27 Oct 16. U.S. Has Secretly Expanded Its Global Network of Drone Bases to North Africa. The Pentagon has secretly expanded its global network of drone bases to North Africa, deploying unmanned aircraft and U.S. military personnel to a facility in Tunisia to conduct spy missions in neighboring Libya.
The Air Force Reaper drones began flying out of the Tunisian base in late June and have played a key role in an extended U.S. air offensive against an Islamic State stronghold in neighboring Libya.
The Obama administration pressed for access to the Tunisian base as part of a security strategy for the broader Middle East that calls for placing drones and small Special Operations teams at a number of facilities within striking distance of militants who could pose a threat to the West.
U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an operation that has not been acknowledged, said the drones being flown out of Tunisia were unarmed and were principally being used to collect intelligence on Islamic State targets in Sirte, Libya, where the United States has conducted more than 300 airstrikes since August.
U.S. officials said they sought access to the air base in Tunisia to close a critical “blind spot” for U.S. and Western intelligence services in North Africa, which has become the Islamic State’s largest base of operations outside of Syria and Iraq. The region is also home to al-Qaeda-linked fighters.
Obama administration officials say they have tried to shore up Tunisia’s fledgling democracy and position the country as a key counterterrorism partner in the region. Although the drones operating out of Tunisia conduct only surveillance missions, U.S. officials said they could be armed in the future if Tunisia gives the United States permission. The Tunisian Embassy in Washington declined to comment.
The U.S. military has other drone bases on the African continent, from Niger to Djibouti. But officials said they were too far from populous areas on the Libyan coast to be useful in day-to-day counterterrorism operations there. The longer drones have to travel to reach their destinations, the less time they have to “loiter” over their targets. (Source: defence-aerospace.com/Washington Post)
27 Oct 16. Report: Chinese Spies Stole Pentagon Secrets. Chinese spies repeatedly infiltrated U.S. national security agencies, including official email accounts, and stole U.S. secrets on Pentagon war plans for a future conflict with China, according to a forthcoming congressional commission report.
“The United States faces a large and growing threat to its national security from Chinese intelligence collection operations,” states the late draft report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
“Among the most serious threats are China’s efforts at cyber and human infiltration of U.S. national security entities.”
Chinese intelligence activities have “risen significantly” in the past 15 years and are conducted through several spy services, including the Ministry of State Security (MSS), the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and Communist Party military organizations such as the PLA General Political Department and the Party’s United Front Work Department.
A copy of the draft annual report for 2016 was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The final report will be released Nov. 16.
The report identified repeated infiltrations by Chinese spies of U.S. national security entities, including the FBI and the U.S. Pacific Command.
Defense officials said one of the more damaging spy cases involved retired Lt. Col. Benjamin Pierce Bishop, a defense contractor at the U.S. Pacific Command, who pleaded guilty in March 2014 to supplying classified information to a Chinese woman he dated.
The compromised information included secret U.S. war plans, nuclear weapons and deployment information, secrets on the MQ-9 Reaper drone, and a classified report titled “The Department of Defense China Strategy.” (Source: