Saturday, April 30, 2022

FBI Conducted An Astronomical Number Of Warrantless Searches Of Americans' Data

WSJ  |   The Federal Bureau of Investigation performed potentially millions of searches of American electronic data last year without a warrant, U.S. intelligence officials said Friday, a revelation likely to stoke longstanding concerns in Congress about government surveillance and privacy.

An annual report published Friday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that the FBI conducted as many as 3.4 million searches of U.S. data that had been previously collected by the National Security Agency.

Senior Biden administration officials said the actual number of searches is likely far lower, citing complexities in counting and sorting foreign data from U.S. data. It couldn’t be learned from the report how many Americans’ data was examined by the FBI under the program, though officials said it was also almost certainly a much smaller number.

The report doesn’t allege the FBI was routinely searching American data improperly or illegally.

The disclosure of the searches marks the first time a U.S. intelligence agency has published an accounting, however imprecise, of the FBI’s grabs of American data through a section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that governs some foreign intelligence gathering. The section of FISA that authorizes the FBI’s activity, known as Section 702, is due to expire next year.

While the ODNI report doesn’t suggest systemic problems with the searches, judges have previously reprimanded the bureau for failing to comply with privacy rules. Officials said the FBI’s searches were vital to its mission to protect the U.S. from national-security threats. The frequency of other forms of national-security surveillance detailed in the annual report generally fell year over year, in some cases continuing a multiyear trend.

The 3.4 million figure “is certainly a large number,” a senior FBI official said in a press briefing Friday on the report. “I am not going to pretend that it isn’t.”

More than half of the reported searches—nearly two million—were related to an investigation into a national-security threat involving attempts by alleged Russian hackers to break into critical infrastructure in the U.S. Those searches included efforts to identify and protect potential victims of the alleged Russian campaign, senior U.S. officials said.

Officials declined to give more details on the alleged Russian threat, including whether it was linked to the Russian government or a criminal hacking group. Russia has historically denied accusations of hacking the U.S. or other nations.

The Nationalization Of Social Media

scheerpost  |  Since 2016, a number of other measures have been taken to bring social media under the wing of the national security state. This was foreseen by Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who wrote in 2013, “What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century, technology and cyber-security companies will be to the twenty-first.” Since then, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM have become integral parts of the state apparatus, signing multibillion-dollar contracts with the CIA and other organizations to provide them with intelligence, logistics and computing services. Schmidt himself was chairman of both the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and the Defense Innovation Advisory Board, bodies created to help Silicon Valley assist the U.S. military with cyberweapons, further blurring the lines between big tech and big government.

Google’s current Global Head of Developer Product Policy, Ben Renda, has an even closer relationship with the national security state. From being a strategic planner and information management officer for NATO, he then moved to Google in 2008. In 2013, he began working for U.S. Cybercommand and in 2015 for the Defense Innovation Unit (both divisions of the Department of Defense). At the same time, he became a YouTube executive, rising to the rank of Director of Operations.

Other platforms have similar relationships with Washington. In 2018, Facebook announced that it had entered a partnership with The Atlantic Council whereby the latter would help curate the news feeds of billions of users worldwide, deciding what was credible, trustworthy information, and what was fake news. As noted previously, The Atlantic Council is NATO’s brain-trust and is directly funded by the military alliance. Last year, Facebook also hired Atlantic Council senior fellow and former NATO spokesperson Ben Nimmo as its head of intelligence, thereby giving an enormous amount of control over its empire to current and former national security state officials.

The Atlantic Council has also worked its way into Reddit’s management. Jessica Ashooh went straight from being Deputy Director of Middle East Strategy at The Atlantic Council to Director of Policy at the popular news aggregation service – a surprising career move that drew few remarks at the time.

Also eliciting little comment was the unmasking of a senior Twitter executive as an active-duty officer in the British Army’s notorious 77th Brigade – a unit dedicated to online warfare and psychological operations. Twitter has since partnered with the U.S. government and weapons manufacturer-sponsored think tank ASPI to help police its platform. On ASPI’s orders, the social media platform has purged hundreds of thousands of accounts based out of China, Russia, and other countries that draw Washington’s ire.

Last year, Twitter also announced that it had deleted hundreds of user accounts for “undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability” – a statement that drew widespread incredulity from those not closely following the company’s progression from one that championed open discussion to one closely controlled by the government.

The First Casualty

Those in the halls of power well understand how important a weapon big-tech is in a global information war. This can be seen in a letter published last Monday written by a host of national security state officials, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA directors Michael Morell and Leon Panetta, and former director of the NSA Admiral Michael Rogers.

Together, they warn that regulating or breaking up the big-tech monopolies would “inadvertently hamper the ability of U.S. technology platforms to … push back on the Kremlin.” “The United States will need to rely on the power of its technology sector to ensure” that “the narrative of events” globally is shaped by the U.S. and “not by foreign adversaries,” they explain, concluding that Google, Facebook, Twitter are “increasingly integral to U.S. diplomatic and national security efforts.”

Commenting on the letter, journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote:

[B]y maintaining all power in the hands of the small coterie of tech monopolies which control the internet and which have long proven their loyalty to the U.S. security state, the ability of the U.S. national security state to maintain a closed propaganda system around questions of war and militarism is guaranteed.”

The U.S. has frequently leaned on social media in order to control the message and promote regime change in target countries. Just days before the Nicaraguan presidential election in November, Facebook deleted the accounts of hundreds of the country’s top news outlets, journalists and activists, all of whom supported the left-wing Sandinista government.

When those figures poured onto Twitter to protest the ban, recording videos of themselves and proving that they were not bots or “inauthentic” accounts, as Facebook Intelligence Chief Nimmo had claimed, their Twitter accounts were systematically banned as well, in what observers coined as a “double-tap strike.”

Meanwhile, in 2009, Twitter acquiesced to a U.S. request to delay scheduled maintenance of its app (which would have required taking it offline) because pro-U.S. activists in Iran were using the platform to foment anti-government demonstrations.

More than 10 years later, Facebook announced that it would be deleting all praise of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani from its many platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp. Soleimani – the most popular political figure in Iran – had recently been assassinated in a U.S. drone strike. The event sparked uproar and massive protests across the region. Yet because the Trump administration had declared Soleimani and his military group to be terrorists, Facebook explained, “We operate under U.S. sanctions laws, including those related to the U.S. government’s designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its leadership.” This meant that Iranians could not share a majority viewpoint inside their own country – even in their own language – because of a decision made in Washington by a hostile government.

Elon Musk Has Distorted Substantive "Freedom" Narrative Into Something Trivial

In a nutshell, Edward Snowden disclosed that the US government, and multiple allied governments had the ability to eavesdrop on everyone's phone calls, read their text messages, emails, internet searches, track their locations (via GPS in phones) and also remotely activate people's cell phone cameras and microphones to listen and see what people are doing in real time.

Based on these disclosures, it is estimated that the US and its allies have visibility into roughly 80% of all digital communications in the US.

None of these federal agencies should have been doing this to U.S. citizens, on US soil and that the mechanism exploited to achieve this panoptic surveillance capability was cooperation by the Level 3 Internet carriers. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint etc, were providing the "keys" to their networks to the government to provide this access.

The government is not supposed to take your data wothout a warrant but a private company can give it to them in circumvention of the 4th amendment. The real issue here is NOT whether a company will give your data to the govt with or without a warrant.

One thing you should be aware of is that this framing of the debate is pushed by the government because it favors their position. However, the real fight we should be focused on is not whether a warrant has been served, rather, it should be focused on WHO the warrant is being served upon.

Consider the mail as an example. If I send you a package that the governmentt wants to snoop on, they cannot serve a warrant on the mail carrier in possession of the package to get access to it (even if it's a private company like UPS, FedEx, etc). That's because the laws about mail were passed long before the Patriot Act when the government still respected the rights of citizens. US mail actually can be subject to search warrant. It appears that the warrant is served on the mail facility and not the sender or recipient (see page 31), HOWEVER, it must be a federal warrant.

Second, it seems pretty clear that these cases are almost entirely restricted to investigations of cases involving the mail itself, such as mail fraud ... this means that this pertains the sender abusing the mail, not the recipient. One's digital data should be treated more like the recipient of mail since the analogy of your digital data is more like you storing things in a lock box in your house. (Recipients of mail generally cannot be prosecuted until they take possession of the mail, obviating this entire issue.)

It should work the same way with your data. If the government wants my info from Twitter, they should be compelled to serve warrants on BOTH Twitter AND me. We should BOTH have the opportunity to inspect the warrant, fight it, etc.

The reason is that the amount of leverage the government has over companies is very high because like Joe Nacchio learned in 2009 - a company has a huge attack surface across a huge array of different facets while the cost of caving to government surveillance demands is relatively small.

For you, though, if your freedom is at risk, there's nothing else exposed for the government to leverage to get you to do what they want. They're already going after everything. So even companies like Google that vigorously defend warrants would have a tough time fighting the government on something the government really wanted to get because there's so much the government can do to strong arm them.

And then of course, most companies don't have the resources to mount a defense like Google could on your behalf, even if they wanted to. There are vanishingly few civically-minded companies that even want to. No one has an interest in protecting your data more than you do, so you should get a warrant just like the mail.

Remember What Happened To Joe Nacchio When He Wouldn't Play Ball With The NSA?

BI  | From USA Today (emphasis ours):

The NSA, which needed Qwest's participation to completely cover the country, pushed back hard. ...

... the agency suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government.

Nacchio's legal concerns about the NSA program at the time mirror those of civil liberty groups today.

Cauley, citing sources familiar with events, reported the NSA asserted that Qwest didn't need a court order — or approval under Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (which oversees NSA snooping) — to provide the data.

"They told (Qwest) they didn't want to [run the proposal by the FISA court] because FISA might not agree with them," one NSA insider told USA Today.

There is a record of the NSA running afoul of FISA: In July the FISA court ruled that the NSA violated the Fourth Amendment's restriction against unreasonable searches and seizures "on at least one occasion."

Furthermore, Nacchio felt that it was unclear who would have access to Qwest customers' information and how that information might be used. Sources told Cauley that the NSA said government agencies including the FBI, CIA, and DEA might have access to its massive database.


Friday, April 29, 2022

Ain't No Law The Lawless Biden Crime Family Is Bound To Acknowledge

BAR  |  The U.S. talks about "rule based order" because international law is not on its side. The 1999 OSCE Charter explains why the Biden administration would rather make up a new phrase out of whole cloth than live up to agreements it signed.

In 1999, the United States and the 56 other participating states of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) signed a charter in Instanbul that is another intentionally ignored key to understanding the war in Ukraine.

The OSCE is the world’s largest regional security organization . It claims to engage in political dialogue - that is, a forum for political dialogue on a wide range of security issues. There are 57 OSCE member states that cover three continents - North America, Europe and Asia. The policies the OSCE deliberates over include security issues such as arms control, terrorism, good governance, energy security, human trafficking, democratization, media freedom, and the rights of national minorities that affect more than a billion people. This is what they say they do, anyway.

But the 1999 Instanbul Charter signed by all the member states says that countries should be free to choose their own security arrangements and alliances but specifies that, in doing so, countries "will not strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other states."

This charter was raised as the rationale for Russia mobilizing troops inside its border in response to US and it western allies expanding NATO eastward since the Cold War and refusing to rule out granting membership to Ukraine. NATO says it is a defensive alliance that is open to new members, but can we be honest - because we always are - and point out that Russia was not doing anything in Ukraine or anywhere else to put NATO on the defensive. This issue of the charter being violated was raised by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in February 2022 when he had a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

"Our western colleagues are simply trying not even to ignore but to consign to oblivion this key principle of international law agreed in the Euro-Atlantic space," Lavrov said at the time. "We will insist on an honest conversation and an honest explanation of why the West doesn't want to fulfill its obligations or wants to meet them only selectively to its own advantage."

Lavrov had written to the United States, Canada, and a number of governments on January 28, 2022, to ask them urgently to explain how they intended to fulfill this commitment to the principle of "indivisible security" that they all agreed to in the 1999 OSCE Istanbul Charter. What Russia received, instead of answers to its questions or discussions about the West holding up its end of the charter agreement, were US and NATO demands that Russia pull back troops from inside its own borders.

This happened in February 2022, right around the same time that Biden started claiming that Russia was going to invade Ukraine “ANY DAY NOW!!!” The whole time, however, Russia was trying to get the US to adhere to the OSCE charter. But it seems that the US was really just pushing for this war.

NO BRANDON!!! Not Another Plugged Nickel For Your Filthy UkroNazi Overlords...,

pjmedia  |  According to financial records, Joe Biden has $5.2 million in “unexplained income” that (by pure coincidence, of course) was acquired around the same time Hunter Biden was raking in big bucks from foreign business deals and earmarking “10 percent for the Big Guy.”

The Daily Mail reports that Joe Biden agreed to pay Hunter’s legal fees for his deal with CEFC, a company linked to the Chinese government.

This bombshell comes on top of a report from Monday that visitor logs from the Obama administration show that Hunter Biden’s top business partner visited the White House 19 times while Joe Biden was vice president, contradicting Joe’s claims that he was never involved in his son’s business dealings.

“The revelation ties the president even closer to Hunter’s overseas business dealings – and makes his previous claims that he never discussed them with his son, even less plausible,” the Daily Mail reports. “Joe was able to pay the bills after earning millions of dollars through his and his wife’s companies after he left office as vice president.”

While some of the Bidens’ income came from book deals and speaking engagements (imagine people paying to watch Biden speak!), there is a $7 million discrepancy between the income declared on his tax returns and the income he declared on government transparency reports.

“Some of that difference can be accounted for with salaries earned by First Lady Jill Biden and other sums not required on his reports – but still leaves $5.2million earned by Joe’s company and not listed on his transparency reports,” the Daily Mail‘s investigation concludes. “The ‘missing millions’ – combined with emails on Hunter’s abandoned laptop suggesting Joe would have a 10% share in Hunter’s blockbuster deal with the Chinese – raise a troubling question: did Joe Biden receive money from the foreign venture?”

Hm … a $5.2 million discrepancy? That’s not small potatoes. What exactly was Biden trying to hide? Was it his cut of Hunter Biden’s shady foreign business deals? There are a lot of unanswered questions here.



NO BRANDON!!! Don't Blame Russia For Your Own Lethally Destructive Stupidity

journal-neo  |  In what is clearly becoming a US Administration war on food, the situation is being dramatically aggravated by USDA demands for chicken farmers to kill off millions of chickens in now 27 states, allegedly for signs of Bird Flu infection. The H5N1 Bird Flu “virus” was exposed in 2015 as a complete hoax. The tests used by the US government inspectors to determine bird flu now are the same unreliable PCR tests used for COVID in humans. The test is worthless for that. US Government officials estimate that since first cases were “tested” positive in February, at least 23 million chickens and turkeys have been culled to allegedly contain the spread of a disease whose cause could be the incredibly unsanitary cage confinement of mass industrial chicken CAFOs. The upshot is sharp rises in prices of egg by some 300% since November and severe loss of chicken protein sources for American consumers at a time when overall cost of living inflation is at a 40-year high.

To make matters worse, California and Oregon are again declaring water emergency amid a multi-year drought and are sharply reducing irrigation water to farmers in California, who produce the major share of US fresh vegetables and fruits. That drought has since spread to cover most agriculture land west of the Mississippi River, meaning much of US farmland.

US food security is under threat as never before since the 1930s Dust Bowl, and the Biden Administration “Green Agenda” is doing everything to make the impact worse for its citizens.

In recent comments US President Biden remarked without elaborating that the US food shortages are “going to be real.” His administration also is deaf to pleas of farmer organizations to allow cultivation of some 4 million acres of farmland ordered left out of cultivation for “environmental reasons. However this is not the only part of the world where crisis in food is developing.

Global Disaster

These deliberate Washington actions are taking place at a time a global series of food disasters create the worst food supply situation in decades, perhaps since the World War II end.

In the EU, which is significantly dependent on Russia, Belarus and Ukraine for feed grains, fertilizers and energy, sanctions are making the covid-induced food shortages dramatically worse. The EU uses its foolish Green Agenda as an excuse to forbid the Italian government from ignoring EU rules limiting state aid to farmers. In Germany, the new Green Party Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir, who wants to phase out traditional agriculture allegedly for its “greenhouse gas” emissions, has given farmers who want to grow more food a cold response. The EU faces many of the same disastrous threats to food security as the USA and even more dependence on Russian energy which is about to be suicidally sanctioned by the EU.

The major food producing countries in South America, especially Argentina and Paraguay, are in the midst of a severe drought attributed to a periodic La Niña Pacific anomaly that has crippled crops there. Sanctions on Belarus and Russia fertilizers are threatening Brazil crops, aggravated with bottlenecks in ocean transport.

China just announced that owing to severe rains in 2021, this year’s winter wheat crop could be the worst in its history. The CCP also has instituted severe measures to get farmers to expand cultivation to non-farm lands with little reported effect. According to a report by China watcher Erik Mertz, “In China’s Jilin, Heilongjiang, and Liaoning provinces, officials have reported one in three farmers lack sufficient seed and fertilizer supplies to begin planting for the optimum spring window… According to sources within these areas, they are stuck waiting on seed and fertilizer which have been imported to China from overseas – and which are stuck in the cargo ships sitting off the coast of Shanghai.” Shanghai, the world’s largest container port, has been under a bizarre “Zero Covid” total quarantine for more than four weeks with no end in sight. In a desperate bid by the CCP “ordering” increased food production, local CP officials throughout China have begun transforming basketball courts and even roads into croplandThe food situation in China is forcing the country to import far more at a time of global shortages, driving world grain and food prices even higher.

Africa is also severely impacted by the US-imposed sanctions and war ending food and fertilizer exports from Russia and Ukraine. Thirty five African countries get food from Russia and Ukraine. Twenty two African countries import fertilizer from there. Alternatives are seriously lacking as prices soar and supply collapses. Famine is predicted.

David M. Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Program, declared recently on the global food outlook, “There is no precedent even close to this since World War II.”

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Has Interception Of Straight Line Ballistic Missiles Been Demonstrated In Combat?

moonofalabama |   The Americans are now crying ‘uncle’ about Russia’s hypersonic weapons. After the most recent flight test of the scramjet-powered Zircon cruise missile, the Washington Post on July 11 carried a Nato statement of complaint:

"Russia’s new hypersonic missiles are highly destabilizing and pose significant risks to security and stability across the Euro-Atlantic area," the statement said.

At the same time, talks have begun on the ‘strategic dialog’ between the US and Russia, as agreed at the June 16 Geneva Summit of the two presidents. The two sides had already agreed to extend the START treaty on strategic weapons that has been in effect for a decade, but, notably, it was the US side that initiated the summit—perhaps spurred by the deployment of the hypersonic, intercontinental-range Avangard missile back in 2019, when US weapons inspectors were present, as per START, to inspect the Avangard as it was lowered into its missile silos.

But what exactly is a hypersonic missile—and why is it suddenly such a big deal?

We all remember when Vladimir Putin announced these wonder weapons in his March 2018 address to his nation [and the world]. The response from the US media was loud guffaws about ‘CGI’ cartoons and Russian ‘wishcasting.’ Well, neither Nato nor the Biden team are guffawing now. Like the five stages of grief, the initial denial phase has slowly given way to acceptance of reality—as Russia continues deploying already operational missiles, like the Avangard and the air-launched Kinzhal, now in Syria, as well as finishing up successful state trials of the Zircon, which is to be operationally deployed aboard surface ships and submarines, starting in early 2022. And in fact, there are a whole slew of new Russian hypersonic missiles in the pipeline, some of them much smaller and able to be carried by ordinary fighter jets, like the Gremlin aka GZUR.

The word hypersonic itself means a flight regime above the speed of Mach 5. That is simple enough, but it is not only about speed. More important is the ability to MANEUVER at those high speeds, in order to avoid being shot down by the opponent’s air defenses. A ballistic missile can go much faster—an ICBM flies at about 6 to 7 km/s, which is about 15,000 mph, about M 25 high in the atmosphere. [Mach number varies with temperature, so it is not an absolute measure of speed. The same 15,000 mph would only equal M 20 at sea level, where the temperature is higher and the speed of sound is also higher.]

But a ballistic missile flies on a straightforward trajectory, just like a bullet fired from a barrel of a gun—it cannot change direction at all, hence the word ballistic.

This means that ballistic missiles can, in theory, be tracked by radar and shot down with an interceptor missile. It should be noted here that even this is a very tough task, despite the straight-line ballistic trajectory. Such an interception has never been demonstrated in combat, not even with intermediate-range ballistic missiles [IRBMs], of the kind that the DPRK fired off numerous times, sailing above the heads of the US Pacific Fleet in the Sea of Japan, consisting of over a dozen Aegis-class Ballistic Missile Defense ships, designed specifically for the very purpose of shooting down IRBMs.

Such an interception would have been a historic demonstration of military technology—on the level of the shock and awe of Hiroshima! But no interception was ever attempted by those ‘ballistic missile defense’ ships, spectating as they were, right under the flight paths of the North Korean rockets!

The bottom line is that hitting even a straight-line ballistic missile has never been successfully demonstrated in actual practice. It is a very hard thing to do.

But let’s lower our sights a little from ICBMs and IRBMs [and even subsonic cruise missiles] to a quite ancient missile technology, the Soviet-era Scud, first introduced into service in 1957! A recent case with a Houthi Scud missile fired at Saudi Arabia in December 2017 shows just how difficult missile interception really is:

At around 9 p.m…a loud bang shook the domestic terminal at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport.

‘There was an explosion at the airport,’ a man said in a video taken moments after the bang. He and others rushed to the windows as emergency vehicles streamed onto the runway.

Another video, taken from the tarmac, shows the emergency vehicles at the end of the runway. Just beyond them is a plume of smoke, confirming the blast and indicating a likely point of impact.

The Houthi missile, identified as an Iranian-made Burqan-2 [a copy of a North Korean Scud, itself a copy of a Chinese copy of the original Russian Scud from the 1960s], flew over 600 miles before hitting the Riyadh international airport. The US-made Patriot missile defense system fired FIVE interceptor shots at the missile—all of them missed!

Laura Grego, a missile expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, expressed alarm that Saudi defense batteries had fired five times at the incoming missile.

‘You shoot five times at this missile and they all miss? That's shocking,’ she said. ‘That's shocking because this system is supposed to work.’

Ms Grego knows what she’s talking about—she holds a physics doctorate from Caltech and has worked in missile technology for many years. Not surprisingly, American officials first claimed the Patriot missiles had done their job and shot the Scud down. This was convincingly debunked in the extensive expert analysis that ran in the NYT: Did American Missile Defense Fail in Saudi Arabia?

This was not the first time that Patriot ‘missile defense’ against this supposedly obsolete missile failed spectacularly:

On February 25, 1991, an Iraqi Scud hit the barracks in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 soldiers from the U.S. Army's 14’th Quartermaster Detachment.

A government investigation revealed that the failed intercept at Dhahran had been caused by a software error in the system's handling of timestamps. The Patriot missile battery at Dhahran had been in operation for 100 hours, by which time the system's internal clock had drifted by one-third of a second. Due to the missile's speed this was equivalent to a miss distance of 600 meters.

Whether this explanation is factual or not, the Americans’ initial claims of wild success in downing nearly all of the 80 Iraqi Scuds launched, was debunked by MIT physicist Theodore Postol, who concluded that no missiles were in fact intercepted!


I Don't Believe The West Has Successfully Tested A Maneuverable Hypersonic Weapon

defenseone | The trouble is, the new weapons keep failing in tests, sometimes in fairly rudimentary ways that don’t lend themselves to evaluating and improving the design. The truncated development strategy seems to require a faith that American aerospace engineering can overwhelm all the usual difficulties by force of sheer élan. The results turn out differently.

Now, if you think I’ve just described the last few years of U.S. efforts to build and fly hypersonic gliders and cruise missiles, you’re right. In December, for example, the Air Force’s Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) failed in testing for the third time running in 2021, not even leaving the wing of the B-52 bomber carrying it. ARRW, remarkably, is supposed to become an operational weapon by 2023. Nor is it the only developmental hypersonic missile with a troubled test record

But I could just as easily have been recalling U.S. efforts to build new ballistic missile defense systems in the 1990s. It’s little remembered now, but BMD got off to a rocky start. After repeated disappointments, a trio of Pentagon agencies did something perhaps uncharacteristically forward-looking: it assembled a panel of seasoned experts to examine the situation, under the leadership of retired Air Force general Larry Welch. It even allowed the panel’s reports to be released to the public. 

The first report of the Welch Panel made something of a splash at the time. It’s worth recalling its frank account of the self-defeating nature of short timetables in complex technology development efforts:

“These programs are pursuing very aggressive schedules, but these schedules are not supported by the state of planning and testing…the perceived urgency of the need for these systems has led to high levels of risk that have resulted in delayed deployments…

“[Failures] were caused by poor design, test planning, and preflight testing deficiencies; poor fabrication; poor management; and lack of rigorous government oversight.

“The tendency of the government and program managers to trivialize the causes of these costly failures, combined with the aggressive schedule… has led to a ‘rush to failure.’”

The report’s main recommendation—to put all BMD programs on “realistic schedules”—met with some predictable resistance, and we can’t be sure how much influence any single report or expert panel may have had. But it was surely vindicated after one of the most troubled BMD efforts shifted to a longer timeline. Prototypes of the THAAD system had produced four consecutive failures in hit-to-kill intercept tests by the time of the first Welch report in February 1998. After another two out of four test failures by August 1999, the program entered a new phase of development. Flight tests did not resume until 2005, but have yielded consistent successes since then—at least when the target missile has not failed. The first operational THAAD battery, originally scheduled to deploy in 1996, appeared in 2008.

We also don’t know if all of the Welch Panel’s judgments about the shortcomings of missile defense systems under development in the 1990s would apply equally to today’s hypersonic weapons projects. But an April 2021 report from Congress’s Government Accountability Office sounds some unhappily familiar notes.

Most of the efforts to develop these new missiles, GAO found, use a new development authority that bypasses regular DOD “acquisition and requirement development policies and processes.” These projects aim at building an initial prototype within six months and deploying an initial capability within five years. Among the many problems facing the development of hypersonic missiles, GAO noted, were “immature technologies and aggressive schedules.”

The lesson should be clear: if it’s genuinely important to deploy these new missile types, the Pentagon should adopt development schedules conducive to their success. If it won’t do so, Congress should ask what drives it to repeat the errors of the past.

Shooting Down 60 Year Old SCUD Missiles Is Difficult And The Government Lies About It

NYTimes |  The official story was clear: Saudi forces shot down a ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebel group last month at Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh. It was a victory for the Saudis and for the United States, which supplied the Patriot missile defense system.

“Our system knocked the missile out of the air,” President Trump said the next day from Air Force One en route to Japan, one of the 14 countries that use the system. “That’s how good we are. Nobody makes what we make, and now we’re selling it all over the world.”

But an analysis of photos and videos of the strike posted to social media suggests that story may be wrong.

Instead, evidence analyzed by a research team of missile experts appears to show the missile’s warhead flew unimpeded over Saudi defenses and nearly hit its target, Riyadh’s airport. The warhead detonated so close to the domestic terminal that customers jumped out of their seats.

Saudi officials did not respond to a request for comment. Some U.S. officials cast doubt on whether the Saudis hit any part of the incoming missile, saying there was no evidence that it had. Instead, they said, the incoming missile body and warhead may have come apart because of its sheer speed and force.

The findings show that the Iranian-backed Houthis, once a ragtag group of rebels, have grown powerful enough to strike major targets in Saudi Arabia, possibly shifting the balance of their years-long war. And they underscore longstanding doubts about missile defense technology, a centerpiece of American and allied national defense strategies, particularly against Iran and North Korea.

“Governments lie about the effectiveness of these systems. Or they’re misinformed,” said Jeffrey Lewis, an analyst who led the research team, which shared its findings with The New York Times. “And that should worry the hell out of us.”


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Mighty Wurlitzer Did A Complete About Face On Ukrainian Nazis

It's like all the media forgot that they themselves were reporting on the neo-Nazi's in Ukraine as far back as eight years ago. 

In fact, it’s like all the MSM (*) outlets were told what to say back then, and what precisely opposite things to say now.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ignored ALL 689 COMPLAINTS filed against Kiev for its slow motion killing of more than 14,000 civilians in the Luhansk People’s Republic in the past 8 years.


The Audacity Of The Jews Sacrificing Ukraine Knows No Bounds

haaretz  |  But none of this is surprising, considering the fashion in which Kolomoisky built his business empire. He now has to fight both to maintain it and for an opportunity to expand in the future, and he seems to be relishing the challenge. What has astonished even those who know him well is how the oligarch – who previously preferred to operate far from the public eye – has taken to his new, exposed role. In the first week of his governorship in April, he held a press conference in which he made no bones about blaming Putin for Ukraine’s crisis.

In his colorful, often expletive-laden monologues, he said the Russian president was a “psychopath,” a “schizophrenic of short stature” who is “completely inadequate, totally insane. His messianic drive to recreate the Russian empire of 1913 or the U.S.S.R. of 1991 could plunge the world into catastrophe.” It became a personal feud between the outspoken businessman and the former KGB officer. Putin responded a day later, at a press conference in Moscow, calling Kolomoisky a “unique crook” and questioning the motives of the Kiev government to appoint “such a scoundrel. Now this crook is appointed governor of Dnepropetrovsk. No wonder the people are dissatisfied.”

To add spice, Putin told reporters how Kolomoisky had allegedly swindled “our oligarch,” Roman Abramovich (the London-based, Jewish owner of Chelsea Football Club), in a multimillion dollar business deal.

Playing oligarchs off each other is a sport in which Putin is a recognized grandmaster. But in Kolomoisky he is up against a formidable foe, one who is, for now, outside his reach. And when the Kremlin made him a target of their propaganda, they only added to his popularity in Ukraine.

Kipperman is not worried by the feud with Moscow. “Putin is paying the separatists, who are terrorists and criminals – this will bring about his downfall, while we have stabilized the situation in Ukraine.”

After years of remaining in the shadows, Kolomoisky seems to be enjoying his newfound notoriety. Unlike other oligarchs who, once they made their fortunes, tried to construct suave new personas for themselves – learning English and acquiring a wardrobe of tailored suits – Kolomoisky is still happy to conduct his business in a T-shirt and sweatpants, and is not a habitué of fancy restaurants. He also disdains gadgets, proudly owning an old Nokia cellphone on which he makes his calls.

It is fascinating to compare Kolomoisky with another Ukrainian-Jewish billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, who a month ago held the annual Yalta European Strategy conference of his private foundation. Statesmen such as Tony Blair, academic superstars and journalists rubbed shoulders in an ornate arts palace and heard lectures on the future of Europe, while Kolomoisky was cloistered with his inner circle in smoke-filled rooms drinking vodka. Pinchuk is the cosmopolitan, suave oligarch who hangs out with international celebrities such as the Clintons and Elton John, and is proud of having featured on Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people list. Kolomoisky, on the other hand, prefers to stick with his reputation as a street fighter.

‘Don’t go anywhere’

Neither has his new position made him give up his colorful and blunt way of talking. Anonymous sources leaked a phone conversation between him and Oleg Tsarov, a pro-Russia parliamentarian who had fled to Moscow. In it, Kolomoisky, swearing and cursing throughout, told Tsarov that following the death of a member of Dnipropetrovsk’s Jewish community – a militia member killed in the fighting in the eastern city of Mariupol – a $1 million reward had been put on Tsarov’s head. “They will be looking for you everywhere,” he says in the tape. “Don’t go anywhere.” Kolomoisky had no problem confirming that the tape, most likely recorded by Russian intelligence, was authentic, though he claimed he wasn’t threatening Tsarov.

Though not religiously observant, Kolomoisky has been proud of his Jewish identity. Together with fellow oligarch Gennadiy Bogolyubov, he has built the largest Jewish community center in the world in central Dnipropetrovsk – a massive complex that includes a synagogue, library, conference halls, three hotels, kosher restaurants and a supermarket. He served as the president of the one of the organizations competing to represent Ukraine Jewry – the United Jewish Community of Ukraine – and as president of the European Council of Jewish Communities. The center’s seven connected menorah towers stick out on Dnipropetrovsk’s skyline like a middle finger to the Communists and Nazis who tried to exterminate the local Jewish community, today prospering in a country that knew so many centuries of persecution and pogroms.

He has been mentioned as a possible buyer of the Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer club and was an investor in the short-lived JN1 cable news station, which offered news on Israel and the Jewish world. Some of the journalists who were employed there are now working for a new news channel launched by Kolomoisky – Ukraine Today, which has been set up specifically to counter the Kremlin-directed Russia Today network, which is extremely hostile to Ukraine.

Despite repeated warnings of anti-Semitic attacks in Ukraine following the revolution, many Jewish leaders have come out in support of the new Kiev government. Dozens of prominent Jewish figures signed an open letter to Putin in March, calling upon him to stop interfering in Ukrainian politics and urging him to refrain from accusing the new government of being anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi.

But while Kolomoisky is one of the leaders of this surge of Ukrainian patriotism among the country’s Jews, his prominence has still made him subject to criticism. Not all Jewish leaders are happy with the role he has played in recent months. “Jews shouldn’t be involved in politics in such a way,” says one community leader, who asked not to be named. “There is enough anti-Semitism here without making us into more obvious targets.”

“Putin is here to stay,” said another. “We don’t have to pick fights with him.” Yuri Kipperman defended his partner, though, noting, “The Jewish leadership helped to make sure the elections took place safely. We were doing our duty.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Should Be Amusing To See Which Hit Twits Yelp First!

WaPo  |  Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion on Monday, the company announced, giving the world’s richest person command of a highly influential social media site that serves as a platform for political leaders, a sounding board for experts across industries and an information hub for millions of everyday users.

The acquisition followed weeks of evangelizing on the necessity of “free speech,” as the Tesla CEO seized on Twitter’s role as the “de facto town square” and took umbrage with content moderation efforts he views as an escalation toward censorship. He said he sees Twitter as essential to the functioning of democracy and said the economics are not a concern.

Ownership of Twitter gives Musk power over hugely consequential societal and political issues, perhaps most significantly the ban on former president Donald Trump that the site enacted in response to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Under the terms of the deal, Twitter will become a private company and shareholders will receive $54.20 per share, the company said in a news release. The deal is expected to close this year.

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in the release. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”

“Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it,” he added.


Wikipedia Now Carrying Water For The Bidens...,

jonathanturley  |   Wikipedia editors are under fire this week for removing the entry for Rosemont Seneca Partners, the investment company connected to Hunter Biden and his alleged multimillion dollar influence peddling schemes. The site bizarrely claimed that the company was “not notable.” The timing itself is notable given the new disclosure that Hunter Biden’s business partner, Eric Schwerin, made at least 19 visits to the White House and other official locations between 2009 and 2015. That included a meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden despite Biden’s repeated claim that he knew nothing about his son’s business dealings. Schwerin was the president of Rosemont Seneca.

Wikipedia has been accused of raw bias in removing the entry at a time when interest in the company is at its peak, including the possibility of an indictment of Hunter Biden over his financial dealings.  Rosemont Seneca is one of the most searched terms for those trying to understand the background on the Biden business operations.

Yet, an editor “AlexEng” wrote that the company was simply “not notable” — an absurd claim reminiscent of the recent claim by Atlantic Magazine’s writer Anne Applebaum that she did not cover the scandal because it simply was “not interesting.”

Alex wrote: “This organization is only mentioned in connection with its famous founders, Hunter Biden and Christopher Heinz.” That itself is an odd statement. It is mentioned as one of the key conduits of alleged influence peddling money. Alex added that “keeping it around” ran the risk of the page becoming “a magnet for conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden.” It is that last comment that I found most concerning as part of this decision.

Any Wikipedia page could be a magnet for conspiracy theories, including the page on Hunter Biden himself. The fact is that this is a real company with real dealings that are the subject of a real criminal investigation. Indeed, various Republican members have already pledged to conduct investigations into this and other companies if they secure either house of Congress after the midterm elections.

So Wikipedia killed it just as a United States Attorney is drilling down on financial dealings of Hunter Biden, including money received from foreign sources through Rosemont Seneca.

It's Not Just Censorship - The Fog Of War Is Covering Property Theft Under Color Of Authority

lewrockwell  |  I have argued in this column and elsewhere that the Biden administration sanctions imposed on Russian and American persons and businesses are profoundly unconstitutional because they are imposed by executive fiat rather than by legislation and because the sanctions constitute either the seizure of property without a warrant or the taking of property without due process.

When the feds seize a yacht from a person whom they claim may have financed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rise to power, they are doing so in direct violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Similarly, when they freeze Russian assets in American banks, they engage in a seizure, and seizures can only constitutionally be done with a search warrant based on probable cause of crime.

As well, when the feds interfere with contract rights by prohibiting compliance with lawful contracts, that, too, implicates due process and can only be done constitutionally after a jury verdict in the government’s favor, at a trial at which the feds have proved fault.

As if to anticipate these constitutional roadblocks to its interference with free commercial choices, Congress enacted the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 and the Magnitsky Act of 2016. These constitutional monstrosities purport to give the president the power to declare persons and entities to be violators of human rights and, by that mere executive declaration alone, to punish them without trial.

These laws turn the Fourth and Fifth Amendments on their heads by punishing first and engaging in a perverse variant of due process later. How perverse? These laws require that if you want your seized property back, you must prove that you are not a human rights violator.

As if to run even further away from constitutional norms, a group of legal academics began arguing last week that the property seized from Russians is not really owned by human beings, but by the Russian government. And, this crazy argument goes, since the Russian government is not a person, there is no warrant or due process requirement; therefore, the feds can convert the assets they have seized and frozen to their own use.

To these academics — who reject property ownership as a moral right and exalt government aggression as a moral good — the argument devolves around the meaning of the word “person.” The Fourth and Fifth Amendments protect every “person” and all “people,” not just Americans.

And in American jurisprudence, “person” means both human beings and artificial persons — corporations and governments capable of owning property. Property ownership is defined by the right to use, alienate and exclude. Only persons can exercise those rights.

Madison and his colleagues clearly sought to protect property rights from government aggression, no matter the legal status of the owner. We know this from the judicial opinions involving foreign property that preceded and followed the ratification of the Fifth Amendment. If this were not so, then nothing could prevent the feds from seizing and converting the property of states or local governments or international religious institutions to federal use.

War is the health of the state and the graveyard of liberty. The drug war was a disaster for freedom. The war in Ukraine will be so as well, only if we permit it.

Monday, April 25, 2022

While Speaking In Delhi Boris Johnson Discarded Brandon's Ridiculous Ukraine Narrative

indianpunchline |  This is where the defeat in Donbass turns into a climactic event calling into question the entire US narrative on Ukraine — NATO expansion, European security, and dialogue with Russia — and, of course, the fixation about Vladimir Putin’s leadership of Russia.

A poll published Thursday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows Americans’ desire to get involved has waned somewhat. Only 32% say the U.S. should have a major role in the conflict, down from 40% last month. An additional 49% say the US should have a minor role.

While speaking in Delhi, Johnson all but discarded Biden’s narrative. Instead, he called for “setting out a vision for the future of Ukraine in the security architecture of Europe. Where does Ukraine fit in now?”

Johnson said Ukraine needs to be able to answer that question eventually — “what the Ukrainians want eventually.” Interestingly, he didn’t use the word “Ukrainian government.”  

Johnson dilated on “a collection of security guarantees from like-minded countries — security commitments about what we can do to back them up with weaponry, with training, and with intelligence sharing.” But he quickly added that this cannot be “like an Article 5 (NATO) guarantee.” Instead, he said, Ukraine should have “deterrence by denial.”  

Per Johnson’s vision, Ukraine’s NATO membership is inconceivable. Britain anticipates new facts on the ground. Johnson appeared to recognise the emergent political realities as the Russian juggernaut relentlessly “grinds” Kiev’s war machine to dust.

Censorship And Disinformation The Only Western Weapons That Still Appear To Work

mtracey  |  Another severe difficulty of Ling’s, which raises fundamental questions about his ability to cover his declared beat, is recognizing what “disinformation” even is. Maybe Ling missed it, but earlier this month Ken Dilanian of NBC News — one of the most faithful mouthpieces of the US national security state — went on air and openly revealed that the US Government is mounting a full-fledged “information warfare” campaign related to Ukraine. A key component of which is feeding fake information to the media. Dilanian cited one particular fake story that had been deliberately planted to journalists by intelligence officials — despite those officials knowing it was fake. Weirdly though, all the newly emboldened, “disinformation” debunking journalists like Ling don’t seem to regard that campaign of unconcealed information warfare as within their job’s purview.

Ling also appears to have missed a recent revelation reported at CNN of all places, in which an anonymous “Western” official is quoted saying this about the current PR activities of Ukraine government officials: “It’s a war — everything they do and say publicly is designed to help them win the war. Every public statement is an information operation, every interview, every Zelensky appearance broadcast is an information operation.” And yet despite the admitted existence of this “information operation,” Ling is gleeful to participate in it, by giddily spreading around the Ukraine officials’ photos, videos, and claims without a shred of independent corroboration — all under the veneer of Ling’s tough, adversarial journalism. Russia is obviously engaged in its own “information operation,” but so too is Ukraine. Will Ling report on himself next as a “disinformation” culprit?

Of course he won’t, because despite his bogus pretensions, Ling has made it perfectly clear that he has no problem at all with “disinformation” as such. In fact, he actively supports disinformation tactics when it’s in service of his desired political objectives. He publicly demanded that the “intelligence service” of his own government, Canada, ought to be “doing a lot more” to proactively counter Russia by utilizing more robust information warfare techniques. So that’s Justin Ling for you: a “disinformation” reporter who loves disinformation.

If you want to understand why there is so little deviation today from the burgeoning pro-war consensus, it’s got a lot to do with media functionaries like Ling. Most journalists would be utterly mortified to be accused, in a “Serious” outlet like Foreign Policy, of abetting a “Russian disinformation operation.” And their fear would probably be rational: this could genuinely be a career-killer, particularly in the current war-fevered climate. All bets are off in terms of what retribution tactics are potentially on the table. They could be socially shunned, professionally ostracized, and have their material well-being seriously imperiled. The self-appointed “disinformation” pontificators such as Ling, posturing as these tenacious public-spirited watchdogs, really could destroy them.

Ling is an especially blatant joke and fraud, but the media industry is increasingly dominated by creeps like him. Fortunately, they can’t do much to me — except to provide occasional amusement at how pathetic they are.

The West Lacks The Productive Capacity To Supply Ukraine And Thus To Supply Itself

guardian |  The past week furnished a grim glimpse of the future that awaits if Putin is able to continue to wage war with impunity, commit more heinous crimes, threaten nuclear and chemical blackmail and trash the UN charter. Drastically downgrading its growth forecasts due to the conflict, the International Monetary Fund predicted global economic fragmentation, rising debt and social unrest.

David Malpass, head of the World Bank, said a “human catastrophe” loomed as an unprecedented, estimated 37% rise in food prices, caused by war-related disruption to supplies, pushed millions into poverty, increased malnutrition, and reduced funding for education and healthcare for the least well-off.

More than 5 million people have fled Ukraine in two months, and more will follow, exacerbating an international migration emergency that extends from Afghanistan to the Sahel. In drought-hit east Africa, the World Food Programme says 20 million people may face starvation this year. Putin’s war did not create the drought, but the UN warns it could hurt efforts to reduce global heating, thereby triggering further displacement and forced migration.

The broader, negative political impact of the war, should it rage on indefinitely, is almost incalculable. The UN’s future as an authoritative global forum, lawmaker and peacekeeper is in jeopardy, as more than 200 former officials warned Guterres last week. At risk, too, is the credibility of the international court of justice, whose injunction to withdraw was scorned by Putin, and the entire system of war crimes prosecutions.

In terms of democratic norms and human rights, the full or partial subjugation of Ukraine would spell disaster for the international rules-based order – and a triumph for autocrats everywhere. What message would it send, for example, to China over Taiwan, or indeed to Putin as he covets the vulnerable Baltic republics? Islamist terrorists who now furtively plot to exploit the west’s Ukraine distraction would relish such a victory for violence.

Failure to stop the war, rescue Ukraine and punish Russia’s rogue regime to the fullest extent possible would come at an especially high price for Europe and the EU. In prospect is a second cold war with permanent Nato bases on Russia’s borders, massively increased defence spending, an accelerating nuclear arms race, unceasing cyber and information warfare, endemic energy shortages, rocketing living costs, and more French-style, Russian-backed rightwing populist extremism.

In short, the dawn of a new age of instability. Why on earth would politicians such as America’s Joe Biden, Germany’s Olaf Scholz, and France’s Emmanuel Macron tolerate so fraught and dangerous a future when, by taking a more robust stand now, they might prevent much of it from materialising? By supposedly avoiding risks today, they ensure a much riskier tomorrow.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

No Amount Of Ukraine Crisis Propaganda Can Save Old Brandon

BAR  |  The U.S. propaganda victory over Russia will do Joe Biden and the democrats little good. Their willingness to act on their promises and meet the people's needs will be the deciding factors in determining their political fate.

Biden’s actions aren’t very surprising. He was the Ukraine point person after the Barack Obama coup in 2014. He was always one of the most hawkish democrats and came into the presidency with Antony Blinken, Victoria Nuland and the same cast of characters who first violated Ukraine’s sovereignty. He hoped to instigate Russia and kill the NordStreamII pipeline and sanction Russia. He didn’t expect the full incursion that he spent months saying would happen.

Now he is hoisted on his own petard, trying to bully other nations into condemning Russia when it isn’t in their interests to do so, and causing world wide suffering in a futile effort to destroy Russia’s economy. Sanctions against Russia have increased fuel prices all over the world. Disruptions in wheat production will reduce Ukraine’s harvest and decrease supplies in places that had no connection with this ginned up conflict. The anti-Russian propaganda is working but the pro-Biden effort is not, hence the public disapproval.

Millions of Americans are now convinced that Putin is evil and Zelensky is good, but they still have doubts about their own president. The corporate media pro-Biden propaganda said that he was the most progressive president since Franklin Roosevelt and had cut child poverty in half. Now the child tax credit is gone, Build Back Better is up in the air, and promises to relieve student loan debt are a distant memory. Biden and his team think that spin about “Putin’s price hikes” will help to minimize political damage but the polls are an indication of a sour national mood.

Biden is mistaken if he thinks that Putin hatred is enough to save his and the democratic party’s political fortunes. They will sink or swim based on how well they meet needs here at home. Right now, public money that we’re told can’t be used for a child tax credit is going to the military industrial complex to “save” Ukraine.

Israel Became A Gangster State When Its Lawbreakers Became Its Lawmakers

NYTimes  |   For decades, most Israelis have considered Palestinian terrorism the country’s biggest security concern. But there is another ...