We have all heard it before, the clarion call, the bells are ringing and of course in 1983 the bells of St Mark were all ringing for Sheila E. So what happens, when you make that one mistake where your moment of non-concentration gets people killed, optionally a lot of people! That is what the Washington Post gives us (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2019/03/06/hundreds-immigrant-recruits-risk-death-sentence-after-army-bungles-sensitive-data/?utm_term=.d381e6f9d0ff)
The starter “Army officials inadvertently disclosed sensitive information about hundreds of immigrant recruits from nations such as China and Russia, in a breach that could aid hostile governments in persecuting them or their families, a lawmaker and former U.S. officials said.” is not a soft one. What the never explainable bloody hell is going on? When I see: “A spreadsheet intended for internal coordination among recruiters was accidentally emailed to recruits and contained names, Social Security numbers and enlistment dates. The list was sent out inadvertently at least three times between July 2017 and January 2018.” So over a period of 6 months, we see an optional 50% failure. I can see at least 4 solutions that could have prevented that. The issue of mailing spreadsheets with names is just a joke. If it is sensitive data, we can argue that it might be in a spreadsheet, yet the mailing of sensitive data has always required the need of vetting before pressing send. It is the one time when the military looks more evolved (‘used’ to being the operative term) than the leaking baboons of Wall Street.
So when we see: “more than 900 Chinese Mandarin speakers and dozens of Russian speakers are on the spreadsheet, according to a copy obtained by The Post.” We need to realise that some people are highly overdue for the loss of rank and even worse. It goes a lot further when we consider the quote: “Abhishek Bakshi, an Indian recruit, said he received the list by accident in July 2017 from an Army recruiter in Wisconsin who asked whether he wanted to schedule a security interview. The spreadsheet was disturbing, said Bakshi, whose name is on the list“, this sets the stage where people can be coerced and even blackmailed in several ways. When we also vet “received the list in December 2017, among other documents related to enlistment, after it was forwarded among a chain of recruiting officials“, we see a larger danger when we consider ‘a chain of recruiting officials‘, where we consider not only the validity of the people, the fact that it was a list of people, we need to worry on who they shared their list with. A chain implies the setting of multiple links, each and every one of them weaker than the preceding link.
The dangers actually exceed what the Post gives us. In case of Russian, Pakistani and Chinese setting, it is not out of the question that the acquired names and Social Security numbers can be used to create a trigger database to change the parameters of having a valid life. When those numbers are used to track locations (housing), assets (cars) and even financial gains (educational scholarships) the future of these people could be undone within a year creating all kinds of security hazards, not to mention a financial mess that the victim is unable to undo for months, even years.
It is even worse when we consider the quote: “In 2018 under the Trump administration, the Army began discharging soldiers who had enlisted under the MAVNI program. Most were reportedly not given notice of why they were being discharged, but their citizenship status was jeopardized as a result. Many of them had served honorably in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the world” showing that the United States has no intention of honouring its commitments, as such, when the next escalation comes, how will the US Military solve it? They are unlikely to be ever trusted again. Not only are hundreds in danger of being ‘chased’ out of the US, many of them with a honourable military roll call. the fact that these veterans are shipped out will set a most dangerous precedent down the line, and it does not stop there.
The homeless soldier
The issue that is rearing its ugly head is not new, there is more news now, but this has been going on for a long time, getting a lot of limelight in 2018. As we see (at https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/03/07/senator-involve-doj-military-housing-scandal.html), we see a dangerous stage with: “The U.S. armed services should consult with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the conduct of private companies hired to manage military housing“, I see absolutely no issue if the DoJ would start annexing these properties and making them part of the DoJ asset database. When we are confronted with “The contractors, he said, provided substandard, unhealthy and inadequate housing and ignored pleas to repair or service the homes“, I see a stage where it has become the responsibility of Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn to move towards confiscation of property if a 100% adjustment has not been achieved within 60 days. So when I see: “in February, a survey of more than 14,500 residents of base housing found that 56 percent said they had “negative or very negative experiences” with their houses on military installations“. Now we all have issues with housing at times, yet when that impression gets to be a zero positive view for 56% a much larger issue is in play and changes are essential. These soldiers are often underpaid, under-acknowledged and now even below substandard housed, we see the clear need to clean that mess up, annexing housing and removing ownership from these owners has become an essential first. So when we accept: ‘a baby who lived in the home developed pneumonia and later had a stroke‘ we see a clear case of reckless endangerment of life and that can never be accepted, I do agree that the establishment of guilt, as well as the need to ascertain whether the tenants had taken serious steps to diminish risk. In addition to all that these landlords need to be put into a database, the people have a right to know when soldiers get housing that a dog on a junkyard would not accept on a rainy winter day. The final straw is seen with ‘other concerns raised by senators was the relationship between base housing offices and the private management companies‘, in my view it does not matter whether it is a case of corruption or nepotism, it is the direct stage where the fighting force is disabled through greed driven facilitation and that cannot be allowed to exist in any way, shape or form. So when we see Sen. Martha McSally, R-Arizona giving us: ‘the two parties appear to be “in cahoots.”‘ we see an optional prosecutable form of what could be regarded as corruption. It is not always stated to be money that funds the prosecution corruption, enabling economic benefits, facilitation towards non accountability of services and quality are all issues that can be translated into monetary value, making it a larger issue for prosecution and in that case anyone found guilty will (read: should) be stripped of the land titles, the housing and the deeds to these places and placed directly with the Defence department at that stage. In that context there is one part I do not agree with. It is found at the end of the article where we see: “Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein said he has lived in base housing for more than 50 years, including his childhood, and he wanted airmen to have safe communities where they don’t have to worry about their children’s health or about retaliation if they complain about the condition of their housing“, from my personal point of view, his actions are well over a decade late (even as we accept that he might not have been in an operational place to act earlier on, his predecessor clearly was).
In this day and age when the military needs to catch up on several fields, the last thing they should ever have to concern themselves with is the fact that their details are spread like wildfire by someone who has no clear regard for proper email and cyber security issues, besides that being in reliable housing is the clear responsibility of their CEO (aka the general of defense housing). It is not important whether your house is Air force blue, Army green or Naval grey, there will be a General, Air Marshall or Admiral in charge of that division and ringing their bell should at this point be the right of every enlisted man that is part of the US defense forces, however I might have oversimplified the matter.
We will have to see what extent Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut is willing to take the baton, if he does not make it to the final stretch, we can consider that the next senatorial elections are in 2020, so either he has a following of a million+ in 2020, or he could optionally consider his next job to be with Uber (yes, I do have a flaky sense of humour).
I personally think that making quick cash at the expense of servicemen needs to be looked at in much harsher ways and it is our duty to expose those who would want to exploit this group for personal gains to a much larger degree than has been done until now. It does not matter what country you are in, we do not merely have a decent responsibility to thank them for their service; we all have a partial a duty of care that they do not have to deal with this kind of shit in any way shape or form ever.