The Democrats don’t love Russia any more 1

Our anti-Trump media accepted the January 6 report, Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections, because it was designed to convey the impression that Trump was favored by the Russians.

But it is the Democrats who have long enjoyed (if that is the right word) a warm relationship with Russian regimes in both their Soviet Socialist and crony-capitalist mode. At least the Dems wanted to. Whether the Russians ever reciprocated the warm feeling remains a matter of conjecture. Skeptics and Republicans will have one opinion, Democrats and other Leftists another.

We quote from an article by Cliff Kincaid at GOPUSA:

The Russians obtained favored nation trading status under President Obama, giving them access to U.S. capital, and New START, a nuclear weapons agreement giving Moscow a strategic advantage.

Historically, the Russians have always found the Democrats to be friendlier to their global ambitions.

Professor Paul Kengor broke a story on how “the liberals’ lover-boy”, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), had “reached out to Victor Chebrikov at the KGB and Yuri Andropov at the Kremlin” to work against President Ronald Reagan.

Remember that, you who are outraged by the notion – born in your own minds – that President-elect Trump conspired with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton in the recent election.

Such a charge [of Trump-Putin conspiracy] was welcomed by the liberal media, in particular because it allowed them to divert attention away from the substance of the WikiLeaks revelations that showed how major journalists worked hand-in-glove with Hillary Clinton-for-president staffers. These disclosures were in emails hacked from the account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee.

Not even the persons most eager to smear Donald Trump claimed that the scandalous contents of the purloined emails (see here and here) were not true or not genuine. In fact the intelligence report positively states that they are true.

The IC report says that WikiLeaks, an alleged Russian agent, disseminated truthful information. “Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries,” the report says.

This is quite a turnaround for the Russians. In the past the Russians would alter or forge documents to make people look bad. This time, the Russians revealed the truth. … Of course, the Russians do not provide accurate and truthful information to their own people and they conduct propaganda and disinformation campaigns targeting foreign audiences. Their alleged illegal hacking into the private accounts of Americans cannot be justified. But Podesta and other Democrats can be criticized for failing to safeguard their own information and virtually inviting foreign hacking.

Russian intentions in allegedly providing the emails to WikiLeaks are a subject worthy of attention. But the conclusion that the Russians favored Trump over Clinton cannot be sustained by the evidence in the report. The IC report fails miserably in articulating how the Russians use dialectical maneuvers in playing both sides of the political street in the U.S.

One of the glaring omissions in the report on Russian interference in “recent elections” is the failure to address the evidence that RT [Russia Today] television was giving enormously favorable coverage in the 2012 presidential campaign to then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a libertarian with pro-Russia views on foreign policy. He ran in the Republican presidential primary. …

Of course, Obama won that election, after dismissing his Republican opponent Mitt Romney’s claim that Russia was a geopolitical threat to the United States. Obama had been caught on an open mic before the election promising to be “flexible” in changing his positions to benefit Russia. These comments provide more evidence that Obama was never the anti-Russian figure he postured as in the final days of his second term. …

Obama’s various federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, the FCC and the FEC, refused to take any direct action against RT over the years when it was engaging in anti-Republican activities and supporting the progressive movement.

But when they saw they could use RT as a weapon against Trump, they suddenly became concerned about foreign interference in the U.S. political process.

Although the IC report insists that the Russians had a “preference” for Donald J. Trump for president … back in August of 2015 …  RT was backing “Bolshevik Bernie” Sanders for president. … Yet the intelligence community report makes no mention of RT programs backing Sanders, whose Russian connections included visiting the Soviet Union on his honeymoon. Sanders was a fellow traveler of the Moscow-controlled U.S. Peace Council.

The focus on Trump runs counter to the stated purpose of the report and reflects the political bias therein. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) says that “On December 9, 2016, President Barack Obama directed the Intelligence Community to conduct a full review and produce a comprehensive intelligence report assessing Russian activities and intentions in recent U.S. elections.” (emphasis added). Yet, nothing is said about RT’s involvement in the 2012 contest that Obama won.

The U.S. Intelligence Community is described as “a coalition of 17 agencies and organizations, including the ODNI,” but only three were involved in the report. They were the CIA, FBI and NSA. It is generally believed that CIA Director John Brennan was the guiding force behind the Obama administration effort to blame the Russians for Trump’s election victory. Former CIA officials Michael Morell, Michael Hayden and Philip Mudd had all denounced Trump.

It certainly looks as if the CIA interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Perhaps blaming the Russians was an attempt to get the attention off the agency.

Brennan was accused of converting to Islam when he was stationed in Saudi Arabia. His CIA under Obama’s orders directed the shipment of arms to jihadist groups in the Middle East. At a congressional panel on diversity in hiring, he admitted voting Communist when he was in college.

His focus at the agency has been on hiring people with “diverse” backgrounds, such as transgenders, and he even signed a policy document on a “Diversity and Inclusion Strategy” for the years 2016 to 2019, beyond his tenure as director.

Rather than go down in history with a reputation for defending America, … Brennan “would prefer his legacy be the way he fought to nurture a workforce that reflected America’s diversity”. The Journal added, “During his tenure he has put particular emphasis on promoting the interests of gay, lesbian, and transgender officers. He was the first CIA director to attend an annual social gathering of LGBTQ employees and has been known to wear a rainbow lanyard around the office as a symbol of solidarity.”

It looks like the focus on “diversity” in hiring has taken precedence over getting the facts right about foreign threats. Indeed, some observers, such as former FBI agent John Guandolo, have suggested that President Trump should abolish and replace the CIA with a new organization. “In 15 years they haven’t gotten a strategic analysis of the threat right — yet”  …

The CIA will have to answer to its new director, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Trump’s pick to run the agency.

But the media have a lot to answer for as well.

If WikiLeaks has suddenly became a Russian front or conduit, why are American news organizations such as The New York Times and The Washington Post still included among the “partners” with WikiLeaks in distributing its information? Other partners include the British Guardian, The Intercept, The Nation, McClatchy, The Wall Street Journal, and, of course, RT. 

If WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a Russian agent, why did major U.S. media organizations partner with him? Why did they not investigate him …? Assange was considered a courageous whistleblower by the liberal press. They hailed WikiLeaks for releasing the classified documents that were stolen by Army intelligence analyst Bradley/Chelsea Manning, whose sentence for espionage has been shortened by Obama.

Obama has commuted Bradley’s 35 year sentence, allowing the convict to be freed in May 2017 – iniquitously, and in contradiction to his outrage at the Russian interference that he alleges.

In addition to these issues and questions, some parts of the report lend themselves to a far different interpretation of Russian motives in U.S. politics.

For example, the IC report notes that RT ran a story against fracking, a technique that has sparked U.S. oil and gas production. The report says, “RT runs anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health. This is likely reflective of the Russian Government’s concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom’s profitability.”

The 2016 Democratic Party platform is highly critical of fracking. So does this mean the Democrats are doing the bidding of Putin? The progressive movement is almost completely against fracking. Does that mean that the progressives are puppets of Putin? …

By [an] objective measure of actual policies,Trump will prove to be more harmful to Russia than Hillary Clinton could ever hope to be.

And she surely would not have hoped to be harmful to Russia – not to Russia – when she was still in a position to hope for any effect on international relations. Fortunately, that time has passed.

We had noted RT’s favorable coverage of the Occupy movement. Of course, Occupy Wall Street was a left-wing political movement aligned with the progressives and even encouraged by President Obama. So does this mean that Obama was doing the bidding of the Russians?

The IC report explains how RT bypassed American laws such as the Foreign Agents Registration Act “by using a Moscow-based autonomous nonprofit organization to finance its US operations”. The report goes on, “According to RT’s leadership, this structure was set up to avoid the Foreign Agents Registration Act and to facilitate licensing abroad. In addition, RT rebranded itself in 2008 to deemphasize its Russian origin.” Still, the financing for the channel comes from the Russian government, the report says.

So RT is, and has been, a foreign state-funded entity that should be subject to federal oversight from agencies such as the Department of Justice, the FCC, and the FEC. Yet, only now, after Hillary Clinton has lost the presidential election, has the IC been ordered to release a public report on what the Russian channel has been doing in U.S. elections.

The only thing that has changed over the years is that RT is now somehow considered to be a factor in Hillary Clinton’s defeat.

If the liberal media are now truly concerned about Russian influence in the U.S. political process, rather than just using the issue as a weapon against Trump, they should … review their own “partner” relationship with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

After this review is complete, they should take another look at the IC report and determine why and how agencies like the CIA became adjuncts of the Democratic Party with a partisan bias against the new Republican president.

Since we know that the media and the Democrats work hand-in-glove, perhaps it’s time to investigate the CIA’s relationship with the media.

Yes. Tomorrow, January 20, 2017, will be the day when that becomes possible, and sometime soon may it become an active process!

Hacking: the US does it best 1

How the U.S. Government Hacks the World is the title of an article by Michael Riley published by Bloomberg in May, 2013.

On a dispute over hacking between the U.S. and China, the author writes:

“‘You spy, we spy, but you just steal the wrong stuff.’ That’s a hard conversation,” says Michael Hayden, who headed the NSA [under President Clinton and President G.W Bush], and later the CIA.

States spying on states, I got that,” says Hayden … “But this isn’t that competition. This is a nation-state attempting espionage on private corporations. That is not an even playing field.”

The tension between the two nations escalated in May, when a Pentagon report to Congress for the first time officially linked China’s government directly to the hacking of U.S. defense contractors. It revealed that U.S. intelligence had been tracking a vast hacking bureaucracy adept at stealing technology from American companies. China’s leaders have long denied being behind the hacks. An article about the Pentagon report in the official People’s Daily newspaper called the U.S. the “real hacking empire”. 

The U.S. government doesn’t deny that it engages in cyber espionage.

Hayden is quoted as saying:

You’re not waiting for someone to decide to turn information into electrons and photons and send it. You’re commuting to where the information is stored and extracting the information from the adversaries’ network. We are the best at doing it. Period.”

The U.S. position is that some kinds of hacking are more acceptable than others — and the kind the NSA does is in keeping with unofficial, unspoken rules going back to the Cold War about what secrets are OK for one country to steal from another.  …

Next the writer introduces us to TAO:

The men and women who hack for the NSA belong to a secretive unit known as Tailored Access Operations.

It gathers vast amounts of intelligence on terrorist financial networks, international money-laundering and drug operations, the readiness of foreign militaries, even the internal political squabbles of potential adversaries, according to two former U.S. government security officials, who asked not to be named when discussing foreign intelligence gathering.

For years, the NSA wouldn’t acknowledge TAO’s existence. A Pentagon official who also asked not to be named confirmed that TAO conducts cyber espionage, or what the Department of Defense calls “computer network exploitation”, but emphasized that it doesn’t target technology, trade, or financial secrets. The official says the number of people who work for TAO is classified. …

The two former security officials agreed to describe the operation and its activities without divulging which governments or entities it targets. According to the former officials, U.S. cyberspies, most from military units who’ve received specialized training, sit at consoles running sophisticated hacking software, which funnels information stolen from computers around the world into a “fusion center”, where intelligence analysts try to make sense of it all. The NSA is prohibited by law from spying on people or entities within the U.S., including noncitizens, or on U.S. citizens abroad.

According to one of the former officials, the amount of data the unit harvests from overseas computer networks, or as it travels across the Internet, has grown to an astonishing 2 petabytes an hour—that’s nearly 2.1 million gigabytes, the equivalent of hundreds of millions of pages of text.

The agency has managed to automate much of the process, one of the former officials says, requiring human hackers to intervene only in cases of the most well-protected computers. Just like spies in the physical world, the U.S. cyberspies take pains to obscure their tracks or disguise themselves as something else — hackers from China, say — in case their activities are detected.

Even as the rest of the Pentagon budget shrinks, the importance of the NSA’s hacking operations has helped create a booming cyber-industrial complex. Specialized units of big defense contractors, and boutique firms that create hacking tools, look for security flaws in popular software programs that allow government hackers to take over computers. A company called KEYW does a robust business training hackers for U.S. intelligence, says Chief Executive Officer Leonard Moodispaw, who cautions that he can’t reveal more. “Our federal partners don’t like it if we’re too explicit.”

All this activity gives China leverage against Washington’s complaints, says Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. Beijing can turn U.S. protests about industrial espionage around and claim that Washington is doing something even worse. “It’s OK to steal plans for a new automobile,” Aftergood says the Chinese can argue, “but not our national secrets.”

Spiegel OnLine reported in October, 2013:

TAO specialists have directly accessed the protected networks of democratically elected leaders of countries. They infiltrated networks of European telecommunications companies and gained access to and read mails sent over Blackberry’s BES email servers, which until then were believed to be securely encrypted. Achieving this last goal required a “sustained TAO operation”, one document states.

This TAO unit is born of the Internet – created in 1997, a time when not even 2 percent of the world’s population had Internet access and no one had yet thought of Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. From the time the first TAO employees moved into offices at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the unit was housed in a separate wing, set apart from the rest of the agency. Their task was clear from the beginning – to work around the clock to find ways to hack into global communications traffic.

To detect Russian hacking into the – easily hacked – DNC communications, TAO hacked into Russian communications.

“You spy, we spy … States spying on states …” 

That’s the norm. And it’s good to know that the U.S. does it best.

Posted under China, Russia, United States by Jillian Becker on Saturday, January 7, 2017

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Whose CIA? 5

The Democrats who cannot bear to accept the result of the presidential election, and their toady press, are trying to delegitimize the election of Donald Trump by various ineffectual means.

One was declaring that this time, for the first time ever, the number of popular votes for a candidate should decide the winner, not the number of Electoral College votes (and Hillary Clinton, they say, won the popular vote). Won’t work.

Another was to join with a Green candidate who got a few votes in demanding a recount in certain states that they feel deeply should have preferred Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump. Didn’t work.

Next comes their attempt to get a majority of the super-delegates of the Electoral College to vote for Hillary Clinton even though their duty is to vote for Donald Trump. Won’t work.

Another ploy is to imply that the election is of dubious validity because the CIA has concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 election.

According to the Washington Post of September 5, 2016:  :

A Russian influence operation in the United States “is something we’re looking very closely at”, said one senior intelligence official who, like others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. Officials also are examining potential disruptions to the election process, and the FBI has alerted state and local officials to potential cyberthreats

The way that’s worded, “a Russian influence operation” is an established fact, waiting only to be explored by intelligence officials. To lend the story a gloss of verisimilitude, the cunning writer adds that “the FBI has alerted state and local officials to potential cyberthreats”, which we expect is true because it is only sensible after all.

However –

The official cautioned that the intelligence community is not saying it has “definitive proof” of such tampering, or any Russian plans to do so. “But even the hint of something impacting the security of our election system would be of significant concern,” the official said. “It’s the key to our democracy, that people have confidence in the election system.”

The “hint” coming, of course, only and entirely from them.

The same Washington Post story included this:

The Kremlin’s intent may not be to sway the election in one direction or another, officials said, but to cause chaos and provide propaganda fodder to attack U.S. democracy-building policies around the world, particularly in the countries of the former Soviet Union.

But the paper and its like changed that part of the story.

The Washington Post reported on December 9 – after the election:

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

Never mind that Julian Assange of Wikileaks has denied that the emails it acquired and released came from Russia.

And no plausible explanation of why Russia would prefer Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton is provided.

Cliff Kincaid comments at GOPUSA:

The line-up of former CIA personnel opposing Trump sounds impressive, except when you consider the fact that the CIA has a habit of getting things wrong. Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a former vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, once declared that “for a quarter century, the CIA has been repeatedly wrong about the major political and economic questions entrusted to its analysis.” Moynihan had introduced a bill to abolish the CIA. The late Lt. Gen. William Odom, then-director of the National Security Agency (NSA), said the CIA should be disbanded.

Trump critic Michael Hayden, who served as director of both the NSA and CIA, was on a list of “former national security officials” from Republican administrations who announced they wouldn’t vote for Trump. …

Under the headline, “CIA Judgment On Russia Built On Swell Of Evidence,” The New York Times reports that “many believe” there is “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” that the Russians tried to help Trump. The paper said “the conclusion that Moscow ran an operation to help install the next president is one of the most consequential analyses by American spy agencies in years.”

These “many’ have come to “believe” it on “a swell of evidence”? What evidence? None – none at all – has been produced.

Such analyses can mean nothing and can, in fact, divert the attention of elected officials from the truth. Trump calls the verdict on alleged Russian involvement in the election “ridiculous”. It would not be the first ridiculous work product from the intelligence community. The CIA failed to predict the Soviet “collapse,” and then mistakenly assumed the collapse was real and not a strategic deception.

It is significant that The Washington Post, owned by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, broke the story about the CIA allegedly concluding that the Russians had somehow meddled in the U.S. elections by hacking into Democratic Party computers. The CIA has a $600 million contract with Amazon Web Services.

Interestingly, Amazon CEO Bezos plans to attend President-elect Donald Trump’s meeting of tech-industry executives this Wednesday [today] in New York. Perhaps Trump will ask Bezos whether the Post is being manipulated by political partisans in the Intelligence Community.

Trump has tweeted, “Can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and WE tried to play the Russia/CIA card. It would be called conspiracy theory!” Or “fake news”. …

After he takes office, Trump should immediately clean house in the CIA and other intelligence agencies. But it may be the case that the charges being directed against him at the present time are designed to prevent just that. If Trump cleans house, he will be accused in the press of trying to purge intelligence officials with evidence of a Russian plot to elect Trump!

The American people have been saddled with an Intelligence Community that is full of what are called “insider spies”. The situation is so bad that a special paper has been published about a novel new way to deal with traitors. The idea is to provide a “safe refuge” and a secret process of “reconciliation” for them without threatening long prison terms or the death penalty. In this manner, the American people would hear nothing about spies being arrested and the damage they have done.

We know that the media picked sides in the presidential contest. Now we are seeing more evidence of how the CIA picked sides, to the point of engaging in what is an obvious effort to bring down the Trump presidency even before it  begins.

What does Michael Hayden himself – Director of the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005 and the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 to 2009 –  say?

He – who announced in advance of the election that he wouldn’t vote for Trump –  writes a Washington Post article headlined, Trump is already antagonizing the intelligence community, and that’s a problem: 

A month ago I wrote here about the importance and challenge of the intelligence community establishing a relationship with President-elect Donald Trump.

That has just gotten more important and more challenging.

In my November op-ed, I asked: “What role will facts and fact-bearers play in the Trump administration? . . . Which of the president-elect’s existing instincts and judgments are open to revision as more data is revealed?”

Instincts open to revision“? And this was a top intelligence official?

I had in mind the president-elect’s confidence in his own a priori beliefs and specifically his rejection of the intelligence community’s judgment that Russia had stolen American emails and weaponized their content to corrode faith in our electoral processes.

The president-elect has been unmoved in his rejection of this high-confidence judgment. In Time magazine’s article last week naming him “Person of the Year,” Trump repeated, “I don’t believe it. I don’t believe they interfered.”

Such obstinacy, to have confidence in his own judgment!

Shortly afterward, The Post reported that CIA analysts now believe the Russian aim was to help Trump win.

Why Russia might do that, might want that, is not explained.

And some might consider that publishing such a “belief” to be an attack on Trump – especially considering that not a trace of evidence has been produced to support any of these alleged CIA analysts’ alleged “beliefs”.  But this luminary of the Intelligence world, Michael Hayden, thinks it is Trump who is going “on the attack”:

Team Trump immediately went into attack mode, employing the bureaucratic equivalent of the ad hominems the president-elect used during the campaign (“Crooked Hillary,” “Lyin’ Ted,” “Little Marco”). “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” its first salvo described the U.S. intelligence community.

A failed analogy that. A reminder of a  CIA failure is not an “ad hominem” of the sort quoted in brackets.

Then Republican National Committee communications director Sean Spicer alleged on CNN that “there are people within these agencies who are upset with the outcome of the election”.

How could he say such a thing? How could that possibly be true? As if there were Democrats in the CIA who would be upset that their candidate lost and Donald Trump won!

Incompetent. Politicized. No need to discuss any further. Move on.

“Move on”, Mr. Hayden, is a signature motto of the Democratic Party, not of any Republicans.

To be fair, the “Russia did it” announcement in October was official and well documented.

Was it? To be fair, tell us how. Show us the documents.

No need, Mr. Hayden soothes us, because two absolutely dependable human pillars of integrity attest to the veracity of the announcement:

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. attached their reputations to it.

That would be the Jeh Johnson who stated that “ISIS is not Islamic”, and the James Clapper who announced that the Muslim Brotherhood was “largely secular”.

An administration-in-waiting more confident in itself, in its own legitimacy, in U.S. institutions and in the people it will soon govern might have said, “These are serious issues. We intend to hear them out. Nothing is more precious than our democratic process. We have asked the Obama administration for details.”

The fact that that didn’t happen should invite tons of commentary. But not from me.

So, “it needs commentary, but I’m not commenting on it”. There is a Greek word for that rhetorical device: Apophasis. It means that the speaker brings up a subject by saying he will not bring it up.

This article could have been scripted for a villain’s speech in a play!

My narrow concerns as an intelligence officer are the questions raised above. How will this affect the new president’s relationship with the intelligence community?

A lot. And not well.

First is the question of how the incoming administration values intelligence. On Sunday, the president-elect again rejected the Russian role, adding that he was smart enough that he didn’t want or need a daily briefing.

This creates more than hurt feelings. The intelligence community makes great sacrifices, and CIA directors send people into harm’s way to learn things otherwise unavailable. And directors have seen stars carved on the agency’s memorial wall because of it. If what is gained is not used or wanted or is labeled as suspect or corrupt — by what moral authority does a director put his people at risk? …

Now the suppliers of intelligence are victims of callous indifference?

Wasn’t it revealed not so long ago that Centcom (U.S.Central Command] actually served up to President Obama what he wanted to hear about the progress of his tentative little war on ISIS rather than the depressing truth discovered “at great sacrifice”? And that in any case President Obama has skipped more than half his intelligence briefings?

What happens if the incoming administration directs that the “Russia did it” file be closed?

There’s a file? With documents in it? That prove the case? And it is still open?

Would standing intelligence requirements to learn more about this be eliminated? And if they were, what would the agency do with relevant data that would inevitably come through its collection network?

And what about the statute that requires the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community to keep Congress “fully and currently informed” about all significant intelligence activities? Data on a foreign power manipulating the federal electoral process would certainly qualify. What will the White House position be when the agency is asked by Congress if it has learned anything more on the issue?

More immediately, what will CIA Director-designate Mike Pompeo say during his confirmation hearings about this? He is not yet director, so he can fairly deflect any questions on the substance of this debate, for now. But every TV set at Langley will be turned on during his confirmation hearings, and his most important audience will not be the senators on the dais. His future workforce will be looking for clues about his willingness to defend them against charges of incompetence and politicization simply for saying what their craft tells them to be true. …

And, finally, how does the intelligence community break through and explain itself to the incoming team?

Don’t worry about that, Mr. Hayden. We are confident that Mr. Pompeo will manage it perfectly well.