TheDC Morning

TheDC Morning: BREAKING — NSA does job

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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1.) BREAKING: NSA does job — Foreign kleptocrats should beware of what they say when they’re at the United Nations. TheDC’s Josh Peterson reports:

“The National Security Agency hacked the United Nations’ video teleconferencing system in 2012, Reuters reports. According to documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the U.S. was able to crack the U.N.’s coding system and monitor communications data traffic. ‘The data traffic gives us internal video teleconferences of the United Nations (yay!),’ one document said, according to Reuters. The NSA also monitored the International Atomic Energy Agency, reports the news outlet.”

In this case, the NSA was doing what it was created to do, though it strikes TheDC Morning as a waste of time for the NSA to focus its energies on spying on the United Nations. Does anything serious go on there?

2.) NSA is A-OK — The NSA is under fire from elements of both the left and the right. But it still has a friend in former Vice President Dick Cheney. TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein reports:

“Former Vice President Dick Cheney gave a passionate defense of the National Security Agency surveillance program Friday night at the 5th annual Steamboat Institute Freedom Conference. Speaking on a stage with his daughter Liz beside him, the elder Cheney argued that the NSA surveillance program was necessary to protect Americans and urged the more than 300 conservatives in attendance to trust the professionals who run the NSA, even if they don’t trust President Obama. ‘The first thing you do is you get yourself a new commander in chief,’ Cheney said when asked by his daughter, who is running for U.S. Senate in Wyoming, for his thoughts on the issues surrounding the NSA’s surveillance program. ‘No question this is a difficult subject matter. There are a lot of Americans out there, some of them good friends of mine, who are concerned about the NSA. Part of the difficulty is — and I plead with people don’t conflate the NSA with the IRS. Totally different problems, totally different issues.'”

Cheney also named four current political leaders he thinks show great potential as future presidential contenders. Read the article to find out who (hint: Rand Paul was not one of them).

3.) Chemical Ali Assad — It appears that Bashar al-Assad isn’t the swell guy that no one thought he was. TheDC’s Josh Peterson reports:

“Israeli intelligence can tie the recent gas attack against the Syrian rebels to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the German publication Focus reports. ‘According to the findings of Israeli intelligence community, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the gas attack in Damascus,’ reports the publication. According to FOCUS, the Israel Defense Forces Unit 8200, the IDF’s signals intelligence unit, intercepted communications of the Syrian army during the attack. ‘A former Mossad officer told FOCUS the analysis has clearly shown that the bombardment with poison gas missiles was made by Syrian government forces,’ reports the publication.”

Actually, TheDC Morning needs to make a correction. Some people did once think Bashar al-Assad was a swell guy. You know, people like John Kerry. Of course the chemical attacks are horrendous. But the basic fundamentals in Syria remain the same: both sides of the civil war are led by fairly horrible actors.

4.) For love of the earpiece — Some people join government for love of country. Other people join it for love of the earpiece. TheDC’s Alex Pappas reports:

“Why does President Barack Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett have Secret Service protection? It turns out that some of her colleagues inside the White House are skeptical that actual, specific threats resulted in Jarrett’s protection. ‘While a high-profile White House official — especially an African-American woman, such as Jarrett — could legitimately be considered a more likely target than most, several West Wing officials I spoke to were dubious there had been any special threats against her,’ writer Mark Leibovich reported in ‘This Town,’ a new book on Washington. Added Leibovich of Jarrett’s White House colleagues: ‘They suspected, rather, that Jarrett asked the president to authorize a detail out of earpiece envy.'”

5.) Tweet of Yesterday  Larry Sabato: GOP blew ’98 midterms by impeaching Clinton. A few hotheads, feeding red meat to R base, want to do same thing in ’14.

6.) Today in North Korean News –BREAKING: “U.S. Predatory Action Slammed”

VIDEO: FLASHBACK — When Reagan longed for a Colin Powell presidency

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Jamie Weinstein