On the eve of Chinese President Xi Jinping's first state visit to Washington, D.C., the Obama administration released alarming new numbers about one of the biggest computer hacks in American history — traceable, officials say, to China — a move that could potentially heighten tension ahead of the historic meeting, according to Mother Jones magazine.
The Office of Personnel Management announced that it had substantially underestimated the number of people whose fingerprints were stolen during the attack earlier this year. About 5.6 million of 21.5 million federal employees, contractors, applicants, and others had their fingerprints stolen during a hack of the OPM's background check databases, the agency reported Wednesday morning. That figure is higher than the 1.1 million previously reported.
An interagency group including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense are reviewing how the fingerprint information could be used in nefarious ways, but it downplayed the immediate impact. “Federal experts believe that, as of now, the ability to misuse fingerprint data is limited,” the agency said in a statement issued Wednesday morning, as President Barack Obama and a host of dignitaries hosted Pope Francis at the White House. “However, this probability could change over time as technology evolves.”
Petraeus: Syria is “geopolitcal Chernobyl”
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Former CIA Director David Petraeus, the architect of the US troop surge in Iraq in 2007, told lawmakers Tuesday that Syria has become a “geopolitical Chernobyl” of extremism and chaos, and called for the US to act more aggressively against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its air power, according to DefenseNews.
“Like a nuclear disaster, the fallout from the meltdown of Syria threatens to be with us for decades, and the longer it is permitted to continue, the more severe the damage will be,” Petraeus testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The retired four-star general once commanded military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Pentagon using outsiders to help search for World War II MIAs
Justin Taylan has been to the remote Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea dozens of times over the past two decades, spending countless hours slogging through crocodile-infested swamps in his quest to document as many World War II airplane wreck sites as possible, according to Militarycom.
Since 2013, he has conducted those missions for the newly reorganized Pentagon agency whose predecessor he and others had criticized for years for failing to recover and identify more remains of U.S. service members.
Taylan's hiring is part of the military's plans to reach out to private groups and others to help with the search for thousands of American war remains scattered from Pacific jungles to the European countryside.
Though he said he cannot comment on the details of the cases he's worked on under his contract, Taylan said he has documented more than 80 wreck and war-related sites, including eight aircraft crashes associated with American MIA cases.
Obama picks Eric Fanning to serve as first openly gay service secretary
Obama late Friday announced his selection of Fanning, who since June has served as acting undersecretary of the U.S. military's largest branch of service, along with several others for key administrative posts, mostly at the Defense Department.
‘These fine public servants bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their important roles,” Obama said in a press release. "I look forward to working with them."
Fanning has held numerous high-level positions at the Defense Department. He previously served as special assistant to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, as undersecretary of the Air Force from 2013 to 2015, as acting Air Force secretary in 2013, and as a deputy undersecretary of the Navy from 2009 to 2013, according to the statement.