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Iran says it has finished decoding downed CIA drone

RT | September 23, 2013

Iranian officials say they have completed decoding the surveillance data and software extracted from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) drone that the United States lost possession of nearly two years ago near the city of Kashmar.

Hossein Salami, the lieutenant commander general of Iran’s Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, told the country’s Fars news agency that analysts have finally cracked the systems used within the RQ-170 Sentinel drone obtained in December 2011.

Iranians claimed previously that they brought the drone down after it entered Iranian airspace without permission. Roughly one week later, CIA officials admitted the drone was conducting a reconnaissance mission over Afghanistan when it went missing.

When the US asked Iran to return the unmanned aerial vehicle, Salami told Fars news agency, “No nation welcomes other countries’ spy drones in its territory, and no one sends back the spying equipment and its information back to the country of origin.”

Nearly two years later, Salami is now celebrating Iran’s latest accomplishment with regards to the UAV.

“All the memories and computer systems of this plane have been decoded and some good news will be announced in the near future not just about the RQ-170 and the optimizations that our forces have done on the reverse engineered model of this drone, but also in area of other important defense achievements,” Fars quoted him.

When the Iranian military gained control over the drone, the unmanned aerial vehicle’s (UAV) erase sequence allegedly failed to delete sensitive data from it. Since then, Iranian experts have been decoding the captured data, occasionally reporting their progress.

Although the CIA has not admitted the extent of the drone’s capabilities, experts have said previously that reverse engineering the Sentinel could be a significant event for any nation-state looking to learn more about the technologies utilized by American spy planes.

“It carries a variety of systems that wouldn’t be much of a benefit to Iran, but to its allies such as China and Russia, it’s a potential gold mine,” robotics author Peter Singer told the Los Angeles Times in 2011.

“It’s bad — they’ll have everything” an unnamed US official added to the Times then. “And the Chinese or the Russians will have it too.”

Meanwhile, a report in the New York Times this weekend suggested that Chinese researchers have been busy on their own attempting to emulate American drones. Edward Wong wrote in the Times on Friday that Chinese hackers working for the state-linked Comment Crew cybergroup have targeted no fewer than 20 foreign defense contractors during the last two years in hopes of pilfering secrets that would be useful in programming their own UAVs.

“I believe this is the largest campaign we’ve seen that has been focused on drone technology,” Darien Kindlund, manager of threat intelligence at California-based FireEye, told Wong. “It seems to align pretty well with the focus of the Chinese government to build up their own drone technology capabilities.”

Vice’s Motherboard website reported this week that at least 123 cyberattacks waged at American drone companies have been spotted by security researchers since 2011, and quoted Kindlund as saying the attacks have been “largely successful.”

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bolivia: Prosecutor Requests Extradition of Ex-President from US

By Cristina Trujillo | The Argentina Independent | September 23, 2013

Bolivia’s General Prosecutor Ramiro Guerrero has requested the extradition of former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada from the US, so he can be brought to justice for crimes against humanity in his country.

Guerrero is also calling for the extradition of two former ministers, Carlos Sánchez Berzaín and Jorge Berindoague. They have been in the US since October 2003.

All three men are being charged with genocide, homicide, humiliation and torture, inflicting injuries of varying degrees, deprivation of freedom, and forcefully raiding homes.

Guerrero presented the case for the ex-president’s extradition for the second time on Friday. The first time, in 2012, his case was rejected. However this time he expects that the 1,900-page document will convince US authorities of granting extradition based on the gravity of the charges against the defendants.

The document will be analysed by the Supreme Court of Bolivia in Sucre. The Court’s members will be tasked with deciding whether the extradition is viable or not.

The request for extradition comes almost ten years after ‘Black October’, as the revolt that caused the resignation and escape of Sánchez de Lozada is known. The ‘Black October’ protests took place in 2003, sparked by the people’s opposition to exporting Bolivian gas to Mexico and the US at very low prices through a Chilean port. The state’s repression left 65 people dead and hundreds injured. As a result, Sánchez de Lozada was forced to resign and fled to the US.

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Nasrallah: Saudi Arabia, Turkey have failed in Syria

Al-Akhbar | September 23, 2013

Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other regional countries backing Syria’s rebels must acknowledge their failures to bring down the Syrian government, and join efforts for a political solution to end the two and a half year civil war, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday.

In his first televised speech in over a month, Nasrallah said dialogue is the only option to bring an end to a conflict that has already left over 100,000 people dead and threatened to exacerbate tensions across the region.

“I call on Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other Gulf states to revise your stance,” he said. “You won’t reach anywhere by relying on a military victory. Put this hatred (for Hezbollah) aside and think with your minds. Think about your interests, the interests of the region, the survival of the region.”

He condemned calls by some Lebanese politicians from the March 14 alliance for the United States to launch an attack on Syria, warning that any strike would cause global repercussions, and that Lebanon would be the first casualty.

Those same politicians calling for the West to intervene in Syria have accused Hezbollah of endangering Lebanon by sending troops to Syria, Nasrallah added, urging them to evaluate the consequences of a US attack across the border.

Nasrallah said that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries believed their support to rebel forces would lead an overthrow of the Syrian government within months, and are using Hezbollah as a scapegoat “to run away from their failures,” by accusing it of occupying Syria.

“For two and a half years, they used everything in their disposal … to control Syria and they failed. Of course [Hezbollah] are foreigners, we are not Syrian, but [what about] the tens of thousands of foreign fighters who you brought from all over the world? Are they occupying Syria?”

He noted that the Syrian government has expressed willingness to engage in dialogue with the opposition, and emphasized talks as the only suitable option to achieve peace.

Nasrallah also flatly denied accusations that his powerful Shia movement had obtained chemical arms from Syria, saying that he was principally and religiously forbidden from using such weapons.

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Twenty-Year-Old Requirement For ‘Real-time, Full-time’ Eavesdropping On Canadian Mobiles Revealed

By Glyn Moody | Techdirt | September 23, 2013

Even if it now seems likely that Linus Torvalds wasn’t approached to add a backdoor to Linux, there are plenty of others that were asked and acquiesced, as this story from The Globe and Mail in Canada makes clear:

For nearly two decades, Ottawa officials have told telecommunications companies that one of the conditions of obtaining a licence to use wireless spectrum is to provide government with the capability to monitor the devices that use the spectrum. The Sept. 17 kickoff of the auction-countdown process will underscore that commitment, made out of sight of most Canadians because it is deemed too sensitive by the government.

The secret agreement apparently contains specific details of what telecom companies must provide:

“Real-time, full-time” eavesdropping on conversations is just one of the capabilities sought by police, according to the standards. Authorities also want records of call logs, texts, keystrokes and other data, including “the most accurate geographical location known.”

Communications made with encryption provided by the carrier must be decrypted:

Carriers that help their customers scramble communications must decrypt them. “Law enforcement requires that any type of encryption algorithm that is initiated by the service provider must be provided to the law-enforcement agency unencrypted.”

No doubt, many people might think phone companies should provide this kind of information, provided a properly executed court warrant is presented. What’s problematic here is that this has been going secretly on for 20 years, with no public oversight and with no debate about where to draw the line for such surveillance. That discussion would hardly compromise police operations, but would provide vital transparency and legitimacy. The fact that two decades after the practice started the Canadian people are finally hearing about this capability now is probably yet another beneficial knock-on effect of Edward Snowden’s leaks.

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Is the Israel Lobby Only a Chimp Among Gorillas?

By DIANA JOHNSTONE | CounterPunch | September 23, 2013

Some friendly criticism of our article “The People Against the 800 Pound Gorilla” provides a welcome opportunity to clarify the discussion.  Shamus Cooke, while largely agreeing with the points made by Jean Bricmont and myself, reproaches us for focusing on the pro-Israel lobby as the major factor promoting U.S. war against Syria to the detriment of much bigger factors: the U.S. capitalist class, the big banks, “empire”, oil, the military-industrial complex – in a word, capitalism.

The problem with our article, writes Shamus Cooke, “is that the authors elevate the Israeli gorilla to a weight class it doesn’t belong in; and in so doing the authors are forced to minimize the size of several other giant gorillas, whose combined weight overshadows the Israeli chimp.”

Of course, “capitalism”, however you want to define it, vastly dwarfs the Israel lobby. So do the military-industrial complex, the oil business, or U.S. imperialism, all of which have existed prior to and independently of the Israel lobby.

But is weighing the Israel lobby against “capitalism” a valid comparison?  The Israel lobby is a clearly identifiable pressure group, with names, addresses and policies that are clearly stated.  Capitalism is an economic system that at present, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, prevails in almost the entire world.  Today, every specific policy in most countries is defined within a capitalist context, and some of those policies, notably on highly emotional issues, are opposed to each other, without challenging for a moment the existence of “capitalism”.

So it is with policy toward the Middle East and the war in Syria.  Capitalism is not at stake in those conflicts, and “the system” is resilient and elastic enough to profit from whatever policy is adopted.

The very existence of the gigantic U.S. military machine constitutes a constant danger of being used to meet some “threat” cooked up by think tanks, interest groups and foreign lobbies. At the start of the Cold War, the notorious China Lobby personified by Mme Chiang Kai-Shek exerted a negative influence on U.S. policy in the Far East. More recently the Cuban lobby of anti-Castro exiles has influenced US policy to the detriment of U.S. export sectors such as agribusiness. Today, the politically powerful Israel lobby stimulates and exacerbates the worst tendencies in a divided political establishment. If the American people had the awareness, and American politicians the courage, to say “no” to that lobby and its specious arguments, the less belligerent forces in Washington would have a better chance of prevailing.

A century ago, denouncing capitalism as the source of war found an echo in large, active political parties which theoretically aspired to replacing capitalism with socialism. But even those massive parties failed to prevent the First World War. And today, there is no significant political force in any Western country prepared to carry out a coherent program of replacing capitalism with something else.  So if stopping war depends on first getting rid of capitalism, we are doomed.

One can always argue that capitalism is an underlying factor that promotes war.  Perhaps one can say the same about “human nature”.   But we do not care to wait until capitalism collapses or human nature changes in order to prevent the disaster of greater war in the Middle East.

What interests us now is to expose and oppose the single most significant political influence promoting ongoing war in the Middle East. That is unquestionably the Israel lobby, which overlaps on the right with the so-called neo-conservatives, and on the left with the “humanitarian” interventionists. To argue against war, it is therefore the Israel lobby that needs to be confronted.

Shamus Cooke says that strategists “such as the Project for a New American Century” (the neo-cons who dominated the Bush II administration) are “the ‘vanguard’ of American capitalism, and their geopolitical outlook is firmly rooted in the economic interests of the corporations that most benefit from overseas investing.”

I would say, rather, that PNAC, and its various reincarnations, is a cohort of fanatically pro-Israel strategists aspiring to control U.S. foreign policy by claiming to promote the interests of a capitalist class which has no unified strategic outlook of its own.  There is no reason for American capitalism, which has interests on all continents, to focus so single-mindedly, and so aggressively, on the Middle East.  The United States needs Middle Eastern oil less than those countries need to sell it. Many sectors of Western capitalism actually suffer from the sanctions imposed on a country like Iran. The focus on the alleged Iranian “threat” serves only to maintain Israel’s status as sole nuclear power dominating the Middle East, backed up by the United States.

To oppose war, it is necessary to oppose those who advocate it.  And that is the Israel lobby, not “capitalism”.  Why is there so much more reluctance to criticize the Israel lobby than to criticize capitalism?  These days, criticism of capitalism is accepted even in mainstream media.  But criticism of capitalism has never stopped a war.

Defeating the Israel lobby and changing U.S. policy in the Middle East from a policy of bullying, sanctions and bombing to a policy of diplomacy and compromise would not put an end to capitalism, to the military-industrial complex or to U.S. imperialism.  But such a victory would be a good basis for going on to oppose the huge network of overseas U.S. military bases, the encircling of Russia and China, the exploitation of Africa and any return to the traditional imperialist treatment of Latin America.

The political fight against the Israel lobby is not the only campaign for peace, but it is the one that is most urgently necessary today.

Diana Johnstone can be reached at diana.josto@yahoo.fr

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Netanyahu Orders Court To Allow Settlers Back Into Hebron Home

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | September 23, 2013

Following the deadly shooting of an Israeli soldier in Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, vowed to boost settlement activities, and ordered the Civil Administration, to take all needed measures to allow the return of Israeli settlers into a Palestinian home they previously occupied in Hebron.

The Israeli Civil Administration Office is run by the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank.

Back in April of 2012, a group of settlers was removed from the home, near the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. They allegedly purchased the property but the purchase was deemed invalid, especially since such deals must be first approved by a commander of the Israeli occupation army.

The settlers were removed after the then-Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, issued an order in this regard following a court ruling.

The decision to allow the settlers to return to the property was made on Sunday night; Netanyahu said that the settlers “must be allowed into the home without any delay”.

After being removed from the property, the settlers filed several court appeals, demanding a recognition of the alleged transaction, while Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, also vowed to do whatever he can to authorize their “return to the home”.

Netanyahu made his decision hours after a Palestinian sniper shot and killed an Israeli soldier in Hebron, following ongoing tension that led to clashes between the soldiers and dozens of local youths who hurled stones at them.

It is also related to the death of an Israeli soldier who was killed two days ago in the Qalqilia district, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

“Anyone who attempts to remove us from Hebron, from the city of our patriarchs, will just achieve the exact opposite”, Netanyahu said according to the Israeli daily Haaretz, “We will boost our settlement activities”.

Netanyahu said that the “return of the settlers to the Hebron home would still have to go through legal means”; yet, he ordered all related government facilities, to do whatever they can to ensure their fast return.

His decision comes despite the fact than an appeals committee, looking into the purchase did not recognize the documents presented by the settlers, but criticized the way this purchase was denied.

Haaretz added that, should the process be finalized, Netanyahu and his Defense Minister could sign off the deal, and authorize the settlers back.

In related news, Israeli Economics Minister, Neftali Bennet, demanded that Netanyahu stop the release of Palestinian political prisoners, as part of peace talks with the Palestinians, and said that the Palestinians “must be punished for the killing of the two Israeli soldiers.”

Bennet, of the Jewish Home Party, who also serves at the Ministerial Council, said that “the release of Palestinian prisoners is based on progress of talks, and our duty should be a war on murderers…” according to the official.

Israel’s Transportation Minister, Yisrael Katz, said that he previously voted against the release of any detainee, and that the release of what he called “terrorists” encourages others to attack Israel.

Following the fatal shooting of the Israeli soldier in Hebron, the army initiated a large campaign and broke into and searched hundreds of homes close to the Ibrahimi Mosque area where the soldier was shot.

Hundreds of Palestinians were kidnapped, and where rounded up in the southern area of the occupied city of Hebron.

The soldiers also occupied rooftops of several homes, using them as monitoring towers, while the army operated in the area.

The military declared Hebron a closed military zone, preventing the Palestinians from entering or leaving it.

Last week, Israeli soldiers shot and killed one Palestinian, and injured four, including three children, in different attacks carried out in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The army carried out 49 invasions into Palestinian communities, and kidnapped at least 41, including 9 children.

Two Palestinians have been killed, dozens have been injured, and hundreds were detained, by Israeli forces since the beginning of the month.

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Assad: Terrorists may attack chemical weapons inspectors, blame Damascus

RT | September 23, 2013

Syrian armed opposition may be ordered by its foreign sponsors to stage a false flag operation against foreign inspectors when they arrive in the country to monitor destruction of the country’s chemical weapons stockpile, says the Syrian president.

Bashar Assad voiced his concerns in an interview by China’s state television CCTV in Damascus. The Syrian leader proposed this possible scenario as he was explaining how his government may be accused of trying to dodge its obligations to destroy its chemical arsenal.

“We know that these terrorists are obeying the orders of other countries and these countries do drive these terrorists to commit acts that could get the Syrian government blamed for hindering this agreement,” he explained.

Russia brokered an agreement with Syria to dispose of its stockpile of chemical weapons amid US threats to use military force against Syrian army over alleged use of sarin gas, which killed an estimated 1,400 people in August.

Moscow expects the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which received detailed inventory of the Syrian arsenal last week, to prepare a deadline for the operation. It also plans to work with other members of the UN Security Council on a resolution, which would support the OPCW plan and provide for security of the inspectors, who would control the disarmament.

But Washington, London and Paris are insisting on a UNSC resolution which would involve punitive measures against Damascus for any possible hindering of the operation under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Chapter 7 allows for the enforcement of Security Council resolutions with military action. Russia opposes such provisions.

Speaking on the UNSC debate, Assad said the three Western powers are fighting an ‘imaginary enemy’.

“By submitting the draft to the UN Security Council, or by urging the US and Russia to agree on a deal, the US, France, and Britain are just trying to make themselves winners in a war against a Syria which is their imaginary enemy,” he said.

The president said he was assured that Russia and China would “ensure any excuse for military action against Syria will not stand.”

Asked for details on the stockpile of chemical weapons, Assad said, “Syria has been manufacturing chemical weapons for decades so it’s normal for there to be large quantities in the country.”

The WMD arsenal was created due to Syria’s confrontation with Israel, the Syrian leader said.

“We are a nation at war, we’ve got territories that have been occupied for more than 40 years, but in any case, the Syrian army is trained to fight using conventional weapons,” Assad assured.

While admitting that the security situation in Syria is far from perfect for the work of OPCW inspectors, Assad said the weapons are safe from being captured by any party.

They are stored “under special conditions to prevent any terrorist for other destructive forces from tampering with them, that is, destructive forces that could come from other countries,” he said.

“So there is nothing to worry about. The chemical weapons in Syria are in a safe place that is secure and under the control of the Syrian army.”

Earlier China said it is willing to send experts to contribute to the OPCW’s mission to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. Russia pledged its assistance, which would probably involve securing locations where the stockpile would be processed.

September 23, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , | 1 Comment