Category: StratCom & Nuclear Weapons

The NSA Is Only the Tip of the Iceberg

THE TOTAL SECURITY STATE
by Loring Wirbel
Citizens for Peace in Space

Rumors have circulated for many years, long before the June 2013 Edward Snowden revelations, that the National Security Agency was capable of intercepting literally all electronic communications on the planet. The rumors gained substance in early October, when the BBC reported that the NSA tried bringing up its massive new storage facility in Bluffdale, Utah, and ended up browning out two power plants that serve the greater Salt Lake City area. At press time, NSA’s Bluffdale facility still had not gone online—foiled by its own massive mission to collect anything of interest going on with allies and adversaries alike.

The only people that seem to have missed the memo that the NSA covers the planet, are the leaders of leading allied nations, including Germany, Spain, Mexico, Greece and Brazil, who all took turns over the course of the summer and early fall expressing shock that the NSA was really probing their cell-phone calls, email addresses and private meetings. Some of this shock has a theatrical spin, for two reasons: proof of the NSA intercepting critical international meetings has been leaked for decades; and every nation has its own ‘signals-intelligence’ (SIGINT) agency which attempts to do the same things the NSA does. Nevertheless, the public anger expressed by the likes of Angela Merkel of Germany and Dilma Rousseff of Brazil helped give the Snowden revelations more shelf life, keeping the NSA in the headlines constantly for five months.

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Obsession Without End

The U.S. Government’s Mania Over National Security

Loring Wirbel
Citizens for Peace in Space
Colorado Springs, Colorado

James Cartwright, former commander of Strategic Command and Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has found himself in the uncomfortable and surprising position of being linked with the likes of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. In late June, word leaked that the Justice Department was investigating Cartwright for possibly leaking information on the U.S. Cyber Command’s “Olympic Games” mission to David Sanger of the New York Times. Sanger wrote in a recent book that Olympic Games was an over-arching offensive cyber-war architecture that included “Stuxnet”—the specific program that inserted rogue commands into the logic controllers of Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuges.

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13 minutes to Doomsday

The following Washington Post editorial, published July 8, 2012, outlines what should be a no-brainer, the case for the U.S. and Russia to take our nuclear weapons off hair-trigger, launch-ready alert. Our friends at Peace Action would like us to join them in asking President Obama to Prevent Doomsday - Take Nuclear Weapons Off Hair-Trigger Alert.

Both Nebraskans for Peace and Peace Action want all nuclear weapons abolished worldwide, but de-alerting is one of the single most effective steps we could take to reduce the danger of nuclear war.

Click on this link to tell the president he needs to do it, right away!

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Reading "I Am a Man" by Joe Starita: Reflections on Genocide

Nobuko Tsukui, a Japanese scholar of the literature of the atomic bombings, was the guest speaker at the Lincoln NFP Chapter’s annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki Lantern Float this past August.  During her visit in Nebraska, she was given a copy of Joe Starita’s new biography of Chief Standing Bear, I Am a Man.  Reading the book on her return to her home in Tokyo, she recorded her reflections on this momentous episode in Nebraska’s history and has graciously agreed to share them with us. 

With very little knowledge of the history of the Native Americans, I started to read this book, I Am a Man by Joe Starita, the subtitle of which is “Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice,” with a conscious intention of learning historical facts.  When I reached about a third of the book, I found myself crying as I kept reading and taking notes.  Something like this happened before, when I was reading some of the writings by the atomic bomb survivors.  Now that I finished reading this memorable book, I asked myself why I cried reading it and why I also cried reading some works of the atomic bomb literature.  What follows is my reflection – in an effort to find answers to my own question.

It’s true that I Am a Man deals with facts of nineteenth-century U.S. history, focusing on Chief Standing Bear and his “journey for justice.”  The book is a “compelling narrative of injustices finally righted,” a story of “the struggle of our nation’s first inhabitants to find justice in the land of their birth.”  (The quotes are from the excerpts under the heading, “Praise for I Am a Man” printed on pp. i – ii.)  The book gives detailed accounts of Standing Bear’s experience, his family’s experience, and his people’s – the Ponca’s – experience: the suffering, pain, agony, hardship, starvation, illness, death, arrest, imprisonment, and more.  Through all these ordeals, his “perseverance” sustained the Ponca Chief, and on May 12, 1879, Judge Dundy “had declared for the first time in the nation’s history that an Indian was a person within the meaning of U.S. law.” (p.157)  Hence the reviewer for Kirkus Reviews writes: Standing Bear’s ‘case’ “established legal personhood for American Indians.”  (p.i )  (Of course, May 1879 was not the end of his “struggle,” but only the beginning of the end, which came in 1890, when “Standing Bear received Allotment No. 146: a 297.8-acre parcel of rich, dark soil hugging a bend on the west bank of the Running Water.” (p. 233)  [The significance of this event for Standing Bear and his people is explained by Starita: “In short order, in going from a tribally owned reservation to individual allotments, the Northern Ponca has lost 70 percent of their original homeland.” (p. 233)] 

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StratCom the Cyber Warrior

Loring Wirbel
Citizens for Peace in Space

A new Pentagon strategy released July 13 assigns the primary duty of cyber operations to U.S. Strategic Command, with secondary missions assumed by U.S. Cyber Command, based at the National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. This “Cyberspace Operations Strategy” is more ominous than might otherwise be suspected with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s revelation at a news conference in mid-July that the Pentagon now considers the commercial Internet to be “another operational theater of war”—and that StratCom and Cyber Command must be ready to take on more offensive roles in combating cyber assaults.

Scare tactics were in abundance at the July announcement with the Department of Defense disclosing that a foreign agency had collected more than 20,000 documents in a cyber-assault on a U.S. military contractor this past spring. This March 2011 attack was in fact of an altogether different degree than the previously-known assaults on Lockheed Martin and RSA Security Inc. Though Panetta revealed no details, most bloggers agreed the foreign agency in question was most likely China, and that the targeted contractor had been Northrop Grumman.

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