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Category Archives: Defense

Whistleblowers Raise Grave Concerns with Trump Administration’s Efforts to Transfer Sensitive Nuclear Technology to Saudi Arabia

Whistleblowers Raise Grave Concerns with Trump Administration’s Efforts to Transfer Sensitive Nuclear Technology to Saudi Arabia. Prepared for Chairman Elijah E. Cummings Interim Staff Report Committee on Oversight and Reform U.S. House of Representatives. February 2019. “This interim staff report was prepared for Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, after multiple whistleblowers came forward to warn about efforts inside the White House to rush the transfer of highly sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of the Atomic Energy Act and without review by Congress as required by law—efforts that may be ongoing to this day. The Trump Administration’s interactions with Saudi Arabia have been shrouded in secrecy, raising significant questions about the nature of the relationship. In 2017, President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, orchestrated a visit to Saudi Arabia as the President’s first overseas trip. Mr. Kushner also met on his own with then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who subsequently ousted his cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, launched a crackdown against dozens of Saudi royal family members, and reportedly bragged that Mr. Kushner was “in his pocket.” In October 2018, the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was met with equivocation by President Trump and other top Administration officials. This month, the White House ignored a 120-day deadline for a report on Mr. Khashoggi’s killing requested on a bipartisan basis by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Within the United States, strong private commercial interests have been pressing aggressively for the transfer of highly sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia—a potential risk to U.S. national security absent adequate safeguards. These commercial entities stand to reap billions of dollars through contracts associated with constructing and operating nuclear facilities in Saudi Arabia—and apparently have been in close and repeated contact with President Trump and his Administration to the present day. However, experts worry that transferring sensitive U.S. nuclear technology could allow Saudi Arabia to produce nuclear weapons that contribute to the proliferation of nuclear arms throughout an already unstable Middle East. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman conceded this point in 2018, proclaiming: “Without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.” When Congress passed the Atomic Energy Act, it imposed stringent controls on the export of U.S. technology to a foreign country that could be used to create nuclear weapons. Under Section 123 of the Act, the U.S. may not transfer nuclear technology to a foreign country without the approval of Congress, in order to ensure that the agreement reached with the foreign government meets nine specific nonproliferation requirements. The whistleblowers who came forward have expressed significant concerns about the potential procedural and legal violations connected with rushing through a plan to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. They have warned of conflicts of interest among top White House advisers that could implicate federal criminal statutes. They have also warned about a working environment inside the White House marked by chaos, dysfunction, and backbiting…”

Chinese Telecommunications Device Manufacturer and US Affiliate Indicted for Theft of Trade Secrets

DOJ news release: Huawei Corporate Entities Conspired to Steal Trade Secret Technology and Offered Bonus to Workers who Stole Confidential Information from Companies Around the World A 10-count Indictment unsealed [January 28, 2019] in the Western District of Washington State charges Huawei Device Co., Ltd. and Huawei Device Co. USA with theft of trade secrets… Continue Reading

Climate Change Still Seen as the Top Global Threat, but Cyberattacks a Rising Concern

Worries about ISIS and North Korea persist, as fears about American power grow: “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report last year expressing serious concerns about the possible impacts of climate change, both in the near and distant future. Broadly speaking, people around the world agree that climate change poses a severe risk… Continue Reading

CRS – Artificial Intelligence and National Security

Vias FAS: “The CIA has around 140 projects involving or related to artificial intelligence, CRS noted (citing a 2017 story in DefenseOne). See Artificial Intelligence and National Security, updated January 30, 2019.” Continue Reading

Baker’s Dozen: 13 Policy Areas that Require Congressional Action

POGO: Promoting Ethics and Addressing Corruption Improving Transparency and Accountability in US Immigration Detention and Exploring Alternatives Placing Proper Checks and Limits on Invasive Surveillance Slowing the Federal Revolving Door Smarter National Security Spending and Policy Reprioritize and Revitalize Work of Federal Inspectors General Commonsense Contracting Reforms to Protect the Taxpayer Ensuring Good Stewardship of… Continue Reading

Huawei Is Blocked in U.S., But Its Chips Power Cameras Everywhere

Bloomberg [paywall – alternate free article via Gadget Hours]: “Pelco, a California-based security camera maker, set lofty sales targets last year for a model with sharper video resolution and other cutting-edge features. That was until Congress derailed its plans. In August, updated legislation barred the U.S. military and government from buying tech gear from firms… Continue Reading

Public’s 2019 Priorities: Economy, Health Care, Education and Security

Pew – The U.S. Public’s 2019 Policy Priorities: – Growing share sees ‘great deal of difference’ between the parties: “At the outset of Donald Trump’s third year in office, the public’s to-do list for the president and the 116th Congress spans domains with the economy, health care costs, education and preventing terrorism all cited as… Continue Reading

2019 National Intelligence Strategy of the United States

“This National Intelligence Strategy (NIS) provides the Intelligence Community (IC) with strategic direction from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) for the next four years. It supports the national security priorities outlined in the National Security Strategy as well as other national strategies. In executing the NIS, all IC activities must be responsive to national… Continue Reading

Watch the Doomsday Clock announcement January 24 at 10 a.m. Eastern time

“The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will host a live international news conference at 10 a.m. EST/1500 GMT on Thursday, January 24, 2019, to announce the 2019 time of the Doomsday Clock. The news conference will take place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Watch the announcement live on clock.thebulletin.org, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.  … Continue Reading

GW-Stanford Study Recommends Nuclear Waste Program “Reset”

“The U.S. must start from scratch with a new nuclear waste management and disposal strategy – a Stanford-led panel and recommends that the United States “reset” its nuclear waste program by moving responsibility for commercially generated, used nuclear fuel away from the federal government and into the hands of an independent, not-for-profit, utility-owned and funded nuclear waste management organization. The… Continue Reading

Why the US Government Is Terrified of Hobbyist Drones

Wired: “If you want to understand why the government freaked out when a $400 remote-controlled quadcopter landed on the White House grounds last week, you need to look four miles away, to a small briefing room in Arlington, Virginia. There, just 10 days earlier, officials from the US military, the Department of Homeland Security, and… Continue Reading

Massive Pentagon Agency Can’t Complete Audit – Again

POGO: “For the second year in a row, a little-known but massive Pentagon agency won’t be able to complete an independent audit. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) handles more taxpayer dollars in a year than several Cabinet-level departments, but auditors have informed agency leadership that they will not be able to complete their audit for fiscal… Continue Reading