The U.S. government has not figured out how to deter the Russians from meddling in democratic processes, and stopping their interference in elections, both here and in Europe, is a pressing problem, the top civilian leader of the National Security Agency said.The NSA was among the intelligence agencies that concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a cyber-enabled influence campaign in 2016 aimed at undermining confidence in the election, harming Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and helping elect GOP nominee Donald Trump.“This is a challenge to the foundations of our democracy,” said NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett, 58, who is retiring at the end of April, in an interview at Fort Meade, Md., the agency’s headquarters. “It’s the sanctity of our process, of evaluating and looking at candidates, and having accurate information about the candidates. So the idea that another nation-state is [interfering with that] is a pretty big deal and something we need to figure out. How do we counter that? How do we identify that it’s happening — in real-time as opposed to after the fact? And what do we do as a nation to make it stop?”The lack of answers, he said, “as an American citizen . . . gives me a lot of heartburn.”
Ledgett, known as a straight-shooting, unflappable intelligence professional, began his NSA career in 1988 teaching cryptanalysis — how to crack codes — and rose to become the agency’s top civilian leader . The NSA, with 35,000 civilian and military employees, gathers intelligence on foreign targets overseas through wiretaps and increasingly by cyberhacking. Its other mission is to secure the government computers that handle classified information and other data critical to military and intelligence activities.
Asked whether the NSA had any inkling that the Kremlin was going to orchestrate the release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails last July, he demurred. “I actually don’t want to talk about that.”
At the same time, he said, what Moscow did was “no strategic surprise.” Rather, “what may have been a tactical surprise was that they would do it the way they did.”
Campaigns of propaganda and disinformation, dating back to the Soviet Union, have long been a staple of the Kremlin’s foreign policy. Now, however, it is making effective use of its hacking prowess to weaponize information and combine it with its influence operations, or what intelligence officials call “active measures.”
“In general, if you’re responding to nation-state actions like that, you have to find out what are the levers that will move the nation-state actors and are you able and willing to pull those levers?” said Ledgett when asked how the United States should respond.
The Obama administration slapped economic sanctions on two Russian spy agencies involved in hacking the DNC, three companies believed to have provided support for government cyber operations, and four Russian cyber officials. The administration also ordered 35 Russian operatives to leave the United States and shut down Russian-owned facilities on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and on Long Island believed to have been used for intelligence purposes.
Yet, intelligence officials including NSA Director Michael S. Rogers and FBI Director James B. Comey said on Monday that they believe Moscow will strike again — in 2020, if not in 2018.
So should the government mull other options, such as hacking Russian officials’ emails or financial records and releasing them in a bid to embarrass or show corruption? “I think every element of national power is something we should consider,” he said. “That would probably fall under something like a covert action. But if that’s the right answer, that’s the right answer.”
Ledgett is probably most well-known for leading the agency task force that handled the fallout from the leaks of classified information by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. The disclosures prompted a national and global debate about the proper scope of government surveillance and led Congress to pass some reforms, including the outlawing of bulk collection of Americans’ phone metadata.
But the disclosures also caused great upheaval in NSA’s collection efforts, hurt morale, and damaged relations with allies and with tech firms that enable court-ordered surveillance, Ledgett said. “It was a terrible time for the agency,” he said.
He oversaw the probe of the internal breach; relations with Congress, the White House, foreign governments and the press; and the effort to prevent a recurrence. “There was a bit of a narrative on the outside about this evil agency that hoovered up all the communications in the world and rooted through them for things that were interesting, and that wasn’t actually true.”
The operational hit was significant, he said. More than 1,000 foreign targets — whether a person or a group or an organization — altered or attempted to alter their means of communications as a result of the disclosures, he said. They “tried with varying degrees of success to remove themselves from our ability to see what they were doing,” he said.
The agency, which has some 200 stations worldwide, reworked capabilities including virtually all of its hacking tools. “In some cases, we had to do things very differently” to gather the same foreign intelligence as before.
Military, defense and security at home and abroad.
Raj De, a former NSA general counsel, said Ledgett was relied on heavily by both Rogers and Rogers’s predecessor, Keith B. Alexander. “He has really been a source of steadiness for the agency,” said De, now head of the Cybersecurity & Data Privacy practice at Mayer Brown, a global law firm. “What is particularly notable about Rick is his willingness to engage with all types of people, to keep an open mind.”
In December 2013, Alexander, when he was the NSA director, said that Snowden should be given no amnesty. But Ledgett told CBS’s “60 Minutes” then that “my personal view is yes, it’s worth having a conversation about.”
In his interview earlier this week, however, he said what he meant was that by engaging Snowden in conversation, the agency might have been able to learn what material had not been released and where it was.
Today, he said, there is no longer any need to talk to Snowden. “He’s past his usefulness to us.” Snowden, who is living in Moscow under a grant of asylum, has been charged with violating the Espionage Act, and Ledgett said he should not be pardoned. “I’ve always been of the idea that ‘Hey, I think he needs to face the music for what he did.’ ”
Erdogan says Turkey may hold referendum on EU accession bid
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a ceremony marking the 102nd anniversary of Battle of Canakkale, also known as the Gallipoli Campaign, in Canakkale, Turkey, March 18, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey may hold a second referendum on whether to continue with European Union accession talks following a planned vote on April 16 that could give him sweeping new powers.
“Right now we are holding a referendum on April 16 and after that we could choose to do a second one on the (EU) accession talks and we would abide by whatever our people would say there,” Erdogan told a forum in the southern city of Antalya.
Turkey began EU accession talks in 2005 but they have moved very slowly due to disagreements over Cyprus, human rights and other issues. Relations between Ankara and Brussels have become particularly strained in recent months.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Gareth Jones)
I remember about a year ago during the Republican Presidential Debates Texas Senator Ted Cruz chided one of the other Candidates because ‘he’ would compromise with the Democrats. Mr. Cruz swore to the Voting Public that when He is President that he will not negotiate/compromise with the Democrats. I guess the reason this statement didn’t attract more attention was that by this point in time the Media was more focused on the ‘Trump Show’ (the Republican Debates). Think about that statement for a moment folks. Politics, the whole Chess Game of it, always wanting Check and then Check Mate. The reason they are in Politics tend to be Super Ego’s, wealth and the fame. Trouble for most people is that they don’t have or do not wish to spend their own money to finance these hugely expensive Political Campaigns. Here is where a very small handful of people in the top of the DNC and the RNC run/ruin Our Country and everyone’s lives. Those who dictate where the ‘contributions’ will go to, these way too few people, point to polar ends, thus destroying Our Country from the inside.
Well, President Trump and the Republicans themselves defeated themselves on the Health Care Issues earlier today. I think what happened earlier today was a good thing, I do mean that. We witnessed individual Congressmen/Women break from the ‘Rank and File’ ‘Party Line’. We witnessed quite a few politicians who were of a President’s own Party stand up to the Party Leadership and say No. You know something? Didn’t ‘We The People’ put these people in ‘Office’ to do what ‘we’ put them in there for? Wouldn’t this be great if it could be the pebble that breaks and now the mountain face falls off? Yep I know it’s just a pipe dream that Elected Officials could actually care something for us ‘little people’, us little ole Voters.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘OCCUPY DEMOCRATS’ WEBSITE)
A former chair of the Colorado Republican Party and active Tea Party organizer who blamed Democrats for voter fraud is now himself facing charges for voter fraud. Steven Curtis said in 2016 ahead of the presidential election that Donald Trump won,
“It seems to me that virtually every case of voter fraud I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats.”
Now it should be easy for Curtis to recollect an instance of a Republican committing voter fraud. He personally committed the federal felony.
Curtis is charged with using his ex-wife’s mail-in ballot to vote and forging her signature. This effectively gave him two votes, since he was able to vote in person on election day as well.
The specter of voter fraud has been played up Republicans as an excuse to disenfranchise minority voters who tend to vote Democratic. Numerous voter ID laws have been struck down because they do not address a problem that actually exists (voter fraud is extremely rare and occurs on a minute scale) and target minority groups with laser-like precision.
After winning the electoral college but losing the popular vote by around 3 million votes, Trump claimed that he actually won the popular vote. He said the numbers were misleading because 3 million illegal votes were cast for Clinton (and presumably none cast for him because those would cancel out some of the alleged illegal Clinton votes).
Trump has never managed to provide a single shred of evidence in support of his claims that American democracy is seriously broken. That is because he is lying.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school has thoroughly debunked claims of widespread voter fraud, finding that the majority of the minor anomalies in U.S. elections are due to innocent machine or counting errors and are quickly rectified.
Trump is wildly irresponsible to convince millions that American elections cannot be trusted – unless a Republican wins.
Curtis also pushed the same line, saying that voter fraud is a problem but it only benefits Democrats. In fact, voter fraud is not rampant and Curtis is a prime example of a Republican committing voter fraud.
Let’s finally put this myth to rest and liberate the millions of minority voters who have been kept away from the ballot boxes. Voter disenfranchisement is the biggest scandal in modern American democracy, and it is designed and implemented by Republicans to benefit Republicans.
MARISA COMPLETED HER UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE IN 2013 AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN WITH A DOUBLE MAJOR IN CREATIVE WRITING AND MEDIA STUDIES. SHE IS AN ADVOCATE OF PROGRESSIVE POLICIES AND FOCUSES HER INTERESTS ON GENDER EQUALITY AND PREVENTING SEXUAL AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee claimed Wednesday evening that he has seen “more than circumstantial evidence” that associates of President Donald Trump colluded with Russia while the Kremlin attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the Ranking Member on the committee, was asked by Chuck Todd on “Meet The Press Daily” whether or not he only has a circumstantial case.
“Actually no, Chuck,” he said. “I can tell you that the case is more than that and I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now.”
House Intel Cmte. Creates Confusion As Chairman Releases Trump Details 1:59
Questioned whether or not he has seen direct evidence of collusion, Schiff responded, “I don’t want to get into specifics but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of an investigation.”
The Trump campaign and the White House have repeatedly denied that Trump’s associates were at all connected to any activities related to Russia’s attempts to influence the last election.
Schiff’s comments came after Republican committee chair Devin Nunes said that he had seen reports from the U.S. intelligence community showing communication from members of the transition team — and possibly the president himself — were “incidentally collected” as part of a broader surveillance effort.
Nunes said it appeared most of the information was collected after the election and during the transition, it appears it was collected legally, and none of it was related to Russia or the investigation into Russia. He said he did not know who ordered the alleged surveillance.
The disclosure drew condemnation from some Democrats. Schiff bristled at the fact that Nunes did not share the information with him before updating reporters and the White House.
“The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct, which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he’s going to act as a surrogate of the White House. Because he cannot do both,” Schiff said.
Full Interview: Schiff on His Confidence in House Intel Committee 8:40
Nunes said at a press conference that “the intelligence community incidentally collected information about American citizens involved in the Trump transition.”
“From what I know right now it looks like incidental collection, we don’t know exactly how that was picked up, but we’re are trying to get to the bottom of it,” Nunes said.
Trump said he felt somewhat vindicated by Nunes’ disclosure: “I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found,” the president said.
Nunes said he has not seen any evidence that former President Barack Obama had Trump’s “wires tapped” before the election — a claim Trump made on Twitter. The director of the FBI said Monday he has no evidence backing up the tweeted claim.
Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Virginia, said he was “absolutely mystified by Chairman Nunes’ actions,” and the decision to brief Trump on the information “seems pretty inappropriate to me.”
Republican Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren that the back-and-forth among the top members of the committee was “bizarre” and he said partisan fighting had cost Congress its credibility to investigate Russian interference the election.
“No longer does the Congress have credibility to handle this alone, and I don’t say that lightly,” McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said.
McCain: Select Committee On Russia Now A ‘Requirement’10:36
On Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia had been ongoing since July. Comey said the probe was included in the agency’s investigation into what the U.S. intelligence community concluded was an attempt by Russia to interfere with the 2016 election with the purpose of helping Trump win.
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are conducting their own investigations.
President Donald Trump has had a lot on his plate in recent weeks — defending his administration from news of a criminal investigation by the FBI for alleged Russia collusion, rallying support for a controversial health care bill.
Somehow amid all that, the president, or his lawyers acting on their own, decided to go after a teenage girl from San Francisco, the Hollywood Reporter said.
Apparently, America’s commander in chief took issue with the girl’s website Kittenfeed.com. Originally called Trumpscratch.com, the site allows users to punch an animated image of Trump’s face with tiny kitten paws. It comes with the tagline: “Trump seems very tough at first but he gets weaker with every scratch.”
The girl, identified as “Lucy,” told the Observer that she developed the site, with its #Trumpcat hashtag, for fun while applying for web developer jobs. Little did she know that her site, which only drew 1700 visitors after its launch in February, had attracted the notice of the most important political leader on earth.
On March 1, she said she received a cease and desist letter from The Trump Organization. The letter claims her site infringed on the “internationally known and famous” Trump trademark.
After Lucy changed the domain name, she received another letter from the Trump Organization because her site linked to an anti-Trump shirt that is available for purchase on Amazon. Lucy told the Hollywood Reporter that she removed the link, and hasn’t heard anything from the campaign since.
Lucy is not alone in thinking that the president should have better things to with his time than to ask his lawyers to go after a teenager for creating a silly website.
“I really just want people to be aware that this is a president who’s clearly more concerned about what people think of him than doing things of substance,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.
However, she said she’s not surprised he might be so easily provoked by her site, given that he wages Twitter feuds with former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over ratings for his former reality TV show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
“Literally all my site is, is punching him with kitten paws,” she said. “A president should not have the time or care to hire people to shut sites like mine down. He should be running the country, not tweeting about TV ratings or anything else like that.”
Not surprisingly, the moves by Trump’s lawyers have had the opposite effect of their intention. After the Observer originally published its report on Tuesday, the site’s visitors surged from 3,000 to 50,000.
However, the site was down on Wednesday, possibly from so many users trying to access it.
The lesson here is that Trump may talk a tough game as president, but he and his tough, high-priced attorneys are no match for animated kittens.
This afternoon in London England there was another ‘terrorist incident’, this time just outside the entrance to their Parliament Building. The last I heard before I started this commentary there are four dead and about 20 wounded. One of the dead is the attacker, another is a Police Officer. The other two dead people were killed by being driven over by the attacker. What a typical example of ones hate being forced upon others lives. Folks, when a person chooses to murder someone, do you think they are doing this because they are ‘happy’ with the one they decide to kill? I tend to think, no, how about you? Killing other people, outside of contract obligations such as when you are in your Nation’s Military, or in the case of self-defence, murder is usually done through or because of hate. So, today the actions of one man ended the lives of three others and harmed and scarred many others. One man’s actions caused a lot of chain reactions not just in heroic goodness of some, but in the actions of the Press there in London informing we the people of the events, step by step. Yes they did a rather good job of informing me of the steps that (England’s) has in place that security protocol is designed to function within. In this case a person filled with hate could best figure out where to form a multi-tiered attack. Think of the pure hate concept of bringing an ambulance to a bomb or mass shooting location, filled with C-4 just so you can kill as many First Responders as you possibly can. Folks, this is not the way of a rational mind, nor of a God! It is not a mind filled with any form of morality, it is a mind filled with Evil, hate. When we humans decide to degrade other human beings to a ‘less than’ human status it becomes easier and easier to degrade, hurt or even kill them.
Friends this type of hate that we witnessed this afternoon in London is not just a hiccup in human history that we are living in, this is the reality for humans for ever more. Europe is being forced to deal with this hatred toward their own people and toward their own cultures. Here in the U.S. we have suffered several examples of hatred also toward our people and our chosen ways of life. Yet Europe and her people are a tender underbelly to a region full of hatred, for you and your way of life. I believe that the U.S. and all of the ‘America’s’ are just starting to see the damage caused by hatred. The olden days (our version of the good old days), they’re gone, they are not going to return, but why not? The answer is hatred folks. Hatred has a great helpmate which also causes so much heartache and that is ignorance. No one on this planet will ever have a totally unmonitored lifestyle again, nor will we ever be free of people hating you/us. Welcome to the new world everyone, the one filled with unending security measures brought on because of threats that are real or imagined. You see, fear caused by hatred can easily be duplicated in the one who fears as a way to grow into another hate filled, ignorant, Satan serving beast. A person who is hate filled creates and early grave for themselves and those around them, and a footstool in Hell.
But Sessions is getting a much warmer welcome among the nation’s law enforcement community, which has largely embraced his plan to prosecute more drug and gun cases, crack down on immigration offenses and ease up on suing local police departments accused of violating minorities’ civil rights.
Sessions will further explain his plans to realign the Justice Department’s priorities on Wednesday, when he addresses a gathering of federal, state and local law enforcement officers in Richmond, Virginia. He can expect an enthusiastic response.
“Happily for us, on vast majority of issues, we’re on the same page,” said James Pasco, a senior adviser at the Fraternal Order of Police.
FEB. 28: Sessions: ‘We Don’t Need To Be Legalizing Marijuana’ 1:15
The Justice Department wouldn’t comment on what Sessions will say in Richmond. But a spokesman said his remarks will expand on a number of his recent actions, including a memo ordering a crackdown on violent crime and a speech that warned that a recent uptick in crime was “the beginning of a trend” that requires a “return to the ideas” that cut lawbreaking to historic lows since the 1990s.
In that Feb. 28 speech to state attorneys general, Sessions blamed Mexican drug cartels for a record spike in heroin overdoses and suggested that he would reverse Obama administration policies that sought to reduce the prosecutions of low-level, nonviolent drug offenders on charges that carried mandatory minimum prison sentences.
Sessions said in the speech that from 2010 to 2015, the number of gun and drug prosecutions had dropped. “This trend will end,” he said.
Sessions, a Republican former U.S. senator and federal prosecutor from Alabama, also signaled a new approach toward police departments accused of discriminatory policing. He said that rather than “spending scarce federal resources to sue them in court,” federal money would be better used going after criminals.
Michael Ramos, president of the National District Attorneys Association, said it was refreshing to hear Sessions promise to “get back to tough-on-crime.”
The Obama administration, Ramos said, went too far in seeking ways to reduce mandatory minimum sentences and get people out of prison. That lenience, he said, could be driving crime rates.
“We’ve gotten to a point where the pendulum is starting to swing back,” Ramos said.
Lawrence Leiser, vice president for policy at the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, said his organization opposed easing up on mandatory minimum sentencing and welcomed a return to earlier approaches.
He said he viewed Sessions’ take on law enforcement as “inspiring.”
“Assistant U.S. attorneys are encouraged by the attorney general’s approach to combating drug trafficking and violent crime by using all of the lawful tools that are currently available to prosecutors,” Leiser said.
That said, law enforcement officials cautioned that the Trump administration is only a couple months old, and Sessions had yet to articulate how the new priorities would be put in place.
Ronal Serpas, a former police superintendent in New Orleans and chairman of the group Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, said he embraced Sessions’ focus on violent crime. But his group has also warned the administration against using jail and prison as the tools to attack crime more broadly.
The group also urged Sessions to rethink his opposition to sentencing reform.
And it warned against rumored cuts to the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
“I’d like to see the attorney general focus narrowly on the issue of violent gun and drug crime and not get distracted by the big sweeping arrests we had in the 1990s,” Serpas said. “I argued for those things back then. But I saw that those massive arrest strategies don’t work. There’s tremendous collateral damage.”
Thomas Manger, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, said he was encouraged by the mere fact that Sessions was speaking directly to local law enforcement agencies so early in his tenure.
That’s important to many police officials who saw the Obama administration as being too critical of police during a time of eroding trust between cops and the public, he said. Much of those problems have been driven by increased scrutiny of shootings by police and an uptick in attacks on officers.
“We’re just trying to get off on the right foot and help influence things in a direction where the big cities around this country are providing the best service we can,” Manger said.
Chinese archaeologists announced yesterday the discovery of an immense underwater treasure. They stated that they recovered more than 10,000 gold and silver items which had been sitting at the bottom of a river in southwestern Sichuan Province for more than three centuries.
Discovery Verifies Unproven Battle as a Historical Event
Mr. Gao Dalun, director of Sichuan Provincial Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute, stated that the finds included a vast amount of gold, silver, and bronze coins and jewelry, as well as iron weapons such as swords, knives, and spears. The archaeologists that made the discovery added that the characters carved in the gold and silver artifacts are still clear and the carved patterns on the jewelry show graceful craftsmanship.
Golden ingot and jewelry unearthed during an archaeological excavation in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, where more than 10,000 gold and silver items make up a treasure that sank to the bottom of a river over 300 years ago. (Xinhua/Li He)
The treasure site, positioned at the crossing of Minjiang River and its branch Jinjiang River, is 31 miles (49.89 km) south of Chengdu. It is thought that in 1646, peasant uprising leader Zhang Xianzhong was defeated in the area by Ming Dynasty soldiers while trying to transport his treasure to the south. Nearly a thousand boats loaded with the valuables sank in the fight and were buried in the river bed. However, for centuries this story was more myth than fact, with no reliable sources verifying it. Wang Wei, a Chinese archaeologist stated as The Hindu reports, “The objects have helped identify the area where the battle was fought and are direct evidence of this historical event.”
Silver coins were some of the treasures unearthed during excavations inSichuan, China. (Xinhua/Chen Xie)
The Importance of the Treasure from a Scientific and Historical Point of View
Many valuable objects were found at the site back in 2005, when construction workers found seven silver ingots on the river bank. Five years later, and after the close examination of the finds, local authorities declared the area a protected site in 2010. Despite the evidence, however, a comprehensive excavation didn’t follow as experts argued over the existence of the legendary “sunken boats.”
The treasure found in in Sichuan, China also includes these silver ingots with writing still visible on them. (Xinhua/Li He)
Treasure hunters, on the other hand, were not as patient, as the facts clearly showed: after the local police conducted a year-long investigation in 2015, they arrested over thirty suspects and impounded thousands of gold and silver coins. That nudged experts to agree that an immediate excavation of the site was necessary in order to prevent further raids from treasure hunters. Eventually, Sichuan province launched the project to uncover the hidden treasures and artifacts in January, when the dry season arrived, and they pumped away the river water.
Excavating the site where the treasure was found in Sichuan, China. (XINHUA)
In closing, Li Boqian, an archaeologist from Peking University, thinks that the objects of this discovery are of remarkable value and historical significance, “The items are extremely valuable to science, history and art. They are of great significance for research into the political, economic, military and social lives of the Ming Dynasty,” said Boqian, as Xinhuanet reported.
Archaeologists will continue excavations until April 2017.
Top Image: A gold seal was one of the many treasures recovered from the Minjiang River in Sichuan, China. Source: China.org
truthtroubles.wordpress.com/ Just an average man who tries to do his best at being the kind of person the Bible tells us we are all suppose to be. Not perfect, never have been, don't expect anyone else to be perfect either. Always try to be very easy going type of a person if allowed to be.