Inside the Ring

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Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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The Pyongyang account, @uriminzok puts out a steady stream of messages on Twitter, mainly to highlight content from a North Korean propaganda website aimed at overseas Koreans.

The website is run out of Shenyang, China, and operated by North Korea’s United Front Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea, a quasi-intelligence and influence organization. The department appears to be connected to North Korean efforts directed against rival South Korea.

According to U.S. officials, the North Koreans appear to regard Twitter and other social media as an additional channel to spread propaganda extolling dictator Kim Jong-il and other aspects of the communist regime.

U.S. intelligence agencies have been monitoring activity on the account and uncovered some interesting patterns.

For example, the account went silent after South Korean hackers broke into it and were able to shut it down for two months. The account resumed its tweets March 5.

Activity has ranged from as few as three tweets a day to as many as 30.

Most of the Korean-language tweets link to North Korean propaganda articles, many of which extol the “Dear Leader” Kim, and other propaganda.

GAME ON

The Army will not be run over by those in Congress and in the Pentagon who want to cancel its next-generation all-purpose vehicle.

At a cost of $54 billion, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) is a ripe target for budget-cutters in this age of finding ways to reduce the ballooning federal deficit.

A Senate subcommittee already has voted to defund. There are also Pentagon political appointees who would knock it out of the next five-year budget, says Washington Times reporter Rowan Scarborough.

But the Army is standing firm, saying it must have a solider-protected armored vehicle to ferry ground forces amid the dangers of improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades.

It would replace the venerable, but more vulnerable, Humvee, a jeeplike vehicle not originally designed to survive the types of roadside bombs exploding in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff, told the House Armed Services subcommittee on readiness that the service needs time to develop the JLTV and see if it makes better sense than continuing to buy refortified Humvees.

“I just think it’s absolutely essential that we be allowed to continue that critical work, or we will end up with a force that is not modernized,” he said. “And a force that is not modernized is an unbalanced force, and in the end it will cost us lives.”

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

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