FW: USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, May 17 - 23, 2012

Table of Contents

US Hacks Web Sites of al-Qaeda Affiliate in Yemen
State Department cyber experts recently hacked into Web sites being used by al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen and substituted the group's anti-American rhetoric with information about civilians killed in terrorist strikes, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday. The revelation provided an unusual window into low-level cyberwarfare activities that the government rarely discusses.
See the full article (Washington Post, Karen DeYoung and Ellen Nakashima, 5/23/12)
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FBI Fighting Two-front War on Growing Enemy - Cyber-espionage
The FBI is bringing back memories of those World War II ads that said "Loose lips sink ships." Officials say they're responding to two threats: the sophisticated computer hacking skills of outside intelligence agencies and the possibility of a trusted insider giving away secrets. The FBI has created a multi-city media campaign, targeting areas where there are government intelligence agencies or private contractors who work on classified military projects. The idea is to let the public know about the dangers of cyber-espionage.
See the full article (CBS, John Miller, 5/23/12)
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How the US Fuels Latin America's Surveillance Technology
In executing its wars on terror and drugs, the United States has been aiding the adoption of surveillance technologies in Latin America for decades. In Colombia, these surveillance technologies have been repurposed to silence judges and opposition voices, demonstrating the ease with which they can be abused to subvert the rule of law in any democratic nation lacking robust checks and balances. Nevertheless, the US government recently unveiled a plan to help the Mexican government triple the size of a national surveillance system to assist with counternarcotics efforts.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, Katitza Rodriguez and Rebecca Bowe, 5/21/12)
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Iraq Buys US Drones to Protect Oil
The United States has agreed to sell unarmed surveillance drones to Iraq's navy as part of an effort to help protect that nation's oil exports amid growing tensions in the Persian Gulf and to strengthen US-Iraqi ties. The drones will allow Iraq's military to keep a continuous watch over its oil terminals within Iraqi territorial waters of the Persian Gulf, where a significant portion of the world's oil originates and which Iran has occasionally threatened to blockade. The sales of drones and other US military equipment are viewed by the United States as a way to maintain deep ties with Iraq after the departure of American troops in December.
See the full article (USA TODAY, Jim Michaels, 5/20/12)
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Unmanned and Dangerous
Used first for surveillance, and increasingly for strikes, drones have considerable operational attraction. But killing with these stealth weapons stretches legal boundaries to the breaking point, and alienates people in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, countries in which neither NATO nor the United States, its most powerful member, are actually fighting wars -- unless we count the "war on terror" has having opened the entire world as a battlefield.
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Louise Arbour, 5/18/12)
Click to read "A Look at the NATO Summit," a USIP On the Issues.
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TEDx Stages Mogadishu Conference to Celebrate City's 'Rebirth'
"I love Mogadishu, I love Mogadishu, I love Mogadishu!" chanted Amir Issa, a Somali businessman and camel farmer. A video camera panned around the room, showing the audience rising to its feet and joining in the chorus. The scene was streamed live to internet users around the world. TED, the California-cool brand of inspirational speakers with "ideas worth spreading", had reached its final frontier: war-torn Somalia. The intention of TEDxMogadishu was to show that daily life is changing eight months after African Union troops pushed al-Qaida-linked militants out of the city.
See the full article (Guardian, David Smith, 5/17/12)
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US Drone Intel Led to Deadly Attack on Civilians by Turkish Military
Video surveillance provided by a US drone and given to the Turkish military was used in a Turkish airstrike that killed 34 civilians late last year, according to Pentagon officials. The U.S. team passed [drone surveillance] information over to Turkish officials for analysis. After [the] U.S. drone left the area, Turkish warplanes moved in and attacked the site. The airstrike, meant to hit rebel fighters, sent shockwaves and ignited protests throughout Turkey, which is a NATO ally of the US.
See the full article (CNN, Mike Mount, 5/17/12)
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