Hacking the President’s DNA: When Synthetic Biology Meets National Security – Forbes

In 2008, casual DNA-design competitions with small prizes arose; then in 2011, with the launch of GE’s $100 million breast-cancer challenge, the field moved on to serious contests. By early 2015, as personalized gene therapies for end-stage cancer became medicine’s cutting edge, virus-design Web sites began appearing, where people could upload information about their disease and virologists could post designs for a customized cure. Medically speaking, it all made perfect sense: Nature had done eons of excellent design work on viruses. With some retooling, they were ideal vehicles for gene delivery.

Soon enough, these sites were flooded with requests that went far beyond cancer. Diagnostic agents, vaccines, antimicrobials, even designer psychoactive drugs—all appeared on the menu. What people did with these bio-designs was anybody’s guess. No international body had yet been created to watch over them.

Hacking the President’s DNA: When Synthetic Biology Meets National Security – Forbes.

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Al Qaeda in Yemen: Countering the Threat from the Arabian Peninsula | Critical Threats

Al Qaeda’s affiliates seized on the opportunities presented during the Arab Spring across northern Africa and the Middle East to gain and consolidate safe havens. These groups continue to pose significant threats to the United States and its interests despite the killing of Osama bin Laden and senior al Qaeda leaders. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate, has dramatically increased its strength since 2009, while the Yemeni government, America’s counter-terrorism partner, is weaker. AQAP’s launch of a territorial offensive in 2011 through a new insurgent arm directly challenged the Yemeni state and has supported the terrorist network. The American strategy to counter AQAP has relied on its partner in Yemen to reduce AQAP’s safe havens and on direct action operations to manage AQAP’s immediate threat to the United States. There are indications that Yemen may not be able to counter AQAP’s insurgency, and will therefore not be able to reduce AQAP’s safe havens. The United States will need to incorporate this possibility into its counter-terrorism strategy in Yemen.

Al Qaeda in Yemen: Countering the Threat from the Arabian Peninsula | Critical Threats.

Global IED Casualties Rising in 2012 | Public Intelligence. Net

Original caption:Iraqi Police discovered this ...

Original caption:Iraqi Police discovered this improvised explosive device Nov. 7 (2005) in eastern Baghdad and disarmed it before it could be detonated in a terrorist attack. Army photo. The IED comprises 4 large artillery shells plus an anti-tank mine, all connected together via detonating cord. This would cause the 5 devices to detonate simultaneously. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Casualties resulting from the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are rising in 2012 according to statistics from the Department of Defense’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).  Over a 25-month period from August 2010 through August 2012, JIEDDO found that global IED casualties reached their peak in May 2012 with approximately 1800 people wounded and nearly 600 killed in that month alone.

The IED statistics are part of a Global IED Monthly Summary Report for August 2012 issued by JIEDDO’s Counter-IED Operations/Intelligence Center.  The report, which does not include incidents occurring in Afghanistan and Iraq, focuses on providing detailed information on the components, targets and groups using IEDs around the world as well as analysis of specific incidents over the reporting period.  The statistics are presented both in aggregate and by combatant command, highlighting enduring threats surrounding the use of IEDs by terrorists, extremists and other criminal organizations.

Global IED Casualties Rising in 2012 | Public Intelligence.

Comentario: Hacia una Nueva Política Hemisférica de Defensa de los Estados Unidos

English: Map showing U.S. military interventio...

English: Map showing U.S. military interventions in Latin America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

La nueva intención política planteada por el Secretario de Defensa de los Estados Unidos, León Panetta, en la décima conferencia de Ministros de Defensa de las Américas, pareciera mostrar el interés por compartir y aumentar así la defensa colectiva hemisferica, queriendo dejar atrás las políticas de defensa de la Guerra Fría, que han incidido ciertamente en la baja popularidad y en algunos casos de abierta hostilidad política hacia los Estados Unidos.

Esta nueva política nos lleva a preguntarnos ¿Se debe esta iniciativa a una necesidad de distribución del esfuerzo de defensa debido que es necesario que el esfuerzo y energías sean empleados en otras partes del mundo como Afganistán,  medio oriente y a nivel global en la lucha contra el terrorismo?

 

 

El mismo Secretario de Defensa, reconoció que “No podemos tratar con estas amenazas solos” refiriéndose a la no solo a los temas de defensa regional, sino ya también a la antiguamente denominada Guerra contra el Terrorismo.

El mismo termino,“Guerra contra el Terrorismo”, hace un tiempo ha sido renombrado como

Overseas Contingency Operation”, lo que no solo significa que se intenta dejar atrás las acciones en épocas de la presidencia de G.W Bush, sino que también se le intenta dar un baño de relaciones publicas a una situación que necesita del apoyo hemisferico.

De esta manera los 11 años que lleva hasta ahora la “operación de contingencia” no ha aportado a la maltrecha economía norteamericana.  Y es por esto también que conociendo que la situación que se vive en Latinoamérica es completamente diferente a la que se vive en el resto del mundo en términos de seguridad para los Estados Unidos, es mucho mas conveniente y seguro dejar en manos de los Latinoamericanos la seguridad hemisferica.

Una de las ideas para que la defensa tenga mayor claridad y legitimidad, es un nuevo rol para Brasil. Siendo la potencia regional, le daría a Brasil mayor énfasis en su búsqueda por una banca en el Consejo de Seguridad de la Naciones Unidas, banca que también se encuentra en el interés de Argentina.

Existe también, la idea que la seguridad hemisferica, de la manera en que la ve los Estados Unidos ya no es un problema para los países de la región. Especialmente porque no se ve con buenos ojos algún tipo de “protección” o ayuda.  La idea de mutua confianza es muy difícil de vender (por no decir imposible) a la opinión pública de América Latina, que recuerda claramente cada acción y cada base norteamericana en la región. Y aunque Panetta ha declarado que no buscan instalar nuevas bases militares o asumir un papel dominante en la región,  se ha comentado mucho sobre las verdaderas necesidades de las nuevas instalaciones militares, en Chile y Colombia.

Esta idea también es reconocida por los Estados Unidos y mas allá de la buena voluntad que pueda presentar la administración Obama,  Entiende desde hace un tiempo que debe dejar solo una “pequeña huella” al momento de exponer y poner en práctica sus intereses en una región predeterminada.

Terrorism Tradecraft | Stratfor

Before an attack can be planned, an aspiring terrorist group must be organized, funded and trained. Would-be terrorists in Libya, Yemen or Pakistan’s North Waziristan agency can achieve these things relatively easily. However, aspiring terrorists in New York, London and Paris encounter more difficulty. The recent arrests of such terrorists in the West, most recently the Sept. 15 arrest of a would-be jihadist in Chicago, show just how difficult it can be to find like-minded individuals to organize a terrorist cell.

Therefore, operational security is a critical skill that must be mastered to protect the fledgling organization from infiltration by law enforcement or intelligence agencies. Every person brought into the group decreases the group’s operational security. So the very existence of the group must remain hidden, and every new member must be thoroughly vetted to ensure they are not plants. As the organization matures and becomes involved in actual attacks, operational security will continue to be vitally important to the organization’s success and survival.

While Increasingly Anti-Western, Russia Needs Foreign Military Technology | Jamestown Foundation

Last week, US federal prosecutors announced they have broken up a network of Russian agents that allegedly supplied the Russian military, intelligence agencies and defense industry with smuggled US-made electronic and microchip components. A Houston company, Arc Electronics Inc., allegedly illegally shipped some $50 million worth of electronic components to Russia. Its executive, Alexander Fishenko, was arrested together with seven other former Russian and other former Soviet republic citizens. All, apparently, are today naturalized US citizens, and some also hold valid Russian passports. Three other suspects have avoided arrest, apparently hiding in Russia. The US Department of Commerce announced it blacklisted 156 foreign companies and individuals allegedly connected to the smuggling ring. Of them, 119 are Russian. The US-made electronic components were allegedly used in military radar and surveillance systems, in missile guidance and detonation triggers (RIA Novosti, October 4).

Spying has for a long time been an occupational hazard in East-West relations. Spy scandals often make the front page, but typically fade away without changing much in the overall picture since spies are a replaceable commodity. In June 2010, a group of ten Russian “illegal” or “sleeper” spies were detained by the FBI in the United States and swapped for four Russian citizens who were serving long sentences, convicted of being Western spies. As “sleepers,” the agents did not engage in any illegal activity, awaiting orders to activate, which never came (see EDM, July 1, 2010). One of the ten—a redheaded beauty named Anna Chapman—became a TV anchor at one of Moscow’s second-tier television channels, but did not evolve into a first class political or news celebrity. The rest of the “illegals” melted into obscurity, as regular spies are trained to do. The Russian SVR intelligence service most likely began working on deploying a replacement of the lost assets, while the Barack Obama administration continued the policy of the “reset” in Washington’s relations with Moscow.
The Houston arrests may have much more serious repercussions. Arc Electronic was clearly not “sleeping,” but allegedly collecting highly essential components for the Russian military. If the US authorities are seriously intent on hampering the access of the Russian military, defense industry and intelligence services to American-made microchips and other high-tech electronic merchandise—including components involving US patents and knowhow made in third countries—this may critically impede President’s Vladimir Putin’s much hyped multi-billion dollar rearmament program.
More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, the Russian defense industry virtually cannot produce any modern sophisticated weaponry without Western-made components and materials, with some essential parts coming directly from the United States. Last month, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the defense industry Dmitry Rogozin, speaking at a meeting of the governmental Military-Industrial Commission, demanded that “more must be done” to replace foreign-made electronic components used in Russian defense production. Plans have been enacted to develop Russian-made electronic components in cooperation with Belarus, but, according to Rogozin, at present the “list of foreign-made electronic components” allowed to be used in Russian weapons is constantly growing and “this is intolerable” (RIA Novosti, September 19).
A top-level source within the Russian defense industry, speaking on condition of anonymity, previously told Jamestown that high-resolution radars needed for the most modern Russian fighter jets, as well as anti-aircraft and ballistic missile defense systems require US-made components. As Rogozin confirms, the “list” of such components is approved by the Defense Ministry and they are procured in the West with the help of the intelligence services. Despite the overall worsening of relations, Western governments in recent years seem to have turned a blind eye to growing Russian purchases of high-tech military-connected equipment.
Last week, Rogozin denied that the alleged Russian agents from Arc Electronics or other blacklisted entities purchased anything for the Russian defense industry illegally in the United States. At the same time Rogozin declared: “We thank the Americans—the latest scandal is a reality test to those in Russia who believe in defense cooperation with foreigners.” Plans have been drafted to consolidate the Russian electronics industry to make the needed microchips, added Rogozin (RIA Novosti, October 5). The ruling Russian bureaucracy surely likes to “consolidate assets” and build state-funded elaborate corporations, but in most cases is too corrupt to make them work properly or manufacture cutting edge military products without constant Western supply and support.
After Putin’s third presidential term began last May, Russian policy and official rhetoric has been increasingly anti-Western. Russia has refused full access to Western observers to visit its strategic military exercises and adamantly refuses to resume participating in the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe treaty (CFE), which Moscow abandoned in 2007. Speaking this week in the parliament’s Federation Council, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused NATO of building up forces in Europe and running military exercises that threaten Russia. “It does not make any sense to work together on conventional arms control,” added Lavrov (RIA Novosti, October 10). Last week, speaking to Russian soldiers based in Tajikistan, Putin announced that NATO enlargement is threatening Russia and “we will build our defense policy to cope with the threat” (www.kremlin.ru, October 5).
Russia has also ordered the aid agency USAID to end its operations in Russia (see EDM, September 20). This week it became known Russia wants to curtail the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program also known as Nunn–Lugar, based on a 1992 US law sponsored by Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar. The CTR has spent $5 billion in Russia since 1992 to help dismantle dangerous weapons. Now the Russian authorities say that CTR is giving the US too much insight into the Russian military (Kommersant, October 10). The Putin regime is rapidly transforming into a reclusive and repressive dictatorship, increasingly anti-Western and aggressive. Russian weapons, modernized with Western help, have been exported to Syria, Iran, Venezuela and China. Obama’s policy of the “reset” has failed to influence Putin’s policies in any significant way.
During the Cold War, the West initiated the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls or COCOM, which imposed strict arms and double-use technology embargos on Russia and its allies. In 1996 COCOM was replaced by the Wassenaar Arrangement—a much weaker control regime that is not aimed against Russia at all, since it is a full member itself. But it is still unclear whether last week’s arrests in Houston are a game-changer that could develop into significant effort by the West to again enforce stricter high-tech export controls on Russia, as Moscow fears.
–Pavel Felgenhauer

The Nuclear Budget: What Nuclear Weapons Cost Us | Ploughshares Fund

English: Ploughshares Fund logo

The U.S. is on track to spend between $620 bilion and $661 billion on nuclear weapons and related programs over the next decade. Do we really need to be spending so much on weapons that military experts don’t believe are relevant to today’s threats?

The Nuclear Budget: What Nuclear Weapons Cost Us | Ploughshares Fund.