Tag: national security

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Today I’m launching a new podcast, Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten, and I’d like to ask for some help from the Ricochet community in making it as successful as possible.   Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten features compelling long-form conversations with exceptional thinkers and doers — primarily though not exclusively of a conservative/libertarian bent — on the most critical […]

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Make America Safe Again: A Steel of a Deal


President Trump knows more about structural steel than any president since the great civil engineer Herbert Hoover. Media of every flavor took the President’s comments, about requiring the use of US steel in petroleum pipeline construction, at face value, as only a jobs program. While “free” trade advocates got the vapors about protectionism and warned of harm to the US economy from artificially high prices, no one bothered digging into the critical assumption.

A year later, President Trump threatened to impose steel tariffs. There was much back-slapping and hand-wringing, all having to do with the price of steel and supposed resulting gains and losses in jobs. In the midst of this noise, Mark Davis, a Texas radio talk show host, took a call from a welder. (Starts at 23:50.)

Richard Epstein contrasts two recent actions by the Trump Administration — the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum, and the blocking of a foreign company’s attempts to take over an American tech firm — to demonstrate when national security concerns justify restrictions on trade … and when they don’t.

Richard Epstein parses the memo recently released by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, a document that they claim shows impropriety in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign.

Richard Epstein reviews how the new film The Post portrays the Supreme Court’s free speech jurisprudence in the Pentagon Papers case.

Making America Great Again with the New National Security Strategy


I found the National Security Strategy (NSS) publication timing and the setting of President Trump’s speech both significant. Publication within the first year of the Trump Administration is remarkable. The timing shows he recognized the importance of this document to drive change across agencies and shows the competence of his senior national security team. The speech setting both evoked Reagan and pointed to serious support for the full set of instruments of national power.

The setting was not a military base or DHS, rather it was the Ronald Reagan Building, whose tenants include USAID, Commerce, Trade, and CBP as well as the Woodrow Wilson Center. That reinforced the new President’s intent to use the informational and economic tools of national power. So, while President Trump was addressing multiple audiences with his words, his physical presence delivering the speech also underscored his intent.

In this AEI Events Podcast, Vice Admiral (Ret.) Mark Fox and Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Trask discuss how Iran pursues its foreign policy goals and conducts warfare in the Middle East. Both guests, along with AEI’s Frederick W. Kagan and J. Matthew McInnis, explain how they expect to see Tehran expand its methods in coming years.

The speakers agree that Iran masters asymmetric warfare, such as support for proxies, and thus will use increased resources to expand these operations. Lt. Gen. Trask, currently vice commander of the US Special Operations Command, highlights the importance of J. Matthew McInnis’ monograph “The Future of Iran’s Security Policy,” particularly its value to military planners and policymakers who need insight into Iranian strategic capabilities and thinking. Lt. Gen. Trask calls the monograph mandatory reading for all planners at the Special Operations Command.

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I’m having real mental problems observing McMaster and his recent actions, firing Trump supporters and retaining and protecting Obama(supposedly) supporters on the NSC staff. Part of my problem is my thinking that those he is protecting are likely some of the leakers that have not been outed. Looks as if this is at least partially […]

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This AEI Events Podcast features the release of AEI’s new report, “Kingpins and Corruption: Targeting Transnational Organized Crime in the Americas.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivers opening remarks and discusses with AEI’s Roger F. Noriega how Congress and the executive branch can proactively address the threats posed by transnational organized crime.

Following Sen. Rubio’s remarks, a panel of experts discuss some of the case studies featured in the report, including the Venezuelan regime’s widespread involvement in criminal activity, Hezbollah’s growing involvement in illicit networks regionally, and the role of FARC dissident in continued criminal activity in Colombia. Panelists include Douglas Farah (IBI Consultants), Joseph Humire (Center for a Free Society), Roger F. Noriega (AEI), and Celina Realuyo (National Defense University). The discussion is moderated by AEI’s Kirsten D. Madison.

Rethinking NSA Data Collection


It’s probably too early to say anything definitive following the revelations of Rep. Nunes yesterday, but I would like to revisit some statements made repeatedly by Prof. @richardepstein on various Ricochet podcasts.

One of his main defenses of the current data collection regime of the NSA and other law enforcement groups was that there seems to be a real security need and that there are enough checks in place to prevent the misuse of that data.

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Donald Trump announced his choice for National Security Advisor this afternoon.  Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster has a long and distinguished record of service, and wrote a detailed critique of the strategy employed by the US military during the war in Vietnam. The reaction to McMaster appears to be much more positive, with many notable Trump […]

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Washington Free Beacon reporting that Victoria Coates, late of Team Ted Cruz, will be joining the NSC as Senior Director for Strategic Assessments.  Hardcore #NeverTrumper, our own @jaynordlinger interviewed her on Q&A a year ago. Highly recommended. Also pick up her fine, fine book David’s Sling wherever fine books are sold.  Preview Open

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Cyber Attacks, Responses, and Publicity


My friend Claire Berlinski — some of you might know her as well — sent me this link to an NBC article purporting to report that the Obama administration “is contemplating an unprecedented cyber covert action against Russia in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the American presidential election.” She suggested that I post my response. With her kind permission, here it is, with some (very) light editing to fit the thing within the spirit of the CoC. The indented remarks are quotes from the article.

Me: This is crap. But thank you for forwarding it.

Will She Be Indicted?


hillary_orange1There are several known facts about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s abuse of national security via her private, unsecured email server. At least two emails had TS/TK information in them, more emails had SAP information in them, another had HCS-O information in it (the exposure of which puts a human source at risk of his life), roughly 1,300 emails had information of varying levels of secrecy in them, and at least one email instructed a subordinate to bypass handling rules by stripping off the markings of a paper and sending a document though non-secure means.

Some very worthy gentlemen suggest that Clinton will be indicted, since regardless of intent, the mere mishandling of classified data is a felony, and data are classified or not based on the information involved, not on markings on the paper carrying the information. Ex-Attorney General for the United States Michael Mukasey is one. Power Line cited Andy McCarthy, of the National Review and the National Review Institute, and Bill Otis, an erstwhile federal prosecutor, are two others. However, these folks are basing their confidence in large part on their supposed knowledge of FBI Director James Comey’s character and on the pressure his recommendation to current Obama AG Loretta Lynch to follow through and indict would present.

I think those folks are … optimistic. Keep in mind, for one thing, that Comey is the same FBI Director who is assaulting Americans’ free speech rights through his demand that government be able, on its own recognizance, to decode our encrypted correspondence and for no better reason than that inquiring Government minds want to know. Keep in mind, further, that Lynch is Obama’s pick, and she’s already shown her bent with her push to reverse voter ID laws and thereby to impair, if not destroy, legitimate voters’ votes by making it as hard as possible to sort out those ineligible and prevent them from voting. Keep in mind, finally, that Clinton is a Democrat. Fellow Democrat President Barack Obama will not allow an indictment to go forward, especially since this particular Democrat is campaigning on the basis of Four More Years of Obama.

A Carnival of Buncombe


At least since the birth of Ricochet, I’ve been dismayed that our election debates treat foreign policy and national security as an afterthought, at best. I well remember the final 2012 presidential debate, which was supposed to be the foreign policy debate,  and the way the candidates couldn’t wait to stop talking about it and return to domestic policy.

By the way, pop quiz: Don’t look. Who said the following?

Cyber Security at the Speed of Bureaucracy


mediumThe Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) security clearance files were hacked 20 months ago. It is just now notifying the people whose personal identification information was stolen.

Two friends of mine, one a naval officer and the other a defense contractor, received letters from OPM today telling them that their Social Security Numbers had been stolen. All of the information submitted in their SF-86s (the official form for a security clearance application) may have been compromised as well, but OPM does not know for sure what else was taken.

That information would include the applicant’s name, address, date of birth, educational and employment history, foreign travel history, and fingerprints. It would include personal information about his or her immediate family and colleagues, personal references, and “other information used to adjudicate your background information.”

Trump National Security Speech


I finally got around to watching Trump’s speech last night on the deck of the USS Iowa, and I thought he knocked it out of the park. It was billed as a speech on national security issues, so I was expecting something with depth and gravitas about the myriad issues facing our country, and a few essential details about how we can bring things around in the Middle East, Ukraine, China, and other national security issues. I was not disappointed. I took down pretty much every point Trump made, and I was impressed. The man is in command of the issues.

Here are the points that he made in his first important national security speech:

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…from the Iran nuclear weapons deal. Russian Foreign Secretary Sergey Lavrov said this yesterday, following the announcement of the deal: We all probably remember that in April 2009 in Prague President Obama said that if the Iran nuclear program issue is sorted out, then the task of creating the European segment of the missile defense […]

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