Report: Security Clearances Revoked, Criminal Charges Pending For ATF Fast and Furious Officials – Katie Pavlich

Washington D.C. – According to credible ATF sources, officials heavily involved in Operation Fast and Furious and named as partially responsible for the program’s failure by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz and the House Oversight Committee have been stripped of their government security clearances while some have been fired, demoted, and transferred. Criminal charges are also reportedly pending.

Former ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division Bill Newell, former ATF Special Agent in Charge of Operations in the West Bill McMahon and former Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division George Gillett have been fired while former Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jim Needles and Field Supervisor David Voth have been demoted. Hope McAllister, the lead case agent for Fast and Furious, has been put on leave and transferred out of Phoenix according to reports. McMahon and ATF came under heavy fire just a few months ago after it was revealed McMahon had been receiving ATF paid leave while pulling a six figure salary from J.P. Morgan, the same bank that owns the bureau’s credit cards

via Report: Security Clearances Revoked, Criminal Charges Pending For ATF Fast and Furious Officials – Katie Pavlich.

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Reports suggest former Republican senator in mix for top national security posts – Boston.com

WASHINGTON – Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, is reportedly being considered for a top national security position in the Obama administration, a move that could affect Senator John Kerry’s chances for a similar post.

Hagel may be in contention for either secretary of state or secretary of defense, according to an online report by Foreign Policy magazine’s Josh Rogin, who cited multiple anonymous sources who were familiar with the vetting process.

The report throws another name into the mix of people who could take a high-profile role as President Obama restocks his Cabinet at the start of his second four-year term. Hagel, who is a moderate on foreign policy and currently co-chairs Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board, would provide Obama with a Republican in the cabinet.

One source familiar with the process told the Globe that Hagel was being considered for secretary of defense or to head the Central Intelligence Agency, and likely not for secretary of state, the position Kerry is most carefully eyeing.

UN Ambassador Susan Rice is widely believed to be the front-runner within the White House to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But Rice has also been under fire for comments she made in the days after the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the US mission in Libya. Her personal investments – in companies that do business with Iran, and in Canadian oil companies that would benefit from the Keystone pipeline – have also come under close scrutiny in recent days.

via Reports suggest former Republican senator in mix for top national security posts – Boston.com.

X-47B First Land-Based Catapult Launch – YouTube

X-47B First Land-Based Catapult Launch – YouTube.

This is HUGE. A combat Drone that can launch from a Aircraft carrier.

While China conducts, and celebrates, the first jet takeoffs and landings on its new aircraft carrierLiaoning, the U.S. Navy is aiming to do even better. In a parallel series of tests this week, the sailing branch has taken huge steps towards deploying the first carrier-based robotic warplane.

The biggest milestone will be the X-47B’s first at-sea takeoff, slated for sometime next year. In the meantime, the Navy and drone-builder Northrop Grumman  are practicing steering the pilotless warplane around a carrier deck and launching it using a steam-powered catapult — standard equipment on all 10 of the Navy’s full-size flattops.

These are significant advances in their own right — and necessary to prepare the fleet for the first carrier takeoff.

On Monday sailors used a crane to lift one of the two X-47B prototypes aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, while the 1,100-foot-long flattop was docked in Norfolk, Virginia. ”The moment the aircraft set down on Truman‘s deck was the moment it officially met the fleet,”said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, the Navy’s X-47B program manager.

The batwing X-47B, which had its first flight in California in February, is performing a series of deckhandling tests aboard Truman. Operators use a handheld controller to steer the 62-foot-wide drone warplane around the vessel’s crowded flight deck, hoping to prove the robot can safely share the ship with with F/A-18 fighters, E-2 radar planes, helicopters and other manned aircraft. “It’s the first time we’ve had real operators driving real UAVs around,” Engdahl tells Danger Room.

Truman is the only first carrier to host an X-47B. Northrop and the Navy have developed a suite of operator consoles, radio links and software — the latter totaling 3.5 million lines of code — that can be installed on any of the Nimitz-class carriers. All the Navy’s east coast carriers have gotten some or all of the modifications. The west coast and Pacific carriers could be next.

The X-47B could hop onto ships other than Truman to continue its development. Northrop and the Navy “will be ready for whatever carrier decks are going to be available to us next year,” says Don Blottenberger, the sailing branch’s deputy program manager for the X-47B.

In a related test at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland on Nov. 29, Navy and Northrop personnel positioned the other X-47B prototype on a steam catapult built into one of the base’s runway. As seen in the official video above, the catapult hurled the drone into the air, proving — in theory, at least — that the X-47B can take off from a carrier. As the robot winged away, one of the test crew pumped his fists in victory.

More catapult launches are planned. “We do a very conservative buildup in terms of the acceleration of the aircraft, in terms of the end speed the aircraft comes off with, in terms of the weight of the vehicle,” Engdahl says. The ground takeoffs help establish the parameters of the drone’s capabilities ahead of the 2013 at-sea launch.

The successful twin tests are encouraging signs for the Navy, which is counting on seagoing, armed drones to revamp its air wings. With the retirement of the long-range F-14s and A-6 carrier planes developed during the Cold War, the sailing branch has come to rely solely on the newer F/A-18, a comparatively short-legged jet that could force carriers to sail within missile range of an enemy’s coast before they can launch air strikes. China’s naval buildup has only heightened the Navy’s sense of urgency.

The X-47B — more accurately, the frontline killer drone design meant to follow after the Northrop test model around 2018 — could fly much farther than the F/A-18: 1,500 miles versus the manned jet’s 400 . “A carrier-based [Unmanned Combat Air System] with an unrefueled combat radius of 1,500 nautical miles or more and unconstrained by pilot physiology offers a significant boost in carrier combat capability,” the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments posited in a2008 study.

It starts small, with deck maneuvers and practice launches on land.  But if these tests result in a fully-operational carrier-based killer drone, in a few years the U.S. Navy could have as much reason to celebrate as the Chinese do today.

‘Call of Duty’ video game could reshape real warfare | Fox News

“Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” may achieve more than just becoming one of the biggest entertainment products of the year. The best-selling video game could help shape the real-world thinking of the U.S. military through its science fiction story of a Cold War playing out between the U.S. and China in 2025.

The game, whose sales reached $500 million in the first 24 hours, owes plenty of its inspiration to real military weapons and prototype technologies — lumbering battlefield robots, microwave weapons, swarms of flying drones — as well as to today’s news headlines regarding cybersecurity threats and the rise of China. But a defense expert who helped create the story for “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” also points out how his game-consulting work has influenced his day-job thinking about geopolitical issues and technologies that someday could have an impact on the U.S. military.

“It’s a weird way to say this, but the experience of working on the fictional game was definitely an aid to my non-fictional work,” said Peter Singer, director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution.

When games shape reality

via ‘Call of Duty’ video game could reshape real warfare | Fox News.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Gameplan for Egypt | #1 News Site on the Threat of Radical Islam

What’s been happening in Egypt this week is as important as the revolution that overthrew the old regime almost two years ago. A new dictator has arrived, and while the Muslim Brotherhood’s overturning of democracy was totally predictable, Western policymakers walked right into the trap. They even helped build it.

President Mursi has now declared his ability to rule by decree. The key concept is that he can do everything to protect the revolution. In doing so, he is defining the revolution — as the Iranian revolution of 1978-1979, which was made by a broad coalition of forces, soon after became defined — as an Islamist revolution.

One could call the Islamist strategy a short march through the institutions. Once Islamists take power — in Iran, the Gaza Strip, Turkey, and perhaps too in Syria — that is only the beginning of the story. They systematically do a fundamental transformation.

via The Muslim Brotherhood’s Gameplan for Egypt | #1 News Site on the Threat of Radical Islam.