Evidence that Russian Military Unit was Behind DNC Hack

Ellen Nakashima reports that a Cybersecurity firm finds evidence that Russian military unit was behind DNC hack:

The firm CrowdStrike linked malware used in the DNC intrusion to malware used to hack and track an Android phone app used by the Ukrainian army in its battle against pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine from late 2014 through 2016.

While CrowdStrike, which was hired by the DNC to investigate the intrusions and whose findings are described in a new report, had always suspected that one of the two hacker groups that struck the DNC was the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, it had only medium confidence.

Now, said CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch, “we have high confidence” it was a unit of the GRU. CrowdStrike had dubbed that unit “Fancy Bear.”

The FBI, which has been investigating Russia’s hacks of political, government, academic and other organizations for several years, privately has concluded the same. But the bureau has not publicly drawn the link to the GRU.

See USE OF FANCY BEAR ANDROID MALWARE IN TRACKING OF UKRAINIAN FIELD ARTILLERY UNITS:

Download (PDF, 1.98MB)

Gingrich’s Defense of a Self-Pardoning Administration: From Bad (12.19) to Much Worse (12.21)

On the Diane Rehm Show of 12.19.16, former Speaker of the House Gingrich offered that a Trump Administration could simply pardon its own advisors to remove those advisors’ unlawful conflicts of interest:

I think in the case of the president, he has a broad ability to organize the White House the way he wants to. He also has, frankly, the power of the pardon. I mean, it is a totally open power, and he could simply say look, I want them to be my advisors, I pardon them if anybody finds them to have behaved against the rules, period. And technically under the Constitution he has that level of authority.

An administration like this would be – not merely technically, but in fact – a lawless one (where law was used to negate the demands of the law).

Two days later, Gingrich repeated his assertion that a president could act this way (revealing it as a trial balloon of sorts, “I’m not saying he should. I’m not saying he will’):

The Constitution gives the president of the United States an extraordinarily wide grant of authority to use the power of the pardon. I’m not saying he should. I’m not saying he will. It also allows a president in a national security moment to say to somebody, “Go do X,” even if it’s technically against the law, and, “Here’s your pardon because I am ordering you as commander-in-chief to go do this.”

Under this reading of the Constitution, what couldn’t a commander-in-chief do, in the name of national security?  The answer is that there is nothing he could not do, or (affirmatively formulated) that he could do anything and thereafter pardon those responsible.

Note also the change in circumstances on which Gingrich grounds his remarks: on 12.19 he’s talking about conflicts of interest within an administration, but by 12.21 he’s discussing use of state power under a claim of national security. Perhaps Gingrich thinks the change in circumstances limits the scope of how a president might use the pardon power, but it fact his later example actually expands dramatically the power of the chief executive.

The 12.19 example’s use of pardons might involve wrongful but non-violent business conflicts; the 12.21 example’s use of pardons would exonerate the use of violent force (whether used abroad or domestically) of any possible magnitude against supposed national enemies.

Gingrich’s new second formulation is worse than his first: any location, any amount of force, thereafter subject to pardon by the president of the United States.

How Much, and What Kind, of Military Spending?

Analysts from five Washington policy institutes[1] have published a joint report asking (1) what should American defense strategy be? (2) what capabilities, investments, and force structure might that strategy require? and (3) what would such a military cost?  (The five institutes are not of the same views, with the Cato Institute’s Benjamin H. Friedman notable for advocating fiscal and strategic restraint.)

Here’s the report:

Download (PDF, 4.41MB)

[1] The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), The Cato Institute, The Center for a New American Security (CNAS), and The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The Rise of the Robo-Cheetahs

Well, we knew it had to happen someday. A DARPA-funded robotic cheetah has been released into the wild, so to speak. A new algorithm developed by MIT researchers now allows their quadruped to run and jump — while untethered — across a field of grass.

The Pentagon, in an effort to investigate technologies that allow machines to traverse terrain in unique ways well, at least thats what they tell us, has been funding via DARPA the development of a robotic cheetah. Back in 2012, Boston Dynamics version smashed the landspeed record for the fastest mechanical mammal of Earth, reaching a top speed of 28.3 miles 45.5 km per hour.

Researchers at MIT have their own version of robo-cheetah, and theyve taken the concept in a new direction by imbuing it with the ability to run and bound while completely untethered.

Via MITs Robotic Cheetah Can Now Run And Jump While Untethered @ io9.

Memorial Day 2014

Correspondent Mike Boettcher reported from, and later produced a documentary, The Hornet’s Nest, about American soldiers fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. The VOA reports about his film, and below in this post I’ve embedded the documentary film’s trailer.

Remember. That is the message delivered by war correspondent Mike Boettcher in his gritty documentary ‘The Hornet’s Nest.’ It’s about a deadly nine-day period of combat between U.S. troops and the Taliban on one of Afghanistan’s most hostile terrains. Boettcher, who along with his son shot the footage, does not want people to forget what the soldiers went through and why they died. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Additional information on Boettcher’s highly-regarded documentary is available at the Internet Movie Database.

Film: Free Showing of Honor Flight, Sunday, July 21st at 2:30 p.m.

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This Sunday, July 21st, there will be a showing of the film Honor Flight at 2:30 p.m. at Mulberry Glen, 1255 W. Main Street, Whitewater. It is being shown courtesy of Mulberry Glen and Capri Senior Communities.

The showing is free and open to the public.

Information regarding this film is available at the Internet Movie Data Base @ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2329758/.

Many of our local veterans that went on the Honor Flight would be interested in this film.

The viewing of this film last summer at Miller Park broke the Guiness World Book record for a movie premiere attendance!

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Domestic drones as a threat to liberty

America’s use of drones against her foreign enemies, for surveillance and lethal strikes, has been notably successful. We are sure to build new and more advanced drones for similar uses, and to expand our naval power without placing aviators at risk.

Yet, something that has served so well in combat was sure to be proposed for domestic surveillance.

The risk to liberty, as Gene Healy observes, is profound:

Over the past decade, the creeping militarization of the homefront has proceeded almost unnoticed, with DHS grants subsidizing the proliferation of security cameras and military ordnance for local police departments.

On April 19, Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, co-chairs of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus, sent a letter to the head of the FAA urging the adoption of privacy protections, given the “potential for drone technology to enable invasive and pervasive surveillance.” But Congress needn’t wait on Obama’s FAA to start protecting Americans’ privacy rights.

It’s well past time we stopped sleepwalking toward dystopia and had a serious public debate about where the lines should be drawn.

We’ve developed the dangerous habit of taking the weapons and devices designed to defend Americans in war and then using them against our fellow citizens. The line between military and civilian should be much clearer.

See, Gene Healy @ Cato.

Originally posted on 5.29.12 at Daily Adams.