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A FOCUS ON THE FORCES CHANGING OUR WORLD

Posts tagged US Military

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Security backdoor found in China-made US military chip

Side NoteI find this to be extremely funny. CHINA IS PWNING THE US MILITARY!

…it would be in their ‘National Interests’ of course, so therefore it is JUSTIFIABLE.
Oh… wait, that argument NEVER works when its the other way around, huh? 
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INFORMATION AGE

Cambridge University researchers find that a microprocessor used by the US military but made in China contains secret remote access capability

A microchip used by the US military and manufactured in China contains a secret “backdoor” that means it can be shut off or reprogrammed without the user knowing, according to researchers at Cambridge University’s Computing Laboratory.

The unnamed chip, which the researchers claim is widely used in military and industrial applications, is “wide open to intellectual property theft, fraud and reverse engineering of the design to allow the introduction of a backdoor or Trojan”, they said.

The discovery was made during testing of a new technique to extract the encryption key from chips, developed by Cambridge spin-off Quo Vadis Labs.

The “bug” is in the actual chip itself, rather than the firmware installed on the devices that use it. This means there is no way to fix it than to replace the chip altogether.

"The discovery of a backdoor in a military grade chip raises some serious questions about hardware assurance in the semiconductor industry," wrote Cambridge University researcher Sergei Skorobogatov and Quo Vadis Labs research Christopher Woods in a draft paper.

"It also raises some searching questions about the integrity of manufacturers making claims about [the] security of their products without independent testing."

Filed under News China US Military Technology Computers Cambridge University

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2 US Navy ships collide in Pacific; no injuries

SOURCE

SAN DIEGO (AP) — An 844-foot-long U.S. Navy assault ship collided with a refueling tanker Wednesday in the Pacific Ocean, causing damage to both ships, but there were no injuries or fuel spills, military officials said.

The midmorning accident between the amphibious assault vessel USS Essex and the oiler USNS Yukon occurred about 120 miles off the coast of Southern California as the Essex was approaching the Yukon to be refueled, said Cmdr. Charlie Brown, a spokesman for the 3rd Fleet.

Brown said the steering apparently stopped working on the Essex, which was carrying 982 crew members on its way to San Diego for scheduled maintenance. It had spent the past 12 years based inSasebo, Japan, as command ship for the Navy’s Expeditionary Strike Group 7.

The Essex was traveling with a new crew that came aboard for the trip to California. The ship recently underwent a crew swap with another amphibious assault ship, theBonhomme Richard, as part of a standard procedure in the Navy to keep its ships operating.

The Essex and Yukon were both able to continue toward San Diego despite the damage, which the Navy said did not compromise their fuel tanks or systems.

The Yukon arrived at the Navy base in San Diego after 3 p.m. Wednesday with its crew of 82, including 78 civilian mariners and four military crew members.

The Essex was keeping to its planned arrival time of 9 a.m. Thursday.

Brown said the damage was still being assessed. He said he couldn’t say how fast the ships were moving at the time of the crash because the Navy is still investigating the cause.

The standard speed for ships lining up to refuel at sea is about 13 knots, or 15 mph, Brown said. No lines or hoses had been connected because the two vessels were just approaching each other.

The ships likely just bounced off each other, said maritime safety consultant James W. Allen.

Even so, he said, with massive ships, it can be “a pretty hard bump that can bend metal” and cause dents. The Essex, known as the Iron Gator, resembles a small aircraft carrier, while the Yukon is 677 feet long.

Navy ships routinely refuel at sea while under way.

"They were probably so close there was no time to respond when the steering went out," said Allen, who served 30 years in the Coast Guard.

Navy officials said it was the Essex’s first collision. The ship, however, has had mechanical problems.

The military publication Stars and Stripes reported in February that twice over a seven-month period, missions were scrapped because of mechanical or maintenance issues involving the 21-year-old flagship commissioned in San Diego

Navy spokesman Lt. Richard Drake at the time blamed it on wear and tear. 3rd Fleet officials said they could not comment on that since at the time the Essex was in the 7th Fleet in Japan. 7th Fleet officials could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

The Yukon, which was launched in 1993, has been involved in at least two previous collisions, including on Feb. 27, 2000, when it collided with a 135-foot civilian cargo ship while trying to enter Dubai’s Jebel Ali port in the United Arab Emirates. The Yukon sustained minor damage.

Less than five months later, it was hit by the USS Denver during refueling off the coast of Hawaii. Both ships sustained heavy damage.

Filed under News Navy US Military

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Despite Annan efforts, US hell-bent on regime change in Syria

Despite efforts by the UN-Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan to settle the issues in Syria, the United States says it is still after regime change in the country.

SOURCE

A few hours after Annan briefed the UN Security Council (UNSC) by videoconference from Geneva on Tuesday on his efforts to end the year-plus-long unrest in Syria, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice reiterated Washington’s call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. 

Rice claimed that Damascus has not fully implemented any part of Annan’s six-point peace plan, noting that “Washington is focusing on a regime change in Damascus.” 

Annan asked both government troops and armed groups to stop the bloodshed, and reiterated that dialog is the only solution to the unrest. 

“They should think of the people, who have been caught in the middle for about fifteen months,…my appeal to those with guns, my appeal to those who have taken — I was going to say the people prisoners, because, in a way, they are frightened — is to really think of them, think of the people, think of Syria, think of the region and disarm and come to the table,” he said. 

He also stated that his plan is the only chance for preventing a civil war in the country, saying, “What we have to do is to do our best and hope that the better forces in us will prevail and lead us to put down the arms and do what is right. If it fails…it will not affect only Syria, it will have an impact on the whole region. This is why we should all be so concerned for the Syrians, for Syria, and for a region that for geopolitical reasons we should all be concerned about.” 

After Annan’s briefing, Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari accused foreign countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, of plotting to sabotage Annan’s plan by fueling the violence. 

“We need to see everybody on board. We need to see these Qataris, the Saudis, the Turkish government, as well as some other nations, stopping their incitement to violence, stopping their sponsorship of…the armed rebellion in Syria, stopping their financial contribution to cover up the needs of these armed groups and the needs of the terrorist groups, which are attacking…civilians as well as military targets in Syria” he said. 

Jaafari also stated that his country was committed to the plan. 

Meanwhile, the UN observers continue monitoring a ceasefire, which has officially been in effect as part of the peace plan for more than three weeks. 

The first group of the observers arrived in the Syrian capital on late April 15 in line with the UNSC Resolution 2042, which had been approved a day earlier. 

On April 21, the council met and unanimously approved Resolution 2043, which ratified a proposal to send a mission of 300 observers to Syria. 

Filed under News Syria War UN War crimes USA US Military

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Serving Down Under: Australia offers military jobs to US troops facing separation

By SETH ROBSON

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — U.S. servicemembers looking at career options in this era of shrinking military budgets and force drawdowns might want to take a look Down Under.

The Australian government is recruiting experienced U.S. enlisted personnel and officers to fill a range of positions — from submariners to doctors — in its military, according to a posting on the Australian Defence Force website.

“The Australian Defence Force looks to overseas candidates to fill gaps in our Services, which can’t currently be satisfied by standard recruitment,” reads the intro for overseas applicants on the Defence Force’s recruitment website. “We recognise that these candidates can bring skills and attributes to the Navy, Army and Air Force that will strengthen their overall operation and success rate.”

The job offers could be tempting for U.S. troops as the Afghan War winds down and the Department of Defense looks to trim billions of dollars and more than 100,000 uniformed personnel from its books.

At a time when other Western countries have slashed spending, the prosperous Australians have been growing their military. In the past five years, the Australian military has recruited more than 500 personnel from the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Applicants have to meet certain minimum rank levels, as well as medical and interview requirements, Australian defense officials said in an email this week.

Known as the Lucky Country, Australia has had a booming economy for almost two decades due to rising commodity prices and strong Chinese demand for its mining products. It has also seen the Australian dollar rally against the U.S. dollar in recent years, meaning U.S. veterans — especially enlisted — stand to make more money working for the Australia military.

The U.S. Air Force website lists the annual base pay for an E-5, staff sergeant, with six-years’ service at $31,946. An O-3, captain, with six years’ service makes $63,263.

By comparison, a newly promoted E-5, corporal, in the Australian air force makes $57,277, when converted to U.S. dollars, while newly promoted O-3, flight lieutenant, takes home $66,417.

Squadron Leader Bart Langland has flown under both flags.

Langland served 15 years on active duty for the U.S. Air Force and another five in the reserves before joining the Royal Australian Air Force in March 2008. The veteran F-16 and U2 spy plane pilot is helping train Australian fliers at RAAF Base Williamtown, just north of Sydney.

From an Australian perspective the costs to train and develop fighter pilots are enormous, hence the RAAF greatly benefits from being able to get experienced pilots from the U.S. and other countries, Langland said. Joining the Australian Defence Force took Langland a year and included physical examinations, security checks and getting duel Australian-U.S. citizenship, which the State Department had to approve, he said.

Langland said the job was almost exactly the same as serving with the U.S. Air Force.

“If you walk into an Australian fighter squadron or a U.S. fighter squadron, you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference,” Langland said.

Australia has about 23 million people, less than the population of California, in a country about the same size as the U.S. Naturally, the all-volunteer Australian Defence Force is a lot smaller than the U.S. military but it has dedicated itself to quality over quantity, Langland said.

In recent months, the U.S. and Australia have grown even closer with plans to base thousands of U.S. Marines in the northern Australian town of Darwin.

“Australia has always stood shoulder to shoulder with the U.S.A. and, as such, would count on U.S. support in times of major conflict,” Langland said.

The Australian Air Force trains regularly with U.S. units, although it also trains with partner nations in Southeast Asia, he said.

One notable difference serving in Australia is that the pace of work is slower than in the U.S. Air Force, Langland said, adding that his deployment to Afghanistan last year was voluntary.

Langland’s biggest challenge was moving his wife and three children to Australia, far from relatives. However, he rated the schools near RAAF Williamtown as excellent and the weather and beaches on a par with Southern California.

The family plans to stay in Australia at least five more years, he said.

“I feel that by serving here I am making a difference to Australia and America,” he said.

For more information on the program, go to the Australian Defence Force website.

Filed under News US Military Japan Australia US Air Force

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Military training in the middle of Miami jolts residents out of bed

The Grand Bay Hotel was attacked! Wait, never mind, it was just a military training exercise.

SOURCE

No, there was no smell of napalm in the morning.

But there was the thunderous whump whump of low-flying helicopters, and even the jarring blast of explosions at the abandoned Grand Bay Hotel in Coconut Grove early Tuesday during a military training exercise that jolted many unsuspecting residents from their beds.

“It was quite a shocking experience,” said Jane Muir, who was awakened around 1:45 a.m. by the sound of military choppers that later dropped rappelling soldiers onto the Grand Bay’s rooftop. “It was kind of that bizarre feeling that you were surrounded by wind.”

From her third-floor balcony, Muir then watched the soldiers fire off flares and smoke bombs before searching floor by floor through the darkened hotel, their paths marked by flashlights and the pop-pop-pop of gunshots. “The show of force was so overwhelming,” she said.

The maneuvers were part of a “realistic urban training” exercise for about 100 military personnel, and organized by the U.S. Special Operations Command, said Maj. Michael Burns, a U.S. Army spokesman. The exercise also included three military helicopters, and the use of simulated explosions and gunfire to mimic real-life military scenarios.

“They have to train in a realistic environment,” Burns said. “We didn’t use any real bullets,” he added reassuringly.

Miami police assisted in overseeing the exercises — but they were instructed to keep quiet about the exercises until late Monday, for security reasons. The police also blocked off roads around the Grand Bay during the exercise, Muir said.

“It was the federal government’s call on what was being done. We were courteously advised,” said Miami commissioner Marc Sarnoff, whose district includes Coconut Grove.

Miami Police Maj. Delrish Moss said that a news release about the training was sent out around 5 p.m. Monday, but it went largely unnoticed.

The explosions, however, did not. A handful of alarmed Grove residents called the police and City Hall to ask about the armed choppers flying over their homes.

Muir, for one, would not have minded a heads up beforehand.

“I thought it was kind of rude, to tell you the truth,” she said. “One neighbor was swearing, he was so annoyed.”

But despite the neighborhood anxiety, the exercise went off safely and quickly, Burns said.

“It seems very high drama, but to us it’s kind of simple,” he said.

Miami Herald staff writer Charles Rabin contributed to this report.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/08/2789687_military-training-in-the-middle.html#storylink=addthis#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/08/2789687_military-training-in-the-middle.html#storylink=addthis#storylink=cpy

Filed under News Militarism Miami Florida US Military

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The Dark Side of the Prestigious Marine Barracks

By Col. Ann Wright

According to Marine Corps lore,semper fidelis, a Latin phrase for “always faithful,” commands Marines to remain a “brotherhood, faithful to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to country, no matter what. Becoming a Marine is a transformation that cannot be undone and once made, a Marine will forever live by the ethics and values of the Corps.”

The Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., is the official residence of the commandant of the Marine Corps. It is the home of the Marines who are the ceremonial guard for the president during official U.S. government functions and the security force for the White House and Camp David. The Marine Band, also located at the Barracks, is known as “The President’s Own.” The Barracks is the showplace of the Marine Corps with its Silent Drill Platoon giving weekly military precision performances for the public during the busy summer tourist season.

But the Marine Barracks has its dark and ugly side. It is also the home of officers and enlisted men of the Marine Corps who have been accused of sexually harassing, assaulting and raping female Marine officers and enlisted and civilian women who work there.

According to information provided by the Marine Barracks Washington legal adviser at the request of the Senate Armed Services Committee minority counsel, from 2009 to 2010 three female Marines and two civilian women reported to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) that they had been raped by male Marines. Two of the female Marines held high-visibility jobs at the Barracks and said they were raped by senior officers.

During the same period, two other female Marines and two other civilian women reported that they had been sexually harassed by Marines at the Barracks.

Second Rape Lawsuit Filed Against Marines, Navy and DOD

On March 6, 2012, attorney Susan Burke filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of eight military women—four Marines and four Navy members—who said they were raped while in the service. Two of the four female Marine officers served at the Barracks and alleged that they had been raped by Marines assigned there. The two, Lt. Ariana Klay and Lt. Elle Helmer, spoke at a news conference announcing the lawsuit and on national TV shows afterward.

This is the second lawsuit filed in a little over a year against the Department of Defense on the issue of rape in the military. The first lawsuit was filed on Feb. 15, 2011, and was brought by 15 female and two male active-duty military personnel and veterans. They accused the DOD of permitting a military culture that fails to prevent rape and sexual assault and alleged that it mishandled cases that were brought to its attention, thus violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.

On Dec. 9, 2011, U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady dismissed the suit, saying the sexual assault allegations were “troubling” but that Supreme Court and other court decisions had advised against judicial involvement in cases of military discipline. O’Grady cited Gilligan v. Morgan, decided in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which determined that “matters of military discipline should be left to the ‘political branches directly responsible—as the judicial branch is not—to the electoral process.’ ” O’Grady said, “Not even the egregious allegations within the plaintiffs’ complaint will prevent dismissal.”

The March 2012 lawsuit names current and former secretaries of defense and military chiefs of the Navy and Marine Corps as defendants. It alleges that “Although defendants testified before Congress and elsewhere that they have ‘zero tolerance’ for rape and sexual assault, their conduct and the facts demonstrate the opposite: They have a high tolerance for sexual predators in their ranks, and ‘zero tolerance’ for those who report rape, sexual assault and harassment.” The lawsuit alleges that “Defendants have a long-standing pattern of ignoring congressional mandates designed to ameliorate the armed services’ dismal record of rape and sexual assault. As but one example, defendant [Leon] Panetta [secretary of defense] continues to violate the law requiring the Department of Defense to establish an incident-specific Sexual Assault Database no later than January 2010.” More than two years later, the database still does not exist.

“Rather than being respected and appreciated for reporting crimes and unprofessional conduct,” the lawsuit alleges, “plaintiffs and others who report are branded ‘troublemakers,’ endure egregious and blatant retaliation, and are often forced out of military service.”

Lt. Ariana Klay

According to the lawsuit, Klay, a Naval Academy graduate, served as a protocol officer for the Marine Barracks. She alleges that while there, she was sexually harassed by a lieutenant colonel, a major and a captain. She said she was gang-raped by a Marine officer and his civilian friend, a former Marine. Klay alleges that the Marine officer threatened to kill her and told his friend he would show him “what a slut she was” and “humiliate” her.

After she reported the alleged rapes and subsequent harassment, the Marine Corps investigation ruled that she welcomed the harassment because “she wore makeup, regulation-length skirts as a part of her uniform and exercised in running shorts and tank tops.”

The Marine Corps did not punish any of those who were accused of sexually harassing Klay. One of her alleged harassers was granted a waiver by the Corps that permitted him to get a security clearance despite accusations of hazing and sexual misconduct against not only Klay but many others. He was selected to be in a nationally televised recruitment commercial while he was still under investigation. According to the lawsuit, the Marine Corps featured Klay’s alleged rapist and a harasser in the Marine calendar.

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Filed under News Commentary US Military Marines Rape Pentagon

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The Way The Pentagon Is Predicting Your Potential To Become A National Threat Is Frightening

SOURCE

Tom Cruise made “pre-crime’” a futuresque and controversial method of law enforcement in the 2002 movie Minority Report.

Ten years later, the idea of preemptively identifying a criminal — particularly an inside threat — is taking shape within the U.S. Defense Department, reports Joe Gould at Army Times.

Whether it’s a low-ranking soldier intent on dumping secret information to WikiLeaks, or a rogue Sergeant going on a shooting rampage, insider threats can seriously plague the military and the government as a whole.

Taking a novel approach, the Pentagon is spearheading research into studying the predictive behavior of personnel in the lead-up to a betrayal. 

From Army Times:

The Army’s efforts dovetail with a broader federal government initiative. President Obama signed an executive order last October that established an Insider Threat Task Force to develop a government wide program to deter, detect and mitigate insider threats.

Among other responsibilities, it would create policies for safeguarding classified information and networks, and for auditing and monitoring users.

In January, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget issued a memo directing government agencies that deal with classified information to ensure they adhere to security rules enacted after the WikiLeaks debacle.

Beyond technical solutions, the document asks agencies to create their own “insider threat program” to monitor employees for “behavioral changes” suggesting they might leak sensitive information.

Gould points to a DARPA research solicitation for Suspected Malicious Insider Threat Elimination (SMITE) which would track employees’ actions on their networked computers — in particular, seemingly insignificant “observational data of no immediate relevance” — to determine if the user’s overall behavior is leading to something malicious. 

"Forensic-like techniques can be used to find clues, gather and evaluate evidence and combine them deductively. Many attacks are combinations of directly observable and inferred events, states the solicitation, emphasizing the word “inferred”.

Behavioral studies try to “look beyond computers to spot the point when a good soldier turns” — whether the attack at hand is an information leak, or even a homicide.

A solicitation for another program — Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales, or ADAMS — uses accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan to frame the problem. It asks how to sift for anomalies through millions of data points — the emails and text messages on Fort Hood, for instance — using a unique algorithm, to rank threats and learn based on user feedback.

The Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon sheds light on what kind of character profile a once trusted employee-turned-threat would display. There are two noteworthy profiles of someone who would steal and leak intellectual information from his/her workplace:

  • The Entitled Independent: “disgruntled with his job who typically exfiltrates his work a month before leaving.”
  • The Ambitious Leader: “steals information on entire systems and product lines, sometimes to take to a foreign country, such as China.”

All of the government’s ongoing research and exploration into “computer forensics” will culminate in new standards of defense against internal attacks later this year. The Insider Threat Task Force is expected to be unveiled in October.


Filed under News Surveillance Surveillance State Big Brother Pre-crime Minority Report US Military Pentagon Wikileaks DARPA

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Army wants to monitor your computer activity

SOURCE

In the wake of the biggest dump of classified information in the history of the Army, the brass is searching for ways to watch what every soldier is doing on his or her Army computer.

The Army wants to look at keystrokes, downloads and Web searches on computers that soldiers use.

Maj. Gen. Steven Smith, chief of the Army Cyber Directorate, said the software was one of his chief priorities, joking that it would take the place of a lower-tech solution: “A guy with a large bat behind every user as they go to search the Internet.”

“Now we’ve been in the news — I don’t know if you’ve seen it — with a little insider threat issue,” Smith continued.

Smith did not mention Pfc. Bradley Manning by name. However, the effort comes in the wake of the former intelligence analyst’s alleged leak of hundreds of thousands of pages of classified documents to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks in 2009 and 2010. Manning faces a military trial on 22 counts, including aiding the enemy.

According to Smith, the Army will soon shop for software pre-programmed to detect a user’s abnormal behavior and record it, catching malicious insiders in the act. Though it is unclear how broadly the Army plans to adopt the program, the Army has more than 900,000 users on its computers.

Smith explained how it might work.

“So I’m on the South American desk, doing intelligence work and all of a sudden I start going around to China, let’s say,” Smith said. “That might be an anomaly, it might be justified, but I would sure like to know that and let someone make a decision, almost at the speed of thought.”

The scenario echoes the allegations against Manning: As an intelligence analyst charged with researching the Shiite threat to Iraqi elections, Manning raided classified networks for State Department cables, Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and video from a helicopter attack, according to courtroom testimony.

Software of the type Smith describes is at various stages of development in the public and private sectors. Such software could spy on virtually any activity on a desktop depending on its programming, to detect when a soldier searches outside of his or her job description, downloads massive amounts of data from a shared hard drive or moves the data onto a removable drive.

The program could respond by recording the activity, alerting an administrator, shutting down the user’s access, or by feeding the person “dummy data” to watch what they do next, said Charles Beard, a cybersecurity executive with the defense firm SAIC’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance group.

“It’s a giant game of cat and mouse with some of these actors,” Beard said.

What’s exciting, Smith said, is the possibility of detecting problems as they happen, on what cybersecurity experts call “zero day,” as opposed to after the fact.

“We don’t want to be forensics experts. We want to catch it at the perimeter,” Smith said. “We want to catch this before it has a chance to be exploited.”

Read more …

Filed under News Surveillance Surveillance State US Military Pentagon Big Brother pre-crime cyberwar

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Beware the Rotten Fruit of AFRICOM Training

by Mark P. Fancher

The U.S. military command in Africa, AFRICOM, has trained thousands of officers on the continent, including the young captain that overthrew his own government in Mali, this year. “If AFRICOM’s protégés have taken careful note of how the U.S. military is routinely used to try and take whatever the U.S. wants in Africa, often without regard for law, custom or prudence, it is not hard to imagine how or why Amadou Sanogo might do the same thing in his own country.”

The U.S. may talk the talk of ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights,’ but in Africa, it has never walked the walk.”

If a tree is judged by its fruit, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is undeniably diseased from its roots to its branches. One of AFRICOM’s fruits, Amadou Sanogo, who is a captain in Mali’s armed forces, and a former AFRICOM trainee, led the recent military takeover of Mali’s government supposedly because he didn’t believe the country’s leaders were doing enough to suppress an armed secessionist movement in the northern territories. The result was disastrous. The African Union was outraged, and in short order, not only were there crippling economic sanctions against Mali, but also the secessionists took advantage of the confused state of Mali’s government and military and secured control of several towns, including the legendary Timbuktu.

While standing hip deep in a mess of his own making, Sanogo ultimately agreed to step down and allow the re-installation of a civilian government. However, at the time of this writing, he has been a continuing obstacle to efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to help Mali navigate through circumstances that threaten to destabilize much of the region.

The Washington Post reported that Sanogo participated in AFRICOM’s “International Military Education and Training” program. According to AFRICOM’s website, the program exposes African soldiers “to U.S. professional military organizations and procedures and the manner in which military organizations function under civilian control.” The program description goes on to say that the participants are introduced “…to elements of U.S. democracy such as the U.S. judicial system, legislative oversight, free speech, equality issues, and U.S. commitment to human rights.” Somehow Sanogo emerged from all of that and resolved to not only strip civilians of their authority but to also take over Mali’s government operations.

Participants are introduced ‘…to elements of U.S. democracy such as the U.S. judicial system, legislative oversight, free speech, equality issues, and U.S. commitment to human rights.’”

Perhaps none of this should come as a surprise. The U.S. may talk the talk of “democracy” and “human rights,” but in Africa, it has never walked the walk. The U.S. stride has been more of an arrogant imperialist swagger. If AFRICOM’s protégés have taken careful note of how the U.S. military is routinely used to try and take whatever the U.S. wants in Africa, often without regard for law, custom or prudence, it is not hard to imagine how or why Amadou Sanogo might do the same thing in his own country.

If in fact it was exposure to U.S. military culture and training that inspired Sanogo’s folly, then AFRICOM has plenty of other African soldiers traveling down that same trackIn recent months U.S. Marines have trained Moroccan soldiers in everything from communications to how to stage “a mechanized, motorized, helo-born, combined arms assault.” In Liberia, the Marines conducted a non-lethal weapons clinic for more than 220 Liberian soldiers. The sessions were part of a U.S. State Department-sponsored mission called “Operation Onward Liberty.”

As a matter of fact, AFRICOM is no longer content to provide just training. James Hart, AFRICOM’s deputy director for programs, said that the U.S. “Africa Partnership Station (APS)” which patrols Africa’s coastal waters, and which has been the site for training Africa’s navies, has the potential to do more. Hart said: “How do we take APS to the next level? By moving away from a training-intensive program and organize APS efforts through emphasizing hands-on training and real-world operations.” Real-world operations? What does that mean against a historical backdrop of forceful U.S. suppression of African forces that threaten the strategic and business interests of western governments and foreign corporations?

AFRICOM training appears to be heavily laced with the ideology of Americanism, which history has demonstrated to be diametrically opposed to the cherished goal of Pan-Africanism. So when it comes to Africa’s true military needs, the continent does not need more loose-cannon, AFRICOM-trained soldiers like Sanogo. It instead needs politically conscious, disciplined civilian militias that can keep these characters and various foreign-sponsored mercenaries under control.

Filed under News US Military AFRICOM Imperialism Africa

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"Super-Soldiers" Fight Disease With Bionic Implants

BY KATE KNIBBS

The U.S. military plans to implant soldiers with medical devices, making them harder to kill with diseases.

The military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, announced plans to create nanosensors that monitor soldiers’ health on the battlefield and keep doctors constantly abreast about potential health problems.

DARPA’s plan for nanosensors reflects a larger trend, as scientists are trying to harness technology to improve health care across the globe. Doctors are already quickly adopting mobile technology to improve patient care, carrying around iPads to better explain procedures and inventing smartphone apps tooversee drug users’ progress and watch for signs of stress in at-risk patients.

DARPA called the implants “a truly disruptive innovation,” highlighting how healthier soldiers would change the state of modern warfare because most medical evacuations occur due to ordinary illnesses and disease, not injuries. If the U.S. can lead the way in this kind of high-tech monitoring, it could give the military another leg up on adversaries still beset by everyday illness.

Nanotechnology continues to find a place in the medical field as well. Stanford University researchersare developing tiny robotic monitors that can diagnose illnesses, monitor vital stats and even deliver medicine into the bloodstream, similar to the devices that the military plans to create. The two projects have yet to link up, but their similar goals suggest the military could benefit from coordinating efforts with leading university scientists.

The U.S. military regularly invests in the latest mobile technology, not only in healthcare but in its ground operations as well, as the military encourages app developers to develop apps for warfare. The Army is actively incorporating smartphones into battlefield equipment, recognizing the devices’ ability to revolutionize combat.

Still, the U.S. is not the only country in on the action, as China developed an iPhone app to give the People’s Liberation Army information.

The military runs on the strength of its soldiers, and this latest innovation holds promise to bolster the U.S. armed forces by decreasing preventable illnesses and keeping its men and women at the peak of their health.

Filed under News US Military DARPA Transhumanism nanosensors health USA China

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The US Military Wants To ‘Microchip’ Troops

SOURCE

DARPA is at it again. This time, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has announced plans to create nanochips for monitoring troops health on the battlefield.

Kate Knibbs at Mobiledia reports the sensors are targeted at preventing illness and disease, the two causes of most troops medical evacuations.

What seems like a simple way of cutting costs and increasing efficiency has some people concerned that this is the first step in a “computer chips for all” scenario.

Bob Unruh at WND reports one of those opponents, Katherine Albrecht, co-author of Spychips says “It’s never going to happen that the government at gunpoint says, ‘You’re going to have a tracking chip. It’s always in incremental steps. If you can put a microchip in someone that doesn’t track them … everybody looks and says, ‘Come on, it’ll be interesting seeing where we go.’”

From WND:

She said it was expected that captive audiences, such as prisoners and troops, would be the first subjected to the requirement, which would make it easier for the general populace to accept it as well. “It’s interesting,” she said. “I’m stunned how this younger generation is OK. They don’t see the problem. … ‘Why wouldn’t everyone want to be tracked?’”

But she said Americans will have to decide to say no to incremental advances, or by the time officials finally roll out the idea of chips for all, whether they want them or not, it will be too late to decide. “The analogy that I draw is [that of a train], and if I’m in California and I do not want to wind up in New City, every stop brings me closer,” she said. “At some point I have to get off the train.”

DARPA is calling the effort ”a truly disruptive innovation,” that could help the U.S. fight healthier and more efficiently than its adversaries.


Filed under News Tracking Surveillance Soldiers Microchips RFID DARPA US Military

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US fears militants will turn to bombs implanted in body cavities

Stars and Stripes

U.S. and allied officials are increasingly concerned that doctors working with al-Qaida’s Yemen-based affiliate will implant bombs inside living militants in order to try to circumvent airport security measures and bring down aircraft, Reuters reported.

A CIA drone attack earlier this year killed a Yemeni doctor who had devised medical procedures to surgically plant explosive devices in humans, Reuters said, but the expert bomb-maker who invented the tactic is still at large.

Two attacks in 2009 — including a failed plot to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day — involved explosives sewn into the bomber’s underwear. Authorities subsequently became concerned that militants would begin concealing explosives inside their body cavities, which would be harder to detect by airport X-ray machines.

Many Western airports installed unpopular body scanners in response to the threat.

Filed under News WTF Yemen Terrorism Fear US Government DHS US Military

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Imperialism didn’t end. These days it’s known as international law

A one-sided justice sees weaker states punished as rich nations and giant corporations project their power across the world

The conviction of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, is said to have sent an unequivocal message to current leaders: that great office confers no immunity. In fact it sent two messages: if you run a small, weak nation, you may be subject to the full force of international law; if you run a powerful nation, you have nothing to fear.

While anyone with an interest in human rights should welcome the verdict, it reminds us that no one has faced legal consequences for launching the illegal war against Iraq. This fits the Nuremberg tribunal’s definition of a “crime of aggression”, which it called “the supreme international crime”. The charges on which, in an impartial system, George Bush, Tony Blair and their associates should have been investigated are far graver than those for which Taylor was found guilty.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, claims that Taylor’s conviction “demonstrates that those who have committed the most serious of crimes can and will be held to account for their actions”. But the international criminal court, though it was established 10 years ago, and though the crime of aggression has been recognised in international law since 1945, still has no jurisdiction over “the most serious of crimes”. This is because the powerful nations, for obvious reasons, are procrastinating. Nor have the United Kingdom, the United States and other western nations incorporated the crime of aggression into their own legislation. International law remains an imperial project, in which only the crimes committed by vassal states are punished.

In this respect it corresponds to other global powers. Despite its trumpeted reforms, the International Monetary Fund remains under the control of the United States and the former colonial powers. All constitutional matters still require an 85% share of the vote. By an inexplicable oversight, the United States retains 16.7%, ensuring that it possesses a veto over subsequent reforms. Belgium still has eight times the votes of Bangladesh, Italy a bigger share than India, and the United Kingdom and France between them more voting power than the 49 African members. The managing director remains, as imperial tradition insists, a European, her deputy an American.

The IMF, as a result, is still the means by which western financial markets project their power into the rest of the world. At the end of last year, for example, it published a paper pressing emerging economies to increase their “financial depth”, which it defines as “the total financial claims and counterclaims of an economy”. This, it claimed, would insulate them from crisis. As the Bretton Woods Project points out, emerging nations with large real economies and small financial sectors were the countries which best weathered the economic crisis, which was caused by advanced economies with large financial sectors. Like the modern opium wars it waged in the 1980s and 1990s – when it forced Asian countries to liberalise their currencies, permitting western financial speculators to attack them – the IMF’s prescriptions are incomprehensible until they are understood as instruments of financial power.

Decolonisation did not take place until the former colonial powers and the empires of capital on whose behalf they operated had established other means of retaining control. Some, like the IMF and World Bank, have remained almost unchanged. Others, like the programme of extraordinary rendition, evolved in response to new challenges to global hegemony.

As the kidnapping of Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his wife suggests, the UK’s foreign and intelligence services see themselves as a global police force, minding the affairs of other nations. In 2004, after Tony Blair, with one eye on possible contracts for British oil companies, decided that Gaddafi was a useful asset, the alliance was sealed with the capture, packaging and delivery of the regime’s dissenters.

Like the colonial crimes the British government committed in Kenya and elsewhere, whose concealment was sustained by the Foreign Office until its secret archives were revealed last month, the rendition programme was hidden from public view. Just as the colonial secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd, repeatedly lied to parliament about the detention and torture of Kikuyu people, in 2005 Jack Straw, then foreign secretary, told parliament that ”there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition”.

Reading the emails passed between the offices of James Murdoch and Jeremy Hunt, it struck me that here too is a government which sees itself as an agent of empire – Murdoch’s in this case – and which sees the electorate as ornamental. Working, against the public interest, for News Corporation, the financial sector and the billionaire donors to the Conservative party, its ministers act as capital’s district commissioners, governing Britain as their forebears governed the colonies.

The bid for power, oil and spheres of influence that Bush and Blair launched in Mesopotamia, using the traditional camouflage of the civilising mission; the colonial war still being fought in Afghanistan, 199 years after the Great Game began; the global policing functions the great powers have arrogated to themselves; the one-sided justice dispensed by international law. All these suggest that imperialism never ended, but merely mutated into new forms. The virtual empire knows no boundaries. Until we begin to recognise and confront it, all of us, black and white, will remain its subjects.

Filed under News Commentary Imperialism Liberia Iraq USA Britain NATO US Military Pentagon IMF Europe America United Kingdom

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Life Under Constant Watch

by Firmin DeBrabander

he surveillance state expands. Since 9-11, our phones are subject to warrantless wiretaps. Our email and internet transactions leave a trail for some to follow. The police can access our GPS location data through our smart phones, also without a warrant. Retailers record our purchasing habits with painstaking detail. Apparently, Target studies those purchases to determine when customers are pregnant—in the second trimester no less—for specialized marketing purposes.

And now, there will be surveillance drones. Congress recently passed a bill that opens the gates to widespread use of surveillance drones on US soil. There has been relatively little coverage of this alarming development: drones, so far associated with our illegal war in Pakistan and Yemen, are soon to become a domestic mainstay. On our shores, they will be used for law enforcement and border protection, but also commercially, for real estate, entertainment and journalistic purposes, for example. One prominent drone showcased on the internet is a hummingbird drone. As the name suggests, it’s tiny, quick and highly mobile. A popular video shows the hummingbird drone entering a building and flying down a corridor, transmitting everything it sees. Imagine the possibilities.

What is the effect of all this lost privacy? How does it change our behavior? Because surely it does; we are apt to behave differently when we feel we are alone or watched. What will our personal lives be like as so much more of them is made public?

The French philosopher Michel Foucault argues that constant surveillance has a devastating effect. It’s a subtle form of oppression. When we feel we are being watched, we are more self-conscious of our behavior, more likely to watch what we do and conform to what we think the surveyors want or expect. The hawks among us say this is a good thing: if you’re doing nothing wrong, what do you have to fear from a hummingbird drone? But it’s not as simple as that.

Constant surveillance, Foucault maintained, can be a kind of torture—a revelation implemented by 19th century prison architects. It’s also ideal for authoritarian government in that it’s a highly efficient form of power: authority doesn’t need to coerce individuals physically to behave a certain way; surveillance inserts authority’s eye inside the individual, and he monitors himself. Surveillance enables power to be anonymous, Foucault says, which is especially devastating. You don’t know exactly why you are being watched, or exactly what’s expected of you, and ultimately cultivates a kind of inbred paranoia where you are unsure and timid about everything you do.

Further, Foucault suggests, surveillance that is widely established in society softens the ground for overt political oppression, because it makes us less resistant to breaches of our rights.

This thought occurred to me following the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision to uphold the right of prison officials to strip-search anyone entering a prison facility, no matter how minor the offense. In the case in question, a man was strip-searched after being arrested for an unpaid fine; his arrest was mistaken—he had already paid the fine. The Supreme Court defended the right to strip-search him anyway. Clearly this would seem to undermine our cherished notion of presumed innocence, and it grievously offends our personal dignity. But such galling invasions of privacy, and disregard for personal dignity, become increasingly acceptable when we are already accustomed to them more broadly—all the time, in subtle ways.

The political problem with all this surveillance is obvious, if we’d care to admit it. The political authorities have so much more access to the details of our lives, and in the wrong hands, could do real harm. The only thing protecting us is the character of those in power who collect all this information—and swear they will do nothing objectionable with it. Regarding the new National Defense Authorization Act, which sanctions the president’s power to detain indefinitely or even assassinate US citizens suspected of involvement in terrorist organizations, Obama tried to allay fears by arguing that his administration will use discretion and judgment in exercising this power. What about subsequent administrations? Our founding fathers were highly concerned to design a government that was impervious to corruption by the character flaws of individual office holders. The War on Terror has steadily rendered us vulnerable to just that.

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Filed under News Commentary Surveillance Surveillance State US Citizens ACLU US Military Pentagon DHS

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Waking Up to the Drones

By Kelley B. Vlahos

Look at these photographs. See the eager faces among the children at the school — they could be anyone’s kids at any moment in America. And the baby, so precious and new, reflecting the light of his proud parents, the hope of everyone around him.

Now imagine that the school is attacked by Predator drones launching Hellfire missiles directly into the classrooms. The children are ripped to shreds where they sit on the carpet. Imagine that a similar flying machine, directed by an agent thousands of miles away in a windowless room, has targeted militants on the ground, but shrapnel from the blast slices through the walls of a nearby house, cutting into the crib where the sleeping baby lies unknowing, now eternal.

The very thought would tear the American mind asunder — on normal days, we worry almost neurotically whether our children are exposed to too many germs, eat too much junk food, are doing all the right things to get into college. We hand-wring over the clothes they wear, the video games they play, whether they are friendless and bullied, or sufficiently popular with their peers.

Pondering what attire to place on their little mutilated bodies before lowering them into the grave would be too much to bear. If this actually happened, there would be a conflagration of outrage in U.S cities and towns fearsome enough to build a funeral pyre to the sky.

Yet Pakistani and Yemeni adults face this merciless task all of the time from drone attacks they can neither control nor protest. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there have been upwards of 350 U.S. military and CIA drone strikes on Yemen and Pakistan since 2004, with the majority in Yemen (20 to 36) occurring in the last two months. As if their children were less valuable than our own, most Americans either ignore or remain passive-aggressively ignorant of the civilian carnage associated with these so-called “targeted strikes.”

Sadly, this has translated into broad public support of what has become the third post-9/11 American War following Iraq and Afghanistan — the Drone War. As coldly as the remote control technology behind these killing machines, Americans appear perfectly accepting of the most self-centered and weakest justifications: drones are making us safer at home, or, it is their fault for allowing the militants to hide among civilians.

Drones make for a cleaner, more precise war against the enemy.

A sizable group of human rights activists, law scholars and antiwar campaigners came together last weekend in Washington to not only turn that thinking completely on its head, but to formulate a strategy to stop the use of drones in warfare altogether. It is a herculean task, but aided in the fact that these groups already are engaged in a number of simultaneous lawsuits, Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests and field investigations with the goal of first bringing the brutal truth — perhaps their best weapon — to public light.

Syed Wali Shah, killed in an October 2008 airstrike in Waziristan

“The stories are really important to be told here, first of all, we have to see exactly what is going on the ground and what is happening to these people,” said Shahzad Akbar, who was finally able to obtain a travel visa to the U.S after repeatedly running into the brick wall of the “homeland security structure,” ostensibly because he is helping drone victims from Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) — the epicenter of the U.S strikes in Pakistan — file lawsuits against the CIA in Islamabad courts.

Akbar was a special guest of the weekend’s Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control, which was probably the first event of its kind and hopefully, not the last. It was sponsored by CODEPINK (led by Medea Benjamin, author of the new book, Drone Warfare), the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (represented by Akbar) and U.K.-based Reprieve (led by founder Clive Stafford Smith, an American lawyer who represents Guantanamo Bay detainees)

Akbar and others, like journalist Madiha Tahir, who is working on a documentary about the Waziristan victims, were able to bring disturbing photo images, video and personal testimony to the forum, more than a few times shocking the audience with the brutality of the injuries and the horror of knowing that many of these victims, so many of them children, never knew what hit them, the strikes came so fast.

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Filed under News Commentary Drones Antiwar CIA US Military FBI Killing Afghanistan Iraq

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