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Showing posts from February 5, 2013

Homeland Security at a Crossroads: Evolving DHS to Meet the Next Generation of Threats

By Rick "Ozzie" Nelson, Rob Wise


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finds itself at a crossroads as it enters its second decade of existence. Since its creation in 2002, DHS has worked diligently to keep the United States safe from the specter of another catastrophic terrorist attack. In doing so, the Department has wrestled with a variety of significant challenges, including coordinating across 22 preexisting agencies, reporting to a multitude of congressional committees, and interacting with the U.S. public in a manner that constantly tests the balance between security and privacy. Some have pointed to these challenges as evidence of a dysfunctional department that is unable to effectively protect the nation. However, the Department’s record is clear; there have been no major terrorist attacks on American soil in the years since DHS’ creation. Furthermore, during this time DHS has achieved new levels of interagency coordination, improved cooperation with state and lo…

Diplomats urge caution on N Korea nuke tests

Former diplomats say Pyongyang is using planned nuclear tests to wring concessions and aid from the US.

North Korea has announced it is preparing for a new round of underground nuclear testing, and is ready to take "strong physical countermeasures" against the United States and its southern counterpart in retaliation to new United Nations Security Council sanctions.

At a meeting with top security and foreign ministry officials recently, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also warned he would take "high-profile important state measures" against the country's adversaries, according to state media.

As this developed, the US and South Korea have announced the start of a long-planned naval exercise in the East Sea off the southeastern port of Pohang, which the North condemned as "warmongering."

But if there is a time for the US and its partners to further step up diplomacy, it is now, according to some Korea watchers.

Veteran diplomat Kantathi Suphamongkhon had…

Iran arrests former Tehran prosecutor

Saeed Mortazavi's arrest "possibly" in connection with allegations of torture, semi-official Fars agency reports.

A former Iranian prosecutor at the centre of a growing confrontation between two of Iran's most powerful figures has been arrested, according to the Tehran prosecutor's website.

Saeed Mortazavi, considered a close aide of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was taken to Tehran's Evin prison, the semi-official Fars agency reported on Tuesday.

Iran's Fars news agency reported Mortazavi was arrested on Monday.

No reason was given for the arrest in the statement released on Tuesday, but the timing suggested it might be linked to Mortazavi's role as a former judicial official, in a dispute between Ahmadinejad and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.

Mortazavi was dismissed from his judicial post over the torture deaths of three protesters in custody after the controversial 2009 presidential elections, which the opposition claimed was rigged in Ahmadinejad&#…

Lebanon issues warrant for Syrian spy chief

Judge issues arrest warrant for top Syrian intelligence official Ali Mamlouk for his alleged involvement in a bomb plot.

A Lebanese judge has issued arrest warrants for a top Syrian intelligence official and his aide for their alleged involvement in a bombing plot in Lebanon, judicial officials said.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said Brigadier General Ali Mamlouk is accused of being involved with Lebanon's former information minister who allegedly plotted a wave of attacks in Lebanon at the behest of Syria.

The officials said Monday's warrants were issued by Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghaida. They said one of Mamlouk's aides, a colonel who was identified with only his first name, Adnan, was named in the other warrant.

The August arrest of the former information minister, Michel Samaha, was an embarrassing blow to Syria, which has long acted with impunity in Lebanon.

Mamlouk, head of Syria's national security council, was in…

Israel’s Post-American Future

ByLeon T. Hadar


February 05, 2013 - We cannot exist alone.” That is Israel’s national security axiom acknowledged by President Shimon Peres during an address in Jerusalem in November. “For our existence we need the friendship of the United States of America,” stressed the Israeli statesman, highlighting the geo-strategic reality. “It doesn’t sound easy, but this is the truth,” he added. It’s not easy for a client-state to admit that its own survival depends on a global patron.

It’s even more challenging for leaders of a dependent state to recognize that the great power they are relying on may be entering into an imperial twilight time, – that it’s not so great anymore. Inertia, wishful thinking and the power of vested interests explains why elites in the empire’s capital – as well as in the provinces – continue to share in the misconception about the hegemon’s ability to exert global influence – even as that influence is being eroded.

But after a prolonged “recognition lag” – extending f…

Rogue Elements Within US Military: Defense Nominee Hagel Had Warned Obama

By Steve Watson


February 05, 2013  - The Washington Post reports an interesting exchange that is said to have happened between the President in his first term, and Chuck Hagel, the nominee to be the next Secretary of Defense.

Bob Woodward writes in the Post that on a visit to the White House in 2009, Hagel warned Obama that he should look out for rogue elements within the Pentagon that were leading a ‘new world order’:

According to an account that Hagel later gave, and is reported here for the first time, he told Obama: “We are at a time where there is a new world order.


“We don’t control it. You must question everything, every assumption, everything they” — the military and diplomats — “tell you. Any assumption 10 years old is out of date. You need to question our role. You need to question the military. You need to question what are we using the military for.”

The Post states that Hagel warned Obama about becoming “bogged down” in the ongoing war in Afghanistan, saying it would define Ob…

The Trickery of the US Military Budget

A key federal budget trick is using words to confuse citizens, such as labeling U.S. military spending as “defense” though much is for “offense” and sliding costs for wounded soldiers under “veterans affairs” and nuclear bombs under “energy,” as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

By Paul R. Pillar

February 05, 2013 "Information Clearing House" - As budgetary battles proceed with competing rhetorical salvos about what parts of government spending are unreasonably large, or are most out of control, or are the “real” reason for burgeoning deficits (actually, every part of the budgetary equation, on both the expenditure and the revenue sides, is just as real as every other part), one welcomes the occasional breath of fresh semantic air on the subject.

Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, using data compiled by Winslow Wheeler of the Project on Government Oversight, observesthat the figures usually adduced to present spending on “defense” or “nat…