Homeland Security Update: Chertoff Says New Laws Needed

At a speech before the Heritage Foundation this week, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the U.S. needs to have a “nonpoliticized, serious discussion” while writing new laws to define the best way to combat terrorism.

Chertoff said that once laws are written, the public should not second-guess government actions and claim that federal officials are overstepping their authority. He decried critics who make such accusations, despite the widespread pubic calls after the September 11, 2001 attacks for the U.S. government to do more to protect the country. Chertoff further said U.S. society needs to come to a determination as to what are acceptable authorities for the U.S. government versus what violates people’s rights.

If the public limits what the government can do, it must accept that the risk of terrorist attacks may increase, he said. If the public gives the government greater authorities, it should not criticize the government for using those authorities at a later date.

Chertoff called U.S. laws “woefully inadequate” in the context of current technology. He said the most significant step American society needs to take is adapting laws to the 21st Century challenge of fighting terrorism. Changes in technology have created unique challenges for the government when it comes to intercepting communications, as well as collecting and analyzing information found in the public domain according to Chertoff.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Source: Helicopter Association International

Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security. – Benjamin Franklin

United States is drawing up plans to strike on Iranian insurgency camp

The US military is drawing up plans for a “surgical strike” against an insurgent training camp inside Iran if Republican Guards continue with attempts to destabilise Iraq, western intelligence sources said last week. One source said the Americans were growing increasingly angry at the involvement of the Guards’ special-operations Quds force inside Iraq, training Shi’ite militias and smuggling weapons into the country.

Despite a belligerent stance by Vice-President Dick Cheney, the administration has put plans for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities on the back burner since Robert Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld as defence secretary in 2006, the sources said.

However, US commanders are increasingly concerned by Iranian interference in Iraq and are determined that recent successes by joint Iraqi and US forces in the southern port city of Basra should not be reversed by the Quds Force.

“If the situation in Basra goes back to what it was like before, America is likely to blame Iran and carry out a surgical strike on a militant training camp across the border in Khuzestan,” said one source, referring to a frontier province.

They acknowledged Iran was unlikely to cease involvement in Iraq and that, however limited a US attack might be, the fighting could escalate.

Read moreUnited States is drawing up plans to strike on Iranian insurgency camp

MI6 chief visits Mossad for talks on Iran’s nuclear threat

THE head of MI6, Sir John Scarlett, is to visit Israel later this month as Britain forges closer links with Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service.

Iran’s nuclear programme is expected to be high on the agenda in an intelligence-sharing process described by Israeli officials as a “strategic dialogue”. It is building on long-standing cooperation between MI6 and Mossad, both of which have extensive spy networks in the Middle East.

Scarlett, 59, is likley to be briefed by Meir Dagan, 63, the head of Mossad, on Israel’s latest information about the Iranian nuclear programme. It is understood that Israel has made a breakthrough in intelligence-gathering within Iran.

There is mounting concern in Israel that Iran’s nuclear capability may be far more advanced than was recognised in a declassified assessment by the US National Intelligence Estimate last December, which concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons development programme in 2003 in response to international pressure.

One source claimed the new information was on a par with intelligence that led Israel to discover and then destroy a partly constructed nuclear reactor in Syria last September.

Israeli officials believe the US will revise its analysis of Iran’s programme. “We expect the Americans to amend their report soon,” a high-ranking military officer said last week.

Israel’s foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, briefed Gordon Brown and David Miliband, the foreign secretary, on Israel’s findings during talks on the Middle East in London last week. Israeli intelligence officers, en route from Washington where they had been outlining their latest information to American officials, joined Livni for the briefing.

It is thought that if Israel were considering military action against Iran over its nuclear programme, it would want to ensure it had diplomatic support in London and Washington because of the danger of triggering a wider Middle East conflict.

“We’re doing a lot of things about Iran,” Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, said last week. “We say we shouldn’t rule out any option. Not ruling out options means action, but the worst thing to do at the moment is to talk [about it].” Whitehall officials said Scarlett’s visit was “routine”.

May 4, 2008
Uzi Mahnaimi

Source: The Times

GLOBAL ELITE GATHER IN D.C.

Trilateral Commission members want suffering U.S. taxpayers to shell out even more money

The Trilateral Commission-one of the three most powerful globalist groups in the world-held closed-door meetings right here in Washington, D.C. from April 25 to 28. True to form, those members of the media who knew about the meeting-or were themselves participants in the proceedings-refused to discuss what went on inside or report on the attendees. Luckily, AFP’s own editor, Jim Tucker, was on the scene to bust this clandestine confabulation wide open.By James P. Tucker Jr.

Luminaries at the Trilateral Commission meeting in Washington expressed confidence that they own all three major presidential candidates, who, despite political posturing, will support sovereignty-surrendering measures such as NAFTA and the “North American Union.”

“John has always supported free trade, even while campaigning before union leaders,” said one. “Hil and Barack are pretending to be unhappy about some things, but that’s merely political posturing. They’re solidly in support.”

He was referring to Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Mrs. Clinton, they noted, held strategy sessions as first lady on how to get Congress to approve NAFTA “without changes.” As president, they agreed, she would do no more than “dot an i or cross a t.”

Candidate Obama has not denied news reports in Canada that his top economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, assured Canadian diplomats that the senator would keep NAFTA intact and his anti-trade talk is just “campaign rhetoric.”

PETRIFIED ABOUT PAUL

While they are confident they can deal with any “potential president,” the Trilateralists paid huge tribute to Ron Paul in an equally large twist of irony, by expressing alarm that he is causing “significant future damage.”

They expressed concern that Paul’s rallies have attracted multitudes of young people who are getting “their political education.” They want Republicans to pressure Paul to drop out now and stop his education rallies. This assignment was given to Thomas Foley, former U.S. House speaker.

The reasons Paul’s “education campaign” strikes fear into Trilateral hearts are obvious. Paul would refuse to surrender an ounce of U.S. sovereignty to an international organization and TC wants world government.

Paul would immediately bring U.S. troops home from Iraq, Afghanistan and from 130 UN “peacekeeping” missions around the globe. TC wants to enjoy war profiteering and global power. Paul would abolish the federal income tax while the TC wants to pile on a global tax payable to the UN.

The formal agenda was loaded with everything Paul and American patriots detest: higher taxes, more foreign giveaways, more immigration, both legal and illegal, into the United States and “engaging Iran,” among others.

Read moreGLOBAL ELITE GATHER IN D.C.

Robobug goes to war: Troops to use electronic insects to spot enemy ‘by end of the year’

It may have seemed like just another improbable scene from a Hollywood sci-fi flick – Tom Cruise battling against an army of robotic spiders intent on hunting him down.

But the storyline from Minority Report may not be quite as far fetched as it sounds.

British defence giant BAE Systems is creating a series of tiny electronic spiders, insects and snakes that could become the eyes and ears of soldiers on the battlefield, helping to save thousands of lives.

Prototypes could be on the front line by the end of the year, scuttling into potential danger areas such as booby-trapped buildings or enemy hideouts to relay images back to troops safely positioned nearby.

Soldiers will carry the robots into combat and use a small tracked vehicle to transport them closer to their targets.

Then they would swarm into the building and relay images back to the soldiers’ hand-held or wrist-mounted computers, warning them of any threats inside.

BAE Systems has just signed a £19million contract to develop the robots for the US Army.

Plans for a creature that can crawl like a spider are said to be well developed, and researchers eventually hope to be able to create creatures that can slither like a snake or fly like a dragonfly.

While some of the creatures will be fitted with small cameras, others will be equipped with sensors that will be able to detect the presence of chemical, biological or radioactive weapons.

Read moreRobobug goes to war: Troops to use electronic insects to spot enemy ‘by end of the year’

Audit: Up to 400 State Department laptops missing

The State Department has lost track of as many as 400 laptop computers, an internal audit ordered by the Inspector General has found.

“The importance of safeguarding official laptops and office equipment containing sensitive information is not a new concern,” said State Department overseer Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) through a spokesperson to CQ Politics. “I intend to review the facts about this situation.”

The computers belong to the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, run by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which protects diplomats during stateside visits and trains and equips foreign police, intelligence and security forces. Anonymous sources say that officials are “urgently” scouring offices in the Washington, D.C. area to account for the equipment.

The State Department is not keeping good records of its inventory, official John Streufert told a panel at a February 6 meeting on the security of “personal identification information,” citing a “significant deficiency.” Mark Duda, the Inspector General’s representative, also warned of scandal like the one that erupted in May of 2006, after the home of a Veterans Administration employee was burglarized and a laptop he was using for a work project, containing names, Social Security numbers and birthdates of more than 26 million people, was taken.

“It’s the worst flaw you can have in management control,” said a “close observer.”

Published: Saturday May 3, 2008

Source: The Raw Story

IBM joins Lockheed on FBI identification contract

IBM Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. have agreed to work together on the $1 billion contract to develop and maintain the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, IBM said today. Federal, state and local authorities will use the new multimodal biometrics system.

Lockheed Martin won the 10-year contract in February, but IBM lodged a protest with the Government Accountability Office and work was held up. Big Blue’s announcement that it is joining Lockheed Martin’s team as a subcontractor made no mention of the protest.

As the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin will provide program management and oversight in addition to biometric and large-systems development and integration expertise, the news release said. As a subcontractor, IBM will provide some information technology services in addition to specific software and hardware to be used in the NGI system.

NGI is an upgrade to the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which collects and stores fingerprints related to law enforcement investigations.

The system will expand fingerprint processing capacity and also include palm prints and iris- and facial-recognition capabilities. The system requires a significant degree of technical flexibility to accommodate other biometric modalities that may mature and become important to law enforcement efforts in the future.

When completed, the system will double the FBI’s IAFIS capabilities. The Clarksburg, W.Va., facility houses the largest collection of its kind in the world — more than 46 million sets of digitized fingerprints. Searches require only a matter of minutes.

In addition to IBM, the Lockheed Martin team includes Accenture Ltd, BAE Systems Information Technology Inc., Global Science and Technology Inc., Innovative Management and Technology Services LLC, Platinum Solutions Inc. and the National Center for State Courts.

05/02/08 — 04:17 PM
By David Hubler

Source: Washington Technology

Probe of USS Cole Bombing Unravels

ADEN, Yemen — Almost eight years after al-Qaeda nearly sank the USS Cole with an explosives-stuffed motorboat, killing 17 sailors, all the defendants convicted in the attack have escaped from prison or been freed by Yemeni officials.

Jamal al-Badawi, a Yemeni who helped organize the plot to bomb the Cole as it refueled in this Yemeni port on Oct. 12, 2000, has broken out of prison twice. He was recaptured both times, but then secretly released by the government last fall. Yemeni authorities jailed him again after receiving complaints from Washington. But U.S. officials have so little faith that he’s still in his cell that they have demanded the right to perform random inspections.

Two suspects, described as the key organizers, were captured outside Yemen and are being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. Many details of their alleged involvement remain classified. It is unclear when — or if — they will be tried by the military.

The collapse of the Cole investigation offers a revealing case study of the U.S. government’s failure to bring al-Qaeda operatives and their leaders to justice for some of the most devastating attacks on American targets over the past decade.

A week after the Cole bombing, President Bill Clinton vowed to hunt down the plotters and promised, “Justice will prevail.” In March 2002, President Bush said his administration was cooperating with Yemen to prevent it from becoming “a haven for terrorists.” He added: “Every terrorist must be made to live as an international fugitive with no place to settle or organize, no place to hide, no governments to hide behind and not even a safe place to sleep.”

Since then, Yemen has refused to extradite Badawi and an accomplice to the United States, where they have been indicted on murder charges. Other Cole conspirators have been freed after short prison terms. At least two went on to commit suicide attacks in Iraq.

“After we worked day and night to bring justice to the victims and prove that these Qaeda operatives were responsible, we’re back to square one,” said Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent and a lead investigator into the bombing. “Do they have laws over there or not? It’s really frustrating what’s happening.”

To this day, al-Qaeda trumpets the attack on the Cole as one of its greatest military victories. It remains an improbable story: how two suicide bombers smiled and waved to unsuspecting U.S. sailors in Aden’s harbor as they pulled their tiny fishing boat alongside the $1 billion destroyer and blew a gaping hole in its side.

Read moreProbe of USS Cole Bombing Unravels

US feels the heat after Iran-Switzerland $42b gas deal

The US and its allies are worried that the sanctions regime against Tehran is under threat from a possible new wave of European investment in Iran’s strategically important gas sector.

Tehran has already concluded gas deals with Chinese and Malaysian companies – ending a protracted lull in investment in its energy sector – and has alarmed Washington by reaching an agreement with a Swiss group.


The dilemma threatens to expose the limited US influence over foreign companies strategic decisions.

Although Washington and its allies have convinced the United Nations Security Council to sign up to three sets of sanctions against Iran’s nuclear and missile sectors and banks, it has been unable to broaden such international measures into the key energy sector.

Now, the US fears that a 25-year supply agreement concluded in March between Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft Laufenburg (EGL) of Switzerland and Iran could encourage other deals, particularly in the gas sector, despite American calls for tougher sanctions against Tehran over its controversial nuclear program.

The Swiss government says the deal could be worth up to €27bn ($42bn, £21bn). “The worry is that the Swiss deal will lead others, such as the Austrians, to confirm energy investments in Iran, and that companies like [France’s]
Total could then follow suit and sign contracts of their own,” said one western diplomat.

Read moreUS feels the heat after Iran-Switzerland $42b gas deal

Russia new missile base response to US

Russia begins the construction of a new missile base in the Southern Caucus region amid a row with the US over its missile shield.

Citing informed Georgian sources, the Azeri newspaper Ayna reported that Russia has started the construction work near the Armenian city of Noyemberyan.

The report added the base is located in a place overlooking Sadighlu village near the Georgian town of Marneuli and it would reportedly be equipped with advanced air defense and missile systems.

The move by Moscow is considered as a response to Washington’s plans for stationing the components of a missile defense shield system in Eastern Europe.

Russia says the US plan poses a threat to its national security and it has vowed to take retaliatory measures against the United States if Washington goes ahead with the project.

SB/RE

Sat, 03 May 2008 20:40:08

Source: Press TV

Your personal data just got permanently cached at the US border

Now that US customs agents have unfettered access to laptops and other electronic devices at borders, a coalition of travel groups, civil liberties advocates and technologists is calling on Congress to rein in the Department of Homeland Security’s search and seizure practices. They’re also providing practical advice on how to prevent trade secrets and other sensitive data from being breached.

In a letter dated Thursday, the group, which includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union and the Business Travel Coalition, called on the House Committee on Homeland Security to ensure searches aren’t arbitrary or overly invasive. They also urged the passage of legislation outlawing abusive searches.

The letter comes 10 days after a US appeals court ruled Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have the right to rummage through electronic devices even if they have no reason to suspect the hardware holds illegal contents. Not only are they free to view the files during passage; they are also permitted to copy the entire contents of a device. There are no stated policies about what can and can’t be done with the data.

Over the past few months, several news reports have raised eyebrows after detailing border searches that involved electronic devices. The best known of them is this story from The Washington Post, which recounted the experiences of individuals who were forced to reveal data on cell phones and laptop devices when passing through US borders. One individual even reported some of the call history on her cell phone had been deleted.

“The Fourth Amendment protects us all against unreasonable government intrusions,” the letter, which was also signed by the Center for Democracy and Technology and security expert Bruce Schneier, states. “But this guarantee means nothing if CBP can arbitrarily search and seize our digital information at the border and indefinitely store and reuse it.”

Several of the groups are also providing advice to US-bound travelers carrying electronic devices. The Association of Corporate Travel Executives is encouraging members to remove photos, financial information and other personal data before leaving home. This is good advice even if you’re not traveling to the US. There is no reason to store five years worth of email on a portable machine.

In this posting, the EFF agrees that laptops, cell phones, digital cameras and other gizmos should be cleaned of any sensitive information. Then, after passing through customs, travelers can download the data they need, work on it, transmit it back and then digitally destroy the files before returning.

The post also urges the use of strong encryption to scramble sensitive data, although it warns this approach is by no means perfect. For one thing, CBP agents are free to deny entry to travelers who refuse to divulge their passwords. They may also be able to seize the laptop.

If it sounds like a lot of work, consider this: so far, the federal government has refused to reveal any information about border searches, including what it does with the electronic data it seizes. Under the circumstances, there’s no way of knowing what will happen to, say, source code or company memos that may get confiscated. Or the email sent to your lawyer.

By Dan Goodin in San Francisco
Published Thursday 1st May 2008 21:11 GMT

Source: The Register

America’s Chemically Modified 21st Century Soldiers

Armed with potent drugs and new technology, a dangerous breed of soldiers are being trained to fight America’s future wars.

Amphetamines and the military first met somewhere in the fog of WWII, when axis and allied forces alike were issued speed tablets to head off fatigue on the battlefield.

More than 60 years later, the U.S. Air Force still doles out dextro-amphetamine to pilots whose duties do not afford them the luxury of sleep.

Through it all, it seems, the human body and its fleshy weaknesses keep getting in the way of warfare. Just as in the health clinics of the nation, the first waypoint in the military effort to redress these foibles is a pharmaceutical one. The catch is, we’re really not that great at it. In the case of speed, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency itself notes a few unwanted snags like addiction, anxiety, aggression, paranoia and hallucinations. For side-effects like insomnia, the Air Force issues “no-go” pills like temazepam alongside its “go” pills. Psychosis, though, is a wee bit trickier.

Far from getting discouraged, the working consensus appears to be that we just haven’t gotten the drugs right yet. In recent years, the U.S., the UK and France — among others — have reportedly been funding investigations into a new line-up of military performance enhancers. The bulk of these drugs are already familiar to us from the lists of substances banned by international sporting bodies, including the stimulant ephedrine, non-stimulant “wakefulness promoting agents” like modafinil (aka Provigil) and erythropoietin, used to improve endurance by boosting the production of red blood cells.

Read moreAmerica’s Chemically Modified 21st Century Soldiers

Sheriff Candidate Says Campaign Signs Being Defaced, Stolen

A campaign slogan may have sparked a string of vandalism aimed at a candidate for Orange County sheriff.

The vandalism was first spotted on sheriff candidate Malone Stewart’s campaign sign in Winter Park. Someone had circled the slogan “crime is terrorism.” Later, the sign was stolen. Stewart’s campaign manager said the trouble started when a website posted a commentary bashing the “crime is terrorism” slogan.

“These are like $600, $700 signs,” said Franklin Cordona, campaign manager for Malone Stewart.

“No, they cost too much,” Cordona said when asked if the vandalism was a publicity stunt.

In addition to the vandalism, the campaign says they have also received threatening phone calls.

POSTED: 7:39 am EDT May 2, 2008
UPDATED: 8:41 am EDT May 2, 2008

Source: wftv.com

CIA Chief Sees Unrest Rising With Population

Swelling populations and a global tide of immigration will present new security challenges for the United States by straining resources and stoking extremism and civil unrest in distant corners of the globe, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said in a speech yesterday.

The population surge could undermine the stability of some of the world’s most fragile states, especially in Africa, while in the West, governments will be forced to grapple with ever larger immigrant communities and deepening divisions over ethnicity and race, Hayden said.

Hayden, speaking at Kansas State University, described the projected 33 percent growth in global population over the next 40 years as one of three significant trends that will alter the security landscape in the current century. By 2050, the number of humans on Earth is expected to rise from 6.7 billion to more than 9 billion, he said.

“Most of that growth will occur in countries least able to sustain it, a situation that will likely fuel instability and extremism, both in those countries and beyond,” Hayden said.

With the population of countries such as Niger and Liberia projected to triple in size in 40 years, regional governments will be forced to rapidly find food, shelter and jobs for millions, or deal with restive populations that “could be easily attracted to violence, civil unrest, or extremism,” he said.

Read moreCIA Chief Sees Unrest Rising With Population

Pentagon Expands Propaganda Reach With Foreign “News” Websites

The Pentagon is expanding “Information Operations” on the Internet with purposefully set up foreign news websites that are designed to look like independent media sources but in reality are nothing more than direct military propaganda.

USA Today reports:

“The Pentagon is setting up a global network of foreign-language news websites, including an Arabic site for Iraqis, and hiring local journalists to write current events stories and other content that promote U.S. interests and counter insurgent messages.”

The websites at http://www.balkantimes.com, http://www.magharebia.com and http://mawtani.com are three of the said Pentagon run operations aimed at people in the Balkans, North Africa and Iraq.

The front pages of the sites appear to be populated with regionalized news stories, but the disclaimers buried within the sites and accessible only via small links at the bottom of the pages reveal that all three are run by the US Department of Defense.

See screenshots below for the disclaimers (click to link through):

The Mawtani.com disclaimer is in Arabic. It reads:

“(Mawtani.com is) sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense to support the resolution No. 1723 (of the) Security Council of the United Nations. (Mawtani.com) highlights and emphasizes the move towards greater regional stability through bilateral and multilateral cooperation … and the steps taken by governments towards stability in Iraq.”

Though Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England commented that the sites are “an essential part of (their) responsibility … to shape the security environment in their respective areas.”, other Pentagon spokesmen have claimed that the sites’ content is not intended as propaganda, but is “a counter to extremist propaganda … with truth.”

Michael Vickers, the assistant secretary of Defense in charge of special operations commented that the websites are designed to counter enemies on the internet who put out information that is not in keeping with the interests and goals of the U.S. military:

“It’s important to … engage these foreign audiences and inform,” Vickers said. “Our adversaries use the Internet to great advantage, so we have the responsibility of countering (their messages) with accurate, truthful information, and these websites are a good vehicle.”

Since when has the federal government and its war machine military been concerned with promoting the truth?

Read morePentagon Expands Propaganda Reach With Foreign “News” Websites

Paul No. 1 on Amazon.com

Ron Paul’s loyal supporters helped him set campaign fundraising records and capture more delegates during his presidential run than some of his high-profile Republican rivals. They even managed to briefly shut down Nevada’s GOP convention earlier this month over a rules change controversy.

Now they’ve taken his latest book to the top of the Amazon.com bestseller list.

“The Revolution: A Manifesto”, released earlier this month, is currently No. 1 on the Web site’s list of top sellers, besting even Oprah’s latest Book Club selection.

“Despite a media blackout, this septuagenarian physician-turned-congressman sparked a movement that has attracted a legion of young, dedicated, enthusiastic supporters . . . a phenomenon that has amazed veteran political observers and made more than one political rival envious,” boasts the book’s product description, adding: “Candidates across America are already running as ‘Ron Paul Republicans.’”

April 30, 2008

Source: CNN

Pentagon Looks for ‘Killer Switch’

Imagine if the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could be effectively shut down by a foreign adversary with the flip of a switch? That’s, in part, the the concern behind the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Trust in Integrated Circuits program, reports IEEE Spectrum, in a fascinating article that explores the underbelly of national security and globalization:

Liteswit Last September, Israeli jets bombed a suspected nuclear installation in northeastern Syria. Among the many mysteries still surrounding that strike was the failure of a Syrian radar—supposedly state-of-the-art—to warn the Syrian military of the incoming assault. It wasn’t long before military and technology bloggers concluded that this was an incident of electronic warfare—and not just any kind.

Post after post speculated that the commercial off-the-shelf microprocessors in the Syrian radar might have been purposely fabricated with a hidden “backdoor” inside. By sending a preprogrammed code to those chips, an unknown antagonist had disrupted the chips’ function and temporarily blocked the radar.

That same basic scenario is cropping up more frequently lately, and not just in the Middle East, where conspiracy theories abound. According to a U.S. defense contractor who spoke on condition of anonymity, a “European chip maker” recently built into its microprocessors a kill switch that could be accessed remotely. French defense contractors have used the chips in military equipment, the contractor told IEEE Spectrum. If in the future the equipment fell into hostile hands, “the French wanted a way to disable that circuit,” he said. Spectrum could not confirm this account independently, but spirited discussion about it among researchers and another defense contractor last summer at a military research conference reveals a lot about the fever dreams plaguing the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

At the heart of these concerns is something called a “kill switch”:

Read morePentagon Looks for ‘Killer Switch’

Iran dumps U.S. dollars in oil transactions

TEHRAN – Iran had totally removed U.S. dollars in the country’s oil transactions, an Oil Ministry official said on Wednesday.

“The dollar has completely been removed from our oil trade….Crude oil customers have agreed with us to use other currencies (in the trade),” Oil Ministry official Hojjatollah Ghanimifard was quoted as saying by the state television.

“We make our transactions with euros in Europe, but yen in Asia,” he added.

Due to the tensions with Washington in the past years over the nuclear disputes and the latest depreciation of dollars, Iran has vowed to decrease the greenback in its foreign trade. Iran central bank also has reduced dollars in the country’s foreign reserves. In last November’s summit of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Saudi Arabia, Iran proposed that it was necessary to replace the U.S. dollar with other major hard currencies in oil trading.

(In the past such actions were enough for the U.S. to start a war. – The Infinite Unknown)

Read moreIran dumps U.S. dollars in oil transactions

Washington to keep supplying arms to Taiwan

Washington will continue to back Taiwan militarily while it pushes for peace talks with China, the de facto US envoy here assured incoming president Ma Ying-jeou Tuesday.

Stephen Young, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said the United States would continue to supply weapons to Taipei.

“We also expect our traditional close security cooperation to continue, as we are convinced American support for Taiwan’s defence gives its democratic leaders the confidence to explore closer ties with its big neighbour without fear of pressure or coercion,” he said in an address to the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) here.

Taiwan has been governed separately since the end of a 1949 civil war, but Beijing has repeatedly threatened to invade should the island declare formal independence, and has targeted it with more than 1,000 ballistic missiles.

Washington has been the island’s leading arms supplier, despite switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.

But Taipei-Washington ties were frustrated by cross-strait tensions under the outgoing pro-independence government and Ma, of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang, has vowed to improve relations.

Young also hailed the unprecedented contacts between the island and China earlier this month.

“We applaud both sides of the Strait for facilitating vice president-elect Vincent Siew’s recent participation in the Boao Forum, during which he held a highly symbolic meeting with People’s Republic of China President Hu Jintao,” Young said.

Tuesday April 29, 2008

Source: AFP

Drone attacks hit high in Iraq

WASHINGTON — U.S. commanders in Iraq have ordered an unprecedented number of airstrikes by unmanned airplanes in April to kill insurgents in urban combat and to limit their ability to launch rockets at American forces, military records show.

The 11 attacks by Predators — nearly double the previous high for one month — were conducted as the Pentagon has intensified efforts to increase the use of drones, which play an increasingly vital role for gathering intelligence and launching attacks in Iraq. Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates prodded the Air Force to do more to rush drones to the war zone.


An AGM-114 Hellfire missile is unloaded from an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle after a mission in May at Balad Air Base, Iraq in this undated image.

The increase in Predator attacks coincided with a spike in fighting in Baghdad’s slum of Sadr City and in the city of Basra, where the Iraqi government mounted an offensive to root out militias there.

Commanders are expected to rely more on unmanned systems as 30,000 U.S. troops sent last year are withdrawn. The military has dozens of Predators in Iraq and Afghanistan. In all it operates 5,000 drones, 25 times more than it had in 2001.

“The Predator teams have just been doing unbelievable work down there (in Basra) and in Baghdad as well,” Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, said in a statement last week.

Read moreDrone attacks hit high in Iraq

DynCorp Manager Used Armored Car To Transport Hookers in Iraq

Some explosive testimony this afternoon from a panel of whistleblowers testifying before the Senate’s Democratic Policy Committee on contractor abuse in Iraq.

A contractor died when a DynCorp manager used an employee’s armored car to transport prostitutes, according to Barry Halley, a Worldwide Network Services employee working under a DynCorp subcontract.

“DynCorp’s site manager was involved in bringing prostitutes into hotels operated by DynCorp. A co-worker unrelated to the ring was killed when he was travelling in an unsecure car and shot performing a high-risk mission. I believe that my co-worker could have survived if he had been riding in an armored car. At the time, the armored car that he would otherwise have been riding in was being used by the contractor’s manager to transport prostitutes from Kuwait to Baghdad.

Other revelations:

– Kellogg Brown & Root contractors used to destroy countless quantities of still-usable equipment that was difficult to transport in “massive burn pits” that were “burning 24 hours a day.”

– KBR’s ice foreman “was cheating the troops out of ice at the same time that he was trading the ice for DVDs, CDs, food and other items at the Iraqi shops across the street.”

– When KBR whistleblower Frank Cassaday reported weapons looting, he was placed in a jail tent by KBR security.

– KBR employees looted Iraqi palaces for treasure to sell on eBay.

Monday, April 28th, 2008 at 5:04 pm

Source: Muckraked

Israel preparing to bomb Iran N-sites

The commander of the Israeli Air Force says the regime’s decision makers have been preparing plans to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities.

General Eliezer Shkedi, who also heads the Israeli task force on Iran, made the remarks in an interview with “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

A large portion of Shkedi’s service has been dedicated to the preparation for a possible mission that was never discussed in public; an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, should international economic sanctions fail, Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported on Monday.

Shkedi spoke of a mission in 1981, when Israeli war planes attacked a nuclear reactor in Iraq.

He went on to say that today the Israeli decision makers are faced with a similar choice about Iran’s nuclear program.

Israeli and US officials accuse Iran of seeking nuclear bombs.

Iran, a member of the IAEA and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), maintains that its nuclear activates are solely aimed at peaceful purposes.

Tehran has warned Tel Aviv of a crushing response, in case the regime launches an attack on the Islamic Republic.

JS/DT
Tue, 29 Apr 2008 05:06:54

Source: Press TV

Iraq WMD Evangelist’s New Crusade: Secret Ray Guns

Dave Gaubatz is no stranger to controversy.

The former Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent maintains he found Saddam’s WMD bunkers, but that the U.S. military declined to follow up. His repeated allegations were picked up by a number of media outlets— and attracted the attention of prominent Congressmen, like then-Sen. Rick Santorum, then-Rep. Curt Weldon, and Rep. Peter Hoekstra. There hasn’t been any confirmation, however.

Lately, Gaubatz has been pushing another eye-opening assertion. Earlier this month, Gaubatz claimed that the Active Denial System, the military’s allegedly-nonlethal “heat ray,” is really a killer weapon, after all. It’s an allegation that, if true, would mean the entire public face of the program is a cover up of sorts. Gaubatz says he saw first hand the military testing the ray gun on… goats.

DANGER ROOM caught up with Gaubatz recently to quiz him a bit about his claims:

Read moreIraq WMD Evangelist’s New Crusade: Secret Ray Guns

English village to be invaded in spybot competition

A village in south-west England will shortly be swarming with robots competing to show off their surveillance skills.

The event is the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) answer to the US DARPA Grand Challenge that set robotic cars against one another to encourage advances in autonomous vehicles.

This village, built for urban warfare training during the Cold War, will host teams of ground-based and aerial robots hunting for snipers, bombs, and other threats (Image: MoD)
Enlarge image

This village, built for urban warfare training during the Cold War, will host teams of ground-based and aerial robots hunting for snipers, bombs, and other threats (Image: MoD)

The MoD Grand Challenge is instead designed to boost development of teams of small robots able to scout out hidden dangers in hostile urban areas.

Over 10 days in August, 11 teams of robots will compete to locate and identify four different threats hidden around a mock East German village used for urban warfare training, at Copehill Down, Wiltshire (see image, top right).

The robots must find snipers, armed vehicles, armed foot soldiers, and improvised explosive devices hidden around the village, and relay a real-time picture of what is happening back to a command post.

Read moreEnglish village to be invaded in spybot competition