The founder of a tea party group in Oklahoma was charged with two felonies on Tuesday for allegedly sending threatening emails to a Republican lawmaker after he refused buy in to the notion that the United Nations was conspiring to transform the country into a communist dictatorship.
According to the Oklahoman, 54-year-old Sooner Tea Party founder Al Gerhart faces up to five years in prison for blackmail and violating the state computer crimes act.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation determined that Gerhart admitted sending an email to state Sen. Cliff Branan (R) “that was intended to threaten and intimidate him.”
SEOUL, March 8 (Yonhap) — A North Korean general said Thursday that the country has placed long-range missiles armed with nuclear warheads on standby, as Pyongyang said it will not bow to the United Nations resolution condemning its latest atomic weapons test.
(Reuters) – United Nations human rights investigators called on Israel on Thursday to halt settlement expansion and withdraw all Jewish settlers from the occupied West Bank, saying that its practices violated international law.
“Israel must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions. It must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the OPT (occupied Palestinian territories),” said a report by the inquiry led by French judge Christine Chanet.
The settlements contravene the 1949 Geneva Conventions forbidding the transfer of civilian populations into occupied territory, which could amount to war crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), it said.
In December, the Palestinians accused Israel in a letter to the United Nations of planning to commit further “war crimes” by expanding Jewish settlements after the Palestinians won de facto U.N. recognition of statehood and warned that Jerusalem must be held accountable.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea threatened on Friday to take “physical countermeasures” against South Korea if it helps enforce sanctions against the besieged North, calling the United Nations-endorsed penalties a “declaration of war” and warning of a prolonged chill in the relations between the two Koreas.
North Korea’s confrontational posture was likely to significantly limit room for the South’s incoming conservative president, Park Geun-hye, to make overtures for reconciliation with the North; like the outgoing President Lee Myung-bak and President Obama in the United States, Mr. Park considers the dismantling of the North’s nuclear program the premise in all South Korea’s diplomacy toward the North. Since her December election, she has said she would not tolerate the North’s nuclear program and would deal sternly with North Korean provocations.
By Colum Lynch, Published: January 8
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations, looking to modernize its peacekeeping operations, is planning for the first time to deploy a fleet of its own surveillance drones in missions in Central and West Africa.
The U.N. Department of Peacekeeping has notified Congo, Rwanda and Uganda that it intends to deploy a unit of at least three unarmed surveillance drones in the eastern region of Congo.
The action is the first step in a broader bid to integrate unmanned aerial surveillance systems, which have become a standard feature of Western military operations, into the United Nations’ far-flung peacekeeping empire.
But the effort is encountering resistance from governments, particularly those from the developing world, that fear the drones will open up a new intelligence-gathering front dominated by Western powers and potentially supplant the legions of African and Asian peacekeepers who now act as the United Nations’ eyes and ears on the ground.
“Africa must not become a laboratory for intelligence devices from overseas,” said Olivier Nduhungirehe, a Rwandan diplomat at the United Nations. “We don’t know whether these drones are going to be used to gather intelligence from Kigali, Kampala, Bujumbura or the entire region.”
Developing countries fear Western control over intelligence gathered by the drones. Some of those concerns are rooted in the 1990s, when the United States and other major powers infiltrated the U.N. weapons inspection agency to surreptitiously collect intelligence on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s military.
The growing American use of drones in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere to identify and kill suspected terrorists has only heightened anxieties about their deployment as part of multilateral peacekeeping missions.
U.N. officials have sought to allay the suspicions, saying there is no intention to arm the drones or to spy on countries that have not consented to their use.
The U.N. drones would have a range of about 150 miles and can hover for up to 12 hours at a time. They would be equipped with infrared technology that can detect troops hidden beneath forest canopy or operating at night, allowing them to track movements of armed militias, assist patrols heading into hostile territory and document atrocities.
“These are really just flying cameras,” said one U.N. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. “Our best method of protection is early warning. We recently had a patrol ambushed in Darfur. If you had a drone ahead of the patrol, it could have seen the ambush party.”
“If you know armed groups are moving in attack or battle formation early enough, you can warn civilians,” the official added.
The United Nations, which manages a force of more than 100,000 blue helmets in 15 peacekeeping missions, views drones as a low-cost alternative to expensive helicopters for surveillance operations.
Along with the pending deployments in the Congo, the organization has ordered a feasibility study into their use in Ivory Coast. U.N. military planners say they see a need for drones in many other missions, including Darfur, Sudan and South Sudan, where the United Nations monitors tensions along the border of the two countries. But they acknowledged that they have little hope that Sudan would permit them.
The United Nations has previously turned to the United States and other governments to provide with over-flight imagery. Rolf Ekeus, the former Swedish chief of the U.N. Special Commission in Iraq, persuaded the United States to loan the United Nations U-2 spy planes to monitor Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program in the 1990s.
More recently, Ireland, France and Belgium supplied unmanned aircraft to U.N.-backed, European-led missions in Chad, Lebanon and the Congo, and Belgium sent four drones to the Congo to help provide security for presidential and legislative elections. Two days before the 2006 election, one of the drones crashed, killing one woman and injuring two in Kinshasa, the capital.
Interest in drone technology has picked up among U.N. humanitarian and relief agencies. Last February, the U.N. Institute for Training and Research deployed the United Nations’ first drone in Port-au Prince, Haiti, to survey earthquake damage and help coordinate recovery efforts.
The use of drones in peacekeeping missions has proved more sensitive.
Pakistan’s U.N. ambassador, Masood Khan, recently told reporters that member states understand the importance of surveillance in ensuring the safety of peacekeepers. But he said there are differing views over the appropriateness of deploying drones.
Others say the dispute centers on questions about who would have access to the images and intelligence collected by the drones and whether the next step would be arming them.
To address such questions, the U.N. special committee on peacekeeping operations, which is made up of more than 140 countries, has asked the secretary general to assess the effect of drones and other modern technology on peace missions.
Herve Ladsous, the U.N. undersecretary general for peacekeeping, asked the Security Council in a closed door meeting Tuesday to support his plan for drones in Congo.
The United States, Britain, France and other Western members of the council backed the proposal, saying the United Nations needs to modernize its peacekeeping role. But China, Russia, Rwanda, Pakistan and Guatemala voiced concern, setting the stage for a contentious debate over the U.N. plan. Rwanda’s U.N. ambassador, Eugène-Richard Gasana, told the council that the U.N.’s introduction of drones carries the risk of transforming the peacekeeping mission into a belligerent force, according to a council diplomat.
But Richard Gowan, an expert on U.N. peacekeeping at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation, said much of the resistance is driven by fear that drones would replace the legions of U.N. peacekeepers.
“This really boils down to a concern from the troop contributors that they are going to be sidelined. A drone is a cheaper and more efficient alternative to an infantry patrol,” said Gowan. “I think, very frankly, that a number of the large African and Asian troops contributors are worried that if the United Nations gets involved in high-tech operations like this, that their personnel will be made redundant.”
How can you prove where an attack comes from or if it happened at all? Just trust them right? This makes a (false Flag?) Cyber “Pearl Harbor” and an I – Patriot Act a near certainty – If we do not stop them!
MOSCOW — When Eugene Kaspersky, the founder of Europe’s largest antivirus company, discovered the Flame virusthat is afflicting computers in Iran and the Middle East, he recognized it as a technologically sophisticated virus that only a government could create.
Alexey Sazonov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Mr. Kaspersky, chief of Europe’s largest antivirus company, says only an international treaty would halt online weapons.
Kapersky Lab, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A screen grab of a program of the computer virus Flame.
He also recognized that the virus, which he compares to the Stuxnet virus built by programmers employed by the United States and Israel, adds weight to his warnings of the grave dangers posed by governments that manufacture and release viruses on the Internet.
“Cyberweapons are the most dangerous innovation of this century,” he told a gathering of technology company executives, called the CeBIT conference, last month in Sydney, Australia. While the United States and Israel are using the weapons to slow the nuclear bomb-making abilities of Iran, they could also be used to disrupt power grids and financial systems or even wreak havoc with military defenses.
Computer security companies have for years used their discovery of a new virus or worm to call attention to themselves and win more business from companies seeking computer protection. Mr. Kaspersky, a Russian computer security expert, and his company, Kaspersky Lab, are no different in that regard. But he is also using his company’s integral role in exposing or decrypting three computer viruses apparently intended to slow or halt Iran’s nuclear program to argue for an international treaty banning computer warfare.
A growing array of nations and other entities are using online weapons, he says, because they are “thousands of times cheaper” than conventional armaments.
While antivirus companies might catch some, he says, only an international treaty that would ban militaries and spy agencies from making viruses will truly solve the problem.
The wide disclosure of the details of the Flame virus by Kaspersky Lab also seems intended to promote the Russian call for a ban on cyberweapons like those that blocked poison gas or expanding bullets from the armies of major nations and other entities.
And that puts the Russian company in a difficult position because it already faces suspicions that it is tied to the Russian government, accusations Mr. Kaspersky has constantly denied as he has built his business.
While Russian officials have not commented on the discovery of Flame, the Russian minister of telecommunications gave a speech, also in May, calling for an international cyberweapon ban. Russia has also pushed for a bilateral treaty with the United States.
The United States has agreed to discuss such a disarmament treaty with the Russians, but has also tried to encourage Russia to prosecute online crime, which flourishes in this country.
The United States has long objected to the Russian crusade for an online arms control ban. “There is no broad international support for a cyberweapon ban,” says James A. Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “This is a global diplomatic ploy by the Russians to take down a perceived area of U.S. military advantage.”
Russia, many security experts note, has been accused of using cyberwarfare in disputes with Estonia and wars in Georgia.
Mr. Kaspersky said that at no point did he cooperate with the Federal Security Agency, the successor agency to the K.G.B., as the Flame virus was not a threat to Russian citizens.
Kaspersky Lab, he said, felt justified exposing the Flame virus because the company was working under the auspices of a United Nations agency. But the company has been noticeably silent on viruses perpetrated in its own backyard, where Russian-speaking criminal syndicates controlled a third of the estimated $12 billion global cybercrime market last year, according to the Russian security firm Group-IB.
Some say there is good reason. “He’s got family,” said Sean Sullivan, an adviser at F-Secure, a computer security firm in Helsinki. “I wouldn’t expect them to be the most aggressive about publicizing threats in their neighborhood for fear those neighbors would retaliate.”
Last year, Mr. Kaspersky’s 19-year-old son was kidnapped by criminals demanding a ransom. The kidnappers did not appear to have ties to any of Russia’s online criminal syndicates, but Mr. Sullivan says, “It was probably a wake-up call.”
Some computer security firms say Mr. Kaspersky’s researchers have hyped Flame. It is too early, his critics say, to call the virus a “cyberweapon” and to suggest it was sponsored by a state.
Joe Jaroch, a vice president at Webroot, an antivirus maker, says he first encountered a sample of Flame in 2007. He says he did not publicize the discovery because he did not consider the code sophisticated. “There are many more dangerous viruses out there,” he said. “I would be shocked if this was the work of a nation state.”
Mr. Sullivan, from F-Secure, said: “It’s interesting and complex, but not sleek and stealthy. It could be the work of a military contractor — Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and other contractors are developing programs like these for different intelligence services. To call it a cyberweapon says more about Kaspersky’s cold war mentality than anything else. It has to be taken with a grain of salt.”
Whether the skepticism is authentic or professional jealousy, no one doubts the Kaspersky Lab’s skills. Mr. Kaspersky studied cryptography at a high school that was co-sponsored by the K.G.B. and Russia’s ministry of defense, and later took a job with the Russian military. He started tracking computer viruses as a side project in 1989, after his work PC was infected with one. In 1997, he co-founded Kaspersky Lab with his wife at the time, Natalya, in their Moscow apartment.
The headquarters of the team that unraveled Flame is an open-plan office of cubicles overlooking a park on the edge of Moscow. Mr. Kaspersky eschews suits and his researchers wear Converse shoes and tattered jeans, much as their counterparts in the United States do. A Darth Vader mask adorns one desk.
Talent also abounds. The Belarussian virus hunter who first found the Stuxnet virus in 2010, Sergei Ulasen, now works for Kaspersky Lab.
Today, the company is one of Russia’s most recognizable exports. It commands 8 percent of the world’s software security market for businesses, with revenue reaching $612 million last year.
Yet Mr. Kaspersky says he often has to dispute suggested ties to Russia’s security services. Analysts say suspicions about the firm’s Russian roots have hindered its expansion abroad.
“The U.S. government, defense contractors and lots of U.S. companies won’t work with them,” said Peter Firstbrook, director of malware research at Gartner, a research firm. “There’s no evidence that they have any back doors in their software or any ties to the Russian mafia or state. It’s a red herring, but there is still a concern that you can’t operate in Russia without being controlled by the ruling party.”
Mr. Kaspersky said his company tackled Flame upon the request of the International Telecommunication Union, an agency of the United Nations. He assigned about three dozen engineers to investigate a virus that was erasing files on computers at Iran’s oil ministry. Kaspersky researchers, some of whom had analyzed suspected United States and Israeli viruses that destroyed centrifuges in Iran’s nuclear program two years earlier, were already following up on complaints from Iranian clients that Kaspersky’s antivirus software was not catching a new type of malware on their systems, Kaspersky officials said.
“We saw an unusual structure of the code, compressed and encrypted in several ways,” Vitaly Kamlyuk, a researcher on the team that cracked the virus.
It was the first virus to look for Bluetooth-enabled devices in the vicinity, either to spread to those devices, map a user’s social or professional circle, or steal information from them. The program also contained a command called “microbe” that silently turned on users’ microphones to record their conversations and sent audio files back to the attackers. It was clearly not a virus made by criminals.
“Antivirus companies are in a not easy situation,” Mr. Kaspersky said. “We have to protect our customers everywhere in the world. On the other hand, we understand there are quite serious powers behind these viruses.”
Even though finding viruses first is usually a boon for antivirus companies, cracking Flame, Mr. Kaspersky said, might hurt his business in one regard. “For the next five years, we can forget about government contracts in the United States.”
Andrew E. Kramer reported from Moscow and Nicole Perlroth from San Francisco.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: June 8, 2012
An article on Monday about a warning from the computer security expert Eugene Kaspersky about the dangers posed by government-created Internet viruses misstated the name of a United Nations branch for which he did some research. It is the International Telecommunication Union, not the International Telecommunications Unit.
News Analysis: Mutually Assured Cyberdestruction? (June 3, 2012)
Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran (June 1, 2012)
Iran Confirms Attack by Virus That Collects Information (May 30, 2012)
Times Topic: Cyberattacks on Iran — Stuxnet and Flame
Related in Opinion
Op-Ed Contributor: Asleep at the Laptop (June 4, 2012)
Liberals blast Susan Rice’s ‘outrageous’ investments in Canadian pipeline firm – Rice withdraws State Dept app
CIA ‘tortured and sodomised’ terror suspect, European court rules –Landmark European court of human rights brands CIA treatment of wrongly detained Khaled el-Masri as torture
13 Dec 2012 CIA agents tortured a German citizen, sodomising, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on, the European court of human rights said in a historic judgment released on Thursday. In a unanimous ruling, it also found Macedonia guilty of torturing, abusing, and secretly imprisoning Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese origin allegedly linked to terrorist organisations. Masri was seized in Macedonia in December 2003 and handed over to a CIA “rendition team” at Skopje airport and secretly flown to Afghanistan. It is the first time the court has described CIA treatment meted out to terror suspects as torture.
The House on Wednesday unanimously passed a Senate resolution introduced by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that calls on the U.S. government to oppose United Nations control of the Internet.
The 397-0 vote is meant to send a signal to countries meeting at a U.N. conference on telecommunications this week. Participants are meeting to update an international telecom treaty, but critics warn that many countries’ proposals could allow U.N. regulation of the Internet.
“The 193 member countries of the United Nations are gathered to consider whether to apply to the Internet a regulatory regime that the International Telecommunications Union created in the 1980s for old-fashioned telephone service,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said on the House floor.
December 4, 2012 (LD) – Once again, the US has issued a warning against Syria deploying “chemical weapons” citing “intelligence reports that the Damascus government is preparing such munitions for possible use.” No evidence was provided, nor any reasonable explanation as to why the Syrian government would deploy such weapons when, after over 2 years, the majority of the Syrian people still stand behind the government while terrorist forces flooding over Syria’s borders have been faced with constant tactical and strategic defeat.
Despite attempts to portray Damascus and Aleppo as on the inevitable edge of collapse, now for a full 6 months, both cities are still firmly in the hands of government troops, with only symbolic terror attacks murdering scores of civilians at a time and temporary advances made on isolated bases before promptly being abandoned by NATO-backed terrorists – a pattern not unlike that facing Western forces in NATO-occupied Afghanistan.
The accusations were printed in the Washington Post article, “Obama warns Syria amid rising concern over chemical weapons,” but despite the insinuations, includes the disclaimer (emphasis added), “Syria is thought to have several hundred surface-to-surface ballistic missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads.”
Other nations “thought to have” weapons of mass destruction included Iraq, which in hindsight, after a 10 year war and occupation, following years of crippling sanctions leaving millions dead, turned out not to in fact have such weapons.
It is unlikely that the Syrian government would use such weapons, thus giving the West the excuse it would need to directly intervene militarily, a scenario the West has been attempting to sell for the last 2 years, and particularly so following NATO’s military operations in Libya throughout 2011.
Conversely, NATO’s proxy forces operating in Syria possess both the means and motivation to carry out chemical attacks, therefore blaming Syria’s government and granting the West the impetus needed to intervene more directly.
NATO-backed Terrorists have the Means.
Libya’s arsenal had fallen into the hands of sectarian extremists with NATO assistance last year in the culmination of efforts to overthrow the North African nation . Since then, Libya’s militants led by commanders of Al Qaeda’s Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) have armed sectarian extremists across the Arab World, from as far West as Mali, to as far East as Syria.
In addition to small arms, heavier weapons are also making their way through this extensive network. The Washington Post in their article, “Libyan missiles on the loose,” reported:
“Two former CIA counterterrorism officers told me last week that technicians recently refurbished 800 of these man-portable air-defense systems (known as MANPADS) — some for an African jihadist group called Boko Haram that is often seen as an ally of al-Qaeda — for possible use against commercial jets flying into Niger, Chad and perhaps Nigeria.”
While undoubtedly these weapons are also headed to Niger, Chad, and perhaps Nigeria, they are veritably headed to Syria. Libyan LIFG terrorists are confirmed to be flooding into Syria from Libya. In November 2011, the Telegraph in their article, “Leading Libyan Islamist met Free Syrian Army opposition group,” would report:
Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, “met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,” said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. “Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.”
Another Telegraph article, “Libya’s new rulers offer weapons to Syrian rebels,” would admit
Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya’s new authorities on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, The Daily Telegraph has learned.At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested “assistance” from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms, and potentially volunteers.
“There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,” said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.”
Later that month, some 600 Libyan terrorists would be reported to have entered Syria to begin combat operations and have been flooding into the country ever since.
Washington Post’s reported “loose missiles” in Libya are now turning up on the battlefield in Syria. While outfits like the Guardian, in their article “Arms and the Manpads: Syrian rebels get anti-aircraft missiles,” are reporting the missiles as being deployed across Syria, they have attempted to downplay any connection to Libya’s looted arsenal and the Al Qaeda terrorists that have imported them. In contrast, Times has published open admissions from terrorists themselves admitting they are receiving heavy weapons including surface-to-air missiles from Libya.
In Time’s article, “Libya’s Fighters Export Their Revolution to Syria,” it is reported:
Some Syrians are more frank about the assistance the Libyans are providing. “They have heavier weapons than we do,” notes Firas Tamim, who has traveled in rebel-controlled areas to keep tabs on foreign fighters. “They brought these weapons to Syria, and they are being used on the front lines.” Among the arms Tamim has seen are Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, known as the SAM 7.
Libyan fighters largely brush off questions about weapon transfers, but in December they claimed they were doing just that. “We are in the process of collecting arms in Libya,” a Libyan fighter in Syria told the French daily Le Figaro. “Once this is done, we will have to find a way to bring them here.”
Libya’s stockpiles of mustard gas and chemicals used to make weapons are intact and were not stolen during the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, weapons inspectors have said.
The abandonment or disappearance of some Gaddafi-era weapons has prompted concerns that such firepower could erode regional security if it falls into the hands of Islamist militants or rebels active in north Africa. Some fear they could be used by Gaddafi loyalists to spread instability in Libya.
Last month Human Rights Watch urged Libya’s ruling national transitional council to take action over large numbers of heavy weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, it said were lying unguarded more than two months after Gaddafi was overthrown.
On Wednesday the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said the UN would send experts to Libya to help ensure nuclear material and chemical weapons did not fall into the wrong hands.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel said on Sunday it was withholding this month’s transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority, after the United Nations’ de facto recognition of a Palestinian state.
Under interim peace deals, which Israel says the Palestinians violated by unilaterally seeking an upgrade of their status at the United Nations, it collects about $100 million a month in duties on behalf of the authority.