Posts Tagged ‘Obama Administration’

IRS Scandal Follow-up: The Show Must Go On

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

…But nobody actually asked Koskinen about the Sonasoft contract. Wonder why?

On Saturday, it was revealed that the IRS has been contracting with Sonasoft for the back-up of emails since 2005, and indeed, looking at Sonasoft’s clients list, listed there is the Internal Revenue Service.  Adding to my list of things about which the Republicans should seek testimony (if they’re serious,) the specific details of the performance requirements of this contract must now be considered.  Undoubtedly, in soliciting bids for back-ups, there must have been a policy for back-ups the bidder must have been prepared to fulfill.  These details would have been dominated by a records retention schedule that would have been designed to comply with statutory minimums. In any event, such a contract would have been carefully vetted for specific performance requirements, the methodology by which performance could be verified, and the chain of responsibility for those on the government side of the contract to make sure performance was fulfilled, or to seek remediation if the requirements were not met.  There would be a schedule of audits of the performance, and there should be no excuse for pretending somebody hadn’t known their specific duties, on either side of the contract. Here’s the point: We very likely have an organized criminal conspiracy, and if the Republicans don’t begin to immediately turn over rocks to find the culprits, the evidence will be destroyed, but that may be precisely what the GOP leadership wants.

People continue to question whether I’ve entered the realm of “tinfoil-hat-wearing” conspiracy kooks, because I doubt the seriousness of the intent of the House Republican leadership in pursuing this scandal.  After all, they ask, why would the Republicans seek to cover the scandal?  Let’s be blunt, shall we?  As long as this scandal has been going on without serious investigation, how much evidence has been destroyed in the interim?  It is true that if there is a cover-up, there will always be some evidence of that, because it’s impossible to completely cover the tracks of what has been done.  Permitting a delay of the investigation would allow the culprits to destroy the evidence so that any crimes perpetrated in the original scandal would be hard to substantiate to the satisfaction of a jury, or an impeachment proceeding, even if the evidence of a cover-up would be harder to conceal.  In the end, however, let us imagine that there had been a few Republicans who had wanted to hammer the TEA Party, like John Boehner, or Mitch McConnell.  They’ve said as much in open contempt for the TEA Party.  By permitting the administration and its lackeys to destroy evidence, the evidence of their own complicity would be hidden too, and all that would remain are the allegations and evidence of a cover-up of something, in which the Republican leadership would not be implicated.  After all, they’ve been conducting an investigation, right?

If this sounds too conspiratorial to you, consider that these are the same people who invented voting for a thing before voting against it.  John Cornyn had no problem voting for cloture on the Senate Amnesty bill last year before coming home to Texas to tell voters he had voted against the final bill, which he had.  He repeated the procedure at the time of the government shutdown last October, again voting to bring the bill for a vote, so that he could vote against it thereby claiming “conservative credentials” all the while have enabled the bill to see the light of day in the first place.  They bank on we voters remaining largely ignorant of their scandalous manipulations, so that a less-than-vigorous investigation wouldn’t provide much of a surprise. By the way, and by way of evidence of the establishment’s thesis in operation, John Cornyn won his primary by pretending to be a conservative while relying on the longterm detachment and ignorance of voters.  Still, roughly forty percent of the Republican electorate in Texas was able to see through his nonsense, but not enough to replace him as our Senator.

My point to you is this: It may be too late to salvage the data, because this has been left withering on the vine for much too long.  The list of particulars I provided yesterday should have been exercised more than two years ago, and it should have been done with vigor.  If there is no active complicity by Republican leadership, there is at least gross incompetence verging on the criminally negligent.  Are we to believe that none of the people in leadership had any idea, and that none of their staff had any idea how to approach such a scandal?  Are we to believe they had no access to any person with sufficient technical understanding who would have apprised them of the sort of things that would need to have been done to “disappear” such data?  Are we to believe that those who were conducting the preliminary investigations on behalf of House committees could not imagine to immediately contact people specializing in data recovery?  Why has it taken until yesterday to discover that the IRS had contracted with Sonasoft?  What were these investigators investigating?  Didn’t they look at the IT expenditures and contracts of the IRS for clues?  You see, once you consider all of this, it’s easier to understand how an observer could reasonably conclude that the Republicans didn’t want to investigate, and having been forced into it by public pressure, have done a half-hearted job of it.

How can we be nearly three years into this investigation, and we’re only now finding there had been a back-up company contracted?  I will not be surprised to learn that the IRS contract with Sonasoft required them to hold emails for a period of only three years, so that by now, Lois Lerner’s emails have fallen off the archive due to age.  A serious investigation would have immediately discovered the existence of a contract with Sonasoft, and those records could have been pulled three years ago.  What will we get as a result?  At best, some underlings who were a part of the cover-up will be burned, but the chain of command to the top will be obfuscated, and then we will get some dog-and-pony IRS Reform bill that will require the agency from this date forward to maintain all emails for ten years, or some such thing.  Then it will all go away, and the original participants in the scandal of targeting TEA Party groups and their members will be forgotten, and life will go on in Washington DC, with we being the only victims, now poorer and less free, and deprived of justice.

The questions I’ve posed over the last thirty-six hours are the sort I would expect of a serious investigation.  To date, we’ve had a lot of finger-waggling by Republicans asking questions of witnesses, but we’ve gotten no meat from these bones.  Certainly, it does not help that we have a Department of Justice that is led by a crook and crony, and it does not help that the media covers everything up on behalf of this administration, but if the Republicans had been serious about getting to the bottom of this scandal, they would have taken significantly more exhaustive steps by now, but to date, all they’ve done is generate ominous soundbites that tend to feed the red-meat aspects of politics, yet have resulted in no arrests, no indictments, and no justice.  In three years?  This scandal is well on its way to becoming a cold case, and that’s just how Washington DC likes it.

Update: The Daily Caller reports that the IRS cancelled its Sonasoft contract only weeks after Lois Lerner’s hard-drive “crash.”

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John Boehner’s Dog and Pony Show

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

On Friday, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives continued its wholly political, and ultimately theatrical investigation of the IRS Tea Party-targeting scandal.  Chairman Dave Camp’s(R-MI) committee brought current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen before the committee to testify as to the loss of Lois Lerner’s emails, among other misdeeds.  You may argue that Paul Ryan(R-WI) was very aggressive in his examination of the witness, but that entire exchange was mere political theater that will evince nothing at the end of the investigation.  Had the Republicans in Congress the first inclination to get to the bottom of this scandal, they would begin by taking the following series of steps:

  1.  Bring before the committee the entire IT staff that supports the IRS, particularly its executives.
  2. Audit the purchase records and replacement schedule of equipment used to support Lois Lerner’s computer usage. Congress should want to know how old her computer had been when the hard disk “died.”
  3. Require IT staff managers to testify as to the method of email archiving, email storage, email backups, and the entire email system used by the IRS.
  4. Seek a federal court order requiring the production of all existing equipment that is currently, or has ever been in use by the IRS in storing email,over the period of the last six years, including particularly SAN devices and servers.
  5. Seek a federal court order requiring the immediate production of all backup media on which IRS files and email may have been copied.
  6. Form a select committee with broad investigatory powers to pursue the entirety of this affair, particularly with an eye toward fraud, destruction of government records and data, as well as political influences brought to bear on the IRS from any branch of government or outside interest groups.
  7. Bring in experts to audit access records for servers and storage devices to discover when anybody interacted with the equipment in question. These devices and servers maintain extensive logs of the commands issued from administrators. Knowing who did what will be a key to cracking this case. The government may well have logging servers to which all events are reported.

For those of you who are less than technically inclined, I will be glad to explain to you why this whole “lost hard drive” claim is a dodge, and for those who may have less than a strong understanding of the politics, I’ll be glad to explain to you how I know the Republicans are playing a game for show, but do not want the truth to come out.

As an information systems professional, who works with storage systems, backup systems, networks, servers, and workstations every day, and who works with the applications and databases which is the purpose of all of that lovely, grotesquely expensive equipment, let me tell you a few things you won’t read in the media.  You might even take a moment to learn a bit more about your own computer.

First, the email system the IRS uses is almost certainly an IMAP or MAPI variant.  This means that on the most basic level, emails are not stored on the client, except as a temporarily cached copy.  Deleting it may cause the email to appear deleted for that user, but the mail archiving functionality will maintain a copy for a period as prescribed by policy, usually determined in applicable statutes and regulations. Most corporate and government environments will not even permit users to store mail in local folders(email folders solely on your local computer) unless they are first archived in the email archiving system, which is generally part of the same overall system. Nevertheless, examining the event viewer in Windows will offer some insight into what may or may not have been done on a given workstation or server. Linux and other operating systems have similar logging facilities.  (If you have Windows, you can get an idea by going to your Control Panel, then to Administrative Tools, and Event Viewer. You will be surprised what you can learn about your computer’s routine operations.)

In the second place, the number of servers used for an email system to support an organization the size of the IRS must be quite large.  It undoubtedly consists of multiple servers, at multiple server farms, in a redundant scheme of some sort intended to prevent the loss of data.  You, the taxpayer, has spent billions upon billions since the advent of email to provide these facilities for our federal bureaucracy.

Third, since email storage in such an environment is bound to be monumental in scale, there are undoubtedly many storage blades of some form, probably Storage Area Networks(SANs) to handle the storage needs of the mail system servers.  These are also geographically dispersed for reasons of data security, and what you should know about these technologies is that if your Storage Administrators are doing their jobs, there is virtually no credible fashion in which data of this sort could be lost simply because somebody’s office computer’s hard disk died.

To put it in context, consider one of the leading manufacturer’s systems.  Called an ISE2, it’s made by X-IO and it can contain two datapacs that contain what are essentially a stack of hard disks that are effectively “self-healing,” and in common usage, contain more than fourteen terabytes of data in each datapac.  By design, such a device already creates a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks(RAID) by virtue of its design, permitting the administrator to choose either RAID 1(mirroring) or RAID 5(a form of quasi-mirroring).  The way these devices are used is to create storage volumes in the datapacs and attach those volumes to servers.  They can be swapped in and out, and they can be mirrored as individual entities across other devices.  The servers in question see these volumes as hard-drives, and in effect, they function in precisely that manner.    I would be stunned to find that the US Federal government is not using such an arrangement, whomever the vendor, and there are many.  Chances are high that wherever the server farm is that operates the IRS email system, there are likely to be many SAN units, or other storage containers that have similar functionality.

Putting of all of this into simplest terms, the series of failures that would be required to disappear Lois Lerner’s emails, along with those of six other IRS executives, is an astonishing string of virtual impossibilities and displays of incompetence and malfeasance that should result in the ouster of every IT manager supporting the IRS.  It’s not that I don’t believe there are incompetents working in government, or that I don’t believe there are some slothful folk administering systems for the IRS, but that the totality of this loss of data represents a complete failure at virtually every level and every step of the organization.  Even in a clunky, bureaucratic, top-heavy organization like the IRS, there are still some competent people who keep it working despite all the obstacles placed in their way. The manner in which their storage systems and server farms are designed tends to preclude the chance that something so seemingly innocuous as the loss of one person’s email(or seven) is even a remote possibility.

Knowing how such systems work, and knowing that the government spends more money on the core computing technology than any entity on the planet, their claim to have lost the email due to a hard drive failure on a client machine is an absolute farce.  To claim even that no data was recoverable on that hard drive is pretty hard to believe too, since I’ve seen data recovered from hard disks that have been in computers essentially destroyed by fires.  In fact, given the nature of the data I have handled over the course of my computing career, it is common that when a computer reaches the end of its service life, organizations resell the computers but strip the hard drives out of them for mechanical destruction so that no data may be recovered from them. (In many cases, this involves drilling holes through the platters, using a cutting torch, or other methodology designed to destroy the actual storage media in the drive, which is generally very hard metal platters.)

All of that doesn’t matter in the least, however, as the servers and archive servers and storage devices in the systems are apt to have contained one or more(probably many more) copies of the target emails. Then there are backup tapes or other backup devices. No, ladies and gentlemen, if the administration’s hacks like Mr. Koskinen come forward to tell you in smug tones that the data was irretrievably lost, they are lying.  It may have been irretrievably destroyed, but that would require a conspiracy because no one computer technician could possibly have access to all the relevant systems in an organization so large.

The technician who was responsible for maintaining and repairing Lois Lerner’s computer is not the same technician who administers the email system.  That administrator is not the same person who operates and maintains the bulk data storage containers, nor is that the same person who operates all backups and certainly not the same person who maintains and administers the network on which all of this computing takes place.  It’s not plausible in an organization the size of the IRS.  In many cases, data is duplicated and moved off-site for disaster recovery purposes.  No, if this data is unrecoverable, it is because it was ordered to be placed in that state.  Knowing this, and knowing what would be entailed in literally destroying any trace of these emails, I can only conclude that this administration is lying, and is an active participant in a criminal conspiracy and cover-up of crimes that would tend to place Lerner and her superiors in jeopardy of long jail terms, and this president in the direct path of impeachment proceedings.

At the beginning of this article, I explained to you that I believed that the claim about the emails being “lost” is nonsense, and a lie.  I hope I’ve managed to illuminate a few of the reasons why you should not believe such claims, but I also contended that you should not believe that the Republicans are very serious about uncovering the truth, despite their harrumphing to the contrary.   You see, if the Republicans in Congress were serious about all of this, they would issue subpoenas to the entire IT staff.  They would drag them in, one at a time, starting at the top, and working their way down to the lowest technician.  They would have questions, specific technical questions, prepared for them by people like me, or actually those rare birds who designed such systems, and they would begin the grilling.  Under oath.  Somebody would crack.  A lie of this sort cannot be hidden if there is a consistent and tireless effort to uncover it.

The problem may be that to uncover Lois Lerner’s email would reveal something no Representative in that committee hearing room wants you to know:  Lerner may have been receiving emails from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill urging audits and investigations into Tea Party groups.  The IRS was used in this instance to quell a peaceful, political uprising by making the formation of a group so painful and problematic as to frustrate into capitulation all but the most insistent and persistent persons.  The Republicans tried first to co-opt the Tea Party phenomenon, making it their own, but when they found they were unable to control the myriad of organizations springing to life around the country, their next motive was to destroy it because they posed a serious challenge to the orthodoxy of establishment power in Washington DC.  Most Republicans in Washington DC want the Tea Party buried, some of them more fervently even than the Democrats.

If the Republicans in the House cannot muster a select committee to look into this and other matters of extreme government corruption, it is only because they do no want the truth discovered.  If they will not bring an endless string of witnesses to testify as to their role in the email “losses” and the system design of the email and data facilities of the IRS, then they don’t want an answer.  Paul Ryan and others can put on one Hell of a show in the committee room, but the truth is that saying “I don’t believe you” in an exchange with an IRS commissioner isn’t going to turn over many stones.  If you want the truth, you bring in the subject matter experts and responsible parties, and you grill them and continue to remind them of their oaths.  At some point, some junior flunky intern who was told to ditch a hard disk in the Potomac is going to squeal, because he doesn’t want to go to prison.  Then you bring back the person who gave him that order, and then the person who issued that order from higher on the food chain.   Work your way down to get them on the record, until somebody cracks, and then work your way back up, exposing lies until the scheme is revealed in full.

If the Congress won’t do this, they’re not serious about the matter.  It suggests strongly that they don’t want the truth revealed any more than the administration.  There are plenty of smart people on Capitol Hill, and they have plenty of contacts who understand such systems and could provide technical advice both in the formation of questions and in the manner by which to challenge the credibility of the answers.  Those behind this atrocious abuse of government power must be held accountable and jailed for their crimes.  Make no mistake about it: Grievous crimes were committed both as a part of the targeting, as well as during this extended cover-up.  If the Republicans now fail to uncover those crimes and see this investigatory process through to a just ending, you can be sure that they hadn’t wanted the truth to be discovered, because their fingerprints are all over this too.

 

 

 

Service in the Military is about…Service

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Good of the Service?

One of the most frustrating things revealed about American culture these days could be seen in the wake of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s move to include women in front-line combat.  Media outlets immediately sought out comments particularly from women, and particularly from veterans and current service members. The responses portrayed were almost uniformly positive, but most of the responses I saw or heard in media were entirely vapid.  In local media, one younger man was asked his opinion, and his response was approximately that it’s “a good thing that women will be treated equally.”  Two things about this exercise are particular despicable to me, and I don’t know which is worse:  The degree to which the media helps drive public opinion, or the simple fact that public opinion is so easily driven. To me, it’s obvious that far too many of our citizens no longer think before speaking, because that sort of assessment misses the entire point of military service, and the purpose of the military altogether.  Simply put, service in the military isn’t at all about you.

To those who may be somewhat confused, let me preface the discussion with a few simple facts.  The purpose of the military is to be the war-fighting appendage of the nation, and its role ought to be nothing more or less than to obtain victory in the missions into which the chain-of-command thrusts the services, with the goal of victory at minimal cost.  Victory first, cost minimization second.  Everything else the military does is pointless if it doesn’t accomplish these things, in this order.  We could have a much larger military spending our entire GDP in support of it, but that would defeat the purpose of defending the country, since nobody would have the funds for any other purpose.  Let us admit then that we wish to spend roughly that which it takes in blood and treasure, but no more, in defending the country and carrying out the war-fighting missions of our nation.

Naturally, a military unable to defend the country, or to obtain victory, is pointless in most respects.  If the military force we fund is unable to protect the nation, one must ask: Why fund it at all?  Do we like parades so well that we will support them with hundreds of billions of dollars, in perpetuity, with no hope that the force we’ve built can defend the nation and win its wars?  This would be preposterous, both from an economic and a moral standpoint.  Let us then admit that the first mission of the military, and the most critical end for which it is formed is to fight our battles, win our wars, and to do so while spending as little in blood and treasure as we’re reasonably able.

Having said this, let us examine the notions advanced by the vast bulk of those approving publicly the notion of women in combat as a matter of fairness and equality to women.  Let it be noted at the outset that the purpose of the military is not fairness, and not some contrived notion of radical egalitarianism, but the defense of the nation, and any policy imposed on the force must meet the singular test posed by the premise that the purpose of the military is to win our wars, and to defend our country while exacting the lowest reasonable cost in lives and money.

If a policy is implemented that doesn’t serve that end, or improve that goal, we must ask why our leaders would undertake it.  I would like for one military logistical analyst or one combat veteran to explain how either of the two goals explained above are augmented by including women in front-line combat.  There may be a good deal of emotionally-charged political grandstanding, but the factual answer is that combat effectiveness of units will be degraded by the mass-inclusion of women in combat roles.  You may not like reading these words, but they are no less true for your opposition.

Women do not meet the same rigorous physical standards as men.  Don’t take it from me, but instead take it directly from the Army’s Physical Fitness Test scoring system.  For the purpose of this discussion, I have built a table with data from the scoring tables available elsewhere. This table is a condensed representation of the difference in standards between male and female soldiers, aged 17-21, as currently in use by the United States Army. The Army uses three events to rate the fitness of soldiers, being the push-up, the sit-up, and the two-mile run, performed in that order by official scorekeepers. The first two events are time-limited to two minutes each. I have placed the top and bottom passing scores possible for each sex, in each event. Please direct your attention to this table:

Push-ups
Sit-ups
2-Mile Run
Repetitions
Points
Repetitions
Points
Time
Points
Male Maximum
71
100
78
100
13:00
100
Male Minimum
42
60
53
60
15:54
60
Female Maximum
42
100
78
100
15:36
100
Female Minimum
19
60
53
60
18:54
60

The entire APFT(Army Physical Fitness Test) is based on a minimum passing score of 180, and a maximum of 300 points. In the Army, this has a bearing on promotions particular from E-4 to E-5 and from E-5 to E-6. I would like readers to observe particularly the vast performance disparity in both Push-ups and the 2-Mile run. Notice that the Maximum Score for women is obtained in Push-ups at the minimum passing score for men, and that the Maximum Score in the 2-Mile Run for women is just eighteen seconds faster than the slowest time acceptable for men.

One can argue over how much these differences would matter in support units(although they could, and probably do,) but on the battlefield, and in combat units, this is an unmitigated disaster. What’s worse, the actual difference in the Push-Up event is much greater than these scores reveal, because the average woman is shorter and lighter, both qualities placing the individual at mechanical advantage in the event. A 5’10” male weighting 170 lbs. will on average find it easier to obtain a high score in the push-up event than a 6’2″ male,perhaps slightly more muscular, but weighing 190 lbs. Due to physiological differences between men and women, these vastly differing standards describe a significant disparity in capacity. We can wonder about how much that might matter in a rear area driving a truck, but in a forward area, heaving 100-lbs 155mm artillery projectiles around, it is bound to be quite inhibiting. Climbing in and out of the foxhole, pulling oneself up over walls and barriers, or having to carry a wounded comrade would quickly expose the difference.

What one cannot seriously argue is that the average woman serving will always obtain the top scores, or that the average man serving will only obtain the bottom.  This disparity describes a vast variance in capability that can be lethal on the battlefield.  It is not to say that there is no variance among men, but it is to say that the difference between the average man in the force and the average woman in the force is certain to be substantial.  Since the military can only make rules that ultimately describe the average, perhaps rewarding those substantially above the mean, while ejecting those well below it, we must deal with the average, but not the exceptions.

The question then becomes:  What does a military combat unit gain and/or lose by including women in direct combat roles?  The simple truth is that in terms of the mission, and the likely costs of achieving it, this is an equation that spells potential or even probable disaster.  The notion being advanced by those who advocate the idea is that the rewards achieved are social and/or individual.  It is said by some that women add something intangible to the force by virtue of their presence, that justifies the additional losses in blood and treasure that their presence will on average impose.  That may seem like a nifty argument unless it’s your blood or your treasure being unnecessarily expended, in which case it’s not such a good idea after all, and all the mystical-sounding social “wisdom” loses its ephemeral sheen.

The other argument is purely individual, and it is made in terms of notions of equality of opportunity.  Let me explain this in simplest terms so that the brutally thoughtless might grasp it:  The Armed Services do not exist to hand out opportunities for self-actualization, career advancement, personal gratification, or anything else of the sort.  One might obtain some or all of those things through military service, but at the very least, this is and ought remain a tertiary concern for the chain of command.  Again, chief concerns must be mission accomplishment and minimal cost, and in that pursuit, the services ought to retain every tool of discrimination at their disposal.

Some will misunderstand my usage of “discrimination” as meaning wanton, arbitrary rejection of some people for irrational cause(s.)  This is not the meaning I intend, instead applying the usage that describes making a rational choice for rational purposes in the manner one shops for automobiles or smart-phones.  In this sense, we all discriminate daily, many times over, and to good effect because it generally results in improved products or services since we will tend to opt for those most likely to satisfy our purposes.

Constructing a fighting force is no different, in fact, but  just as Samsung can’t sue you for discrimination because you opted for Apple’s “iPhone” instead of the former’s “Galaxy,” the military is usually immune from lawsuits by merely stating their decisions in the context of the best interests of the service involved.  What so many people don’t seem to understand is that military service is not an ordinary workplace, to which one can apply at will, and resign at whim.  In the civilian sector, one has every remedy under the sun available if there is irrational discrimination, but under the martial authority that is the military, and as an institution for the nation’s defense, such concepts are foreign and irrelevant.

It highlights the misunderstanding of what military service is, and isn’t.  Too many people in our culture are now possessed of an entitlement mindset, a notion that they too readily apply to the most farcical situation.  There is no entitlement to be an infantry soldier.  You can sign up for the infantry if you like, and if the Army will let you, but if after completing your initial training, the DoD decides that for the moment, they need more cooks, you’d better prepare to learn the ins and outs of a DFAC(Dining Facility – formerly known as the Mess-hall) because irrespective of the MOS(Military Occupational Specialty) for which you enlisted, you serve the needs of the Army first – not your own.

How many very good and able persons have wanted to be pilots in the military only to be told that since their vision requires corrective lenses to be at least 20/20, they are ineligible for that role?  Will the Americans With Disabilities Act now be taken to apply to military service?  There are people advocating such notions already, but what mustn’t be lost in all of this is the reason the military is given extraordinary power to discriminate on the basis of factors that would not be legally acceptable or morally proper in the civilian population:  The function of the military is to keep the rest of us safe.

This is why I am so thoroughly disgusted by the coverage of this change in policy given by the media.  It ignores the fact that this is a politically-based decision that merits no consideration whatever in a professional military.  A professional military would study, objectively – without subservience to politicians’ whims, the impact of replacing approximately half of its combat forces with the average female enlistee.  It would not consider the exceptional few who would describe the upper tail of the bell-curve on physical performance, but instead the median performer.  Under that scrutiny, this entire notion would be abolished in one minute, because it does not serve the interests of the mission, or the minimization of the mission’s costs in blood and treasure.  Our forces must accomplish their missions with as many as possible able to come home alive and in one piece, and that should be the enduring criteria of every person charged with command over troops in combat, from Lieutenant to Commander-in-Chief.

What we must not do is to permit the armed services of the United States to be degraded further in its capabilities for the sake of contrived notions of equality that have no relevance on the battlefield.  We don’t seek equality on the battlefield with our enemies, but instead seek every advantage, as they do.  That’s the nature of war, where a single moment in a single battle can change the fortunes of nations, so that every advantage is precious.  How many advantages do we wish to yield to our present and future enemies in pursuit of a nonsensical notion of equality?  After all, the only real equality that exists on a battlefield is the one obtained in death.

Sadly, if we adopt policies that place more service-members in disadvantageous positions in combat, we will see more equality of the fatal sort too, but that must be the inevitable result when policies are not based on the realities of war, but instead on the basis of the wishes of some impractical, egg-headed “constitutional scholar” in the ivory tower at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and the legion of nit-wits he has convinced to believe that military service is about them.  There’s a reason it’s widely considered a “sacrifice.”  Notions of equality that interfere with or hamper the military’s mission are among the things one voluntarily surrenders.

Editor’s Note: You should not be surprised that this story broke just in time for the Wednesday evening news cycle, because the whole purpose for which this story was pushed to the media at that time was clearly to remove Hillary Clinton’s wretched  testimony in the Senate from the position as top story. This is naturally an important issue, but it is news only in the respect that it’s been pushed to the surface as a way to change the subject.  Period.  Now we’ll argue over this instead of the disgusting dishonesty of Hillary Clinton on behalf of the Obama administration.

Obama Sabotages Israelis: Can They Remain Our Ally?

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Iranian Nuclear Sites

The most thoroughly disturbing story to appear last week was the information suggesting that the Obama administration is actively undermining Israel in its preparations to strike Iran, and disclosing its plans to the press in order to prevent them from being carried out.  This story appeared in YNet News on Thursday, and it offers details about what’s at stake, but more, the treachery of the Obama administration in seeking to undermine our ally Israel in its preparations to make strikes against nuclear facilities in Iran.  Apart from the fact that this is a serious leak that should result in firings, the problem is that this may be official US policy behind the scenes. My question is this:  If these leaks didn’t have the official sanction of the President, what is he doing to identify the leakers?

The information leaked suggests that Israel has formed some sort of alliance with Iran’s neighbor to the North, Azerbaijan.  The basic idea contained in the leaks is that Israel would launch strikes from airbases in that country, flying across the Caspian Sea in low-level sorties designed to fly under radar coverage.  The serious problem lies in the fact that all of this information has done serious damage to Israel, and even to the United States, as the article details in this summary of the damage inflicted:

  • Iran now has a decent picture of what Israel’s and America’s intelligence communities know about Tehran’s nuclear program and defense establishment, including its aerial defenses.
  • The Iranians now know about the indications that would be perceived by Washington and Jerusalem as a “nuclear breakthrough”. Hence, Iran can do a better job of concealment.
  • The reports make it more difficult to utilize certain operational options. These options, even if not considered thus far, could have been used by the US in the future, should Iran not thwart them via diplomatic and military means.

As you can well imagine, these leaks have created a serious problem for Israel, and it effectively takes this range of strike options off the table.  With the Obama administration undertaking such a program of intentional leaks, it’s hard to imagine relations could grow much cooler between the US and Israel.  One of the problems I foresee in this instance is wondering what happens when Israel, that increasingly views Iran as a potential existential threat to its people, comes to see us as taking on the role of effectively aiding that threat.

These are dangerous times, and the United States has a president who seems intent upon making them more volatile.  By making such information known to the press, it is likely to act to prevent an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear sites, but the problem is that Iran may be making serious strides in the development of nuclear weapons.  So armed, they would pose a serious threat to the existence of Israel, particularly since they have a leader who has promised repeatedly to immolate Israel and her people.

If this administration is serious, what it will do is investigate the leaks and bring the sources to justice because these are classified documents and assessments, and any who have access to such material ought to be limited strictly, thus making it easier to discern who is doing all the leaking.  Failing even to attempt to identify the sources of the leaks is as good as an endorsement of them, and what that suggests about this administration is too terrible to contemplate.

The original story broke in Foreign Policy Magazine, and former Ambassador John Bolton was among those who responded with severe criticism of the Obama administration.  One unnamed intelligence officer quoted in the article said:

“We’re watching what Iran does closely,” one of the U.S. sources, an intelligence officer engaged in assessing the ramifications of a prospective Israeli attack confirmed. “But we’re now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we’re not happy about it.”

To have American officials of any description making such remarks to the press is abominable, but to see that the Obama administration is doing nothing about it gives the appearance of official sanction. This makes one wonder what the Obama administration’s actual policy is toward Israel.  Whatever you may choose to call it, it doesn’t seem to fit the term “ally.”

 

Fast and Furious: “Smoking Gun” Indeed(Updated)

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

BATFE: Facilitating Crime To Regulate You

Wednesday, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin posted a note on her Facebook page highlighting a story about Fast and Furious from CBS News.  In her note, she quotes the most critical part of the story and told readers: “Scour this article and let me know if you too think this might be a “smoking gun” in the Fast & Furious case.”  If you read the article, what we now know to be true becomes painfully clear: The BATFE(The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) was intent upon using sales they essentially provoked or facilitated in order to create the case justifying the further regulation of firearms.  At stake is the question of the BATFE’s policy in operation “Fast and Furious,” and communications between officials who wanted to use their instigated instances of multiple long-gun sales as the pretext under which to require gun dealers to report multiple long-gun sales to the same individual within five days.  This was one of their intended targets, but I suspect they had other motives we’ll learn about in due course.  What they really want is to attack your rights, and your ability to defend yourselves.

You might wonder who would want to buy multiple long guns within five days.  I can think of several very simple examples, including sportsmen, hunters, or simple gun enthusiasts, but the real point is that it doesn’t matter.  Long-guns aren’t used in crimes very frequently, because most murderous thugs don’t want to drag around a shoulder-fired, nearly impossible to conceal weapon.  Overwhelmingly, criminals use handguns.  This cannot be the issue.  Instead, this is about disarming the American people.  You see, the truth of the matter is that anybody who knows the first thing about firearms knows that handguns are of limited range and limited use.  Long-guns, particularly rifles, have extensive potential uses in defending one’s home and property, or more commonly, in military maneuvers.  Why is this important?   After all, we’re not in the military, most of us.  Some of us hunt, but many of the rifles targeted by these regulations are actually sporting rifles, with detachable magazine, which means quite bluntly that they can be used to repel large numbers of attackers because they can be reloaded quickly.  I ask you to look at the world around you, and ask with the state of our planet at present, why would anybody wish to reduce the ability of Americans to defend themselves, and against what?  I’ll leave the conclusions to you as to the ultimate purpose of this regulation, but it’s clear to me that this is about Americans retaining the ability to defend themselves en masse.

What this story makes clear is the sinister sort of people who have now taken up residence in our government.  They were willing to ask gun sellers to make mass sales of weapons, to buyers they knew would transport them to Mexico, knowing those weapons would be used by criminal drug gangs in terrible crimes.  They knew this, and they did it so they would be able to point to multiple sales that they had instigated in order to say you, the American people, ought to be reported to government if you buy multiple long-guns.  Think about that:  They knew these weapons would be used in crimes.  Hell, let’s just be honest about it: They hoped they would be used by the narco-thugs in crimes, and that this would give them the excuse they needed to regulate you.

Consider for yourself the sort of government you now have, that is so interested in disarming you that it is willing to engineer circumstances in which gun crimes are facilitated by multi-rifle sales in a foreign country, and along our own border, so that they can keep watch on you more closely.  Do you honestly trust such a government?  Do you really believe such a government is acting in your interests?  No.  This is a sick and twisted plot by government thugs to attack your liberties.

It’s beyond diabolical.  This is classic Saul Alinsky Rules for Radicals thinking: Create a crisis and then propose new laws and regulations to combat the problem thereby created, in order to attack your target.  Your government is a monster.  You are its target.  It’s time to realize that we are being governed by people who are essentially hostile to the American people.  Thank goodness we have concerned Americans like Sarah Palin to highlight this story.

Update: As this goes to press, Mark Levin is discussing the issue on his show.