US To Sell Saudis 355 Missiles To Be Used In The War On Yemen

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(PressTV)The US Defense Department has awarded major weapons maker Raytheon to provide the Persian Gulf Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with 355 air-to-ground missiles amid its persisting campaign of aerial strikes against civilian and economic targets in neighboring Yemen.

According to a Pentagon announcement cited Saturday by the Russia-based Sputnik News, in a $180-million contract assigned to the arms manufacturer, Raytheon is to deliver the AGM-154 series missiles to the Saudi regime in a move clearly regarded as a bid to support the aerial strikes against Yemen.

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US Encircling Russia with Bioweapons Labs, Covertly Spreads Them

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(RT) The US is obstructing international efforts to eradicate biological weapons, seeking to involve other nations covertly in research on weaponized diseases, Moscow charged. America’s record of handling bioweapons is poor.

The accusations of mishandling biological weapons voiced by the Russian Foreign Ministry refer to a recent report that the US military shipped live anthrax by mistake. Last week, the Pentagon admitted sending samples of the highly dangerous disease to at least 51 labs in 17 US states and three foreign countries.

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Five Little Known Facts About The Pentagon

By: Andrew V Pontbriand
9/14/2013

The Pentagon to most people is simply the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense. This megalithic structure and its 5,100,00 feet of reinforced concrete, with 17 miles of hallway corridors remains as one of the worlds largest office building on the planet. However, there are some facts the public are completely unaware of about the Pentagon. Continue reading

Cheney Admits that He Lied about 9/11

 

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(Washington’s Blog) -What Else Did He Lie About?

The New York Times’ Maureen Daud writes today:

In a documentary soon to appear on Showtime, “The World According to Dick Cheney,” [Cheney said]  “I got on the telephone with the president, who was in Florida, and told him not to be at one location where we could both be taken out.” Mr. Cheney kept W. flying aimlessly in the air on 9/11 while he and Lynn left on a helicopter for a secure undisclosed location, leaving Washington in a bleak, scared silence, with no one reassuring the nation in those first terrifying hours.

“I gave the instructions that we’d authorize our pilots to take it out,” he says, referring to the jet headed to Washington that crashed in a Pennsylvania field. He adds: “After I’d given the order, it was pretty quiet. Everybody had heard it, and it was obviously a significant moment.”

***

When they testified together before the 9/11 Commission, W. and Mr. Cheney kept up a pretense that in a previous call, the president had authorized the vice president to give a shoot-down order if needed. But the commission found “no documentary evidence for this call.”

In other words, Cheney pretended that Bush had authorized a shoot-down order, but Cheney now admits that he never did.  In fact, Cheney acted as if he was the president on 9/11.

Cheney lied about numerous other facts related to 9/11 as well.  For example, Cheney:

Pentagon Inks Deal for Smartphone Tool That Scans Your Face, Eyes, Thumbs

 

 

(Wired) -In a few years, the soldier, marine or special operator out on patrol might be able to record the facial features or iris signature of a suspicious person all from his or her smartphone — and at a distance, too.

The Defense Department has awarded a $3 million research contract to California-based AOptix to examine its “Smart Mobile Identity” biometrics identification package, Danger Room has learned. At the end of two years of research to validate the concepts of what the company built, AOptix will provide the Defense Department with a hardware peripheral and software suite that turns a commercially available smartphone into a device that scans and transmits data from someone’s eyes, face, thumbs and voice.

“They’ve asked us, based on what they’ve seen of our product, to work on some more specific needs and requirements for DoD,” Chuck Yort, AOptix’s vice president for identity solutions, tells Danger Room. Data security for the system will be provided by partner CACI International, which shares in the $3 million contract, which will be officially announced Wednesday morning.

Currently, U.S. troops rely on a single-use device, known as the Handheld Interagency Identity Detection System (HIIDE), to scan, upload and transmit data from someone’s facial, eye or thumb features to its wartime biometrics databases. The HIIDE, shown below, looks a bit like the camera Hipstamatic uses for its logo, and troops who want to operate it need to bring it close to the faces and thumbs of the people they scan.

 

The hardware AOptix has developed isn’t itself a phone. It’s a peripheral that wraps around a phone to enable the additional sensing capabilities necessary to acquire the biometric data. AOptix was hesitant to describe the peripheral, but supposedly it won’t impact the phone’s form factor, and the company swears a smartphone bulked up with its sensing dongle will weigh under a pound. Unlike HIIDE, it’ll only take one hand to operate.

Outside of the add-on, the computational power of the smartphone is supposed to enable the software package that AOptix built — and displayed at a September conference in Tampa partially sponsored by the National Security Agency. The company won’t say what operating system Smart Mobile Identity it’s configured to run on, but the Defense Department tends to like the relative cheapness and open architecture of Android devices. Yort promises the software will have a “very intuitive interface that leverages smartphone conventions.”

Smart Mobile Identity has limited ability to record biometric data at a distance, but its specs outperform the HIIDE camera. It scans faces at up to two meters away, irises from one meter, and voice from within the typical distance from a phone. Thumbprints will still require a finger against the reinforced glass face of the phone. Joey Pritikin, another AOptix executive, says that an additional advantage of the system is its ability to capture an iris in bright sunlight, which is a challenge for HIIDE and other biometrics device. Apparently the system will also be able to snap an image of someone’s face or eye once the phone running the software focuses on it, without a specific click, swipe or press.

AOptix is also cagey about which part of the Defense Department inked the deal with the company. (Pentagon officials didn’t respond to requests for additional information.) But since AOptix and CACI are supposed to deliver Smart Mobile Identity after 24 months of research, its most likely application would be for special operations forces, who after the 2014 completion of the troop drawdown from Afghanistan will be doing the majority of patrolling in places where biometric ID collection on a mobile device will be relevant.

It’s worth noting that even though the military is backing away from foot patrols in warzones, it’s not backing away from biometric data acquisition — far from it. The U.S. Central Command has held on to the biometric database of three million people it compiled during the Iraq war. And Darpa-funded projects are already working on biometric identifier devices that can scan irises and even fingerprints from further distances than Smart Mobile Identity — to say nothing of next-gen biometrics projects that can scan thearea around your eye, your odor, and even the way you walk.

It’ll be a very long time before any of those detection systems can run on a phone, however. And even with the Defense Department’s budget crunch, the Army and now the Navy are showing interest in equipping their troops with smartphone and smartphone-like devices. Enabling them to scan someone’s physical features with the same device may not be a step too far.

Despite curbs on target killings, CIA to get free hand in Pakistan

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WASHINGTON: The Obama administration is finalising a rule book for target killings but these restrictions will not apply to Pakistan where the CIA will be free to direct drone strikes in Fata.

The classified manual, called a counter-terrorism “playbook”, sets out stringent rules for targeted killings and details the process of adding names to the so-called “kill list”.

But it “leaves open a major exemption for the CIA’s campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan”, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

The CIA would have this freedom for “less than two years but more than one” because its drone strategy had been very effective in weakening pro-Taliban militants, the Post reported.

The CIA is expected to give the US ambassador to Pakistan advance notice on strikes. But in practice, the agency exercises near complete control over the names on its target list and decisions on strikes.

But once the CIA achieved its targets in Fata, the rule book would also be applied to Pakistan, the Post reported.

The document will be submitted to President Barack Obama within weeks for final approval once some minor issues are resolved.

The rule book marks the culmination of a year-long effort by the administration to codify its counter-terrorism policies and create a guide for lethal operations through President Obama’s second term.

The Post noted that the ‘institutionalisation’ of such a practice “would have seemed anathema to many before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”

The book covers the process for adding names to the kill list, legal principles for targeting US citizens and the sequence of approvals required when the CIA or US military conduct drone strikes outside war zones.

The Post reported that disagreements among the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon on the criteria for lethal strikes nearly derailed the new strategy late last year.

“Granting the CIA a temporary exemption for its Pakistan operations was described as a compromise that allowed officials to move forward with other parts of the playbook,” the Post noted.

The decision to allow the CIA strikes to continue was driven by concern that the window for weakening Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan was beginning to close, as the US prepares to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

President Obama’s national security team agreed to the CIA compromise in late December during a meeting of top national security officials that was led by White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, who has since been nominated to serve
as CIA director.

“Critics see the manual as a symbol of the extent to which the targeted killing programme has become institutionalised, part of
an apparatus being assembled by the Obama administration to sustain a seemingly permanent war,” the Post noted.

Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s national security project, told the Post that the ‘playbook’ was “a step in exactly the wrong direction, a further bureaucratisation of the CIA’s paramilitary killing programme.”

Some administration officials have also voiced concern about the duration of the drone campaign, which has spread from Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia where it involves both CIA and military strikes.

In a recent speech before he stepped down as Pentagon general counsel, Jeh Johnson warned that “we must not accept the current conflict … and all that it entails, as the ‘new normal.”

Navy’s $670 Million Fighting Ship Is ‘Not Expected to Be Survivable,’ Pentagon Says

 

 

 

 

(Wired) -In less than two months, the Navy will send the first of its newest class of fighting ships on its first major deployment overseas. Problem is, according to the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester, the Navy will be deploying the USS Freedom before knowing if the so-called Littoral Combat Ship can survive, um, combat. And what the Navy does know about the ship isn’t encouraging: Among other problems, its guns don’t work right.

That’s the judgment of J. Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, in an annual study sent to Congress on Friday and formally released Tuesday. Gilmore’s bottom line is that the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is still “not expected to be survivable” in combat. His office will punt on conducting a “Total Ship Survivability Test” for the first two LCSes to give the Navy time to complete a “pre-trial damage scenario analysis.” In other words, the Freedom will head on its first big mission abroad — maritime policing and counter-piracy around Singapore — without passing a crucial exam.

The systems the LCSs will carry, from their weapons to their sensors, compound the problem. The helicopters scheduled to be aboard the ship can’t tow its mine-hunting sensors, so the Navy is going to rely on robots instead — only the robots won’t be ready for years. And the faster the ship goes, the less accurate its guns become.

In fairness, the point of operational testing is to uncover and flag flaws in the military’s expensive weapons systems. And first-in-class ships often have kinks that are worked out in later vessels. Plus, it’s not like the Navy is rushing the Freedom to fight World War III. The local pirates there would never be confused for a serious navy. But the flaws Gilmore identifies go to the some of the core missions behind LCS’ existence: to fight close to shore, at high speeds; and to clear minefields.

 

These words have haunted the Navy ever since Gilmore’s office uttered them in December 2011: “LCS is not expected to be survivable in a hostile combat environment.” At a Navy expo in April 2012, Secretary Ray Mabus insisted that LCS is “a warship and it is fully capable of going into combat situations,” while heralding the LCS’ 2013 deployment to Singapore.

Gilmore’s new report stands by the 2011 assessment, though it sands down the rough edges. “LCS is not expected to be survivable,” it finds, “in that it is not expected to maintain mission capability after taking a significant hit in a hostile combat environment.” Additionally, Gilmore discloses that the Navy has “knowledge gaps related to the vulnerability of an aluminum ship structure to weapon-induced blast and fire damage,” but that it won’t conduct tests for those vulnerabilities until later this year or next year.

It might also not be able to depend on all of its weapons in a fight. The 30mm gun on board the Freedom “exhibit[s] reliability problems.” The 57mm gun on both the Freedom and its sister ship, the differently designed USS Independence, is apparently worse: “Ship operations at high speeds cause vibrations that make accurate use of the 57 mm gun very difficult,” Gilmore finds. Worse news for the Freedom: Its integrated weapons systems and air/surface search radar have “performance deficiencies” that affect the ship’s “tracking and engagement of contacts.”

This is supposed to be a time of heraldry for the LCS. In March, the Freedom will head to Singapore for eight months as a harbinger of the Obama administration’s much-touted strategic refocusing on Asia and the Pacific Ocean. It’s also meant to spur confidence in the Navy’s first new type of ship in two decades, an expensive design that still faces serious questions about just what its role in the Navy is. Its crew in San Diego is confident: “The guns shoot, we conduct [maritime interdiction] operations, and we move fast,” Cmdr. Patrick Thien recently told Navy Times‘ Christopher Cavas. Vice Adm. Tom Copeland, who heads the Navy’s surface fleet, last week called LCS an “integral and substantial part of our future force.”

The Navy ultimately wants to buy 55 of the ships. When fully loaded with all its gear, the USS Freedom costs $670.4 million, according to an August report from the Congressional Research Service. (.pdf) The alternate design on the USS Independence runs $808.8 million

Fighting close to shore is only one of the missions that the LCS, a ship designed so the Navy can “plug and play” different sensors and weapons systems as technology improves, is expected to perform. Another is mine-hunting — which the Freedom won’t do in Singapore. Problem is, the Pentagon’s weapons testers gave the LCS’ mine-hunting package a failing grade last year, and this one isn’t much better.

This time around, Gilmore’s office found that the MH-60 Seahawks intended to launch from the LCS minehunters can’t “safely tow” the sonar suites that scan for underwater mines. So the Navy has scrapped the plan to put the “underpowered” helicopters aboard the LCS for minehunting. That’s left a “gap in organic mine sweeping capability” on the LCS, the report states.

The Navy’s plan to address that gap depends on the Unmanned Influence Sweep System, a semi-autonomous undersea robot that will spoof the acoustic and magnetic signals of big ships to compel the mines to detonate when Navy ships aren’t in range. Problem is, as Danger Room reported earlier this month, the Navy is just getting ready to solicit industry bids to build the robot. That gap in mine-sweeping capability is likely to last years — and that’s if the robot successfully speeds through the development and acquisition process.

The report isn’t all bad news for the LCS. It finds that the Navy has fixed a crack in the hull of the Freedom. And it’s installing an anti-corrosion system on the Independence that should prevent a strange and aggressive corrosion discovered in 2011.

The Navy said it couldn’t reply to the report by Danger Room’s press time, so we’ll update this report if and when we receive a response. It’s not as if the Navy isn’t aware of the problems with the ship: Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, appointed a high-ranking panel in August to get the LCS up to snuff (.pdf); its action plan is due at the end of January.

Singapore isn’t exactly a combat zone. But the testing report makes clear that grounds for skepticism about the Navy’s newest warship remain — especially if pirates decide to challenge it on the open water.