Archive for October, 2010

THE LEGALITY OF DRONE WARFARE

October 31, 2010

There is an ongoing global war on terrorism. In all wars, conventional or asymmetric, one objective is to eliminate the leadership of the enemy, whether it is a leader of a state or a leader or leaders of a terrorist organization.

The question then is if this is going to be done by traditional military means or through covert activity. In Afghanistan NATO forces (in the majority they are US forces) want to actively hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden. There is no effort to assassinate him or the senior leadership of al-Qaida in Waziristan, where these enemies of civilization are hiding. It is important to put things in a proper context when discussing drone warfare in the combat zones of the global war on terrorist groups.

Under the U.N. charter, Article 51 of self-defense, the US forces can attack another nation in the spirit of self-defense, and under international law that is justified.

In general it is better to wage drone warfare within the terrorist world war than launching a 2,000-pound laser-guided bomb from an F-16. The context of war is completely different from that of a political assassination. In this many legal experts and politicians have gone off-track. One example is the Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh who in 2002 condemned an American drone attack on al-Qaida leaders in Yemen. She labeled the attack an illegal assassination.

In Iraq, Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaida in Iraq, was tracked to a home and it was hit by a 500-pound bomb. That was of course militarily the right thing to do at the time. If bin Laden and his senior leadership is destroyed there will still be a residual entity.

In the case of al-Qaida in Iraq the US still needed to do a series of policy steps in order to eliminate al-Qaida in Iraq. The leadership is the center of gravity. One cannot assume that once the leadership is eliminated, that’s the end of the story.

If an American citizen is formally working with a terrorist organization and he happens to be part of the leadership, he should well be under attack as part of drone warfare.

There are two Swedish professors who support the theory that drone warfare is some kind of assassination: former international law adviser to socialist Swedish governments, professor Ove Bring, and professor Mattias Gardell of the University of Uppsala, who is a professor of religious studies. They are off-track.

SPACE EXPLORATION: US LEAD IN RACING FOR MARS

October 28, 2010

Reports have it that China intends to launch toward Mars as soon as 2013. The new project, says Fox News, will make use of technologies developed for China’s first lunar satellite, launched in 2007.

Official messages from governments indicate that U.S.A., India, China, and Russia all declaring that they hope to reach Mars at around the same time.

By the mid-2030s NASA can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth is the estimate of President Obama:
Landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it.

India has publicly stated that it intends to go to Mars by 2030. So the race is on. NASA’s efforts depend on money. NASA is currently coordinating with a variety of commercial companies to facilitate manned missions to Mars, including SpaceX, the United Launch Alliance (a partnership that includes Boeing Corp.), Orbital Sciences Corp., and others. Which one will successfully build our next-generation rocket for manned spaceflight remains a much debated question.

The U.S. space agency has given the green light for development of a 2013 Mars orbiter mission to investigate the mystery of how Mars lost much of its atmosphere, a program called the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission.

In addition, the space agency plans yet another in its series of Martian rovers, a science laboratory called Curiosity intended to collect soil samples and rock cores and analyze them. Months of work remain before the car-sized rover is ready for launch from Cape Canaveral.

“The launch period for Curiosity is fall 2011. The specific launch period is Nov. 25 to Jan. 18, 2011,” said Guy Webster of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA has sent a half dozen probes to Mars already, including the well known rovers Spirit and Opportunity that landed there in 2004 and have sent back a wealth of data. In addition, the Phoenix lander hit the planet on May 25, 2008, on a mission to explore the planet’s icy soil, and the Reconnaissance Orbiter has been capturing pictures of Mars since 2006. Earlier craft Express and Odyssey also gleaned knowledge of our distant neighbor.

Comment: No doubt the United States is the front runner. Europe seems to be out of the race for Mars.

CRYPTOME WATCHES WIKILEAKS

October 27, 2010

Wall Street Journal has reported on the website cryptome.org. It is seaking scrutiny but may in the end undermine Wikileaks.
In a July 2010 an item titled “wikileaks-buck” was published, an anonymous letter from someone claiming to be a WikiLeaks insider, who complained that WikiLeaks provides “absolutely no accounting” of funds it receives and spends.

Mr. Young said he receives some documents anonymously, through an encrypted submission system.

After WikiLeaks’ weekend publication of 400,000 documents about the Iraq war, Cryptome has been busy. Contributions were published on how the organization holds “dramatic, rigged, press shindigs” to announce its leaks.

Another scrutinizing website is Wikileak.org. It publishes on WikiLeaks’ tactics and links to articles about WikiLeaks.

Cryptome files Freedom of Information requests about WikiLeaks to get information about the organization.

The owner of Cryptome said in 2006 Assange asked him to become the public face of WikiLeaks in the U.S., where he was supposed to register the wikileaks.org domain in his name. Cryptome publisher, however, fell out with Assange. Since then he publishes critical contributions on Wikileaks’ founder and his operation.

Comment: sometimes one can wonder where Assange get’s his money from. There are a number of tyrannies and terrorist organizations with money to spend that wants to hurt the United States.

SWEDISH LEFT (EX-COMMUNIST) PARTY LEADER COMPARED TO BAGHDAD-BOB

October 27, 2010

The leader of Sweden’s Left Party (the former communist party) is after the election of September 19, 2010, likely to be isolated again. He was allowed into the Socialist-Communist-Green alliance during the election campaign. The red-green alliance probably lost due to the fact that it included the Left Party.

A leading socialist County Commissioner, Ilija Batljan, in the tabloid Expressen (Stockholm) commented that Ohly had dragged the socialists down in the election. Ohly, who has not apologized for his communist past, was at a recent press conference compared by journalists present to Saddam’s Baghdad-Bob.

UNITED STATES IS GETTING SERIOUS IN THE FIELD OF CYBER WARFARE

October 26, 2010

Fox News reports that a new U.S. Air Force manual for cyberwarfare has been published, Cyberspace Operations: Air Force Doctrine Document 3-12. The 62-page manual is a compendium of definitions, acronyms and explanations.It also warns that enemies can cloak their identities and hide their attacks amid the cascade of data flowing across international computer networks, it warns. Rlentless attackers are trying to hack into home and office networks in the U.S. “millions of times a day, 24/7.”:

Operating in cyberspace “may require abandoning common assumptions concerning time and space” because attacks can come from anywhere and take only seconds.

It dwells mostly on protecting U.S. military computer networks and makes little mention of attacking.

Noah Shachtman, a contributing editor to Wired magazine and a fellow at the Brookings Institute think tank, has said that even the limited mention of offensive operations in the manual surprised him. The manual cites one example of a cyberwar objective as “shutting down electrical power to key power grids of enemy leadership.”

The manual explains how dependent the military and civil society have become on computer networks for communication, banking, manufacturing controls and the distribution of utilities. It also outlines the vulnerabilities of the Internet, including the relatively low cost of computers that could give an adversary a way to block, manipulate, damage or destroy a network.

Defending the entire U.S. military network is unnecessary and probably impossible.

“Whether used offensively or defensively … conducting particular cyberspace operations may require access to only a very small ‘slice’ of the domain.”

Overall U.S. military cyberwarfare operations will be carried out by the U.S. Cyber Command, which began limited operations in May 2010. It will have components from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. The Air Force component — the 24th Air Force at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas — is part of the Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

Responsibility for civilian and government cybersecurity is less clear. Congress is debating between giving more power to the Homeland Security Department or the White House and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

WIKILEAKS LEADER INCREASINGLY ERRATIC

October 25, 2010

Julian Assange and his Wikileaks now have a dwindling number of supporters. New York Times on October 23, 2010, said he moves like a hunted man.

Many comrades are now leaving him. They think he is erratic and dominating.

Assange published the Afghan documents without removing the names of Afghan intelligence sources for NATO troops. One Wkilileaks volunteer says:

We were very, very upset with that, and with the way he spoke about it afterwards.

Now he is also being investigated in connection with rapes and molestations involving two Swedish women. Prosecutors in Sweden is soon deciding whether to approve charges or dismiss the case.

Assange is said to have left Stockholm, Sweden, in late September 2010 for Berlin. From Germany, he traveled to London. In his native Australia, ministers have signaled their willingness to cooperate with the United States if it opens a prosecution.

The Wikileaks leader faces attack from within, too. After the Sweden scandal some of his closest collaborators have publicly defected due to his dictatorial style.

The internal turmoil is growing. Effectively his leadership is only enforced over the Internet. Mr. Assange believes he is indispensable.

One volunteer has said:

He is not in his right mind.

About a dozen disillusioned volunteers have left recently according to an Icelandic volunteer an more activists are likely to follow
Mr. Assange is accused of pursuing a vendetta against the United States. America, according to him, is an increasingly militarized society and a threat to democracy.

SIKORSKY AIRCRAFT: GAME CHANGING NEW DESIGN

October 25, 2010

SIKORSKY AIRCRAFT: GAME CHANGING NEW DESIGN

Sikorsky’s X2 helicopter with a new futuristic design has set new records. The doublebladed chopper set a new record of 300 mph in a controlled dive recently. Sikorsky president Jeffrey P. Pino commented:

The aerospace industry today has a new horizon. The X2 Technology demonstrator continues to prove its potential as a game-changer, and Sikorsky Aircraft is proud to be advancing this innovative technology and to continue our company’s pioneering legacy.

MAYOR ILMAR REEPALU OF MALMO IS TO BLAME

October 24, 2010

Reepalu’s pro-Islamist policies in Malmo, Sweden’s third largest city, has provoked a backlash. Someone in the city is shooting non-white people. The local police suspects that there might be more than one shooter.

In September 2010 this blog reported about the city of Malmo. The situation is grave.

As a result of city politics (the City Council has a socialist and communist majority) there is a poisoned antisemitic atmosphere. Bombings near the synagogue have taken place, attacks on Jewish shops are not uncommon, and threats on open streets and attacks on Jewish cemeteries occur. Most of the perpetrators are Muslims. The Swedish Security Police believes the antisemitic outrages have doubled since 2009.

Criminality is high and unemployment on the rise. 30 percent of the 300,000 inhabitants are foreigners. Of these around 45,000 are Muslims.

Reepalu has been quoted in newspapers stating that if the Jews wanted to emigrate to Israel it was a matter for them. He also, according to one newspaper, believed that if the Jews of Malmo just expressed the opinion that they did not accept „the violence of Israel against the civilian population in Gaza“ they would be more secure.

Reepalu represents the anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist tradition of the Swedish left. He should leave as mayor of Malmo.

EU IS CONCERNED OVER UKRAINE

October 23, 2010

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty on October 21, 2010, reported that EU warns Ukraine that fundamental freedoms cannot be compromised. They are binding EU together:

The pace and depth of our rapprochement with Ukraine will be determined by full respect of these values.

The EU and Ukraine are negotiating a next-generation association agreement.

EU says, however, that there are good news on the economic front. The adoption of a new public procurement law, gas sector reforms, and a standby-loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund are welcome.

In the EU parliament the European People’s Party (EPP) was critical of Kyiv’s freedom record, citing “credible reports” of the a clampdown conducted by the country’s secret services against media and civil society activists, as well as attempts to silence the opposition ahead of local elections.

“Such developments must not be crowded out by positive news regarding the economy. The pursuit of economic prosperity through authoritarian rule is a Chinese — not European — [approach].”

An EPP draft resolution on Ukraine is sharply critical of Yanukovych’s record so far, expressing “concern at the increasing number of allegations, and credible reports, that democratic freedoms and rights, such as freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of the media, have come under threat in recent months.”

RUSSIA INCREASING NAVAL FORCES IN THE ARCTIC

October 21, 2010

A senior Russian military official said in the beginning of October 2010:

The reinforcement in the Arctic of all Northern units is continuing.

The Russian admiral said a proposal had been made to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that battleships be deployed in Russia’s Arctic ports to protect polar sea routes.

The melting of the polar icecap could open up new sea routes north of Siberia between Asia and Europe. Furthermore, geological surveys indicate that the Arctic contains huge reserves of oil and natural gas.

Last month Putin called for a “zone of peace” in the Arctic, and dismissed predictions of a “battle for the Arctic”.