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Myanmar's presence downplayed at Thai-US military exercise

U-TAPAO AIR BASE, Thailand –  Thailand and the United States downplayed the presence of a Myanmar military officer at the opening Tuesday of the largest annual joint military exercise in Southeast Asia.

Myanmar’s military has been accused of massive human rights violations in its crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority, who have fled by the hundreds of thousands to neighboring Bangladesh. U.S. lawmakers had demanded Myanmar’s exclusion from the exercise.

“The truth is Myanmar is not a participant nation,” U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Glyn T. Davies told reporters at in the Cobra Gold exercise in eastern Thailand. “They’re not part of the exercises here.” He did not explain the Myanmar officer’s attendance.

Thai Gen. Thanchaiyan Srisuwan acknowledged inviting Myanmar to the opening ceremony. However, Myanmar’s flag was not flown at the ceremonial opening. It’s believed the Thais invited Myanmar to send three personnel though only one appeared to be attending.

In Washington last week, both Republican and Democrat members of congress criticized the invitation to Myanmar. Sen. John McCain, the Republican chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Associated Press “militaries engaged in ethnic cleansing should not be honing their skills alongside U.S. troops,” a reference to accounts of atrocities committed by Myanmar troops.

A U.S. statement said 11,075 service members from 29 countries are taking part in this year’s exercise, with Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia the seven main participants.

It said the aims of the exercise are to enhance security cooperation, develop peacekeeping forces and maintain readiness for humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.

The exercise includes humanitarian components, such as evacuation drills, as well as traditional military exercises such as amphibious landings.

Disaster relief has assumed a high profile in recent years, especially after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 14 countries. Multinational forces mobilized for relief efforts after that crisis, as they did again on a more limited scale after 2008’s Cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar, killing upward of 130,000 people.

Davies, in an indirect reference to such crises, told reporters that “It’s very important that everyone from around the region have an eye on what’s happening here and to some extent to be part of it, but I’ll come back to what I said earlier that Burma is not a participating nation.” Burma is the old name for Myanmar before it was changed by the country’s previous military government, and is still used by the governments of the U.S. and several other nations.

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Myanmar's presence downplayed at Thai-US military exercise

U-TAPAO AIR BASE, Thailand –  Thailand and the United States downplayed the presence of a Myanmar military officer at the opening Tuesday of the largest annual joint military exercise in Southeast Asia.

Myanmar’s military has been accused of massive human rights violations in its crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority, who have fled by the hundreds of thousands to neighboring Bangladesh. U.S. lawmakers had demanded Myanmar’s exclusion from the exercise.

“The truth is Myanmar is not a participant nation,” U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Glyn T. Davies told reporters at in the Cobra Gold exercise in eastern Thailand. “They’re not part of the exercises here.” He did not explain the Myanmar officer’s attendance.

Thai Gen. Thanchaiyan Srisuwan acknowledged inviting Myanmar to the opening ceremony. However, Myanmar’s flag was not flown at the ceremonial opening. It’s believed the Thais invited Myanmar to send three personnel though only one appeared to be attending.

In Washington last week, both Republican and Democrat members of congress criticized the invitation to Myanmar. Sen. John McCain, the Republican chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Associated Press “militaries engaged in ethnic cleansing should not be honing their skills alongside U.S. troops,” a reference to accounts of atrocities committed by Myanmar troops.

A U.S. statement said 11,075 service members from 29 countries are taking part in this year’s exercise, with Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia the seven main participants.

It said the aims of the exercise are to enhance security cooperation, develop peacekeeping forces and maintain readiness for humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.

The exercise includes humanitarian components, such as evacuation drills, as well as traditional military exercises such as amphibious landings.

Disaster relief has assumed a high profile in recent years, especially after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 14 countries. Multinational forces mobilized for relief efforts after that crisis, as they did again on a more limited scale after 2008’s Cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar, killing upward of 130,000 people.

Davies, in an indirect reference to such crises, told reporters that “It’s very important that everyone from around the region have an eye on what’s happening here and to some extent to be part of it, but I’ll come back to what I said earlier that Burma is not a participating nation.” Burma is the old name for Myanmar before it was changed by the country’s previous military government, and is still used by the governments of the U.S. and several other nations.

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Senate Homeland Security Committee releases report on FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton

The Senate Homeland Security Committee released troves of documents Wednesday highlighting the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

The near-three year investigation was spearheaded by Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and the Republican majority, and specifically highlights text messages between top FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

The interim report released Wednesday — titled “The Clinton Email Scandal And The FBI’s Investigation Of It” — claims the text messages “paint a picture of bias and animus, and certainly raise questions about possible corruption,” Johnson said.

The oversight investigation will continue, the report claims.

The report notes the 400 pages of texts released by Johnson do not include those exchanged between Dec. 13, 2016 and May 17, 2017 — a crucial time during the Russia investigation. Those texts were originally thought to be lost because of a technical glitch, but the Justice Department said last month they had been recovered.

Strzok and Page worked on the Clinton probe together, and were also engaged in an extramarital affair.

In one exchange between the two, Page texted Strzok in August 2016 that he was “meant to protect the country from that menace,” and linked to an article about then-presidential nominee Donald Trump’s so-called “enablers.”

“Of course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps,” Strzok replied.

On July 1, 2016 — four days before then-FBI Director James Comey announced no criminal charges would be brought against Clinton — then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch said she would follow the FBI’s recommendation. Page messaged Strzok that “it’s a real profile in [courage], since she knows no charges will be brought.”

“Potus wants to know everything we’re doing,” Page texted[1] Strzok on Sept. 2, 2016. That text was in reference Comey, who had been preparing talking points for former President Obama regarding the probe into the former secretary of state.

Text messages from late September 2016 also raise concerns about when senior FBI officials learned that there were emails related to Clinton on the laptop of Huma Abedin’s husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner.

“Got called up to Andy’s earlier … hundreds of thousands of emails turned over by Weiner’s atty to sdny, includes a ton of material from spouse. Sending team up tomorrow to review… this will never end…” Srzok wrote to Page.

On Oct. 21, 2016, Strzok again told Page that Deputy Assistant Attorney General George Toscas became aware of the new Clinton emails — a week before Comey told Congress the FBI was reopening its probe because of the emails found on Weiner’s laptop.

“[T]he American presidential election, and thus, the state of the world, actually hangs in the balance,” Page said in a message to Strzok on Nov. 4, 2016 as the FBI finished its review of the emails on Weiner’s computer.

Strzok and Page were later assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, who was appointed on May 17, 2017, to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign,

The two discussed the possibility of joining the team just two days prior, with Strzok telling Page he had a “sense of unfinished business“ and called the probe an “investigation leading to impeachment?”

The two also lambasted Trump on multiple occasions, including on Election Day when Page wrote, “OMG THIS IS F***KING TERRIFYING.”

Strzok responded, “Omg, I am so depressed.”

“I bought all the president’s men. Figure I need to brush up on watergate,” Page later replied.

The last message between the two came on June 23, 2017, when Page told Strzok, “Please don’t ever text me again.”

In a tweet Wednesday morning, Trump called[2] the documents “BOMBSHELLS.”

References

  1. ^ texted (www.washingtonexaminer.com)
  2. ^ called (www.washingtonexaminer.com)
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32 Olympic security guards are quarantined after norovirus outbreak. Here's how Team USA is staying safe

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Profile on Winter Olympics skier Lindsey Vonn, who hopes to bring home some more medals for Team USA. USA TODAY Sports

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — On the heels of the norovirus scare that has left 32 people quarantined after being treated, the organizing committee for the Pyeongchang Olympics has called in military personnel[1] due to concerns about the spread of the virus.

Organizers shared tips to help prevent the virus, which include washing hands with soap for more than 30 seconds, eating food that is thoroughly cooked and boiling water before drinking.

Like every major international event, there are always coughs and colds that spread around during the 17 days of the Games. There will be stories of athletes battling illness and fatigue as you might expect with the travel and demands on their bodies. But this is the first time the organizing committee has been faced with a public outbreak in recent Games.

As athletes continued to arrive in the Mountain and Coastal Clusters ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony, some were asked about any special measures they’re taking to stay healthy generally during cold and flu season.

Sasha Rearick, head coach of the U.S. men’s Alpine ski team, said frequent hand washing and taking vitamins are part of the usual plan for athletes.

“Here at the Games we don’t stay at the village; we stay at our own compound, where we have our own chefs cooking food,” Rearick added. “One part of that is to try to keep the home feeling. One of the things we do is cook American food that the guys like that’s also healthy. And then controlling our environment, where we try to minimize our exposure. Travel’s always a risky part; having more people around is risky so we try to avoid that. And really keeping that sense of family tight, where we’re taking care of each other.”

Added U.S. curler Matt Hamilton, “We’ve got a nutritionist plan that’s obviously pump the vitamin C and zinc. We have travel masks for when we’re on the plane for 14 hours in the recirculating air. There’s been a lot of coaching on what we should do to stay healthy.”

Contributing: Roxanna Scott

MORE WINTER OLYMPICS:

VILLAGE PEOPLE: Behind the scenes at the 2018 Winter Olympics Athletes Village[2]

NO SPEED LIMIT: Lindsey Vonn’s Olympic dreams driven by need for speed[3]

RIGHT CALL: Refusing to invite 13 Russian athletes to Winter Olympics was best decision[4]

Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

[5][6]

 

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32 Olympic security guards are quarantined after norovirus outbreak. Here's how Team USA is staying safe

CLOSE

Profile on Winter Olympics skier Lindsey Vonn, who hopes to bring home some more medals for Team USA. USA TODAY Sports

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — On the heels of the norovirus scare that has left 32 people quarantined after being treated, the organizing committee for the Pyeongchang Olympics has called in military personnel[1] due to concerns about the spread of the virus.

Organizers shared tips to help prevent the virus, which include washing hands with soap for more than 30 seconds, eating food that is thoroughly cooked and boiling water before drinking.

Like every major international event, there are always coughs and colds that spread around during the 17 days of the Games. There will be stories of athletes battling illness and fatigue as you might expect with the travel and demands on their bodies. But this is the first time the organizing committee has been faced with a public outbreak in recent Games.

As athletes continued to arrive in the Mountain and Coastal Clusters ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony, some were asked about any special measures they’re taking to stay healthy generally during cold and flu season.

Sasha Rearick, head coach of the U.S. men’s Alpine ski team, said frequent hand washing and taking vitamins are part of the usual plan for athletes.

“Here at the Games we don’t stay at the village; we stay at our own compound, where we have our own chefs cooking food,” Rearick added. “One part of that is to try to keep the home feeling. One of the things we do is cook American food that the guys like that’s also healthy. And then controlling our environment, where we try to minimize our exposure. Travel’s always a risky part; having more people around is risky so we try to avoid that. And really keeping that sense of family tight, where we’re taking care of each other.”

Added U.S. curler Matt Hamilton, “We’ve got a nutritionist plan that’s obviously pump the vitamin C and zinc. We have travel masks for when we’re on the plane for 14 hours in the recirculating air. There’s been a lot of coaching on what we should do to stay healthy.”

Contributing: Roxanna Scott

MORE WINTER OLYMPICS:

VILLAGE PEOPLE: Behind the scenes at the 2018 Winter Olympics Athletes Village[2]

NO SPEED LIMIT: Lindsey Vonn’s Olympic dreams driven by need for speed[3]

RIGHT CALL: Refusing to invite 13 Russian athletes to Winter Olympics was best decision[4]

Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

[5][6]

 

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North Korea Sets Up First Military Parade of 2018 and New Weapons Are Likely to Be on Show

North Korea is in the final stages of preparing for a massive military parade to be held on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the country’s armed forces.

In an analysis Wednesday from the North Korea monitoring project 38 Northdefense and intelligence affairs expert Joseph Bermudez said satellite imagery showed a months-long process of preparations for the February 8 event. The parade is considered particularly important because it will follow a year of historic military developments[1] and comes amid sensitive negotiations with rival South Korea.

Related: U.S. spy ship captured by North Korea almost caused nuclear war and is still there 50 years later[2]

Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now[3]

“These military parades are of great interest to outsiders[4], as North Korea has frequently used them to showcase new military equipment and its latest weapons systems. Because of their high profile nature, North Korean troops train and practice intricate formations for months in advance to ensure flawless performances,” Bermudez wrote in his report[5].

“If the North goes ahead with a military parade on February 8 as announced, coinciding with the opening of the Pyeongchang Olympics, it will likely warrant much criticism from skeptics of inter-Korean dialogue. However, for domestic audiences, it would cap off a year of dramatic progress in North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as more general military developments,” he added.

Fig8_Mirim_Upd_18_0124

Satellite imagery shows little activity in the central training area of the Mirim Parade Training Facility in eastern Pyongyang, North Korea on November 24, 2017. Preparations for North Korea’s massive military parades reportedly took place four to six months in advance and other images suggested officials were meeting at this time to plan the event. Airbus Defense & Space/38 North

Fig10_Mirim_Upd_18_0124

Satellite imagery shows a buildup of troops and equipment at the Mirim Parade Training Facility in eastern Pyongyang, North Korea, January 10, 2018. The upcoming February 8 parade would coincide with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army. Airbus Defense & Space/38 North

Bermudez’s findings were based on observation of developments at the Mirim Parade Training Facility in eastern Pyongyang. The site once served as an airbase, but became inactive as North Korea’s economy suffered a rapid downturn in the 1990s due to loss of Soviet support and a devastating famine. It now serves as an assembly and training area complete with a replica of Kim Il Sung Square, named after current leader Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, who took the helm of North Korea with communist backing in 1948.

In November, a number of buses and other vehicles were observed at the April 25 Hotel in the eastern stretch of the training grounds. These were thought to be connected to officials meeting to plan parade rehearsals, which would take place over the course of the next two months. As December passed, activity died down near the hotel and picked up elsewhere, as formations of troops were seen congregating in the central training area.

Fig3_Mirim_Upd_18_0124

Around 67 buses and 13 smaller vehicles were observed in the parking lot of the April 25 Hotel near the Mirim Parade Training Facility in eastern Pyongyang, North Korea, on November 24, 2017. The report saw this as indicating officials meeting to organize the parade. Airbus Defense & Space/38 North

Fig5_Mirim_Upd_18_0124

All buses appeared to have left the April 25 Hotel parking lot in Mirim Training Facility, eastern Pyongyang, North Korea by January 10, 2018. Airbus Defense & Space/38 North

Next month’s parade would be the second since President Donald Trump took office last year, and the first since Kim Jong Un launched intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and a hydrogen bomb test more powerful than all five previous North Korean nuclear explosions combined. Trump and Kim have engaged in a year-long war of words[6] that only recently has simmered down due to ongoing inter-Korean peace talks aimed at ending decades of hostility between the neighbors, which technically remain at war since a three-year conflict in the early 1950s[7].

The military parade is set to be held on the eve of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics being held in South Korea. Discussions over joint participation in the games brought the two Koreas to the table at the truce village in Panmunjom, situated on the world’s most heavily fortified border. Both countries have agreed to march under one flag for the sporting event, but significant tensions have remained, especially with the U.S. asserting unrelenting “maximum pressure” on Kim and his government.

Fig35_Mirim_Upd_18_0124

Tanks, heavy vehicles and ballistic missile launchers head to Kim Il Sung Square during the country’s last massive military parade on April 15, 2017. The event occurred just days after Trump launched a missile strike on North Korean ally Syria. Airbus Defense & Space/38 North

Fig34_Mirim_Upd_18_0124

Troops march in intricate formations and equipment is paraded past Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017. Airbus Defense & Space/38 North

The Mirim Parade Training Facility hosted huge parades marking the 70th anniversary of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party, on October 10, 2015, and the 105th birthday of Kim Il Sung, on April 15, 2017, a public holiday known as the Day of the Sun. Next month’s parade would be the first time that North Korea’s Military Foundation Day would be celebrated on February 8 since 1977, when Kim Il Sung switched the date to April 25, commemorating the earlier establishment of his guerrilla army that fought the occupying Japanese Empire prior to and during World War II[8].

In a rare revision of Kim Il Sung, who young Kim Jong Un has largely taken after[9], the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party switched back the date, official bureau organ Rodong Sinmun[10] reported Tuesday. The newspaper said April 25 would still “be marked as the founding anniversary of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army,” and February 8 would now be known as “the Day of Army Founding.”

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Xi Jinping tells army not to fear death in show of China's military might

<!–[if IE 9]><![endif]–>Xi Jinping addresses chinese military forces




President Xi told 7,000 military personnel to ‘create an elite and powerful force’ that is always ‘ready for the fight’.
Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Xi Jinping tells army not to fear death in show of China’s military might

President tells armed forces to be ‘capable of combat and sure to win’ in move designed to bolster his political standing

Xi Jinping has reaffirmed his status as China’s most dominant leader since Chairman Mao with another tub-thumping display of military brawn involving thousands of heavily armed troops.
[2]

Speaking at a military assembly in the northern province of Hebei, Xi told about 7,000 service men and women they should fear “neither hardship nor death” as they implemented the Communist party’s orders.

The military should “create an elite and powerful force that is always ready for the fight, capable of combat and sure to win in order to fulfill the tasks bestowed by the Party and the people in the new era,” added Xi, who was recently anointed one of modern China’s most powerful rulers.
[3][4]

<!–[if IE 9]><![endif]–>Xi Jinping


President Xi wore combat fatigues and black leather gloves in his speech to thousands of military personnel. Photograph: Xinhua / Barcroft Images

“As Xi Jinping announced his instructions, there was prolonged and thunderous applause,” the party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, reported in a front-page story, alongside a photograph showing Xi clad in combat fatigues and black leather gloves.
[5]

The newspaper claimed troops had gathered in 4,000 separate locations across China to hear their commander-in-chief’s decree. Turning to the scarlet flag of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), they vowed to “resolutely obey Chairman Xi’s order”.
[6]

<!–[if IE 9]><![endif]–>Chinese combat troops perform drills


The official People’s Daily newspaper said troops had gathered in 4,000 separate locations to hear President Xi’s speech. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

The Global Times, a nationalist, party-run tabloid, called Wednesday morning’s mobilisation – the latest in a series of high-profile military reviews in mainland China[7] and Hong Kong[8] – a “landmark” event.

“This is the first time since the founding of the country that instructions on military training have been directly issued by the chairman of the CMC [Central Military Commission], and it shows that improving combat readiness is now a strategic mission for the Chinese military,” Xu Guangyu, a retired major general, told the newspaper.
[9]

Donald J. Trump
(@realDonaldTrump)

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!

January 3, 2018[10]

The event comes amid rumbling fears of a potential conflagration over the border in North Korea. On Wednesday US president Donald Trump used Twitter to taunt the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and his “depleted and food-starved regime”.
[11]

“I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” Trump wrote.

Additional reporting by Wang Xueying and Wang Zhen

References

  1. ^ China (www.theguardian.com)
  2. ^ Xi Jinping (www.theguardian.com)
  3. ^ added Xi (www.xinhuanet.com)
  4. ^ anointed one of modern China’s most powerful rulers (www.theguardian.com)
  5. ^ a front-page story (paper.people.com.cn)
  6. ^ China (www.theguardian.com)
  7. ^ in mainland China (www.theguardian.com)
  8. ^ Hong Kong (www.theguardian.com)
  9. ^ told the newspaper (www.globaltimes.cn)
  10. ^ January 3, 2018 (twitter.com)
  11. ^ to taunt the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un (www.theguardian.com)
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Taiwan president says China military causing regional instability

TAIPEI (Reuters) – China’s frequent military activity is causing regional instability, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Thursday, adding that the island’s forces have been keeping a close eye on what they are up to.

China considers self-ruled and democratic Taiwan to be its sacred territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring what it views as a wayward province under Chinese control.

China has taken an increasingly hostile stance toward Taiwan since Tsai, from the island’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, won presidential elections last year.

Beijing suspects her of pushing for the island’s formal independence, a red line for China. Tsai says she wants peace with the mainland, but that she will defend Taiwan’s security and way of life.

China’s air force has carried out 16 rounds of exercises close to Taiwan in the past year or so, Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a white paper this week. China’s military threat was growing by the day, it warned.

Beijing has repeatedly said its drills, which have also taken place in the disputed South China Sea and the Sea of Japan, are routine and not aimed at any third party.

Tsai, speaking to senior military officers in Taipei, said the island wanted peace but could “not have a single day without combat preparedness”.

“In this period of time, the frequent military activities of mainland China in East Asia have already affected safety and stability in the region to a certain extent,” Tsai said.

“Our country has always been a contributor to safety and stability in the region, this is why the national army has to keep an eye on movements of the Chinese military and take appropriate actions when needed to guarantee the safety of the country and region.”

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang, speaking in Beijing, said that the drills would not have any negative impact upon the region and that the military’s training would continue and become regular.

“China’s military development is a force for peace and stability in the region,” Ren told reporters.

China has warned Taiwan against “using weapons to refuse reunification” and its state media has given a high profile to images of Chinese jets flying close to the island.

Tensions rose this month when a senior Chinese diplomat threatened that China would invade Taiwan if any U.S. warships made port visits there.

Taiwan is well-equipped with mostly U.S.-made weapons, but has been pressing Washington to sell more advanced equipment.

Proudly democratic Taiwan has shown no interest in being run by autocratic China, and Taiwan’s government has accused Beijing of not understanding what democracy is about when it criticizes Taipei.

Reporting by Fabian Hamacher; Writing and additional reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel and Edmund Klamann

References

  1. ^ The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. (thomsonreuters.com)
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Insiders Accused of Stealing Personal Data From Homeland Security

WASHINGTON — It was an audacious scheme: an attempted inside job at the office of a federal watchdog agency, where the cops, the authorities said, became the robbers.

Three employees in the inspector general’s office for the Department of Homeland Security stole a computer system that contained sensitive personal information of about 246,000 agency employees, according to three United States officials and a report sent to Congress last week. They planned to modify the office’s proprietary software for managing investigative and disciplinary cases so that they could market and sell it to other inspector general offices across the federal government.

The Homeland Security Department is investigating, along with the United States attorney’s office for the District of Columbia.

The Run-Up

The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign.

The personal information included names, social security numbers and dates of birth — a rich trove of data not unlike those stolen from other government agencies in high-profile cases in recent years. On the home computer of one of the suspects that was seized during a raid in the spring, investigators also found about 159,000 case files.

But investigators determined the private information was not, in fact, their target. Investigators believe the suspects intended to use the data to “facilitate the development and testing of” their knockoff system, according to the report.

In May, the office of the inspector general, John Roth, first notified several congressional committees with oversight of the Homeland Security Department, including the committees for homeland security, appropriations and commerce. Additional updates were sent to those panels in June and another last week.

Mr. Roth did not identify the employees, one of whom has left the office, and the American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a continuing case, declined to name them. The two current employees have been suspended pending the results of the investigation.

In its report to Congress, Mr. Roth’s office said that it had “seized all known servers and other devices potentially containing exfiltrated data in the possession of the subjects.”

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on Tuesday about the investigation. William Miller, a spokesman for the United States attorney’s office in Washington, said he could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

The breach was earlier reported[1] by USA Today.

In the past two years, several government agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the State Department and the National Security Agency, have had data stolen, American officials said. The most significant case was in 2015, when hackers linked to the Chinese military stole records connected to more than 21 million government employees[2], including those with high-level security clearances.

The acting secretary for homeland security, Elaine Duke, elected in August to notify victims of the breach and the department is in the process of doing so, according to its most recent report to Congress.

In recent weeks, the department has asked its component agencies to try to find additional money from their budgets to cover the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to to monitor the credit scores of affected employees, according to an official familiar with the request.

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US considering new military space branch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —

A new branch of the military service – something Congress is talking about – could have a huge impact on Central Florida.

The House plan would create a separate military service for space operations, a new U.S. Space Corps, that would take over much of what the Air Force now does at Cape Canaveral.

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As military satellite launches continue with regularity at the Cape, Congress is debating whether to establish a U.S. Space Corps. One of its major installations would likely be Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

One Congressional committee has already voted to create the Space Corps, splitting it off from the Air Force. The debate is already underway, but it’ll take a lot more votes and a presidential signature to make it happen.

Supporters said the new space corps would take over space duties from the Air Force. They believe it would make space a higher priority. It would be a new branch of the military, the first since 1947.

“A new space corps may add focus and resources while elevating the profile of space as a critical national imperative,” said Dale Ketcham, of Space Florida.

Ketcham is concerned, however, that a space corps may add bureaucracy and make a slow and rigid process slower.