# Security



Secrecy won't build trust after school cyber attacks

Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com.

These days, I stand in front of audiences and engage in what is politely called “public speaking” more often than even Mr. Gentry ever imagined when I showed up at his office door 55 years ago with a bug-eyed expression of concern.

Mr. Gentry was the guidance counselor at Davis County High School. He was in charge of class scheduling. What brought me to his doorstep was noticing I would be taking “Speech” class that semester.

Before I could say anything, however, he presciently said, “You probably are wondering about the Speech class. You will thank me someday.” That “someday” has arrived. You were correct, Mr. Gentry.

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Terrace Hill fence approved last summer; governor's role unclear

Officials in the Iowa Department of Public Safety and the governor’s office decided during the summer of 2020 to install a permanent fence around the Terrace Hill mansion in Des Moines, records obtained by Bleeding Heartland show.

The documents don’t reveal, nor did state officials clarify, whether Governor Kim Reynolds or her staff pushed for added security around the governor’s official residence. The records also don’t explain the timing of the decision to move forward with a plan that had been floated years earlier, according to the agency responsible for protecting the governor.

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Grassley, Ernst not concerned by Trump's nominees or antics

U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have given the White House nothing to worry about as the chamber begins the process of confirming President Donald Trump’s cabinet appointees. Not only have Iowa’s senators voted for the three cabinet members approved so far, they have yet to voice serious concern about any nominee.

Two of the least controversial cabinet appointees gained Senate approval within hours of Trump’s inauguration on January 20: James Mattis for secretary of defense and John Kelly for director of Homeland Security. Only one senator (Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand) voted against confirming Mattis, because she opposes the waiver allowing him to serve in the cabinet less than seven years after leaving the military. Only eleven Democrats voted against confirming Kelly.

Mike Pompeo’s nomination as director of the Central Intelligence Agency drew more opposition when it came to the Senate floor on January 23. Thirty Democrats, Republican Rand Paul, and independent Bernie Sanders voted against Pompeo’s nomination, largely over concerns about his positions on torture and government surveillance.

As dangerous as Pompeo could be to the rule of law as it relates to intelligence gathering and interrogation techniques, Trump’s deceptive, off-topic, self-centered speech on Saturday at CIA headquarters knocked Pompeo down the list of things that terrify me about the coming years. Robin Wright explained for the New Yorker why “Trump’s vainglorious affront to the CIA” horrified intelligence community professionals. According to NPR’s national security correspondent Mary Louise Kelly, former CIA chief of Russia operations Steve Hall has said that agency staff are worried they might not be able to trust Trump enough to reveal the source of unflattering information about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This thread is for any comments related to Trump’s cabinet or out-of-control narcissistic rages, which require his advisers to serve as glorified babysitters keeping the president from spending too much time watching television. I enclose below official statements from Ernst on the first cabinet confirmations and from Grassley on his meeting with Kelly earlier this month. Both senators have studiously avoided any public comments about Trump’s child-like temperament or sometimes contradictory outbursts on matters of national security.

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Iowa Congressional voting catch-up thread: Defense, trade, Medicare, chemicals, and power plants

While Congress is on recess until after July 4, it's time to catch up on an unusually busy few weeks in June for U.S. House members. Bleeding Heartland previously covered how Iowa's representatives voted on the failed and successful attempts to pass trade promotion authority, repeal of country-of-origin labeling requirements for meat, a bill to eliminate a tax on medical devices, and the Intelligence Authorization Act.

Follow me after the jump to find out how Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) voted on the latest defense budget bill, more trade-related policies, and legislation dealing with chemical safety, Medicare cost controls, and regulations of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Iowa's representatives also voted last week on a matter relating to the growing national controversy over Confederate symbols.

Something you don't see often when looking through Congressional roll calls: three of Iowa's four House members crossed party lines more than once during the floor debate on the defense budget.

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House approves Intelligence Authorization Act: How the Iowans voted

Yesterday the U.S. House approved by by 247 votes to 178 (roll call) a bill to fund sixteen intelligence agencies for the next fiscal year. Most of the Republican caucus supported the bill, including Iowa’s Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04). Although 31 Democrats also voted yes, most of the House Democrats, including Dave Loebsack (IA-02), opposed the bill, as did 25 Republicans. None of the Iowans issued a statement explaining their votes, but I will update this post if I see any relevant comments.

Because the Intelligence Authorization Act is mostly classified, it’s not clear how much money House members appropriated to run the various intelligence agencies. The Obama administration requested $53.9 billion for the National Intelligence Program for fiscal year 2016, while the Pentagon requested $17.9 billion for the Military Intelligence Program. According to The Hill’s Julian Hattem, House Democrats who opposed the bill “objected to provisions limiting the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, budget maneuvers they called ‘gimmicks’ and other provisions.” Congressional Republicans had promised to abide by the “sequester” spending limits for next year’s budget, but the intelligence funding bill gets around those limits by using money from the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations fund. The same maneuver added spending to the 2016 Defense Authorization bill House members approved last month.

Before the vote on final passage of the intelligence funding bill, House members considered an amendment to remove language that would “ban the government from transferring detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the U.S. or a recognized ‘combat zone.'” Loebsack and most of the House Democrats voted for that amendment, but Iowa’s three Republicans helped to vote it down (roll call). The White House contends that restricting transfers from Guantanamo would “violate constitutional separation-of-powers principles” and “could interfere with the President’s authority to protect sensitive national security information.”

Some House members in both parties warned last week that a “one-sentence provision tucked into an annual intelligence policy bill […] could hobble the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board,” but leaders did not allow floor votes on several amendments that sought to reverse the restrictions on the privacy board.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. Bonus points if you can provide a good reason the federal government runs so many separate intelligence and security agencies.

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Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst opposed Patriot Act revisions (updated)

Two provisions of the Patriot Act and one other legal provision granting surveillance powers expired on Sunday night, as the U.S. Senate failed to pass either a short-term Patriot Act extension or the House-approved USA Freedom Act, which would revise parts of that law. Jamie Dupree wrote a good overview of the key points of contention, including the National Security Agency's bulk data collection practices. Julian Hattem previews the next likely steps in the Senate and House (assuming the Senate approves an amended version of the USA Freedom Act this week). Carl Hulse analyzed the "lose-lose-lose result" for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who prefers not to curtail NSA surveillance powers but arguably "overplayed his hand."

How Congress will resolve this dispute remains unclear, but we have learned one thing from the last ten days: Iowa's Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst oppose the current bipartisan compromise on how to revise the Patriot Act. For Ernst, the expiring Patriot Act provisions "are critical to the safety and security of our country"--a view similar to Representative Steve King's reasons for voting against "data disarmament" when the House considered the USA Freedom Act.

In Grassley's more nuanced view, Congress should enact "meaningful reform by ending the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' telephone records under Section 215" of the Patriot Act, while allowing the government to gather such information in a targeted way. Grassley also objects to how the USA Freedom Act would reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.  

Details on the relevant Senate votes are after the jump, along with statements from Grassley and Ernst. I've also noted which Republican senators who are running for president supported either the USA Freedom Act or a short-term Patriot Act extension.

UPDATE: Grassley and Ernst split on June 2 as the Senate passed the USA Freedom Act. Details on their votes are below, along with their explanations. While Iowa's two Republican senators have voted differently on a handful of amendments or motions related to consideration of other bills, today's votes represent their first major policy disagreement since Ernst was sworn in.

Scroll to the end of this post for details on how the GOP presidential candidates voted today.

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