We’re reversing the normal sequence of headline posts and starting with today’s very newsy tales from the dark side, featuring major developments in Asia [after the jump], drones, the SinoAmerican EspioCyberwar, and a whole lot more.
But first, the toke’s on J. Edgar, with Fibbie pragmatism triumphant, via The Verge:
The FBI admits it might have to toke up to fight cybercrime
As the FBI looks to hire more cybersecurity agents, it’s running into a big problem: the siren song of marijuana. The FBI has a no-tolerance policy for employees using illegal drugs, but new statements by director James Comey suggest the agency is considering loosening that policy to attract employees from the cybersecurity community.
To hear Comey tell it, it’s a talent pool that’s notorious for rampant weed-smoking. “I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cybercriminals,” Comey told an audience at the New York City Bar Association, “and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview.”
The bureau’s weed problem is particularly severe given the rise of legal marijuana use within the US, implicating many potential FBI hackers along the way. As a result, Comey said he was “grappling with the issue” of how the bureau’s policies might be amended.
From The Age, suspicions confirmed:
Assange targeted by FBI probe, US court documents reveal
WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange remains the subject of an active criminal investigation by the United States Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation, newly published court documents reveal.
Papers released in US legal proceedings have revealed that a “criminal/national security investigation” by the US Department of Justice and FBI probe of WikiLeaks is “a multi-subject investigation” that is still “active and ongoing” more than four years after the anti-secrecy website began publishing secret US diplomatic and military documents.
Confirmation that US prosecutors have not closed the book on WikiLeaks and Mr Assange comes as a consequence of litigation by the US Electronic Privacy Information Centre to enforce a freedom of information request for documents relating to the FBI’s WikiLeaks investigation.
Justice Department lawyers last month told the US District Court in Washington DC that there had been “developments in the investigation over the last year.” In a document filed with the court on Monday, the US Government further affirmed that the “main, multi-subject, criminal investigation of the [Department of Justice] and FBI remains open and pending” making it necessary “to withhold law enforcement records related to this civilian investigation.”
There’s just no rest for the Wiki-ed, via South China Morning Post:
WikiLeaks vows to reveal second country where NSA is recording all mobile phone calls
- WikiLeaks to name second country where the NSA is said to be recording the content of phone calls, despite warnings from Glenn Greenwald that this could “lead to deaths”
WikiLeaks has pledged to reveal the name of a second country that is having virtually all of its mobile phone calls recorded by the US National Security Agency, despite a warning that leaking the information could “lead to deaths”.
The pledge came after The Intercept revealed that the Bahamas and one other country were having most of their mobile calls recorded and stored by a powerful NSA program called SOMALGET. While the Bahamas was named, the identity of the mystery second country was kept hidden.
Greenwald, who first broke the Edward Snowden story to the world, had said on Twitter the decision not to reveal the name was made because “we were *very convinced this 1 would –> [lead to] deaths”.
Meanwhile, Truthdig raises a crucial question:
What’s the Point of a Source Protection Law That Wouldn’t Protect Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden?
Laws are bad when they don’t do what they are meant to and even worse when they cause harm instead. The journalist-source protection law being debated by Congress—the Free Flow of Information Act (FFIA or “federal shield law”) fails in both respects. Despite being pushed by media organizations after Associated Press reporters and other journalists were served court orders last summer, it is doubtful that the proposed law will meaningfully protect anyone. Instead, it sets the stage to punish whomever the government decides are “illegitimate” journalists.
Indeed, any outlet committed to giving voice to whistle-blowers—such as The Intercept or WikiLeaks—is not considered a “covered journalist” under the measure. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who drafted the bill, conceded that The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, whose coverage of whistle-blower Snowden’s releases won a Pulitzer for The Guardian, would probably not be covered. The FFIA would fail to protect Snowden, or Manning, who provided evidence of war crimes and military cover-ups to WikiLeaks. Both sparked unprecedented public debates on government accountability and suffered the full wrath of the federal government. In other words, they are precisely the sources we need a shield law to protect.
The FFIA does not include those “whose principal function, as demonstrated by the totality of such person or entity’s work, is to publish primary source documents that have been disclosed to such person or entity without authorization.” This is colloquially called the WikiLeaks clause. But The Intercept is also in trouble owing to what its new editor-in-chief, John Cook, described in mid-April as a “commitment to continue the work of reporting on, publishing, and explicating” Snowden’s releases.
Techdirt, as usual, spots the ironic:
Keith Alexander: We Need More Spying In The Future Because All Of Our Previous Spying Has Only Increased The Number Of Terrorist Attacks
- from the No-Such-Agency:-no-such-thing-as-‘too-much-surveillance’ dept
The New Yorker has published excerpts of a lengthy interview with retired NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander. Along with the usual defenses of the surveillance apparatus he ran for eight years (with his fiery “collect it all” attitude), Alexander makes the case for continued pervasive surveillance while admitting the last decade-plus of spying hasn’t made the US — or the world — any safer.
Al Jazeera America acts symbolically:
California bill would require judge’s warrant for government spying
- Measure passes state Senate with just one opposing vote; proponents argue surveillance is unconstitutional
A bill in California’s state legislature would require the federal government to have a warrant from a judge if it wants state officials to cooperate when federal agencies search residents’ cellphone and computer records.
The bill, which passed the state Senate with just one opposing vote this week, was introduced in the wake of information leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, revealing massive internal surveillance of U.S. citizens by the NSA.
“The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is very clear. It says the government shall not engage in unreasonable search and seizure,” said the bill’s author, Democratic State Sen. Ted Lieu, of Torrance. “The National Security Agency’s massive and indiscriminate collecting of phone data on all Americans, including more than 38 million Californians, is a threat to our liberty and freedom.”
The bill wouldn’t bar the NSA or any other federal government agency from continuing to spy. But it would prohibit the state from participating in that surveillance or providing material support to the agencies involved.
And on to that conveniently timed [for Washington] SinoCyberwar, first from Global Times:
China summons US ambassador over indictment against Chinese military officers
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang summoned US Ambassador to China Max Baucus on Monday night, lodging a complaint with the US over its indictment against five Chinese military officers despite China’s protests, according to a press release by the Foreign Ministry Tuesday morning.
The United States seriously violated the norms of international relations, breached China-US cooperation in cyber security and badly hurt China-US ties by fabricating information and indicting Chinese military officers on allegations of cyber theft, Zheng said.
China expressed strong indignation and opposition to the move by the United States, he added.
More from South China Morning Post:
China warns Washington it could take ‘further action’ over US hacking charges
- The US Justice Department on Monday indicted five members of the Chinese military on charges they stole US secrets through hacking to aid state-owned companies. Beijing quickly rejected the claims
The US Ambassador to China, Max Baucus, met with Zheng Zeguang, assistant foreign minister, shortly after the United States charged the five Chinese, accusing them of hacking into American nuclear, metal and solar companies to steal trade secrets.
Zheng “protested” the actions by the United States, saying the indictment had seriously harmed relations between both countries, state news agency Xinhua said.
Zheng told Baucus that depending on the development of the situation, China “will take further action on the so-called charges by the United States”.
Sky News raises the obvious defense:
China Angry Over US Spy Charges ‘Hypocrisy’
- The United States is accused of “double standards” on cyber security after five Chinese officers are charged over alleged hacking.
Geng Yansheng, a Chinese defence spokesman, said the steps taken by the United States had “severely damaged the mutual trust” between the two countries.
“From Wikileaks to the Snowden incident, America’s hypocrisy and double standards on issues of cyber security are abundantly clear,” he said. “The Chinese military is a severe victim of America’s behaviour.
“According to statistics, the servers used by the Chinese military have been widely attacked by foreigners and according to the IP addresses, a significant number of them come from America.”
And then, inevitably, came this, from Sina English:
China publishes evidence of US cyber attack
A spokesperson for China’s State Internet Information Office on Monday published the latest data of US cyber attack, saying that China is a solid defender of cyber security.
The US is the biggest attacker of China’s cyber space, the spokesperson said, adding that the US charges of hacking against five Chinese military officers on Monday are “groundless”.
Latest data from the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center of China (NCNERTTCC) showed that from March 19 to May 18, a total of 2,077 Trojan horse networks or botnet servers in the US directly controlled 1.18 million host computers in China.
The mysterious Chinese unit behind the cyberespionage charges
On Monday, the United States government leveled for the first time charges against a group of identified Chinese military officers, allegedly for stealing American trade secrets through cyberespionage.
The individuals named in the indictment are all members of a mysterious unit within the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) command structure, known as Unit 61398. It is estimated that the unit has targeted at least 1,000 private or public companies and organizations in the past 12 years. Western cybersecurity experts often refer to the group as “APT1″, which stands for “Advanced Persistent Threat 1″, or “Byzantine Candor”. It is believed to operate under the Second Bureau of the PLA’s General Staff Department, which is responsible for collecting foreign military intelligence.
Many China military observers argue that Unit 61398 is staffed by several thousand operatives, who can be broadly categorized into two groups: one consisting of computer programmers and network operations experts, and the other consisting of English-language specialists, with the most talented members of the Unit combining both skills.
And Reuters strikes back:
China bans use of Microsoft’s Windows 8 on government computers
China has banned government use of Windows 8, Microsoft Corp’s latest operating system (OS), in a blow to the U.S. technology company which has long been plagued by sales woes in the country.
The Central Government Procurement Center issued the ban on installing Windows 8 on government computers as part of a notice on the use of energy-saving products, posted on its website last week.
The official Xinhua news agency said the ban was to ensure computer security after Microsoft ended support for its Windows XP operating system, which was widely used in China.
The same concept, another front, via the Associated Press:
Germany clamps down on exports of spy tech
Germany says it will restrict exports of surveillance technology to states that fail to respect their citizens’ human rights.
Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel says the move is designed to prevent spy software ‘Made in Germany’ from being used for internal repression by autocratic regimes.
Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders welcomed the decision. Rights groups have in the past accused German companies of selling spy software to countries such as Bahrain and Uzbekistan, where the technology is allegedly used to monitor dissidents and journalists.
Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse covers old school business, run both profitably and hypocritically:
Peace-loving Sweden ‘arms dictators’ as defence exports soar
Alongside a global reputation for peacemaking and generous foreign aid, Sweden has become a major world supplier of weapons counting a number of regimes criticised for human rights abuses among its customers.
Ranked the third largest arms exporter per capita after Israel and Russia, Sweden’s booming industry has stirred up ethical concerns among Swedes about some countries it is doing business with.
[C]ritics charge that Sweden has become more inclined to arm regimes accused of human rights abuses, including Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan, as demand from Western nations has declined since the Cold War ended.
On to the Game of Drones, first with The Hill:
Reid: Drone-memo author is a go
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says he has the votes to confirm David Barron, the author of memos justifying drone strikes against American citizens, to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.
Reid said most of the members of the Senate Democratic caucus were satisfied with the defense of Barron provided by White House lawyers at a private briefing last week.
“We’ll vote on the Barron filibuster, stopping that tomorrow. I think we’ll be okay,” Reid said at a Tuesday press conference.
Anchors Aweigh with United Press International:
Navy taps Textron Systems Unmanned Systems for task order work
The U.S. Navy has issued a task order to Textron Systems Unmanned Systems to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data using its catapult-launched Aerosonde SUAS.
Textron Systems Unmanned Systems reports receipt of a new Navy task order to provide mission support services with its Aerosonde Small Unmanned Aircraft System.
The task order was issued under the Navy Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance contract, and indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity program under which Textron will supply the SUAS, together with system operators and field service representatives on a fee-for-service basis.
And from Aviation Week & Space Technology, strike up Le Marseillaise:
France Weighs Arming UAVs
- France inches closer to a decision on arming UAVs
The French government is carefully avoiding raising ethical objections to the French air force’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), including General Atomics MQ-9 Reapers acquired from the U.S. and recently delivered to the 1/33 Sqdn. French authorities believe UAV reconnaissance capabilities -offer unprecedented advantages, while weapons continue to be carried only by manned combat aircraft such as Dassault -Mirage 2000Ds and Rafales.
Official comments on France’s employment of UAVs are rare and cautiously focus on their complementary role. “They are not expected to replace aircraft; they don’t cover the complete spectrum of operational needs,” says Col. Christophe Fontaine, head of the 1/33 Sqdn. “They complement other capabilities.”
The French forces, which long delayed expressing a clear policy on UAV use, have been operating limited numbers of EADS Harfangs and General Atomics MQ-1 Predators in the last few years and selected the Reaper in the absence of a satisfactory domestic candidate. The U.S. UAV entered service in France recently, and two have already accumulated 700 flight hours across several theaters of operation. The French air force plans to order a total of 12 Reapers, which are capable of carrying weapons—although only with Pentagon approval. To date, Washington has been reluctant to allow even allies such as France or Italy to arm the UAVs it sells them.
And for our final dronal item, sharing the wealth with TheLocal.it:
Finmeccanica launches European drone project
A subsidiary of Finmeccanica has joined forces with fellow aerospace companies in France and Germany to develop a European drone, months after the Italian company built the UN’s first such aircraft.
Alenia Aermacchi will work with France’s Dassault Aviation and Airbus Group in Germany to develop an unmanned aircraft by 2020, Finmeccanica said in a statement released on Monday.
Announcement of the project follows preliminary discussions at the Paris Air Show last year, Finmeccanica said. The three European companies have delivered the joint proposal to their respective governments and aim to develop the plans along with national defence ministries.
From the Christian Science Monitor, the first of three Libyan headlines, with the stinger at the end:
Rogue Libyan general attracts militia support as parliament flails
- Libyans are waiting to see how the government responds to Khalifa Haftar’s recent attacks – but even decisive action is probably not enough to stem rising chaos.
A former Libyan general appears to be gaining allies among armed factions for his self-described campaign to restore stability in defiance of a weak government.
Two camps are taking shape: The Islamist politicians who dominate Libya’s interim parliament, and their rivals, who are gradually amassing behind Khalifa Haftar, the retired general. His forces have attacked Islamist militias in Benghazi and claimed credit for an attack on the General National Congress (GNC), as parliament is called.
In a bid yesterday to diffuse the crisis, acting prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni called on the GNC to vote immediately on a 2014 budget and to confirm his successor, the prime minister-elect, before a recess and elections for a new interim legislature.
The Los Angeles Times gets clandestine:
Libyan lawmakers meet in secret after being targeted by ex-general
Libyan lawmakers met in hiding Tuesday, two days after forces loyal to a renegade ex-general stormed the parliament building and demanded that the Islamist-dominated body disband.
Onetime general Khalifa Haftar’s offensive against Islamists and their allied militias, launched last week in the eastern city of Benghazi, threatened to escalate into the worst fighting Libya has seen in the three years since an uprising ousted and killed dictator Moammar Kadafi.
It also posed a stark challenge to the weak central government, which has flailed in its attempts to establish order.
But it takes the World Socialist Web Site to get to the heart of the matter:
CIA-linked general launches Libya coup bid
The leader of the latest military revolt is a former Libyan army general, Khalifa Haftar. A supporter of the 1969 military revolt led by Colonel Gaddafi that overthrew the US and British-backed monarch, King Idris, Haftar was captured during the 1980s Libyan intervention in Chad and then released at Washington’s request, becoming an “asset” of the US Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA moved him to Virginia, near the agency’s headquarters in Langley, and helped him set up training camps for a “Libyan National Army”—the same name he has given to the collection of military and militia units now fighting to overthrow the regime in Tripoli.
When the US and NATO launched their war for regime change in Libya three years ago, Haftar was airlifted back into Benghazi to assume military command of proxy forces on the ground as the US and NATO bombarded the country. He was supplanted in this role, however, by a former Gaddafi interior minister, Abdel Fatah Younis, who was himself subsequently assassinated. He was then eclipsed by the Islamist militias who came to dominate the NATO-backed ground forces.
Meanwhile, from BBC News, a story few will believe in the countries where vaccinating for polio can be lethal to doctors and nurses because the program was arrogantly and lethally used by the CIA to suss out Osama bin Laden and presumably other things as well [can anyone saw war crime, giving the growing numbers of victims?]:
White House: CIA has ended use of vaccine programmes
The CIA has ended the use of vaccine programmes in its spying operations amid concerns for the safety of health workers, the White House has said.
In a letter to US public health schools, a White House aide said the CIA stopped such practices in August. The CIA used a fake vaccine programme to try to find Osama Bin Laden before US special forces killed him in 2011.
The CIA’s move comes after a wave of deadly attacks by militants on polio vaccination workers in Pakistan.
After the jump, shots fired in Korean waters, China/Vietnam tensions remain high, new alliances form, the Japanese remilitarization push morphs, and, oh yeah, folks claim North Korea’s got nuclear-capable missiles. . .