Phi Beta Iota: Dr. Walter Dorn is one of a tiny handful of truly authoritative academic observers of UN intelligence, a pioneer in his own right, and perhaps the only person who has followed UN intelligence from the Congo in the 1960’s to the creation of new capabilities in Haiti and elsewhere in the 21st Century. He is the dean of UN intelligence authors. See also Who’s Who in Peace Intelligence: Walter Dorn.
Contrary to popular belief, the US actually has 189,000 personnel on the ground in Afghanistan right now—and that number is quickly rising.
by Jeremy Scahill
A hearing in Sen. Claire McCaskill’s Contract Oversight subcommittee on contracting in Afghanistan has highlighted some important statistics that provide a window into the extent to which the Obama administration has picked up the Bush-era war privatization baton and sprinted with it. Overall, contractors now comprise a whopping 69% of the Department of Defense’s total workforce, “the highest ratio of contractors to military personnel in US history.” That’s not in one war zone-that’s the Pentagon in its entirety.
In Afghanistan, the Obama administration blows the Bush administration out of the privatized water. According to a memo [PDF] released by McCaskill’s staff, “From June 2009 to September 2009, there was a 40% increase in Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan. During the same period, the number of armed private security contractors working for the Defense Department in Afghanistan doubled, increasing from approximately 5,000 to more than 10,000.”
At present, there are 104,000 Department of Defense contractors in Afghanistan. According to a report this week from the Congressional Research Service, as a result of the coming surge of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, there may be up to 56,000 additional contractors deployed. But here is another group of contractors that often goes unmentioned: 3,600 State Department contractors and 14,000 USAID contractors. That means that the current total US force in Afghanistan is approximately 189,000 personnel (68,000 US troops and 121,000 contractors). And remember, that’s right now. And that, according to McCaskill, is a conservative estimate. A year from now, we will likely see more than 220,000 US-funded personnel on the ground in Afghanistan.
Phi Beta Iota: This is a brilliant piece of work, precisely what we should have been doing from 1988 onwards. It is probably too late only because the US Government is incapable of a 180 degree turn that puts two Berlin Airlifts in motion, one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq, with each redirected to Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen as the process moves forward.
“The Crusader would have been quite justified in suspecting the Muslim even if the Muslim had merely been a new stranger; but as a matter of history he was already an old enemy. The critic of the Crusade talks as if it had sought out some inoffensive tribe or temple in the interior of Tibet, which was never discovered until it was invaded. They seem entirely to forget that long before the Crusaders had dreamed of riding to Jerusalem, the Muslims had almost ridden into Paris.”—G.K Chesterton (1874-1936) “O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.” —Qur’an (5:51)
“No one can be a true Muslim and a true American simultaneously.”—Wafa Sultan (From “A God Who Hates”)
Are you familiar with the word “dhimmi?” You should be; it means an infidel (non-Muslim) living under the heel of an Islamic theocracy. The plural is “dimam,” and Europe has increasingly become a Balkanized checkerboard of nationalistic strongholds, and Islamic dimam regions.
The servitude of the dimam will be America’s fate as well, unless “we the people” wake up to Islam’s threat to our freedom. That’s not hyperbole people—just check out what has happened, and is happening, in Europe—Nazi Eurabia. America’s next.
The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal.
Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.
$26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq; Iranian Backing Suspected
WASHINGTON — Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.
Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes’ systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber — available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet — to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.
Today, the Air Force is buying hundreds of Reaper drones, a newer model, whose video feeds could be intercepted in much the same way as with the Predators, according to people familiar with the matter. A Reaper costs between $10 million and $12 million each and is faster and better armed than the Predator. General Atomics expects the Air Force to buy as many as 375 Reapers.
Additional Insights from CBS News Beyond Wall Street Journal
The implications of the Predator’s unencrypted transmissions have been known in military circles for a long time. An October 1999 presentation given at the Air Force’s School of Advanced Airpower Studies in Alabama noted “the Predator UAV is designed to operate with unencrypted data links.”
A 1996 briefing by Paul Kaminski, an undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology, may offer a hint about how the Iraqi’s interception was done. Kaminski said that the military had turned to commercial satellites – “Hughes is the primary provider of direct (satellite) TV that you can buy in the United States, and that’s the technology we’re leveraging off of” – to share feeds from Predator drones.
Struggling Spy Satellite Agency Tries to Right Itself
National Defense January 2010
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The National Reconnaissance Office, the agency responsible for developing and launching the U.S. fleet of spy satellites, is embarking on an ambitious plan to right itself after years of cost overruns and program cancellations.
But two powerful senators have opposed the office’s plans to launch the next generation of classified spacecraft. Personnel issues, namely a shortage of qualified personnel, may also impede progress.
The surge of 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan could be accompanied by a surge of up to 56,000 contractors, vastly expanding the presence of personnel from the U.S. private sector in a war zone, according to a study by the Congressional Research Service.
Led by Vice President Joe Biden, the meeting “is the first of its kind, and will bring together all of the stakeholders to discuss ways to combat piracy in this rapidly changing technological age,” according to the White House.
On Tuesday morning, a prominent consumer advocacy group took the White House to task for the lopsided guest list of the meeting, which did not include “consumer or public-interest groups, technology companies, technology associations or Internet Service Providers.”
The release of the open government directive could change intelligence agencies’ policies that deny Internet access to nonclassified data that is currently available only in hard copy or only to government personnel, say some Washington transparency advocates.