By letting Putin get away with whatever he likes in Syria, Obama has created a deeply dangerous situation.
Relations between Russia and Turkey have been dismal since late November, when a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian bomber on the border with Syria, killing its pilot. That began a war of words between Moscow and Ankara that ought to concern everyone, since the former has several thousand nuclear weapons and the latter is a member of NATO.
Kremlin propaganda against Ankara has increased of late, setting the stage for further confrontation. As I explained here last week, Russian media outlets initially blamed the Sinai crash of Metrojet 9268 last autumn on the Islamic State, an atrocity which killed 224 innocents, nearly all of them Russians—a quite plausible claim. However, the Kremlin has abruptly shifted course and now blames the mass murder on Turkish ultranationalist terrorists, without any evidence provided to support that explosive assertion.
Where things may be going between Russia and Turkey, ancient enemies who have warred many times over the centuries, was evidenced this week, when the Kremlin announced large-scale surprise military exercises in the regions of the country that are close to Turkey. Troops were moved to full combat readiness, the last stage before a shooting war, with Sergei Shoygu, the Russian defense minister, announcing on TV: “We began our surprise check of the military preparedness in the Southwest strategic direction.”
Read the rest at the New York Observer …
It would be wise for our sprawling, seventeen-agency Intelligence Community to be cautious about sweeping reorganizations.
With an unusual degree of public fanfare, the super-secret National Security Agency has just announced its first significant reorganization since the 1990s. While NSA’s core missions, which include providing Washington, D.C. with the lion’s share of the intelligence in our Federal government, are not changing, how the agency is structured is about to undergo profound change.
Termed NSA21, this two-year recasting will dramatically shift how the agency does business. In particular, the core missions of signals intelligence and information assurance will be blended in a new organization termed the Directorate of Operations. Since NSA’s birth in 1952, SIGINT has been the main business out at Fort Meade, the agency headquarters nested in the Maryland suburbs between Baltimore and the nation’s capital.
Cracking foreign codes has always taken up the majority of NSA’s budget and resources while the information assurance mission, which tries to prevent foreign intelligence from cracking our codes, including our nuclear command and control, has been something of an also-ran, bureaucratically speaking, despite its enormous importance to our national security.
Read the rest at the New York Observer …
Today on the Federalist Radio Hour, John Schindler, national security columnist at the Observer, security consultant, and former NSA analyst, talked on the most recent news from the State Department regarding Hillary Clinton’s emails and discussed other national security threats around the world.
Schindler said the emails have turned out to be even worse than he expected. “Team Hillary has been pushing back on this–on what was marked and what wasn’t and these words games they specialize in,” he said. “Twenty-two (emails) were judged to be ‘Top Secret’ entirely, now pushing 30 based on the latest indications and there are some real bombshells in what has not been released.”
Later in the hour Schindler explained the situations unfolding in the Middle East and Russia, and how a future president must to address them in the next year. “Whoever becomes President on the 20th of January of next year is going to face a wicked problem in Syria and the surrounding states due to the catastrophe that has befallen Syria since 2011,” he said. “There are no good options here, after what President Obama has overseen.”
Listen in at The Federalist …
My writings involve a lot of abbreviations and acronyms. It’s a habit long ingrained from my service in America’s military and intelligence services, plus it’s a space-saver, particularly online.
However, I regularly get asked, “What the hell does XYZ stand for?” — it’s easy to forget that to normals it’s all an impenetrable alphabet soup — so here’s a list of some of the mysterious letter combinations you’ll frequently encounter here. Hope this helps!
AFRICOM = US Africa Command
ASD = Australian Signals Directorate (i.e. Oz’s NSA)
ASIO = Australian Security Intelligence Organization (i.e. domestic intelligence)
ASIS = Australian Secret Intelligence Service (Down Under’s UK SIS equivalent)
BfV = German Domestic Intelligence Service 
BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front
BND = German Federal Intelligence Service (their CIA + NSA) 
CENTCOM = US Central Command (i.e. the Pentagon’s Middle East HQ)
CI = Counterintelligence
CIA = Central Intelligence Agency (AKA Christians in Action)
COMSEC = Communications Security
CONUS = Continental United States
COS = Chief of Station (CIA)
CSEC = Communications Security Establishment Canada (i.e. their NSA)
CSIS = Canadian Security Intelligence Service (i.e. domestic intelligence)
CYBERCOM = US Cyber Command (its commander is dual-hatted as DIRNSA)
DEVGRU = US Naval Special Warfare Development Group (“SEAL Team SIX”)
DGSE = French Foreign Intelligence Service (their CIA + NSA) 
DGSI = French Domestic Intelligence Service 
DIA = Defense Intelligence Agency (AKA Do It Again)
DIRNSA = Director, NSA
DNI = Director of National Intelligence (USA)
DoD = Department of Defense (AKA The Pentagon, The Five Sided Funny Farm)
DoS = Department of State (AKA Foggy Bottom)
EUCOM = US European Command
FBI = Federal Bureau of Investigation (AKA The Bureau, The Feebs)
FCI = Foreign Counterintelligence
FIS = Foreign Intelligence Service
FSB = Russian Federal Security Service (i.e. domestic intelligence) 
FVEY = Five Eyes (i.e. the US+UK+CAN+AUS+NZ SIGINT Alliance)
GCHQ = Government Communications Headquarters (i.e. UK’s NSA)
GCSB = Government Communications Security Bureau (i.e. New Zealand’s NSA)
GRU = Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (i.e. MI) 
HoIS = Hostile Intelligence Service
HMG = Her Majesty’s Government (UK)
HUMINT = Human Intelligence
IMINT = Imagery Intelligence
INFOSEC = Information Security
INR = Bureau of Intelligence & Research (DoS)
IRGC = Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (AKA Pasdaran)
JSOC = Joint Special Operations Command (the spooky part of SOCOM)
KGB = Soviet State Security Committee 
KOS = Yugoslav (Communist) Military Counterintelligence Service 
MFA = Ministry of Foreign Affairs
MI = Military Intelligence
MoD = Ministry of Defense
MOIS = Iranian Ministry of Intelligence & Security (AKA VEVAK)
NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NGA = National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
NIC = National Intelligence Council
NIO = National Intelligence Officer (the folks who mostly staff the NIC)
NOC = Non-Official Cover
NODISSEM = Not for Dissemination
NOFORN = Not for Dissemination to Foreigners
NRO = National Reconnaissance Office
NSA = National Security Agency (AKA No Such Agency)
NSOC = National Security Operations Center (NSA)
OCONUS = Outside CONUS
OFCO = Offensive Counterintelligence
PACOM = US Pacific Command
POTUS = President of the United States
RUMINT = Rumor Intelligence (i.e. information of dubious reliability)
SAD = CIA Special Activities Division (i.e. paramilitary ops)
SAP = Special Access Program
SCI = Sensitive Compartmented Information
SCIF = Sensitive Compartmented Information facility
SECDEF = Secretary of Defense
SECSTATE = Secretary of State
SIGINT = Signals Intelligence
SIS = UK Secret Intelligence Service (AKA MI6)
SITREP = Situation Report
SOCOM = US Special Operations Command
SOF = Special Operations Forces
SOUTHCOM = US Southern Command (i.e. the Pentagon’s Latin America HQ)
SPETSNAZ = Russian SOF, subordinate to GRU 
SSBI = Single Scope Background Investigation
SSO = Staff Security Officer
SVR = Russian Foreign Intelligence Service 
TAO = NSA Tailored Access Operations (i.e. NSA’s hacking org)
UDBA = Yugoslav (Communist) State Security 
USG = United States Government
 Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz
 Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure
 Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure
 Федеральная служба безопасности
 Главное разведывательное управление
 Комитет государственной безопасности
 Kontraobaveštajna služba
 Derived from Войска специального назначения
 Служба внешней разведки
 Uprava državne bezbednosti
It’s not the ‘nothing-burger’ Clinton allies have tried to portray — lives are literally at stake.
For months you’ve read about EmailGate in this column. I’ve elaborated how Hillary Clinton, the apparent Democratic frontrunner for President this year, put large amounts of classified information at grave risk through slipshod security practices by herself and her staff. Now that scandal has taken a significant turn for the more ominous.
Last Friday afternoon the State Department’s latest court-mandated release of Hillary Clinton’s emails from when she was Secretary of State caused a new political firestorm. While many more emails were released by Foggy Bottom, some with redactions due to classified materials they contained, twenty-two emails totaling thirty-seven pages of text were withheld entirely at the request of the Intelligence Community. Those twenty-two emails, deemed “unclassified” by Ms. Clinton and her staff, were judged to be Top Secret in reality.
Since Top Secret is the U.S. Government’s highest official classification level, this revelation exploded months of denials from the Clinton presidential campaign that Hillary had done no wrong. The Federal government defines Top Secret materials as “information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.” The disclosure of Top Secret information is a serious criminal matter that normal Americans face prosecution and substantial jail time for perpetrating.
Read the rest at the New York Observer …
In casually disregarding basic security, Secretary Clinton harmed our country and helped our adversaries.
Every few days, another bombshell appears in the media illustrating just how poorly Hillary Clinton, during her tenure as our nation’s foreign policy boss, handled communications security. By now, we have a complex portrait of someone whose mishandling of our nation’s secrets, by herself and her staff, beggars belief for anyone versed in such matters. EmailGate isn’t going away, no matter how much Ms. Clinton’s supporters want it to.
The number of “unclassified” emails that turn out to be classified, some of which transited Ms. Clinton’s unencrypted server of bathroom fame, now surpasses 1,300 and may go higher still. A couple weeks ago I explained howMs. Clinton’s emails included highly classified information from the National Security Agency, based on signals intelligence about Sudan at the Top Secret Codeword level (see this for an explanation of such classifications). How they got there has yet to be explained.
We’ve since learned Ms. Clinton’s “unclassified” emails also included Top Secret information from the Central Intelligence Agency, including espionage from a compartmented Special Access Program. SAPs, as they are called in the Intelligence Community, represent “crown jewel” information. Even for holders of Top Secret Codeword clearances, the highest in the U.S. Government, access to SAPs requires special permissions, on a strict need-to-know basis.
Read the rest at the New York Observer …
Several months ago I made the unpleasant discovery that sections of the 2013 best-selling book Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War by Sir Max Hastings, the prolific British popular historian, looked an awful lot like one of my scholarly articles. Of course, plagiarism is among the gravest of charges among historians so I explained the situation in open-letter format, a post on my blog, expecting some sort of a reply from Hastings or his publisher. As I have received no reply of any sort, although I know through third parties that Hastings is aware of the matter, it’s time to explain this matter in detail – and let you decide if this is plagiarism or not.
Chapter Four of Hastings’ book is titled “Disaster on the Drina”1 – which just happens to be the title of my article published in the academic journal War in History eleven years before.2 Nowhere does Hastings mention that he has “borrowed” my article title for his chapter title. Both discuss the ill-fated Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia in August 1914. This is especially germane because “Disaster on the Drina” is the also the title of a chapter in my newly released book Fall of the Double Eagle: The Battle for Galicia and the Demise of Austria-Hungary.
Is this plagiarism?
Read the rest at History News Network …