When Were They Not?

All IT Jobs Are Cybersecurity Jobs Now goes the headline on a recent Wall Street Journal article, and the subhead reads The rise of cyberthreats means that the people once assigned to setting up computers and email servers must now treat security as top priority.

It’s like these folks—both in the IT arena and in the reporting media—have just had an epiphany.

The global “WannaCry” ransomware attack that peaked last week, and has affected at least 200,000 computers in 150 countries, as well as the growing threat of Adylkuzz, another new piece of malware, illustrate a basic problem that will only become more pressing as ever more of our systems become connected: the internet wasn’t designed with security in mind, and dealing with that reality isn’t cheap or easy.

It Just Keeps Getting Better and Better

…or worse and worse, depending on your perspective.  Not only is the Veterans Administration continuing to make bad/false/improper payments, they seem to be getting acceleratingly worse about it.  The Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General reported that the VA made $5 billion in “improper” payments in 2015, and then while that drew attention, the VA increased their improper payouts to $5.5 billion in 2016.

To show how terrible the rates can be, here are some data from James Clark at the above link:

  • the VA Community Care had 75% of their payments as “improper” payments in 2016

The PRC and Northern Korea

Harry Kazianis tried to explain, in his Real Clear World piece, why the People’s Republic of China “won’t solve” the northern Korea crisis for us.  It’s complicated for the PRC, he said.

He [Kazianis’ carefully unidentified “Chinese scholar” and “retired official of the People’s Liberation Army”] pressed his case, noting, “look at this problem from where I sit in Beijing. I see a world of trouble when it comes to North Korea. I see war. I see death. I see superpower showdowns. We must all agree we don’t want this. Yes, nuclear weapons are bad, but North Korea could create far more trouble than you realize, and China would have to deal with most of it.”

Handling Classified

FBI Director James Comey had this about Huma Abedin and her role in the ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) classified email scandal:

Somehow, her [Clinton’s] emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information.  His then-spouse, Huma Abedin, appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him to print out for her, so she could deliver them to the secretary of state.

Comey justified his lack of action with this:

We didn’t have any indication that she had a sense of what she was doing was in violation of the law[.]

Military Academies as Professional Sports Farm Teams

Or not.  Secretary of Defense James Mattis has reversed an Obama administration late 2016 move that

allowed academy students with exceptional sports talent to bypass active-duty and serve out their time in the military reserves to play in professional leagues.

Dana White, Pentagon spokesman, on the matter:

Our military academies exist to develop future officers who enhance the readiness and the lethality of our military services.  Graduates enjoy the extraordinary benefit of a military academy education at taxpayer expense.

Obama-Iran Axis

It sort of makes any Trump-Russia connection look awfully tenuous.  Politico has a long report out on what actually transpired during Obama’s “negotiation” of the Iran nuclear weapons deal, particularly with regard to the seven folks in American detention whom Obama released to Iran as a deal sweetener.

A couple of highlights (read the whole thing; it’s important):

In reality, some of them were accused by Obama’s own Justice Department of posing threats to national security. Three allegedly were part of an illegal procurement network supplying Iran with US-made microelectronics with applications in surface-to-air and cruise missiles like the kind Tehran test-fired recently, prompting a still-escalating exchange of threats with the Trump administration. Another was serving an eight-year sentence for conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware.

Timidity Is

…as timidity does.  The Japan Times has it, too, as demonstrated in its editorial last Wednesday.  The editorial board is worried about Japan actually achieving an ability to defend proactively itself.  The board’s concern was triggered [sic] by a Liberal Democratic Party proposal that

Japan consider developing the ability to strike enemy missile bases.  …a response to North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches….

The board fretted that

an attempt by Japan to build up the capability to attack enemy bases could result in destabilizing the region’s security environment by giving an imagined enemy an excuse to carry out pre-emptive strikes on our country.

A Misunderstanding

…between the roles of State and Defense and how those roles should be carried out.  The misunderstanding is illustrated in (though it’s not the primary subject of) a Friday Wall Street Journal piece by Dion Nissenbaum and Maria Abi-Habib.

President Donald Trump is (very properly) backing away from a Lyndon Johnson- or Barack Obama-esque micromanagement of what the military is permitted to do, including target selection, timing of engagement, and weapons permitted to be used on those targets.  Instead, he’s encouraging DoD to have its commanders on-scene to exercise more initiative, with less mother-may-I delay waiting for permission from the White House (and notice that use of the chain of command from the top down, too).   From that, as illustrated by General John Nicholson’s decision to drop a MOAB on his own initiative on a Daesh network of tunnels and caves in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border, we’re seeing a more aggressive military with more timely activities.

Potemkin Missiles?

The Yonhap News/Zuma Press image, below, appears to be a new ICBM, and apparently a transportable one, shown in a military parade in Pyongyang, northern Korea, last Saturday.

Also paraded were missile launchers with “never-before-seen missile canisters” (imagery not provided in the Wall Street Journal article at the link).

“Never before seen” and “new.”  Are these truly so, or are they only new to the NLMSM and haven’t actually been successfully concealed from the world’s intelligence services?

Or: are these real weapons, or are they just shams, empty containers?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Hot Air and a Strong United States

Recall the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was going to heavily reinforce “all ocean features controlled by Manila” and plant the Philippine flag on them.

Now, it turns out that the People’s Republic of China has instructed its newest client state not to do so, and Duterte has obeyed.  He’s withdrawn his “threat”

because he values Chinese friendship.

PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang:

Beijing is “happy to see the Philippine side working more closely with the Chinese side.”

Duterte’s strong words having been exposed as so much hot air clearly demonstrates the need for a revitalized and strong American presence everywhere in the South—and East—China Seas.