For years now, Defense Department officials have refused to discuss the details of the Pentagon’s offensive capabilities in the cyber arena, even as they railed against all the cyber attacks against the United States’ ever-vulnerable networks.
It seems however, that the Pentagon is happy to let actions speak for it. Earlier this spring, news reports emerged saying that it was indeed the U.S. and Israel who were behind the Stuxnet worm that famously wreaked havoc on Iran’s attempts to enrich uranium for its nuclear program. That worm was designed to make its way accross copmuter networks around the globe before infiltrating the specific type of Seimens-made SCADA computer that controlled the speeds at which Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges spun at. Once inside said computers, the infamous worm reprogrammed the centrifuges to spin at the wrong speeds where they would wreck the enrichment process.
At its time, Stuxnet was considered one of the most sophisticated cyber-weapons ever discovered. It was so sophisticated that analysts speculated that it had to have been made by an organization with the backing of significant government and/or corporate resources.
Well, as you know, Stuxnet has just been topped in sophistication by another American and Israeli-made virus that targeted Iran’s nuclear program. Flame.
So it seems that the virus that has been described as ushering in a new era cyber-warfare by experts at places like Kaspersky Labs, was one of the U.S.’ cyber weapons.
As we wrote last month:
showing that it can take snapshots of an infected computer’s display screen, record audio conversations using the computer’s microphones as well as steal normal computer files.
However, it can also be remotely re-programmed to switch from intel-gathering to offensive mode, turning itself into a cyber weapon capable of disrupting its targets’ basic functions, much like the Stuxnet virus did to Iran’s Uranium enrichment centrifuges.
All of these advanced features in one worm led Internet security firm Kaspersky to call the arrival of Flame, “another phase in this [cyber ]war, and it’s important to understand that such cyber weapons can easily be used against any country. Unlike with conventional warfare, the more developed countries are actually the most vulnerable in this case.”
Or as former DT cyber writer Kevin Coleman quoted another analyst as saying, “Flame redefines cyber espionage, it makes all the other software in that category look like cheap toys!”
What’s most impressive — or scary — is that, according to the Washington Post, Flame — which has been hiding out there undiscovered for years as a routine Microsoft software update — is just the tip of the iceberg in a massive cyber espionage effort against Iran.
The massive piece of malware secretly mapped and monitored Iran’s computer networks, sending back a steady stream of intelligence to prepare for a cyberwarfare campaign, according to the officials.
The effort, involving the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s military, has included the use of destructive software such as the Stuxnet virus to cause malfunctions in Iran’s nuclear-enrichment equipment.
The emerging details about Flame provide new clues to what is thought to be the first sustained campaign of cyber-sabotage against an adversary of the United States.
“This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,” said one former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official, who added that Flame and Stuxnet were elements of a broader assault that continues today. “Cyber-collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this.”
Who knows what other types of cyber weapons we’ll see coming from the U.S. or what types of weapons will now be unleashed on the U.S. Remember, reality can often be stranger than fiction. However, as impressive and worrisome as these cyber weapons may be, they might just be playing a role in reducing the risk of a potentially much more destructive shooting war breaking out, as the Post points out.
The U.S.-Israeli collaboration was intended to slow Iran’s nuclear program, reduce the pressure for a conventional military attack and extend the timetable for diplomacy and sanctions.
Military Rolls Tanks Onto St. Louis Streets…But Why?
Submitted by Brandon Smith from Alt-Market
I have to say that this event, which is being labeled a “training exercise”, makes very little sense to me. U.S. Army troops all the way from Maryland running open exercises in armored personnel carriers on the busy streets of St. Louis? I know Maryland is a small state, but is there really not enough room at Ft. Detrick to accommodate a tank column and some troops? Are there not entire fake neighborhood and town complexes built with taxpayer dollars on military bases across the country meant to facilitate a realistic urban environment for troops to train in? And why travel hundreds of miles to Missouri? At the very least, this is a massive waste of funds.
On the other hand, such an action on the part of the Department of Defense makes perfect sense if the goal is to acclimate citizens to the idea of seeing tanks and armed military acting in a policing capacity. Just check out the two random idiots the local news affiliate picked to interview in St. Louis on the subject. Both state that they think the exercise is a “great idea”, because having the military on the streets would help to “reduce crime”:
I suspect that the news affiliate did not go out of its way to get any counter-opinions, even though they admitted to being contacted by those voicing concerns over martial law.
Even so, it’s sad and simultaneously terrifying that there are plenty of mindless dupes out there who do not understand the dangers of the Army crossing the Rubicon and acting in a civil law enforcement capacity, never mind that they are completely ignorant of the fact that it violates the Posse Comitatus Act. One of the interviewees even points out that in some countries they don’t use police at all; only military. This is true. We call those countries “tyrannies”…
Add to the mix the reality that the DOD refuses to respond to any further inquiries by the press concerning details of the training, and you get yet another suspicious instance of behavior on the part of the establishment that seems preparatory for domestic action. I believe that the high frequency at which these activity reports have been coming in over the past year is certainly cause for alarm…
Hmmm … How many days until the Election?
The Soul of the Democratic Party Machine
Its dominant interest groups have done to Obama what they did to Carter.
BY JAY COST
In the wake of Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in the Wisconsin recall election, Democrats are blaming their loss on Republican-friendly super PACs and the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United. The thinking goes that moneyed interests far outspent the Democrats, bought the election, and undermined democracy.
This analysis is misguided. Liberal Democrats who fancy themselves reformers should take a long, hard look at their own party before pointing fingers at the Supreme Court. When they do, they might see it has fallen far from its lofty claims to be the “party of the people.”
The first progressive Democrats hated the … >>> READ MORE
by JEFFREY SCOTT SHAPIRO
The victor in yesterday’s California primary in the U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein, has long faced questions about potential conflicts of interest in Congress, according to Breitbart News sources.
Specifically, for at least 15 years, Feinstein has appeared to support government contracts that push federal funds toward companies co-owned or governed by her powerful, billionaire husband, Richard C. Blum.
Breitbart News found evidence of possibly inappropriate influence from the period when Feinstein served on the Military Construction Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee (MILCON), which supervises military construction and oversees quality of life concerns for veterans, including the building of clinics and hospitals for wounded soldiers and housing for military families.
APPROPRIATING FUNDS THROUGH THE U.S. SENATE MILITARY–CONSTRUCTION SUBCOMMITTEE
Financial disclosure reports from 2001-2005 indicate that MILCON–under Feinstein’s leadership–cleared appropriations that were eventually funneled as $1.551 billion worth of military construction contracts to URS Corporation, a San Francisco-based engineering services firm, and Perini (now Tutor Perini), both partially owned by her husband’s investment firms (and their investors) at the time (URS reportedly earned $791 million, and Perini earned $759 million).
Public records reportedly show that Blum paid only $4 a share for the Perini stock, but was able to sell three million shares in 2005 for $23.75 each. (Federal lawmakers are required to file financial disclosure statements under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. The forms are published each year to disclose any potential conflicts of interest with their or their spouses’ business decisions.)
The couple earned somewhere between $500,000 and $5M from capital gains on URS and Perini stock, and another $1.3M-$4M from CB Richard Ellis, a global real estate service company. In total, the couple’s worth rose $10 million to an estimated $40 million. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Blum has served on the corporate boards for both URS and CB Richard Ellis.
Brian Weiss, a press spokesman for Feinstein at the U.S. Senate, told Breitbart News that no conflict of interest existed. In a detailed e-mail response to questions, Weiss wrote the following:
Senator Feinstein sought the advice of the Senate Ethics Committee about whether any conflict existed. The committee indicated that Senator Feinstein could consider, debate and vote on appropriations bills in the subcommittee, the committee and full Senate. The Department of Defense awards contracts—not Congress. Senator Feinstein (and her staff) had no involvement in which entities were awarded military construction contracts.