Posts Tagged ‘national security’

China’s Xi Says ‘Economic Globalism’ Is ‘Irreversible Historical Trend’

November 11, 2017

By John Hayward

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping embraced “economic globalism,” calling it an “irreversible historical trend.”

Xi praised globalism for having “contributed significantly to global growth.” Meanwhile. President Donald Trump denounced unfair trade practices and vowed the United States will not be “taken advantage of anymore.”

“In pursuing economic globalization, we should make it more open, more inclusive, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all,” said Xi in his APEC address.

In another passage, Xi called for an “open economy that benefits all,” advising that “openness brings progress while self-seclusion leaves one behind.”

“China will not slow its steps in opening up itself. We will work together with other countries to create new drivers of common development through the launching of the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative,” said Xi. “We will adopt policies to promote high standards of liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment.”

CNBC praises Xi for emphasizing China’s “environmental goals” and “stepping up China’s global rhetorical leadership on that front since Trump abandoned the Paris climate accord earlier this year.”

That is a striking testament to how adroitly China’s leaders play Western media and take advantage of its obsessions. Anyone who thinks China will cripple its economic ambitions in the manner envisioned by the Paris climate accords is frankly delusional. Chinese leaders know they can easily afford rhetorical flourishes in the service of global arrangements that demand little of them for decades to come. There is no domestic constituency in China that can hold Xi or his handpicked successor accountable for living up to whatever he promises in global forums.

Xi had quite a bit to say about China’s economic agenda during the marathon three-hour speech he gave upon assuming near-dictatorial powers at the recent Communist Party congress. The speech included some uplifting ideas about China becoming a benevolent global leader, but absolutely none of it indicated he was prepared to sacrifice any of China’s interests to please international summit meetings.

That is also true of Xi’s praise for fair and open global economic systems. It only takes a few moments to pull up his APEC speech from last year’s meeting in Peru and find him saying exactly the same things about building an “open and integrated economy” and gushing about how “economic globalization is in keeping with the law of economics and delivers benefits to all.” Let us grant Xi all due credit for rhetorical consistency, but let us also not pretend he just delivered a historic speech brimming with new ideas.

What China does is far more important than what its authoritarian leader says in the latest iteration of decade-old talking points. What China does is make deals that benefit China, generally breaking whatever rules it finds inconvenient along the way. Saying nice things about globalism at summit meetings is easy. It is not as if the Western media sphere makes it tough for Chinese speechwriters to figure out what they want to hear.

The most encouraging signs of actual change to emerge from President Donald Trump’s trip to China so far are the huge volume of trade deals announced on Thursday, and Friday’s announcement from Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao that China will begin increasing foreign access to its enormous financial services market. Both of these developments are direct results of the Trump administration’s unique blend of behind-the-scenes diplomacy, public pugnacity, and fiery eruptions on social media. Zhu’s announcement came only a day after Trump called for the very access China delivered.

The results to date are less than one might have imagined Trump wanted by listening to his past accusations of Chinese market distortion, currency manipulation, and intellectual property theft, but it is also better than nothing and more than what China was inclined to give on its own – or else would have been given during the Obama administration when Xi was giving those nearly identical speeches rhapsodizing about globalization and transparency.

President Trump also spoke at APEC in Vietnam, and while his speech has been portrayed as a sharp nativist contrast with Xi’s soaring globalist poetry, CNBC notes that Trump “similarly called for economic openness.” The difference is that Trump “struck a harsh tone against countries he deemed guilty of ‘chronic trade abuses.’”

“When the United States enters into a trading relationship with other countries or other peoples, we will, from now on, expect that our partners will faithfully follow the rules, just like we do. We expect that markets will be open to an equal degree on both sides and that private industry, not government planners, will direct investment,” said Trump, after praising the achievements made possible by international trade in places like Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, and India at great length.

“Unfortunately, for too long and in too many places, the opposite has happened. For many years, the United States systematically opened our economy with few conditions. We lowered or ended tariffs, reduced trade barriers, and allowed foreign goods to flow freely into our country. But while we lowered market barriers, other countries didn’t open their markets to us,” he charged.

He then made allusions to unnamed countries “embraced by the World Trade Organization, even if they did not abide by its stated principles.” He named China specifically later in his speech, with a combination of unflinching accusations over its past behavior and hope for a better future relationship.

“We can no longer tolerate these chronic trade abuses, and we will not tolerate them,” Trump declared. “Despite years of broken promises, we were told that someday soon everyone would behave fairly and responsibly. People in America and throughout the Indo-Pacific region have waited for that day to come. But it never has, and that is why I am here today: to speak frankly about our challenges and work toward a brighter future for all of us.”

“From this day forward, we will compete on a fair and equal basis. We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore. I am always going to put America first the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first,” Trump announced.

It is strange to see so many condemning Trump for failing to embrace the possibilities of global trade when he did exactly that, coupled with warnings that the United States will no longer allow itself to be taken advantage of. Even if China is truly experiencing a change of heart, it reached its current position of strength by doing the things Trump accused it of.

Critics also seem to be missing a point picked up by CNBC’s analysis: Trump was not just complaining about how China has treated the United States. He was issuing a warning to Asian nations tempted to choose China over the U.S. as a trading partner, reminding them how readily China violates or subverts rules that interfere with its aggressive national interests.

If “globalism” requires America to disadvantage itself because we have had it so good for so long, make disproportionate sacrifices to international programs to demonstrate “leadership,” and tolerate abuses no other nation would endure, then globalism is what needs to change, not America.

It is a false choice to say that crude isolationism is the only alternative and bad strategy to let it be known that no one has to work very hard to win or keep America’s business. If these are truly the last days of American hyperpower status, it would be malpractice for our leaders not to use it while they still have it, just as China’s leaders are eagerly planning how to use it once they get it.


DHS bulletin: US faces ‘one of the most challenging’ terror threat levels since 9/11

November 10, 2017

Bby Anna Giaritelli | 

The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday released a new bulletin that said the U.S. is facing a significant, ongoing terror threat.”We continue to face one of the most challenging threat environments since 9/11, as foreign terrorist organizations exploit the Internet to inspire, enable, or direct individuals already here in the homeland to commit terrorist attacks,” the bulletin said.

DHS has issued five iterations of the terror threat bulletin since December 2015.

Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said she directed the organization to make an update to extend this new bulletin for six months.

“Our enemies remain focused on attacking the United States, and they are constantly adapting. DHS and its partners are stepping up efforts to keep terrorists out of America and to prevent terrorist recruitment and radicalization here at home, and we urge the public to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity,” Duke said in a statement.

Lifting the Steele Curtain — So yes, Mrs. Clinton, the dossier—which you paid for—was used in the election

November 10, 2017

The Fusion GPS dossier was one of the dirtiest political tricks in U.S. history.

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Then-candidate Hillary Clinton at a rally in Kent, Ohio, Oct. 31, 2016. PHOTO: BROOKS KRAFT/GETTY IMAGES

The Steele dossier has already become a thing of John le Carré-like intrigue—British spies, Kremlin agents, legal cutouts, hidden bank accounts. What all this obscures is the more immediate point: The dossier amounts to one of the dirtiest tricks in U.S. political history. It was perpetrated by Team Clinton and yielded a vast payoff for Hillary’s campaign.

The Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign hired the opposition-research firm Fusion GPS in April 2016 to dig up dirt on Donald Trump.

Fusion in turn hired former U.K. spook Christopher Steele to assemble the (now largely discredited) dossier. That full dossier of allegations wasn’t made public until after the election, in January 2017. And the media and Democrats continue to peddle the line that it played no role during the election itself.

“Details from the dossier were not reported before Election Day,” ran a recent CNN story. Hillary Clinton herself stressed the point in a recent “Daily Show” appearance. The dossier, she said, is “part of what happens in a campaign where you get information that may or may not be useful and you try to make sure anything you put out in the public arena is accurate. So this thing didn’t come out until after the election, and it’s still being evaluated.”

This is utterly untrue. In British court documents Mr. Steele has acknowledged he briefed U.S. reporters about the dossier in September 2016. Those briefed included journalists from the New York Times , the Washington Post, Yahoo News and others. Mr. Steele, by his own admission (in an interview with Mother Jones), also gave his dossier in July 2016 to the FBI.

Among the dossier’s contents were allegations that in early July 2016 Carter Page, sometimes described as a foreign-policy adviser to Candidate Trump, held a “secret” meeting with two high-ranking Russians connected to President Vladimir Putin. It even claimed these Russians offered to give Mr. Page a 19% share in Russia’s state oil company in return for a future President Trump lifting U.S. sanctions. This dossier allegation is ludicrous on its face. Mr. Page was at most a minor figure in the campaign and has testified under oath that he never met the two men in question or had such a conversation.

Yet the press ran with it. On Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo News’s Michael Isikoff published a bombshell story under the headline: “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin.” Mr. Isikoff said “U.S. officials” had “received intelligence” about Mr. Page and Russians, and then went on to recite verbatim all the unfounded dossier allegations. He attributed all this to a “well-placed Western intelligence source,” making it sound as if this info had come from someone in government rather than from an ex-spy-for-hire.

The Clinton campaign jumped all over it, spinning its own oppo research as a government investigation into Mr. Trump. Jennifer Palmieri, the campaign’s communications director, the next day took to television to tout the Isikoff story and cite “U.S. intelligence officials” in the same breath as Mr. Page. Other Clinton surrogates fanned out on TV andTwitter to spread the allegations.

The Isikoff piece publicly launched the Trump-Russia collusion narrative—only 1½ months from the election—and the whole dossier operation counts as one of the greatest political stitch-ups of all time. Most campaigns content themselves with planting oppo research with media sources. The Clinton campaign commissioned a foreign ex-spy to gin up rumors, which made it to U.S. intelligence agencies, and then got reporters to cite it as government-sourced. Mrs. Clinton now dismisses the dossier as routine oppo research, ignoring that her operation specifically engineered the contents to be referred to throughout the campaign as “intelligence” or a “government investigation.”

Making matters worse, there may be a grain of truth to that last claim. If the Washington Post’s reporting is correct, it was in the summer of 2016 that Jim Comey’s FBI obtained a wiretap warrant on Mr. Page from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. If it was the dossier that provoked that warrant, then the wrongs here are grave. Mr. Page is suing Yahoo News over that Isikoff story, but he may have a better case against the Clinton campaign and the federal government if they jointly spun a smear document into an abusive investigation.

To that point, it is fair to ask if the entire Trump-Russia narrative—which has played a central role in our political discourse for a year, and is now resulting in a special counsel issuing unrelated indictments—is based on nothing more than a political smear document. Is there any reason to believe the FBI was probing a Trump-Russia angle before the dossier? Is there any collusion allegation that doesn’t come in some form from the dossier?

The idea that the federal government and a special counsel were mobilized—that American citizens were monitored and continue to be investigated—based on a campaign-funded hit document is extraordinary. Especially given that to this day no one has publicly produced a single piece of evidence to support any of the dossier’s substantive allegations about Trump team members.

So yes, Mrs. Clinton, the dossier—which you paid for—was used in the election. And we are only beginning to understand in how many ways.

Write to

Appeared in the November 10, 2017, print edition.

Hillary Campaign Paid Russian Dossier Sources

November 9, 2017

How much more discredited can that dossier get?

Hillary’s campaign admitted that it secretly paid Fusion GPS $1,020,000 to amass the dossier framing Trump for allegedly colluding with the Russians. The payments were funneled through D.C. law firm Perkins, Cole. [sic] Fusion then paid former MI-6 spook Christopher Steele $168,000 to do the leg work and cover his expenses.

But Steele could not travel to Russia, since he no longer had diplomatic protection. So, his modus operandi, allegedly, was to instead pay Russian sources and use third parties to talk to them. That has been widely reported. And his contract reportedly called for expenses as well as his fee. Paying the informants would definitely be an expense.

Michael Morell, a Hillary supporter and the former acting CIA director, confirmed that “Mr. Steele paid the Russian intelligence sources who provided the information and never met them directly.”

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So, connect the dots. If Hillary’s campaign paid Fusion, Fusion paid Steele, and Steele paid his sources, ergo: Hillary’s campaign paid Steele’s sources.

So, not only did Hillary benefit from the disinformation Steele concocted, she undoubtedly underwrote the payouts to his Russian sources.

She made the entire Trump/Russian collusion/illusion happen. She now falsely states that her campaign simply picked up where the Republicans left off on the anti-Trump research.

That’s a lie. There were no foreign intelligence operatives involved until her campaign took over. That’s a matter of record. It was Hillary who took it to the next level.

Don’t forget that’s Hillary’s M.O., to hire private eyes through law firms and pay them to dig up dirt on her enemies. It’s an old story.

Her campaign paid to collect many of the fabricated stories that animated the dossier.

Steele’s unorthodox sources included:

  • Source A, a “senior Russian foreign ministry figure.”
  • Source B, a “former top level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin.”
  • Source C, a “senior Russian financial officer still active in the Kremlin.”
  • Source G, simply identified in the dossier as “a Kremlin official.”

So, we have a U.S. presidential candidate, a former Secretary of State, paying an ex- British spy to, in turn, pay top officials in the Kremlin — with campaign money secretly funneled through that former spy — to provide information she can use in her negative campaign —- info that is largely false.

Steele says that much of his information came from “unsolicited sources”? Who were these sources and how did they know to pass information to Steele? Were other foreign spooks hired to provide more intel to Steele?

We need to know.

There’s over $800,000 of the money paid to Fusion by the campaign that hasn’t been unaccounted for. It’s not just other spooks who might have benefitted. There are some questions about the press.

Did Hillary pay journalists to hype the dossier story?

We need to know. The House Intelligence Committee has just reached an agreement for Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson to testify next week.

It’s time for some answers.

To date, Fusion has refused to comply with a subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee for its bank records, a request specifically geared to determine if it had paid any journalists. Fusion does not deny that it made such payments, but claims a First Amendment privilege.

So, Hillary’s campaign likely paid Russian sources, instruments of Vladimir Putin, to provide fabricated evidence to sell the idea that Trump was colluding with Putin (when, in fact, she was doing the colluding). And then she may have paid journalists to report, spin, and hype the story that resulted.

Her efforts have been fabulously successful. While she lost the election, she has cast a shadow over Trump’s transition and his first year in office. The dossier she paid for has led the special prosecutor on a wild goose chase after the Holy Grail — evidence of collusion that never happened.

Russia’s Kaspersky to Allow Outside Review of Its Cybersecurity Software

October 23, 2017

Company hopes sharing source code will build trust after allegations its software helped Russia spy on Americans

Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based cybersecurity firm whose software U.S. officials suspect helped the Russian government spy on Americans, promised to make its source code available for an independent review.

The company said Monday the review is part of a “global transparency initiative” that it hopes will improve the trustworthiness of its products. It said it would hand over the source code for its software in the first quarter of next year but didn’t specify who would undertake the review or how widely the code would be…

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Eugene Kaspersky


Kaspersky fights spying claims with code review plan

October 23, 2017 — 0745

Apple Pay now in 20 markets, nabs 90% of all mobile contactless transactions where active

Russian cybersecurity software maker Kaspersky Labs has announced what it’s dubbing a “comprehensive transparency initiative” as the company seeks to beat back suspicion that its antivirus software has been hacked or penetrated by the Russian government and used as a route for scooping up US intelligence.

In a post on its website today the Moscow-based company has published a four point plan to try to win back customer trust, saying it will be submitting its source code for independent review, starting in Q1 2018. It hasn’t yet specified who will be conducting the review but says it will be “undertaken with an internationally recognized authority”.

It has also announced an independent review of its internal processes — aimed at verifying the “integrity of our solutions and processes”. And says it will also be establishing three “transparency centers” outside its home turf in the next three years — to enable “clients, government bodies and concerned organizations to review source code, update code and threat detection rules”.

It says the first center will be up and running in 2018, and all three will be live by 2020. The locations are listed generally as: Asia, Europe and the U.S.

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Finally it’s also increasing its bug bounty rewards — saying it will pay up to $100K per discovered vulnerability in its main Kaspersky Lab products.

That’s a substantial ramping up of its current program which — as of April this year — could pay out up to $5,000 per discovered remote code execution bugs. (And, prior to that, up to $2,000 only.)

Kaspersky’s moves follow a ban announced by the US Department of Homeland Security on its software last month, citing concerns about ties between “certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks”.

The US Senate swiftly followed suit, voting to oust Kaspersky software from federal use. While three months earlier the General Services Administration also removed Kaspersky Lab from a list of approved federal vendors.

The extensive system-wide permissions of antivirus software could certainly make it an attractive target for government agents seeking to spy on adversaries and scoop up data, given the trust it demands of its users.

The WSJ has previously reported that Russian hackers working for the government were able to obtain classified documents from an NSA employee who had stored them on a personal computer that ran Kaspersky software.

Earlier this month CEO Eugene Kaspersky blogged at length — rebutting what he dubbed “false allegations in U.S. media”, and writing: “Our mission is to protect our users and their data. Surveillance, snooping, spying, eavesdropping… all that is done by espionage agencies (which we occasionally catch out and tell the world about), not us.”

We’re proud to keep on protecting people against all cyberthreats – no matter of false allegations in U.S. media 

Photo published for What’s going on?

What’s going on?

I doubt you’ll have missed how over the last couple months our company has suffered an unrelenting negative-news campaign in the U.S. press.

But when your business relies so firmly on user trust — and is headquartered close to the Kremlin, to boot — words may evidently not be enough. Hence Kaspersky now announcing a raft of “transparency” actions.

Whether those actions will be enough to restore the confidence of US government agencies in Russian-built software is another matter though.

Kaspersky hasn’t yet named who its external reviewers will be, either. But reached for comment, a company spokeswoman told us: “We will announce selected partners shortly. Kaspersky Lab remains focused on finding independent experts with strong credentials in software security and assurance testing for cybersecurity products. Some recommended competencies include, but are not limited to, technical audits, code base reviews, vulnerability assessments, architectural risk analysis, secure development lifecycle process reviews, etc. Taking a multi-stakeholder approach, we welcome input and recommendations from interested parties at

She also sent the following general company statement:

Kaspersky Lab was not involved in and does not possess any knowledge of the situation in question, and the company reiterates its willingness to work alongside U.S. authorities to address any concerns they may have about its products as well as its systems.

As there has not been any evidence presented, Kaspersky Lab cannot investigate these unsubstantiated claims, and if there is any indication that the company’s systems may have been exploited, we respectfully request relevant parties responsibly provide the company with verifiable information. It’s disappointing that these unverified claims continue to perpetuate the narrative of a company which, in its 20 year history, has never helped any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts.

In addition, with regards to unverified assertions that this situation relates to Duqu2, a sophisticated cyber-attack of which Kaspersky Lab was not the only target, we are confident that we have identified and removed all of the infections that happened during that incident. Furthermore, Kaspersky Lab publicly reported the attack, and the company offered its assistance to affected or interested organisations to help mitigate this threat.

Contrary to erroneous reports, Kaspersky Lab technologies are designed and used for the sole purpose of detecting all kinds of threats, including nation-state sponsored malware, regardless of the origin or purpose. The company tracks more than 100 advanced persistent threat actors and operations, and for 20 years, Kaspersky Lab has been focused on protecting people and organisations from these cyberthreats — its headquarters’ location doesn’t change that mission.

“We want to show how we’re completely open and transparent. We’ve nothing to hide,” added Kaspersky in another statement.

Interestingly enough, the move is pushing in the opposite direction of US-based cybersecurity firm Symantec — which earlier this month announced it would no longer be allowing governments to review the source code of its software because of fears the agreements would compromise the security of its products.


Tillerson: China ‘Predatory’ for Dumping ‘Enormous Levels of Debt’ on Developing Nations

October 20, 2017

In this Sept. 26, 2017, photo, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the State Department in Washington. Tillerson is making his second trip to China since taking office in February, and relations between the two world powers have rarely mattered so much. The standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons has entered a new, dangerous phase as its leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump exchange personal insults and threats of war with no sign of a diplomatic solution. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Tillerson’s speech comes as a welcome response to the aggressive global agenda laid out by Xi, but it is also surprisingly tough given how hard the Trump administration has worked to get China on board with restraining North Korea.

Tillerson, who usually plays the “good cop” counterpart to Trump’s fiery criticism of global adversaries, was unsparing in his criticism of China’s business practices. The topic of his speech was “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century.” He segued into hammering China during the Q&A session, after praising India’s economic development and efforts against terrorism in glowing terms for a good twenty minutes.

CSIS President John J. Hamre teed up the assault by quoting a “very interesting” passage from Tillerson’s remarks on India, in which he called for a close U.S.-Indian partnership to “ensure the Indo-Pacific is increasingly a place of peace, stability, and growing prosperity” and prevent it from becoming “a region of disorder, conflict, and predatory economics.”

Asked to clarify what he meant by predatory economics, Tillerson described the hunger of emerging economies and “fledgling democracies” in the region for infrastructure investment.

“We have watched the activities and actions of others in the region, particularly China, and the financing mechanisms it brings to many of these countries, which result in saddling them with enormous levels of debt,” said the secretary of state.

“They don’t often create the jobs, which infrastructure projects should be tremendous job creators in these economies, but too often foreign workers are brought in to execute these infrastructure projects,” he continued. “Financing is structured in a way that makes it very difficult for them to obtain future financing, and often has very subtle triggers in the financing that results in financing default, and the conversion of debt into equity.”

“This is not a structure that supports the future growth of these countries,” Tillerson said. “We think it’s important that we begin to develop some means of countering that with alternative financing measures, financing structures.”

“During the East Asia summit, ministerial summit in August, we began a quiet conversation with others about what they were experiencing, what they need, and we’re starting a quiet conversation in a multilateral way with how can we create alternative financing mechanisms,” he revealed. “We will not be able to compete with the kind of terms China offers, but countries have to decide—what are they willing to pay to secure their sovereignty and their future control of their economies? We’ve had those discussions with them as well.”

Tillerson recalled having similar discussions with borrowers during his days as a private-sector oil executive, which is a hopeful sign that he’s the right person to be waging this quiet financial war with China.

“On a direct competitive basis, it’s hard to compete with someone who’s offering something on financial terms that are worth a few points on the lending side,” he conceded, an especially important point when considering the billion-dollar scale of the loans he was describing. “We have to help them put that in perspective of the longer-term ability to control their country, control the future of their country, control the development of their economy in a rules-based system.”

“That’s really what we’re promoting. As you retain your sovereignty, you retain your commitment to a rules-based order, we will come with other options for you,” he said. This will be an interesting challenge when China is so aggressively pushing the idea that sovereignty, both individual and national, is overrated compared to the material benefits provided by authoritarian central control.

Examples of the predatory practices Tillerson described can be found in places like Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, the latter two of which have been “virtually decimated” by Chinese debt manipulation according to this critique. Not coincidentally, the targets of Chinese financial assault tend to be located along its “New Silk Road” trade route construction project (which is often explicitly linked to the infrastructure projects Beijing funds) or along the borders of China’s great regional adversary, India.

Another case study is Cameroon, which owes China a huge amount of money, and noticed last year that Chinese loggers were illegally cutting down its forests. Critics specifically cited Cameroon’s debt to China for infrastructure loans as a major reason environmental laws were not enforced against it.

Tillerson compared China’s economic growth to India’s and concluded China has acted “less responsibly, at times undermining the international rules-based order.” He called out China’s “provocative actions in the South China Sea” as a direct challenge to international law.

“We’re going to have important relationships with China. We’ll never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society, that we can have with a major democracy,” he said.

Many Senate Republicans Reject Bob Corker, Stick Up for President Trump

October 10, 2017


10 Oct 2017

Sen. Bob Corker claimed to speak for his Republican colleagues in an interview with the New York Times, but some in the Senate are not happy with his decision to pick a fight with President Donald Trump.

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” Corker told the Times, claiming Trump was viewed as a threat to U.S. national security and global stability.

But a spokesperson for Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) told Breitbart News that the senator did not agree with what the retiring Corker had to say.

“No, he does not agree with Sen. Corker,” the spokesperson revealed in a statement. “Senator Barrasso has worked closely with President Trump and will continue to be a strong ally in Congress.”

Barrasso is facing re-election in 2018 amidst rumblings of a possible Republican primary challenger.

Some Republicans staffers made it clear that Corker’s comments were self-serving and unhelpful — especially after announcing his decision to retire rather than seek re-election.

“Given his severe case of short man syndrome and the fact he would have lost his primary, it’s not surprising Corker is seeking attention and affirmation from the Beltway elites,” a senior Republican aide working for a Senator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told Breitbart News.

Although many Senate Democrats celebrated Corker’s criticism of the president, Republican staffers viewed Corker’s outburst as a bad strategy.

“Senator Corker should not be picking this fight, he won’t win it,” a senior Republican aide for one of Corker’s Senate colleagues told Breitbart News.

Trump allies in Congress explain that Corker has joined what they describe as the “naysayers caucus” — veteran Republicans like Senator John McCain who vote based on their shared dislike of Trump rather than on principled opposition.

Corker’s critics also view the Senator as in league with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and actively working against some of Trump’s more controversial foreign policy goals.

“Corker is Tillerson’s lapdog on the Foreign Relations Committee,” the aide working for a senator on the Corker’s committee told Breitbart News. “Our staff cheered when Corker announced his retirement.”

One Republican aide explained that although many Senators thought Corker’s comments were ridiculous, his fellow senators were unlikely to publicly criticize the powerful veteran senator as they still had to work with him for the remainder of his term.

Many of Republican senators serving with Corker on the Foreign Relations Committee did not respond to requests for comment from Breitbart News.

Although Paul serves with Corker on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he did not criticize him directly.

“Senator Paul considers President Trump a personal friend and has worked with him on numerous issues,” Rand Paul’s press secretary Sergio Gor replied, when asked about Corker’s comments.

Other conservative Republicans declined to criticize Corker, but signaled their support for Trump.

When asked if Cruz agreed with Corker’s comment a spokesperson for the Texas Senator replied, “No.”

“From day one, Senator Cruz has worked closely with President Trump to honor our promises to the voters to repeal Obamacare, cut taxes, rein in job-killing regulations, and confirm strong constitutionalist judges,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Breitbart News.

When asked about Corker’s comments, Sen. Mike Lee spokesman Conn Carroll replied, “Sen Lee speaks for himself.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reverted to his usual non-combative tone, when asked about Corker’s comments.

“Sen. Corker is a valuable member of the Senate Republican caucus and he’s also on the Budget committee and a particularly important player as we move to the floor on the budget next week and he’s an important part of our team,” McConnell said on Monday.

US agencies banned from using Russia’s Kaspersky software

September 14, 2017

Federal agencies in the US have 90 days to wipe Kaspersky software from their computers. Officials are concerned about the Russian company’s ties to the Kremlin and possible threats to national security.

Headquarters of Internet security giant Kaspersky in Moscow (Getty Images/AFP/K. Kudryavtsev)

The administration of US President Donald Trump has ordered government agencies to remove products made by Russian company Kaspersky Labs from their computers.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Wednesday it was concerned that the cybersecurity firm was susceptible to pressure from Moscow and thus a potential threat to national security.

Read more: Facebook, Russia and the US elections – what you need to know

DHS said in a statement that it was “concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies,” as well as Russian laws that might compel Kaspersky to hand over information to the government.

But the makers of the popular anti-virus software have said “no credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions.”

US tech retailer Best Buy confirmed earlier Wednesday that it would no longer sell Kaspersky products, but has declined to give further details on the decision.

Ties between Kaspersky, Kremlin ‘alarming’

Civilian government agencies have 90 days to completely remove Kaspersky software from their computers. The products have already been banned in the Pentagon.

US congressional leaders have applauded the move. Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen said the “strong ties between Kaspersky Lab and the Kremlin are alarming and well-documented,” and asked the DHS if the company’s products were used for any critical infrastructure, such as for voting systems, banks and energy supply.

Although Kaspersky Labs was founded by a KGB-trained entrepreneur, Eugene Kaspersky, and has done work for Russian intelligence, the company has repeatedly denied carrying out espionage on behalf of President Vladimir Putin and his government.

es/cmk (AP, Reuters)

Trump to meet security advisers Sunday over ‘hostile’ N.Korea test

September 3, 2017


© AFP | US President Donald Trump
WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Donald Trump will convene his national security team Sunday and weigh possibly drastic economic sanctions against North Korea after Pyongyang test-fired what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb able to fit atop a missile.”The national security team is monitoring this closely,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “The president and his national security team will have a meeting to discuss further later today.”

In a tweet Sunday, Trump denounced the powerful test — said to be the North’s first blast to exceed in power the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan — as “very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”

Other world leaders joined in the denunciation. China and Russia sharply condemned it, South Korean President Moon Jae-In called for the “strongest punishment,” and Britain said China should step up economic pressure on the North.

In Washington, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he was preparing a package of economic sanctions to do that — measures “that would go as far as cutting off all trade and other business” with the North.

“I’m going to draft a sanctions package and send it to the president for his strong consideration so anybody (who) wants to do trade or business with them will be prevented from doing trade or business with us,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.”

But he also said Trump had made it clear that “he will consider everything” and “look at all our options.”

While the United States has virtually no trade with the North, the burden of sanctions such as Mnuchin described would fall heavily on China. About 90 percent of North Korean exports go to China.

Early last month the United Nations Security Council adopted a seventh set of sanctions aimed at depriving the North of a billion dollars in income from exports. China approved the measures.

Trump has repeatedly insisted that Beijing lean on the neighboring Pyongyang regime to stop its nuclear and missile development.

But on Sunday he also aimed criticism at the government in Seoul, tweeting that the time for talks was over and that “appeasement” would not work.

John McCain: Otto Warmbier ‘murdered by the Kim Jong-un regime’ — “This Cannot Stand” — U.S. holds “North Korea accountable”

June 20, 2017
Sen. John McCain said Monday night that Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student detained by North Korea for more than a year, was “murdered by the Kim Jong-un regime.”

McCain’s statement came after Warmbier’s family announced the 22-year-old student, who was in a coma upon his return to the U.S., had died shortly after North Korea released him.

“I was saddened to learn about the death of Otto Warbier today following his unjust imprisonment and torture in North Korea,” said McCain, R-Ariz., who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. “I send my heartfelt condolences to Otto’s family and friends as they grieve this tragic loss.”

“Let us state the facts plainly: Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, was murdered by the Kim Jong-un regime. In the final year of his life, he lived the nightmare in which the North Korean people have been trapped for 70 years: forced labor, mass starvation, systematic cruelty, torture and murder…The United States of America cannot and should not tolerate the murder of its citizens by hostile powers.”

Warmbier was detained at Pyongyang Airport in North Korea in January 2016. The following March, North Korean officials sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly committing a “hostile act” against the country after security footage emerged of him attempting to steal a banner hanging in his Pyongyang hotel.

He was released last week and returned home to his family in Ohio. Warmbier was in a coma, and doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said Thursday the UVA student was in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness” and suffered loss of brain tissue.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., issued his own statement on Twitter. “Otto Warmbier should never have been in jail for tearing down a stupid banner. And he most certainly should not have been murdered for it.”

President Trump also condemed North Korea for its treatment of Warmbier but stopped short of accusing North Korea of murdering the American student. In a statement, Trump denounced “the brutality of the North Korean regime.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a statement late Monday, said the U.S. holds “North Korea accountable” for Warmbier’s “unjust imprisonment.”

“On behalf of the entire State Department and the United States government, I extend my condolences to the Warmbier family, and offer my prayers as they enter a time of grief no parent should ever know,” Tillerson said.

“We hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier’s unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained.”

United Nation’s Ambassador Nikki Haley released her own statement slamming North Korea’s violent regime.

“Countless innocent men and women have died at the hands of the North Korean criminals, but the singular case of Otto Warmbier touches the American heart like no other,” Haley said.