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Why does the Confederate flag hurt the SC Confederate Relic Room?

Allen Roberson stands with guest curator Lynn Robertson of the Columbia Museum of Art in the vaulted cistern that serves as special exhibit space for the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. There, one of only four remaining full-time Relic Room employees and a part-timer carefully hang artwork by Xanthus Smith, considered one of the foremost American military painters of the 19th century. The 47 maritime drawings and paintings of Civil War ships in and around Port Royal Sound created by Smith, a Union naval officer from Philadelphia, are part of the Southern Maritime Collection 10,000 Civil War paintings, drawings, documents, prints, posters, models and other maritime items collected by Charles V. Peery, a retired Charleston doctor.

The state purchased the items for $4.5 million amid controversy in 2001. The Relic Room staff of professional curators was asked to watch over the collection, even though it is stored at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, home of the Confederate submarine H.L.Hunley.

I advocated getting some these out to the public, Roberson, the relic room s director, said of the exhibit, which opens Friday. This is a way to get some of them out to the public. As the Relic Room reaches the end of its 120th anniversary observance, it faces several challenges, including some that are ongoing and others that were not expected. Although the name ties it to the Civil War, the museum s mission is to educate South Carolinians on all of the state s military history. For 120 years, the museum in its various iterations and locations has collected, preserved and exhibited artifacts, images and documents that tell the story of war s impact on the state.

The museum collects, maintains and stores items from the American Revolution through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. State Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, led S.C. National Guard troops in combat in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. His uniform and other items are on display or in storage at the museum. He called the Relic Room the gold standard among military museums in the state. He noted that in programming and tours, the exhibits and staff avoid politics or taking sides in the issues that caused the Civil War.

The name gives the impression it s just about the Confederacy, but it goes far beyond that, he said. It goes to the impact South Carolinians have had in these major global events. There are very important stories there.

Smith added the museum has also served as an ongoing repository for the stories of South Carolinians who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and no one else is doing that. But since 2015, the museum has been known more for a gift it received from the people of South Carolina that it did not want and did not have the resources to handle a modern nylon replica of a Confederate battle flag. The flag flew on the State House grounds for 14 days and was removed on July 10, 2015, amid roiling political controversy after the shooting of nine African-American parishioners at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston. The ongoing controversy has cost the museum visitors and diverted staff time.

It was Roberson who, with white gloves on, accepted the $52 flag from a state patrol honor guard, took it back to his tiny museum and locked it up in a vault with all the care of the Shroud of Turin, per the direction of state law. The flag with no significance in military history sits amid scores of artifacts from all of America s wars that the Relic Room doesn t have room to display. When the flag was removed from the State House grounds, the General Assembly dictated that it not only be displayed, but included in an exhibit that honors the 22,000 or so South Carolina soldiers killed in the Civil War. In response to the request, the Relic Room s governing commission came up with an ambitious plan [1]to add a new upper floor to the museum, allowing the commission to build not only the exhibit surrounding the nylon flag, but additional space to display other Civil War items in storage and add a new entrance and event space, of which the Relic Room has none.

The price tag was $3.6 million. The proposal was not well received. Critics, many of whom had never visited the museum, suggested it be moved to Charleston. Others advocated displaying some of the stored museum pieces at another unaccredited museum in Columbia with no professional staff. The Relic Room Commission stood pat despite the criticism.

We saw that we could be part of the solution to the controversy surrounding the removal of the Confederate flag, Roberson said. We can bring some sense of resolution to this issue. Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, the Capital City s first African-American mayor, campaigned for 30 years to bring the Confederate flag first off the State House dome and then off the grounds. He said all South Carolinians have to be intellectually honest about their history, and the state should uphold its promise to the flag s supporters.

As a student leader, as a young professional, business leader and mayor, I was among the chorus who called for the battle flag to be removed from a place of sovereignty at the state Capitol and moved to a museum, he said. Now that it has been moved to the Relic Room, the state should provide the resources to fulfill the General Assembly s mandate.

A treasure

But the nylon flag is a social and political symbol, not a military one. Its interpretation does not fall within the purview of the Relic Room s mission when it was founded in 1896. The museum is the oldest military museum in South Carolina. It is also the third oldest museum of any type in the state, behind ones in Charleston and Florence. It is one of only 13 of the state s 224 museums to earn national accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums. It also received a 90 percent rating from the American Association of State and Local History.

State Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Richland, took a large group of lawmakers, including many African-American lawmakers, to the Relic Room for the first time when he was helping forge a compromise to remove the flag from the State House grounds. He said those lawmakers, like many other people who haven t visited the museum before, were struck by the quality and balance of the exhibits. For example, the museum includes the flag of an African-American regiment that fought for the Union along South Carolina s coast.

There is something there for everybody, he said. It s a military museum for the whole state. It should be treated as a treasure because it is.

A holistic approach

The Relic Room must reapply for accreditation this year, a process that takes months. The first time it earned accreditation, in 2004, the effort took three years.

Getting the Confederate Relic Room approved by a Washington-based agency wasn t easy, but we got it, Roberson said. However, cuts made to the museum s budget during the Great Recession has reduced the museum s staff to just Roberson and three full-time staffers who do everything from build exhibits and conduct tours to plan programming and take tickets at the front desk. And the ongoing controversy over the flag is sucking up our staff time, he said.

John Sherrer, director of cultural resources for Historic Columbia, said that earning accreditation is difficult and exhaustive.

Being accredited is a mark of professional excellence, he said. It s not easy. It s something organizations strive to attain. It doesn t just focus on one thing, it s a holistic approach curation, conservation, public access and programming, scholarship, professional administration standards and financial accountability. It s all-encompassing, and they meet that. The Xanthus Smith exhibit runs through September. At the same time, the museum is building an exhibit to honor Fort Jackson s 100th anniversary, which culminates in June. In December, it will unveil a major new exhibit on the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, and simultaneously a second exhibit on an Army Reserve 360th Civil Affairs Brigade that served from World War II on and included many prominent South Carolinians including the late Strom Thurmond, the former governor and longtime U.S. senator.

A lot of South Carolina politicians were there, Roberson said. Don Fowler. Joe Wilson. Strom Thurmond was the most notable.

And also on Friday, when the Xanthus Smith exhibit opens, retired Lt. Gen. E.G. Buck Shuler, once commander of the storied Eighth Air Force and now vice chairman of Savannah s National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, will talk about the organization s history at noon. His talk is the sixth of nine lunch and learn sessions at the museum in the 2016-2017 season.

It hurt us

Budget cuts beginning in 2008 have made it impossible for Roberson to fill his seven full-time positions, he said. In fiscal year 2008-2009, the general fund appropriation for the Relic Room was $920,870. Last year it was $825,772 despite the burden of dealing with the flag controversy. In addition, the flag issues and lack of staff have cut into Roberson s time to raise funds. And the flag controversy has caused attendance at the Relic Room to drop from 24,800 in 2015 to about 19,800 in 2016.

And before that we had five straight years of increasing attendance, Roberson said. Last year was the lowest attendance in 10 years. The museum lost a $50,000 donation because of the controversy surrounding the State House flag, Roberson said.

It hurt us, he said.

Also, having the State House flag on site has caused some unpleasant phone calls and exchanges on the museum s Facebook page. Additional funds to pay for another full-time employee and a security guard are included in this year s budget request, which is now being considered by the General Assembly. The museum is asking for an additional $25,000 for a security guard and some added security features, and $67,000 for the new employee s salary and benefits

The museum is also asking for $300,000 to assist in collecting artifacts and building the Vietnam exhibit.

I don t know of any other museum in the state that is planning a major exhibit on Vietnam, Roberson said. The budget does not include, however, any funds for display of the State House flag. That money would have to come from the Legislature, Roberson said. And the General Assembly has so far been silent on the matter.

In the meantime, Roberson, a Marine veteran and historian who is leery of both politics and the press, is caught firmly in the vise grip of both.

All I want to talk about is our exhibits, he said.

Relic Room facts

1896: Founded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to memorialize Civil War. Opened June 24 in the South Caroliniana Library

1901: Museum moves to the S.C. State House

1960: Museum moves to the S.C. Archives Building

1970: Museum moves to the WW I War Memorial Building on the University of South Carolina campus

2002: After extensive redesign, museum reopens in Columbia Mills Building adjacent to the State Museum

2004: Museum receives national accreditation

2007: Museum increases in size with a new atrium entrance and exhibit space in the mill s cistern

2015: Museum become a state agency when the Budget and Control Board is dissolved

2015: Museum receives the replica Confederate battle flag from the State House grounds

About the S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum

Location: 301 Gervais St., Columbia

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. First Sunday of every month, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission: Adults, $6; 62 and over, $5; Children 10 to 17, $3; Children under 10, free.



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Russian hacks loom over race to lead Democratic Party

The candidates vying to lead the Democratic National Committee into the mid-term elections are doling out cybersecurity promises like never before. They re vowing to hire a senior cyber point-person, rebuild the party s computer defenses, expand relationships with law enforcement and instill a culture of digital security in a party rattled by the cyberattacks that helped keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House. Story Continued Below

We have lived the consequences of a catastrophic breakdown in systems and a reaction which was obviously substandard, said former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, one of the leading contenders in the race for the DNC chairmanship. We can safely assume that cyber warfare is going to be a tactic of the future, and we must prepare for it.

Few events shaped the 2016 presidential election like the cyberattacks that federal and private investigators have pinned on Russian intelligence agencies. The thefts and subsequent leaks exposed the internal communications of the DNC, the Democrats House campaign group and other high-profile targets, knocking Clinton off balance, rattling races further down the ballot and unseating the committee s former chairwoman. Now the people competing to lead the Democrats into battle with President Donald Trump have one consistent message: Never again.

Russian Hacks Loom Over Race To Lead Democratic Party

We always wonder when the first serious cybersecurity attack on the U.S. will come. I think it has, said Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., another of the 10 Democrats vying for party chair. We ve learned the hard way why cybersecurity needs to be a priority. The DNC s 447 members will select their next chairperson over a long weekend starting Feb. 23 in a voting process that s expected[1] to go to multiple rounds. Whoever wins will inherit an organization shaken by one of the most transformative cyberattacks in American history.

It was crippling, said South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, who also hopes to lead the DNC. We now have Donald Trump as president.

Already, things are changing at DNC headquarters. Staffers call each other and visit each other s desks rather than send emails. Entering the building feels a bit like walking into a crime scene, a senior DNC official told POLITICO. The ramifications of what happened kind of touch everything that we do. People share a dark humor about the fact that foreign hackers could breach the walls again at any time, the official said.

There s a lot of, you know, when you re on a conference call and there s a weird noise and people say, Hi Vlad, or whatever, the official said. It s a shared bond and burden. But preventing hackers from striking again will require a lot more than just recognizing that digital communications are vulnerable. And the Democratic Party is more than just the DNC it s a constellation of state parties and campaign arms for governors, the House and the Senate, including campaigns that often erect security measures haphazardly on tight budgets. That creates myriad pathways for hackers to infiltrate computer networks and hop around until they hit pay dirt.

The people vying for the top post including Perez, Buttigieg and Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison[2], along with Harrison, two other state party leaders and former Fox News analyst Jehmu Greene all believe they have an effective plan to overhaul the party s defenses. The 2016 election could signal just the very beginning of attacks, said another candidate, New Hampshire Democratic Chairman Ray Buckley. It is critically important that we stay out front of it.

Russian Hacks Loom Over Race To Lead Democratic Party

Perhaps the most unifying proposal is to hire a cybersecurity leader to guide high-level strategy, equivalent to the chief technology officer or chief information security officer found in many large companies. The lack of such a point-person was a glaring hole in the response to the Russian hacking. As The New York Times later revealed[3], the FBI agent who first called the DNC to report an intrusion wound up speaking to a tech-support contractor who didn t believe the caller was genuine. For now, the senior DNC official told POLITICO, the team monitoring the party s networks reports directly to interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile. The candidates running to succeed her want the team to be led by one person who reports to the chair.

It is integral to an organization of our size to have a security person on site that we pay to just stay up with best practices, said candidate Sally Boynton Brown, who is now the Idaho Democratic Party s executive director. Perez, Boynton Brown, Buttigieg and Harrison all suggested that the cyber leader could streamline the DNC s relationship with law enforcement. The person should have a direct line to the FBI, Harrison said. A single senior cyber official would also build institutional memory on cybersecurity, Perez said, an issue the party has historically handled with little continuity. Such an official could spearhead a long-term cyber rebuilding plan, which candidates said could include implementing basic security measures, such as deleting emails after 30 days something some state parties already do and doing a full audit of the DNC s computer architecture.

Another challenge is getting frequently reshuffled party staff to follow basic cybersecurity protocols. Investigators have said DNC staffers and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta fell victim to spear-phishing attacks, in which Russian hackers tricked them into clicking on malicious links and typing their usernames and passwords opening the door for the intruders to grab emails and sensitive files. Commonplace guards against those attacks include two-factor authentication, which requires people to enter a separate, one-time code provided by either a text message, an app or a physical key fob in addition to a password. Businesses like banks, Apple and Google increasingly offer that kind of security to their customers.

If Tom Perez can have two-factor authentication on his iPhone, Perez said, I think we oughta be able to do that. That s low-hanging fruit.

Russian Hacks Loom Over Race To Lead Democratic Party

The top of a cybersecurity awareness poster found throughout the DNC’s headquarters. The DNC would not allow the rest of the poster, which lists security tips for employees, to be included in this story. The DNC has rolled out two-factor authentication in recent months as part of its initial digital defense overhaul, which included the establishment[4] of a four-member cybersecurity advisory board. CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm brought in to investigate the Russian infiltration, also performed a complete[5] restructuring and rebranding of the committee s management systems.

But several DNC candidates stressed the importance of not having to rely on contractors like CrowdStrike in the future. The party s network security needs to be more in-house than it is right now, Buttigieg said. While the DNC hack was unfolding, Perez said, we didn t have sufficient expertise within the building.

You need people around you who can diagnose the problem, he added. On-site expertise would allow for more consistent training and a constant, visible reminder that cybersecurity is important regardless of any hassles it may create.

The question is, OK, if it takes me two extra minutes to log in in order to send out an email, do I want that, or do I want to have Donald Trump reelected again? said Harrison, the head of the South Carolina party. Yeah, I m going to take the two extra minutes. That s a no-brainer.

Russian Hacks Loom Over Race To Lead Democratic Party

I think we just have to paint that picture as clear and as simple and as concise as that, he added, which might even mean putting up actual pictures of Trump.

Well, Donald Trump and Putin posters, Harrison said with a laugh.

A more permanent, in-house team at the DNC would also improve communications with state parties on cybersecurity matters, possibly reducing some of the digital security gaps inherent in such a far-flung organization, Boynton Brown said. Cyber experts say the Democrats biggest digital security challenge is the state parties, which lack the resources and expertise to combat armies of foreign government hackers.

I m very, very scared on the state party front, Harrison said. I think that is a huge gaping hole. But the national party has its own budget limitations, Perez cautioned, meaning that hiring will have to depend on fundraising.

Whoever wins the DNC race will have to move quickly. Digital security upgrades can take time, and preparation is already underway for the 2018 midterm elections, in which Democrats face an unpleasant Senate map and bleak prospects in many state legislatures. The senior DNC official said the organization has a very serious briefing planned for the next chair.

Craig Varoga, a veteran Democratic strategist who is not running for chair, urged the DNC to make cybersecurity a priority no matter the cost.

Whatever it is, Varoga said by email, it is a hell of a lot cheaper than the billions that will be spent opposing the current occupant of the White House.

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Russian Hacks Loom Over Race To Lead Democratic Party


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Zero One: States Woo Cybersecurity Pros

SAN FRANCISCO — On Valentine s Day, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, speaking at RSA Conference 2017[1] in San Francisco, courted cybersecurity pros to live and work in the state known for lovers. His overtures, though, belie a serious problem. State governments lack enough cybersecurity pros to battle hackers who ve put states in their crosshairs.

My whole initiative as chairman of the [National Governors Association] is cybersecurity, because we at the state level collectively have more data than the federal government, McAuliffe said. State governments store a bounty of valuable data, such as state tax returns, healthcare records and driver s license information. Add to this Virginia s vast military installations The Pentagon in Arlington, CIA in Langley, FBI Academy in Quantico, Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach and it s no surprise Virginia faced some 86 million cyberattacks last year, averaging three every second.

The attacks are so enormous, McAuliffe said. They re trying to shut down our 911 emergency call centers, they re [trying to steal] our hospital data. Out of necessity, Virginia has taken the vanguard in cybersecurity, but other states are falling behind. South Carolina and Utah, for instance, have already had serious breaches, McAuliffe said.

We have probably 10 to 15 states in America that have done what they need to do with protocols and have put us in a very good position, McAuliffe said. We have about maybe 10 to 15 states that are doing an ok job. The remaining 20 really haven t done much.

Related: Zero One: Are You Ready for AI?[2]

Unfortunately, cybersecurity laggards impact others, given that states share providers. Hackers can attack a cybersecurity-focused state such as Virginia by going through the backdoor of, say, a healthcare provider that has been infiltrated in a state with poor cybersecurity.

We are only as strong as our weakest link, McAuliffe said. McAuliffe said he would like to see a nationwide framework, even a federal law and policy to protect data. The goal is to raise cybersecurity practices for all 50 states.

Unfortunately due to, I say, partisan politics, you can t get the congress to agree, so we re having to do that at the state level, McAuliffe said. That s frustrating. Virginia offers many state programs to attract and nurture cybersecurity talent. For example, Virginia boasts cyber-camps for children, a training program for veterans, and student scholarships in exchange for service You work for the state a couple of years, I ll pay for your education, McAuliffe said. Virginia s community colleges and universities also offer cybersecurity tracks.

Related: Zero One: Cybersecurity, a Business Challenge[3]

Nevertheless, the hard-fought battle against hackers wages on as Virginia and other states try to grow their cybersecurity ranks. Virginia currently has 36,000 cybersecurity job openings with a starting annual salary of $88,000.

Just two weeks ago in Virginia, a foreign actor tried to get my personal data from the state, McAuliffe said, adding, We had the Anthem breach [in 2015]. Three of my five children had their standard information taken. My secretary of Veterans Affairs, a retired four-star admiral, had his fingerprints, everything taken from him.

Tom Kaneshige writes the Zero One blog covering digital transformation, big data, AI, marketing tech and the Internet of Things for line-of-business executives. He is based in Silicon Valley. You can reach him at .[4]


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