American Culture

Let’s talk, America: have your heard about Trump’s nomination of Krebs?

deepstateDisarray at DHS seems to be the new normal

Remember that weird media site I stumbled into, Executive Mosaic?  They report that Krebs “served as director of cybersecurity policy within Microsoft‘s U.S. government affairs team, a principal of Obsidian Analysis and a vice president of Dutko.”

Am I just being cynical when I read “director of … policy within Microsoft’s U.S. government affairs team” as policy wonk with weird policy credentials to serve that role in the public/private partnership evidently at work in our nation’s cybersecurity apparatus?

Who is Obsidian Analysis? “A professional services firm providing analytical and policy consulting for homeland security, national security and intelligence decision makers. Obsidian provides national security clients with pragmatic services to their most important analytical and policy challenges.”

And who is this Cadmus Group that acquired Obsidian Analysis? According to Bloomberg (which has a far more concise description than Cadmus itself does), “The Cadmus Group, Inc. provides technical and strategic consultancy services in the United States and internationally.”

So, Cadmus acquired Obsidian Analysis, for whom Krebs worked. Both companies appear to be government consulting specialists of one sort or another, but most especially of the sort that appears to help pair government disbursers of money with private takers of money in consideration for services rendered.

I’m sure it’s not fair, but I’m curious what an example of Cadmus’ services might look like. I found this at UtilityDive.

“In a new report, consulting firm Cadmus Group says energy storage development in the Pacific Northwest is stymied by the lack of a compelling business case, policies and pricing structures that favor large power plant development over distributed energy resources, sluggish movement towards grid resiliency planning, and potential concerns about storage technology lifetimes.”

I don’t know the first thing about running utilities, even less about this energy storage development issue. Is this a sustainable energy thing? If so, does it matter where the PNW gets 80% of its energy from inexpensive hydropower,  mostly run by the Bonneville Power Administration, a “nonprofit federal power marketing administration based in the Pacific Northwest.”

How much rocket surgery do I need to know to see that the report generated by Cadmus would have one think that inexpensive fed/non-profit-run hydropower is an impediment to something something private enterprise profits?

Okay, that kind of Cadmus acquired Obsidian Analysis, and Obsidian Analysis specializes in homeland security consultation.

It’s all so matter of fact. How comfortable should we be with private/public partnerships of this nature when it comes to the security of the homeland? At the end of the day, who does OA serve, us? Or its investors? Is it wrong to wonder?

Is that the kind of experience in Krebs we want as Undersecretary of NPPD?

Is that swampy? Or swampy drainy?

Personally, I’m a little sketched out by the idea that Cadmus has an international clientele. Maybe they’re 100% squeaky clean, a-okay, wunderbar. It happens. Most businesses don’t make the headlines as collections of profit-before-principle wreakers of havoc. We just hear about the bad eggs.

And we’re not supposed to think too much about that whole private/public partnering on national security thing with companies serving other national clients whose interests might not be our security.

Am I wrong to wonder how mercenary such a company might be should it ever have the wrong hands at the tiller? I’m not trying to sound paranoid, just difficult. It is national security, after all, and not ticket-taking at a high-school football game.

Sure, there’s clearances involved. Can you recall any times in recent memory where clearances didn’t end up meaning squat? Manning (for better or for worse)? Or how about all those insider anonymous sources we hear about from pretty much every major media outlet with great regularity? I operate under the general assumption that most plausible things that can be imagined have a greater than zero rate of occurrence. On national security, am I weird for liking the rate of bad occurrences getting as close to zero as possible? Is it weird to think removing an overt profit motive from the picture moves use closer to zero, rather than away? Am I right in thinking profit motive creates a greater than zero probability of moving farther from zero?

Are we just being reckless?

Hold on, where else did Kreb work when not part of the revolving door industry? That’s, right. Dutko. Who? According to Wiki, Dutko is a “bipartisan lobbying firm that offers ‘comprehensive public policy management.'”

Am I just being weird when I think I’m noticing not only extreme disarray in DHS where our cybersecurity is concerned, but that Trump’s plan is to drain the swamp a little more by replacing it with something murkier?

Am I wrong for thinking that inquiring minds might want to know who some of Dutko’s and Cadmus Group’s clients might be? Are any of those clients, let’s say, um, Russian?

That is just empty speculation at this point. But would that be weird?

And what about that little surprise extra I found, Executive Mosaic? I keep coming back to that, and it has nothing apparent to connect it to any of the DHS/Trump spectacle other than reportage. Very timely reportage. Timely reportage more relevant and certainly more up to date (seemingly) than NBC’s. Who are these guys? Well, the footer says the founder and president is Jim Garrettson.

Jim Garrettson would appear to be a person in the know, what with making his way in the world by developing a newsletter service that helps industry pros keep in touch. You know. As they do at the kind of place called The Potomac Officers Club.

The what? In their own words, POC is a:

“…membership Organization focused on executives within Government and the Government Contracting (GovCon) community. POC is dedicated to weaving an executive level fabric for the benefit of this community. POC provides an opportunity to learn from peer business executives and government thought leaders, while creating an outstanding forum to develop key business and partnering relationships. Government officials are able to hear collectively from the leadership of the companies that provide their mission critical services, and report that the POC is the perfect forum to engage in meaningful dialogue on current issues.”

The Potomac Officers Club (POC) is an executive-only Organization whose 1,600+ members collectively manage $75 billion in government contracting. Service providers and the professional networking crowd are excluded. Participants join to hear headline speakers cover headline topics. They find great value in building their credibility and becoming known among their peer group.”

Okay. A very exclusive professional club of people with $75 billion to spend and the contacts to help spend those dollars.

Entirely prudently of course.

Garrettson’s business is apparently to be up to date on what’s what and who’s doing whom. Maybe NBC would do well to hire him as a consultant?

I don’t want to make much hay of groups like POC yet. They’re a dot that may or may not ever get connected to anything. For the moment, let’s just say I take them as emblematic of something I can’t put my finger on yet.

Stay tuned. We haven’t really done more than mention Deep State so far because we got a little tied up looking at what the Kremlin may or may not have been up to where voter rolls are concerned. They want you thinking about the deep state, however. And that’s why we should talk about it, and why we should talk about what we are or aren’t doing to either aid or stymie Russia in what they may or may not be doing.

From Politico:

“After the success of the viral #ReleaseTheMemo campaign, Russian-influenced Twitter accounts are test-running other hashtags designed to stoke anger, particularly among supporters of President Donald Trump, against “deep state” forces, according to analysts at Hamilton 68, a website that tracks Russian-influenced Twitter accounts.”

Is it burying the lede if I bring that up again next time right on top?

For that matter, I keep mentioning DHS without asking an obvious question. When did we stop asking whether or not DHS is even a good idea? That was a Bush-era post-9/11 intel org put together to try and keep everything under one umbrella. All that stuff about the government spying on US citizens with the heel-dragging (according to PR) assistance of the telecom industry happened after that. So many things happened after that.

And when Krebs faces the Senate for confirmation, which GOP senators do you think will leap to vote “yea?” because of (or in spite of) his credentials? Which Dem senators?

Do you feel well served?