North Korea: Otto Warmbier Has “Sever Neurological Damage”

(COMMENTARY: FOR THE SAKE OF THE PEOPLE OF NORTH KOREA IT IS TIME FOR THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD TO REMOVE THE ANIMAL KIM JONG UN FROM POWER “BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY”)(TRS)

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Recently released North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier has suffered severe neurological damage, and his family flatly rejects the regime’s explanation for his condition, reporters were told Thursday in his Ohio hometown.

Warmbier, a 22-year-old college student who returned Tuesday to the United States after 17 months in detention, is in stable condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center but has a “severe neurological injury,” hospital spokeswoman Kelly Martin said.
Martin declined to elaborate, saying doctors will share more information about Warmbier’s condition in a separate news conference Thursday afternoon.
But Warmbier’s father left no doubt he blames North Korea, blasting the secretive regime in a 23-minute news conference at his son’s alma mater, Wyoming High School, north of Cincinnati.

Student freed from North Korea lands in US

Student freed from North Korea lands in US
The family doesn’t believe North Korea’s explanation that Otto fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill shortly after he was sentenced in March 2016, Fred Warmbier said.
“Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing a coma — and we don’t — there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition a secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long,” Warmbier said.
The father, wearing the cream sport coat his son wore during his televised trial in North Korea, stopped short of saying how he believed his son was injured.
“We’re going to leave that to the doctors (to explain) today,” he said.

Why does North Korea detain some US citizens?

Why does North Korea detain some US citizens?
He called on North Korea to release other American detainees.
“There’s no excuse for the way the North Koreans treated our son. And no excuse for the way they’ve treated so many others,” he said. “No other family should have to endure what the Warmbiers have.”

Conviction and release

Otto Warmbier was a University of Virginia student when he was detained in January 2016 at the airport in Pyongyang while on his way home. He had been on a tour of the reclusive country, his parent said.
North Korean authorities claimed they had security footage of him trying to steal a banner containing a political slogan that was hanging from a wall of his Pyongyang hotel.
That was used as evidence in his hourlong trial. He was found guilty of committing a “hostile act” against the country and sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years of hard labor. It was the last time he was seen publicly before this week.
His parents learned of their son’s condition — what North Korea called a coma — only last week, they said in a statement.

Critical of Obama administration

Fred Warmbier appeared critical of the Obama administration’s handling of Otto’s detention, saying the family heeded the US government’s initial advice to take a low profile “without result.”
In contrast, he praised the Trump administration’s efforts: “They have our thanks for bringing Otto home.”
When asked whether then-President Barack Obama could have done more, Fred Warmbier replied, “I think the results speak for themselves.”

Three other US detainees

Warmbier’s release coincided with basketball star Dennis Rodman’s latest visit to North Korea, though Michael Anton, a US national security spokesman, told CNN there is no connection between the two.

CNN on the ground: Waiting for Dennis Rodman

CNN on the ground: Waiting for Dennis Rodman
Fred Warmbier said the same Thursday.
“Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with Otto,” he said.
Rodman was asked by reporters Tuesday if he would bring up the cases of Warmbier and three other Americans detained in North Korea. “That’s not my purpose right now,” he said. “My purpose is to go over there and try to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea.”
The other Americans held by Pyongyang are Kim Sang Duk and Kim Hak-song, academics who worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, and businessman named Kim Dong Chul.

U.S. needs to stop Russian electoral interference, NSA’s top civilian leader says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

U.S. needs to stop Russian electoral interference, NSA’s top civilian leader says

March 25 at 6:48 PM
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.

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.’ ”

Julie Tate contributed to this report.

North Korea: Pathetic Kim Jong-Un Holding American Student Otto Warmbier For Ransom!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

American student Otto Warmbier

On the second day of 2016, Otto Warmbier was minutes away from boarding a plane back to America when armed security officers reportedly dragged him out of Pyongyang airport and into a yearlong nightmare that has left his loved ones and even the U.S. government powerless to save him.

Like most news out of North Korea, a lot about what occurred in the airport on Jan. 2, 2016 remains a mystery. One witness remembered a commotion as an armed official yelled at the 21-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student from Ohio and had him hauled out of the terminal. Hours later, the rogue dictatorship issued a vague update: A tourist had been “caught committing a hostile act against the state.”

The legal proceedings that followed were just as vague. Prosecutors charged that Warmbier was caught stealing a political sign and committed “crimes against the state.” He was given a one-hour trial in March at which the government presented fingerprints, CCTV footage and pictures of a political banner to make its case against the American.

“I beg that you see how I am only human,” Warmbier begged at trial. “And how I have made the biggest mistake of my life.”

Despite his pleas, Warmbier was convicted, and sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor. In a post-trial video released to the world, Warmbier, under obvious duress, praised his captors for his treatment and for handling of the case “fair and square.”

Little is known about Warmbier’s fate over the last year, and critics say the Obama administration has not done enough to bring the American home.

In recent years, several U.S. citizens have been held on trumped-up charges for varying periods of time by the current regime of Kim Jong Un, as well as that of his father, Kim Jong Il. Their release has typically been won by pledges of aid or diplomatic gestures from American dignitaries. Former President Bill Clinton journeyed to the Hermit Kingdom in 2009 in a successful bid to convince the late Kim Jong Il to release of Current TV journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who had been captured after straying across the border from China and held prisoner for five months.

The younger Kim is less predictable, and the U.S. has no formal diplomatic relations with North Korea. Kim Jung Un, the third generation of his family to lead the impoverished and belligerent nation, routinely issues threats against the U.S., launches missiles to provoke South Korea and Japan, executes top military officials and, occasionally, seizes Western prisoners. Although they are subjected to what passes for judicial procedures, they are for all intents and purposes, hostages.

In addition to Warmbier, it is believed that Pyongyang is holding Kim Dong-chul, 62, a naturalized U.S. citizen and a Canadian. Like Warmbier, he was charged with spying.

Gordon Chang, an expert on Asia and author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” said autocratic regimes, like the one in Pyongyang, are famous for their insecurities and treat any slight against its government as an especially serious offense. An Irish national who visited the country told The Independent that he was told “constantly that the smallest thing was considered a hostile attack.

“I bought lots of magazines and books there, and we were told not to fold them in a way that creased Kim Jong-un’s face,” he recalled.

Chang believes the North Koreans are taking reasonably good care of Warmbier, but the student likely feels forgotten.

“I assume he feels isolated,” Chang said. “He’s likely only reading propaganda and feels abandoned by the outside world.”

Warmbier’s family, including his father, Fred, did not respond to requests for comment, perhaps out of concern that publicity could anger Warmbier’s captors or upset back-channel efforts by the State Department or private parties to win his release. The U.S. will often tell these families to avoid talking to the media so it can better control the situation, Chang said.

“I agree with that,” he said.

Yet, media attention in the past seemed to work favorably in some cases. Ling and Lee faced 12 years of hard labor for committing hostile acts, yet were freed after five months when a visit from Clinton seemed to provide the rogue regime with the diplomatic legitimacy it craved, at least under the elder Kim, who died in 2011.

Kenneth Bae, a 47-year-old missionary who spent 19 months in prison for evangelizing, was released in 2014 after former NBA star and self-professed pal of Kim Jong-un Dennis Rodman took up his cause. Bae, who worked on a soybean farm and lost 30 pounds during the ordeal, told The New York Times that his interrogators would tell him that nobody in the U.S. cared about him and there were no negotiations.

Friend Trey Lonneman: We need to get Otto back. We must keep him in the public eye as much as we can –TCT @FoxNews

He said he was questioned “from 8 in the morning until 10 or 11 o’clock at night, every day for four weeks,” yet his treatment was better than that of North Korean felons.

Bae told FoxNews.com that he prays daily for American prisoners’ release from North Korea.

Former U.S. ambassador to the UN and ex-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, founder of the nonprofit Richardson Center for Global Engagement, told Fox News that the progress in getting Warmbier back has been slow but said North Koreans accepted a delegation from his foundation in September. He said the White House has been supportive of his group’s efforts.

“We’re trying to do this on a humanitarian basis,” Richardson told Fox News, “not a government-to-government basis.”

Communicating with North Korea has long been more challenging under the younger Kim.

“There’s just silence,” he said. “There’s nothing coming back.”

Julia Mason, a State Department spokeswoman, told FoxNews.com a statement that the administration is aware of the situation, and “now that Mr. Warmbier has gone through this criminal process, we urge the DPRK to pardon him and grant him special amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds.”

In November, the Associated Press reported that a North Korean Foreign Ministry official met with the Swedish ambassador to talk about access to Canadian Christian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim, who was sentenced to life in prison with hard labor, according to Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency.

The Swedish ambassador used the meeting to also talk about the Americans and was reportedly told Pyongyang treats them as war prisoners, possibly in light of U.S. sanctions on the country.

John Bolton, a Fox News contributor and the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that North Korea keeps a close eye on U.S. relationships around the world. It likely made note of the Obama administrations clandestine payments to Iran earlier this year which coincided with the release of four Americans held by Tehran on bogus charges.

“When Obama pays $1.7 billion in ransom for four people being held hostage in Iran, obviously the North Koreans see this as a bargaining chip as well,” he said.

Edmund DeMarche is a news editor for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @EDeMarche.

Iran And Saudi Arabia Fight Proxy War In Yemen: Yemen People Pay The Biggest Price

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

US: No ‘blank check’ for Saudi Arabia in Yemen

U.S. weapons for Saudi atrocities?

U.S. weapons for Saudi atrocities? 04:52

Story highlights

  • Saudi-led airstrikes hit a funeral home in the Yemeni capital
  • At least 155 people killed, health ministry officials say

(CNN)The White House on Saturday condemned a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a wake in Yemen that local health officials said killed at least 155 people.

“US security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check,” US National Security Council Spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
“Even as we assist Saudi Arabia regarding the defense of their territorial integrity, we have and will continue to express our serious concerns about the conflict in Yemen and how it has been waged.”

US 'not afraid' to raise Yemen concerns with Saudis

 US ‘not afraid’ to raise Yemen concerns with Saudis 02:00
Price added that the US would reevaluate its support for the coalition in its fight to prevent Houthi rebelsallied with Iran and forces loyal to Yemen’s deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh from taking power.
“In light of this and other recent incidents, we have initiated an immediate review of our already significantly reduced support to the Saudi-led coalition and are prepared to adjust our support so as to better align with US principles, values and interests, including achieving an immediate and durable end to Yemen’s tragic conflict,” he said.
Earlier Saturday, the Saudi-led coalition denied accusations that it was responsible for the attack.
It later said it will “immediately investigate” reports that its warplanes were responsible for the airstrikes, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Yemen: A 'poor country's' forgotten war

 Yemen: A ‘poor country’s’ forgotten war 05:00
“The coalition confirms that its troops have clear instructions not to target populated areas and to avoid civilians,” SPA added.

‘Too heavy a price’

Witnesses of Saturday’s airstrike in Sanaa reported multiple civilian casualties at the wake, where hundreds of people had gathered to mourn the death of rebel-appointed Interior Minister Jalal al Rowaishan’s father.
In addition to the reported deaths, hundreds of attendees were also wounded in the strike, local health officials said.
At least 20 people lost limbs, according to medical staff at the German Hospital in Sanaa.

Saudi Arabia now spends more than Russia on defense

 Saudi Arabia now spends more than Russia on defense 01:20
Robert Mardini, regional director for the International Committee of the Red Cross, condemned what he called an “outrageous loss of civilian life.”
“Civilians in Yemen have already paid far too heavy a price these past 18 months,” he said in a statement.

Escalating crisis

The Saudi-led coalition, involving several Arab countries, began a military campaign in Yemen in March 2015 after Houthis — a minority Shia group supported by Iran — drove out the US-backed government, led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and took over Sanaa.
The crisis quickly escalated into a multisided war, which allowed al Qaeda and ISIS — other enemies of the Houthis — to grow stronger amid the chaos.
Since peace talks in Kuwait failed in August, the coalition has intensified airstrikes, despite vocal criticism from rights groups that the bombardments have been indiscriminate and could constitute war crimes. The attacks have often hit civilian targets with devastating results.
The US has come under increasing pressure to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia.
The US Senate last month rejected a bipartisan proposal to block a pending $1.15 billion United States arms sale to Riyadh.

Yemen: A 'poor country's' forgotten war

 Yemen: A ‘poor country’s’ forgotten war 05:00
Critics of the military deal, which was approved by the Obama administration, complained it could further drag the US into the war in Yemen and contribute to the worsening humanitarian crisis there.
Civilian casualties are only part of the crisis. Yemen’s UNICEF office has reported that nearly 10,000 children younger than 5 died from preventable diseases there during the past year.
Some 1.5 million children are currently malnourished in Yemen, and 370,000 of them suffer from severe acute malnutrition, according to the charity.
Yemen’s economic infrastructure has also been ravaged by war.
At least 430 factories and companies were destroyed by coalition airstrikes since the start of the conflict, according to Ahmed Bahri, political chief of the Sanaa-based Haq Party.
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