Confederate flag debate cooked up for lemmings; politicians want China’s OPM hack forgotten

Confederate FlagAn interesting thing happened after the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church massacre in South Carolina — politicians and their willing media accomplices turned the actions of Dylann Roof into a weird, week-long debate on the Confederate flag. As The Joker might say: It’s all part of the plan.” It’s much easier to talk about the Confederate flag than a U.S. cybersecurity failure of epic proportions.

CNN reported Monday:

Washington — The personal data of an estimated 18 million current, former and prospective federal employees were affected by a cyber breach at the Office of Personnel Management – more than four times the 4.2 million the agency has publicly acknowledged. The number is expected to grow, according to U.S. officials briefed on the investigation.

FBI Director James Comey gave the 18 million estimate in a closed-door briefing to Senators in recent weeks, using the OPM’s own internal data, according to U.S. officials briefed on the matter. Those affected could include people who applied for government jobs, but never actually ended up working for the government. …

Katherine Archuleta, who leads OPM, is beginning to face heat for her agency’s failure to protect key national security data — highly prized by foreign intelligence agencies — as well as for how slowly the agency has provided information.

This is bad. Really bad. Really, really, really bad. (Should I go for the quadruple toe loop?) And yet, for whatever reason, cable news and social media have focused relentlessly on the Confederate flag — for days.

The message is simple: Look at the shiny thing over here and ignore that (likely) act of war over in the corner.

When does a cybersecurity breach become an act of war? When do the actions of state-sponsored hackers require the U.S. president to respond with force? Those are incredibly difficult questions to answer, but they demand to be asked after a world power steals the personal data on 18 million federal employees.

Politico spoke with ex-NSA senior counsel member Joel Brenner on the OPM hack. Here is what he had to say June 12:

The hackers are believed to have obtained data from a security intake form known as a Standard Form-86, which includes details such as financial trouble, past convictions, drug use and close relationships with citizens of other countries. The form is used for background checks of current, former and prospective federal employees.

“This is crown jewels material … a gold mine for a foreign intelligence service,” said Joel Brenner, a former NSA senior counsel.

The damage that has been done to U.S. national security because of this breach is enormous. Heads must roll in very public fashion, but to date there has essentially been silence on the part of President Obama and all of Congress.

Think of how bad the situation must truly be if Republicans have found themselves with a collective case of laryngitis.

If hordes of Chinese spies were found to be repelling into government buildings late one Saturday night, then there would be no question that a tough response was required. If video showed up of those same exact spies successfully taking off with backpacks filled with sensitive data, then there would be no choice but to cover the story. For some reason, however, there seems to be the belief that if it happens in cyberspace then it never happened.

Do not buy into the Confederate flag debate. You are being misdirected. You are being played for fools. A cyberattack that should define the presidency of Mr. Obama happened on his watch, and elected officials of all stripes are doing their best to change the subject.

Politicians in Washington, D.C. have one responsibility that trumps all others — to protect the American people — and they failed. Miserably. Because of that, they now want U.S. citizens focused on the failures of our forefathers. I encourage you not to take part in this pitiful charade.

Dylann Roof forgiven by victims’ Christian families during bond hearing; world gets glimpse of God

Dylann Roof forgivenIn a recent blog post I mentioned that God had the power to bring a greater good out of any act of evil. The world is seeing that play out just two days after a massacre that killed nine Christians at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Dylann Roof allegedly said he wanted to start a “race war” by slaughtering the innocents inside, but his actions only gave the world a taste of true Christianity: Family members of the victims have already forgiven him.

CNN reported June 19:

Dylann Roof heard words of forgiveness from families of some of the nine people he’s accused of killing.

His response: A blank expression.

Wearing a striped inmate jumpsuit, the 21-year-old appeared Friday afternoon by video feed at a bond hearing in Charleston, South Carolina. He stood motionless while listening to the anguished words of relatives of victims he allegedly gunned down Wednesday night at a Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

“I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you,” a daughter of Ethel Lance said. “And have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people but God forgives you, and I forgive you.”

Watching the reaction of casual observers on social media indicates that many members of the Twitter mob have never really been introduced to true Christianity. If they were familiar with the religion, then they would know that Christians literally have no other choice but to forgive — our very souls depend on it.

Rev. T.G. Morrow talks about this very fact in his book Overcoming Sinful Anger. He says on page 25:

“In the Our Father, Jesus tied our being forgiven to the forgiveness of others ( Matt.6:9-13). And this is the only part of the Our Father that he elaborates on, saying “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses (Matt. 6:14-15).

Forgiveness is one of the most fundamental things we are called to practice as Christians. Unforgiveness is an indication that we are not truly in touch with our faith. Must we forgive immediately? No, but we shouldn’t delay too long to begin the process. It may take time, but in the end, we must do it.”

A national audience of tens-of-millions of people will now be exposed to an awesome power that allows men and women to forgive cold-blooded killers in the blink of an eye. Millions of people whose only introduction to Christianity has been the jabs of light night comedians or the mockery seen on many sitcoms will now step back and seriously ask, “What’s going on here?”

Think of all the rotten behavior you’ve engaged in over the years. Think of every mean thing you have ever said to someone. Think of every act of malice you’ve committed, no matter how small. Think of all the lies and all the deceit that you have contributed to the world. Add all of it up and imagine it as a giant pool with size and shape.

Now consider this: all of it was seen by your Creator, but He is actually willing to forgive you for all of it — if you only walk towards Him with a contrite heart.

Dylann Roof may have wanted to start a “race war,” but at this rate it looks like his plan is going to spectacularly fail. One can only hope that he uses his time behind bars to revisit the faith that allowed his victims’ families to literally forgive him overnight.