I am off this afternoon and usually do not blog this much. I really started the blog to talk about Backgammon and the Indianapolis Colts. I never thought anyone would ever read it… I instead starting writing about things that interest me. Drones, History, Foreign Policy, NSA, Cryptography, CIA etc…
I was totally alarmed by two things I read today.
Amazons role in targeted killings of Americans.
I personally am against the use of Drones as weapons vs anyone for any reason. If you target Americans… You are not allowing them you are taking away a persons Constitutional guarantee of due process of the law.
“”””””Amazon is now integral to the U.S. government’s foreign policy of threatening and killing.
Any presidential decision to take the life of an American citizen is a subset of a much larger grave problem. Whatever the nationality of those who hear the menacing buzz of a drone overhead, the hijacking of skies to threaten and kill those below is unconscionable. And, as presently implemented, unconstitutional.
On Feb. 11 the Times reported that the Obama administration “is debating whether to authorize a lethal strike against an American citizen living in Pakistan who some believe is actively plotting terrorist attacks.” In effect, at issue is whether the president should order a summary execution — an assassination — on his say-so.
The American way isn’t supposed to be that way. The “due process of law” required by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution is not supposed to be whatever the president decides to do.”””””””
DHS to buy 141,000 Sniper Bullets… Bringing the amount of ammunition purchased in last several years at over 2 billion
This is just staggering and scary.
“””””””””The Department of Homeland Security is buying more bullets with a solicitation for over 141,00 rounds of sniper ammunition.
According to a solicitation posted on FedBizOpps, the federal agency is looking to procure 141,160 rounds of Hornady .308 Winchester 168gr A-MAX TAP ammunition.
Such ammunition is sometimes retailed as “Zombie Max,” a marketing gimmick alluding to its power.
“What makes the .308 ammunition so deadly is the long range capability of the round,” notes James Smith. “The ability is called ballistic coefficient, or the efficiency of a projectile in overcoming air resistance as it travels to its target. According to Speer Reloading Manual Number 13, the .308 165 grain has the highest coefficient of any hunting rifle.”
The latest purchase further illustrates the fallacy of the DHS’ excuse that it is buying bullets in bulk in order to save money.
The federal agency will pay around $1.20 for each round, when a lower grain round could be acquired for around a quarter of the price.
The DHS has faced questions over the last couple of years as to the purpose of its mass ammo purchases which have totaled over 2 billion bullets, with some fearing the federal agency is gearing up for civil unrest.””””””””
Secret Space plane in orbit for 400 days
Interesting science wise.. Terrifying it is another example of incredible technology being used for horrific purposes most likely.
“””””””The U.S. Air Force’s unmanned X-37B space plane has now circled Earth for more than 400 days on a hush-hush mission that is creeping closer and closer to the vehicle’s orbital longevity record.
The X-37B spacecraft launched on Dec. 11, 2012, meaning that it has been aloft for 413 days as of Tuesday (Jan. 28) on the third mission for the program, which is known as OTV-3 (short for Orbital Test Vehicle-3). The endurance record is 469 days, set during OTV-2, which blasted off in 2011.
OTV-2 and OTV-3 have utilized different X-37B vehicle (the Air Force currently has two vehicles). The space plane currently zipping around Earth also flew the program’s inaugural OTV-1 mission, which stayed in space for 225 days after launching in 2010. [See photos from the X-37B space plane’s OTV-3 mission] “””””””””
Cryptography. Why is it so vital an interest to me and especially the NSA
“”””””””Most discussion of the Snowden revelations has looked at stories that have straightforward political implications, such as the tapping of German Chancellor Merkel’s phone. However, governments have spied on each other for hundreds of years. It’s harder to understand why Snowden’s release of documents which seem to show that the NSA has compromised cryptographic standards is important.
Governments want to be able to communicate without their adversaries abroad being able to listen to what they say. They also want to be able to listen in on their adversaries. Cryptography, the science of making codes and encoding information, and cryptanalysis, the science of breaking codes and decoding information, have important implications for national security. The U.S., like many other countries, used to treat codes as potential weapons, and controlled their export to foreign countries until the 1990s. The NSA played a key role in trying to break other countries’ codes, but it also had responsibility for protecting U.S. communications from external attackers.
For a long time, the U.S. national security establishment was able to keep a lid on cryptography. On the one hand, most serious users of cryptography in the U.S. were either part of the government or large firms (which could be influenced by the government). On the other, the U.S. imposed export restrictions on cryptographic technologies, to try to prevent them getting to countries with hostile interests. The NSA could both secure U.S. systems against foreign cryptanalysis and try to break other countries’ (and non-state actors’) codes without any very obvious conflict between its two roles.
From the 1980s on, it became harder and more complicated for the NSA to balance cracking foreigners’ cryptography while protecting and developing U.S. cryptography. The NSA began to lose control of cryptography as more private companies started to use it for their own purposes, and to push for stronger codes. These codes were tougher for the NSA to crack, and more likely (because they were in the private sector) to escape to foreign jurisdictions. As Whitfield Diffie and Susan Landau’s history of cryptography policy, Privacy on the Line describes it, the NSA tried to extend its authority to cover U.S. private industry as well as the public sector. This would allow it to influence the standards used by the private sector. However, the U.S. Congress was suspicious of the NSA, and put a different body, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), in charge of private sector cryptography standards. As a top-secret memo made clear, the NSA was very unhappy with this decision, even though it still had substantial informal influence over the code making process. The NIST was poorly funded, and had little technical expertise, so that it had to consult with NSA over standards. Since the NSA had resources and technical expertise, the NSA was better able to shape NIST standards much more than Congress had ever envisaged .
These tensions broke out into the so-called “Crypto Wars” in the 1990s, when Phil Zimmerman, an activist and software developer, created a program called PGP or Pretty Good Privacy, which gave ordinary computer users access to new and powerful cryptographic techniques. U.S. authorities investigated Zimmerman for breach of export controls law, but had to give up when privacy activists pulled a series of clever stunts that made the law effectively unenforceable. At more or less the same time, the U.S. was dealing with a surging demand for strong cryptography, which it tried to resolve in law-enforcement friendly ways, through creating standards which would allow the government some access (through a scheme called “key escrow”) to encrypted communications. These efforts too failed, leading to the effective abandonment of U.S. efforts to limit private access to strong cryptography. It appeared that the national security state had lost out to an alliance of civil liberties activists (who wanted strong cryptography for individuals) and businesses (which wanted to get rid of export control rules that they saw as hampering U.S. competitiveness).
The old traditional cryptography regime, which had been dominated by national security, gave way to a new regime, based around electronic commerce, and the use of cryptography to protect communications, personal information and so on. People use sophisticated cryptography every day on the Internet, without ever realizing it, every time they click on a https:// Web address. They trust encryption to protect their bank account details, personal information and pretty much every other form of sensitive information on the Internet. Without widespread strong encryption, the Internet would be a much scarier place, where people would be far less likely to use their credit cards to buy things or reveal (knowingly or unknowingly) sensitive data.”””””””””