Tag Archive: national security


 Bloomberg

NSA Said to Exploit Heartbleed Bug for Intelligence for Years

The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.

The agency’s reported decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government’s top computer experts. The NSA, after declining to comment on the report, subsequently denied that it was aware of Heartbleed until the vulnerability was made public by a private security report earlier this month.

“Reports that NSA or any other part of the government were aware of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability before 2014 are wrong,” according to an e-mailed statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Heartbleed appears to be one of the biggest flaws in the Internet’s history, affecting the basic security of as many as two-thirds of the world’s websites. Its discovery and the creation of a fix by researchers five days ago prompted consumers to change their passwords, the Canadian government to suspend electronic tax filing and computer companies including Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) to Juniper Networks Inc. to provide patches for their systems.

Photographer: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

A computer workstation bears the National Security Agency (NSA) logo inside the Threat… Read More

Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost. Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations’ intelligence arms and criminal hackers.

Controversial Practice

“It flies in the face of the agency’s comments that defense comes first,” said Jason Healey, director of the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former Air Force cyber officer. “They are going to be completely shredded by the computer security community for this.”

Experts say the search for flaws is central to NSA’s mission, though the practice is controversial. A presidential board reviewing the NSA’s activities after Edward Snowden’s leaks recommended the agency halt the stockpiling of software vulnerabilities.

 

 Read More Here

 

Related:

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Forbes

Larry Magid Contributor

NSA Denies Report It Knew About And Exploited Heartbleed For Years

Updated with NSA denial

Bloomberg is reporting that the National Security Agency knew about the Heartbleed flaw for at least two years and “regularly used it to gather critical intelligence,” according to two sources.

NSA denial

The NSA has denied the Bloomberg report. “Reports that NSA or any other part of the government were aware of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability before April 2014 are wrong. The Federal government was not aware of the recently identified vulnerability in OpenSSL until it was made public in a private sector cybersecurity report,” according to a blog post from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

NSA also tweets a denial

If the Bloomberg story is true, it would be a major bombshell that is certain to add fuel to the already contentious debate about the NSA’s role in surveillance. Last year it was reported that the NSA paid security firm RSA $10 million to intentionally weaken an encryption algorithm and had circumvented or cracked other encryption schemes. Reuters recently reported that “NSA infiltrated RSA security more deeply than thought.”

Bloomberg said that the NSA was able to use the Heartbleed flaw to obtain passwords and other user data.

Is NSA making us less secure?

 

Read More Here

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Edward J. Snowden, the N.S.A. leaker, speaking to European officials via videoconference last week. Credit Frederick Florin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Stepping into a heated debate within the nation’s intelligence agencies, President Obama has decided that when the National Security Agency discovers major flaws in Internet security, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage or cyberattacks, senior administration officials said Saturday.

But Mr. Obama carved a broad exception for “a clear national security or law enforcement need,” the officials said, a loophole that is likely to allow the N.S.A. to continue to exploit security flaws both to crack encryption on the Internet and to design cyberweapons.

The White House has never publicly detailed Mr. Obama’s decision, which he made in January as he began a three-month review of recommendations by a presidential advisory committee on what to do in response to recent disclosures about the National Security Agency.

But elements of the decision became evident on Friday, when the White House denied that it had any prior knowledge of the Heartbleed bug, a newly known hole in Internet security that sent Americans scrambling last week to change their online passwords. The White House statement said that when such flaws are discovered, there is now a “bias” in the government to share that knowledge with computer and software manufacturers so a remedy can be created and distributed to industry and consumers.

Caitlin Hayden, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said the review of the recommendations was now complete, and it had resulted in a “reinvigorated” process to weigh the value of disclosure when a security flaw is discovered, against the value of keeping the discovery secret for later use by the intelligence community.

“This process is biased toward responsibly disclosing such vulnerabilities,” she said.

Until now, the White House has declined to say what action Mr. Obama had taken on this recommendation of the president’s advisory committee, whose report is better known for its determination that the government get out of the business of collecting bulk telephone data about the calls made by every American. Mr. Obama announced last month that he would end the bulk collection, and leave the data in the hands of telecommunications companies, with a procedure for the government to obtain it with court orders when needed.

But while the surveillance recommendations were noteworthy, inside the intelligence agencies other recommendations, concerning encryption and cyber operations, set off a roaring debate with echoes of the Cold War battles that dominated Washington a half-century ago.

One recommendation urged the N.S.A. to get out of the business of weakening commercial encryption systems or trying to build in “back doors” that would make it far easier for the agency to crack the communications of America’s adversaries. Tempting as it was to create easy ways to break codes — the reason the N.S.A. was established by Harry S. Truman 62 years ago — the committee concluded that the practice would undercut trust in American software and hardware products. In recent months, Silicon Valley companies have urged the United States to abandon such practices, while Germany and Brazil, among other nations, have said they were considering shunning American-made equipment and software. Their motives were hardly pure: Foreign companies see the N.S.A. disclosures as a way to bar American competitors.

 

Read More Here

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“I’m Just a Mom!” Daphne Lee Gives Powerful Speech Against NDAA in Clark County, Nevada

PANDAuniteTV PANDAuniteTV

 

Published on Nov 24, 2013

After making her wait 8 hours, the Clark County Commission decided to hear Daphne Lee speak against the NDAA in Clark County, NV. What followed was one of the most powerful public comments in history.

Join the movement: http://www.pandaunite.org/takeback

PANDA NV’s Anti-NDAA Resolution, step one, will be on the Agenda Dec. 3rd at the Clark County Commission Meeting @ 9AM. If you’re in the area, please attend and give her support!

The PANDA (People Against the NDAA Mission Statement:

Our Mission is to nonviolently defeat, strike down, repeal, stop, void and fight the indefinite detention provisions, Sections 1021 and 1022, of the National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year of 2012, to fight for American civil liberties, to combat laws restricting liberty in the interest of National Security, to support current government officials that are doing so and to engage a younger generation in the politics of the United States so this cannot happen again.

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Egypt’s military-backed interim government has ordered police to end sit-in protests in Cairo by supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi, declaring them a threat to national security.

By News Wires (text)

Egypt’s cabinet Wednesday ordered a police crackdown on protests by ousted president Mohamed Morsi’s loyalists, as European envoys headed for Cairo to try to ease tensions between the army-installed government and Islamists.

The order to the interior minister raised the prospect of a dangerous showdown just days after 82 people were killed at a pro-Morsi protest in Cairo.

It came as diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful way out of Egypt’s crisis gathered pace, with the EU and Germany sending envoys to urge a peaceful resolution to the standoff.

Adding to the tensions, judicial sources said prosecutors had referred the Muslim Brotherhood’s fugitive supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, to trial for allegedly inciting the killing of protesters.

The cabinet’s announcement came in a statement that said pro-Morsi protest camps at two Cairo squares were posing a “threat to national security.”

“The continuation of the dangerous situation in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares, and consequent terrorism and road blockages, are no longer acceptable given the threat to national security,” it said.

“The government has decided to take all necessary measures to confront and end these dangers, and tasks the interior minster to do all that is necessary in this regard, in accordance with the constitution and law,” the statement said.

That was met with immediate defiance by the Islamists, who have been camped out for weeks calling for the reinstatement of Morsi, Egypt’s first Islamist president elected last year.

“Nothing will change,” said Gehad El-Haddad, a Brotherhood spokesman for the coalition protesting Morsi’s overthrow, dismissing the order as an “attempt to terrorise Egyptians.”

Reacting to the announcement, Washington urged Egypt to “respect the right of peaceful assemblies.”

“That obviously includes sit-ins,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.

Read More  and  Watch Video Here

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Pro-Morsi camps vow to stay despite Egypt government promise of safe exit

Muslim Brotherhood says promise of protection for supporters who leave before Cairo crackdown cannot be taken seriously

Link to video: Inside Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Protesters camped in Cairo in support of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi have pledged to remain in position despite the new government claiming they would be granted a safe exit if they left before a planned crackdown.

Egypt‘s interim cabinet mandated the country’s police force on Wednesday to disperse two pro-Morsi camps, which have each been in place for a month, prompting fears of a third state-led massacre of Morsi supporters in as many weeks.

On Thursday, the interior ministry encouraged the protesters to close the camps of their own accord by promising that any Morsi supporter who left before the police operation would be given safe passage.

“The interior ministry … calls on those in the squares of Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda to listen to the sound of reason, side with the national interest and quickly leave,” interior ministry spokesman Hany Abdel-Latif said in a televised statement.

“Whoever responds to this call will have a safe passage and protection,” he added.

But a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood said they could not take the government’s promise seriously, given the continuing crackdown against the Islamist grouping, many of whose members have been arrested since Morsi’s removal on 3 July.

Read More  and  Watch Video Here

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Anti-coup protesters to march on army headquarters in Cairo

Fri Aug 2, 2013 9:49PM GMT
Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi say they will march on two army headquarters in the capital Cairo.

The Anti-Coup Pro-Democracy Alliance, which is one of the largest political formations in Egypt, announced on Friday evening that it would organize marches on four security buildings, including two army headquarters, in Cairo.

The alliance also said that it planned to make Alf Maskan a new sit-in site in the capital.

The alliance was formed in response to the ouster of Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, in a military coup in early June.

Earlier in the day, thousands of anti-coup protesters held several demonstrations in and around Cairo.

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PROFILED: Does The FBI Consider You A Terrorist?

 

FBI command center

image courtesy of FBI.gov

Terrorism remains a major threat to national security in the United States. While citizens may appreciate the diligent efforts of the FBI to thwart more terrorist acts on American soil, the vast majority will be astounded by the list of common activities the federal agency considers possible terrorism indicators.
Many of the items on the FBI’s “What Should I Consider Suspicious?” agent training list are routine tasks for preppers, as well as the average American citizen.

The FBI terrorism lookout list

  1. Purchasing coffee with cash on a regular basis: Apparently citizens who prefer cash to accruing credit card debt or debit card fees are considered potential suspects. Until the 1950s, credit cards which could be used at more than one store did not even exist.  The Diners Club card was the first multiple location charge card and was geared towards salesmen and businessmen who often conducted meetings at restaurants and not the average family. The card was not made of plastic and had to be paid in full at the end of the month. American Express created the first plastic credit card in 1959. Initially, charges on the card were solely for entertainment and travel purposes, and the bill also had to be paid by the end of the month. A national credit card system was formed in 1966 by Bank of America. Cash was still king well into the 1970s. During this era of cyber hacking and identity theft, paying for coffee (or anything else) in cash is just good old-fashioned common sense.
  2. Paying cash for a rental car or a tattoo: Once again, merely opting to live within your budget and a desire to protect your identity from cyber hackers should not place Americans on an FBI watch list. Presumably, rental car agencies require a driver’s license before leasing a vehicle to anyone. Law enforcement officers often have a valid reason to review rental car records and tattoos related to a particular gang or group while investigating criminal cases… with a warrant, of course. While law-abiding and patriotic Americans do not want to place obstacles in front of officers and agents, we also do not want to be considered potential terrorism suspects simply because we opt to use cash for such activities. Searching through computer records is a tedious and time-consuming task. There is no reason to further clog up the process by tossing in all the names of thousands of citizens who just prefer to use cash and not credit cards.
  3. Taking inappropriate photos or videos: FBI agents surely should be made aware of individuals who appear to be doing surveillance of buildings, water plants, or various forms of infrastructure. Such surveillance could pose a threat to national security. There is a very fine line between possible surveillance and innocent picture or video taking. While questioning someone (and even requesting ID to run) who appears to be engaging in potential surveillance activity is understandable, Gestapo tactics should not be used when a citizen opts to shoot a video or take photos of any government office , facility, or piece of infrastructure for educational, professional, or sightseeing purposes.

terrorism suspicious activity

      4.

Being somewhere you “don’t belong”:

    Exactly who does not belong where involves quite a  subjective set of decision-making skills. Profiling is a necessary law enforcement skill, in my opinion. Profiling does not equate to racism, as liberals would like the general populace to believe. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are trained to quickly ascertain threats and size-up potential suspects encountered during the commission of a crime A border control agent looking for an illegal immigrant would be likely to carefully review a person of Hispanic descent as a possible suspect. All Hispanic folks encountered in a border town are obviously not illegal immigrants. Profiling training allows agents to differentiate between a possible suspect and the individual walking down the street. The manner in which the individual is treated when stopped or investigated determines whether or not civil rights violations occurred. The Department of Homeland Security presence at a Tea Party rally in front of an IRS officer recently illustrates how quickly an individual or group can be stereotyped or targeted based upon not a matching physical description, but a warped threat assessment. None of the Tea Party protestors were hampered during the demonstration, but the reason for the presence of federal agents was never explained. Perhaps it was a case of “being somewhere you do not belong.”

    Read Full Article Here

    Published on Mar 7, 2013

    Secret courts where secret evidence could be heard against defendants who don’t even have the right to appoint their own legal representatives could become a more common feature of British justice system if the government pushes through the controversial new Justice and Security bill. In heated debates in the House of Commons, a parliamentary majority ensured it took a step closer to becoming law despite passionate opposition. The government claims it is necessary on national security grounds but opponents of the bill say if passed, this signals real hypocrisy from the government. Despite a cross-party movement to try and block the passing of the bill, the Coalition has been accused of ‘railroading the plans through’ and stamping on centuries of tradition where the accused has the right to face the evidence against them.

    Amina Taylor , Press TV, London

    ……

    Hitting out: Ken Clarke accused Labour of trying to sabotage the Bill with its amendments

    04 March 2013

    Ken Clarke fought back against opposition to his plans for “secret courts” ahead of a series of Commons votes today.

    Mr Clarke has won support from David Blunkett, the former home secretary, and Lord Woolf, the former head of the judiciary, but there were signs that Liberal Democrat opponents could join Labour MPs to push through safeguards that the Government claims would make the Bill unworkable.

    The Justice and Security Bill would allow judges in civil cases to take evidence from spy agencies which would not be shown to other parties on national security grounds. Critics say it would lead to judgments being influenced without anyone knowing why.  But in a letter to The Times, Lord Woolf said: “The Bill now ensures that we will retain our standards of general justice, while also putting an end to the blindfolding of judges in this small number of cases.”

    Mr Clarke, the minister without portfolio, said: “Lord Woolf, the former Lord Chief Justice, has made clear that the Bill now gives the judge ‘complete control’ over the whole process.

    “Labour’s amendments are therefore simply opportunistic vandalism which if passed would prevent the courts from hearing these cases properly.”

    More than 100 prominent Liberal Democrats have written to MPs urging them to oppose the Bill on civil rights grounds and Labour insisted that their safeguards would ensure secret hearings were used only as a last resort.

    Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary, said: “The House of Lords vote to put in safeguards. This Government, secretly upstairs in the committee corridors of the House of Commons, removes the safeguards put in.”

    It emerged yesterday that more than £30 million has been spent on settling claims out of court and tens of millions more could be awarded in 20 other cases to avoid sensitive information being made public.

    Activist Post

    President Obama bypassed the Congress on Tuesday and signed the much maligned but anticipated cybersecurity executive order.

    He made the announcement during the State of the Union address, stating:

    ‘We know hackers steal people’s identities and infiltrate private email. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems,’ Obama said during his speech. ‘We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.’

    ‘That’s why, earlier today, I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy,’ Obama continued. ‘Now, Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks.’

    The privacy-killing cybersecurity legislation CISPA has failed to pass in the Senate in two votes last year which Obama called the “height of irresponsibility.”

    As usual, the executive action was “urgent” and “for our safety”. Yet, we already know that the government has already been using the powers vested in the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act through the secret Presidential Directive 20 and warrantless cooperation with private communications companies who may act with impunity.
    The lengthy executive order does not give federal agencies “new authority”, rather it just spells out more or less who’s in charge — which is the Department of Homeland Security of course:

    The cyber order gives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a lead role in establishing a voluntary program that encourages critical infrastructure operators to adopt the NIST and industry-developed cybersecurity framework, which is aimed at beefing up the security of their computer systems and networks. DHS will work with agencies, such as the Department of Energy, and industry councils to implement the cybersecurity best practices laid out in the framework, as well as identify possible ways to entice companies to join the voluntary program.  (Source: The Hill)

    Below is the entire Executive Order called Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity:

    By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

    Section 1. Policy. Repeated cyber intrusions into critical infrastructure demonstrate the need for improved cybersecurity. The cyber threat to critical infrastructure continues to grow and represents one of the most serious national security challenges we must confront. The national and economic security of the United States depends on the reliable functioning of the Nation’s critical infrastructure in the face of such threats. It is the policy of the United States to enhance the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure and to maintain a cyber environment that encourages efficiency, innovation, and economic prosperity while promoting safety, security, business confidentiality, privacy, and civil liberties. We can achieve these goals through a partnership with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure to improve cybersecurity information sharing and collaboratively develop and implement risk-based standards.

    Sec. 2. Critical Infrastructure. As used in this order, the term critical infrastructure means systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.

    Sec. 3. Policy Coordination. Policy coordination, guidance, dispute resolution, and periodic in-progress reviews for the functions and programs described and assigned herein shall be provided through the interagency process established in Presidential Policy Directive-1 of February 13, 2009 (Organization of the National Security Council System), or any successor.

    Sec. 4. Cybersecurity Information Sharing. (a) It is the policy of the United States Government to increase the volume, timeliness, and quality of cyber threat information shared with U.S. private sector entities so that these entities may better protect and defend themselves against cyber threats. Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security (the “Secretary”), and the Director of National Intelligence shall each issue instructions consistent with their authorities and with the requirements of section 12(c) of this order to ensure the timely production of unclassified reports of cyber threats to the U.S. homeland that identify a specific targeted entity. The instructions shall address the need to protect intelligence and law enforcement sources, methods, operations, and investigations.

    (b) The Secretary and the Attorney General, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, shall establish a process that rapidly disseminates the reports produced pursuant to section 4(a) of this order to the targeted entity. Such process shall also, consistent with the need to protect national security information, include the dissemination of classified reports to critical infrastructure entities authorized to receive them. The Secretary and the Attorney General, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, shall establish a system for tracking the production, dissemination, and disposition of these reports.

    (c) To assist the owners and operators of critical infrastructure in protecting their systems from unauthorized access, exploitation, or harm, the Secretary, consistent with 6 U.S.C. 143 and in collaboration with the Secretary of Defense, shall, within 120 days of the date of this order, establish procedures to expand the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program to all critical infrastructure sectors. This voluntary information sharing program will provide classified cyber threat and technical information from the Government to eligible critical infrastructure companies or commercial service providers that offer security services to critical infrastructure.

    (d) The Secretary, as the Executive Agent for the Classified National Security Information Program created under Executive Order 13549 of August 18, 2010 (Classified National Security Information Program for State, Local, Tribal, and Private Sector Entities), shall expedite the processing of security clearances to appropriate personnel employed by critical infrastructure owners and operators, prioritizing the critical infrastructure identified in section 9 of this order.

    (e) In order to maximize the utility of cyber threat information sharing with the private sector, the Secretary shall expand the use of programs that bring private sector subject-matter experts into Federal service on a temporary basis. These subject matter experts should provide advice regarding the content, structure, and types of information most useful to critical infrastructure owners and operators in reducing and mitigating cyber risks.

    Sec. 5. Privacy and Civil Liberties Protections. (a) Agencies shall coordinate their activities under this order with their senior agency officials for privacy and civil liberties and ensure that privacy and civil liberties protections are incorporated into such activities. Such protections shall be based upon the Fair Information Practice Principles and other privacy and civil liberties policies, principles, and frameworks as they apply to each agency’s activities.

    (b) The Chief Privacy Officer and the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shall assess the privacy and civil liberties risks of the functions and programs undertaken by DHS as called for in this order and shall recommend to the Secretary ways to minimize or mitigate such risks, in a publicly available report, to be released within 1 year of the date of this order. Senior agency privacy and civil liberties officials for other agencies engaged in activities under this order shall conduct assessments of their agency activities and provide those assessments to DHS for consideration and inclusion in the report. The report shall be reviewed on an annual basis and revised as necessary. The report may contain a classified annex if necessary. Assessments shall include evaluation of activities against the Fair Information Practice Principles and other applicable privacy and civil liberties policies, principles, and frameworks. Agencies shall consider the assessments and recommendations of the report in implementing privacy and civil liberties protections for agency activities.

    (c) In producing the report required under subsection (b) of this section, the Chief Privacy Officer and the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of DHS shall consult with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and coordinate with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

    (d) Information submitted voluntarily in accordance with 6 U.S.C. 133 by private entities under this order shall be protected from disclosure to the fullest extent permitted by law.

    Sec. 6. Consultative Process. The Secretary shall establish a consultative process to coordinate improvements to the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure. As part of the consultative process, the Secretary shall engage and consider the advice, on matters set forth in this order, of the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council; Sector Coordinating Councils; critical infrastructure owners and operators; Sector-Specific Agencies; other relevant agencies; independent regulatory agencies; State, local, territorial, and tribal governments; universities; and outside experts.

    Sec. 7. Baseline Framework to Reduce Cyber Risk to Critical Infrastructure. (a) The Secretary of Commerce shall direct the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (the “Director”) to lead the development of a framework to reduce cyber risks to critical infrastructure (the “Cybersecurity Framework”). The Cybersecurity Framework shall include a set of standards, methodologies, procedures, and processes that align policy, business, and technological approaches to address cyber risks. The Cybersecurity Framework shall incorporate voluntary consensus standards and industry best practices to the fullest extent possible. The Cybersecurity Framework shall be consistent with voluntary international standards when such international standards will advance the objectives of this order, and shall meet the requirements of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act, as amended (15 U.S.C. 271 et seq.), the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-113), and OMB Circular A-119, as revised.

     

    Read Full Article Here

    Published on Feb 6, 2013

    The UK government is said to be considering the use of special ‘black boxes’ – to record people’s internet activities – all in the name of national security. But the plans have got privacy advocates up in arms. Emma Carr, the deputy director of Big Brother Watch organisation, says the proposal must be further studied before being applied.

    Nuclear Power Truths

    Reactor unit 4 at the after the

    Reactor unit 4 at the after the (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Fukushima Update: Unit 4 Is Sinking … Unevenly

    … And May Begin Tilting

    The spent fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4 is the top short-term threat to humanity, and is a national security issue for America.

    As such, it is disturbing news that the ground beneath unit 4 is sinking.

    Specifically, Unit 4 sunk 36 inches right after the earthquake, and has sunk another 30 inchessince then.

    Moreover, Unit 4 is sinking unevenly, and the building may begin tilting.

    An international coalition of nuclear scientists and non-profit groups are calling on the U.N. to coordinate a multi-national effort to stabilize the fuel pools. And see this.

    Given the precarious situation at Unit 4, it is urgent that the world community pool its scientific resources to come up with a fix.

    Politics, Legislation and Economy News

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    I wonder if  the  People of the  United  States  understand  that  with  the permanency  of  this “War on  Terror”, comes the permanency  of the  NDAA as well. The  war  has  been brought  home with a  vengeance without  even one  shot being  fired………

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    Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists

    Video: Over the past few years, the Obama administration has institutionalized the use of armed drones and developed a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war.

    By , Published: October 23

    Editor’s note: This project, based on interviews with dozens of current and former national security officials, intelligence analysts and others, examines evolving U.S. counterterrorism policies and the practice of targeted killing. This is the first of three stories.

    Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

    The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.

    Graphic

    The process behind targeted killing

    Click Here to View Full Graphic Story

    The process behind targeted killing

    Graphic

    Explore documented drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia

    Click Here to View Full Graphic Story
    Although the matrix is a work in progress, the effort to create it reflects a reality setting in among the nation’s counterterrorism ranks: The United States’ conventional wars are winding down, but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years.

    Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaeda continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight.

    “We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us,” a senior administration official said. “It’s a necessary part of what we do. . . . We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America.’ ”

    That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism. Targeting lists that were regarded as finite emergency measures after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are now fixtures of the national security apparatus. The rosters expand and contract with the pace of drone strikes but never go to zero.

    Meanwhile, a significant milestone looms: The number of militants and civilians killed in the drone campaign over the past 10 years will soon exceed 3,000 by certain estimates, surpassing the number of people al-Qaeda killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

    The Obama administration has touted its successes against the terrorist network, including the death of Osama bin Laden, as signature achievements that argue for President Obama’s reelection. The administration has taken tentative steps toward greater transparency, formally acknowledging for the first time the United States’ use of armed drones.

    Less visible is the extent to which Obama has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war. Spokesmen for the White House, the National Counterterrorism Center, the CIA and other agencies declined to comment on the matrix or other counterterrorism programs.

    Privately, officials acknowledge that the development of the matrix is part of a series of moves, in Washington and overseas, to embed counterterrorism tools into U.S. policy for the long haul.

    White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is seeking to codify the administration’s approach to generating capture/kill lists, part of a broader effort to guide future administrations through the counterterrorism processes that Obama has embraced.

     

    CIA Director David H. Petraeus is pushing for an expansion of the agency’s fleet of armed drones, U.S. officials said. The proposal, which would need White House approval, reflects the agency’s transformation into a paramilitary force, and makes clear that it does not intend to dismantle its drone program and return to its pre-Sept. 11 focus on gathering intelligence.

    The U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, which carried out the raid that killed bin Laden, has moved commando teams into suspected terrorist hotbeds in Africa. A rugged U.S. outpost in Djibouti has been transformed into a launching pad for counterterrorism operations across the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.

     

    Graphic

    The process behind targeted killing

    Click Here to View Full Graphic Story

    The process behind targeted killing

    Graphic

    Explore documented drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia

    Click Here to View Full Graphic Story

    Explore documented drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia

    JSOC also has established a secret targeting center across the Potomac River from Washington, current and former U.S. officials said. The elite command’s targeting cells have traditionally been located near the front lines of its missions, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. But JSOC created a “national capital region” task force that is a 15-minute commute from the White House so it could be more directly involved in deliberations about al-Qaeda lists.

    The developments were described by current and former officials from the White House and the Pentagon, as well as intelligence and counterterrorism agencies. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

    These counterterrorism components have been affixed to a legal foundation for targeted killing that the Obama administration has discussed more openly over the past year. In a series of speeches, administration officials have cited legal bases, including the congressional authorization to use military force granted after the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as the nation’s right to defend itself.

    Critics contend that those justifications have become more tenuous as the drone campaign has expanded far beyond the core group of al-Qaeda operatives behind the strikes on New York and Washington. Critics note that the administration still doesn’t confirm the CIA’s involvement or the identities of those who are killed. Certain strikes are now under legal challenge, including the killings last year in Yemen of U.S.-born al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son.

    Counterterrorism experts said the reliance on targeted killing is self-perpetuating, yielding undeniable short-term results that may obscure long-term costs.

    “The problem with the drone is it’s like your lawn mower,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and Obama counterterrorism adviser. “You’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.”

     

    An evolving database

    The United States now operates multiple drone programs, including acknowledged U.S. military patrols over conflict zones in Afghanistan and Libya, and classified CIA surveillance flights over Iran.

    Strikes against al-Qaeda, however, are carried out under secret lethal programs involving the CIA and JSOC. The matrix was developed by the NCTC, under former director Michael Leiter, to augment those organizations’ separate but overlapping kill lists, officials said.

    Explore documented drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia

     

     

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    Politics, Legislation and Economy News

    Legislation  :  Security – Politics – Budget Cuts

    Jason Chaffetz Admits House GOP Cut Funding For Embassy Security: ‘You Have To Prioritize Things’

    The Huffington Post  |  By

    Jason Chaffetz Embassy Cuts

    Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) voted to cut back on funds for embassy security. (AP Photo/J. Scott)

    Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) acknowledged on Wednesday that House Republicans had consciously voted to reduce the funds allocated to the State Department for embassy security since winning the majority in 2010.

    On Wednesday morning, CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien asked the Utah Republican if he had “voted to cut the funding for embassy security.”

    “Absolutely,” Chaffetz said. “Look we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have…15,000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, a private army there, for President Obama, in Baghdad. And we’re talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces. When you’re in tough economic times, you have to make difficult choices. You have to prioritize things.”

    For the past two years, House Republicans have continued to deprioritize the security forces protecting State Department personnel around the world. In fiscal year 2011, lawmakers shaved $128 million off of the administration’s request for embassy security funding. House Republicans drained off even more funds in fiscal year 2012 — cutting back on the department’s request by $331 million.

    Consulate personnel stationed in Benghazi had allegedly expressed concerns over their safety in the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks that killed four Americans, including Amb. Chris Stevens. Chaffetz and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, claim those concerns were ignored.

    “It seems to be a coordinated effort between the White House and the State Department, from Secretary [Hillary] Clinton to President Obama’s White House,” Chaffetz told Fox and Friends on Tuesday.

     

    Charlene R. Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary for diplomatic security admits she turned down requests for more security in Benghazi

     

    Chaffetz and Issa co-signed a letter to the State Department, demanding answers on to the Benghazi security detail. State Department officials and other witnesses will testify before the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations on Wednesday.

    Ahead of the hearing, some Democrats claim that partisanship and campaigning are corrupting the Libyan investigation, The New York Times reports. The charges come as some GOP members attempt to frame the incident as a failure of the Obama’s foreign policy and to call criticize the administration for engaging in a “cover-up” of what really occurred.