Hillary Seegar, New Hampshire Board Member

Giving Isis too much credit doesn’t at all serve our interests

December 21, 2015  |  Blog

To The Daily Sun,

In the latest 007 film, the British secret agent faces a formidable adversary — a global crime syndicate with informants, agents and influence all over the world.

Given the string of violent attacks and discovery of cells in Egypt, Lebanon, Paris and Brussels, it might looks like ISIS is a real-life Spectre: a global, far-reaching, uniform movement with tentacles in every conflict, carefully managed by a small group of men.

The reality is very different, and what makes ISIS so dangerous, and so hard to track and disrupt. It is far from a centrally controlled hierarchy, and a good portion of the violence and terror in the last year has in fact been done by self-radicalized adherents, not foreign fighters. ISIS is not responsible for all insurrections and insurgencies we are seeing, but it does have a growing hand in many.

Click here for the full article.

Ted Fienning, South Carolina Board Member

Voters need to vet military policy

December 19, 2015  |  Blog

When the United States announced the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were over and that our troops were coming home, the declared end of hostilities must have felt supremely ironic to the highly trained and heavily armed soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines still preparing to deploy (or re-deploy) to those harsh environments.

Despite naively optimistic rhetoric from the Obama administration in the face of new attacks, the world continues to be a dangerous place where enemies of individual freedom train daily to subdue their neighbors, marshal resources and prepare for the day they can show their might by attacking us at home. The discussion about how our country should best navigate this complex reality of hostile thugs, self-proclaimed caliphates, and terror-sponsoring nations must remain a focus of the presidential primary process in spite of the media’s focus on candidate personality.

Comparing successful conflicts like the original Desert Storm (with clear, limited objectives and a sound post-conflict political solution) to Vietnam or the Iraq and Afghanistan wars of the past 14 years, one can see that having the strongest military in the world is only at its most effective when the leadership, orders and vision of our civilian government are clear.

Click here for the full article.

Mike Rogers, Chairman APPS

Don’t base policy on false narrative: Opposing view

December 15, 2015  |  Blog

To deny our intelligence services the tools needed to keep Americans safe is shortsighted and naive.

The challenges to our national security have never been greater. From international organized crime selling dirty-bomb materials on the black market, to sophisticated terrorists recruiting and planning attacks in America, the challenge to get our national security right is daunting.

The debate about what our intelligence services were and are doing on the subject of surveillance continues to be based on inaccurate, misleading accounts, sensationalized by the news media and some politicians, leading the public to believe a false narrative.

The phone records “metadata” program did not and does not collect the content of conversations, just the “to” and “from” billing data routinely provided by companies. The NSA contractor who leaked program details helped create a false narrative and led terrorists to change tactics.

The narrow metadata program stored anonymous information for a machine to run matches against known terrorists’ numbers, following a court-approved process. To call that storage invasive belies the reality of, and restrictions on, its use. Additionally, critics gloss over 38 terror plots in the U.S. and Europe the program helped prevent.

The program was recently changed so that telecom companies, rather than the NSA, hold the data. The companies store the data for different time periods, in different formats — creating a challenge for the FBI in an emergency. The attackers in San Bernardino, Calif., for example, could have been in touch with other operatives in the USA unknown to the FBI. The data needed to quickly identify a terrorist network is no longer immediately available to the FBI.

Though intelligence is not an exact science, our intelligence community has successes every day. Most of these accomplishments are never made known. To deny our intelligence services the tools needed to keep Americans safe is both shortsighted and naive.

The program was created after 9/11 when an intelligence gap was discovered. In light of San Bernardino, the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, the program should be strengthened.