U.S. General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)
NATO’s commander in chief says the West should not rule out arming Ukraine. General Philip Breedlove said no troops would be sent to the region, but providing Kiev with weapons and equipment was on the cards.
Speaking to reporters at a security conference in Munich on Saturday, Breedlove said: “I don’t think we should preclude out of hand the possibility of the military option.”
His strong comments come as the US is considering sending weapons to help Kiev in its fight against anti-government militias.
The chief commander of NATO said the proposal made by Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine was “completely unacceptable,” and added “there is no conversation about putting boots on the ground.”
The head of the Russian Duma committee on CIS affairs and Eurasian integration, Leonid Slutsky, slammed Breedlove’s comments as“absolutely cynical.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry in Munich and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, while US Vice-President Joe Biden is also due to give a speech.READ MORE: 30,000 troops, 6 rapid units: NATO increases military power in Eastern Europe
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has already said the organization’s Response Force in Europe may increase to 30,000 troops – more than double the current 13,000 – with the majority to be posted near Russia’s borders.
However, there are reports that NATO and the US have been arming the Kiev forces. Russia’s ambassador to the organization, Aleksandr Grushko, says “there is a bulk of evidence that Western-made arms are being used in Ukraine,” mentioning lethal munitions such as NATO standard artillery shells. He has asked the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to investigate the claims.
Moscow has urged Washington not to send weapons to Ukraine, which could include military hardware currently being pulled out of Afghanistan. The White House admitted on February 5 that arming Kiev could increase bloodshed in the region.
“They are telling us in NATO they aren’t supplying anything, that lethal weapons are not supplied [to Ukraine] … that NATO has no [standard] arms and all weapons are national and there are no NATO systems as such. In reality, this is not true,” Grushko said.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has asked the West to provide his country with weapons on numerous occasions. US President Barack Obama is expected to make his decision on the possibility of sending lethal aid to Ukraine next week, Secretary of State John Kerry announced during a visit to Kiev.
The secretary of state says Obama’s choice will be based on his [Kerry’s] comments and recommendations following his visit to the country, and will also take into account Angela Merkel’s visit to Ukraine.
The question of supplying Kiev with weapons seems to have split the EU-US alliance. France, Germany and Britain amongst others have already ruled out sending lethal aid to Ukraine, but the Baltic States and Poland are keen on the idea.
“More weapons in this area will not bring us closer to a solution, and will not end the suffering of the population,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels.
The NSA’s mass surveillance is just the beginning. Documents from Edward Snowden show that the intelligence agency is arming America for future digital wars — a struggle for control of the Internet that is already well underway.
Normally, internship applicants need to have polished resumes, with volunteer work on social projects considered a plus. But at Politerain, the job posting calls for candidates with significantly different skill sets. We are, the ad says, “looking for interns who want to break things.”
An intern’s tasks might also include remotely destroying the functionality of hard drives. Ultimately, the goal of the internship program was “developing an attacker’s mindset.”
The internship listing is eight years old, but the attacker’s mindset has since become a kind of doctrine for the NSA’s data spies. And the intelligence service isn’t just trying to achieve mass surveillance of Internet communication, either. The digital spies of the Five Eyes alliance — comprised of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — want more.
The Birth of D Weapons
According to top secret documents from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden seen exclusively by SPIEGEL, they are planning for wars of the future in which the Internet will play a critical role, with the aim of being able to use the net to paralyze computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money.
During the 20th century, scientists developed so-called ABC weapons — atomic, biological and chemical. It took decades before their deployment could be regulated and, at least partly, outlawed. New digital weapons have now been developed for the war on the Internet. But there are almost no international conventions or supervisory authorities for these D weapons, and the only law that applies is the survival of the fittest.
Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan foresaw these developments decades ago. In 1970, he wrote, “World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” That’s precisely the reality that spies are preparing for today.
The US Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force have already established their own cyber forces, but it is the NSA, also officially a military agency, that is taking the lead. It’s no coincidence that the director of the NSA also serves as the head of the US Cyber Command. The country’s leading data spy, Admiral Michael Rogers, is also its chief cyber warrior and his close to 40,000 employees are responsible for both digital spying and destructive network attacks.
Surveillance only ‘Phase 0′
From a military perspective, surveillance of the Internet is merely “Phase 0″ in the US digital war strategy. Internal NSA documents indicate that it is the prerequisite for everything that follows. They show that the aim of the surveillance is to detect vulnerabilities in enemy systems. Once “stealthy implants” have been placed to infiltrate enemy systems, thus allowing “permanent accesses,” then Phase Three has been achieved — a phase headed by the word “dominate” in the documents. This enables them to “control/destroy critical systems & networks at will through pre-positioned accesses (laid in Phase 0).” Critical infrastructure is considered by the agency to be anything that is important in keeping a society running: energy, communications and transportation. The internal documents state that the ultimate goal is “real time controlled escalation”.
One NSA presentation proclaims that “the next major conflict will start in cyberspace.” To that end, the US government is currently undertaking a massive effort to digitally arm itself for network warfare. For the 2013 secret intelligence budget, the NSA projected it would need around $1 billion in order to increase the strength of its computer network attack operations. The budget included an increase of some $32 million for “unconventional solutions” alone.
- Excerpt from the secret NSA budget on computer network operations / Code word GENIE
- Document about the expansion of the Remote Operations Center (ROC) on endpoint operations
- Document explaining the role of the Remote Operations Center (ROC)
- Interview with an employee of NSA’s department for Tailored Access Operations about his field of work
- Supply-chain interdiction / Stealthy techniques can crack some of SIGINT’s hardest targets
- Classification guide for computer network exploitation (CNE)
- NSA training course material on computer network operations
- Overview of methods for NSA integrated cyber operations
- NSA project description to recognize and process data that comes from third party attacks on computers
- Exploring and exploiting leaky mobile apps with BADASS
- Overview of projects of the TAO/ATO department such as the remote destruction of network cards
- iPhone target analysis and exploitation with Apple’s unique device identifiers (UDID)
- Report of an NSA Employee about a Backdoor in the OpenSSH Daemon
- NSA document on QUANTUMSHOOTER, an implant to remote-control computers with good network connections from unknown third parties
In recent years, malware has emerged that experts have attributed to the NSA and its Five Eyes alliance based on a number of indicators. They include programs like Stuxnet, used to attack the Iranian nuclear program. Or Regin, a powerful spyware trojan that created a furor in Germany after it infected the USB stick of a high-ranking staffer to Chancellor Angela Merkel. Agents also used Regin in attacks against the European Commission, the EU’s executive, and Belgian telecoms company Belgacom in 2011.Given that spies can routinely break through just about any security software, virtually all Internet users are at risk of a data attack.
The new documents shed some new light on other revelations as well. Although an attack called Quantuminsert has been widely reported by SPIEGEL and others, documentation shows that in reality it has a low success rate and it has likely been replaced by more reliable attacks such as Quantumdirk, which injects malicious content into chat services provided by websites such as Facebook and Yahoo. And computers infected with Straitbizarre can be turned into disposable and non-attributable “shooter” nodes. These nodes can then receive messages from the NSA’s Quantum network, which is used for “command and control for very large scale active exploitation and attack.” The secret agents were also able to breach mobile phones by exploiting a vulnerability in the Safari browser in order to obtain sensitive data and remotely implant malicious code.
In this guerilla war over data, little differentiation is made between soldiers and civilians, the Snowden documents show. Any Internet user could suffer damage to his or her data or computer. It also has the potential to create perils in the offline world as well. If, for example, a D weapon like Barnfire were to destroy or “brick” the control center of a hospital as a result of a programming error, people who don’t even own a mobile phone could be affected.
Intelligence agencies have adopted “plausible deniability” as their guiding principle for Internet operations. To ensure their ability to do so, they seek to make it impossible to trace the author of the attack.
It’s a stunning approach with which the digital spies deliberately undermine the very foundations of the rule of law around the globe. This approach threatens to transform the Internet into a lawless zone in which superpowers and their secret services operate according to their own whims with very few ways to hold them accountable for their actions.
- CSEC document about the recognition of trojans and other “network based anomaly”
- The formalized process through which analysts choose their data requirement and then get to know the tools that can do the job
- QUANTUMTHEORY is a set of technologies allowing man-on-the-side interference attacks on TCP/IP connections (includes STRAIGHTBIZARRE and DAREDEVIL)
- Sample code of a malware program from the Five Eyes alliance
Attribution is difficult and requires considerable forensic effort. But in the new documents there are at least a few pointers. Querty, for example, is a keylogger that was part of the Snowden archive. It’s a piece of software designed to surreptitiously intercept all keyboard keys pressed by the victim and record them for later inspection. It is an ordinary, indeed rather dated, keylogger. Similar software can already be found in numerous applications, so it doesn’t seem to pose any acute danger — but the sourcecode contained in it does reveal some interesting details. They suggest that this keylogger might be part of the large arsenal of modules that that belong to the Warriorpride program, a kind of universal Esperanto software used by all the Five Eyes partner agencies that at times was even able to break into iPhones, among other capabilities. The documents published by SPIEGEL include sample code from the keylogger to foster further research and enable the creation of appropriate defenses.‘Just a Bunch of Hackers’
The men and women working for the Remote Operations Center (ROC), which uses the codename S321, at the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, work on one of the NSA’s most crucial teams, the unit responsible for covert operations. S321 employees are located on the third floor of one of the main buildings on the NSA’s campus. In one report from the Snowden archive, an NSA man reminisces about how, when they got started, the ROC people were “just a bunch of hackers.” Initially, people worked “in a more ad hoc manner,” the report states. Nowadays, however, procedures are “more systematic”. Even before NSA management massively expanded the ROC group during the summer of 2005, the department’s motto was, “Your data is our data, your equipment is our equipment.”
- Explanation of the APEX method of combining passive with active methods to exfiltrate data from networks attacked
- Explanation of APEX shaping to put exfiltrating network traffic into patterns that allow plausible deniability
- Presentation on the FASHIONCLEFT protocol that the NSA uses to exfiltrate data from trojans and implants to the NSA
- Methods to exfiltrate data even from devices which are supposed to be offline
- Document detailing SPINALTAP, an NSA project to combine data from active operations and passive signals intelligence
- Technical description of the FASHIONCLEFT protocol the NSA uses to exfiltrate data from Trojans and implants to the NSA
The agents sit in front of their monitors, working in shifts around the clock. Just how close the NSA has already gotten to its aim of “global network dominance” is illustrated particularly well by the work of department S31177, codenamed Transgression.The department’s task is to trace foreign cyber attacks, observe and analyze them and, in the best case scenario, to siphon off the insights of competing intelligence agencies. This form of “Cyber Counter Intelligence” counts among the most delicate forms of modern spying.
- Part 1: NSA Preps America for Future Battle
- Part 2: How the NSA Reads Over Shoulders of Other Spies
“Der Spiegel reports after the European close that ECB QE will not include Greek bonds due to their low rating… but will see national central banks buying own-country debt.”
“… following yesterday’s report that two Greek banks had suffered sufficiently material deposit withdrawals to force them to apply for the unpopular and highly stigmatizing Emergency Liquidity Assistance program with the ECB, now the other two of Greece’s largest banks have also succumbed to reserve depletion after the Greek bank run appears to have gone viral. As Greek Capital.gr reports, now all four Greek banks have requested ELA assistance from the same ECB president who earlier today is said to have unceremoniously kicked out Greece from the ECB’s QE program.”
… the ECB becomes a corresponding Fed in the European area, “serving” the problematic economies that are excluded from the bond markets, through the print of new money. Therefore, the problematic economies will be loaded with more and more debt which the ECB, i.e. the largest private European banks will hold. Someone could argue that is not something new, since nations were facing huge debts in previous years, because they were indebted to banks through the excessive borrowing from the markets. But in this case, there is an important difference that makes things much worse: it is the cruel conditions imposed by the ECB to states that need to buy money. States that are excluded from markets, are now trapped within the neoliberal economic empire of the eurozone and will be forced to follow new austerity measures every time they need ECB to buy their bonds.
[SEE: West wants to end confrontation with Russia over Ukraine – EU foreign policy chief ]
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini…rejected the idea that the EU’s position on the crisis differs from that of the US.
“It is not true that there is a soft Europe stance, which opposes the US hardline position.”
Mogherini said that Washington’s views on Russia match those of Europe…“everyone wants to get out of the logic of confrontation.”
Victoria Nuland: US-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Geoffrey R. Pyatt: United States Ambassador to Ukraine
America’s leadership had to embarrass Europe to impose economic hits on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine – even though the EU was opposed to such a motion, US Vice President Joe Biden revealed during a speech at Harvard.
“We’ve given Putin a simple choice: Respect Ukraine’s sovereignty or face increasing consequences,” Biden told a gathering at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics on Thursday.
The consequences were the sanctions which the EU imposed on Russia, first targeting individual politicians and businessmen deemed responsible for the crisis in Ukraine, then switching to the energy, defense, and economic sectors.
“It is true they did not want to do that,” Biden admitted.
“It was America’s leadership and the president of the United States insisting, oft times almost having to embarrass Europe to stand up and take economic hits to impose costs,” the US vice president declared.
Those costs deemed behind the ruble’s historic plunge not only forced America’s ExxonMobil to retreat from Russia’s Arctic shelf, but also provoked counter-measures from Moscow, which suspended certain food imports from the EU.
Russia’s counter-sanctions have hit many of the EU’s agricultural states. EU members, particularly those close to Russia, were the most affected by the loss of the Russian market.
For instance, the Netherlands – the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products – is set to lose 300 million euro annually from canceled business with Russia, as it accounts for roughly 10 percent of Dutch exports of vegetables, fruit, and meat.
At the same time, Poland was hit hard by the Kremlin’s sanctions, as its food exports to Russia totaled $1.5 billion in 2013.
Spain, a large exporter of oranges to Russia, is estimated to miss out on 337 million euro ($421 million) in food and agriculture sales, while Italy has estimated its losses at nearly 1 billion euro ($1.2 billion).
Following pressure from local farmers, a 125 million euro EU Commission Common Agricultural Policy fund was established, from which the growers are expected to get some cash, while Amsterdam is willing to cover the cost of transporting excess produce to eight food banks across Holland.
Overall, Moscow’s one-year food embargo against the EU, the US, Norway, Australia, and Canada will block an estimated $9 billion worth of agricultural exports to Russia.
However, this is no secret to the US, as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland remarked on Thursday.
“Implementing sanctions isn’t easy and many countries are paying a steep price. We know that. But history shows that the cost of inaction and disunity in the face of a determined aggressor will be higher,” Nuland said.
Nuland’s reference to necessary action against the “aggressor” might be taken with a grain of salt by the Europeans, as the “F**k the EU” leak is still fresh in their memory.
The four-minute video – titled ‘Maidan puppets,’ referring to Independence Square in Ukraine’s capital – was uploaded by an anonymous user to YouTube.
Nuland was recorded as saying the notoriously known phrase during a phone call with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, as the two were seemingly discussing a US-preferred line-up of the Ukrainian government. It apparently referred to Washington’s policy differences with those of the EU on ways of handling the Ukrainian political crisis, with Nuland suggesting to “glue this thing” with the help of the UN and ignore Brussels.
The US State Department did not deny the authenticity of the video and stressed that Nuland had apologized for the “reported comments.”
[SEE: A Guide To HASBARA TROLLS ]
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Executive Order 13584 –Developing an Integrated Strategic Counterterrorism Communications Initiative
DEVELOPING AN INTEGRATED STRATEGIC COUNTERTERRORISM COMMUNICATIONS INITIATIVE AND ESTABLISHING A TEMPORARY ORGANIZATION TO SUPPORT CERTAIN GOVERNMENT-WIDE COMMUNICATIONS ACTIVITIES DIRECTED ABROAD
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 2656 of title 22, United States Code, and section 3161 of title 5, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. The United States is committed to actively countering the actions and ideologies of al-Qa’ida, its affiliates and adherents, other terrorist organizations, and violent extremists overseas that threaten the interests and national security of the United States. These efforts take many forms, but all contain a communications element and some use of communications strategies directed to audiences outside the United States to counter the ideology and activities of such organizations. These communications strategies focus not only on the violent actions and human costs of terrorism, but also on narratives that can positively influence those who may be susceptible to radicalization and recruitment by terrorist organizations.
The purpose of this Executive Order is to reinforce, integrate, and complement public communications efforts across the executive branch that are (1) focused on countering the actions and ideology of al-Qa’ida, its affiliates and adherents, and other international terrorist organizations and violent extremists overseas, and (2) directed to audiences outside the United States. This collaborative work among executive departments and agencies (agencies) brings together expertise, capabilities, and resources to realize efficiencies and better coordination of U.S. Government communications investments to combat terrorism and extremism.
Sec. 2. Assigned Responsibilities to the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications.
(a) Under the direction of the Secretary of State (Secretary), the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (Center) that has been established in the Department of State by the Secretary shall coordinate, orient, and inform Government-wide public communications activities directed at audiences abroad and targeted against violent extremists and terrorist organizations, especially al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents, with the goal of using communication tools to reduce radicalization by terrorists and extremist violence and terrorism that threaten the interests and national security of the United States. Consistent with section 404o of title 50, United States Code, the Center shall coordinate its analysis, evaluation, and planning functions with the National Counterterrorism Center. The Center shall also coordinate these functions with other agencies, as appropriate.
Executive branch efforts undertaken through the Center shall draw on all agencies with relevant information or capabilities, to prepare, plan for, and conduct these communications efforts.
(b) To achieve these objectives, the Center’s functions shall include:
(i) monitoring and evaluating narratives (overarching communication themes that reflect a community’s identity, experiences, aspirations, and concerns) and events abroad that are relevant to the development of a U.S. strategic counterterrorism narrative designed to counter violent extremism and terrorism that threaten the interests and national security of the United States;
(ii) developing and promulgating for use throughout the executive branch the U.S. strategic counterterrorism narratives and public communications strategies to counter the messaging of violent extremists and terrorist organizations, especially al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents;
(iii) identifying current and emerging trends in extremist communications and communications by al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents in order to coordinate and provide thematic guidance to U.S. Government communicators on how best to proactively promote the U.S. strategic counterterrorism narrative and policies and to respond to and rebut extremist messaging and narratives when communicating to audiences outside the United States, as informed by a wide variety of Government and non-government sources, including nongovernmental organizations, academic sources, and finished intelligence created by the intelligence community;
(iv) facilitating the use of a wide range of communications technologies, including digital tools, by sharing expertise among agencies, seeking expertise from external sources, and extending best practices;
(v) identifying and requesting relevant information from agencies, including intelligence reporting, data, and analysis; and
(vi) identifying shortfalls in U.S. capabilities in any areas relevant to the Center’s mission and recommending necessary enhancements or changes.
(c) The Secretary shall establish a Steering Committee composed of senior representatives of agencies relevant to the Center’s mission to provide advice to the Secretary on the operations and strategic orientation of the Center and to ensure adequate support for the Center. The Steering Committee shall meet not less than every 6 months. The Steering Committee shall be chaired by the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. The Coordinator for Counterterrorism of the Department of State shall serve as Vice Chair. The Coordinator of the Center shall serve as Executive Secretary. The Steering Committee shall include one senior representative designated by the head of each of the following agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Counterterrorism Center of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Broadcast Board of Governors, and the Agency for International Development. Other agencies may be invited to participate in the Steering Committee at the discretion of the Chair.
Sec. 3. Establishment of a Temporary Organization.
(a) There is established within the Department of State, in accordance with section 3161 of title 5, United States Code, a temporary organization to be known as the Counterterrorism Communications Support Office (CCSO).
(b) The purpose of the CCSO shall be to perform the specific project of supporting agencies in Government-wide public communications activities targeted against violent extremism and terrorist organizations, especially al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents, to audiences abroad by using communication tools designed to counter violent extremism and terrorism that threaten the interests and national security of the United States.
(c) In carrying out its purpose set forth in subsection (b) of this section, the CCSO shall:
(i) support agencies in their implementation of whole-of-government public communications activities directed at audiences abroad, including by providing baseline research on characteristics of these audiences, by developing expertise and studies on aspirations, narratives, information strategies and tactics of violent extremists and terrorist organizations overseas, by designing and developing sustained campaigns on specific areas of interest to audiences abroad, and by developing expertise on implementing highly focused social media campaigns; and
(ii) perform such other functions related to the specific project set forth in subsection (b) of this section as the Secretary may assign.
(d) The CCSO shall be headed by a Director selected by the Secretary, with the advice of the Steering Committee. Its staff may include, as determined by the Secretary: (1) personnel with relevant expertise detailed on a non-reimbursable basis from other agencies; (2) senior and other technical advisers; and (3) such other personnel as the Secretary may direct to support the CCSO. To accomplish this mission, the heads of agencies participating on the Steering Committee shall provide to the CCSO, on a non-reimbursable basis, assistance, services, and other support including but not limited to logistical and administrative support and details of personnel. Non-reimbursable details shall be based on reasonable requests from the Secretary in light of the need for specific expertise, and after consultation with the relevant agency, to the extent permitted by law.
(e) The CCSO shall terminate at the end of the maximum period permitted by section 3161(a)(1) of title 5, United States Code, unless sooner terminated by the Secretary consistent with section 3161(a)(2) of such title.
Sec. 4. General Provisions.
(a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) authority granted by law to an agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
September 9, 2011.