Opinion |  – By Roger Cohen – The New York Times

Roger Cohen

By Roger Cohen

Opinion Columnist

President Trump and other world leaders looking on as Queen Elizabeth II arrived for a D-Day commemorative event in Portsmouth, England, on Wednesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“PARIS — How small he is! Small in spirit, in valor, in dignity, in statecraft, this American president who knows nothing of history and cares still less and now bestrides Europe with his family in tow like some tin-pot dictator with a terrified entourage.

To have Donald Trump — the bone-spur evader of the Vietnam draft, the coddler of autocrats, the would-be destroyer of the European Union, the pay-up-now denigrator of NATO, the apologist for the white supremacists of Charlottesville — commemorate the boys from Kansas City and St. Paul who gave their lives for freedom is to understand the word impostor. You can’t make a sculpture from rotten wood.

It’s worth saying again. If Europe is whole and free and at peace, it’s because of NATO and the European Union; it’s because the United States became a European power after World War II; it’s because America’s word was a solemn pledge; it’s because that word cemented alliances that were not zero-sum games but the foundation for stability and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.

Of this, Trump understands nothing. Therefore he cannot comprehend the sacrifice at Omaha Beach 75 years ago. He cannot see that the postwar trans-Atlantic achievement — undergirded by the institutions and alliances he tramples upon with such crass truculence — was in fact the vindication of those young men who gave everything.”

In Push for 2020 Election Security- Top Official Was Warned: Don’t Tell Trump – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — In the months before Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign, she tried to focus the White House on one of her highest priorities as homeland security secretary: preparing for new and different Russian forms of interference in the 2020 election.

President Trump’s chief of staff told her not to bring it up in front of the president.

Ms. Nielsen left the Department of Homeland Security early this month after a tumultuous 16-month tenure and tensions with the White House. Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids.

But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”

Even though the Department of Homeland Security has primary responsibility for civilian cyberdefense, Ms. Nielsen eventually gave up on her effort to organize a White House meeting of cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect next year’s elections.

Opinion | Rebooting the Ethical Soldier – By Robert H. Latiff – NYT

Quote

By Robert H. Latiff
Mr. Latiff is a retired Air Force major general.

July 16, 2018


CreditYoshi Sodeoka
In 2014, the United States Army Research Laboratory published a report predicting what the battlefield of 2050 would look like. Not surprisingly, it was a scenario largely driven by technology, and the report described a sort of warfare most people associate with video games or science-fiction movies — combined forces of augmented or enhanced humans, robots operating in swarms, laser weapons, intelligence systems and cyberbots fighting in a highly contested information environment using spoofing, hacking, misinformation and other means of electronic warfare.

In one sense, this is nothing new. The way wars are fought have always changed with technology. But humans themselves don’t change so rapidly. As a retired Air Force major general with special interests in both technology and military ethics, I have a specific concern: that as new weapons technologies make soldiering more lethal, our soldiers will find it more difficult than ever to behave ethically and to abide by the long-established conventions regarding the rules of war.

. . .

Can soldiers under the influence of behavior-modifying drugs or electronics be held to account for their actions? If the soldier is using drugs to enhance his cognition or reduce his fear, what is the role of free will? Might a soldier who fears nothing unnecessarily place himself, his unit or innocent bystanders at risk? What about the impact of memory-altering drugs on the soldier’s sense of guilt, which might be important in decisions about unnecessary and superfluous suffering?

These are important decisions in war, and they form the basis for many of the tenets of “just war” theory. Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, supports “keeping the ethical rules of war in place lest we unleash on humanity a set of robots that we don’t know how to control.”

The role of revising and recasting these conventions should be taking place at the highest levels of government. So far, it hasn’t. The White House’s Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, formed in May, has not even acknowledged the major ethical issues surrounding A.I. that have been very publicly raised by an increasing number of scientists and technology experts like Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking.

While it is important that leaders openly recognize the critical nature of these issues, the Department of Defense needs to follow up on its 2012 directive on autonomy with guidelines for researchers and commanders. It should require that both researchers and military commanders question — throughout the development process and long before the systems are ready for deployment — how the systems will be used and whether that use might violate any of laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law.

via Opinion | Rebooting the Ethical Soldier – The New York Times

Opinion | To Hackers- We’re Bambi in the Woods – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

If you’re worried about terrorism, here’s a bigger threat to lose sleep over: an all-out cyberattack.Suddenly, the electricity goes out at the office. Cellphone networks and the internet have also gone black, along with subways and trains.The roads are jammed because traffic lights aren’t working. Credit cards are now just worthless bits of plastic, and A.T.M.s are nothing but hunks of metal. Gas stations can’t pump gas.Banks have lost records of depositors’ accounts. Dam floodgates mysteriously open. Water and sewage treatment plants stop working.

Opinion | Why Gina Haspel Is the Best Choice for C.I.A. Director – by John Sipher – NYT

“Ms. Haspel’s role in the post-Sept. 11 counterterrorism fight was both messy and complex. It included terrible mistakes and great successes. The expectation by some politicians and newspaper editors for her to simply label the C.I.A.’s efforts as an immoral failure is unreasonable and unfair.

As an executive responsible for a large work force, she has to find a way to make clear that she will exhibit impeccable judgment and speak truth to power without implying that her hard-working colleagues are moral degenerates. She cannot begin her tenure by smearing her employees.

But she did send a clear signal about clarity at the C.I.A. under her leadership: “I would never, ever take C.I.A. back to an interrogation program,” Ms. Haspel said, and added that she would not “put C.I.A. officers at risk by asking them to undertake risky, controversial activity again.”

Ms. Haspel’s biggest hurdle going forward is unlikely to be satisfying her congressional overseers or even tackling terrorist threats. Instead, it will be serving a president for whom truth is only what serves his personal purposes. Mr. Trump has recklessly attacked nonpartisan public servants and our justice system. It is just a matter of time before he feels threatened by his intelligence agencies.

In this sense, while it feels unfair to use Ms. Haspel’s nomination to re-litigate the past, it is indeed fair to press her on how she would deal with difficult ethical decisions as head of the C.I.A.”

via Opinion | Why Gina Haspel Is the Best Choice for C.I.A. Director – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

Excellent piece by John Sipher. I accept his thinking on why Gina Haspel’s refusal to denounce the recent past torture of terroist suspects should be acceptable, as long as she communicates, as she has, that it went too far, and the US should not go there again. I am against torture, and I would like to follow John McCain  and the NYT and be a purist on this one issue, but Sipher’s logical arguments hold.

Also, one pundit reported this last week, that Haspel was a middle manager, following the orders of her superiors, at time of fear and crisis. She was told that the Justice Department had determined that what she was ordered to do was legal. The work of those lawyers, working for President George W Bush and Richard Cheney, the VP, will be a stain on the honor or the US, forever, which thanks to over population, climate change and the Sixth Extinction, might not be that far off. Did anyone at the hearings ask her about these, the really great threats, that could destroy our way of life?

Gina Haspel apparently has the organizational skills and experience, to do this new job for her, of running the CIA. I will try to make time to watch her hearing on youtube.

A Public Service Message From the Class of ’67 – The New York Times

“The notion of national service as an enforced social equalizer was the most frequently cited argument for restoring a draft — this time around for both men and women and with different options — and it seems especially compelling when American society is so terribly divided and the gap between rich and poor is so gaping. In countries like Israel, which maintains conscription of men and women, service is perceived not only as national defense but also as a civic education in the universal obligation to safeguard the values of a democratic state. In addition, there was the argument that leaving the dirty work of war to a professional army largely drawn from the least privileged is inherently unfair in a democracy and increases the temptation for the government to use the military unwisely.

“If we still had the draft, I doubt that we would still be fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan,” one classmate wrote.”

I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton. by Michael Morell- The New York Times

 

“During a 33-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency, I served presidents of both parties — three Republicans and three Democrats. I was at President George W. Bush’s side when we were attacked on Sept. 11; as deputy director of the agency, I was with President Obama when we killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.I am neither a registered Democrat nor a registered Republican. In my 40 years of voting, I have pulled the lever for candidates of both parties. As a government official, I have always been silent about my preference for president.

No longer. On Nov. 8, I will vote for Hillary Clinton. Between now and then, I will do everything I can to ensure that she is elected as our 45th president.Two strongly held beliefs have brought me to this decision. First, Mrs. Clinton is highly qualified to be commander in chief. I trust she will deliver on the most important duty of a president — keeping our nation safe. Second, Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security.

Source: I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton. – The New York Times

Debate Over Trump’s Fitness Raises Issue of Checks on Nuclear Power – The New York Times

“Hillary Clinton has fueled a debate over whether her rival for the presidency, Donald J. Trump, is fit to command America’s atomic forces. “Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis,” she said in her address at the Democratic convention last week. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.

”This portrayal has become such an issue in the campaign that President Obama was asked about it at a news conference on Thursday, where he echoed Mrs. Clinton’s concerns. Her charge raises a question: Is there any check on a president’s power to launch nuclear arms that could destroy entire cities or nations?The short answer is no, though history suggests that in practice, there may be ways to slow down or even derail the decision-making process. No one disputes, however, that the president has an awesome authority.”

Source: Debate Over Trump’s Fitness Raises Issue of Checks on Nuclear Power – The New York Times

Perhaps it is time to give the Secretary of Defense veto power over the power of the President to fire nuclear weapons. We might want to also give that power to the Secretary of State?

Obama: The Anti-Anti-Nuke President – The New York Times

“NEXT week President Obama will welcome world leaders to Washington for his fourth Nuclear Security Summit, a biennial event he initiated to mobilize global action to prevent terrorists from acquiring atomic bombs.As this is Mr. Obama’s last such meeting on an issue that he professes to care about deeply, one might expect him to seize the opportunity to announce a major nonproliferation initiative, then brace for resistance from congressional Republicans skeptical of arms control.But reality is exactly the opposite. It is the Republican-controlled Congress that is pushing the most ambitious arms control project in recent memory. Inexplicably, President Obama is the one resisting.Some background: In recent years, legislators on both sides of the aisle have become increasingly concerned about global commerce in highly enriched uranium, the same material that fueled the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. If terrorists obtained less than 100 pounds of the stuff, they could almost surely set off a similar explosion. A country with even moderate technical expertise could achieve the same yield with a much smaller amount.”

Source: Obama: The Anti-Anti-Nuke President – The New York Times

Wow, some issues above to research. I suspect this was not a balanced or fair appraisal, we will see.