Archive for the ‘national security’ Category

Obama Team Surprised By Detail Bush Demands, Complexity of Wartime Government

December 2, 2008

Many in the Obama transition team had experience in the Clinton Administration that ended almost eight years ago.  Those people are finding many surprises in the post 9-11 complexity of the White House,Pentagon and elsewhere in government…..

By David E. Sanger
The New York Times

None of these newly arrived archaeologists would allow their names to be used when discussing their findings; to preserve cooperation with the Bush White House in a handover-of-power that still has 49 days to go, President-elect Barack Obama’s top aides have imposed a gag rule. But few can contain their amazement, chiefly at the sheer increase in the size of the defense and national-security apparatus.

“For a bunch of small-government Republicans,” one former denizen of the White House who has now stepped back inside for the first time in eight years, “these guys built a hell of an empire.”

Eight years ago, there were two deputy national security advisers; today there are a half-dozen, each with staff. In the downstairs suites of the West Wing and across the street in the Old Executive Office Building, the returnees tripped into the Homeland Security Council, created to keep order in the new, vast, often dysfunctional Homeland Security Department. In the Pentagon’s deepest crevices, the Joint Special Operations Command has mushroomed in size and influence because of the demands of operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The list goes on.

But several say that their biggest surprise came when they learned more about how President Bush spends his day, and how he gets his information.

It’s not clear what they expected; perhaps after all those jokes on Letterman and Leno, they thought Mr. Bush spent the heart of his day on the stationary bicycle. Instead, they have been surprised to see the degree of tactical detail about two wars and a handful of insurgencies — from the tribal areas of Pakistan to Sudan and the Congo — that surrounds him. Partly this is because the high-tech makeover of the Situation Room, completed about two years ago, makes instantaneous conversation with field commanders easier than ever.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/02/us/
politics/02web-sanger.html?_r=1

Obama Unveils His National Security Team

December 1, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama called for “a new dawn of American leadership” on Monday as he formally introduced his national security team, led by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as his nominee for secretary of state.

“We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends,” Mr. Obama said in Chicago. “We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships.”

By David Stoud
The New York Times

The new president said he was sticking to his goal of removing American combat troops from Iraq within 16 months, which he called “the right time frame,” and that this would be accomplished with safety for the troops and security for the Iraqi people.

He introduced his team one by one, starting with Senator Clinton, his former bitter rival for the Democratic presidential nomination; then Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who will stay on, at least for a time, in the new administration; Gen. James L. Jones, the former NATO commander, to be national security adviser; Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona to be secretary of homeland security: Susan E. Rice to be ambassador to the United Nations, and Eric H. Holder Jr. to be attorney general.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

President-elect Barack Obama presented his national security team at a news conference in Chicago on Monday.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/02/us/politics/02obama.html?_r=1&hp

Today’s Announcements: Obama’s Handpicked Team for a Foreign Policy Shift

December 1, 2008

When President-elect Barack Obama introduces his national security team on Monday, it will include two veteran cold warriors and a political rival whose records are all more hawkish than that of the new president who will face them in the White House Situation Room.

By David E. Sanger
The New York Times

Yet all three of his choices — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as the rival turned secretary of state; Gen. James L. Jones, the former NATO commander, as national security adviser, and Robert M. Gates, the current and future defense secretary — have embraced a sweeping shift of priorities and resources in the national security arena.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Barack Obama’s national security team is to include, from left, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gen. James L. Jones, a retired Marine commandant.

The shift would create a greatly expanded corps of diplomats and aid workers that, in the vision of the incoming Obama administration, would be engaged in projects around the world aimed at preventing conflicts and rebuilding failed states. However, it is unclear whether the financing would be shifted from the Pentagon; Mr. Obama has also committed to increasing the number of American combat troops.Whether they can make the change — one that Mr. Obama started talking about in the summer of 2007, when his candidacy was a long shot at best — “will be the great foreign policy experiment of the Obama presidency,” one of his senior advisers said recently.

The adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the three have all embraced “a rebalancing of America’s national security portfolio” after a huge investment in new combat capabilities during the Bush years.

Denis McDonough, a senior Obama foreign policy adviser, cast the issue slightly differently in an interview on Sunday.

“This is not an experiment, but a pragmatic solution to a long-acknowledged problem,” he said. “During the campaign the then-senator invested a lot of time reaching out to retired military and also younger officers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan to draw on lessons learned. There wasn’t a meeting that didn’t include a discussion of the need to strengthen and integrate the other tools of national power to succeed against unconventional threats. It is critical to a long-term successful and sustainable national security strategy in the 21st century.” Mr. Obama’s advisers said they were already bracing themselves for the charge from the right that he is investing in social work, even though President Bush repeatedly promised such a shift, starting in a series of speeches in late 2005. But they also expect battles within the Democratic Party over questions like whether the billion dollars in aid to rebuild Afghanistan that Mr. Obama promised during the campaign should now be spent on job-creation projects at home.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/01/us/
politics/01policy.html?_r=1&hp

Obama’s strong-willed national security team

November 30, 2008
With Clinton as secretary of State, retired Marine Gen. James Jones Jr. as national security advisor and Gates remaining in Defense, Obama will have a choice among often starkly differing views.
By Paul Richter
The Los Angeles Times
November 30, 2008
Reporting from Washington — President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to lead an administration where strong-willed senior officials are ready to argue forcefully for differing points of view.

It appears that in two months, he’ll get his wish, and then some.

Obama’s new national security team is led by three veteran officials who have differed with each other — and with the president-elect — on the full menu of security issues, including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, nuclear weapons and Arab-Israel conflict.

The president-elect is expected on Monday to begin introducing a team that includes Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), whom he has chosen as secretary of State; retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones Jr., tapped to be the new national security advisor; and Robert M. Gates, who has agreed to stay on as Defense secretary.

Clinton, Gates, Jones

Carolyn Kaster / AP; Roslan Rahman / AFP/Getty Images; Dennis Cook / AP
THE TEAM: No longer a rival, Clinton and Obama hold similar positions on many issues. Gates, center, is admired by the Obama team despite significant differences over nuclear weapons policy. Jones has separated himself from the Obama playbook on a few issues, including troop withdrawal.

Their collaboration isn’t likely to be as contentious as the first-term Bush administration battles between Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney. Clinton, Gates and Jones have worked smoothly, with the only visible clashes coming between Clinton and Gates’ deputies over Iraq.

But Obama will have some clear choices among their views, which differ in nuance in some cases and more starkly in others. Obama appears to be determined to keep them in line; advisors say he believes the Pentagon has become too strong in the Bush years, and he wants to reassert White House control.

Some American supporters of Israel have already been buzzing over the potential for conflict between Clinton and Jones on Arab-Israeli issues.

Jones, an admired former Marine commandant and supreme allied commander of NATO, was appointed last November as a Bush administration envoy charged with trying to improve the often dysfunctional Palestinian security forces. As part of that assignment, he drafted a report that caused a stir in Israel by criticizing the Israeli Defense Forces’ activities in the Palestinian territories.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-na-security30-2008nov30,0,7160819.story

National Security Pick: From a Marine to a Mediator

November 29, 2008

James L. Jones, a retired four-star general, was among a mostly Republican crowd watching a presidential debate in October when Barack Obama casually mentioned that he got a lot of his advice on foreign policy from General Jones.

By Helene Cooper
The New York Times

 

“Explain yourself!” some of the Republicans demanded, as General Jones later recalled it.

He did not. A 6-foot-5 Marine Corps commandant with the looks of John Wayne, General Jones is not given to talking about his political bent, be it Republican or Democrat. And yet, he is Mr. Obama’s choice for national security adviser, a job that will make him the main foreign policy sounding board and sage to a president with relatively little foreign policy experience.

The selection of General Jones will elevate another foreign policy moderate to a team that will include Robert M. Gates, a carry-over from the Bush administration, as defense secretary and Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. By bringing a military man to the White House, Mr. Obama may be trying to cement an early bond with military leaders who regard him with some uneasiness, particularly over his call for rapid troop reductions in Iraq.

But General Jones will also be expected to mediate between rivals, particularly in dealing with Mr. Gates, who has his own power base at the Pentagon, and with Mrs. Clinton, who has told friends that she does not expect the national security adviser to stand between her and the president.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/us/politics/
29jones.html?_r=1&hp

In this Sept. 6, 2007 file photo, retired Marine Corps Gen. ... 
In this Sept. 6, 2007 file photo, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, chairman of the Iraqi Security Forces Independent Assessment Commission, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Jones, 64, is expected to be announced by Obama next week as part of the president-elect’s national security team, along with Robert Gates as secretary of defense and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.(AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)

The Man Most Responsible, Perhaps, For American Progress in Iraq

November 18, 2008

I suppose it’s possible that George W. Bush would award Stephen J. Hadley the Medal of Freedom. Certainly the president’s national security adviser has earned it, for work that made possible the success we are now seeing in Iraq. And it would be within the president’s prerogative to see that work acknowledged with this honor before they both leave the White House come Jan. 20.

By William McGurn
The Wall Street Journal
.
But how much better it would be all around — for the country, for the recipient, and even for Barack Obama — if Mr. Hadley were to receive this honor from the hands of the 44th president of the United States.

[Main Street] 

Stephen Hadley.  Photo by AP

Now, Mr. Hadley is a former colleague of mine from the White House. We did not always see eye to eye, and I know this self-effacing man well enough to know he would be appalled to find anyone putting his name forward for a medal. Yet one fact trumps everything else: Without this good man’s courage and persistence, there would have been no surge.

I don’t think I am talking out of school to mention facts that have been recorded in newspaper articles and books as different as Bing West’s “The Strongest Tribe” and Bob Woodward’s “The War Within.” The surge story begins back in 2006, when al Qaeda finally succeeded in setting the Shia and Sunni at each others’ throats. That October, with Baghdad consumed by sectarian fires, Mr. Hadley tasked William Luti to come up with a new way forward.

Read the rest:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122697257619435911.html

Mass Migration, Internet Threatens Britain’s National Security

November 17, 2008

Mass migration and the internet are increasing threats to Britain’s national security, according to former Home Secretary John Reid.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor
The Telegraph (UK)

National crises which threatened the UK were happening far more than people thought, he added, and were no longer “one-off events”.

The MP for Airdie and Shotts, who will leave the House of Commons at the next general election, said he is setting up a new think tank called the Institute of Security and Resilience Studies.

The new centre will assess long term threats against the UK and other countries.

International migration had increased the range of threats against the UK after the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, he said.

He told The Daily Telegraph: “The chief characteristic of the world we have to face is mobility.

John Reid says mass migration threatens Britain's national security

Above: John Reid listed cyber attacks, pandemics, global warming and energy shortages as threats Photo: PHILIP HOLLIS

“Forty years ago, the Cold War meant that the borders were inviolate, extremist religious groups and ethnic tensions were suppressed, there was no internet and travel was difficult.

“Now you have a completely mobile world. So the great questions of mass migration, international crime and international terrorism were much higher than they were previously.”

The result was “far more sources of insecurity than ever before”, made worse by the advent of the internet which increased the interdependence of the world.

He said: “We have to recognise that on the net you can practically get the full DNA of the First World War flu that killed 24 million people.”

National emergencies were no longer one-off events, he said. “Crises are looked upon as very exceptional circumstances.

“Actually they occur a lot more than people think, a lot more often than people know and they are getting more regular.”

Threats were now cyber attacks, pandemics, global warming and energy shortages.

Politicians were forced to make key decisions under “huge pressure” from the internet and 24 hour news media. Too often Governments were “behind the curve” when trying to deal with new threats, he added.

“Countries, societies and economies that cannot develop better the capacity to prevent, resist and recover will be left vulnerable and exposed.”

The new institute would work on long term solutions with academics and the private sector to try to come up with long term solutions to help ministers on a “non-partisan” basis.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/
labour/3467978/Mass-migration-threatens-Britains
-national-security-says-John-Reid.html

Reasons to Vote for McCain

October 31, 2008

Though I cannot recall ever endorsing a presidential candidate I am going to do so in this column. In this, I am following the lead of the dean of conservative columnists, the excellent Charles Krauthammer. Last week he endorsed Sen. John McCain. Count me for Mr. McCain too.

From R. Emmitt Terrell
The Washington Times

Our country is at war with terrorists. It faces a grave financial crisis. On both issues, Mr. McCain is infinitely more experienced than his opponent, Sen. Barack Obama. Perhaps it is because Mr. McCain is a retired naval officer and a gentleman, but he remains disappointingly reticent about his personal achievements.

Sure, he modestly declares that throughout his adult life he has never flinched from answering his country’s call, but there is much more to his life’s accomplishment than that.

I wish he had allowed his campaign to air more of the videos showing him in that cruel North Vietnamese prison. And there is also footage of his leaping out of a burning fighter on the deck of an aircraft carrier, the back of his flight suit aflame. People who have seen these videos have understood that Mr. McCain’s commitment to duty is more substantial than the inflated claims of the average campaigning pol.

Mr. McCain might have made more of the fact he rebuilt his broken body after being tortured in prison, defied pessimistic medical prognostications, and flew combat aircraft again. Then he took command of the Navy’s largest air squadron, which he revived to flight readiness. That is an act of executive prowess no one in this presidential race can claim.

Republican presidential nominee John McCain addresses a campaign ... 
Republican presidential nominee John McCain addresses a campaign rally in Ohio. Democrat Barack Obama and McCain take their White House duel deep into the American heartland Friday in a final push for votes ahead of next week’s historic election.(AFP/Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)

Next, he became naval liaison to the Senate and helped rebuild the American military by working with senators on both sides of the aisle. As a congressman and a senator, he has continued this sort of bipartisan reform. Some of the reforms I have opposed, but no other candidate in this race has his record of constructive legislation and leadership.

In the area of national security, he has demonstrated he knows things that Mr. Obama, a novice with but four years on the national stage, can only imagine. Mr. McCain knew the surge in Iraq would work, and he had the grit to support it when few would. Once again he was putting his country before his own political ambitions.

Nonetheless, Mr. McCain is no soft touch for the military. Over the years, he has demanded efficiency and economy at the Pentagon and throughout the federal budget. Now in a time of financial crisis he has opted for a proven strategy for economic recovery: low taxes, free trade and budgetary prudence.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/
2008/oct/31/reasons-to-vote-for-mccain/

Navy Will Attempt to Down Spy Satellite

February 16, 2008

By Marc Kauffman and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 15, 2008; Page A01

A Navy cruiser in the Pacific Ocean will try an unprecedented shoot-down of an out-of-control, school-bus-size U.S. spy satellite loaded with a toxic fuel as it begins its plunge to Earth, national security officials said yesterday.made the decision because it was impossible to predict where a tank containing the fuel might land in an uncontrolled descent, officials said.

The Pentagon said it decided to use a modified, ship-fired anti-ballistic missile to make the attempt sometime after Feb. 20 to avoid creating debris that could threaten the space shuttle on its return from the international space station.

Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Navy missile will be fired as the satellite reenters the atmosphere and “has a reasonably high opportunity for success.” The Pentagon and NASA have been working on the missile modifications for the past three weeks.

Deputy national security adviser James F. Jeffrey said the decision was based on the fact that the satellite is carrying a substantial amount of hydrazine, a hazardous rocket fuel.

Read the rest and watch a video:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/14/AR2008021401704.html

U.S. sees Russia, China, OPEC financial threat

February 5, 2008
By Randall Mikkelsen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States should be worried that Russia, China and OPEC oil-producing countries could use their growing financial clout to advance political goals, the top U.S. spy chief told Congress on Tuesday.

Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell testifies ... 
Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell testifies before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington February 1, 2007. Concerns about a weaker U.S. dollar could tempt more oil-producing countries to delink their currency pegs from the dollar or ask to be paid in other currencies, McConnell said on Tuesday.
(Jim Young/Reuters)

U.S. National Director of Intelligence Michael McConnell voiced the concern to Congress in an annual assessment of potential threats, in which economic matters joined terrorism, nuclear proliferation and computer-network vulnerabilities as top security issues.McConnell told the Senate Intelligence Committee in prepared testimony that the global threat of terrorism remained, but that al Qaeda had suffered setbacks and its international reputation was diminishing.

Among other top worries, Iran….Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080205/
pl_nm/security_usa_threats_dc_1