French President François Hollande said on Wednesday that it is “unacceptable” for the U.S. to have intercepted his and two other French presidents’ communications. The French government has reportedly summoned U.S. Ambassador Jane Hartley to the foreign minister’s office, and a top French intelligence official is also reportedly planning to visit the U.S. in coming days to discuss the revelations. "France will not tolerate actions that threaten its security and the protection of its interests,” Hollande’s office said in a statement on Wednesday.
“These are unacceptable facts that have already been the subject of clarification between the US and France,” he added. “Commitments were made by the U.S. authorities. They need to be recalled and strictly respected.”
The indignation is a bit thick, especially coming from the French. Big time governments spy. On friends and on enemies. But it is better not to get caught so as to spare us all the cheap theatrics.
Whatever the NSA may have learned about the intentions of the French leadership, it is a small beer compared to what the Chinese (almost certainly) got from the recent massive hack on U.S. Office of Personnel Management databases. This is very big medicine and would seem, at the very least, to call for some sort of overwhelming digital retaliation. Of which the U.S. must certainly be capable. Hard to imagine that our geeks are, if not the best in the world, then at least world class.
General Michael Hayden, former head of the NSA and the CIA, is unsparing on the U.S. cyber failures here.
Among the general’s insights:
… I do not blame the Chinese. If we determine that China did this, we would be assigning responsibility, but blame is a different matter. I blame China when they penetrate American industry (an unfair nation state vs. private company fight) and rip off intellectual property for commercial gain (something we view as criminal).
This wasn't that. This was legitimate state espionage, one government going after another for information that could contribute to its national security. As Director of the National Security Agency, given the opportunity against similar Chinese information, I would not have hesitated for a second...and I wouldn't have had to get anyone's permission to do it.
And, regarding the government’s response to this catastrophic digital cyber defeat:
The White House directed that all federal agencies conduct a 30-day cyber sprint to apply patches and the other elements of basic cyber hygiene that they apparently had not done in the preceding months and years.
Then OPM, as required by law, began notifying folks whose personal information had likely been compromised. Tens of thousands of emails were sent directing government employees to -- wait for it -- click on the embedded hyperlink to take advantage of the data breach protection services being offered. Recognizing that just such an action (a spear fishing attack) had likely enabled the original breach, the Department of Defense (DoD) directed its employees to trash the OPM message.
As the general sums it up:
This is what serious nation states do. All of them. There is no shame for China here. This is all shame on us.
According to National Security Council (NSC) chief of staff Suzy George, the NSC is "downsizing," but not "for its own sake." George calls it "right-sizing," a way for the White House to "align our staffing with our strategic priorities."
A review conducted by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security found that two and a half years after a scathing report on the state of intra-agency communications in the event of an emergency, "DHS components’ inability to communicate with each other persists." The department's corrective actions and plans are still not finalized,
While the country slept Friday night and into Saturday morning, the U.S. Senate debated and voted on whether to alter substantially the NSA’s bulk telephone meta-data collection program, extend it for a short period, or simply let it die on June 1 when the “sunset” provision governing the relevant section (Sec. 215) of the Patriot Act kicks in.
The early Cold War period might be called the Age of the Treaty Organization. The United States, scrambling furiously to respond to the fact that it had become the guarantor of the “Free World,” had discovered a surprising interest in entangling alliances of all sorts and in all parts of the world. NATO, of course, was the biggest pact of them all, but in 1954 the “Manilla Pact” created the Southeast Asian Treaty Organiz
Matthew Continetti, writing at the Washington Free Beacon, explains why Jeb Bush has a problem in his foreign policy adviser James Baker. Baker recently spoke at a conference for the left-wing group J Street. Here's an excerpt from Continetti's column:
Former Texas governor Rick Perry said he was "alarmed" by reports the Obama administration is considering not supporting the state of Israel at the United Nations. Perry, who may run for president in 2016, said he urged Obama to "turn away from such a path."
Lost in much of the reporting about CPAC is that almost all of the likely presidential candidates—really, all of them, with the exception of Rand Paul—seemed to place themselves at the Reaganite hawkish-internationalist end of the foreign policy spectrum. The much-heralded return of Republican isolationism or anti-interventionism wasn’t much in evidence, except during Rand Paul's half hour on the stage.
Barack Obama wants us all to simmer down about Iran. He wants Senator Bob Menendez, a fellow Democrat, and the donors he represents to butt out of the sanctions debate. He wants Republicans to quit crying wolf about Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He wants the media to stop hyping terror threats. He wants the American people in the dark about the secret correspondence he’s had for years with Iran’s supreme leader. He wants John Boehner to be mindful of protocol.
The crisis between the United States and Israel has been manufactured by the Obama administration. Building a crisis up or down is well within the administration’s power, and it has chosen to build it up. Why? Three reasons: to damage and defeat Netanyahu (whom Obama has always disliked simply because he is on the right while Obama is on the left) in his election campaign, to prevent Israel from affecting the Iran policy debate in the United States, and worst of all to diminish Israel’s popularity in the United States and especially among Democrats.