Friday, August 11, 2017

China to North Korea: You are on your own ...

BEIJING — China won’t come to North Korea’s help if it launches missiles threatening U.S. soil and there is retaliation, a state-owned newspaper warned on Friday, but it would intervene if Washington strikes first.

The Global Times newspaper is not an official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, but in this case its editorial probably does reflect government policy, experts said.

China has repeatedly warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula, and strongly reiterated that idea Friday.

[Trump ramps up rhetoric: U.S. forces “locked and loaded”]

“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complicated and sensitive,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.

China hopes that all relevant parties will be cautious in their words and actions, and do things that help to alleviate tensions and enhance mutual trust, rather than walk on the old pathway of taking turns in shows of strength, and upgrading the tensions.”
In an editorial, The Global Times said China should make it clear to both sides: “when their actions jeopardize China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand.”

“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” it added. “If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

Thewarning comes at the end of a week of threats and counterthreats between Washington and Pyongyang, and as the United States weighs its options to deal with the threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile program.
The brinkmanship weighed on world financial markets for a fourth consecutive day. Main indexes were down in Frankfurt and Paris, and London’s FTSE 100 touched its lowest level since May. Asian markets also slumped, including South Korea’s KOSPI, dropping 1.8 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was largely flat after the opening bell.
On Tuesday, President Trump threatened to respond to further threats from North Korea by unleashing “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Pyongyang in turn threatened to strike the U.S. territory of Guam in the Western Pacific with ballistic missiles

Monday, August 7, 2017

DOD: Drones flying over military bases can now be shot down

DEFENSE TECH.ORG: The Defense Department has formally given guidance to all U.S. military installations on how best to address drones they deem a threat — including shooting them down.

“Protecting our force remains a top priority,” DoD spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said in a statement Monday. “That is why the Department of Defense issued very specific, but classified, policies that detail how DoD personnel may counter the unmanned aircraft threat to personnel, vital facilities, and critical assets.”

Davis said the policy itself is not new, as it is based off language enacted in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

“The NDAA is the basis for most of this,” he told Military.com. “The newness of it is that we’re providing guidance to the local installation commander to craft their public affairs guidance.”

Language in Section 1697 of the NDAA, “Protection of Certain Facilities and Assets from Unmanned Aircraft,” amended Chapter 3 of U.S. Code Title 10, according to budget documents.

Through Section 130i, it gave the department the authority “to take certain actions with respect to unmanned aircraft systems, including using reasonable force to disable, damage, or destroy them,” a defense official told Military.com on Monday.

“We won’t go into the specific rules for the use of force; however, we retain the right and obligation to act in self-defense,” the defense official said, reiterating the DoD’s latest stance.

The official added, “We never discuss that because then hobbyists or [those who intend harm] will know how to push the limits.”

Section 1697 offers additional help to specific missions across the Pentagon. For example, protection for the U.S. Air Force’s nuclear mission is highlighted under the bill.

The bill’s language says the defense secretary may authorize armed forces to take action to mitigate threats posed to “the safety or security of a covered facility or asset.”

The meaning behind “covered facility” is broken down even further.

According to the bill, “The term ‘covered facility or asset’ means any facility or asset that a) is identified by the Secretary of Defense for purposes of this section; b) is located in the United States (including the territories and possessions of the United States); and c) relates to — 1) the nuclear deterrence mission of the Department of Defense, including with respect to nuclear command and control, integrated tactical warning and attack assessment, and continuity of government; 2) the missile defense mission of the Department; or 3) the national security space mission of the Department.”

Some Air Force leaders have been outspoken about the issue, asking for even more specific language as it pertains to their bases.

In July, Air Combat Command commander Gen. Mike Holmes told audiences that he wished for more authority to mitigate pesky hobbyists bothering ACC bases for fear they may become a bigger hazard.

Holmes said ACC tracked two incidents earlier this summer in which small drones disturbed operations at ACC, including one in which a drone almost collided with an F-22 Raptor.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

BREAKING: US convoy attacked two dead

ABC NEWS: Two U.S. service members died after their convoy came under attack in Afghanistan.
According to a U.S. official, the convoy was on a routine training, advisement and assistance mission when it was attacked. The Taliban has claimed responsibility.
"I can confirm that two U.S. service members were killed in action in Kandarhar, Afghanistan, when their convoy came under attack," said Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis. "U.S. Forces Afghanistan will provide additional information as it becomes available."
A statement from Resolute Support, the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan said the attack was on a NATO convoy.
ABC News' Stephanie Ramos contributed to this report.

UPDATED;

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A Taliban suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a NATO convoy in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Wednesday, killing two American soldiers, the Pentagon said.

Zia Durani, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar, said the convoy came under attack when it was traveling in the area of Shorandam, which lies on the main road from Kandahar Airfield, one of the largest American bases in the country.

“The area is cordoned off by the coalition forces,” Mr. Durani said. “We are not aware of their casualties.”

An initial statements said there had been casualties among the convoy. Later, a Pentagon spokesman, Capt. Jeff Davis, confirmed that two Americans had been killed.

At the scene of the attack, at least four helicopters landed to evacuate the casualties, and firefighters arrived to extinguish one of the armored vehicles that was in flames. Local officials said two coalition force members had been killed and three wounded.

Friday, July 28, 2017

BREAKING: NORTH KOREA CONDUCTS ANOTHER MISSILE TEST.

BBC: North Korea has conducted a new intercontinental ballistic missile test, South Korea and the Pentagon say.

The missile reached an altitude of about 3,000km (1,865 miles) and landed in the sea off Japan, the Japanese national broadcaster NHK said.

It comes three weeks after North Korea's first ICBM test.

The latest missile flew higher and for longer than the one in early July and has been condemned by a number of countries.

The test - the 14th carried out by North Korea in 2017 - is the latest to be conducted in defiance of a UN ban.

The latest missile was launched at 23:41 North Korea time (15:41 GMT) from Jagang province in the north of the country, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. Korean missile launches at night are rare.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the missile flew for about 45 minutes - some six minutes longer than the ICBM tested in early July.

He said it landed in the sea in Japan's exclusive economic zone - not within Japan's territorial waters.

NHK said it reached an altitude of about 3,000km - about 200km higher than the previous ICBM.

The range of North Korea's ICBM has been disputed.

Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear nonproliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California, said that initial indications showed the latest missile had a range of about 10,000km - far enough to strike the west coast of the United States and beyond.

READ MORE HERE

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Declassified memo reveals Obama's NSA improper domestic spying


THE HILL: 

The National Security Agency and FBI violated specific civil liberty protections during the Obama administration by improperly searching and disseminating raw intelligence on Americans or failing to promptly delete unauthorized intercepts, according to newly declassified memos that provide some of the richest detail to date on the spy agencies’ ability to obey their own rules.

The memos reviewed by The Hill were publicly released on July 11 through Freedom of Information Act litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union.

They detail specific violations that the NSA or FBI disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or the Justice Department's national security division during President Obama’s tenure between 2009 and 2016. The intelligence community isn't due to report on compliance issues for 2017, the first year under the Trump administration, until next spring.

The NSA says that the missteps amount to a small number — less than 1 percent — when compared to the hundreds of thousands of specific phone numbers and email addresses the agencies intercepted through the so-called Section 702 warrantless spying program created by Congress in late 2008.

“Quite simply, a compliance program that never finds an incident is not a robust compliance program,” said Michael Halbig, the NSA’s chief spokesman. “The National Security Agency has in place a strong compliance program that identifies incidents, reports them to external overseers, and then develops appropriate solutions to remedy any incidents.”

But critics say the memos undercut the intelligence community’s claim that it has robust protections for Americans incidentally intercepted under the program.

“Americans should be alarmed that the NSA is vacuuming up their emails and phone calls without a warrant,” said Patrick Toomey, an ACLU staff attorney in New York who helped pursue the FOIA litigation. “The NSA claims it has rules to protect our privacy, but it turns out those rules are weak, full of loopholes, and violated again and again.”

Section 702 empowers the NSA to spy on foreign powers and to retain and use certain intercepted data that was incidentally collected on Americans under strict privacy protections. Wrongly collected information is supposed to be immediately destroyed.

The Hill reviewed the new ACLU documents as well as compliance memos released by the NSA inspector general and identified more than 90 incidents where violations specifically cited an impact on Americans. Many incidents involved multiple persons, multiple violations or extended periods of time.

For instance, the government admitted improperly searching the NSA’s foreign intercept data on multiple occasions, including one instance in which an analyst ran the same search query about an American “every work day” for a period between 2013 and 2014.

There also were several instances in which Americans’ unmasked names were improperly shared inside the intelligence community without being redacted, a violation of the so-called minimization procedures that Obama loosened in 2011 that are supposed to protect Americans' identity from disclosure when they are intercepted without a warrant. Numerous times improperly unmasked information about Americans had to be recalled and purged after the fact, the memos stated.

“CIA and FBI received unminimized data from many Section 702-tasked facilities and at times are thus required to conduct similar purges,” one report noted.

“NSA issued a report which included the name of a United States person whose identity was not foreign intelligence,” said one typical incident report from 2015, which said the NSA eventually discovered the error and “recalled” the information.

Likewise, the FBI disclosed three instances between December 2013 and February 2014 of “improper disseminations of U.S. persons identities.”

The NSA also admitted it was slow in some cases to notify fellow intelligence agencies when it wrongly disseminated information about Americans. The law requires a notification within five days, but some took as long as 131 business days and the average was 19 days, the memos show.

U.S. intelligence officials directly familiar with the violations told The Hill that the memos confirm that the intelligence agencies have routinely policed, fixed and self-disclosed to the nation's intelligence court thousands of minor procedural and more serious privacy infractions that have impacted both Americans and foreigners alike since the warrantless spying program was created by Congress in late 2008.

Alexander Joel, who leads the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Transparency under the director of national intelligence, said the documents chronicle episodes that have been reported to Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for years in real time and are a tribute to the multiple layers of oversight inside the intelligence community.

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