Strategic Intelligence Summary for 15 December 2017

ADMIN NOTE: The Holiday Season is upon us. Being the week of a holiday, this report is shorter than usual. Both Strategic Intelligence and Low Intensity Conflict will be published the week of Christmas (25-29 December), although both reports will be a Year in Review, identifying the trends of 2017 and looking forward to 2018. After the new year, Strategic Intelligence will be published regularly on Thursdays, and Low Intensity Conflict on Fridays. Thank you for the support, and we hope that you have a wonderful rest of the year with us.

 

Priority Intelligence Requirements:

PIR1: What are the new indicators of political or governmental instability that could lead to collapse or failure?

PIR2: What is the current situation report and risk of war in each of the four flashpoints?

PIR3: What are the new indicators of systems disruption to the economic or financial industry that could lead to instability?

PIR4: What are the new indicators of systems disruption to the critical infrastructure that could lead to instability?


 

PIR1: What are the new indicators of political or governmental instability that could lead to collapse or failure?

FBI failed to inform U.S. targets of Russian hackers

The FBI took another hit to its reputation last week after reports revealed that agents failed to notify scores of American officials who were targets of Russian hackers attempting to break into their personal Gmail accounts, even though they had the evidence for more than a year. In almost 80 interviews with officials targeted by Fancy Bear, a Russian government-associated cyberespionage group, only two cases emerged in which the FBI gave the targets a heads-up. Even senior U.S. officials found out they’d been targeted only after The Associated Press contacted them to interview them. “It’s utterly confounding,” noted Philip Reiner, a former senior director at the National Security Counsel, who had been targeted in 2015. “You’ve got to tell your people. You’ve got to protect your people.” FBI officials contacted by the press gave this excuse: There were so many U.S. officials targeted, the bureau had to ‘triage’ “to the best of our ability the volume of targets who are out there.” The AP took two months and assigned a small group of reporters to identify some 500 people targeted by Fancy Bear. [source] (Analyst comment: As one former U.S. official who worked in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said, “It is absolutely not OK for them to use an excuse that there is too much data,” adding that excuse would not work “if there were a serial killer investigation and people were calling in tips left and right.” The bigger issue here is an FBI that has been compromised politically, as we’ve seen from numerous other reports, and operationally, as we are seeing here.)

Trump admin says warrantless surveillance coming in 2018

Officials with the Trump administration said that whether Congress approves an existing warrantless surveillance program or not, it will continue into next year. With other legislative priorities, it’s a sure bet that Congress won’t renew the controversial program authorized under Section 702 of what used to be the USA Patriot Act but was altered by Congress in 2008. Nevertheless, Trump administration lawyers are arguing that the program can continue through April, at least, though most expected it would expire Jan. 1. Critics of the provision note that although it’s against U.S. law to conduct surveillance on American citizens unless it’s directed at foreign targets, and Americans are routinely caught up in that surveillance. As written, the provision must be reauthorized by Congress annually, but the program was last certified on April 26 of this year, hence, the argument that it should remain in effect until April 26 of next year. [source] (Analyst comment: The program is at times offensive to the Fourth Amendment, hence our well-deserved concerns. But from the government’s point of view, there are too many genuine risks in the world today — we just had yet another attempted terrorist attack in New York City — so don’t expect this program to go away anytime soon. In fact, some argue that ending it now would be a dereliction of duty on the part of the federal government.) 

National Reciprocity gun bill has a troublesome provision

Last week the House passed a bill that would allow residents of one state with a concealed carry permit to travel armed to other states that permit concealed carry of firearms, with all appropriate laws in respective states still applying. But there’s one catch: An 11th hour addition to the bill nicknamed “Fix NICS” that was added in response to the Air Force’s failure to report former airman Devin Kelly’s criminal history (he’s the guy accused of killing 26 people in a Texas church last month). An analysis of the add-on by Gun Owners of America found that even people with “unpaid parking tickets” could be banned from owning guns. [source] (Analyst comment: Leave it to Washington ‘dealmaking’ to produce a provision like this, that we’re betting most law-abiding gun owners have no idea is tucked into this otherwise commonsense legislation. That said, the provision can be stripped out of the final version — if it passes and goes to the president for signature. But it’s on you and your friends at this point. You know the drill. “Call your senator.”)


PIR2: What is the current situation report and risk of war in each of the four flashpoints?

South China Sea SITREP

China’s newest aircraft carrier will patrol South China Sea

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy has announced that its newest carrier, which is a homegrown version of its first carrier that was purchased from Russia, will patrol the South China Sea, a decision which is meant to send a strong signal to the United States and its regional allies.

Chinese media noted that the as-yet-unnamed carrier would begin sea trials soon. The People’s Daily, which is a Communist Party organ, declared that the ship was a “symbol of state power” that will “thwart the containment and blockade policies of some powers.”

That was a direct reference to the United States.

After the editorial was published, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) conducted a show of force exercise involving “island encirclement patrols” of Taiwan with bombers armed with cruise missiles. And while Taiwanese officials downplayed the show of force by saying they are common, the message was loud and clear and Washington no doubt heard it. As did Seoul, Tokyo and Canberra.

The announcement that the new PLAN carrier will deploy to the South China Sea just also happens to come after President Trump signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act which permits U.S. and Taiwanese navy ships to dock at each other’s ports, a declaration that drew an angry threat of invasion of Taiwan from a top Chinese diplomat in the U.S. [source]

Outlook: Li Kevin, a Chinese diplomat stationed in Washington, warned that if American ships sailed into Taiwan’s Kaohsiung port, Beijing would invade. His warning was not tempered by President Xi Jingping’s administration so far as we can tell, so that tells us that he essentially was speaking for Beijing. He said, “The day that a US Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung is the day that our People’s Liberation Army unifies Taiwan with military force.”

The deployment of the carrier, along with Li’s unchallenged warning, signal anew that China’s principal near-term objective is reunifying Taiwan with the mainland, by force if necessary, despite the fact that the island democracy has been a de facto independent nation since 1950.

This gets dicey since by law, the U.S. is bound to both equip and defend Taiwan, though obviously the law was passed in an era when the U.S. had little to fear from Chinese power. Times have changed, and while China’s military remains behind the U.S. military in terms of technological capability, China has the distinct advantage of presence in the region.

No one should ever doubt China’s resolve regarding Taiwan, and that includes the Trump administration. Should the Pentagon send a U.S. Navy ship to dock in Taiwan, we expect the Chinese to make good on the threat.

NATO-Russia SITREP

Russia’s military was significantly boosted by its Syria involvement

More than any other post-Soviet military involvement, the Russian armed forces seem to have gotten the most out of their combat and joint-services activities in Syria. Both President Vladimir Putin and chief of the General Staff, Army General Valery Geramisov, used the occasion of declaring victory in Syria over ISIS and anti-regime forces to illustrate advances in tactics and experience.

Though Moscow committed a relatively small number of ground and air forces there, they were enough to gain invaluable experience — for commanders, especially, who heretofore had not had many, if any, opportunities to lead forces in combat and to strategize in real-time, during actual combat conditions. Russian forces suffered light casualties, and what’s more, Moscow did not get bogged down in an Afghanistan-style of low-tech, never-ending quagmire (like the U.S. — in both Iraq and Afghanistan).

Couple this with Putin’s ongoing military modernization effort, and what we’re seeing is a genuine transformation of Russian military capability — which is not lost on the force’s top commanders. For instance, in an article in Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer, Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov, the commander of the Western Military District (MD), praised mostly the success of ongoing military modernization, which is increasing the levels of new or modern weapons and equipment in his district. This modernization effort includes major resources being placed into upgrading and expanding the country’s nuclear forces, while also introducing new conventionally-armed precision strike weapons.

“Although Russian military commanders and defense officials refer to drawing lessons from Zapad 2017, it seems clear that the GPV to 2027 is being shaped primarily by lessons drawn from operations in Ukraine and Syria. The emphasis on high-precision weapons as well as command, control communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems is most certainly rooted in the Syria conflict.” [Source: Eurasia Daily Monitor, December 12, 2017 — Volume 14, Issue 161]

Outlook: There is simply no replacement for actual combat operations, especially when there are several moving parts (air, sea, land, etc.). In Syria, the smallish Russian force was nevertheless afforded the opportunity to test out new weapons, new command-and-control systems, electronic warfare, cyberwarfare, and other modernized platforms.

Why should this matter to NATO? Because as modernization continues and Russian commanders who rotated through Syria the two-odd years Russia benefit from the combat experience, that dramatically bolsters Putin’s (and Russia’s) range of options to avoid having to rely strictly on “boots on the ground” to achieve military and geopolitical objectives in the near West, especially.

“In the future—based on this modernization plan and combined with experience of the low-cost, smaller-scale operation in Syria—Moscow may be more willing to pursue military intervention, both on its periphery and if local support is offered on an expeditionary basis,” the EDM noted.

Middle East SITREP

The next Mideast war will happen if Hezbollah is allowed to proliferate

Point-blank: If the U.S., Israel and regional allies permit Iran’s powerful proxy, Hezbollah, to proliferate and consolidate — in Syria and in Lebanon — then the chances of a new Middle East war are much, much higher.

“The Middle East is under threat both of ISIS, the militant Islam of the Sunni variety, and militant Islam of the Shiite variety, led by Iran,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday in Brussels before a breakfast meeting with the EU’s 28 foreign ministers. Because Europe — devastated by two wars last century — prefers “engagement” and diplomacy over confrontation, no doubt Netanyahu’s comments were hard to stomach for some.

And yet, Netanyahu is reading the situation as it is. Iran has managed to ethnically cleanse entire regions in Syria of their prior Sunni residents while repopulating them with Shiites from Lebanon, where there is a substantial Hezbollah presence, and Iraq. And now, Iran has begun establishing military bases in a brazen attempt to install its long-desired ‘land bridge’ from its borders to Lebanon as a means of threatening (directly) the state of Israel, it’s arch enemy to which Tehran has vowed to destroy.

Understanding that reality means no Israeli leader, Left or Right, can afford to allow Iran to cement a powerful military presence on its borders. That is, in large part, why Israel struck an Iranian base Dec. 2 that was being built in Syria about 30 miles from its border (see the 8 December 2017 Strategic Intelligence Review for more details on this strike).

Right now, Iran has opened one front along the Lebanese border. It is attempting to open a second somewhere else, perhaps along its Syrian border. That first front in Lebanon is completely controlled by proxy Hezbollah, leaving Iran free to position its own forces elsewhere. And the group has grown far more powerful that it was in 2006, when it fought Israel to a standstill in Lebanon. At the time, Hezbollah fielded 15,000 rockets that could strike northern Israel, and it fired about 4,300 of them in a month. Today the number of rockets has swollen to near 120,000 and they are capable of hitting all of Israel. Some believe Hezbollah forces could fire 1,000 of them per day. [source]

Outlook: Hezbollah commanders are under no illusion: They realize their forces alone cannot destroy Israel. But if they can inflict more damage on the Jewish state than in 2006 they will declare a victory.

How can the EU help? For one, it should deprive Hezbollah of a propaganda victory by declaring now, publicly, that the militant group has rearmed in violation of UN security resolutions, and that it is hiding its weapons among civilian populations. The EU should then place Hezbollah on its terrorism list until it disarms and openly declare in any future war, it will hold Tehran and Hezbollah responsible for any civilian casualties (which are sure to come). Finally, the EU should inform the Lebanese government that no more reconstruction aid will be forthcoming if Hezbollah initiates another war, while getting tougher with Iran.

“Europe’s power is mostly soft. But it can still be ‘weaponized’ to help contain Iran and pre-empt another major war in its neighborhood,” writes Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute.

The U.S. has a role to play too — mostly supporting Israel with intelligence, munitions and, if necessary, direct military intervention. The Trump administration should make that clear, which would also cause Hezbollah and Iran to think twice.

We expect that Israel, in the meantime, will continue pounding Iranian bases as they spring up, under Netanyahu’s pledge to prevent the Islamic republic from establishing a major military presence on Israel’s doorstep.

North Korea SITREP

American credibility is now on the line over North Korea

Through a succession of American administrations Washington has alternately threatened, cajoled, and attempted to bribe North Korea into giving up its nuclear weapons development program. The Clinton administration believed it finally achieved a breakthrough in diplomacy with its 1994 Agreed Framework deal The objective of the agreement was the freezing and replacement of North Korea’s indigenous nuclear power plant program with more nuclear proliferation resistant light water reactor power plants, and the step-by-step normalization of relations between the U.S. and North Korea. The deal was riddled with problems and it completely fell apart in 2003 when it was discovered that Pyongyang was cheating and developing a nuclear enrichment capability in secret.

The Bush administration designated North Korea part of the “Axis of Evil” and a threat; the Obama administration also postured and postulated, but little else. North Korea, in turn, continued to develop its weapons program and the ballistic missile capability to deliver nuclear warheads to the U.S. and beyond. We now find ourselves on the precipice of a nuclear-armed North Korea headed by a leader — Kim Jong-un — who believes nukes are the only thing that will guarantee his power.

What should the U.S. do now? What can the U.S. do now? One school of thought — this is the one President Trump seems to believe — is that U.S. pressure on China will end up resolving the North Korean problem. Beijing is Pyongyang’s only real ally and major trading partner; once Beijing really ramps up the economic pressure, North Korea won’t have any choice but to heel.

Another school of thought, though, goes something like this: China has no real interest in helping the U.S. resolve its North Korea problem, because China a) doesn’t want a ton of North Korean refugees stemming from a collapse of the Kim regime; and b) China doesn’t want an ally of the U.S. on its border (or U.S. troops themselves), which would happen under a Korean peninsula unified by South Korea. So it is doing as much as possible in giving off the appearance it is helping the U.S. solve its problem, but allowing enough aid and assistance to flow to North Korea to keep the regime intact.

There could also be a third possibility: China is deliberately permitting tensions to escalate between the U.S. and North Korea, if not stoking them outright, because after 20-odd years of the U.S. failing to force Pyongyang to heel, that has dealt a major blow to American credibility. As Asian countries once strongly allied with the U.S. watch the world’s only true superpower be unable to force a small, impoverished country to do its bidding, that reality is having an effect on capitals currently considering whether to remain in Washington’s sphere or move to China’s.

“This is not to say that China is actively pulling Pyongyang’s strings. It doesn’t need to. By simply tolerating North Korea’s pursuit of its nuclear agenda, educating its scientists, and providing just enough diplomatic and economic cover to keep the regime afloat, China allows the crisis to fester. As the crisis goads successive American administrations into ever greater displays of impotence, America’s prestige continues to decline.” The ultimate goal is to destroy U.S. hegemony throughout Asia, and supplant it with Chinese hegemony. [source]

Outlook: Since before he took office, President Trump vowed he would not allow North Korea to develop a nuclear capability that could be used to threaten the United States. But North Korea has already demonstrated it has that very capability, through underground nuclear testing and through testing of long-range ICBMs. When Kim conducts an above-ground nuclear detonation, probably sometime next year, proof of his capability will be self-evident.

So Trump will have a decision to make at that time, as we’ve said. Puny sanctions that China will only half-heartedly enforce aren’t going to work. Real sanctions might, and that would involve punishing Chinese financial institutions that are continuing to do business with North Korea. [source]

In the meantime, the Trump administration would do well to strengthen its regional alliances, not weaken them — especially as China continues to militarize the South China Sea. Another tactic would be to “take the lead in coordinating and accelerating these efforts, tying them into a cohesive, multinational effort that rings China and North Korea from Japan in the east to Vietnam and Thailand in the south.”

North Korea will eventually demonstrate precisely the nuclear capability Trump has warned he would not tolerate. After two decades of American impotence and hits to our credibility, if Trump doesn’t strike North Korea or seriously sanction China beyond a point Beijing can tolerate, American credibility will collapse completely in Asia and put us — and our allies — in even more danger.

We don’t expect Trump to allow that to happen.

Defense in Brief:

Failure to pass a real defense budget killing readiness

Pentagon leaders have been pleading with lawmakers for years that they need a real budget — not successive “continuing resolutions” — if the military is to ensure that America’s fighting forces are properly prepared, trained and equipped with what they need in order successfully defend the country. But because of nearly a decade’s worth of CRs, during which time America has been fighting a pair of wars, stocks of ammunition, bombs, and other weapons are depleted and, without a real budget, cannot be replaced. The FY 2018 budget includes money to bolster production of high-demand weapons to replenish the inventory, but as long as spending is frozen at last year’s levels, that initiative cannot begin. “What the CR says is stop, wait. Don’t award that contract yet, which delays when you begin to increase the quantity and the production,” said Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist. Two problems with that, said one report: “The Pentagon cannot meet the demands of its combatant commanders; and the companies who make the munitions have to delay hiring the workers they would otherwise employ now.” [source] (Analyst comment: Lawmakers have been playing politics with the defense budget — for years — plain and simple. Political posturing on both sides is harming military readiness, flat-out, and as such the political bickering is putting the nation’s security at risk. There’s no other way to say it. And there’s no excuse for failing to heed Pentagon leaders’ warnings.)

SOCOM

U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is asking for greater intelligence sharing capabilities with close allies. Accusing the government of overclassifying information about cyber operations, SOCOM chief Gen. Raymond Thomas wants to enable better and faster special activities through cyber operations. “Many of these partners have different and, in some cases, better authorities than we do to operate in this [cyber] domain. We should look to take advantage.” Also warning that the military’s cyber technology acquisition is too slow, Gen. Thomas said, “The acquisition system that produced the M1 tank and the Apache helicopter might be too slow for the adaptation required with rapidly changing cyber technologies.” Meanwhile, the Defense Department is working on shortening the pipeline to fund, develop, and adopt new cyber tools it can use in the battlefields of tomorrow.

Navy

Why we won’t see Trump’s 355-ship Navy anytime soon (though we should)

In signing the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act this week, President Donald Trump set a 355-ship Navy as national defense policy, something that was cheered by advocates in Congress of building a larger force to handle growing threats against and demands of the existing fleet. “With his signature, President Trump has confirmed the United States’ resolve to meet the growing needs of our U.S. Navy,” Senate Seapower Subcommittee Chairman Roger Wicker said in a statement. “Building up our nation’s fleet is essential to protecting our national security and projecting American power around the globe. “We are asking too few ships to do too many things, and today the President took a major step toward rectifying that problem,” he continued. Retired officers like Bryan McGrath, a former destroyer captain and consultant with The Ferrybridge Group, also cheered the president’s move. “This is a helpful move, if largely symbolic,” he said. Symbolic, because the one impediment to fulfilling the president’s campaign pledge is money. The Pentagon has been operating under continuing resolutions now for close to a decade, something that flag officers and Defense Department officials have been railing against for years. But even as the current Congress appears close to actually approving a budget for the Pentagon, there is another problem: The Budget Control Act of 2011, which sets spending caps on — the Pentagon. And to build Trump’s 355-ship Navy (as well as fulfill other obligations like modernizing nuclear, air, and ground forces) that law will have to be repealed. And there is no real effort in Congress (yet) to do so. [source(Analyst comment: Congress is essentially killing military readiness — there’s just no other way to put it. And it’s a bipartisan death. As evidenced by the high naval accident rate seen this year, in which dozens of sailors were killed, the U.S. Navy — if it is to continue its current operational tempo and still be able to meet and defeat advanced naval adversaries — has to be bigger, there’s just no way around it. But it won’t be, ever, if Congress doesn’t get its act together. Two things need to happen: The Budget Control Act needs to be repealed, and funding increases for the Pentagon in general must be approved.)

Army

The Army’s embattled missile defense system just cleared a major hurdle

Despite major software crashes early on, the Army’s highly-criticized missile defense network, the Northrop-Grumman-built IBCS, achieved a major milestone in October at Yuma Proving Ground. The command-and-control system managed to successfully track everything from drones to helicopters to fighter jets. In earlier tests it has managed to intercept ballistic and cruise missiles, and drew data from Patriot and Sentinel systems that were not designed to work together — for days — and despite active jamming by a live adversary. It was just the kind of challenge that Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley feared existing Army networks could not survive in a high-tech fight with Russia or China. “The surprises that I got out of this were all very positive surprises,” Northrop IBCS executive Rob Jassey said. “Our air picture is getting so good that some of the standard tools we use in environments like that to test them…. are not good enough to measure it. They’ve got to improve the test tools.” [source] (Analyst comment: As much money as we’re spending on missile defense, we’ve either got to come up with better systems at some point or stop development and admit defeat. That this system has improved so much so quickly is encouraging. It feels almost like a breakthrough, of sorts. And none too soon, given the rising threats from great powers.)

Marine Corps

USMC to experiment with UAV choppers

The Marines are set to experiment with unmanned helicopters that could be deployed to resupply ground forces in hostile territory or for extracting Marines from hostile territory. The concept: Calling in chopper support with a mobile tablet. The testing features a software package that will allow choppers to fly autonomously. “It gives us a lot more confidence requesting that support,” Cpl. Christopher Osterhaus, combat instructor, The Basic School, told Marine Corps Times at Quantico, Virginia “Without a pilot, we don’t have to worry about that concern for a manned mission potentially taking contact. Whereas if we sent this autonomous system, we don’t have to worry about any danger to any pilot.” Using a tablet, a Marine on the ground can program an unmanned chopper to fly to a certain area, even if the enemy is jamming GPS. Also under consideration: Using the same system on the Marines’ V-22 Osprey transport craft. Demo flights using a UH-1Y Venom have already taken place. [source]


PIR3: What are the new indicators of systems disruption to the economic or financial industry that could lead to instability? 

Low volatility in markets but ‘ambiguity’ is extremely high

From The Wall Street Journal this week, regarding a new measure of market fear that a pair of academics say indicates investors are not as complacent as they may seem: “The gauge of so-called ambiguity, meant to chronicle the degree of uncertainty investors have in the probabilities they use to make decisions, has been at all-time highs in recent months, indicating that there’s more fear built into the stock market than common measures of volatility suggest. The Cboe Volatility Index, a popular metric for tracking fear in the market, has been idling near record lows this year. In separating out ambiguity from common measures of risk, Menachem Brenner of New York University and Yehuda Izhakian of Baruch College are picking up on a concept that traces back nearly a century. Economist Frank Knight in 1921 wrote about the difference between risk and uncertainty.” Bottom line: “In October, the gauge hit 2.42, its highest reading in monthly data that extends back to 1993. That’s above the gauge’s previous peak of 2.41 at the height of the financial crisis in October 2008. Last month, it retreated a bit  to 2.28, the third-highest reading on record, the data show.” [source] (Analyst comment: As usual, no one can predict market collapse. But these scholars also hit on something that a lot of investors feel these days — that stocks have relentlessly increased in value for years, which is unnerving to some who believe stocks are trading too high as they pertain to expected earnings.)


PIR4: What are the new indicators of systems disruption to the critical infrastructure that could lead to instability?

House panel examining ways to counter weapons of mass destruction

The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Energy, Preparedness, Response, and Communications heard witness testimony from leaders of the Department of Homeland Security and other experts last week the country’s ability to counter weapons of mass destruction. Chaired by Rep. Dan Donovan, R-NY, the purpose of the hearing was to discuss the threats as well as DHS restructuring and potential organizational changes such as adding a Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office to the agency. “The scope of threats our nation faces each day continues to change and evolve,” Donovan said. “We know that terrorist groups hope to employ new weapons, including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents, to attack innocent people and cause destruction. It’s critical that our security agencies are able to protect the homeland, and I’ll be using the insight gathered to develop policies that help DHS further improve preparedness and response measures.” Panel members and experts also discussed the evolving scientific techniques used to manufacture biological weapons, including Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) technology. [source] (Analyst comment: It’s coincidental because hearings are scheduled well in advance, but this one comes as concerns are growing about North Korea’s potential to develop biological weapons, as we reported this week on The Watchfloor. More to the point, these hearings aren’t held for no reason; there is obviously growing concern among members of Congress and federal officials about the threat of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons being used against Americans. On a final note, DHS went through with the creation of the office for weapons of mass destruction.)

Anonymous again threatens U.S. govt. websites

The hacker collective Anonymous has again threatened a number of U.S. government web targets including state.gov, whitehouse.gov, data.gov, ssa.gov, federalreserve.gov, and usa.gov. The threat was made as a protest of U.S. policies in the Middle East, and Israel was threatened as well. The text for the threat appeared on the blog of the website cyberguerilla.com  on Dec. 7, and it reads:  “Government of Israel and United States, our patience is exhausted! No more words! Now only acts. Anonymous can’t be silent when we see your actions. Now it’s Anonymous time.” [source]

House unanimously passes important cybersecurity legislation

Earlier this week the House did something rare — members unanimously supported a piece of legislation, and it just happened to pertain to shoring up cybersecurity. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2017 aims to streamline the current structure of the National Protection and Programs Directorate, redesigning it the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), so it can more effectively implement cybersecurity and crucial infrastructure-related authority. “With the advancement of technology and our increased dependence on computer networks, nation-states, hackers, and cybercriminals are finding new ways to attack our cyber infrastructure and expose vulnerabilities. This re-alignment will achieve DHS’s goal of creating a stand-alone operational organization, focusing on and elevating its vital cybersecurity and infrastructure security missions to strengthen the security of digital America and our nation’s critical infrastructure,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas. [source] (Analyst comment: This is the first substantial piece of cybersecurity legislation to come along in some time, indicating that Congress — finally — appears to be taking the threat seriously.) 

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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