Monday, November 28, 2011

Censored; There are no poor people in Saudi Arabia...., “Poverty is an open secret in Saudi Arabia”

Censored! There are no poor people in Saudi Arabia...., “Poverty is an open secret in Saudi Arabia”

Two young Saudi bloggers were sent to jail for fifteen days after uploading a ten-minute documentary on poverty in Riyadh, the capital of one of the richest petro-states in the Gulf.
Firas Buqna and Hussam Al-Darwish posted the video on YouTube on October 10. The fifth episode of their Web TV show “Mal’oub Alen” (“we’re being duped” in Arabic) touched on the living conditions of people in the poor neighbourhood of Al Jaradiya, on the outskirts of Riyadh.

In the report, Buqna is shocked by the relative poverty of the neighbourhood, where he comes across children “who are barefoot and don’t own any shoes.” Of the three neighbourhood residents that Buqna interviews, one “earns only 1,300 dollars (945 euros) to support his two wives and 11 children. Another resident supports 20 people with just 666 dollars (484 euros) a month.
Buqna and Al-Darwish denounce the stereotype of the wealthy, SUV-driving Saudi, explaining that 89% of the country’s citizens live in debt. The bloggers question why residents of such a wealthy country are slipping through the net and living in poverty. They point out that over the past 27 years Saudi Arabia has donated 56 billion euros to developing countries, while 22% the the country’s own citizens were reportedly living in relative poverty in 2009 (local media put the number at 30% in 2008).
The young bloggers’ video did not go down well with authorities. Six days after they posted the video online, Buqna and Al-Darwish were arrested and interrogated by the police. They were released two weeks later, on October 31. The exact reasons behind their arrest remain unclear.
However, the controversy generated by their arrest has drawn over a million viewers to their online video.

“Poverty is an open secret in Saudi Arabia”

Rachid M. (not his real name) is a blogger; he lives in eastern Saudi Arabia.
There are more and more poor people in Saudi Arabia, and the middle class has all but disappeared. It’s an open secret in the kingdom.
I don’t live in Riyadh and have never visited the neighbourhood of Al Jaradiya, but in the east of the country where I live, there are far poorer neighbourhoods than what Firas Buqna showed in his video. The fact that there are a lot of oil wells in the area changes nothing. Comparing the poorest areas of Saudi Arabia with Somalia, as Buqna does at the beginning of his documentary, makes sense. There are people who live in terrible conditions, on the streets or under makeshift tents.
Poverty was officially recognised for the first time during a visit by Ali Al-Namia, the former minister of social affairs, in the neighbourhood of Al Shamishi in Riyadh in November 2002. He went with King Abdullah, who was still crown prince at the time. The footage was aired on state television. At the time, authorities decided to create a national solidarity fund. But that wasn’t enough to stop poverty from spreading. Wealth is very badly distributed in our country, and corruption is also rife [in 2010, Saudi Arabia ranked 50th in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index list].
Official media outlets have addressed the problem in a very superficial way. They present poverty as if it affected only an isolated few and not entire swaths of the population, in one of the richest oil nations of the world.
Poor families do get government aid, but they receive symbolic amounts which absolutely don’t allow these people to meet all their needs. Not to mention the maze of bureaucratic red tape they have to go through to receive this aid. What’s more, this aid is granted only to people who have no other source of income. Low-income working families aren’t entitled to it.
“We think they were arrested because they caricatured a commonly-used phrase that honours the King”
There are several reasons for which the two bloggers may have been arrested. According to another famous blogger, nicknamed Saudi Jeans, authorities may not have liked the fact that their video was picked up by a foreign-based opposition TV network. Others think authorities were angered by the videos’ direct, defiant tone. But most people think that what got them into trouble was the fact that they caricatured a commonly-used phrase that honours the King (‘We are fine, we hope you are too’ in Arabic). The beginning of the video shows several wealthy Saudis in a large, elegant car saying ‘We are fine ,’ then a small boy from the neighbourhood of Al Jaradiya saying ‘We are not fine’.
Others think the motive of their arrest was to scare young Saudis, who increasingly use social media and new technologies to express themselves and voice criticism of the government and the country, sometimes beyond the limits imposed by authorities.”

Firas Buqna posted this photo of himself on Twitter after he was freed from the ZIOCONNED Wahhabi thuggish prisons of the crypto-Zionist Al-Saud....

“The Taliban can only be defeated by attacking them in Pakistan...”; This is a clear-cut case of the Pentagon sabotaging the White House...

“The Taliban can only be defeated by attacking them in Pakistan...”; This is a clear-cut case of the Pentagon sabotaging the White House...

Peter Chamberlin

Nangarhar is the secured province that is being turned over to Afghan forces, where the border incident has erupted. The attack upon Pakistan was intended as a demonstration for the world to see the dangers of an early Afghan transition and withdrawal. What else could explain this Afghan unit gaining command over Nangarhar Province on the same day that calls for air support inside Pakistan have become necessary? This is a clear-cut case of the Pentagon sabotaging the White House. It is also the first sign of what post-reconciliation ISAF actions will look like, under a Northern Alliance-dominated Afghan regime. Since the murder of Rabbani, Afghan security officials have been screaming in unison for this day to come–

“The Taliban can only be defeated by attacking them in Pakistan.”

According to former head of Afghanistan’s secret service, Amrullah Saleh, “You poison the soil where that grass is, then you eliminate it forever.” This is what has happened on Pakistan’s side of the Durand Line, the Pakistani Taliban from Mohmand (who have relocated to Afghanistan) have poisoned the Pakistani soil by firing upon Afghan forces from points near outpost Salala’s coordinates, in order to bring the two sides together inside Pakistan. This is not the first time that the Pakistani Taliban have used this tactic to bring the Afghan and Pakistani forces together. They used it preceding the “Battle of Wanat” and once again in the “Gora Prai” border post assault. In the Gora Prai video below you can see the individual militants being killed.

The Gora Prai video is from a single Predator; it pales in comparison to the latest assault which allegedly involved repeated runs of aircraft and helicopters, over a period of several hours.

The following was sent to me by a friend from Peshawar. It is self-explanatory.

“Another pack of Lies By NATO

Today’s papers carry the news that the NATO Chief has said that the attack on Pakistani soldiers was un-intentional. Very generous of him!!
Yesterday, I talked to Lt Col ZZZZZZ from Peshawar. He had just visited CMH Peshawar to meet the wounded in Salah Post by the US/ATO raid on night of 26 November. This is what he told me.
There were 14 wounded lying in the surgical ward suffering a variety of wounds. He talked to every one of them and asked them what had happened. The crux of the account of the soldiers and officers was that at about 11pm on 26th Nov a light aircraft came from across the border, flew over the post and fired flares and returned. About half an hour later armed helicopters and light aircraft came . They again fired flares and began firing at the men. They remained in the area for about 5 – 6 hours. During this time, the helicopter firing at individual personnel at will. The post had only one 12.7 anti-aircraft gun which opened fire. The gunner was shot. The major on the post took up the gun and began firing at the helicopters. He was fired at again. While changing position he was hit by a rocket or missile. His body was blasted to pieces. Only his name-plate was found.
Every one of the men on the post was killed or wounded. They seemed to be in no hurry and going after each individual separately. Having finished the entire post, they peaceably went back without any casualty on their part.
And the NATO Chief has the effrontery to say that it was un-intentional.
Now my question is, if for 5 to 6 hours this enemy action was taking place and our ground troops were under such deliberate enemy fire, where was the Army’s reaction and where was the PAF during all this time?I cannot believe that the Corps HQ or the PAF Northern Command in Peshawar did not know what was going on,on the front. If so, both should be disbanded for deliberate incompetence.”

The biggest question is–Why did the joint military commands allow the attack to happen, or make no effort to end it?

If the dust was allowed to settle on this confrontation, then it would surely reveal that it was the TTP bringing Afghan and Pakistani forces into conflict, which they would be inclined to do, considering the level of penetration of the Pakistani Taliban by British, Afghan, and American secret services (SEE: Dissecting the Anti-Pakistan Psyop). Through these separate assets, plus those of India and the Mossad, the Pakistani Taliban have always danced to the same tune as the CIA. This does not necessarily mean that Hakeemullah Mehsud (and Baitullah before him), Faqir Mohammed and Fazlullah are conscious American assets, but that they might as well be. If they are so foolish as to be led around by the nose by spook money, doing the Empire’s bidding, then they are nothing more than petty mercenaries, pretending to be revolutionary jihadis.

This attack can be compared to the Mumbai attack, in that Pakistani jihadis have taken actions which were intended to bring Pakistan into conflict with one of its neighbors. The last time it was India’s turn. Indian leaders kept a cool head, at that time, avoiding another major war with Pakistan, to suit American interests. Will Afghan leaders use their heads, to see this blow-up as their own warning to turn back from the pied piper’s road to oblivion, before it is too late for us all?

by Abdul Moeed Hashmi on 28 November, 2011 –

JALALABAD (PAN): Officials and tribal elders on Monday said the eastern province of Nangarhar was ready for security transition, stressing the need for increasing the strength of Afghan security forces.

Afghan forces will take over the security responsibility in 18 more areas in the second phase of transition. The forces will take full control of Balkh, Daikundi, Takhar, Samangan, Kabul and Nimroz provinces.

The cities included in the second phase of transition include Jalalabad, Chaghcharan, Shiberghan, Faizabad, Ghazni, Maidan Shahr and Qala-i-Naw. Helmand districts Nawa, Nad Ali and Marja are also to change hands.

In Nangarhar, Jalalabad, the provincial capital, Kama, Behsud, Khewa and Surkhrod districts would be handed to Afghan forces. Surkhrod district chief, Syed Ali Akbar Sadat, said they were ready for the handover, but the inadequate police strength posed a problem.

Governor Gul Agha Sherzai had discussed the issue with civil and military officials, his spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai said, adding the provincial capital is ready for the transfer.

“Foreign soldiers disrespect our traditions and we no longer need them,” Wilayat Khan, a tribal elder from Behsud, told Pajhwok Afghan News. The district had only 50 policemen, he said, asking the government to increase their number....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Is The Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis back again....?

Is The Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis back again....?

A geopolitical game-changer in Energy and beyond!

by Immanuel Wallerstein

It always amazes me how the world's politicians and media spend most of their energy debating geopolitical prospects that are not going to happen, while ignoring major developments that are happening.

Here is a list of the most important coming non-events that we have been loudly debating and analyzing: Israel is not going to bomb Iran. The euro is not going to disappear. Outside powers are not going to engage in military action inside Syria. The upsurge of worldwide popular unrest is not going to fade away.

Meanwhile, to minimal serious coverage in the media and on the internet, the Nord Stream was inaugurated in Lubmin on Germany's Baltic Coast on Nov. 8 in the presence of Pres. Medvedev of Russia and the prime ministers of Germany, France, and the Netherlands, plus the director of Gazprom, Russia's gas exporter, and the European Union's Energy Commissioner. This is a geopolitical game-changer, unlike all the widely discussed non-events that are not going to happen.

What is Nord Stream? Very simply, it is a gas pipeline that has been laid in the Baltic Sea, going from Vyborg near St. Petersburg in Russia to Lubmin near the Polish border in Germany without passing through any other country. From Germany, it can proceed to France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Great Britain, and other eager buyers of Russia's gas.

Nord Stream is an arrangement between private enterprises with the blessing of their respective governments. Russia's Gazprom owns 51%, two German companies 31%, and 9% each for one French and one Dutch company. The proportional investments (and the potential profits) are all private.

The key element in this arrangement is that the pipeline does not pass through Poland or any Baltic state or Belorussia or Ukraine. So, all these countries not only lose whatever transit fees they could charge but cannot use their intermediary location to hold up supplies of gas to western Europe while they negotiate deals with Russia.

The German press agency, Deutsche Welle, headlined its story "Nord Stream: A commercial project with a political vision." Le Monde headlined its story "Gazprom is established as a global energy actor." Joseph Bauer, energy expert from Deutsche Bank Research in Frankfurt am Main, opined "It's both a political and a commercial project, and it makes sense on both the economic and political level."

Meanwhile the Russians have told the Chinese that they will not sell them their gas at 30% below the European prices, saying they see no need for Russia to subsidize the Chinese economy. And they have made it clear to Turkmenistan, which has enormous natural gas resources, that they will not appreciate its exporting gas other than via Russia. The Nord Stream launching comes within days of the announcement by the new president of Kyrgyzstan that he expects to close down the U.S. military air base at Manas when its lease expires in 2014. This base has been crucial in U.S. supply links to Afghanistan. Clearly, Russia is strengthening its hold on the Soviet Union's former Central Asian republics.

Both East-Central Europe and the United States are discovering that the scheme to prevent the creation of a Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis is not viable. The European Union's central mechanisms are bending before this reality, as are many of the east-central European countries. This is most difficult for Ukraine, which is torn apart by these developments. And the United States? What in fact can they do about it?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Military Threats Against Iran, Cyber Attacks Escalate....

As evidence mounts that the U.S. secret state is launching cyber weapons against official enemies, while carrying out wide-ranging spy ops against their "friends," Gen. Keith Alexander, the dual-hatted overlord of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, says that the Obama administration is "working on a system" that will "help" ISPs thwart malicious attacks.

Speaking at the Security Innovation Network (
SINET) "Showcase 2011" shindig at the National Press Club in Washington, Alexander told security grifters eager to gouge taxpayers for another piece of lucrative "cybersecurity" pie: "What I'm concerned about are the destructive attacks. Those are the things yet to come that cause us a lot of concern."

That's rather rich coming from the head of a secretive Pentagon satrapy suspected of designing and launching the destructive Stuxnet virus which targeted Iran's civilian nuclear program.

According to fresh evidence provided by IT security experts it now appears that the same constellation of shadowy forces which unleashed Stuxnet are at it again with the newly discovered Duqu spy Trojan.

In a follow-up analysis, Kaspersky Lab researcher Alex Gostev
wrote that "the highest number of Duqu incidents have been recorded in Iran. This fact brings us back to the Stuxnet story and raises a number of issues."

Not least of which is the continuing demonization of the Islamic Republic by an unholy alliance of U.S. militarists, their Israeli pit bulls and congressional shills hyping the "Iran threat."

War Drums Beating

With the United States and the other capitalist powers incapable of digging the world economy out from under the slow-motion meltdown sparked by 2008's market collapse, and with tens of millions of enraged citizens rejecting austerity measures that will further enrich financial elites at their expense, will the Obama administration "go for broke" and set-off a new conflagration in the Middle East?

Ratcheting up bellicose rhetoric, John Keane, a retired four-star general, former Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army now currently perched on the board of General Dynamics, a major purveyor of cyber attack tools for the government,
told the House Homeland Security Committee October 26, "We've got to put our hand around their throat now. Why don't we kill them? We kill other people who are running terrorist operations against the United States."

AFP reported that "Iran made a formal protest" over Keane's remarks which urged "the targeted assassination of members of its elite Quds Force military special operations unit," over a fairy-tale plot allegedly cooked-up by Tehran, which employed a failed used-car salesman, a DEA snitch and members of the Zetas drug gang in a scheme to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

While the plot lines are as preposterous as allegations prior to the 2003 Iraq invasion that Saddam Hussein's regime was involved in the 9/11 attacks, one cannot so easily dismiss the propaganda value of such reports by administration "information warriors." The same can be said of the series of controlled leaks emanating from London, Tel Aviv and Washington urging immediate air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.

The Guardian reported that "Britain's armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern about Tehran's nuclear enrichment programme."

Chillingly, the "Ministry of Defence believes the US may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government."

On the same day that MoD's sanctioned leak appeared in the British press, Haaretz disclosed that "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are trying to muster a majority in the cabinet in favor of military action against Iran, a senior Israeli official has said. According to the official, there is a 'small advantage' in the cabinet for the opponents of such an attack."

"Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon said he preferred an American military attack on Iran to an Israeli one. 'A military move is the last resort,' he said."

The Associated Press reported that as Netanyahu moved to persuade his cabinet to "authorize a military strike against Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program," Israel successfully test-fired "a missile believed capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to Iran."

Adding to the disinformational witch's brew, The Washington Post reported that "a new spike in anti-Iran rhetoric and military threats by Western powers is being fueled by fears that Iran is edging closer to the nuclear 'breakout' point, when it acquires all the skills and parts needed to quickly build an atomic bomb if it chooses to," anonymous "Western diplomats and nuclear experts said Friday."

Post stenographer Joby Warrick informed us that a "Western diplomat who had seen drafts of the report" told him "it will elaborate on secret intelligence collected since 2004 showing Iranian scientists struggling to overcome technical hurdles in designing and building nuclear warheads."

And late last week Reuters disclosed that "a senior U.S. military official said on Friday Iran had become the biggest threat to the United States and Israel's president said the military option to stop the Islamic republic from obtaining nuclear weapons was nearer."

"'The biggest threat to the United States and to our interests and to our friends ... has come into focus and it's Iran,' said the U.S. military official, addressing a forum in Washington." Conveniently, "reporters were allowed to cover the event on condition the official not be identified."

While some
critics argue that Israel does not presently have the capacity to launch such an attack, and that "the volume of the war hysteria is being turned up with one purpose in mind: the Israelis want the US to do their dirty work for them," such reasoning is hardly reassuring.

Indeed, as the World Socialist Web Site points out, "the Israeli government has already made advanced preparations for an attack on Iran."

"On the military front," analyst Peter Symonds warned that "Israeli warplanes last week conducted a long-range exercise--of the type required to reach Iran--using a NATO airbase on the Italian island of Sardinia." In other words, the IDF drill was not a "rogue" exercise unilaterally conducted by Israel, but further evidence of Washington's "desperate bid to offset its economic decline by securing its hegemony over the energy-rich regions of the Middle East and Central Asia."

In the context of escalating tensions over Iran's nuclear enrichment program, seeded by manufactured "terror" plots, the imperialist powers may choose the "cyber" route prior to launching devastating missile and bomber strikes against Iranian military installations and civilian infrastructure.

Pentagon planners now believe that attack tools have reached the point where blinding Iran's air defenses while sowing chaos across population centers with power outages and the shutdown of financial services may now be a viable option.

This is not idle speculation. During the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, the National Journal disclosed that Central Command "considered a computerized attack to disable the networks that controlled Iraq's banking system, but they backed off when they realized that those networks were global and connected to banks in France."

Facing growing opposition at home and abroad to endless wars and imperial adventures, would the Obama administration have such qualms today?

Attack Tools Already in Play

As Antifascist Calling previously reported, when the Duqu virus was discovered last month, analysts at
Symantec believed that the remote access Trojan (RAT) "is essentially the precursor to a future Stuxnet-like attack."

"The threat was written by the same authors (or those who have access to the Stuxnet source code) and appears to have been created since the last Stuxnet file was recovered," researchers averred.

Since their initial reporting,
Symantec, drawing on research from CrySyS lab at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary, the organization which discovered the malware, reported they located an installer file in the form of a Microsoft Word document which exploits a previously unknown zero-day vulnerability.

Like Stuxnet, Duqu's stealthiness is directly proportional to its uncanny ability to capitalize on what are called zero-day exploits hardwired into it's digital DNA; security holes that are unknown to everyone until the instant they're used in an attack.

Similar to other dubious commodities traded on our dystopian "free markets," zero-days are bits of tainted code sought by criminal hackers, financial and industrial spies and enterprising security agencies that can sell for up to $250,000 a pop on the black market.

When Stuxnet appeared in dozens of countries last year, targeting what are called programmable logic controllers (PLCs) on industrial computers manufactured by Siemens that control everything from water purification and food processing to oil refining and potentially deadly chemical processes, researchers found it was designed to harm only one specific target: PLCs processing uranium fuel at a nuclear facility in Iran.

As Wired Magazine reported, when Symantec analysts who had been picking Stuxnet apart convinced internet service providers who controlled "servers in Malaysia and Denmark" where the virus "phoned home" each time it infected a new machine, to reroute the virus to a secure "sinkhole," they were in for a shock.

"Out of the initial 38,000 infections," journalist Kim Zetter wrote, "about 22,000 were in Iran. Indonesia was a distant second, with about 6,700 infections, followed by India with about 3,700 infections. The United States had fewer than 400. Only a small number of machines had Siemens Step 7 software installed--just 217 machines reporting in from Iran and 16 in the United States."

"The sophistication of the code," Wired averred, "plus the fraudulent certificates, and now Iran at the center of the fallout made it look like Stuxnet could be the work of a government cyberarmy--maybe even a United States cyberarmy.

"This made Symantec's sinkhole an audacious move," Zetter wrote. "In intercepting data the attackers were expecting to receive, the researchers risked tampering with a covert U.S. government operation."

Writing in the Journal of Strategic Studies, Thomas Rid, a former RAND Corporation employee and "Reader in War Studies at Kings College in London," who has close ties to the Western military establishment, observed in relation to Stuxnet that network "sabotage, first, is a deliberate attempt to weaken or destroy an economic or military system. All sabotage is predominantly technical in nature, but of course may use social enablers."

"The resources and investment that went into Stuxnet could only be mustered by a 'cyber superpower', argued Ralph Langner, a German control system security consultant who first extracted and decompiled the attack code."

In an interview with
National Public Radio, Langer said that the "level of expertise" behind Stuxnet "seemed almost alien. But that would be science fiction, and Stuxnet was a reality."

"Thinking about it for another minute, if it's not aliens, it's got to be the United States."

"For the time being it remains unclear how successful the Stuxnet attack against Iran's nuclear program actually was" Rid noted. "But it is clear that the operation has taken computer sabotage to an entirely new level."

Researcher Vikram Thakur, commenting on the latest Duqu discoveries reported: "The Word document was crafted in such a way as to definitively target the intended receiving organization." And whom, pray tell, was being targeted by Duqu? Why Iran, of course.

"Once Duqu is able to get a foothold in an organization through the zero-day exploit, the attackers can command it to spread to other computers."

Thakur wrote, "the Duqu configuration files on these computers," which did not have the ability to connect to the internet and the author's command and control (C&C) server, "were instead configured not to communicate directly with the C&C server, but to use a file-sharing C&C protocol with another compromised computer that had the ability to connect to the C&C server."

"Consequently," Thakur concluded, "Duqu creates a bridge between the network's internal servers and the C&C server. This allowed the attackers to access Duqu infections in secure zones with the help of computers outside the secure zone being used as proxies."

Kaspersky Lab researchers pointed out, "in each of the four instances of Duqu infection a unique modification of the driver necessary for infection was used."

"More importantly," analysts averred, "regarding one of the Iranian infections there were also found to have been two network attack attempts exploiting the MS08-067 [MS Word] vulnerability. This vulnerability was used by Stuxnet too."

"If there had been just one such attempt, it could have been written off as typical Kido activity--but there were two consecutive attack attempts: this detail would suggest a targeted attack on an object in Iran." (emphasis added)

Simply put, before the Pentagon decides to "kill them" as Gen. Keane indelicately put it, battlefield preparations via directed cyber attacks and other forms of sabotage may be part of a preemptive strategy to decapitate Iranian defenses prior to more "kinetic" attacks.

'Boutique Arms Dealers'

Despite media hype about future cuts in the so-called "defense" budget, Defense Industry Daily disclosed that "the US military has announced plans to spend billions on technology to secure its networks."

According to the Defense Department's FY 2012 budget proposal, "the Pentagon said it plans to spend $2.3 billion on cybersecurity capabilities."

However, when NextGov "questioned why the Air Force's $4.6 billion 2012 budget request for cybersecurity was $2.3 billion more than Defense's servicewide spending proposal, Pentagon officials upped their total figure from $2.3 billion to $3.2 billion."

Why the discrepancy? A "Pentagon spokesperson explained that the service's estimate differed dramatically because the Air Force included 'things' that are not typically considered information assurance or cybersecurity."

What kind of "things" are we talking about here?

As BusinessWeek reported in July, firms such as Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and General Dynamics, "the stalwarts of the traditional defense industry," are "helping the U.S. government develop a capacity to snoop on or disable other countries' computer networks."

Capitalizing on the Defense Department's desire to develop "hacker tools specifically as a means of conducting warfare," this "shift in defense policy gave rise to a flood of boutique arms dealers that trade in offensive cyber weapons."

Investigative journalists Mike Riley and Ashlee Vance averred that "most of these are 'black' companies that camouflage their government funding and work on classified projects."

As last winter's hack of HBGary Federal by Anonymous revealed, "black" firms, including those like
Palantir which received millions of dollars in start-up funding from the CIA's venture capital arm In-Q-Tel, hacker tools, such as sophisticated Trojans and stealthy rootkits, believed to be the route used to introduce the Stuxnet virus, have also been used to target political activists and journalists in the United States at the behest of financial institutions such as the Bank of America and the right-wing U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

As researcher Barrett Brown
revealed, "Team Themis was a consortium made up of HBGary, Palantir, and Berico (with Endgame Systems serving as a 'silent partner' and providing assistance from the sidelines) that was set up in order to provide offensive intelligence capabilities to private clients."

Although Endgame Systems "went dark" after Anonymous released thousands of HBGary files, The Register disclosed that the firm "helps US intelligence identify and hack into vulnerable networks, and is targeting a similar role in Britain's nascent national cyber security operations."

The Register noted that the "limited publicly information currently available on the firm hints at its further role assisting clandestine government cyber operations by identifying targets and developing exploits."

As BusinessWeek revealed, the firm is "a major supplier of digital weaponry for the Pentagon. It offers a smorgasbord of wares, from vulnerability assessments to customized attack technology, for a dizzying array of targets in any region of the world."

Unsurprisingly, this was a major draw for venture capital firms "Bessemer Venture Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers," who collectively fronted Endgame some $30 million. According to Riley and Vance, "what really whet the VCs' appetites, though, according to people close to the investors, is Endgame's shot at becoming the premier cyber-arms dealer."

While a client list has yet to emerge, it's safe to assume that secret state agencies on both sides of the Atlantic are lining up to purchase Endgame's toxic products.

Although no definitive answer has emerged as to whom might targeting Iran with Duqu, as BusinessWeek revealed Endgame "deals in zero-day exploits. Some of Endgame’s technology is developed in-house; some of it is acquired from the hacker underground. Either way, these zero days are militarized--they've undergone extensive testing and are nearly fail-safe."

"People who have seen the company pitch its technology--and who asked not to be named because the presentations were private--say Endgame executives will bring up maps of airports, parliament buildings, and corporate offices."

According to Riley and Vance, "the executives then create a list of the computers running inside the facilities, including what software the computers run, and a menu of attacks that could work against those particular systems."

Indeed, "Endgame weaponry comes customized by region--the Middle East, Russia, Latin America, and China--with manuals, testing software, and 'demo instructions.' There are even target packs for democratic countries in Europe and other U.S. allies."

"The quest in Washington, Silicon Valley, and around the globe is to develop digital tools both for spying and destroying," BusinessWeek observed. "The most enticing targets in this war are civilian--electrical grids, food distribution systems, any essential infrastructure that runs on computers."

"This stuff is more kinetic than nuclear weapons," Dave Aitel, the founder of a computer security company in Miami Beach called
Immunity told Riley and Vance. "Nothing says you've lost like a starving city."

While Aitel and a host of other "little Eichmanns" who enrich themselves servicing the American secret state refused to discuss his firm's work for the government, a source told the publication that Immunity "makes weaponized 'rootkits': military-grade hacking systems used to bore into other countries' networks," and that Aitel's clients "include the U.S. military and intelligence agencies."

We do not know if, or when, the United States, NATO and Israel will opt for a military "solution" to the so-called "Iranian problem."

We do know however, as the World Socialist Web Site warned, "as global capitalism lurches from one economic and political crisis to the next, rivalry between the major powers for markets, resources and strategic advantage is plunging humanity towards a catastrophic conflict that would devastate the planet." ....