An Obama administration twofer on national (in)security

On Wednesday, two disturbing reports came out regarding national security (or lack thereof): the U.S. Navy’s chief of intelligence has not had access to classified information for the past two-plus years, and hundreds of DHS badges, guns, and cell phones have been lost or stolen since 2012.

The Navy

The Washington Post reports that since November 2013, the admiral in charge of Navy intelligence, Vice Adm. Ted Branch, has been barred from seeing, reading, or hearing any classified information.  Back in November, the Department of Justice informed the Navy that the admiral’s name had come up in a major corruption investigation that involved a defense contractor and numerous Navy personnel.  Concerned that Branch might be indicted, the Navy decided to block his access (as well as that of one of his deputies) to classified information.

Here we are in 2016, and Branch has yet to be charged, but neither has he been cleared.  So his access to classified intelligence remains blocked.

Although the Navy transferred [deputy] Loveless to a slightly less sensitive post, it kept Branch in charge of its intelligence division. That has resulted in an awkward arrangement, akin to sending a warship into battle with its skipper stuck onshore.

Branch can’t meet with other senior U.S. intelligence leaders to discuss sensitive operations, or hear updates from his staff about secret missions or projects. It can be a chore just to set foot in colleagues’ offices; in keeping with regulations, they must conduct a sweep beforehand to make sure any classified documents are locked up.

Some critics have questioned how smart it is for the Navy to retain an intelligence chief with such limitations, for so long, especially at a time when the Pentagon is confronted by crises in the Middle East, the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula and other hotspots.

“I have never heard of anything as asinine, bizarre or stupid in all my years,” Norman Polmar, a naval analyst and historian, said in an interview.

In an op-ed in Navy Times last fall, Polmar urged Navy leaders to replace Branch and Loveless for the sake of national security. He cited complaints from several unnamed Navy officers that “intelligence management is being hampered at a moment of great turmoil.”

“Asinine,” “bizarre,” “stupid,” “hampered” intelligence management, and compromised national security.  Just the way the Obama administration likes it.

DHS

Fox News reports that “[h]undreds of badges, credentials, cell phones and guns belonging to Department of Homeland Security employees have been lost or stolen in recent years – raising serious security concerns about the potential damage these missing items could do in the wrong hands.”

Inventory reports, obtained by the news site Complete Colorado and shared with FoxNews.com, show that over 1,300 badges, 165 firearms and 589 cell phones were lost or stolen over the span of 31 months between 2012 and 2015.

The majority of the credentials belonged to employees of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), while others belonged to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees.

The lost or stolen guns also mostly belonged to CBP employees, though others were cited as belonging to TSA and ICE workers. The agencies all fall under DHS. 

The missing badges and guns suggest a shocking lack of security from federal law enforcement officers and represent a significant security risk, experts say.

“It’s scary that you’d have that number of credentials out there that someone could manipulate,” Tim Miller, a retired Secret Service special agent, told FoxNews.com. (snip)

“The thing that’s particularly concerning is that if you get real credentials, it’s very easy to manipulate them, and you’ve got someone else’s picture on what law enforcement would see as valid," Miller said. "Then you factor in terrorism, it’s a significant concern that people would run around with authentic credentials and be able to access areas they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.” 

“Lost or stolen guns,” “missing badges,” “shocking lack of security,” “significant security risk,” and “terrorism.”  Just the way the Obama administration likes it.

Hat tip: Drudge Report

On Wednesday, two disturbing reports came out regarding national security (or lack thereof): the U.S. Navy’s chief of intelligence has not had access to classified information for the past two-plus years, and hundreds of DHS badges, guns, and cell phones have been lost or stolen since 2012.

The Navy

The Washington Post reports that since November 2013, the admiral in charge of Navy intelligence, Vice Adm. Ted Branch, has been barred from seeing, reading, or hearing any classified information.  Back in November, the Department of Justice informed the Navy that the admiral’s name had come up in a major corruption investigation that involved a defense contractor and numerous Navy personnel.  Concerned that Branch might be indicted, the Navy decided to block his access (as well as that of one of his deputies) to classified information.

Here we are in 2016, and Branch has yet to be charged, but neither has he been cleared.  So his access to classified intelligence remains blocked.

Although the Navy transferred [deputy] Loveless to a slightly less sensitive post, it kept Branch in charge of its intelligence division. That has resulted in an awkward arrangement, akin to sending a warship into battle with its skipper stuck onshore.

Branch can’t meet with other senior U.S. intelligence leaders to discuss sensitive operations, or hear updates from his staff about secret missions or projects. It can be a chore just to set foot in colleagues’ offices; in keeping with regulations, they must conduct a sweep beforehand to make sure any classified documents are locked up.

Some critics have questioned how smart it is for the Navy to retain an intelligence chief with such limitations, for so long, especially at a time when the Pentagon is confronted by crises in the Middle East, the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula and other hotspots.

“I have never heard of anything as asinine, bizarre or stupid in all my years,” Norman Polmar, a naval analyst and historian, said in an interview.

In an op-ed in Navy Times last fall, Polmar urged Navy leaders to replace Branch and Loveless for the sake of national security. He cited complaints from several unnamed Navy officers that “intelligence management is being hampered at a moment of great turmoil.”

“Asinine,” “bizarre,” “stupid,” “hampered” intelligence management, and compromised national security.  Just the way the Obama administration likes it.

DHS

Fox News reports that “[h]undreds of badges, credentials, cell phones and guns belonging to Department of Homeland Security employees have been lost or stolen in recent years – raising serious security concerns about the potential damage these missing items could do in the wrong hands.”

Inventory reports, obtained by the news site Complete Colorado and shared with FoxNews.com, show that over 1,300 badges, 165 firearms and 589 cell phones were lost or stolen over the span of 31 months between 2012 and 2015.

The majority of the credentials belonged to employees of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), while others belonged to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees.

The lost or stolen guns also mostly belonged to CBP employees, though others were cited as belonging to TSA and ICE workers. The agencies all fall under DHS. 

The missing badges and guns suggest a shocking lack of security from federal law enforcement officers and represent a significant security risk, experts say.

“It’s scary that you’d have that number of credentials out there that someone could manipulate,” Tim Miller, a retired Secret Service special agent, told FoxNews.com. (snip)

“The thing that’s particularly concerning is that if you get real credentials, it’s very easy to manipulate them, and you’ve got someone else’s picture on what law enforcement would see as valid," Miller said. "Then you factor in terrorism, it’s a significant concern that people would run around with authentic credentials and be able to access areas they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.” 

“Lost or stolen guns,” “missing badges,” “shocking lack of security,” “significant security risk,” and “terrorism.”  Just the way the Obama administration likes it.

Hat tip: Drudge Report