Posts Tagged ‘leak’

HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s New Aircraft Carrier, Has a Leak

December 19, 2017

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s biggest ever warship, the new 3.1 billion pound ($4.2 billion) aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, has a leak and needs repairs, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Tuesday.

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The Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is docked the day it was commissioned by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth, December 7, 2017. PO(Phot) Si Ethell/Royal Navy handout via REUTERS

The 65,000-tonne ship, hailed as Britain’s most advanced military vessel and which was only officially commissioned by the queen two weeks ago, has an issue with a shaft seal which was identified during sea trials, the MoD said.

“This is scheduled for repair while she is alongside at Portsmouth,” a Royal Navy spokesman said. “It does not prevent her from sailing again and her sea trials program will not be affected.”

The Sun newspaper reported that the 280-metre (920-foot) warship, the nation’s future flagship vessel, was letting in 200 liters of water every hour and the fix would cost millions of pounds.

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A defense source said the navy was aware the ship, which took eight years to build, had an issue when it was handed over by manufacturers and the Sun said the builders would have to foot the repair bill.

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance – a consortium including British engineering companies BAE Systems and Babcock, and the UK division of France’s Thales – built the Queen Elizabeth and its sister aircraft carrier, the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, as apart of a 6.2 billion pound project.

“It’s normal practice for a volume of work and defect resolution to continue following vessel acceptance,” BAE Systems said in a statement. “This will be completed prior to the nation’s flagship re-commencing her program at sea in 2018.”

Chris Parry, a former senior Royal Navy officer, said all ships took on water.

“That’s why you have pumps,” he told Sky News. “When you get a brand new car not everything’s perfect, you have to send it back to the garage to get a few things tweaked. This is exactly in that bracket.”

On Tuesday, parliament’s defense committee raised questions about the procurement of the F-35 fighter jets from a consortium led by Lockheed Martin which will eventually operate from the Queen Elizabeth.

The committee said there had been an “unacceptable lack of transparency” about the program and the MoD had failed to provide details of the full cost of each aircraft which one newspaper had estimated could be as much as 155 million pounds.

“Our new aircraft carrier is the epitome of British design and dexterity, at the core of our efforts to build an Armed Forces fit for the future,” British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said at the Queen Elizabeth’s commissioning.

Reporting by Michael Holden, Paul Sandle and James Davey; editing by Guy Faulconbridge


Protestors occupy Shell plant in Nigeria

August 12, 2017


© AFP/File | Although Shell was forced to quit oil production in the area in 1993, the company still runs a network of pipelines criss-crossing the area

WARRI (NIGERIA) (AFP) – Hundreds of protesters have occupied a Nigerian oil facility owned by Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, demanding that a local company take over its operations, a community leader said Saturday.

“We want Shell to hand over the operations of the flow station to Belema Oil Company because it appreciates our challenges and needs,” community leader Godson Egbelekro told AFP.

Protesters from the Kula and Belema community in Nigeria’s restive southern Rivers state said the community has suffered through decades of poverty and neglect.

At the same time they say the owners and workers of multinational oil firms operating in the area are living a life of affluence thanks to abundant oil and gas resources.

“We will be here for as long as it takes until Shell meets our demands,” youth leader Alfred Epedi said, adding that “over 800 protesters” were occupying the flow station.

Security guards at the facility did not try to disperse the crowd as it entered the flow station on Friday.

The station, operated by Shell subsidiary the Shell Petroleum Development Corporation of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC), feeds crude oil into its Bonny Light export terminal, which has a production capacity of 225,000 barrels per day of oil.

The flow station’s output remained slow on Saturday.

Company officials “have been engaging representatives of the community (in) talks but nothing tangible has come out from the said talks,” Epedi said.

In a statement, SPDC spokesman Joseph Obari denied the protesters’ allegations of neglect and said the company was working to resolve the situation.

The company “has spent several millions of naira on social investment projects and university scholarship programmes for students of the area,” Obari said.

“SPDC has informed the authorities of the illegal occupation and is working towards resuming safe operations,” he added.

Community unrest in Ogoniland, in Nigeria’s oil rich south, is not uncommon.

Although Shell was forced to quit oil production in the area in 1993, the company still runs a network of pipelines criss-crossing the area.

In July, SPDC had to shut down its Trans Niger pipeline because of a “leak” — the preferred euphemism in Nigeria for crude oil theft.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and exporter, accounting for some two million barrels per day. It relies on the sector for 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings and 70 percent of government revenue.

UAE sees ‘parting of ways’ if Qatar does not accept Arab demands

June 25, 2017


By Aziz El Yaakoubi | DUBAI

A senior United Arab Emirates official said on Saturday that if Qatar did not accept an ultimatum issued by fellow Arab states which imposed a boycott this month on the tiny Gulf Arab nation, there would be a “parting of ways”.

The 13-point list of demands from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE include closing the Al Jazeera satellite television network, curbing relations with Iran, shutting a Turkish base in Doha and paying reparations.

The demands are apparently aimed at dismantling Qatar’s two-decade-old interventionist foreign policy, which has reflected the clout generated by its vast natural gas and oil wealth but incensed conservative Arab peers over its alleged support for Islamists they regard as mortal threats to their dynastic rule.

Doha said it is reviewing the list of demands and that a formal response will be made by the foreign ministry and delivered to Kuwait, but added that the demands are not reasonable or actionable.

“The alternative is not escalation, the alternative is parting of ways, because it is very difficult for us to maintain a collective grouping,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told reporters.

He said diplomacy with Qatar remained a priority, but added that mediation efforts to resolve the dispute had been undermined by the public disclosure of the demands.

“The mediators’ ability to shuttle between the parties and try and reach a common ground has been compromised by this leak,” he said. “Their success is very dependent on their ability to move but not in the public space.”

Gargash said that if Qatar fails to comply within the 10-day timeline set out in the ultimatum, it will be isolated. But he did not make clear what more could be done since the four Arab nations have already cut diplomatic relations with Doha and severed most commercial ties.

The most powerful Middle Eastern country to stand with Qatar in the dispute has been Turkey, which has rushed through legislation to send more troops to its base in Doha as a sign of support.

Two contingents of Turkish troops with columns of armored vehicles have arrived in Doha since the worst crisis among Gulf Arab states for years erupted on June 5.

Gargash said the Turkish deployment was a “meaningless escalation” and he hoped Ankara would act in a “reasonable way”.

“We hope that Turkey prioritizes the interest of the Turkish state and not partisan ideology,” Gargash said.

Turkey, whose President Tayyip Erdogan has his roots in an Islamist political party, and Qatar have been the main backers of the Muslim Brotherhood movement that challenges Arab rulers.

Kuwait is helping mediate the dispute as is the United States, for which it has posed a challenging test since Qatar hosts a base housing the headquarters of U.S. air power in the Middle East as well as 11,000 troops.

The Sunni Muslim Arab group that imposed the sanctions on Qatar accuse it of funding terrorism, fomenting regional unrest and drawing too close to their Shi’ite Muslim enemy Iran. Qatar rejects those accusations and says it is being punished for straying from its neighbors’ backing for authoritarian rulers.

The uncompromising positions adopted by both sides leave little prospect for a quick end to the crisis.

The sanctions have disrupted Qatar’s main import routes by land from Saudi Arabia and by sea from big container ships docked in the United Arab Emirates. But Qatar so far has avoided economic collapse by quickly finding alternative channels and says its huge financial reserves will meet any challenges.

(Writing by Stephen Kalin and Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Associated Press phone records, email account of a Fox News reporter: How far did the Justice Department go while hunting leaks

June 9, 2013
By Josh Gerstein
Sunday, June 9, 2013

The investigations that seized Associated Press phone records and dug into  the email account of a Fox News reporter labeled a co-conspirator are just a  warm-up act for what’s coming next.

New probes might be uncomfortable politically after the recoil from recent  revelations of how far the Justice Department went in hunting leaks — and  President Barack Obama says he welcomes the debate that the flurry of new and  potentially more significant leaks in recent days have sparked.

But revealing the government’s telephone call tracking,  surveillance conducted on foreign users of America’s top web companies and a  highly-classified order Obama signed authorizing the development of offensive  cyber-operations have, according to Director of National Intelligence James  Clapper, caused “potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm” to intelligence  operations. And they may be far more broad and far reaching in their impact than  what was behind the AP’s stories about a terrorism plot busted in Yemen or the  information about North Korea’s nuclear program that James Rosen reported for  Fox.


“I’ve been saying for two weeks that this would be the best time in the world  to leak, because no one is going to want to launch a leak investigation, but I  was wrong,” said Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor who worked on the  investigation into the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity. “When you  look at this pattern of leaks, they don’t have any choice.”

(WATCH:  Holder, senators tiptoe around NSA)

“They’ve really got immediate huge, major leaks that sort of put the AP story  and the Fox and Rosen things in a complete different light. Those look  relatively minor, while these are huge,” said Ted Boutrous, a media lawyer who  has represented journalists caught up in leak inquiries. “I have very little  doubt that they will conduct an aggressive investigation.”

Making things potentially more uncomfortable for Obama: though the phone  tracking and internet company surveillance programs could be seen as Bush-era  extensions that he’s at least somewhat detached from, his Offensive Cyber  Effects Operations order to prepare targets for cyberattacks is his own — and  potentially not the last revelation that’s going to come from the sources or  sources behind what’s come out.

The initial leak published in the Guardian by writer Glenn Greenwald,  disclosing a top-secret court order to Verizon to turn over daily reports on  Americans’ calls, might have gone without an aggressive investigation simply  because of the current atmosphere of concern in Washington about intruding on  reporters and the First Amendment.

(PHOTOS:  Pols, pundits weigh in on NSA report)

However, when the following hours brought another leak in the Guardian and  the Washington Post about the PRISM program scooping up data from Facebook,  Apple and other companies, followed by the leak of Obama’s presidential policy  directive, the balance of factors moved sharply towards a forceful, urgent  investigation.

“You can sort of hear the polygraph machines warming up,” quipped Steven  Aftergood, who’s been tracking leak probes for two decades for the Federation of  American Scientists.

Former officials and investigators said one looming concern is that the  leaker might have more documents or access to them and could release them if not  caught.

(Also on POLITICO: Graham ‘glad’ NSA tracking phones)

”It’s very, very alarming. You’ve got basically a double agent in your midst  taking all your secrets and just handing them out to the press,” said  Zeidenberg. “I think that that’s a huge issue.”

”Clearly someone stole many sensitive US NatSec docs for systematic release,”  former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor wrote on Twitter  Saturday.

The Defense Department’s official anti-leak directive says “the reasonable  expectation of repeated disclosures” is one factor to consider in launching an  investigation.

(Also  on POLITICO: Five things you need to know about the NSA phone-tracking)

The Washington Post has already said its source was a “career intelligence  officer” who was driven by “firsthand experience with these systems, and horror  at their capabilities … to expose what he believes to be a gross intrusion on  privacy.”

With Director of National Intelligence James Clapper calling the leaks  “reckless” and, in the case of the e-mail and social media tapping program,  “reprehensible,” it seems all but certain that a formal request for an  investigation will be coming soon.

For all the twists and turns investigations can take, the next steps are  clear.

Interviews with those who had access to the records are usually next,  followed by searches of government phone records for contacts with the  journalists or news organizations who published the story. If a suspect or  suspects can be identified, their personal phone records and emails can be  obtained — along with travel records, bank records and as we learned in the  Rosen investigation even the times they swiped in and out of government  buildings.

“Based on my own clients, I would assume they’ll be going after their emails,  their computers, their phone calls, all their contacts,” said Jesselyn Radack, a  lawyer who represents whistleblowers for the Government Accountability  Project.

Such requests begin with a so-called “crimes report” that  agencies are required to file with the Justice Department when they believe  classified information has been illegally disclosed. The next step is for the  agency with ownership of the information to file an 11-point questionnaire to  help guide prosecutors and investigators. It asks how widely the information was  circulated and whether it would “be made available for use in a  prosecution.”

A spokesman for Clapper did not respond to queries about whether the leaks  had been formally referred to the Justice Department, but NBC News cited an  official who said the NSA had filed a criminal report with DOJ and requested a  leak investigation.

”The department reviews any referrals it receives from the intelligence  community consistent with established procedures for determining whether  investigation is warranted,” a Justice Department spokesperson told POLITICO  Saturday.

Such probes are usually conducted by a counterintelligence unit in the  Washington Field Office of the FBI. They begin with working with the effected  agent to determine who had access to the leaked material. If documents were very  widely circulated, that’s often the end of the probe.

But finding the leaker does not always mean bringing a prosecution.

One obstacle to the ultimate prosecution of the leaker or leakers of the  recent revelations could be Obama’s own words. In his remarks Friday reacting to  the first pair of leaks, he did not initially bemoan the disclosures. In fact,  he initially said nothing objecting to them —even though they both came in the  form of “top secret” documents that are supposedly to be very closely held.

“I welcome this debate. And I think it’s healthy for our democracy,” Obama  said. “We’re happy to have that debate.”

Only in response to a follow-up question as he walked away did the president  return to the lectern and express concern about the disclosures.

“I don’t welcome leaks, because there’s a reason why these programs are  classified,” Obama said, before suggesting that some disclosures could help  terrorists “get around our preventive measures.”

Boutrous said he was glad Obama welcomed the debate, but that sentiment does  seem in tension with a dogged effort to put the alleged leaker behind bars.

“It’s a good thing that the president said, but it does undermine the notion  that the person who kickstarted the debate should be thrown in prison….Why would  you take the full force of U.S. law against someone, if it’s ‘healthy for our  democracy?’” the attorney asked

While an aggressive investigation seems inevitable, lawyers and press  advocates said that does not necessarily mean that prosecutors will go after  reporters’ phone records or e-mails or try — often fruitlessly — to get their  testimony.

Under Justice Department policy — which Attorney General Eric Holder is in  the process of reviewing at Obama’s direction following the backlash to the AP  and Fox News search revelations — journalists’ testimony, files or phone call  records are supposed to be sought only if all other avenues are exhausted.

“The Department of Justice regulations say that you have to exhaust all of  the other possibilities before you engage in interacting with the media. And so  it is possible to do investigations in that way. But each investigation is  different,” Holder said at a news conference last month.

Running down those other leads can take a while.

The search warrant for Rosen’s e-mail was requested in May 2010, nearly a  year after he published his web story on intelligence about North Korean nuclear  test plans.

Justice Department officials have said that the investigation  into leaks to the Associated Press about a CIA-backed counterterrorism operation  in Yemen went for about nine months and interviewed about 550 people before  investigators got the go-ahead to get call records for 20 phone lines used by AP  reporters.

The multiple leaks of the past week could help investigators sharply narrow  the field of potential suspects — if they all came from the same individual, as  some think the kind of information involved and the close timing suggests.

“They’re going to catch this guy. Anyone does this, this prolifically, is  reckless,” Zeidenberg said.

What seems far less likely is criminal charges for the journalists involved.  Just Thursday, Holder promised not to prosecute journalists for their reporting  — at least not on his watch.

“The department has not prosecuted — and as long as I have the privilege of  serving as attorney general of the United States, will not prosecute — any  reporter for doing his or her job,” Holder told a Senate panel.

Still, with prosecutors having branded Fox’s Rosen as a “co-conspirator” for  allegedly seeking sensitive information from a State Department contractor, it’s  clear that the potential for criminal liability is one thing journalists and  their lawyers have to take into account.

Greenwald suggested publicly Saturday that he and the Guardian are trying to  avoid running afoul of a particularly stringent federal law that makes it a  felony to disclose “communications intelligence activities of the United  States.” It’s the same statute that led to calls for prosecution of the New York Times for disclosing  President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program in 2005.

“There are these things called ‘laws’ as well as editors,” Greenwald wrote on  Twitter, explaining why some details were omitted from the story he wrote about  the PRISM program. “I’m not going to discuss our legal advice with you, but  we’re not publishing NSA tech methods.”

The legal concerns go beyond the possibility of prosecution. He and the  Guardian’s lawyers may be eager to avoid doing anything that would give  investigators grounds to try to get his or the newspaper’s email records.

Another potential complication is that Greenwald usually reports from Brazil.  Normally, lawyers said, the U.S. could quickly get information on communications  involving a journalist abroad. However, because Greenwald’s a U.S. citizen he’s  entitled to full constitutional protections even when abroad.

The fact the Guardian is based in England could also make it tricky to go  after records if the Justice Department wanted to go that route, although the  paper does have a New York office.

And in the end, the leaker or leakers might not go to jail — or even be put  on trial.

While the Obama Administration has come under pressure in recent weeks for  its aggressiveness in leak investigations and has pursued more leak-related  prosecutions than all other administrations combined, the Justice Department has  not pursued prosecution in some very significant leaks.

In 2011, POLITICO reported that the Justice Department decided not to  prosecute anyone in connection with one of the most high-profile leaks of  the Bush era: the New York Times’s disclosure of the warrantless wiretapping  program capturing communications between Americans and terror suspects  overseas.

In that case, there was little mystery at least regarding one of the leakers.  Former Justice Department lawyer Thomas Tamm admitted his role and even appeared  on the cover of Newsweek. However, he was never charged.

Some lawyers suspect the case died because Obama, Holder and other officials  had publicly suggested that the Bush-era program was illegal. Prosecuting  someone for disclosing a program he — and prominent others — thought was  unlawful would be difficult.

Here, the programs disclosed to be on stronger legal grounds. However, some  strongly believe the phone-call tracking effort goes too far. And Obama said he  respected that view.

“Those are definitely complicating factors,” said Zeidenberg.

However, the former prosecutor said the government simply has to do something  now or else the notion of highly-classified programs will become a joke.

“From the government’s perspective, if they allow for people to make  unilateral judgments about which top-secret programs are and are not in the  public interest, then they really don’t have much protection against leaks,” he  said. “Your security will only be as good as the vagaries of some individual’s  conscience.”

Read more:

The Obama Administration’s Two-Front War on Fox

May 20, 2013

By John Fund

The Washington Post is reporting that the Justice Department took extraordinary steps to investigate Fox News reporter James Rosen for possible leaks of classified information about North Korea: “It used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails.”

Context is everything. The very same month Justice’s probe into Rosen’s story began, the Obama administration’s war on Fox News began. As NRO’s Eliana Johnson has reported:

 In June of 2009, the president complained about a “certain cable network” devoted entirely to attacking his administration. Four months later, former White House communications director Anita Dunn in 2009 said of Fox, “We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” adding, “We don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.” The administration went on to try to exclude Fox from the network pool that covers the White House, making a recent appointee — pay czar Kenneth Feinberg — available for interviews to every network but Fox. When the other networks refused to conduct the interview until Fox was included, the White House relented. But the verbal assault continued, with Obama telling Rolling Stone magazine in 2010 that the network represents a point of view that is “ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive  in the world.”

The public war that the Obama administration waged against Fox News was ugly enough. Perhaps with the Washington Post story we are now seeing the tip of the iceberg regarding the administration’s private war against Fox News.


Washington Post:

The Washington Post on Monday reported that Obama’s Department of Justice was investigating journalists  before they started wiretapping the Associated Press – for one, Fox News  correspondent James Rosen in 2010. Their headline wasn’t “Obama Team Also Spied  on Fox News.” Fox wasn’t in the headline, on A-1 or on A-12, where the story  continued.

Newly obtained court documents “reveal how deeply  investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist — and  raise the question of how often journalists have been investigated as closely as  Rosen was in 2010.” Reporter Ann Marimow began:

When the Justice Department began investigating possible  leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did  more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of  receiving the secret material.
They used security badge access records  to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according  to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a  State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report.  They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails.
The  case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser, and James Rosen, the chief  Washington correspondent for Fox News, bears striking similarities to a sweeping  leaks investigation disclosed last week in which federal investigators obtained  records over two months of more than 20 telephone lines assigned to the  Associated Press.

The Kim case began in June 2009, when Rosen reported for Fox online that  U.S. intelligence officials were warning that North Korea was likely to respond  to United Nations sanctions with more nuclear tests. The CIA had learned the  information, Rosen wrote, from sources inside North Korea.

The story was published the same day that a top-secret report was made  available within a small group inside the intelligence community, including Kim,  who at the time was a State Department arms expert with security clearance. “FBI  investigators used the security-badge data, phone records and e-mail exchanges  to build a case that Kim shared the report with Rosen soon after receiving it,  court records show.”

In the documents, FBI agent Reginald Reyes described in  detail how Kim and Rosen moved in and out of the State Department headquarters  at 2201 C St. NW a few hours before the story was published on June 11,  2009.
“Mr. Kim departed DoS at or around 12:02 p.m. followed shortly  thereafter by the reporter at or around 12:03 p.m.,” Reyes wrote. Next, the  agent said, “Mr. Kim returned to DoS at or around 12:26 p.m. followed shortly  thereafter by the reporter at or around 12:30 p.m.”
The activity, Reyes  wrote in an affidavit, suggested a “face-to-face” meeting between the two men.  “Within a few hours after those nearly simultaneous exits and entries at DoS,  the June 2009 article was published on the Internet,” he wrote.
The  court documents don’t name Rosen, but his identity was confirmed by several  officials, and he is the author of the article at the center of the  investigation. Rosen and a spokeswoman for Fox News did not return phone and  e-mail messages seeking comment.

The Post suggested that unlike the AP, Fox News was the likely target of the  investigation:

Reyes wrote that there was evidence Rosen had broken the  law, “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.”  That fact distinguishes his case from the probe of the AP, in which the news  organization is not the likely target….
Privacy protections limit  searching or seizing a reporter’s work, but not when there is evidence that the  journalist broke the law against unauthorized leaks. A federal judge signed off  on the search warrant — agreeing that there was probable cause that Rosen was a  co-conspirator.
[U.S. Attorney Ronald] Machen’s office said in a  statement that it is limited in commenting on an open case, but that the  government “exhausted all reasonable non-media alternatives for collecting the  evidence” before seeking a search warrant.
However, it remains an open  question whether it’s ever illegal, given the First Amendment’s protection of  press freedom, for a reporter to solicit information. No reporter, including  Rosen, has been prosecuted for doing so.

The question now is whether other journalists will see Obama’s Justice  Department spying on Fox News as objectionable as spying on the Associated  Press.

Perhaps the bland headlines meant to project Rosen as just another  journalist on Obama’s enemies list. The front-page headline was “Records  offer rare glimpse at leak probe: Justice sought reporter’s personal e-mails  after N. Korea story in 2009.” Inside the paper, the headline was  simply “Badge data used to track reporter at State, records say.” 

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