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National Security Issues
(The Departments of Defense, State & Justice)
A Chronology of News Coverage
[See related: Foreign Policy and National Security Chronology]
This page last updated on:January 1, 2017
December 27, 2016: The Times of Israel: Iran plans to upgrade its navy, building nuclear aircraft carrier
Iran is planning to build an aircraft carrier as part of an upgrade of its maritime warfare capabilities, a senior naval officer said Monday.  “Building an aircraft carrier is also among the goals pursued by the navy and we hope to attain this objective,” Deputy Navy Commander for Coordination Admiral Peiman Jafari Tehrani was quoted as saying by Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency.
Tehrani also said the Iranian defense ministry and navy are “producing different types of missiles indigenously.”  Iranian Navy Commander Habibollah Sayyari first declared in 2014 that Iran was able to construct aircraft carriers as well as high-tech submarines.

December 26: Fox News: China’s Aircraft Carrier deploys to the South China Sea
China's first aircraft carrier and five other warships passed by Taiwan and sailed into the contested South China Sea on Monday, Taiwan's Defense Ministry said.  The ships sailed past a Taiwan-controlled atoll in the northern part of the South China Sea, according to the ministry.  China's Defense Ministry said Saturday that the Liaoning had set off for a routine open-sea exercise in the Western Pacific as part of its annual training. But its entering into the politically sensitive South China Sea follows rising tensions between Beijing and Taipei over the status of the self-ruled island.

December 17: The New York Times:
China Agrees to Return US Unmanned Under Water Drone
The Pentagon on Saturday said that Beijing had agreed to return an underwater drone seized by China in international waters, an indication that the two countries were moving to resolve an unusual incident that risked sharpening tensions in the run-up to the inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump.  The Chinese illegally captured the drone in international waters in the South China Sea.  President-elect Donald J. Trump entered the fray Saturday morning, accusing China on Twitter of acting improperly. “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters — rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act,” he said.

December 26: South China Morning Post: China tests latest stealth fighter aircraft
China has tested the latest version of its fifth-generation stealth fighter, state media reported on Monday, as it tries to end the West’s monopoly on the world’s most advanced warplanes. The test comes as the nation flexes its military muscles, sending its sole aircraft carrier the Liaoning into the western Pacific in recent days to lead drills there for the first time. The newest version of the J-31, now renamed the FC-31 Gyrfalcon, took to the air for the first time on Friday, the China Daily reported.

December 5: The Daily Caller: Judicial Watch Sues DOJ for Transcripts of Obama
The nonprofit Judicial Watch watchdog group is suing the Department of Justice (DOJ) for FBI interviews with President Barack Obama and his key aides about former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s attempt to sell the U.S. Senate seat previously held by the commander-in-chief.  Judicial Watch announced its FOIA suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Monday after the DOJ denied its longstanding request for transcripts of FBI interviews between Obama and senior aides Valerie Jarrett and Rahm Emanuel.

Sniper's Scope ViewOctober 25: Fox News: The Sniper of Mosul puts fear in ISIS fighters
A renegade sniper has been striking fear into the hearts of ISIS thugs in Mosul picking them off one-by-one a report claims.  The mysterious marksman is believed to be behind shootings in four separate neighborhoods in Iraq’s second largest city.  The sniper has been hunting down militants in broad daylight, with the most recent hit unfolding during a public beheading.  Iraqi media outlets on Monday reported the shooter had killed an ISIS executioner just seconds before he could behead a local teen who was accused of supporting resistance movements within Mosul.

October 6: The UK Mirror: “We’ll shoot down US warplanes” Russia says if
coalition jets carry out air strikes over Syria:

Russian army bosses have warned that their anti-aircraft weapons' radius may be 'a surprise' to unidentified planes, helicopters and drones in the area.  Russia has ordered the US not to carry out airstrikes on Syrian army positions, warning that sophisticated air defence systems are now up and running.   Putin has ordered the deployment of S-300 and S-400 units in order to protect troops on the ground.  The statement came soon after what Russia called 'leaks' suggesting Washington is considering airstrikes on Syrian forces.

September 7: Sputniknews.Com: Russian Fighter Intercepts U.S. Navy Intelligence Gathering
Aircraft – Comes to within ten feet, U.S. Navy Says

A Russian fighter jet intercepted a US spy plane flying over the Black Sea, according to US Defense officials cited by the Reuters news agency.   The officials said that there were multiple interactions between two aircraft and called the intercept by the Russian jet "unsafe and unprofessional."  The incident lasted about 19 minutes and the Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter came within 10 feet of the US Navy P-8 surveillance plane.   Officials are now reviewing the incident with the pilot to determine whether it should be included in the annual meeting of US and Russian officials about more serious intercepts, the official added.

August 12: The Washington PostAmid tensions, Russia Deploys
Advance Surface to Air Missile System to Crimea/Ukraine

Russia has deployed an advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile battery to the Crimean Peninsula amid escalating tensions there, according to Russian news reports. The missile system, once operational, would be able to target aircraft deep into Ukrainian airspace.  The deployment of the road-mobile missile system has been planned since July, but its arrival in Crimea coincides with a flurry of military activity and rhetoric following claims from the Kremlin that two Russians were killed on the Crimean-Ukrainian border last week.

The S-400 can hit targets well over 150 miles from its launch site when paired with the appropriate radar array and is billed as one of Russia’s most advanced surface-to-air defense systems. The Crimean Peninsula is currently home to the older S-300 Russian surface-to-air missiles that will probably be replaced by the arrival of the newer S-400s.

August 10: McClatchy News: U.S. Air Force Warns of Shortage of Pilots
The U.S. Air Force faces a shortfall of 700 fighter pilots by the end of the year and as many as 1,000 pilots within a few years, Air Force officials said Wednesday.  “It is a crisis,” said Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff. “Air superiority is not an American birthright. It’s actually something you have to fight for and maintain.”  Aggressive hiring by commercial airlines has helped thin the ranks of Air Force pilots, and lengthy deployments overseas, long separations from family and reduced flying time when back on U.S. soil have exacerbated the problem, Goldfein said.

Russian Submmarines docked in portJuly 29: The Sun News (United Kingdom):
NATO  has no chance against New Russian Super Sub  Fleet!

A report by naval experts warns that Russia already has a small but sophisticated army of subs which are capable of launching missile strikes across the globe.  “It’s pretty scary to think about some of the types of missions.  “It’s probably the most shadowy part of the Russian undersea apparatus. It’s not operated by their navy, it’s operated by a separate branch of their Ministry of Defense.”
While the fleet is not as big as the Soviet Union’s former arsenal, the report says the new subs can dive deeper, and move quieter, than any ever before.  The nuclear-powered ships are armed with electronic warfare gear, long-range cruise missiles, torpedoes and mines.

July 24: The Sun [United Kingdom]: British soldiers told to scrub social media posts of evidence
they served in the Army in order to avoid being ISIS targets

Brit soldiers have been told to “scrub” their Facebook and Twitter pages of evidence they serve in the military in order to avoid being targeted by nutcase jihadists.  After a spate of terror attacks in France and Germany rocked Europe, Top Brass are determined not to see another Lee Rigby-style attack on a British hero by anyone inspired by the Munich or Nice attacks.  Troops are also warned to run in pairs off base after two Middle Eastern men armed with a blade tried to bundle an RAF airman into the back of a van in a feared abduction attempt this week.

Photo of Chinese Asault Aircraft CarrierJuly 23: Yahoo News:
  China Completes the World’s Largest Amphibious Aircraft:
China has completed production of the world's largest amphibious aircraft after seven years of work, which it plans to use to perform marine rescue missions and fight forest fires, the Xinhua news agency reported.  The AG600, which is about the size of a Boeing 737 and was developed by state aircraft maker Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), rolled off a production line in the southern city of Zhuhai on Saturday, Xinhua said quoting the firm.  AVIC deputy general manager, Geng Rugang, said the plane was "the latest breakthrough in China's aviation industry." A plan for the development and production of the AG600 received government approval in 2009.  The aircraft has a maximum flight range of 4,500 km and can collect 12 tonnes of water in 20 seconds. It has a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes, Xinhua said.  China has been ramping up research into advanced new military equipment, including submarines, aircraft carriers and anti-satellite missiles, which has rattled nerves regionally and in Washington as China takes a more muscular approach to territorial disputes in places like the South China Sea.

July 12: The Daily Signal: Reasons Why the U.S. Military is in Trouble:
At a time when threats against America are growing, the U.S. military is facing a combat readiness crisis that jeopardizes its ability to protect the country. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-TX explained budget cuts coupled with continuing deployments have caused this ongoing decline.  He outlined five disturbing facts about the U.S. military:

  • “The Air Force is short 4,000 maintainers and more than 700 pilots today.”
  • “In 2015 the Navy had a backlog of 11 planes in depot, next year in [20]17 they are going to have a backlog of 278.”
  • “Less than one-third of the Army is ready to meet the requirements of the Defense Strategic Guidance —it’s supposed to be no less than two-thirds.”
  • “Marine Corps aviation requires on average 10 hours of flight time a month and they are getting about four.” And
  • “Less than half of the Air Force combat forces are ready to face a peer competitor such as China and Russia.”

July 9: Associated Press:  North Korea test fires a submarine launched missile
South Korea said that North Korea on Saturday test-fired what appeared to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile off its eastern coast.  The missile was fired from a location near the North Korean coastal town of Sinpo, where analysts have previously detected efforts by the North to develop submarine-launched ballistic missile systems, said an official from Seoul's Defense Ministry. He couldn't immediately confirm how far the missile traveled and where it landed but indications are that the test was at least a partial failure.

North Korea's acquiring the ability to launch missiles from submarines would be an alarming development for rivals and neighbors because missiles from submerged vessels are harder to detect in advance. While security experts say it's unlikely that North Korea possesses an operational submarine capable of firing missiles, they acknowledge that the North is making progress on such technology.

July 9: The UK Mirror: ISIS Shoots down Russian Helo Killing two pilots
ISIS militants have reportedly shot down a Russian helicopter over Syria.  The helicopter was attacking the advancing terrorist near Palmyra when it was taken down - according to the Russian Defense Ministry.  Early reports suggest two pilots on board the Mi-25 helicopter were killed.  A statement from the Russian Defense Ministry said: "The crew received a request from the Syrian unit's command to strike the advancing fighters.  "The captain, Ryafagat Khabibulin, made a decision to attack the terrorists.

July 7: Fox News:  Russia Sending its only aircraft carrier to Syria
Russia’s accident-prone aircraft carrier is set to be put to the test — if it gets there. Its history of embarrassing breakdowns may see an anticipated mission to Syria backfire.  It would be the first time a Russian aircraft carrier has ever engaged in combat.  The Admiral Kuznetsov carries far fewer aircraft than its US counterparts. About 15 in total. But the ship was designed with a different purpose in mind — to carry a large number of long-range anti-ship missiles while providing air cover for its fleet.  Turkish authorities are concerned that the waterways and airspace in the eastern Mediterranean is about to get crowded.

July 1: ABC News:  Russian War Ship Causes Close Encounter with U.S. Navy in the Med:
A Russian ship again made a close approach to a U.S. Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea in an encounter that American officials are labeling "unprofessional."  On Thursday, the Russian frigate Yaroslav Mudryy came within 150 yards of the guided missile cruiser USS San Jacinto -- two weeks after the same Russian ship came within 315 yards of the American destroyer USS Gravely. The USS San Jacinto was operating near the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, where it is conducting flight operations against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria.

According to a spokesman for U.S. European Command, the Yaroslav Mudryy positioned itself about 650 yards from the American cruiser. "Then, Yaroslav Mudryy repeatedly informed San Jacinto over VHF radio of its intended course, as the Yaroslay Mudryy maneuvered towards and unnecessarily close to USS San Jacinto before turning away," he said.  According to a defense official, the Russian frigate came within 150 yards of the USS San Jacinto. The Yaroslav Mudryy then maneuvered within San Jacinto’s wake, though at much farther distance of approximately 3,000 yards behind the cruiser, the defense official said. The closing distance by Yaroslay Mudryy before the ship turned away from San Jacinto is considered a high-risk maneuver, highly unprofessional, and contrary to international maritime regulations.

June 21: The McClathy DC Report:  A Few Good Men and Fewer Women
Six months after the Pentagon ordered all combat jobs open to women, seven female Marines are either serving in those posts or waiting to serve, and 167 are performing noncombat duties in front-line units, according to new data obtained by The Associated Press.  The numbers underscore the difficulty of integrating women into the demanding jobs, and reflect the small number of women who want to be combat Marines and can pass the new tough physical standards required to qualify.  So far this year those standards have weeded out most female hopefuls and have also disqualified some men.

Navy's SEARam WeaponJune 20: The Hill:
Navy’s SeaRAM Proves Itself During Exercises in the Med

The U.S. Navy SeaRAM Anti-Ship Missile Defense System aboard USS Porter (DDG 78) in the Mediterranean Sea recently participated in live-fire testing to validate the system’s ability to defend U.S. Navy vessels including guided missile destroyers and littoral combat ships.  The Raytheon-built system batted two supersonic ballistic missiles out of the sky at the same time, in a test that validated its ability to protect the U.S. Navy’s new shallow-water fighters and other ships.

June 15: RT News:  Senate Passes $602 Billion NDAA Bill with 85 votes for; Obama Threatens Veto
The US Senate overwhelmingly approved a $602 billion annual defense bill, despite President Obama’s threat to veto it because of its impediments to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.  Only 13 Senators opposed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill secured a strong victory.   Among those voting against were former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz of Texas.   The House of Representatives passed the measure in May in a 277-147 vote.

According to the White House, a veto is imminent partly because the bill is aimed at “curtailing the normalization of our relationship” with Cuba by hampering military-to-military interactions, which would be contrary to “the US national security interest.”

June 8: The Hill: Senate Majority Leader McConnell aims to wrap up the Defense Bill
Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) is inching the Senate toward the finish line on an annual wide-ranging defense policy bill.  The Senate Republican leader moved to end debate on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Wednesday night. The $602 billion defense authorization broadly outlines policy for the Pentagon and military branches.  Unless senators can get a deal to speed things up, McConnell's move sets up an initial vote as soon as Friday. Senators will need 60 votes to move forward with the defense legislation.  

Hundreds of amendments have been filed to the "must-pass" legislation. So far, the Senate has taken a roll call vote on three, while approving more than a dozen others by a voice vote.  McConnell warned senators earlier this week that they would finish the policy bill even if it meant staying in session on Friday. 

June 7: CNN Politics: Chinese Military Intercept of U.S. aircraft unsafe
A U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft flying Tuesday in international airspace over the East China Sea was intercepted in an "unsafe manner" by a Chinese J-10 fighter jet, several defense officials tell CNN.  The Chinese jet was never closer than 100 feet to the U.S. aircraft, but it flew with a "high rate of speed as it closed in" on the U.S. aircraft, one official said. Because of that high speed, and the fact it was flying at the same altitude as the U.S. plane, the intercept is defined as unsafe.  Officials said the RC-135 was on a routine mission.

June 6: The Guardian: NATO War Games the largest in Eastern Europe
The largest war game in eastern Europe since the end of the cold war has started in Poland, as NATO and partner countries seek to mount a display of strength as a response to concerns about Russia’s assertiveness and actions.  The  ten-day military exercise, involving 31,000 troops and thousands of vehicles from 24 countries, has been welcomed among NATO’s allies in the region, though defense experts warn that any mishap could prompt an offensive reaction from Moscow.

A defense attaché at a European embassy in Warsaw said the “nightmare scenario” of the exercise, named Anaconda-2016, would be “a mishap, a miscalculation which the Russians construe, or choose to construe, as an offensive action”.  Russian jets routinely breach Nordic countries’ airspace and in April the spectacularly buzzed  the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea.

June 6: Breitbart News: Islamic State Shooting Civilians Fleeing Fallujah:
Brutal ISIS jihadists are shooting civilians trying to flee the besieged Iraqi city of Fallujah, a Norwegian Refuge Council (NRC) agency says.   Civilians are “being shot dead” by the Islamic State as they crossed the Euphrates River trying to flee Fallujah, where up to 50,000 civilians are believed to be trapped, including 20,000 children.  “Our biggest fears are now tragically confirmed with civilians being directly targeted while trying to flee to safety,” said Nasr Muflahi, director of Iraq’s NRC office, in a statement, adding that “armed opposition groups” were carrying out the shootings, the BBC reports.  “This is the worst that we feared would happen to innocent men, women and children who have had to leave everything behind in order to save their lives,” also said Muflahi.

May 19: CNBC: China: We are ready if U.S. stirs up any conflict in the South China Sea
China’s attempts to claim a nearly 1.4-million-square-mile swathe of open ocean are without precedent and probably without legal merit, but Beijing continues to assert its right to the economically critical zone — and increasingly puts its claims in military terms. Speaking to a small group of reporters in Beijing on Thursday, a high-ranking Chinese official made his warning clear: The United States should not provoke China in the South China Sea without expecting retaliation.

Chinese Nuclear Submarine -- BoomerMay 19: The Daily Beast: China ready to send Nuclear Ballistic Missile Subs to Sea
China’s about to join an exclusive club. After decades of development, 2016 could be the year the Chinese navy finally sends its ballistic-missile submarines —“SSBNs”— to sea for the first time for operational patrols with live, nuclear-tipped rockets. If indeed the Jin-class subs head to sea this year, China will achieve a level of nuclear strike capability that, at present, just two countries—the United States and Russia—can match or exceed.  “China will probably conduct its first SSBN nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in 2016,” the Pentagon warned in the latest edition of its annual report on the Chinese military. 

May 19: Yahoo.com:
  NATO finalizing military buildup to counter Russian Aggression
NATO foreign ministers were on Thursday finalizing the alliance's biggest military build-up since the end of the Cold War to counter what they see as a more aggressive and unpredictable Russia.  NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the two-day meeting would address "all the important issues" to prepare for a "landmark" summit in Poland in July. There, NATO leaders will formally endorse the revamp which puts more troops into eastern European member states as part of a "deter and dialogue" strategy, meant to reassure allies they will not be left in the lurch in any repeat of the Ukraine crisis.  US Secretary of State John Kerry, attending the Brussels talks, said NATO was building a "robust" defensive posture on its eastern flank and urged member states to meet pledges to increase defense spending.

May 7: Fox News:  Army has fewest soldiers since after World War II
The number of U.S. Army soldiers on active duty has been reduced to its lowest since 1940, according to a published report.  The Army Times reported this weekend that the Army's end strength for March was 479,172. That's 154 fewer soldiers than the service's previous post-World War II low, which was reached during the Army's post-Cold War drawdown in 1999.  The current number is still well above the 269,023 soldiers on duty in 1940, the year before America entered World War II. However, the report says the active force has been reduced by more than 16,500 troops over the past year — the equivalent of about three brigades.

May 4: Yahoo.com: Russia warns of retaliation as NATO plans more deployments in Eastern Europe
Russia will reinforce its western and southern flanks with three new divisions by the year-end, officials said on Wednesday, threatening retaliation to NATO's plans to boost its military presence in eastern members Poland and the Baltic States.   While Moscow accuses the Western alliance of threatening its Russia's security, NATO says intensified military drills and its plans for increased deployments on its eastern flank are purely defensive after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea in 2014 and backed separatist rebels in Ukraine.  U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Monday NATO was weighing up rotating four battalions of troops through eastern member states amid rising tension in the Baltic. 

April 23: CNN News: North Korea launched missile from a Submarine: U.S. Defense Experts Concerned:
North Korea fired what is believed to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said Saturday. The missile was fired at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (5:30 a.m. ET), South Korean officials said, and appears to have flown about 19 miles, well short of the 300 kilometers (roughly 186 miles) that would be considered a successful test.

One U.S. official said the launch "was provocative but not a threat to the U.S., and the missile was fired away from South Korea and Japan." But another U.S. official noted that after previous launch attempts by Pyongyang that didn't appear to be successful, this one seems to have gone much better.  "North Korea's sub launch capability has gone from a joke to something very serious," this official said. "The U.S. is watching this very closely."

April 20: New York Times: Russia Bolsters its Submarine Fleet
Russian attack submarines, the most in two decades, are prowling the coastlines of Scandinavia and Scotland, the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic in what Western military officials say is a significantly increased presence aimed at contesting American and NATO undersea dominance.  Admiral Ferguson the United States Navy’s top commander in Europe, said last fall that the intensity of Russian submarine patrols had risen by almost 50 percent over the past year, citing public remarks by the Russian Navy chief,  Admiral Chirkov. Analysts say that tempo has not changed since then.

The patrols are the most visible sign of a renewed interest in submarine warfare by President Vladimir V. Putin, whose government has spent billions of dollars for new classes of diesel and nuclear-powered attack submarines that are quieter, better armed and operated by more proficient crews than in the past.

April 16: The Washington Free Beacon: Russian Jet Fighter Threatens U.S. Recon Jet in Baltic Region
A Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft on Thursday in the latest military provocation by  Moscow over the Baltic Sea, the U.S. European Command said Saturday.  “On April 14, a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft flying a routine route in international airspace over the Baltic Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 in an unsafe and unprofessional manner,” said Navy Capt. Danny Hernandez.

According to Hernandez, the Su-27 carried out “erratic and aggressive maneuvers” by approaching the RC-135 at a high rate of speed from the side.  The Russian jet “then proceeded to perform an aggressive maneuver that posed a threat to the safety of the U.S. aircrew in the RC-135U,” the spokesman said.  “More specifically, the SU-27 closed within 50 feet of the wing-tip of the RC-135 and conducted a barrel roll starting from the left side of the aircraft, going over the top of the aircraft and ended up to the right of the aircraft,” he said.

April 10: Associated Press Iran Says Missile Program is non-negotiable
Iran's foreign minister said Sunday the country's missile program is not up for negotiation with the United States.  The missile program and "defense capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran are not negotiable," said Mohammad Javad Zarif after meeting with his Estonian counterpart, Marina Kaljurand. He added that if Washington was serious about defensive issues in the Middle East, it should stop supplying arms to Saudi Arabia and Israel.  A Saudi-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes and battling the Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen since March 2015. Iran also supports anti-Israeli militant groups.

April 9: The Washington Times:  B52s Deployed to the Middle East; First in 25 YearsB52 Arriving in the Middle East

The U.S. Air Force has deployed B-52 long-range bombers to the Middle East, for the first time since the Gulf War ended, to conduct strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, officials said Saturday.  An unknown number of B-52s will be based at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the U.S. Air Force Central Command said in a statement. “The B-52s will provide the coalition continued precision and deliver desired airpower effects,” Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command and Combined Forces Air Component said. 

April 2: The Hill: Sec Def Gates: Obama Double Crossed me
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he felt President Obama “double-crossed” him during his tenure over budget cuts to the Pentagon. In an interview Friday that explored the president’s approach to the military, Gates said Obama had promised him that there wouldn’t be any “significant changes” in the defense budget for a while.  When asked whether Obama kept to his word, Gates replied, “Well I think that began to fray. ‘Fray’ may be too gentle a word.” 

According to the report, Gates was told to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the defense budget after already having slashed it.  “I guess I’d have to say I felt double-crossed,” Gates said. “After all those years in Washington, I was naïve.”  The former defense secretary added that he advised Obama to slow the cuts to the military because it would endanger U.S. troops.

March 20: Fox News: More U.S. Marines headed for Iraq after attack on U.S. Forces
More U.S. military support troops are going to Iraq in the aftermath of an Islamic State rocket killing a Marine and seriously injuring others this weekend, the Pentagon said Sunday.  The attack occurred Saturday in the northern Iraq town of Makhmur, roughly 75 miles southeast of the ISIS-stronghold Mosul. 

The undisclosed number of troops will be a detachment from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and will support Iraqi forces and international ground operations, according to the Pentagon, which issued the announcement for the U.S.-led Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.  Roughly 3,700 U.S. troops are now on the ground in Iraq advising the Iraqi Army. Earlier this month, a brigade from the 101st Airborne Division relieved a similar-sized brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division.

March 13: Fox News: Attack in Ivory Coast Resort: Sights Set on Obama Official
A deadly attack on a popular Ivory Coast beach resort Sunday that killed at least 16 most likely targeted a U.S. delegation led by the assistant commerce secretary, who was visiting the country, a diplomatic source in the region told Fox News.  Assistant Secretary of Commerce Marcus Jadotte was leading a group of Americans in Grand-Bassam, including college recruiters from the University of Florida. U.S. embassy officials from the capital city of Abidjan were also included in the group, according to the source. The delegation was supposed to arrive at the scene of the attack, Etoile du Sud, a hotel popular with Westerners. The delegation had not yet made it to the hotel when the attack occurred.

March 2: Fox News: Seoul:  North Korea Fires Short-range projectiles into the Sea
North Korea fired several short-range projectiles into the sea off its east coast Thursday, Seoul officials said, just hours after the U.N. Security Council approved the toughest sanctions on Pyongyang in two decades for its recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.  The North's launches also come shortly after Seoul's parliament passed its first legislation on human rights in North Korea.  Defense spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said the projectiles were fired from the eastern coastal town of Wonsan, adding authorities were trying to determine what exactly North Korea fired. The projectiles could be missiles, artillery or rockets, according to the Defense Ministry.

Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified South Korean military official, reported North Korea fired eight or nine projectiles that flew about 100 kilometers (60 miles) before landing in the sea. The Defense Ministry said it could not confirm the report.  North Korea routinely test-fires missiles and rockets, but it often conducts more weapons launches when angered at international condemnation.

February 19: The Daily Signal: The Growing Treat of ISIS Unleashed – Weapon of Mass Distruction
The apocalyptic ideology that propels the Islamic State (ISIS) is by now well known. Much less widely known are the use of chemical weapons by ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the disappearance of radioactive materials in Iraq that could be used in a “dirty bomb,” a radiological weapon of mass destruction (WMD).  Reuters reported the disappearance of 10 grams of a “highly dangerous” radioactive isotope used to test oil and gas pipelines in southern Iraq, which Iraqi authorities fear may have fallen into the hands of ISIS. The Iridium-192 material, classified as a Category 2 radioactive source, could permanently injure people exposed to it for only a few hours, or kill people exposed to it longer.

The radioactive isotope was stolen in November from a storage facility in the southern city of al-Zubair, which is more than 300 miles away from ISIS-controlled territory. But ISIS has launched attacks nearby.  Ten grams of radioactive material is not very much. But it could be added to other materials previously seized by the terrorist group. ISIS already had enough radioactive materials to arm a dirty bomb, according to Australian intelligence reports last June.

February 13: Fox News: Latest batch of Clinton emails; 81 are Marked Classified
The State Department on Saturday released more emails from the private server that Hillary Clinton used when secretary of state, including 81 that have now been marked as “classified.”  The agency released more than 1,000 new pages of emails, as part of a federal court order for officials to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request for the official correspondence. Clinton, a Democratic candidate in the 2016 White House race, has denied any wrong-doing. However, her use of the private server and email accounts, from 2011 to 2013, is being investigated by the FBI. Last month, 22 emails were withheld in full because they contained "top secret" material.   The State Department plans to finish releasing all of Clinton’s emails by Feb. 29, a day before the critical Super Tuesday primaries.  

February 9: The Hill: Federal Judge Scolds Admin for Missed Email Release Deadline
A federal judge scolded the Obama administration on Tuesday for violating its pledge to release all of Hillary Clinton's emails by the end of last month. The State Department won't be able to make public even a portion of the remaining 7,000 pages of Clinton's emails until at least late next week, an administration lawyer said in a courtroom on Tuesday afternoon.  “Government has put me between a rock and a hard place,” Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia said in response, “which is a position I don’t want to be in.”  

Contreras can either “force them to disclose” the documents which have yet to undergo full redaction process, he said, or else risk further delaying release of the emails.  As it is, the remaining 3,700 emails from Clinton’s archive — which add up to roughly 7,000 pages — are not due to be released to the public until the day before Super Tuesday, the day 13 states hold their presidential primary or caucuses. 

February 1: The Daily Caller: Mills Refuses to Speak to State Dept. Investigators about Clinton Emails:
Hillary Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, refused to speak to investigators with the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General about her handling of a 2012 public records request for information about Clinton’s private email addresses that the agency falsely denied.  Mills was identified in a report about the mishandling of a Freedom of Information request for records pertaining to Clinton’s email account.  The report noted that the FOIA request was denied even though Clinton clearly had a personal email account which Mills and many other officials knew about at the time.

January 31: The Daily Caller: Clinton Non-Disclosure Agreement Could Obliterate Her Classified Email Defense:
Hillary Clinton was finally asked on Sunday about a non-disclosure agreement she signed in Jan. 2009 which completely undermines the defense she uses to downplay the existence of classified information on her private email server. But as is often the case with the Democratic presidential candidate, she dodged the question and gave an inconsistent answer.

“You know, you’ve said many times that the emails were not marked classified,” said ABC News “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos.  “The non-disclosure agreement you signed as secretary of state said that that really is not that relevant,” he continued.  He was referring to the “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement” — or Standard Form 312 — that Clinton signed on Jan. 22, 2009, a day after taking over as secretary of state.  The SF-312 makes clear, classified information does not have to be marked as such in order to require being handled as classified information. The document applies not just to physical documents and emails but also to oral communications.

January 31: The New York Post: Former IG: Hillary and State Department are Lying:
The State Department is lying when it says it didn’t know until it was too late that Hillary Clinton was improperly using personal e-mails and a private server to conduct official business — because it never set up an agency e-mail address for her in the first place, the department’s former top watchdog says.

“This was all planned in advance” to skirt rules governing federal records management, said Howard J. Krongard, who served as the agency’s inspector general from 2005 to 2008.  He points out that, from Day One, Clinton was never assigned and never used a state.gov e-mail address like previous secretaries. “That’s a change in the standard. It tells me that this was premeditated. And this eliminates claims by the State Department that they were unaware of her private e-mail server until later,” Krongard said in an exclusive interview. “How else was she supposed to do business without e-mail?” He also points to the unusual absence of a permanent inspector general during Clinton’s entire 2009-2013 term at the department. He said the 5¹/₂-year vacancy was unprecedented. “This is a major gap. In fact, it’s without precedent,” he said. “It’s the longest period any department has gone without an IG.”

January 28: The Washington Free Beacon:  Russian Fighter Conducts Dangerous Intercept of U.S. Recon Aircraft
“On Jan. 25 an RC-135 aircraft flying a routine route in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 in an unsafe and unprofessional manner,” Navy Capt. Daniel Hernandez, chief spokesman for the U.S. European Command, told the Washington Free Beacon. “We are looking into the issue.”

Defense officials said the Su-27 flew alongside the RC-135, an electronic intelligence-gathering aircraft, and then performed what they said was an aggressive banking turn away from the intelligence jet.  The thrust from the Su-27 “disturbed the controllability” of the RC-135, said one official familiar with details of the incident.  A second official said the reconnaissance aircraft was flying 30 miles from the coast—well within international airspace and far away from any Russian territory—at the time of the encounter.

January 23:  Breitbart News Page and McLaughlin: The FBI will recommend Prosecution for Hillary:
Chicago Tribune Editorial Board member Clarence Page and “McLaughlin Group” host John McLaughlin predicted the FBI will recommend Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton face prosecution for mishandling classified information on Friday.  McLaughlin asked if Hillary would be prosecuted, to which Page responded,  “I’m going to say yes, but she won’t be indicted.”  McLaughlin responded, “I’m with you.”

January 22: Fox News: Clinton Private Server Exposed Human Intel Sources
At least one of the emails on Hillary Clinton's private server contained extremely sensitive information identified by an intelligence agency as "HCS-O," which is the code used for reporting on human intelligence sources in ongoing operations, according to two sources not authorized to speak on the record.    Both sources are familiar with the intelligence community inspector general’s January 14 letter to Congress, advising the Oversight committees that intelligence beyond Top Secret -- known as Special Access Program (SAP) -- was identified in the Clinton emails, as well the supporting documents from the affected agencies that owned the information and have final say on classification. Dan Maguire, former Special Operations strategic planner for Africom, has said the disclosure of sensitive material impacts national security and exposes U.S. sources.  "There are people’s lives at stake. Certainly in an intel SAP, if you’re talking about sources and methods, there may be one person in the world that would have access to the type of information contained in that SAP,” he said.

January 14: The Hill: State Department: Ten Sailors Captured Not Covered by the Geneva Convention
The ten American sailors captured by Iran this week were not covered under protocols of the Geneva Convention because the United States is not at war with Iran, the State Department said on Thursday.  The determination means that the Obama administration will not accuse Iran of violating the convention’s protections for prisoners of war, as many critics accused Iran of doing with its treatment of the sailors.

“The Geneva Convention applies for a time of war between nations, and we’re not at war with Iran,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. “So it’s difficult to see how the provisions of the Geneva Convention can be applied here or us citing them as violations of it, because we’re not at war with Iran.  If we were at war with Iran or another country, then, yes I think you could look at what happened as a breach of the protocols in there,” he added. “But they don’t apply.” Administration critics have long accused President Obama of being too soft on Iran in order to speed through the global agreement on its nuclear powers. The pact, which is set to be implemented in coming days, lifts sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its ability to build a nuclear weapon.

January 7: The Hill: Dept. of State Set to Dump more Classified Clinton emails
The State Department will release 2,900 pages of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails on Thursday, after failing to meet a court-ordered deadline last week.  Thursday’s document dump is likely to be the second-to-last release of Clinton’s emails by the State Department, which has been ordered by a court to have the full 55,000 pages of emails to the public by the end of the month.  

Forty-five of the emails in Thursday evening’s release have been deemed classified at some level, department spokesman John Kirby said, bringing the total number of emails with now-classified information up to 1,319. At least one of the new emails has been upgraded to a level higher than “confidential.”  Last week’s dump, which came on New Year’s Eve, fell short of a court’s mandated to release 82 percent of the supposedly work-related emails. Thursday’s release will bring the State Department up to that benchmark, Kirby promised.

January 7: The Washington Times: Missing U.S. Hell Fire Missile Turns Up in Cuba
One of the most advanced U.S. missiles was unintentionally shipped to Cuba in 2014, according to a report Thursday evening in the Wall Street Journal.  The Hellfire missile was supposed to be sent to Europe for a training mission, the Journal reported, cited “people familiar with the matter.”

Shipping such a sophisticated weapon to a communist dictatorship with which the U.S. at the time didn’t have diplomatic relations and has been under U.S. embargo for a half-century would be among the worst mistakes of its kind in U.S. military history, the sources said.  The Hellfire is an air-to-surface missile that acquired its name from the Pentagon’s specification for a “helicopter-launched, fire and forget” missile. It equips, among other weapons platforms, the U.S. military’s Predator drones.

December 29 [2015]: The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Spying on Israel Snags Members of Congress!
President Obama announced two years ago he would curtail eavesdropping on friendly heads of state after the world learned the reach of long-secret U.S. surveillance programs.  But behind the scenes, the White House decided to keep certain allies under close watch, current and former U.S. officials said. Topping the list was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  With the U.S., pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran at the time, they captured communications between Netanyahu and his aides that inflamed mistrust between the two countries and planted a political minefield at home when Netanyahu later took his campaign against the deal to Capitol Hill.  The National Security Agency’s targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. That raised fears—an “Oh-s— moment,” one senior U.S. official said—that the executive branch would be accused of spying on Congress.

December 13: Yahoo News: Chinese Navy Carries Out Exercises in the Disputed South China Sea:
In recent days, China's navy has carried out more exercises in the disputed South China Sea, the Defense Ministry said, calling them routine drills.  China claims almost all of the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of maritime trade passes each year. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims.  "This action is a routine arrangement made in accordance with this year's naval training plan," it added, without elaborating.  Pictures on social media accounts of Chinese state media have shown photos of Chinese navy ships engaged in live-fire exercises without saying where exactly they took place.

November 30: The Daily Caller: Turkey effectively shuts off Russian Access to the Black Sea
Turkey slammed the door on Russian sea travel Sunday, effectively shutting off Moscow’s access to the Black Sea and raising serious concerns among experts about escalating tensions in the region.  The recent blockade is preventing Russian naval vessels from traveling in the Black Sea to Syria. The Russian Black Sea fleet has been a key component to Russian operations in the war-torn country, primarily operating out of the Syrian port of Tartus. Without access to the Turkish Straits, Russian attempts to increase force projection in Syria or resupply the units in the country will be extremely limited.

“This better be a joke — because if not, WW3 is about to start,” quipped John Schindler, former NSA operative and national security columnist at the Observer.  As a NATO member, Turkey is party to Article 5 of the NATO convention which considers an attack on any of the NATO allies an attack on them all, including the United States. NATO has shown support for Turkey throughout recent months.

As the only direct Russian access point to the Mediterranean, the effects of the Turkish blockade pose both economic and military concerns for Russia. Turkey is Russia’s second largest trade partner, while the Turkish Straits (the Bosporus and Dardanelles) are a primary shipping lane for Russian oil exports,  Any potential deployment of Russian ground forces to Syria would be significantly hampered by the blockade, along with the resupply of the current Russian forces based in Syria.

November 12: Yahoo News: B-52s fly by Chinese-built island; South China Sea
Two U.S. B52 strategic bombers flew near artificial Chinese-built islands in the South China Sea this week and were contacted by Chinese ground controllers but continued their mission undeterred, the Pentagon said on Thursday.  The latest U.S. patrol in the disputed South China Sea occurred in advance of President Barack Obama's visit to the region next week to attend Asia-Pacific summits where he is expected the reassert Washington's commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight in the area.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion in global trade passes every year, and the United States has said it will continue conducting patrols to assure unimpeded passage. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims in the region.  Last month, a U.S. warship challenged territorial limits around one of China's man-made islands in the Spratly archipelago with a so-called freedom-of-navigation patrol, the most significant U.S. challenge yet to territorial limits China claims around its new islands.

November 12: Yahoo News: Russia Reveals Plans for a Nuclear Torpedo on State Televvision:
Secret design plans of a huge Russian nuclear torpedo were accidentally broadcast on two Kremlin-controlled television stations during ordinary news bulletins.  During a piece reporting a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and his military high command, the camera cut away to a general staring at plans of the torpedo system, in which the name, basic layout and capabilities are clearly visible.  The document, which was on screen for several seconds, shows drawings and descriptions of a weapon labeled as the “Ocean Multi-purpose System ‘Status 6’” -- a very large, self-propelled torpedo carrying an exceptionally powerful nuclear warhead.

November 6: The Daily Signal:
America’s Military Can’t Run on Wishful Thinking:

It seems fitting that the Heritage Foundation released its latest Index of U.S. Military Strength just before Halloween. It makes for some scary reading.  It’s easy to assume that our military will always be prepared to not only defend our shores, but protect our allies and interests worldwide. Indeed, to suggest otherwise might seem unnecessarily pessimistic.  But wishful thinking doesn’t keep you safe—doing the hard work to remain prepared does. You can’t do that if you don’t examine our actual state of readiness, and that’s what the editors of the 2016 edition of the index have done.

October 25: The Washington Times: Dems Nervous about Iran after Nuke Deal
For any Democrat anxious to see the unpopular Iran nuclear agreement fade from public view between now and November 2016, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. Headlines about the GOP Senate’s failed battle to stop the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action had all but disappeared when Iran launched an Oct. 11 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Suddenly foes of the deal were back in the news, accusing Iran of breaking the agreement.

The White House and Iran countered that the launch did not violate the nuclear deal because it does not include missile testing. Even so, a group of Senate Democrats responded with a letter to Secretary of State John F. Kerry denouncing Iran’s move as a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 and calling for “unilateral and multilateral responses.”

October 24: Yahoo News: US Patrols to raise the stakes in South China Sea
U.S. plans to send warships or military aircraft within 12 nautical miles of China's artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, possibly within days, could open a tense new front in Sino-U.S. rivalry. A range of security experts said Washington's so-called freedom of navigation patrols would have to be regular to be effective, given Chinese ambitions to project power deep into maritime Southeast Asia and beyond.

But China would likely resist attempts to make such U.S. actions routine, some said, raising the political and military stakes. China's navy could for example try to block or attempt to surround U.S. vessels, they said, risking an escalation. Given months of debate already in Washington over the first such patrol close to the Chinese outposts since 2012, several regional security experts and former naval officers said the U.S. government might be reluctant to do them often.

October 22: The Hill: In a rare move Obama vetoes major Defense Policy Bill
President Obama on Thursday took the rare step of vetoing a major defense policy bill, upping the stakes in a faceoff with Republicans over government spending. It’s highly unusual for a president to veto the defense legislation, which typically becomes law with bipartisan support. The move amounts to a public rebuke of congressional Republicans, who warned that vetoing the $612 billion measure would put the nation’s security at risk. 

The veto was Obama’s third this year and the fifth of his presidency. The Defense authorization bill has been vetoed four times in the last half-decade.  Obama argues the bill irresponsibly skirts spending caps adopted in 2011 by putting $38 billion into a war fund not subject to the limits, a move he called a "gimmick." He has called on Congress to increase both defense and nondefense spending.  At the core of the President’s action was that he wants to increase domestic spending and is using the defense bill as a political chip in his game to spend more money on social programs.

October 19: The Hill: Boehner to move Defense Spending Bill Setting up Possible Veto
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced on Monday that he will sign the 2016 defense policy bill on Tuesday, setting into motion the 10 days that President Obama will have to follow through on a promised veto.  The bill authorizes Pentagon funding and programs for 2016.   GOP leaders want to make the veto as public and painful for the president as possible.   "The bipartisan legislation will provide the resources for a strong national defense in a fiscally responsible way," the GOP said in a release announcing the signing.

After the bill is is delivered to the White House, Obama will have 10 days — not including Sunday — to veto the bill while Congress is in session, or else it goes into effect.  Alternatively, if the president does not sign the bill and cannot return it to Congres because it is out of session before the 10 days is up, then the bill will not become law, in what is known as a "pocket veto."  The bill doesn’t actually appropriate funding and authorizes an amount the White House is asking for, at $612 billion.   However, it leaves in place spending caps in place on defense and non-defense spending, but put extra money into a war fund that's not subject to the caps. That would reach the desired $612 billion-level, but the administration objects to the method.

September 28: The Daily Caller: Investigation shows Marine saved two in Chattanooga shooting: Gunnery Sgt. Camden Meyer saved his daughter and a fellow marine during the July terror shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to an investigative officer’s report.  On July 16, Meyer reported to his post at Recruiting Substation Chattanooga at 7:30 a.m. Meyer, according to the report, talked with his Marines about the day and then left the office to get his car repaired. Ten minutes after Sgt. Meyer returned to the office with his daughter  Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez fired between 30 and 45 rounds into the building before driving off in his rental car. In the office, when a bullet came through the wall;  Meyer grabbed his daughter and ordered Thompson to get down, saving all three. According to the report, Thompson was prepared to run, which would have made him an easy target.

September 25: Fox News: US considering leaving troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016
Military officials reportedly are considering keeping thousands of American troops in Afghanistan beyond the end of next year, in what would be a departure from current plans to leave only a small force of a few hundred troops behind.  The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday that Army Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has submitted five different recommendations for allied troop levels to the Pentagon and NATO officials in Brussels. The paper reported that the options include keeping the U.S. presence at or near 10,000 troops; reducing the number to 8,000; or continuing with the current drawdown plans.

September 24: The Daily Caller:
Obama: Under Estimated ISIS, Russia and North Korea
– Wants Dangerous Cuts to the U.S. Army

Planned cuts to the U.S. Army will endanger national security commitments, a new study conducted by the RAND Corporation argued.  National security commitments, the report argues, are a stalwart resistance to terrorism, deterrence of aggression and preventing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) from spreading.  On all three counts, RAND found that the U.S. fell short.

President Barack Obama promised to “degrade — and ultimately destroy — ISIL,” but experts say poor planning has resulted in a complete misjudgment of the Islamic State’s scope and scale.  The Obama administration has pledged to “defend our NATO allies … we will defend the territorial integrity of every single ally.” Yet, the report notes that the U.S. did not correctly anticipate the Russian invasion of Crimea or Ukraine. Nor did national security officials see the threats posed by Russia to nearby NATO Baltic states, even as the Kremlin was “building a pretext for intervening in the Baltics through such actions as reviewing the legality of the states’ independence from the Soviet Union.”  Even now, Russia is planning on building a second large military base near the Ukrainian border.

September 16: Fox News: Commander Admits Size of U.S.-trained troops in Syrian fighting force is 4 or 5
The top U.S. military commander for the Middle East admitted Wednesday that only "four or five" U.S.-trained fighters remain on the battlefield in Syria, leading to accusations from lawmakers that the program is a "joke" and "total failure."   Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of the U.S. Central Command, addressed the state of the so-called "train and equip" mission in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.   The original goal for the first year was to train roughly 5,400 fighters to take on the Islamic State. But the first group of 54 U.S.-trained fighters was attacked by a Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda, which killed and captured several of them and sent others fleeing.
For the first time Wednesday, the U.S. military acknowledged hardly any remain.  "It's a small number. The ones that are in the fight ... we're talking four or five," Austin told lawmakers, admitting the military will not reach its training goal this year.  The admission inflamed criticism that's been simmering for months. 

Chinese Ship in the Bearing Sea off the coast of AlaskaSeptember 2: Fox News: Five Chinese Warships
Off the Coast of Alaska during Obama visit:

Five Chinese navy ships have been spotted in the Bering Sea, off the Alaska coast, coinciding with President Obama’s visit to the state, a senior defense official confirmed to Fox News.  Navy Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednesday the sighting marked the first time ships from the People's Liberation Army Navy were seen in the Bering Sea.  "We respect the freedom of all nations to operate military vessels in international waters in accordance with international law," Urban said.  There are three surface warfare ships, one amphibious assault ship and one supply vessel.

July 5: The Washington Times: Judicial Watch: Classified Clinton emails require seizure of the Server
The president of a conservative watchdog group says now that it is known that classified information was contained in Hillary Clinton’s private stash of State Department emails, it is time for the government to seize her personal server and related storage disks to determine whether security was breached during her tenure as secretary of state.  Judicial Watch, has filed, along with other groups, lawsuits to force the State Department to turn over memos and emails. These include Clinton’s messages stored on her private, at-home server through which she exclusively conducted government business.

July 4: The Washington PostMilitary Exercises in Texas has Residents Fearful
Bastrop County GOP Chairman Albert Ellison has a legal pad on which he had written page after page of reasons why many Texans distrust President Obama and his administration.  So it should come as no surprise, Ellison said, that as the U.S. military prepares to launch one of the largest training exercises in history later this month, many Bastrop residents might suspect a secret Obama plot to spy on them, confiscate their guns and ultimately establish martial law in one of America’s proudly free conservative states.

They are not “nuts and wackos. They are concerned citizens, and they are patriots,” Ellison said of his suspicious neighbors. “Obama has really painted a portrait in the minds of many conservatives that he is capable of this sort of thing.”  Meanwhile, across town such talk elicits a weary sigh from County Judge Paul Pape.  Pape said he has tried to explain to folks that the exercise, known as Jade Helm 15, is a routine training mission that poses no threat to anyone.  “I’m sensitive to the fact that some of our Bastrop residents are concerned, and I’m confident that they are very sincere about their concerns,” Pape said. “But how did we get to this point in our country?” 

June 23: Fox News:  U.S. Military moving equipment into allied nations near Russian border
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Tuesday that the U.S. will deploy heavy weaponry -- including about 250 tanks, armored vehicles and other equipment -- across six European nations including those along the Russian border.   The move is meant to help reassure NATO allies facing an array of threats from Russia and terrorist groups. It is only the latest message being telegraphed to an increasingly assertive Vladimir Putin, in the wake of his country's intervention in eastern Ukraine. The equipment is set to be stationed in the Baltic states -- Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -- as well as Bulgaria, Poland and Romania. 

Each set of equipment would be enough to equip a military company or battalion, and would go on at least a temporary basis to those six nations. Carter said the equipment could be moved around the region for training and military exercises, and would include Bradley fighting vehicles and self-propelled howitzer artillery guns. While the stated goal of the move is that American forces moving in and out of Europe will be better able to do training, it also would allow NATO nations to more quickly respond to any military crisis in the region.   

June 17: The Hill:  Defense policy b ill clears final Senate Hurdle:
An annual defense policy bill overcame its last procedural test Wednesday, paving the way for final passage.  The Senate voted 84-14 to end debate on a House-passed shell bill being used as a vehicle for the Senate's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). They also agreed by a voice vote comprised of only a handful of senators to attach the defense policy bill to the shell bill.   Wednesday's move sets up a final vote on the bill, which Republicans predicated would occur Thursday.

McCain made a closing pitch for the bill ahead of Wednesday's votes, suggesting the legislation was a necessary "reform bill" for the Defense Department.  "It is a reform bill," he added. "A reform bill that will enable our military to rise to the challenges of a more dangerous world, both today and in the future."   Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said earlier Wednesday that the vote "puts the Senate on a path to bring the bill to final passage tomorrow."   Senate Democratic leadership has criticized the defense policy bill because it includes an extra $38 billion in the Pentagon's war fund. But a majority of Democrats have backed the legislation on the procedural votes so far. 

June 9: The New York Times: Growing Body of Law Allows Prosecution of Foreign Citizens on U.S. Soil:
Arrested in Djibouti while he was en route to Yemen from Somalia, far from his home in Britain, Madhi Hashi was baffled to find himself jailed in Manhattan. An admitted member of the Shabab, the Somali militant group,  he didn’t  understand why he’d been brought to the U.S. to stand trial, court documents revealed.  A similar situation happened late last month when Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced that Brooklyn prosecutors had indicted FIFA officials from the other side of the globe, on corruption charges.  Using a growing body of law that allows the United States to prosecute foreign citizens for some actions, the government has been turning the federal courts into international law-enforcement arenas.

In terrorism cases, the broadening of a key law in 2004, the splintering of terrorist groups and a shift away from military detention has led the United States to bring more foreigners onto its soil, some with only a tenuous link to the United States.  Perhaps no federal prosecutor was more aggressive about expanding her office’s global reach than Ms. Lynch when she was the US attorney in Brooklyn, and the FIFA arrests suggest that now that she leads the Justice Department, overseas cases are likely to become even more of a priority.  In terrorism prosecutions, United States courts are trying people who were not targeting the United States, are not from the United States and, before their court cases, had never set foot in the United States. (In these cases, prosecutors say, the country extraditing or otherwise handing over custody of the defendant is, by definition, choosing to cooperate with the United States.)

May 27: Fox News: U.S. Vets Risk All to Fight ISIS with Kurdish forces
Aaron Core thought he had seen enough of Iraq during a U.S. Army tour that ended in 2010. But the image of American journalist James Foley being murdered by an ISIS executioner prompted him to leave Tennessee and head back, this time as an unpaid volunteer in the service of the Kurdish Peshmerga.  The 27-year-old Chattanooga resident and former Army National Guard specialist spoke to FoxNews.com at a Kurdish base near Kirkuk, where he has served since last fall, taking part in numerous firefights with ISIS as the Kurds battle to stop the terrorist army's caliphate from encroaching on its territory in the nation's north.  An American flag patch sits on Core’s shoulder, just above one bearing both the American and Kurdish flag representing his status as a volunteer with the Kurdish Peshmerga. Core isn’t alone. When FoxNews.com spoke to Core, two other Americans who did not give their last names, said they were also drawn to the region by a need to stand up to the barbarity of ISIS.

The U.S. State Department does not support or encourage Americans traveling to Iraq to volunteer, but has not stopped many from doing just that. Since the Syria-based Islamic State’s invasion of Iraq in June 2014, the Peshmerga have so far been successful in stopping ISIS advances further into Kurdish territory, yet they are far from defeating the Islamic terror group. 

May 17: Fox News: Group wants Air Force General Court Martialed for Speaking
about God at National Day of Prayer Meeting

An Air Force general who recently spoke about how God has guided his career should be court-martialed, a civil liberties group is saying.  In a speech at a National Day of Prayer Task Force event on May 7, Maj. Gen. Craig Olson credits God for his accomplishments in the military, and refers to himself as a “redeemed believer in Christ.”  The Air Force Times reports that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has taken issue with Olson’s remarks, is calling for the two-star general to be court-martialed and "aggressively and very visibly brought to justice for his unforgivable crimes and transgressions."  The group authored a letter to Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Walsh, arguing that Olson’s speech violates rules within the Air Force, which prohibits airmen from endorsing a particular faith or belief.

May 16: Breitbart News: US Special Forces Kill Top ISIS Commander in Raid in Syria
U.S. special operations forces based in Iraq conducted a cross-border raid into eastern Syria and killed senior ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf, said to be responsible for major Islamic State financial operations, including the sale of oil and gas assets.  According to the White House, the goal of the operation was to take Abu Sayyaf alive, but he “engaged U.S. forces” and was killed during the firefight.  “His wife, Umm Sayyaf, was captured and is being held in U.S. detention in Iraq,” reports National Journal.  “The White House said U.S. forces freed a young Yezidi woman, who officials believe was held as a slave by the couple, and said it intends to reunite her with her family ‘as soon as feasible.'”

Happily, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter reports that no American troops were killed or injured during the raid.  He said the captured Umm Sayyaf was no bystander to her husbands nefarious activities, but played an important role in “terrorist activities,” and was likely “complicit in what appears to have been the enslavement” of the young Yezidi woman rescued by U.S. forces.  CBS News learned from Pentagon officials that about a dozen ISIS militants were killed during the raid.  “There were women and children at the site, but none of them were injured, the officials said.”

May 16: The Washington Post: Star Wars Technology May Be Closer Than You Think!
It’s 6-foot-2, with laser eyes and vise-grip hands. It can walk over a mess of jagged cinder blocks, cut a hole in a wall, even drive a car. And soon, Leo, Lockheed Martin’s humanoid robot, will move from the development lab to a boot camp for robots, where a platoon’s worth of the semiautonomous mechanical species will be tested to see if they can be all they can be.  Next month, the Pentagon is hosting a $3.5 million, international competition that will pit robot against robot in an obstacle course designed to test their physical prowess, agility, and even their awareness and cognition.

Galvanized by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power disaster in 2011, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the Pentagon’s band of mad scientists that have developed the “artificial spleen,” bullets that can change course midair and the Internet — has invested nearly $100 million into developing robots that could head into disaster zones off limits to humans.

May 16: The Daily Caller:  Congressman Demands Change in Obama Terror for Hostage Exchange Policy
An amendment passed by the House of Representatives Thursday would require President Barack Obama to name an official to oversee the handling of Americans held by terrorists abroad.  The amendment affects the annual defense budget, and would create an “Interagency Hostage Recovery Coordinator” to rescue Americans held abroad. The House’s version of the budget bill, called the National Defense Authorization Act, passed Friday.  

Congressman Hunter (R-CA) amendment has criticized the government’s approach to hostages held by terrorist groups since the case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl first came to light in 2013. Joe Kasper, the California Republican’s chief of staff said that “within that context, we were able to see very closely how dysfunctional things were” as various government agencies scrambled to manage Bergdahl’s extraction from Taliban captivity with little coordination — “all freelancing and doing their own thing.”

May 13: The Hill: House Democrats to Oppose Defense Department Bill
House Republicans and Democrats are headed for a showdown this week over the $612 defense authorization bill.  Democratic leadership is lining up against a bill that has been historically passed with bipartisan support, hours before the House takes up the bill on the floor. Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA) of “You need to pass the bill to learn what’s in it” will whip members of her party against the bill.    "This bill is the wrong bill," House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (CA) said at a press briefing.  Democrats are opposing the $612 billion bill because it would leave spending ceilings in place that were created by the 2011 Budget Control Act, while increasing war funding.   The Republican defense bill would authorize $523 billion in base funding for the Pentagon, and an additional $96 billion in war funding.  President Obama had requested more in base funding and less in war funding: $561 billion and $51 billion. 

May 8: MyHighPlains.com: Abbott working to calm fears of Texans over Summer Military Exercises
Governor Greg Abbott, R-TX, says he's trying to bring calm to some Texans about a military exercise that will take place in Texas and six other states.  The eight-week exercise, known as Jade Helm 15, will begin July 15 and involves U.S. Specials Operations Forces such as Navy Seals and Green Berets. They will use public and private lands to train for overseas missions.

The prospect of armed federal troops in Texas has ignited a host of concerns and speculation about the military's motives -- ranging from the military's intention to impose martial law to a government conspiracy to launch a hostile takeover of Texas to taking away people's gun rights. Abbott said he wants Texans to understand the military is there to protect and that the training exercises are ways that will help get them better prepared.  He said he's been in contact with the military and feels assured the exercise will be a normal military operation.  "It's so important to understand that there probably is no state in America that is more deeply connected to the military or honors the military more. And my office has been in communication with military at multiple levels, and we have the greatest assurances that these are normal military operations and they're going to work out just fine," Abbott said.  The Jade Helm 15 exercise will also take place in Arizona, New Mexico, California, and other southwestern states.

April 25: National Review:  Senate Republicans Cave on Loretta Lynch AG Appointment
On Thursday morning, top Republican strategist Karl Rove proclaimed, “The dysfunctional Congress finally appears to be working again as the Founders intended.” Just hours later, the GOP-controlled Senate confirmed as attorney general — i.e., as the chief federal law-enforcement officer of the United States — a lawyer who quite openly supports the systematic non-enforcement of federal law. In fact, Ms. Lynch also supports President Obama’s blatantly unconstitutional usurpations of legislative authority, including most notoriously, of Congress’s power to set the terms of lawful presence by aliens in our country.

But can someone as smart as Carl Rove is really think Congress under Republican control is working as the Founders intended? The Founders intended Congress to rein in a president who behaved like a monarch. Anyone who has read the 1787 constitutional-convention debates knows they would have impeached and removed a president for a bare fraction of the malfeasance carried out by President Obama. The Founders, moreover, thought oaths of office were serious business — having pledged their own lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the cause of liberty against great odds and a great power that would have put them to death had the revolution failed. They therefore required (in Article II, Section 1) that the president take an oath to execute the laws faithfully, and to preserve, protect, and defend a Constitution that Mr. Obama takes less seriously than his NCAA brackets. Beyond that, the Founders mandated (in Article VI) that oaths to support the Constitution also be taken by senators and executive-branch officers, among others.

March 26: InfoWars: DOD Exercise Draws Attention as Texas and Utah Labeled “Hostile Territory”
A key component of the controversial Jade Helm military exercise set to take part in nine U.S. states this summer will involve soldiers operating “undetected amongst civilian populations,” to see if they can infiltrate without being noticed.  The “realistic” military training exercise, which will involve the Green Berets, Navy Seals, and the 82nd Airborne Division, is set to take place from July 15-Sepember 15, but has prompted concerns after Texas and Utah were labeled “hostile” territory in documents related to the exercise.  A Houston Chronicle report reveals that soldiers will attempt to blend in with the local population in an effort to test the effectiveness of infiltration techniques. Residents will be advised to report “suspicious activity” during the exercise.  “They’re going to set up cells of people and test how well they’re able to move around without getting too noticed in the community,” said Roy Boyd, chief deputy with the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office. “They’re testing their abilities to basically blend in with the local environment and not stand out and blow their cover.”

By directly involving unwitting members of the local population, this aspect of the drill contradicts the Army’s assertion that, “The public can expect nothing much different from their day-to-day activities since much of exercise will be conducted in remote areas.”   The Army contends that the exercises are designed to prepare troops for foreign occupations and has nothing to do with preparations for martial law.  No less than 17 different Texas cities will see an Army presence as part of the exercise, which will involve, “participants in civilian dress and civilian vehicles, military aircraft, low-altitude airdrops of personnel and weapons with blank rounds, to avert fearful reactions”.

February 17: The Hill: Holder wants a halt to the Death Penalty until Supreme Court Rules:
Attorney General Eric Holder called Tuesday for a national moratorium on the death penalty until the Supreme Court weighs in on the issue later this year.  “Our system of justice is the best in the world. It is comprised of men and women who do the best they can, get it right more often than not, substantially more right than wrong. But there's always the possibility that mistakes will be made,” he said.  “It is one thing to put somebody in jail for an extended period of time, have some new test that you can do and determine that person was, in fact, innocent. There is no ability to correct a mistake where somebody has, in fact, been executed. And that is from my perspective the ultimate nightmare.”

Holder went on to say he disagrees with Justice Antonin Scalia, who has said the U.S. has never executed an innocent person.   “It’s inevitable,” he said during a luncheon at the National Press Club. Late last month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from death row inmates in Oklahoma who are challenging the state’s procedures for lethal injections.  "I think a moratorium until the Supreme Court makes that decision would be appropriate," Holder said.

February 6: Reuters: Justice Department Charges Six with supporting Islamic Militant Groups
Six people have been charged with providing money and equipment including U.S. military uniforms, combat boots, tactical gear, and firearms accessories to foreign fighters joining al Qaeda, Nusra Front and Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday.  The six are Bosnian natives living in Missouri, Illinois and New York. Five of them were arrested in the United States and charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists. The sixth person is overseas, the department said in a statement.  The Grand Jury indictment said people in Turkey and Saudi Arabia acted as intermediaries who received the money and property from the defendants in the U.S. and transferred them to militants fighting with groups in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.  It was also disclosed that two of the accused parties discussed buying a night-vision optic with a built-in camera for recording killings while fighting in the Middle East, according to the indictment.  All those indicted were charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists, and with providing material support to terrorists. 

U.S. Navy's Big Rail Gun RevealedFebruary 6: The Daily Caller: Navy’s New Gun fires projectiles
at up to Mach 7 – No Powder or Explosives Needed!

The U.S. Navy publicly unveiled its latest futuristic weapon at the Future Force Science and Technology Expo in Washington, D.C. this week — the electromagnetic railgun, which can fire projectiles at an air-splitting 5,300 miles per hour.  By using electromagnetic pulses to generate a magnetic force between two rails, the latest prototype of the railgun developed by defense contractor BAE in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research can accelerate a projectile up to Mach 7 within 10 milliseconds. The gun uses no gunpowder to generate propelling force for its shots, which hit with such destructive force, they don’t need to carry any explosive ordinance.  “It’s like a flux capacitor,” chief of Naval research Rear Admiral Mathias Winter said in a video posted on YouTube. “You’re sitting here thinking about these next generation and futuristic ideas, and we’ve got scientists who have designed these, and it’s coming to life.”

February 4: Breitbart News: Rand Paul  to oppose Lynch AG Nomination
Sen. Rand Paul will oppose—very publicly—the nomination of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General of the United States.  The Kentucky Republican is unveiling his opposition to Lynch on Greta Van Susteren’s On The Record program on Fox News.  Paul asked the team about Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) question during Lynch’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing about whether she’d oppose using a drone to kill an American citizen on American soil.  When Paul heard about her non-answer—she wouldn’t commit that the federal government does not have such authority—he was incredulous. Furthermore, Paul was appalled that Lynch came out in favor of President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty and the use of asset forfeiture—where the federal government seizes people’s property sometimes with flimsy reasoning, something even the Obama administration has offered slight opposition to—and then told his office staff he’s going to oppose her and aim to derail her nomination chances. “Oh, she’s going down,” Paul said. 

January 27: Fox News: Senate to start hearings on Lynch nomination to AG position: Immigration and IRS expected to be focus of the meeting:
Senate hearings begin Wednesday on whether to confirm U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch as President Obama’s next attorney general, with Judiciary Committee members set to question her aggressively on such issues as immigration law and potential overreaches by the IRS and federal law enforcement.  The hearings in the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee are expected to begin with Republican members asking Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, about whether she thinks Obama has overstepped his executive authority by deferring deportation for millions of illegal immigrants.   “It will be a long first day, because my approach … is to allow for as many questions as necessary to ensure that members have a chance to receive answers in person if they’d like,” said committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R-IA)

January 27: Fox News: Ex-military Intel Officer says White House is delaying announcement that Bergdahl will be charged with desertion:
A former military intelligence officer claimed Tuesday that the White House was delaying the announcement of its decision to file desertion charges against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released by Taliban-aligned militants last year in exchange for five Guantanamo prisoners.  In defending claims he originally made Monday on "The O'Reilly Factor" that Bergdahl would be charged, retired Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer told Bill O'Reilly that there was "no doubt" the White House was dragging out its decision.  That accusation had resulted in a strong denial from the Pentagon earlier in the day.  "They said there's no time limit on this decision. (Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John) Kirby even said there's no pressure ... Of course, the moment you say that, there's pressure," said Shaffer, who works at the London Center for Policy Research. "What they didn't say was more compelling than their denial."  Shaffer, who believes the White House's alleged decision to delay its announcement is politically motivated, added that he stands by "all of those facts," referring to his report on Monday that Bergdahl's lawyer has been given a statement of charges.

January 22: The Daily Caller: DOJ Won’t File Against Wilson in Ferguson Case – It’s Over!
The Justice Department is preparing to clear Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson of violating the civil rights of Michael Brown.  Federal law enforcement officials are putting the finishing touches on a legal memo recommending that Wilson not face charges, which would have required the Justice Department to show that Wilson intended to violate the civil rights of Brown — who is black — when he opened fire.  They can’t build a case against him because there is no case against him. They knew that going in. This was a purely political move. Now that it’s safe to drop it, they’re dropping it.  Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in self-defense. It’s over. You can whine all you want, you can blurt out as many stupid, dishonest slogans as you want, but it’s over.

Air Crew loads Sonobouys into wing of an ASW aircraftJanuary 4: KOMO News: Navy’s CINCPACFLT considers
hundreds of Sonobouys Off the U.S. West Coast

The U.S. Navy could significantly increase the number of sonobuoys it plans to deploy off the Pacific Coast.  The floating, acoustic surveillance devices are used in anti-submarine warfare.  The Oregon Reports that in a modified environmental assessment for Northwest training and testing, the Navy increased the number of planned sonobuoys from 20 to 720.  They would be in areas at least 12 miles offshore from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Northern California.  The Navy acknowledges that deploying more of them is likely to harm endangered leatherneck turtles. It's accepting public comments until Feb. 2.  In addition to more buoys, the document also details additional "maritime security operations" that weren't reviewed in the earlier environmental assessment, possibly including escorts for submarines, search-and-seizure exercises, and anti-piracy missions.

December 31: The Daily Caller: President Aborts Pro-Life Judicial Appointment
President Obama dumped one of his federal judgeship picks after a pressure campaign by a pro-abortion group that opposed the nominee’s pro-life record.  The White House said Wednesday that it will not re-nominate Michael Boggs to a federal judgeship in Georgia. The U.S. Senate did not vote on Boggs in the year 2014, during which time his candidacy withered on the vine. Boggs was one of the few conservative-leaning figures that Obama ever nominated to anything, and only because of a political deal with some Georgia Republicans.  “We’re disappointed that pro-choice President Obama nominated someone who doesn’t share our pro-choice values. We agree with the president on a lot of things, but not this pick,” NARAL Pro-Choice America, a group with close ties to the President, stated in a 2014 petition opposing Boggs.  “Michael Boggs showed us his true personal agenda as a state lawmaker. Judges hold an incredible responsibility when they take the bench. Americans need to trust them to take an objective view of the law and not use their position to advance their personal agenda. We can’t trust Michael Boggs,” NARAL said in a petition to stop Boggs’ confirmation.”

December 17:  The Daily Mail: Russians flock to stores to purchase items before major price increases
Russian consumers flocked to the stores Wednesday, frantically buying a range of big-ticket items to pre-empt the price rises kicked off by the staggering fall in the value of the ruble in recent days.  As the Russian authorities announced a series of measures to ease the pressure on the ruble, which slid 15 percent in the previous two days and raised fears of a bank run, many Russians were buying cars and home appliances — in some cases in record numbers — before prices for these imported goods shoot higher.  The Swedish furniture giant IKEA already warned Russian consumers that its prices will rise Thursday, which resulted in weekend-like crowds at a Moscow store on a Wednesday afternoon. 

Shops selling a broad range of items were reporting record sales — some have even suspended operations, unsure of how far the ruble will sink. Apple, for one, has halted all online sales in Russia.  "This is a very dangerous situation. We are just a few days away from a full-blown run on the banks," Russia's leading business daily Vedomosti said in an editorial Wednesday. "If one does not calm down the currency market right now, the banking system will need robust emergency care."

Blimps are back for tests to see if they can provide targeting information against cruise missilesDecember 17: Stars and Stripes: Army: New Blimp-like radar platform for identifying cruise missiles revealed
The Army showed off a blimp-like airship Wednesday that is designed to help the military detect and destroy cruise missiles speeding toward the nation's capital or other major East Coast cities.  The radar-toting vehicle will be launched next week as part of a three-year test of the system at Aberdeen Proving Ground, about 25 miles northeast of Baltimore.  When fully deployed next spring, the system will feature two, unmanned, helium-filled aerostats, tethered to concrete pads 4 miles apart. They'll float at an altitude of 10,000 feet, about one-third as high as a commercial airliner's cruising altitude.

One balloon will continuously scan in a circle from upstate New York to North Carolina's Outer Banks, and as far west as central Ohio. The other will carry precision radar to help the military on the ground to pinpoint targets.  The aerostats won't carry weapons, military officials said. Enemy missiles would be destroyed by air-, ground- or ship-based weapons.  The deployment of these air ships is part of a multiyear test for the U.S. military.

December 2: The Washington Post: New Defense Secretary and Old Tensions Remain
President Obama may have picked a new defense secretary, but an older and thornier problem remains: The commander in chief, who publicly committed to ending America’s two wars, must find ways to inspire the men and women he continues to send into battle.  Obama has had a difficult relationship with the military and his defense secretaries, who have often questioned his passion and commitment to the military’s mission. Those misgivings could grow as troops, haunted by the muddled outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan, increasingly ask whether the past 12 years of war were worth it.

Ashton B. Carter, the president’s likely choice for defense secretary, has spent much of his professional life around the military and the Pentagon, he has a reputation as a savvy technocrat with deep familiarity with the Defense Department’s weapons programs and budget process. But he hasn’t been a major architect of the administration’s war strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unlike many of his predecessors, he has never served in uniform or led troops in combat.  Now he will probably take over at a particularly perilous time for the military, which is dealing with steep budget cuts, an uncertain outcome in Afghanistan, and a mission in Iraq and Syria that Pentagon officials have said could stretch for years.  All are likely to deepen pre­existing tensions. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the White House sought to down play reports of recent acrimony.

November 29: Associated Press:President/Pentagon, an Uneasy Relationship
On a trip to Afghanistan during the President’s first term, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was stunned to find a telephone line at the military's special operations headquarters that linked directly back to a top White House national security official. "I had them tear it out while I was standing there," Gates said earlier this month as he recounted his discovery. "I told the commanders, `If you get a call from the White House, you tell them to go to hell and call me.'" To Gates, the phone in Kabul came to symbolize Obama's efforts to micromanage the Pentagon and centralize decision-making in the White House. That criticism later would be echoed publicly and pointedly by Gates' successor, Leon Panetta.

There have been similar gripes from other Cabinet officials, but the friction between the White House and the Pentagon has been particularly pronounced during the President’s six years in office. That dynamic already appears to be affecting the president's ability to find a replacement for Hagel, who resigned Monday under pressure from Obama.  Within hours, former Pentagon official Michele Flournoy called Obama to take herself out of consideration, even though she was widely seen as his top choice and would have been the first woman to hold the post.

November 21: The Daily Signal: White House/DOJ Sought to stop Attkisson reporting on Fast & Furious
Newly released documents show the White House and Justice Department targeted investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson in hopes of thwarting her reporting for CBS News on the secretive government operation called Fast and Furious.  In an email exchange, a press aide to Attorney General Eric Holder tells a spokesman for President Obama that Attkisson is “out of control” and says she plans to complain to Bob Schieffer, a CBS veteran of four decades and the network’s chief Washington correspondent.  The exchange is among documents obtained by government watchdog group Judicial Watch, which is seeking information from the Justice Department as part of a 2012 Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuit.

Judicial Watch’s President released a formal statement saying about the disclosure: “Judicial Watch’s tenacious lawsuit has led to the first public disclosure of Fast and Furious documents at the heart of the historic contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder. These documents, many of which are heavily blacked out, withheld for over two years by President Obama, are a road map [to] the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious cover-up and deadly lies.”

November 8: The Daily Caller:  Cruz and Lee want to know where White House nominee for AG stands on “executive amnesty”
Following President Obama’s formal nomination Saturday of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, two U.S. Senators indicated that a major sticking point for them as they weigh her nomination will be her stance on Obama’s plan for executive amnesty.  “The Attorney General is the President’s chief law enforcement officer. As such, the nominee must demonstrate full and complete commitment to the law. Loretta Lynch deserves the opportunity to demonstrate those qualities, beginning with a statement whether or not she believes the President’s executive amnesty plans are constitutional and legal,” wrote Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT).

October 30: Politico: More Turmoil for House Lawsuit against Obama:
House Speaker John Boehner’s still-unfiled lawsuit against President Barack Obama for exceeding his constitutional power is in more trouble.  For the second time in two months, a major law firm has ceased work on the lawsuit, sources say.  A spokesman for Boehner said Wednesday evening that House leaders are considering having the lawsuit filed by lawyers already on the House payroll.  “The litigation remains on track, but we are examining the possibility of forgoing outside counsel and handling the litigation directly through the House, rather than through law firms that are susceptible to political pressure from wealthy, Democratic-leaning clients,” Smith said.

Boehner’s office also suggested the suit, which planned to challenge Obama’s failure to implement aspects of his health care reform law, could be broadened if Obama goes forward, as promised, with plans for executive action on immigration.

October 29: Fox News: Holder says he regrets subpoena of Fox reporter
Attorney General Eric Holder says he has one regret: his department's court order for Fox News reporter James Rosen's emails labeling him a criminal "co-conspirator."   Holder was referring to a 2010 search warrant application seeking Rosen's emails. The Justice Department at the time was investigating who leaked information contained in a series of reports by Rosen in 2009 about North Korea's nuclear weapons program. 

In the course of seeking Rosen's emails, an FBI agent submitted an affidavit claiming there was evidence that Rosen broke the law, "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator." The affidavit went so far as to invoke the Espionage Act -- pertaining to the unauthorized gathering and transmitting of defense information. 

October 16: The Hill: Holder’s Deputy Announces his resignation
The Justice Department's second-raking official is preparing to step down, completing an exodus of top brass from the agency, according to a DOJ official.  Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole would become the third high-ranking member of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to announce his departure in recent weeks. Attorney General Holder announced plans to leave in late September, though he has pledged to remain in office until his successor is in place. The White House has indicated that President Obama would not nominate anyone for the position until after the November midterm elections.

Associate Attorney General Tony West, the third-ranking DOJ official, stepped downon Sept. 15, leaving the agency to become general counsel at PepsiCo.  As deputy attorney general, Cole has overseen day-to-day operations at the agency for nearly four years, making him the second longest serving deputy attorney general in history and the longest serving in more than 50 years.  He was most visible on issues involving data collection and was closely involved with the agency’s response to legalization of marijuana in some states. He also has been vocal about the department’s willingness to pursue criminal cases against Wall Street banks.

October 3: Politico:  Judge asked to fine Holder or put him in jail:
A House committee is asking a federal judge to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of court for failing to comply with a deadline a judge set to turn over documents related to the Justice Department’s response to Operation Fast and Furious by October 1st.  In a motion filed Thursday afternoon,  U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson was asked to fine Holder personally for not complying with Jackson’s order issued in August requiring the Attorney General to turn over non-privileged documents responsive to a committee subpoena by Oct. 1.  House lawyers even suggest it may be necessary to throw the attorney general in jail to get him to abide by the court order. [See related story]

“Should the Court determine that the Attorney General has violated that Order, the Court should impose on the Attorney General an appropriate penalty to coerce his compliance with the August 20 Order, including an escalating daily monetary fine against Eric H. Holder, Jr., to be paid by Mr. Holder out of his personal assets, converting to incarceration if the payment of daily monetary fines does not produce compliance within a reasonable period of time,” House Counsel Kerry Kircher and other lawyers wrote in their motion.

September 25: The Daily CallerHolder Resigns after tumultuous tenure – May be clearing the way for a Supreme Court Nomination:
Eric Holder Jr., the nation's first black U.S. attorney general, will resign his post after a tumultuous tenure including being found in Contempt of Congress.  Rush Limbaugh apparently thinks Holder may be stepping down to make it easier for President Barack Obama to nominate him to the Supreme Court, should a vacancy arise.  “There may be a Supreme Court vacancy — and I can see Barack Obama nominating Eric Holder to fill it,” Limbaugh said on his radio show.  Currently there are no vacancies on the High Court, but four of the nine justices are over 70. While it is hard to imagine one of the conservative justices resigning while Obama is president, it isn’t impossible in theory to imagine liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, 81, resigning her seat so a liberal president could nominate her replacement.

But Ginsberg just reject the possibility earlier this year:  “Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have?” she said. “If I resign any time this year, he could not successfully appoint anyone I would like to see in the court.”  “[The Senate Democrats] took off the filibuster for lower federal court appointments, but it remains for this court,” she added. “So anybody who thinks that if I step down, Obama could appoint someone like me, they’re misguided.”

September 25: The Washington Times: The Injustice of Eric Holder
Even we were shocked when we researched our new book, “Obama’s Enforcer:  Eric Holder’s Justice Department,” at the extent to which Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has politicized the Justice Department and put the interests of left-wing ideology and his political party ahead of the fair and impartial administration of justice. However, there is no doubt that the American public has also recognized just how politically corrupt Mr. Holder is, given this month’s very embarrassing poll conducted by Hart Research for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal.

The poll asked respondents their opinions about 10 different national political officials, ranging from Bill Clinton to President Obama to Eric Holder, as well as the Democratic and Republican parties. They were given choices of very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, very negative and “don’t know the name.” About a third of respondents didn’t know who Mr. Holder is (37 percent). However, those Americans who knew Mr. Holder gave him the second-lowest “positive” rating of anyone or any organization on the survey at a mere 15 percent. Only Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio had a lower “positive” rating than Mr. Holder. The attorney general’s “positive” rating was less than half of the positive rating of the Republican Party and 27 points behind that of his boss, Mr. Obama, who was rated favorably by only 42 percent of respondents.

September 25: Fox News: F-22 Rapture Performs Well under fire:
Developed by Lockheed Martin, the F-22 has been touted as the world’s premier fighter aircraft and a key weapon in the U.S. military’s high-tech arsenal. However, with a price tag of $67 billion and beset by problems, the F-22 program has come under intense scrutiny. Only 188 of the planes have been built.  Set against this backdrop, defense experts were eager to see if the plane lived up to its billing.  The attack on an Islamic State command and control center in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa was an ideal mission for the F-22, according to experts. 

The target was right in the heart of a city so there needed to be a very precise hit – to destroy the target and not anything else.  Capable of flying faster than the speed of sound without afterburners, reports also suggest that the stealth fighter routinely flies above 50,000 feet.  It’s extremely high speed and altitude increases the effectiveness of its weapons, causing more damage.  This week’s  airstrikes took place well inside airspace guarded by Syrian air defense radars and surface to air missile batteries, where Syrian planes involved in the country’s civil war usually operate. The F-22’s ability to enter a target area largely undetected was therefore extremely useful.

September 19: The Washington Free Beacon:  Russian Nuclear Bombers Buzz Alaskan and European Defense Zones:
Russian strategic nuclear bombers carried out air defense zone incursions near Alaska and across Northern Europe this week in the latest nuclear saber rattling by Moscow.  Six Russian aircraft, including two Bear H nuclear bombers, two MiG-31 fighter jets and two IL-78 refueling tankers were intercepted by F-22 fighters on Wednesday west and north of Alaska in air defense identification zones, said Navy Capt. Jeff A. Davis, a spokesman for the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command. Two other Bears were intercepted by Canadian jets on Thursday.  “The group of Russian aircraft flew a loop south, returning westward toward Russia,” Davis told the Free Beacon.  A day later two more Bear bombers were intercepted by Canadian CF-18 jets in the western area of the Canadian air defense identification zone near the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska, he said.

The Russian bombers did not enter U.S. airspace but flew within 63 miles of the Alaskan coast and 46 miles of the Canadian coastline, Davis said.  In both instances, the Russian bombers did not enter sovereign airspace, he added, noting the Russian aircraft flew within about 55 nautical miles of the Alaskan coastline, and within about 40 nautical miles of the Canadian coastline.  One defense official said the Russian bomber activity appeared timed to the visit to the United States and Canada by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The Ukrainian leader was in Ottawa for meetings with Canadian leaders on Wednesday. He met with President Obama on Thursday.

French Rafale Military JetsSeptember 19: ReutersFrench Jets wing their way in Iraq,
joining U.S.-led air war against ISIS

French jets struck a suspected Islamic State target in Iraq for the first time on Friday, expanding a U.S.-led military campaign against militants who have seized a third of the country and also control large parts of neighboring Syria.  President Francois Hollande said Rafale jets hit "a logistics depot of the terrorists" near the city of Mosul, which has been held by Islamic State for more than three months. It promised more operations in coming days.  The French military action, which follows U.S. air strikes in northern Iraq and near the capital Baghdad, appeared to win qualified endorsement from Iraq's top Shi'ite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

September 19:  Fox News: Australia increases security after ISIS threat against lawmakers
Intercepted intelligence indicating Islamic State militants could be planning to attack Australian lawmakers triggered a security alert at  the country's Parliament building Friday.  Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Australian Federal Police would ramp up security in the Parliament House building in Canberra after agencies intercepted intelligence pointing to attacks against lawmakers, including Abbott, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The development comes a day after hundreds of heavily armed police carried out raids in major Australian cities to disrupt an alleged plot by Islamic State militants to snatch people off the streets and behead at least one.  Abbott has approved the deployment of Australian warplanes and 200 special-forces soldiers to Iraq to join the U.S.-led global coalition to attack ISIS insurgents.

August 21: Roll Call: Top Republican from Senate Intelligence wants Special Counsel to investigate prisoner swap:
The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee wants a special counsel to investigate President Barack Obama’s swap of five Taliban members for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  An aide to Sen. Saxby Chambliss said in an email that the Georgia Republican wants the Department of Justice to appoint a special counsel to investigate the prisoner swap, which the GAO contended Thursday violated federal law.  The GAO opinion said the administration violated the notice requirement for transfers out of the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the Antideficiency Act, which is the federal law barring spending without appropriated funds. The Defense Department has contended that the notice requirement is unconstitutional.

“This legal decision further validates the argument I have been making with many of my colleagues against the administration’s release of the Taliban Five,” Chambliss said. “By failing to notify Congress 30 days in advance as required by the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act, the president completely disregarded laws duly passed by Congress and signed by his own hand.

August 21: The Daily Caller: GAO says Obama Administration Broke the Law:
The Obama administration broke the law earlier this year by secretly ordering the swap of five Guantanamo Bay detainees in return for American prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, according to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.  The report, released Thursday, faulted the Department of Defense for transferring the five detainees to Qatar without giving a heads up to congressional committees 30 days in advance, as required by the law. Citing the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014, the GAO said in a summary that, “Section 8111 prohibits DOD from using appropriated funds to transfer any individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay unless the secretary of defense notifies certain congressional committees at least 30 days before the transfer.”  It also said the Pentagon violated the Antideficiency Act by spending money on this swap in a “manner specifically prohibited by law.”

August 14: The Free Beacon: U.S. Postal Service apologizes for denying mail deliveries to Israel:
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is apologizing to customers in several states who were reportedly denied delivery of their mail to Israel, according to a USPS spokesman.  The USPS has faced criticism in recent days from human rights groups after reports from several states emerged that customers were told that mail to Israel was not being accepted as a result of the current conflict in the Gaza Strip and the brief suspension in U.S. flights to the Jewish State. 

July 18: The Daily Caller: Operation “Choke Point” hearing reveals DOJ Threats and Strong Arm Practices
A Justice Department fraud prevention program came under fire Thursday for allegedly morphing into actively pressuring banks to deny financial services to businesses for political reasons.  Operation Choke Point functions as a partnership between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and various other federal agencies which deal with bank regulations, specifically the Treasury and the SEC. The objective of the project is to choke-off fraudulent businesses from accessing financial services, in an effort to protect consumers.

The controversy, however, is over allegations that the DOJ is pressuring financial institutions to decline doing business with so-called “high risk” industries which line up squarely against the political leanings of the current administration. These businesses include ammunition sales, payday loans, fireworks companies, and others—24 industries in total, as listed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  “Operation Choke Point is one of the most dangerous programs I have experienced in my 45 years of service as a bank regulator, bank attorney and consultant, and bank board member. Operating without legal authority and guided by a political agenda, unelected officials at the DOJ are discouraging banks from providing basic banking services…to lawful businesses simply because they don’t like them,” said William M. Isaac, former chairman of the FDIC.

July 13: The Hill: Holder says DOJ will fight same-sex marriage bans
The Justice Department will file a brief arguing the Supreme Court should prevent states from banning same-sex marriage, Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday.  Holder said in an interview with ABC News that if the high court agrees to hear any of the legal challenges to state bans on homosexual marriage, the Obama administration will argue such laws are unconstitutional. Last week, officials in Utah said they would ask the Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling enabling homosexual marriage in the state.

The attorney general said such an action would be ”consistent with the actions that we have taken over the past couple of years." Under Holder, the Justice Department refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal spousal benefits for same-sex couples. The Supreme Court last year gutted a key provision of that law, holding that the federal government should not define marriage exclusively as heterosexual unions.

July 13: The Washington Times: DOJ to investigate Nebraska parade float critical to Obama – an issue of Free Speech?
The Department of Justice has sent a member of its Community Relations Service team to investigate a Nebraska parade float that criticized President Obama.  A Fourth of July parade float featured at the annual Independence Day parade in Norfolk sparked criticism from some when it depicted a figure resembling Mr. Obama standing outside an outhouse, which was labeled the “Obama Presidential Library.” 

The Nebraska Democratic Party called the float one of the “worst shows of racism and disrespect for the office of the presidency that Nebraska has ever seen.”  The representative from DOJ is from the team that investigates discrimination disputes.  At issue here is what is, and is not, allowed under the free speech protections included in the First Amendment?  Regardless of whether the float was in good taste; are people in our country allowed to speak out against their President and his policies or must they toe the line?

July 2: Fox News: NSA Internet spying program an “effective tool” bipartisan privacy board says
A federal watchdog group said Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s data collection and surveillance program has been “an effective tool” for the country.  Seven months earlier, the same bipartisan group found fundamental flaws with another program, arguing in a January report that the NSA’s collection of domestic calling records “lacked a viable legal foundation” and recommended that it be shut down. 

But the latest report, voted on by the five-member board, found that the NSA's collection of Internet data within the United States passes constitutional muster and employs "reasonable" safeguards designed to protect the rights of Americans.  The board, made up of members appointed by President Obama, largely endorsed the controversial surveillance programs that have that been under scrutiny following revelations last year by former NSA employee Edward Snowden.  But the board’s report wasn’t all glowing. It said some aspects of the programs raise privacy concerns that merit new internal intelligence agency safeguards.

June 27: Military Equiment of local SWAT teamsNational Review: Barney Fife Meets Delta Force -- Hypermilitarized police departments are they more dangerous than whatever they fight.
Ooops! Wrong House!  A woman describes what happened one night.  They “threw a flashbang grenade inside,” she reported. It “landed in my son’s crib.” Now, her son is “covered in burns” and has “a hole in his chest that exposes his ribs.” So badly injured was he by the raid that he was “placed into a medically induced coma.” “They searched for drugs,” she confirmed, but they “never found any.” Nor, for that matter, did they find the person they were looking for. He doesn’t live there. “All of this,” she asks, “to find a small amount of drugs?”

Historians looking back at this period in America’s development will consider it to be profoundly odd that at the exact moment when violent crime hit a 50-year low, the nation’s police departments began to gear up as if the country were expecting invasion — and, on occasion, to behave as if one were underway. The ACLU reported recently that SWAT teams in the United States conduct around 45,000 raids each year, only 7 percent of which have anything whatsoever to do with the hostage situations with which those teams were assembled to contend. Paramilitary operations, the ACLU concluded, are “happening in about 124 homes every day — or more likely every night” — and four in five of those are performed in order that authorities might “search homes, usually for drugs.” Such raids routinely involve “armored personnel carriers,” “military equipment like battering rams,” and “flashbang grenades.”

Were the military being used in such a manner, we would be rightly outraged. Why not here? Certainly this is not a legal matter. The principle of posse comitatus draws a valuable distinction between the national armed forces and parochial law enforcement, and one that all free people should greatly cherish. Still, it seems plain that the potential threat posed by a domestic standing army is not entirely blunted just because its units are controlled locally. To add the prefix “para” to a problem is not to make it go away, nor do legal distinctions change the nature of power. “Over the past two decades, the federal government has happily sent weapons of war to local law enforcement, with nary a squeak from anyone involved with either political party. Are we comfortable with this?” the column asks.

June 14: The Daily Caller: Police Reports indicated Bergdahl’s Dad was a peeping-tom stalker
The father of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl creepily harassed a pair of twin sisters in Hailey, Idaho, for several months, according to police reports obtained by the Daily Mail.  In 2011, long before Robert “Bob” Bergdahl began learning Pashto and Arabic or tweeted a Taliban spokesman, police documents indicated bizarro bearded dad stalked Lacey and Allie Hillman.  He allegedly tried to steal a peek at one of the twins in the shower and even stole a little gnome from their garden.

June 13: Politico: GOP Senators Ask if Bergdahl Swap Broke Spending Law
Nine Republican appropriators are questioning whether the Pentagon ran afoul of a law that prevents spending funds without approval from Congress in the move to transfer five Taliban leaders to Qatar.  The letter, spearheaded by Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Defense subcommittee, asks the Government Accountability Office to review the move for possible violations of the federal spending law known as the Antideficiency Act.  “We are writing to request your legal opinion regarding whether the Department of Defense (DOD) incurred obligations in violation of section 8111 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 with regard to the transfer of five individuals from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the nation of Qatar,” the senators wrote in a letter to the Comptroller General.

The transfer of the senior Taliban figures came about as part of the swap that freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban custody in Afghanistan.  The signers of the letter also included Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), Appropriations ranking member Richard Shelby (AL), Lamar Alexander (TN), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Lindsey Graham (SC), Dan Coats (IN) and Roy Blunt (MO).  “If, indeed, DOD’s obligation of appropriated funds runs afoul of section 8111, we also seek your legal opinion as to whether DOD has violated the Antideficiency Act,” the senators wrote.

June 6: Fox News: Bergdahl declared Jihad in captivity, secret documents show:
U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl at one point during his captivity converted to Islam, fraternized openly with his captors and declared himself a "mujahid," or warrior for Islam, according to secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account and obtained by Fox News.  The reports indicate that Bergdahl's relations with his Haqqani captors morphed over time, from periods of hostility, where he was treated very much like a hostage, to periods where, as one source told Fox News, "he became much more of an accepted fellow" than is popularly understood. He even reportedly was allowed to carry a gun at times.

The reports are rich in on-the-ground detail -- including the names and locations of the Haqqani commanders who ran the 200-man rotation used to guard the Idaho native -- and present the most detailed view yet of what Bergdahl's life over the past five years has been like. These real-time dispatches were generated by the Eclipse Group, a shadowy private firm of former intelligence officers and operatives that has subcontracted with the Defense Department and prominent corporations to deliver granular intelligence on terrorist activities and other security-related topics, often from challenging environments in far-flung corners of the globe.

June 6: Time: Behind the Scenes of Bowe Bergdahl’s Release:
In the days and hours leading up to the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl last week, his Taliban captors in Pakistan prepared for a big send-off. Those selected to physically hand Bergdahl over to U.S. officials at a pre-arranged location on the other side of the border in Afghanistan rehearsed the messages they wanted to convey to the American people. A videographer was assigned to cover the event, for propaganda purposes.

Bergdahl, who was the only known remaining U.S. prisoner of war from the long conflict in Afghanistan, had learned basic Pashto during his incarceration and had made several friends among his Taliban captors, according to an Taliban commander. The tunic set given to him, along with the woven scarf that can also be worn as a turban, but is draped across Bergdahl’s shoulders in the Taliban video documenting his release, was a parting gift designed to demonstrate no personal ill will, says the commander: “We wanted him to return home with good memories.”

June 3: Fox News: Unequal treatment: Soldier in Mexican Jail verses release of Deserter in Afghanastan!
The Obama administration’s extraordinary effort to free Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has some wondering why the president can’t make a simple phone call on behalf of a former Marine being held in a Mexican prison after mistakenly driving across the border with registered guns.  Obama announced Saturday in a dramatic Rose Garden news conference that five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay would be exchanged for Bergdahl, a 28-year-old infantryman held captive for five years by the terrorist group. The swap angered many in the military and on Capitol Hill, because it went against long-standing policy of not bargaining with terrorists.

On Monday, a Fox News journalist asked State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki  why the administration would strike a precedent-shattering deal with the Taliban, yet can’t win Tahmooressi’s freedom from an ally and neighbor.  “I understand the desire to make comparisons, but we wouldn’t compare them,” Psaki said. “This is – was a Marine (sic) who was taken while in combat, and you’re talking about a situation of an individual who the Mexican authorities are accusing of violating the law.”

June 2: Fox News:  Arizona Congressman:  Mr. President, Help the Marine in Mexican Jail!
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) who recently visited Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi at his Mexican prison, told Greta Van Susteren Monday on “On the Record” The President needs to  get off his duff and do the right thing. Salmon said. “You’ve boldly said you have a pen and a phone – put that phone to good use for once and a while.”   He also said that when he visited Tahmooressi Saturday he was in good condition and good spirits. The Marine was arrested March 31 after he drove across the border with three weapons in his car. 

Salmon added, “this guy had no evil intent in going into Mexico. It was an inadvertent mistake. He had all of his belongings in his car and he was not going there to do anything with these weapons. He simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time and these people understand.  He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, he needs to get back to the United States and get his treatment. I am very hopeful though, after my conversation with the Mexican ambassador that they understand how important this is to many of us here in the United States.”

June 2: The Daily CallerHow Bergdahl could become Obama’s “Bergdahizi”
If President Barack Obama hoped his deal with the Taliban to bring back Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl would be a political boon in the midst of the VA scandal, he is in for a big surprise.  Soon after Obama revealed that Bergdahl was to be released, we learned the president agreed to release five of the most hardcore Taliban fighters from America’s terrorist detention facility in Guantanamo Bay in exchange.  “The Taliban 5 were some of the worst outlaws in the U.S. war on terror,” Eli Lake and Josh Rogin report in The Daily Beast, noting a Pentagon “dossier” that deemed all five “a high risk to launch attacks against the United States and its allies if they were liberated.”

Negotiating with terrorists is a dangerous and inadvisable policy under most circumstances. The long-term bad often outweighs whatever short-term good. While it is great to see the return of a captured soldier, giving into terrorist demands to get them back provides greater incentive for terrorists to go out and capture more American soldiers in the hopes of making future lopsided deals.

Perhaps Obama hoped that seeing a captured American serviceman return home would overwhelm any American outrage over the deal. But then we learned that Bergdahl was taken into Taliban captivity only after allegedly deserting his fellow troops.  “The sense of pride expressed by officials of the Obama administration at the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is not shared by many of those who served with him, veterans and soldiers who call him a deserter whose ‘selfish act’ ended up costing the lives of better men.” CNN’s Jake Trapper reports.  “At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl,” Tapper added.

June 2: The Daily Caller: Pentagon Official: White House Trade with the Taliban was “political”
Here is the truth: The deal to trade five senior Taliban detainees to secure the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was political. It was publicly justified with lies, it breaks decades of U.S. policy, it breaks American law, it puts Americans at risk, it undermines the government of Afghanistan, and it passes responsibility on to the next administration.  But first of all, it was political.  But no, it was not to take the spot light off of the failures at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Simply stated, it was because so long as Bergdahl remained in Taliban captivity in Pakistan, the Obama administration would never be able to close the chapter of the failed Afghanistan campaign it has owned since approving — and then under-resourcing — a surge of U.S. forces in the country.

Bergdahl’s captivity served as a constant reminder of President Barack Obama’s strategic failures while U.S. forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan. That’s something the Democrats cannot allow going into 2014 and 2016 elections. So the president agreed to an unprecedented deal in blatant violation of U.S. law and established precedent that undermines the safety and security of the United States and her citizens, once again choosing short-term political gain over long-term security interests.

June 2: The Daily Caller: White House Story is Unraveling:  U.S. Knew Bowe Bergdal Had Deserted and Investigated Him:
As early as 2010, the Pentagon had confirmed that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had deserted his post in 2009, and even before he deserted he had been the subject of “a major classified file” by U.S. intelligence.  A 2010 investigation by the Pentagon found there was solid evidence that Bergdahl hadn’t lagged behind on patrol, as first reported, and had indeed walked from his post, AP reports. The Pentagon decided at that point to draw down search-and-rescue operations. 

June 2: Media-ite: CNN’s Toobin: Obama Clearly Broke the Law!
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin declared on Monday that President Barack Obama “broke the law” when his administration failed to give Congress notice of at least 30 days before releasing five ranking Taliban members from Guantanamo Bay. Toobin said that a presidential signing statement did not absolve Obama from culpability for failing to abide by the law mandating congressional notification.  “I think he clearly broke the law,” Toobin said. “The law says 30-days’ notice. He didn’t give 30-days’ notice.” Toobin added that Obama’s opinion expressed in a signing statement “is not law.”  “The law is on the books, and he didn’t follow it,” Toobin added.

June 2: The Daily Mail: Is the Prisoner Swap an Impeachable Offense?
The Daily Mail, in a column asks if the recent prisoner swap is an impeachable offence noting that the  President ignored a law – which he signed last year – requiring him to notify Congress 30 days before releasing anyone from Guantanamo Bay.  It noted that the Obama  administration never told Capitol Hill until after Bergdahl was in American custody and the US Taliban prisoners were preparing to leave.  A former federal prosecutor told MailOnline that putting enemy combatants back in a position to harm Americans is an impeachable offense.

A White House insider said Obama administration officials didn't anticipate how controversial Bergdahl's rescue would be, and compared it to the 1981 release of 52 US hostages in Iran.  Since Saturday several of Bergdahl's former military comrades have said he was an Army deserter, and some have speculated that he also aimed to join with the Taliban in Afghanistan.  In addition an official Pentagon report concluded in 2010 that Bergdahl 'walked away,' so little effort was made to retrieve him, according to the AP.

June 1: The Hill: Cruz: Clinton Foreign Policy was a Disaster
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's foreign policy has been a "disaster."  "Her policies domestically and internationally haven't worked," Cruz contended on ABC's "This Week."   The potential 2016 GOP presidential contender said that Clinton -- a presidential contender in her own right -- has "deliberately stonewalled" questions about Benghazi.  "The sad thing with Secretary Clinton is that it seems to be all politics all the time," he said. 

Republicans have criticized Clinton and the administration for their handling of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack at a U.S. post in Benghazi in which four Americans were killed. Democrats have criticized conservatives for politicizing the issue.  "She's more focused on blaming the so-called vast right wing conspiracy than on the terrorists. The truth shouldn't be partisan," Cruz said on Sunday.

May 28: The Washington Times: Government Directive Outlines Obama Plan to use Military against Civilians:
A 2010 Pentagon directive on military support to civilian authorities details what critics say is a troubling policy that envisions the Obama Administration’s potential use of military force against Americans.  The directive contains noncontroversial provisions on support to civilian fire and emergency services, special events and the domestic use of the Army Corps of Engineers.  The troubling aspect of the directive outlines presidential authority for the use of military arms and forces, including unarmed drones, in operations against domestic unrest.  “This appears to be the latest step in the administration’s decision to use force within the United States against its citizens,” said a defense official opposed to the directive.

Directive No. 3025.18, “Defense Support of Civil Authorities,” was issued Dec. 29, 2010, and states that U.S. commanders “are provided emergency authority under this directive.”  “Federal military forces shall not be used to quell civil disturbances unless specifically authorized by the president in accordance with applicable law or permitted under emergency authority,” the directive states.  “In these circumstances, those federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances” under two conditions.

The conditions include military support needed “to prevent significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property and are necessary to restore governmental function and public order.” A second use is when federal, state and local authorities “are unable or decline to provide adequate protection for federal property or federal governmental functions.”

May 28: Stars and Stripes: Biden challenges Air Force Grads to Create a “New World Order”
Under a blazing sun, Vice President Joe Biden challenged graduating Air Force Academy cadets on Wednesday to help create a “new world order for the 21st century.”  Biden called on images from the end of World War II, part of a White House push to burnish a foreign policy that has been challenged by Russian aggression and continued trouble from North Africa to Afghanistan.  “I believe we and mainly you have an incredible opportunity to lead in shaping a new world order for the 21st century in a way consistent with American interests and common interests,” Biden said before shaking hands with 995 members of the class of 2014.

May 26: FT.Com: U.S. Foreign Policy – Trouble Abroad
Barack Obama is accused of timidity overseas, thereby raising fear and anger among allies.  High quality global journalism requires investment.  When President Obama ran for re-election in 2012, he pulled off what for Democrats was a remarkable feat – he took foreign policy off the table as a campaign issue. 

Republicans have sought to cast their Democratic opponents as weak in the face of foreign challenges. Yet fresh from his risky but successful military operation to extinguish Osama Bin Laden,  Obama side-stepped the usual assault during his re-election campaign. His challenger Mitt Romney hardly brought up foreign policy.  Eighteen months later, the political ground is shifting rapidly beneath Obama’s feet. As he prepares to give an important address on foreign policy at West Point tomorrow, the president finds himself under attack over what critics charge is a record of indecisive leadership.  From Saudi Arabia to Japan, officials have been wondering whether the US would still come to their defense.

May 12: Politico: FCC Wheeler scrambles to salvage net neutrality plan:
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is on the clock and scrambling to salvage his controversial net neutrality plan as the commission counts down to a crucial vote on Thursday.  According to FCC officials, he circulated his latest revisions Monday — trying to pick up the two votes he needs to pass the notice of proposed rule-making to ensure an open Internet.  In the most significant change, Wheeler will seek public comment on whether the FCC should reclassify broadband as a communications utility, giving the agency authority to regulate Internet rates and services as it does with telephone companies, according to commission officials. Net neutrality advocates favor that option as more robust, but it’s opposed by telecoms that fear it will give the government too much power over their business.

Wheeler’s original plan sparked outrage after details emerged that it would allow Internet-service providers, such as AT&T and Verizon, to charge companies like Netflix, Amazon and Google for faster delivery of content. The revised proposal keeps that basic approach but would seek comment on whether a “fast lane” should be banned. It also proposes a new ombudsman position at the FCC to act as a net neutrality advocate for startups and consumers.  “He’s trying to address concerns from his fellow Democrats on the Hill and at the FCC,” said Paul Gallant, managing director of Guggenheim Securities, a financial advisory firm. Democrats are concerned Wheeler is not asking enough questions about the proposal’s impact on consumers, he said. Turmoil has engulfed the FCC chairman’s latest effort to write the rules. The agency’s previous attempt was thrown out by a court as legally flawed.

Apr. 25: Yahoo News (Reuters): Holder Holding on until at least the midterm elections:
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder plans to stay on through November's mid-term elections and has no timeline for an exit after that, a Justice Department official told Reuters on Friday.  "The Attorney General does not plan to leave before the mid-terms. That does not mean that he is definitely leaving after the mid-terms, just that he is at least staying through that time," the official said. 

There has been speculation over when Holder, 63, might step down from the post he has held since shortly after President Barack Obama took office in 2009. Should Republicans win control of both chambers of Congress in the November elections, it may be difficult for a potential replacement for Holder to be confirmed.   Among Obama's cabinet members, Holder is said to have one of the closest relationships with the president. During his time in office, Holder has taken on issues in line with the president's agenda, such as civil rights, voting rights, and most recently, reducing sentencing for low-level drug offenders.

Apr. 23: Rasmussenreports.com:
New High: 61% Favor Building the Keystone XL Pipeline:
Support for building the Keystone XL pipeline is now at its highest level ever. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters now at least somewhat favor building the major oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, while just 27% are opposed. This includes 37% who Strongly Favor the project and 10% who Strongly Oppose it. Thirteen percent (13%) are undecided.

Apr. 23: Fox News: Maryland Natural Gas Project Draws Environmental Objections:
A liquefied natural gas facility in southern Maryland is generating intense criticism from environmental groups, in a fight that echoes the protracted battle over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Energy company Dominion Resources is hoping to invest up to $3.8 billion to upgrade the Cove Point LNG facility as an export terminal. If successful, it could become the East Coast's chief LNG export facility, sending billions of cubic feet of natural gas to Japan, India, and elsewhere.
Dominion stresses that the project would have a huge economic impact close to home as well. "The local area of Calvert County gets a huge benefit: $40 million dollars in additional taxes, property taxes, and the whole area of Maryland gets a benefit as well ... not to mention the U.S., from an export perspective," Mike Frederick, Dominion's VP of liquefied natural gas operations, told Fox News in an interview. 
The Department of Energy has given Dominion conditional permission to export gas. The company is awaiting an environmental assessment from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), due May 15. 

Apr. 22: Breitbart.com: Attorney General Greg Abbott to BLM:”Come and Take It!”
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott questions the authority of BLM to take 90,000 acres of privately owned land on the Texas-Oklahoma border.  “I am about ready to go to the Red River and rais a ‘Come and take it’ flag to tell the feds to stay out of Texas” Abbott said.   He also sent a strongly-worded letter to the BLM Director (who happens to be related to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) asking for answers to a series of questions related to the potential land grab.

“This is the latest line of attack by the Obama Administration where it seems like they have a complete disregard for the rule of law in this country ...And now they’ve crossed the line quite literally by coming into the State of Texas and trying to claim Texas land as federal land. And, as the Attorney General of Texas I am not going to allow this,” Abbott said.  “I think that we should be able to resolve this from a legal standpoint because, I believe, what the BLM is doing clearly violates the law. They don’t have any legal standing whatsoever to do this and that’s why I have issued this letter today.”

Apr. 21: Breitbart.com: BLM Eyeing 90,000 Acres of Texas Land on Border with Oklahoma
After the recent Bureau of Land Management episode in Nevada, Texans are becoming concerned about BLM’s focus on 90,000 acres along a 116 mile stretch of the Texas/Oklahoma  boundary.  BLM is reviewing the possible Federal takeover and ownership of privately-held lands which have been deeded property for generations of Texas landowners.

Claiming that because Texas was part of the Louisiana purchase, Texas did not have the authority to deed property to private citizens the BLM could intend to argue that the land comes under federal jurisdiction. In a 1986 case BLM was successful in attempting to seize 140 acres of land along the Red River from Tommy Henderson.  Henderson received no compensation in return for the loss of his land.

In the meantime KFOR.Com – Channel 4 News reports that the 50,000 man Oklahoma militia have joined the controversy. Spokesman Scott Shaw says the Oklahoma Militia members are ready to take up arms against the federal government if need be.  “It’s up to the feds. The ball’s in their court!” he said.  “You can do this legally or if you want to try to do a land grab violently, you can do that. [but] we’re going to resist you!”

Apr. 19: BreitBart.com: Justice Scalia: It’s foolish to have the Supreme Court Decide if NSA Wiretapping is Unconstitutional
Thursday in an interview conducted at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg talked about their views of the First Amendment. Moderator Marvin Kalb questioned Scalia about whether the NSA wiretapping cloud be conceivably be in violation of the Constitution:

Justice Antonin Scalia said, "No because it's not absolute. As Ruth has said there are very few freedoms that are absolute. I mean your person is protected by the Fourth Amendment but as I pointed out when you board a plane someone can pass his hands all over your body that's a terrible intrusion, but given the danger that it's guarding against it's not an unreasonable intrusion. And it can be the same thing with acquiring this data that is regarded as effects. That's why I say its foolish to have us make the decision because I don't know how serious the danger is in this NSA stuff, I really don't."

Apr. 17: Infowars.com: Harry Reid Calls Bundy Supporters “Domestic Terrorists”
Senator Harry Reid has escalated the war of words over the Cliven Bundy dispute and standoff on Saturday, sensationally labeling the Nevada cattle rancher’s supporters “domestic terrorists” during an event in Las Vegas today.   The Bundy supporters were able to force the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents to back down and release some 380 head of cattle that BLM had seized.

Reid claimed that Bundy viewed the United States as a “foreign government,” while accusing his supporters of goading violence, saying “There were hundreds, hundreds of people from around the country that came there.  They had sniper rifles on the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first … What if others tried the same thing?”  Despite Reid’s characterization the only violence metered out during the dispute was when BLM agents tasered and assaulted the demonstrators.   No matter where you stand on the Bundy issue, Reid’s characterization of American protesters as “domestic terrorists” is chilling and a massive backlash is almost certain to follow.

It also fits the narrative that the federal government has been pushing for years through literature such as the MIAC report, which framed Ron Paul supporters, libertarians, people who display bumper stickers, people who own gold, or even people who fly a U.S. flag, as potential terrorists. In 2012, a Homeland Security study was leaked which characterized Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right-wing” terrorists.
Reid was obviously angry that as a result of the news coverage it was disclosed that he was involved in a solar farm project just 35 miles away from the Bundy Ranch which required confiscation of the Brundy’s cattle in order to clear the way for lucrative solar deal with a Chinese company. 

Apr. 17: The National Journal:  How the U.S. is Vulnerable to Terrorism in Space
Space terrorism is a growing threat to U.S. national security, according to a new report.  And an attack on a U.S. satellite—or damage to one from another country's debris—could have astronomical effects on national security, says the report from the Council on Foreign Relations.  The U.S. is more reliant on space than any other nation to carry out critical national security functions, such as precision attacks on suspected terrorists and image analysis of nuclear-weapons programs, according to the report.  But countries like China, North Korea, and Iran are developing their military space capabilities, increasing the risk of a dangerous situation for the U.S, says the report.

Space is cluttered with trash, like old satellites and parts of rockets, making navigation very tricky. China's haphazard testing of its anti-satellite weapons is making the mess worse, according to the report, and a random collision with Chinese debris could quickly escalate into an crisis between the U.S. and China.  Given the high stakes, the U.S. needs to make haste in developing its capabilities, both technical and political, to reduce the risk of an attack or collision  lest it risk ceding control of shaping global space policy.

Apr. 11: The Daily Caller: Federal Judge: Holder Gave Unprecedented Instruction for which he had no authority:
A federal judge criticized Attorney General Eric Holder for directing prosecutors to pursue shorter prison sentences for drug crimes before new guidelines for sentencing had been approved.  The U.S. Sentencing Commission approved the reduced sentences for federal drug trafficking offenses on Thursday. Holder endorsed the move last month, and the Justice Department instructed prosecutors not to object if defendants sought the newly-proposed guidelines during sentencing. 

The Justice Department’s eagerness to apply more lenient sentencing before it had been approved through the appropriate channels frustrated commission member Judge William H. Pryor Jr., despite his support for the reform.  “I regret that, before we voted on the amendment, the Attorney General instructed Assistant United States Attorneys across the Nation not to object to defense requests to apply the proposed amendment in sentencing proceedings going forward,” he said Thursday.  “That unprecedented instruction disrespected our statutory role, ‘as an independent commission in the judicial branch,’ to establish sentencing policies and practices under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984… and the role of Congress, as the legislative branch, to decide whether to revise, modify, or disapprove our proposed amendment…We do not discharge our statutory duty until we vote on a proposed amendment, and Congress, by law, has until November 1 to decide whether our proposed amendment should become effective.”

Apr. 10: PCWorld.com: End of ICANN contract puts Internet freedom at risk, critics say:
The freedom and openness of the Internet are at stake after the U.S. government announced plans to end its contractual oversight of ICANN, some critics said Thursday. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced last month that it will end its contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to operate key domain-name functions could embolden other nations to attempt to seize control, some Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee said. 

“All hyperbole aside, this hearing is about nothing less than the future of the Internet and, significantly, who has the right, the ability and the authority to determine it,” said Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican. “Should it be decided by a few people in Washington, Beijing, Moscow, Sao Paolo or even Silicon Valley or should it be determined by those who use and stand to benefit from it?” Goodlatte suggested that other countries would try to control ICANN after the U.S. ends its contract. The U.S. can “rightly take credit for the freedom that exists the Internet today,” he said during a hearing. “When we let go of that final link, will that institution be safer from those efforts to regulate the Internet, or will it be more exposed because it no longer has the protection of the United States?”

Apr. 9: The Daily Caller: Holder Takes Cheap Shot at Congressman Gohmert
Eric Holder ventured off script in a speech Wednesday to the National Action Network, the organization led by MSNBC host and recently-exposed FBI informant Al Sharpton.  “I’m pleased to note that the last five years have been defined by significant strides and by lasting reforms,” said Holder at the conference of black activists, before improvising “even in the face, of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly, and divisive adversity. If you don’t believe that, if you look at the way, forget about me, forget about me, if you look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House Committee, it had nothing to do with me, forget that, what attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”  Holder’s remarks were in reference to a terse exchange he had Tuesday with Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert in a House Judiciary Committee hearing about documents related to a terror trial. 

Apr. 8: The Hill: Holder Claims a “vast amount” of discretion in enforcing federal laws:
Attorney General Eric Holder maintained in front of House Judiciary Tuesday that he has a “vast amount” of discretion in how the Justice Department prosecutes federal law.  Holder’s remarks came in response to accusations that he is flouting the law with his department’s positions on marijuana legalization, criminal sentencing and a contentious provision of the president’s signature healthcare law.  When Chairman Goodlatte asked Holder whether he believed there were any limits to the administration’s prosecutorial discretion Holder responded “There is a vast amount of discretion that a president has — and, more specifically, that an attorney general has. But that discretion has to be used in an appropriate way so that your acting consistent with the aims of the statute but at the same time making sure that you are acting in a way that is consistent with our values, consistent with the Constitution and protecting the American people.”  Holder said the Justice Department must defend federal laws on the books unless it concludes that “there is no basis to defend the statute.”

Apr. 8: The Daily Caller: Holder explodes at Texas Congressman “You don’t want to go there, buddy!”
Attorney General Eric Holder exploded at Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert during a House hearing Tuesday when the Congressman made a side comment about how the House of Representatives found Holder in contempt in 2012 for refusing to turn over documents related to the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal, saying: “I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our attorney general, but it is important that we have proper oversight.”   Holder shot back “You don’t want to go there, buddy! You don’t want to go there, okay.”

“I don’t want to go there?” the Texas Republican responded.

“You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. I think that it was inappropriate, I think it was unjust. But never think that that was not a big deal to me. Don’t ever think that,” Holder said pointing at Gohmert. 

Gohmert reiterated that the Justice Department has still not produced the documents related to Holders contempt charge.  “I’m just looking for evidence and normally we’re known by our fruits and there’s been no indications that it was a big deal because your department still has not been forthcoming in producing the documents that were the subject of the contempt,” Gohmert concluded!

Apr. 4: The Washington Examiner:  Holder didn’t take over 100 personal trips on the taxpayers dime it was only 27. Some contend this is 27 too many!
Attorney General Eric Holder disputed a Government Accountability Office report on his use of Justice Department airplanes for personal trips, saying it overstated the number of trips he took and failed to recognize that some trips were job-related.  Holder told Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing. "There was this notion that we've taken -- I think it was described as hundreds of personal trips. That was wrong. GAO counted flights, not round trips. And we looked at it and figured out from the time period that they were looking, we took not hundreds, but 27 personal, four combined -- official and nonpersonal trips -- and none of the trips that I took or that the [FBI] director took ever had an impact on the mission capability of those airplanes."

Apr. 4: The Washington Free Beacon: Senior CIA Manager jumps off building, committing suicide, in Northern Virginia:
A senior CIA official has died in an apparent suicide this week from injuries sustained after jumping off a building in northern Virginia, close to Tysons Corner,  CIA officials confirmed today.  The incident did not take place at CIA headquarters in McLean, Va.  “We can confirm that there was an individual fatally injured at a facility where agency work is done,” White, a CIA spokesperson recounted. “He was rushed to a local area hospital where he subsequently died. Due to privacy reasons and out of respect for the family, we are not releasing additional information at this time.”  Many agency employees are known to work under stressful conditions and high stress is considered a part of the profession.

Apr. 2: The National Journal: Republicans Fear Obama will turn over control of the Internet to Russia and China:
An Obama administration plan to give up oversight of certain technical Internet functions could open the door to a takeover by authoritarian regimes, Republican lawmakers claimed Wednesday.  If Russia or China gain new influence over the management of the Internet, they could begin censoring content or blocking websites, the Republicans warned.  "Make no mistake: Threats to the openness and freedom of the Internet are real," said Republican Rep. Greg Walden, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which held a hearing on the issue Wednesday. "Leaders such as Vladimir Putin have explicitly announced their desire to gain control of the Internet."

Walden and other Republicans are pushing a bill that would block the transfer of authority until the Government Accountability Office can study the issue. Dozens of Senate Republicans, led by John Thune and Marco Rubio, sent a letter to the administration on Wednesday, demanding more answers about the plan.  But Democrats at Wednesday's hearing insisted that if Republicans were serious about Internet freedom, they would support the U.S. proposal.

Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickling said the U.S. will make sure that no foreign government will be able to seize new powers over the Internet.  "Do you really think that Vladimir Putin... isn't going to figure out some way to get control?" Rep. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, shot back. "China and Russia can be very resourceful,"  Last month, the Commerce Department announced that it will give the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international nonprofit group, control over a set of technical procedures that allows computers around the world to connect to Web addresses.

Although the Internet was invented in the United States [by Al Gore?!], ICANN has actually managed the Internet's address system since 1998. But ICANN's authority stems from a contract it receives from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a Commerce Department agency.  By ending that contract, the U.S. will give up an "important backstop" that has protected the Internet from authoritarian regimes, Walden said. If ICANN bowed to pressure from Russia, China, or Iran, the U.S. could have always pulled the group's contractual authority. But once the U.S. gives up its power, "there is no putting this genie back in the bottle," he warned.

Mar. 21: Fox News: Federal Prosecutors balk at Holder push to reduce drug sentences:
Federal prosecutors are at odds with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder over whether mandatory minimum sentences -- a key part of the government's so-called war on drugs -- should be rolled back.   Congress approved many of those harsh penalties in the 1980s. Under the guidelines, a dealer busted with 1,000 marijuana plants, for example, or large amounts of certain narcotics, could face five, 10, even 20 years behind bars.  As a result, prosecutors say, drug crime has gone down. 

But now Holder is leading the charge to overhaul mandatory minimums.  Amid exploding incarceration rates, and allegations that long prison sentences have unfairly hurt low-income and minority communities, Holder is calling on Congress to pass the so-called Smarter Sentencing Act, which reduces the required incarceration times, claiming that by doing so the county could save billions of dollars. 

But many who've helped put serious drug dealers away disagree. In a sharply worded letter to Holder, the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys wrote "we consider the current federal mandatory minimum sentence framework as well-constructed and well worth preserving."  Some federal prosecutors are saying incarceration rates may go down, but drug crimes will go up because dealers won't feel compelled to cooperate calling it a “terrible idea." 

Mar. 11: The Washington Post:
Feinstein “PO’ed” Over possible CIA search of Intelligence Committee Computers:

A behind-the-scenes battle between the CIA and Congress erupted in public Tuesday as the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee accused the agency of breaking laws and breaching constitutional principles in an alleged effort to undermine the panel’s multi-year investigation of a controversial interrogation program.  Chairman Feinstein (D-CA) accused the CIA of secretly removing documents, searching committee-used computers and attempting to intimidate congressional investigators by requesting an FBI inquiry of their conduct — charges that CIA Director Brennan disputed within hours of her appearance on the Senate floor.

Feinstein described the escalating conflict as a “defining moment” for Congress’s role in overseeing the nation’s intelligence agencies and cited “grave concerns” that the CIA had “violated the separation-of-powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution.”

Brennan fired back during a previously scheduled speech in Washington, saying that “when the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.”

Mar. 5: The Daily Beast: TV Anchor Quits On Air, can “no longer be "part of a network that whitewashes the actions of Putin”
An American anchor working for state-owned television station Russia Today quit on air on Wednesday. Liz Wahl, in the network's D.C. bureau, announced she could no longer be "part of a network that whitewashes the actions of Putin. I'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I am resigning." 

"It actually makes me feel sick that I worked there," Wahl told The Daily Beast exclusively.  She had been planning this move for some time. "When I came on board from the beginning I knew what I was getting into, but I think I was more cautious and tried to stay as objective as I could," she said, explaining that she was repeatedly censured by her superiors.  The Kremlin's influence over RT is subtle, Wahl said, but management manipulates its employees, punishing those who stray from the narrative. "In order to succeed there you don’t question," Wahl explained.

Mar. 3: The Daily Caller: Is Obama Administration Freezing Fox News out of Foreign Policy Reporting?
The Obama administration faces a difficult problem. Diplomacy has failed, despite its best efforts, and the ruthless winner-take-all attitude of its adversary now leaves them but two choices: break off relations or capitulate to its demands.  That adversary, of course, is Fox News — and President Barack Obama finally seems prepared to enforce a hard line against them. In the past week the White House has frozen the top-rated news network out of two key foreign policy interviews provided to other networks — one on Sunday with Secretary of State John Kerry, and one last week with National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

Kerry made the rounds yesterday to discuss the White House’s response to Russia’s Friday invasion of Ukraine, appearing on NBC, CBS and ABC’s Sunday shows to promise a tough (if unspecified) response to Vladimir Putin’s power grab. But Chris Wallace of ”Fox News Sunday” was shut out.  “For the record, we invited Secretary of State Kerry to join us today,” Wallace noted at the conclusion of his opening interview. “But although the White House put him out on all the other broadcast Sunday shows, they declined to make him available to us — or you.”

Feb. 26: Fox News: Two days after the Administration announced major cuts in military spending they want $300 Billion for roads and railways
Just two days after the Pentagon outlined major cuts to the U.S. Army and other military programs, President Obama is calling for a whopping $300 billion commitment for America's roads, bridges and mass transit systems -- though as much as half comes from a tax plan that has bleak prospects on the Hill.   The president talked about the stimulus-style plan during a stop Wednesday afternoon in St. Paul, Minn. Officials say the money, as proposed, largely would come from "pro-growth business tax reform." But aside from the challenges in pushing tax reform, Obama could have a hard time making the sell when his military leaders, just days ago, were complaining about the budget crunch. The Republican National Committee also questioned whether new transportation spending would be the jobs engine the administration claims. 

Feb 25: Fox News: Increased domestic spending my be behind proposed military cuts, a CBO report suggests:
As the Obama administration announces proposed sweeping defense cuts this week, a Congressional Budget Office report documents how increases in other areas of domestic spending may be forcing the White House to reduce money for the military.  The CBO report finds that mandatory spending, which includes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, is projected to rise $85 billion, or 4 percent, to $2.1 trillion this year.  Interest on the debt is worse. It is projected to increase 14 percent per year, almost quadrupling in dollar terms between 2014 and 2024. "We are going to be spending more in interest in a couple of years then we do on national defense," House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-CA, told Fox News.

Feb. 25: The LA Times: Supremes Ruling Expands Warrantless Search Authority:
Police officers may enter and search a home without a warrant as long as one occupant consents, even if another resident has previously objected, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a Los Angeles case.  The 6-3 ruling, triggered by a LAPD arrest in 2009, gives authorities more leeway to search homes without obtaining a warrant, even when there is no emergency.

The majority, led by Justice Alito, said police need not take the time to get a magistrate's approval before entering a home in such cases. But dissenters, led by Justice Ginsburg, warned that the decision would erode protections against warrantless home searches. The court had previously held that such protections were at the "very core" of the 4th Amendment and its ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

Feb. 24: Yahoo News: Obama wants to shrink size if military to pre-WWII levels (Those who fail to know history are doomed to repeat it!)
The Pentagon plans to scale back the US Army by more than an eighth to its lowest level since before World War II, signaling a shift after more than a decade of ground wars.  Saying it was time to "reset" for a new era, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recommended shrinking American forces from 520,000 active duty troops to between 440,000 and 450,000. The Pentagon had previously planned to downsize the ground force to about 490,000.

Several members of the Senate Armed Services Committee immediately expressed reservations about the budget proposal. Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, who sits on the committee, said the proposals had the "potential to harm America's military readiness."  Venturing into politically sensitive territory, Hagel called for slowing growth in pay and benefits -- which make up nearly half the Pentagon's budget -- and closing more bases in the United States.  Lawmakers have long resisted base closures or any reform of pay, pensions or other benefits.

Feb. 21: The Daily Caller: FCC scraps media survey amid allegations of trying to regulate the news:
The Federal Communications Commission cancelled a plan to evaluate the coverage of major media outlets Friday after a tidal wave of media criticism alleged the agency was attempting to influence and regulate the news media industry and its decision making on news coverage.  “In the course of FCC review and public comment, concerns were raised that some of the questions may not have been appropriate,” the agency said in a statement Friday. “Chairman Wheeler agreed that survey questions in the study directed toward media outlet managers, news directors, and reporters overstepped the bounds of what is required.” 

The FCC came under sharp criticism from Congressional Republicans and a fellow agency commissioner over its proposed Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs, or “CIN” study, which aimed to assess how the news media covered “critical information” by sending FCC regulators into the offices of major television, newspaper, and internet media outlets across the country.  One local news outlet in Houston likened the study to the movie “Hunt for Red October” where the political officer had equal power with Captain. 

Feb. 21: Politico: FCC backs off newsroom study:
The Federal Communications Commission will amend a proposed study of newsrooms in South Carolina after outcry over what some called "invasive questions," the commission's chairman said Friday.  The survey was meant to study how and if the media is meeting the public's “critical information needs” on subjects like public health, politics, transportation and the environment.   Now, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said questions about news philosophy and editorial judgment will be removed from the survey and media owners and reporters will no longer be questioned.  The uproar caught on fire after one of the Republican commissioners, Ajit Pai, penned an op-ed inn the Wall Street Journal last week blasting the survey and saying the government had no place in newsrooms.

The FCC is saying it is required by law to conduct media studies.  "Any suggestion the Commission intends to regulate the speech of news media is false," FCC spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said Friday in a statement, adding that a revised study will be released within the next few weeks. Additionally, she said media owners and journalists will no longer be asked to participate in the pilot study.  But as a person who served for years in Washington as part of a federal regulatory agency, I can tell you that just having a federal regulator on site has a chilling affect.

Feb. 21: The Hill: Lawmakers to grill Pentagon on deadly attack that killed 30 SEAL team members:
A congressional panel on Thursday will hold a hearing on a mysterious helicopter crash in Afghanistan that killed members of the Navy's elite SEAL Team 6 unit.  Many questions about the Aug. 6, 2011 attack, which killed 30 Americans, will be asked during the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on National Security.  Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who heads the panel, told The Hill that the hearing is aimed at getting answers from the Pentagon and "honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice."

The SEALs were killed three months after Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by SEAL Team 6 forces. The timing has sparked speculation that the attack was payback for the bin Laden raid.  In all, 38 died when Afghan militants shot down a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Twenty-two Navy SEALs perished, along with seven Afghan soldiers and an Afghan translator. The U.S. forces were on a rescue mission called Extortion 17.  The 38 bodies were recovered, but the chopper's black box wasn't. Department of Defense officials claim it couldn't be recovered because of a flash flood that occurred after the assault. All 38 bodies were cremated.  Pentagon officials have defended the cremations to the soldiers' families, saying the bodies were badly burned. Chaffetz has said he has seen a photo of a deceased SEAL that was not.

Feb. 18: The Daily Caller: Gingrich: Kerry should resign over global warming remarks:
Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich took to Twitter to call for Secretary of State John Kerry to resign for calling global warming the “world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”  Gingrich  tweeted out his disgust with Kerry’s comments:

Does kerry really believe global warming more dangerous than north Korean and Iranian nukes? More than Russian and Chinese nukes? Really? ? —
Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) February 18, 2014

On his trip to Indonesia, Kerry said that global warming is “the world’s largest weapon of mass destruction” and particularly harms low-lying countries that are at risk from rising sea levels.  Kerry has been playing up the national security angle of global warming since at least 2009, during his Senate years, when congressional Democrats were trying to pass a cap-and-trade bill. Kerry told the New York Times that he touted the national security concerns of global warming as a way to lure Republicans to support the bill.  But Gingrich, a longtime Republican, is not buying it.  “Every American who cares about national security must demand Kerry’s resignation. A delusional secretary of state is dangerous to our safety” Gingrich Tweeted.

Feb. 16: Politico: F-35 Fighter Plane cost overruns detailed
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is $163 billion over budget, seven years behind schedule, and will cost taxpayers about twice as much as sending a man to the moon. But according to Pentagon officials, the Lockheed Martin-built plane is light years ahead of its competition from other countries, and there’s no turning back on the project now.  In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer Frank Kendall called the $400 billion purchase “acquisition malpractice” that strayed from the long-standing “fly-before-you-buy” rule.

Despite the project’s problems, military officials say the planes are unlike any others and provide invaluable advantages over countries like Russia and China.  Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle said the planes were like flying computers, and that they could detect an enemy plane five to 10 times faster than the enemy could detect it.  Lt. Col. David Berke said it was difficult to overstate how significant the advancement of this plane is over anything that’s flying right now.  Part of that technology is a half-million dollar helmet custom-made for each pilot. That allows them to see 360 degrees around the outside of the plane.

Feb. 16: Fox News: Acting ICE Director Sandweg Resigns after 5 months on the Job
John Sandweg, a former defense attorney who knew former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano from their days as political allies in Arizona and came to Washington with her, gave his notice just six months after taking the reins in August. In a letter Friday to coworkers, Sandweg said he will return to work in the private sector but gave no explanation for his departure.  “Over the past several months I had the opportunity to work alongside many of you,” he wrote. “I was always amazed by your dedication and commitment to the agency and our nation. Despite the challenges we face, you continue to push on, achieving remarkable security and public safety gains for our country.”

Sandweg was named to the post amid concerns by congressional lawmakers and former agency officials that his background as a criminal defense attorney with no law enforcement experience made him unqualified to run the country’s second-largest law enforcement agency. 

Feb. 16: YouTube: Rear Admiral Lee Addresses Restrictive Regulations on our military:
This video was taken during the National Day of Prayer last year. However, since I just came across it and found it to be a powerful message I have posted it here within this timeline. It addresses politically correct actions taken by the current administration to restrict religious freedom and free speech within our military forces.

Feb. 7: InfoWars.Com: TSA Agents interrogate Jewish Author for Reading Conservative Paper:
Award winning Jewish author Phyllis Chesler was questioned and had her bag searched at New York’s JFK Airport as a result of a TSA agent’s suspicions over the fact that she was reading a conservative newspaper.  The incident happened on Wednesday afternoon after Chesler’s flight to Florida was delayed due to the recent ice storms.  As soon as Chesler pulled out a copy of The Jewish Press, a popular English language weekly with a conservative political bent, a TSA agent eyed her with suspicion, approached the author and asked to see the newspaper.  After the TSA agent scrutinized the cover of the newspaper and showed it to another security official, Chesler was ordered to open her luggage, which the two agents then proceeded to rifle through.

During the search, Chesler was interrogated by the two TSA workers. As her luggage was being searched, Chesler noticed that a Muslim woman wearing a niqab that covered her entire face apart from her eyes was allowed through security with no questions asked and with no one even bothering to verify her identity.  Chesler was left alone after the two agents found nothing more deadly than a bottle of water. Despite their best efforts to assume the role of political thought police, the TSA workers discovered that reading a newspaper other than the New York Times or the Washington Post isn’t indicative of being a terrorist.

“The issue is not that the Jew was the one who was stopped and the Muslim was the one who sailed through security,” reports the Jewish Press. “The issue is that merely the word Jewish on a newspaper was sufficient to draw the agents’ attention and suspicion, while someone whose identity was impossible to discern, who could be hiding who knows what, was ignored by security – security! professionals.”

Feb. 5: Fox News: Widow of fallen cop blocked from testifying on Obama DOJ pick:
The Philadelphia district attorney is speaking out against President Obama's nominee for a top Justice Department post, saying his link to the case of a convicted cop killer "sends a message of contempt" to police -- as the widow of the fallen officer is apparently denied the chance to testify.  Maureen Faulkner, whose husband Daniel Faulkner was killed in 1981, was hoping to speak publicly on the case before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which plans to vote Thursday on the nomination of Debo Adegbile to lead the Civil Rights Division. 

But she told FoxNews.com she's "extremely frustrated" after being told by representatives of Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-VT, that she won't be able to do so.   "I am physically, emotionally and mentally distressed that I'm not able to be in that room," Faulkner told FoxNews.com by phone. "This is personal to me."   Faulkner said she received a letter from Leahy's office this week informing her that it's "not the practice" of the committee to accept outside testimony. Faulkner, who lives in Los Angeles, later realized she could attend the hearing as a member of the public but was unable to book a flight.

Feb. 4: The Daily Mail: Lockheed Martin fires first portable laser weapon that could replace missiles:
It is a weapon that could mean the end of traditional missiles. Lockheed Martin revealed is has tested the a 30-kilowatt electric fiber laser, the highest power ever fired. The firm says the weapon could eventually be mounted on jets, tanks and fighter planes - and will more than triple in strength before being used in combat. The record-breaking power output was achieved by combining many fiber lasers into a single, near-perfect quality beam of light.

The process, called Spectral Beam Combining, sends beams from multiple fiber laser modules, each with a unique wavelength, into a combiner that forms a single, powerful, high quality beam. 'Lockheed Martin has opened the aperture for high power, electrically driven laser systems suitable for military applications,' said Dr. Ray O. Johnson, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Lockheed Martin. 'Advancements in available laser components, along with the maturity and quality of our innovative beam-combining technology, support our goal of providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for use on military platforms such as aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks.'

Jan. 26: Politico: McCaul: Maryland mall shooting shows vulnerabilities:
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Sunday that the recent shooting at a suburban Washington mall, while not a terrorist attack, shows the dangers of malls as a target.  “This is not a terrorist threat at all, probably more a domestic squabble," Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "It does highlight the vulnerability of shopping malls to shootings, soft targets like we saw in the Kenya shopping mall case, and that's the kind of scenario we do not want to see happen in the United States.”   McCaul told host Bob Schieffer that ultimately, isolated shooters are difficult to stop.

Jan. 24: Roll Call: Will Court Give New Impetus for Background Check Process Overhaul?
A troubling court filing this week will increase the pressure to overhaul the process for federal background checks.  The government alleges that United States Investigations Services, the private contractor that vetted both Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, intentionally cut corners on a contract to conduct background checks for the Office of Personnel Management.  Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Thomas R. Carper responded in a statement to CQ Roll Call.  Senators have said, “By now, the stunning failures of this company — and the resulting threats to our national security — are well-documented. But we can’t wait for the next disaster before tackling something as serious as lapses in protecting our nation’s secrets and our secure facilities. We’ve seen swift action to boost accountability over these contractors, and I’m now calling on my colleagues to pass our bipartisan bill that would strengthen background checks through automatic reviews.”

Jan. 21: Yahoo News: Fugitive U.S. Secret Leaker Fears for His Life
The Russian lawyer of Edward Snowden said Tuesday that the fugitive US intelligence leaker has feared for his life since reading of explicit threats against him by unnamed Pentagon officials.  "There are real threats to his life out there that actually do exist," Snowden's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told Russia's state-run Vesti 24 rolling news channel.  "These statements call for physical reprisal against Edward Snowden," Kucherena said.

Jan. 19: Politico: Three Obama Veteran operatives involved with pardon of Rich and now advising president on clemency for Snowden:
Top Obama administration officials facing high-profile calls for clemency or a plea deal for Edward Snowden have life experience that counsels extreme caution: the political explosion they witnessed after President Bill Clinton pardoned financier Marc Rich more than a decade ago.  Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director James Comey and new Obama White House counselor John Podesta all played roles in the Rich saga, wrestling with the complex questions of what tactics and compromises officials should consider when an American is holed up overseas, beyond the reach of the U.S. justice system.

Jan. 19: Fox News: Senator Leahy says Senate will push for NSA limitations:
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sunday the upper chamber will continue working on legislation to limit NSA spying, suggesting President Obama has not gone far enough in making changes to protect Americans’ privacy.  “There’s a concern that we have gone too much into Americans’ privacy,” the Democratic lawmaker told “Fox News Sunday.” “There’s still going to be legislation on this.”

Leahy said several times that congressional Democrats and Republicans both share the concern and suggested the direction of the legislation will be impacted by what Attorney General Eric Holder says when he testifies on Capitol Hill on Jan. 29 -- the day after the president’s State of the Union address.  The president announced the changes Friday in a major policy speech at the Justice Department, following a series of revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that started last summer about the extent of agency spying.

Leahy said he wouldn’t fight the president on his proposed NSA changes -- including additional court approval, a non-government agency holding phone meta-data and limiting the extent of the data collection.  “I think we have a way we can do this,” he said. “I believe in going after the bad guys. But I also believe in some checks and balances, so you don’t have a government run amok.”

Jan. 4: Fox News: Rand Paul to sue over NSA spying practices:
Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, is suing the Obama administration over the National Security Agency’s spying practices in an effort to “protect the Fourth Amendment,” he told host Eric Bolling Friday on "Hannity."  “The question here is whether constitutionally, you can have a single warrant apply to millions of people,” Paul said. “So we thought, what better way to illustrate the point than having hundreds of thousands of Americans sign up for a class action suit.”

Paul said he began collecting signatures about six months ago, and says it’s “kind of an unusual class-action suit” because everyone in America who has a cell phone is eligible to join in the legal action, he said.   He added that Ken Cuccinelli, the current attorney general of Virginia who ran for governor last year, is part of the initiative’s legal team.  “We’re hoping, with his help, that we can get a hearing in court, and ultimately get this class-action lawsuit, I think the first of its kind on a constitutional question, all the way to the Supreme Court,” Paul said.

Jan. 3: The HillClemency for Snowden should be off the Table: Napolitano Says
Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday that she “would not put clemency on the table” for NSA leaker Edward Snowden.  “I think Snowden has exacted quite a bit of damage and did it in a way that violated the law,” Napolitano said in an interview airing on "Meet the Press" this Sunday.  She said damage from Snowden’s actions will be seen for years to come.

Asked if the administration should consider a deal that would allow Snowden to avoid jail time in return for unreleased documents, Napolitano said she couldn't judge without knowing what information the former defense contractor still had.  “But from where I sit today, I would not put clemency on the table at all,” she said.

Jan. 2: The Washington PostNSA seeks to build quantum computer that could crack most types of encryption:
In room-size metal boxes ­secure against electromagnetic leaks, the National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.  According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program titled “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Md.

The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the scientific community, with revolutionary implications for fields such as medicine as well as for the NSA’s code-breaking mission. With such technology, all current forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to protect state secrets.

Go to the 2013 Chronology on National Security, NSA,
Unlawful Search and Seizures, and the Department of Justice