Wednesday February 14th, 2018

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metctalf

rld & National

Democrats blasted for deliberately 'stalling' on immigration
                    Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., right, responds to a reporter's question on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, following the weekly Democratic policy luncheon. Schumer is joined by, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., left, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., center.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats on Wednesday of “stalling” on immigration as the Senate entered its third day of debate on the issue without having held a single policy vote.

Mr. McConnell said Democrats complained for months about the lack of a debate, yet now that he’s given them an entire week for the discussion, they have blocked any votes. That included two attempts to hold votes on a sanctuary city crackdown on Tuesday.

“Now that the time has come to make law instead of just making points, they’re stalling,” the Kentucky Republican said.

Democratic leaders say their chief goal in the debate is to legalize illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” and said they want to exclude as much as possible of the rest of the debate about security, enforcement and legal immigration policy changes.

Adam Schiff: Dems Won't Revise FISA Memo Response
House Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Adam Schiff said Tuesday that panel Democrats will not make any revisions to their response to the Republican memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI and Justice Department in the Russia probe.

"We are not going to make any revisions to it," the California Democrat told reporters on Capitol Hill. "The only question is what redactions will be made.

"Obviously, we'd like to keep those to a minimum.

Gowdy launches investigation into hiring of Rob Porter

                      In this Dec. 7, 2017, file photo, House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., speaks during a House Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Gowdy says he will not seek re-election. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Rep. Trey Gowdy said Wednesday the House Oversight Committee launched an investigation into former White House staff secretary Rob Porter amid allegations of domestic violence.

Mr. Gowdy, South Carolina Republican who chairs the committee, said that he wants to know, not only about the problems in the security clearance process, but how Mr. Porter was hired for any position in the first place, after two ex-wives came forward alleging physical and verbal abuse.

“I’m also troubled by the fact that someone with these allegations in his background could get any job in the White House from gardener on down,” Mr. Gowdy said.

“You don’t want people with domestic violence allegations hired, whether there’s security clearance at issue or not,” he added.

Court orders restoration of DACA program
Judge uses Trump’s Twitter post to undercut DHS phaseout
                 In this Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008, file photo Manuel Rendon, center in white, along with fellow members, recite the Pledge of Allegiance at a meeting of the Collin County LULAC Young Adults Council #4780 at Collin County Community College in Plano, Texas. The oldest Latino civil rights organization in the U.S. is facing turmoil over its leader's initial support for President Donald Trump's immigration plan and it comes amid evolving membership. League of United Latin American Citizens members are pressuring President Roger Rocha to resign after he wrote a letter in support of Trump's proposal on increased border security. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez,File)

A federal judge in New York ruled Tuesday that the government must restart the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals deportation amnesty, adding more weight to the legal case against President Trump’s phaseout of the program just as Congress is debating the fate of “Dreamers” on Capitol Hill.

Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis said the administration does have the power to revoke DACA, but it must give a sound reason for doing so — and the Homeland Security Department’s September 2017 rationale fell far short of what is required in that regard.

He even used Mr. Trump’s own tweets as evidence that the DACA program was ended precipitously, pointing to President Trump’s claims that he could “revisit this issue” as proof the program could have been continued.


Now Russia is intent on taking out U.S. satellites?
Threat report says China, Russia developing satellite killers
                       Russian President Vladimir Putin applauds during an award ceremony in the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, for Russian Armed Forces service personnel who took part in the anti-terrorist operation in Syria. Putin said at Thursday's award ceremony that Wednesday's explosion at a supermarket in the country's second-largest city was a terrorist attack. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool Photo via AP)

Top U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia is laying the online groundwork to meddle in this year’s midterm elections, and they warned that both Russia and China are barreling toward weapons designed to take out American satellites in space.

Russia in particular will continue targeting the U.S. with cyberattacks, disinformation and leaks aimed at creating “wedges that reduce trust and confidence in democratic process,” according to the annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” which Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and the heads of the five other civilian and military intelligence services delivered to Congress. The document offered details on a wide range of threats facing the United States, including al Qaeda, Islamic State, North Korea, Iran and China.

The intelligence chiefs unanimously agreed that the Kremlin meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and was gearing up to do it again this year.

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen says he paid Stormy Daniels out of his own pocket

President Trump’s longtime lawyer told The New York Times on Tuesday that he personally paid off a porn star who claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump.

In a statement to The Times, Michael Cohen said he paid the $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, best known as “Stormy Daniels,” without the connivance of Mr. Trump or his entities, and was not compensated after the fact.

“Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” he said in his statement. “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”

How new Russian submarine tactics are threatening to overwhelm aging U.S. fleet

Russia’s increasingly active submarine fleets in the Atlantic and Arctic have the Trump administration scrambling to respond amid fears that miles of underwater fiber-optic cables that crisscross the ocean floor transmitting the Pentagon’s most sensitive military secrets could be at risk.

But with an aging submarine fleet and growing threats from North Korea and elsewhere, the Navy risks overstretching its submarine fleet in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasingly challenging U.S. security interests, and his submarine fleet’s “operational tempo is reaching Cold War-era levels,” said Magnus Nordenman, director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative at the Washington-based Atlantic Council. “Clearly, there is more attention being paid by the U.S. Navy in the Atlantic due to the Russian threat.”

Syria Denies Possessing Chemical Arms, Says Use 'Unacceptable'

The Syrian government on Wednesday denied it possessed chemical weapons and branded the use of such arms "immoral and unacceptable", following a French warning of punitive strikes.

"Syria's government categorically denies possessing... chemical weapons. We consider the use of such arms as immoral and unacceptable, whatever the context," said Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, quoted by state news agency SANA.

On Tuesday, France's President Emmanuel Macron warned his country would launch strikes if proof emerged that the Syrian regime had used banned chemical weapons against its civilians.

Shawn White Apologizes for Dragging American Flag

White gets criticized on Twitter after his halfpipe victory

Snowboarder Shaun White apologized Wednesday for dragging a U.S. flag on the snow after his dramatic gold medal victory in the men’s halfpipe, but said he did not know he had let the flag touch the ground.

 “I remember being handed the flag but I was trying to put my gloves on and hold the flag and get board,” he told reporters afterward. “Honestly, if there was anything, I definitely didn’t mean any disrespect."

"The flag that’s flying on my house right now is way up there. So sorry for that," White continued. "But I’m definitely proud — very proud — to be a part of Team USA and being an American and to be representing for everyone back home.”

Teacher who called military 'a bunch of dumsh--s' refuses to resign

A California teacher and city council member who called military members “a bunch of dumbsh—s” during an in-class rant last month has refused to resign despite a impending recall effort.

Pico Rivera Councilman Gregory Salcido, a teacher at El Rancho High School, was recorded trying to persuade a student not to join the Marine Corps after high school, saying, “We’ve got a bunch of dumbsh—s over there … They’re not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re not intellectual people; they’re the freaking lowest of our low.”

The comments sparked outrage in the community and Mr. Salcido was placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation was underway. The city council passed a resolution Tuesday night condemning Mr. Salcido’s rant and asking for his resignation, but Mr. Salcido remained defiant.

Hillary Clinton's loss and the 'macho atmosphere' excuse

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says the “macho atmosphere” of the 2016 campaign is what doomed Hillary Clinton. A more reasonable argument is that Mrs. Clinton wasn’t macho enough to make it to the White House.

At a Columbia University Women’s Conference event on Sunday, Justice Ginsburg was asked again about the 2016 election, to which she opined, according to Fox News Insider, ” ‘I think it was difficult for Hillary Clinton to get by even the macho atmosphere prevailing during that campaign, and she was criticized in a way I think no man would have been criticized,’ Justice Ginsburg said. ‘I think anyone who watched that campaign unfold would answer it the same way I did: Yes, sexism played a prominent part,’ she continued.”

Mrs. Clinton wasn’t the only loser of the 2016 season. Does Justice Ginsburg think former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are all casualties of machismo? Perhaps their own lack of it. When voters looked at the world, we wisely decided against sending anyone who needed a safe space, face-planted into a van, or was low-energy, into the vipers’ pit of the world.

North Korea's charm offensive

North Korea’s invitation to President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang for a summit with Kim Jong-un was not unexpected. North Korea seized the opportunity to attend the Winter Olympics in South Korea as part of a unified Korea Team. Sending the leader’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, to accompany the North’s nominal head of state, Kim Yong-nam, was a gracious gesture to the South and a masterful political decision. Kim Yo-jong captured the attention of the South Korean media and carried herself very well — smiling, attentive and modest.

The year 2017 was a good year for Kim Jong-un. With 25 missile launches, to include an Intercontinental Missile capable of reaching the whole of the U.S. and a nuclear test of a claimed hydrogen bomb, North Korea now claims to have nuclear weapons that could threaten the whole of the U.S. This is the North’s so-called nuclear deterrent.

Achieving this nuclear deterrent capability was costly, however. The sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the U.S. were brutal, affecting North Korea’s ability to accrue the revenue, primarily through illicit means, to sustain its nuclear and missile programs. Moreover, these and previous sanctions were being implemented, even by North Korea’s allies, China and Russia.

"It is discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit."
-- Noel Coward
     (1899-1973) British playwright

Medal of Honor

Army Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.
GeneTrerally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.
The first award of the Medal of Honor was made March 25, 1863 to Private JACOB PARROTT.The last award of the Medal of Honor was made September 15, 2011 to Sergeant DAKOTA MEYER.

Since then there have been:  • 3458 recipients of the Medal of Honor.
    • Today there are 85 Living Recipients of the Medal of Honor. 


Captain Humbert R. Versace distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period of 29 October 1963 to 26 September 1965, while serving as S-2 Advisor, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Detachment 52, Ca Mau, Republic of Vietnam. While accompanying a Civilian Irregular Defense Group patrol engaged in combat operations in Thoi Binh District, An Xuyen Province, Captain Versace and the patrol came under sudden and intense mortar, automatic weapons, and small arms fire from elements of a heavily armed enemy battalion. As the battle raged, Captain Versace, although severely wounded in the knee and back by hostile fire, fought valiantly and continued to engage enemy targets. Weakened by his wounds and fatigued by the fierce firefight, Captain Versace stubbornly resisted capture by the over-powering Viet Cong force with the last full measure of his strength and ammunition. Taken prisoner by the Viet Cong, he exemplified the tenets of the Code of Conduct from the time he entered into Prisoner of War status. Captain Versace assumed command of his fellow American soldiers, scorned the enemy's exhaustive interrogation and indoctrination efforts, and made three unsuccessful attempts to escape, despite his weakened condition which was brought about by his wounds and the extreme privation and hardships he was forced to endure. During his captivity, Captain Versace was segregated in an isolated prisoner of war cage, manacled in irons for prolonged periods of time, and placed on extremely reduced ration. The enemy was unable to break his indomitable will, his faith in God, and his trust in the United States of America. Captain Versace, an American fighting man who epitomized the principles of his country and the Code of Conduct, was executed by the Viet Cong on 26 September 1965. Captain Versace's gallant actions in close contact with an enemy force and unyielding courage and bravery while a prisoner of war are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect the utmost credit upon himself and the United States Army.

From the Archives

We Have Met the Enemy…

Geoff Metcalf
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
--Benjamin Franklin
“The American people must be willing to give up a degree of personal privacy in exchange for safety and security.”
--Louis Freeh
In the wake of the clamor over the most recent WikiLeaks data dump, ‘Vault 7’, ‘UMBRAGE’, et al, it should be noted this is not really anything new. What we are seeing here is simply the evolution of something that goes back to the late 50s (to the incomplete best knowledge I have).

It is kinda cool to finally see even the New York Times ( acknowledging material I was writing about in 1998 ( ).

In April of 1998 I wrote “Privacy has become an anachronism.” I was commenting on “a massive system designed to intercept all your e-mail, fax traffic and more.” I was explaining ‘Echelon’, the illegitimate offspring of a UKUSA treaty ( ) signed by the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Its purpose was, and is, to have a vast global intelligence monster, which allegedly shares common goals. The system was so “efficient” that reportedly National Security Agency folk from Fort Meade could work from Menwith Hill in England to intercept local communications without either nation having to burden themselves with the formality of seeking approval (a court order) or disclosing the operation. And this was all pre-9/11 and pre-the anti-constitutional ‘Patriot Act’.

It is illegal (without a Judge’s signed permission) for the United States to spy on its citizens … kinda. The laws have long been circumvented by a mutual pact among five nations. Under the terms of UKUSA agreement, Britain spies on Americans and America spies on British citizens, and then the two conspirators trade data. A classic technical finesse. It is legal, but the intent to evade the spirit is inescapable.

I often fictionalized the genesis of ‘Echelon’ as an informal meeting of a group of post war American and British intelligence types drinking in some remote rustic bar. An imagined CIA type complains to his MI6 buddy about the hassles of US laws preventing US intelligence from surveillance of bad guys, and the Brit echoes the same complaint.

“Hey wait a moment mate,” says Nigel, the make-believe MI6 guy, “I can spy on your guys and you can spy on our bad players…why don’t we just come up with a mechanism whereby we spy on your villains, you spy on our villains, and we just ‘share’ the intel?”

This system was called ECHELON, and has been kicking around in some form longer than most of you. The result of the UKUSA treaty signed by the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand was, and is, to have a vast global intelligence monster which allegedly shares common goals.

The London Telegraph reported in December of 1997 that the Civil liberties Committee of the European Parliament had officially confirmed the existence and purpose of ECHELON. “A global electronic spy network that can eavesdrop on every telephone, e-mail and telex communication around the world will be officially acknowledged for the first time in a European Commission report. …”

The report noted: “Within Europe all e-mail, telephone and fax communications are routinely intercepted by the United States National Security Agency, transferring all target information from the European mainland via the strategic hub of London, then by satellite to Fort Meade in Maryland via the crucial hub at Menwith Hill, in the North York moors in the UK.

“The ECHELON system forms part of the UKUSA system but unlike many of the electronic spy systems developed during the Cold War, ECHELON was designed primarily for non-military targets: governments, organizations and businesses in virtually every country.”

An interesting sidebar appeared in the International Herald Tribune under the headline, “Big Corporate Brother: It Knows More About You Than You Think.” The story details Acxiom Corp, which was a humongous information service hidden in the Ozark foothills. Twenty-four hours a day, Acxiom electronically gathered and sorts all kinds of data about 196 million Americans. Credit card transactions and magazine subscriptions, telephone numbers, real estate records, automotive data, hunting, business and fishing licenses, consumer surveys and demographic detail that would make a marketing department’s research manager salivate. This relatively new (legal) enterprise was known as “data warehousing” or “data-mining”, and it underscores the cruel reality that the fiction of personal privacy has become obsolete. Technology’s ability to collect and analyze data has made privacy a quaint albeit interesting dinosaur.

The Tribune reported that “Axciom can often determine whether an American owns a dog or cat, enjoys camping or gourmet cooking, reads the Bible or lots of other books. It can often pinpoint an American’s occupation, car and favorite vacations. By analyzing the equivalent of billions of pages of data, it often projects for its customers who should be offered a credit card or who is likely to buy a computer.”

Most of this information is from y 1998 piece.  Echelon has developed, matured, and morphed into a much more powerful hybrid. ‘Carnivore’ was software to help triage the cacophony of data. Vault 7 and ‘Umbrage’ are logical (some would argue “insidious”) growth.

    More to follow…