John Bolton Goes for the Big One – The CTBT

One of John Bolton’s objectives in becoming National Security Advisor is to destroy as many arms control treaties as possible. He convinced President George W. Bush to withdraw from the Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. President Donald Trump has now withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Wrecking the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) would be the trifecta.

Bolton is a subtle man, and he is willing to work a long strategy. Here is a long explanation. Read More

A Tale Of Two Red Lines

Let’s get this out of the way first: President Donald Trump didn’t actually say the words “red line.” In fact, he, his National Security Advisor, and his Secretary of State say so many different things that it can be hard to tell whether there are red lines, let alone where they are.

In August 2012, President Barack Obama explicitly laid down a red line to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria: Move chemical weapons around, and we will strike. A few days later, Assad brutally killed over a thousand people in Ghouta with sarin. Congress and allied nations were reluctant to back a military strike in response. But then Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered another response: Syria would join the Chemical Weapons Convention and give up its stock of chemical weapons and the means to make more. Read More

The Mueller Report – II. Russian “Active Measures” Social Media Campaign

(pp 14-35)

Much of this chapter is redacted under “Harm to Ongoing Matter,” (HOM) presumably referring to the court case against 13 employees of the Internet Research Agency (IRA). A few redactions are labeled “Personal Privacy” (PP) and “Investigative Technique,” (IT) and there seems no need to try to decipher them.

The unredacted part of the chapter is a story that has appeared in the news many times. I’ll outline it and provide a few juicy quotes. Read More

The Mueller Report – The Special Counsel’s Investigation

  1. The Special Counsel’s Investigation (pages 11-13)

This section lays the basis for and scope of the investigation. It first cites Rod Rosenstein’s Appointment Order. (The report uses more capitalization than I usually do. It is helpful in pointing to specific documents.) The subjects of investigation are:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and

(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

The last covers “federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, the Special Counsel’s investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses.” It also covers similar crimes committed during the FBI’s investigation that was wrapped into the Special Counsel’s investigation. Read More

The Mueller Report – Introduction, Volume I

The Introduction puts the important conclusion right up front.

The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.

That’s a stark way to begin, followed by a quick summary of the major events of the Russian campaign and the American response. Obviously Muller intends that conclusion as a takeaway. Read More

Hello, World! Russia Here!

The Russian destroyer Udaloy I forced the USS Chancellorsville to maneuver to avoid collision in the Phillippine Sea today. They were sending a message – look at the guys sunbathing on the flight deck.

The maneuver was planned and approved by the fleet. Probably at the suggestion of Vladimir Putin, or certainly to please him. Read More

The Mueller Report

Robert Mueller has told us all to read his report. So I propose to summarize parts of it, highlight what seems to me to be important, and add in some background.

I will take it in relatively small sections, starting at the beginning and going through to the end. I am also posting at Balloon Juice, where there will be much more commentary.

I’ll try to do two posts a week or more – 400 pages will be a lot to get through.

I’m looking for the big picture rather than details of who was at which meeting on which day, but those details will sometimes reveal parts of the big picture, so there will be some of both. It’s also important to understand what Mueller says about how he and his team see their work.

I downloaded the Department of Justice’s version. The site takes some time to load, so it’s easier to have it on my computer. There are a number of versions available, and podcast readings of it as well.

Flying Saucers Redux

Wouldn’t it be nice if kindly space people suddenly appeared to lead us out of this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into? The New York Times thinks so.

Back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, there was also a continuing saga of flying saucers, as they were called then. I was intrigued, being a kid who read science fiction and was terrified of atom bombs. As recently a year ago, on a trip to Texas, I made sure to drive through Levelland, where a famous sighting had taken place.

We’ve got an international mess right now. Creeping fascism and authoritarianism. The United States and Britain consumed with their own crazy. It would be so nice if the kindly space people would land, with their wisdom.

The space people are always kindly, never mind the counterexamples we have on earth. Read More

Information Warfare: The Florida Election Hack

Election hacking in Florida, municipality hacking in Baltimore, and President Donald Trump’s handing of classification authorities to Attorney General William Barr share some characteristics. Our strategies lag behind the realities of dealing with information in the age of the internet. We need to start thinking differently about how we handle information; when to withhold it and when to share it.

I’ll write three posts on ways to think about those situations. We have to find better ways to deal with information and its misuses. Read More