Roll Call: The News Source of Capitol Hill Since 1955
July 29, 2015

Sanctions Are No Silver Bullet

Peter Feaver and Eric Lorber: “Since 2005, U.S. policymakers have increasingly turned to sophisticated types of economic sanctions as a foreign policy tool of first resort. From the development of banking sanctions limiting Iran’s ability to secure financing from Western capital markets to new sanctions targeting Russia’s financial system and the development of its oil resources, U.S. policymakers have touted these innovative tools as extremely powerful while also being tailored and precise.”

“But while these sophisticated sanctions have imposed substantial economic costs on Iran and Russia and do collectively constitute a more capable tool for coercive diplomacy, the developing narrative—likely to be bolstered by what the Obama administration sees as successful coercive diplomacy against Iran—that increasingly sophisticated sanctions provide policymakers with a no-cost silver bullet for addressing intractable national security issues is wrong.”

Turkey Opens Airbases to U.S. Campaign Against ISIS

“In what may prove a turning point in the fight against Islamic State (Isis), Turkey has struck a military and security cooperation pact with the US that could greatly enhance the effectiveness of coalition air strikes,” The Guardian reports.

“[T]he new understanding with Washington may go much further than simply allowing US (and British) use of the Incirlik airbase in Adana from early August. Incirlik will give coalition aircraft a huge advantage. Instead of flying 2,000km from bases and carriers in the Gulf, they will now be within 400km range of Raqqa, the Isis headquarters in Syria, giving them much greater operational flexibility and scope.”

“But Turkish reports suggest the agreement also covers the ‘emergency’ use by allied aircraft of other Turkish airbases, including those in the south-eastern provinces of Batman, Diyarbakır and Malatya, plus more general permission to use Turkish airspace. It seems another longstanding US proposal, to fly armed or surveillance drones out of Turkey, has also been accepted.”

Iran Debate Ignores The Lessons of Iraq

Peter Beinart: “In most televised discussions of Iran, the word ‘Iraq’ never comes up, and that’s insane. The Iraq War was one of the most important, and damaging, episodes in the history of U.S. foreign policy. The debate preceding it pitted people who believed Saddam Hussein was malevolent but rational against people who believed he might well nuke the United States. It pitted people who trusted that International Atomic Energy Agency inspections could contain Saddam’s nuclear program against people who thought he would build a nuke under the IAEA’s nose. Most fundamentally, it pitted people who believed that the only way to keep America safe was to force Iraq’s utter capitulation, via regime change, against people who preferred an imperfect accommodation that did not risk war.”

“Obviously, the circumstances in Iraq and Iran are different. And smart people may offer smart explanations for why the demand for capitulation that proved so disastrous in America’s dealings with Iraq is well-suited to America’s dealings with the country on Iraq’s eastern border. My point is merely this: These people should be required to offer those explanations.”

“Again and again, pundits who championed the invasion of Iraq—people like Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer—appear on television advocating the same worldview they advocated in 2002 and 2003, and get to pretend that nothing has happened over the last 15 years to throw that worldview into question… To a degree that will baffle historians, the political-intellectual complex that made the Iraq War possible remains intact, and powerful.”

Echo Seeker Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Explores Deeper, Stays Longer

Unmanned underwater vehicles are exploring deeper below the ocean surface than ever before. The unmanned underwater vehicle Echo Ranger began operations in 2001 and continues today as an operational test bed and contracted work system for ocean surveys. Following three years of designing, building and testing the vehicle, Boeing’s Advanced Technology Program team in Huntington Beach, Calif., just unveiled Echo Ranger’s bigger brother – the Echo Seeker.

Echo Seeker enables ocean access capabilities beyond those of Echo Rangeroffering potential customers a larger UUV with increased depth, endurance and payload capabilities. Echo Seeker’s ability to dive to depths deeper than other submersibles makes it unique, but one of the most significant team accomplishments is the systems’ autonomy.

Operating at 20,000 feet, the vehicle must be able to determine how and when to quit – either when energy is nearly depleted or if a problem occurs – and return safely to the surface; that is an approximately four-mile journey with no human interaction.

Having completed initial testing and verified full vehicle functionality, the next steps for Echo Seeker include payload evaluation and other potential survey studies/projects similar to the one Echo Ranger completed earlier this year with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Echo Ranger was used to survey the former USS Independence, a World War II aircraft carrier that was scuttled 30 miles off the coast of Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Learn more about Boeing’s Echo Seeker here.

Longer U.S. Presence in Iraq Might Have Prevented ISIS, Says Odierno

“The Army’s top officer, who spent more than four years as a commander in Iraq, said it’s been ‘frustrating’ to see Iraq ‘falling apart’ at the hands of the Islamic State terror group,” writes Army Times.

“Odierno, who commanded a division and a corps in Iraq before becoming the top U.S. commander in country, spoke to Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin as he prepares to complete his tenure as chief and retire from the Army.”

“It’s impossible to know how Iraq would have turned out or if keeping U.S. troops in Iraq would have stopped the rise of the Islamic State group, Odierno said. ‘I believe that, I think, maybe, if we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it might have prevented it,’ he told Fox News.”

FBI Director: Terror Groups Looking to Cyber Capabilities

“Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey said Wednesday that terrorist groups had begun discussing ways to hit Americans with a cyberattack, though he said plotting appeared to be in early stages,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mr. Comey didn’t divulge what sort of cyberattack terrorist groups could be trying to design. U.S. officials have spent years trying to protect things like water-treatment plants, electrical grids, and the banking system from debilitating cyberattacks, but they remain wary because criminal gangs and sophisticated nation-state hackers have proven adept at breaking through networks.”

“Mr. Comey made clear that cyberattacks remained a major focus for the FBI, both in monitoring hacks against companies and investigating attacks against U.S. government agencies.”

Obama “Will Veto” Defense Bill Over Guantanamo Transfer Restrictions

“‘The president will veto it.’ Those words aren’t spoken very often in just that way from the podium in the White House briefing room, but they were today by Press Secretary Josh Earnest,” writes Steven Dennis. “This time, the message seems to be that the president really, finally does mean business when it comes to closing the prison at the Guantanamo Bay naval base.”

“Earnest, who also said the administration is close to having a plan to close the prison ready to send to Congress, said the president strongly opposes any language inhibiting his ability to do so… Obama has threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act year after year over language that effectively prevents him from closing the prison. And every year he’s signed it. But this year could be different, especially if Congress can get a bill to Obama quickly. That could give Congress time to either override a veto or pass another bill that can get the president’s signature.”

Noah Feldman: “It’s becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, isn’t going to be closed during President Barack Obama’s administration — or beyond, despite the administration’s efforts. That raises a deep question about foreign policy and the rule of law: What if Guantanamo never closes, and some of its detainees remain there for the rest of their lives?”

GPS Leaps Forward with Latest Satellite Launch

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V blasts off from Cape Canaveral with the GPS IIF-10 mission for the U.S. Air Force. (United Launch Alliance photo)

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V blasts off from Cape Canaveral with the GPS IIF-10 mission for the U.S. Air Force. (United Launch Alliance photo)

When the 10th GPS IIF satellite, which was launched on July 15, completes on-orbit checkout tests, the U.S. Air Force will further advance a modernization program for the Global Positioning System. This will improve accuracy and enhance security for the navigation system used daily by millions of people around the world. The 10th GPS IIF satellite joins a constellation of satellites that circle the earth to provide the position, navigation and timing information that is the heart of GPS.

The Boeing-built GPS IIFs are the newest generation of GPS satellites, delivering a longer design life, greater accuracy, increased signal power for civil applications, a more robust military M-code signal and variable power for better jamming resistance. The IIFs also are outfitted with the new civilian L-5 signal which, when fully operational, will be used for emergency applications.

The GPS IIF-10 satellite is loaded on a C-17 Globemaster III for transport to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The GPS IIF-10 satellite is loaded on a C-17 Globemaster III for transport to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

GPS IIF-10 lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V expendable launch vehicle at 11:36 a.m. EDT. About three hours and 23 minutes later, the spacecraft was released into its medium-Earth orbit of about 12,000 miles.

Boeing will support the Air Force in performing on-orbit checkout of GPS IIF-10 before it is formally declared operational in about a month. The next GPS satellite, GPS IIF-11, was shipped to Cape Canaveral on June 8 in preparation for the third and final IIF launch of 2015 later this fall.

 

U.S. Likely Won’t Publicly Blame China for OPM Hack

“Months after the discovery of a massive breach of U.S. government personnel records, the Obama administration has decided against publicly blaming China for the intrusion in part out of reluctance to reveal the evidence that American investigators have assembled,” according to The Washington Post.

“The administration also appears to have refrained from any direct retaliation against China or attempt to use cyber-measures to corrupt or destroy the stockpile of sensitive data stolen from the Office of Personnel Management.”

“The response to penetrations targeting government-held data has been more restrained, in part because U.S. officials regard such breaches as within the traditional parameters of espionage. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and others have even expressed grudging admiration for the OPM hack, saying U.S. spy agencies would do the same against other governments. Economic espionage occupies a separate category — supposedly off-limits to U.S. spy agencies and seen as deserving of a forceful response when committed by foreign adversaries.”

“In making such a distinction, the United States may be adhering to unwritten rules that other countries disregard. The administration risks sending a signal that it is willing to go further to defend the secrets of U.S. industry than it is to protect employees of federal agencies.”

Time for Obama to Close Guantanamo Slipping Away

The New York Times reports that the Obama administration’s “fitful effort to shut down” the prison at Guantanamo Bay “is collapsing again.”

“Ashton B. Carter, in his first six months as defense secretary, has yet to make a decision on any newly proposed deals to transfer individual detainees. His delay, which echoes a pattern last year by his predecessor, Chuck Hagel, is generating mounting concern in the White House and State Department… The law effectively vests final power in the defense secretary and makes him personally accountable if something goes wrong.”

“Its plan has been to transfer all lower­level detainees, while bringing those deemed too dangerous for release to a military prison on domestic soil. Of the latter group, some would be prosecuted while the rest would be held as wartime prisoners, with periodic parole­like reviews. That plan has previously failed to persuade skeptics of Mr. Obama’s Guantánamo policy, particularly in the House.”

Debate on Arming Domestic Service Members Returns After Tennessee Shooting

“Former senior military officers who are sharpshooters and have served in high government posts are urging caution in the wake of calls in Congress and beyond to arm domestic service members following last week’s deadly rampage in Tennessee,” McClatchy DC reports.

“In the days since a Kuwaiti-born gunman, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, shot up a Chattanooga military recruiting center and then killed four Marines and a sailor at a Navy Reserve center in the city, lawmakers have pushed legislation to allow all personnel on bases inside the United States to carry weapons… Some governors are not waiting for Congress. From Florida to Texas and North Carolina, chief executives in at least six states have authorized their National Guard units to be armed, moved them to fortified armories or taken other steps to increase security.”

“Retired Navy Cmdr. Rick Nelson, now a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington…qualified as a Navy rifle sharpshooter, the service’s second-highest weapons rating. To him, arming all domestic service members would be an exaggerated response to the shootings in Chattanooga… ‘Would you want all of the employees there getting ready to shoot?’ Nelson asked. ‘Now the onus is on each one of them to identify who the actual shooter is. How do you know who is the bad guy and who is one of my co-workers trying to stop the bad guy? It takes an already complicated and dangerous situation and makes it more complicated and dangerous.'”

V-22 Osprey Awarded First International Sale with Contract for Japan

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U.S. Marine Corps photo

The U.S. Navy’s recent contract award for five Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to Japan marks the first sale of the aircraft through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales program. Last year, the Japanese Ministry of Defense announced its selection of the Bell Boeing V-22 to address tiltrotor aircraft requirements outlined in its Mid-Term Defense Program.

The versatile V-22 tiltrotor will enhance the capabilities of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force, providing a wide range of mission capabilities including troop transport, disaster relief, personnel recovery, medical evacuation, logistics support, and executive transport.

The Osprey gives operators the ability to achieve groundbreaking operational efficiencies and maximize the use of precious resources like time, money and personnel. The U.S. Navy’s selection of V-22 for the carrier onboard delivery mission is a recent example of how the interoperability and versatility of this aircraft will revolutionize how the U.S. Navy and international maritime fleets can operate.

The sale to Japan reinforces the relevance of the Bell Boeing V-22 for global customers as other countries seek an in-production, unique, multi-mission warfighting capability.

The V-22 is manufactured under a 50-50 strategic alliance between Bell Helicopter and Boeing. The Osprey’s fuselage is assembled at the Boeing site near Philadelphia and then shipped to the Bell Helicopter facility in Amarillo, Texas, for final assembly, including attachment of the wing, nacelles and rotor blades.

 

Defense Secretary Visits Israel As Iran Deal Stresses Relationship

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an impassioned case against last week’s nuclear deal with Iran in talks with Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter on Tuesday,” according to The Washington Post, “signaling that disagreement over President Obama’s signature foreign policy feat could overshadow other aspects of the United States’ closest alliance in the Middle East.”

“Officials said Netanyahu restated his objections to the agreement, including his contention that Iran would use more than $100 billion in funds made available through sanctions relief to threaten adversaries, chief among them Israel… But in what may be a sign of guarded expectations, given the intensity of U.S.-Israeli disagreement, U.S. officials characterized Carter’s visit and talks with Netanyahu as positive.”

“They said the two sides discussed ways to jointly contain Iran’s support for proxy groups such as Hezbollah, the armed Shiite movement in Lebanon, and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip… The U.S. officials said the United States and Israel are also exploring ways to deal with instability in next-door Syria.”

How to Use 1 Million Stolen Fingerprints

“The hackers who recently broke into the computers of the federal Office of Personnel Management didn’t just steal the usual names, addresses and Social Security numbers. This time, they took something else: fingerprints. Over 1 million sets of them,” writes FiveThirtyEight. ” What exactly does one do with lots of stolen fingerprints?”

“In fact, the most likely uses of the stolen prints are more about deep spycraft than petty phone theft… Combine the old grade-school truism that fingerprints, like snowflakes, are unique (or at least pretty close to it) with the fact that fingerprints can’t be changed, and you’ve got a powerful identity authentication tool that could be used to great effect by a foreign intelligence agency.”

“First, they could be used to sniff out individuals operating in a foreign country under false identities. Imagine that you, an American spy, travel to Hackistan ostensibly to work as the ambassador’s dog walker. The Hackistani government grabs your fingerprints when you arrive in the country. But now, after their successful hack, they can check yours against the prints in the stolen OPM database. They find that your prints are a partial match with the prints of a contractor who worked for the U.S. Department of Defense a decade ago. Uh oh.”

“Second, Berke said, the prints may help in creating new, assumed identities for the thieves or their associates. Foreign operatives could do this ‘by replacing the fingerprint data of legitimate employees with the fingerprints of a person who wishes to assume that identity’… Typically, the OPM would be able to track changes made to the personnel database. But in this case, the hackers had administrative access, and it’s impossible for OPM now to know if changes were made.”

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