Unmanned F-16 Fighter Jet Completes First Flight

“The Air Force has maintained that QF-16s will only be used in training exercises when pilots are completing dogfight simulations in the air. The planes remain capable of being flown by an on board pilot though, and a bomb will be placed on board in the event that an unmanned plane needs to be destroyed.”

via RT– “The US Air Force and the Boeing aerospace and defense corporation announced they have successfully converted a retired F-16 into a drone. It is now possible for fighter jets to fly supersonic speeds, land, and operate normally without a pilot on board.

Boeing announced Tuesday that modified versions of the F-16 Fighting Falcon will operate as a QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target for use in Air Force training practices. Last week, two Air Force pilots controlled the first successful flight from the ground station at Florida’s Tydall Air Force Base.

The maiden flight departed from the runway as normal and completed a series of simulated maneuvers in the air over the Gulf of Mexico, surpassing the speed of sound and landing safely.

It was a little different to see it without anyone in it, but it was a great flight all the way around,” said US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Inman, the commander of the 82nd Aerial targets Squadron. “It’s a replication of current, real world situations and aircraft platforms they can shoot as a target. Now we have a 9G capable, highly sustainable aerial target.” Full Story

NATO & Northrop’s Drone Partnership

Published on Monday, May 21, 2012 by Common Dreams  “As part of NATO’s planned multi-year and multi-billion dollar investment in an increased global surveillance capability, building what it calls an ‘Allied Ground Surveillance (AGS)’ system, the 28-nation military alliance penned a deal with defense contractor Northrop Grumman on Sunday for a fleet of unmanned aerial drones along with the requisite command and control base stations needed to operate them…

Northrop Grumman Switchblade

Northrop Grumman Switchblade (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The signing of the deal took place between Northrup executives and NATO officials in a quiet room away from the boisterous street protests taking place outside the NATO summit on the streets of Chicago, where citizens voiced their opposition to NATO’s continued military presence in Afghanistan and it’s increasingly violent role in world affairs in recent years.

NATO has relied heavily on the use of drones owned and operated by the United States in its recent military operations in Afghanistan and in Libya, but this acquisition will allow it to have a vast capability all its own. The system will cost close to $1.7 billion dollars, with billions more needed to maintain and operate the system over the next two decades.”  Read Full Story Here

FDA Secretly Monitored Private E-mails of Whistleblowers

Original Post On Overseas Civilian Contractors.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Secretly monitored the private emails of staff scientists and doctors who complained to Congress that the agency was approving dangerous medical devices for public use, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the staff members.

Infosecurity January 31, 2012

The current and former employees, who work for an FDA office that approves medical devices, told Congress that the agency was approving medical devices that in fact posed risks to patients.

In response, the FDA began surveillance of the employees’ personal email accounts, which they accessed from government computers, to monitor their communication with congressional staffers, according to a lawsuit filed by the employees. They allege that the information gained from the monitoring was used to harass and, in some cases, dismiss them.

In the lawsuit, the employees allege that FDA managers violated the Constitution by taking their private emails “without due process or just compensation”, conducting unlawful searches and seizures, as well as violating their rights to free speech and association.

The Washington Post has published a large dossier of letters, emails, and memos obtained by the FDA during their surveillance of the employees.

Source – Overseas Civilian Contractors.

The Battleground For Freedom: Updated

In this year’s The National Defense Authorization Act there seemed to be some worrisome legislation tucked obscurely away; sections 1031 & 1032 that deal with the military’s ability to pick up and detain US citizens anywhere in the world appeared to be overreaching and unnecessary and set off quite a stir among people across the internet.  That it was difficult to find the referenced section only added to the panic. However, it seems that this year’s legislation isn’t proposing anything new at all. Read the sections in question carefully:

Section 1031 of the bills explicitly states “Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.”

Section 1032 , which the ACLU says gives the president “the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world,” actually says The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.

Senator Mark Udall’s proposed amendment in opposition to the questionable sections 1031 & 1032, has turned out to be nothing more than a slick political maneuver – as his amendment actually would have expanded the very powers it claimed to oppose! What the current legislation does is maintain the status quo but Udall’s version would have greatly expanded the power of the president.

You can read more about that, here on the Greeley Gazette .

In the meantime, I apologize if I jumped the gun in my original posting of information.

Bill Text – 112th Congress (2011-2012) – THOMAS (Library of Congress)

English: Detail of Preamble to Constitution of...

Image via Wikipedia

Is this legislation as threatening as it sounds? Or did the story get overblown and distorted?

Battlefield US: Americans Face Arrest As War Criminals

America is opening up a new warfront and it’s in your own backyard. It’s in your neighbor’s house, it’s three states over and it’s on the other side of the Mississippi.

That’s what a new legislation could lead to and the consequences are dire and constitutionally damning.

The United States Senate is set to vote this week on a bill that would categorize the entire USA as a “battlefield,” allowing law enforcement duties to be dished out by the American Military, who in turn could detain any US citizen as a war criminal — even coming into their own homes to issue arrests.

The National Defense Authorization Act regularly comes before Congress for changes and additions, but the latest provision, S. 1867, proves to be the most powerful one yet in raping constitutional freedoms from Americans. Move over, Patriot Act. Should S. 1867 pass, lawmakers could conjure the text to keep even regular citizens detained indefinitely by their own military.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a supporter of the bill, has explicitly stated that the passing of S. 1867 would “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and could lead to the detention of citizens without charge or trial, writes Chris Anders of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington office.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H) sits on the same side of the aisle and agrees wholeheartedly. “America is part of the battlefield,” says the lawmaker.

America’s Military is already operating in roughly 200 countries, dishing out detention and executions to citizens of other nations. As unrest erupts on the country’s own soil amid a recession, economic collapse and protests in hundreds of cities from coast-to-coast, is it that much of a surprise that lawmakers finally want to declare the US a war zone?

Maybe not, but if the Senate has their way, the consequential could be detrimental to the US Constitution.

“The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president — and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world,” adds Anders. “The power is so broad that even US citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.”

Battlefield US: Americans face arrest as war criminals under Army state law

Big Sis To Monitor Twitter For Signs Of Social Unrest

The wave of civil unrest that has swept the globe over the past year has prompted the Department of Homeland Security to step up its monitoring of Twitter and other social networks in a bid to pre-empt any sign of social dislocation within the United States.

“Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Caryn Wagner said the use of such technology in uprisings that started in December in Tunisia shocked some officials into attention and prompted questions of whether the U.S. needs to do a better job of monitoring domestic social networking activity,” reports the Associated Press.

Wagner announced that the federal agency would implement new guidelines that would focus on “gleaning information from sites such as Twitter and Facebook for law enforcement purposes.”

Under the new framework, when the department receives information about a “potential threat,” it will then ask its contractors to look for relevant search references using “open source” information.

Although it’s somewhat naive to think that Homeland Security wasn’t already scanning the likes of Facebook and Twitter for social trends and signs of civil unrest, the fact that its now being announced publicly illustrates the increasing concern that riots which have hit the Middle East and Europe over the last 18 months will soon manifest themselves inside the United States.

 Big Sis To Monitor Twitter For Signs Of Social Unrest 

Nanny Cam Sam Wants You!

It seems like our good ol’ Uncle, er…I mean Nanny Sam wants you to feel good about being a rotten snitch willing to rat out your neighbors for a false sense of safety and security. Here is the latest piece of government-funded propaganda designed to brainwash us into thinking terrorists are lurking behind every brief case…

London Rioters Preferred BlackBerry

It is always interesting to watch the light and dark sides of our communications technology and laws do battle. Social networks and speed-of-light communication capabilities are incredible tools for revolutionary activity and organizing actions with large groups of people scattered around a country (or the world) with an ease protestors of generations past would have given anything to possess. But…what helps one side ultimately winds up helping the other side, too. So while technology like Blackberry can bring about amazing things for the side of good, they can just as easily be manipulated to assist the tyrannical forces of darkness.

Although Twitter and Facebook have played a key role in the recent London riots, police believe that for the first time there, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) was the main and favored organizational tool. Why? Unlike text messaging or Twitter, BBM is a free, private social network where almost all messages are encrypted when they leave the sender’s phone–meaning that many messages are untraceable by the authorities.

What’s the Big Idea?

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM), which has said it would co-operate with a police investigation, can be legally ordered to hand police details of users suspected of unlawful activity. However, the Canadian company would be likely to resist those demands and the content of users’ inflammatory messages would be encrypted. The manufacturer has previously insisted that even it cannot unscramble users’ messages when sent on the devices.

Read it at The Guardian

via Why London Rioters Preferred BlackBerry | IdeaFeed | Big Think.

Here is a related story from SCMagazine about Blackberry’s blog being hacked in retaliation for cooperating with law enforcement –

The official BlackBerry blog has been defaced after its parent RIM said it would co-operate fully with the Home Office and police force following the London riots.

In a blog post, BlackBerry said that it had ‘engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can‘ and was working to comply with The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and was co-operating fully with the Home Office and UK police forces.

The blog post, which at the time of writing is still live on the BlackBerry website, now features a response from ‘TeaMp0isoN’ who said that RIM ‘will not assist the UK police because if you do, innocent members of the public who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and owned a BlackBerry will get charged for no reason at all’. Continue Reading…

Exclusive: Inside Darpa’s Secret Afghan Spy Machine

Just one example of what our money is being spent on in the name of  ‘defense’…

Logo of the Defense Advanced Research Projects...

Image via Wikipedia

The Pentagon’s top researchers have rushed a classified and controversial intelligence program into Afghanistan. Known as “Nexus 7,” and previously undisclosed as a war-zone surveillance effort, it ties together everything from spy radars to fruit prices in order to glean clues about Afghan instability.

The program has been pushed hard by the leadership of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. They see Nexus 7 as both a breakthrough data-analysis tool and an opportunity to move beyond its traditional, long-range research role and into a more active wartime mission.

But those efforts are drawing fire from some frontline intel operators who see Nexus 7 as little more than a glorified grad-school project, wasting tens of millions on duplicative technology that has nothing to do with stopping the Taliban.

“There are no models and there are no algorithms,” says one person familiar with the program, echoing numerous others who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the program publicly. Just “200 lines of buggy Python code to do what imagery analysts do every day.”

During a decade of war, American forces have gathered exabytes of information on its enemies in Afghanistan. Nexus 7 aims to tap that data to find out more about the U.S.’ alleged friends: the people of Afghanistan, and how they interact with their government and with one another.

Not that you’d be able to figure that out, examining the one public reference to Nexus 7. Tucked away in the Pentagon’s gargantuan budget, it makes the program sound like an obscure computer-science project, using “cluster analysis” to find “social networks.” There’s no reference to its operational utility.

On the military’s classified network, however, Darpa technologists pitch Nexus 7 as far-reaching and revolutionary, culling “hundreds of existing data sources from multiple Agencies and Services” to produce “population-centric, cultural intelligence.”

They boast of Nexus 7’s ties to special operations and to America’s most secretive surveillance groups, and its sophisticated tools to “perform automated cross-correlation and analysis of massive, sparse datasets — recomputing stability indicators within minutes of new data updates.”

via Exclusive: Inside Darpa’s Secret Afghan Spy Machine | Danger Room | Wired.com.