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?

Tell Me Something I Don’t Already Know

Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons, really?

U.N. report cites secret nuclear research by Iran

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said Tuesday that it has “serious concerns” that Iran is secretly working toward building a nuclear bomb, citing documents pointing to Iranian scientists’ extensive and possibly ongoing efforts to master the technology needed for atomic weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency cited “credible” intelligence — provided by 10 countries and vetted over many months — that directly contradicts Iran’s steadfast assertions that its nuclear intentions are entirely peaceful.

“The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device,” the IAEA said in an uncharacteristically blunt report prepared for the U.N. agency’s 35-nation board of directors.

Read the report:

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards
Agreement and relevant provisions of
Security Council resolutions in the
Islamic Republic of Iran

See also:
IAEA report: Iran has been working toward nuclear bomb since 2003
Nightmare Scenario In the Middle East as Iran Inches Closer to the Bomb
Iran’s nuclear program alarms world powers
World divided on response to Iran nuke report
US breaks silence on IAEA report,’won’t rule anything out’
European states call for stiffer sanctions against Iran following IAEA report
Official says Russia will not support any new sanctions against Iran over nuclear program
Iran says IAEA nuclear report influenced by U.S., West
PM: Iranian nukes endanger Mideast, world peace
Western Powers Warn of New Sanctions if Iran Ignores Nuclear Concerns
IAEA’s Iran Report Represents Critical Inflection Point
The IAEA report: what does it really mean and will it lead to war with Iran?

Face it, sanctions aren’t going to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, especially as long as China and Russia continue to side with Ira. That leaves only one option, a military strike. Whether a military strike will stop Iran’s nuclear program is debatable and extremely risky. However, the 100% certain alternative is that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. Those are the two bad choices, a military strike or Iran gets nuclear weapons. Pick one.

/and forget about all the fussing about air routes and in-flight refueling, use ICBMs tipped with conventional ground penetrator payloads and start here

Finally Fingering The Usual Suspects

I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

Intell report says China, Russia stealing US secrets

After years of suspicions and mounting evidence, the United States has formally called out China and Russia on cyber espionage, accusing the countries of stealing U.S. economic and technology secrets. China quickly denied the accusation.

In a report, “Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace,” the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive also said U.S. allies have used online methods to help themselves to sensitive information, although the report does not name those countries. 

Read the report:
Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace 

See also:
In a world of cybertheft, U.S. names China, Russia as main culprits
Foreign cyber thieves stealing U.S. trade secrets, agency warns
China Singled Out for Cyberspying
US calls out Russia and China over hacking attacks
U.S. finally acknowledges Chinese and Russian cyberthreat
DNI Report on Economic Cyberespionage
US Report Cites Growing Economic Cyber Espionage
Report: Russia and China are top thieves of U.S. technology
Here’s The U.S. Government Report That Openly Calls Out China On Economic Cyberspying
US Official Singles Out China, Russia on Cyber-Spying
China, Russia top offenders in cyber stealing: US
US report blasts China, Russia for cybercrime
China hits back over US claims of online spying
China scorns U.S. cyber espionage charges

Gee, what have I been posting here for years now? It’s not like the massive, out of control Chinese and Russian cyberspying has been some sort of well kept secret. Oh well, I suppose better late than never, at least now the United States government is actually, publicly acknowledging the problem.

/and now I ask again, what are we going to do about the problem, can we please stop being the world’s cyberdoormat and speed bump on the superhighway to stolen intellectual property?

Let Them Eat Plutonium

North Korea seemingly has plenty of money to pursue a nuclear weapons program and develop long range missile technology, but apparently no money for food.

North Korea could be on verge of famine, smuggled video shows

Footage shot inside North Korea has revealed that the country could be on the verge of a famine, showing filthy, homeless and orphaned children begging for scraps and soldiers stealing food from rice sellers.

The video was shot over several months by an undercover North Korean journalist who smuggled the footage out to China and could face the death penalty. It was obtained by Australian Broadcasting Corp this week.

See also:
Famine threatens to return to North Korea
North Korea’s Hunger, on Film
Video shows North Korea starvation has spread to the military
Rare video footage smuggled out of North Korea
N. Korea Hides Evidence of Famine
North Korea: Video reveals extreme poverty of “Dear Leader’s” country
Video reveals North Korean famine

Could this famine be the catalyst that finally causes the collapse of the North Korean regime? It’s impossible to predict. However, although the collapse of North Korea would be a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions in the short run, in the long run it would turn out to be a blessing for the Korean people and bring stability to the region that’s been lacking for over half a century.

/and in other, WTF, Bizarro World news North Korea to Chair UN Disarmament Conference

Great Prophet 6

Every day Obama plays another round of golf we get weaker and every day Iran is allowed to continue to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology they get stronger.

Iran test fires 14 missiles capable of reaching Israeli, US targets

Iran fired 14 missiles and unveiled underground ballistic missile silos today, kicking off a series of war games over the next 10 days. Some of the missiles, launched today, have a range of more than 1,200 miles – enough to reach Israel and American installations in the region, Iranian PressTV reports.

Longer-range missiles are not likely to be built because all of Iran’s desired targets are already in reach with its current missiles, said Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division.

“We possess the technology to build missiles with longer ranges but we do not need missiles with a range of more than 2,000 kilometers and we do not intend to produce them,” Mr. Hajizadeh said from the sidelines of the drills, which are known as Great Prophet 6. “Iran’s missiles have a range of up to 2,000 kilometers and have been designed for US and the Zionist regime [Israel]’s bases in the region.”

See also:
Israel within range of Iran’s missiles: general
Iran to Conduct Missile Drills Today
Iran test-fires missiles, shows secret silos
Iran testfires 14 missiles “successfully” in drills
Iran unveils missile silos as military exercises open
In ‘Great Prophet VI’ Maneuvers, Iran Fires 14 Ballistic Missiles; IRGC Dep. Cmdr: Iran Won’t Initiate Attack – But Response Will Be ‘Purely Aggressive’
Iran launches missiles carrying message of “peace and friendship”
Guard chief: Iran can build longer-range missiles
Photos: Iran Test Fires 14 Missiles
IRGC Drills Display Iran’s Major Progress in Missile Technology

Ten years ago we could have crushed the Iranian threat without too much trouble. Now, I’m not so sure. We may have passed a tipping point where it’s now impossible to stop Iran’s nuclear program or the cost of stopping it is prohibitive and unacceptable. It’s bad enough that Iran has been allowed to pursue their atomic weapons program pretty much unimpeded, but now it appears that they have the missile technology to reliably deliver nuclear warheads anywhere in the region. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

/I wouldn’t be surprised if, sometime in the not so distant future, we witness an Iranian detonation test of an atomic device

Meanwhile, Back At The Nuclear Clown Rodeo

The IAEA sends Iran a strongly worded letter and, predictably, like clockwork, Iran tells the IAEA to shove their letter up their collective ass.

Iran to move its most sensitive nuclear equipment to bunker

Iran is moving production of higher enriched uranium to a mountain bunker where it aims to triple output by using more advanced centrifuges, state television reported Wednesday.

Iran says the announcement is a response to a letter by Yukiya Amano, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Friday, which reiterated “concerns about the possible military dimensions” of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program.

“Our answer is increased work in the sphere of nuclear technology and know-how,” Iran’s nuclear chief Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

See also:
Iran to Triple Higher-Enriched Uranium Production
Iran To Enrich Triple Uranium Enrichment Capacity
Defiant Iran plans big rise in nuclear enrichment
IAEA should end political disputes over Iran’s nuclear program: Soltanieh
Iran Said to Plan Nuclear Fuel Production Increase
Iran’s Nuclear Program, Charging Ahead
Goodspeed: Iran may be two months from bomb, two new studies say
RAND: Deterring Iran unlikely, but opportunities exist
France labels Iran’s further uranium enrichment “provocation”
Iran Swiftly Dismissed Amano’s Latest Whistle Blowing Report
Iran urges IAEA to meet commitments

Okay, we’ve waited and waited and waited and done nothing concrete or effective to stop Iran’s nuclear program and now it’s too late. At this point, not even military action can likely stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

/Obama was too busy golfing and couldn’t be reached for comment

Microsoft Sets A New Record

It’s the biggest Patch Tuesday ever!

Microsoft Again Sets Record With Massive Patch

For the third time this year, Microsoft has issued a record-setting security patch.

The company’s December Bulletin Release includes 17 security bulletins addressing 40 vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office, Windows, Internet Explorer, SharePoint Server and Exchange.

Jeff Prince, CTO of ConSentry sees NAS as evolving technology that won’t just be about initial host assessment. It was only in October that Microsoft set the record it just broke, with 16 security bulletins. There were however fewer individual vulnerabilities this month than in October (49). And it was two months earlier, in August, that the company had set its previous record, with 14 bulletins to address 34 vulnerabilities.

The huge October patch was supposed to front-load the task of patching so that IT administrators had a lighter schedule over the holidays. So much for that idea.

At least the December crop of bulletins brings only two “critical” ones. Fourteen are rated “important” and one is rated “moderate.”

The two critical bulletins, MS10-090 and MS10-091, addressing vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer and Windows respectively, should be deployed first, according to Microsoft.

See also:
It’s Microsoft Patch Tuesday: December 2010
Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for December 2010
Microsoft Closes a Record-Patch Year with 17 for December
Windows Security Updates: Microsoft Critical Security Patches
Microsoft Fixes 40 Vulnerabilities in Final Patch Tuesday for 2010
Microsoft’s holiday bonus: Fixes for 40 flaws
Microsoft Fixes Dozens of Vulnerabilities in Big Update
Record Patch Tuesday: What You Need to Know
Microsoft Fixes 40 Flaws With Record Patch Tuesday Release
Microsoft Patch Tuesday: The bottom line
Microsoft fixes bugs in Windows, Internet Explorer
Windows Update

You better watch out! Better not cry! Better not pout! I’m telling you why, Patch Tuesday is comin’ to town.

/Merry Christmas, don’t forget to unwrap your shiny new present from Microsoft!

Satellite In A Satellite

Unlike the recent Russian satellite failure, our satellites work like they’re supposed to.

NASA Solar Sail Satellite Ejects from Mothership in Space

A small NASA satellite carrying a folded-up solar sail ejected from its mothership in low-Earth orbit yesterday (Dec. 6), marking a key success in NASA’s efforts to develop and deploy solar-sail technology.

NanoSail-D, which is about the size of a loaf of bread, ejected from NASA’s washing-machine-sized FASTSAT satellite at 1:31 a.m. EST (0631 GMT) Monday.

NanoSail-D’s 100-square-foot sail is still folded up tight for now. It should unfurl in about two days, demonstrating a technology that NASA hopes will help bring decommissioned satellites down from Earth’s orbit without using up valuable propellant. The idea is to use radiation from the sun as a sort of wind pushing against a thin sail to propel the lightweight craft through space.

See also:
NASA’s Nanosail-D Released into the Winds of Space
NASA’s Nanosail-D satellite ejects into space
Miniature satellite ejected in space
NASA Launches Solar Sail Satellite, Hints at Future for Space Debris
Big satellite launches small one
NASA Launches Space Kite into Orbit
NASA launches first satellite from a satellite in Huntsville-controlled experiment
NanoSail-D
NanoSail-D
FASTSAT
FASTSAT
Marshall Space Flight Center
Marshall Space Flight Center

These mini-satellites are about the size of a loaf of bread? They must be pretty hard to keep track of from the ground.

/I bet this technology gets picked up by the military pretty quick

War By Any Other Name

China is at it again, waging a back door war against the West. Usually, they just try and steal our technology, now they’re going to try and cripple our technology production.

China Signals Further Rare-Earth Cuts

Chinese officials are signaling plans to further reduce rare-earth exports next year, sustaining its controls of the metals—key ingredients in high-technology batteries and defense products—that have already severely frustrated foreign governments.

Reducing the export quotas is under consideration, but it’s too early to talk about any reduction rate,” Lin Donglu, secretary general of the Chinese Society of Rare Earths, told Dow Jones Newswires on Tuesday. The state-run English-language China Daily on Tuesday quoted an unnamed Commerce Ministry official suggesting that cuts of as much as 30% from already-trimmed 2010 levels are possible. A Commerce Ministry official declined to confirm the report and the ministry didn’t reply to faxed questions Tuesday.

Speaking at a conference on rare-earth elements in southeastern China on Tuesday, Chinese officials, including a Commerce Ministry deputy director, Jiang Fan, highlighted their concern about aggressive development of the country’s resources, attendees said. One official there suggested China, by far the world’s largest producer and consumer, could even become an importer.

“Their main thrust was China needs to work to protect its rare-earth industry,” said Nigel Tunna, managing director of Metals Pages Ltd., host of the conference.

China’s decision in recent months to impose tougher quotas on rare-earth metal exports has sparked outcry from Tokyo to Washington.

China, which uses around half of its output of the elements and produces around 97% of world supply, says its limits—which this year aim to cut exports around 40% from 2009—reflect its growing environmental awareness, are perfectly legal and won’t be used as a policy tool.

Yet, foreign importers worry reductions are designed to lift their metals import costs, undermine their high-technology industries and unnerve their defense departments. The metals, 17 chemically similar and expensive-to-mine elements, are critical to the manufacture of products from iPhones to smart bombs.

See also:
China reins in rare earth exports
China to Cut Rare Earth Export Quotas by Up to 30%, Daily Says
Report: China to Reduce Rare Earths Exports
China Halts Shipments to U.S. of Tech-Crucial Minerals
China Reins in Rare Earth Exports
China Official Says No Plans to Cut Rare Earth Quotas
UPDATE 1-US checking if China halted rare earth shipments
China-Japan Rare Earth Fracas Continues
Japan Looks for Rare Earth Alternatives
Kan Says Japan Should Consider Stockpiling of Rare-Earth Metals
Decline in Rare-Earth Exports Rattles Germany
China’s Rare Earths Gambit
More on Rare Earths: Looking for a Way out From Under a Monopoly

Obviously, this isn’t a good development because there’s not a hell of a lot we can do about it unless we want to start an all out trade war. They’re got most of the rare earth metals and we’re dependent on it.

/at a minimum, expect prices to rise for any technology that requires these metals

Keeping Up With The Bad Guys

I don’t see any problem with this at all. Law enforcement is still going to need a search warrant and if they have enough evidence to get a warrant, they should be able to listen in. Why should criminals and terrorists be given an advantage just because they’re smart enough to communicate using the internet?

U.S. seeks ways to wiretap the Internet

The Obama administration is planning to seek legislation that would require social networking companies and voice-over-Internet service providers to adapt their technology so law enforcement agents can monitor users’ communications during criminal and terrorism investigations.

The proposal arises out of a concern that technology and social customs have outpaced the law and that authorities lack the means to monitor new methods of communication, administration officials said. But the initiative has also revived a more than 15-year-old debate over the proper balance between national security and personal privacy as well as what industry can reasonably be asked to do without stifling innovation.

“This is about lawfully authorized intercepts,” said Valerie E. Caproni, FBI general counsel. “This is not about expanding authority, but about preserving the ability to carry out existing authorities in order to protect the national security and public safety.”

See also:
FBI Drive for Encryption Backdoors Is Déjà Vu for Security Experts
Report: Feds to push for Net encryption backdoors
Feds want backdoors built into VoIP and email
Obama Administration Internet Wiretap Plans Dredge Up Old Debate
White House, FBI Seek Legislation to Expedite Online Wiretapping
Internet Wiretapping: Snoop or Safety Tool?
U.S. Wants to Wiretap the Internet
Internet Privacy Advocates Concerned Over Wiretap Plans
US rights group concerned by Web wiretap plans
Wiretap Law & Internet Freedom

I think the best rule of thumb is to just assume that a government, U.S. or otherwise, is monitoring all your communications, across the technology spectrum, and behave accordingly.

/if you’re not engaged in anything illegal, you shouldn’t get into any trouble