INSIDE FORT MEADE, Maryland, a top-secret city bustles. Tens of thousands of people move through more than 50 buildings—the city has its own post office, fire department, and police force. But as if designed by Kafka, it sits among a forest of trees, surrounded by electrified fences and heavily armed guards, protected by antitank barriers, monitored by sensitive motion detectors, and watched by rotating cameras. To block any telltale electromagnetic signals from escaping, the inner walls of the buildings are wrapped in protective copper shielding and the one-way windows are embedded with a fine copper mesh.
Indeed, dominance has long been their watchword. Alexander’s Navy calls itself the Information Dominance Corps. In 2007, the then secretary of the Air Force pledged to “dominate cyberspace” just as “today, we dominate air and space.” And Alexander’s Army warned, “It is in cyberspace that we must use our strategic vision to dominate the information environment.” The Army is reportedly treating digital weapons as another form of offensive capability, providing frontline troops with the option of requesting “cyber fire support” from Cyber Command in the same way they request air and artillery support.
All these capabilities require a giant expansion of secret facilities. Thousands of hard-hatted construction workers will soon begin erecting cranes, driving backhoes, and emptying cement trucks as they expand the boundaries of NSA’s secret city eastward, increasing its already enormous size by a third. “You could tell that some of the seniors at NSA were truly concerned that cyber was going to engulf them,” says a former senior Cyber Command official, “and I think rightfully so.”
In May, work began on a $3.2 billion facility housed at Fort Meade in Maryland. Known as Site M, the 227-acre complex includes its own 150-megawatt power substation, 14 administrative buildings, 10 parking garages, and chiller and boiler plants. The server building will have 90,000 square feet of raised floor—handy for supercomputers—yet hold only 50 people. Meanwhile, the 531,000-square-foot operations center will house more than 1,300 people. In all, the buildings will have a footprint of 1.8 million square feet. Even more ambitious plans, known as Phase II and III, are on the drawing board. Stretching over the next 16 years, they would quadruple the footprint to 5.8 million square feet, enough for nearly 60 buildings and 40 parking garages, costing $5.2 billion and accommodating 11,000 more cyberwarriors.
alexander’s forces are formidable—thousands of NSA spies, plus 14,000 cyber troops.
“The amount of reports that are now coming out — people willing to go public, which I think is a good thing — has brought this to a head for me,” he said. “Maybe we have a bigger problem than I imagined.”
While the sessions at the summit were themselves off the record, a succession of top generals spoke with media members, and told them that zeroing in on habitual sexual predators is key.
“There’s no unit who doesn’t have a problem,” Odierno said. “There’s a predator, probably, in almost every unit of some size.”
Gen. Robert W. Cone, who runs Army Training and Doctrine Command, said the recruits and trainees in his command are a uniquely vulnerable group in the Army, but even well-intentioned leaders haven’t always seen that.
“In some cases, I think we’re naïve” about how sexual predators operate, he said. “You have to understand that there are going to be people who try to find the gaps and seams in those procedures.”
Retired Navy SEAL Kristin Beck published a memoir titled Warrior Princess on Tuesday describing her 20-year military career and and her experience coming out as transgender.
Chris Beck played high school football. He bought a motorcycle, much to his mother’s dismay, at age 17. He grew up to become a U.S. Navy SEAL, serving our country for twenty years on thirteen deployments, including seven combat deployments, and ultimately earned a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. To everyone who saw him, he was a hero. A warrior. A man.
But underneath his burly beard, Chris had a secret, one that had been buried deep inside his heart since he was a little boy—one as hidden as the panty hose in the back of his drawer. He was transgender, and the woman inside needed to get out.
This is the journey of a girl in a man’s body and her road to self-actualization as a woman amidst the PTSD of war, family rejection and our society’s strict gender rules and perceptions. It is about a fight to be free inside one’s own body, a fight that requires the strength of a Warrior Princess.
Kristin’s story of boy to woman explores the tangled emotions of the transgender experience and opens up a new dialogue about being male or female: Is gender merely between your legs or is it something much bigger?
May 31, 2013: What does modern Iran and Nazi Germany have in common, aside from the strident anti-Semitism and police state mentality? Both nations are extremely vulnerable to air attack, more so than most people realize (or realized in the case of Germany). This has come to light recently as Iran’s economic problems have gotten more attention and certain vulnerabilities were noticed. The world is applying a record number of economic sanctions on Iran in an effort to halt the Iranian nuclear weapons program. That has led to the realization of some unique air attack opportunities. There are two of these that are particularly crucial. Iran has limited oil refining capability (less than a hundred targets for air attack) and electricity generating capacity (again, fewer than a hundred targets). Add to that air defense system targets and naval bases (where mine laying ships are) and you have a situation where fewer than a thousand smart bombs or missiles would plunge Iran into darkness, create a fuel shortage and cripple their military capabilities (interfering with ship traffic in the Persian Gulf).
After the war was over it was discovered that the destruction of two plants just outside Berlin would have shut that city down.
If a hundred plants were hit hard, and this would have required about one percent of all the bombs dropped on Europe, German industry would have collapsed from the loss of over half its electricity supply. If this had been done in 1943, the war would have probably ended up to a year before it actually did. Several million lives would have been saved and the history of post war Europe might have been quite different. But then, maybe not; yet the opportunity was there, if only it had been seized when it could have been in 1943. Unfortunately for Iran, all this was captured by military historians and most was declassified by the 1970s.
Iran, like Nazi Germany, was cut off from most foreign trade and forced to improvise. Iran has improvised, but key vulnerabilities have developed. Smart bombs, even with their GPS jammed (all have backup internal navigation systems) would be able to quickly hit all these targets, and keep hitting them to keep them inoperable. Most of this is known by Iranian planners, which is expected to influence Iranian decisions on what they can do and how they can do it.
Stacey Thompson had just been stationed at Marine base in Japan when she said her sergeant laced her drinks with drugs, raped her in his barracks and then dumped her onto a street outside a nightclub at 4 a.m.
The 19-year-old lance corporal was not afraid to speak up.
She reported it to her superiors but little happened. She said she discovered her perpetrator was allowed to leave the Marine Corps and she found herself, instead, at the center of a separate investigation for drug use stemming from that night. Six months later, she was kicked out with an other-than-honorable discharge — one step below honorable discharge — which means she lost her benefits.
Now, 14 years later, she has decided to speak out again, emboldened by the mounting pressure on the Pentagon to resolve its growing sexual assault epidemic.
She went public with her story Thursday in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. She is among the scores of service members who have lived in silence for decades and are now stepping forward to fight for an overhaul of the military’s justice system and demand their own cases be re-examined.
“To see that what happened to me 14 years ago is still continuing to happen now, for me that was a big reason why I felt the need to come forward,” she said. “I can finally say I have the strength.”
When you join the Marine Corps or the Peace Corps, much less both, you often have some explaining to do. So, on this Memorial Day, permit me to reflect here on the reasons people serve and to describe some of the common threads between these two special American institutions.
You might be surprised to hear that the goals of the Marines and the Peace Corps, and the ideals of the volunteers who join them, overlap. You might also be surprised to learn that the Peace Corps has its own legacy of sacrifice, with more of its volunteers killed on the job than Central Intelligence Agency officers.
Among more than two dozen major weapons systems whose designs were breached were programs critical to U.S. missile defenses and combat aircraft and ships, according to a previously undisclosed section of a confidential report prepared for Pentagon leaders by the Defense Science Board.
Experts warn that the electronic intrusions gave China access to advanced technology that could accelerate the development of its weapons systems and weaken the U.S. military advantage in a future conflict.
The Defense Science Board, a senior advisory group made up of government and civilian experts, did not accuse the Chinese of stealing the designs. But senior military and industry officials with knowledge of the breaches said the vast majority were part of a widening Chinese campaign of espionage against U.S. defense contractors and government agencies.
The examples used aren’t going to scare anyone because the Phalanx is an automated defense system, designed to take out incoming missiles, and we are anesthetized to drone warfare at this point when we are hunting non state actors who use terror tactics.
How are we going to feel about drones however in the next big war? The costs to field drones vs. manned aircraft creates a very dystopic vision for me of one possible future. One where swarms of drones circle our skies with autonomous missions of shooting down anything without the right IFF signals, and where they also hunt ground targets, one where phalanx like systems are used to cover the entrances at walled communities and other places. You can also picture rogue nations leapfrogging to air superiority very quickly with a few thousand autonomous drones designed to find and target all other aircraft.
You can mark me down as philosophically against “Skynet” … however there are limited defensive applications where autonomous fire is rational and justified (e.g. ship mounted phalanx, patriot batteries, Iron Dome, etc.) even in those cases the systems should require humans monitoring them whenever they are “on.”
Simon Makin: What is the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots?
Mark Bishop: It is a confederation of non-governmental organizations and pressure groups lobbying for a ban on producing and deploying fully autonomous weapon systems, where the ability of a human to both choose the precise target and intervene in the final decision to attack is removed.
SM: How close are we to this?
MB: Examples already exist. Some, such as the Phalanx gun system, used on the majority of U.S. Navy ships to detect and automatically engage incoming threats, have been around for some time. Another is the Israeli Harpy “fire-and-forget” unmanned aerial vehicle, which will seek out and destroy radar installations.
SM: What’s driving the technology’s development?
MB: Current Western military strategy focuses more on drones than on traditional forces, but remote-controlled drones are vulnerable to hijacking. Fully autonomous systems are virtually immune to this. They also lower costs. This means manufacturers sell more, so there is a commercial imperative to develop autonomous systems and for governments to deploy them.
SM: What are the dangers?
MB: There are reasons to doubt whether autonomous systems can appropriately judge the need to engage, react to threats proportionately, or reliably discriminate between combatants and civilians. Also, when you get complex software systems interacting, there is huge potential for unforeseen consequences. A vivid example was seen on Amazon in 2011 when pricing bots raised the cost of a book, The Making of a Fly, to more than $23 million.
The CIA offers an electronic search engine that lets you mine about 11 million agency documents that have been declassified over the years. It’s called CREST, short for CIA Records Search Tool. But this represents only a portion the CIA’s declassified materials, and if you want unfettered access to the search engine, you’ll have to physically visit the National Archives at College Park, Maryland.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, historians and researchers have urged the CIA to provide them with their own copy of the CREST electronic database, so that they can seek greater insight into U.S. history and even build up additional checks and balances against the government’s approach to official secrecy. But the agency won’t do it. “Basically, the CIA is saying that the database of declassified documents is itself classified,” explains Steve Aftergood, a senior research analyst with the Federation of American Scientists, who oversees the federation’s government secrecy project.
It’s an irony that represents a much larger problem in the world of declassified government documents. According to Aftergood — a researcher some have called the “the Yoda of Official Secrecy” — most government agencies haven’t even gone as far as the CIA in providing online access to declassified documents, and as it stands, there’s no good way of electronically searching declassified documents from across disparate agencies.
“The state of the declassified archives is really stuck in the middle of the 20th Century,” says Aftergood. He calls it a “fairly dismal picture,” but he also says there’s an enormous opportunity to improve the way we research declassified materials — and improve it very quickly — through the use of modern technology.