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Category Archives: Defense

GAO – Trump administration violated the law by withholding Ukraine aid

GAO – Office of Management and Budget—Withholding of Ukraine Security Assistance. B-331564: Jan 16, 2020. In the summer of 2019, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) withheld from obligation funds appropriated to the Department of Defense (DOD) for security assistance to Ukraine. In order to withhold the funds, OMB issued a series of nine apportionment schedules with footnotes that made all unobligated balances unavailable for obligation.

Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law. OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA). The withholding was not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the ICA.

Read the press statement.

NSA Takes Step Toward Protecting World’s Computers, Not Just Hacking Them

The New York Times: “The National Security Agency has taken a significant step toward protecting the world’s computer systems, announcing Tuesday that it alerted Microsoft to a vulnerability in its Windows operating system rather than following the agency’s typical approach of keeping quiet and exploiting the flaw to develop cyberweapons. The warning allowed Microsoft to… Continue Reading

US Budgetary Costs and Obligations of Post-9/11 Wars through FY2020: $6.4 Trillion

Watson Institute, Neta C. Crawford – November 13, 2019: “Summary – Since late 2001, the United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $6.4 Trillion through Fiscal Year 2020 in budgetary costs related to and caused by the post-9/11 wars—an estimated $5.4 Trillion in appropriations in current dollars and an additional minimum… Continue Reading

Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues January 12, 2020

Via LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues January 12, 2020 – Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss, highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly… Continue Reading

U.S. Killing of Qasem Soleimani: Frequently Asked Questions

EveryCRSReport.com: U.S. Killing of Qasem Soleimani: Frequently Asked Questions. January 8, 2020. “The January 2, 2020, U.S. killing in Iraq of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Qasem Soleimani, generally regarded as one of the most powerful and important officials in Iran, has potentially dramatic implications for the United States. For Congress, it raises… Continue Reading

Bots Are Destroying Political Discourse As We Know It

The Atlantic: “Text-generation software is already good enough to fool most people most of the time. It’s writing news stories, particularly in sports and finance. It’s talking with customers on merchant websites. It’s writing convincing op-eds on topics in the news (though there are limitations). And it’s being used to bulk up “pink-slime journalism”—websites meant… Continue Reading

How to use your phone to spot fake images surrounding the U.S.-Iran conflict

Poynter: “Military conflicts — like the one that is sparking between the United States and Iran — are usually surrounded by false images and outdated videos that go viral on social media. It happened in Turkey the other day. To avoid that misinformation scenario, the International Fact-Checking Network developed a step-by-step guide to teach citizens… Continue Reading

House Intelligence Committee Releases Draft Report As Part of Impeachment Inquiry

“Today, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released the draft report – “The Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report” – to all Members and the public. The Committee will vote tonight [the vote was 13-9] to issue the report, before the Chairman of the Committee transmits it and any accompanying materials to the House Judiciary Committee… Continue Reading

Mobile apps developed in Russia are potential counterintelligence threats

One more time – “For all of you that used the FaceApp to see what you would look like in old age, the FBI just told @SenSchumer that “the FBI considers any mobile application or similar product developed in Russia, such as FaceApp, to be a potential counterintelligence threat…” [via Frank Thorpe – producer and off-air… Continue Reading

Here’s One Reason the U.S. Military Can’t Fix Its Own Equipment

The New York Times – Opinion: “Manufacturers can prevent the Department of Defense from repairing certain equipment, which puts members of the military at risk…In the United States, conversations about right-to-repair issues are increasing, especially at federal agencies and within certain industries. In July, the Federal Trade Commission hosted a workshop to address “the issues… Continue Reading

Congressional Participation in Litigation: Article III and Legislative Standing

CRS Report – Congressional Participation in Litigation: Article III and Legislative Standing Updated November 8, 2019 – Since the founding, the federal courts have played a critical role in adjudicating legal disputes, including ones involving executive action. As the Supreme Court stated in Marbury v. Madison, “where a specific duty is assigned by law .… Continue Reading

How Not to Plot Secret Foreign Policy: On a Cellphone and WhatsApp

The New York Times – “Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor at the center of the impeachment investigation into the conduct of Ukraine policy, makes a living selling cybersecurity advice through his companies. President Trump even named him the administration’s first informal “cybersecurity adviser.” But inside the National Security Council, officials expressed wonderment… Continue Reading