Tuesday, May 27, 2014

White House accidentally leaks cover of top CIA officer in Afghanistan.

USA TODAY: The White House accidentally blew the cover of the top CIA officer in Afghanistan Saturday, when his name and title were released in an e-mail sent to reporters who traveled with President Obama on his surprise visit to Bagram Air Field.

The CIA officer's identity was released as part of a list of U.S. officials who were attending a military briefing with Obama at Bagram, theWashington Post reported.

The individual was identified as "Chief of Station," a term used for the top spy in a country, according to the Post.

The White House recognized the error and issued a revised list that did not include the official's name.

The list was sent in an e-mail to reporters traveling with Obama to Afghanistan, and then further distributed in a "pool report" to reporters not taking part in the trip, including members of foreign press agencies. In all, more than 6,000 people were sent the initial pool report that included the CIA officer's identity.

The Post reported that Scott Wilson, the newspaper's White House bureau chief, filed the pool report. Wilson copied the list contained in the e-mail sent from White House press officials.

"Wilson said that after the report was distributed, he noticed the unusual reference to the station chief and asked White House press officials in Afghanistan whether they had intended to include that name," the Post reported. "Initially, the press office raised no objection, apparently because military officials had provided the list to distribute to news organizations. But senior White House officials realized the mistake and scrambled to issue an updated list without the CIA officer's name."

The CIA and the White House have not officially commented on the incident and it remains unclear how the exposure will affect the CIA officer's ability to continue in his in role in Afghanistan.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

State Department classified e-mail says White House warned You Tube about anti-Muslim video

ABC: A still-classified State Department e-mail says that one of the first responses from the White House to the Benghazi attack was to contact YouTube to warn of the “ramifications” of allowing the posting of an anti-Islamic video, according to Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The memo suggests that even as the attack was still underway — and before the CIA began the process of compiling talking points on its analysis of what happened — the White House believed it was in retaliation for a controversial video.

The subject line of the e-mail, which was sent at 9:11 p.m. Eastern Time on the night of the attack, is “Update on Response to actions – Libya.” The was written hours before the attack was over.

Issa has asked the White House to declassify and release the document. In the meantime he has inserted a sentence from the e-mail in the Congressional Record.

“White House is reaching out to U-Tube [sic] to advice ramification of the posting of the Pastor Jon video,” the e-mail reads, according to Issa.

Issa’s full statement can be read here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

UPDATED: Video: Search underway for man who fell out of V-22 Osprey

UPDATE: ELIZABETHTOWN, N.C. — The body of a Marine who fell from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft Monday evening during a training flight near White Lake was recovered Tuesday evening after an exhaustive search by more than 1,000 military and law enforcement personnel.

The name of the man, who served in the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, will not be released until 24 hours aftr relatives are notified.

"I'd like to extend my sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of our Marine," said Maj. Gen. Robert Hedelund, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. "I also want to extend my thanks to the community for their tireless efforts throughout this search. Without your cooperation, we could not have brought closure to this phase of such an unfortunate incident."

Military service members and authorities from Bladen and Sampson counties slogged through marshy forests Tuesday in search of the man, whose body was found shortly before 6 p.m. on a blueberry farm in the northeastern part of Bladen County.

The accident occurred about 6:30 p.m. Monday some 45 miles west of Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, where the Osprey is based, on a return flight from Elizabethtown.

Marine Lt. Col. Christian Harshberger said the Marine, who was a crew chief with his unit, was accounted for when the Osprey left the airport in Elizabethtown, but he disappeared from the back of the aircraft sometime during the 35-minute flight.

Cargo doors are usually open throughout training flights, officials said.

"It was just some routine operation we do every day with hundreds of aircraft throughout eastern North Carolina," Marine spokesman First Sgt. Hector Alejandro said.

Crews searched for the Marine late Monday and returned at daybreak Tuesday.

Phoebe Campbell, a junior at North Carolina State University who recently returned home for the summer, said she was surprised to see a military command post across the street from her house.

"The roads have been blocked off. We can’t get (my sisters) to school or work," Campbell said. "The helicopters have been loud through the night."

Hundreds of Marines were bused in to assist with the ground search in the dense woods and swamps, and helicopters and Ospreys from 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and search-and-rescue helicopters from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point were scanning the area from the air, Marine spokesman Michael Barton said.

"Our primary goal is to make sure we find this missing Marine," Alejandro said during the search. "We’re prepared to stay here as long as it takes."

The Osprey was flying at varying speeds and altitudes while returning to New River, Harshberger said, so investigators reviewed the flight data to help narrow the search area to 5 to 10 square miles.

Investigators also checked to see if cellphone towers in the area picked up a signal from the missing Marine's phone, Alejandro said.

"This is something that affects all of us. Anytime a Marine is missing, we’re worried," he said.

Not many details at this time but according to news reports from WECT - crews are combing through wooded areas in Bladen County, searching for a United States Marine who reportedly fell from an Osprey aircraft during a nighttime exercise.

The V-22 Osprey is made at the Bell/Boeing Textron plant in Amarillo, Texas. According to news reports the Osprey was attached to the Marine Air Station, New River, Jacksonville NC.

The Air Station was the first Marine Corps base with the new MV-22 Osprey. It has the ability to fly like a plane, and take off and land like a helicopter. The MV-22 has replaced all of the CH-46E Sea Knightson the east coast with the exception of HMX-1 and HMM-774. Currently there are six operational Osprey squadrons, VMM-261, VMM-263, VMM-162, VMM-365, VMM-264, and VMM-266.

TIME: 8:11 PM

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Iran publishes RQ-170, drone mock ups and other mil hardware photos online.


click to enlarge

Topside original crashed RQ-170 

Original crashed  RQ-170 

original crashed RQ-170 and mock-up with sub-scale model in background 

full scale mock-up 

full scale mock up 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Russia bars US from using Russian rocket Engines

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will bar the United States from using Russian-made rocket engines for military satellite launches, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday, retaliating for sanctions on high-tech equipment which Washington has imposed over the Ukraine crisis.

He also said Russia would reject a U.S. request to prolong the use of the International Space Station beyond 2020.

Russia pledged to respond in kind when the United States said last month that it would deny export licenses for any high-technology items that could aid Russian military capabilities and would revoke existing licenses.

Moscow's measures would affect MK-33 and RD-180 engines which Russia supplies to the United States, Rogozin told a news conference. "We are ready to deliver these engines but on one condition that they will not be used to launch military satellites," he said.

Washington wants to keep the International Space Station, a $100 billion orbital outpost that is a project of 15 nations and a showcase of Russian-U.S. cooperation, flying until at least 2024, four years beyond the previous target.

In spite of differences on foreign policy and security matters, Washington and Moscow have cooperated extensively on space exploration. Russian Soyuz spacecraft are the only way astronauts can get to the space station, whose crews include both Americans and Russians.

Rogozin also said Russia will suspend the operation of GPS satellite navigation system sites in Russia from June and seek talks with Washington on opening similar sites in the United States for Russia's own system, Glonass.

He threatened the permanent closure of the GPS sites in Russia if that is not agreed by September.

(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska,; Editing by Steve Gutterman and David Stamp)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

WFAA: Amarillo Interceptors and the Flying Dorito


What's that in the sky over Amarillo?

"It was the strangest thing I've seen, as far as aviation," said Dean Musket, part of the motley crew of airplane buffs who sits down at an airport restaurant in this West Texas city and looks up.

"They are aviation junkies," waitress Erin Williamson said. "They love it."

And they are seeing things you can't see anywhere else.

Military aircraft cruise over Amarillo like sharks looking for baitfish.

"If you're flying east, west, or vice-versa across the United States, you're probably flying over Amarillo," Steve Douglass said.

A group that might be called the "interceptor club" watches everything military that flies over. But back in March, they spotted three craft they'd never seen before, about six miles up.

"We had captured something completely unique," Douglass said.

It was trianuglar, like a stealth bomber... but not a stealth bomber.

"The back edge was smooth like a Dorito," Douglass said. "It wasn't jagged."

A few weeks later, the same shape was snapped by another spotter in Kansas.

"This is when we first saw it flying in formation from the backside of the airport," said Douglass, who is something between an aircraft enthusiast and a fanatic.

He's sitting in what he jokingly calls "Kitch Com," a nook of his kitchen crammed with electronic gear to monitor aircraft traffic. He's got a special antenna to pick up satellite transmissions.

"On this side, it's my bunker, and on this side, it's my kitchen, which is microwave ovens and food," he said.

On the day the mystery planes were spotted, Douglass recorded air traffic controllers giving the aircraft a clear lane through the sky. The Air Force confirms nothing.

Now Douglass suspects the triangular shape may be a stealth transport. "You could put a dozen Navy SEALs in, fly them over Afghanistan or Pakistan or whatever-stan, and have them inserted in some way without an adversary being any the wiser," he said.

At the Old English Field House Diner, Erin Williamson has become part of the group.

"They're out here four or five days a week," she said. "They watch the planes; they take pictures; they'll let us know if there's an important or cool looking plane coming in."

The patches on the wall show all the military pilots who've stopped for lunch, along with a movie star or two.

On this day, six Air Force trainers landed; a special ops plane from a nearby airbase buzzed; three air force tankers passed at six miles high.

But no flying Dorito.

Friday, May 2, 2014

BREAKING: Pro-Russian insurgents claim to have shot down several Ukrainian choppers

TIME: The mayor of separatist-held Slavyansk, in the country's restive eastern region, claimed on Friday that pro-Russian insurgents shot down several helicopters as the Ukrainian military launched an unspecified operation near the city

The tense situation in eastern Ukraine appeared in danger of spiraling out of control Friday, as the government launched its first big assault on pro-Russian insurgents occupying cities, the insurgents shot down government helicopters, and Russia said the renewed violence that killed at least three people had ended any hope of a peaceful end to the standoff.

The insurgent-appointed mayor of the east Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, claimed that pro-Russian forces occupying the city shot down helicopters on Friday morning as the Ukrainian military kicked off an operation near the rebel enclave, the Associated Press reports. There were conflicting reports about how many helicopters were shot down—Russian state news outlet RT reported that at least three helicopters had been downed by pro-Kremlin militia fighters, but that couldn’t be immediately confirmed and other reports said two choppers were downed. At least one helicopter pilot was killed during the fighting, while another had been detained, the AP reports.

That came after the Ukrainian military launched an unspecified operation near the rebel-held city on Friday morning, with news of sporadic gunfire and explosions erupting on the city outskirts. The new pro-Western government in Kiev has been grappling with Russian encroachment for month, starting with a crisis in Crimea that led Russia to eventually annex the peninsula, and more recently with insurgents who have been occupying buildings in several Russian cities.

Russia signaled that the latest violence would doom any hope of a sustaining a peace deal that was reached last month in Geneva, one the United States and Ukraine have accused Russia of never respecting in the first place. Dmitri S. Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, called the latest Ukrainian military moves a “punitive operation” that had killed “all hope for the viability of the Geneva agreements,” the New York Times reports


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