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US takes sides in Turkey-Kurdish clash in Syria | CENSORED.TODAY

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Over the last several years, the US has had a close, cooperative relationship with the Kurdish militia, the YPG, in Syria. Along with other Arab militias, the YPG helped drive ISIS out of Syria and Iraq.

Bu the chaos in Syria has allowed the YPG to carve out a fairly substantial territory along the Turkish border. This has not sat well with Turkish President Erdogan who considers the YPG terrorists.

The YPG militia group has not carried out any attacks inside of Turkey, although their fellow Kurds in the PKK – the Kurdish Workers Party – have been conducting a low level rebellion in Turkey for years.

Erdogan has chosen to regard the YPG as no better than the PKK, despite US support. That support is now being withdrawn, according to the government in Ankara, as Erdogan has extracted a promise from the US not supply the YPG with weapons.

VOA:

Turkey said Saturday that Washington has pledged to stop giving arms to YPG Kurdish forces in Syria, as Turkey’s offensive against the U.S.-backed group there enters its eight day.

Turkey’s presidency said in a statement that U. S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster spoke Friday with Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. McMaster confirmed in the phone conversation that the U.S. would not give weapons to the YPG militia, the statement said. There has been no U.S. confirmation.

Relations between the two NATO allies have been strained by Turkey’s offensive and Washington’s arms support to the YPG.

On Friday, Erdogan repeated his intention to expand Ankara’s military operation against Kurds in Syria, targeting fighters he says are linked to a Kurdish terror group that operates in Turkey.

Speaking in Ankara, Erdogan said Turkish forces will push eastward into the Syrian city of Afrin, just beyond the border with Turkey. He said he intends to push the operation to the city of Manbij and then as far east as the Iraqi border “until no terrorist is left.”

The move could pit Turkish forces against some of the 2,000 U.S. troops that are in Syria as part of an international coalition to eliminate the Islamic State militant movement in Syria.

“We will clear Manbij of terrorists,” Erdogan said in a speech Friday. “No one should be disturbed by this because the real owners of Manbij are not these terrorists, they are our Arab brothers.”

Both Syria and Russia are warning Erdogan about his incursion into Syria. Neither is likely to take action as long as Erdogan limits his war to the border area.

But Turkey has been threatening areas where US troops are based and Erdogan, already on thin ice with Washington, would not want to anger Trump by killing Americans. After all, we may fight back.

But the issue of arming the Kurds is a delicate one and the decision to cut them off was actually a no brainer. Turkey is a NATO member and it would shake the alliance if the US were to supply an army that Turkey feels is an enemy threatening their security. 

When push comes to shove, whether in Iraq, Syria, or Turkey, when it comes to the Kurds, the US has bowed to the wishes of the governments where Kurdish territory is located. We have made it abundantly clear over the years and several administrations that Kurds looking for a friend in their fight for a homeland will have to look elsewhere when it comes to the US.

 

Over the last several years, the US has had a close, cooperative relationship with the Kurdish militia, the YPG, in Syria. Along with other Arab militias, the YPG helped drive ISIS out of Syria and Iraq.

Bu the chaos in Syria has allowed the YPG to carve out a fairly substantial territory along the Turkish border. This has not sat well with Turkish President Erdogan who considers the YPG terrorists.

The YPG militia group has not carried out any attacks inside of Turkey, although their fellow Kurds in the PKK – the Kurdish Workers Party – have been conducting a low level rebellion in Turkey for years.

Erdogan has chosen to regard the YPG as no better than the PKK, despite US support. That support is now being withdrawn, according to the government in Ankara, as Erdogan has extracted a promise from the US not supply the YPG with weapons.

VOA:

Turkey said Saturday that Washington has pledged to stop giving arms to YPG Kurdish forces in Syria, as Turkey’s offensive against the U.S.-backed group there enters its eight day.

Turkey’s presidency said in a statement that U. S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster spoke Friday with Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. McMaster confirmed in the phone conversation that the U.S. would not give weapons to the YPG militia, the statement said. There has been no U.S. confirmation.

Relations between the two NATO allies have been strained by Turkey’s offensive and Washington’s arms support to the YPG.

On Friday, Erdogan repeated his intention to expand Ankara’s military operation against Kurds in Syria, targeting fighters he says are linked to a Kurdish terror group that operates in Turkey.

Speaking in Ankara, Erdogan said Turkish forces will push eastward into the Syrian city of Afrin, just beyond the border with Turkey. He said he intends to push the operation to the city of Manbij and then as far east as the Iraqi border “until no terrorist is left.”

The move could pit Turkish forces against some of the 2,000 U.S. troops that are in Syria as part of an international coalition to eliminate the Islamic State militant movement in Syria.

“We will clear Manbij of terrorists,” Erdogan said in a speech Friday. “No one should be disturbed by this because the real owners of Manbij are not these terrorists, they are our Arab brothers.”

Both Syria and Russia are warning Erdogan about his incursion into Syria. Neither is likely to take action as long as Erdogan limits his war to the border area.

But Turkey has been threatening areas where US troops are based and Erdogan, already on thin ice with Washington, would not want to anger Trump by killing Americans. After all, we may fight back.

But the issue of arming the Kurds is a delicate one and the decision to cut them off was actually a no brainer. Turkey is a NATO member and it would shake the alliance if the US were to supply an army that Turkey feels is an enemy threatening their security. 

When push comes to shove, whether in Iraq, Syria, or Turkey, when it comes to the Kurds, the US has bowed to the wishes of the governments where Kurdish territory is located. We have made it abundantly clear over the years and several administrations that Kurds looking for a friend in their fight for a homeland will have to look elsewhere when it comes to the US.

 


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Chelsea Manning spent her Saturday night with white nationalists. Why? | LIBERAL.GUIDE

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Over the weekend, as Donald Trump celebrated his first year in office, a gaggle of some of the president’s most outspoken, and most conspiratorial, supporters gathered in New York to ring in the anniversary. Dubbed the “Night for Freedom,” the gala brought together some of the most prominent figures in the “alt-lite,” a spinoff from the white nationalist contingent that helped propel Trump to the presidency.

While the event itself was headlined by individuals like Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec, the night also saw an unexpected guest: Chelsea Manning.

Manning, who recently announced that she’d be running on the Democratic ticket in Maryland for Senate, explained her presence at the party by saying she “crashed the fascist/white supremacist hate brigade party.” She added that she’d “learned in prison that the best way to confront your enemies is face-to-face in their space.”

Manning also told the Observer that she was there to crash the party:

“I fucking crashed!” Manning told Observer when asked whether her appearance at the party contradicted her platform as a leader of the anti-Trump resistance.

“Hell yeah!” Manning enthusiastically added.

That may be true, but for those headlining the event, Manning’s presence was apparently a welcome surprise. BuzzFeed cited one source who said that “while she was not there protesting, she was there in a[n] effort to bridge gaps between left and right.” Cernovich added that he was “[g]lad she stopped by. All are welcome to party with me.” Posobiec noted that Manning was “hanging out by the bar and enjoying a drink chatting with people[.]”

While Manning’s presence at the party surprised – and angered – many, her social ties with some of the individuals behind the event extend beyond simply a night in New York. As reporter Yashar Ali uncovered, a photo shows Manning participating in an “Escape The Room” event with many well-known far-right conspiracists, including Posobiec and Lucian Wintrich.

Even aside from her “Escape The Room” event, however, Manning’s presence at the pro-Trump festivities created new questions about her Senate candidacy. After all, where Cernovich – one of the main proponents of the “Pizzagate” conspiracy – and Posobiec – best-known for reportedly creating a “Rape Melania” sign – have seen their reputations extend beyond their far-right circles, other figures headlining last weekend’s event have their own, distinct histories.

Fairbanks, for instance, gained a bit of fame in 2016 when she effectively became the face of the American branch of the Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik. Since then, Fairbanks has morphed into one of the foremost Trump apologists, pushing conspiracies about the DNC hack and leading a campaign of support for Julian Assange – the latter of whom Manning looked to in leaking classified documents.

One of last weekend’s main speakers, likewise, was a YouTube personality named Stefan Molyneux. While Molyneux, with some 721,000 subscribers on YouTube, has gained far less mainstream attention than figures like Cernovich or Posobiec, he’s also veered far closer to outright white nationalism than some of the others in attendance.

Over the past two years, Molyneux has led an effort to peddle pseudo-science to his listeners on race relations and “Western Civilization.” To wit, Molyneux has described multi-ethnic societies as a “problem,” noting in one video that “the problem is, among the blacks and the Hispanics, they don’t end up acting the same as the white population or the Asian population.” (The notion that East Asians are superior to whites is, ironically, a common trope among white nationalists.) He’s also said that “‘racism’ is the new ‘n***er,’” and “the most offensive racist name now … is ‘racist.’” He further described Barack Obama as the “racist-in-chief,” and claimed that “freedom has a eugenics component to it inevitably.”

Molyneux denies that he’s a white nationalist. (“I am not a white nationalist. I will confess to being a right rationalist though,” he wrote in 2016.) However, he’s not only conducted unctuous, softball interviews with outright white nationalists like Jared Taylor – Molyneux called it an “honest conversation about race” – but even spent one video ranking races according to the “sweet spot of criminality.”

Stefan Molyneux
Stefan Molyneux has described multi-ethnic societies as a “problem.” (SOURCE: YOUTUBE)

Other far-right figures also in attendance, including James O’Keefe and Gavin McInnes – who, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, has “devised … the most fertile ‘in-real-life’ recruiting ground for white nationalists and anti-Semites within today’s organized far-right” – have so far refrained from commenting on Manning’s presence at the party. But Fairbanks told the Guardian that she was “very pleased that everyone treated [Manning] respectfully” at the party. And in a video uploaded this week, Molyneux said that Manning “was treated with great respect and deference and happiness.”

Manning, as it is, appears to have since expressed regret for her attendance at the party, and took to Twitter to say that she stopped by the party to “gather intel” on attendees.

It’s unclear, however, whether Manning also participated in the “Escape The Room” event with Fairbanks and Posobiec in order to “gather intel.”


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Author: Casey Michel

Drones keep entering no-fly zones over Washington, raising security concerns | DRONEPETS.ORG

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Over a career that has taken him to Afghanistan and Iraq, Col. Patrick Duggan has seen the lethal power of drones. Now, as a base commander in the nation’s capital, he is worried that frequent illegal flights buzzing over Washington could pose a threat.

In the middle of a federal no-fly zone for drones, in some of the most sensitive and restricted airspace in the United States, technicians working with Duggan recorded nearly 100 drone sightings over two months last summer. And that was just around two Army posts he oversees.

Many of the operators were probably oblivious to the flight ban or just ignoring it as they flew for fun, he said. But he’s not sure.

“Are they bad guys? Well, we don’t know,” Duggan said. “It’s a technology that can be used to attack us at home. Why? Because we are not as prepared as we need to be.”

In this video, the Federal Aviation Administration warns visitors during the National Cherry Blossom Festival that drones are prohibited in D.C. (Federal Aviation Administration)

In an acknowledgment of the threat, Congress in November voted to broadly expand the Defense Department’s anti-drone powers within the United States. President Trump signed the measure, included in a major defense bill, last month .

Millions of agile and easy-to-fly quadcopters and other drones are sold in the United States each year, with Christmas providing the latest boost. Yet many of the quandaries that come with the devices have not been addressed. Although any tool or technology, from a rifle to a rental truck, can be misused, security experts say drones have introduced broad new dangers and have outpaced efforts to regulate them.

Whether controlled by remote or set to fly autonomously, many drones can carry surveillance cameras, hacking devices or explosives long distances, easily evading ground defenses, experts say. And, they add, the threat from what officials call “unmanned aircraft systems” (UAS) is not theoretical.

An analysis prepared by members of a team at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida specializing in counter-drone operations reported in 2016 that “critical assets within the continental United States have already been ‘attacked’ by nefarious UAS operators.”

Members declined to specify the targets or provide details, given security and other concerns.

“While no deaths have been attributed to these UASs, it is only a matter of time before these systems are directly or indirectly responsible for loss of life or interference with critical infrastructure in the homeland,” the analysis said.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in March, a top military leader voiced concern about recent unauthorized drone flights over Navy and Air Force installations.

“These intrusions represent a growing threat to the safety and security of nuclear weapons and personnel,” said John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command.

Expanded powers

In the almost three years since a recreational drone user crashed his two-foot-wide quadcopter on the White House grounds early one January morning — and called to “self-report” the incident to the Secret Service six hours later — federal authorities have been trying to figure out how best to protect the capital.

A few months after that incident, in Tokyo, a protester was arrested for landing a drone carrying a harmless amount of radioactive cesium on the prime minister’s office.

It’s tough to tease out the potential attackers from the “knuckleheads,” and officials say the U.S. government has been hamstrung as it works to upgrade security.

Drones inhabit a curious space in U.S. law, making them particularly difficult to regulate. They have been deemed “aircraft,” just like a Boeing 787, so they can’t simply be knocked from the sky. Sometimes dubbed “flying laptops,” they also are covered by laws against wiretapping and computer hacking. And most drones are categorized as “model aircraft,” but Congress has said the Federal Aviation Administration generally can’t issue regulations covering those.

That all complicates security efforts and strictly limits what data can be pried from them to track their users or seize their controls. At the same time, opening up laws protecting electronic communications could have significant civil liberties implications.

In 2016, Congress granted the Defense Department power to trace, take control of or destroy drones within the United States, but the law limited that authority to three critical areas: protecting facilities involved with nuclear deterrence, space and missile defense.

Last year , the Trump administration sought broad counter-drone powers for federal agencies. That request foundered on bipartisan concerns in Congress that it was too expansive.

Under the legislation Trump signed last month, the Defense Department’s powers were expanded significantly. There are six new areas where it can track or take down drones, including working to protect the president, vice president “or other officer immediately next in order of succession.”

Air defenses, including in Washington, Special Operations forces activities, and certain combat support, testing and explosives facilities also were included.

The military’s sense of urgency is due, in part, to its experiences using drones to deadly effect overseas and facing off-the-shelf drones on the battlefield. But its growing role in domestic drone defense is an important and little-debated shift.

The Department of Homeland Security says that “without statutory relief we remain constrained in responding” to the threat of drones and must rely on “conventional means.” Without legal changes, the agency is “limited in its ability to fully develop counter UAS technologies — further delaying our security response,” spokeswoman Anna Franko said.

Some detection systems are deployed in the Washington region, although coverage is limited. Homeland Security officials say they cannot discuss all that is being done.

Security concerns, including from the FBI, have held up regulations that would allow much broader use of drones for business.

A Trump administration pilot program on expanding drone use is meant, in part, to provide the data and experience to help assuage such concerns, backers said.

Fear of a surgical strike

In the Washington region, drone policing can be an absurd and disturbing affair, as efforts to deal with brazen and sometimes comical behavior are colored by a post-9/11 sense that potent attacks could come at any moment.

One man was detained in 2015 for flying his drone inside the chamber of the Jefferson Memorial. After allowing authorities to search his iPad controller and car, he was deemed “negative for any suspicious indicators” and given a ticket, according to an FAA incident database. In general, flying drones in a national park, without a special permit, is illegal.

In another instance, two Ukrainians were questioned by the Secret Service and had their drone confiscated after flying it near the Washington Monument, according to the database. Someone else was cited for filming a fitness video there.

But many operators remain out of law enforcement’s reach, their identities and motives obscured.

On a late night in June, four drones were captured on security cameras flying across from the Pentagon, according to an incident report.

“One of the drones possibly crashed or burned in the sky and that was the last sighting,” the report said. An Arlington County police spokeswoman said its officers responded but found nothing.

Duggan’s effort to quantify the threat was unusual. Rather than relying on anecdotal information or random sightings, the commander of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall wanted data.

Duggan worked with a San Francisco-based detection company, Dedrone, run by a former German drone maker. Joerg Lamprecht, the company’s chief executive, saw a business opportunity in late 2013, when a protester crashed a drone a few feet from Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“You have a lock in your home. It’s not for your mailman or your neighbors. It’s for the one bad guy who might sneak in,” Lamprecht said. “It’s the same for the airspace.”

The company’s radio-frequency sensor on the roof of the National Defense University at Fort McNair, along Washington’s riverfront, documented 52 drone sightings in 26 days. Technicians then moved the equipment across the Potomac to the fitness center at Fort Myer, near Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. They tallied another 43 sightings in a month. Some drones appeared multiple times.

The sensors generally pick up signals within a kilometer or two, sometimes farther, the company said.

The areas covered reach far beyond the posts themselves but represent just a fraction of the federal no-fly area for drones. Washington’s Flight Restricted Zone stretches about 15 miles from Reagan National Airport and bans drone flights not specifically authorized by the FAA. Such permissions are exceedingly rare, and none were given near the Army posts at the time, the agency said.

Given the technology used, the company couldn’t provide precise locations for the drones or operators, although that can be done with other equipment.

The detection effort could also have picked up signals from the federal government’s own drone research.

As a career Special Forces officer with experience tracking cyber- and other “asymmetrical” attacks, Duggan has for years studied the mind-set of adversaries seeking ways to inflict the greatest harm on the United States at the lowest cost. A drone attack is one of many, he said.

Given that Russia-aligned forces are believed to have used a drone to drop a grenade on a large ammunition depot in Ukraine last year , disrupting supply lines, and that the Islamic State arms cheap commercial drones in Syria and elsewhere, the risks weigh on him.

Surrounded by the history of Fort Myer, along the path taken by the mounted platoon that carries flag-draped coffins to Arlington, Duggan considered a Parrot Bebop drone that has been used in Syria and popped up repeatedly in the detection data. On Sept. 3, the aircraft was detected multiple times after 1 a.m. Then it returned for 21 minutes the next evening.

“It was just odd. It was atypical,” Duggan said.

It probably wasn’t probing his defenses or doing surveillance, he said. But a determined foe could do that — or worse, perhaps, with a “specific surgical strike or just to paralyze or cause fear,” undermining readiness.

“Bases are not sanctuaries,” Duggan said. “If I’m an adversary, this is where I’m going to take you out. Why? Because we have this mentality that we’re all safe, everything’s good.”


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Drones keep entering no-fly zones over Washington, raising security concerns | DRONEPETS.ORG

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Over a career that has taken him to Afghanistan and Iraq, Col. Patrick Duggan has seen the lethal power of drones. Now, as a base commander in the nation’s capital, he is worried that frequent illegal flights buzzing over Washington could pose a threat.

In the middle of a federal no-fly zone for drones, in some of the most sensitive and restricted airspace in the United States, technicians working with Duggan recorded nearly 100 drone sightings over two months last summer. And that was just around two Army posts he oversees.

Many of the operators were probably oblivious to the flight ban or just ignoring it as they flew for fun, he said. But he’s not sure.

“Are they bad guys? Well, we don’t know,” Duggan said. “It’s a technology that can be used to attack us at home. Why? Because we are not as prepared as we need to be.”

In this video, the Federal Aviation Administration warns visitors during the National Cherry Blossom Festival that drones are prohibited in D.C. (Federal Aviation Administration)

In an acknowledgment of the threat, Congress in November voted to broadly expand the Defense Department’s anti-drone powers within the United States. President Trump signed the measure, included in a major defense bill, last month .

Millions of agile and easy-to-fly quadcopters and other drones are sold in the United States each year, with Christmas providing the latest boost. Yet many of the quandaries that come with the devices have not been addressed. Although any tool or technology, from a rifle to a rental truck, can be misused, security experts say drones have introduced broad new dangers and have outpaced efforts to regulate them.

Whether controlled by remote or set to fly autonomously, many drones can carry surveillance cameras, hacking devices or explosives long distances, easily evading ground defenses, experts say. And, they add, the threat from what officials call “unmanned aircraft systems” (UAS) is not theoretical.

An analysis prepared by members of a team at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida specializing in counter-drone operations reported in 2016 that “critical assets within the continental United States have already been ‘attacked’ by nefarious UAS operators.”

Members declined to specify the targets or provide details, given security and other concerns.

“While no deaths have been attributed to these UASs, it is only a matter of time before these systems are directly or indirectly responsible for loss of life or interference with critical infrastructure in the homeland,” the analysis said.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in March, a top military leader voiced concern about recent unauthorized drone flights over Navy and Air Force installations.

“These intrusions represent a growing threat to the safety and security of nuclear weapons and personnel,” said John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command.

Expanded powers

In the almost three years since a recreational drone user crashed his two-foot-wide quadcopter on the White House grounds early one January morning — and called to “self-report” the incident to the Secret Service six hours later — federal authorities have been trying to figure out how best to protect the capital.

A few months after that incident, in Tokyo, a protester was arrested for landing a drone carrying a harmless amount of radioactive cesium on the prime minister’s office.

It’s tough to tease out the potential attackers from the “knuckleheads,” and officials say the U.S. government has been hamstrung as it works to upgrade security.

Drones inhabit a curious space in U.S. law, making them particularly difficult to regulate. They have been deemed “aircraft,” just like a Boeing 787, so they can’t simply be knocked from the sky. Sometimes dubbed “flying laptops,” they also are covered by laws against wiretapping and computer hacking. And most drones are categorized as “model aircraft,” but Congress has said the Federal Aviation Administration generally can’t issue regulations covering those.

That all complicates security efforts and strictly limits what data can be pried from them to track their users or seize their controls. At the same time, opening up laws protecting electronic communications could have significant civil liberties implications.

In 2016, Congress granted the Defense Department power to trace, take control of or destroy drones within the United States, but the law limited that authority to three critical areas: protecting facilities involved with nuclear deterrence, space and missile defense.

Last year , the Trump administration sought broad counter-drone powers for federal agencies. That request foundered on bipartisan concerns in Congress that it was too expansive.

Under the legislation Trump signed last month, the Defense Department’s powers were expanded significantly. There are six new areas where it can track or take down drones, including working to protect the president, vice president “or other officer immediately next in order of succession.”

Air defenses, including in Washington, Special Operations forces activities, and certain combat support, testing and explosives facilities also were included.

The military’s sense of urgency is due, in part, to its experiences using drones to deadly effect overseas and facing off-the-shelf drones on the battlefield. But its growing role in domestic drone defense is an important and little-debated shift.

The Department of Homeland Security says that “without statutory relief we remain constrained in responding” to the threat of drones and must rely on “conventional means.” Without legal changes, the agency is “limited in its ability to fully develop counter UAS technologies — further delaying our security response,” spokeswoman Anna Franko said.

Some detection systems are deployed in the Washington region, although coverage is limited. Homeland Security officials say they cannot discuss all that is being done.

Security concerns, including from the FBI, have held up regulations that would allow much broader use of drones for business.

A Trump administration pilot program on expanding drone use is meant, in part, to provide the data and experience to help assuage such concerns, backers said.

Fear of a surgical strike

In the Washington region, drone policing can be an absurd and disturbing affair, as efforts to deal with brazen and sometimes comical behavior are colored by a post-9/11 sense that potent attacks could come at any moment.

One man was detained in 2015 for flying his drone inside the chamber of the Jefferson Memorial. After allowing authorities to search his iPad controller and car, he was deemed “negative for any suspicious indicators” and given a ticket, according to an FAA incident database. In general, flying drones in a national park, without a special permit, is illegal.

In another instance, two Ukrainians were questioned by the Secret Service and had their drone confiscated after flying it near the Washington Monument, according to the database. Someone else was cited for filming a fitness video there.

But many operators remain out of law enforcement’s reach, their identities and motives obscured.

On a late night in June, four drones were captured on security cameras flying across from the Pentagon, according to an incident report.

“One of the drones possibly crashed or burned in the sky and that was the last sighting,” the report said. An Arlington County police spokeswoman said its officers responded but found nothing.

Duggan’s effort to quantify the threat was unusual. Rather than relying on anecdotal information or random sightings, the commander of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall wanted data.

Duggan worked with a San Francisco-based detection company, Dedrone, run by a former German drone maker. Joerg Lamprecht, the company’s chief executive, saw a business opportunity in late 2013, when a protester crashed a drone a few feet from Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“You have a lock in your home. It’s not for your mailman or your neighbors. It’s for the one bad guy who might sneak in,” Lamprecht said. “It’s the same for the airspace.”

The company’s radio-frequency sensor on the roof of the National Defense University at Fort McNair, along Washington’s riverfront, documented 52 drone sightings in 26 days. Technicians then moved the equipment across the Potomac to the fitness center at Fort Myer, near Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. They tallied another 43 sightings in a month. Some drones appeared multiple times.

The sensors generally pick up signals within a kilometer or two, sometimes farther, the company said.

The areas covered reach far beyond the posts themselves but represent just a fraction of the federal no-fly area for drones. Washington’s Flight Restricted Zone stretches about 15 miles from Reagan National Airport and bans drone flights not specifically authorized by the FAA. Such permissions are exceedingly rare, and none were given near the Army posts at the time, the agency said.

Given the technology used, the company couldn’t provide precise locations for the drones or operators, although that can be done with other equipment.

The detection effort could also have picked up signals from the federal government’s own drone research.

As a career Special Forces officer with experience tracking cyber- and other “asymmetrical” attacks, Duggan has for years studied the mind-set of adversaries seeking ways to inflict the greatest harm on the United States at the lowest cost. A drone attack is one of many, he said.

Given that Russia-aligned forces are believed to have used a drone to drop a grenade on a large ammunition depot in Ukraine last year , disrupting supply lines, and that the Islamic State arms cheap commercial drones in Syria and elsewhere, the risks weigh on him.

Surrounded by the history of Fort Myer, along the path taken by the mounted platoon that carries flag-draped coffins to Arlington, Duggan considered a Parrot Bebop drone that has been used in Syria and popped up repeatedly in the detection data. On Sept. 3, the aircraft was detected multiple times after 1 a.m. Then it returned for 21 minutes the next evening.

“It was just odd. It was atypical,” Duggan said.

It probably wasn’t probing his defenses or doing surveillance, he said. But a determined foe could do that — or worse, perhaps, with a “specific surgical strike or just to paralyze or cause fear,” undermining readiness.

“Bases are not sanctuaries,” Duggan said. “If I’m an adversary, this is where I’m going to take you out. Why? Because we have this mentality that we’re all safe, everything’s good.”


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Drones keep entering no-fly zones over Washington, raising security concerns | DRONEPETS.ORG

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Over a career that has taken him to Afghanistan and Iraq, Col. Patrick Duggan has seen the lethal power of drones. Now, as a base commander in the nation’s capital, he is worried that frequent illegal flights buzzing over Washington could pose a threat.

In the middle of a federal no-fly zone for drones, in some of the most sensitive and restricted airspace in the United States, technicians working with Duggan recorded nearly 100 drone sightings over two months last summer. And that was just around two Army posts he oversees.

Many of the operators were probably oblivious to the flight ban or just ignoring it as they flew for fun, he said. But he’s not sure.

“Are they bad guys? Well, we don’t know,” Duggan said. “It’s a technology that can be used to attack us at home. Why? Because we are not as prepared as we need to be.”

In this video, the Federal Aviation Administration warns visitors during the National Cherry Blossom Festival that drones are prohibited in D.C. (Federal Aviation Administration)

In an acknowledgment of the threat, Congress in November voted to broadly expand the Defense Department’s anti-drone powers within the United States. President Trump signed the measure, included in a major defense bill, last month .

Millions of agile and easy-to-fly quadcopters and other drones are sold in the United States each year, with Christmas providing the latest boost. Yet many of the quandaries that come with the devices have not been addressed. Although any tool or technology, from a rifle to a rental truck, can be misused, security experts say drones have introduced broad new dangers and have outpaced efforts to regulate them.

Whether controlled by remote or set to fly autonomously, many drones can carry surveillance cameras, hacking devices or explosives long distances, easily evading ground defenses, experts say. And, they add, the threat from what officials call “unmanned aircraft systems” (UAS) is not theoretical.

An analysis prepared by members of a team at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida specializing in counter-drone operations reported in 2016 that “critical assets within the continental United States have already been ‘attacked’ by nefarious UAS operators.”

Members declined to specify the targets or provide details, given security and other concerns.

“While no deaths have been attributed to these UASs, it is only a matter of time before these systems are directly or indirectly responsible for loss of life or interference with critical infrastructure in the homeland,” the analysis said.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in March, a top military leader voiced concern about recent unauthorized drone flights over Navy and Air Force installations.

“These intrusions represent a growing threat to the safety and security of nuclear weapons and personnel,” said John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command.

Expanded powers

In the almost three years since a recreational drone user crashed his two-foot-wide quadcopter on the White House grounds early one January morning — and called to “self-report” the incident to the Secret Service six hours later — federal authorities have been trying to figure out how best to protect the capital.

A few months after that incident, in Tokyo, a protester was arrested for landing a drone carrying a harmless amount of radioactive cesium on the prime minister’s office.

It’s tough to tease out the potential attackers from the “knuckleheads,” and officials say the U.S. government has been hamstrung as it works to upgrade security.

Drones inhabit a curious space in U.S. law, making them particularly difficult to regulate. They have been deemed “aircraft,” just like a Boeing 787, so they can’t simply be knocked from the sky. Sometimes dubbed “flying laptops,” they also are covered by laws against wiretapping and computer hacking. And most drones are categorized as “model aircraft,” but Congress has said the Federal Aviation Administration generally can’t issue regulations covering those.

That all complicates security efforts and strictly limits what data can be pried from them to track their users or seize their controls. At the same time, opening up laws protecting electronic communications could have significant civil liberties implications.

In 2016, Congress granted the Defense Department power to trace, take control of or destroy drones within the United States, but the law limited that authority to three critical areas: protecting facilities involved with nuclear deterrence, space and missile defense.

Last year , the Trump administration sought broad counter-drone powers for federal agencies. That request foundered on bipartisan concerns in Congress that it was too expansive.

Under the legislation Trump signed last month, the Defense Department’s powers were expanded significantly. There are six new areas where it can track or take down drones, including working to protect the president, vice president “or other officer immediately next in order of succession.”

Air defenses, including in Washington, Special Operations forces activities, and certain combat support, testing and explosives facilities also were included.

The military’s sense of urgency is due, in part, to its experiences using drones to deadly effect overseas and facing off-the-shelf drones on the battlefield. But its growing role in domestic drone defense is an important and little-debated shift.

The Department of Homeland Security says that “without statutory relief we remain constrained in responding” to the threat of drones and must rely on “conventional means.” Without legal changes, the agency is “limited in its ability to fully develop counter UAS technologies — further delaying our security response,” spokeswoman Anna Franko said.

Some detection systems are deployed in the Washington region, although coverage is limited. Homeland Security officials say they cannot discuss all that is being done.

Security concerns, including from the FBI, have held up regulations that would allow much broader use of drones for business.

A Trump administration pilot program on expanding drone use is meant, in part, to provide the data and experience to help assuage such concerns, backers said.

Fear of a surgical strike

In the Washington region, drone policing can be an absurd and disturbing affair, as efforts to deal with brazen and sometimes comical behavior are colored by a post-9/11 sense that potent attacks could come at any moment.

One man was detained in 2015 for flying his drone inside the chamber of the Jefferson Memorial. After allowing authorities to search his iPad controller and car, he was deemed “negative for any suspicious indicators” and given a ticket, according to an FAA incident database. In general, flying drones in a national park, without a special permit, is illegal.

In another instance, two Ukrainians were questioned by the Secret Service and had their drone confiscated after flying it near the Washington Monument, according to the database. Someone else was cited for filming a fitness video there.

But many operators remain out of law enforcement’s reach, their identities and motives obscured.

On a late night in June, four drones were captured on security cameras flying across from the Pentagon, according to an incident report.

“One of the drones possibly crashed or burned in the sky and that was the last sighting,” the report said. An Arlington County police spokeswoman said its officers responded but found nothing.

Duggan’s effort to quantify the threat was unusual. Rather than relying on anecdotal information or random sightings, the commander of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall wanted data.

Duggan worked with a San Francisco-based detection company, Dedrone, run by a former German drone maker. Joerg Lamprecht, the company’s chief executive, saw a business opportunity in late 2013, when a protester crashed a drone a few feet from Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“You have a lock in your home. It’s not for your mailman or your neighbors. It’s for the one bad guy who might sneak in,” Lamprecht said. “It’s the same for the airspace.”

The company’s radio-frequency sensor on the roof of the National Defense University at Fort McNair, along Washington’s riverfront, documented 52 drone sightings in 26 days. Technicians then moved the equipment across the Potomac to the fitness center at Fort Myer, near Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. They tallied another 43 sightings in a month. Some drones appeared multiple times.

The sensors generally pick up signals within a kilometer or two, sometimes farther, the company said.

The areas covered reach far beyond the posts themselves but represent just a fraction of the federal no-fly area for drones. Washington’s Flight Restricted Zone stretches about 15 miles from Reagan National Airport and bans drone flights not specifically authorized by the FAA. Such permissions are exceedingly rare, and none were given near the Army posts at the time, the agency said.

Given the technology used, the company couldn’t provide precise locations for the drones or operators, although that can be done with other equipment.

The detection effort could also have picked up signals from the federal government’s own drone research.

As a career Special Forces officer with experience tracking cyber- and other “asymmetrical” attacks, Duggan has for years studied the mind-set of adversaries seeking ways to inflict the greatest harm on the United States at the lowest cost. A drone attack is one of many, he said.

Given that Russia-aligned forces are believed to have used a drone to drop a grenade on a large ammunition depot in Ukraine last year , disrupting supply lines, and that the Islamic State arms cheap commercial drones in Syria and elsewhere, the risks weigh on him.

Surrounded by the history of Fort Myer, along the path taken by the mounted platoon that carries flag-draped coffins to Arlington, Duggan considered a Parrot Bebop drone that has been used in Syria and popped up repeatedly in the detection data. On Sept. 3, the aircraft was detected multiple times after 1 a.m. Then it returned for 21 minutes the next evening.

“It was just odd. It was atypical,” Duggan said.

It probably wasn’t probing his defenses or doing surveillance, he said. But a determined foe could do that — or worse, perhaps, with a “specific surgical strike or just to paralyze or cause fear,” undermining readiness.

“Bases are not sanctuaries,” Duggan said. “If I’m an adversary, this is where I’m going to take you out. Why? Because we have this mentality that we’re all safe, everything’s good.”


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Drones keep entering no-fly zones over Washington, raising security concerns | DRONEPETS.ORG

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Over a career that has taken him to Afghanistan and Iraq, Col. Patrick Duggan has seen the lethal power of drones. Now, as a base commander in the nation’s capital, he is worried that frequent illegal flights buzzing over Washington could pose a threat.

In the middle of a federal no-fly zone for drones, in some of the most sensitive and restricted airspace in the United States, technicians working with Duggan recorded nearly 100 drone sightings over two months last summer. And that was just around two Army posts he oversees.

Many of the operators were probably oblivious to the flight ban or just ignoring it as they flew for fun, he said. But he’s not sure.

“Are they bad guys? Well, we don’t know,” Duggan said. “It’s a technology that can be used to attack us at home. Why? Because we are not as prepared as we need to be.”

In this video, the Federal Aviation Administration warns visitors during the National Cherry Blossom Festival that drones are prohibited in D.C. (Federal Aviation Administration)

In an acknowledgment of the threat, Congress in November voted to broadly expand the Defense Department’s anti-drone powers within the United States. President Trump signed the measure, included in a major defense bill, last month .

Millions of agile and easy-to-fly quadcopters and other drones are sold in the United States each year, with Christmas providing the latest boost. Yet many of the quandaries that come with the devices have not been addressed. Although any tool or technology, from a rifle to a rental truck, can be misused, security experts say drones have introduced broad new dangers and have outpaced efforts to regulate them.

Whether controlled by remote or set to fly autonomously, many drones can carry surveillance cameras, hacking devices or explosives long distances, easily evading ground defenses, experts say. And, they add, the threat from what officials call “unmanned aircraft systems” (UAS) is not theoretical.

An analysis prepared by members of a team at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida specializing in counter-drone operations reported in 2016 that “critical assets within the continental United States have already been ‘attacked’ by nefarious UAS operators.”

Members declined to specify the targets or provide details, given security and other concerns.

“While no deaths have been attributed to these UASs, it is only a matter of time before these systems are directly or indirectly responsible for loss of life or interference with critical infrastructure in the homeland,” the analysis said.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in March, a top military leader voiced concern about recent unauthorized drone flights over Navy and Air Force installations.

“These intrusions represent a growing threat to the safety and security of nuclear weapons and personnel,” said John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command.

Expanded powers

In the almost three years since a recreational drone user crashed his two-foot-wide quadcopter on the White House grounds early one January morning — and called to “self-report” the incident to the Secret Service six hours later — federal authorities have been trying to figure out how best to protect the capital.

A few months after that incident, in Tokyo, a protester was arrested for landing a drone carrying a harmless amount of radioactive cesium on the prime minister’s office.

It’s tough to tease out the potential attackers from the “knuckleheads,” and officials say the U.S. government has been hamstrung as it works to upgrade security.

Drones inhabit a curious space in U.S. law, making them particularly difficult to regulate. They have been deemed “aircraft,” just like a Boeing 787, so they can’t simply be knocked from the sky. Sometimes dubbed “flying laptops,” they also are covered by laws against wiretapping and computer hacking. And most drones are categorized as “model aircraft,” but Congress has said the Federal Aviation Administration generally can’t issue regulations covering those.

That all complicates security efforts and strictly limits what data can be pried from them to track their users or seize their controls. At the same time, opening up laws protecting electronic communications could have significant civil liberties implications.

In 2016, Congress granted the Defense Department power to trace, take control of or destroy drones within the United States, but the law limited that authority to three critical areas: protecting facilities involved with nuclear deterrence, space and missile defense.

Last year , the Trump administration sought broad counter-drone powers for federal agencies. That request foundered on bipartisan concerns in Congress that it was too expansive.

Under the legislation Trump signed last month, the Defense Department’s powers were expanded significantly. There are six new areas where it can track or take down drones, including working to protect the president, vice president “or other officer immediately next in order of succession.”

Air defenses, including in Washington, Special Operations forces activities, and certain combat support, testing and explosives facilities also were included.

The military’s sense of urgency is due, in part, to its experiences using drones to deadly effect overseas and facing off-the-shelf drones on the battlefield. But its growing role in domestic drone defense is an important and little-debated shift.

The Department of Homeland Security says that “without statutory relief we remain constrained in responding” to the threat of drones and must rely on “conventional means.” Without legal changes, the agency is “limited in its ability to fully develop counter UAS technologies — further delaying our security response,” spokeswoman Anna Franko said.

Some detection systems are deployed in the Washington region, although coverage is limited. Homeland Security officials say they cannot discuss all that is being done.

Security concerns, including from the FBI, have held up regulations that would allow much broader use of drones for business.

A Trump administration pilot program on expanding drone use is meant, in part, to provide the data and experience to help assuage such concerns, backers said.

Fear of a surgical strike

In the Washington region, drone policing can be an absurd and disturbing affair, as efforts to deal with brazen and sometimes comical behavior are colored by a post-9/11 sense that potent attacks could come at any moment.

One man was detained in 2015 for flying his drone inside the chamber of the Jefferson Memorial. After allowing authorities to search his iPad controller and car, he was deemed “negative for any suspicious indicators” and given a ticket, according to an FAA incident database. In general, flying drones in a national park, without a special permit, is illegal.

In another instance, two Ukrainians were questioned by the Secret Service and had their drone confiscated after flying it near the Washington Monument, according to the database. Someone else was cited for filming a fitness video there.

But many operators remain out of law enforcement’s reach, their identities and motives obscured.

On a late night in June, four drones were captured on security cameras flying across from the Pentagon, according to an incident report.

“One of the drones possibly crashed or burned in the sky and that was the last sighting,” the report said. An Arlington County police spokeswoman said its officers responded but found nothing.

Duggan’s effort to quantify the threat was unusual. Rather than relying on anecdotal information or random sightings, the commander of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall wanted data.

Duggan worked with a San Francisco-based detection company, Dedrone, run by a former German drone maker. Joerg Lamprecht, the company’s chief executive, saw a business opportunity in late 2013, when a protester crashed a drone a few feet from Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“You have a lock in your home. It’s not for your mailman or your neighbors. It’s for the one bad guy who might sneak in,” Lamprecht said. “It’s the same for the airspace.”

The company’s radio-frequency sensor on the roof of the National Defense University at Fort McNair, along Washington’s riverfront, documented 52 drone sightings in 26 days. Technicians then moved the equipment across the Potomac to the fitness center at Fort Myer, near Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. They tallied another 43 sightings in a month. Some drones appeared multiple times.

The sensors generally pick up signals within a kilometer or two, sometimes farther, the company said.

The areas covered reach far beyond the posts themselves but represent just a fraction of the federal no-fly area for drones. Washington’s Flight Restricted Zone stretches about 15 miles from Reagan National Airport and bans drone flights not specifically authorized by the FAA. Such permissions are exceedingly rare, and none were given near the Army posts at the time, the agency said.

Given the technology used, the company couldn’t provide precise locations for the drones or operators, although that can be done with other equipment.

The detection effort could also have picked up signals from the federal government’s own drone research.

As a career Special Forces officer with experience tracking cyber- and other “asymmetrical” attacks, Duggan has for years studied the mind-set of adversaries seeking ways to inflict the greatest harm on the United States at the lowest cost. A drone attack is one of many, he said.

Given that Russia-aligned forces are believed to have used a drone to drop a grenade on a large ammunition depot in Ukraine last year , disrupting supply lines, and that the Islamic State arms cheap commercial drones in Syria and elsewhere, the risks weigh on him.

Surrounded by the history of Fort Myer, along the path taken by the mounted platoon that carries flag-draped coffins to Arlington, Duggan considered a Parrot Bebop drone that has been used in Syria and popped up repeatedly in the detection data. On Sept. 3, the aircraft was detected multiple times after 1 a.m. Then it returned for 21 minutes the next evening.

“It was just odd. It was atypical,” Duggan said.

It probably wasn’t probing his defenses or doing surveillance, he said. But a determined foe could do that — or worse, perhaps, with a “specific surgical strike or just to paralyze or cause fear,” undermining readiness.

“Bases are not sanctuaries,” Duggan said. “If I’m an adversary, this is where I’m going to take you out. Why? Because we have this mentality that we’re all safe, everything’s good.”


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Drones keep entering no-fly zones over Washington, raising security concerns | DRONEPETS.ORG

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Over a career that has taken him to Afghanistan and Iraq, Col. Patrick Duggan has seen the lethal power of drones. Now, as a base commander in the nation’s capital, he is worried that frequent illegal flights buzzing over Washington could pose a threat.

In the middle of a federal no-fly zone for drones, in some of the most sensitive and restricted airspace in the United States, technicians working with Duggan recorded nearly 100 drone sightings over two months last summer. And that was just around two Army posts he oversees.

Many of the operators were probably oblivious to the flight ban or just ignoring it as they flew for fun, he said. But he’s not sure.

“Are they bad guys? Well, we don’t know,” Duggan said. “It’s a technology that can be used to attack us at home. Why? Because we are not as prepared as we need to be.”

In this video, the Federal Aviation Administration warns visitors during the National Cherry Blossom Festival that drones are prohibited in D.C. (Federal Aviation Administration)

In an acknowledgment of the threat, Congress in November voted to broadly expand the Defense Department’s anti-drone powers within the United States. President Trump signed the measure, included in a major defense bill, last month .

Millions of agile and easy-to-fly quadcopters and other drones are sold in the United States each year, with Christmas providing the latest boost. Yet many of the quandaries that come with the devices have not been addressed. Although any tool or technology, from a rifle to a rental truck, can be misused, security experts say drones have introduced broad new dangers and have outpaced efforts to regulate them.

Whether controlled by remote or set to fly autonomously, many drones can carry surveillance cameras, hacking devices or explosives long distances, easily evading ground defenses, experts say. And, they add, the threat from what officials call “unmanned aircraft systems” (UAS) is not theoretical.

An analysis prepared by members of a team at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida specializing in counter-drone operations reported in 2016 that “critical assets within the continental United States have already been ‘attacked’ by nefarious UAS operators.”

Members declined to specify the targets or provide details, given security and other concerns.

“While no deaths have been attributed to these UASs, it is only a matter of time before these systems are directly or indirectly responsible for loss of life or interference with critical infrastructure in the homeland,” the analysis said.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in March, a top military leader voiced concern about recent unauthorized drone flights over Navy and Air Force installations.

“These intrusions represent a growing threat to the safety and security of nuclear weapons and personnel,” said John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command.

Expanded powers

In the almost three years since a recreational drone user crashed his two-foot-wide quadcopter on the White House grounds early one January morning — and called to “self-report” the incident to the Secret Service six hours later — federal authorities have been trying to figure out how best to protect the capital.

A few months after that incident, in Tokyo, a protester was arrested for landing a drone carrying a harmless amount of radioactive cesium on the prime minister’s office.

It’s tough to tease out the potential attackers from the “knuckleheads,” and officials say the U.S. government has been hamstrung as it works to upgrade security.

Drones inhabit a curious space in U.S. law, making them particularly difficult to regulate. They have been deemed “aircraft,” just like a Boeing 787, so they can’t simply be knocked from the sky. Sometimes dubbed “flying laptops,” they also are covered by laws against wiretapping and computer hacking. And most drones are categorized as “model aircraft,” but Congress has said the Federal Aviation Administration generally can’t issue regulations covering those.

That all complicates security efforts and strictly limits what data can be pried from them to track their users or seize their controls. At the same time, opening up laws protecting electronic communications could have significant civil liberties implications.

In 2016, Congress granted the Defense Department power to trace, take control of or destroy drones within the United States, but the law limited that authority to three critical areas: protecting facilities involved with nuclear deterrence, space and missile defense.

Last year , the Trump administration sought broad counter-drone powers for federal agencies. That request foundered on bipartisan concerns in Congress that it was too expansive.

Under the legislation Trump signed last month, the Defense Department’s powers were expanded significantly. There are six new areas where it can track or take down drones, including working to protect the president, vice president “or other officer immediately next in order of succession.”

Air defenses, including in Washington, Special Operations forces activities, and certain combat support, testing and explosives facilities also were included.

The military’s sense of urgency is due, in part, to its experiences using drones to deadly effect overseas and facing off-the-shelf drones on the battlefield. But its growing role in domestic drone defense is an important and little-debated shift.

The Department of Homeland Security says that “without statutory relief we remain constrained in responding” to the threat of drones and must rely on “conventional means.” Without legal changes, the agency is “limited in its ability to fully develop counter UAS technologies — further delaying our security response,” spokeswoman Anna Franko said.

Some detection systems are deployed in the Washington region, although coverage is limited. Homeland Security officials say they cannot discuss all that is being done.

Security concerns, including from the FBI, have held up regulations that would allow much broader use of drones for business.

A Trump administration pilot program on expanding drone use is meant, in part, to provide the data and experience to help assuage such concerns, backers said.

Fear of a surgical strike

In the Washington region, drone policing can be an absurd and disturbing affair, as efforts to deal with brazen and sometimes comical behavior are colored by a post-9/11 sense that potent attacks could come at any moment.

One man was detained in 2015 for flying his drone inside the chamber of the Jefferson Memorial. After allowing authorities to search his iPad controller and car, he was deemed “negative for any suspicious indicators” and given a ticket, according to an FAA incident database. In general, flying drones in a national park, without a special permit, is illegal.

In another instance, two Ukrainians were questioned by the Secret Service and had their drone confiscated after flying it near the Washington Monument, according to the database. Someone else was cited for filming a fitness video there.

But many operators remain out of law enforcement’s reach, their identities and motives obscured.

On a late night in June, four drones were captured on security cameras flying across from the Pentagon, according to an incident report.

“One of the drones possibly crashed or burned in the sky and that was the last sighting,” the report said. An Arlington County police spokeswoman said its officers responded but found nothing.

Duggan’s effort to quantify the threat was unusual. Rather than relying on anecdotal information or random sightings, the commander of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall wanted data.

Duggan worked with a San Francisco-based detection company, Dedrone, run by a former German drone maker. Joerg Lamprecht, the company’s chief executive, saw a business opportunity in late 2013, when a protester crashed a drone a few feet from Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“You have a lock in your home. It’s not for your mailman or your neighbors. It’s for the one bad guy who might sneak in,” Lamprecht said. “It’s the same for the airspace.”

The company’s radio-frequency sensor on the roof of the National Defense University at Fort McNair, along Washington’s riverfront, documented 52 drone sightings in 26 days. Technicians then moved the equipment across the Potomac to the fitness center at Fort Myer, near Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. They tallied another 43 sightings in a month. Some drones appeared multiple times.

The sensors generally pick up signals within a kilometer or two, sometimes farther, the company said.

The areas covered reach far beyond the posts themselves but represent just a fraction of the federal no-fly area for drones. Washington’s Flight Restricted Zone stretches about 15 miles from Reagan National Airport and bans drone flights not specifically authorized by the FAA. Such permissions are exceedingly rare, and none were given near the Army posts at the time, the agency said.

Given the technology used, the company couldn’t provide precise locations for the drones or operators, although that can be done with other equipment.

The detection effort could also have picked up signals from the federal government’s own drone research.

As a career Special Forces officer with experience tracking cyber- and other “asymmetrical” attacks, Duggan has for years studied the mind-set of adversaries seeking ways to inflict the greatest harm on the United States at the lowest cost. A drone attack is one of many, he said.

Given that Russia-aligned forces are believed to have used a drone to drop a grenade on a large ammunition depot in Ukraine last year , disrupting supply lines, and that the Islamic State arms cheap commercial drones in Syria and elsewhere, the risks weigh on him.

Surrounded by the history of Fort Myer, along the path taken by the mounted platoon that carries flag-draped coffins to Arlington, Duggan considered a Parrot Bebop drone that has been used in Syria and popped up repeatedly in the detection data. On Sept. 3, the aircraft was detected multiple times after 1 a.m. Then it returned for 21 minutes the next evening.

“It was just odd. It was atypical,” Duggan said.

It probably wasn’t probing his defenses or doing surveillance, he said. But a determined foe could do that — or worse, perhaps, with a “specific surgical strike or just to paralyze or cause fear,” undermining readiness.

“Bases are not sanctuaries,” Duggan said. “If I’m an adversary, this is where I’m going to take you out. Why? Because we have this mentality that we’re all safe, everything’s good.”


VISIT THE SOURCE ARTICLE
Author:

Drones keep entering no-fly zones over Washington, raising security concerns | DRONEPETS.ORG

Spread the love

Over a career that has taken him to Afghanistan and Iraq, Col. Patrick Duggan has seen the lethal power of drones. Now, as a base commander in the nation’s capital, he is worried that frequent illegal flights buzzing over Washington could pose a threat.

In the middle of a federal no-fly zone for drones, in some of the most sensitive and restricted airspace in the United States, technicians working with Duggan recorded nearly 100 drone sightings over two months last summer. And that was just around two Army posts he oversees.

Many of the operators were probably oblivious to the flight ban or just ignoring it as they flew for fun, he said. But he’s not sure.

“Are they bad guys? Well, we don’t know,” Duggan said. “It’s a technology that can be used to attack us at home. Why? Because we are not as prepared as we need to be.”

In this video, the Federal Aviation Administration warns visitors during the National Cherry Blossom Festival that drones are prohibited in D.C. (Federal Aviation Administration)

In an acknowledgment of the threat, Congress in November voted to broadly expand the Defense Department’s anti-drone powers within the United States. President Trump signed the measure, included in a major defense bill, last month .

Millions of agile and easy-to-fly quadcopters and other drones are sold in the United States each year, with Christmas providing the latest boost. Yet many of the quandaries that come with the devices have not been addressed. Although any tool or technology, from a rifle to a rental truck, can be misused, security experts say drones have introduced broad new dangers and have outpaced efforts to regulate them.

Whether controlled by remote or set to fly autonomously, many drones can carry surveillance cameras, hacking devices or explosives long distances, easily evading ground defenses, experts say. And, they add, the threat from what officials call “unmanned aircraft systems” (UAS) is not theoretical.

An analysis prepared by members of a team at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida specializing in counter-drone operations reported in 2016 that “critical assets within the continental United States have already been ‘attacked’ by nefarious UAS operators.”

Members declined to specify the targets or provide details, given security and other concerns.

“While no deaths have been attributed to these UASs, it is only a matter of time before these systems are directly or indirectly responsible for loss of life or interference with critical infrastructure in the homeland,” the analysis said.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in March, a top military leader voiced concern about recent unauthorized drone flights over Navy and Air Force installations.

“These intrusions represent a growing threat to the safety and security of nuclear weapons and personnel,” said John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command.

Expanded powers

In the almost three years since a recreational drone user crashed his two-foot-wide quadcopter on the White House grounds early one January morning — and called to “self-report” the incident to the Secret Service six hours later — federal authorities have been trying to figure out how best to protect the capital.

A few months after that incident, in Tokyo, a protester was arrested for landing a drone carrying a harmless amount of radioactive cesium on the prime minister’s office.

It’s tough to tease out the potential attackers from the “knuckleheads,” and officials say the U.S. government has been hamstrung as it works to upgrade security.

Drones inhabit a curious space in U.S. law, making them particularly difficult to regulate. They have been deemed “aircraft,” just like a Boeing 787, so they can’t simply be knocked from the sky. Sometimes dubbed “flying laptops,” they also are covered by laws against wiretapping and computer hacking. And most drones are categorized as “model aircraft,” but Congress has said the Federal Aviation Administration generally can’t issue regulations covering those.

That all complicates security efforts and strictly limits what data can be pried from them to track their users or seize their controls. At the same time, opening up laws protecting electronic communications could have significant civil liberties implications.

In 2016, Congress granted the Defense Department power to trace, take control of or destroy drones within the United States, but the law limited that authority to three critical areas: protecting facilities involved with nuclear deterrence, space and missile defense.

Last year , the Trump administration sought broad counter-drone powers for federal agencies. That request foundered on bipartisan concerns in Congress that it was too expansive.

Under the legislation Trump signed last month, the Defense Department’s powers were expanded significantly. There are six new areas where it can track or take down drones, including working to protect the president, vice president “or other officer immediately next in order of succession.”

Air defenses, including in Washington, Special Operations forces activities, and certain combat support, testing and explosives facilities also were included.

The military’s sense of urgency is due, in part, to its experiences using drones to deadly effect overseas and facing off-the-shelf drones on the battlefield. But its growing role in domestic drone defense is an important and little-debated shift.

The Department of Homeland Security says that “without statutory relief we remain constrained in responding” to the threat of drones and must rely on “conventional means.” Without legal changes, the agency is “limited in its ability to fully develop counter UAS technologies — further delaying our security response,” spokeswoman Anna Franko said.

Some detection systems are deployed in the Washington region, although coverage is limited. Homeland Security officials say they cannot discuss all that is being done.

Security concerns, including from the FBI, have held up regulations that would allow much broader use of drones for business.

A Trump administration pilot program on expanding drone use is meant, in part, to provide the data and experience to help assuage such concerns, backers said.

Fear of a surgical strike

In the Washington region, drone policing can be an absurd and disturbing affair, as efforts to deal with brazen and sometimes comical behavior are colored by a post-9/11 sense that potent attacks could come at any moment.

One man was detained in 2015 for flying his drone inside the chamber of the Jefferson Memorial. After allowing authorities to search his iPad controller and car, he was deemed “negative for any suspicious indicators” and given a ticket, according to an FAA incident database. In general, flying drones in a national park, without a special permit, is illegal.

In another instance, two Ukrainians were questioned by the Secret Service and had their drone confiscated after flying it near the Washington Monument, according to the database. Someone else was cited for filming a fitness video there.

But many operators remain out of law enforcement’s reach, their identities and motives obscured.

On a late night in June, four drones were captured on security cameras flying across from the Pentagon, according to an incident report.

“One of the drones possibly crashed or burned in the sky and that was the last sighting,” the report said. An Arlington County police spokeswoman said its officers responded but found nothing.

Duggan’s effort to quantify the threat was unusual. Rather than relying on anecdotal information or random sightings, the commander of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall wanted data.

Duggan worked with a San Francisco-based detection company, Dedrone, run by a former German drone maker. Joerg Lamprecht, the company’s chief executive, saw a business opportunity in late 2013, when a protester crashed a drone a few feet from Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“You have a lock in your home. It’s not for your mailman or your neighbors. It’s for the one bad guy who might sneak in,” Lamprecht said. “It’s the same for the airspace.”

The company’s radio-frequency sensor on the roof of the National Defense University at Fort McNair, along Washington’s riverfront, documented 52 drone sightings in 26 days. Technicians then moved the equipment across the Potomac to the fitness center at Fort Myer, near Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. They tallied another 43 sightings in a month. Some drones appeared multiple times.

The sensors generally pick up signals within a kilometer or two, sometimes farther, the company said.

The areas covered reach far beyond the posts themselves but represent just a fraction of the federal no-fly area for drones. Washington’s Flight Restricted Zone stretches about 15 miles from Reagan National Airport and bans drone flights not specifically authorized by the FAA. Such permissions are exceedingly rare, and none were given near the Army posts at the time, the agency said.

Given the technology used, the company couldn’t provide precise locations for the drones or operators, although that can be done with other equipment.

The detection effort could also have picked up signals from the federal government’s own drone research.

As a career Special Forces officer with experience tracking cyber- and other “asymmetrical” attacks, Duggan has for years studied the mind-set of adversaries seeking ways to inflict the greatest harm on the United States at the lowest cost. A drone attack is one of many, he said.

Given that Russia-aligned forces are believed to have used a drone to drop a grenade on a large ammunition depot in Ukraine last year , disrupting supply lines, and that the Islamic State arms cheap commercial drones in Syria and elsewhere, the risks weigh on him.

Surrounded by the history of Fort Myer, along the path taken by the mounted platoon that carries flag-draped coffins to Arlington, Duggan considered a Parrot Bebop drone that has been used in Syria and popped up repeatedly in the detection data. On Sept. 3, the aircraft was detected multiple times after 1 a.m. Then it returned for 21 minutes the next evening.

“It was just odd. It was atypical,” Duggan said.

It probably wasn’t probing his defenses or doing surveillance, he said. But a determined foe could do that — or worse, perhaps, with a “specific surgical strike or just to paralyze or cause fear,” undermining readiness.

“Bases are not sanctuaries,” Duggan said. “If I’m an adversary, this is where I’m going to take you out. Why? Because we have this mentality that we’re all safe, everything’s good.”


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Drones keep entering no-fly zones over Washington, raising security concerns | DRONEPETS.ORG

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Over a career that has taken him to Afghanistan and Iraq, Col. Patrick Duggan has seen the lethal power of drones. Now, as a base commander in the nation’s capital, he is worried that frequent illegal flights buzzing over Washington could pose a threat.

In the middle of a federal no-fly zone for drones, in some of the most sensitive and restricted airspace in the United States, technicians working with Duggan recorded nearly 100 drone sightings over two months last summer. And that was just around two Army posts he oversees.

Many of the operators were probably oblivious to the flight ban or just ignoring it as they flew for fun, he said. But he’s not sure.

“Are they bad guys? Well, we don’t know,” Duggan said. “It’s a technology that can be used to attack us at home. Why? Because we are not as prepared as we need to be.”

In an acknowledgment of the threat, Congress in November voted to broadly expand the Defense Department’s anti-drone powers within the United States. President Trump signed the measure, included in a major defense bill, last month .

Millions of agile and easy-to-fly quadcopters and other drones are sold in the United States each year, with Christmas providing the latest boost. Yet many of the quandaries that come with the devices have not been addressed. Although any tool or technology, from a rifle to a rental truck, can be misused, security experts say drones have introduced broad new dangers and have outpaced efforts to regulate them.

Whether controlled by remote or set to fly autonomously, many drones can carry surveillance cameras, hacking devices or explosives long distances, easily evading ground defenses, experts say. And, they add, the threat from what officials call “unmanned aircraft systems” (UAS) is not theoretical.

An analysis prepared by members of a team at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida specializing in counter-drone operations reported in 2016 that “critical assets within the continental United States have already been ‘attacked’ by nefarious UAS operators.”

Members declined to specify the targets or provide details, given security and other concerns.

“While no deaths have been attributed to these UASs, it is only a matter of time before these systems are directly or indirectly responsible for loss of life or interference with critical infrastructure in the homeland,” the analysis said.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in March, a top military leader voiced concern about recent unauthorized drone flights over Navy and Air Force installations.

“These intrusions represent a growing threat to the safety and security of nuclear weapons and personnel,” said John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command.

Expanded powers
In the almost three years since a recreational drone user crashed his two-foot-wide quadcopter on the White House grounds early one January morning — and called to “self-report” the incident to the Secret Service six hours later — federal authorities have been trying to figure out how best to protect the capital.

[Drone operator says he accidentally crashed device on White House grounds]

A few months after that incident, in Tokyo, a protester was arrested for landing a drone carrying a harmless amount of radioactive cesium on the prime minister’s office.

It’s tough to tease out the potential attackers from the “knuckleheads,” and officials say the U.S. government has been hamstrung as it works to upgrade security.

Drones inhabit a curious space in U.S. law, making them particularly difficult to regulate. They have been deemed “aircraft,” just like a Boeing 787, so they can’t simply be knocked from the sky. Sometimes dubbed “flying laptops,” they also are covered by laws against wiretapping and computer hacking. And most drones are categorized as “model aircraft,” but Congress has said the Federal Aviation Administration generally can’t issue regulations covering those.

That all complicates security efforts and strictly limits what data can be pried from them to track their users or seize their controls. At the same time, opening up laws protecting electronic communications could have significant civil liberties implications.

In 2016, Congress granted the Defense Department power to trace, take control of or destroy drones within the United States, but the law limited that authority to three critical areas: protecting facilities involved with nuclear deterrence, space and missile defense.

Last year , the Trump administration sought broad counter-drone powers for federal agencies. That request foundered on bipartisan concerns in Congress that it was too expansive.

Under the legislation Trump signed last month, the Defense Department’s powers were expanded significantly. There are six new areas where it can track or take down drones, including working to protect the president, vice president “or other officer immediately next in order of succession.”

Air defenses, including in Washington, Special Operations forces activities, and certain combat support, testing and explosives facilities also were included.

The military’s sense of urgency is due, in part, to its experiences using drones to deadly effect overseas and facing off-the-shelf drones on the battlefield. But its growing role in domestic drone defense is an important and little-debated shift.

The Department of Homeland Security says that “without statutory relief we remain constrained in responding” to the threat of drones and must rely on “conventional means.” Without legal changes, the agency is “limited in its ability to fully develop counter UAS technologies — further delaying our security response,” spokeswoman Anna Franko said.

Some detection systems are deployed in the Washington region, although coverage is limited. Homeland Security officials say they cannot discuss all that is being done.

Security concerns, including from the FBI, have held up regulations that would allow much broader use of drones for business.

[A U.S. drone advisory group has been meeting in secret for months. It hasn’t gone well.]

A Trump administration pilot program on expanding drone use is meant, in part, to provide the data and experience to help assuage such concerns, backers said.

Fear of a surgical strike
In the Washington region, drone policing can be an absurd and disturbing affair, as efforts to deal with brazen and sometimes comical behavior are colored by a post-9/11 sense that potent attacks could come at any moment.

One man was detained in 2015 for flying his drone inside the chamber of the Jefferson Memorial. After allowing authorities to search his iPad controller and car, he was deemed “negative for any suspicious indicators” and given a ticket, according to an FAA incident database. In general, flying drones in a national park, without a special permit, is illegal.

In another instance, two Ukrainians were questioned by the Secret Service and had their drone confiscated after flying it near the Washington Monument, according to the database. Someone else was cited for filming a fitness video there.

But many operators remain out of law enforcement’s reach, their identities and motives obscured.

On a late night in June, four drones were captured on security cameras flying across from the Pentagon, according to an incident report.

“One of the drones possibly crashed or burned in the sky and that was the last sighting,” the report said. An Arlington County police spokeswoman said its officers responded but found nothing.

Duggan’s effort to quantify the threat was unusual. Rather than relying on anecdotal information or random sightings, the commander of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall wanted data.

Duggan worked with a San Francisco-based detection company, Dedrone, run by a former German drone maker. Joerg Lamprecht, the company’s chief executive, saw a business opportunity in late 2013, when a protester crashed a drone a few feet from Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“You have a lock in your home. It’s not for your mailman or your neighbors. It’s for the one bad guy who might sneak in,” Lamprecht said. “It’s the same for the airspace.”

The company’s radio-frequency sensor on the roof of the National Defense University at Fort McNair, along Washington’s riverfront, documented 52 drone sightings in 26 days. Technicians then moved the equipment across the Potomac to the fitness center at Fort Myer, near Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. They tallied another 43 sightings in a month. Some drones appeared multiple times.

The sensors generally pick up signals within a kilometer or two, sometimes farther, the company said.

The areas covered reach far beyond the posts themselves but represent just a fraction of the federal no-fly area for drones. Washington’s Flight Restricted Zone stretches about 15 miles from Reagan National Airport and bans drone flights not specifically authorized by the FAA. Such permissions are exceedingly rare, and none were given near the Army posts at the time, the agency said.

Given the technology used, the company couldn’t provide precise locations for the drones or operators, although that can be done with other equipment.

The detection effort could also have picked up signals from the federal government’s own drone research.

As a career Special Forces officer with experience tracking cyber- and other “asymmetrical” attacks, Duggan has for years studied the mind-set of adversaries seeking ways to inflict the greatest harm on the United States at the lowest cost. A drone attack is one of many, he said.

Given that Russia-aligned forces are believed to have used a drone to drop a grenade on a large ammunition depot in Ukraine last year , disrupting supply lines, and that the Islamic State arms cheap commercial drones in Syria and elsewhere, the risks weigh on him.

Surrounded by the history of Fort Myer, along the path taken by the mounted platoon that carries flag-draped coffins to Arlington, Duggan considered a Parrot Bebop drone that has been used in Syria and popped up repeatedly in the detection data. On Sept. 3, the aircraft was detected multiple times after 1 a.m. Then it returned for 21 minutes the next evening.

“It was just odd. It was atypical,” Duggan said.

It probably wasn’t probing his defenses or doing surveillance, he said. But a determined foe could do that — or worse, perhaps, with a “specific surgical strike or just to paralyze or cause fear,” undermining readiness.

“Bases are not sanctuaries,” Duggan said. “If I’m an adversary, this is where I’m going to take you out. Why? Because we have this mentality that we’re all safe, everything’s good.”

Read this story at The Washington Post.


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The 3 Best Artificial Intelligence Stocks of 2017 | NEURALSCULPT

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Over the course of the last few years, the world has embarked on a transformation that is the result of artificial intelligence (AI). These changes have come about primarily because of advances in the AI technique of deep learning, which processes mass quantities of information and is able to establish relationships and draw conclusions based on the data.

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While each of the following three companies represents a distinctly different approach to the AI revolution, they have all benefited enormously by being among the early adopters of this groundbreaking technology. Read on to find out why Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ: ADBE), NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA), and Micron Technology (NASDAQ: MU) were among the best performing AI stocks of 2017.

Creative application of AI

Adobe is best known for its Portable Document Format (PDF), which is used to create and exchange documents, and its suite of creative software tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Its migration to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model put the company in a position to make AI innovations available to its growing customer base, by infusing AI into its products and integrating the technology into its cloud. The company has also embarked on a mission to train all its technical employees in the fundamentals of AI. It developed an AI system dubbed Sensei, a Japanese word for honored teacher or mentor.

These moves are paying off for the creative-software specialist, and the company has had a record-breaking year. In its fiscal 2017 fourth quarter (which ended Dec. 1, 2017), Adobe reported revenue of $2 billion, which grew 25% year over year. The company produced stable gross margins and operating expenses that fell to 54% of revenue, down from 57% in the prior-year quarter. This resulted in net income that grew 37% over the prior-year quarter.

Shares of Adobe were up 70% over the preceding 12 months. Investors have high hopes this will continue, driving its valuation up to a nosebleed 51 times trailing 12-month earnings.

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Processor to the AI stars

The need to process vast amounts of data means that AI systems have to be fast. It turns out that the same parallel processing capabilities that allow graphics processing units (GPUs) to render lifelike images in computer games also make them a perfect solution for training AI systems. NVIDIA pioneered the GPU and was among the first to realize the processors’ potential for AI applications. The company also worked to optimize its chips for this purpose by combining elements of software with its processors, allowing researchers to accelerate their AI models.

Early and frequent innovations geared toward AI have catapulted NVIDIA’s results in recent years. In its fiscal 2018 third quarter (which ended Oct. 29, 2017), NVIDIA reported revenue of $2.6 billion, up 32% over the prior-year quarter, and gross margins that increased 50 basis points to 59.5%. Year-over-year spending increased by only 24%, driving net income to $838 million, up 55% year over year. The biggest revenue gains were in the company’s data center segment, which supplies chips for AI. This division has produced triple-digit growth of 163% on average, in each of the last six quarters, and now accounts for 19% of NVIDIA’s total revenue.

NVIDIA stock gained 81% in 2017, but investors may be wary of the company’s valuation, currently trading at a hefty 48 times trailing earnings.

Providing the memory for AI and self-driving cars

The data processing done by AI systems requires a significant amount of memory, and Micron is one of the world’s largest producers of memory chips, providing DRAM and NAND flash chips, among others. The company’s relationship with NVIDIA has expanded over the last year, and Micron’s solutions stand to benefit from continuing developments in self-driving cars. It recently introduced new processors that help autonomous vehicles detect road hazards, and Micron said it is already providing its fastest chip to a number of automotive customers.

These ongoing trends have shown in the company’s results. In Micron’s fiscal 2018 first quarter (which ended on Nov. 30, 2017), the company reported net sales of $6.8 billion, up a hefty 71% over the prior-year quarter. At the same time, gross margins more than doubled from 25.5% to 55.1% year over year. Disciplined spending carried that growth to the bottom line, producing net income of $2.68 billion, up from just $180 million in the prior-year quarter.

Investors are clearly expecting normal chip cycles to return and hurt future performance. Even as Micron’s stock was up 87% last year, it ended the year with a dirt-cheap valuation of just 6.4 times trailing earnings.

AI is here to stay

Artificial intelligence is truly a transformational technology, and companies that seized on the opportunity early on have reaped the benefits. AI is still in the early stages, so watch for companies that can effectively harness the technology to drive results going forward.

Find out why Nvidia is one of the 10 best stocks to buy now

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