Archive for November 6th, 2008
Lieberman Meets With Reid,
Tries To Cling To Senate Chairmanship
Nico Pitney, HuffPost, Nov 6 2008
Bolstered by a newly expanded majority, Harry Reid met with Joe Lieberman on Thursday to sketch out the conditions by which the Connecticut independent could continue to caucus with Senate Democrats. But Lieberman did not accept Reid’s initial offers, leaving his future in the caucus uncertain, and potentially setting off a campaign to pressure the Democratic steering committee to decide Lieberman’s fate. Reid offered Lieberman a deal: to step down as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, but take over the reins of another sub-committee, likely overseeing economic or small business issues, officials said. Immediately after his meeting with Reid, Lieberman told reporters that he had not made a decision about his future in the caucus, and appeared to launch his first public appeal to members of the Democratic steering committee, whose members decide committee chair assignments. Lieberman told reporters:
I completely agree with President-elect Obama that we must now unite to get our economy going again and to keep the American people safe. That is exactly what I intend to do with my colleagues here in the Senate in support of our new president, and those are the standards I will use in considering the options that I have before me.
Likewise, Reid said in a written statement that negotiations will continue:
Today Senator Lieberman and I had the first of what I expect to be several conversations. No decisions have been made. While I understand that Senator Lieberman has voted with Democrats a majority of the time, his comments and actions have raised serious concerns among many in our Caucus. I expect there to be additional discussions in the days to come, and Senator Lieberman and I will speak to our Caucus in two weeks to discuss further steps.
At this point, Lieberman’s only shot at retaining his committee chairmanship appears to be lobbying members of the Senate Democratic leadership besides Reid. One key target would be the Senate Democratic steering committee, a group of nearly two dozen Democratic Senators who play a role in deciding committee seats. Unfortunately for the Connecticut Senator, it is highly unlikely that Democrats would act against the wishes of Majority Leader Reid, who wants Lieberman to give up his chairmanship. Moreover, progressive activists have been anticipating this move for months, and have organized efforts to pressure steering committee members to strip Lieberman of his perks.
Plausibility Of 9/11 Aircraft Attacks Generated
By GPS-Guided Aircraft Autopilot Systems
Aidan Monaghan, Journal of 9/11 Studies (pdf with refs.)
Because information collected after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 has raised questions about the alleged ability and motivation of the people accused of piloting four Boeing 757 and 767 planes into the WTC, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, speculation has since lingered regarding the covert use of technology that day to navigate the four airliners precisely without onboard pilot control. US federal government and civil aviation industry publications describe the development and implementation, pre- Sep 11 2001, of state-of-the-art systems capable of facilitating precise automated navigation of the Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft used that day to a given destination.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based radio-navigation system that generates accurate positioning, navigation and timing information for civil use at no cost. The information signal can be obtained through the use of GPS signal receiving equipment. Augmented GPS signal service, intended to replace dated and expensive ground-based aviation navigation signals, was developed during the mid-to-late 1990s by the FAA and Raytheon. Known as the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), precisely surveyed ground-based Wide-area Reference Stations monitor and collect GPS satellite signal errors. Ground-based Wide-area Master Stations then transmit corrected GPS signal information to ground-based Ground Uplink Stations, that then transmit the corrected GPS signal information to Geostationary Satellites. These satellites then broadcast the corrected positional information back to Earth for use within a GPS-like signal. The FAA announced on Aug 24 2000 — just 13 months prior to the Sep 11 2001 attacks — that the WAAS signal was available pending final approval by the FAA. Horizontal and vertical positional data accurate to between 1m and 3m, and sufficient for Category I precision aircraft runway approaches, was now available throughout the contiguous US.
During numerous FAA and NASA sponsored runway approach and touchdown test flights between 1994 and 2002, involving augmented GPS positional signals and the auto-land systems of Boeing 757, 767 and other Boeing 700 series aircraft, horizontal and vertical positional accuracies of just several meters or less were routinely achieved. The four aircraft used to carry out the Sep 11 2001 terrorist attacks were also Boeing 757-200 and 767-200 model aircraft. During Oct 1994 at NASA’s Crows Landing Flight Facility in California, 110 autopilot approaches and touchdowns of a United Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft facilitated by augmented GPS positional signals were successfully conducted, with “accuracies on the order of a few cm” being consistently achieved. During Oct 1994, augmented GPS signal flight tests sponsored by the FAA in cooperation with Ohio University were conducted. 50 autopilot approaches and touchdowns were successfully performed by a donated United Parcel Service Boeing 757-200 series aircraft. The augmented GPS positional signal was integrated into the aircraft Flight Management System (FMS). During Jul and Aug 1995, Honeywell, Boeing and NASA sponsored tests using NASA’s Boeing 757-200 test aircraft and performed 75 autopilot approaches and touchdowns. The predicted augmented GPS system aircraft positional accuracy of 1m to 2m was successfully achieved. During Aug 1999, multiple augmented GPS signal autopilot approach and touchdown tests were performed using a donated United Parcel Service 767 aircraft.
These tests were sponsored by the FAA and were centered on the prototype GPS-based Local Area Augmentation System (LAAS), which is intended to compliment the FAA’s WAAS signal. The LAAS signal can provide aircraft positional accuracy of less than 1m vertically and laterally. On Aug 25 2001, a Fed-Ex 727-200 aircraft equipped with a Rockwell-Collins GNLU-930 Multi-Mode Receiver, conducted six full auto-lands during joint USAF/Raytheon sponsored test flights, using the Joint Precision Approach and Landings System (JPALS), the military augmented GPS counterpart of the civil LAAS system. On Jan 17 2002, a series of auto-coupled (hands-off) approaches, through touchdown and rollout, were conducted to further test the LAAS system with a Fed-Ex Boeing 737-900, equipped with a Rockwell-Collins GLU-920 Multi-Mode receiver. The augmented GPS capable GLU-920 Multi-Mode receiver pre-dates September 2001, and is designed for use within the Boeing 757-200 and 767-200 model aircraft, like those used during the Sep 11 2001 terrorist attacks.
The installation of GPS signal utilizing avionics systems for use in the Boeing 757 and 767 model aircraft like those involved in the Sep 11 2001 terrorist attacks was planned several years prior. On Sep 6 1996, Rockwell-Collins Commercial Avionics announced plans by Boeing and major commercial airlines to install Rockwell-Collins Multi-Mode Receiver (MMR) landing systems within their Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft. The MMR system can utilize the WAAS signal as well as the basic GPS signal, the VHF, UHF, VOR navigation signals and eventually the LAAS navigation signal. On Sep 7 1998, Honeywell International announced plans by American Airlines and United Airlines to install the GPS-capable Pegasus Flight Management System (FMS), with 150-waypoint route capacity, within their Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft. An aircraft FMS is comprised of three major systems including an aircraft’s Auto-Flight System. Aircraft Auto-Flight Systems were utilized during the aforementioned GPS signal test flight approaches and touchdowns. By 1999, Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft contained digital flight control systems that can “automatically fly the airplanes on preselected routes, headings, speed or altitude maneuvers.”
On Oct 9 2001, Cubic Defense Systems Inc. applied for a US patent that removes control of an aircraft from its pilot and utilizes an aircraft’s auto-pilot system to implement an uninterruptable preprogrammed auto-pilot flight plan in order to navigate an aircraft to a given destination during an emergency. This would be accomplished through the use of an electronic or mechanical relay or relays, that become activated by pilot operation of an aircraft hijack notification system. Surprisingly to some, none of the four aircraft destroyed on Sep 11 2001 are known to have entered unique transponder hijack notification codes, suggesting either modified function or insufficient activation time. One optional feature of the Cubic system is termination of an aircraft’s ability to communicate. In two cases, hijacker communications reportedly aimed at passengers on board AA11 and UA93 on Sep 11 2001 were heard instead by air traffic controllers, suggesting modified communication functions. The Cubic patent also references Honeywell’s 1995 augmented GPS flight navigation research and development, presumably as a signal navigation aid. The system also envisions the use of new aircraft flight instructions transmitted by a remote sender, that would override aircraft functions already underway and direct an aircraft auto-pilot system to navigate an aircraft to a predetermined landing destination.
A data link interface between an aircraft Flight Management System (FMS) and the Management Unit for the Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), was developed during the early 1990s. This communication system allows for the update of an aircraft FMS in mid-flight. An aircraft auto-pilot system is part of the FMS. Because the Flight Data Recorders (FDRs) for AA11 and UA175 were not recovered, details regarding the operation of each aircraft are not known. The FDRs for AA77 and UA93 were recovered and indicate pilot control of each aircraft. However, the FDR readout file for AA77 was completed four hours and fifteen minutes before the said FDR was recovered, suggesting false or altered FDR information. And the FDRs for AA77 and UA93 are virtually the only ones during the previous 20 years of major NTSB US aviation mishap investigations, for which unique inventory control serial numbers were not published. Such serial numbers are required to facilitate FDR data readouts. In fact the NTSB possesses no records pertaining to the positive identification of the FDRs for AA77 and UA93.
A Low Down Attack On Anti-Missile Missiles
Strategy Page, November 6, 2008
Russia is shipping some SS-26 “Iskander” ballistic missiles to Kaliningrad, as a way to threaten the new NATO anti-missile system being built in Poland. This Russian deployment is all about a unique feature of Iskander, which is that it is not a traditional ballistic missile. That is, it does not fire straight up, leave the atmosphere, then come back down, following a ballistic trajectory. Instead, Iskander stays in the atmosphere and follows a rather flat trajectory. It is capable of evasive maneuvers and deploying decoys. This makes it more difficult for anti-missile systems to take it down. Russia is buying several dozen Iskanders for its own military. These versions have a longer range (400 km) and more countermeasures (to interception). Russia will not provide details. Russia has admitted that it could use Iskander to destroy the US anti-missile systems in a pre-emptive attack. Just in case Russia wanted to start World War III for some reason or another. This Iskander deployment is mainly a publicity stunt, unless you want to seriously consider the possibility that the Russians are trying to start a nuclear war.
Kaliningrad is the perfect place for Russia to start World War III. The city is the former German city of Konisgberg, which was captured at the end of World War II, and kept by Russia, as the boundaries of Eastern Europe were rearranged in the late 1940s. Until 1991, Kaliningrad was on the Soviet Union’s western border. But when the Soviet Union dissolved that year, and more than half the Soviet Union split away to regain their independence as 14 new nations, Kaliningrad found itself nestled between Poland and the newly re-established Lithuania. The small (200 sq km, 400,000 Russians, the Germans were expelled 60 years ago) city is still the headquarters of the Russian Baltic fleet and protected by a large force of troops and warplanes. The Iskander missiles will feel right at home.
The Iskander finally completed its development in the last few years. The 3.8 ton missile has a range of 280 km, and a 900 lb warhead. Russia sells several different types of warheads, including cluster munitions, thermobaric (fuel-air explosive) and electro-magnetic pulse (anti-radar, and destructive to electronics in general.) There is also a nuclear warhead, which is not exported. Guidance is very accurate, using GPS, plus infrared homing for terminal guidance. The warhead will land within 30 ft of the aim point. Iskanders are carried in a 20 ton 8×8 truck, which also provides a launch platform. There is also a reload truck that carries two missiles.
Russia developed the solid fuel Iskander to replace its Cold War era SS-23 battlefield ballistic missiles (which in turn had replaced SCUD). The SS-23 had to be withdrawn from service and destroyed by 1991, because the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty prohibited missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,300 km. When post Cold War financial problems slowed down development of Iskander, this left Russia dependent on the shorter range (120 km) SS-21 system, along with some aging SCUDS, for battlefield ballistic missile support. Russia used some of these older missiles against Chechen rebels in the 1990s.
Sources: McCain aide fired for ‘trashing’ staff
Dana Bash, CNN, Nov 5 2008
Randy Scheunemann, a senior foreign policy adviser to John McCain, was fired from the Arizona senator’s campaign last week for what one aide called “trashing” the campaign staff, three senior McCain advisers tell CNN. One of the aides tells CNN that campaign manager Rick Davis fired Scheunemann after determining that he had been in direct contact with journalists spreading “disinformation” about campaign aides, including Nicolle Wallace and other officials. “He was positioning himself with Palin at the expense of John McCain’s campaign message,” said one of the aides. Senior campaign officials blame Scheunemann specifically for stories about the way Wallace and chief campaign strategist Steve Schmidt mishandled Palin’s rollout — stories that the campaign says threw them off message in the critical final weeks of the campaign. Another aide said McCain personally was “very disappointed by Randy,” who worked for McCain for many years in the Senate. Scheunemann became close with Palin during her debate prep process.
McCain aide disputes sources, denies firing
Dana Bash, CNN, Nov 6 2008
In another sign of drama and disarray inside camp McCain, former campaign senior adviser Randy Scheunemann responded late Wednesday to CNN and insisted he was “not fired and never [have] been fired.” In addition, Michael Goldfarb, a McCain press aide and Scheunemann ally, also insisted he was not fired. However, Goldfarb did concede that Scheunemann’s campaign e-mail was cut off, and his blackberry was taken away late Friday. Goldfarb admits that senior McCain aides were mad at Scheunemann, and wanted to fire him, but he insists they stopped short of that, and instead simply turned off his campaign communication. Goldfarb says Scheunemann was in the office on Saturday. He was, however, noticeably missing on election night when top aides to John McCain and Sarah Palin gathered in Phoenix, Arizona.
Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel comments:
Remember the leaks blamed Nicolle Wallace for Palin’s $150k wardrobe (which apparently was even more expensive than that)? Fred Barnes blaming Wallace specifically? And then Barnes apologizing, reporting that it had turned out she wasn’t the one who had bought the clothes? Well, apparently Randy Scheunemann was the guy spreading that false rumor. And Rick Davis confirmed that and fired Scheunemann. Hmmm. Randy Scheunemann spreading misinformation to the Weekly Standard to accomplish goals that undercut the stated interests he was pursuing. Where have I seen that before? Oh, I know, Ahmad Chalabi! Scheunemann was an early paid booster of the guy who used disinformation to get us bogged down in Iraq. The Neocons discovered Sarah on their cruise to Alaska. Almost immediately after they convinced McCain to choose her as a running mate, they became her chief advocates within the McCain campaign. And here we find out that they were the ones who started the civil war that embarrassed the McCain campaign in its final weeks. I guess McCain now knows why the rest of us so distrust Neocons.