SENATE GOP BILL PROTECTS OPPONENTS OF OBAMA BIRTH-CONTROL RULES
Senate Republicans announced new legislation Tuesday to bar the government from forcing business to provide insurance for drugs and services that violate their moral beliefs, tapping into renewed debates over religious liberty, abortion and the persistent legal fight over Obamacare’s birth control mandate.
The bill, authored by Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, would allow private businesses and religious nonprofits to negotiate health plans that do not cover abortion or forms of birth control they object to, without risking heavy fines under the “contraception mandate” that stemmed from the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
The bill would also let nurses or health providers seek legal recourse if they’re fired or otherwise discriminated against for declining to participate in abortions.
“It’s a basic principle that Americans should be able to live their faith,” Mr. Lankford said in a brief interview.
Sponsors said they detect increasing discrimination against organizations that try to live their faith in their public lives, and said that could particularly damage religious nonprofits, cutting their ability to provide needed care to “vulnerable populations.”
The effort adds new fuel to the fight over women’s health and faith-based objections to abortion or “morning-after” pills that some equate with the practice.
Already, Democrats charge that Republicans are leading a “war on women,” most recently an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of videos that seemingly show its employees negotiating over the sale of fetal body parts.
Under Mr. Lankford’s bill, an employer could buy a health plan that does not include abortion or contraceptives that violate their beliefs, so long as they found a willing insurer. Those negotiations could take place without the government mandating to the parties that they include the objectionable benefits.
The Department of Health and Human Services says it’s already struck the right balance with its policies, which accommodate family-owned corporations and faith-based colleges, charities and universities who object to the mandate.
Under HHS policy, those closely held corporations and religious nonprofits can notify either their insurers or the federal government of their objection to insuring certain contraceptives, and the insurers or plan administrators would then step in and make sure employees can get contraception without the religious charity having to pay for it.
Many nonprofits, though, still object, saying that the notification itself makes them complicit in sin. They’re still trying to fight their case in the courts, but have been rejected by a series of appeals courts.
The Senate GOP legislation would shift the battle back to Capitol Hill.
“This bill is an attempt to achieve legislatively what the nonprofit organizations have not been able to achieve in the courts, namely a wholesale exemption from the contraception requirement in the [health care law],” said Brigitte Amiri, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union who fears the bill is overly broad and could result in a patchwork of what is covered from employer to employer.
Holly Lynch, a bioethics expert at Harvard Law School who closely tracks the debate, said the new bill didn’t balance its focus on rights of conscience with a women’s access to services.
“All these senators are doing is focusing on one side of the equation, and that is a serious problem,” she said.
Republican lawmakers have challenged the administration to find a way to pay for the contraceptives if it’s intent on providing them, and some in the GOP have offered legislation to let women buy contraceptives over-the-counter.
Mr. Lankford said community centers in just about every county in America have “some kind of access point” for women who cannot afford contraceptives.
His bill is similar to one his predecessor, Sen. Tom Coburn, filed in the last Congress. So far it has 13 Republican cosponsors — all of them male — although a House companion bill was filed by a female Republican, Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee. (Contributor: By Tom Howell Jr. for The Washington Times)
For prayer: This is the religious freedom issue in new clothing. Give thanks for Sen. Lankford and those supporting this legislation. Pray that his Senate colleagues have courage to carry through in spite of the president’s veto power. The issue is getting more exposure. We encourage intercessors to review the life of William Wilberforce and his more-than-18-year struggle against slavery in the British Parliament from 1787 until victory! Intercessors will pray until the issue is resolved.
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Tim.6:12)
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life that both you and your descendants may live…” (Deut. 30:19)
NEW HAMPSHIRE DEFUNDS PLANNED PARENTHOOD FACILITIES
Chris Sununu is a pro-choice Republican, but when he voted Wednesday to defund Planned Parenthood clinics in New Hampshire, he viewed it as a vote in favor of women’s health, not against.
Before the New Hampshire Executive Council’s 3-2 vote denying the contract, he said he received separate calls from five young women — both pro-choice and pro-life — who told him they refused to set foot in Planned Parenthood clinics, even though they needed services and those were their closest options.
“All of them were unemployed and had actually gotten rides to other parts of the state so they could go to another provider that wasn’t Planned Parenthood and that didn’t have this umbrella of scrutiny hanging over them,” said Mr. Sununu. “And that sort of hit home.”
The New Hampshire vote, coming over the objections of Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, comes as the latest example of the backlash against Planned Parenthood following the release of five undercover videos raising alarm over the organization’s involvement in the trade of fetal organs from abortions.
“I’ve supported Planned Parenthood in the past to provide these services, but there are some women who just don’t want to support them because they’re too controversial,” Mr. Sununu said.
In New Hampshire, there’s also a political angle. Mr. Sununu, the son of former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, is said to be considering a run against Ms. Hassan in 2016, a race in which Planned Parenthood is already emerging as a campaign issue.
The Republican-controlled New Hampshire Executive Council denied state funding by turning down a $639,000 contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.
The affiliate still receives funding from the federal government and other states in its purview.
The vote follows Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision last week to cut off state funds for Planned Parenthood in his state. Both decisions came after the release of the first video July 13 by the pro-life Center for Medical Progress.
At least 10 other states have reacted by launching investigations, but New Hampshire is not one of them. The executive council’s decision to deny state funding to Planned Parenthood came after Ms. Hassan refused calls to look into the group’s practices regarding fetal tissue.
The governor has said there is no evidence of illegality at the state clinics, which reportedly do not handle fetal tissue donations, adding, “We do not launch investigations in the state of New Hampshire on rumor.”
The Democratic governor also rejected a request from Republicans, including Mr. Sununu, to look into using other health care providers for nonabortion services offered by the Planned Parenthood clinics.
“The second request we made was, ‘Look, will you help us find alternatives to Planned Parenthood?’ In other sections of the state, other folks provide these services. In my district — I represent about a quarter-million people — Planned Parenthood is the only option,” Mr. Sununu said. “And I don’t think that’s right. I believe in having choice, in giving women choices for where they want to go.
“So that’s what I asked the governor to do: Let’s look for alternatives together as a team here,” he said. “She outright rejected that today.”
Ms. Hassan blasted the executive council’s vote in a Wednesday statement, saying, “I am incredibly disappointed in the outcome of today’s vote.”
“The council’s vote to defund Planned Parenthood will hurt the health and economic well-being of thousands of Granite Staters,” Ms. Hassan said. “Moving forward, I will continue to fight to ensure that women and families have access to the important health services that are essential to the economic security and vitality of our families.”
Councilor Chris Pappas, a Democrat, also criticized the Republican majority’s rejection of the Planned Parenthood contract.
“Voting against this contract is not going to stop one single abortion in New Hampshire, but it is going to stop thousands of people from accessing quality, affordable health care,” Mr. Pappas said, according to The Associated Press.
The council did vote to fund contracts for three other health care providers that do not perform abortions: Concord Feminist Health Center, the Joan G. Lovering Health Center on the Seacoast and Weeks Medical Center in the North Country.
Mr. Sununu argued that part of the executive council’s charge is to act as a check on government contracts.
“When you have a group like this here at the national level under all this investigation and scrutiny — look, if it were any other contractor, there wouldn’t even be a debate. Of course we wouldn’t be doing business with them,” Mr. Sununu said.
“But for some reason the Democrats seem to be going out of their way to find an excuse to keep Planned Parenthood around, and on the line and on contract,” he said. “There are lots of other providers of these services out there. All I’m saying is, let’s go contract with them and use these other health care providers to make sure we are giving adequate choice to these women.”
New Hampshire Democratic Party spokeswoman Lizzy Price charged that Mr. Sununu’s vote “proved that he is more concerned with his own political interests and trying to win a primary for higher office than he is with the health and economic well-being of New Hampshire women and families.”
Not so, said Mr. Sununu. “There’s too much ethical and legal scrutiny surrounding this organization right now for the state to just keep doing business with them,” he said. (Contributor: By Valerie Richardson for The Washington Times)
For Prayer: Several conservative states are not waiting for the U.S. Senate and House to act on the exposure of Planned Parenthood’s gross and macabre practice of selling tissue and organs of aborted babies to the highest bidder, thus profiting twice from the same murderous “procedure.” Give thanks for these brave people in New Hampshire, and please pray that other states will get on board in dumping this evil monster with its voracious appetite for blood and American taxpayers’ money.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa 5:20)
SEVERE CRACKDOWN IN CHINA ON CHURCH CROSSES DRAWS BACKLASH
"Aren't you ashamed of what you have done?" a teary woman yelled at the more than 100 security guards, who along with police and government workers kept the parishioners of Lower Dafei Catholic Church from protecting the symbol of their faith. The guards, who stood with shields and batons in the sun for nearly two hours, looked indifferent.
"Doesn't the government give us the right to religious freedom? Why are they taking down our symbol without any explanation?" another parishioner said hours earlier, as government workers arrived to build the scaffolding to reach the cross.
"We have violated no law. We do not oppose the government," said the parishioner, who gave his name only as Chen for fear of retaliation from authorities. "We have been good, law-abiding citizens."
Authorities in southeastern Zhejiang province are believed to be under a two-month deadline to remove crosses from the spires, vaults, roofs and wall arches of the 4,000 or so churches that dot the landscape of this economically thriving region.
In a rare move, even China's semiofficial Christian associations — which are supposed to ensure the ruling Communist Party's control over Protestant and Catholic groups — have denounced the campaign as unconstitutional and humiliating. They have warned that it could risk turning the faithful into enemies of the party.
The campaign is believed to be the will of President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, whose administration has launched the most severe crackdown in decades on social forces that might challenge the monopoly of the party's rule.
But Yang Fenggang, an expert on China's religions at Purdue University, said the party may have miscalculated and could be creating the very instability it is trying to avoid.
"The crackdown has alienated the Christians in China, who are otherwise law-abiding citizens," Yang said.
He said the campaign to assert state power over officially sanctioned churches has been ordered by the central government and is likely being carried out as a kind of experiment in Zhejiang, where the provincial party chief, Xia Baolong, is a trusted ally of Xi.
The massive campaign comes one year after the provincial leadership ordered the razing of several churches and hundreds of rooftop crosses deemed to be illegal structures. This summer, Zhejiang banned rooftop crosses altogether. Despite criticism that the new rule violates China's constitutional right of religious freedom, local enforcers are sending demolition crews to virtually all the province's churches.
They have met with resistance. Parishioners have kept vigils and tried to block entrances to church grounds with cargo trucks, and many churches have re-erected crosses in defiance.
Since Xi came into power in late 2012, Beijing has hushed voices critical of its policies and practices in China's social media, locked up members of the New Citizens Movement who had called for greater government accountability, and, most recently, rounded up rights lawyers who insist China's law must be followed to the letter and applied equally to the people and the state.
"The authorities are especially worried that those with religious beliefs have a strong sense of identity and belonging, which can translate into huge social forces," said Zhao Chu, an independent commentator.
In targeting Christians, the party is going after a group possibly bigger than itself. Yang said Christians probably number close to 100 million after more than three decades of rapid growth, though official figures are much lower. The Communist Party has nearly 88 million members.
In a troubling sign for the party, a sizable portion of its nominally atheist membership holds Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or other beliefs. The party is worried that religion — especially versions of Christianity rooted in the West — could subvert its rule.
The party tried to wipe out religion altogether during the ideological fervor of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, but later restored the right to worship. In ensuing decades, religious participation has grown as people seek to fill a spiritual void.
Still, Beijing retains tight controls over all religious groups, requiring them to register with the state or be labeled illegal. It claims the exclusive right to appoint Catholic bishops within China, instead of the Vatican.
In the western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, where Buddhist and Islamic beliefs mingle with ethnic identities, the government also has sought to curb some of the visible symbols of faith, including beards and veils, and installed surveillance cameras in and around monasteries and mosques.
The rules Zhejiang adopted in early July say crosses should be wholly affixed to a building facade and be no more than one-tenth of the facade's height. No rationale has been provided, and the provincial government did not respond to an Associated Press request for an interview.
The Catholic Patriotic Association of Zhejiang has said it is illegal to remove crosses from properly registered churches. The Christian Association of Zhejiang warned the act has caused animosity toward the ruling party. Both groups called for an immediate halt.
Yang said the rare open opposition from the government-sanctioned Christian associations, which serve as liaisons between the authorities and rank-and-file Christians, means the authorities could lose this important conduit. "Now this bridge has been burned," he said.
Fear, frustration and fury are probably most palpable in the municipality of Wenzhou, tucked between China's eastern coastline and rugged mountain ranges. With its 2,000 or so churches, Wenzhou, home to 9 million people, is as well-known as a bastion of Christianity as it is for its gritty entrepreneurship.
Almost every township has its own claim to a line of products — whether it be buttons, shoe soles, pet products or children's toys. Almost every village has a church or two, joining the landscape of rice paddies, farmhouses and factories.
Zhu Libin, president of the Wenzhou Christian Association, is torn between fellow Christians, who want him to speak on their behalf, and local authorities, who want him to persuade churches to comply.
"As a Christian, I want to see the cross lifted as high as possible, but as a citizen of China, I have to follow the rule when asked," he said in an interview at his downtown Wenzhou office.
When asked to comment on the continuing cross removals, he stood up and walked out. Moments later, he returned but refused to answer.
Zhu Weifang, an officially appointed bishop, declined to be interviewed, but he and two dozen other Catholic officials and priests signed a strongly worded letter calling the new rules unlawful.
"The more (authorities) suppress the call for justice, the more it shows they are faced with severe social crisis, that they have little confidence in their ability to rule, and that they are incompetent in dealing with issues," said the letter, which urges parishioners to "fight by law of reason to defend our very basic right to our religion."
In village churches, Protestants and Catholics are defying orders to remove crosses on their own and keeping around-the-clock vigils in slim hopes of holding off demolition crews. Many have defiantly re-erected the crosses.
Tears welled in the eyes of Tu Shouzhe when he recalled how authorities forcibly removed the cross from his Protestant church in the village of Muyang on a hot, humid summer afternoon.
"It was a surprise attack. We did not let them in, but they broke in by cutting off the lock. We demanded paperwork, but they showed us none. They cordoned us away from the church," Tu said. "They had 60-70 people. We had just about a dozen or so. Everyone was crying. Our hearts ached. We felt powerless to resist, and only prayed and sang hymns."
In the Zhejiang city of Jinhua, two pastors from the official Jinhua City Christian Church have been detained on suspicion of corruption after the two refused to remove the rooftop cross from a newly-built sanctuary, lawyer Liu Weiguo said Wednesday.
In Lower Dafei Village, the demolition crew descended one morning last week, but soon realized it could not scale the spire to get to the cross. They returned in the afternoon with poles for scaffolding and a cutting torch. Officials barred a photographer and videojournalist from the AP from documenting the demolition, but another reporter was present, apparently the first news media to capture images of such a cross removal.
One parishioner sat in the narrow entrance to the church grounds, trying to block the intruders, but was ordered to leave. He never spoke a word but kept his eyes on the cross and prayed silently.
As several men built the scaffolding, parishioners' tearful singing echoed over the church grounds: "He uses the love of the cross, the cross, to conquer the man." (Contributor: By Didi Tang for The Associated Press)
For prayer: For these Chinese believers, the government’s attack on the cross as the symbol of their Christian identity represents an attack on their faith and on them personally. And these are legally registered churches, which raises the point of how deeply afraid the godless regime is the symbol of Christian redemption and victory, representing the blood atonement of Christ. Pray for these faithful Christians to prosper and for the hidden (unregistered) churches to remain faithful when persecuted.
“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal 6:14)
'GENE DRIVE': SCIENTISTS SOUND ALARM
A powerful new technique for generating “supercharged” genetically modified organisms that can spread rapidly in the wild has caused alarm among scientists who fear that it may be misused, accidentally or deliberately, and cause a health emergency or environmental disaster.
The development of so-called “gene drive” technology promises to revolutionize medicine and agriculture because it can in theory stop the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as malaria and yellow fever, as well as eliminate crop pests and invasive species such as rats and cane toads.
However, scientists at the forefront of the development believe that in the wrong hands gene-drive technology poses a serious threat to the environment and human health if accidentally or deliberately released from a laboratory without adequate safeguards. Some believe it could even be used as a terrorist bio-weapon directed against people or livestock because gene drives – which enable GM genes to spread rapidly like a viral infection within a population – will eventually be easy and cheap to generate.
“Just as gene drives can make mosquitoes unfit for hosting and spreading the malaria parasite, they could conceivably be designed with gene drives carrying cargo for delivering lethal bacterial toxins to humans,” said David Gurwitz, a geneticist at Tel Aviv University in Israel.
A group of senior geneticists have called for international safeguards to apply to researchers who want to develop gene drives, with strict security measures placed on laboratories to prevent the accidental escape of “supercharged” GM organisms that are able to spread rapidly in the wild.
Last week the U.S. National Academy of Sciences initiated a wide-ranging review of gene-drive technology in “non-human organisms” and in this week’s journal Science a group of 27 leading geneticists call on the scientific community to be open and transparent about both the risks and benefits of gene drives.
“They have tremendous potential to address global problems in health, agriculture and conservation but their capacity to alter wild populations outside the laboratory demands caution,” the scientists say.
The researchers have drawn up a minimum set of safety rules to protect against laboratory escapes and have called for a public debate on the potential benefits as well as risks of a technology that allows geneticists to rapidly accelerate the inheritance of GM traits throughout an animal population within just a few generations.
Researchers have likened gene-drive technology to a nuclear chain reaction because it allows GM genes to be amplified within a breeding population of insects or other animals without any further intervention once the trait has been initially introduced. This is the case even if the trait is non-beneficial to the organism.
Laboratory experiments on fruit flies have shown that a modified gene introduced into one individual fly can take just a few generations to “infect” practically every other fly in the breeding population, in defiance of the normal rules of genetics which dictate a far slower spread.
Kevin Esfeldt, a gene-drive expert at the Wyss Institute at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said the technology was developed theoretically about 10 years ago but it has only been made possible in the lab in the past two years with the discovery of the sophisticated gene-editing tool Crispr/Cas9.
Dr Esfeldt explained that gene drives relied on a “cassette” of genetic elements that allowed a genetically modified gene to jump from one chromosome to another within the same individual so that eventually all of the sperm or eggs of the animal carried the GM trait, rather than half. This means that virtually none of the offspring is eventually free of an introduced GM trait.
Gene drives could benefit human health by altering insect populations that spread human diseases, such as mosquitoes that transmit malaria, dengue, chikungunya and Lyme disease, so that they were no longer a threat, he said.
They could also be used to reverse the mutations that make crop pests resistant to agricultural pesticides, or they might be used to spread genetic traits within a populations of an invasive species to help kill it off, such as making the skin of cane toads introduced into Australia non-toxic to indigenous predators.
“If we’re right about this, it’s a powerful advance that could make the world a much better place, but only if we use it wisely,” Dr Esfeldt said.
However, some scientists fear that the ease with which gene drives can be generated will make them a target for any malign individual or organisation with access to modern laboratory equipment.
Dr Gurwitz said the precise instructions for making gene drives should be classified, just like the technology for making nuclear weapons. However, Dr Esfeldt and the other 26 scientists who have written to Science disagreed, arguing that complete openness and transparency was the best defence against the use of gene drives as a bio-weapon because classifying the information would be technically ineffective and politically counterproductive. (Contributor: By Steve Connor, Science editor for Independent)
For prayer: This is a “Watchman, be aware!” article, which we contrast with reports calling for immediate intercessory prayer. We see here the development of a tool, similar to a gun, which morally upright people will use for good means, such as hunting game legally, while debased people will use for evil means, such as murder. So the gene drive development may be used for good or for evil purposes. Pray that much good will come from the gene drive for healing disease.
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
THE AYATOLLAH'S NEW BOOK: WIPE OUT ISRAEL
The supreme leader of Iran is apparently now an aspiring author but one thing is for sure: this is no love story.
According to a report on Saturday in the New York Post, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's new book Palestine outlines his case for why Israel must be wiped out and how. "The solution is a one-state formula," he writes, which is called "Palestine."
He said this "practical and logical mechanism" would have Israel under Muslim rule with some Jews being allowed to stay as a "protected minority" but only after proving "genuine roots." He advocates strict apartheid against Jews saying that they would not be allowed to vote in a future Muslim state while Arabs would have full rights.
He claims that his plan would promote "the hegemony of Iran" while removing "the West's hegemony" from the Middle East.
Khamenei, who is described in the book as "the flagbearer of Jihad to liberate Jerusalem," wrote that his views are not anti-Semitic but Islamic and based on "well-established Islamic principles." This goes on the opinion in Islam that land which was once owned by Muslims can never be ruled by non-Muslims again. Along with Israel, this also includes Russia, many parts of Europe, Thailand, India and parts of China and the Philippines.
However, Khamenei singles Israel out as an adou [enemy], doshman [foe] and a "cancerous tumor" for several reasons, the first of which is for being an "ally of the American Great Satan" which is waged in a war to overtake "the heartland of the Ummah [nation]."
Second, he says Israel is singled out because of his claim that it has waged a war on Muslims and therefore has become a kaffir al-harbi [hostile infidel].
Third, he claims that Israel "occupies" Jerusalem and calls it "Islam's third Holy City."
Khamenei says his plan entails low-intensity warfare based on wearing down the patience of Israelis and the international community. He writes that this plan does not entail "classical warfare" and he supposedly does not want to kill Jews.
His plan goes on the assumption that all Israelis have dual citizenship and would rather live in the US or Europe. He recommends therefore to make life in Israel so uncomfortable that they leave voluntarily to avoid threats on them.
He then describes using the tactic of "Israel fatigue" wherein the international community would decide to stop supporting Israel's military programs.
Another section of the book boasted past Iran-supported warfare against Israel using examples from Gaza and Lebanon. He writes that he aims to recruit West Bank "fighters" in units modeled after Hezbollah.
“We have intervened in anti-Israel matters, and it brought victory in the 33-day war by Hezbollah against Israel in 2006 and in the 22-day war between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip."
Though he doesn't reference an Iranian nuclear program directly, he mentions that a nuclear Iran would be able to deter Israel from taking any military action against the Islamic republic.
Referring to the Holocaust, Khamenei called it a "propaganda ploy" and writes that "we don't know why it happened and how."
The 416-page book is currently only available in Iran in Persian, but apparently an Arabic version is on the way. (Contributor: By Jerusalem Post Staff for The Jerusalem Post)
For prayer: The book is no surprise. Iran’s hatred for both Israel and the U.S. has long since been established. There is tragedy here, however. Before the Iranian nuclear talks, and despite President Obama’s many equivocations, Israel and the U.S. were strong allies. Now, the “Iranian deal” seems to have made Iran a virtual U.S. “ally,” leaving Israel quite alone and vulnerable. Is this what Americans want? We think not. A showdown is coming. Pray for divine mercy on our nation. God will triumph.
“Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing…. All nations before Him are as nothing …” (Isa 40:15, 17)
“There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.” (Prov 19:21)
CHINA READ EMAILS OF TOP U.S. OFFICIALS
China's cyber spies have accessed the private emails of "many" top Obama administration officials, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official and a top secret document obtained by NBC News, and have been doing so since at least April 2010.
The email grab -- first codenamed "Dancing Panda" by U.S. officials, and then "Legion Amethyst" -- was detected in April 2010, according to a top secret NSA briefing from 2014. The intrusion into personal emails was still active at the time of the briefing and, according to the senior official, is still going on.
In 2011, Google disclosed that the private gmail accounts of some U.S. officials had been compromised, but the briefing shows that private email accounts from other providers were compromised as well.
The government email accounts assigned to the officials, however, were not hacked because they are more secure, says the senior U.S. intelligence official.
The senior official says the private emails of "all top national security and trade officials" were targeted.
The Chinese also harvested the email address books of targeted officials, according to the document, reconstructing and then "exploiting the(ir) social networks" by sending malware to their friends and colleagues.
The time period overlaps with Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account while Secretary of State from Jan. 21, 2009 to Feb. 1, 2013. The names and ranks of the officials whose emails were actually grabbed, however, were not disclosed in the NSA briefing nor by the intelligence official.
A different NSA document leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that in late 2010 China had attempted to spy on the emails of four U.S. officials, including then Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. The document, posted on-line by Der Spiegel earlier this year, said the Chinese spies had tried to insert malicious software into their computers.
NBC News reported in 2013 that prior to the 2008 presidential election, Chinese cyber spies had targeted the presidential campaigns of then Sen. Obama and Sen. John McCain in order to read emails and policy papers, and had successfully compromised some emails, including private correspondence from McCain.
The "Dancing Panda" campaign revealed in the 2014 NSA briefing paper was among more than 30 "intrusion sets" launched by China that the NSA and other intelligence units identified last year in classified documents. NBC News reported last week that those campaigns resulted in more than 600 successful attacks on targets.
The NSA declined to comment. (Contributor: By Robert Windrem for NBC News)
For prayer: The intrigue deepens, and “spy vs. spy” stealing of emails is in the news daily. The privacy issue threatens the presidential campaign of Mrs. Clinton, who is being investigated for using a private email server for her State Dept. communications from 2009 through 2013. However that turns out, our nation is hurting, bleeding, and divided. Please pray fervently and faithfully, flooding heaven with continued, heartfelt prayers for widespread revival that will turn our nation back to God.
“For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.” (Luke 8:17)
“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Heb 4:13)
ARE THREATS TO MILITARY FAMILIES BEING DOWNPLAYED?
In early July the FBI issued an alert to law enforcement agencies after getting reports that on numerous occasions, family members of military personnel in Colorado and Wyoming have been confronted by Middle Eastern men in front of their homes.
According to those reports, which have only attracted attention in recent days, the men have attempted to obtain personal information about the military member and their families through intimidation. Some of the family members have reported feeling scared.
Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis (USA-Ret.) is a senior fellow for national security at Family Research Council and a Pentagon advisor.
Maginnis, Bob"I'm angered, first of all," he begins. "If they're in this country and they're harassing someone because they're in uniform, I question why are they in this country. As far as I'm concerned if they're not citizens, I'd send them packing."
Maginnis says everyone must remember that America is a nation at war. "[But] the Obama administration refuses to understand that and to act accordingly," he laments. "As I stand here at the Pentagon, we've actually been shot at from the highway, which is only a few hundred meters away, because people don't like the military."
He says it would be prudent for authorities to recognize this threat and take immediate action. (Contributor: By Chad Groening for One News Now)
For prayer: The key comment may be that of Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis (USA-Ret.), who said, “… everyone must remember that America is a nation at war.” The harassment reported here is a disgrace and must stop, but it is encouraged by further division over President Obama’s “Iran Deal,” which members of his own party and U.S. military veterans are denouncing as a failure. We detest the thought of military families being harassed, but the issue is much larger. Pray as you are led.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isa 55:6-7)