Friday, August 12, 2022

Trump could be charged under the Espionage Act!

BBC and other sources:  

Former President Donald Trump is reportedly being investigated for possible violation of three criminal laws: the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, and the removal of government records documents, according to multiple media reports that have reviewed the search warrant.

The warrant shows the FBI took 11 sets of classified documents from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida earlier this week.

One list of documents is marked "TS/SCI" - or top secret / sensitive compartmented information - a level reserved for information that could cause "exceptionally grave" damage to US security.

Trump denies any wrongdoing. He said the items were unclassified and safe.

The items removed include more than 20 boxes, binders of photos, and a clemency letter written on behalf of political strategist Roger Stone, a long-time Trump ally.

Also recovered was information about the "President of France", although it is unclear what that refers to.

A seven-page document including the warrant was unsealed on Friday afternoon.
The Justice Department had asked a court to make it public on Thursday, a move considered rare amid an ongoing investigation. As well as the top secret documents, the list includes three sets of "secret documents, and three sets of "confidential" documents. The warrant indicates that FBI agents were looking into potential violations of the Espionage Act, which makes it illegal to keep or transmit potentially dangerous national security information.

The removal of classified documents or materials is prohibited by law - a crime for which Trump increased the penalties while in office. It is now punishable by up to five years in prison.
The warrant notes that the locations searched at Mar-a-Lago include an area called the "45 office" and storage rooms, but not private guest suites being used by Mr Trump and his staff. It was approved by a judge on 5 August, three days before it was carried out on Monday, 8 August.

Trump has derided the search as a “hoax” but has not denied improperly keeping the documents, which are government property, or given any explanation why he refused to comply with an earlier subpoena demanding their return.

In a statement on his Truth Social platform, Trump said the items recovered were "all declassified" and securely stored. He said he would have been willing to hand the items over before the search warrant was carried out. "They could have had it anytime they wanted - and that includes long ago," he said. 
"All they had to do was ask."

A spokesman for Trump, Taylor Budowich, told the BBC's US partner, CBS News, that the administration of Joe Biden "is in obvious damage control after their botched raid".

Mr Budowich added that the search was "not just unprecedented, but unnecessary". He also accused the administration of "leaking lies and innuendos to try explain away the weaponization of government against their dominant political opponent".

Russia launches satellite stalking satellite.

INTERESTING ENGINEERING: In covert space operations news, a strange Russian satellite that is apparently intended to eavesdrop on U.S. military satellites in orbit has just been launched. At its current trajectory, it should be able to close in on its target sometime on August 4th, 2022.

Before its launch, the new Russian spacecraft was rumored to be an "inspector" satellite and is thought to be specifically designed to stalk other satellites to get a closer look. The espionage satellite, which is expected to be given the name Kosmos 2558, was put into the same orbit as the USA 326 military satellite, which was launched in February.

The Russian satellite was launched at a time when the American satellite was traveling above the Russian spaceport of Plesetsk, according to Marco Langbroek, an astrodynamics lecturer at Delft Technical University in the Netherlands, who followed the two satellites' orbital planes.

“The two orbits are very close, the main difference being a relatively small difference of a few tens of kilometers in orbital altitude,” Langbroek told Gizmodo in an interview. “So that is a very clear indication.”

The U.S. satellite is moving in a 97.4-degree inclined Sun-synchronous orbit, while the Russian satellite is moving in a 97.25-degree inclined orbit, explained Langbroek. The Russian satellite might also maneuver its orbit within the next few days to move even closer to its U.S. counterpart.

“If one or both of them do not maneuver in the meantime, Kosmos 2558 will pass USA 326 at a distance of approximately 75 kilometers (46 miles) on August 4th, near 14:47 UTC [10:47 a.m. ET],” Langbroek said.
Satellite stalking is not exactly something new

According to experts like Langbroek, this type of Russian satellite has already been used to stalk satellites in orbit.

“Presumably, it has some kind of sensor system that’s optimized to observe other satellites, rather than the sort of usual observing satellite that’s optimized to take pictures of the ground,” Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, also told Gizmodo. “We don’t know that for sure, we’re just inferring that from how it’s behaving.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Video shows multiple explosions at Russian Air Base in Russian-occupied Crimea

Huge explosions at the Saki Air Base (Novofedorivka) in Russian-occupied Crimea after possible Ukrainian strikes this afternoon. 

Oleg Kryuchkov, adviser to the head of the Crimean region -- which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 -- confirmed several explosions had occurred near the village of Novofedorivka.

On his Telegram channel, Kryuchkov said: "So far, I can only confirm the fact of several explosions in the Novofedorivka area. I ask everyone to wait for official messages."
Separately, Sergey Aksenov, the head of the so-called Republic of Crimea, said "I went to the scene in the village of Novofedorivka, Saki district. The circumstances are being clarified."

There was no word from the Ukrainian side about any possible attacks in the area. Ukraine is not known to have struck the territory of Crimea since the Russian invasion began.

Russian Television quickly sent out an explanation saying it was an accident: 

"Huge explosions reported near a Russian military base in Crimea were the result of an accident at an ammunition storage facility, according to Russia’s MoD. No one was injured in the accident and damage to the stored equipment has apparently been minimal, officials added. Emergency services are combating the flames on site. An investigation into the exact causes of the accident is underway."

Saki is a homebase of the 43rd Separate Naval Assault Aviation Regiment of the Black Sea Fleet (warplanes: Su-30SM, Su-24M, Su-24MP, Tu-134).

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Zawahiri killed in drone Hellfire 9x "Flying Ginsu" strike .

click to enlarge 

officials on Monday said that US forces in a drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan. In a televised address, President Joe Biden announced his death and said no civilian casualties were reported in the operation that was conducted over the weekend.

Quoting a senior official in the Biden administration, news agency AFP said that Zawahiri was on the balcony of a house in Kabul when he was targeted with two Hellfire missiles, an hour after sunrise on July 31.

According to the official's account, Biden gave his green light for the strike on July 25 - as he was recovering in isolation from Covid-19.

However, pictures from the Kabul home where Zawahiri was living showed no signs of an explosion, pointing to the use again by the US of the macabre Hellfire R9X.

But, What is Hellfire 9X?

Hellfire 9X is also called the "ninja bomb". It is reportedly said that the missile has become the US weapon of choice for killing leaders of extremist groups while avoiding civilian casualties.

The missile is fired from a Predator drone. It has no warhead, but deploys six blades which fly in at high speed, crush and slice the targeted person.

This is the reason why it is called the "flying ginsu", after the 1980 TV commercial for Japanese kitchen knives that would cut cleanly through aluminum cans and remain perfectly sharp.

Some pictures posted online show the impact of these missiles. One of these old photos on Twitter claims to show a car destroyed by Hellfire R9X in Idlib, Syria.

Why are these missiles used in special cases?

In a report, the Wall Street Journal said that the missiles were born after former US President Barack Obama emphasized on avoiding civilian deaths in US airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and other countries.

The R9X variant of Hellfire is used only in specific circumstances, particularly when a terrorist leader has been pinpointed. It is intended to limit damage compared to typical missiles by reducing the risk of killing innocent civilians around the target.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Aircraft spots: UAE C-17 spotted in Amarillo picking up two AH-1Z viper helicopters

Super rare visit in Amarillo from a United Arab Emirates C-17 as they flew in to pickup two 2 AH-1Z Vipers for Bahrain. Needless to say I was there to document it.

Funny thing, millions of dollars of aviation hardware on the ramp and what it finally comes down to loading it - is old fashioned human muscle pushing it like my old Buick that wouldn't start.

Bahrain is to receive its AH-1Z attack helicopters under an FMS deal that was first approved in April 2018 and signed in February 2019. The helicopters are being built under the US military’s Lot 16 production run, with deliveries to Bahrain now expected to commence later this year.

As noted by the US Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) when the procurement was first approved, in addition to the 12 AH-1Z helicopters, Bahrain is to also acquire Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and BAE Systems Advance Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) II guided rockets, as well as Thales’ TopOwl helmet-mounted display system.

The total value of the deal, including spares, support, and ancillary equipment, was estimated by the DSCA to be USD911.4 million.

Video by Steve Douglass 

click to enlarge - video (C) Steve Douglass 


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