State Department deputy secretary Heather Higginbottom testified on Capitol Hill today that the State Department is routinely cyber-attacked. “We are attacked every day, thousands of times a day,” Higginbottom said in response to questioning from Georgia senator David Perdue.
Perdue asked, "Today, I'd like you to focus on this I.T. issue with me just a minute. You know, it looks like there are thousands of administrators that work for State, who might or might have access to independent investigations, as well as it looked to me like yesterday when we asked the question if there was a breach in the state system, the I.G. wouldn't necessarily know it immediately.
"Mr. Linick actually testified yesterday that the State network has actually been attacked and that it affected the Office of the Inspector General. He also told us that it took over six months to get an agreement with Diplomatic Security. Going forward, they'll notify the OIG when they go on their I.T. network. That's a Memo of Understanding, as I understand it. And with the change of administration, that may or may not be continued into the next administration. Would you comment on this I.T. independence issue and also Right of First Refusal, as well as this potential breach issue?"
Higginbottom responded, "Yes. Thank you, Senator. And I have enjoyed our conversations. Look forward to continuing them. I meet, as you know, with the I.G. every week. We discuss issues, like the ones you just raised. We worked through the issue of trying to get an MOU so that there was notification of any entry onto the system.
"Just recently, the I.G. has brought to my attention, as well as to the secretary's the request for a separate I.T. system. We're looking at that very carefully. We're seeking to understand how it would work. They need to have as he testified yesterday, some access to the systems they currently have. The architecture, we have to make sure our system is as secure as it possibly can be, given -- we are attacked every day, thousands of times a day. So we have to work -- those are difficult issues, but we're looking at that now and examining it. It's also important that we understand the costs."
Perdue responded, "I'm sorry to interrupt. Have you actually had a breach that you can talk about?"
"I can tell you, Senator, that we have been breached, this has been reported. Any further details of that, I’d be happy to have in a different setting," said Higginbottom.
Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, will give a major foreign policy address next week in London. According to early excerpts of the address, Jindal will use the speech to bash Hillary Clinton, the likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, and to go after radical Islam in wake of last week's Paris terrorist attacks.
The president of the United States sent an email today via his former campaign organization attacking Republicans in Congress for the showdown over Obamacare and the continued funding of the government. Organizing for Action (OFA), formerly Obama for America, now bills itself as "a 'social welfare' organization within the meaning of section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code." The group has publicly stated that it is non-partisan, but the president writes that a "group of far-right Republicans in Congress is obsessed with making an ideological point", and that "Republicans are not focused on what's best for you." The email is signed "Barack." The full text reads as follows:
From the Washington Post: "Asked Thursday whether he could envision a situation in which the United States would take military action in Syria without U.N. authorization, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said, 'No, I cannot envision that because, look, as secretary of defense, my greatest responsibility is to make sure when we deploy our men and women in uniform and put them at risk, we not only know what the mission is, but we have the kind of support we need to accomplish that mission.'"
President Obama is attending a fundraiser today in New York City that will be hosted by Hamilton E. James, the chief operating officer and president of Blackstone. The financial firm Blackstone is "one of the world's largest private equity fund businesses," according to its website.
But ironically, Obama today is using Mitt Romney's background in private equity as the basis of an attack on his Republican rival.