Secret In The Sky

Round and round the Earth it goes, who or what it’s spying on very few people know.

Delta 4 rocket successfully lofts surveillance satellite

A Delta 4 rocket made a thunderous departure from California on Tuesday afternoon, only to slip into a news blackout minutes later while it climbed higher and faster to deploy a classified spy satellite, a success-defining milestone that was confirmed by hobbyist observers.

The United Launch Alliance-made booster roared away from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:12:57 p.m. local (7:12:57 p.m. EDT; 2312:57 GMT) on a southwesterly course to reach a retrograde orbit inclined 123 degrees relative to the equator.

. . .

The hush-hush nature for the rest of flight is all part of launching covert payloads for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, the secretive agency that operates the country’s fleet of spy satellites. The NRO does not disclose the purpose of its spacecraft being sent up on each launch, saying only that the flight was called the NROL-25 mission.

See also:
Rocket Launches Secret Spy Satellite for US Military
United Launch Alliance Delta IV Rocket Successfully Launches Payload for the National Reconnaissance Office
United Launch Alliance Delta IV Rocket Successfully Launches Payload for the National Reconnaissance Office
US launches new spy satellite NROL-25
Delta 4 lifts off
Spy satellite-carrying rocket blasts off
U.S. rocket carrying classified payload launches
ULA Successfully Launches Delta IV Rocket
Rocket carrying classified payload launches from California’s central coast
Rocket launch includes key parts from Utah’s ATK sites
List of NRO Launches
National Reconnaissance OfficeNational Reconnaissance Office

According to the listed launch designation, NROL-25 is a radar imaging satellite operating in a retrograde low Earth orbit.

/if I had to guess what it’s looking at, I’d guess Iran

Sentinel Down

And yet again, after leaving behind a cutting edge stealth helicopter during the bin Laden raid, the U.S. conducts another, involuntary, state-of-the-art military technology transfer to the enemy.

Iran’s capture of US drone shines light on spy mission, but may reveal little

The Iranian capture of a high-tech, stealth U.S. drone shines a light on the American spying mission there, but probably doesn’t tell Tehran much that it didn’t already know, a senior U.S. official said.

The RQ-170 Sentinel was providing surveillance over Iran and didn’t just accidentally wander away from the Afghanistan border region, as first suggested. The official said Wednesday that the Iranians will no doubt be able to tell where the aircraft flew. A bigger U.S. concern, the official said, was that the Iranians are likely to share or sell whatever they have recovered of the aircraft to the Chinese, Russians or others. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the mission.

Experts and officials acknowledge that there is no self-destruct mechanism on the Sentinels — which are used both by the military and the CIA for classified surveillance and intelligence gathering missions.

. . .

U.S. officials said that while they have enough information to confirm that Iran does have the wreckage, they said they are not sure what the Iranians will be able to glean technologically from what they found. It is unlikely that Iran would be able to recover any surveillance data from the aircraft.

See also:
US admits downed drone spied on Iran
Iran says US spy drone was flying deep inside its airspace when it was downed
Malfunction likely put U.S. drone in Iranian hands
Iran Probably Did Capture a Secret U.S. Drone
U.S. Military Sources: Iran Has Missing U.S. Drone
Drone that crashed in Iran may give away U.S. secrets
China, Russia want to inspect downed U.S. drone
Sentinel unmanned drone lost in Iran among US most valuable warfare assets
Drone belonged to CIA, officials say
Downed drone was on CIA mission
Officials: Drone downed in Iran on CIA mission
Drone Lost in Iran Was Joint CIA-Military Reconnaissance Plane
Iran’s downing of U.S. drone rattles Washington
US ‘concerned’ over drone lost near Iran border
Experts: Iran capture of stealth drone no worry
US considered missions to destroy RQ-170 Sentinel drone lost in Iran
Spy drone may provide little help to Iran
U.S. debated sending commandos into Iran to recover drone
U.S. Made Covert Plan to Retrieve Iran Drone
Iran: The Stealth War Continues
Drone Drama Proves Iran Is Ready to Rumble
Stealth drone highlights tougher U.S. strategy on Iran
U.S. drones have been spying on Iran for years

The good news is that we seem to be paying close attention to what Iran is up to, have been for years, and can penetrate Iranian airspace with near impunity. These past and, hopefully, ongoing intelligence gathering and surveillance activities should help provide a detailed blueprint for when push comes to shove and Iran has to be dealt with militarily, which is sure to eventually become a necessity.

/that said, it’s a total unforced strategic error to just let Iran have this advanced technology drone, to share with or sell to other potential enemies of the United States, would it have killed us, if we didn’t want to risk lives to recover the Sentinel, to at least launch an airstrike package to obliterate the wreckage?

Melior Diabolus Quem Scies

On top of a Delta 4-Heavy rocket, the largest rocket ever launched from the West Coast, the NRO’s NROL-49 spy satellite is off to orbit on a classified “national security” mission.

Massive Rocket Blasts Off on Probable Spy Mission

The largest rocket ever to blast off from the West Coast launched into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Thursday afternoon.

The most powerful launch rocket in the U.S., the Delta IV Heavy, took off a little after 1 p.m. Pacific Time carrying a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) spy satellite called NROL-49.

“This launch marks a significant milestone in our nation’s space capability,” launch director Lt. Col. Brady Hauboldt said in a press release. “We’ve really restored a national capability for heavy lift on the Western Range… This extends our ability to cost-effectively deliver payloads of all sizes and compliments.”

According to the United Launch Alliance (ULA), the organization that is running the launch for NRO, “this launch supports the military’s national defense mission.” However, that’s about all of the information that has been publicly disclosed about the payload.

See also:
First Delta IV Heavy launches from Vandenberg
Vandenberg rocket: largest American rocket blasted off today on West Coast
Launch of giant rocket in Southern California heard for miles
23-story rocket launches U.S. spy satellite
Delta IV rocket launches from Vandenberg
First Delta IV Heavy blasts off from Vandenberg
New Spy Satellite Blasts Off on Secret Mission
Vandenberg launches Delta IV Heavy rocket
California: Rocket Launches With Secret Payload
Secret payload launched on largest West Coast rocket
Boeing: Delta – Delta IV Launch Vehicles
Delta IV
Vandenberg Air Force Base
Vandenberg Air Force Base
National Reconnaissance Office
National Reconnaissance Office

And, that’s about it. Except that it’s supposedly an imaging satellite, there’s not much use in speculating further. I’m just happy that it made it to orbit safely, our taxpayer dollars much better spent than on Obamacare.

/pretty pictures, NROL-49

Thank You Sir, May We Have Another?

Once again, instead of actually trying to stop the leak from occurring, the Obama administration is simply bending over to “absorb” yet another Wikileaks classified document dump.

Fresh WikiLeaks release ‘imminent’

WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website, is said to be hours away from releasing around three million secret US government files.

The classified documents reportedly cover correspondence between US diplomatic missions abroad and the state department in Washington and could reveal “unflattering” views that American officials held about close EU allies and countries like Russia, China and Saudi Arabia.

Governments around the world on Saturday braced for the publication of potentially embarrassing diplomatic cables, as Washington raced to contain the fallout.

US diplomats skipped their Thanksgiving holiday weekend and headed to foreign ministries hoping to stave off anger over the cables, which are internal messages that often lack the niceties diplomats voice in public.

Wikileaks said the newest release will be seven times the size of the October publication of 400,000 Iraq war documents, the biggest leak to date in US intelligence history.

See also:
U.S. warns allies about WikiLeaks
Clinton Reaches Out to Several Countries about Wikileaks
India, world brace for new WikiLeaks flood
Bracing for WikiLeaks, US warns ‘friend’ India
U.K. government wants WikiLeaks media briefing: report
US warns Britain, India over new WikiLeaks revelations
U.S. tense over WikiLeaks plan
Wikileaks document dump has United States working damage control to stem potential embarrassment
Next WikiLeaks Release Could Embarrass US Allies
Bracing for WikiLeaks’ Release of Diplomatic Documents, State Department Warns Allies
Bracing for WikiLeaks, Round 3
Administration braces for big WikiLeaks dump that includes damaging cables
Pentagon Warns of Potential Harm from New WikiLeaks Release
US warns of likely harm from WikiLeaks release

It’s hard to believe that the United States government can’t stop this two bit band of hackers. Wikileaks has also threatened to release classified Russian documents but they haven’t done so. Why?

/because Russia promptly promised to exterminate them if they did

The World’s Largest Spy Is Listening

Shhh, it’s a secret.

Spying from Space: U.S. Launches World’s Largest Satellite

The United States has just launched the largest satellite ever to orbit earth; while its exact purpose is secret, we know it’s not going to be monitoring the weather.

Its mission will be to gather intelligence for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

The satellite, dubbed NROL-32, was sent into orbit yesterday by a Delta 4 Heavy rocket —the largest unmanned rocket with the most powerful liquid-fueled booster. U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Director Bruce Carlson said the NROL-32 would be “the largest satellite in the world.”

All this superlative hugeness isn’t likely just a result of Americans’ obsession with size; in fact, the NRO launches almost as many small vehicles into space as it does large ones. More to the point, however, NROL-32 has a very important job: replacing a slew of Cold War-era satellites currently in orbit past their expiration dates.

Carlson gave an address (links to a PDF that’s a good read on the bureaucracy of space) last month in which he stated that the agency had adopted a new charter and “a remarkably aggressive launch campaign” to go along with it.

See also:
U.S. Launches Largest Surveillance Satellite
U.S. Launches Largest-Ever Spy Satellite: Report
World’s Largest Satellite Launched On Sunday
Classified spy satellite launched from Fla.
Delta IV Blasts Off with NRO Satellite
Spy satellite called world’s largest
‘Eavesdropper’ satellite rides huge rocket from Florida
Air Force Launches Massive, Secret Spy Satellite
US launches giant eavesdropping satellite
“National Reconnaissance Office Update”
National Reconnaissance Office
National Reconnaissance Office

My guess is that this is a very large communications vacuum cleaner and there’s a very good chance and that no electronic communication on the planet is safe from interception.

/of course, theoretically, the NRO isn’t allowed to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens, but can the satellite tell the difference?

Dead Man Dumping

Why is this happening again?

Pentagon braced for the release of 400,000 Iraq files on Wikileaks

A task force of 120 people has been assembled to assess the potential implications and damage of the disclosure of the documents, which promises to eclipse the recent release of more than 70,000 classified US military files on the Afghanistan war.

Col. Dave Lapan, the Pentagon spokesman, said the timing of the leak remained unclear but the Defence Department was ready for a document dump as early as Monday or Tuesday.

Some of the new data is said to be from a “tactical reports database” in Iraq that lists SIGACTS (“Significant activities”) relating to major military operations, movement of personnel and alliances with key tribal figures and allies.

See also:
Pentagon Preparing Response to Iraq Secrets Release by WikiLeaks Website
Pentagon braces for huge WikiLeaks dump on Iraq war
Wikileaks prepares to publish 400,000 secret reports on Iraq
Report: WikiLeaks to Release 400K More Iraq Files Monday
WikiLeaks To Release 400,000 Iraq War Files
400,000 secret Iraq war files set to be published by WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks expected to release 400,000 secret Iraq War files

Are you telling me that the combined resources of the U.S. Military and U.S. intelligence services can’t find Julian Assange and the rest of his criminal gang? It’s not like he’s trying to hide or anything. He should be declared an enemy of the State and dealt with accordingly. It’s ridiculous that he’s still walking around free, especially since he’s already leaked classified U.S. military documents once before.

/if these were Israeli classified military documents Assange was threatening to release, he’d be dead by now

The New York Times, Spying For Iran

Once again, the New York Times gives aid and comfort to our enemies and puts American military service members’ lives at risk by publishing top secret information, conducting the espionage against the United States the Iranians could only dream of.

Petraeus orders US spies to prepare for anti-nuclear strike on Iran

Teams of American special forces have been authorised to conduct spying missions intended to pave the way for a military strike on Iran in case President Obama orders one, US government sources have confirmed.

The military units would penetrate Iranian territory to reconnoitre potential nuclear targets and make contact with friendly dissident groups, according to a secret directive written by General David Petraeus. The document’s existence was disclosed for the first time yesterday.

It authorises an expansion in the use of US special forces throughout the Middle East, US officials said. However, it is the possibility of American troops operating covertly inside Iran that has the greatest potential to destabilise regional security.

General Petraeus, the most senior American commander in the Middle East and Central Asia, relied on special forces to ensure the success of the US troop surge in Iraq in 2007. His order to increase the use of Delta Force, Navy Seal and Army Ranger units for intelligence gathering and combat missions could jeopardise US relations with allies in the region while intensifying a long-running turf war between US military intelligence and the CIA.

The seven-page document, seen by The New York Times, remained classified yesterday, though it was written in September. Since then US military specialists working with Yemeni armed forces have killed 6 out of 15 leaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The raids followed reports linking the group to the murder of 13 Americans at Fort Hood, Texas, and the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines jet.

See also:
U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast
General Said to Authorize Secret U.S. Reconnaissance in Iran
US ‘to expand covert operations’
US Reportedly Authorizes More Secret Military Activity in Hot Spots
US sends more soldiers on covert missions
US orders escalation in secret operations in Middle East
US expands covert military operations: officials
Commander OKs spy missions in Mideast
Revealed: the U.S. secret order allowing special forces’ covert missions in terror hotspots
US to launch covert strikes on terror targets
Pentagon ‘to boost covert missions in Middle East’
Secret Directive Said To Expand Clandestine U.S. Military Missions
Obama Gives Commanders Wide Berth for Secret Warfare
Another Day, Another Security Leak
Just another act of deadly treason

Yes siree, there’s nothing like U.S. Special Forces trying to conduct sensitive, covert operations after the New York Times publishes your classified playbook for the whole world to read, making risking your life for your country that much riskier. What’s not to like, especially if your work for Iranian counter-intelligence?

/of course, this is far from the first time that the New York Times has severely compromised U.S. national security by publishing leaked, top secret information, yet no one ever seems to go to prison, why is that?

Well, Well, Look What We Found

EXCLUSIVE: Iran Nuclear Scientist Defects to U.S. In CIA ‘Intelligence Coup’

An award-winning Iranian nuclear scientist, who disappeared last year under mysterious circumstances, has defected to the CIA and been resettled in the United States, according to people briefed on the operation by intelligence officials.

Award-winning nuclear physicist helped CIA spy on Iran’s nuclear program.The officials were said to have termed the defection of the scientist, Shahram Amiri, “an intelligence coup” in the continuing CIA operation to spy on and undermine Iran’s nuclear program.

A spokesperson for the CIA declined to comment. In its declassified annual report to Congress, the CIA said, “Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons though we do not know whether Tehran eventually will decide to produce nuclear weapons.”

Amiri, a nuclear physicist in his early 30s, went missing last June three days after arriving in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage, according to the Iranian government. He worked at Tehran’s Malek Ashtar University, which is closely connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, according to the Associated Press.

“The significance of the coup will depend on how much the scientist knew in the compartmentalized Iranian nuclear program,” said former White House counter-terrorism official Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant. “Just taking one scientist out of the program will not really disrupt it.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, and other Iranian officials last year blamed the U.S. for “kidnapping” Amiri, but his whereabouts had remained a mystery until now.

See also:
Defection of Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri ‘a CIA coup’
Iranian scientist defects: US covert ops hurt Iran nuclear program
Report: Nuclear Scientist Quits Iran for US
The CIA organized the escape of an Iranian nuclear scientist
Espionage helps sow seeds of paranoia in Tehran
Report: Iranian nuclear scientist defects to US
A defect(ion) in Iran’s nuclear program
Shahram Amiri
All Your Iranian Nuclear Scientists Are Belong To US

Although this is surely a nice bit of U.S. espionage, it’s highly unlikely that the defection of this one Iranian scientist yielded enough information for us to fully pinpoint the extent of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. In fact, it’s been so long without any meaningful punitive sanctions or military action, that Iran has had more than enough time to surreptitiously disperse their nuclear research facilities to the point where any attempted military action against them would almost certainly be an exercise in futility. Iran has also had enough uninterrupted time to perfect the nuclear fuel cycle and weaponization processes. In other words, at this point, it’s highly probable that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is now unstoppable and the Iranians will eventually field a deliverable nuclear device. We’re now totally screwed by our own decades of handwringing and inaction.

/I can only pray to God that we don’t give up on our missile defense technology too, it might be our last trump card left

If He Hollers, Let Him Go

Gee, what a great idea!

Gitmo Detainee Ordered Released

A suspected al Qaeda organizer once called “the highest value detainee” held at Guantanamo Bay was ordered released by a federal judge Monday.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi was accused in the 9/11 Commission report of helping recruit Mohammed Atta and other members of the al Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, who took part in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Military prosecutors suspected Mr. Slahi of links to other al Qaeda operations, and considered seeking the death penalty against him while preparing possible charges in 2003 and 2004.

Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted Mr. Slahi’s petition for habeas corpus, effectively finding that the government lacked legal grounds to hold him. The order was classified, although the court said it planned to release a redacted public version in coming weeks.

Judge Robertson held four days of closed hearings in the Slahi case last year. Mr. Slahi testified via secure video link from the U.S. military’s detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, his attorney said.

“They were considering giving him the death penalty. Now they don’t even have enough evidence to pass the test for habeas,” said Mr. Slahi’s attorney, Nancy Hollander, of Albuquerque, N.M. She said she couldn’t comment further because the proceedings were classified. Mr. Slahi is still being held at Guantánamo.

The government may appeal. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd on Monday said the agency was “reviewing the ruling.”

Brig. Gen. John Furlow, who helped lead a Pentagon-ordered probe of detainee abuse at Guantánamo Bay, has testified that at one point Mr. Slahi was “the highest value detainee” at the site and “the key orchestrator of the al Qaeda cell in Europe.”

Plans to try him by military commission were derailed after prosecutors learned Mr. Slahi had been subjected to a “special interrogation plan” involving weeks of physical and mental torment, including a death threat and a threat to bring Mr. Slahi’s mother to Guantanamo Bay where she could be gang-raped, officials said.

Although the treatment apparently induced Mr. Slahi’s compliance, the military prosecutor, Marine Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch, determined that it constituted torture and that evidence it produced couldn’t lawfully be used against Mr. Slahi.

Mr. Slahi is the cretin on the left.

See also:
Detainee abused at Guantánamo ordered freed
U.S. judge orders release of Guantanamo detainee
US judge orders to free Gitmo inmate linked to 9/11
Guantanamo Detainee al-Slahi Wins Habeas Case
Judge Orders Guantanamo Detainee Released
US court to release 9/11 suspect
Judge clears Gitmo inmate
US judge orders release of 9/11 recruiter
Clinton Judge – James Robertson – Set to Free Top Al-Qaeda Terrorist
Mohamedou Ould Slahi
Judge James Robertson
James Robertson (judge)

On no, the horror, the mean interrogators tormented Slahi and made an empty threat to gang-rape his mother! The Clinton Judge says release the nice terrorist you professional military monsters!

/they should take out full page ads in the New York Times, every day for a week in advance, and then let him go at Ground Zero

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