EXECUTIVE INTELLIGENCE SUMMARY – 01 APR 16
The National PMESII section is a break down of national- and regional-level Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, and Information events and trends. Appendix: Collection of acronyms and definitions used.
[wcm_nonmember] In this EXSUM…
- House Bill to Require I.D. for Pre-Paid Phone Purchases
- Why a Hot War with Russia Is Gaining Steam
- Lower Expectations Ahead of Corporate Earnings Season
- Third of Nation’s States Have Immigration Population of 15%+
- U.S. Coal Continues to Die Slowly as Russia Benefits
- Southern U.S. State to Build New Fusion Center
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Political/Government: House Bill to Require I.D. for Pre-Paid Phone Purchases
Burner phones are great tools for maintaining anonymous communication, even for terrorists. And that’s why House bill (HR 4886) has been proposed in Congress, which aims to require identification for the purchase of pre-paid phones. For those unfamiliar, burner phones currently aren’t registered to any user, can be purchased in bulk and with cash, and with a few caveats can provide anonymity when calling or texting. The phone itself is really inconsequential. What really matters is the SIM card housed inside the phone, which stores critical data like a phone number and allows the phone to make calls. A user could have ten different SIM cards but use them in the same telephone, if he or she so desired. While burner phones are still geo-located just like any other cell phone — giving the real-time location of any cell phone connected to a cell tower — callers can still remain anonymous as long as they follow a few simple rules.
Consider that the NSA collects cell phone locations five billion times each day, and they’re not only able to retrieve call history but also historical geographical data. But what they really want to know is the identity of the callers, which is why we’re seeing HR 4886 enter the House. If passed into law, the bill will require the full name, full home address and date of birth of the purchaser. In addition, it will require not just a government-issued I.D. card, but also two additional forms of government-approved forms of identification.
[Analyst Comment: The bill also creates requirements for authorized sellers to make records of all sales and then transmit those records within 30 days of purchase. It should come as no surprise that the bill, in its current form, requires too much from retailers and consumers for the bill to pass as is. The bill also has no co-sponsors, and is currently sitting in two committees. Fred Upton (R-MI) chairs the Energy & Commerce Committee, and has a 64% rating from the Republican Liberty Caucus. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is the chairman of the House Judiciary committee and has a 100% rating from the Republican Liberty Caucus. I don’t believe this bill, as is, will make it out of committee and ultimately, I don’t see this bill becoming law in this Congress.]
Military/Security/Defense: Why a Hot War with Russia Is Gaining Steam
This week, General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pointed to Russia as the greatest threat to the U.S. “The Russian military presents the greatest array of threats to U.S. interests,” Dunford said on Tuesday. “Russian capability has to be viewed in the context of their saber-rattling. It’s got to be viewed in the context of what others describe as ‘gray zone’ activity in such places as Georgia, Crimea and the Ukraine, and their expressed intent and demonstrated capability to project power in multiple regions simultaneously. Its actions threaten NATO cohesion and undermine the international order.”
(AC: Unless harboring a staunchly anti-NATO agenda, the next president will spend at least the next four years, along with NATO and European leaders, playing cat and mouse with Russia in the previously-stated ‘gray zones.’ Georgia (2008), Ukraine (2014), and Syria (2015) were proving grounds for the Russian military, which is in the throes of modernization and reform. The next step — what military and intelligence analysts are doing now — is identifying future gray zones where Russia will attempt to expand its sphere of influence. Russia’s military is built to project its force regionally, so the U.S. is not a target for Putin’s brand of hybrid war, although we at Forward Observer continually express our concerns over Russia’s cyber capability and what that could mean for us at home.
Since Russia’s involvement in Syria surprised leaders at the Pentagon, one trend I’ve noticed is in rhetoric. Whether or not it keeps them up at night, general officers are going on record and speaking about Russia’s threat to Europe, even as U.S. military readiness falls. In a related topic, General Dunford also said that the next U.S. military strategy, which is usually made public, will be classified.)
Economic/Financial: Lower Expectations Ahead of Corporate Earnings Season
If Thomson Reuters corporate earnings projections are accurate, this quarter’s reports will signal the third-straight quarter of profit declines, coming in at negative 6.9%. The down weighted corporate profits are largely due to the oil and gas sector, which are expected to report profit declines of 99%. Without the oil and gas sector’s reports, U.S. corporate profits are expected to still be down 1.8%.
(AC: Every area study — the result of your work in Intelligence Preparation of the Community — should have an economic and financial section with locale-specific data. We highly recommend identifying which sectors of the economy affect your community and greater area. Paying attention to local trends, especially corporate profits and lay-offs, could produce early warning of increased instability for your community. And being able to anticipate increased instability will better help you provide community security.)
Social/Demographic: Third of Nation’s States Have Immigration Population of 15%+
In another trend that’s changing the U.S., the Center for Immigration Studies released an interactive map showing state-by-state data on the increase of immigrants from 1970 to 2015 as a percentage of the population. Six states have immigrant populations over 25%, while a third of all states have immigrant populations over 15%.
(AC: For purposes of community security and understanding the dynamics that exist in your area, begin investigating the cultures and religions of immigrants, along with their countries of origin. Ensure you know how these factors could affect your community, and begin identifying who or what influences these people. From a security standpoint, being able to influence influencers will pay large dividends. For instance, why go door to door attempting to influence hundreds of people when I could reach and influence a civic or religious leader who can influence those hundreds much more quickly and efficiently than I could. Knowing this information could only improve your security.)
Infrastructure/Energy: U.S. Coal Continues to Die Slowly as Russia Benefits
Before the two largest coal mines in the nation announced laying off hundreds of employees, New Hampshire’s largest utility company purchased coal from Russia 4,000 miles away. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is regulating American jobs out of existence, some utilities are looking to coal from Russia and Eastern European countries, causing coal imports to increase 26% this year.
(AC: This is purely speculation, but an added benefit to the Obama administration as the EPA clamps down on coal is that outsourcing non-renewable energy to foreign countries becomes another piece of scrip in Obama’s checkbook diplomacy. It meets his domestic environmental agenda while allowing, perhaps, “more flexibility” in his negotiations with Russia and other energy-exporting nations. In 2008, Senator Obama promised to “bankrupt” coal. In that same interview, Obama predicted that his cap-and-trade plan would cause electricity prices to skyrocket. Cap and trade is dead for the foreseeable future and residential electric prices are only slightly up since 2008 (10 cents to 12 cents per kilowatt hour), but Obama’s plan to bankrupt coal is still on full-clip.)
Information Systems/Surveillance/Communications: Southern U.S. State to Build New Fusion Center
Last Thursday, the state of Georgia passed a bill that will build a new fusion center for the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI). While the bill still needs to be signed into law, the GBI Fusion Center will operate much the same way as other Federal fusion centers, which gather reports from state and local law enforcement agencies, coordinate threat intelligence, and monitor social media.
(AC: The ironic thing is that an atrocious foreign policy creates instability and threats to national security, which then spurs a response to bolster national security with additional funding, and that’s why we get these fusion centers to identify, monitor, and track national security threats. Taking a step back and exploring the root causes of threats to national security would be time well spent, however, we live in the post-9/11 world.
And living in the post-9/11 world, where the globe is the battlefield, we have increased suspicion and surveillance of Americans. I can tell you first hand that, on occasion, the intelligence program I used to work for came across U.S. Persons data, and those instances were treated very seriously. Every time that I can recall, that data was scrubbed from our databases or communications as soon as it was discovered. That’s the general rule, but there are exceptions and the devil is in those details. My problem with fusion centers is that with enough top-cover, programs that operate outside ‘the rules’ can exist, and they likely do exist, even if very sparsely. My recommendation is to identify your nearest fusion center, if for no other reason that to know they’re there. I would recommend adding this information to your Intelligence Preparation of the Community work and area studies.)
AC: Analyst Comment; an opinion, explanation or clarification
EPA: Environmental Protection Agency
EXSUM: Executive Intelligence Summary
GBI: Georgia Bureau of Investigations
OSINT: Open Source Intelligence