Space

SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the low-earth-orbit-needs-more-lasers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Air Force has given private rocket company SpaceX clearance to launch military satellites into orbit. This disrupts the lock that Boeing and Lockheed Martin have had on military launches for almost a decade. SpaceX will get its first opportunity to bid for such launches in June, when the Air Force posts a contract to launch GPS satellites.
News

Al-Qaeda's Job Application Form Revealed 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-a-job dept.
HughPickens.com writes: ABC News reports that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released a list of English-language material recovered during the raid the killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan in 2011 including one document dubbed "Instructions to Applicants," that would not be entirely out of place for an entry-level position at any American company – except for questions like the one about the applicant's willingness to blow themselves up. The questionnaire includes basic personal details, family history, marital status, and education level. It asks that applicants "answer the required information accurately and truthfully" and, "Please write clearly and legibly." Questions include: Is the applicant expert in chemistry, communications or any other field? Do they have a family member in the government who would cooperate with al Qaeda? Have they received any military training? Finally, it asks what the would-be jihadist would like to accomplish and, "Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?" For the final question, the application asks would-be killers that if they were to become martyrs, who should al Qaeda contact?

The corporate tone of the application is jarringly amusing, writes Amanda Taub, but it also hints at a larger truth: a terrorist organization like al-Qaeda is a large bureaucratic organization, albeit one in the "business" of mass-murdering innocent people. Jon Sopel, the North American editor from BBC News, joked that the application "looks like it has been written by someone who has spent too long working for Deloitte or Accenture, but bureaucracy exists in every walk of life – so why not on the path to violent jihad?"
Government

Do Russian Uranium Deals Threaten World Supply Security? 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the plenty-to-go-around dept.
Lasrick writes: A recent article in the New York Times notes that the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and associated firms are gaining control of a growing number of uranium resources and mining operations. The article, headlined Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal focuses on donations to charities connected to former US President Bill Clinton and his family, made by businessmen who stood to profit from the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian company with worldwide uranium-mining interests. But a major premise of the article is that Russian uranium control threatens the security of the global uranium supply. Steve Fetter and Erich Schneider demolish the idea that Russian control of uranium stocks is a threat to global security.
China

US Levels Espionage Charges Against 6 Chinese Nationals 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the coveting-our-baconnaise-technology dept.
Taco Cowboy writes: The U.S. government has indicted five Chinese citizens and arrested a Chinese professor on charges of economic espionage. The government alleges that they took jobs at two small, American chipmakers — Avago Technologies and Skyworks Solutions — in order to steal microelectronics designs. "All of them worked, the indictment contends, to steal trade secrets for a type of chip popularly known as a “filter” that is used for acoustics in mobile telephones, among other purposes. They took the technology back to Tianjin University, created a joint venture company with the university to produce the chips, and soon were selling them to both the Chinese military and to commercial customers."

It's interesting to note that the Reuters article keeps mentioning how this technology — used commonly as an acoustic filter — has "military applications." It's also interesting to look at another recent case involving Shirrey Chen, a hydrologist who was mysteriously arrested on suspicion of espionage, but then abruptly cleared five months later. One can't help but wonder what's driving the U.S.'s new strategy for tackling economic espionage.
Encryption

Australian Law Could Criminalize the Teaching of Encryption 205

Posted by Soulskill
from the technophobes-writing-laws dept.
New submitter petherfile writes: According to Daniel Mathews, new laws passed in Australia (but not yet in effect) could criminalize the teaching of encryption. He explains how a ridiculously broad law could effectively make any encryption stronger than 512 bits criminal if your client is not Australian. He says, "In short, the DSGL casts an extremely wide net, potentially catching open source privacy software, information security research and education, and the entire computer security industry in its snare. Most ridiculous, though, are some badly flawed technicalities. As I have argued before, the specifications are so imprecise that they potentially include a little algorithm you learned at primary school called division. If so, then division has become a potential weapon, and your calculator (or smartphone, computer, or any electronic device) is a potential delivery system for it."
Software

Software Glitch Caused Crash of Airbus A400M Military Transport Aircraft 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the complexity-breeds-failures dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A software glitch caused the crash of an Airbus A400M military transport aircraft, claims German newspaper Der Spiegel (Google translation). The accident, which happened in Seville on the vehicle's first production test flight on 9 May, killed four crew members. Airbus is investigating the system controlling the aircraft's engines. The early suspicions are that it was an installation problem, rather than a design problem.
Cloud

US Navy Abandons Cloud and Data Center Plans In Favor of New Strategy 68

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-out-of-the-cloud dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Navy is not pleased with the progress it has made on data center consolidation and plans to change strategies. "Later this year, we will make an organizational change to our approach to data center consolidation. The Data Center and Application Optimization (DCAO) program office will move from under Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) headquarters to under Program Executive Office-Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS) as a separate entity or program office," said John Zangardi, the Navy's deputy assistant secretary for command, control, computers, intelligence, information operations and space and acting chief information officer. The secretary added that over the past three years, the U.S. Department of the Navy had consolidated 290 IT systems and applications at 45 national sites.
Books

Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq 263

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes: The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting random typewriter keys for an infinite amount of time will eventually be able to create the complete works of Shakespeare. Various scientists such as Nobel laureate Arno Penzias have shown how the theorem is mathematically impossible. Using that metaphor, if you took every member of United States Congress and House of Representatives and wrote their collected wisdom on Iraq, it's unlikely they could equal the astuteness of even a single chapter of author Malcolm W. Nance in The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency 2003-2014. It's Nance's overwhelming real-world experiential knowledge of the subject, language, culture, tribal affiliations and more which make this the overwhelming definitive book on the subject. Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
The Military

Navy's New Laser Weapon: Hype Or Reality? 185

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-phasers-are-where-it's-at dept.
Lasrick writes: MIT's Subrata Ghoshroy deconstructs the Navy's recent claim of successful testing with the Laser Weapon System. It seems the test videos released to the press in December were nothing more than a dog-and-pony show with scaled-down expectations so as to appear successful: "When they couldn't get a laser lightweight enough to fit on a ship while still being powerful enough to burn through the metal skin of an incoming nuclear missile, they simply changed their goal to something akin to puncturing the side of an Iranian rubber dinghy." Ghoshroy is an entertaining writer and an old hand in the laser research industry. He gives a explanation here of the history of laser weapons, and how the search for combat-ready tech continues: 'At the end of the day, good beam quality and good SWAP—size, weight and power—still determine the success or failure of a given laser weapon, and we're just not anywhere near meeting all those requirements simultaneously.'
The Military

FAA: Big Tech Challenges For Massive Washington, DC Warbirds Flyover 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the blast-from-the-past dept.
coondoggie writes: It will be one of the largest gatherings of flying WWII aircraft in history as 56 famous vintage warbirds will fly through restricted airspace over the National Mall Friday in remembrance of the 70th anniversary of VE-Day or Victory in Europe Day. The huge flyover, dubbed "The Arsenal of Democracy," of so many different types of aircraft – from seaplanes to fighters and the only flying B-29 Superfortress – was no easy undertaking. The first plane should be visible along the National Mall around 12:10 p.m. With roughly 90 seconds between formations, the Flyover will end by 1 p.m. Reagan National Airport will be closed to commercial traffic from 12 noon to 1 p.m. to accommodate the flights. The Flyover will be streamed live here.
United States

Inside the Military-Police Center That Spies On Baltimore's Rioters 203

Posted by timothy
from the cynics-were-optimists dept.
Lasrick writes: Adam Weinstein on a program designed to catch terrorists attacking Baltimore that is now being used to spy on protesters: 'On Ambassador Road, just off I-695 around the corner from the FBI, nearly 100 employees sit in a high-tech suite and wait for terrorists to attack Baltimore. They've waited 11 years. But they still have plenty of work to do, like using the intel community's toys to target this week's street protests.' Great read.
The Military

The United States Just Might Be Iran's Favorite New Nuclear Supplier 164

Posted by samzenpus
from the company-store dept.
Lasrick writes: Nick Gillard from Project Alpha points out that for more than 3 decades, Iran has purchased goods for its nuclear program largely from the shadows. With the Framework Agreement, that will almost certainly change: "According to the US State Department, one of the agreement's provisions creates a dedicated procurement channel for Iran's nuclear program. This channel will monitor and approve, on a case-by-case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer to Iran of certain nuclear-related and dual-use materials and technology." That is terrific news for US companies, because Iran is known to covet US-made parts required for their program, most of which are "dual-use."
Technology

Breakthough Makes Transparent Aluminum Affordable 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the hello-computer dept.
frank249 writes: In the Star Trek universe, transparent aluminum is used in various fittings in starships, including exterior ship portals and windows. In real life, Aluminium oxynitride is a form of ceramic whose properties are similar to those of the fictional substance seen in Star Trek. It has a hardness of 7.7 Mohs and was patented in 1980. It has military applications as bullet-resistant armor, but is too expensive for widespread use.

Now, there has been a major breakthrough in materials science. After decades of research and development, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has created a transparent, bulletproof material that can be molded into virtually any shape. This material, known as Spinel (magnesium aluminate), is made from a synthetic powdered clay that is heated and pressed under vacuum into transparent sheets. Spinel weighs just a fraction of a modern bulletproof pane.
The Military

US Successfully Tests Self-Steering Bullets 216

Posted by Soulskill
from the bad-news-for-Neo dept.
mpicpp sends this report from The Independent: The United States Department of Defense has carried out what it says is its most successful test yet of a bullet that can steer itself towards moving targets. Experienced testers have used the technology to hit targets that were actively evading the shot, and even novices that were using the system for the first time were able to hit moving targets. The project, which is known as Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance weapon, or Exacto, is being made for the American government's military research agency, DARPA. It is thought to use small fins that shoot out of the bullet and re-direct its path, but the U.S. has not disclosed how it works. Technology in the bullet allows it to compensate for weather and wind, as well as the movement of people it is being fired at, and curve itself in the air as it heads towards its target.
Security

Pentagon Discloses Network Breach By Russian Hackers 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the digital-diplomatic-incident dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Pentagon has disclosed that Russian hackers were able to breach one of its secure networks earlier this year, and referred to the attack as a "worrisome" incident. "Earlier this year, the sensors that guard DOD's unclassified networks detected Russian hackers accessing one of our networks," said defense secretary Ash Carter yesterday during a speech at Stanford University. Carter warned Russia that the U.S. Department of Defense would retaliate with cyber campaigns should it see fit. "Adversaries should know that our preference for deterrence and our defensive posture don't diminish our willingness to use cyber options if necessary," said Carter. He added in a prepared statement that the Russian hackers had been able to gain access to an "unclassified network" but had been "quickly identified" by a team of cyberattack experts who managed to block the hackers "within 24 hours." The cybersecurity response team had quickly analyzed the hack patterns and code and identified the intruders as Russian, before "kicking them off the network."
Crime

Gen. Petraeus To Be Sentenced To Two Years Probation and Fine 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the standing-tall-before-the-man dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Petraeus, a now-retired U.S. Army General, has already agreed to plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material. As part of the agreement with prosecutors filed in March, the government will not seek any prison time. Instead, Petraeus will agree to pay a $40,000 fine and receive two years of probation, according to court documents. The recommendations are not binding on the federal judge who will preside at the hearing Thursday afternoon in Charlotte.
United States

Drone Killed Hostages From U.S. and Italy, Drawing Obama Apology 334

Posted by timothy
from the tragic-events dept.
HughPickens.com writes: The NYT reports that President Obama has offered an emotional apology for the accidental killing of two hostages held by Al Qaeda, one of them American, in a United States government counterterrorism operation in January, saying he takes "full responsibility" for their deaths. "As president and as commander in chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations," including the one that inadvertently took the lives of the two captives, a grim-faced Obama said in a statement to reporters in the White House briefing room. The White House earlier released an extraordinary statement revealing that intelligence officials had confirmed that Warren Weinstein, an American held by Al Qaeda since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian held since 2012, died during the operation. Gunmen abducted Warren Weinstein in 2011 from his home in Lahore, Pakistan. They posed as neighbors, offered food and then pistol-whipped the American aid worker and tied up his guards, according to his daughter Alisa Weinstein.

The White House did not explain why it has taken three months to disclose the episode. Obama said that the operation was conducted after hundreds of hours of surveillance had convinced American officials that they were targeting an Al Qaeda compound where no civilians were present, and that "capturing these terrorists was not possible." The White House said the operation that killed the two hostages "was lawful and conducted consistent with our counterterrorism policies" but nonetheless the government is conducting a "thorough independent review" to determine what happened and how such casualties could be avoided in the future.
Security

Tor Is Building the Next Generation Dark Net With Funding From DARPA 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the seek-and-go-hide dept.
Patrick O'Neill writes: After years of relative neglect, Tor has been able to dedicate increasing time and resources to its hidden services thanks to funding in part by DARPA, as well as an upcoming crowdfunding campaign. DARPA's funding lasts 1-3 years and covers several projects including security and usability upgrades that close the gap between hidden services and the everyday Internet. "Next-generation hidden services may be run from multiple hosts to better deal with denial of service attacks and high traffic in general, a potentially big power boost that further closes the gap between the Dark Net and normal websites. ... Hidden services, which make up about 4 percent of the entire Tor network, have until recently been relatively neglected when it comes to funding and developing."
The Military

US Military To Recruit Civilian Cybersecurity Experts 67

Posted by timothy
from the which-masters-would-you-prefer? dept.
An anonymous reader writes The U.S. Army is to create a new cybersecurity division, Cyber Branch 17, and is also considering launching a cyber career track for civilians, according to an announcement made this week by Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon. Cardon, who currently heads the U.S. Army's cyber command, ARCYBER, spoke to the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on Tuesday about the growing threats and capabilities used in cyber warfare. He argued that creating a cyber career management field for civilians would result in an easier recruitment process, as opposed to recruiting internally and trying to retain the talent, he said. Cardon maintains that recruiting and retaining talent in the field is often challenging, given internal employment constraints surrounding compensation and slow hiring processes.
The Military

Scientists Locate Sunken, Radioactive Aircraft Carrier Off California Coast 193

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-you-leave-behind dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Aaron Kinney reports in the San Jose Mercury News that scientists have captured the first clear images of the USS Independence, a radioactivity-polluted World War II aircraft carrier that rests on the ocean floor 30 miles off the coast of Half Moon Bay. The Independence saw combat at Wake Island and other decisive battles against Japan in 1944 and 1945 and was later blasted with radiation in two South Pacific nuclear tests. Assigned as a target vessel for the Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests, she was placed within one-half-mile of ground zero and was engulfed in a fireball and heavily damaged during the 1946 nuclear weapons tests at Bikini Atoll. The veteran ship did not sink, however (though her funnels and island were crumpled by the blast), and after taking part in another explosion on 25 July, the highly radioactive hull was later taken to Pearl Harbor and San Francisco for further tests and was finally scuttled off the coast of San Francisco, California, on 29 January 1951. "This ship is an evocative artifact of the dawn of the atomic age, when we began to learn the nature of the genie we'd uncorked from the bottle," says James Delgado. "It speaks to the 'Greatest Generation' — people's fathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers who served on these ships, who flew off those decks and what they did to turn the tide in the Pacific war."

Delgado says he doesn't know how many drums of radioactive material are buried within the ship — perhaps a few hundred. But he is doubtful that they pose any health or environmental risk. The barrels were filled with concrete and sealed in the ship's engine and boiler rooms, which were protected by thick walls of steel. The carrier itself was clearly "hot" when it went down and and it was packed full of fresh fission products and other radiological waste at the time it sank. The Independence was scuttled in what is now the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary, a haven for wildlife, from white sharks to elephant seals and whales. Despite its history as a dumping ground Richard Charter says the radioactive waste is a relic of a dark age before the enviornmental movement took hold. "It's just one of those things that humans rather stupidly did in the past that we can't retroactively fix.""