China Aggression, Nuclear Missiles and Conditions in Libya

Pentagon confirms patrols of Chinese nuclear missile submarines
WashingtonTimes: China has begun patrols with nuclear missile submarines for the first time, giving Beijing a new strategic nuclear strike capability, according to the U.S. Strategic Command and Defense Intelligence Agency.

U.S. intelligence and strategic nuclear officials, however, remain uncertain whether China’s four Jin-class missile submarine patrols are being carried out with nuclear-tipped JL-2 missiles on board.
DIA and Strategic Command representatives said this week that there were no changes to DIA’s assessment earlier this year that China would begin the nuclear missile submarine patrols this year.

The problem for officials in declaring the Jin-class submarines a new Chinese strategic nuclear threat is a lack of certainty that Chinese Communist Party leaders have agreed to the unprecedented step of trusting operational submarine commanders with control over the launching of nuclear missiles.

Navy Capt. Pamela S. Kunze, Strategic Command spokeswoman, elaborated on comments by Adm. Cecil Haney, the Strategic Command commander, and confirmed that the nuclear submarine patrols were taking place.
She told Inside the Ring: “Given China’s known capabilities and their efforts to develop a sea-based deterrent, in absence of indicators to the contrary, it is prudent to assume that patrols are occurring.”
Adm. Haney said in October that he was not waiting for China to announce its first nuclear missile patrols because, as with most other issues related to Chinese nuclear forces, the capabilities of the submarines remain hidden by military secrecy.

“The Chinese have had these submarines at sea this year, so I have to look at it as operational capability today,” the four-star admiral said. “And [I] can’t think that when those submarines are at sea that they aren’t on patrol.”

The real question, the Stratcom leader said, is: “Have they put the missile we’ve seen them test, the JL-2, in for a package that is doing strategic deterrent patrols? I have to consider them today that they are on strategic patrol,” he said, meaning the submarines were equipped with nuclear missiles.

For the U.S., that means “there’s another capability that’s out there having nuclear capability of ranges that can strike the United States of America,” the admiral said.
The patrols mark a significant turning point for the Chinese. In the past, Beijing stored all nuclear warheads separately from its missiles, in part to demonstrate what China calls its policy of “no first use” — that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict and would use them only in retaliation for hostile nuclear attacks.

Another reason warheads are kept separate is the Communist Party’s near-paranoid obsession with political control. Separating warheads from missiles allows for a greater centralized control over the nuclear arsenal, which is estimated to be 300 warheads but is likely far larger.

Chinese authorities fear giving a submarine commander control over the launch of nuclear missiles and worry that one of the military’s hawks could ignore the party’s nuclear chain of command and order a nuclear strike on his own.
Patrols by Jin-class submarines with nuclear-armed JL-2s, if confirmed, mark a new stage in Communist Party trust with the People’s Liberation Army.

Sending the Jin submarines on patrol without nuclear missiles or warheads would be viewed as a hollow gesture and undermine the intended message behind the capability to launch stealthy underwater missile attacks.

China is extremely secret about its nuclear forces. However, PLA missile submarines appear to be different. In 2013, state-run Chinese media published details on contingency plans to attack the western United States with submarine-launched missiles, an attack that would kill what the Global Times newspaper estimated would be up to 12 million Americans.

The congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, in its annual report made public last month, said the missile submarine patrols will mark China’s “first credible at-sea second-strike nuclear capability.” The Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao reported in September that the first nuclear submarine patrols had taken place.

The commission report quoted PLA Navy Commander Adm. Wu Shengli as saying: “This is a trump card that makes our motherland proud and our adversaries terrified. It is a strategic force symbolizing our great-power status and supporting national security.”

Recent Chinese military enthusiast websites have posted photographs of suspected Chinese submarine tunnels. One was shown Oct. 7 at a naval base on Shangchuan Island, along the southern Chinese coast near Hong Kong. In May, photos posted online showed the opening of a nuclear missile submarine cave at an undisclosed location.


The Islamic State terrorist group is expanding operations inside Libya, in addition to moving into other regions such as Afghanistan and Southeast Asia from Syria and Iraq, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

One alarming indicator of increased Islamic State activities is a slew of reports from Libya indicating that Islamic State terrorists are training to fly commercial airliners, raising fears that the group is planning high-profile suicide attacks using hijacked airliners.

U.S. intelligence estimates put the number of Islamic State jihadis in Libya at 4,000 to 5,000. Information on the use of a flight simulator in the Libyan city of Sirte was provided to U.S. intelligence agencies recently and triggered concerns that the group was preparing for attacks in Europe and elsewhere.

A CIA spokeswoman declined to comment.

Officials confirmed U.S. concerns about the flight training after details were disclosed in Arabic press reports. Libyan military sources told the Arabic-language British newspaper Alsharq al-Awsat last week that airstrikes were carried out by Libyan government forces to try to destroy the flight training facility near the Sirte airport.

Sirte, located on the Gulf of Sidra halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi, is under control of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, which is expanding its activities in the North African state.

The flight simulator was seized by Libyan terrorists who have conducted numerous attacks on airports in the war-torn country, which is battling several terrorist groups including the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

Last year, intelligence officials said there were reports that Islamist militias had seized nearly a dozen commercial jetliners in August following militia attacks on Tripoli’s international airport. Libya’s government, however, claimed that all commercial aircraft of the Libyan state airline were accounted for.

A Libyan military official told Alsharq al-Awsat that investigators initially suspected the simulator in Islamic State hands was stolen, but newer information indicated that the car-sized training simulator was new and had come from outside the country.

Reports also stated that the Islamic State had also obtained a military flight simulator recently.
Libyan government forces attempted to destroy the simulators in Sirte but were unable to succeed. As a result, the equipment was moved to another location.

The Islamic State training center was said to be near the Sirte international airport, about 20 miles south of the city in an area captured by Islamic State terrorists in May. Three damaged civilian aircraft and three helicopters are at the airport.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement Monday that a U.S. airstrike in Libya killed senior Islamic State leader Abu Nabil in Darnah, a town east of Benghazi, on Nov. 13.

“Nabil’s death will degrade ISIL’s ability to meet the group’s objectives in Libya, including recruiting new ISIL members, establishing bases in Libya, and planning external attacks on the United States,” Mr. Cook said in an earlier statement.


The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, voted with his presence — or rather, his absence — in opposing the Obama administration’s decision to open military combat slots to women.

Defense officials said Gen. Dunford, who as Marine Corps commandant was opposed to women in front-line infantry combat units, was initially scheduled to appear at a news briefing with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter Dec. 3 to announce the policy.

However, when it came time for the briefing, Gen. Dunford declined to take part.

Asked why the chairman was not present, Mr. Carter provided his best spin for reporters: “I’m announcing my decision. I was the one who took this decision. I’m announcing my decision.”

Mr. Carter said he had “talked to [Gen. Dunford] extensively” about the issue and “he will be with me as we proceed with implementation.”

The secretary did not deny there was opposition from Gen. Dunford. He acknowledged that he drew “different conclusions” from studies about whether women in front-line combat units would harm war-fighting capabilities.

Capt. Greg Hicks, a spokesman for Gen. Dunford, said: “The decision and the announcement were ones the secretary made. The latter was an opportunity for him to express it.”

Capt. Hicks said Mr. Carter answered questions about the absence of Gen. Dunford. “The chairman’s responsibility now is to implement the decision,” he said.

ISIS Speaks Mandarin? Threatening Who Now?

Remember when during the Bush administration, we captured enemy combatants on the battlefield that were known as Uighurs? They were sent to Gitmo and under Barack Obama they were released? Remember when only in recent weeks that Barack Obama said that Islamic State was contained?

How to Say ‘Islamic State’ in Mandarin

DHS Secret Databases Not Secure, Violations

In part from the report: Recognizing the importance of information security to the economic and national security interests of the United States, the Congress enacted Title III of the E-Government Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-347, Sections 301-305) to improve security within the Federal Government. Information security means protecting information and information systems from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction. Title III of the E-Government Act, as amended, entitled Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002, provides a comprehensive framework to ensure the effectiveness of security controls over information resources that support Federal operations and assets.

Components are not consistently following DHS’ policies and procedures to update the system inventory and plan of action and milestones in the Department’s enterprise management systems. Further, Components continue to operate systems without the proper authority. We also identified a significant deficiency in the Department’s information security program as the United States Secret Service (USSS) did not provide the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) with the continuous monitoring data required by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) during Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. Without this information, CISO was significantly restricted from performing continuous monitoring on the Department’s information systems, managing DHS’ information security program, or ensuring compliance with the President’s cybersecurity priorities. Subsequent to the completion of our fieldwork, USSS established an agreement with the DHS Chief Information Officer (CIO) to provide the required data beginning in FY 2015.

Evaluation of DHS Information Security Program for Fiscal Year 2015 revealed the existence of dozens of top-secret unpatched databases.
SecurityAffairs: The story I’m about to tell you is staggering, the US Department of Homeland Security is running dozens of unpatched and vulnerable databases, a number of them contained information rated as “secret” and even “top secret.”
The discovery emerged from the “Evaluation of DHS’ Information Security Program for Fiscal Year 2015” conducted on the department’s IT infrastructure by the US Government.
The audit of the DHS Information Security found serious security issues in the Government systems, including 136 systems that had expired “authorities to operate,” a circumstance that implies the stop of maintenance activities. The principal problem discovered by the inspectors is that a number of systems, despite are still operative and under maintenance have no up-to-date security patches, leaving them open to cyber attacks.

Of the 136 systems, 17 were containing information classified as “secret” or “top secret.”
Giving a deep look at the report on the DHS Information Security Program, it is possible to note that the Coast Guard runs 26 vulnerable databases, followed by FEMA with 25, Customs and Border Protection with 14, and the DHS’ headquarters with 11.

Although Secret Services have only two vulnerable databases, they have failed other targets.
It implemented proper security checks just for 75 percent of its secret or top secret databases, and just 58 per cent of its non-secret databases. The DHS targets are 100 per cent and 75 per cent respectively. The experts discovered several security issues affecting the majority of assessed systems, including PCs, databases and also browsers.
The assessments conducted to evaluate the DHS Information Security Program, revealed several deficiencies in the systems analyzed, for example, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 workstations which were missing security patches for the principal software.
“We found additional vulnerabilities regarding Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Reader, and Oracle Java software on the Windows 7 workstations,” the department’s inspector general noted in a 66-page report. “If exploited, these vulnerabilities could allow unauthorized access to DHS data.”
The inspectors have found many other security issues in the DHS Information Security Program, including weak passwords, websites susceptible to cross-site and/or cross-frame vulnerabilities and poor security settings.
The Government environments suffer bureaucratic obstacles in bug fixing and patch management, it could take more than a year to fix a leak from the moment it is reported.

The results of the evaluation confirm that improvements have been made but there are a lot of serious issues that have to be urgently addressed.
“While improvements have been made, the Department must ensure compliance with information security requirements in other areas. For example, DHS does not include its classified system information as part of its monthly information security scorecard or its FISMA submission to OMB. In addition, USCG is not reporting its PIV data to the Department, which is a contradiction to the Under Secretary for Management’s guidance that requires Components to submit this information to the Department.5 In addition, we identified deficiencies with DHS’ enterprise management systems, including inaccurate or incomplete data.”
The report also provides a set of recommendations to solve the security issued emerged after the assessment.
The DHS has 90 days to fix the issues, two of which have been already solved.
Pierluigi Paganini

Drills on Homeland Have a Reason

We are always suspicious and question what law enforcement is doing and why. We ask the same when it comes to the Department of Homeland Security and we do the same regarding the military. There were huge questions and theories when Operation Jade Helm was held in 5 Southern states this past summer.

Okay, it is good we question government, it is a duty yet there are reasons why events and activities do occur. Here are two reasons why which may help us come to understand motivations for exercises and training even in either rural or urban areas.

The fuel for a nuclear bomb is in the hands of an unknown black marketeer from Russia, U.S. officials say

The presence of identical fissile materials in three smuggling incidents indicates someone has a larger cache and is hunting for a buyer

With so many nuclear explosives held by governments around the world, US officials have long worried about the possibility of a terrorist-engineered nuclear or radiological blast within the United States. Multiple federal agencies have held almost 1,400 drills in cities around the country over the last decade to train local police and emergency personnel in how to behave after such a nightmare unfolds, according to a spokeswoman for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

CHISINAU, MoldovaThe sample of highly-enriched uranium, of a type that could be used in a nuclear bomb, arrived here on a rainy summer day four years ago, in a blue shopping bag carried by a former policeman.

According to court documents, the bag quickly passed through the hands of three others on its way to a prospective buyer. It was not the first time such material had passed through this city, raising international alarms: It had happened twice before. And mysteriously, in all three cases, spanning more than a decade, the nuclear material appeared to have the same origin – a restricted military installation in Russia.

This news would quickly reach Washington. But that day, the first to pick up the blue bag was the wife of a former Russian military officer, who handed it off to a friend while she went shopping in this former Soviet city’s ragged downtown.

Not long afterward, a 57-year old lawyer named Teodor Chetrus, from a provincial town near the Ukrainian border, retrieved it and brought it to a meeting with a man named Ruslan Andropov. According to an account by Moldovan police, the two men had, earlier in the day, visited a local bank, where Chetrus confirmed that Andropov had deposited more than $330,000 as an initial payment.

Andropov next examined the contents of the bag: a lead-lined cylinder, shaped like a thermos. It was meant to be the first of several shipments of highly-enriched uranium totaling 10 kilograms (22 lbs), a senior investigator here said. That’s about a fifth of what might be needed to fuel a Hiroshima-sized nuclear explosion — but almost enough to power a more technically-advanced “implosion-style” nuclear bomb. The full story is a MUST read in its entirety and exceptional work from Public Integrity.

*** Then last week, there was yet another event off the coast of California that forced air traffic to be halted and re-routed as well as some automobile traffic. A peculiar set of beams of light were noted in the sky. Bigger questions were asked. Some thought the U.S. military was training to bomb the homeland. Ah….not so much.

There Is a Secret U.S. Spy Plane Flying Over the Pacific

Here’s what we know … and what we don’t

In 2013, the U.S. Air Force sent a secret spy plane out over the Pacific region. The unknown aircraft – possibly a drone – flew “national collection missions” – a euphemism for strategic intelligence against states like North Korea or China.

It was one of five different types of aircraft flying these missions. The Pentagon’s top headquarters asked the flying branch to use its U-2 Dragon Ladies and RC-135V/W Rivet Joints to take high resolution pictures and scoop up radio chatter, according to an official history of the Air Force’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency – a.k.a. AFISRA – for that year.

“Other USAF aircraft flying national collection missions included the RC-135U Combat Sent, the RC-135S Cobra Ball and the aforementioned [redacted],” the history stated.

So what is the mystery aircraft? The blacked-out portion of the document suggests the missing portion is five to seven characters long. With that in mind, the super secret RQ-170 Sentinel – a six character designation that would fit in the redacted segment – is one possibility.

Lockheed built an estimated 20 to 30 RQ-170s – also known as Wraiths– for the Air Force sometime in the early 2000s. The 30th Reconnaissance Squadron at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada owns all of these bat-winged pilotless spies.

In 2007, journalists first spotted the Wraith at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan, earning the nickname “the Beast of Kandahar.” On Dec. 4, 2009, the Air Force formally announced the Sentinel to the world … and little else.

That same year, the drones were flying missions in the Pacific from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam and Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, according to previous Air Force histories we obtained through FOIA. During the latter deployment, the Wraiths likely gathered information about North Korea’s nuclear, ballistic missile and space programs.

In December 2011, one RQ-170 crashed in Iran.

And as of April 2014, at least one of these stealthy flying wings was still on duty, according to an accident report in Combat Edge, Air Combat Command’s official safety magazine. ACC owns the bulk of the Air Force’s combat aircraft, including its spy planes and the RQ-170s.

If the RQ-170s are still in service, the flying branch would have every incentive to keep using them. And the Sentinels and their crews already had experience in the Asia-Pacific theater.

Of course, the censored plane could be something entirely new. For decades, the Pentagon and the CIA have repeatedly acknowledged advanced aircraft projects — after the fact — only to decline to release any significant information about them. Hat tip to War is Boring for doing the investigative work, the rest of the work is found here.

Chinatown had Ordered Murders

Raymond Chow Kwok-cheung (traditional Chinese: 周國祥; simplified Chinese: 周国祥; pinyin: Zhōu Guóxiáng; Jyutping: zau1 gwok3 coeng4); born 1960), nicknamed “Shrimp Boy“, is a Hong Kong-born ex-felon with ties to a San Francisco Chinatown street gang and an organized crime syndicate, including the American branch of the Hong Kong-based triad Wo Hop To[1] and the Hop Sing Boys.

In 2006, Chow became the leader of the Ghee Kung Tong, a Chinese fraternal association based in San Francisco, California. In 2014, Chow along with 28 other defendants including former California State Senator Leland Yee, were indicted for racketeering, money laundering, and a host of other alleged criminal activities. Leland Yee pled guilty to racketeering in July of 2015 for conspiring with his campaign fundraiser to defeat donation limits through money laundering. Despite initial press releases, Chow was not indicted in a racketeering conspiracy with Leland Yee. Chow was indicted in a racketeering conspiracy which alleged that he oversaw a criminal faction of the Ghee Kung Tong. Chow is the only co-defendant of 29 to publicly profess his innocence and ask for an expedited jury trial. He is scheduled for trial in November of 2015.

Prosecutor: Chinatown crime defendant ordered murder

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A defendant in a San Francisco crime probe ordered the murder of a rival and was at the center of a criminal organization in Chinatown that laundered money and trafficked in guns and drugs, a prosecutor said during an opening statement on Monday.

Federal prosecutor Waqar Hasib recreated the scene when Allen Leung, the head of the Chinese fraternal group, the Ghee Kung Tong, was shot in February 2006, calling the slaying a “cold-blooded, gangland-style hit” ordered by defendant Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.

Chow was the focus of a lengthy organized crime investigation in Chinatown that ended up snaring a corrupt California senator and more than two dozen others. He has pleaded not guilty to murder, racketeering and money-laundering charges that could put him away for life.

Hasib said Chow was the sun at the center of a criminal universe.

Chow repeatedly accepted money from an undercover FBI agent posing as a member of the mafia despite denying he had any involvement in the agent’s money laundering and other crimes, Hasib said.

Jurors will hear a chilling recording of Chow talking to the agent about another murder Chow has been charged with and hear testimony from one of Chow’s co-defendants that Chow had ordered Leung’s murder, Hasib said.

Federal investigators say Chow took over the Ghee Kung Tong in 2006 after having Leung killed.

“This case is about this group of people engaging in this pattern of criminal activity,” Hasib said. “But most importantly, this case is about the person who is at the center of that, around whom all of that criminal activity revolved, around whom all those people revolved.”

Chow’s attorneys, led by veteran San Francisco lawyer Tony Serra, are expected to make their opening statement later Monday.

They have argued in court papers that the government’s multiyear probe was a costly fishing expedition that induced innocent people into crime.

Legal observers say the racketeering conviction of state Sen. Leland Yee in July has largely validated the government’s probe and lowered the stakes for prosecutors in Chow’s trial.

Federal agents say that one of Chow’s associates was Keith Jackson, a former San Francisco school board president and well-known political consultant who raised money for Yee’s unsuccessful mayoral run in 2011 and bid for secretary of state.

Jackson led investigators to Yee, who acknowledged as part of his plea deal that he accepted thousands of dollars in exchange for favors and discussed helping an undercover FBI agent buy automatic weapons from the Philippines.

Yee is scheduled to be sentenced in December and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Jackson pleaded guilty to the same racketeering charge as Yee and is also scheduled to be sentenced in December.

“The government has gotten what it wanted to get out of this investigation by already putting down Leland Yee,” said Peter Keane, a professor at Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco and a former public defender. “He was their trophy.”

The investigation also sent a message to other politicians and Chinatown power brokers, said Rory Little, a law professor at the University of California, Hastings and a former federal prosecutor.

“‘Even Chinatown can be penetrated by government investigations, so stay on the up and up,'” he said. “‘And if you’re a state senator, don’t assume you’re safe.'”

The judge overseeing Chow’s trial, Charles Breyer, said it could continue into February.