Weekly Briefing – December 8 – 13, 2014

By Rachel Ehrenfeld
Sunday, December 14th, 2014 @ 12:07AM

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 By 2021 new nuclear missile systems, composed of new warheads and new delivery systems, will constitute 98 percent of Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missile forces. This modernization includes the new RS-24 Yars (which NATO calls the SS-27 Mod 2), shown here, which is a new road-mobile system designed to carry up to six warheads and to counter U.S. antiballistic missile defense technology.
(Photo: Open Source)

Nuclear Threats on the Rise – Rethinking the UnthinkableHouston T. “Terry” Hawkins, Senior Fellow Los Alamos National Laboratory & ACD Board of Directors – Today there are major imbalances between the new and expanding nuclear weapons research and production capacities of Russia and the declining capabilities of the United States. The end of the Cold War brought many changes including the unification of Germany, the expansion of democracy into Eastern Europe, and the integration of Russia into the global economy. It also removed the previous five-decades-long worry about a nuclear war. “Thinking about the unthinkable,” that is, seriously contemplating nuclear war, has all but vanished from the minds of most people. But given Vladimir Putin’s annexing of Crimea last spring and his boast in September that he could invade five NATO capitals inside two days, a Cold War 2.0 may be just around the corner. .…more

Spotlight on Global JihadMeir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center – December 1-9, 2014 – Main events: In Syria and Iraq, the US-led campaign against ISIS continues. In the city of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) in northern Syria, the fighting continues with no decisive victory by either party. In the area of Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria, ISIS attempted to take over the Syrian military airfield, so far unsuccessfully. In Iraq, ISIS’s efforts to cleanse the pockets of resistance in the Sunni province of Al-Anbar and other areas in the north continue. ISIS released a video of a Canadian operative calling for more attacks in Canada. …more

Nuclear Vigor: Russia, China and Iran Houston T. “Terry” Hawkins, Senior Fellow Los Alamos National Laboratory & ACD Board of Directors – Just as the United States surprised its adversaries in World War II with technological advances such as the atomic bomb, its adversaries today can do the same to it. Today, in contrast to what is happening at their American counterparts, these Russian institutes are seeing their benefits, compensation appreciation, working conditions, facilities, and meaningful research significantly improve. Rigorous research—including year-around experimentation at their Novaya Zemlya Test Site, which is leading to the development and deployment of new Russian nuclear weapons for newly designed delivery systems—continues to be their top priority… at a time when U.S. nuclear weapon budgets are being cut and U.S. nuclear weapon experts are being offered early retirements or terminated, Russia’s 2014–2016 defense program is planning a 50 percent spending increase in its nuclear program,.…more

The Muslim Brotherhood in RussiaJ. Millard Burr – In the pre-Soviet epoch, Islamic law ruled every aspect of life in Central Asia and, to a lesser extent, throughout the Caucasus. In the Soviet Union severe restrictions were placed on Islam beginning in the late 1920s.  The Sharia, which serves as the Muslim code of law that regulates various aspects of social and community life, ceased to exist in any officially recognized manner.  Still, Islam was not extirpated; rather, it was driven underground…. In the last years of the Soviet Union an incipient jihadist movement, which evolved from the war in Afghanistan, was nearly always viewed by the Soviet press as something alien to or in conflict with Muslim traditions.  That was particularly true in the northern Caucasus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan—all of which would become especial targets of the international Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimun).…more

Russia’s Renewed Nuclear Threat – Part I Houston T. “Terry” Hawkins, Senior Fellow Los Alamos National Laboratory & ACD Board of Directors – …Putin’s actions come on the heels of the modernization of Russia’s nuclear weapons program. In stark contrast, the nuclear weapons research, testing, and production infrastructures of the United States have to decline through elimination and restructuring of organizations and reductions of workforces and budgets. These trends must be examined and evaluated. They certainly cannot be ignored. Tough Talk from the Bear: Russia’s recent actions to demonstrate its independence, military prowess, and new economic power are troubling…Russian spokesman Dmitry Kiselyov starkly reminded the United States that, “Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash.” In December 2013 President Putin had named Kiselyov to head a new state news agency charged with portraying Russia in the “most positive light.”…more

Islamists’ Political Power in the U.K. and U.S.Rachel Ehrenfeld – Tony Blair got it right. When asked about the consequences of the West’s intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, Britain’s former Prime Minister, once again reiterated “the reason it was tough in Iraq and tough in Afghanistan is the reason it is tough today…. It’s tough because terrorism is deep-rooted and it’s got very strong causes within the religion of Islam,” he is quoted saying.  Earlier this year, Blair pointed out that radical Islam destabilizes “communities and even nations. It is undermining the possibility of peaceful co-existence”…Blair is being mocked by the British and American leftist media which has been very careful not to blame Islam for violence and terrorism. Even the Royal family’s love affair with Saudi royals and Gulf Emirs, matched until recently only by the British Foreign Office, is being undermined by the Muslim Brotherhood…. Barack H. Obama dismissed hundreds of thousands of American petitioners to designate the Brotherhood. Instead, the White House issued this statement: “We have not seen credible evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood has renounced its decades-long commitment to non-violence.”…more

Reality vs. Virtual RealitySol W. Sanders – In the mid-1960s, I quit taking photographs for publication for my employer, US News & World Report, in addition to my writing. With my trusty little 35mm Leica body and Nikor lenses, I had blossomed from a rank amateur to become quite proficient. There were even battlefield pictures although I was not, as we said then, a “bang-bang reporter”. I was doing more overall reporting and analysis of a complicated political as well as military war in Vietnam and still nominally “covering” the rest of South and Southeast Asia. I quit for several reasons. I found that I was beginning to look at everything around me through an imaginary camera rangefinder, even before I put it to my eye….That now seemed to be what was happening with my camera: I was losing the overall perspective on the scene I was observing with my attention drawn to how to record it with the camera. There was another reason, as well. I found that nothing lied as much as a photograph, even perhaps more than words.…more

News & Analysis

Congress Passes Four Cybersecurity Bills – National Law Review

FBI: 90% Of Cyber Security Systems Out There Would Not Have Been Able To Block The Sony Hackers Business Insider

FCC reiterates jammer ban; extends E911 comment period – RCR Wireless News 

Kyiv to Launch Satellite TV Broadcasts to Russia and Russian-Occupied CrimeaPaul Goble

Iran’s Supreme Censor: The evolution of Ali Khamenei from sensitive lover of Western literature to enforcer of Islamic revolutionary orthodoxy. – Ali Alfoneh, Reuel Marc Gerecht

For homework, Kurds turn to Canadians – Steven Chase

Can Islamic State Feed the People It Conquers? Bloomberg

From Assad to Worse: Heightening the Contradictions in SyriaTAI Staff

US Jewish Groups Create Security Network Amid Growing Anti-Semitism  – Leor Alkadaa

Fort Hood. At last, a chance to right a wrong after the ‘workplace violence’ slaughter at Fort Hood by an Islamist fanatic.Dorothy Rabinowitz

Islam and Innocence: Canada’s PredicamentMichael Coren

Capitol Hill Hearings


Joint Subcommittee Hearing: After the Withdrawal: The Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Part III) – Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa – December 10

Russian Arms Control Cheating and the Administration’s Responses – Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces –  December 10

Joint Subcommittee Hearing: Russian Arms Control Cheating and the Administration’s ResponsesForeign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade – December 10

U.S. Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Integration, Oversight, and CompetitivenessTransportation Committee – December 10

Hearing: Countering ISIS: Are We Making Progress?Foreign Affairs Committee – December 10

Energy Subcommittee – The Future of Nuclear Energy Science Committee, Subcommittee on Energy – December 11


The Ebola Epidemic: The Keys To Success For The International Response –  Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on African Affairs – December 10

Authorization For The Use of Military Force Against ISILForeign Relations Committee – December 9

ISIL’s Reign of Terror: Confronting the Growing Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq and SyriaForeign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy, and Global Women’s Issues – December 9

GAO Reports

Aviation Security: Rapid Growth in Expedited Passenger Screening Highlights Need to Plan Effective Security Assessments, GAO-15-150: Published: Dec 12, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 12, 2014.

Missile Defense: Cost Estimating Practices Have Improved, and Continued Evaluation Will Determine Effectiveness, GAO-15-210R: Published: Dec 12, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 12, 2014.

Nuclear Weapons: DOD’s Plan for Implementing Nuclear Reductions Generally Addresses Statutory Requirements but Lacks Some Detail, GAO-15-89R: Published: Dec 11, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 11, 2014.

Unmanned Aerial Systems: Efforts Made toward Integration into the National Airspace Continue, but Many Actions Still Required, GAO-15-254T: Published: Dec 10, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 10, 2014.

Space Acquisitions: DOD Needs More Guidance on Decisions to Store Satellites, GAO-15-97R: Published: Dec 9, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 9, 2014.

CRS Reports

Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 113th CongressDana A. Shea, Specialist in Science and Technology Policy – December 11

Terrorism Risk Insurance Legislation: Issue Summary and Side-by-Side Analysis Baird Webel – Specialist in Financial Economics – December 11

Legal Sidebar – Anti-Terrorist/Anti-Money Laundering: Information-Sharing by Financial Institutions under FINCEN’s Regulations – December 10

Iran: U.S. Economic Sanctions and the Authority to Lift RestrictionsDianne E. Rennack, Specialist in Foreign Policy Legislation – December 11

The “Islamic State” Crisis and U.S. PolicyKenneth Katzman, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs; Christopher M. Blanchard, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs; Carla E. Humud, Analyst in Middle Eastern and African Affairs; Rhoda Margesson, Specialist in International Humanitarian Policy; Matthew C. Weed, Analyst in Foreign Policy Legislation – December 8

Israel: Background and U.S. RelationsJim Zanotti, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs – December 8

FY2015 Budget Requests to Counter Ebola and the Islamic State (IS)Susan B. Epstein, Coordinator, Specialist in Foreign Policy; Sarah A. Lister, Specialist in Public Health and Epidemiology; Amy Belasco, Specialist in U.S. Defense Policy and Budget; Don J. Jansen, Specialist in Defense Health Care Policy – December 9



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