Fifty Years Ago, Israel attacked an unarmed US Navy ship killing 34

❝ On June 8, 1967, an Israeli torpedo tore through the side of the unarmed American naval vessel USS Liberty, approximately a dozen miles off the Sinai coast. The ship, whose crew was under command of the National Security Agency, was intercepting communications at the height of the Six-Day War when it came under direct Israeli aerial and naval assault…an attack that would leave 34 Americans dead and 171 wounded.

❝ Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the assault on the USS Liberty, and though it was among the worst attacks in history against a noncombatant U.S. naval vessel, the tragedy remains shrouded in secrecy. The question of if and when Israeli forces became aware they were killing Americans has proved a point of particular contention in the on-again, off-again public debate that has simmered over the last half a century. The Navy Court of Inquiry’s investigation proceedings following the incident were held in closed sessions, and the survivors who had been on board received gag orders forbidding them to ever talk about what they endured that day.

This INTERCEPT article has a couple of documents leaked by Edward Snowden as its core. Excepting these 2 documents, our patriotic spies still keep the entire event under security wraps. So much for transparency in a democracy. Even after a half-century.

A worthwhile read. Learn some real history, folks.

Thanks, Martyn

U.S. nuclear secrets thrown out with the trash – for 20 years

Erik Schelzig/AP

In June 2014, a worker at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee was surprised to find U.S. nuclear secrets inside a trash bag marked for disposal along with standard rubbish. Taking a closer look, the worker found 19 more documents in the bag that were either marked classified or were later determined to contain information that should have been labeled secret.

A dozen more bags of trash sat nearby, awaiting transport to an open landfill where Y-12 workers routinely dump garbage with no bearing on national security. When employees of Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services, Y-12, LLC, the contractor responsible for running the site at that time, poked inside two of these additional bags, they found more top-secret documents…

Many of the records discovered that day detailed how the department’s employees and contractors worked with nuclear explosive materials, such as highly-enriched uranium, housed at the Y-12 complex. But it quickly got worse: Further investigation by the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees such work, led officials to conclude that nuclear secrets had been thrown away with lax security at the Tennessee plant for more than 20 years…

When the Energy Department investigated the items plucked from the trash, it determined some of the documents had never been reviewed by the staff responsible for making classification decisions. Those that had been reviewed were erratically categorized, according to the NNSA’s notice of violation to Babcock & Wilcox. Some were marked at higher or lower classification levels than the information warranted. Others were designated classified when they held no sensitive information, according to the notice of violation.

The documents that genuinely did contain high-consequence secrets were vulnerable to theft throughout their journey from the nuclear site and at the disposal location for unclassified waste. And they were not “destroyed beyond recognition” to assure they wouldn’t be recovered, as the Energy Department requires, according to the notice of violation. Since 2005, they were transported by a truck driver without clearances to an unprotected landfill; before then, it’s unclear where they went, but the notice says that no special precautions were taken even then for discarding the classified material…

Protection of nuclear materials and secrets at Y-12 has been under scrutiny since July 28, 2012, when an 82-year-old nun and two more peace protestors penetrated the security perimeter and advanced far enough to scrawl graffiti on a storage vault full of weapon-grade nuclear materials.

RTFA for droll answers to simple questions. This would all be good for a laugh at incompetence excepting that the other end of this two-headed-snake is the end which bites ordinary workers, researchers, individuals who are targeted for political reasons. The usual mishandling of craptastic classified materials then becomes as important as life itself — to petty bureaucrats and politicians.

US spy plane lands after 22 months in space

Click to enlargeCC/U.S. Air Force

The US military has landed its robotic space plane, ending a classified 22-month mission that marked the third in Earth orbit for the experimental programme widely believed to be related to spying.

The X-37B touched down at Vandenberg air force base in California on Friday, bringing to a close the third and longest mission the vehicle has undertaken since its maiden voyage in 2010.

The spacecraft conducted unspecified experiments for 674 days while in orbit. The US air force said the orbiter, built by Boeing, performed “risk reduction, experimentation and concept-of-operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies”, although details of the missions are secret.

In a written release announcing the craft’s return, the air force only said it had been conducting “on-orbit experiments”…

US officials have previously denied the project had anything to do with creating a “space weapon” that could knock down other satellites.

But, our government, our military ain’t about to tell ordinary citizens a damned thing. We just get to pick up the tab.

Thanks, Mike

Overeating may double risk of memory loss

A reasonable alternative

New research suggests that consuming between 2,100 and 6,000 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people age 70 and older. The study…will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 21 to April 28, 2012. MCI is the stage between normal memory loss that comes with aging and early Alzheimer’s disease.

“We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means; the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI,” said study author Yonas E. Geda, MD, MSc, with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona…

The study involved 1,233 people between the ages of 70 and 89 and free of dementia residing in Olmsted County, Minn. Of those, 163 had MCI. Participants reported the amount of calories they ate or drank in a food questionnaire and were divided into three equal groups based on their daily caloric consumption. One-third of the participants consumed between 600 and 1,526 calories per day, one-third between 1,526 and 2,143 and one-third consumed between 2,143 and 6,000 calories per day.

The odds of having MCI more than doubled for those in the highest calorie-consuming group compared to those in the lowest calorie-consuming group. The results were the same after adjusting for history of stroke, diabetes, amount of education, and other factors that can affect risk of memory loss. There was no significant difference in risk for the middle group.

“Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age,” said Geda.

The sharpest commentary I’ve heard about this study — “they should adjust for the amount of time participants spent sitting on their butts watching American Idol and snacking”…

State Department withholds cables that WikiLeaks published

The quarter-million confidential State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks last year have been public on the Web for months. But don’t tell the government. It is pretending otherwise.

Asked in April by the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act for copies of 23 cables on Guantánamo, rendition and other matters, the State Department responded as if the confidential documents were still confidential.

Twelve of the cables “must be withheld in full” because they are classified as secret or contain important information, Alex Galovich, of the department’s Office of Information Programs and Services, wrote to the A.C.L.U. on Oct. 21. The other 11, he concluded, “may be released with excisions.”

The accompanying documents were indeed carefully redacted — here a sentence is removed, there a whole page. But the ambassadors’ confidences that the department was intent on protecting are, meanwhile, just a click away for anyone interested.

Ben Wizner, litigation director for the A.C.L.U.’s national security project, said the group’s request for documents that were already public was “mischievous” but also had a serious point: forcing the government officially to acknowledge counterterrorism actions that it has often hidden behind a cloak of classification.

“In part the request was to expose the absurdity of the U.S. secrecy regime,” Mr. Wizner said. But he said the government had repeatedly blocked lawsuits challenging counterterrorism programs by invoking what is called the state secrets privilege and telling judges that allowing the cases to proceed would endanger national security. “The only place in the world where torture and rendition cannot be discussed is U.S. courtrooms,” he said.

Both the State Department and the Justice Department declined to comment, saying the A.C.L.U.’s request is still in litigation.

We have a government run by idiots, designed to maintain the sacrosanctity of idiots, constructed to preserve the inviolability of idiots for all time.

This is not trademark or copyright law where failure to defend your design means the loss of protection and litigation. This is simple acknowledgement of reams of crap files that didn’t justify concealment in the first place – having been exposed to the public eye. Our government pretends it isn’t so.

Britain releases new UFO files

Which is the real UFO?

Reports of “flying Toblerones” and objects travelling at 1,100 mph across the Scottish sky have been released by the Ministry of Defence.

The files detail how unidentified objects have been witnessed flying over a range of locations across Scotland.

The Scottish accounts are among the thousands of reports made of close encounters with UFOs across the UK which have been released in a joint project between the MoD and the National Archives.

I think flying chocolate bars is a terrific idea.

Texas Tech gets first look at new Vietnam War-Era Intelligence

One of the CIA’s private air forces

The CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence released six volumes of previously classified books detailing various aspects of the CIA’s operations in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the ’60s and ’70s. The works were distributed and discussed at a weekend conference hosted in Lubbock, Texas by Texas Tech University’s Vietnam Center and Archive.

The documents, penned by CIA historian Thomas L. Ahern Jr., draw on operations files as well as interviews with key participants to review American foreign policy and provide what CIA chief historian Gerald K. Haines calls a sharp analytical look at CIA programs and reporting from the field.

Ahern covers topics including the CIA’s rural pacification efforts in South Vietnam, efforts to stabilize and democratize South Vietnam following the fall of President Ngo Dinh Diem, intelligence officers’ failure to identify and monitor munitions supply lines to lower South Vietnam, and failed black entry insertion efforts into North Vietnam…

“One of the rights that Americans take pride in is their freedom to access information,” Steve Maxner said. “The government engages in activities that must remain out of the public eye, and that means that while failures often get a lot of press, many successes don’t. These books present a very honest look at both the successes and failures of the intelligence community during that time period.”

RTFA. There are links at the end to .pdf files of all six volumes. Should be a helluva read.

Facebook for spies ready to launch

When you see people at the office using such Internet sites as Facebook and MySpace, you might suspect those workers are slacking off. But that’s not the case at the CIA, FBI and the National Security Agency, where bosses are encouraging their staffs to use a new social-networking site designed for the super-secret world of spying.

“It’s every bit Facebook and YouTube for spies, but it’s much, much more,” said Michael Wertheimer, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analysis. The program is called A-Space, and it’s a social-networking site for analysts within the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

Instead of posting thoughts about the new Avenged Sevenfold album or Jessica Alba movie, CIA analysts could use A-Space to share information and opinion about al Qaeda movements in the Middle East or Russian naval maneuvers in the Black Sea.

The new A-Space site has been undergoing testing for months and launches officially for the nation’s entire intelligence community on September 22.

Of course, the material on A Space is highly classified, so it won’t be available for the public. Only intelligence personnel with the proper security clearance, and a reason to be examining particular information, can access the site.

What a chuckle. Maybe, this is just the world’s biggest honeypot? Maybe the intent is exactly what they say it is – and it gets to wring out hacking techniques at the same time?

Either road, every black or white hat hacker in the world will have a shot at it.

Mexico probes online ‘hitmen ads’

Mexican police are investigating a number of classified ads on the internet which purport to be from hitmen offering the services.

The ads can be found alongside ones for private tuition or domestic help.

Hired killers are a problem across a country which has seen at least 1,400 killings this year.

Most of the killings are related to drug cartels battling for control of the illegal drugs trade to the US.

The dead include dealers dealers and gunmen as well as more than 400 police officers and other public officials, this year. Some 25,000 troops are now deployed around Mexico to try to break the cartels.

Not that the 25,000 troops are having a whole boatload of success, yet.

So far, I don’t know if my natural cynicism trumps hope that a government in Mexico with some guts might actually prevail? Or if traditional corruption beats out both?