, but not the ones that I work on. The ones I design can take up to 90 business days to install.
Anyways, a few weeks ago, we got deluged with orders for circuits that needed to be installed by October 1st. These were circuits to support Obamacare.
Needless to say, they aren’t going to make that deadline. Some of the circuits are being held up due to construction builds that won’t be complete until the end of November. The others won’t make the deadline due to the complexity and the number of various companies involved.
The customer is basically screaming and escalating but because they requested the orders so late, there isn’t much that can be done.
I can only imagine that this same scenario is playing out with other Telecom companies in the United States.
The country’s in the very best of hands.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Hundreds of U.S. security clearances seen falsified. “Federal prosecutors have documented at least 350 instances of faulty background investigations done by private contractors and special agents for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in recent years, illustrating what some lawmakers call systemic weaknesses in the granting of federal security clearances. . . . In one case, a private contractor investigator, who pleaded guilty to making a false statement, reported interviewing a person who had died more than a decade earlier. Another investigator was found guilty of making false statements in checks for applicants seeking ‘top secret’ clearances for jobs in the Air Force, Army, Navy and U.S. Treasury.”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Company Behind Snowden Vetting Did Washington Shooter Check.
Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire urged leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs panel to hold a hearing on federal contractor hiring practices at military installations, following a mass shooting Monday at Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard.
In a letter to Chairman Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., and ranking member Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Ayotte said senators should have a better understanding of hiring practices for contractors at military bases so that only qualified candidates who do not pose serious threats to personnel or national security become employed.
“In the wake of this tragedy, we must thoroughly review and fix deficiencies within existing federal contracting hiring practices that the alleged Washington Navy Yard gunman exposed and exploited to ensure the safety of the rest of our service family—servicemembers, civilian workers, and contractors, alike,” wrote Ayotte, who is a member of the panel. “It is with this in mind that I request a committee hearing as soon as possible to examine these important issues.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., sent a letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus Tuesday demanding further answers about the Navy’s management and oversight of contractor access to Naval installations. McCaskill cited a watchdog report released Tuesday that detailed deficiencies in an independent contractor’s execution of the Navy Commercial Access Control System and failure to properly screen contract employees before they were granted access to Naval installations.
Well, in this tight job market, you can’t . . . oh, wait.
Related: Security gaps: Felons often on military bases, report finds. The country’s in the very best of hands.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Replica Enterprise bridge used to sell surveillance to Congress. “He sold members of Congress by letting them sit in the big chair and ‘play Picard.’”
Nothing creepy about a facility named the “Information Dominance Center,” either.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Debbie Wasserman Schultz says ‘dozens’ of countries stand with US on Syria, can’t name them.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Bryan Preston: How the FBI and DoD Blew and Continue to Miscast the Fort Hood Massacre.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Big Blunder At The Money Factory.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: The Obama Administration Is 10 Steps Behind The Guardian in Addressing Leaks.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Marshals Lose Track of Encrypted Radios Worth Millions: Loss of Equipment Could Endanger Judges, Witnesses.
The U.S. Marshals Service has lost track of at least 2,000 encrypted two-way radios and other communications devices valued at millions of dollars, according to internal agency documents, creating what some within the agency view as a security risk for federal judges, endangered witnesses and others. . . .
The Marshals Service guards judges and federal courthouses, and it runs the Witness Security Program, which provides new identities and security to witnesses or their families at risk of being killed. The Marshals also seek to apprehend fugitives.
“It is apparent that negligence and incompetence has resulted in a grievous mismanagement of millions of dollars of USMS property,” according to a 2011 presentation by the agency’s Office of Strategic Technology. “Simply put, the entire system is broken and drastic measures need to be taken to address the issues…The 800 pound elephant in the room needs to finally be acknowledged.”
Some involved in the work of tracking the missing equipment inside the agency estimated the value of the unaccounted-for radios at $6 million or more, according to documents and interviews with some of the people involved. Radios range from about $2,000 to $5,000 or more each. . . . A series of handwritten notes by one Marshals employee indicates that after the Journal began submitting FOIA requests, at least one person within the agency discussed the FOIA request and instructed others to communicate on the issue only by phone, not in email.
But remember, only law enforcement officers can be trusted with guns. Because they’re professionals.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Average Cost of Department of Energy Contract Employees In Washington? $247,000 Each.
THE HILL: Obama Is Faulted On Leadership. “Supporters and critics of President Obama are looking for leadership on many pressing issues from the White House, but many believe they are not getting it. On Monday, Obama held a Cabinet meeting and spoke about his effort to modernize government databases. He avoided public remarks on several matters seen as more pressing, such as turmoil in Egypt and the wider Middle East, faltering efforts to reform immigration in the U.S. and the rocky implementation of ObamaCare.” The country’s in the very best of hands.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: US agency baffled by modern technology, destroys mice to get rid of viruses.
HOW THEY DO THINGS IN OUR NATION’S CAPITAL CITY: Metro rips out Phantom Planter’s flowers at Dupont Circle station.
The transit system regularly pleads poverty, yet employees devoted supposedly valuable time to remove more than 1,000 morning glories, cardinal flowers and cypress vines that Docter donated to the city — albeit without permission. The plants would have bloomed from August to October in a patriotic display of red, white and blue.
Instead of greenery today and colors to come, the 176 flower boxes along the top stretch of the escalators at the station’s north entrance now feature dirt, a few straggling stems and the occasional discarded soda can.
“It never occurred to me that Metro would think it was more efficient to rip out the plants than to let someone water them,” Docter said. Metro tore out the foliage without waiting to solicit the neighborhood’s opinion, as it said it had planned to do.
“We want to meet with the community and see what the community would like. We will move forward with their wishes, as long as they are reasonable, sustainable and safe,” Michael McBride, manager of Metro’s Art in Transit Program, said June 21.
No meetings have taken place since then. Local leaders were aghast that Metro ignored their wishes for a compromise to keep the flowers in place.
“They paid people to tear out plants that everyone loves? Well, this is cause for insurrection. Talk about fixing something that’s not broken,” said Robin Diener, a member of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association board of directors.
The country’s in the very best of hands.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: US government declares hacking an act of war, then hacks allies.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: ATF leader who oversaw botched sting will run Phoenix office: Move puts him in charge of office known for infamous ‘Operation Fast and Furious.’
The ATF leader who oversaw a botched undercover operation in Milwaukee will now be in charge of the agency’s embattled Phoenix office, where agents allowed more than 2,000 guns to walk into the hands of suspected criminals through the infamous “Operation Fast and Furious.”
Bernard “B.J.” Zapor will be reunited in Phoenix with Fred Milanowski, another key figure in Milwaukee’s “Operation Fearless,” where a Journal Sentinel investigation found agents lost government guns, had their storefront ripped off and arrested at least four of the wrong people.
Zapor was in charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ St. Paul Field Division, which covers Wisconsin and three other states. In November, shortly after the Milwaukee sting was abruptly shut down, he was promoted to a position in Washington, D.C., supervising eight field divisions.
Officials from the ATF and the U.S. Department of Justice told congressional staffers in April that disciplinary action was under way against Zapor because of the Milwaukee operation. They won’t say if Zapor’s assignment to Phoenix is punishment.
At the ATF, apparently, failure is the swiftest route to promotion.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: 5 Senators Who Support Immigration Bill Don’t Know Answer to Key Question About It.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Here’s How Edward Snowden Got ‘Top Secret’ Clearance.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: IRS Agents ‘Accidentally’ Discharged Guns 11 Times. “Special agents at the IRS accidentally shot their firearms 11 times between 2009 and 2011, and at least three of the cases ‘may have resulted in property damage or personal injury.’ Agents actually fired their guns accidently more often than they intentionally fired them in the field, according to an audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Senate Staffers Told To Pretend Top Secret Documents Are Not Widely Available On Web.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Obama Appointee In Charge Of Nuclear Security Hacked.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Dallas District Attorney Under Fire: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into allegations the Democratic district attorney for Dallas abused the power of his office by filing a fraud lawsuit to benefit a campaign contributor. The investigation concerns accusations that Dallas County DA Craig Watkins filed a mortgage fraud lawsuit against Albert Hill III in order to benefit Lisa Blue, a Dallas trial lawyer who is one of Watkins’ campaign contributors, the Wall Street Journal reports.”
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Canadian relief for Moore tornado victims denied at border. “A Canadian shipment of relief goods bound for storm-ravaged Oklahoma has been stopped at the Canada-U.S. border in Windsor, Ont. American officials will not allow the 20,000 kilograms of food, blankets and diapers into the country until every item on board is itemized in alphabetical order and has the country of origin of every product noted.”
“SMART DIPLOMACY” UPDATE: As the US Naps, China Doubles Down on Caribbean Policy.
China is beefing up its presence in the Caribbean and making it clear that the region is a strategic priority going forward. Over the past few months, Beijing has begun investing hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure investment in countries very much in need of that money, still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. And in addition to the monetary aid, President Xi Jinping will be visiting Trinidad and Tobago next week as part of a tour of the Caribbean and Latin America. That visit will mark the first time a Chinese president will have toured an English-speaking Caribbean country.
The US, meanwhile has become largely disengaged from the region as its focus turns farther afield to places like Syria and Iran. This is a significant reversal for a region that for obvious reasons has traditionally had much closer relations with the US than with China. . . . China isn’t matching its funding with political demands yet, but it isn’t hard to imagine this influx of money swaying the minds of Caribbean people frustrated with a lack of US engagement. Greasing the struggling economies of the region is a quick way to build up Beijing’s soft power there. This is significant because, in addition to increasing China’s global clout, having friends in the Caribbean is useful in international organizations. Like states in the US Senate, countries in the UN get a vote no matter how large or small their size.
The country’s in the very best of hands.
THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Benghazi Suspects ID’d, But Administration Won’t Nab Them Because It Doesn’t Want to Send Them to Gitmo.
THE TWO ACTUALLY TEND TO GO TOGETHER: The IRS: Not Just Thuggish, But Also Incompetent.
The report shows that little oversight at the IRS has led to erroneous refunds sent to dead taxpayers, millions of extra tax credits mistakenly allocated to the Highway Trust Fund and major miscalculations of how much the agency is owed in unpaid taxes, among other issues.
GAO auditors found calculating errors totaling at least $829 million between 10 taxpayer accounts with balances equal to or exceeding $32 million, which went undetected by the agency’s internal review procedures.
“…IRS does not have a detailed listing, or subsidiary ledger that accurately tracks and accumulates unpaid tax assessments and their status on an ongoing basis,” the report said.
The IRS also lacked an effective policy to identify deceased taxpayers- – leading the agency to send refunds to dead Americans. . . . Add to this an almost comical mistake regarding the amount of quarterly excise tax revenues distributed to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund and the Highway Trust Fund. For example, in March 2012, IRS added $138 million in kerosene credits to the HTF when it should have subtracted $166 million. In another instance, IRS erroneously omitted $3 million in collections from the AATF for the third quarter of 2012.
The country’s in the very best of hands.