Posts tagged Air Force
Posts tagged Air Force
THEORY: Remember all the strange things that went on in regards to the NATO summit that took place in Chicago?
To rewind a bit, we’ll look at strange things that took place in and around Chicago:
- June 2010 – Emergency drills may close Chicago-area roads (http://bit.ly/LK40d2)
- June 2010 – Armageddon Simulated in Chicago (http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/37460/)
- May 2011 – Third tallest building in Chicago enhances security, conducts fire evacuation drills (http://bit.ly/LK44cV)
- June 10, 2011, Chicago’s Northwest Community Hospital and the U.S. Army Reserve will perform an emergency exercise called “Red Dragon” to prepare for any future event involving mass death.(http://bit.ly/LK4906)
- March, 2012 - G8 summit moved to Camp David last-minute
- April, 2012 - Black Helicopters and Heavily Armed Soldiers Conduct Drills In Downtown Chicago ahead of NATO Summit
- April, 2012 - City of Chicago and the Secret Service Tell Milwaukee Red Cross to Prepare To Evacuate Chicago During NATO Summit
On the surface all of this might seem to indicate that the Government was anticipating a huge disaster, and therefore went all paranoid.
Obviously nothing happened… or did it?
MAYBE all these drills and precautions (even moving the G8 summit out of Chicago at the last minute) were done because the US Military was demonstrating their latest weapon to NATO attendee’s. Maybe the US Military and the Government did all the stuff above because they knew that if their demonstration went wrong, there would be a huge disaster.
[Look at this map - http://bit.ly/KklOlt - it depicts, in RED, the roads that are closed. That yellow box, McCormick Place, in the right hand corner, is where the NATO summit was held - right on the shore of Lake Michigan. SOURCE:http://cbsloc.al/LK64BR ]
Demonstrating what exactly?
SHOOTING OFF THE ROD OF GOD
As you (may or may not) know - the USAF secret X-37B space plane has been on its secret mission for the past year and its about to come back down any time within the next couple weeks. (http://on.msnbc.com/KF8b00)
DARPA and the Military have been fapping off to ideas of space weapons for quite awhile now. The idea’s range from space lasers to guiding passing meteors towards ‘targets’ on earth. Those ideas are a bit far-fetched, there is one however that I think they might be testing.
The plausible space-weapon is what is referred to as “The Rods from God” - the idea is to ‘drop’ rods of tungsten from orbiting satellites onto targets on earth. I’ll have popsci explain:
“[The Rods from God] are a kinetic energy device like the railgun, but instead of using electricity to achieve destructive velocities, they use gravity. The still-hypothetical system would be comprised of two satellites in orbit around the Earth. One would house the communications and targeting hardware, while the other would house the rods themselves, each up to a foot in diameter and twenty feet long. To fire, they would simply be released and allowed to fall back to Earth (with a bit of remote guidance). By the time they reached the surface, they’d be traveling at a speed of 36,000 feet per second and carry the destructive force of a nuclear warhead, only with none of the radioactive fallout.” (http://bit.ly/JSVWag)
Here’s a similar idea from the crazies at DARPA: MAHEM (http://bit.ly/JSX11T)
But, why the Indiana/Michigan/Wisconsin area?
What those three states share are borders with Lake Michigan - which is probably the ‘target’ for these Rods from God tests.
Why? Google will explain: “Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. The other four Great Lakes are shared by the US and Canada.”
Lake Michigan would ‘absorb’ any adverse effects of these tests - well, MOST of the adverse effects anyway. “Why not test this in the ocean?” You might be wondering. Well first, Lake Michigan is relatively shallow - you wouldn’t accidentally kick off a tsunami that could kill millions. (The military is well aware of how to create a tsunami, just Google “Tsunami Bomb” - not the awesome band - but instead the 1950’s or so weapon)
Yes - this theory sounds strange - that the military might be dropping tungsten rods from space into Lake Michigan to test their new space weapon - but it might also explain all the military helicopters** too. Helicopters for ‘observation’ and quick response purposes.
**I’m referring to the HUGE increase in military helicopters - many flying in ‘formation’ being reported across the state. I see these things flying over where I work constantly - but the helicopters are a recent phenomenon, as in - prior to 5 or so months ago, a ‘helicopter sighting’ was considered rare - now they are more prominent than commercial jets flying overhead.
(SONG: Dinosaurs Go Rawr by Amy Can Flyy)
Side Note: It won’t be long before the DHS and Pentagon use this “oops! I didn’t mean to” excuse when they start killing Americans using these same drones they are accidentally spying on Americans with.
As long as the Air Force pinky-swears it didn’t mean to, its drone fleet can keep tabs on the movements of Americans, far from the battlefields of Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen. And it can hold data on them for 90 days — studying it to see if the people it accidentally spied upon are actually legitimate targets of domestic surveillance.
The Air Force, like the rest of the military and the CIA, isn’t supposed to conduct “nonconsensual surveillance” on Americans domestically, according to an Apr. 23 instruction from the flying service. But should the drones taking off over American soil accidentally keep their cameras rolling and their sensors engaged, well … that’s a different story.
“Collected imagery may incidentally include US persons or private property without consent,” reads the instruction (.pdf), unearthed by the secrecy scholar Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. That kind of “incidental” spying won’t be immediately purged, however. The Air Force has “a period not to exceed 90 days” to get rid of it — while it determines “whether that information may be collected under the provisions” of a Pentagon directive that authorizes limited domestic spying.
In other words, if an Air Force drone accidentally spies on an American citizen, the Air Force will have three months to figure out if it was legally allowed to put that person under surveillance in the first place.
Not all domestic drone surveillance is that ominous. “Air Force components may, at times, require newly collected or archived domestic imagery to perform certain missions,” the Air Force concluded. Acceptable surveillance includes flying drones over natural disasters; studying environmental changes; or keeping tabs above a domestic military base. Even those missions, however, raise “policy and legal concerns that require careful consideration, analysis and coordination with legal counsel.”
The potential trouble with those local intelligence missions is once the drones’ powerful sensors and cameras sweep up imagery and other data from Americans nearby, the Air Force won’t simply erase the tapes. It’ll start analyzing whether the people it’s recorded are, among other things, “persons or organizations reasonably believed to be engaged or about to engage, in international terrorist or international narcotics activities.” Suddenly, accidental spying provides an entrance point into deliberate investigations, all done without a warrant.
And it doesn’t stop with the Air Force. “U.S. person information in the possession of an Air Force intelligence component may be disseminated pursuant to law, a court order,” or the Pentagon directive that governs acceptable domestic surveillance. So what begins as a drone flight over, say, a national park to spot forest fires could end up with a dossier on campers getting passed on to law enforcement.
All this is sure to spark a greater debate about the use of drones and other military surveillance migrating from the warzones of Iraq and Afghanistan back home. The Department of Homeland Security — which is lukewarm on its fleet of spy drones — is expanding its use of powerful, military-grade camera systems. And police departments across the country are beginning to buy and fly drones from the military. Now the Air Force’s powerful spy tools could creep into your backyard in a different way.
There’s an irony here. The directive is actually designed to make sure that Air Force personnel involved in surveillance don’t start spying on their fellow citizens. It instructs that “Questionable Intelligence Activities … that may violate the law, any executive order or Presidential directive” have to be reported immediately up the chain of command. But what’s most questionable might be the kind of local spying the Air Force considers legit.
Twenty-eight protesters were preemptively arrested in DeWitt, New York as they tried to reach Hancock Air Force Base for a demonstration outside the gates against the use of drones. The protesters were charged with “failing to obtain a town permit,” according to the Post-Standard.
Concerned citizens from Buffalo, Rochester, Ithaca, Binghamton, Syracuse, Rome and Albany had planned a “Peace Walk” to the base, where Reaper drones are present. They planned to protest “murderous use” of drones, which violates international law, just as they did last year. But the group reached an intersection near a commercial strip mall and about ten sheriff’s cars pulled out to block the road.
In the parking lot was a Greyhound bus for arrestees. The police began grabbing people and saying everyone was under arrest. Debra Sweet, director of the World Can’t Wait, reported the police in the town of DeWitt were issuing all sorts of orders. It was confusing. They were saying you could put down your signs and go back to where you came and avoid arrest. They also were saying anyone walking away would be charged with resisting arrest.
Sandy Kessler, who is from Rochester, said anyone walking on the road with a sign would be arrested.
I said, what if I put my sign back? He said no you will get arrested. I said why? He said there can be no individual protests, no group protests. You don’t have a permit. Well, nobody really ever gets a permit. Last year, with the big one where thirty-eight people got arrested, yes, we got a permit. But we just decided we really didn’t need a permit. This is America.
Everyone there to demonstrate got together and forced the head sheriff to explain what was going on. Sweet said the sheriff explained in DeWitt “you are not allowed to have any sort of gatherings for any reason with signs and to parade in the street without permit.” After about five to ten minutes of negotiations, he backed off.
“It is apparent that many of you didn’t know a permit was required, he told the demonstrators. And, if you make the choice to leave you will not be arrested. But, at least ten people found this all completely unacceptable. They challenged the police and kept on heading toward the base and were arrested.
The police were not in riot gear. All of the people there were videotaped. Everyone who parked where they customarily park for vigil protests received parking citations, according to Sweet.
Kessler said this has “been going on for years since we found out there have been drones flying out of there.” She told Upstate Drone Action she saw police and military high-fiving.
These were arrests “based on prior knowledge of our plans and on the content of our message,” contended Sweet. She added I am sure if we had held a support rally for the Air Force or for drones they would not have treated us like this at all.
Reportedly three people who were arrested had their phones confiscated. Two people had their video cameras confiscated. A person had their phone and video camera confiscated. They were given receipts but their property was not returned, even though they were released with a citation. The citation read, “No permit.”
U.S. Air Force pilot Patrick Burke’s day started in the cockpit of a B-1 bomber near the Persian Gulf and proceeded across nine time zones as he ferried the aircraft home to South Dakota.
Every four hours during the 19-hour flight, Burke swallowed a tablet of Dexedrine, the prescribed amphetamine known as “go pills.” After landing, he went out for dinner and drinks with a fellow crewman. They were driving back to Ellsworth Air Force Base when Burke began striking his friend in the head.
“Jack Bauer told me this was going to happen — you guys are trying to kidnap me!” he yelled, as if he were a character in the TV show “24.”
When the woman giving them a lift pulled the car over, Burke leaped on her and wrestled her to the ground. “Me and my platoon are looking for terrorists,” he told her before grabbing her keys, driving away and crashing into a guardrail.
Burke was charged with auto theft, drunk driving and two counts of assault. But in October, a court-martial judge found the young lieutenant not guilty “by reason of lack of mental responsibility” — the almost unprecedented equivalent, at least in modern-day military courts, of an insanity acquittal.
Four military psychiatrists concluded that Burke suffered from “polysubstance-induced delirium” brought on by alcohol, lack of sleep and the 40 milligrams of Dexedrine he was issued by the Air Force.
In a small but growing number of cases across the nation, lawyers are blaming the U.S. military’s heavy use of psychotropic drugs for their clients’ aberrant behavior and related health problems. Such defenses have rarely gained traction in military or civilian courtrooms, but Burke’s case provides the first important indication that military psychiatrists and court-martial judges are not blind to what can happen when troops go to work medicated.
After two long-running wars with escalating levels of combat stress, more than 110,000 active-duty Army troops last year were taking prescribed antidepressants, narcotics, sedatives, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs, according to figures recently disclosed to The Times by the U.S. Armysurgeon general. Nearly 8% of the active-duty Army is now on sedatives and more than 6% is on antidepressants — an eightfold increase since 2005.
“We have never medicated our troops to the extent we are doing now…. And I don’t believe the current increase in suicides and homicides in the military is a coincidence,” said Bart Billings, a former military psychologist who hosts an annual conference on combat stress.
“As the wars wind down,” is a phrase often heard in Washington these days, whether from Time’s Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson or ProPublica’s T. Christian Miller, or Veterans for Common Sense. The suggestion, not unfounded, is that as the United States withdraws from Iraq and plans to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, the U.S. soldiers will be leaving foreign battlefields.
But don’t expect the worldwide drone war now being waged in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen to wind down. To the contrary, an Air Force announcement posted online this week indicates the Pentagon anticipates more than quadrupling the size of the global drone war over the next four years. If that happens the number of suspected terroristskilled, the “deep resentment” provoked in the targeted countries, and theterrible civilian casualties are likely to grow as well.
The tip-off is found on FedBizOps.gov, the government’s site for contractors where the Air Force announced Tuesday it is seeking “industry input on how best to support Air Combat Command’s remotely piloted aircraft missions.” “Support will consist of aircraft, ground control station, and Predator Primary Satellite Link maintenance, weapons loading for both aircraft, [and] munitions build-up for MQ-9 aircraft,” the announcement says, referring to the Reaper drone which has a 66-foot wingspan and can carry a 500-pound laser guided bomb.
In my first article examining the legality of assassinating known or suspected terrorists through the use of unmanned armed vehicles (UAVs), I argued that the first step is to decide whether such killings could be classified as part of an armed conflict. If they are considered as part of an armed conflict, according to international law, the rules of armed conflict would apply; otherwise the laws of self-defence would be relevant.
According to the Geneva Conventions and customary humanitarian law, armed conflict only applies when two or more States are involved. When the United States defines its campaign against terrorists as a global conflict, this designation is not based on the correct definition of war as characterized by international law but on America’s own interpretation of its effort to eradicate terrorism. Only two or more States can legally, in the strictest terms, engage in war, not a State against individuals scattered around the globe.
The international laws relating to self-defence apply to the case where a State is seeking to protect itself from a group or groups of terrorists. The laws of self-defence are articulated in the seventh chapter of the United Nations Charter. In Chapter 7, Article 51, it states that: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs..Measures taken by members in the exercise of the right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not”affect the authority or responsibility of the Security Council”to take such action”to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
In analyzing this clause in the UN Charter, the overriding issue is whether this right of self-defence only exists if an armed attack has occurred or whether self-defence is legitimate under conditions of “anticipatory self-defence” or “pre-emptive self-defence”.
A precedent exists in customary law in the Caroline case which established that an “imminent threat” exists when it is “instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” Developed by Daniel Webster, these criteria legitimize the use of force in the absence of an act of aggression.
There is an extensive body of work seeking to define when the use of force is legitimate given an imminent threat including the argument that: “The rule does not actually require an attack to be imminent to act, but rather permits defensive measures to be taken before one passes a point in time when it is too late to prevent catastrophe.
It is difficult to argue that the threat extended by a single or group of terrorists poses a threat to the security of the United States. It could be argued that terrorist poses a threat to individuals or to property belonging to the United States in which case criminal law applies and the response requires police action not an armed attack by a State.
A further point reinforcing the argument of a police action is that these targets of drone attacks are suspects until due process condemns them for criminal acts. Killing the suspect precludes the application of due process.
It is clearly evident that for a State to launch an attack by an UAV is a violation of international law and those responsible for such acts become suspects of war crimes. Arbitrary killing of individuals around the world notwithstanding the justification cannot be in accordance with the rule of law under which certain norms of behaviour have been established for the treatment of individuals suspected of illegal acts.
Unmanned aircraft are the new cornerstone of modern military operations, and both American and British crews are learning to fly them at a New Mexico Air Force base. There, they must tackle the practical questions of what it means to wage war from afar.
America and its allies are fighting wars around the world from computer screens in the deserts of Nevada and New Mexico.
Drones - officially known as remotely piloted aircraft - have become a major part of modern warfare.
These unmanned aircraft have the ability to fly above contentious areas, taking and relaying surveillance photos. The most controversial drones have the ability to launch an attack via onboard weapons.
America operates thousands of drones, with the bigger, more sophisticated versions controlled from bases in the US.
More pilots are being trained to fly American unmanned aircraft than fighter planes, and most of them are put through their paces at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.
It’s the biggest drone pilot training centre in the world, with American and British crews learning to fly them, spy with them and fire missiles from them.
The cameras on this MQ-1 Predator drone work just fine. The problem is the Air Force doesn’t have enough airmen to interpret the flood of imagery they collect. Photo: U.S. Air Force
The Air Force has more drones and more sensors collecting more data than it has humans to interpret what the electronic tea leaves say. The glut of all that video and still imagery is “unsustainable,” says the Air Force’s top civilian — but it’ll be “years” before the Air Force digs its way out of it. (Spoiler: the solution is automating the cameras.)
Michael Donley, the secretary of the Air Force, conceded to reporters on Thursday morning that the onslaught of what a former top military official once memorably called “Death TV” prompted the Air Force’s surprising February decision to buy fewer drones. “We’ve clearly playing catch-up,” Donley said. “It’s not just the pilots and manning the aircraft. It’s also the [data] processing exploitation behind that. … We’re collecting data at rates well above what we had in the past.”
The Air Force will slightly ramp up its combat air patrols — teams of up to four drones — of Predators, Reapers, and the other robots that make up a third of its air fleet — to 65 from 61. But then, for the next “couple of years,” it’ll hold those patrols static, despite what Donley called the “sustained demand going forward” for the information those drones collect. He hopes that’ll give the Air Force enough time to actually finish playing catch up on all the Death TV shows stored in its DVR.
“If we fill out the capability underneath it, adequately man that force, adequately provide the processing exploitation capabilities underneath that, we’ll be able to surge to 85 [combat air patrols],” Donley said. “This was an important decision to put a cap on the growth and fill in the capability.”
In truth, catching up on drone data isn’t as simple as clearing a DVR cache. Some drone video is needed immediately, like when troops in Afghanistan are hunting the insurgent cells producing homemade bombs. But sometimes video that isn’t immediately relevant to a time-sensitive operation becomes necessary to help aid a future one. Basically, airmen don’t always know what to sift for in the data their sensors collect. And you can’t just delete it after today’s mission, because you might end up getting rid of what you need for an unanticipated future one.
That’s a technological challenge that “us, Darpa and the intelligence community” are trying to solve, Donley said. One solution is to automate the cameras with algorithmic “sifters,” essentially sending pre-selected data to imagery analysts, a project the Pentagon’s far-out research scientists at Darpa are playing with. Another might be as simple as developing better search tools for analysts to sift through the data backlog.
“We’re working on more machine-machine tools that help us process data more rapidly and help the analysts work through rapid opportunities and decision making,” Donley said, declining Danger Room’s invitation to specify useful projects, “but then also set aside data that is less critical and has a less immediate operational impact.”
Perhaps, but the firehouse of data is only going to intensify. The Air Force’s next cameras can spy on swaths ofland the size of entire cities. If the Air Force is playing catch-up today, the data targets of tomorrow could be too fast to grasp.
From boredom to “poorly designed” workstations, documents reveal the pressures faced by remote drone pilots
So you want to be a drone pilot? Have a seat in the operator’s control station that guides the remotely piloted aircraft. You could be sitting in a trailer on Creech Air Force Base in Nevada or doing your duty at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. From this perch, you can see a battle space on the other side of the world. You are virtually on the front lines of war.
One of the screens in front of you has a live full-motion video feed from the aircraft (perhaps showing the home of an anti-American sheik and his family in Pakistan or Afghanistan). A second screen has mission data like the altitude of the drone and its fuel level. A third screen displays multilayered menus of more data. You can steer the drone with the joystick in your right hand; the pedals beneath your feet control its rudder. But if you want to turn on the autopilot, it will require 22 keystrokes on one of several available keyboards.
Your partner, the “sensor operator” seated next to you, controls the camera. He or she can zoom in on the face of the man you are hunting. Is this target a danger to the United States? The keyboard in front of you enables you to communicate with a JAG (or a CIA lawyer) to make sure that your target qualifies under the Rules of Engagement. You have audio contact with the Combat Air Command Center in Qatar, which must authorize the firing of missiles. When it does, you push the button on the joystick and send the missile on its way. Then, an explosion. If you want, the sensor operator can train the camera on the wreckage.
If you don’t feel comfortable in this seat, you’re not alone. When the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board studied the drone operator control stations last year, it found no less than 17 flaws in the “poorly designed” system, including “poor ergonomics” and ill-conceived input systems, like the autopilot activation. While much of the drone war remains shrouded in official secrecy, the Air Force’s ongoing campaign to improve the ground control station provides a window into America’s newest way of war. (I found details in a couple of reports at Public Intelligence, a WikiLeaks-type site that publishes closely held government reports.)
The story of the ergonomically correct drone war has two threads: the White House imperative to reduce civilian casualties and the Pentagon’s duty to find pilots willing to live with inflicting them. As long as civilian authorities want to mount drone attacks (and the Obama administration has ordered four times as many as the Bush administration), the military must respond. For active-duty military people, the ethical questions are necessarily subordinated to a human engineering challenge. How do you get enlisted people to kill long distance?
“A more human-friendly control station”
The problems with the current operator system is that it was designed for engineers, not pilots, say drone specialists. The original drone was just an aerial surveillance vehicle; missiles were not added until 2001. Then with American forces at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, many commanding officers in difficult situations demanded this efficient new weapon for tracking and eliminating perceived enemies.
In the wake of controversy over whistle-blowers being punished at the Dover Port Mortuary office for airing their complaints to supervisors, a new report says the Defense Department has kept poor records of military whistle-blower reprisal complaints, used outdated investigation guidelines and was often slow to handle cases, with some dragging on for years.
The report, issued by the Government Accountability Office, also found that the Air Force was responsible for a disproportionate number of whistle-blower complaints.
The report — issued in February to the Senate Judiciary Committee — noted missing documents in case files, incorrect dates, and date fields for tracking phases of the investigation left blank.
While the Defense Department inspector general has taken steps to more quickly resolve complaints and improve oversight, GAO said, the whistle-blower reprisal process has no standard for monitoring cases and ensuring the quality of investigations.
Further, only a fraction of service members with substantiated complaints actually sought relief, a process that requires the victim to make a separate application to the Board for Correction of Military Records, according to GAO.
The findings were based on a random sample of nearly 100 military reprisal cases concluded between Jan. 1, 2009, and March 31, 2011, and interviews with the DoD inspector general’s office, as well as service IGs, GAO said.
The report followed an independent review in January that concluded three Air Force officials had illegally retaliated against four Port Mortuary workers who blew the whistle on the mishandling of war remains arriving at Dover Air Force Base, Del. One of the workers was fired and then reinstated. Another was placed on leave for eight months and accused of being mentally unstable.
The three Air Force officials were reprimanded and one, Quinton “Randy” Keel, who served as division director at Dover Port Mortuary, resigned at the end of February. The other two officials’ cases have not been fully resolved, but the Air Force is considering further disciplinary action, according to OSC.
The Air Force had a disproportionate number of whistle-blower complaints, according to GAO’s analysis of closed cases between fiscal 2006 and the first half of fiscal 2011. Airmen, who represent 22 percent of the military population, filed 37 percent of the complaints.
The Air Force was also more likely to fully investigate a case — about 46 a year over the five-year period. The Marine Corps investigated the fewest, about two cases annually, the GAO report said. Not all cases must be fully investigated.
The Air Force and Army substantiated an average of 10 whistle-blower cases per year during the five-year period, higher than the other two branches, the report said.
The Military Whistleblower Protection Act of 1988 is supposed to protect from retaliation service members who report waste, fraud and abuse to an inspector general, a member of Congress, a law enforcement agency or certain Defense Department officials. Reprisals generally took the form of unfavorable assignments or reassignment, poor performance evaluations or disciplinary action, GAO found.
Defense officials told GAO that most of the reprisal complaints involved minor issues that affected only one person, “such as a supervisor not following regulations regarding a performance review.”
But GAO said it found that to be untrue: These issues accounted for about a third of all complaints. Reports of fraud, waste and abuse made up slightly less than a third of all complaints — and a combination of the two accounted for the rest.
It’s up to the DoD inspector general to review all complaints of reprisals and approve investigation findings, which must be completed within 180 days, according to federal law. Investigators are supposed to notify the defense secretary’s office and the person who made the complaint if it’s going to take longer.
An estimated 70 percent of cases are not completed in 180 days, GAO found. And neither the Defense Department inspector general nor the service inspector generals made the required notifications, which are supposed to include a reason for the delay and an expected completion date.
Five dozen cases closed without a full investigation took anywhere from 14 to 2,215 days, according to the GAO analysis. Twenty-eight fully investigated cases took between 51 and 1,181 days.
GAO identified three cases listed as closed by the Defense Department that had been referred to service inspector generals. One of those took another 872 days to complete — more than two years.
The DoD inspector general’s office, which blamed lengthy investigations on staff shortages and growing caseloads, has added a dozen positions to its whistle-blower-reprisal directorate, bringing the total to 42, according to the report. That’s more than double the number in 2006.
The IG also eliminated in late 2010 a cumbersome phase in the investigation that put a committee in charge of deciding whether a case should be fully investigated, and has said it has fixed the problem with tracking cases.
A Defense Department IG guide for investigators had not been updated since 1996 nor had it been consistently followed, GAO found.
In an official response to the report, titled GAO-12-362, the Pentagon inspector general said it is updating policy manuals and revising investigation manuals.
When investigators substantiate claims of whistle-blower reprisals, it is then up to the service member to apply for relief. But less than 20 percent do, GAO said. Those who did apply for relief usually got it. Relief took the form of amended personnel records and back payments, benefits and awards that were denied because of the reprisal.
Airmen who submitted applications to the Board for Correction of Military Records got some sort of remedy. About half of soldiers who sought relief received it; in the Navy, it was 80 percent, the GAO report said.
The boards “will consider how best to ensure that whistle-blowers whose reprisal complaints are substantiated are provided with all the information they need” to decide whether to apply for relief.
The Russians are picking our pockets, the Chinese are stealing our most vital secrets, and there’s nothing we can do about it – and it’s all going to get worse.
That was the basic conclusion after Friday’s Air Force Association cyber-conference, where speaker after speaker drove home the utter futility and helplessness of today’s cyber climate, all the while warning that the problem will only grow.
Richard Bejtlich, chief security officer for the info-security firm Mandiant, said 100 percent of the high-profile intrusions his company tracks were done with “valid credentials” – meaning the cyber bad-guys had been able to steal a real user’s login and password, obviating the need for more complex attacks.
The typical time between an intrusion and its discovery is 416 days, he said – down from two or three years – and the way most companies find out about them is when they get a visit from the FBI.
The publicly available malware in the so-called “cyber underground” is now so good that you can do a lot of damage without a dedicated team of code-writers coming up with their own stuff, speakers said. In fact, the much-discussed cyber attack against Georgia was carried out mostly with publicly known tools – “there was nothing sacred here,” said National Defense University iCollege chancellor Robert Childs.
Cyber-intrusions and compromise are so endemic, Bejtlich said, that many attackers don’t even bother with the wholesale vacuuming of information that used to characterize cyber-snooping. Now hackers go after very specific pieces of information, often data that is useless on its own, he said.