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U.S. Spy Chiefs Dispute Trump Before Briefing Him on Hacking

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  • U.S. Spy Chiefs Dispute Trump Before Briefing Him on Hacking

A day before U.S. intelligence agencies take their case on hacking during the 2016 campaign directly to Donald Trump, spy chiefs publicly rebuffed the president-elect’s criticism of their work and reiterated that Russia’s most senior officials authorized the e-mail theft and disclosures.

“There is a difference between skepticism and disparagement,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday when asked about Trump’s repeated questioning of the intelligence agencies’ conclusions and reliability. “Public trust and confidence in the intelligence community is crucial.”

Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey are scheduled to brief Trump Friday on the hacking and leaks of e-mails from Democratic officials and organizations backing his campaign rival Hillary Clinton. They’ll face a skeptical interrogator in the president-elect, who has said “hacking is a very hard thing to prove” and that intelligence agencies have been wrong before.

But Clapper told the Senate panel that the intelligence agencies’ confidence in their findings is now “very high” and they are “even more resolute” in their findings about Russian involvement than when they first weighed in on the issue publicly on Oct. 7. Yet Clapper also emphasized that Russian hacking didn’t change the vote count that made Trump president.

He testified alongside Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre and Admiral Michael Rogers, who leads both the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.

The hearing — called by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona — highlighted a divide between Trump and some of his party’s most influential foreign policy hawks in Congress. Trump has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, while McCain and other lawmakers have said Russia, which has repeatedly denied the hacking accusations, should be punished with stiffer sanctions.

Rocks, Not Pebbles

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said “Putin is up to no good” and “it is time now not to throw pebbles, but rocks.” Addressing Trump’s barbs against the intelligence community, Graham said: “Mr. President-elect, when you listen to these people you can be skeptical, but understand they’re the best among us and they’re trying to protect us.”

Clapper said it “would be a good thing” if the U.S. and Russia could find areas where the countries’ interests could “converge,” as has happened in the past, “but there’s a threshold of behavior that’s unacceptable.”

In a series of tweets starting Jan. 3, Trump called an alleged delay in his briefing on the Russian hacks “very strange” and went on to quote an interview with fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who said on a Fox News opinion show this week that “a 14-year-old” could be responsible for computer breaches of Democratic Party offices last year. “Also said Russians did not give him the info!” Trump added in his posts.

Clapper and Rogers both said Assange had put U.S. lives in danger by publishing classified material on WikiLeaks in the past and shouldn’t be a credible source on the hacking issue. The intelligence community doesn’t have a “whole lot of respect for him,” Clapper said. When questioned if Trump’s comments are hurting morale among intelligence officers, Clapper said, “I hardly think it helps.”

Trump pushed back ahead of the hearing, saying on Twitter that “The dishonest media likes saying that I am in Agreement with Julian Assange – wrong. I simply state what he states, it is for the people…to make up their own minds as to the truth. The media lies to make it look like I am against ‘Intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan!”

Obama’s Advice

President Barack Obama said in a television interview Thursday that “it’s going to be important to make sure the president and the intelligence communities are both working on the best possible information.”

“My hope is that when the president-elect receives his own briefings and is able to examine the intelligence as his team has put together and they see how professional and effective these agencies are, that some of those current tensions will be reduced,” Obama told WMAQ-TV in Chicago.

Ultimately, even if Trump doesn’t trust the intelligence agencies’ judgment on Russia, he will need their help to understand other foreign policy issues and cybersecurity threats, including from China, Iran and North Korea, Beau Woods, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative in Washington, said in interview.

‘Unhelpful’

“The conclusion of the intelligence community was that they like skepticism — they’re in the business of being skeptics themselves,” Woods said. “However, to out-of-hand dismiss or disparage the intelligence that comes out of their processes, it’s unhelpful for finding the truth.”

At the start of the hearing, McCain, the committee’s chairman, called Russia’s hacking an “unprecedented attack” on U.S. democracy. He said “every American should be alarmed” by Russia’s attack.

In prepared remarks, the intelligence officials said Moscow “poses a major threat” to U.S. government, military, diplomatic, commercial and critical infrastructure networks. They also said Russia has developed a “highly advanced offensive cyber program.”

“Looking forward, Russian cyber operations will likely target the United States to gather intelligence, support Russian decision-making, conduct influence operations to support Russian military and political objectives, and prepare the cyber environment for future contingencies,” their statement said.

Public Disclosure

Clapper told the Senate panel that intelligence officials plan to brief Congress behind closed doors and release an unclassified version of their review to the public early next week. Although there are some sensitive sources and methods, he said he intends to “push the envelope as much as I can,” he said.

“The public should know as much as possible,” said Clapper, who described himself as “apolitical.” “We’ll be as forthcoming as we can.”

The White House already has the intelligence review, which Obama ordered be completed before he leaves office, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday.

“Men and women of the U.S. intelligence community are patriots. They’re experts. They’re dedicated to getting the facts right,” Earnest said.

After the hearing, Trump again took to Twitter, suggesting that the intelligence community’s report had been politicized after NBC News on Thursday night reported that it detailed attacks not only against the DNC, but the White House, State Department and Joint Chiefs of Staff.”Who gave them this report and why? Politics!” Trump tweeted.

Trump went on to claim the DNC would “not allow the FBI to study or see its computer info after it was supposedly hacked by Russia.” The tweet appeared to be a reference to a BuzzFeed story that revealed the FBI had relied on analysis by CrowdStrike, a third-party cyber security company.The FBI Thursday night confirmed that DNC officials rebuffed requests for direct access to the servers, forcing agents to rely on the third-party source.

‘Aggressive’ Posture

In recent years, the intelligence officials said in their statement, the Kremlin has assumed a more “aggressive cyber posture,” targeting government organizations, critical infrastructure, think tanks, universities, political organizations and corporations, often using phishing campaigns that give attackers access to computer networks. In some cases, Russian intelligence actors have “masqueraded as third parties” with false online identities to confuse the source of the hacking, they said.

The intelligence community and Cyber Command continue “hardening” internal U.S. government systems, the officials said. Still, as of late 2016, more than 30 nations are developing offensive cyber attack capabilities, the officials said in the statement. Terrorist groups are also using the internet to collect intelligence and incite action, such as Islamic State continuing to “seek opportunities to target and release sensitive information” about U.S. citizens.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

Nigeria Immigration Service Reopens Portal With New Passport Application and Payment Process

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Nigerian International passport- Investors King

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has announced the reopening of its passport application and payment portal.

The assistant comptroller of immigration, Mr Amos Okpu announced in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.

In the statement, Mr Muhammad Babandede, the Comptroller-General of the service, said the portal became effective for new applications from 12 midnight on Tuesday.

Babandede further said that the portal would allow eligible applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of passports of their choice.

Mr Muhammad Babandede explained that with the reopening of the portal, a new passport application and payment regime had begun.

The statement in full:

“The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (CGI), Muhammad Babandede MFR, has announced the reopening of the Passport application and payment portal effective 8th June 2021 by 12 midnight to allow eligible Passport applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of Passports of their choice.

The Passport portal was closed following the directives of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the 17th of May, 2021to afford the Service the opportunity to clear all backlogs of applications that have piled up across Issuing Centres in the past few months.

With the reopening of the portal, a new Passport application and payment regime have commenced. Under the new Passport regime;

Applications and payments for Passport services shall be made through the Service website www.immigration.gov.ng;

  • applicants are expected to visit the portal to apply and upload their support documents for vetting and processing;
  • a chat room facility to guide applicants through the application and payment process has been provided on the portal;
  • upon successful applications, applicants shall make their online booking interview/enrollment appointment on any day, time and location they consider convenient;
  • that the new timeline for Passport production and issuance after a successful enrollment at the selected Issuing Centre shall be six weeks for Fresh applications and three weeks for Re-issue (Renewal applications);
  • that no applicant who is yet to make an online application and payment shall be allowed into any of the Passport Issuing Centres for Passport processing;
  • applicants will be contacted through email and phone number they provided during application when their Passports are ready;
  • a helpline with the number 08021819988 has been provided for feedback mechanism on any challenges.

The Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede MFR wishes to use this medium to call on Nigerians and indeed Passport applicants to avoid patronizing touts as the entire process has been made seamless for effective and efficient service delivery. He warned Passport racketeers to desist from acts capable of undermining the reform efforts to avoid very strict sanctions.

Signed AMOS OKPU MNIPR
ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER OF IMMIGRATION
SERVICE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
For: COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF IMMIGRATION 8TH JUNE, 2021″

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INEC To Publish The List Of New Polling Units Next Week

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to publish a comprehensive list of its new polling units across the nation next week.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja.

Yakubu was speaking at the formal handing over of a new state of the art fire truck, deployed to the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja by the Federal Fire Service (FFS).

He said that details of the locations of its registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration for resumption of nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) would be made available in the second week of May.

He expressed appreciation of the commission to the FFS and all security agencies for the demonstration of their support to protecting INEC facilities

He said that the support was coming on the eve of the resumption of the CVR nationwide in the next three weeks.

“We earlier assured Nigerians that we shall conclude work on the expansion of voter access to polling units and make the new polling units available to citizens ahead of the CVR exercise.

“I am glad to report that we have accomplished this task for the first time in 25 years.

“A comprehensive list of the new polling units will be published next week.

“Similarly, details of the locations of the registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration will also be made available after a series of regular consultative meetings with stakeholders next week,” Yakubu said.

He said that as a member of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) FFS had been as concerned as other security agencies about the recent attacks on our offices across the country.

“This is particularly so because out of the 42 attacks on our facilities nationwide, 18 incidents resulted from arson and three more by a combination of arson and vandalisation.”

Yakubu recalled that concerned by those incidents, the commission convened an emergency meeting of ICCES last week of April, where the security agencies renewed their determination to collaborate more with the commission.

According to him, they pledged to assist the commission address the challenge beyond the routine protection of INEC assets and the security of its officials, voters, observers, the media, candidates and their agents during elections.

“On its part, the Federal Fire Service offered to deploy an additional state-of-the-art fire engine to the INEC headquarters to complement the two existing trucks.

“At the same time, it directed its state offices to take additional protective measures around other INEC facilities nationwide.

“Today’s inauguration of the new fire engine is another affirmation of the support to the commission from the FFS whose personnel, already deployed permanently to the commission

“The personnel will continue to operate and maintain the fire engines and other firefighting equipment installed by INEC,” Yakubu said.

Speaking earlier, the Controller-General (CG) of FFS, Alhaji Liman Ibrahim said the deployment of the firefighting truck was premised on recent fire attacks on INEC offices in different parts of the country.

Ibrahim, represented by the Assistant Controller-General of the service, Mr Samson Karebo, said the deployed truck would serve as fire cover for the premises of INEC headquarters and the entire Maitama vicinity of Abuja.

“The FFS is taking this step as a proactive measure to protect our critical infrastructure and help to protect our economy by forming synergy with all stakeholders in protecting our environments.

“Our center is focused on bringing firefighting operations to every part of the country as part of our statutory duties by having a presence in virtually every state in Nigeria

“The FFS will very soon be moving into all senatorial headquarters in the country. That is how we want to operate for now so that we can touch every corner of this country,” Ibrahim said.

He called for the cooperation of all for the service to better serve the nation by not molesting FFS staff in the line of duty.

In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, who is also Co-Chair of ICCES, described the deployment of the truck as a demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to sustain Nigeria’s democracy and address insecurity.

Monguno said that the gesture also symbolised commitment to a clear affirmation of Buhari toward protecting institutions of government, toward securing their property, toward fighting acts of irresponsibility, vandalisation and outright criminality.

“The President is determined as much as he can within the confines of legality to suppress any kind of criminality and destruction of public property.

“This is something that he is determined to do regardless of whatever the challenges are.

“He will apply all the resources in his disposal in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to ensure the wider Nigerian society is safe, stable and is allowed to carry out its legitimate undertaking, free from any act of insecurity,” he said

Monguno urged all other security agencies not to relent in ensuring that they continued to protect lives and property.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba pledged commitment to security agencies to work with INEC and protect INEC’s facilities, citizens’ life and property.

Also at the occasion was the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, represented by Director of Joint Services, Mr Peter Obodo; as well as the representative of Director-General, Directorate of State Services, Tony Adikweruka.

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Recovered Assets: Ad-hoch Committee Gives Emefiele, Others 72 Hours Ultimatum

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House of representatives

The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee, investigating recovered assets, has given the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, 72 hours to appear before it.

The committee also issued same ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh.

The summon was issued on Monday, after Mr Emefiele and the others failed to appear before the committee.

The government officials had sent representatives, but the committee chairman, Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Ondo), said they failed to forward letters to that effect.

He said allowing representatives without a proper letter of introduction would be akin to allowing “impersonators.”

You are indirectly insulting the House of Representatives. You are undermining the House of Representatives,” an angry Mr Adeogun said.

Moving a motion to give the agencies 72hours to appear before the committee, Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), said the agencies created by Acts of the parliament “should not be undermining the parliament”.

The motion was unanimously adopted by the committee.

Mr Isiaka suggested that the House should shut down its activities if the agencies fail to appear before them.

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