CIA to build cyberespionage unit

WASHINGTON (TNS) — In a reorganization of the nation’s premier spy agency, the CIA is creating a special division to conduct digital espionage, the latest government agency to respond to the growing use of cyberhacks and attacks around the globe.

The new directorate will try to penetrate the ranks of foreign hackers and other adversaries who try to penetrate or sabotage crucial U.S. infrastructure, as well as help American spies overseas steal digital secrets and cover their tracks.

“The digital world touches every aspect of our business,” CIA Director John O. Brennan told reporters at CIA headquarters. He acknowledged that the agency had been slow to adapt to the challenge of digital espionage.

The shift comes after U.S. intelligence was caught off guard by a series of high-profile digital attacks last year, including an assault on computer systems at Sony Pictures linked to North Korea, and an Iranian-launched cyberassault on Las Vegas Sands Corp., the world’s largest casino company.

GOP bill would kill net neutrality, strip FCC of power over Internet

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has introduced legislation to strip the Federal Communications Commission’s ability to regulate Internet broadband as a public utility. If passed, the legislation would do away with the agency’s divisive new net neutrality rules.

Late last month, a politically divided FCC approved the neutrality rules with the stated purpose of prohibiting Internet service providers from picking favorites among legal content providers on the Web.

Blackburn and other critics of the plan, including dissenting FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, argue that reclassifying cyber broadband as a public utility clears the way for all manner of government intrusion in the free flow of online information.

“Once the federal government establishes a foothold into managing how Internet service providers run their networks they will essentially be deciding which content goes first, second, third, or not at all,” Blackburn said in a statement. “My legislation will put the brakes on this FCC overreach and protect our innovators from these job-killing regulations.”

Clinton’s State Department pushed resignation of former employee after he used his private email for work

Under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who not only never used her official government email account to conduct business but never had one created in the first place — the State Department goaded an employee into resigning from his post in part for using a private email account for official business.

In the wake of a scathing 2012 Inspector General’s report criticizing a number of lapses on the part of Scott Gration, a former ambassador to Kenya, Gration was compelled to resign from his post. One of the biggest concerns highlighted in the IG report was his failure to refrain from making official communications on nongovernment email platforms.

Here’s the relevant portion of that IG report:

GOP lawmaker reissues legislation to dissolve the ATF

In apparent response to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF) attempt to regulate popular types of rifle ammunition off the civilian market, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has reintroduced legislation to disband the agency.

Sensenbrenner, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, contends that the ATF’s functions could easily be handled by the nation’s other law enforcement agencies.

“[The ATF’s] ‘Framework’ is an affront to the Second Amendment and yet another reason why Congress should pass the ATF Elimination Act,” the lawmaker said in a statement.

Republican lawmakers and 2nd Amendment supporters throughout the nation have most recently criticized the agency for its proposal to reclassify certain types of 5.56mm/.223 caliber ammunition as armor-piercing. The ban would specifically ban the manufacture and sale of M855/SS109 “green tip” ammunition.

February job growth at odds with persistent workforce dropout

Most mainstream news outlets and Wall Street watchers hailed Friday’s release of the latest jobs data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics with optimism and enthusiasm. “Good news: Unemployment at lowest in 7 years,” a CNN headline read. NPR hailed the new information as “a sign that the nation’s economy is finally picking up steam.”

Maybe. But there’s a massive chunk of the nation that isn’t presently involved in the labor market or in contributing anything to the economy. In the past two years, there have been 13 months when the non-participation rate in the U.S. labor force matched or exceeded lows previously seen nearly four decades ago.

“The labor force participation rate hovered between 62.9 percent and 62.7 percent in the eleven months between April 2014 and this February, and has been 62.9 percent or lower in 13 of the 17 months since October 2013,” reported CNS News.

Judge slams EPA for foot dragging on conservatives’ FOIA requests

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not treat information requests from conservative groups with the same urgency as those from other groups, and it has lied to a federal judge about how thoroughly it researches its own records when actually dealing with such requests.

Those are two stinging revelations included in an opinion this week by federal judge Royce C. Lamberth, who all but accused the EPA of discriminating against conservative groups by delivering intentionally opaque responses to requests for information, if it responds at all. Lamberth said all the circumstantial evidence points to a systematic and willful attempt at the agency to stifle one group of voices on a number of environmental policy issues.

Lamberth’s opinion in Landmark Legal Foundation v. EPA, a FOIA lawsuit filed by the former after the EPA wouldn’t release information about the timing of its most controversial regulatory announcements, stopped short of awarding Landmark Legal the punitive award the group had been seeking. But the judge indicated that a lack of preponderance of evidence was the only reason why.

Cyberattacks on federal government on the rise

As a growing number of Americans rely on government websites to handle their taxes or sign up for healthcare, a new report from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) raises questions about how secure the government is keeping online information.

The OMB report details a 15 percent increase in cyberattacks on the government for fiscal 2014, bringing the total number of incidents to a record of 70,000.

While cyberattacks often involve phishing scams and denial of service attacks, OMB investigators said the biggest cyber threat comes from government employees’ mishandling of online documents containing personal information.

Another major concern is that many agencies lack authentication procedures to keep information stored on their servers safe.

McConnell suggests states ignore forthcoming EPA rules

In a letter published Tuesday by the Lexington Herald-Leader, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) advised states not to start down a path toward compliance with the Obama administration’s forthcoming environmental regulations on the energy industry.

Saying the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) controversial rules to cut CO2 emissions is “probably illegal,” McConnell warned that states whose leaders oppose the climate regulations may lock themselves in to playing by the administration’s rules if they submit a plan — any plan — outlining their intent to comply (or not comply) with the EPA mandate.

“Don’t be complicit in the administration’s attack on the middle class,” wrote McConnell:

Think twice before submitting a state plan — which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits — when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won’t be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism.

Arizona lawmaker seeks end to ban on short-barreled shotguns, silencers and nunchakus

A Republican state senator in Arizona proposed legislation this week that would end a ban on sawed-off shotguns, silencers and nunchakus in the state.

Sen. Kelli Ward (R-Lake Havasu City), a prolific gun rights legislator, introduced the proposal as an amendment to a separate bill aimed at restoring firearm ownership rights to felons when a judge determines they have served their time.

Ward’s amendment:

IF A JUDGMENT OF GUILT IS SET ASIDE PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION THE PERSON’S RIGHT TO POSSESS A GUN OR FIREARM IS RESTORED. THIS SUBSECTION DOES NOT APPLY TO A PERSON WHO WAS CONVICTED OF A SERIOUS OFFENSE AS DEFINED IN SECTION 13-706. IF A PERSON’S RIGHT TO POSSESS A GUN OR FIREARM IS RESTORED PURSUANT TO SUBSECTION D OF THIS SECTION, THE PERSON MAY POSSESS:

  1. A DEVICE THAT IS DESIGNED, MADE OR ADAPTED TO MUFFLE THE REPORT OF A FIREARM.

Bibi destroys Iran and Obama with one masterful speech

Hi. I’m Wayne Allyn Root for Personal Liberty.

Wasn’t that refreshing? Don’t you wish we had Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu as president instead of Barack Obama? I took a sampling among my friends — all smart, educated business owners, men of substance. Every one of them said if they had a choice, they’d choose Bibi over Obama for president… of the United States.

The media will concentrate on the substance of the Israeli prime minister’s speech. But let’s first look at the style. I am a business and motivational speaker who speaks all over the globe, often to audiences in the thousands. I understand communication, charisma, chutzpah and salesmanship. Bibi gets an A+ in all four categories. He delivered the speech of a lifetime.

Love and hate

(I began publishing my monthly newsletter The Bob Livingston Letter™ in 1969. The following is an excerpt from the March 1998 issue in which I warned readers about the nation’s slide toward immorality and wickedness and the responsibility Christians have to recognize evil and condemn it for what it is, or face the consequences.

Many times, Mrs. Livingston and I have discussed love and hate.

We think that the masses of professing Christians think that they are supposed to love their enemies, even love God’s enemies. This love-love teaching is not a Biblical doctrine. It is an esoteric teaching designed to neutralize Christians so that they do not and cannot discriminate between good and evil. Need we explain that once we are neutralized with the love-love syndrome, then evil takes over.

There is no neutral doctrine in the scripture. Either we love or hate. Either God loves or hates.

Netanyahu’s blockbuster speech to Congress

No wonder Barack Obama and his team of sycophants didn’t want Israel’s prime minister to address a joint session of Congress. They were afraid that Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s powerful, passionate presentation would make Obama’s own stumbling, apologetic efforts look pathetic by comparison.

If that was their concern, boy, were they right. On Tuesday, Netanyahu delivered what has been described as “a speech for the ages.” It left a lot of viewers, including this one, wishing that our own president were half as eloquent about defending our country and promoting our interests.

The Israeli leader made it unmistakably clear exactly what is at stake in the current negotiations with Iran. “The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons,” he declared. “To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle but lose the war.”

While Obama Guts The U.S. Military, Russia Prepares For War

Russian Nuclear Missile To Be Personally Delivered To ObamaThe Russian military and the U.S. military are going in two very different directions.  Military spending in Russia is increasing by a whopping 33 percent this year alone, and the Russians are feverishly preparing as if a major war with the United States is inevitable.  But despite the fact that the conflict in Ukraine has raised tensions with Russia to Cold War levels, the Obama administration is still acting as if we were living in a “post-Cold War” era.  Even while the Russians are arming themselves to the teeth, the U.S. military is being gutted.  In fact, the U.S. Army is in the process of being cut down to the smallest size that we have seen since the end of World War II, and the U.S. Navy is already the smallest that it has been since World War I.  There is very little political debate about this gutting of our military at the moment, but someday we may look back and bitterly regret not being more prepared.

China Has Announced Plans For A ‘World Currency’

Chinese World CurrencyThe Chinese do not plan to live in a world dominated by the U.S. dollar for much longer.  Chinese leaders have been calling for the U.S. dollar to be replaced as the primary global reserve currency for a long time, but up until now they have never been very specific about what they would put in place of it.  Many have assumed that the Chinese simply wanted some new international currency to be created.  But what if that is not what the Chinese had in mind?  What if they have always wanted their own currency to become the single most dominant currency on the entire planet?  What you are about to see is rather startling, but it shouldn’t be a surprise.  When it comes to economics and finance, the Chinese have always been playing chess while the western world has been playing checkers.  Sadly, we have gotten to the point where checkmate is on the horizon.

China Has Announced Plans For A ‘World Currency’

Chinese World CurrencyThe Chinese do not plan to live in a world dominated by the U.S. dollar for much longer.  Chinese leaders have been calling for the U.S. dollar to be replaced as the primary global reserve currency for a long time, but up until now they have never been very specific about what they would put in place of it.  Many have assumed that the Chinese simply wanted some new international currency to be created.  But what if that is not what the Chinese had in mind?  What if they have always wanted their own currency to become the single most dominant currency on the entire planet?  What you are about to see is rather startling, but it shouldn’t be a surprise.  When it comes to economics and finance, the Chinese have always been playing chess while the western world has been playing checkers.  Sadly, we have gotten to the point where checkmate is on the horizon.

Did Eric Hoteham and/or Hillary Clinton commit a felony by secreting State email on a homebrew server?

By now you probably know about the latest scandal involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — the one about how she opted out of the (legally not-optional) use of government email so that she could do all of her State Department work on an email server that was stored inside her New York house, safe from FOIA requests and federal data pulls.

Will it be another “soft” scandal or will the focus shift quickly — as it should — on whether Clinton violated real laws? Given the mainstream media’s tendencies, that’s uncertain. But the conservative media is already asking substantive questions. If substantive answers come, this scandal may take a very different turn from all the others.

Here’s National Review’s Shannen Coffin:

So was the use of private e-mail allowed when Clinton was secretary? Well, sure, at least to some extent. I suspect every federal employee has, at some time, used a private e-mail account to conduct business. But that doesn’t excuse failure to comply with the Federal Records Act.

Americans are ready for war with ISIS

Poll after poll has shown that Americans are incredibly war-weary after more than a decade of conflict in the Middle East and little to show for the trouble. But new data illustrates that when it comes to ISIS, Americans want boots on the ground to eliminate the terror threat.

A Quinnipiac University poll out Wednesday shows Americans favor sending ground troops to battle ISIS in Iraq and Syria by a 2-to-1 margin, with 60 percent in support and 30 percent who oppose the idea.

The new poll represents a change in opinion since last summer when headlines about ISIS atrocities first began cropping up. A WSJ/NBC poll at the time found just 37 percent support for the use of ground troops, though there was majority support for other military action against the terror group.

Quinnipiac’s latest numbers are also remarkable because they show support for using ground troops is high across all party, gender and age groups.

Update: Maryland sides against ‘free-range’ parents with finding of child neglect

In January, police in Maryland launched an investigation into the parenting practices of Alexander and Danielle Meitiv, a self-described “free-range” parenting couple who had allowed their two children to walk unsupervised on a mile-long trek from a local park to their home.

Now the Meitivs have been flagged by Montgomery County (Maryland) Child Protective Services (CPS) for “unsubstantiated” child neglect.

That isn’t exactly a crime, but neither is it a consequence-free finding. According to The Washington Post, a finding of unsubstantiated neglect places the Meitivs on a CPS watch file for at least five years, “and leaves open the question of what would happen if the Meitiv children get reported again for walking without adult supervision.”

The Meitivs’ two children were 10 and 6 years old at the time of their fateful walk home. The parents were adamant that their children’s exercise in freedom wasn’t a symptom of parental carelessness or neglect; rather, it resulted from a conscientious and considered decision about what kind of children they wanted to raise.

Immigration union leader says terrorists are crossing U.S. borders

The head of one of the nation’s largest immigration-related employee unions warned Americans this week that President Barack Obama’s lax immigration policies are opening the nation up to a terror attack on par with 9/11.

According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) head Kenneth Palinkas, the inability of immigration officials to thoroughly vet each of the thousands of new immigrants to the U.S. under Obama’s policies could help potential terrorists set the stage for “an even more catastrophic event then what occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.”

Palinkas has long criticized lax immigration policies. He joined the heads of several other employee unions whose members deal with immigration back in 2013 to speak out against the bipartisan Gang of Eight immigration plan, which he said would turn his employees into rubber stampers.

Keystone is kaput because Washington is Saudi Arabia’s bagman

President Barack Obama cut short his trip to democratic India five weeks ago after giving that nation a lecture on human rights. In Delhi he challenged its leaders to do more to protect religious minorities and encourage women in Indian society. Unfortunately, Obama had to climb down from his high horse on human rights and rush off on Air Force One to the Mecca of human rights abuses.

The saying “if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain” is apt because Obama brought a delegation of 27 Washington insiders to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The group included Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and several veterans of Republican administrations, including two former secretaries of state, James A. Baker III and Condoleezza Rice.