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WHAT IS THE U.S. MILITARY LOOKING FOR ON BHOPAL.NET?
STARTING 10 OCTOBER 2002, A CONTINUING INVESTIGATION
 
 

A landing craft of US Navy Amphibious Construction Battalion One storms towards the shores of Bhopal.Net

THE BATTLE HONOURS of the US Navy's crack Amphibious Construction Battalion One (PHIBCB1) include Korea, Vietnam and Kuwait. "We still like to maintain that 'Fightin' Seabee' image," says its Operations Officer, Lt. Cmdr. George Suther USN. PHIBCB1 was the first Seabee unit ashore in Vietnam, seeing action at Chu Lai, Da Nang, Hue, and Cua Viet. In August 1990, during the build-up to Operation Desert Shield, the Battalion -- following a gung-ho John Wayne tradition that dates from its early days hacking airstrips out of jungle -- was the first Naval Construction Force unit into Saudi Arabia.

The Battalion operates on a 48 hour ready-for-aggro-anywhere-anytime standby. It was catapulted back to the Persian Gulf in August 1994 "due to the threat of resurgence of Iraqi aggression" and stayed two months. Clearly this was not long enough to frazzle Saddam's nerves because in August 1995, once again "due to the threat of resurgence of Iraqi aggression" it was back in the Gulf where this time it remained more than a year.

In August 2002, the Seabees made landfall on Bhopal.Net. But what on earth were they doing here?
"We provide a service and that service is to and for the Marines," explains Lt. Cmdr. Suther. "We are the second unit to hit the beach, right after the Marine Expeditionary Unit."

Right. So we checked our website statistics and, sure enough, there they were -- the US Marines. They'd already landed. And not just the Marines, but the US Army Corps of Engineers, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Yokota Air Base, Forts Rucker and Hood, the US Army Research Laboratory, the US Naval Research Laboratory, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, the National Imaging and Mapping Center, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, SBCCOM, even the US Coastguard.

It would be gratifying to think that all these warfighters (as they now seem to be called) have a lively interest in the campaign for justice of the gas-survivors of Bhopal, but this seems just a tad unlikely. Try as we may we cannot imagine the boys of III Corps parading round Fort Hood presenting brooms chanting "Jhadoo Maro Dow Ko" (if this baffles you, scroll down for our previous story). For one thing they're too busy. Aren’t they supposed to be concentrating on Mr Hussein and his merry band of pranksters? So why are they here? It can't be, can it, that they think we pose a threat to US national security? Even if we wished to ward off this combined invasion by the air, land and sea forces of the world’s most powerful nation, the only weapons we could muster are an old, leaky fountain-pen and an over-worked teapot.

But we don't wish to repel them. We would like to invite them all for chai and samosas. Then we could politely ask them if there is something they would like to discuss.

PART TWO - "AMERICA'S HAMMER" AND A TOP SECRET INTERNET GATEWAY

IN AUGUST 2002 Bhopal.Net had more than 100 visits from US military domains. Nearly three a day. The strong interest continued through September, with 188 visits. What did these guests want? What were they looking for?

Not the usual porn stuff

IN A STORY ABOUT BHOPAL.NET published on 30 September 2002, Bhopal's leading English language newspaper, the Central Chronicle, speculated about what drew the US armed forces to the website. Why the strong military interest, the paper asked. "They are not just wasting their time on the Bhopal site. After all it is not the usual porn stuff..."

Such praise. Our site is much used by Bhopal survivors and our friends in the world's media - last month the BBC referred more users than anyone bar Google. On the distaff side, we are well aware of Dow Chemical/Union Carbide's interest in Bhopal.Net. In August Dow Chemical - even without its proxies - was by far the site's biggest user. Dow users examined every page on the site an average of three times and downloaded 65 megabytes of information and pictures.

Anadarko tribe's last public appearance in 1947. Photo John C Chapman

 

Honey eaters and dead hummingbirds

WE HAVE COME TO EXPECT the visits of Dow and its fellow travellers - firms like Genencor which dabbles in what it is pleased to call "Directed Evolution" - it develops gene-based products for the industrial chemical monde, and has joined forces with Dow to create a “Silicon Biotechnology”. (Dow it seems learns nothing. It has already had its fingers badly burned by Dow-Corning's silicon breast implant disaster.)

Then there are the gawping onlookers. Companies like Houston-based multinational oil giant Anadarko Petroleum, which proudly claims to take its name from "nadarko" - a centuries-old American Indian word signifying "those who ate the honey of the bumble-bee."

The Nadarkos are a vanished Oklahoma tribe, their honey long since stolen out of their mouths, but their suffering is conveniently forgotten and their name now lends dignity to the grubby business of oil-hustling. (Anadarko is implicated in clear-cutting of primary rainforest in Guatemala's critically sensitive and supposedly inviolate Laguna del Tigre Park reserve.)

We will cover these and other corporate honey-eaters in another article on non-military users of our website.


You know all you need to know...

OF OUR 100 MILITARY VISITORS in August, no less than forty-two came via nipr.mil, a mysterious US military domain that has begun cropping up with increasing frequency in website logs around the world. Francisco Roque, the owner of blackant.net was bemused to find nipr.mil users searching his site for things as disparate as "wireless hack" and "growing avocado trees", so he emailed the NIPR.MIL system administrator and asked:

i'm curious as to what some domains in the nipr.mil range are, namely
>
> bu-wcs1-kelly.nipr.mil
> bu-wcs2-kelly.nipr.mil
> bu-wcs3-kelly.nipr.mil
> wcs1.norfolk.nipr.mil
> wcs2.norfolk.nipr.mil
> wcs3.norfolk.nipr.mil
>
> which i see hit my website with greater frequency.

Back came the terse reply "You know all you need to know".

Nipr.mil, as Francisco suspected, is not a single domain a but a hush-hush web proxy that acts as a gateway for hundreds of U.S. military domains in order to hide their identities. It was established by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in response to a memorandum (CM-5 1099, INFOCOM) issued in March 1999 by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling for "actions to be taken to increase the readiness posture for Information Warfare." "Uncontrolled Internet connections," the document says, "pose a significant and unacceptable threat to all Department of Defense information systems and operations."

Hackers beware "America's Hammer" ... not

WE HAD SEVERAL VISITS from the info-warriors of III Corps, Fort Hood, a force describing itself as "America’s Hammer" and adding the boast: "Dominating the information sphere".

This domination is apparently to be accomplished via a System Administrator Security Course whose recommended reading includes such works as Hacking Exposed, Windows 2000, (2nd and 3rd editions Sept and Oct 2001 respectively) and Windows NT Security Handbook (McGraw Hill, the 1996 edition)

We hope they are not relying on these tomes, all of which were published too early to catch major security flaws in Windows 2000 and NT - for example a buffer overrun in the phone book of the Remote Access Service - that could allow a remote attacker to gain full control over the machine via the internet or cause it to fail. This glaring hole was belatedly recognised by Microsoft only in June of this year. Nor will Microsoft's patches protect against the W32/BugBear-mm virus, first discovered just thirteen days ago, which can disarm firewalls and anti-virus systems, allow hackers in to take control and steal passwords and information. In fact...

Fort Hood has already been humiliated by hackers once this year. (Story on right). The Army's red-faced Director of Information Assurance, Colonel Thaddeus Dmuchowski explained to amazed reporters that it had happened because "Everything is connected."

So it is. We are willing to bet that most US military computers are not yet protected against Bugbear.

If you are a III Corps, nipr.mil, other US military network admin (or are called Thaddeus Dmuchowski) and this is news to you, go to http://www.fsecure.com/bugbear NOW and don't say Bhopal.Net didn't never do nuffink for ya.

The Bugbear worm is real, but the generals frequently have fits of hysteria over fantasies. The spring 1998 issue of the US Army War College's academic journal, Parameters, contained the following po-faced warning from Lieutenant Colonel Timothy L. Thomas, an analyst at the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: ". . . one computer virus capable of affecting a person's psyche is Russian Virus 666. It manifests itself in every 25th frame of a visual display, where it produces a combination of colors that allegedly put computer users into a trance. The subconscious perception of the new pattern eventually results in arrhythmia of the heart." (Quoted in Crypt Newsletter)

   

FORT HOOD HOODWINKED BY HACKERS

"Hackers invade military PCs with ease" wrote the Washington Post on 16 August. "One computer at Fort Hood in Texas held a copy of an air support squadron's "smart book" that details radio encryption techniques, the use of laser targeting systems and other field procedures. Another maintained hundreds of personnel records containing Social Security numbers, security clearance levels and credit card numbers... A NASA computer contained vendor records, including company bank account and financial routing numbers. Available on other machines across the country were e-mail messages, confidential disciplinary letters and, in one case, a memo naming couriers to carry secret documents and their destinations...the computers were linked to networks at Fort Hood."

SPC Eric Adam, server administrator during the Embedded Warfighter Exercise (part of III Corps’ Battle Command Training Program) said "It gets very intense when you have to make sure the network is secure from outside attacks . . . It’s similar to posting guards at each ‘gate’ or ‘entrance’ to the network so hackers can’t access classified information."

"We were shocked and almost scared by how easy it was to get in," said Hoodwinker-in-chief Brett O'Keeffe, of computer security company, ForensicTec."It's like coming across the Pentagon and seeing a door open with no one guarding it."

The company did the hack as a publicity stunt, then presented its findings to the world as a concerned good citizen. Unfortunately for them, the Hoods didn't take kindly to being shown up and America's Hammer came down rather hard on O'Keefe's nuts.

Noo-ku-lar bombs, softball, Fat Man and Osama

ACCORDING TO GEORGE SMITH, the acutely well-informed and wickedly acerbic editor of Crypt News, hacking threats to US security are routinely exaggerated in order to secure ever larger military budgets. Crypt's current issue instances Bruce Blair, the head of the Center for Defense Information, "an organization which has demonstrated no more know-how about the nuts-and-bolts of computer security or the capability of "cyberterrorists" than an average passerby, going on in the October 8 edition of the Washington Times about how hackers may have been capable of issuing launch orders for a nuclear missile."

Crypt complained that on the very same day, President Bush was using cod science on CNN to stir up fears about Iraq. "...In a national speech, the President goes on in debating team style about a 'soft ball-sized' chunk of uranium being all that is needed for a 'noo-ku-lar' bomb".

Bhopal.Net did a little quick ferreting and discovered that the softball factoid dates from 1945. it was part of the information given out about the Nagasaki bomb "Fat Man", which had a plutonium core weighing 13.6 lbs, approximately the size of a softball. At that stage the softball was just an amazing believe-it-or-not scientific fact but it evolved into believe-it-or-else paranoia when in testimony given before the Senate Subcommittee on European Affairs, August 1995. Graham Allison flamboyantly declared:

"I carry this briefcase with me everywhere... In this briefcase, I carried today in addition to the pile of papers, first one softball. It is an American softball. If this softball were highly-enriched uranium, it would weigh 30 pounds. It fits my briefcase quite well. Actually, I could carry several softballs of highly-enriched uranium in my case... If we were talking about plutonium, enough plutonium to make a bomb, a second item in this same briefcase is more than enough. This is an American baseball. There could be several of them that fit alongside the softball very well."

"What if," he continued, "the terrorists who attacked the 110-story World Trade Center in 1993, or more recently last April, the Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City killing 162 men, women, and children had used the same minivan that they drove, but filled it not with chemical based explosives they used, but rather with a weapon that started with this softball?"

Four years later in a Harvard discussion paper entitled "Russia's Domestic Political Future and U.S. National Interests" Allison pitched the softball directly to Osama.

"Beyond [Russia's] assembled weapons, there are approximately 70,000 nuclear weapons-equivalents in stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, a softball-sized chunk of which, if it found its way to Iran or to one of bin Laden's terrorist groups, would provide the critical ingredient from which a crude nuclear device could be assembled."

What Allison did not bother to tell either the aghast senators, or his Harvard readers, was that the plutonium would need to be highly enriched, it would require a beryllium-polonium initiator and 5,300 lbs of high explosive to crush the core into a critical mass (the size of a tennis ball). These things it is doubtful he could have fitted in his briefcase.

The briefcase used at Nagasaki
on August 9, 1945 was delivered by B29
Such is the quality of the US Commander-in-Chief's intelligence. (no pun intended)

Rocky Flats and Dow Chemical, Oak Ridge and Union Carbide

in April 1999 the softball reappeared in a salon.com article entitled "Mushroom Cloud over Denver", which quoted a 1997 telephone conversation in which the Department of Energy's Ed McCallum expressed his fears about lax security at the Rocky Flats, Colorado, nuclear weapons facility.

"The workers at that plant, and the citizens of Colorado, are at extremely high risk" said McCallum, from terrorists who could unleash "a little mushroom-shaped cloud" that would not only kill Denver's million-plus inhabitants, but would claim tens of millions of additional lives as its radioactive plume blew across the Midwest and on to the East Coast. (It takes only a softball-sized chunk of plutonium to create an explosion equivalent to three or four Hiroshima blasts.)"

The Rocky Flats site (pictured right), an environmental disaster area dangerously polluted with wastes of plutonium and other transuranic elements, used to be run by Dow Chemical. Plutonium processing came to an abrupt halt in 1989 when FBI agents raided the complex over environmental crimes, including dumping and storing radioactive waste in ways that allowed it to seep into drinking water reservoirs.

Dow's wholly-owned subsidiary Union Carbide used to manage the Oak Ridge, Tennessee nuclear weapons facility where, radioactive substances and other toxic wastes once dumped on the ground or stored in ponds are now leaching through the soil to the groundwater, and moving off the reservation.

These ironies, in respect of the poisoned aquifers and wells of Bhopal, hardly need comment.

Coming soon:

 

 
  • Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's plan to attack somewhere you'll never believe
  • the X-File that still haunts US Defense Secretaries
  • US Joint Forces Command Operation and operation Millenium Challenge 2000
  • what a top Porton-Down chemical warfare scientist was doing in Bhopal just after the disaster
  • his links to the US military human-testing program of one of our visitors, SBCCOM
  • his direct link to the heart of Union Carbide's management
  • US fears about chemical weapons in the battlefield
  • Bhopal and Halabja as living chemical warfare labs
  • paranoia about chemical attacks in the US homeland
  • why Dow was so red in the face about Diane Wilson hanging a Bhopal banner from their ethylene tower
  • plus the extent of US military chemical and nuclear waste
  • health and legal problems, clean up attempts
  • why US satellites might be targetting Union Carbide's death-factory in Bhopal.