Archive for the ‘surveillance’ Category

Obama Expected to Replace Key National Intelligence Team

November 12, 2008

The nation’s top two intelligence officers expect to be replaced by President-elect Barack Obama early in his administration, according to senior intelligence officials.

A number of influential congressional Democrats oppose keeping Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael V. Hayden in their posts because both have publicly supported controversial Bush administration policies on interrogation and telephone surveillance. One Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee said there is a “consensus” view on the matter.

From left, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael V. Hayden testified on Capitol Hill in February about the annual threat assessment.

From left, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael V. Hayden testified on Capitol Hill in February about the annual threat assessment. (By Nikki Kahn — The Washington Post)

By Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung
The Washington Post

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Eliot Spitzer and The Belushi Syndrome

March 17, 2008

By Bill O’Reilly
The Washington Times
March 17, 2008

Let’s analyze the Eliot Spitzer situation without emotion because there are lessons to be learned here. First of all, Mr. Spitzer is obviously a smart guy, having graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School. So his conduct is perplexing in its stupidity.

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announces his resignation in ... 

Mr. Spitzer made his reputation as a tough prosecutor. He understood money transfer traces, wiretaps, informants and the rest of the law enforcement landscape. He also knew how to build cases against powerful people who were doing shady things.
So he was no huckster preacher trying to make bucks off God while privately playing games with the devil. And he was no Wilbur Mills, the Arkansas congressman who got drunk out of his mind with a stripper in the back seat of his limo. No, Mr. Spitzer is a completely different animal.
If you watch cable TV news, you will hear the braying pack talk about Mr. Spitzer’s arrogance, his “I’m above it all” mentality. But if you examine the facts, this shallow analysis doesn’t wash.
Mr. Spitzer had to know that repeated visits with people breaking the law — prostitutes — put him at enormous risk. At any time, any one of those ladies might have been arrested and, facing prosecution, could have easily offered authorities his name in return for all charges being dropped.
The ladies also could have blackmailed Mr. Spitzer, could have sold their stories about him to the tabloid media, could have done many things to destroy his life.
Then there’s the money. He knew wire transfers to offshore facilities are closely monitored as a part of terrorist surveillance. One of the ways the Bush administration has damaged al Qaeda has been to choke off its funding. Banks and the Internal Revenue Service closely watch money moved to and from the U.S.
Mr. Spitzer also knew that talking on the telephone to pimps, people setting up liaisons with prostitutes, left him open to being tapped — especially because the ladies for hire were being moved across state lines, which makes it a federal offense. Mr. Spitzer knew all of the above.
So you’re telling me that Eliot Spitzer thought he wouldn’t get caught? Sure, and I’m Paris Hilton.

No, what’s in play here is what I call the “Belushi Syndrome.” That’s when a famous person who has money and success subconsciously tries to destroy himself. You see it all the time — movie stars, athletes, politicians doing incredibly stupid stuff.
By all accounts, comedian John Belushi was repeatedly warned by his wife and closest friends that his rampant drug use could kill him. Nevertheless, he continued to take deadly combinations of heroin and cocaine, knowing the danger involved.
Death found him at age 33.

Dan Aykroyd (left) and John Belushi.

The Blues Brothers: Dan Aykroyd (left) and John Belushi..
Eliot Spitzer also knew the danger he was facing. But some kind of deep self-loathing propelled him to dismiss the inevitable. I mean, think about it: You are a sitting governor, spending tens of thousands of dollars on hookers? Come on. Maybe Caligula could get away with that, but not an American politician in a tabloid age.

This is not some dime-store psychoanalysis. There are many people walking around who are deeply self-destructive, and who will hurt themselves and others around them. That’s a fact.
A self-destructive, self-loathing personality will find a way to blow everything up, and it doesn’t matter what kind of career the person has. We all know people like this. Stay away from them.

Bill O’Reilly is a nationally syndicated columnist and the host of the Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor” and author of the book “Who’s Looking Out For You?”

Pakistan Shift Could Curtail Drone Strikes

February 22, 2008
WASHINGTON — American officials reached a quiet understanding with Pakistan’s leader last month to intensify secret strikes against suspected terrorists by pilotless aircraft launched in Pakistan, senior officials in both governments say. But the prospect of changes in Pakistan’s government has the Bush administration worried that the new operations could be curtailed.Among other things, the new arrangements allowed an increase in the number and scope of patrols and strikes by armed Predator surveillance aircraft launched from a secret base in Pakistan — a far more aggressive strategy to attack Al Qaeda and the Taliban than had existed before.

But since opposition parties emerged victorious from the parliamentary election early this week, American officials are worried that the new, more permissive arrangement could be choked off in its infancy. 

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Shot at satellite unlikely Wednesday: official

February 20, 2008
By Andrew Gray

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military does not anticipate trying to shoot apart a defunct spy satellite on Wednesday due to rough seas in the Pacific Ocean, a senior military official said.
The U.S. Navy may make its first attempt to shoot down an errant spy satellite loaded with toxic fuel overnight on Wednesday in an area of the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii, according to U.S. officials and government documents. REUTERS/Graphics 

The U.S. Navy may make its first attempt to shoot down an errant spy satellite loaded with toxic fuel overnight on Wednesday in an area of the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii, according to U.S. officials and government documents.

The official said that assessment could change but forecasts indicated the Pacific would not be calm enough for the operation. Under the Pentagon‘s plans, a Navy ship will fire a missile at the bus-sized satellite.

See the entire article and graphic:

Navy: Satellite in the Crosshairs

February 20, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 20, 2008

Three U.S. Navy ships have positioned themselves for an unprecedented mission: the execution of a dangerous satellite
about 150 miles above the earth.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates will decide when the U.S. Navy will shoot for the first time at the rogue and out of control satellite about to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere.

The satellite, USA 193, failed soon after launch in 2006.  The satellite contains about 1,000 pounds of dangerous hydrazine fuel.  Hydrazine is toxic to man and animals.

The Navy will use a modified SM-3 missile, a product of the Aegis ballistic missile defense weapons system, to shoot down the malfunctioning satellite.  Aegis BMD has been in development since the early 1990s.

Three ships are prepared for the mission: USS Lake Erie, USS Decatur, and USS Russell.  All have the Aegis BMD system, the SM-3 missile, and significant crew training and experience.

“We all have an agreed-upon series of steps that need to be taken for this launch to be given the go-ahead,” DoD spokesman Morrell said, adding that no final decision has been made on when to make the attempt.

“The [Defense] Secretary is the one who will decide if and when to pull the trigger,” the Mr. Morrell told us. 

The launch could take place as early as 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time tonight.

After Mr. Gates gives the go ahead, this mission rests in the hands of the men and women — the sailors — of the United States Navy.  Engineers and technologists completed their work long ago.  Now sailors will do their professional best — as they always do.

The best report on this mission we saw last night and this morning came from the Army Times and appears below:

By Zachary M. Peterson – Staff writer
Army Times
February 19, 2008  

Sailors aboard the cruiser Lake Erie could attempt the Navy’s first-of-its-kind missile shot to destroy a broken spy satellite as soon as Wednesday evening, officials said Tuesday.

The Navy will use a modified SM-3 missile, leveraging the Aegis ballistic missile defense weapons system to shoot down the malfunctioning satellite, which Defense Department officials fear could potentially shower hazardous debris on Earth.
This photo released by the US Navy in 2003 shows a Standard ... 
This photo released by the US Navy in 2003 shows a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) launching from the Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie. The US warship is moving into position to try to shoot down a defunct US spy satellite as early as Wednesday before it tumbles into the Earth’s atmosphere, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.
(AFP/Us Navy-HO/File) 

The launch could take place as early as 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

The missile does not contain a warhead — it destroys its target using the force of the impact.

The SM-3 is the same missile the Navy uses in its ballistic missile defense tests, but the three missiles modified for the satellite shoot-down have software alterations designed to hit the specific target, a Navy official told reporters Tuesday afternoon in a briefing at the Pentagon.

This picture released by the US Navy shows Fire Controlman 2nd ...
This picture released by the US Navy shows Fire Controlman 2nd Class John Whitby operating the radar system control during a ballistic missile defense drill on February 16 aboard the USS Lake Erie. The US warship is moving into position to try to shoot down a defunct US spy satellite as early as Wednesday before it tumbles into the Earth’s atmosphere, Pentagon officials said.
(AFP/US Navy-HO/Michael Hight)

The official requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the missile shot.

The National Geospatial Agency has issued an aircraft advisory warning aviators of hazardous operations in a large area of the North Pacific Ocean near Hawaii from 9:30 p.m. EST Wednesday evening to 12:00 a.m. Thursday setting off speculation that this will be the window the Navy uses to shoot down the satellite.

Ted Molczan, a satellite watcher who has been watching the failed spy satellite closely since its launch in 2006, has calculated it will pass directly over the area specified in the notifications for about three minutes around 10:30 p.m. EST Wednesday.

The cruiser Lake Erie will take the first shot, the official said. The ship is carrying one additional modified SM-3 as well. The destroyer Decatur will provide long-range surveillance and tracking and also has one modified SM-3 aboard, the Navy source said. A third ship, the destroyer Russell, will “likely” remain pierside in Hawaii to provide backup for the Decatur, another Navy source said.

The Military Sealift Command missile range instrumentation ship Observation Island will also collect data and monitor the shoot, officials added.

Ultimately, the Navy is equipped to take three shots at the satellite, but there will be some period of time in between them, according to the Pentagon.

Officials would not specify how long they would wait to try again if the first shot misses, nor would they reveal how often the broken satellite completes an orbit over the Earth.

A typical Aegis BMD test, in which a warship destroys a test ballistic rocket fired from a range in Hawaii, lasts between 20 and 80 seconds.

The Pentagon first became aware of the potentially dangerous re-entry of the satellite early this year, according to press reports. The satellite, known as USA 193, experienced problems upon launch in 2006 and is roughly the size of school bus, DoD officials confirmed.

It took the Navy about six weeks to make the necessary modifications to the missiles and radars to “take it to sea with some degree of confidence,” the Navy official said at Tuesday’s briefing.

The Navy had no prior capability to shoot down satellites and had previously “not explored that,” the source added.

The challenge for the Navy in hitting the satellite is the nature of the target, the official said. The satellite is “bigger and faster than a missile” and the target must be hit in the fuel tank, which remains full, the official said.

The Defense Department will send out a statement within an hour of the missile’s launch, but it could take a day or longer to determine if the fuel tank was hit, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Tuesday.

The satellite does not have its own heat signature, so operators must rely on the sun to warm the target.

The official described the orbiting satellite as a “cold body in space.”

Since January 2002, the Navy has a solid rate of success in its Aegis ballistic missile defense test program, hitting 12 of 14 targets so far.

The tests have increased in complexity, most recently boasting a success hit of a separating target last December.

The cost of the shoot down is unclear, but an Aegis ballistic missile defense tests costs around $40 million, the source said. One SM-3 missile costs about $10 million.

In this image provided by the US Navy a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) ...

 In this image provided by the US Navy a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) is launched from Pearl Harbor-based guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) to intercept a threat representative target as part of a Missile Defense Agency test of the sea-based capability under development on Nov. 6, 2007. Taking a page from Hollywood science fiction, the Pentagon said Thursday Feb. 14, 2008 it will try to shoot down a dying, bus-size U.S. spy satellite loaded with toxic fuel on a collision course with the Earth using a SM-3 missile. The military hopes to smash the satellite as soon as next week — just before it enters Earth’s atmosphere — with a single missile fired from a Navy cruiser in the northern Pacific Ocean. Software associated with the SM-3 has been modified to enhance the chances of the missile’s sensors recognizing that the satellite is its target.
(AP Photo/US Navy)Related:
Effort to Shoot Down Satellite Could Inform Military Strategy
U.S. Navy Setting Up To Kill Dangerous SatelliteChina: No to U.S. Missile Shot at Satellite
Russia Says U.S. Satellite May Be “Space Weapon” Test

AP Military Writer: Navy Satellite Shot is Controversial
U.S. Navy Missile Destroys Dangerous Satellite

Navy Could Shoot Satellite as Early as Wednesday, Today

February 20, 2008
Larger article moved to:
Navy: Satellite in the Crosshairs
In this Nov 17, 2005 picture provided by the U.S. Navy, a Standard ... 
In this Nov 17, 2005 picture provided by the U.S. Navy, a Standard Missile Three (SM-3) is launched from the vertical launch system aboard the Pearl Harbor-based Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie, during a joint Missile Defense Agency/U.S. Navy test in the Pacific Ocean. The government issued notices to aviators and mariners to remain clear of a section of the Pacific beginning at 10:30 p.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008 indicating the first window of opportunity to launch an SM-3 missile from the USS Lake Erie, in an effort to hit a crippled U.S. spy satellite.
(AP Photo/U.S. Navy) 

China, Surveillance of Chinese People, & U.S. Investors

September 19, 2007

By Harold Meyerson
The Washington Post
Wednesday, September 19, 2007; Page A23

The American economy may be teetering on the brink of a recession, but there’s an industry our hedge fund gurus believe has an almost limitless future: the Chinese police state.

In a stunning report in the New York Times last week, correspondent Keith Bradsher documented the rise of China’s electronic surveillance industry, whose leading companies have incorporated themselves in the United States and obtained the lion’s share of their capital from U.S. hedge funds. Though ostensibly private, these companies are a for-profit adjunct of the Chinese government.

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Cold War Redux?

August 22, 2007

By John E. Carey
For The Washington Times
August 22, 2007

Russia watchers and military analysts say some of Russia’s recent military moves speak louder than the words of Russia’s leaders.

But the words of President Vladimir Putin of Russia and others at the top of the Russian hierarchy have sent an icy chill though relations between Russia, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the U.S.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
Владимир Владимирович Путин
Vladimir Putin

In just the last week:

–Russia reinstituted long range bomber surveillance patrols of U.S. vital areas including the military installation at Guam and our aircraft carriers at sea. These are the first routine bomber patrols since the Cold War.

–Russia announced an intention to again deploy Russian naval forces to the Mediterranean Sea. This activity also is a return to Cold War-like military deployments and operations. The head of the Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Masorin said, “The Mediterranean is an important theater of operations for the Russian Black Sea Fleet. We must restore a permanent presence of the Russian Navy in this region.”

–Russia joined with China and several oil-rich Central Asian former Soviet Republics who are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), to conduct war game maneuvers.

For the first time ever, Russia hosted Chinese soldiers in peaceful yet provocative training exercised on Russian soil. The U.S. Embassies in Moscow and Beijing said the United States had requested participation in the events but were informed that any U.S. participation or observers would not be welcome.

–Finally, President Putin from Russia and President Hu Jintao of China participated in a multi-nation meeting of the SCO that included non-member luminaries such as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad took the opportunity to rant against the U.S. proposed deployment of missile defenses to Poland and the Czech Republic; a deployment also criticized by China and Russia. China and Russia have blocked attempts by the U.S., U.K. and France to sanction Iran in the U.N. for its nuclear program.

“Diplomacy between Russia and the West is increasingly being overshadowed by military gestures,” says Sergei Strokan, a foreign-policy expert with the independent daily Kommersant. “It’s clear that the Kremlin is listening more and more to the generals and giving them more of what they want.”

Said President Putin at the SCO’s largest annual gathering of regional leaders ever, “Year by year, the SCO is becoming a more substantial factor in ensuring security in the region,” he said. “Russia, like other SCO states, favors strengthening the multi-polar international system providing equal security and development potential for all countries. Any attempts to solve global and regional problems unilaterally have no future,” he added.

Ex-Soviet members of the SCO include Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan.

For more than two years the SCO, prompted largely by Russia, has called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from two member countries, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Uzbekistan evicted American forces that were supporting American and NATO operations in Afghanistan, but Kyrgyzstan still hosts a U.S. base. Russia also maintains a military base in Kyrgyzstan.

Much of regional wrangling and politics in Central Asia relates to oil. Russia’s new hubris and military activity is funded by recent oil wealth. China has an agreement to buy Russian oil and during this last week the leaders of China and Kazakhstan agreed to finance and build a network of pipelines to supply China with oil and gas from the Caspian Sea region.

“The SCO clearly wants the US to leave Central Asia; that’s a basic political demand,” says Ivan Safranchuk, Moscow director of the independent World Security Institute. “That’s one reason why the SCO is holding military exercises, to demonstrate its capability to take responsibility for stability in Central Asia after the US leaves.”

Believing that the U.S. too greatly dominates the post-Cold War world, Russia and China agreed to for a “strategic partnership.” The creation of the SCO in 2001 is a key part of that relationship. But the outreach by Russia and China to leaders like Iran’s Ahmadinejad has caused western analysts to refer to the SCO as the “club of dictators” or “OPEC with nukes.”

Moreover, a year’s worth of bellicose rhetoric from Mr. Putin worries many western observers.

Last February at the Annual Munich Conference on Security Policy, President Putin called American foreign policy “ruinous” in a speech reporters called a “scathing attack.”Mr. Putin also said the United States was a reckless “unipolar” power. He accused United States of making the world more dangerous by pursuing policies that led to war, ruin and insecurity.

America’s new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in a follow-up to Mr. Putin’s speech, “As an old Cold Warrior, one of yesterday’s speeches almost filled me with nostalgia for a less complex time. Almost..” He added: “One Cold War was quite enough.”

At the end of July, the secretary-general of NATO, Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said, “Nobody wants a new Cold War, neither the Russians nor NATO, nobody.” He urged Russia to abandon its “confrontational” rhetoric and join the Western allies to combat the common threats of terrorism and failed states.

Judging by Russian activities last week, it is not clear that Mr. Putin is listening.

John E. Carey is former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc. and a frequent contributor to the Washington Times.