Military intelligence is heavily involved in Malaysia Airlines 370, but contradicting itself and denying the public from needed information, thus increasing speculations officials are unauthorized by the military to disclose the craft’s whereabouts and intel by 25 high-tech passengers, employed by five major defense contractor technology companies, was liekly valued enough to seize the plane.
Two Chinese companies represented on the plane’s manifest list are declared U.S. national security risk due to its spying with backdoor computer technology. Congress ousted them from business in the U.S. and warned American companies to halt busines with them, only two of five such companies tight with military.
This Is What Cyber Wars Look Like
A massive military search operation for Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER has resulted in no credible trace of the aircraft or its 239 passengers and crew. Search and rescue vessels from Malaysia’s maritime enforcement agency reached where the plane last made contact, reporting no wreckage sign. Vietnam’s rescue planes spotted two large oil slicks about 15 km (9 miles) long, and a smoke column, also false alarms. China and the Philippines sent ships to help. The U.S., Philippines and Singapore dispatched military planes. China has more ships and aircraft on standby. The FBI sent agents and technical staff to join the investigation, since four Americans are on the manifest list. Crowdsourcing has been activated, so even the public can help. The search operation, however, has no formal entity to lead it.
Chinese passengers’ relatives angrily accuse the airline of keeping them in the dark, and even thrown bottles at officials. Approximately 20-30 families were kept in an airport holding room, guarded by security officials to keep them away from reporters.
”There’s no one from the company here, we can’t find a single person,” said a middle-aged man at a hotel near Beijing airport where relatives were taken. “They’ve just shut us in this room and told us to wait.”
Malaysian authorities say they’re working in co-operation with other countries in the investigation. “Once the location of the airplane is determined, International Civil Aviation Organization protocols will determine which country will lead the investigation,” the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said. Until then, it’s tough keeping the story straight with so many fingers in the pie.
Demanding that the military and FBI be honest and open is like trying to get them to never frame, falsely arrest and detain, harm or kill. Conflicting and confusing accounts of the plane’s potential whereabouts and false alarms compound stress and anxiety of passengers’ friends and family. After days, they were finally ushered unseen out of the airport to their homes after told to mentally prepare for the worst, According to Hugh Dunleavy, commercial director at Malaysia Airlines, that’s too big of an ask. It’s especially difficult when faint signs of life continued, such as loved ones’ phones still ringing with no explanation and the “heard but not seen jet,” both long after the plane vanished.
Meanwhile, precious time is still being lost due to a lack of a lead investigating agency with legal clout in the early days, according to some aviation industry observers. Others speculate means and motives as military investigators keep everyone in the dark.
Motive, Means, Iranian Connection
One motive to capture a craft is its highly valued cargo or passengers. MH370 possibly carries both. The Obama administration and U.S. spymasters have accused China’s government of using computer hackers to steal American businesses’ secrets to benefit China’s private sector. The world is angry at the U.S. for its NSA spying. One means an aircraft can seemingly vanish is with hi-tech military electronic weaponry (EW) designed specifically to “disappear” crafts. U.S. and Chinese military boast of having this capacity. The US has used it elsewhere. [Malaysia Plane Hidden With Electronic Weapon? 20 Hi-Tech EW Defense Passengers]
In 2005, an FBI investigation codenamed Titan Rain revealed Chinese hackers in Guangdong stole from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and stole flight-planning software from the Air Force. The hackers accessed systems at defense contractors, such as Lockheed Martin, and the World Bank. China’s hacking drove Google out of China. WikiLeaks quoted a U.S. Embassy official saying contacts told the U.S. that the Chinese government was behind internet hacking attacks on not only Google, but also Western governments.
Five major technological communications military contractor companies have high-tech employees and executives on the MH370 passenger manifest, two American and three Asia Pacific – each strongly tied to military: China Telecom, Business Machines Corp., Austin-based Freescale, International Business Machines (IBM), ZTE Corp., and Huawei Technologies Co. Combined, they have 26 high-tech experts on the passenger manifest list, including two executives. One of these companies refused to identify its employees onboard, and investigators also withheld those identities.
China Telecom executive Hualian “Happy” Zhang, network planning vice president for China Telecom Global, is on the passenger manifest, number 207. Zhang was reportedly returning from Kuala Lumpur after signing a construction/maintenance agreement for Sea-Me-We-5, a submarine cable to stretch 20,000 km from Singapore to Europe. Fiber optic cables are of prime importance to U.S. military, NSA and intelligence agencies, with expanding operations requiring more and more bandwidth for spying and other operations. (Dana Priest, William Arkin,Top Secret America: The Rise of The New American Security State)
ZTE employee Li Yanlin, an engineer who is part of the company’s telecom gear installation and maintenance team boarded the plane. In May, 2010, India banned telecommunications firms from importing from ZTE and any other Chinese networking equipment companies due to fears that they were riddled with information-stealing spyware. Two years later, Reuters reported ZTE helped funnel software and hardware from US firms Oracle, Microsoft and Cisco Systems to the Iranian government in 2010 to build a $130m nation-wide surveillance system.
Two young Iranians are among those on the passenger manifest. Officials say they would be unlikely to be connected with the plane’s disappearance, but are leaving no stone unturned. The two Iranians traveled on passports stolen about a year ago, possibly bought on the black market, and claimed to be seeking asylum, but asylum from what has been unreported.
ZTE’s thievery and spying support to Iran violated an American embargo on technology sales to the Iranian government. It put ZTE’s U.S. partners in hot water. In May 2012, Ashley Kyle Yablon, ZTE’s Texas-based general counsel, gave to the FBI an affidavit alleging the company plotted to cover up sales to Iran. ZTE then placed Yablon on administrative leave, according to his attorney, Tom Mills.
Huawei China-based telecom company with military ties has two employees on the manifest list, but declined identifying them. Not surprising considering its past spying for Chinese military. Huawei had to ”exit the U.S. market” last year after Congress’s House Intelligence Committee accused it of spying in the U.S. for China’s military. Based in Shenzhen in Guangdong province, China, Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, employing 140,000 people world-wide. It’s a chief competitor to US-based firms like Cisco Systems, that’s seen Huawei eat into its market share, especially in developing markets. The committee investigated Huawei in 2012 due to: 1) it potentially including surveillance back doors in telecommunications equipment sold to the U.S. and 2) its CEO Ren Zhengfei having been a military technologist for the People’s Liberation Army, the military of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
At the same time, the committee investigated ZTE, noting “companies around the United States” had experienced “odd or alerting incidents using Huawei or ZTE equipment.” The report alluded to classified intelligence even more damning. “This highlights a broader mistrust that China-based tech companies are connected with Chinese intelligence,” reported US News last year. “ Internet companies based in the U.S. may soon face a similar chilly reception in foreign markets following reports of the National Security Agency accessing data from American digital networks.” (Emphasis added)
After the investigation, committee Chair Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Ranking Member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., cautioned U.S. companies that “installing Huawei equipment on telecom networks is a potential risk to national security.” (US News) Australia and the U.K. invoked national security to impose limits on deals carriers in their countries could make to purchase Huawei telecommunications equipment. National security risk concerns might extend to other China-based information technology companies wanting to enter American markets, according to Stewart Baker, former general counsel for the NSA and former assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security.
Freescale Semiconductor, a major U.S. defense contractor based in Austin, has 20 employees on the passenger manifest, 12 Malaysian and 8 Chinese.
International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), a major U.S. defense contractor, has a passenger on the manifest list, an executive, Philip Wood, 50. He’d been working in Beijing, was about to start a new assignment in Kuala Lumpur, and visited his family in the U.S. the week before the missing plane operation. His family says it’s been communicating with the State Department and the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, but only knows about as much as everyone following the story.
NSA Compromising National Security, Risking American Lives
In the cyber warfield arena, of course China’s not alone. From U.S. and Israeli interests creating Stuxnet computer worm to damage Iran’s nuclear development, to NSA’s global spy scandal, the U.S. is angering people globally and putting Americans at risk of retaliation. News today of the advancement of NSA’s spying is even more disturbing, as seen below.
The “most significant revelations to date,” “This is huge, in scale and in implications,” and “Disturbing” are people’s respondes today after reading a report by journalist Glenn Greenwald and his colleague at The Intercept, Ryan Gallagher on documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, in their news story, ‘How the NSA Plans to Infect ‘Millions’ of Computers with Malware.“ Greenwald and Gallager explore internal NSA slides and documents showing the agency dramatically ”expanding its ability to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale.” The report shows NSA has ”aggressively accelerated its hacking initiatives” by supplanting operations once done manually by human operators with automated systems that “reduce the level of human oversight.” NSA us using a series of sophisticated hacking programs, malware for targeted infiltrations of computers and even broader mass surveillance over entire networks.
International concern about NSA’s digital spying could compromise U.S. companies’ ability to gain customers in the growing cloud-computing business, possibly costing them up to $35 billion through 2016, an Information Technology and Innovation Foundation think tank reported. Greenwald and Gallagher revelations today would add to foreign nation’s hostility that already exists against Top Secret America’s spy machine.
MH370 official reports changed
The fate of flight MH370, its crew and passengers remains a mystery since last communicating with air traffic control over four days ago, early Saturday morning, so the military tells the public. MH370′s flight path scheduled the plane to depart from Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, head north over the Gulf of Thailand, fly over Vietnam, and then onward to Beijing where scheduled arrival was at 6.30am.
What the world’s been told is that after departing at 12:41 a.m. Saturday, the plane’s first radar appearance was at 12:43 a.m. Malaysia Airlines reported air traffic control lost contact about two hours later, at 2:40 a.m. That time, however, later got changed (or “corrected”) to 1:30 a.m., just short of an hour after departing. The timing is important. To help track the missing plane, authorities needed to have pinpointed the last reported contact, as the Globe and Mail reports.
The Boeing 777′s transponder and other tracking systems were either shut off or malfunctioning when communications with air traffic control ended, the story goes. That would have prevented secondary radar used by civilian authorities from identifying it, but not primary radar used by the military. For example, Phnom Penh military sight’s radar would have capacity to make proper identification under any circumstance – unless not authorized to do so.
John Goglia, former board member of the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. agency that investigates plane crashes, said the lack of a distress call suggested either the plane experienced an explosive decompression or was destroyed by an explosive device.
It is speculated that Malaysian officials are under a gag order by a military or other nefarious entity. Numerous militaries are now involved in the event, as is the FBI – all of whom remain silent about their involvement and findings other than they are floating around on ships or on planes “searching.” Criticism of the Malaysian military’s and other investigators’ refusal to reveal all they know continues mounting.
Yesterday, Vietnam announced it was discontinuing its involvement in the search, but alas, that changed today. China claims to be intensifying its resources in the investigation. Malaysian authorities insist they’re doing their best to solve the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. They might also be doing their best to inform the public. Malaysia government, including the military, and airline officials, however, have offered imprecise, incomplete and inaccurate information, with civilian officials, contradicting military leaders.
Monday in the United States, the public learned that Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) chief General Tan Sri Rodzali Daud said the military received “signals” Saturday showing after the aircraft’s last communications with ground controllers, it sharply changed course from heading northeast to heading west. According to the military account, the last sign of the plane was recorded at 2:40 a.m. Saturday when the aircraft was near Pulau Perak, a tiny island over 160 kilometres off the western shore of the Malaysian Peninsula. [Read: Malaysia Airlines 370 In New Location, Military Intel Adds Puzzle Piece (Photos)]
Officials had already said, however, that they were expanding their search to include the western vicinity. Gen. Rodzali Daud’s new information about this stunned the world, from aviation experts to China officials, who’d been repeatedly told that authorities lost contact with the plane over an hour earlier, when it was on course over the Gulf of Thailand, east of the peninsula. Berita Harian reported the general had confirmed that RMAF Butterworth airbase detected the location signal of the airliner as indicating it turned back from its original heading toward Kota Bharu, Kelantan and was believed to have passed through the airspace of the East Coast and Northern Peninsular of Malaysia.
Had the aircraft made it all the way to just off Thailand’s coast, and then changed course 270 degrees toward Malaysia and as far as Pulau Perak, it would have been the exact same distance as the first leg of the flight, 432.4 miles. Not only that, Gen. Rodzali Daud’s new military account seemed to fit with an unexplained decision the day before, Monday, to expand the search to waters west of the peninsula.
Pulau Perak, Malaysia
Malaysia government seems evasive and confused, as David Learmount, operations and safety editor at Flightglobal, an aviation news and data service, says. If remarks attributed to Gen. Daud Rodzali were true, why did the Malaysian government wait so long to reveal evidence about a western flight path? he questions, echoing millions of people globally watching the disastrous humanitarian event.
Then, Tuesday, Gen. Rodzali Daud denied he’d ever said MH370 was last detected near Pulau Perek. He rejected the report that said he’d confirmed the RMAF base in Butterworth had detected the location signal of the missing MH370 flight near Pulau Perak in the Straits of Malacca at 2.40am Saturday. He claimed the report in Malay-language daily Berita Harian on Tuesday misquoted him.
“I wish to state that I did not make such statements,” Gen. Rodzell Daud said in a written statement Tuesday. “I request this misreporting be amended and corrected to prevent further misinterpretations of what is clearly an inaccurate and incorrect report.”
According to Gen. Rodzali Daud, the Berita Harian reporter asked if such an incident occurred as detailed in their story, but he did not answer the question: “What I said to the reporter was to refer to the statement which I have already made on March 9, 2014 during the press conference with the Armed Forces Chief at the Sama-Sama Hotel, Kuala Lumpur International Airport,” he said.
At the press conference, Rodzali said: “The RMAF has not ruled out the possibility of an air turn back on a reciprocal heading before the aircraft vanished from the radar and this resulted in the Search and Rescue Operations being widened to the vicinity of the waters off Penang.”
His confusing statements, however, do not correspond with another military official’s statement: “[T]he aircraft changed its course after passing Kota Bharu. It then descended to a lower altitude and flew over the Straits of Malacca,’ a ”senior Malaysian armed forces officer” briefed on investigations reported to Reuters.
The media report Tuesday indicated inconsistencies from the first Malaysia Airlines statement a few hours after its Boeing 777-200 disappeared from the radar screens. According to its March 8 statement, flight MH370 was last detected in South China Sea, close to Vietnam’s shores. Its last contact with air traffic controllers was when it was 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu. Flight tracking website flightaware.com showed it flew northeast after takeoff, climbed 35,000 feet and was still climbing when vanishing from tracking records. Residents along the plane’s route claimed to have seen a low-flying aircraft around the time it disappeared.
Then, eight people near Marang, on Malaysia’s eastern coast filed police reports stating they heard a loud and frightening noise approximately nine hours after the plane took off, but could not see the source. They heard a “loud and frightening noise” for about two minutes Saturday, ran toward the odd sound. Whatever made the roar, however, seemed invisible. (See: Malaysia 370 Sound Of Life: Heard But Invisible, Police Reports Say]
The plane remains invisible, if not to military operatives somewhere, at least to the public.
Photos: Asia Sentinel, Wikipedia
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