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Classified CLIO Satellite Launched Into Orbit for Unknown U.S. Government Agency

In Air Force, Archive, CIA, DIA, Military, Navy, NGA, NRO, NSA, Space, Surveillance, USA on September 21, 2014 at 4:10 PM



Tuesday night at 8:10 EDT, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifted off from Kennedy Space Complex after a short weather delay, marking the 11th successful launch for ULA this year and it’s 60th mission from Cape Canaveral.

The rocket was carrying a satellite known only as CLIO, which it delivered into an unidentified (though probably geosynchronous) orbit. The satellite was built by Lockheed Martin and based on that company’s A2100 Satellite bus. This framework is typically used for telecommunications satellites, and according to Lockheed, over 40 satellites with the A2100 bus are currently in orbit.

The level of secrecy for this satellite is somewhat unusual, especially since the U.S. government agency which is the customer for this satellite hasn’t been identified at all. For example, even satellites intended for use to gather intelligence data are typically identified as being launched on behalf of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

In a press release, Lockheed’s executive VP, Rick Ambrose, merely commented as follows: “We are very proud to deliver mission success for our U.S. Government customer. Our A2100 bus provides outstanding reliability, flexibility and proven performance, all at an affordable cost to our customers.”

Due to the secrecy behind the launch, candidate agencies would most likely be the National Security Agency (NSA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Other possibilities include the U.S. Air Force or Navy, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

Some have speculated that the satellite will be used for classified communications, while others say it may conduct visual or electronic surveillance of other satellites.

The CLIO mission draws parallels to the secrecy of the PAN launch five years ago. Neither the exact purpose of PAN nor its operating agency have been disclosed to the public. Whether CLIO will replace or augment PAN’s capabilities or whether it will operate from a completely different orbit remains to be seen.

h/t Forbes/AP/NBC/SpaceFlight101

Related Links:

“Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach”: Latest NRO Logo for Top-Secret Spy Satellite…an Evil Octopus Engulfing Earth

US Launches 2 Spy Geo-Satellites to Track “Nefarious Capability” of Other Nations

Secret U.S. Air Force Nuclear Test Detection Site Locations

In Air Force, Archive, Military, Surveillance, USA on September 21, 2014 at 12:39 PM


Matthew Aid:

I was cruising through the internet this morning, and chanced up this document filed on the U.S. government’s website ( announcing contracts bids and requests for information from defense contractors.

The document is fascinating because since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the little-known Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC), which runs the U.S. intelligence community’s global nuclear weapons test detection network (officially known as the Atomic Energy Detection System – AEDS), has been trying to hide all facets of its operations from public view. At the behest of AFTAC, U.S. Air Force security personnel removed thousands of pages of formerly declassified documents pertaining to the organization’s overseas operations from the public shelves of the National Archives until the operation’s cover was blown in 2006.

AFTAC stubbornly refuses to declassify almost everything about its history and current operations, especially the locations of the manned stations and unmanned equipment locations around the world where the organization has hidden its nuclear test detection sensors.

Well, take a look at this document, which AFTAC placed on the website back in May 2009. It lists the locations (including latitude and longitude data) of a fairly large number of the organization’s overt and covert nuclear test detection stations in the U.S. and overseas. Turns out that AFTAC has operational facilities in such glorious travel destinations as Mongolia, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Romania, and even Afghanistan.

DOJ Proposal “Possibly Broadest Expansion of Extraterritorial Surveillance Power Since FBI’s Inception”

In Archive, DOJ, FBI, Hacking, Surveillance on September 20, 2014 at 2:00 PM


Ahmed Ghappour/JustSecurity:

A Department of Justice proposal to amend Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure would make it easier for domestic law enforcement to hack into computers of people attempting to protect their anonymity on the Internet. The DOJ has explicitly stated that the amendment is not meant to give courts the power to issue warrants that authorize searches in foreign countries—but the practical reality of the underlying technology means doing so is almost unavoidable.

The result? Possibly the broadest expansion of extraterritorial surveillance power since the FBI’s inception.

This post highlights key issues raised by the international aspect of the DOJ proposal, in the attempt to encourage wider public debate before the FBI is granted such expansive powers.

The FBI Brand of Hacking: Network Investigative Techniques

Broadly, the term “Network Investigative Techniques,” (NIT) describes a method of surveillance that entails “hacking,” or the remote access of a computer to install malicious software without the knowledge or permission of the owner/operator. Once installed, malware controls the target computer.

The right Network Investigative Technique can cause a computer to perform any task the computer is capable of—covertly upload files, photographs and stored e-mails to an FBI controlled server, use a computer’s camera or microphone to gather images and sound at any time the FBI chooses, or even take over computers which associate with the target (e.g. by accessing a website hosted on a server the FBI secretly controls and has programmed to infect any computer that accesses it).

Network Investigative Techniques are especially handy in the pursuit of targets on the anonymous Internet—defined for the purposes of this post as those using Tor, a popular and robust privacy software, in order to obscure their location (and other identifying information), and to utilize so-called “hidden” websites on servers whose physical locations are theoretically untraceable.

Since Network Investigative Techniques work by sending surveillance software over the Internet, the physical location of the target computer is not essential to the execution of the search. Indeed, the DOJ proposal is justified as the only reasonable way to confront the use of anonymizing software, “because the target of the search has deliberately disguised the location of the media or information to be searched.”


Related Links:

FBI Network Investigative Technique (NIT) Warrant; Private Contractor Used to Install Malware

Oxymoron: FBI Keeps Internet Flaws Secret to Defend Against Hackers

FBI Seeking to Purchase 35GB of Malware Per Day

Palantir Technologies Data-Mining Products Pricelist (December 2013)

In Archive, Big Data, Palantir, Surveillance, Technology on September 19, 2014 at 6:58 PM

h/t PublicIntel

The following is a pricelist (dated December 2013) from the General Services Administration for products of CIA-funded data-mining company Palantir/Technologies, including Gotham and Metropolis, as well as the Palantir license agreement and terms of service.  A link to the pricelist was originally posted to Hacker News, after which the document was removed from  The pricelist was still accessible through a cached version of the page maintained via Internet Archive.

Palantir Technologies Pricelist

Related Links:

How a ‘Deviant’ Philosopher Built Palantir, a CIA-Funded Data-Mining Juggernaut

(REPORT) Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations

“Recorded Future” Webinar: Tracking Anonymous/RedHack/Syrian Electronic Army

Daniel Ellsberg – Obama’s New War: The Urgent Need for Whistleblowers

In Archive, Barack Obama, Ellsberg, Iraq, ISIS, Islamic State, Military, Politics, Syria, Terrorism, USA on September 19, 2014 at 1:48 PM


Among the many critics of President Obama’s evolving strategy for confronting the terrorist group Islamic State is one of history’s most famous whistleblowers, Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame.

“Whistleblower was not a common term” in the early 1970s at the height of national tensions over the Vietnam war, Ellsberg told reporters Thursday at a National Press Club appearance sponsored by whistleblower organization Expose Facts and advocacy group Institute for Public Accuracy. “But I fit the definition,” said the former Pentagon and RAND Corp. official who turned over to senators and major newspapers 7,000 pages of classified Defense Department documents on the history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Ellsberg tore into the Obama administration’s current effort to use air power without ground troops while recruiting other nations’ help, an approach he likened to the Johnson administration’s manipulation of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident to secretly escalate the U.S. combat role fighting communists in Vietnam.

Drawing parallels with both the Vietnam escalation and the congressional vote for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2002, Ellsberg warned that Obama is seeking to “avoid the appearance of doing nothing,” but he will be pressured in the future to introduce ground troops into Iraq and Syria.

Islamic State actually wants to draw the United States in so it can portray itself as the region’s top defender against American power, Ellsberg said. “Why did ISIS choose this moment to put on consecutive/public/beheadings? They want U.S. airstrikes. Now, how could they want U.S. airstrikes? Well, they kill a lot of Iraqis, or Syrians, civilians and others, and even when they kill ISIS, it shows that ISIS is leading the fight against the U.S. Nothing does it better.”

US airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, far from “degrading” the organization, are actually giving ISIS a huge shot in the arm, according to FBI Director James Comey, who testified before Congress on Wednesday. “ISIL’s widespread use of social media and growing online support intensified following the commencement of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq,” Comey confirmed.

The US operation seems to be playing directly into ISIS’ hands in many ways, with President Obama’s high-profile speech last Wednesday, promising to escalate the war on ISIS into neighboring Syria, paying off for ISIS in recruitment as well.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISIS secured at least 162 new recruits in Aleppo Province alone in the days following President Obama’s speech, a sign people are more interested in the group now that it is in a war against the US.

“Doing something that makes things worse, is not something you should vote in support of,” Ellsberg said.

“The last few days have shown an urgent need for more whistleblowers right now,” Ellsberg said. “We need the Pentagon’s real internal analysis of the cost and consequences” of Obama’s plan, which he suspects would demonstrate that CIA and Pentagon analysts consider it a highly unrealistic way to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

“We wait on the edge, the leading edge of what The New York Times has called “a slippery slope” into a large war in the Middle East. It is time for the Congress to debate these issues fully which it has not done. To be any use, it has to be an informed debate. It can`t be limited to the lies of government officials, or the silence. It has to rely on the kind of whistleblowers that did not exist to keep us [Americans] out of Vietnam or Iraq,” Daniel Ellsberg told RT. “We need another Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, and many more of them to inform Congress what this country is being asked to get into,” he said.

Such whistleblowers, added Ellsberg, should remain anonymous because they can expect to be prosecuted, jailed and denied access to the press—as occurred with WikiLeaks leaker Chelsea Manning.

Ellsberg’s own status in society, he said, “has changed into that of patriot,” judging by support he has received in recent years from such mainstream personages as Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But he said he “is offended” when the same people call National Security Agency contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden a traitor. “He is no more a traitor than I,” Ellsberg said.

h/t GovExec/AntiWar/RT

Related Link: How to Make ISIS Fall on Its Own Sword – Chelsea Manning

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