International agreement reached controlling export of mass and intrusive surveillance technology – Edin Omanovic – December 9, 2013

Two new categories of surveillance systems were added into the dual-use goods and technologies control list of the Wassenaar Arrangement last week in Vienna, recognising for the first time the need to subject spying tools used by intelligence agencies and law enforcement to export controls. …

“Intrusion Software”

The UK proposal was aimed at controlling what they called “Advanced Persistent Threat Software and related equipment (offensive cyber tools)”. It’s now clear that what they meant by this is malware and rootkits, which governments can use to extract data from and take control of a device.

The term used “intrusion software”, echoes the “offensive IT intrusion” marketing lines used by FinFisher and others and defines itself as:

“Software” specially designed or modified to avoid detection by ‘monitoring tools’, or to defeat ‘protective countermeasures’, of a computer or network capable device, and performing any of the following:
a. The extraction of data or information, from a computer or network capable device, or the modification of system or user data; or
b. The modification of the standard execution path of a program or process in order to allow the execution of externally provided instructions.

“IP network surveillance systems”

The French proposal targeting “IP network surveillance systems” is likely to be aimed at controlling general traffic analysis systems such as Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) items, which can classify and collect information flowing through a network. IP (Internet protocol) is one of the core standards upon which today’s communications infrastructure is built. Today IP networks are used to carry information from all our network devices including laptops and mobiles right the way around the world. Your online searches, emails and VoIP calls all transmit through these networks and protocols. The interception of these communications lies at the heart of many mass surveillance systems. …

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US aims to boost combat manhunt precision

May 22, 2013

US to boost military manhunt capabilities with RFID satellites

The US military is planning to launch a new, efficient method of sending small satellites into space which will dramatically boost soldiers’ ability to locate, track and eventually annihilate potential enemies.

The military has spent years quietly developing and implementing radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to track Taliban leaders, suspected terrorists, and other perceived enemies. Tribesmen in the Middle East are paid to “plant the electronic devices” on the intended targets or the targets’ home, according to a 2009 report in The Guardian.

The device can be tracked to within three feet of its location, providing targeting co-ordinates that have become integral in launching drone strikes.

“Transmitters make a lot of sense to me,” former CIA case officer Robert Baer told Wired in 2009. “It is simply not possible to train a Pashtun from Waziristan to go to a targeted site, case it, and come back to Peshawar or Islamabad with anything like an accurate report. The best you can hope for it they’re putting the transmitter right on the house.”

The United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) will advance that strategy with the September rocket launch from Wallops, Virginia. Attached to the sides of the rocket will be eight devices that will be dispersed 300 miles above Earth then act as beacons for US intelligence. …

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Threat from within: U.S. military braced for surge in Taliban ‘insider’ attacks

Washington Times
By Bill Gertz
May 21, 2013

Taliban insurgents recently vowed to carry out new “infiltration” attacks aimed at killing and demoralizing U.S., allied, and Afghan military forces as part of the spring military offensive, according to U.S. officials.

The expected increase in what the Pentagon calls “insider” attacks by Taliban sympathizers or infiltrators followed an April 27 statement by the Islamist terror group.

It was the first time the Taliban identified insider attacks as a key tactic.

U.S. military officials have said the Taliban shifted to insider attacks as U.S. and allied forces became more adept at countering improvised explosive devices—deadly roadside bombs that have killed and injured hundreds during the 12-year war.

Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Bill Speaks said the military is aware of the threat.

“As we approach the traditional fighting season, the frequency of insider attacks is likely to increase,” Speaks said. “But we will not allow this insidious tactic to erode our will to complete the mission or hinder our partnership with the [Afghan National Security Forces] in defeating those who threaten Afghanistan’s future.”

Sixty-two coalition troops were killed in 46 attacks in 2012, Speaks said, noting that from 2007 to 2011, 42 insider attacks resulted in 69 coalition deaths. A total of 34 Americans were killed by the method last year. …

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At least 2,091 US military deaths in Afghanistan since 2001

Washington Post
By Associated Press
May 21, 2013

As of Tuesday, May 21, 2013, at least 2,091 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.

The AP count is one less than the Defense Department’s tally, last updated Tuesday at 10 a.m. EDT.

At least 1,732 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.

Outside of Afghanistan, the department reports at least 124 more members of the U.S. military died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of those, 11 were the result of hostile action.

The AP count of total OEF casualties outside of Afghanistan is four more than the department’s tally.

The Defense Department also counts three military civilian deaths.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 18,535 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. …

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Shadows of dishonor cast on the U.S. military

Kansas City Star
By Donald Bradley and Rick Montgomery
May 20, 2013

A military judge last week found Army Sgt. John Russell guilty of gunning down five fellow soldiers at a base in Iraq.

Victims’ family members hugged and wept at the verdict. Russell stood quietly, head down.

Friends and family say he was “combat stressed” by a third tour. “Snapped,” they say. He should have been sent home.

Prosecutors argued that Russell was angry about not getting a mental disability discharge and took out revenge.

What do you think?

Is the respect that America holds for its military — a pride shown Saturday in Armed Forces Day observances — being undercut by acts of mayhem, a growing sexual abuse scandal and a flurry of other misconduct cases grabbing headlines?

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US robots, Israeli drones to help make 2014 World Cup in Brazil ‘one of safest sporting events ever’

May 19, 2013

Brazil has added 30 US military robots to the Israeli drones and ‘Robocop-style’ glasses with face recognition cameras to its arsenal after the country allocated $900 million to make 2014 World Cup “one of the most protected sports events in history.”

The 30 PackBot 510 units, which usually cost between $100,000 and $200,000 apiece, will arrive in Brazil as part of the $7.2 million deal the country signed with American iRobot advanced technology company. The contracts include services, spare parts and associated equipment.

“IRobot continues its international expansion, and Brazil represents an important market for the company’s unmanned ground vehicles,” Frank Wilson, iRobot’s senior vice president, said in a statement. “IRobot is excited to be providing the company’s state-of-the-art robotic technologies to Brazil as the country prepares for several high profile international events, including the 2014 FIFA World Cup.”

The first real test for the PackBots will be the visit of Pope Franics to Brazil this July, with the country also looking to use the robots during the Rio Olympics in 2016.

The PackBots are equipped with cameras and are operated remotely in order to detect and examine suspicious objects or explore dangerous environments, while keeping their operators safe from harm. …

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Pentagon Plans East Coast Missile Defense Sites
by Kris Osborn
May 9, 2013

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is evaluating potential missile-defense sites on the East Coast to fortify existing interceptor locations in Alaska and California.

“The effort has started in terms of defining criteria and evaluating sites,” Navy Vice Adm. James Syring, the agency’s director, said during a May 9 hearing of the Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee. “Some of the criteria that will be finalized and approved includes assessments of things such as booster drop zones, proximity to populations and the overall operational efficacy of the site.”

Senior Pentagon leaders told lawmakers that three or more locations may be identified, in accordance with last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which specified the need to explore a third U.S.-based interceptor location.

“The MDA is currently in the process of developing criteria to identify a candidate list of sites. From a candidate list of sites there will be a narrowing down to at least three. [Environmental impact statements] will be completed for all of those. Should there be a decision that we need an East Coast site, this would allow an acceleration of the time that we would need,” said Madelyn Creedon, assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs.

Discussion of a third U.S. site comes after the Pentagon announced that 14 more ground-based interceptors, or GBIs, will be added to the arsenal in Fort Greely, Alaska. The $1 billion effort, to be completed by 2017, will bring the total number of GBIs at Fort Greely and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., from 30 up to 44. …

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Growing Threat To US As Enemies Acquiring More Ballistic Missiles, Senate Told

RTT News
May 10, 2013

Senior U.S. defense officials underscored the importance of ballistic missile defense modernization efforts requested in the fiscal 2014 budget proposal citing disturbing trends in Iran, North Korea, Syria and elsewhere around the globe.

“The threat continues to grow as our potential adversaries are acquiring a greater number of ballistic missiles, increasing their range and making them more complex, survivable, reliable and accurate,” Navy Vice Adm. J.D. Syring, Director of the Missile Defense Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a testimony on Thursday.

“The missile defense mission is becoming more challenging as potential adversaries incorporate [ballistic missile defense] countermeasures,” he reported.

Syring said the Missile Defense Agency “is engaged either bilaterally or multilaterally with nearly two dozen countries and international organizations,” including NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council. He reported “good progress in our work with our international partners.”

The budget requests $9.2 billion in fiscal 2014 and $45.7 billion over future years to develop and deploy missile defense capabilities.

Madelyn Creedon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for global strategic affairs, told the panel that these capabilities would both protect the U.S. homeland and strengthen regional missile defenses.

The administration remains committed to developing proven and cost-effective missile defense capabilities through the phased advance approach to regional missile defense, Creedon noted in her written statement.

“This approach puts emphasis on a flexible military toolkit with forces that are mobile and scalable. They underwrite deterrence in peacetime, but can be surged in crisis to meet defense requirements,” she said. …

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Japan protests to China over Okinawa claim

Channel News Asia
May 9, 2013

Japan has lodged a diplomatic protest with China over an article in a state-run publication that challenged Japan’s ownership of Okinawa, home to major US bases, officials said Thursday.

Japan has lodged a diplomatic protest with China over an article in a state-run publication that challenged Japan’s ownership of Okinawa, home to major US bases, officials said Thursday.

The People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, on Wednesday published a call for a review of Japan’s sovereignty over Okinawa, suggesting that Beijing may be the rightful owner.

The call came as the two countries are already at loggerheads over islands in the East China Sea.

“We have protested both in Tokyo and Beijing over the commentary issued by the People’s Daily, followed by a Chinese foreign ministry comment,” a Japanese foreign ministry official in charge of Chinese affairs told AFP.

“We told them that if the Chinese government shares the position of casting doubt about Japan’s ownership of Okinawa, we would never accept it and firmly protest at it,” he said.

“The Chinese side replied to us that the view in the commentary was solely held by researchers,” he added.

The lengthy article in the People’s Daily argued that the country may have rights to the Ryukyu chain, which includes Okinawa. …

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Karzai, uneasy about neighboring Pakistan’s role, says US can keep 9 bases in Afghanistan

Washington Post
By Associated Press
May 9, 2013

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has irked Washington with his frequent criticism of American military operations in his country, said Thursday that his government is now ready to let the U.S. have nine bases across Afghanistan after most foreign troops withdraw in 2014.

A border spat with Pakistan and a desire to test public opinion led Karzai to break months of public silence on this issue, according to Afghan analysts. They said Karzai is concerned that Pakistan is using the Taliban to give it greater leverage, and that he wants to find out if Afghans, tired of 12 years of war, will support that size of a U.S. military footprint.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that the U.S. “does not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan.” The U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014 would be “only at the request of the Afghan government,” Carney said. …

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