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5:49 pm, September 18, 2014

Pentagon & Beyond

National Security Correspondent J.J. Green has traveled three continents covering intelligence, terrorism, and security issues. From Afghanistan to Africa, Iraq to Ireland, there isn't anywhere J.J. won't go, nor anyone he won't talk with, to get the stories affecting the defense and national security communities.

New approach to European security suggested

The European Union should establish a three-way dialogue on security with Russia and Turkey to tackle frozen conflicts and promote stability on its eastern flank, a leading think-tank says. In a report released today, the European Council on Foreign Relations said the 27-nation EU must take more responsibility for security in its own neighborhood because the United States has its hands full dealing with Afghanistan, Iran and China and is no longer focused on Europe. The study says the current system failed to prevent wars in Kosovo and Georgia, or disruption to Europe's gas supplies, or to resolve a string of legacy disputes on the fringes of the former Soviet Union.

Assange hit by more setbacks

Two major setbacks for Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange. He was denied a Swedish residency permit and his website had been dumped by a company that handled many of its donations. The Swedish government declined to say why he was denied residency saying the reason was confidential. As far as donations go, Moneybookers.com told Assange he'd been dropped because of concerns about risk management and his website had essentially been watch listed.

A yellow flag is waving

So far, the Pentagon has not reported any incidents of reprisals against Afghans named in the documents exposed by the Wikileaks website, but it has sparked new questions about how far to go in sharing sensitive information within the government, a practice that expanded after Sept. 11, 2001, in order to help prevent future terrorist attacks. In a speech recently, director of national intelligence, James Clapper, called the July leaks "a big yellow flag" for those concerned about protecting classified information.

More U.S. drone attacks suspected

The United States again appears to be relying on missile strikes by unmanned aircraft to target militants in Pakistan's tribal belt. According to the Associated Press, intelligence officials say suspected U.S. aircraft launched four missile strikes today at a house and two vehicles in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border. They say the victims included three foreigners. The attacks took place in an area dominated by militants who often attack U.S. and other foreign troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. is now suspected of carrying out 14 missile strikes in the region this month.

Iran blames "foreign enemies" for deadly explosion

Iran's English-language Press TV reports an explosion at an Iranian military training base killed and injured several servicemen on Tuesday. The report did not make clear how many people were killed or injured but said the explosion was caused an "by accident". It happened in western Iran. Last month a bomb blast killed 12 people and injured 80 in the city of Mahabad. Authorities blamed it on "anti-revolutionary" militants backed by Iran's foreign enemies.

Gates attends security meeting in Asia

Defense ministers from Asian and other nations have gathered in Hanoi, Vietnam for a regional security meeting. The Associated Press is reporting Defense Secretary Robert Gates is attending the two-day meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, where he will hold military talks with Chinese Gen. Liang Guanglie - the first between the countries in eight months after China cut off contact to protest a U.S. arms package for Taiwan.

Drone targets escaped

The top two targets of the withering drone attacks in the tribal territories between Pakistan and Afghanistan --escaped. The News Online in Pakistan reports two al-Qaeda-linked terrorists of German origin , 27-year-old Mouneer Chouka alias Abu Adam and 25-year-old Yaseen Chouka alias Abu Ibrahim we're not killed in the attacks. Hailing from the suburb of Kessenich in Bonn, both are real brothers and believed to be leading a group of over 100 German militants who had traveled from Germany to the border areas of Pakistan in recent years, raising the latest security alert in Europe

Court Martial recommended

A court-martial has been recommended for Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock. He's the first of 12 American soldiers charged with murdering Afghan civilians for sport Investigators at Morlock's initial hearing in the case didn't find enough evidence for him stand trial on three counts of premeditated murder. Morlock and fellow soldiers are accused of taking photos of corpses and keeping body parts as war trophies.

Pakistan gets an apology

The U.S. apologized Wednesday for a recent helicopter attack that killed two Pakistani soldiers at an outpost near the Afghan border, saying American pilots mistook the soldiers for insurgents they were pursuing. The Associated Press reports the apology, which came after a joint investigation, could pave the way for Pakistan to reopen a key border crossing that NATO uses to ship goods into landlocked Afghanistan. Pakistan closed the crossing to NATO supply convoys in apparent reaction to the Sept. 30 incident.

Cyber Arms Race Begins

Are we witnessing the beginning of a cyber arms race? Seems like it. The Stuxnet computer virus is taking worries about cyber warfare to a new level. It's the first reported case of malicious software designed to sabotage industrial controls. Experts say it is a prototype of a cyber-weapon that will lead to a new global arms race. Computers will be the weapons. The program specifically targets control systems built by Siemens AG, a German equipment maker. Iran, the target of U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program, has been hit hardest of any country.

Security companies in Afghanistan shutting down

Afghanistan has begun disbanding private security companies and confiscating their weapons. President Hamid Karzai said in August all private security companies had to close down within four months. It's part of part of a plan for the government to take over all security responsibilities beginning in 2014. Karzai says the firms are responsible for horrific accident and a series of killings, crimes and scandals.

Assange was obsessed

What led to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's decision to release 75 thousand classified documents obtained from a U.S. Army private? A former group spokesman, who quit the organization said it was becoming consumed by its confrontation with the Pentagon. Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a German who said he left because of Assange's management style. He told Der Speigel he had serious problems with Assange's "obsession" with attacking the U.S. government.

Wikileaks unraveling

There is word that wiki-leaks is coming apart at the seams. The Associated Press says WikiLeaks is unraveling from internal turmoil and power struggles. Key staffers at the website have reportedly deserted the organization out of anger that founder Julian Assange unilaterally decided to publish tens of thousands of classified documents before enough work was done to protect the names of informants. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, founded WikiLeaks in 2006 for people wishing to anonymously publish material that companies and governments want kept secret.

Tension grows over Pentagon cuts

"Blindsided" is the word that Va. Senator Jim Webb used when he addressed Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn. Lynn was one of three Pentagon officials who appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss spending cuts at the Pentagon. The focal point for Webb and other members of the Virginia Congressional delegation is the Joint Forces Command, in Norfolk and Suffolk. It's an area with a huge military presence, including the world's largest naval base. It's slated to be closed.

All eyes are on North Korea

The U.S. is watching North Korea very carefully today. North Korean dictator Kim Jong il, just promoted his 27 year old son, Kim Jong-un, to four star general. Why? Kim Jong-il, 68, is widely believed to have suffered a stroke in the summer of 2008. Since then he's tried to make his third son the successor in what could be the communist world's first back-to-back father-to-son power transfer. Kim took over the regime when his father and North Korean founder Kim Il-sung died in 1994.

iphones coming to the Army

The Army may soon begin distributing Apple's iphone to new recruits. The goal appears to be giving young people effective training tools and tools that are fun. Defense Tech reports Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, the top officer in charge of Army basic training says the service is making a radical shift away from Power Points and into iPhone apps. Several hundred iphones have been isued as a part of a preliminary study to see if smart phone delivery of training material works better with this generation of recruits.

A Pakistani Neuroscientist is sentenced

86 years in federal prison for Aafia Siddiqui. The Pakistani neuroscientist was sentenced after being found guilty of shooting at FBI agents and soldiers after her arrest in Afghanistan. Siddiqui, 38, was arrested in July 2008 by Afghan police, who said she was carrying two pounds (900 grams) of sodium cyanide and crumpled notes referring to mass-casualty attacks and New York landmarks. Siddiqui, expecting some to protest her sentencing told supporters in the gallery not to do it.

Officials warn of smaller, faster terror plots

The nation's top homeland security and counter-terrorism officials were on Capitol Hill talking yesterday about new terrorism trends. "Recent events in intelligence show a trend toward smaller faster developing plots rather than larger longer term plots like 9-11," said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said homegrown plots disrupted in New York, North Carolina, Arkansas, Alaska, Texas and Illinois in the past year demonstrate the urgency of the problem.

Lawmakers try to stop JFCOM shutdown

A week from today --the Senate Armed Services Committee is going to have a hearing about Pentagon's plans to close the Joint Forces Command headquarters in Norfolk to save money. Va. Sen. Jim Webb, who is a former Navy Secretary has pushed to get the hearing because they are concerned that the JFCOM closure will hit Virginia and the Tidewater region hard from an economic perspective. Webb and the rest of the Va. Congressional delegations are said to be exploring options to stop the shutdown.

Russia Buzzes Navy

If you think things between the U.S. and Russia are cozy, think again. Pentagon officials say two Russian aircraft buzzed a U.S. Navy warship in the Arctic's Barents Sea last week, each coming within about 50 yards of the frigate. Flying by Navy ships in international waters is not unheard of. But this Cold War-style incident was enough to stir some concern. Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said Navy personnel aboard the ship did not believe the actions were hostile. He told reporters on Friday that the U.S. was still trying to determine whether either side broke protocol.

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