TRNS News Notes is brought to you by Victoria Jones. Victoria Jones is the Chief White House correspondent and global analyst of the Washington DC based Talk Radio News Service, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.


In the News

  • WH computer networks hacked! Russian govt?
  • Investigator in Secret Service prostitution scandal resigns
  • Investigator took photos of intern’s feet
  • Obama speaks out on Ebola
  • Can I get Ebola from a toilet seat??
  • Midterm Madness: Democrats scramble
  • U.S. steps up security at federal buildings
  • House Dems want family deportations suspended
  • Biden stayed cheaply at govt-owned park lodge
  • FTC files complaint against AT&T: Throttling
  • Lean GOP or Dem? Facebook “likes” know…

WH Computer Networks Hacked! Russian Govt?

• Hackers thought to be working for the Russian govt breached the unclassified WH computer networks in recent weeks, sources said, resulting in temporary disruptions to some services while cybersecurity teams worked to contain the intrusion. WH officials said there’s no evidence the classified network was hacked (WaPo, NYT, me)

• “We took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity.” said one WH official. “Unfortunately, some of that resulted in the disruption of regular services to users. But people were on it and are dealing with it.” The FBI, Secret Service and NSA are all involved in the investigation

U.S. officials were alerted to the breach by an ally, sources said. (awkward – not our own people) Recent reports by security firms have identified cyber-espionage campaigns by Russian hackers thought to be working for their govt. Targets have included NATO, the Ukrainian govt and U.S. defense contractors

• In the case of the WH, the nature of the target is consistent with a state-sponsored campaign, sources said. The breach was discovered two or three weeks ago, sources said. Some staffers were asked to change their passwords. The email system, apart from some minor delays, was never down, though intranet access was shut off for awhile

• The Russian intel service was believed to have been behind a breach of the U.S. military’s classified’s networks, which was discovered in 2008. That incident helped galvanize the effort to create U.S. Cyber Command, a military organization dedicated to defending the country’s critical computer systems against foreign cyberattack (yet an ally alerted us to the breach…)
Investigator in Secret Service Prostitution Scandal Resigns
• The investigator who led the Dept of Homeland Security’s internal review of the Secret Service’s 2012 prostitution scandal quietly resigned in August after he was implicated in his own incident involving a prostitute, according to current and former dept officials (NYT, WaPo, me)

• Sheriff’s deputies in Broward County FL saw David Nieland, the investigator, entering and leaving a building they had under surveillance as part of a prostitution investigation. They later interviewed a prostitute, who IDd Nieland in a photo and said he had paid her for sex (naughty)

• Nieland resigned after he refused to answer a series of questions from the Dept of Homeland Security IG about the incident, the officials said. In an email Tuesday, Nieland said, “The allegation is not true.”

• A spox for DHS said in a statement that he could only confirm that Nieland resigned in August. But the spox added that dept officials “became aware in early May of this year of an incident in FL that involved one of our employees. … investigate thoroughly … range of options available to us, including administrative suspension and termination.”
Changes Made to IG’s Report
• For months, Nieland has been at the center of a dispute over whether the Obama admin tried to cover up the involvement of a volunteer member of a WH advance team in the scandal that resulted in the firing of eight Secret Service agents who had prostitutes in their rooms in Cartagena, Colombia. Nieland was asked to lead an investigation

• That Sept, the IG’s office (Nieland) released a report. In an interview with staff members of a Senate Homeland Security subcommittee, Nieland said he’d been asked to delete derogatory info because it was potentially damaging to the admin during an election year: that a volunteer member of the WH advance team also had a prostitute in his room

• But in its own report, this year, the subcommittee said the changes in the IG’s report were part of the ordinary editing process, and it found no evidence to substantiate Nieland’s claims

• The WH also denied that it had intervened in the preparation of the report and said it had investigated the allegations against the WH volunteer but determined that they weren’t true

Nieland Took Photos of Intern’s Feet
• In 2013, according to dept officials, Nieland accused the IG’s office of retaliating against him for making those allegations when it suspended him for two weeks without pay after he circulated photos that he had taken of a female intern’s feet (ewww)

• The intern asked to be transferred out of the office after the incident (don’t blame her – so would I. Shades of Dick Morris). Nieland, according to the officials, said he had circulated the images as a joke (sure)

• Tuesday night, Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who’s leading a House subcommittee investigation of the Secret Service, questioned the timing of the new allegations. “There are obviously some people seeking to discredit individuals who are in the business of exposing truth about the administration,” he said

• Wait for fall-out! Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic quotes Obama admin officials calling Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu a “chicken$hit” and a “coward.” “The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” one official told Goldberg. “He’s got no guts.”

Obama Speaks Out on Ebola
• Speaking with reporters before boarding Air Force One, President Obama on Tuesday forcefully rejected the idea of a quarantine for medical workers returning from Ebola-affected countries. “We don’t just react based on our fears. We react based on facts and judgment and making smart decisions,” he said (Hill, TRNS, CNN, TRNS, WaPo, TRNS, Politico, me)

Today, Obama will convene a meeting at the WH with doctors and public health workers who have either returned from treating Ebola patients in Africa or are on their way there, not only to thank them, “but to make sure that we’re getting input from them, based on the science.” Obama will be introduced by missionary Dr Kent Brantly, who survived Ebola

• Obama’s comments came as the second nurse infected with Ebola has been cured and appeared at a presser Tuesday. “First and foremost, I want to thank God,” said Amber Joy Vinson, 29. Obama spoke with Vinson by phone Thursday. A 5-year-old boy in NY has been cleared of Ebola

• Speaking in Ethiopia, the head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, said Tuesday that an additional 5,000 health care workers are needed immediately to treat Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Speaking in Ethiopia, Kim was joined by UN SecGen Ban Ki-moon and African Union chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

• Meanwhile, the Joint Chiefs of Staff made a formal recommendation Tuesday to DefSec Chuck Hagel that he require all U.S. troops returning from West Africa to be subjected to 21 days of quarantine-like conditions

• WH spox Josh Earnest said to reporters Tuesday that “it’s much more difficult, I think for obvious reasons, to conduct a personalized assessment of risk and tailor a monitoring regime for them
[military] when you’re talking about thousands of people who performed a wide variety of functions in a wide variety of locations in this region of the world.”

• Fox News has obtained a memo prepared by the State Dept which talks about coming “to an agreed State Dept position on the extent to which non-U.S. citizens will be admitted to the United States for treatment of Ebola Virus Disease.”

Can I Get Ebola From a Toilet Seat?
You probably can get Ebola from a toilet seat. The risk isn’t so much the seat itself as the whole bathroom. But not just any bathroom. The risk would come from a bathroom that an Ebola victim in an infectious phase has recently used (are you eating breakfast? er, maybe stop nowww) (NYT, me)

• Ebola victims often lose control of their bowels and excrete copious amounts of diarrhea. They also vomit (projectile sometimes) heavily. Those liquids are highly contagious. Touching them and then touching one’s eye or mouth or inside the nose (orifices) could transmit the disease. Urine also carries some risk, but not as much

• For workers in Ebola field hospitals, one of the riskiest acts is touching their boots or shoe covers. The Doctors Without Borders disrobing protocol calls for them to slosh their feet in a bath of chlorinated water and then remove their boots with a bootjack, so as to never touch them with their hands

• In modern buildings, toilets that flush loudly and powerfully are a risk in themselves. The flushing creates a mist of droplets that splash onto the face and hands or may contaminate stall surfaces (ugh – never going to public loos ever again)

• Raw vid: ISS supply rocket Antares explodes on takeoff in Virginia (AP)

Midterm Madness: Democrats Scramble
• President Obama urged his most loyal supporters – African-Americans – to turn out for for Democrat Mary Burke in one of the premier gubernatorial races in the country Tuesday: Wisconsin. He rallied a crowd of more than 3,500 for the Madison School Board member in Milwaukee

• House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told colleagues Tuesday on a caucus-wide, members-only conference call that they needed to quickly pay their party dues so Democrats would have cash to run last-minute ads and maintain get-out-the-vote programs, a Democratic aide said

• The political environment continues to deteriorate for House Democrats. Operatives from both parties expect Republicans to net five to 10 seats, which would give them some cushion heading into what’s expected to be a much more challenging 2016 (Politico, Hill, me)

• The gay rights group Human Rights Campaign is making a major push to bring voters supporting their issues to the polls in key Senate races next week, with online advertising and President Chad Griffin making direct appeals, including in New Hampshire for Sen Jeanne Shaheen (D)

• Economic confidence clocked in at one of the most positive scores of the year, one week before the midterms, Gallup said Tuesday. Gallup said the economic confidence score was negative 10, one of the most positive of the year

• During a visit to Canada Tuesday, SecState John Kerry said he would like to make a decision on TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline “sooner rather than later but I can’t tell you the precise date.” (Reuters, me)
U.S. Steps Up Security at Federal Buildings
• The Dept of Homeland Security on Tuesday announced heightened security measures at federal buildings in Washington DC and nationwide, citing the recent shooting at the Canadian Parliament and threats from terrorist groups to attack on U.S. soil (have been threats to attack journos in U.S., too) (WaPo, Politico, me)

• DHS officials emphasized that the step was precautionary, and not based on any intelligence about a specific terrorist plot (uh huh). The increased security started over the weekend but was only announced Tuesday because of its sensitivity, they said

• In a statement, DHS Sec Jeh Johnson cited: “the continued public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on the homeland and elsewhere, including against law enforcement and other govt officials, and the acts of violence targeted at govt personnel and installations in Canada and elsewhere recently.”

• “The precise actions we are taking and the precise locations at which we will enhance security is law-enforcement sensitive, will vary and shift from location to location and will be continually re-evaluated,” Johnson said

• The DHS action, which will be carried out by the Federal Protective Service – which guards more than 9,500 federal facilities passed through by 1.4 million visitors or occupants daily – followed last week’s shooting outside and inside Canada’s Parliament building
• Luis Enrique Monroy Bracamonte, a Mexican undocumented immigrant, is accused of killing two Northern CA sheriff’s officers in a six-hour shooting rampage Friday. The case could create problems for the Obama admin as it considers expanding protections for undocumented immigrants (NYT, me)



House Dems Want Family Deportations Suspended
• A group of 32 House Democrats, led by Rep Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and John Conyers (D-MI) wrote to President Obama Monday to call on him to suspend deportations of Central American families until problems are resolved at the newly opened detention facilities holding women and children (Reuters, Hill, me)

• The lawmakers don’t want the families to be deported until they can ensure that they won’t face “persecution and torture abroad.” The Democrats also expressed doubt about Obama’s plans to significantly expand family detentions with the planned opening of a privately-managed facility in Dilley Tx, that eventually will hold up to 2,400 women and children

• The lawmakers said the govt lacked authority to impose either no bonds or high bonds to keep families in detention, which they said had the effect of setting more stringent restraints on women and children compared with all other undocumented immigrants apprehended

• The Democrats cited a lack of workers with child care experience in the detention centers. And they complained that immigrant mothers are loathe to recount, in the presence of their children, sexual assaults and domestic violence they suffered

• But failure to do so “could prevent the asylum seeker from establishing the burden of proof” necessary to avoid deportation, they wrote
• Robel Phillipos, a friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who’s accused of detonating two pressure-cooker bombs at last year’s Boston Marathon, was convicted on Tuesday by a federal jury in Boston of lying to FBI agents during their investigation of the attack (NYT, TRNS, me)
Biden Stayed Cheaply at Govt-Owned Park Lodge
• VP Joe Biden and other members of the Obama Cabinet spent vacation time at a govt-owned log cabin in Wyoming where they were charged a low rate, a Time report charges. Biden and 12 family members spent four nights at the Brinkerhoff Lodge, part of the Grand Teton National Park. He had no public events on the schedule (Time, Hill, me)

• The National Park Service restricts the cabin to “official purposes.” but Time found the agency expanded that definition to allow for vacations as long as some official business is involved. In some cases, the “official business” only included a briefing from park staff or a few local events (bit naughty)

• Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, former Transportation Sec Ray LaHood, former Sec of Interior Ken Salazar and current Education Sec Arne Duncan all took trips to the lodge with friends or family since 2011. No records of payments except a $150 cheque from Salazar. Officials from various agencies say there was “confusion” over what each official owed…

• Travel costs for friends or family are not supposed to be covered by the govt. After Time questioned the VP’s office, his staff said Biden planned to personally pay $1,200 for “renting the Brinkenhoff.” That cost assumes a four bedroom lodge is comparable to a single hotel room in the area (cheeky)

• At the nearby Jackson Lake Lodge, a two-bedroom cabin that sleeps four without a view of the lake, averages $250 a night in August. Nearby homes outside the park can rent for more than $1,000 per night during the summer
FTC Files Complaint Against AT&T: Throttling
• AT&T broke the law when it slowed down mobile internet speeds among customers who’ve paid for unlimited data, the FTC alleged in a complaint Tuesday. As many as 3.5 million individual AT&T customers were hit by the throttling more than 25 million times over the course of several years, the FTC alleges. Sometimes, speeds were cut by more than 90%

• On occasion, AT&T notified some customers by text or email that they’d used too much data and would be throttled. But not everyone got the notices who was eligible for them, said the FTC – nor did AT&T make clear in its marketing materials that users would be slowed down after a certain point set by the carrier

• For an average of 12 days out of the month, AT&T unlimited data customers who were affected by the throttling program had their speeds trimmed to dial-up levels, according to the complaint. AT&T allegedly knew that its throttling practice was unfair – because its internal research told them so. From the complaint:


• When it implemented its throttling program, Defendant possessed internal focus group research indicating that its throttling program was inconsistent with consumer understanding of an “unlimited” data plan. The researchers concluded that: … “Consumers felt unlimited should mean unlimited.” (no kidding)

• The focus group participants thought the idea was “clearly unfair.” The researchers observed that the more consumers talked about it the more they didn’t like it. This led the researchers to advise that “saying less is more, [so] don’t say too much” in marketing communications concerning such a program – end of complaint excerpt

• AT&T’s top lawyer fired back Tuesday that the FTC’s allegations were “baseless.” “It’s baffling as to why the FTC would choose to take this action against a company that, like all major wireless providers, manages its network resources to provide the best possible service to all customers,” said senior exec VP Wayne Watts

Lean GOP or Dem? Facebook “Likes” Know…

• Facebook released a study Tuesday that tracked the interests of users based on party affiliation or leaning. They looked at the pages of people who liked the campaign page of a D or R running for office, then they looked at what other pages those users liked, and identified the pages that were most differentiating (Politico, me)

• Republican types are more likely to listen to country musicians like George Strait, Blake Shelton, Ted Nugent (nutcase rocker) and Miranda Lambert, while Democratic types tend to go for artists like Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson. Both like Metallica

• Favorite landmarks. Both love the Jersey Shore, but while you may find Republicans at places like George Washington’s Mount Vernon or Elvis Presley’s Graceland, you’re more likely to find Democrats at the Empire State Building

• Books. Republicans are likely reading “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand and “Heaven is for Real” by Lynn Vincent and Todd Burpo, while Democrats prefer authors such as Maya Angelou and books like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” Both like C.S. Lewis

• TV. Republicans are more likely to watch A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” while Democrats prefer Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” Both like “Criminal Minds” and “NCIS.”

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Victoria Jones

TRNS’ William McDonald, Celina Gore, Leah Schwarting and Paayal Zaveri contributed to this report


The Talk Radio News Service is the only information, news booking and host service dedicated to serving the talk radio community. TRNS maintains a Washington office that includes White House, Capitol Hill and Pentagon staffed bureaus, and a New York office with a United Nations staffed bureau. Talk Radio News Service has permanent access to every breaking newsevent in the Washington, D.C. area and beyond.