Patriot Act

I happened to receive an e-mail from U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., yesterday afternoon telling me he was voting against extending the Patriot Act.  Then I read in today’s local paper that both Tester and U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., voted against bringing the re-authorization to the floor (Cloture on the Motion to Proceed).  They were part of the eight senators who (thankfully) lost that vote 74-8.  Eighteen senators took that vote off.

The Great Falls Tribune thinks it is so neat that they have a poll up asking, “Do you agree with Montana’s congressional delegation that the Patriot Act should expire?”

I voted NO.

I also found it disturbing to read that U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., will probably not support the extension of the Patriot Act in the House.

These things happen when people have no experience in the world of national security, defense, or military issues. Continue reading

Wiki, Wiki, Wiki

While there’s plenty of outrage about WikiLeaks releasing 250,000 U.S. State Department documents, I think the root of the problem is how someone took the documents to start with.

As they say, “the horse is out of the barn.”

The documents are basically information supplied to the State Department from their people around the world. Some were marked “Secret” and other “NOFORN” (No Foreign Nationals may see the information) and others were marked “Secret/NOFORN.”

If the United States would have had better security protocols, we would not be where we are today.

Anyone who has or had access to classified material knows will know that by reading the information below from The Guardian website that someone dropped the ball big time. This information is about how a US soldier named Bradley Manning (a Private First Class no less) went about downloading the documents. The United States believes Manning is the source of the leak:

It was childishly easy, according to the published chatlog of a conversation Manning had with a fellow-hacker. “I would come in with music on a CD-RW labelled with something like ‘Lady Gaga’ … erase the music … then write a compressed split file. No one suspected a thing … [I] listened and lip-synched to Lady Gaga’s Telephone while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history.” He said that he “had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months”.

Allowing someone to even bring a CD-RW into the office and use in a government-owned computer where classified information is kept is the first mistake. Not checking personnel when they enter (or better yet) leave a place where classified information is kept is the second mistake.

Limiting the number of personnel who have access to the classified documents will be a good start, but it is a Diplomatic mess and one that will harm the United States for years…

National Security Threat

Just imagine if you had to pay $600 billion in interest. $600 billion! It’s an astonishing number. According to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, that is what the United States will be paying in 2012 on the national debt.

Some have disputed that, but the fact is that we’re (the USA) is in a world of hurt.

Some folks are probably wondering why the Admiral is talking about the interest on the national debt and the answer is simple: it’s a national security threat. That’s not to say, the Department of Defense’s budget hasn’t increased significantly over the last decade – two wars will do that.

Mullen told CNN: Continue reading