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Google Adds to Its Menagerie of Robots BigDog, Cheetah, WildCat and Atlas have joined Google’s growing robot menagerie.
Google confirmed on Friday that it had completed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that has designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon. The company, based in Waltham, Mass., has gained an international reputation for machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and even — cheetahlike — run faster than the fastest humans.
It is the eighth robotics company that Google has acquired in the last half-year. Executives at the Internet giant are circumspect about what exactly they plan to do with their robot collection. But Boston Dynamics and its animal kingdom-themed machines bring significant cachet to Google’s robotic efforts, which are being led by Andy Rubin, the Google executive who spearheaded the development of Android, the world’s most widely used smartphone software. (New York Times)
N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens - Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.
The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.
The policy shift was intended to help the agency “discover and track” connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.
The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.
N.S.A. officials declined to say how many Americans have been caught up in the effort, including people involved in no wrongdoing. The documents do not describe what has resulted from the scrutiny, which links phone numbers and e-mails in a “contact chain” tied directly or indirectly to a person or organization overseas that is of foreign intelligence interest. (New York Times)
Radios failed during Navy Yard attack, emergency responders say Radios for federal firefighters and police officers failed during Monday’s mass shooting at Washington’s Navy Yard, according to union representatives for first responders.
Union officials said police and firefighters resorted to using their cellphones and radios from D.C.’s emergency responders to communicate with each other during the attack.
Anthony Meely, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Naval District Washington (NDW) Labor Committee, said police officers who were first on the scene at the Navy Yard had trouble communicating with others in the force via their radios.
Initially, officers found that their radios were working. But as they ventured deeper into the building where the shooting took place, their equipment stopped functioning.
After the first shootout with the gunman, one officer found his radio’s battery was dead, while another officer could not receive a signal from his radio and was unable to call for help. That forced them to use an officer’s cellphone to call others outside the building, according to Meely. (The Hill)
Navy Yard: Swat team 'stood down' at mass shooting scene One of the first teams of heavily armed police to respond to Monday's shooting in Washington DC was ordered to stand down by superiors, the BBC can reveal.
A tactical response team of the Capitol Police, a force that guards the US Capitol complex, was told to leave the scene by a supervisor instead of aiding municipal officers.
The Capitol Police department has launched a review into the matter.
Aaron Alexis, 34, killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard.
"I don't think it's a far stretch to say that some lives may have been saved if we were allowed to intervene," a Capitol Police source familiar with the incident told the BBC. (BBC)
Kerry portrait of Syria rebels at odds with intelligence reports Secretary of State John Kerry's public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.
At congressional hearings this week, while making the case for President Barack Obama's plan for limited military action in Syria, Kerry asserted that the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership, and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution.
"And the opposition is getting stronger by the day," Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. (Reuters)
7 Ways The Obama Administration Has Accelerated Police Militarization There were signs that President Barack Obama might rein in the mass militarization of America's police forces after he won the White House. Policing is primarily a local issue, overseen by local authorities. But beginning in the late 1960s with President Richard Nixon, the federal government began instituting policies that gave federal authorities more power to fight the drug trade, and to lure state and local policymakers into the anti-crime agenda of the administration in charge. These policies got a boost during Ronald Reagan's presidency, and then another during President Bill Clinton's years. Under President George W. Bush, all of those anti-drug policies continued, but were supplemented by new war on terrorism endeavors -- yet more efforts to make America's cops look, act and fight like soldiers.
But Obama might have been different. This, after all, was the man who, as a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2004, declared the war on drugs an utter failure. As Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum wrote in a 2011 critique of Obama's drug policy:
Obama stood apart from hard-line prohibitionists even when he began running for president. In 2007 and 2008, he bemoaned America’s high incarceration rate, warned that the racially disproportionate impact of drug prohibition undermines legal equality, advocated a “public health” approach to drugs emphasizing treatment and training instead of prison, repeatedly indicated that he would take a more tolerant position regarding medical marijuana than George W. Bush, and criticized the Bush administration for twisting science to support policy -- a tendency that is nowhere more blatant than in the government’s arbitrary distinctions among psychoactive substances.
Indeed, in his first interview after taking office, Obama's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, said that the administration would be toning down the martial rhetoric that had dominated federal drug policy since the Nixon years. "Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," Kerlikowske told The Wall Street Journal. "We're not at war with people in this country."
This was an notable break from previous administrations. Rhetoric does matter, and for a generation in the U.S., cops had incessantly been told that they were in a war with drug offenders -- this, in a country where about half the adult population admits to having smoked marijuana.
Unfortunately, while not insignificant, the change in rhetoric has largely been only that. The Obama administration may no longer call it a "war," but there's no question that the White House is continuing to fight one. Here's a quick rundown of where and how Obama's policies have perpetuated the garrison state: (Huffington Post)
HAGEL EMPHASIZES NEED FOR CLOSE US-ISRAEL TIES U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday that the U.S. and Israel need to ensure that their alliance remains close, as Mideast security challenges grow more complicated.
"This is a difficult and dangerous time," Hagel said before starting a closed-door meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "This is a time when friends and allies must remain close, closer than ever."
In his remarks, Netanyahu thanked the Obama administration for deepening ties over the past four years. He said the U.S. and Israel's shared interests and values are especially challenged by "the arming of terrorist groups by Iran with sophisticated weapons, and equally, Iran's attempt to arm itself with nuclear weapons. (Wall Street Journal)
Chechen Terrorists and the Neocons I almost choked on my coffee listening to neoconservative Rudy Giuliani pompously claim on national TV that he was surprised about any Chechens being responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings because he’s never seen any indication that Chechen extremists harbored animosity toward the U.S.; Guiliani thought they were only focused on Russia.
Giuliani knows full well how the Chechen “terrorists” proved useful to the U.S. in keeping pressure on the Russians, much as the Afghan mujahedeen were used in the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan from 1980 to 1989. In fact, many neocons signed up as Chechnya’s “friends,” including former CIA Director James Woolsey.
For instance, see this 2004 article in the UK Guardian, entitled, “The Chechens’ American friends: The Washington neocons’ commitment to the war on terror evaporates in Chechnya, whose cause they have made their own.”
Author John Laughland wrote: “the leading group which pleads the Chechen cause is the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC). The list of the self-styled ‘distinguished Americans’ who are its members is a roll call of the most prominent neoconservatives who so enthusiastically support the ‘war on terror.’ (Consortium News)
U.S. military to step up presence in Jordan in light of Syria civil war In a critical indication of growing U.S. military involvement in the civil war in Syria, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the deployment of more American troops to Jordan.
Hagel announced the deployment, which was first reported on CNN, in a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.
He said the troops will work alongside Jordanian forces to "improve readiness and prepare for a number of scenarios."
The troops, which will number up to 200, are from the headquarters of the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas, two Defense Department officials told CNN. (CNN)
USA: The Creator & Sustainer of Chechen Terrorism ~ Boston Terror: Don’t Let the Media Fool You … Again- Climb Up the Chain and Meet the Real Masterminds of Global Terror. Here we go again- Déjŕ vu. Out of the blue we have a ‘terror event,’ a couple of pop-terrorists, and a new buzz-word nation-Chechnya. There they go again: USA Media tales made-in-government: Muslims, terrorists, fanatics, freedom-haters … this time from another exotic-sounding land-Chechnya.
They are going to tell you about the new frontiers in the so-called Islamic Terror Cells: The Caucasus and Central Asia. They’ve been planning this for a long time. In fact, the plans were in motion as early as the mid-1990s. Since 2002, despite the gag orders and attacks, I have been talking about: Central Asia & the Caucasus. I have been talking about our operations-grooming our very own terrorists in that region. I have been talking about Chechnya. In fact, just recently, I talked and talked and talked about it on record:
Sibel Edmonds on Operation Gladio Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V.
The government and its media will give you the tales. They will give you the roller-coaster-like spins. They will not give you what you need to know. Two years ago, we, at Boiling Frogs Post, provided you with the following article-analysis. Please read it: with the recent home-made terror incident and the new media buzz-word ‘Chechnya’, you need to arm yourself with facts. (Boiling Frogs Post)
Defense Department Saves National Guard WMD Unit That Helped in Boston The U.S. Defense Department was poised as recently as last month to dismantle a National Guard crisis team that assisted in the emergency response to the bombings at Monday's Boston Marathon.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on March 29 informed lawmakers in writing of plans to dismantle the New York-based 24th National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, as well as a similar WMD unit housed in Florida, House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman Bill Young (R-Fla.) said on Tuesday. The units were to cease operations by late June, Hagel said in a letter that did not offer a reason for the decision.
Members of the New York team "responded to the Boston Marathon bombings," where twin blasts killed three people and wounded close to 200 near the end of the course, Young said.
The Pentagon move, now reversed, would have been at least the second attempt to eliminate the two teams as a cost-saving method. New York and Florida both have two of the full-time units that would provide assistance to civil authorities following a biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear incident. California also has two, while other U.S. states and territories are alloted one team. (Global Security Newswire)
Let's hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American ~ There is a double standard: White terrorists are dealt with as lone wolves, Islamists are existential threats As we now move into the official Political Aftermath period of the Boston bombing — the period that will determine the long-term legislative fallout of the atrocity — the dynamics of privilege will undoubtedly influence the nation’s collective reaction to the attacks. That’s because privilege tends to determine: 1) which groups are — and are not — collectively denigrated or targeted for the unlawful actions of individuals; and 2) how big and politically game-changing the overall reaction ends up being.
This has been most obvious in the context of recent mass shootings. In those awful episodes, a religious or ethnic minority group lacking such privilege would likely be collectively slandered and/or targeted with surveillance or profiling (or worse) if some of its individuals comprised most of the mass shooters. However, white male privilege means white men are not collectively denigrated/targeted for those shootings — even though most come at the hands of white dudes.
Likewise, in the context of terrorist attacks, such privilege means white non-Islamic terrorists are typically portrayed not as representative of whole groups or ideologies, but as “lone wolf” threats to be dealt with as isolated law enforcement matters. Meanwhile, non-white or developing-world terrorism suspects are often reflexively portrayed as representative of larger conspiracies, ideologies and religions that must be dealt with as systemic threats — the kind potentially requiring everything from law enforcement action to military operations to civil liberties legislation to foreign policy shifts. (Salon)
Operation Popeye: Weaponized Weather during Vietnam War Operation Popeye (also known as Operation Intermediary or Operation Compatriot) was a top secret campaign of weaponized weather modification during the Vietnam War, from March 20th 1967 until July 5th 1972. It got its beginnings three years after the enactment of Project Stormfury (1962 – 1983) and 30 years after the first known US weather modification operations called Project Cirrus, which began in February 1947.
The intent of Operation Popeye was to extend the monsoon season over North Vietnamese and Viet Cong resupply routes throughout southeast Asia, particularly the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Operation Popeye was a large and long running operation that successfully manipulated weather by seeding clouds, via aircraft, with silver and lead iodide. The crews, all from the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, were rotated into the operation on a regular basis from Guam. Inside the squadron, the rainmaking operations were code-named “Motorpool.” On average they were able to extend the monsoon season 30 to 45 days.
From the 1974 Senate hearings on weather modification
A classified rainmaking program was conducted in SEASIA from 1967 to 1972 which employed air dropped silver and lead iodide seeding units to increase normal monsoon rainfall. (US Senate, Subcommittee on Oceans and International Environment; 20 March 1974; p. 88) (Opsec News)
Obama's 'kill list' critic found dead in New York City Prominent American blogger and computer prodigy Aaron Swartz, who spoke against US President Barack Obama's "kill list"ť and cyber attacks against Iran, has been found dead in New York.
Police found the body of the 26-year-old in his apartment in New York City borough of Brooklyn on Friday, said a spokeswoman for the city's chief medical examiner.
Brooklyn's chief medical examiner ruled the death a suicide by hanging, but no further detail is available about the mysterious death.
Last year, Swartz openly criticized the US and the Israeli regime for launching joint cyber attacks against Iran.
The blogger was also vocal in criticizing Obama's so-called kill list and other policies.
Obama has been reportedly approving the names put on the "kill lists"ť used in the targeted killing operations carried out by US assassination drones. (Press TV)
Obama's picks for defense, CIA signal new security era Obama's nominations of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the CIA signal second-term course adjustments at institutions that have been dominated by their lethal assignments during more than a decade of war. - President Obama is assembling a national-security team designed for an era of downsized but enduring conflict, a team that will be asked to preside over the return of exhausted American troops and wield power through the targeted use of sanctions, Special Operations forces and drone strikes.
Obama's nominations of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the CIA signal second-term course adjustments at institutions that have been dominated by their lethal assignments during more than a decade of war.
Those adjustments could include returning the CIA's focus to its core mission of gathering intelligence, even though it is expected to maintain its fleet of armed drones for years. The Pentagon faces an even more aggressive restructuring to balance budget cuts against threats, including China's ascendant military and emerging al-Qaida affiliates in North Africa and the Middle East.
The nominations also set the stage for confirmation fights driven not only by criticism of Hagel and Brennan but by the foreign-policy approach they represent.
Hagel, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, shares Obama's aversion to military intervention. White House officials described him as ideally suited to managing the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the shrinking Pentagon budget. But he has attracted fierce criticism from groups that question his support for Israel. (Washington Post)
The coming drone attack on America -- Drones on domestic surveillance duties are already deployed by police and corporations. In time, they will likely be weaponised People often ask me, in terms of my argument about "ten steps" that mark the descent to a police state or closed society, at what stage we are. I am sorry to say that with the importation of what will be tens of thousands of drones, by both US military and by commercial interests, into US airspace, with a specific mandate to engage in surveillance and with the capacity for weaponization – which is due to begin in earnest at the start of the new year – it means that the police state is now officially here.
In February of this year, Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, with its provision to deploy fleets of drones domestically. Jennifer Lynch, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, notes that this followed a major lobbying effort, "a huge push by […] the defense sector" to promote the use of drones in American skies: 30,000 of them are expected to be in use by 2020, some as small as hummingbirds – meaning that you won't necessarily see them, tracking your meeting with your fellow-activists, with your accountant or your congressman, or filming your cruising the bars or your assignation with your lover, as its video-gathering whirs.
Others will be as big as passenger planes. Business-friendly media stress their planned abundant use by corporations: police in Seattle have already deployed them.
An unclassified US air force document reported by CBS (pdf) news expands on this unprecedented and unconstitutional step – one that formally brings the military into the role of controlling domestic populations on US soil, which is the bright line that separates a democracy from a military oligarchy. (The US constitution allows for the deployment of National Guard units by governors, who are answerable to the people; but this system is intended, as is posse comitatus, to prevent the military from taking action aimed at US citizens domestically.) (London Guardian)
Dreams in Infrared -- The Woes of an American Drone Operator A soldier sets out to graduate at the top of his class. He succeeds, and he becomes a drone pilot working with a special unit of the United States Air Force in New Mexico. He kills dozens of people. But then, one day, he realizes that he can't do it anymore.
For more than five years, Brandon Bryant worked in an oblong, windowless container about the size of a trailer, where the air-conditioning was kept at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for security reasons, the door couldn't be opened. Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world.
The container is filled with the humming of computers. It's the brain of a drone, known as a cockpit in Air Force parlance. But the pilots in the container aren't flying through the air. They're just sitting at the controls.
Bryant was one of them, and he remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,250 miles) away. There was a flat-roofed house made of mud, with a shed used to hold goats in the crosshairs, as Bryant recalls. When he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser. The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact. (Der Spiegel)
More Than 30 Top U.S. Officials Guilty of War Crimes More than 30 top U.S. officials, including presidents G.W. Bush and Obama, are guilty of war crimes or crimes against peace and humanity “legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany,” the distinguished American international law authority Francis Boyle charges.
U.S. officials involved in an “ongoing criminal conspiracy” in the Middle East and Africa who either participated in the commission of the crimes under their jurisdiction or failed to take action against them included both presidents since 2001 and their vice-presidents, the secretaries of State and Defense, the directors of the CIA and National Intelligence and the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and heads of the Central Command, among others, Boyle said.
“In international legal terms, the U.S. government itself should now be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under international law,” Boyle said in an address Dec. 9th to the Puerto Rican Summit Conference on Human Rights at the University of the Sacred Heart in San Juan. Boyle is a Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, Champaign, and the author of numerous books on the subject. (Scoop)
Obama signs secret directive to help thwart cyberattacks President Obama has signed a secret directive that effectively enables the military to act more aggressively to thwart cyberattacks on the nation’s web of government and private computer networks.
Presidential Policy Directive 20 establishes a broad and strict set of standards to guide the operations of federal agencies in confronting threats in cyberspace, according to several U.S. officials who have seen the classified document and are not authorized to speak on the record. The president signed it in mid-October.
The new directive is the most extensive White House effort to date to wrestle with what constitutes an “offensive” and a “defensive” action in the rapidly evolving world of cyberwar and cyberterrorism, where an attack can be launched in milliseconds by unknown assailants utilizing a circuitous route. For the first time, the directive explicitly makes a distinction between network defense and cyber-operations to guide officials charged with making often-rapid decisions when confronted with threats. (Washington Post)
Looking back on the troubled wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many observers are content to lay blame on the Bush administration. But inept leadership by American generals was also responsible for the failure of those wars. A culture of mediocrity has taken hold within the Army’s leadership rank—if it is not uprooted, the country’s next war is unlikely to unfold any better than the last two. - On June 13, 1944, a few days after the 90th Infantry Division went into action against the Germans in Normandy under the command of Brigadier General Jay MacKelvie, MacKelvie’s superior officer, Major General J. Lawton Collins, went on foot to check on his men. “We could locate no regimental or battalion headquarters,” he recalled with dismay. “No shelling was going on, nor any fighting that we could observe.” This was an ominous sign, as the Battle of Normandy was far from decided, and the Wehrmacht was still trying to push the Americans, British, and Canadians, who had landed a week earlier, back into the sea.
Just a day earlier, the 90th’s assistant division commander, Brigadier General “Hanging Sam” Williams, had also been looking for the leader of his green division. He’d found MacKelvie sheltering from enemy fire, huddled in a drainage ditch along the base of a hedgerow. “Goddamn it, General, you can’t lead this division hiding in that goddamn hole,” Williams shouted. “Go back to the [command post]. Get the hell out of that hole and go to your vehicle. Walk to it, or you’ll have this goddamn division wading in the English Channel.” The message did not take. The division remained bogged down, veering close to passivity.
American troops were fighting to stay alive—no small feat in that summer’s bloody combat. One infantry company in the 90th began a day in July with 142 men and finished it with 32. Its battalion commander walked around babbling “I killed K Company, I killed K Company.” Later that summer, one of the 90th’s battalions, with 265 soldiers, surrendered to a German patrol of 50 men and two tanks. In six weeks of small advances, the division would use up all its infantrymen, requesting replacements of more than 100 percent. (The Atlantic)
Obama gives himself control of all communication systems in America US President Barack Obama quietly signed his name to an Executive Order on Friday, allowing the White House to control all private communications in the country in the name of national security.
President Obama released his latest Executive Order on Friday, July 6, a 2,205-word statement offered as the “Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions.” And although the president chose not to commemorate the signing with much fanfare, the powers he provides to himself and the federal government under the latest order are among the most far-reaching yet of any of his executive decisions. (Russia Today)
Congressmen Seek To Lift Propaganda Ban: Propaganda that was supposed to target foreigners could now be aimed at Americans, reversing a longstanding policy. "Disconcerting and dangerous," says Shank. An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.
The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the independent Broadcasting Board of Governors, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.
The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.
The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.
In a little noticed press release earlier in the week — buried beneath the other high-profile issues in the $642 billion defense bill, including indefinite detention and a prohibition on gay marriage at military installations — Thornberry warned that in the Internet age, the current law “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.” (Buzz Feed)
Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the F.B.I. THE United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.
But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naďvely played their parts until they were arrested.
When an Oregon college student, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, thought of using a car bomb to attack a festive Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the F.B.I. provided a van loaded with six 55-gallon drums of “inert material,” harmless blasting caps, a detonator cord and a gallon of diesel fuel to make the van smell flammable. An undercover F.B.I. agent even did the driving, with Mr. Mohamud in the passenger seat. To trigger the bomb the student punched a number into a cellphone and got no boom, only a bust.
This is legal, but is it legitimate? Without the F.B.I., would the culprits commit violence on their own? Is cultivating potential terrorists the best use of the manpower designed to find the real ones? Judging by their official answers, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are sure of themselves — too sure, perhaps (New York Times)
The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.
Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978—and the number of plural marriages has tripled—so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.
But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a massive complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol.
Rather than Bibles, prophets, and worshippers, this temple will be filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. And instead of listening for words flowing down from heaven, these newcomers will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks. In the little town of Bluffdale, Big Love and Big Brother have become uneasy neighbors.
The NSA has become the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever. (Wired)
US man charged with Pentagon bomb plot A US citizen has been charged with planning to fly explosive-packed, remote controlled airplanes into the Pentagon and the Capitol in Washington.
Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, was arrested and charged with the aerial bombing plot and attempts to deliver bomb-making materials for use against US troops in Iraq, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in Boston.
''The conduct alleged today shows that Mr Ferdaus had long planned to commit violent acts against our country, including attacks on the Pentagon and our nation's Capitol,'' Mr Ortiz said.
During the alleged plot, undercover FBI agents posed as accomplices who supplied Ferdaus with one remote-controlled plane, C4 explosives, and small arms that he allegedly envisioned using in a simultaneous ground assault in Washington.
However, ''the public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were controlled by undercover FBI employees,'' the FBI said.
Ferdaus was arrested in Framingham, near Boston, immediately after putting the newly delivered weapons into a storage container, the FBI said. (Agence France-Presse)
2011 Waltham murders A triple homicide was committed in Waltham, Massachusetts, in September 2011.
Brendan Mess, Erik Weissman, and Raphael Teken were murdered in Mess's apartment. All had their throats slit from ear to ear, thousands of dollars of marijuana and money were left covering their bodies, and $5,000 was left at the scene. The local district attorney said that it appeared that the killer and the victims knew each other and that the murders were not random.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the deceased suspect in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, had formerly described murder victim Brendan Mess as his best friend. After the bombings and subsequent revelations of Tsarnaev's personal life, the Waltham murders case was reexamined in April 2013 with Tsarnaev as a new suspect. ABC reported that authorities believe Tsarnaev may have been responsible for the triple homicide. (Wikipedia)
A Victory for the Libyan People? The Top Ten Myths in the War Against Libya Since Colonel Gaddafi has lost his military hold in the war against NATO and the insurgents/rebels/new regime, numerous talking heads have taken to celebrating this war as a “success”. They believe this is a “victory of the Libyan people” and that we should all be celebrating. Others proclaim victory for the “responsibility to protect,” for “humanitarian interventionism,” and condemn the “anti-imperialist left”. Some of those who claim to be “revolutionaries,” or believe they support the “Arab revolution,” somehow find it possible to sideline NATO’s role in the war, instead extolling the democratic virtues of the insurgents, glorifying their martyrdom, and magnifying their role until everything else is pushed from view. I wish to dissent from this circle of acclamation, and remind readers of the role of ideologically-motivated fabrications of “truth” that were used to justify, enable, enhance, and motivate the war against Libya—and to emphasize how damaging the practical effects of those myths have been to Libyans, and to all those who favoured peaceful, non-militarist solutions.
These top ten myths are some of the most repeated claims, by the insurgents, and/or by NATO, European leaders, the Obama administration, the mainstream media, and even the so-called “International Criminal Court”—the main actors speaking in the war against Libya. In turn, we look at some of the reasons why these claims are better seen as imperial folklore, as the myths that supported the broadest of all myths—that this war is a “humanitarian intervention,” one designed to “protect civilians”. Again, the importance of these myths lies in their wide reproduction, with little question, and to deadly effect. In addition, they threaten to severely distort the ideals of human rights and their future invocation, as well aiding in the continued militarization of Western culture and society. (Counter Punch)
10 Facts That Prove The Bin Laden Fable Is a Contrived Hoax Every indication clearly points to last Sunday’s raid being a manufactured ploy to return Americans to a state of post-9/11 intellectual castration - Merely a week after President Obama announced the death of Osama Bin Laden, there is literally a deluge of evidence that clearly indicates the whole episode has been manufactured for political gain and to return Americans to a state of post-9/11 intellectual castration so that they can be easily manipulated in the run up to the 2012 election. Here are ten facts that prove the Bin Laden fable is a contrived hoax….
1) Before last Sunday’s raid, every intelligence analyst, geopolitical commentator or head of state worth their salt was on record as stating that Osama Bin Laden was already dead, and that he probably died many years ago, from veteran CIA officer Robert Baer, to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to former FBI head of counterterrorism Dale Watson. In addition, back in 2002 Alex Jones was told directly by two separate high level sources that Bin Laden was already dead and that his death would be announced at the most politically opportune moment. Top US government insider Dr. Steve R. Pieczenik, a man who held numerous different influential positions under five different Presidents, serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under the Nixon, Ford and Carter, told the Alex Jones Show last week that Bin Laden died of marfan syndrome shortly after he was visited by CIA physicians at the American Hospital in Dubai in July 2001.
2) The official narrative of how the raid unfolded completely collapsed within days of its announcement. First there had been a 40 minute shootout, then there was no shootout and just one man was armed, first Bin Laden was armed then he was not, first Bin Laden used his wife as a human shield and then he did not. First the compound was described as a “$1 million dollar mansion” then it turned out to be a rubbish-strewn dilapidated compound that was worth less than a quarter of that. Almost every single aspect of the official narrative has changed since Obama first described the raid last Sunday as the White House struggles to keep its story straight. (Prison Planet)
It's a bird! It's a spy! It's both Backed by the Pentagon's research arm, Monrovia firm AeroVironment has developed the Nano Hummingbird, an experimental miniature drone that could one day do reconnaissance by landing on a window ledge.
A pocket-size drone dubbed the Nano Hummingbird for the way it flaps its tiny robotic wings has been developed for the Pentagon by a Monrovia company as a mini-spy plane capable of maneuvering on the battlefield and in urban areas.
The battery-powered drone was built by AeroVironment Inc. for the Pentagon's research arm as part of a series of experiments in nanotechnology. The little flying machine is built to look like a bird for potential use in spy missions. (Los Angeles Times)
Egypt's Web blockade raises concerns about 'kill switch' for Internet The news of Egypt's crackdown on Web access is raising new concerns over a comprehensive cybersecurity bill that critics claim gives the president a "kill switch" for the Internet.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) recently indicated they plan to re-introduce their bipartisan legislation, which passed the Senate Homeland Security Committee last year only to get mired in a standoff with Senate Commerce Committee members over which panel should have oversight of civilian cybersecurity.
Civil rights advocates such as the ACLU also raised concerns about the bill, which they claim gives the president the ability to shut down the Web in the event of a catastrophic cyber-attack.
Specifically, observers are concerned the new version of the bill will reportedly not allow for judicial review when the administration shuts down a network under attack. - Collins has bristled at that characterization, pointing out that the White House has indicated they already have the authority to shut down portions of the private-sector Web in the event of a national security emergency under a little-used provision of the Communications Act passed one month after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
A Senate aide also pointed out that the infrastructure of the U.S.-based Web is designed in such a fashion that no single "kill switch" to take down the entire network exists. Instead, a fiber-optic backbone connects servers in several geographically diverse locations to ensure continuity even in the event of an attack. (The Hill)
BEWARE: The Real Terrorists are Upping Their Chatter Remember the buzzword chatter? When our criminal government kept the sheeple on the razor's edge of fear because they'd say that chatter levels coming from Al-Qaeda were increasing?
Well, today, in this article, I'm going to openly fear monger to you, because the chatter by the real terrorists, the ruling elite, is getting louder and more urgent -- prompting me to warn you that it seems like a terror attack is coming soon.
All the signs are here. Clearly desperate for public approval and budget justifications, the government has recently made several bogus terror arrests of entrapped FBI patsies. Perhaps they thought the public would give them some political props for thwarting their own staged events. However, they're beginning to realize that the general public has a bad case of "boy who cried wolf" syndrome where these glorious victories in the ongoing war on terror don't carry much effect anymore with people struggling to pay bills. Therefore, the regular folks must be reminded that the wolf can still bite.
Three recent stories seem to indicate a higher than normal level of urgency about an impending attack. The first was the report from Iraq that "intelligence" gathered from the recent round-up of militants revealed a threat of an attack inside the U.S. and Europe during the Christmas season. (Activist Post)
Julian Assange: Don't shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths -- WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks. IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."
His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.
Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.
I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth. (The Australian)
Air Force manual describes shadowy cyberwar world A new Air Force manual for cyberwarfare describes a shadowy, fast-changing world where anonymous enemies can carry out devastating attacks in seconds and where conventional ideas about time and space don't apply.
- Responsibility for civilian and government cybersecurity is less clear. Congress is debating between giving more power to the Homeland Security Department or the White House and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Homeland Security and the National Security Agency announced this month they would cooperate to strengthen the nation's cybersecurity.
Much of the 62-page manual is a dry compendium of definitions, acronyms and explanations of who reports to whom. But it occasionally veers into scenarios that sound more like computer games than flesh-and-blood warfare.
Enemies can cloak their identities and hide their attacks amid the cascade of data flowing across international computer networks, it warns. (Washington Post)
EXCLUSIVE: Al Qaeda Leader Dined at the Pentagon Just Months After 9/11 Anwar Al-Awlaki may be the first American on the CIA's kill or capture list, but he was also a lunch guest of military brass at the Pentagon within months of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Fox News has learned.
Documents exclusively obtained by Fox News, including an FBI interview conducted after the Fort Hood shooting in November 2009, state that Awlaki was taken to the Pentagon as part of the military’s outreach to the Muslim community in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
The incident was flagged by a current Defense Department employee who came forward and told investigators she helped arrange the meeting after she saw Awlaki speak in Alexandria, Va.
The employee "attended this talk and while she arrived late she recalls being impressed by this imam. He condemned Al Qaeda and the terrorist attacks. During his talk he was 'harassed' by members of the audience and suffered it well," reads one document.
According to the documents, obtained as part of an ongoing investigation by the specials unit "Fox News Reporting," there was a push within the Defense Department to reach out to the Muslim community. (FOX)
Pentagon Will Help Homeland Security Department Fight Domestic Cyberattacks The Obama administration has adopted new procedures for using the Defense Department’s vast array of cyberwarfare capabilities in case of an attack on vital computer networks inside the United States, delicately navigating historic rules that restrict military action on American soil.
The system would mirror that used when the military is called on in natural disasters like hurricanes or wildfires. A presidential order dispatches the military forces, working under the control of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Under the new rules, the president would approve the use of the military’s expertise in computer-network warfare, and the Department of Homeland Security would direct the work. (New York Times)
Was San Bruno Explosion a Plane Crash? A number of reports suggest that the "natural gas pipeline explosion" Sept. 9 that killed seven, injured 50 and leveled 40 homes in San Bruno CA may have involved a plane crash or a missile. If so, there is a massive cover-up taking place.
On 09-10-10 at 11:06 A.M. a huge jet, resembling Air force One flew over San Jose. At 11:29 A.M. an F-18 flew over, and at 12:46 P.M. an AC -130 gunship (with the side gun turrets) followed.
The F-18's engines were roaring like a freight train. The F-18 appeared to be carrying large fuel tanks and ordinance. Being shortly before 9-11, I thought, "here comes another false flag incident."
Above is a photo of the F-18 as it flew over. Below is a photo showing the ordinance these jets can carry. It is not unusual to see an F-18 fly overhead here. It is very unusual for them to be heavily laden with weapons. It had its landing gear down, as you can see, and was headed north (towards Moffett Federal air base, Travis Air Force base, and San Francisco). These are all within thirty miles of San Bruno, where the pipeline allegedly exploded. (Henry Makow)
Cyber Attacks Test Pentagon, Allies and Foes Cyber espionage has surged against governments and companies around the world in the past year, and cyber attacks have become a staple of conflict among states.
U.S. military and civilian networks are probed thousands of times a day, and the systems of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters are attacked at least 100 times a day, according to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO's secretary-general. "It's no exaggeration to say that cyber attacks have become a new form of permanent, low-level warfare," he said.
More than 100 countries are currently trying to break into U.S. networks, defense officials say. China and Russia are home to the greatest concentration of attacks.
The Pentagon's Cyber Command is scheduled to be up and running next month, but much of the rest of the U.S. government is lagging behind, debating the responsibilities of different agencies, cyber-security experts say. The White House is considering whether the Pentagon needs more authority to help fend off cyber attacks within the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)
Military's Cyber Commander Swears: "No Role" in Civilian Networks If your business gets hacked, don’t bother calling the U.S. military’s new Cyber Command. Sure, the unit has some of the government’s top geeks — and is oh-so-conveniently co-located with the network infiltration experts at the National Security Agency. But Cyber Command is too busy trying to shore up the Pentagon’s digital defenses. Plus, they’re not even sure helping your company out would be legal, yet.
“Right now, we do not have a role,” new Cyber Command chief Gen. Keith Alexander tells reporters in a rare on-the-record interview. “Within the United States, I do not believe that’s where Cyber Command should or will operate.”
Changing that, Alexander adds, “is a decision the White House needs to make.”
Of course, it’s often hard to define where one national border begins and another ends on-line. The White House and Congress are both working on legal and policy re-writes which could alter where and how Cyber Command’s forces could wage information combat. Besides, Alexander already has forces that are operating domestically. He’s also the head of the NSA, which today works with American companies to secure their networks. (Wired)
This Year, Contractor Deaths Exceed Military Ones in Iraq and Afghanistan More private contractors than soldiers were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent months, the first time in history that corporate casualties have outweighed military losses on America’s battlefields.
More than 250 civilians working under U.S. contracts died in the war zones between January and June 2010, according to a ProPublica analysis of the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Labor, which tracks contractor deaths. In the same period, 235 soldiers died, according to Pentagon figures.
This milestone in the privatization of modern U.S. warfare reflects both the drawdown in military forces in Iraq and the central role of contractors in providing logistics support to local armies and police forces, contracting and military experts said. (ProPublica)
Bob Woodward book details Obama battles with advisers over exit plan for Afghan war President Obama urgently looked for a way out of the war in Afghanistan last year, repeatedly pressing his top military advisers for an exit plan that they never gave him, according to secret meeting notes and documents cited in a new book by journalist Bob Woodward.
Frustrated with his military commanders for consistently offering only options that required significantly more troops, Obama finally crafted his own strategy, dictating a classified six-page "terms sheet" that sought to limit U.S. involvement, Woodward reports in "Obama's Wars," to be released on Monday. - Woodward's book portrays Obama and the White House as barraged by warnings about the threat of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and confronted with the difficulty in preventing them. During an interview with Woodward in July, the president said, "We can absorb a terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger." (Washington Post)
Worries about US data on Iraqis: Privacy advocates, those scanned fear misuse if files shared Over the past seven years, US soldiers in Iraq have used sweeping wartime powers to collect fingerprints, iris scans, and even DNA from ordinary people and suspected insurgents, an effort that has helped the Pentagon amass one of the world’s most comprehensive databases of biometric information collected during a war.
As the war draws down, however, the collection of so much personal information has raised questions about how data gathered during wartime should be used during times of peace, and with whom that information should be shared. - Nearly 7 percent of Iraq’s 29 million people are cataloged — their names, facial scans, and often other details about them, such as whether they were considered a friend or foe. Now, US officials are debating about how much of the powerful data should be shared with Iraq and how much Iraq’s own troubled security forces should be encouraged to continue collecting information.
Some Iraqis fear that the transfer of data to their government could create a “hit list’’ of Iraqis who worked with the US military or a tool for settling ethnic or sectarian scores.
“Those people, they trusted the US government and worked with them,’’ said Naseer Nouri, 52, who helps run an organization to assist Iraqi refugees in adjusting to life in the United States. - Today, the Pentagon’s database, which is kept separate from the FBI files, contains information on some 4 million people from around the world, about 40 percent of whom are Iraqis. Officials would not divulge from where the rest of the information was gathered.
US forces started collecting fingerprints in Iraq during the 2003 invasion, as part of interrogations of agents of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The US military also helped computerize Iraq’s fingerprint files from Hussein’s era. US soldiers reportedly collected fingerprints and DNA samples from 80,000 detainees in their custody. (It is not clear how those samples have been used.) (Boston Globe)
Document leak part of U.S. plot, says Pakistani ex-general with ties to Taliban From the deluge of leaked military documents published Sunday, a former Pakistani spy chief emerged as a chilling personification of his nation's alleged duplicity in the Afghan war -- an erstwhile U.S. ally turned Taliban tutor.
Now planted squarely in the cross hairs, retired Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul seems little short of delighted.
In an interview Tuesday, Gul dismissed the accusations against him as "fiction" and described the documents' release as the start of a White House plot. It will end, he posited, with an early U.S. pullout from Afghanistan -- thus proving Gul, an unabashed advocate of the Afghan insurgency, right.
President Obama "is a very good chess player. . . . He says, 'I don't want to carry the historic blame of having orchestrated the defeat of America, their humiliation in Afghanistan,' " said Gul, 74, adding that the plot incorporates a troop surge that Obama knows will fail. "It doesn't sell to a professional man like me." (Washington Post)
Report: Billions for Iraq reconstruction unaccounted for; lax oversight blamed A federal audit of $9.1 billion targeted for reconstruction in Iraq cannot account for more than 95 percent of it, a federal report said Tuesday.
The report, by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, blamed "weaknesses in DoD's [the Department of Defense's] financial and management controls" and called on the Pentagon to improve its financial and management controls. (CNN)
Obama Is Preparing to Bomb Iran After about two and a half years during which the danger of war between the United States and Iran was at a relatively low level, this threat is now rapidly increasing. A pattern of political and diplomatic events, military deployments, and media chatter now indicates that Anglo-American ruling circles, acting through the troubled Obama administration, are currently gearing up for a campaign of bombing against Iran, combined with special forces incursions designed to stir up rebellions among the non-Persian nationalities of the Islamic Republic. Naturally, the probability of a new fake Gulf of Tonkin incident or false flag terror attack staged by the Anglo-American war party and attributed to Iran or its proxies is also growing rapidly. (Webster Tarpley)
Bilderberg 2010: The security lockdown begins It's midday at the Bilderberg conference hotel – and that means helicopters, riot police and angry staff - The paranoia was riding high amongst the conference organisers. A pair of them talked about the 2006 Bilderberg conference in Ottawa, where the radio host Alex Jones led the protests with his megaphone. "They were very close to the hotel," said one. Another looked shocked and asked: "Did they ever try to attack?" A shake of the head and the answer: "No, but it was very scary." A third leaned in: "This is the negative side of the welfare state. People have enough income, so they can do this – it's like a permanent threat." (London Guardian)
CIA unit's wacky idea: Depict Saddam as gay (SpyTalk) During planning for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the CIA's Iraq Operations Group kicked around a number of ideas for discrediting Saddam Hussein in the eyes of his people.
One was to create a video purporting to show the Iraqi dictator having sex with a teenage boy, according to two former CIA officials familiar with the project.
“It would look like it was taken by a hidden camera,” said one of the former officials. “Very grainy, like it was a secret videotaping of a sex session.” - The agency actually did make a video purporting to show Osama bin Laden and his cronies sitting around a campfire swigging bottles of liquor and savoring their conquests with boys, one of the former CIA officers recalled, chuckling at the memory. The actors were drawn from “some of us darker-skinned employees,” he said. (Washington Post)
Pentagon, Police Stage Terror Attack Exercise in Long Beach The Adler Realty Investment company in Long Beach has sent a notice to residents (see below) informing them that “response agencies,” including the U.S. Coast Guard, the local police and fire department along with the military will be conducting a training exercise in the city. “Port Protector 2010,” an attachment to the notice states, will consist of a training exercise in response to a “terrorist threat” including a “hostage scenario” and Hazmat training. (Prison Planet)
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