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Declassified US Spy Satellites Reveal Rare Look at Secret Cold War Space Program

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Twenty-five years after their top-secret, Cold War-era missions ended, two clandestine American satellite programs were declassified Saturday (Sept. 17) with the unveiling of three of the United States’ most closely guarded assets: the KH-7 GAMBIT, the KH-8 GAMBIT 3 and the KH-9 HEXAGON spy satellites.

The vintage National Reconnaissance Office satellites were displayed to the public Saturday in a one-day-only exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport, Va. The three spacecraft were the centerpiece of the NRO’s invitation-only, 50th Anniversary Gala celebration held at the center last evening.

Saturday’s spysat unveiling was attended by a number of jubilant NRO veterans who developed and refined the classified spacecraft and its components for decades in secret, finally able to show their wives and families what they actually did ‘at the office’ for so many years. Both of the newly declassified satellite systems, GAMBIT and HEXAGON, followed the U.S. military’s frontrunner spy satellite system CORONA, which was declassified in 1995.

This National Reconnaissance Office released graphic depicts the huge HEXAGON spy satellite, a Cold War era surveillance craft that flew reconnaissance missions from 1971 to 1986.

This National Reconnaissance Office released graphic depicts the huge HEXAGON spy satellite, a Cold War era surveillance craft that flew reconnaissance missions from 1971 to 1986. The bus-size satellites weighed 30,000 pounds and were 60 feet long.

Big spy satellites revealed

The KH-9 HEXAGON, often referred to by its popular nickname “Big Bird,” lived up to its legendary expectations. As large as a school bus, the KH-9 HEXAGON carried 60 miles of high resolution photographic film for space surveillance missions.

Military space historian Dwayne A. Day was exuberant after his first look at the KH-9 HEXAGON.

“This was some bad-ass technology,” Day told SPACE.com. “The Russians didn’t have anything like it.”

Day, co-editor of “Eye in the Sky: The Story of the CoronaSpy Satellites,” noted that “it took the Soviets on average five to 10 years to catch up during the Cold War, and in many cases they never really matched American capabilities.”

Phil Pressel, designer of the HEXAGON’s panoramic ‘optical bar’ imaging cameras, agreed with Day’s assessment.

“This is still the most complicated system we’ve ever put into orbit …Period.”

The HEXAGON’s twin optical bar panoramic mirror cameras rotated as the swept back and forth as the satellite flew over Earth, a process that intelligence officials referred to as “mowing the lawn.”

Phil Pressel, one of the developers of the KH-9 Hexagon's panoramic camera system, proudly points out some of the spacecraft's once highly-classified features, which he had been unable to discuss publicly until the NRO's Sept. 17, 2011 declassification.of

Phil Pressel, one of the developers of the KH-9 Hexagon’s panoramic camera system, proudly points out some of the spacecraft’s once highly-classified features, a life’s work that he had been unable to discuss publicly until the NRO’s Sept. 17, 2011 declassification of the massive spy satellite.

Each 6-inch wide frame of HEXAGON film capturing a wide swath of terrain covering 370 nautical miles — the distance from Cincinnati to Washington — on each pass over the former Soviet Union and China. The satellites had a resolution of about 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to nearly 1 meter), according to the NRO. [10 Ways the Government Watches You]

According to documents released by the NRO, each HEXAGON satellite mission lasted about 124 days, with the satellite launching four film return capsules that could send its photos back to Earth. An aircraft would catch the return capsule in mid-air by snagging its parachute following the canister’s re-entry.

In a fascinating footnote, the film bucket from the first KH-9 HEXAGON sank to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean in spring 1972 after Air Force recovery aircraft failed to snag the bucket’s parachute.

The film inside the protective bucket reported contained high resolution photographs of the Soviet Union’s submarine bases and missile silos. In a daredevil feat of clandestine ingenuity, the U.S. Navy’s Deep Submergence Vehicle Trieste II succeeded in grasping the bucket from a depth of 3 miles below the ocean.

Hubble vs. HEXAGON

Former International Space Station flight controller Rob Landis, now technical manager in the advanced projects office at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, drove more than three hours to see the veil lifted from these legendary spacecraft.

Landis, who also worked on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope program, noticed some distinct similarities between Hubble and the huge KH-9 HEXAGON reconnaissance satellite.

“I see a lot of Hubble heritage in this spacecraft, most notably in terms of spacecraft size,” Landis said. “Once the space shuttle design was settled upon, the design of Hubble — at the time it was called the Large Space Telescope — was set upon. I can imagine that there may have been a convergence or confluence of the designs. The Hubble’s primary mirror is 2.4 meters [7.9 feet] in diameter and the spacecraft is 14 feet in diameter. Both vehicles (KH-9 and Hubble) would fit into the shuttle’s cargo bay lengthwise, the KH-9 being longer than Hubble [60 feet]; both would also fit on a Titan-class launch vehicle.”

The ‘convergence or confluence’ theory was confirmed later in the day by a former spacecraft designer, who declined to be named but is familiar with both programs, who confided unequivocally: “The space shuttle’s payload bay was sized to accommodate the KH-9.”

The NRO launched 20 KH-9 HEXAGON satellites from California’s Vandenberg AFB from June 1971 to April 1986.

The HEXAGON’s final launch in April 1986 — just months after the space shuttle Challenger explosion — also met with disaster as the spy satellite’s Titan 34D booster erupted into a massive fireball just seconds after liftoff, crippling the NRO’s orbital reconnaissance capabilities for many months.

A side view of a KH-7 GAMBIT spy satellite on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport, Va., on Sept. 17, 2011.

A side view of a KH-7 GAMBIT spy satellite on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport, Va., on Sept. 17, 2011.

The spy satellite GAMBIT

Before the first HEXAGON spy satellite systems ever launched, the NRO’s GAMBIT series of reconnaissance craft flew several space missions aimed at providing surveillance over specific targets around the world.

The  satellite program’s initial system, GAMBIT 1, first launched in 1963 carrying a KH-7 camera system that included a “77-inch focal length camera for providing specific information on scientific and technical capabilities that threatened the nation,” according to an NRO description. A second GAMBIT satellite system, which first launched aboard GAMBIT 3 in 1966, included a175-inch focal length camera.

The GAMBIT 1 series satellite has a resolution similar to the HEXAGON series, about 2 to 3 feet, but the follow-up GAMBIT 3 system had an improved resolution of better than 2 feet, NRO documents reveal.

The GAMBIT satellite program was active from July 1963 to April 1984. Both satellites were huge and launched out of Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The satellite series’ initial version was 15 feet (4.5 m) long and 5 feet (1.5 m) wide, and weighed about 1,154 pounds (523 kilograms). The GAMBIT 3 satellite was the same width but longer, stretching nearly 29 feet (9 m) long, not counting its Agena D rocket upper stage. It weighed about 4,130 pounds (1,873 kg).

Unlike the follow-up HEXAGON satellites, the GAMBIT series were designed for extremely short missions.

The GAMBIT 1 craft had an average mission life of about 6 1/2 days. A total of 38 missions were launched, though 10 of them were deemed failures, according to NRO documents.

The GAMBIT 3 series satellites had missions that averaged about 31 days. In all, 54 of the satellites were launched, with four failures recorded.

Like the CORONA and HEXAGON programs, the GAMBIT series of satellites returned their film to Earth in re-entry capsules that were then snatched up by recovery aircraft. GAMBIT 1 carried about 3,000 feet (914 meters) of film, while GAMBIT 3 was packed with 12,241 feet (3,731 meters) of film, NRO records show.

The behemoth HEXAGON was launched with 60 miles (320,000 feet) of film!

A mission description of the NRO's GAMBIT 3 spy satellite flight profiles.

This image shows the flight profile for the NRO’s GAMBIT 3 spy satellite missions between 1966 and 1984. The program was declassified in Sept. 2011.

HEXAGON and GAMBIT 3 team up

During a media briefing, NRO officials confirmed to SPACE.com that the KH-8 GAMBIT 3 and KH-9 HEXAGON were later operated in tandem, teaming-up to photograph areas of military significance in both the former Soviet Union and China.

The KH-9 would image a wide swath of terrain, later scrutinized by imagery analysts on the ground for so-called ‘targets of opportunity.’ Once these potential targets were identified, a KH-8 would then be maneuvered to photograph the location in much higher resolution.

“During the era of these satellites — the GAMBIT and the HEXAGON — there was a Director of Central Intelligence committee known as the ‘Committee on Imagery Requirements and Exploitation’ that was responsible for that type of planning,” confirmed the NRO’s Robert McDonald, Director of the Center for the Study of National Reconnaissance.

NASA’s Rob Landis was both blunt and philosophical in his emotions over the declassification of the GAMBIT and HEXAGON programs.

“You have to give credit to leaders like President Eisenhower who had the vision to initiate reconnaissance spacecraft, beginning with the CORONA and Discoverer programs,” Landis said. “He was of the generation who wanted no more surprises, no more Pearl Harbors.”

“Frankly, I think that GAMBIT and HEXAGON helped prevent World War III.”

 

Via Space

Bilderberg 2011: Full Official Attendee List

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Thanks to the fantastic work of Bilderberg activists, journalists and the Swiss media, we have now been able to obtain the full official list of 2011 Bilderberg attendees. Routinely, some members request that their names be kept off the roster so there will be additional Bilderbergers in attendance.

Belgium

  • Coene, Luc, Governor, National Bank of Belgium
  • Davignon, Etienne, Minister of State
  • Leysen, Thomas, Chairman, Umicore 

China

  • Fu, Ying, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Huang, Yiping, Professor of Economics, China Center for Economic Research, Peking University 

Denmark

  • Eldrup, Anders, CEO, DONG Energy
  • Federspiel, Ulrik, Vice President, Global Affairs, Haldor Topsøe A/S
  • Schütze, Peter, Member of the Executive Management, Nordea Bank AB 

Germany

  • Ackermann, Josef, Chairman of the Management Board and the Group Executive Committee, Deutsche Bank
  • Enders, Thomas, CEO, Airbus SAS
  • Löscher, Peter, President and CEO, Siemens AG
  • Nass, Matthias, Chief International Correspondent, Die Zeit
  • Steinbrück, Peer, Member of the Bundestag; Former Minister of Finance 

Finland

  • Apunen, Matti, Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA
  • Johansson, Ole, Chairman, Confederation of the Finnish Industries EK
  • Ollila, Jorma, Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell
  • Pentikäinen, Mikael, Publisher and Senior Editor-in-Chief, Helsingin Sanomat 

France

  • Baverez, Nicolas, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
  • Bazire, Nicolas, Managing Director, Groupe Arnault /LVMH
  • Castries, Henri de, Chairman and CEO, AXA
  • Lévy, Maurice, Chairman and CEO, Publicis Groupe S.A.
  • Montbrial, Thierry de, President, French Institute for International Relations
  • Roy, Olivier, Professor of Social and Political Theory, European University Institute 

Great Britain

  • Agius, Marcus, Chairman, Barclays PLC
  • Flint, Douglas J., Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings
  • Kerr, John, Member, House of Lords; Deputy Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell
  • Lambert, Richard, Independent Non-Executive Director, Ernst & Young
  • Mandelson, Peter, Member, House of Lords; Chairman, Global Counsel
  • Micklethwait, John, Editor-in-Chief, The Economist
  • Osborne, George, Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Stewart, Rory, Member of Parliament
  • Taylor, J. Martin, Chairman, Syngenta International AG 

Greece

  • David, George A., Chairman, Coca-Cola H.B.C. S.A.
  • Hardouvelis, Gikas A., Chief Economist and Head of Research, Eurobank EFG
  • Papaconstantinou, George, Minister of Finance
  • Tsoukalis, Loukas, President, ELIAMEP Grisons 

International Organizations

  • Almunia, Joaquín, Vice President, European Commission
  • Daele, Frans van, Chief of Staff to the President of the European Council
  • Kroes, Neelie, Vice President, European Commission; Commissioner for Digital Agenda
  • Lamy, Pascal, Director General, World Trade Organization
  • Rompuy, Herman van, President, European Council
  • Sheeran, Josette, Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme
  • Solana Madariaga, Javier, President, ESADEgeo Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics
  • Trichet, Jean-Claude, President, European Central Bank
  • Zoellick, Robert B., President, The World Bank Group

 Ireland

  • Gallagher, Paul, Senior Counsel; Former Attorney General
  • McDowell, Michael, Senior Counsel, Law Library; Former Deputy Prime Minister
  • Sutherland, Peter D., Chairman, Goldman Sachs International 

Italy

  • Bernabè, Franco, CEO, Telecom Italia SpA
  • Elkann, John, Chairman, Fiat S.p.A.
  • Monti, Mario, President, Univers Commerciale Luigi Bocconi
  • Scaroni, Paolo, CEO, Eni S.p.A.
  • Tremonti, Giulio, Minister of Economy and Finance 

Canada

  • Carney, Mark J., Governor, Bank of Canada
  • Clark, Edmund, President and CEO, TD Bank Financial Group
  • McKenna, Frank, Deputy Chair, TD Bank Financial Group
  • Orbinksi, James, Professor of Medicine and Political Science, University of Toronto
  • Prichard, J. Robert S., Chair, Torys LLP
  • Reisman, Heather, Chair and CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc. Center, Brookings Institution 

Netherlands

  • Bolland, Marc J., Chief Executive, Marks and Spencer Group plc
  • Chavannes, Marc E., Political Columnist, NRC Handelsblad; Professor of Journalism
  • Halberstadt, Victor, Professor of Economics, Leiden University; Former Honorary Secretary General of Bilderberg Meetings
  • H.M. the Queen of the Netherlands
  • Rosenthal, Uri, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Winter, Jaap W., Partner, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek

 Norway

  • Myklebust, Egil, Former Chairman of the Board of Directors SAS, sk Hydro ASA
  • H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon of Norway
  • Ottersen, Ole Petter, Rector, University of Oslo
  • Solberg, Erna, Leader of the Conservative Party 

Austria

  • Bronner, Oscar, CEO and Publisher, Standard Medien AG
  • Faymann, Werner, Federal Chancellor
  • Rothensteiner, Walter, Chairman of the Board, Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich AG
  • Scholten, Rudolf, Member of the Board of Executive Directors, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG 

Portugal

  • Balsemão, Francisco Pinto, Chairman and CEO, IMPRESA, S.G.P.S.; Former Prime Minister
  • Ferreira Alves, Clara, CEO, Claref LDA; writer
  • Nogueira Leite, António, Member of the Board, José de Mello Investimentos, SGPS, SA 

Sweden

Mordashov, Alexey A., CEO, Severstal

Schweden

  • Bildt, Carl, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Björling, Ewa, Minister for Trade
  • Wallenberg, Jacob, Chairman, Investor AB 

Switzerland

  • Brabeck-Letmathe, Peter, Chairman, Nestlé S.A.
  • Groth, Hans, Senior Director, Healthcare Policy & Market Access, Oncology Business Unit, Pfizer Europe
  • Janom Steiner, Barbara, Head of the Department of Justice, Security and Health, Canton
  • Kudelski, André, Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group SA
  • Leuthard, Doris, Federal Councillor
  • Schmid, Martin, President, Government of the Canton Grisons
  • Schweiger, Rolf, Ständerat
  • Soiron, Rolf, Chairman of the Board, Holcim Ltd., Lonza Ltd.
  • Vasella, Daniel L., Chairman, Novartis AG
  • Witmer, Jürg, Chairman, Givaudan SA and Clariant AG 

Spain

  • Cebrián, Juan Luis, CEO, PRISA
  • Cospedal, María Dolores de, Secretary General, Partido Popular
  • León Gross, Bernardino, Secretary General of the Spanish Presidency
  • Nin Génova, Juan María, President and CEO, La Caixa
  • H.M. Queen Sofia of Spain

Turkey

  • Ciliv, Süreyya, CEO, Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri A.S.
  • Gülek Domac, Tayyibe, Former Minister of State
  • Koç, Mustafa V., Chairman, Koç Holding A.S.
  • Pekin, Sefika, Founding Partner, Pekin & Bayar Law Firm 

USA

  • Alexander, Keith B., Commander, USCYBERCOM; Director, National Security Agency
  • Altman, Roger C., Chairman, Evercore Partners Inc.
  • Bezos, Jeff, Founder and CEO, Amazon.com
  • Collins, Timothy C., CEO, Ripplewood Holdings, LLC
  • Feldstein, Martin S., George F. Baker Professor of Economics, Harvard University
  • Hoffman, Reid, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn
  • Hughes, Chris R., Co-founder, Facebook
  • Jacobs, Kenneth M., Chairman & CEO, Lazard
  • Johnson, James A., Vice Chairman, Perseus, LLC
  • Jordan, Jr., Vernon E., Senior Managing Director, Lazard Frères & Co. LLC
  • Keane, John M., Senior Partner, SCP Partners; General, US Army, Retired
  • Kissinger, Henry A., Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.
  • Kleinfeld, Klaus, Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
  • Kravis, Henry R., Co-Chairman and co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis, Roberts & Co.
  • Kravis, Marie-Josée, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, Inc.
  • Li, Cheng, Senior Fellow and Director of Research, John L. Thornton China Center, Brookings Institution
  • Mundie, Craig J., Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Microsoft Corporation
  • Orszag, Peter R., Vice Chairman, Citigroup Global Markets, Inc.
  • Perle, Richard N., Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Rockefeller, David, Former Chairman, Chase Manhattan Bank
  • Rose, Charlie, Executive Editor and Anchor, Charlie Rose
  • Rubin, Robert E., Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Secretary of the Treasury
  • Schmidt, Eric, Executive Chairman, Google Inc.
  • Steinberg, James B., Deputy Secretary of State
  • Thiel, Peter A., President, Clarium Capital Management, LLC
  • Varney, Christine A., Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust
  • Vaupel, James W., Founding Director, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
  • Warsh, Kevin, Former Governor, Federal Reserve Board
  • Wolfensohn, James D., Chairman, Wolfensohn & Company, LLC

 

This is interesting nonetheless. I’m not one to follow Bilderberg coverage but given the  article I posted earlier, ‘Bilderberg mystery: Why do people believe in cabals?‘, I thought I would post this in-case anyone is interested in seeing who will be attending the event.

 

Via Infowars

Bilderberg mystery: Why do people believe in cabals?

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Ordinary people can only guess at the goings-on at the meetings of the secretive Bilderberg Group, which is bringing together the world’s financial and political elite this week. Conspiracy theories abound as to what is discussed and who is there. Why, asks Tom de Castella?

The belief in secret cabals running the world is a hardy perennial. And on Thursday perhaps the most controversial clandestine organisation of our times – the Bilderberg Group – is meeting behind closed doors.

In the manner of a James Bond plot, up to 150 leading politicians and business people are to gather in a ski resort in Switzerland for four days of discussion about the future of the world.

Previous attendees of the group, which meets once a year in a five-star hotel, are said to have included Bill Clinton, Prince Charles and Peter Mandelson, as well as dozens of company CEOs.

First meeting in 1954, the aim was to shore up US-European relations and prevent another world war. Now under the group’s leadership of former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and one-time EU vice president, Viscount Davignon, the aim is purportedly to allow Western elites to share ideas.

But conspiracy theorists have accused it of everything from deliberately engineering the credit crunch to planning to kill 80% of the world population. Longtime opponent and US radio host Alex Jones, heckled one meeting through a megaphone: “We know you are ruthless. We know you are evil. We respect your dark power.”

Part of the reason for alarm is the group’s secretive working methods. Names of attendees are not usually released before the conference, meetings are closed to the public and the media, and no press releases are issued.

The gnashing of teeth over Bilderberg is ridiculous, says Times columnist David Aaronovitch. “It’s really an occasional supper club for the rich and powerful,” he argues.

Denis Healey, co-founder of the group, told the journalist Jon Ronson in his book Them that people overlook the practical benefits of informal networking. “Bilderberg is the most useful international group I ever attended,” he told him. “The confidentiality enabled people to speak honestly without fear of repercussions.”

So why do groups like this cause so much alarm? Aaronovitch, who wrote the 2009 book Voodoo Histories, says plots to install a new world order have traditionally been a conspiracy fantasy. “They tend to believe that everything true, local and national is under threat from cosmopolitan, international forces often linked to financial capitalism and therefore, also often, to Jewish interests.”

Bilderberg chairman Viscount DavignonSecret cabals extend beyond the Bilderberg Group. The Illuminati, which derives from a 16th Century Bavarian secret society, is alleged to be an all powerful secret society, including US presidents, that has controlled major world events. The Freemasons – famous for their peculiar handshakes – is a secret fraternity society that has become more open in recent years after extensive criticism.

The charter of Hamas – the Islamist party governing Gaza – asserts that the Freemasons are in league with the Jews and those unlikely bully boys – the Rotary Club – to undermine Palestine.

John Hamill, spokesman for freemasonry’s governing body in England and Wales says the organisation is aware of Hamas’s allegation.

“There’s no truth in it, freemasonry is apolitical. It probably arises because one of our ceremonies is about the story of King Solomon’s Temple. For some reason Islamic governments translate that into Zionism.”

In fact, many conspiracy theories surrounding cabals hint at an anti-Semitic worldview. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a forged document, probably created by agents of Tsarist Russia, which appeared to show a Jewish plot to take over the world.

Despite being proved to be a fraud, the idea has been kept alive by anti-Semites and has spawned later versions. One of those, the Zionist Occupational Government, argues that countries have puppet governments but that the real power is held by Jewish interests.

More recently, former sports journalist David Icke has proclaimed that the world is governed by alien, reptilian shape shifters. In other words, giant lizards.

There is obviously no right-wing monopoly on conspiracy theories. During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Hilary Clinton blamed a “vast right-wing conspiracy” for her husband’s predicament. And more recently, some on the left have argued that the 9/11 attacks were organised by President Bush’s inner circle in order to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.

The politics of cabals has always been pretty muddled, says James McConnachie, co-author of the Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories. These groups allow protesters to project their own fears onto them.

In the US, the most extreme fear over Bilderberg is of a hidden cabal run by the European Union and threatening American freedoms. In Europe, the view is often of a free market elite trying to push through a right-wing agenda.

“Conspiracy theories are quite blind to conventional notions of left and right,” says McConnachie. “The left is organising an international government. Meanwhile, global capitalism on the right may be doing the same thing by different means.”

For Aaronovitch what often triggers widespread cabal theories are moments of great upheaval.

“It happens a lot when times are changing significantly. Whether, oddly, they are changing for better as well as for the worse. Why did McCarthyism happen at the time when US economy was growing faster than at any time in history?”

Society was in flux, the economy expanding rapidly and millions of servicemen were coming back from the war.

It’s not just the about social context. Some people are more susceptible than others to believing in wacky cabals, says Prof Chris French, of Goldsmith College’s psychology department. “It’s people who tend to be alienated by the mainstream, who feel powerless. They have a need to have a sense of control.”

Not only do they not trust the government, they tend not to trust their neighbours either. And in the need for control, there may be links to the roots of religious belief, he says.

The conspiracy theorists may get overexcited but they have a point, says Prof Andrew Kakabadse, co-author of new book Bilderberg People.

Secret talks

  • Bilderberg is named after the Dutch hotel where the first meeting took place in 1954
  • The initial focus was the state of the trans-Atlantic alliance and the problems facing Europe and the US
  • British Labour politician Denis Healey was a founding member
  • An invitation list is compiled each year by a steering committee
  • About 120 people from North America and Europe are invited. About one-third are from government and politics, and two-thirds from finance, industry, labour, education and communications
  • Meetings often feature future political leaders shortly before they become household names. Bill Clinton went in 1991 while still governor of Arkansas, Tony Blair was there two years later while an opposition MP

The group has genuine power that far outranks the World Economic Forum, which meets in Davos, he argues. And with no transparency, it is easy to see why people are worried about its influence.

“It’s much smarter than conspiracy,” says Prof Kakabadse. “This is moulding the way people think so that it seems like there’s no alternative to what is happening.”

The agenda the group has is to bring together the political elites on both right and left, let them mix in relaxed, luxurious surroundings with business leaders, and let the ideas fizz.

It may seem like a glorified dinner party but that is to miss the point. “When you’ve been to enough dinner parties you see a theme emerging,” he says. The theme at Bilderberg is to bolster a consensus around free market Western capitalism and its interests around the globe, he says.

“Is this all leading to the start of the ruling the world idea? In one sense yes. There’s a very strong move to have a One World government in the mould of free market Western capitalism.”

Degree of nefariousness

Conventional critiques of alienated people seeking order in a chaotic world may well be true. But there’s more to it than that, McConnachie argues.

“The other explanation is more dangerous. That they are precisely right – they just over-egg the way they articulate it.”

The Bilderberg Group matches up to how a global conspiracy would work – a secretive body attempting to shape the direction of the world, he suggests.

“The only difference is the degree of nefariousness,” he says. “They tend to see this cabal as outright evil. When things are more nuanced than that.”

For all the tales of lizards running the world, we all owe a debt to conspiracy theorists, McConnachie argues.

“Occasionally you have to give credit to conspiracy theorists who raise issues that the mainstream press has ignored. It’s only recently that the media has picked up on the Bilderbergers. Would the media be running stories if there weren’t these wild allegations flying around?”

But Aaronovitch disagrees. Believing in cabals leads to certain groups being victimised and obstructs a rational view of the world.

“To have a strong belief in the Bilderberg Group means believing in a fantasy,” he says. “It suggests that there are people – like God – acting as a higher power. And it replaces the intolerable thought that there’s nothing at work at all, that the world is chaotic. It may be a form of therapy but it has people believing in an anti-scientific message.”

Via BBC

Australian Government Loses All Its UFO Files

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Two months ago, an Australian newspaper submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to its government seeking files pertaining to UFO sightings across the country.

Government officials have just come back empty handed. The UFO files, they said, seem to have gone missing.

“The files could not be located and Headquarters Air Command formally advised that this file is deemed lost,” the Australia Department of Defense’s FOI assistant director, Natalie Carpenter, told the Sydney Morning Herald, the newspaper that made the request.

Two months spent (presumably) thumbing through drawers turned up only one UFO-related file, Carpenter said, called “Report on UFOs/Strange Occurrences and Phenomena in Woomera.” It documents a series of sightings in and around a military weapons testing range in the Australian outback.

All other files had been lost or destroyed.

According to the Herald, Australia’s military stopped taking UFO sighting reports in late 2000. For the past decade, members of the public have reported incidents to the police instead, and those recent reports are presumably still extant.

This isn’t the first time in recent history that a government body has misplaced UFO files. Earlier this year, Britain’s Ministry of Defense released thousands of reports related to UFO sightings in Britain over the past few decades. All files from 1980 to 1982, however, were missing. The omission raised some suspicion among conspiracy theorists.

 

 

Via SPACE

Secret space station on Mars ?

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We have all heard of little green men from Mars.

But now an American ‘armchair astronaut’ claims to have discovered a mysterious structure on the surface of the red planet – by looking on Google earth.

David Martines, whose YouTube video of the ‘station’ has racked up over 200,000 hits so far, claims to have randomly uncovered the picture while scanning the surface of the planet one day.

Uncovered: David Martines believes he has found a structure on the surface of Mars - by looking at Google Mars

Uncovered: David Martines believes he has found a structure on the surface of Mars – by looking at Google Mars.

The white dot in the centre of the screen has set the blogosphere alight with rumours of a secret base

The white dot in the centre of the screen has set the blogosphere alight with rumors of a secret base.

Describing the ‘structure’ as a living quarters with red and blue stripes on it, to the untrained eye it looks nothing more than a white splodge on an otherwise unblemished red landscape.

He even lists the co-ordinates 49’19.73″N 29 33’06.53″W so others can go see the anomaly for themselves.

In a pre recorded ‘fly by’ video of the object, Mr Martines describes what he thinks the station might be.

He said: ‘This is a video of something I discovered on Google Mars quite by accident.

‘I call it Bio-station Alpha, because I’m just assuming that something lives in it or has lived in it.

 NASA and Google have both yet to respond to the 'finding', circled here

NASA and Google have both yet to respond to the ‘finding’, circled here.

‘It’s very unusual in that it’s quite large, it’s over 700 feet long and 150 feet wide, it looks like it’s a cylinder or made up of cylinders.

The infamous ‘Face on Mars’ image from 1976 caused a huge stir when it was released.

The infamous 'Face on Mars' image from 1976 caused a huge stir when it was released

‘It could be a power station or it could be a biological containment or it could be a glorified garage – hope it’s not a weapon.

‘Whoever put it up there had a purpose I’m sure. I couldn’t imagine what the purpose was. I couldn’t imagine why anybody would want to live on Mars.

‘It could be a way station for weary space travellers. It could also belong to NASA, I don’t know that they would admit that.

‘I don’t know if they could pull off such a project without all the people seeing all the material going up there. I sort of doubt NASA has anything to do with this.

‘I don’t know if NASA even knows about this.’

The ‘discovery’ is similar to that of the infamous ‘face on Mars’

Uncovered by the Viking 1 probe in 1976, a quirk of geography threw shadows over a small hill on the Cydonia region of Mars, making the inanimate rock look like a carved face.

The picture was heralded as proof of an alien civilisation by some but was dismissed as a mere trick of the light by scientists at NASA.

MailOnline has tried to contact both NASA and Goggle for a response to the image, but neither has replied.

Via DailyMail

China hacks Gmail accounts of senior U.S. officials one day after Obama’s cyber warning

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  • Google said U.S. government officials targeted
  • Security breach larger than previous Gmail attacks
  • Pentagon warn U.S. may retaliate with military force
  • Hackers also target military contractor that supplies unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Beijing denies being behind attack

Fears China is plotting a devastating ‘cyber war’ against the West were heightened yesterday when it emerged Chinese hackers have stolen hundreds of passwords belonging to senior U.S. government officials.

The security breach was revealed by Google which said victims had been carefully targeted in a scam traced to the city of Jinan in the Communist state’ s Shangdong province.

Experts suspect Chinese hackers are capable of reducing the U.S. or its allies including Britain to stone-age conditions at the press of a button – by crippling the computers running everything from banks and supermarkets to power stations and water plants.

 

Hacked: Google admitted that hundreds of Gmail accounts had been targeted by hackers in China, including those of senior U.S. officials

Hacked: Google admitted that hundreds of Gmail accounts had been targeted by hackers in China, including those of senior U.S. officials.

In a chilling echo of the Cold War, a ‘cyber arms race’ is rapidly developing between East and West, with the U.S. even threatening to retaliate with military weapons to any ‘act of war’ attack on its computers from a foreign power.

Earlier this week the US said it would react militarily to future cyber incursions from other countries.

One U.S. military official quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying: ‘If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.’

British defence minister Nick Harvey underlined the growing sense of panic by declaring that ‘action in cyberspace will form part of the future battlefield’.

Row: Google said the phishing scam had originated in China

Row: Google said the phishing scam had originated in China.

Sir Michael Rake, chairman of BT Group and a figurehead for cyber security issues in industry, warned world powers were being drawn into a hi-tech arms race in which countries could wage war without firing a single shot.

Sir Michael said: ‘I don’t think personally it’s an exaggeration to say you can bring a state to its knees without any military action whatsoever.’

Although there is no direct evidence that the Chinese hackers in the latest case are in the pay of the Chinese government, their attacks were so sophisticated and highly-targeted that few experts doubt they were state-sponsored.

Apart from anything else, unlike other internet scams, there was no obvious financial gain behind them, suggesting a sinister rather than a financial motive.

Senior U.S. and South Korean government officials who fell victim to the scam were tricked into giving away their Google and Yahoo email login details.

Threat: The Pentagon said it is ready to retaliate against cyber attacks

Threat: The Pentagon said it is ready to retaliate against cyber attacks.

Defence: The Pentagon will reclassify cyber attacks as an aggressive act if it causes the equivalent loss of life or damage to infrastructure as a conventional military attack

Defence: The Pentagon will reclassify cyber attacks as an aggressive act if it causes the equivalent loss of life or damage to infrastructure as a conventional military attack.

They had received ‘Trojan horse’ emails that purported to be from someone they knew, but were in fact carefully-crafted fakes.

One example email had the title: ‘Fw: Draft US-China Joint Statement’, and contained the text: ‘This is the latest version of State’s joint statement.’

Enticed into opening the email, the unsuspecting user was directed to a convincing but bogus Google or Yahoo email page where they were invited to type in their login and password. When they did so, their supposedly-secret details immediately fell into the hands of the Chinese hackers.

Armed with the passwords, the hackers could access the user’s real email account and spy on genuine emails being sent between government officials.

Although the scam – which went on for months before being uncovered – targeted personal email accounts, rather than government accounts, officials could have forwarded their work emails to their personal Gmail accounts.

Sensitive: The Lockheed Joint Strike Fighter, just one of many weapons manufactured by the company and used by both the U.S. and the UK armed forces

Sensitive: The Lockheed Joint Strike Fighter, just one of many weapons manufactured by the company and used by both the U.S. and the UK armed forces.

A Google spokesman said yesterday: ‘Google detected and has disrupted this campaign to take users’ passwords and monitor their emails. We have notified victims and secured their accounts.’

The White House said it was investigating. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the allegations were ‘very serious’ and would be investigated by the FBI.

Online threat: Hackers have breached Lockheed security (file photo)Beijing has repeatedly denied hacking into foreign countries’ systems.

Britian has found itself under attack also.

Last month, Chancellor George Osborne revealed that foreign intelligence agencies were trying to break into the Treasury computer system to steal information or spread viruses at the rate of more than one attack a day.

MI5 and the FBI have warned British and American companies of the mushrooming threat from Chinese government-backed hackers trying to pilfer commercial secrets.

Whitehall has announced an extra £500million to be spent on bolstering cyber security, amid concerns that Britain’s computer networks linking banking, power and water systems are too vulnerable to digital sabotage.

But America is not always the victim in cyber attacks. The U.S. and Israel were blamed for the development of the Stuxnet virus, a computer worm that targets industrial software and was credited with sabotage attacks on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Delegates at an international cyber security conference held in London this week warned the crisis was so severe that nations should agree an international ‘non-proliferation’ treaty similar to the one drawn up to slow the spread of nuclear weapons.

 

Via DailyMail

U.S. arms makers said to be bleeding secrets to cyber foes

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Top Pentagon contractors have been bleeding secrets for years as a result of penetrations of their computer networks, current and former national security officials say.

The Defense Department, which runs its own worldwide eavesdropping, spying and code-cracking systems, says more than 100 foreign intelligence organizations have been trying to break into U.S. networks.

Some of the perpetrators “already have the capacity to disrupt” U.S. information infrastructure, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, who is leading remedial efforts, wrote last fall in the journal Foreign Affairs.

Joel Brenner, the National Counterintelligence executive from 2006 to 2009, said most if not all of the big defense contractors’ networks had been pierced.

“This has been happening since the late ’90s,” he told Reuters Tuesday. He identified the main threats as coming from Russia, China and Iran.

“They’re after our weapons systems and R&D,” or research and development, said Brenner, now with the law firm of Cooley LLP in Washington.

Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon’s No. 1 supplier by sales, said on Saturday that it had thwarted “a significant and tenacious” attack on its information systems network that it detected May 21. Ten days later, the company says its still working to restore full employee access to the network while maintaining the highest level of security.

Lockheed, which is also the government’s top information technology provider, said it had become “a frequent target of adversaries from around the world.” A spokeswoman said it said it used the term “adversaries” only in a general sense.

Lockheed builds F-16, F-22 and F-35 fighter jets as well as Aegis naval combat system, THAAD missile defense and other big-ticket weapons systems sold to U.S. allies. It has not disclosed which of its business units was targeted.

Cyber intruders were reported in 2009 to have broken into computers holding data on Lockheed’s projected $380 billion-plus F-35 fighter program, the Pentagon’s costliest arms purchase.

Other big Pentagon contractors include Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, General Dynamics Corp, BAE Systems Plc and Raytheon Co. Each of these declined to comment on whether it believed its networks had been penetrated.

James Miller, the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, said last May that the United States was losing terabytes of data in cyber attacks, enough to fill “multiple Libraries of Congress.” The world’s largest library, its archive totaled about 235 terabytes of data as of April, the Library of Congress says on its web site.

“The scale of compromise, including the loss of sensitive and unclassified data, is staggering,” Miller told a Washington forum.

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who led a Senate Intelligence Committee cyber task force last year, said in March that cybercrime has put the United States “on the losing end of what could be the largest illicit transfer of wealth in world history.”

Retired Air Force General Michael Hayden, a former director of central intelligence and ex-head of the Pentagon’s National Security Agency, said no network was safe if it had Internet access.

“You can isolate a network, a classified network,” he told Reuters in an interview last year. “Maybe you can get a certain level of confidence that you are not penetrated. But if you are out there connected to the world wide web you are vulnerable all the time.”

Anup Ghosh, a former senior scientist at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, said there had been a string of intrusions into networks of U.S. defense contractors, security companies and U.S. government labs, including the U.S. Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, since the start of this year.

The advantage is with the intruders, said Ghosh, who worked on securing military networks for DARPA from 2002 to 2006 and now heads Invincea, a software security company.

“We’ve failed to innovate in the area of information security,” he said in an email Tuesday. “We’re fighting today’s battles with the equivalent of cold-war era defenses.”


Via NewsDaily