November 28th, 2010
November 28th, 2010
WASHINGTON -- WikiLeaks published the first set of more than 250,000 secret State Department documents Sunday, in one of the largest leaks of classified information in history. Earlier in the day, The New York Times and The Guardian published a selection of the documents. The WikiLeaks website was inaccessible for part of the day, and WikiLeaks said in its Twitter feed that it was experiencing a denial of service attack. WikiLeaks also provided the documents to Spain's El Pais, France's Le Monde, and Germany's Der Spiegel. The website says it will publish the full set of 250,000 documents in stages over the next few months.
According to The New York Times, the cables reveal how foreign leaders, including Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, urged the U.S. to confront Iran over its nuclear program.
"The cables also contain a fresh American intelligence assessment of Iran's missile program," The Times reports. "They reveal for the first time that the United States believes that Iran has obtained advanced missiles from North Korea that could let it strike at Western European capitals and Moscow and help it develop more formidable long-range ballistic missiles."
Haaretz reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to pressure the U.S. into military action against Iran by exaggerating its nuclear capabilities:
Meanwhile, another cable shows that a 2009 claim by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran was months away from achieving military nuclear capability was dismissed by the Americans as a ploy.
According to German weekly Der Spiegel, which also received advance information from WIkiLeaks, a State Department official says in a classified cable that Netanyahu informed the United States of Iran's nuclear advancement in November 2009, but that the prime minister's estimate was likely unfounded and intended to pressure Washington into action against the Islamic Republic.
Perhaps more embarrassing to U.S. officials is the revelation, according to The Guardian that U.S. diplomats spied on UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
A classified directive which appears to blur the line between diplomacy and spying was issued to US diplomats under Hillary Clinton's name in July 2009, demanding forensic technical details about the communications systems used by top UN officials, including passwords and personal encryption keys used in private and commercial networks for official communications.Story continues below
It called for detailed biometric information "on key UN officials, to include undersecretaries, heads of specialised agencies and their chief advisers, top SYG [secretary general] aides, heads of peace operations and political field missions, including force commanders" as well as intelligence on Ban's "management and decision-making style and his influence on the secretariat".
The cables also provide frank assessments of foreign leaders:
Russia's president Dmitry Medvedev "plays Robin to Putin's Batman."
French president Nicholas Sarkozy displayed a "thin-skinned and authoritarian personal style."
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is described as "feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader."
Hamid Karzai, is "an extremely weak man who did not listen to facts but was instead easily swayed by anyone who came to report even the most bizarre stories or plots against him."
At least one cable provides an assessment of President Obama.
"Thank God for bringing Obama to the presidency," Saudi Arabia's King Abdulluh told White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan in March 2009. Obama's victory has created "great hope" in the Muslim world, he continued. "May God grant him strength and patience. May God protect him. I'm concerned about his personal safety. America and the world need such a president."
The king also shared an idea about how to track detainees once Guantanamo is closed:
"I've just thought of something," the King added, and proposed implanting detainees with an electronic chip containing information about them and allowing their movements to be tracked with Bluetooth. This was done with horses and falcons, the King said. Brennan replied, "horses don't have good lawyers."
According to The Times, the documents also reveal numerous other diplomatic issues, including corruption within the Afghan government, America's failure to stop Syria from supplying weapons to Hezbollah, and its difficulty convincing allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Pakistan to aid in the fight against Al Qaeda.
In one shocking cable, Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh agrees to cover up U.S. missile strikes against Al Qaeda. "We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours," Saleh tells Gen. David Petraeus.
The White House released a statement in response to the cables' release on Sunday:
We anticipate the release of what are claimed to be several hundred thousand classified State department cables on Sunday night that detail private diplomatic discussions with foreign governments. By its very nature, field reporting to Washington is candid and often incomplete information. It is not an expression of policy, nor does it always shape final policy decisions.
Nevertheless, these cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only US foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world.
To be clear -- such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government. These documents also may include named individuals who in many cases live and work under oppressive regimes and who are trying to create more open and free societies.
President Obama supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal. By releasing stolen and classified documents, Wikileaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals. We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information.
The Pentagon also condemned the leaks in a statement Sunday, and outlined steps it is taking to secure its computer network, including disabling removable media (such as flash or thumb drives) and changing the way in which information is moved between classified and unclassified computers.
"The 9/11 attacks and their aftermath revealed gaps in intra-governmental information sharing. Departments and agencies have taken significant steps to reduce those obstacles, and the work that has been done to date has resulted in considerable improvement in information-sharing and increased cooperation across government operations," spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
"However, as we have now seen with the theft of huge amounts of classified data and the Wikileaks compromises, these efforts to give diplomatic, military, law enforcement and intelligence specialists quicker and easier access to greater amounts of data have had unintended consequences -- making our sensitive data more vulnerable to compromise."
The Guardian says that the diplomatic cables were deliverd to the paper on a flash drive and that it was "childishly easy" for an intelligence analyst to download the files. "I would come in with music on a CD-RW labelled with something like 'Lady Gaga' ... erase the music ... then write a compressed split file. No one suspected a thing," Bradley Manning reportedly told a fellow hacker.
The State Department's top lawyer warned WikiLeak's founder, Julian Assange, late Saturday that lives and military operations would be put at risk if the cables were released. Legal adviser Harold Koh said WikiLeaks would be breaking the law if it went ahead and he also rejected a request from Assange to cooperate in removing sensitive details from the documents.
Assange, in a response released Sunday by his London lawyer, said he had no intention of halting the release. He claimed the administration was trying to cover up alleged evidence of serious "human rights abuse and other criminal behavior" by the U.S. government.
The letter to the U.S. ambassador, Louis Sussman, also said WikiLeaks had no desire to harm either "individual persons" or "the national security of the United States." But he said the administration's refusal to cooperate showed that the risks were "fanciful."
"I understand that the United States government would prefer not to have the information that will be published in the public domain and is not in favor of openness," Assange wrote. "That said, either there is a risk or there is not."
"You have chosen to respond in a manner which leads me to conclude that the supposed risks are entirely fanciful and you are instead concerned to suppress evidence of human rights abuse and other criminal behavior," he said.
"We will now proceed to release the material subject to our checks and the checks of our media partners unless you get back to me," Assange wrote.
Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins defended the paper's decision to publish the documents. "The job of the media is not to protect power from embarrassment," he wrote. Furthermore, he says, the paper informed the US government in advance about what they planned to publish and redacted certain information that might put individuals' lives at risk or compromise ongoing military operations. "The State Department knew of the leak several months ago and had ample time to alert staff in sensitive locations," Jenkins says. "Its pre-emptive scaremongering over the weekend stupidly contrived to hint at material not in fact being published. "
The New York Times took similar precautions before publishing the documents, its editors write:
The question of dealing with classified information is rarely easy, and never to be taken lightly. Editors try to balance the value of the material to public understanding against potential dangers to the national interest. As a general rule we withhold secret information that would expose confidential sources to reprisals or that would reveal operational intelligence that might be useful to adversaries in war. We excise material that might lead terrorists to unsecured weapons material, compromise intelligence-gathering programs aimed at hostile countries, or disclose information about the capabilities of American weapons that could be helpful to an enemy.
More Stuff From Huff
November 28th, 2010
By Adrian Brown
North Korea is one of the most secretive states in the world. Its citizens cannot travel abroad and have little, if any, contact with those who visit their country. The few tourists who do make it are carefully herded to a handful of destinations and rarely get off the beaten track.
Yet, thanks to satellite imagery and the internet, North Korea's secretive world is gradually being unveiled. Here is a series of remarkable photographs showing aspects of North Korea's hidden world that are rarely seen by outsiders, as well as some unusual views of more familiar sights.
This image shows an elite residential compound to the north of the capital Pyongyang. North Korea's founder, Kim Il-sung, lived there and it is believed that his son, Kim Jong-il - the country's current leader - has a residence there. As well as the large houses and well-tended gardens, there is a swimming pool in the upper left hand corner, complete with water slide.
Out of shot, it is also possible to see that the compound has its own dedicated train line that seems to run into a tunnel underneath the area. A long time North Korea watcher, Dr Hazel Smith, says it's difficult to know where Kim Jong-il lives as, public appearances aside, his activities are shrouded in secrecy. "These look similar to some of the diplomatic compounds I've seen which also have swimming pools. The party people live in the city proper, whereas this is clearly outside the city as there are so many trees," she said.
Water slide can be seen on the right hand side of the pool
Curtis Melvin, an American economist who has compiled a catalogue of detailed satellite images of North Korea, says sources within the country confirmed this location as being used by Kim Jong-il. "There are houses like this everywhere. At one point, there was a residence in every province. There are lots on the coast. Most of the nice roads in the country are built up to the gates of these compounds," he says.
Life for most of North Korean's 23 million people is harsh. North Korea's economy went into steep decline during the 1990s after the collapse of communism elsewhere. Though the economy has recovered to an extent, thanks to greater co-operation with South Korea and some small scale market reforms, living standards and output remain far below the levels of the 1990s. Another factor that holds back the economy is the significant share of GDP that is spent on the military.
The distinctive entrance to the brewery
This unprepossessing building houses the Taedongang brewery on the outskirts of the North Korean capital. It was once the Ushers Brewery in Trowbridge in the UK. It was bought from the owners in 2000 and dismantled on site in a matter of weeks by a team of North Koreans and British engineers. It was shipped over to North Korea and was up and running 18 months later. But rather than traditional ale, it now brews a variety of lagers.
"The North Koreans, like the Japanese, like their beer," says Dr Smith who is Professor of Resilience and Security at Cranfield University. But as sanctions have taken their toll, the key ingredients for brewing are not always available. "The chaff from the harvest is used in brewing. Nothing is wasted," says Dr Smith.
Brewing kettles inside the brewery today
Curtis Melvin says he located the brewery "after a tourist sent in a picture of the entry gate which is a very unusual shape. From the air it looks like a large M which I matched to a photograph from an official publication."
He says the lager he tried when he was last in Pyongyang "had a full flavour" but others are less palatable. "Ryesong beer is pretty awful, leaving a distinct metallic taste," he says, adding: "In the capital, they drink a lot of beer but outside in the countryside, they prefer their traditional spirit drinks."
North Korean television recently broadcast an advert for Taedong River Beer. Dubbed the "Pride of Pyongyang", the advert showed young women in traditional Korean dress serving trays of beer to men in western suits. Kim Jong-il visited the brewery in 2002 where he "(watched) good quality beer (come) out in an uninterrupted flow for a long while," according to North Korea's state news agency.
November 28th, 2010
TOPEKA, Kan. — Although fixing the economy is the top priority, Republicans who won greater control of state governments in this month's election are considering how to pursue action on a range of social issues, including abortion, gun rights and even divorce laws.
Incoming GOP governors and legislative leaders across the nation insist they intend to focus initially on fiscal measures to spur the economy, cut spending and address state budget problems.
"At this point, the economy dominates everything, and until the economy is turned around and our fiscal house put in order, there's not going to be a lot of appetite for anything else," said Whit Ayres, a pollster in Alexandria, Va., whose firm did research for several GOP candidates in the midterm race.
But the pressure to go further, as soon as possible, is only slightly below the surface in states where conservatives' top social goals have been foiled for years by Democratic vetoes and legislative obstacles.
The tension is particularly visible in Kansas, where the victory by Gov.-elect Sam Brownback, a strong opponent of abortion and gay marriage, has created strong expectations among evangelical supporters.
A similar scenario is taking shape in strongly conservative Oklahoma, where a Republican governor will replace a Democrat, and to a lesser extent in Michigan, Wisconsin and several other states.
Some Republican legislators are already worried about getting bogged down in volatile issues or conflicts between wings of the party. But, if the different agendas can be harnessed, an election largely driven by voters' economic concerns could wind up having much broader social consequences.
"I'm a little bit nervous," said Rep. Dean Kaufert, a Republican state House member in Wisconsin, where Republicans, including incoming governor Scott Walker, campaigned on enacting tough immigration legislation and banning embryonic stem cell research. If Republicans overreach, "the danger is the citizens of the state will just say we'll clean house again and we're going to keep doing it until we get it right," he said.
But some conservatives said they won't wait forever. "We're not going to spend the next 18 months doing nothing but economic issues," said Wisconsin Republican Sen. Glenn Grothman, an advocate of tougher abortion restrictions.
GOP candidates in the midterm election successfully wooed independent voters and those upset with President Barack Obama and the agenda of the Democratic-controlled Congress. But abortion opponents and socially conservative evangelical Christians are a key party constituency.
This year's vote gave Republicans control of 29 governorships, including 11 held previously by Democrats. The GOP significantly strengthened its position in many state legislatures.
The GOP won all statewide races on the ballot in Kansas for the first time since 1964. Republicans picked up 16 seats in the state House, giving the GOP an overwhelming 92-33 advantage.
Abortion opponents now plan to make the state as close to an abortion-free zone as possible. Proposed measures would impose new regulations for clinics, restrictions on late-term procedures and increased reporting requirements for physicians. Vetoes by outgoing Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson and his predecessors blocked such action in the past.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lance Kinzer, who serves on Brownback's transition team, said action against embryonic stem cell research and to allow "covenant" marriages, which are harder to dissolve than standard marriages, are likely to be considered, too.
"There's a lot of unfinished business out there, isn't there?" Kinzer said.
In Oklahoma, where Republicans won all eight Democrat-held statewide offices, GOP lawmakers are planning to bring back firearms bills vetoed last year by outgoing Democratic Gov. Brad Henry. They include a bill to allow the open carrying of firearms.
A move to legalize concealed weapons is expected in Wisconsin, where the Republicans scored their most dramatic victory, seizing control of both the legislature and the governor's office. Some Republican lawmakers hope to repeal a law that extends benefits to gay state employees and their domestic partners.
It's not clear whether Republicans could win approval of such measures or would wind up in protracted battles not only with Democrats but among themselves.
Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus insists the party can manage the competing demands. The economy "doesn't mean we have to exclude tackling every other issue facing the voters of Wisconsin," he said.
In Michigan, Iowa and Ohio, where Republicans are replacing Democratic governors, legislative leaders are all under pressure to back anti-abortion legislation but insist they will focus on the economy.
Brownback's economy-first approach in Kansas has put him in the rare position of disappointing conservative allies.
Rep. Owen Donohoe, a Republican from the Kansas City-area suburb of Shawnee, sent colleagues an e-mail saying Brownback's legislative agenda "may not be as conservative as we wish."
Other Huffington Stuff
Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis.; Kathy Barks Hoffman in Lansing, Mich.; Sean Murphy, in Oklahoma City, and Ann Sanner, in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.
November 28th, 2010
V-750V 1D missile on a launcher
|Place of origin||Soviet Union|
|Variants||V-750, V-750V, V-750VK, V-750VN, V-750M, V-750SM, V-750AK|
|Weight||2,300 kg (5,070.6 lb)|
|Length||10,600 mm (417.3 in)|
|Diameter||700 mm (27.6 in)|
|Warhead weight||200 kg (440.9 lb)|
|Propellant||Solid-fuel booster and a storable liquid-fuel upper stage|
|45 km (28.0 mi)|
|Flight altitude||20,000 m (65,616.8 ft)|
|Boost time||5 s boost, then 20 s sustain|
|Radio control guidance|
|Single rail, ground mounted (not mobile)|
(Wikipedia) The S-75 (Russian: Ñ-75; NATO reporting name SA-2 Guideline) is a Soviet designed high-altitude, command guided, surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. Since its first deployment in 1957, it has become the most widely deployed and used air defense missile in history.
This system first gained fame when an S-75 battery shot down a U-2 overflying the Soviet Union in 1960. Later, North Vietnamese forces used the S-75 extensively during the Vietnam War to defend Hanoi and Haiphong. It has also been locally-produced in the People's Republic of China using the names HQ-1 and HQ-2. Other nations have produced so many local variants combining portions of the S-75 system with both indigenously developed components or third party systems, that it has become virtually impossible to find a pure S-75 system today