Prince Harry visited Arlington Cemetary to pay his respects to fallen US soldiers.
A new report from US security firm Mandiant saying a secret unit of the Chinese military is behind a massive computer hacking campaign against the US. The report says a cyber division of the People's Liberation Army is responsible for the hacking and it may be operating out of a white 12-story tower in Shanghai. Foreign media companies broadcasted on the mainland like CNN are blacked out when the report was mentioned on air. This morning, Mandiant Vice President of Customer Success Grady Summers joins “Starting Point” to talk about the massive computer hacking campaign.
Summers says the report contains, “pages of evidence… including 3,000 digital indicators and actually video of the attackers doing their dirty work on victim machine.” He adds that the report is, “not a baseless casual allegation. It’s based on six years of research.”
Most of the targets were, “commercial –corporate targets,” says Summers. He adds they were, “truly who’s who of American companies. Of the 141 victims worldwide, 115 of them were in the U.S.”
Summers adds, “20 different industries were targeted by this group APT1,” including blue-chip roster companies in fields like aerospace, defense, transportation and financial services.
Reaction to the Pentagon's historic announcement allowing women on the front lines in combat roles continues this morning.
While there has been widespread praise of the decision from the president and lawmakers on both the left and right, there are also critics who are concerned that allowing women to serve in these roles could be detrimental to combat readiness.
Wayne State University Professor Kingsley Browne is one of the individuals who opposes the Pentagon's choice, and he joins Starting Point this morning to explain.
"The number of women who are likely to be interested and qualified will be very, very small, which will lead to a lot of pressure to lower standards to get the numbers up," Browne argues.
Marine Captain Zoe Bedell, one of four servicewomen who joined a lawsuit challenging the Pentagon's policy excluding women from combat positions, responds to Browne, saying, "We’re not asking for a quota or a certain amount of women in jobs. We’re asking to compete."
"The standards that women are meeting now are what’s required to do the job and that's what we're asking people to evaluate," Bedell says. "What's necessary to do the job and to give everyone a chance to compete for it."
According to senior defense officials who spoke with CNN, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected to lift the ban on women serving in certain sectors of the military, including infantry and other front-line combat positions that are currently off-limits.
Many lawmakers on the Hill are praising the Pentagon's move, including Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is one of the first female combat veterans ever to serve in the United States Congress.
Gabbard reacts to the decision on Starting Point this morning, calling it a "major step" that is "finally an official recognition of the sacrifices women have been making for the country."
While acknowledging that military standards "should not be compromised" because of the new policy, Gabbard says that "if women meet those standards, they should be allowed to serve."
Responding to critics who say that serving on the front lines with members of the opposite sex would be distracting, Gabbard says, "in these situations, we’re talking about highly trained professionals and all of the things that differentiate us fall aside when you’re there putting the mission first and serving as a member of the team."
Actor Aidan Quinn’s new film, "Allegiance", harkens back to 2004, when National Guard troops were sent to Iraq. Thousands of soldiers who had signed up for part-time duty were suddenly faced with a year of combat in a foreign country. In the new film Quinn plays a battalion commander who has to prepare a part-time unit for combat. "Allegiance" explores issues of loyalty versus duty and Quinn comes to the studio to talk about the film.
Based on director Mike Connors’ personal experiences while serving in the military, the film pays tribute to the 21 million veterans living in the United States today. It was written, directed, produced and financed almost entirely by veterans. Former Navy SEALS and Army Green Berets were enlisted to train the actors and extras. "We had military always there," Quinn says. "They just made sure that they kept it real."
Soledad O'Brien asks if military movies are becoming more common in Hollywood. Quinn says no. “I think Hollywood’s very afraid of any military films,” Quinn says, “because they’re tough for the audience, because we have conflicted feelings about involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think the great thing that has changed is we have 100%—almost seems like 100%—approval of our veterans and support for our veterans.”
"Allegiance" is now available on VOD, and hits theaters on December 28 in NY and January 4 in LA.
NATO is now going forward with a plan to move missilies and troops to the Syrian border, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues to defy pressure from the United States and its allies. Fears continue to grow after new reports that his forces are preparing chemical weapons to use against rebel forces inside Syria.
Chad Sweet is the Former Directorate of Operations for the CIA, the Former Chief of Staff for the Department of Homeland Security, and the Co-Founder and CEO of The Chertoff Group. This morning on "Starting Point," he says a combination of human and technological intelligence supports concerns that the Syrian Army is loading chemical components to their weapons. “The signs are all pointing towards some type of mobilization where these chemicals are being locked and loaded on bombs that, at a minimum, shows potential intent to use them.”
He adds that the information is credible enough for the United States to be taking notice: “It is unlikely that the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of State would be making such very forceful statements unless there was a high degree of confidence in the United States intelligence community that the potential for the use of these weapons is quite high.”
Downhill skier and Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street has a new gig: A new reality series called "Stars Earn Stripes." In the show, Street and seven other celebrities are paired with members of the Armed Forces, taking on military-style challenges for charity.
Street tells Soledad on "Starting Point" explains why her patriotism led her to jump at the chance thank military members for their service.
TIME Magazine Washington Deputy Bureau Chief Mark Thompson takes an in-depth look at the troubling rise in military suicides.
Thompson says he interviewed the former number two officer in the army who told him, “there are promising techniques that the military could deploy against suicide but they involve an initial two-hour screening, a sit-down, a one on one with a psychiatrist that this nation is just not willing to pay for.”
Thompson added that, “soldiers or veterans filing for disability have to wait months if not years for their claims to be adjudicated.”
U.S. troops readily put their lives in danger to protect the freedoms Americans enjoy, and their challenges often aren't over even after coming home from the battlefield.
Service members and their famlies are often the targets of predatory financial practices, and many face problems ranging from debt to foreclosure.
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, an Iraq war veteran and the son of Vice President Joe Biden, is leading the fight to protect American troops from financial dangers at home.
On Starting Point today, Biden explains why service members are targeted by financial scams and outlines the measures that need to be imposed to address these issues.
With the UN Security Council convening today on the deteriorating situation in Syria, Century Foundation fellow and member of the Council on Foreign Relations Michael Wahid Hanna believes that the current strategy in the country is suboptimal but "it's the only one that exists at the moment."
Hanna cites complex sectarian and ethnic grounds and a divided opposition in Syria for the difficulty in creating a clear plan of resolution. "More importantly," he tells Soledad on "Starting Point", "there is a divide in our international community which limits the range of options which can be brought to bear." Hanna says that a plan of managed transition and Alawite control of the security sector may be the best way to get cooperation from Russia and those in Syria that fear what a regime change could bring.
"It's not a clean concept. I would only say all the other options are very bad," Hanna continues. "If this fails, we're looking at protracted, bloody, sectarian civil war that could have regional impact in terms of Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and other countries and so this isn't something we should be discarding very lightly."
Military intervention is off the table, Hanna says, and he believes all diplomatic possibilities should be exhausted.
Hanna states that fissures in the al-Assad regime and Syria being isolated from the international community are the keys to bringing change to the riotous nation. "Obviously Russia abandoning Assad would be an important prerequisite but I don't think in and of itself it can solve the situation."