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Hillicon Valley: Pentagon reaffirms decision to award JEDI contract to Microsoft | Schiff asks officials for briefing on election security threats

Hillicon Valley: Pentagon reaffirms decision to award JEDI contract to Microsoft | Schiff asks officials for briefing on election security threats
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PENTAGON REAFFIRMS JEDI CONTRACT: The Pentagon on Friday reaffirmed its decision earlier this year to award a $10 billion cloud-computing contract to Microsoft over Amazon.

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The Defense Department said in a statement that it had completed a review of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) competition and determined that Microsoft's proposal represents "the best value to the Government."

The release added that contract performance will not begin immediately because of a federal court injunction issued in February that is still to be cleared up, but that the Pentagon is “eager to begin delivering this capability to our men and women in uniform.”

The Defense Department in October 2019 awarded the lucrative military contract to Microsoft, though Amazon the very next month filed a lawsuit seeking to halt or overhaul the deal, claiming the process was improperly influenced by “unmistakable bias” from the Trump administration.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE has publicly and privately indicated that he did not want the contract to go to Amazon, which is owned by Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosElon Musk passes Bill Gates to become world's second-richest person in Bloomberg rankings How space exploration will help to address climate change Bezos makes first donations from billion Earth Fund MORE, a frequent target of the president's criticism.

Until Microsoft was declared the winner, Amazon had been considered the front-runner for the deal. 

Read more.

 

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SCHIFF CALLS FOR INTEL BRIEFING: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn Trump pardons Michael Flynn MORE (D-Calif.) on Friday formally requested that senior officials within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) brief the House panel on election security threats later this month.

The request to participate in the classified briefing came days after Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeProfiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers Biden considering King for director of national intelligence: report Haspel not in attendance at latest Trump intelligence briefing: reports MORE announced that ODNI would no longer conduct in-person congressional election security briefings and would instead submit written assessments.

Schiff requested that William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, along with Intelligence Community Threats Executive Shelby Pierson and other ODNI officials who previously briefed Congress on election security concerns participate in a Sept. 17 classified House Intelligence briefing.

The House chairman wrote that the briefing would focus on “election security, foreign malign influence, and election interference,” with Schiff noting that he "expects" Evanina and Pierson to participate.

The chairman also sent the request for a briefing to other agencies that have participated in classified election security briefings in February and July, including the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and their Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

ODNI did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the requested briefing.

Democrats including Schiff have criticized Ratcliffe for suspending the in-person briefings, with Schiff and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-Calif.) saying in a joint statement last week that the decision constituted a “shocking abdication” of ODNI’s “lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Rubio signals opposition to Biden Cabinet picks Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (R-Fla.) put out a statement earlier this week noting that Ratcliffe had promised to continue providing in-person briefings to the Senate panel on election security, but emphasizing that “congressional oversight of intelligence activities now faces a historic crisis.”

Ratcliffe said during an appearance on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” earlier this week that he made the decision to suspend the in-person briefings following “leaks” of information from past briefings.

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DEMS GET CREATIVE: More than a dozen House Democrats are pushing leadership to use must-pass legislation this month as a cudgel to compel the intelligence community to resume election security briefings for Congress.

Eighteen Democratic lawmakers are calling on House leaders to include language in either a spending bill or the annual reauthorization of intelligence programs that would force the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to reinstate regular election security briefings. Both measures are expected to receive floor votes in September.

“Congress should consider all remedies available to enforce regular intelligence briefings in advance of the elections, up to and including withholding of funds from the ODNI entirely,” the lawmakers, led by Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanCapitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview Katherine Clark secures No. 4 leadership spot for House Democrats Democrats to determine leaders after disappointing election MORE (Wis.) and Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyGSA offers to brief Congress next week on presidential transition Democrats gear up for last oversight showdown with Trump Biden campaign pushes GSA chief to approve transition MORE (Va.), wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Hoyer on Trump election challenges: 'I think this borders on treason' Capitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview MORE (D-Md.).

Democrats are furious that Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, a former House GOP lawmaker, decided recently to do away with in-person briefings for members of Congress, saying the move was necessary to prevent leaks of classified information.

Democratic leaders have hinted at possible subpoenas or targeting ODNI funds, but have not yet threatened to pursue either approach. 

Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), a top appropriator who oversees defense spending, warned in a letter this week that they would “consider the full range of tools available to compel compliance” if Ratcliffe didn’t reinstate the briefings.

A Pelosi spokesperson pointed to the Speaker’s previous missive to Ratcliffe on Tuesday when asked about the letter from Democrats calling for conditioning legislation to fund or authorize ODNI on the briefings.

Neither Pocan nor Connolly went as far as declaring they would oppose a stopgap government funding bill if it didn’t include provisions to resume the briefings.

But they argued that the funding should be an arrow in House Democrats’ quiver.

“The power we have as Congress is the power of the purse,” Pocan, a Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair, told The Hill. “We need to push back as Congress to make sure that we're having our ability to have the necessary oversight.”

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Connolly suggested a proposal in which Ratcliffe’s office would be directly targeted while leaving intelligence-gathering programs intact.

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FACEBOOK TAKES DOWN MARJORIE GREENE’S POST: Georgia Republican congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene posted an image on social media of herself posing with a gun alongside images of progressive House members, with the photo stirring backlash online.

The edited image posted to Facebook showed Greene holding a rifle next to Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezKamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far MORE (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaid (Mich.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarBiden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations MORE (Minn.), who are members of the group of freshmen House lawmakers known as "the Squad."

Democrats condemned the photo after it was posted this week, calling for Facebook to remove it.

“Posting a photo with an assault rifle next to the faces of three women of color is not advertising. It’s incitement,” Omar tweeted. “There are already death threats in response to this post."

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Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone responded to Omar’s tweet on Thursday, saying the post had been taken down because it violated community guidelines. 

“Thank you for raising this, Congresswoman. The image violates our policies and we've removed it,” he tweeted.

The Greene campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

In the Facebook post, Greene said she was “tired of seeing weak, Establishment Republicans play defense.”

“We need strong conservative Christians to go on offense against these socialists who want to rip our country apart,” Green wrote in the caption of the photo, which included two Muslim lawmakers.

Read more.

 

APPLE RELEASES HUMAN RIGHTS POLICY: Apple on Friday published a document detailing its human rights policy and committing to “freedom of information and expression,” among other things.

“With humility, optimism, and an abiding faith in people, we’re committed to respecting the human rights of everyone whose lives we touch,” the four-page document reads.

At its February annual general meeting a shareholder proposal calling on Apple to publicly commit “to respect freedom of expression as a human right” received more than 40 percent support from shareholders.

According to The Financial Times, Apple's board of directors approved the policy and published it ahead of a deadline of Sept. 5 for shareholders to submit motions for next year's investor meeting.

“We believe in the critical importance of an open society in which information flows freely, and we’re convinced the best way we can continue to promote openness is to remain engaged, even where we may disagree with a country’s laws,” Apple states in the policy document.

Apple conceded that they are “required to comply with local laws, and at times there are complex issues about which we may disagree with governments and other stakeholders on the right path forward.”

Apple said its policy was based on the United Nations International Bill of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

Read more.

 

Lighter click: Checked with Cardi and Meg and this is true

An op-ed to chew on: Americans should not expect the election results on election night

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

TikTok Bid Highlights Oracle’s Public Embrace of Trump (The New York Times / David McCabe)

Facebook Says Trump’s Misleading Post About Mail-In Voting Is OK. Employees Say It’s Not. (BuzzFeed News / Craig Silverman and Ryan Mac)

Faulty Facial Recognition Led to His Arrest—Now He’s Suing (Motherboard / Natalie O’Neill)