The history of pilotless aircraft in the United States military stretches back to the days of the Wright brothers. It’s difficult to describe any good that emerges from warfare, but many modern technological advancements — computers, zippers, microwaves — can be traced back to conflicts of a bygone era. Today unmanned aerial vehicles are being used by a whole slew of people, the U.S. Department of Defense being just one primary example. While drones have been used routinely to support or undertake lethal force abroad for over a decade, their domestic applications are just now being given more serious consideration. The capabilities and contributions of UAVs have, up until recently, been propelled more or less exclusively by the defense community. UAV technology may currently be associated with what some would consider secretive and nefarious militarism, but in examining the range of practical, commercial applications we can only hope that drone technology will begin to move away from the dark side.
President Obama’s approach to counterterrorism has been marked by his embrace of drone technology to target terrorist operatives. But they’ve come a long way since their first strike operations: drone backpacks are now used by soldiers, and Predator drones come equipped with even more powerful warheads. U.S. DOD spending on drones increased from $284M in 2000 to $3.3B in October of 2012. Small surveillance drones, called Cicadas, are now being released from balloons to collect data on the ground in Iraq. In short, the military has a seemingly infinite range of uses for unmanned aerial vehicles, large and small. And the scope of drone missions only continues to expand, as the technology necessary to program and operate them becomes at once more commonplace and versatile. Over the next decade, the Pentagon anticipates that the number of “multirole” UAVs (those capable of both spying and striking) will nearly quadruple.
As of October 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration had issued 285 clearance certificates for drones inside the United States. Under pressure from the Unmanned Systems Caucus (or drone lobby) the Department of Homeland Security has accepted eight Predator drones for use along the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders. The FAA is set to further open skies to commercial drones by 2015, allowing civilians to finally explore and expand upon the uses of UAV technology. But even with the law by their side, can civilian companies ever hope to utilize drones to the extent in which they are employed by the military? Many recognize the civil potential of flying robots, but recognize that with certain valuable contributions also comes the possibility of tighter law enforcement and increased government surveillance.
The dualistic nature of drones is being explored by hobbyists and venture capitalists alike. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is even developing a program that will employ drones and satellite internet to deliver internet to disenfranchised communities throughout the world. While this probably speaks to Zuckerberg’s opportunism (and his desire to compete in the marketplace against Google’s Loon Project and HughesNet Internet) that isn’t to say that people in underserved communities don’t stand to benefit. The U.S. government already uses drones to protect endangered wildlife species, like the sandhill crane, and researchers in Indonesia and Malaysia are also using unmanned aerial devices to monitor the activity of similarly threatened orangutan populations. UAV systems are emerging as key tools in agricultural innovation and the monitoring of natural resources. Search and rescue missions, 3-D mapping and surveying projects, and hurricane tracking projects are also being carried out by UAVs. With unmanned aircraft, it seems the sky’s the limit for civil and commercial usage.
But the business of drones still comes with plenty of risks. The American Civil Liberties Union has warned of a “dystopian future” in which “mass, suspicionless searches of the general population” are the norm. Given the history of drones as advanced tools of the government and military, this doesn’t seem like an empty threat. And for now, the law still stands in the way of any real development on the commercial end. Despite the fact that many ideas for drones, from the delivery of Amazon parcels to Domino’s pizzas, have been suggested, the military still holds the key to their innovation from an American standpoint. Their function as a militaristic tool remains at the forefront of their continued growth, resulting in large spending increases for advanced cameras, sensors, and systems with attack capabilities. But the integration of drone technology into domestic airspace by law enforcement — and later, by corporations — seems inevitable. As technological improvements continue to catapult the UAV industry into the future, the true beneficiaries of these developments remain to be seen.Read more
The short but profitable tale of how 483,000 private individual have “top secret” access to the nation’s most non-public information begins in 2001. “After 9/11, intelligence budgets were increased, new people needed to be hired, it was a lot easier to go to the private sector and get people off the shelf,” and sure enough firms like Booz Allen Hamilton – still two-thirds owned by the deeply-tied-to-international-governments investment firm The Carlyle Group – took full advantage of Congress’ desire to shrink federal agencies and their budgets by enabling outside consultants(already primed with their $4,000 cost ‘security clearances’) to fulfill the needs of an ever-more-encroaching-on-privacy administration.
Booz Allen (and other security consultant providing firms) trade publicly with a cloak of admitted opacity due to the secrecy of their government contracts (“you may not have important information concerning our business, which will limit your insight into a substantial portion of our business”) but the actions of Diane Feinstein who promptly denounced “treasonous” Edward Snowden, “have muddied the waters,” for the stunning 1.1 million (or 21% of the total) private consultants with access to “confidential and secret” government information.
Perhaps the situation of gross government over-spend and under-oversight is summed up best, “it’s very difficult to know what contractors are doing and what they are billing for the work — or even whether they should be performing the work at all.”
First, Diane Feinstein’s take on it all…
“I don’t look at this as being a whistleblower. I think it’s an act of treason,” the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee told reporters. The California lawmaker went on to say that Snowden had violated his oath to defend the Constitution. “He violated the oath, he violated the law. It’s treason.”
So how did all this get started?… (via AP)
The reliance on contractors for intelligence work ballooned after the 9/11 attacks. The government scrambled to improve and expand its ability to monitor the communication and movement of people who might threaten another attack.
“After 9/11, intelligence budgets were increased, new people needed to be hired,” Augustyn said. “It was a lot easier to go to the private sector and get people off the shelf.”
The reliance on the private sector has grown since then, in part because of Congress’ efforts to limit the size of federal agencies and shrink the budget.
Which has led to what appears to be major problems.
But critics say reliance on contractors hasn’t reduced the amount the government spends on defense, intelligence or other programs.
Rather, they say it’s just shifted work to private employers and reduced transparency. It becomes harder to track the work of those employees and determine whether they should all have access to government secrets.
“It’s very difficult to know what contractors are doing and what they are billing for the work — or even whether they should be performing the work at all,”
… And to the current PRISMgate whistleblowing situation:
Of the 4.9 million people with clearance to access “confidential and secret” government information, 1.1 million, or 21 percent, work for outside contractors, according to a report from Clapper’s office.
Of the 1.4 million who have the higher “top secret” access, 483,000, or 34 percent, work for contractors.
Because clearances can take months or even years to acquire, government contractors often recruit workers who already have them.
Why not – it’s lucrative!!
Snowden says he accessed and downloaded the last of the documents that detailed the NSA surveillance program while working in an NSA office in Hawaii for Booz Allen, where he says he was earning $200,000 a year.
Analysts caution that any of the 1.4 million people with access to the nation’s top secrets could have leaked information about the program – whether they worked for a contractor or the government.
For individuals and firms alike.
Booz Allen has long navigated those waters well.
The firm was founded in 1914 and began serving the U.S. government in 1940, helping the Navy prepare for World War II. In 2008, it spun off the part of the firm that worked with private companies and abroad. That firm, called Booz & Co., is held privately.
Booz Allen was then acquired by the Carlyle Group, an investment firm with its own deep ties to the government. In November 2010, Booz Allen went public. The Carlyle Group still owns two-thirds of the company’s shares.
Or, a full-majority stake.
Curiously once public, The Booz Allens of the world still operate like a psuedo-private company, with extensive confidential cloaks preventing the full disclosure of financial data. But don’t worry – we should just trust them. Via Bloomberg’s Jonathan Weil.
Psst, here’s a stock tip for you. There’s a company near Washington with strong ties to the U.S. intelligence community that has been around for almost a century and has secret ways of making money — so secret that the company can’t tell you what they are. Investors who buy just need to have faith.
To skeptics, this might seem like a pitch for an investment scam. But as anyone who has been paying attention to the news might have guessed, the company is Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp.
“Because we are limited in our ability to provide information about these contracts and services,” the company said in its latest annual report, “you may not have important information concerning our business, which will limit your insight into a substantial portion of our business, and therefore may be less able to fully evaluate the risks related to that portion of our business.”
This seems like it would be a dream arrangement for some corporations: Not only is Booz Allen allowed to keep investors uninformed, it’s required to. I suppose we should give the company credit for being transparent about how opaque it is.
And while the media and popular attention is currently focused on who, if anyone else, may be the next Snowden struck by a sudden pang of conscience, perhaps a better question is what PE behemoth Carlyle, with a gargantuan $170 billion in AUM, knows, and why it rushed to purchase Booz Allen in the months after the Bear Stearns collapse, just when everyone else was batting down the hatches ahead of the biggest financial crash in modern history.
From Bloomberg, May 2008:
Carlyle Group, the private-equity firm run by David Rubenstein, agreed to acquire Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.’s U.S. government-consulting business for $2.54 billion, its biggest buyout since the credit markets collapsed in July.
The purchase would be Carlyle’s biggest since it agreed to buy nursing-home operator Manor Care Inc. last July for $6.3 billion. Deal-making may be rebounding from a 68 percent decline in the first quarter as investment banks begin writing new commitments for private-equity transactions. Buyouts ground to a halt last year because of a global credit freeze triggered by record U.S. subprime-mortgage defaults.
The Booz Allen government-consulting unit has more than 18,000 employees and annual sales of more than $2.7 billion. Its clients include branches of the U.S. military, the Department of Homeland Security and the World Bank.
Carlyle, based in Washington, manages $81.1 billion in assets [ZH: that was 5 years ago – the firm now boasts $170 billion in AUM]. Rubenstein founded the firm in 1987 with William Conway and Daniel D’Aniello. The trio initially focused on deals tied to government and defense.
Carlyle and closely held Booz Allen have attracted high-level officials from the government. Carlyle’s senior advisers have included former President George H.W. Bush, former British Prime Minister John Major, and Arthur Levitt, the ex-chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
R. James Woolsey, who led the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency from 1993 to 1995, is a Booz Allen executive. Mike McConnell, the U.S. director of national intelligence, is a former senior vice president with the company.
Carlyle last year sold a minority interest in itself to Mubadala Development Co., an investment fund affiliated with the government of Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.
And in addition to the UAE, who can possibly forget Carlyle’s Saudi connection. From the WSJ circa 2001:
If the U.S. boosts defense spending in its quest to stop Osama bin Laden’s alleged terrorist activities, there may be one unexpected beneficiary: Mr. bin Laden’s family.
Among its far-flung business interests, the well-heeled Saudi Arabian clan — which says it is estranged from Osama — is an investor in a fund established by Carlyle Group, a well-connected Washington merchant bank specializing in buyouts of defense and aerospace companies.
Through this investment and its ties to Saudi royalty, the bin Laden family has become acquainted with some of the biggest names in the Republican Party. In recent years, former President Bush, ex-Secretary of State James Baker and ex-Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci have made the pilgrimage to the bin Laden family’s headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Mr. Bush makes speeches on behalf of Carlyle Group and is senior adviser to its Asian Partners fund, while Mr. Baker is its senior counselor. Mr. Carlucci is the group’s chairman.
Osama is one of more than 50 children of Mohammed bin Laden, who built the family’s $5 billion business, Saudi Binladin Group, largely with construction contracts from the Saudi government. Osama worked briefly in the business and is believed to have inherited as much as $50 million from his father in cash and stock, although he doesn’t have access to the shares, a family spokesman says. Because his Saudi citizenship was revoked in 1994, Mr. bin Laden is ineligible to own assets in the kingdom, the spokesman added.
People familiar with the family’s finances say the bin Ladens do much of their banking with National Commercial Bank in Saudi Arabia and with the London branch of Deutsche Bank AG. They also use Citigroup Inc. and ABN Amro, the people said.
“If there were ever any company closely connected to the U.S. and its presence in Saudi Arabia, it’s the Saudi Binladin Group,” says Charles Freeman, president of the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington nonprofit concern that receives tens of thousands of dollars a year from the bin Laden family. “They’re the establishment that Osama’s trying to overthrow.”
A Carlyle executive said the bin Laden family committed $2 million through a London investment arm in 1995 in Carlyle Partners II Fund, which raised $1.3 billion overall. The fund has purchased several aerospace companies among 29 deals. So far, the family has received $1.3 million back in completed investments and should ultimately realize a 40% annualized rate of return, the Carlyle executive said. But a foreign financier with ties to the bin Laden family says the family’s overall investment with Carlyle is considerably larger. He called the $2 million merely an initial contribution. “It’s like plowing a field,” this person said. “You seed it once. You plow it, and then you reseed it again.”
The Carlyle executive added that he would think twice before accepting any future investments by the bin Ladens. “The situation’s changed now,” he said. “I don’t want to spend my life talking to reporters.”
We can clearly see why. We can also clearly see why nobody has mentioned Carlyle so far into the Booz Allen fiasco.
A U.S. inquiry into bin Laden family business dealings could brush against some big names associated with the U.S. government. Former President Bush said through his chief of staff, Jean Becker, that he recalled only one meeting with the bin Laden family, which took place in November1998. Ms. Becker confirmed that there was a second meeting in January 2000, after being read the ex-president’s subsequent thank-you note. “President Bush does not have a relationship with the bin Laden family,” says Ms. Becker. “He’s met them twice.”
Mr. Baker visited the bin Laden family in both 1998 and 1999, according to people close to the family. In the second trip, he traveled on a family plane. Mr. Baker declined comment, as did Mr. Carlucci, a past chairman of Nortel Networks Corp., which has partnered with Saudi Binladin Group on telecommunications ventures.
As one can imagine the rabbit hole just gets deeper and deeper the more one digs. For now, we will let readers do their own diligence. We promise the results are fascinating.
Going back to the topic at hand, we will however ask just how much and what kind of confidential, classified, and or Top Secret information is shared “behind Chinese walls” between a Carlyle still majority-owned company and the private equity behemoth’s employees and advisors, among which are some of the most prominent political and business luminaries currently alive. The following is a list of both current and former employees and advisors. We have used Wiki but anyone wishing to comb through the firm’s full blown roster of over 1,000 employees and advisors, is welcome to do so at the firm’s website.
- G. Allen Andreas – Chairman of the Archer Daniels Midland Company, Carlyle European Advisory Board
- Daniel Akerson -CEO of General Motors, Board member at 7 companies, Managing director at Carlyle
- Joaquin Avila – former managing director at Lehman Brothers, Managing director at Carlyle
- Laurent Beaudoin – CEO of Bombardier (1979-), former member of Carlyle’s Canadian Advisory board
- Peter Cornelius – Managing Director of Nielsen Australia.
- Paul Desmarais – Chairman of the Power Corporation of Canada, former member of Carlyle’s Canadian Advisory board
- David M. Moffett – CEO of Freddie Mac, Former Senior advisor to the Carlyle
- Karl Otto Pöhl – former President of the Bundesbank, Former Senior advisor to the Carlyle Group
- Olivier Sarkozy (half-brother of Nicolas Sarkozy, former President of France) – co-head and managing director of its recently launched global financial services division, since March 2008.
- North America
- James Baker III, former United States Secretary of State under George H. W. Bush, Staff member under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, Carlyle Senior Counselor, served in this capacity from 1993 to 2005.
- George H. W. Bush, former U.S. President, Senior Advisor to the Carlyle Asia Advisory Board from April 1998 to October 2003.
- Frank C. Carlucci, former United States Secretary of Defense from 1987 to 1989; Carlyle Chairman and Chairman Emeritus from 1989 to 2005.
- Richard G. Darman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Bush Administration; Managing director from 1993, later Senior Advisor
- William E. Kennard, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 1997-2001 and United States Ambassador to the European Union; Carlyle managing director from 2001-2009
- Arthur Levitt, Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under President Bill Clinton, Carlyle Senior Advisor from 2001 to the present
- Luis Téllez Kuenzler, Mexican economist, former Secretary of Communications and Transportation under the Felipe Calderón administration and former Secretary of Energy under the Zedillo administration.
- Frank McKenna, former Premier of New Brunswick, Canadian Ambassador to the United States between 2005 and 2006 and current Deputy Chairman of Toronto-Dominion Bank; served on Carlyle’s Canadian advisory board.
- Mack McLarty, Carlyle Group Senior Advisor (from 2003), White House Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1994.
- Randal K. Quarles, former Under Secretary of the U.S. Treasury under President George W. Bush, now a Carlyle managing director
- Anand Panyarachun, former Prime Minister of Thailand (twice), former member of the Carlyle Asia Advisory Board until the board was disbanded in 2004
- Fidel V. Ramos, former president of the Philippines, Carlyle Asia Advisor Board Member until the board was disbanded in 2004
- Peter Chung, former associate at Carlyle Group Korea, who resigned in 2001 after 2 weeks on the job after an inappropriate e-mail to friends was circulated around the world
- Thaksin Shinawatra, former Prime Minister of Thailand (twice), former member of the Carlyle Asia Advisory Board until 2001 when he resigned upon being elected Prime Minister.
- Norman Pearlstine – editor-in-chief of Time magazine from (1995–2005), senior advisor telecommunications and media group 2006-
and across the entire globe?
Here is Carlyle, straight from the horse’s recently IPOed mouth, courtesy of its most recent public presentation
Perhaps Bloomberg’s Jonathan Weil sums it up best:
There’s no easy solution here, aside from the obvious point that the government keeps way too many secrets.
So what happens when one corporation, owned and controlled by the same government’s former (and in some cases current) top power brokers, potentially has access to all of the same government’s secrets?Read more
The #MarchAgainstMonsanto – A portrait of rebellion from around the world
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AMAZING DRONES INFOGRAPHIC VISUAL
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You will notice Decrypted Matrix no longer operates a Facebook Page. Within the last few days we have willfully resigned from the service and shut down all pages and profiles. This new information below proves that was an appropriate course of action. -Max Maverick, Editor
Facebook is purging accounts that carry pro-second amendment and pro-liberty information in a censorship purge that has accelerated over the past few hours, with innumerable pages being disappeared merely for posting legitimate political content.
NaturalNews.com’s Mike Adams contacted us to alert us to the fact that “Facebook banned our account for posting this,” with an attached image of a Gandhi quote about how the British disarmed the citizenry during their rule in India.
The following is a list of Facebook accounts operated by individuals in the alternative media that have been shut down by Facebook staff over the past 24 hours. Infowars writer Aaron Dykes and political dissident Brandon J. Raub have also had their accounts deleted. Raub was snatched by police and forcibly imprisoned in a psychiatric ward earlier this year for posting political content on Facebook. Infowars editor Kurt Nimmo also had his account suspended this morning.
Kurt Nimmo (account suspended)
Aaron Dykes (account inactive)
Amber Lyon (account suspended)
Brandon J. Raub (account inactive)
Michael F Rivero (account inactive)
Anthony J Hilder (account inactive)
William Lewis (account inactive)
Richard Gage (account inactive)
William Rodriguez (account inactive)
Infowar Artist (account inactive)
We are Change (account inactive)
Wacboston At Twitter (account inactive)
Michael Murphy Tmp (account inactive)
Robert M Bowman (account inactive)
Peter Dale Scott (account inactive)
Jason Infowars (account inactive)
Mike Skuthan (account inactive)
Packy Savvenas (account inactive)
Sean Wright (account inactive)
Katherine Albrect (account inactive)
It is important to stress that most of these accounts have not simply been temporarily suspended, they have been shut down completely. Some are now being reinstated after complaints. Accounts that have been suspended can still be seen but posting rights have been revoked.
A 24 hour suspension was also placed on the Alex Jones Facebook account due to an image that another user had posted in which Alex Jones was tagged.
One of the messages being received by users having their accounts suspended is displayed below. In most cases, users are not even being informed of why their page was suspended or deleted, with Facebook merely referring them to the company’s guidelines.
Last week, we reported on how Facebook was suspending user accounts that questioned the official narrative behind the Sandy Hook school massacre.
As we have previously highlighted, Facebook occasionally deletes images and posts that it claims violate “Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” yet constitute little more than political conjecture or a healthy skepticism of official narratives on current events.
In September 2011, Infowars reporter Darrin McBreen was told by Facebook staff not to voice his political opinion on the social networking website.
Responding to comments McBreen had made about off-grid preppers being treated as criminals, the “Facebook Team” wrote, “Be careful making about making political statements on facebook,” adding, “Facebook is about building relationships not a platform for your political viewpoint. Don’t antagonize your base. Be careful and congnizat (sic) of what you are preaching.”
via InfoWarsRead more
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Facebook Censorship Alert!
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In Iceland, it’s truly power to the people.
Dot Dot Dot: Crowdsourcing a better democracy
“Cloud Democracy”: Could Russia’s opposition movement radically change how democracy works?
The Nordic country announced Tuesday that two-thirds of voters are backing a draft constitution based on comments from social media.
Iceland is creating a new, crowdsourced constitution in the wake of the country’s banking crisis and citizen protests, and government officials garnered feedback from users on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr to shape it.
The document, which went up for a non-binding vote on Saturday, was created by a panel of 25 citizens who compiled 3,600 comments and 370 suggestions from social media over the past year. Six questions appeared on the referendum, and the first two asked whether Icelanders want to adopt the user-generated constitution.
Nearly half of Iceland’s 235,000 eligible voters took part in the referendum, with 66 percent of those voting in favor. GigaOM said it makes sense that the Internet-backed option would have the most support.
“Give the people a chance to feed into the drafting, taking advantage of the internet’s convenience and low barriers, and they’ll stand behind the result,” wrote GigaOM’s David Meyer in a detailed analysis of the results.
Although the parliament is ultimately responsible for ratifying a new constitution, supporters hope the two thirds-backed constitution will be hard to ignore.
“This is a very clear conclusion for parliament,” said Thorolfur Matthiasson, an economist at the University of Iceland, to Reuters. “The majority of voters want changes in all the topics asked about in the vote.”
One of the major topics up for discussion was giving the government greater control of natural resources, including fish and geothermal energy, which are currently controlled by a handful of the island’s wealthy “sea baron” families.
It’s estimated that 320,000 Icelanders—two-thirds of Iceland’s population—are on Facebook, which was used to broadcast the 25-member panel’s weekly meetings. The gatherings aired live on Facebook so interested citizens could offer suggestions and debate along with the panel.
Parliament now has to decide if they want to turn the crowdsourced constitution into a reality. Whether they settle on this document, or a different one, something must be finalized prior to next spring’s elections.
via DailyDotRead more
Wikileaks Statement, Anonymous Responds – A parting of ways..?
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