Tuesday, March 6, 2012

WIRED: Pentagon helped F-35 cheat on exam?

WIRED: It seemed like a promising step for America’s next stealth fighter: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter passed a key Pentagon test of its combat capability. But it turns out that the family of jets cleared the mid-February exam only because its proctor agreed to inflate its grade. In essence, the military helped the F-35 cheat on its midterms.

The collusion between the Pentagon testing body, known as the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC), and the F-35 program — first reported by Inside Defense — confirmed that the U.S.’ most expensive warplane met previously established performance criteria. Specifically, the review was meant to show that the jet can fly as far and take off as quickly as combat commanders say they need it to.

But the review council, which includes the vice chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, eased the standard flying profile of the Air Force’s F-35A model — thereby giving it a range boost of 30 miles. And it tacked an additional 50 feet onto the required takeoff distance for the Marines’ F-35B version, which Defense Secretary Leon Panetta just took off budgetary probation.

The grade inflation comes at a critical time for the new warplane. The military’s new five-year budgeting blueprint, also released in February, cut more than 100 existing Air Force fighters while leaving intact plans to produce nearly 2,500 F-35s — essentially doubling down on the new plane despite a recent report listing 13 serious design flaws. The total cost to buy and fly the full fleet of F-35s over 50 years is estimated at around $1 trillion, once inflation is factored in, making it the costliest defense program in human history.

In fairness, it’s not unknown for capability standards, also known as “Key Performance Parameters,” to shift during a weapon’s development. But the shifts usually reflect the evolving needs of the military or some change in the operational environment, such as a likely enemy tweaking its own defense plans. In this case, the JROC gave the F-35 a pass that was apparently designed so the over-weight, over-budget, long-delayed stealth fighter could avoid yet another embarrassing scandal.

Citing earlier efforts to boost the Joint Strike Fighter’s image, defense analyst Winslow Wheeler accused the Pentagon of “putting lipstick on the pig.” That’s an apt characterization of recent moves by the Pentagon’s F-35 boosters

Anonymous: leaked e-mails suggest bin Laden was not buried at sea.

Huffington Post:

Osama Bin Laden was reportedly buried in the waters of the north Arabian sea, but internal emails from intelligence service Stratfor, obtained by hacker group Anonymous and posted by WikiLeaks suggest otherwise.

According to official accounts, he was wrapped in a sheet and “eased” off the decks of the U.S.S Carl Vinson just hours after he was killed on May 2 in a United States-led operation, in accordance with Muslim tradition.

But a leaked email from Stratfor vice president for intelligence Fred Burton, sent on 2 May 2011, at 5.26am states: “Reportedly, we took the body with us. Thank goodness.”

A subsequent email on the same day at 5.51am states: “Body bound for Dover, DE on CIA plane. Than (sic) onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda.”

US forces said Bin Laden was killed in a siege at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on 2 May 2011, just after 1am local time.

At 6.26am Burton wrote: “If body dumped at sea, which I doubt, the touch is very Adolph Eichman like. The Tribe did the same thing with the Nazi's ashes. We would want to photograph, DNA, fingerprint, etc.

“His body is a crime scene and I don't see the FBI nor DOJ letting that happen.”

The reference to Eichmann regards the cremation of the Nazi’s body following his capture, trial and execution, in order to prevent any memorial or shrine being built.

Stratfor CEO George Friedman appears to agree, noting: “Eichmann was seen alive for many months on trial before being sentenced to death and executed. No comparison with suddenly burying him at sea without any chance to view him which I doubt happened.”

By 1.36pm Burton writes again: “Body is Dover bound, should be here by now.”

The conversation takes a puzzling turn at 3.11pm, with Burton stating: “Down and dirty done, He already sleeps with the fish…”

A note adds: “It seems to me that by dropping the corpse in the ocean, the body will come back to haunt us… gotta be violating some sort of obscure heathen religious rule that will inflame islam?

"The US Govt needs to make body pics available like the MX’s do, with OBL’s pants pulled down, to shout down the lunatics like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck.”

The exchange casts a mystery over just what happened to the body of the Al Qaeda leader.

The thread of emails - under the heading The Global Intelligence Files - was published by WikiLeaks on 27 February 2012 and contains correspondence dated between July 2004 and late December 2011.

The site states: "They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal's Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency.

"The emails show Stratfor's web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods."

The New American reports: “The release of the Stratfor emails will likely revive the debate over just what happened to bin Laden’s body and consequently, whether or not US forces actually killed the terrorist mastermind in the first place.

“Secrecy prior to the raid is understandable; a refusal to produce the key piece of evidence that the raid was successful, on the other hand, is quite curious indeed."

According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, a member of the military “read prepared religious remarks” that were translated into Arabic at the burial ceremony.

The lair where Bin Laden lived in secrecy before the alleged final stand off with US Commandoes was razed to the ground last month.

Bin Laden moved into the three-storey house in 2005 and lived there until it was stormed by Navy Seals in May 2011.

The house was located just half a mile from one of Pakistan’s top army training academies, which caused embarrassment for the country’s intelligence services, AP reported.

US officials say there was no evidence senior Pakistan officials were aware of Bin Laden’s location.

Residents living nearby told the Independent they had thought the building would be turned into a mosque, school or clinic.

Shah Mohammad said: “I think they should build a mosque. If you build a school there, people will just associate it with Bin Laden.”

A source had told the paper demolition was on the cards ahead of the event, adding: “There is an issue, in our culture, of such places becoming shrines.”


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