USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, June 7 - 13, 2012

Table of Contents

Let's Admit It: The US Is at War in Yemen, Too
After years of sending drones and commandos into Pakistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week finally admitted the obvious: the US is "fighting a war" there. But American robots and special forces aren't just targeting militants in Pakistan. They're doing the same - with increasing frequency and increasing lethality - in Yemen. The latest drone attack [is] the 23rd strike in Yemen so far this year. In Pakistan, there have been only 22. Surely, if America is at war in Pakistan, it's at war in Yemen, too.
See the full article (Wired, Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman, 6/14/12)
[Return to top]

Hillary's Little Startup: How the U.S. Is Using Technology to Aid Syria's Rebels
Abu Ghassan looks more like a hipster than a revolutionary. Decked out in a pink shirt and black jeans, he clutches a pack of cigarettes and begins to talk hesitantly about his activities. He is eager to get back to the beleaguered city of Homs in Syria but quickly warms to questions about how he learned to fight Bashar Assad with an AK-47, a video camera and the Internet--and how Americans helped turn him into a cyberwarrior.
See the full article (TIME, Jay Newton-Small, 6/13/12)
[Return to top]

Is Flame Virus Fallout a Chinese, Russian Plot to Control the Internet?
The barrage of Flame news - including word that Flame and Stuxnet appear to have common authorship - should not be viewed in a vacuum. A group of nations led by China, Russia and several Middle Eastern countries would love to see the end of U.S. dominance over the operational control of the Internet, and these nations think they have found their vehicle for accomplishing that: a U.N. body called the International Telecommunications Union.
See the full article (MSNBC, Bob Sullivan, 6/12/12)
[Return to top]

How Technology Promotes World Peace
Whereas techno-utopians believe technology is the solution to the problem of global conflict, techno-pragmatists see technology as a tool for overcoming deeply entrenched cycles of resource and market competition. In the long-term, then, grand strategy is becoming a collective, not national, enterprise. The question is thus not who controls technology, but the way in which we develop, guide, and control it collectively.
See the full article (Atlantic, Ayesha Khanna and Parag Khanna, 6/12/12)
[Return to top]

New Switchblade a Lethal Weapon: US Backpack 'Kamikaze Drones'
Errant drone strikes have been blamed for killing and injuring scores of civilians throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan, giving the US government a black eye as it targets elusive terrorist groups. Seeking to reduce civilian casualties and collateral damage, the Pentagon will soon deploy a new generation of drones the size of model planes, packing tiny explosive warheads that can be delivered with pinpoint accuracy.
See the full article (Sydney Morning Herald, W.J. Hennigan, 6/12/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Pakistani Media: Getting Beyond the Hype" on June 19 at 2:30pm.
[Return to top]

Flame Virus Linked to Stuxnet: Researchers
The Flame computer virus which has been raging in the Middle East has strong links to Stuxnet, a malware program widely believed to have been developed by the United States or Israel. Kaspersky, the Russian computer security firm credited with discovering Flame last month, said its research shows the two programs share certain portions of code, suggesting some ties between two separate groups of programmers. Flame, even though it was discovered just recently, appears to predate Stuxnet, which was created in 2009.
See the full article (AFP, 6/11/12)
[Return to top]

Baghdad Pins Security Hopes On 13,000 CCTV Cameras
Iraq's fragile coalition government is pinning its hopes on a network of closed-circuit television cameras to show it can bring some measure of security to Baghdad. Plans for the security-system upgrade also include 18 high-technology checkpoints which Baghdad Governor Salah Abdul Razaq hopes will help the authorities track would-be terrorists and prevent them from planning coordinated bombings, like the waves of attacks that continue to rattle Baghdad amid heightened sectarian tensions.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Ron Synovitz, 6/11/12)
[Return to top]

The War Machines
Ready or not, robot wars are coming. That was made clear in the skies over Pakistan a week ago, when an unmanned drone killed al-Qaeda's No. 2 leader with a missile strike. And it's happening on the ground in Afghanistan, where robots are increasingly doing the dirty and dangerous work - exploring caves and "walking the point" ahead of their squad - long done by grunts.
See the full article (TIME, Mark Thompson, 6/11/12)
[Return to top]

A National Security Blog From Wired Widens Its Reach
Wired, a magazine that celebrates nerdiness with cover pieces like "How to be a Geek Dad," has found a different audience of readers who are not coming from the programming circles of Silicon Valley. They are technology enthusiasts spread across military bases and mazelike corridors at the Pentagon. In the five years since started its Danger Room blog, it has attracted a steady following in the national security community, reaching readers the military sometimes has trouble connecting with in its own ranks.
See the full article (New York Times, Christine Haughney, 6/10/12) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
[Return to top]

Seek and Hide
The FBI's gumshoes are trying to find out who disclosed details of Olympic Games, the codeword for the ambitious initiative to develop cyber-weapons such as Stuxnet. The software, which American programmers are said to have cooked up in conjunction with Israeli ones, went on to disrupt the operation of hundreds of centrifuges at an Iranian nuclear site. That comes as no surprise to computer-security veterans, who had assumed that America and Israel were behind Stuxnet as well as Duqu and Flame.
See the full article (Economist, 6/9/12)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Change and Continuity in the Islamic Republic of Iran" on June 27 at 9:30am.
[Return to top]

Stuxnet: The Worm that Turned Obama into a Hypocrite?
In May 2011, the Obama administration published an admirable document setting out the US's international strategy for cyberspace. But there is a small problem. At the time when he signed that stirring declaration, Obama knew something that the rest of us didn't - namely that the Stuxnet worm, which caused such havoc at the heart of Iran's uranium-enrichment process had been written, under his authorisation, by programmers in the US National Security Agency.
See the full article (Guardian, John Naughton, 6/9/12)
[Return to top]

Did we miss anything?



Share this: FacebookDeliciousDiggMySpaceStumbleUponGoogleMicrosoftYahoo! BookmarksLinkedIn| Forward this to a Friend