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US Security Agents ‘At Heathrow For Olympics’

Side note: I personally don’t really follow the Olympics - primarily because I’m not much into sports. I do wonder however why London is going into a hardcore Police State mode. 

Did this happen in Beijing too and I just didn’t realize it? 


 By Mark White

US security agents are to be based at Heathrow and some other UK airports for the duration of the Olympic‬ Games, according to Sky sources.

The Department for Transport has reached an agreement with the US Transportation Security Administration for specialist agents to be working at several UK airports.

They will arrive one week before the Olympics, and leave around a week after the end of the Paralympics.

This is an added security layer that has been done to help boost and aid the American airlines in particular that fly in and out of the likes of Heathrow and other airports.

The move is also aimed at helping UK airlines flying in and out of America.

The agents will not be allowed beyond boarding gates or onto UK aircraft.

Olympic security is already under scrutiny after thousands of extra soldiers and police officers were drafted in to fill a gap left by private contractor G4S.

G4S has a £284m contract with the Government to provide 13,700 security guards for the Olympic Games but only 4,000 guards are trained and ready.

The Government found out about the shortfall on Wednesday, and quickly had to boost the number of military personnel working on the Games by 3,500 to 17,000 - almost a fifth of the entire army.

Nine out of 12 police forces have been drafted in to help the embattled firm.

The forces providing additional personnel include Strathclyde, West Midlands, Thames Valley, Greater Manchester and Dorset.

Athletes started to arrive in the UK on Monday, on what was Heathrow airport’s busiest ever day.

Filed under news olympics tsa wtf

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London’s Amazingly Explicit Surveillance State Mascot For The 2012 Olympics Has A Huge Camera Eye That ‘Records Everything’


Olympic mascots are often controversial. Usually this is because they are weird blobby cartoon characters with goofy names that seem to have been dreamed up by creators who mainlined Mountain Dew Code Red while watching 24 straight hours of Pokemon. The official mascot for the 2012 Olympics, set in London, has that going for it but is also controversial for an entirely different reason. London, the premiere panoptic city was one of the first to blanket itself with CCTV cameras; its heavy security and surveillance cordon is nicknamed theRing of Steel. London decided to make its surveillance yen a dominant feature of its otherwise goofy mascots. “Wenlock” and “Mandeville” both have a huge single eye made out of a camera lens so that they can “record everything.” Image at right is from the official London Olympics website.

In case that’s too subtle for you, the Olympic organizers have offered a dress-up version of Wenlock in a policeman outfit. “This has to be a joke. Please let this be a joke,” tweeted a privacy enthusiast I follow on Twitter, linking to this:

It is not in fact a joke; Surveillance State Wenlock also shows up on the official shopping page for the  London 2012 Olympics. The origin story for the sibling surveillance enthusiasts is that “they were fashioned from droplets of the steel used to build the Olympic stadium,” reports the Guardian, saying the Olympic Committee passed over “anthropomorphic pigeons, an animated tea pot and a Big Ben with arms and legs” to choose the all-seeing mascots.

A surveillance mascot is appropriate for the 2012 Games. This Olympics will certainly win a gold medal for security measures. From the Guardian:

The London Olympics will host the biggest mobilisation of military and security forces seen in the UK since the second world war. More troops – around 13,500 – will be deployed than are currently at war in Afghanistan. The growing security force is being estimated at anything between 24,000 and 49,000 in total. Such is the secrecy that no one seems to know for sure.

During the Games an aircraft carrier will dock on the Thames. Surface-to-air missile systems will scan the skies. Unmanned drones, thankfully without lethal missiles, will loiter above the gleaming stadiums and opening and closing ceremonies. RAF Typhoon Eurofighters will fly from RAF Northolt. A thousand armed US diplomatic and FBI agents and 55 dog teams will patrol an Olympic zone partitioned off from the wider city by an 11-mile, £80m, 5,000-volt electric fence…

London is also being wired up with a new range of scanners, biometric ID cards, number-plate and facial-recognition CCTV systems, disease tracking systems, new police control centres and checkpoints. These will intensify the sense of lockdown in a city which is already a byword across the world for remarkably intensive surveillance.

via Olympics 2012 security: welcome to lockdown London | Stephen Graham | Sport | The Guardian.

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Filed under News Olympics London Surveillance Surveillance State

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Olympic Armageddon: How terrorists could send nuclear bomb up the Thames to target London 2012 Games



This week, Security Minister Lord West warned there was a real danger that Al Qaeda terrorists could use a boat to transport a ‘dirty’ nuclear bomb up the Thames and detonate it in the heart of London.

Here, top thriller writer TOM CAIN, whose most recent novel is about a terrifying Al Qaeda attack on London, imagines the unthinkable…

Queen Anne’s Gate, Westminster, July 27, 2012. The group of men and women gathered in the Home Office meeting room were grey-skinned with exhaustion. They had been working together for years, sharing a steadily growing burden of responsibility that now threatened to crush them. 

Enlarge This is what the London Olympic stadium might look like if terrorists were able to send a dirty bomb up the Thames

Imagine: This is what the London Olympic stadium might look like if terrorists were able to send a dirty bomb up the Thames

In less than an hour, the London Olympics of 2012 would get under way at a ceremony presided over by Her Majesty the Queen and attended by political leaders from around the world. More than a billion people would be watching live on TV.

The Olympic Stadium was now, officially, the top terrorist target on earth. The meeting room contained representatives from MI6 and MI5 the Special Forces, the Metropolitan Police’s SO15 Counter-Terrorism Unit and a slew of Government departments. They were way past the point of making preparations. Every possible eventuality had been considered and its dangers analysed.

CCTV cameras, backed by facial recognition systems, were tracking the crowds travelling to the Olympic Stadium and gathering in its stands. Teams of sniffer dogs had gone over every square millimetre of the Olympic site, looking for explosives.

In the skies above London, police spotter drones were tracking any suspicious movements of traffic. Helicopters fitted with radiation sensors had swept the city from the air, seeking out the gamma rays that would signal the presence of a nuclear device.

Everything had been thought of. And yet there could still be nasty surprises. Such as the alert they had just received from GCHQ, the Government’s surveillance centre in Cheltenham. It stated there had been a sudden spike in communications traffic between known activists in the Islamic fundamentalist movement.

Security Minister Lord West

Warning: Security Minister Lord West says terrorists could launch an attack from water on the London Olympics

One email in particular had caught the attention of a GCHQ supercomputer. Sent from an iPhone belonging to a regular worshipper at one of London’s most radical mosques, it read: ‘Have collected those old 90s records. Taking them to the party now.’

It seemed perfectly innocent, but for two digits and two letters, placed consecutively: 9-0-s-r. Together they formed the chemical symbol for a substance called strontium-90. And that was enough to silence the room.

'Wonderful,' sighed a senior MI6 officer with heavy irony. 'A dirty bomb. Just what we need.'

Though no one in Westminster knew it, about 50 kg of strontium-90 was sitting at that moment less than five miles from the Olympic Stadium.

It had come from the frozen wasteland of Russia’s Arctic coast. There, it had been used to power one of a string of unmanned lighthouses erected by the former Soviet government, then forgotten in the chaos of the post-Communist years.

Retrieved by a Russian mafia gang, the strontium was sold on to Al Qaeda operatives fighting alongside Islamic rebels in Chechnya. They placed it in a lead casket, which rendered the strontium’s radioactivity undetectable, and transported it to the UK in a container marked Agricultural Equipment.

Now the strontium had come to rest in an anonymous unit on an industrial estate in Walthamstow, East London. But it would not be at rest for much longer.

The Prime Minister had sent his deputy director of communications to the Home Office meeting, the director himself having bagged a Royal Box seat at the Olympics opening ceremony. ‘Dirty bomb’ was not a phrase the spin doctor wanted to see on tomorrow’s front pages.

'What are we talking about here?' he asked. 'Is this some kind of nuke?'

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Filed under News Books Olympics London Nuke Terrorism

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Unmanned Poison Drones Are The Latest Threat To This Summer’s Olympic Games


In a meeting meant to calm residents fear about hosting missiles on their rooftops during the Olympic games, Lieutenant Colonel Brian Fahy told Londoners it’s possible that drones laden with biological weapons may be used in an attack during the upcoming games.

Yahoo News India reports Fahy is the officer in charge of community relations during the Olympics and he spoke to a group at Leystonstone, East London, close to where one of six surface-to-air missile batteries will be set up during the Olympics.

Fahy told The Daily Mail: “An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) can be put in a backpack. They come in all sorts of sizes and it’s feasible they could be filled with something noxious and flown by remote control.”

From Yahoo:

Fahy has, however, not commented on what type of poison could be used if an aerial attack occurred. He said: ‘For the duration of the Olympics anyone flying into controlled airspace is to file their flight plan with the Civil Aviation Authority.

'The range of threats varies in size and capability. It could be a commercial airliner hijacked by somebody with malicious intentions or a protest group using a microlight to get their name in the papers.' His poison warning comes after revelations that SAS troops underwent anthrax emergency training at the government's top-secret military research establishment at Porton Down, Wiltshire.

Officials have made it clear they will shoot down any aircraft that ventures into the Olympic no-fly zone and threatens the games with a “9/11 style attack.”

Filed under News London Olympics Drones UAV Poison Biological agents

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UK military prepare for ‘9/11-type attack


BRITISH military commanders said they are training to deal with a “9/11-type attack” as they launched a major exercise to test their readiness for the 2012 London Olympics.

As jet fighters took to the sky with nine weeks to go to the opening ceremony, the Olympic Park was getting its biggest try-out as the final wave of sporting test events got under way.

Four Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon fighter jets flew into the British capital to herald the start of Exercise Olympic Guardian, a nine-day training operation to test the response to a possible air attack during the Games.

Military helicopters were stationed around the capital, including on the amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean in the River Thames, with some carrying sniper teams.

AWACS surveillance planes and air-to-air refuelling aircraft will also be airborne during the exercise.
Airspace restrictions will be in place throughout the July 27-August 12 Games.

Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha, air component commander for Olympics air security, said their plan had several levels and “will allow us to deal at one end - which is that 9/11-type attack - perhaps down to the lower and the slower type of threat that we may face.

"All we are doing is having in place what we would describe as prudent and appropriate measures, in order that we could react if required in a timely and appropriate fashion."

Speaking of any potential attackers, he said: “I would hope when they see how we are preparing they might be deterred from making any threats to the Games.”

Typhoons are stationed on high alert as part of Britain’s regular air defence.

"Whilst there is no specific threat to the Games, we have to be ready to assist in delivering a safe and secure Olympics for all to enjoy," said defence secretary Philip Hammond.

The exercise underlines the commitment “to keeping the public safe at a time when the world will be watching us”.

At the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, five venues were to stage events in three Olympic and three Paralympic sports between today and next Monday.

Assisted by 11,000 staff, more than 140,000 spectators were to watch 3000 athletes take part in hockey, wheelchair tennis, water polo, athletics, boccia and Paralympic athletics.

The international invitational hockey tournament was the first to get started, with Britain’s women winning the opening match on the striking blue-and-pink surface, beating South Korea 1-0.

Just one stand was open at the 15,000-seater Riverbank Arena but the capacity will gradually be increased throughout the tournament.

"We were blown away," goalscorer Alex Danson told the BBC. "It was a 4000 crowd and so noisy."

World number one Australia, Olympic champions Germany, Britain and India are competing in the men’s event, while World Cup holders Argentina, China, Britain and South Korea are in the women’s tournament.

The British university athletics championships will take place in the main Olympic Stadium from Saturday to Tuesday, and on Sunday the sporting action will be mixed with a concert as 40000 spectators get a feel for the venue.

"Testing the Olympic Park and its operations is a hugely important part of our plans," said London Games chairman Sebastian Coe.

"Over the last 10 months, over 250,000 spectators have watched world-class sport as part of the London Prepares series test event program, and, in doing so, every one of them is helping us deliver the best possible Games."

Meanwhile it was announced that the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Paralympics will be called Enlightenment.

The Paralympic movement originated in Britain in 1948 and the August 29 spectacular at the Olympic Stadium, which will feature injured soldiers, will be a celebration of the Paralympics coming home.

Filed under News London Olympics Terrorism Fear Royal Air Force Olympic Guardian UK

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Spy in the sky: Is it only a matter of time before drone technology is used in civil society?

Their killing power is immense and the surveillance possibilities are endless. Perhaps it’s no wonder that the awesome potential of unmanned aerial vehicles is now being so energetically explored – from the battlefields of Afghanistan to the London Olympics.


The world’s first glimpse of a killer drone in action was over the English Channel: a Royal Navy patrol boat reported “a bright horizontal flame” in the sky. The device emitting the flame had stubby wings and was shaped like a rocket, and was travelling from the French coast at more than 200mph. Too small and too fast to be intercepted, it arrived in England’s Home Counties without warning; as it plunged earthwards the low drone of the motor cut out and there were three seconds of silence before the massive explosion. Where it exploded, the human beings at the epicentre simply disappeared, vaporised.

Of course, for all the similarities, this was not a Reaper or a Predator, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) used in action by British and US militaries today. The most glaring difference is that modern drones don’t self-destruct, except by mistake. This was the Vergeltungswaffe, the V-1, known affectionately to its German makers as the Maybug and to its terrorised British targets as the “doodlebug”. The Nazis had experimented with making it radio-controlled, but in the end its navigation system was crude. Yet this PAC (pilotless aircraft) – Hitler’s last, desperate throw of the dice as the Allies swarmed towards Berlin – marked the start of a new era in warfare as decisively as did “Fat Man” and “Little Boy”, which plummeted towards Hiroshima and Nagasaki a few months later.

The Predator and the Reaper and their rivals and relatives, some developed at Cranfield Aerospace (“Innovation at its Best”) in Bedford, are crucially different from the Maybug because they target their victims so precisely. The 186 men, women and children vaporised by a doodlebug in the New Cross branch of Woolworth’s in London’s East End one November Saturday in 1944 had no idea what was coming their way, and no reason to feel more than normally apprehensive. By contrast, many of the intended victims of today’s drones experience the very specific fear of being killed by them. In US Department of Defense videos with titles such as “UAV Kills Heavily Armed Criminals” and posted on YouTube, the visceral terror of the turbaned figures about to die is palpable. (Drone pilots call the moment of the kill a “bug splat” because of the way it looks on their screens.)

For what the US authorities call “personality strikes” – high-value targets – that specific fear can last for months, even years. Friends and relatives of the Islamist militant and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki had such strong grounds to fear his assassination by drone that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in August 2010 on behalf of his father, Nasser al-Awlaki, to try to stop it happening. The judge eventually dismissed the case, arguing that Nasser al-Awlaki would have no grounds to pursue it unless and until his son was actually killed. And so it came to pass: on 30 September 2011 in southern Yemen, the bearded American became one of at least four US citizens, to date, to be deliberately assassinated by US drones.

Nearly 70 years after the doodlebug, the pilotless aircraft was now fully out of the arms dealers’ closet. The cruel and extra-legal targeting of al-Awlaki for liquidation over a number of years, the futile attempt to get the American courts to stop it, and then the coup de grâce in the deserts of Yemen removed the last shreds of official deniability from the killer drone programme – and nobody gave a damn. As one White House official told Rolling Stone magazine, “If Anwar al-Awlaki is your poster boy for why we shouldn’t do drone strikes, good fucking luck.”

As a basic idea it is childishly simple, and many of us once played with them: a miniature plane you can pilot remotely. The only real difference is the sophistication of the vehicle itself, and of the navigation and piloting systems.

Drones in service or development today range from a giant with a 400ft wingspan, intended to cruise non-stop for five years, to tiny microdrones powered by miniature batteries; some are the size of a Boeing 727, while the Predators and Reapers in use in Afghanistan are comparable in size to model aircraft. But whatever their shape or size, all of them are designed for one of two purposes: spying or killing.

Even some very sophisticated modern drones look like toys, being scarcely bigger and no less simple and clumsy to launch. Like the toys we played with, you can build a drone at home. One of the people who recently did so was Francis Fukuyama, the Japanese-American political scientist most famous for coining the phrase “The End of History” to describe the global situation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. “For the past couple of months I have been building myself a surveillance drone,” he wrote recently in the Financial Times. There is a funny video that can be tracked down online of him flying it in Hoover Park, Palo Alto, California, near where he teaches at Stanford University.

The drone he built is a geek’s delight, “a remotely controlled quadcopter”, as he explained, “a small helicopter with four rotor blades that looks like a flying X, with an onboard video camera that sends a live feed back to my laptop base station … In future I plan to equip the aircraft with an autopilot system that will allow it to fly from one GPS-specified location to another without my having to pilot it.”

Enraptured by the technology, Fukuyama worries about what a world full of the things will feel like. “A world in which people can be routinely and anonymously targeted by unseen enemies,” he writes, “is not pleasant to contemplate.” For all the technological refinements, the device in Fukuyama’s video, hovering uncertainly over Hoover Park’s balding turf and eyeing speculatively both the senior Stanford fellow with the joystick, gazing skywards, and the odd dog-walker, does not seem a million miles from the sort of thing you used to be able to buy in a box at the local toy shop and stick together with UHU. And it’s that – the conceptual simplicity yoked to ever-increasing technological refinement – that has propelled the drone into headlines across the world in the past year. It is at once a fiendishly efficient killing machine, the ultimate spy weapon, and a tool of potentially vast utility to police forces, farmers, estate agents and journalists.

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Filed under News Commentary Drones UAV War War Crimes Olympics London USA Surveillance Surveillance State

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London Olympics Won’t Allow Sharing of Photos and Video via Social Networks


Photographers have already lodged complaints against the security firm that tried to prevent them from taking photos of the Olympic sites from public land, but it seems that even stricter rules will be imposed on ticket holders once the games begin. According to a freelance photographer named Peter Ruck, the Olympic organizing committee Locog intends to prevent attendees from uploading images and videos captured at the games to social networks.

The London 2012 conditions for ticket holders read as follows (see Section 19.6.3):

Images, video and sound recordings of the Games taken by a Ticket Holder cannot be used for any purpose other than for private and domestic purposes and a Ticket Holder may not license, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on social networking websites and the internet more generally, and may not exploit images, video and/or sound recordings for commercial purposes under any circumstances, whether on the internet or otherwise, or make them available to third parties for commercial purposes.

It’s still uncertain whether or not uploading stills to Facebook is considered private use (Locog hasn’t responded to the Amateur Photographer’s urgent request for clarification), but the conditions seem to indicate that it’s not. Ruck — and we assume many others — balked at the rules, calling them unenforceable. One thing’s for sure though, forcing that many people to keep their Olympic memories “private” would be a task of olympic proportions indeed.

Filed under News London Olympics

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Apartment Blocks May Host Missiles for Olympics

Surface-to-air missiles could be stationed on the rooftops of an apartment block in east London as part of Britain’s air defenses for the Olympics, the country’s military confirmed Sunday. (April 29

Filed under News London Olympics

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Interxion Readies Staff ‘Sleeping Pods’ for Olympics

By Rich Miller

For data centers, uptime is mandatory, even if the buses and trains aren’t running on time. That’s an issue on the minds of data center in operators in London, which may see its transit system tested by the huge crowds expected for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The data center team at Interxion has come up with a solution that will ensure that its London tech staff can be on site to keep things running smoothly throughout the Games.

Interxion today unveiled “sleeping pods” at its London data center campus, allowing staff to sleep amongst the racks to ensure that the facility will be fully staffed throughout the Games.  allowing engineering staff to stay on site 24/7 should congestion on the travel and road networks become too severe, making it difficult for critical staff to travel to and from the site in a timely fashion.

“Due to the nature of our business we need to be ready for all eventualities and while we are excited to have the Olympics in London we also need to be sure that we can continue to offer the highest level of resilience to our customers,” said Greg McCulloch, UK Managing Director of Interxion. “The installation of the sleeping pods is another great example of Interxion putting resilience and uptime at the forefront of everything it does.”

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Filed under News London Olympics England UK Tech Technology Interxion

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