Wednesday, July 1, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: BELL 525 Relentless flies for first time

Today at approximately 10:18 AM the prototype for the Bell/Textron 525 Relentless took to the skies for the first time from the Amarillo, Texas plant.

After a long engine run up the Bell 525 hovered then flew down to taxi way for about 10 minutes Bell employees and brass cheered as it took off.

More photos and video soon.

(C) Steve Douglass
Photo (C) Steve Douglass
Media contact: webbfeat@gmail.com for photo rights.


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video

(C) Steve Douglass webbfeat@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

FBI has a secret Air Force.


IN this photo taken May 26, 2015, a small plane flies near Manassas Regional Airport in Manassas, Va. The plane is among a fleet of surveillance aircraft by the FBI, which are primarily used to target suspects under federal investigation. Such planes are capable of taking video of the ground, and some _ in rare occasions _ can sweep up certain identifying cellphone data. 
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
WASHINGTON —The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology - all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes' surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge's approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

In Boston, the FBI used aircraft to monitor Khairullozhon Matanov, a Quincy cab driver and friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, before arresting him. Matanov met with the Tsarnaev brothers 40 minutes after the Marathon bombings, and he took them out to dinner that night, authorities said.

Aerial surveillance represents a changing frontier for law enforcement, providing what the government maintains is an important tool in criminal, terrorism or intelligence probes. But the program raises questions about whether there should be updated policies protecting civil liberties as new technologies pose intrusive opportunities for government spying.

U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed for the first time the wide-scale use of the aircraft, which the AP traced to at least 13 fake companies, such as FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services. Even basic aspects of the program are withheld from the public in censored versions of official reports from the Justice Department's inspector general.

"The FBI's aviation program is not secret," spokesman Christopher Allen said in a statement. "Specific aircraft and their capabilities are protected for operational security purposes." Allen added that the FBI's planes "are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance."

But the planes can capture video of unrelated criminal activity on the ground that could be handed over for prosecutions.

Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they're not making a call or in public. Officials said that practice, which mimics cell towers and gets phones to reveal basic subscriber information, is rare.

Details confirmed by the FBI track closely with published reports since at least 2003 that a government surveillance program might be behind suspicious-looking planes slowly circling neighborhoods. The AP traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights since late April orbiting both major cities and rural areas.

One of the planes, photographed in flight last week by the AP in northern Virginia, bristled with unusual antennas under its fuselage and a camera on its left side. A federal budget document from 2010 mentioned at least 115 planes, including 90 Cessna aircraft, in the FBI's surveillance fleet.

The FBI also occasionally helps local police with aerial support, such as during the recent disturbance in Baltimore that followed the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who sustained grievous injuries while in police custody. Those types of requests are reviewed by senior FBI officials.

The surveillance flights comply with agency rules, an FBI spokesman said. Those rules, which are heavily redacted in publicly available documents, limit the types of equipment the agency can use, as well as the justifications and duration of the surveillance.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Russia accused of digitally altering sat images to pin MH17 crash on Ukrainian forces, it has been claimed.

Russia has been accused of digitally altering two satellite images to pin the blame of downed passenger plane MH17 on Ukrainian forces, it has been claimed.

According a report released by investigative journalist organisation Bellingcat, analysis of the satellite images when compared to Google Earth 'undoubtedly demonstrates' they were tampered with.

All 298 passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines jetliner, the majority of them Dutch, died when it was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine on July 17 last year.



+5

In this photo, you can see Ukrainian air defense equipment deployed at a military base north of Donetsk which Russia claimed was dated July 14 - three days before the crash. However, Bellingcat investigators found evidence showing it was more likely taken sometime between May and mid-June



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Here you can see a photo of the same area Russia claimed was taken on July 17, the day MH17 was shot down - with the Ukrainian anti aircraft system (circled) noticeably absent from where it was previously stored. However, a tiny oil spill to the top right of the image helped date the photo as actually being taken sometime before June 17 - a full month before the tragedy

Comparisons with pictures from Google Earth now show the images the Russian Ministry of Defence unveiled to media - purporting to show Ukrainian missiles in the area at the time of the accident - were actually dated between May and June, months before the tragedy.

Bellingcat investigators also found they had been tampered to make it appear missile launchers had left their bases and were deployed within striking distance of the plane on the day it was shot down.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3105497/How-Russia-faked-two-satellite-images-attempt-shift-blame-Ukraine-MH17-Investigation-shows-Kremlin-altered-pictures-missile-launcher-missing-aircraft-s-flight-path.html#ixzz3bpZKHxte
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Thursday, May 7, 2015

NSA phone data collection illegal feds rule ...


THE GUARDIAN: The US court of appeals has ruled that the bulk collection of telephone metadata is unlawful, in a landmark decision that clears the way for a full legal challenge against the National Security Agency.

A panel of three federal judges for the second circuit overturned an earlier ruling that the controversial surveillance practice first revealed to the US public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 could not be subject to judicial review.

NSA bulk data collection ruled illegal – read the court document

But the judges also waded into the charged and ongoing debate over the reauthorization of a key Patriot Act provision currently before US legislators. That provision, which the appeals court ruled the NSA program surpassed, will expire on June 1 amid gridlock in Washington on what to do about it.

The judges opted not to end the domestic bulk collection while Congress decides its fate, calling judicial inaction “a lesser intrusion” on privacy than at the time the case was initially argued.

“In light of the asserted national security interests at stake, we deem it prudent to pause to allow an opportunity for debate in Congress that may (or may not) profoundly alter the legal landscape,” the judges ruled.

But they also sent a tacit warning to Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader who is pushing to re-authorize the provision, known as Section 215, without modification: “There will be time then to address appellants’ constitutional issues.”

“We hold that the text of section 215 cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program,”concluded their judgement.

“Such a monumental shift in our approach to combating terrorism requires a clearer signal from Congress than a recycling of oft‐used language long held in similar contexts to mean something far narrower,” the judges added.

“We conclude that to allow the government to collect phone records only because they may become relevant to a possible authorized investigation in the future fails even the permissive ‘relevance’ test.

“We agree with appellants that the government’s argument is ‘irreconcilable with the statute’s plain text’.”

The ruling, one of several in federal courts since the Guardian exposed the domestic bulk collection thanks to Snowden, immediately took on political freight.

Senator Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate who has made opposition to overbroad surveillance central to his platform, tweeted: “The phone records of law abiding citizens are none of the NSA’s business! Pleased with the ruling this morning.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Jihadist recruiter may have interacted with Garland, Texas attackers


One of the gunmen in the attack on a Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas on May 4th had interacted online with a jihadist recruiter well known to US authorities.

Elton Simpson, who was killed while attempting to attack the event, had a series of social media exchanges with Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, an American-born jihadist and "mysterious ISIS recruiter" who has been living in Somalia since 2007.

Hassan, who goes by the nickname "Miski," was part of an initial wave of Minnesota-based youth who traveled to the Horn of Africa to fight alongside Al Shabaab, a jihadist group that initially formed to oppose the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006. Hassan left for Somalia in 2008 at the age of 17, joining an organization that rapidly morphed into one of the world's most successful recruiters of foreign jihadists.

At the time Hassan arrived, Shabaab largely consisted of fighters that had been members of the Islamic Courts Union, a fundamentalist Islamic political movement that the Ethiopian invasion had removed from power. In Somalia's stateless vacuum, Shabaab was able to create an extensive safe haven for foreign fighters and to develop one of Africa's most dangerous terrorist groups. The group's foreign connections allowed Shabaab to claim a notable jihadist milestone: the first American jihadist suicide bomber in history carried out his attack on Shabaab's behalf, in 2011.


FBI photo of Hassan

Shabaab officially pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in 2012, and though the group had seen its territory reduced and much of its major leadership killed, it retains startling operational capabilities. On April 2nd, Shabaab killed 147 college students during an attack on a university in eastern Kenya.

Hassan had attracted the attention of American authorities from the outset of Shabaab's reign of terror and was charged with conspiracy to support terrorism in 2009.

According to short profiles from Minnesota Public Radio and the New York Times, Hassan was devoutly religious, and left for Somalia at the age of 17, when he was only one year away from graduating high school. He was determined to join the fight in Somalia, but only made it there on his second try: Hassan and an accomplice had previously attempted to purchase tickets to Africa but a mosque volunteer had caught wind of their plans and stopped them from leaving.

Hassan was part of a much larger group of Shabaab recruits and was charged under an indictment of 13 other American jihadists. In his book, Networks and Network Analysis for Defense and Security, Anthony J. Masys writes that Hassan was a peripheral member of a network of nearly two dozen Shabaab-related individuals from the Minneapolis, Minnesota area.


Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/a-mysterious-american-isis-recruiter-may-have-played-a-role-in-the-texas-attack-2015-5#ixzz3ZOneLz7M

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