Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Worst Government Waste

This is another of our Guest series in which we publish unique commentaries of special interest to our readers; the authors have unique access and insight into issues from which most folks are excluded.

This post is from Senator Tom Coburn [R-OK], an MD who takes issue with such problems as graft, corruption, and wasteful spending. He is the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and is a welcome successor to Senator Proxmire [D-WI] who monitored similar issues and presented his Golden Fleece Awards to the most egregious offenders during his Senate term from 1958 - 1982.

[That was a period in which our politicians were not defined necessarily by their Political Party, but more-so by their contributions [or lack thereof] to their country.

Wastebook 2013 highlights 100 examples of wasteful spending totaling nearly $30 Billion.
 Of course, that is only a fraction of the the total of about $200 Billion of federal funding diverted to fraud, waste, duplication, and mismanagement.

But, not to worry, to continue this abusive spending, both Houses of Congress are preparing to increase taxes and cut your benefits so that you'll have less disposable income. At the end of this post, there are links to Senator Coburn's comments on Defense and Tax waste and fraud.

"What's lacking is the common sense and courage in Washington to make those choices -- and the passage of fiscally responsible spending bills.  The hard truth is, we'd [Congress] much rather borrow than cut."

Here's a sampling of the unusual expenditures:

  • Uncle Sam Looks for Romance on the Web -- $914,000
The Popular Romance Project has received nearly $1 Million from the National Endowment of the Humanities [NEH] since 2010 to "explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction, taking a global perspective -- while looking as far back as the ancient Greeks."
[NOTE: This is similar to the 1976 National Science Foundation's award of $84,000 to study "Why people fall in love".  Senator Proxmire gave it a Golden Fleece Award.]

  • Mass Destruction of Weapons - $7 Billion
As the US war effort in the Middle East winds down, the US Military has destroyed more than 170 million pounds of useable vehicles and other military equipment.  The Department of Defense decided simply to destroy more than $7 Billion worth of equipment than sell it or ship it home.

  • Dysfunctional ObamaCare website -- for an insurance plan few want  -- $900 Million
The contract to roll out the Affordable Care Act [ACA]enrollment website was let to a friend of Michelle Obama.   The website was three years in the making, yet, when it was opened to the public, only six [count them] SIX people could enroll.  After a month, the White House admitted that about only One Percent of those eligible had been able to enroll.

  • Government Study Finds that wives should calm down -- $325,000
This National Institute of Health [NIH] research determined that wives would find marriage more satisfying if they could calm down faster during arguments with their husbands.

  • Fort Hood shooter remained on the Army payroll while in jail for four years -- $278,000
Major Nadal Hasan continued to receive his monthly Army paycheck and full Military benefits after he was jailed for shooting 43 people at Fort Hood; 13 of his victims died.  DOD and DHS designated this event as an "act of workplace violence" rather than a "terrorist act" -- thus depriving the victims and their families coverage for medical expenses.

  • NASA Searches for signs of Intelligent Life, in Congress - $3 Million
NASA authorized $3 million to research how Congress works

  • Hurricane Sandy "Emergency" Funds spent on TV Ads - $65 Million
In January, 2013, Congress passed a bill to provide $60.4 billion for the areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy.  However, instead of rushing aid to the people who needed it most, state officials in New York and New Jersey spent the money on tourism-related TV advertisements.  A large percentage of the families devastated by the hurricane have yet to receive a dime in federal funds.

[NOTE:  The Sandy Relief Bill included $150 million for Alaskan fisheries, $2 million for repairs to the Smithsonian Museum roof (in Washington DC), $8 million to DHS and DOJ to buy new cars, and $17 Billion to Community Development Block Grants -- unrelated to Hurricane Sandy.]

  • Federally Funded Solar Panels covered at Manchester-Boston Airport - $3.5 Million
Solar panels installed on the roof of the airport's parking garage, at considerable expense, were covered with a tarp once the air traffic controllers determined that the panels created a glare making it difficult for them to monitor the runways.  So much for prior planning.

  • Brains, Brains, We need Brains - $150,000
The National Science Foundation funded a North Carolina company to develop a math learning game based on the Zombie apocalypse.
[NOTE: It was uncertain if the games were designed for children or for Zombies]

  • NASA's Little Green Man =  $390,000
Now that NASA ended their space flight program, they've found a new program to fund; it's a YouTube TV show and cartoon series called "Green Ninja" in which a man, dressed in a Green Ninja costume, teaches kids about "Global Warming".
[NOTE:  The man is not Al Gore; and, no one has advised NASA that Global Warming is currently being displaced by record snow and ice storms]


If you'd like to dig into these, and other extraordinary expenditures, use the links below, furnished by Senator Coburn:

Defense-related waste: here.
Tax-related waste: here.












Saturday, December 28, 2013

Duck Dynasty - Media Mind Control


Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson: Terminated for Expressing His Views       [ChristianPost.com]

 Click here for related commentary [DigitalJournal.com]

The A&E network has decided, on reflection, to reinstate Duck Dynasty, reportedly the " ... top-rated Reality program on cable, averageing 13.4 million viewers".

Seems the viewers of Duck Dynasty have demanded the return of Phil Robertson.  Apparently, viewers slammed DD's commercial sponsors, as well as A&E for their extreme reaction to discussing his personal views on homosexuality during an interview for the magazine "GQ".

Although we may not agree with his outlook on life, many of us served -- at risk -- for his right to express his views. 

To clarify our position, we were in the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s, participating in Sit-Ins and Freedom Marches to demonstrate for the Equal Rights of Blacks; we even got tossed in the klink for our efforts.  We've never deviated from that philosophy, and we promote the "even-playing field" for all.
We demand that everyone should have an equal right to succeed, or to fail.  Later, we went to war to protect everyone's right to express his or her opinion -- even if we disagreed with them.

Pals: Paula & Oprah

This Political Correctness insanity followed the full-fledged Media assault on Paula Deen who, during an interview about her growing up in the South, admitted to using the "N" word once in her youth.  The Media Outrage caused the Food Network to end her program, to the outrage of her fans.

"Shame on FN for not standing behind Paula Dean for a word she used 27, I repeat 27 years ago," wrote Debbie Drilling Andersen.
"Appalling after what SHE has done for the Food Network."




With regard to Paula Deen's "racism" of 27 years ago, we hear the "N" word every day as Black rappers and youth seem to embrace the word, shouting it and using it to embrace their fellows, in the street, on YouTube, and on TV.  If the Black community loves to use the word so much, why should they object if a White person used the word 50 years ago?  Should White folks be offended when they are called Crackers. Whitey, or Honkey, or the most popular term "White MF".  



How is it Robertson's GQ interview and his comments on homosexuality became the basis for Media Outrage?   How is it Deen's interview disclosing comments she made 27 years ago became the Media firestorm, driving her off the air?

Personally, we've never watched either Duck Dynasty or Paula Deen's Food Network program, and we probably wouldn't recognize either celebrity except in photographs.

But, we're really sick and tired of the Left Wing  Media dictating how we, the adult public, and our children should think.

Is this the PC game -- sponsored by the Socialist Left
Oddly, Socialists used "Political Correctness" to attack Communists in times past.
Now the theme seems to be a means towards controlling speech and thought by Mainstream America.

Inflict Guilt to undercut the public's ability to express opinions -- current or past. 

Worse, create the image of White insensitivity, which then becomes the justification for "retaliatory" attacks on Whites.

Of late, racism seems directed against Whites in a game Black youth call the "KnockOut Game" in which mobs of Black youths single out a lone White, particularly Jews in New York, for random, violent attacks.  Oddly, the Media has given very little coverage to these events -- which are becoming increasingly frequent and the celebratory theme of Gangsta Rap.

This Political Correctness insanity seems to have become part and parcel of, and promoted by the Obama Administration, taking root in the electoral process; it has since deflected virtually all questioning of President Obama's past or current activities.
Question his past, and you are designated a "Racist".

Perhaps it's time to take a very close look at who is orchestrating these Media campaigns, expose them on the internet, and regain control of our lives.  Perhaps it's even worth a look at our government, which some claim is sponsoring this process, perhaps with a more strategic goal in mind.

Scratch the surface, and you'll find a disturbing trend.
Dig deeply, and you'll find the origins of this trend dating back to the 1960s, or even to the 1930s; but, that's a topic for another blog post.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ode to the Christmas Soldier


We were provided this poem by Michael Marks and asked to distribute it widely.  We think you'll appreciate it and hope you'll pass it along to honor our Military.

 
We dedicate this to our troops who are stationed around the world in the poorest of conditions to protect the Constitutional freedoms we enjoy.
 

A Different Christmas Poem
 
      The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
       I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
       My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
       My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
       Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
                                                                                               

       The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
       Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
     My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
       Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
       In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
       So slumbered I, perhaps I started to dream.
      The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
       But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.

       Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

      My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
       And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

       Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
       A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
       A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
       Perhaps a Trooper, huddled here in the cold.
      Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
       Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

      "What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
       "Come in this moment. It's freezing out here!

       Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
      You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

       For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
       Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.

       To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
      Then he sighed and he said, "It's really all right,
       I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
                                                                           
       "It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
       That separates you from the darkest of times.

       No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
       I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
       My Gramps died in Europe on a day in December,"
       Then he said,
"That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
       I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
       But my wife sends me pictures. He's sure got her smile.

       Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
       The red, white, and Blue American Flag.
       I can live through the cold and the being alone,
       Away from my family, my house and my home.
       I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
       I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
       I can carry the weight of killing another,
       Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.
       Who stand at the front against any and all,
       To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

       "So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
      Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
       "But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
      "Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
      It seems all too little for all that you've done,
      For being away from your wife and your son."   

http://laserengravingsbyvj.com/product/dick-kramer-snow-soldierengraving/

 Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
       "Just tell us you love us, and never forget.

     To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
       To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
       For when we come home, either standing or dead,

To know you remember we fought and we bled.
      Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
     That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

ACA Rejects Obama

How this scam really worked
From the White House:

"The President enrolled in a health care plan made available by the Affordable Health Care Act [ACA] on the DC marketplace" Eric Schultz announced in an email.

Well, sort of!

Mr Obama was unable to sign up in person.

Was there a problem?

Ah yes, the ACA requires proof of identity, along with verifiable income statements, a legitimate Social Security number, and a valid birth certificate, or a US Passport.

"...for security reasons, the President's personal information is not readily available in government databases that the exchanges use to verify identities and check eligibility for tax subsidies."

Thus, according to the White House:
"The complicated nature of the President's case required an in-person sign-up"

Now, there's a surprise!

What could possibly have gone wrong!

Here might be the hiccups:

1) Name:  [tough to verify without college records or passport or legitimate birth certificate]
    a) Barry Soetero
        (1) As registered at the SDN Mentang 01 private school in Indonesia
        (2) As registered on his passport[s] [Indonesia? Pakistan?]
        (3) As registered at Columbia University [and perhaps Occidental and Harvard] which would
              account for the absence of school records - or his Draft Registration
    b) Barack Hussein Obama - a nom de plume for politics in Chicago?

2)  Birth Certificate:  The one posted on the White House web site failed
     a)  VIDEO HERE: Adobe Photoshop experts picked it apart easily as an amateur cut-&-paste job
     b)  Private investigators noted that, at the time of his birth, Black or Negro were the
           accepted parental terms -- but not "African" or "African American"
     c)  The FBI rejected it as part of the SBI [Special Background Investigation} when he was
           elected to the US Senate -- and denied him a security clearance

Bill Ayers' Weather Underground friend

3)  Social Security Number:   His is/was registered to a
           dead guy [Harry Bounel] from Connecticut
      a)  SSNs are never reissued, according to the Social
           Security Administration
      b)  It appears the bogus SSN was provided by
           Elizabeth Anna Duke, a friend of Bill Ayers
           [from his Weather Underground days; Ayers was a
           business partner of Mr Obama for eight years,
           although Mr Obama claims he only met him in
           passing.]
           Ms Duke was considered "armed and dangerous"
           by the FBI, which posted a $50,000 reward for her
           arrest.  Her specialty was
           "false identification documents" and
           "manufacture and possession of counterfeit
            Social Security cards".



So, if you know someone who's having a difficult time signing up for the ACA due to questionable identification documents, have them call the White House to obtain "... an in-person sign-up"; tell them "Barry sent me".

Monday, December 23, 2013

NSA Santa's Coming to Town

Watch this informative video of the NSA Santa physically violating your privacy.

     

Click here for related article:  [The Guardian, Tom McCarthy]

There's a good deal of wry humor in this video parody of a traditional Christmas song.
It's also frighteningly accurate -- in an amusing sort of way.

The findings of the NSA Review Panel have been released, and Mr Obama was "extremely grateful" for the report -- but deferred a commitment to implement the Panel's findings; that would indicate he has no intention of implementing any of the recommendations.

The panel includes Michael Morrell [former Deputy Director of CIA], Richard Clare [former cyber-security advisor], Geoffrey Stone [University of Chicago law professor], Cass Sunstein [Harvard Law Professor], and Peter Swire [Georgia Tech professor and expert in privacy law].

Essentially, the Panel felt that most, if not all of the NSA collection activities were unconstitutional.  They further noted that "... the telephony meta-data obtained for 'terrorist investigations' [by the use of Section 215 of the Patriot Actwas not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional court orders.



Here are the more salient of 
the 46 recommendations:





1)  Move the NSA phone database off-site
     [i.e., out from NSA control and back to the phone companies]. 
     If specific data is required, obtain a court order through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
     Court [FISC] -- and justify it with specific justification and complete documentation.
2)  Terminate NSA's practice of undermining private sector encryption standards
     [i.e., NSA's demand for encryption keys by companies, organizations, email systems, etc.]
3)  Cease industrial espionage against US and foreign industry
NATIONAL SECURITY LETTER   [DocStoc.com]
4)  Purge all data currently held on US citizens
5)  Curtail National Security Letters [NSL] as a      warrantless, secret demand for information
     a) Allow US companies to reveal when they
         receive National Security Letters [NSL]
     b) NSLs currently direct recipients to
          provide the FBI all information regarding
         clients
     c) NSLs currently threaten recipients
         with criminal penalties if they disclose
         receipt of NSLs
     d) Future NSLs can only be obtained
         after judicial review and authorization
         [i.e., get a legal search warrant from the
         FISC]   

Footnotes:
1)  Between 2003 - 2006, the FBI issued
     192,499 NSL demands; records of NSLs
     from 2006 forward were classified and the
     FBI would not release them.
2)  NSL recipients were not allowed to
     challenge the Letters, or to even seek
     legal counsel
3)  Two Federal District Court judges
     struck down the NSLs as violations
     of the First Amendment
4)  Even with the permissive standards which authorized the FBI to issue these letters, an audit
     revealed that the FBI violated the rules governing the issuance of NSL well over 1,000 times
     between 2002 and 2007
5) The ACLU, in 2008, charged that the US Military was using the FBI to "... skirt legal
     restrictions on domestic surveillance",  based on a review of more than 1,000 documents obtained
     by a DOD FOIA request
6)  The Electronic Frontier Foundation noted that, based on a review of FBI documents obtained in
      a FOIA request, top FBI officials were fully aware of the abuses of the NSLs -- but chose to
      violate the law anyway.

Our Recommendation:

NSA has claimed that they merely collected all this meta-data, but didn't or actually use it for analysis. 

The obvious question then becomes
"Why collect it at all if it's available from the phone/Internet companies."

One answer is that NSA collected the data, then illegally turned it over to the Law Enforcement Community -- and provided analyst support to illegally demonstrate to the Law Enforcement Community how to exploit the data.

If NSA or the Intelligence Community needs specific information, they should obtain a legal warrant and request the phone/Internet companies provide it.  That way, no one will accuse NSA of being an evil-doer, and there will be a paper trail to protect the phone/Internet company from a civil suit.

One question we pose to NSA is:
"Why do you need private sector encryption keys?"
With a budget in the tens of billions of dollars, we would think NSA wouldn't need a cheat sheet; is this an admission the NSA can't break simple encryptions -- with a budget approaching $500 Billion?

Our Caution:

It ain't over til it's over. 
Mr Obama has not committed to implementing the Panel's recommendations
For a full review of how NSA distributes all the data they collect, refer to this link: 

http://bit.ly/1csSMNg

This abuse was brought down by two factors
1)  Edward Snowden's publication of NSA records
2)  Federal District Court judges who found FBI's abuses unconstitutional -- and criminal.

Representative King [R-NY] defends NSA's surveillance and encourages Mr Obama to "ignore it."
[I suggest voters in his district ignore Mr King when he runs for reelection].

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV] recently pushed through a procedural measure that would allow for confirmation of Federal Judges by a simple Senate majority; after which a series of appointments will have been made for federal judges who will follow Mr Obama's direction and protect NSA and the Intelligence Community from further legal challenge.

This battle has only begun folks, so stay on your Senator and Congressperson to make sure this whole debacle is not buried.

Don't accept Mr Snowden's prediction that "Nothing Will Change"

We firmly believe that if Mr Obama's hand is not forced, he will not end NSA's data mining.
Will Obama really curb NSA Data Mining? Not until Congress forces him to!

It's up to you to let your political representatives know this conduct by NSA and the Intelligence Community is unacceptable.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Army Kills Patriot Image

Obama's Mentor?    [World Tribune]

Click here for related article:
[Washington Times; Rowan Scarborough]

The US Army War College is immersed in discussions on purging portraits of Confederate generals and categorizing them as "Traitors".

The Left's revisionist argument is that the Confederate generals were traitors, therefore, they should not be honored at the War College, much less in American history.  We seem to be undergoing a process of revisionist history, purging all who stood on principle, and resisting threats to the Constitution or to the people.

All the Confederate generals were graduates of West Point, the Citadel, or the Virginia Military Institute.  Many of the Union generals had served under Lee -- who had groomed them for promotion to general officer.  President Lincoln had offered Lee command of the Union Army based on Lee's patriotism and dedication to the Union - but in the end, Lee resigned to command Confederate forces to protect the Southern states from invading Union forces.

Senator Jefferson Davis, a West Point graduate who had served in the Union Army, achieving the rank of colonel; he was a US Senator, representing Mississippi and was notable as one of the most devout US patriots.  When the South formed the Confederate States of America and seceded, Davis left his US Senate seat and gave a resignation speech which brought the Senate to its feet in respect for him.  There was no Senate condemnation for his decision since he was regarded as a patriot.

At the conclusion of the Civil War, General Grant insisted on returning full citizenship to the Confederate soldiers and officers, even returning to them their arms and horses.

Left Wing Political Correctness seems to have invaded our Military from the top down.  Mr Obama has purged the Military of nearly 200 flag rank officers, with nine senior generals and admirals fired this year [to include General Ham and Admiral Gaouette -- both of whom were relieved by their civilian deputies [political officers?] when they attempted to respond to Benghazi calls for assistance].

Now, the Left Wing influence has invaded the hallowed halls of the Army War College which grooms senior field grade officers for major command and staff positions as general officers.  We have to wonder how many Left Wing staffers have been inserted into our other military colleges and universities. 

Very disturbing is the adoption of the Soviet command structure at the Unified Commands, in which there are two deputies -- one military, the other a civilian "political officer".  Equally disturbing is the appointment of civilians as the J2 [Intelligence and Security Staff Officer].  Those two positions determine the "loyalty" of the commander and the staff -- and we fear there is a distinct Left Wing slant to the politics of these appointees.

General Ham
Ultimately, just as officers in Communist Armies feared their Political Officers [who had the power to relieve them for political reasons].

US commanders have witnessed the relief of General Ham and Admiral Gaouette when they challenged Washington orders to "stand down" when they attempted to rescue US diplomats at Benghazi.
Admiral Gaouette


The message is clear; loyalty to the President takes precedent over loyalty to their country.

 

Are we being subverted from within?

Are we becoming the United Soviet States of America?



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Congress Cuts War Vet Benefits




With thanks to The Boys of 3/5        [https://www.facebook.com/TheBoysof35]
Click here for related story [The Washington Times]

The new budget, which boosts spending..., includes a provision that would reduce the cost-of-living adjustment for military retirees to 1 percent less than the rate of consumer inflation — and even reduces payments for veterans who were wounded in action.  The bill raises benefits for Civil Service employees and Congress.


Supporters of the Military, to include former Congressman Joe Scarborough condemn these cuts to the Military.

Military pensions and benefits are based on the premise that Military careers are based on "risk" -- very high risk.


The enlistment process promised a 20 year career, consisting of:

1) low pay
2) frequent moves
3) multiple/frequent deployments to combat zones
4) the high probability of injury [or death]
5) living in high stress/dangerous environments
6) long-term disabilities based on demanding physical conditions
7) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]



Military killed from WW2 forward:

417,000   WWII
  59,000   Vietnam
  34,000   Korea  
    4,500   Iraq
    2,300   Afghanistan


These figures do not include the tens of thousands of Military who were maimed or suffered permanent disabilities, to include loss of limbs, sight, hearing, and mobility.

In return for their sacrifices while on Active Duty, Military members could retire after 20 years at half pay, with full health benefits, and the authorization to shop at commissaries and PXs -- which used to offer discounts on food and merchandise -- but not so much today; they're better off shopping at Walmart. 


It used to be that Veterans received generous benefits on mortgages and education -- but those have been fine-tuned by Congress so that those perks have eroded;
1) VA mortgages now require significantly greater qualifiers, eliminating many Veterans from the opportunity to buy a home
2)  VA education benefits now expire after a period of time, eliminating education benefits for those unable to use them immediately because they were trying to support their families.



There is no other profession in the US that carries the risks and hardships of a Military career -- 

yet Congress [which now has very few Military Veterans in its ranks] wants to boost its own benefits as well as those of Civil Servants --


while cutting back on the Military retirement and health benefits -- which were verbally guaranteed since WW2.

Perhaps there should be a requirement that candidates for Congress or the White House MUST have served in the Military.  That might alter their perspective on starting wars or regarding our Military as expendable pawns in budget deliberations.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mashable Reveals Secret US Sites?





Click here for related article [Mashable (L Franceschi-Bicchierai]

There was quite a hullabaloo when Mashable posted Google photos of US military bases and sites around the world -- some supposedly secret.  The author used materials readily available to the public, e.g.,  Military publications and Google Earth and Bing Maps, and compiled all the data and photos into one document/site created by Josh Begley.

Many Facebook denizens expressed outrage that Mashable would "...put our troops at risk" by publishing such sensitive information.  Why, you'd think it was a reprise of Fast Eddie Snowden's release of NSA secrets.

But, let's clarify

Josh Begley conducted what is known in the Intelligence Biz as OSINT, or Open Source Intelligence -- which is sort of a contradiction in terms.  It's a technique in which intelligence analysts use open sources [e.g., newspapers, magazines, journals, TV, and, oh yeah, the Internet] to pull together data to analyze and create intelligence from the assembled data by applying it to a designated target or classified collection effort. 

Technically, Intelligence is the product of "raw, unevaluated information",  classified and unclassified.

Back in the 1970s, the Intelligence Community was woefully out of touch with reality since it depended almost solely on classified materials to conduct analysis and operations -- omitting critical unclassified information collected by academics, journalists [not the posturing charlatans on the loose today], or private sector corporate analysts. 

When we created and directed a national military intelligence training program for the Army Reserves and National Guard, we included "OSINT" as part and parcel of the curriculum and in the command post exercises [CPX] to ensure that no critical -- but readily available -- data was overlooked.  Within two years, we had trained more than 100,000 intelligence personnel, most of whom subsequently registered exceptionally high scores on their proficiency tests -- well in excess of their Active Duty counterparts, leading to demands that we train Active Duty units as well.

Later, as an analyst at the Pentagon, we were condemned by the analyst community when we accurately called the 1979 military coup in El Salvador -- down to the hour - along with the complete identity of the incoming junta.  At the post-mortem gathering, we were accused of withholding classified information from The Community, which of course, was not the case.  After presenting all in attendance with copies of their own agency reports which we had used, we revealed our "secret sources", i.e., newspaper clippings, excerpts from trade journals, and commercial assessments -- all of which were available to the general public -- but ignored by the Intelligence Community since those data were not part of the "classified data base."

[Following a series of such analyses, we were designated by the Director of Central Intelligence as an "Exceptional Intelligence Analyst" - an award with a lucrative research budget and two year graduate fellowship.]

With that as background, our conclusion and astute analysis is that the bases Mashable revealed are no secret from the locals, or from those who might be a threat to the US.

Shh! It's a secret!
The US tends to not be terribly subtle in building its bases, to include hiring local contractors to build and supply them. The really secret bases are constructed by imported labor and constructed "secretly" so no one can notice -- except the locals, who distribute the information to anyone who will listen, to include foreign intelligence operatives astute enough to collect such information.  Our deployed intelligence officials insist on coordinating such enterprises with host country intelligence folk, some of whom pass that sensitive information to our enemies - for a fee.  [There are few secrets these days.]


In the US and overseas, you can usually figure out which buildings/areas are "secret" because the windows are blacked out, the area is surrounded by hurricane fences topped with barbed wire, and entrance/exits are guarded with gatehouses and armed guards, with white unmarked Crown Victoria Fords in the US, [or HumVees overseas, with grim looking drivers motoring endlessly around the area - trying to look both threatening as well as inconspicuous, to protect the secrecy of their enterprise.

So, please don't believe that revelations such as Mashable's, based on "Open Source" materials, endanger our facilities or our troops.


When we were with the CIA in Southeast Asia [SEA] during the 1970s, we learned of the construction of a new, "secret" military facility during a conversation with a Chinese merchant.  He provided plans, timetables, and all things sensitive, to include the costs and scope of the project -- six months in advance of the initiation of construction.  He advised the SEA Chinese merchant community was fully aware of the project and would be making an enormous profit from the enterprise.  In turn, all the locals were fully aware as well.  The only ones in the dark were the American intelligence and security personnel.

Until construction was actually underway, the Military declined to acknowledge the project.

[As an aside, the merchants were also aware of virtually every secret facility and operation in the subcontinent -- so, if a US government agency wouldn't tell us, we'd ask the Chinese merchants what was going on.]

So, we doubt local merchants are unaware of any of the facilities highlighted in the Mashable piece.

Footnote:
As part of our training program for the National Guard and Reserve, we included a concept, which later became doctrine, called Operational Security -- later shortened to OPSEC.

It was a common-sense procedure in which sensitive activities and installations were protected by not distributing sensitive information to a broad spectrum of folks who had no need to know.  Refined, it provided a low profile to facilities, programs, and operations by using a light, but plausible cover story -- but without attempting to cloak them with highly visible security procedures -- drawing attention to them.

Interestingly, a number of years later, the Army Intelligence and Security Command [INSCOM] developed an entire program, staffed with lots of colonels and GS-14s called OPSEC -- which created Military Security policy based on -- umm, common sense!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cancer Cure?





Cancer cell[s]                                                          [Naija.com]

Click here for related article [A.E. Cha for the Washington Post]

Are we on the way to an actual cancer cure?
Or, will the highly profitable pharmaceutical industry kill it -- again.

Following six decades of research by the most revered centers in the US [and the world],
"The Cure" remains curiously elusive, with no positive results other than massive profits for the pharmaceutical companies, cancer centers, oncologists, and of course, cancer societies and "charities". 

In this bit of news, we learn of a 15 year old lad, Jack Andraka, who comes from a modest background but has an extraordinary interest in science.   Using state-of-the-art research techniques [Wikipedia and Google], he was able to develop a diagnostic test for Pancreatic Cancer which is "...168 times faster, 400 times more sensitive, and 26,000 times more economical than the medical standard."  [Click here for full Wikipedia article]

He won the Gordon E Moore science prize worth $75,000.

Imagine that!
And all without a federal grant or employment with a cancer research center.  But, he did try to enlist the cooperation of 200 fully employed and well compensated researchers -- all of whom blew him off or sent hate mail in return to his inquiries.
[It would make for an interesting story just to publish those responses]

The standard for testing blood for cancer today is about the same as it was 60 years ago, and about as accurate -- essentially of minimum reliability even for those with advanced stage cancer.  The tests take weeks to process, and need we add -- they are expensive!  The standard lab test ELISA [Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay] costs up to $800.  Quite a profitable enterprise, and not prone to upgrades or cost reduction due to economies of scale.

Following the death from pancreatic cancer of a close family friend, young Jack began his research.  Seems pancreatic cancer has few early stage symptoms, and when diagnosed, it's already in the late stage -- and fatal. 

Carbon Nanotube    [Wikipedia]


Jack sought an inexpensive, early stage diagnosis process and developed a test using a strip of filter paper which, when dipped into a solution of carbon nanotubes mixed with mesothelin antibodies, will reveal a biomarker for pancreatic cancer in a single drop of blood. 



Biomarker       [PhysicsWorld.com]



If the blood sample contains the cancer biomarker, the electric charge of the paper sensor strip is changed and can be a measured with a standard ohmmeter [sold at Sears for $15.95]; results show up in five minutes -- vs the weeks for ELISA tests.



The price of the sensor strip [reusable up to 10 times] is $3.00; and, that same strip can monitor the patient's resistance to antibiotics and the progress of cancer patients being treated with chemotherapy or radiation.  The test also reveals the presence of early stage ovarian and lung cancer.

It's a highly efficient, inexpensive and effective process, but would leave virtually no profit margin for the pharmaceutical and diagnostic industries.

A number of companies, to include Quest Diagnostics [revenue: $7.16 Billion] have reportedly made overtures to Jack to purchase his patents.  If the established pattern is followed, a diagnostics company will buy him out and bury the technology so they can continue using old technology and charge high prices for their antiquated services.


Oddly enough, we periodically hear about new treatments which attack and cure cancer -- but, following a brief flurry of press coverage, not only does such coverage stop, past references seem to be purged from the internet and Media records.  Thus, potentially effective cures no longer threaten the highly profitable cancer industry.

Patients seem to be proliferating though, since there are now so many elements which seem to trigger cancer in humans.  Currently, there are more than 200 types of cancer ranging from melanomas [skin cancer] to pancreatic cancer - with tons of options in between. 

That's it dear; breathe deeply and enjoy!


And let's not forget the Medical Community which for decades promoted cigarette smoking, declining to inform their current and future patients that cigarettes caused cancer -- and heart disease.

[Even today, doctors don't mention that cigarettes create the plaque that blocks your arteries, instead blaming it on cholesterol -- from eggs!]


The pharmaceutical industry revenues approach 
$1 Trillion; Novartis, which specializes in chemotherapy drugs, has revenues of $53 Billion.


Why find/disclose a cure for cancer when it's much more profitable to simply treat it 
-- or promote it.