Cold War Strategic ReconnaissanceUPDATED: With Great Rep. Turner Quote On Snowden

WASHINGTON: “The damage assessment is still underway,” about the effects of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency’s monitoring of web and email traffic, a typically cool and careful commander of US Strategic Command told me this morning. But it’s definitely bad.

“It’s going to take us awhile to understand the damage,” said Gen. Bob Kehler, who oversees cyber warfare for the United States (Gen. Keith Alexander, who heads both the National Security Agency and  US Cyber Command, reports to Kehler, sort of). He conceded that NSA methods had been compromised and that allows terrorists and other bad guys to “devise countermeasures.” He told the Defense Writers Group breakfast that the question wasn’t whether foreign spies and terrorists know they are being monitored “but how.” He referred to the type of information Snowden released  as “the deepest of the deep secrets.”

While Gen. Kehler was his usual careful self, a former senior allied intelligence official recently described Snowden’s actions to me as “catastrophic.”

Best quote on Snowden and his apparent new home comes from Rep. Mike Turner, chairman of the House Armed Services on tactical air and land forces subcommittee: “Clearly this wasn’t about individual rights and liberties, or he wouldn’t have chosen asylum in Russia.”

In other news, Kehler said he “personally” believes the US needs to replace the SR-71 Blackbird — a system capable of penetrating hostile airspace and performing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) — with something. He hinted that replacement might be associated with the Long Range Bomber program (also known as Long Range Strike). But the basic problem is “we can’t yet make final decisions” because of the current budget mess. Now that’s something that must have the Chinese smiling: America can’t afford to build a system needed for anti-access/area denial operations.


  • Don Bacon

    General Bob Kehler seems to be unconcerned about the fact that he took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same” and doesn’t care that he violates that oath on the Constitution (Amendment IV) when he snoops on Americans. This part of the officer’s commissioning oath is more specific, and thus should be more controlling, than the subsequent part of the oath about “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office.”

    America has lost its way because of people like Kehler who think that they are powers unto themselves, and beholden to nothing else, even their oath of office.

    • MakoDC

      C’mon Don. General Kehler & Alexander don’t give a rat’s a@# which one of your secretaries you are sending pics of your abs to. More accurately, they have neither the time nor the resources to, “snoop on Americans”; they do however have the wherewithal to connect two phone numbers, one of which originates outside of the U.S. and has been associated with terrorist activity via intel. The American people need to dispense with the vision of the G-man wearing a fedora, and a set of headphones pressed to his ear while he listens to political dissidents and makes notes. That’s a Hollywood vision, stoked by ACLU lawyers and movies about Nixon.

      Beyond that, I guarantee General Kehler wakes up every day and wonders how his actions are going to uphold the Constitution. And I’ll bet he sleeps like a baby at night. How about you? How do you sleep? And I’m not talking about text on a comment app, I’m talking about action. What did you do today to make Americans safer?

      • Don Bacon

        What Kehler and Alexander should care about is acting constitutionally, according to what they promised to do. Alexander particularly is a renegade officer acting without any restraints.It’s not unusual for a general officer to act as if he was beholden to nothing and nobody and he’s a prime example.

        • Don Bacon

          General Alexander went to West Point.

          “It’s the fellows who go to West Point and are trained to think they’re gods in uniform that I plan to take apart”.–Harry S Truman

      • lollardy

        You know there is actual oppression happening against political speech if you care to look. There was a successful dept. homeland security (read: federally) coordinated effort to forcefully squelch the occupy movement. There is the war on journalists Obama is continuing from Bush. There is this administration’s unprecedented use of the espionage act and pursuance of whistleblowers. There is the treatment of environmental activists, many of whom (like Tim DeChristopher) have been sent to prison with very harsh sentences for nothing more than civil disobedience. There is a long tradition of bipartisan support for oppression of political speech in America, and there is every reason to fear an orders-of-magnitude enhancement of those capabilities.The only reason authoritarians like you don’t see it is because you are too busy pursuing and justifying oppression to stop and think.

  • Don Bacon

    Why did the LCS thread get pulled?

  • jacknyc

    sr-17 still in use? and aurora? some old U2s out there?

    – – –

    NSA should not have secrets b/c our intel is not directed to our external enemy, islam, but at who knows what, maybe tea party as per IRS war on tea-people

    NSA should not have secrets b/c post falcon and snowman, they should have known better

    the notion that NSA et has all our email etc metadata, is so basic, that only incompetent crooks would be enlightened by the disclosure; for example, throw away phone calling throwaway phone seems to defeat that, although gps phones give snoops more info

    i expect snowden to have deadman switch to keep more him alive; i think he said as much he should certainly say he has one

    how much damage has bee done?

    well, since domestic terrorism was never intercepted, boston, shoe bomber, (dad was an embassy walk-in with a warning), NYC subway bomber, there is no harm at all except to non-existent secrets –

    mostly, our own compilation of all of our internal data, is a smorgasbord of treasures for our enemies who will and have penetrated our security,, as we know or should know,. or plan that they have or will

    so – we have spied on our own; lost sight of the enemy; been unable to keep secrets; been unable to catch open and notorious enemies; provided a treasure trove for enemy hackers (snowden is not); and go ponderously blathering away about harm

    btw, snowden went public to have a public debate on what cannot be debated publicly if its existence is secret

    • Colin Clark

      Not in use as far as anyone knows. U-2s certainly out there. Aurora — hah!

  • Don Bacon

    Rep. Mike Turner, chairman of the House Armed Services on tactical air and land forces subcommittee:

    “Clearly this wasn’t about individual rights and liberties, or he wouldn’t have chosen asylum in Russia.”

    1. This is simply a political snow job by an individual who cares nothing about the Constitution, which he (like Kehler) has sworn to defend but doesn’t. Of course it’s about individual rights and liberties, Amendment IV. The government is grabbing information from citizens without suspicion and without a warrant.

    Amendment IV – Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    2. Snowden didn’t choose asylum in Russia — that’s a lie. His choices for asylum have been narrowed considerably by the US acting irresponsibly. Most Americans support what Snowden did.

    3. Snowden was a private employee and didn’t take a government oath as the two clowns Turner and Kehler did.