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Context of 'From 2002 to March 2003: US Military May Use Directed Energy Weapons in Iraq, Say Press Reports During Run-up to War'

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As the United States and its allies ready themselves for war with Iraq, numerous press reports say that the US military may use newly-developed “directed energy” weapons during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Directed energy weapons (DEW) are based on laser technology. The most advanced DEW and most likely to be actually deployed is a high-powered microwave (HPM) used to destroy enemy electronics by releasing an electro-magnectic pulse or EMP, akin to an electric surge caused by lightning. The danger of an electro-magnetic pulse was first realized in the 1960s during nuclear weapons research. A nuclear explosion can release enough radiation to “fry” electronic equipment. The US and Soviet militaries are known to have devoted considerable efforts to harden their equipment against such damage. Since the 1980s, the United States has also researched the use of a high-powered microwave as an offensive weapon to disable enemy communications, electric, and computing equipment. Such research has taken place primarily at Kirtland Air Force Base, in New Mexico, under the purview of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate. The Kirtland center has about 600 employees and a 120 million dollars annual budget. US companies such as TRW, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are also involved in the field. [Economist, 1/30/2003; Reuters, 2/2/2003; New York Times, 2/20/2003; Associated Press, 3/19/2003]

Entity Tags: TRW, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Kirtland Air Force Base, Directed Energy Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

Timeline Tags: Iraq under US Occupation

Washington Post reporter William Arkin reveals that the National Security Agency (NSA) is “building a new warning hub and data warehouse” in Aurora, Colorado, just outside of Denver, on the grounds of Buckley Air Force Base. The agency is transferring many key personnel from its Fort Meade, Maryland, headquarters to Aurora. Arkin calls the new NSA facility, named the Aerospace Data Facility (ADF), “massive,” and says he believes it is the hub of the NSA’s data mining operation (see January 16, 2004). According to Government Executive magazine, the NSA’s new data storage facility “will be able to hold the electronic equivalent of the Library of Congress every two days.” While the NSA explains that the new facility is a cost-cutting measure and part of the agency’s post-9/11 decentralization—“This strategy better aligns support to national decision makers and combatant commanders,” an NSA spokesman tells one reporter—Arkin says that the “NSA is aligning its growing domestic eavesdropping operations—what the administration calls ‘terrorist warning’ in its current PR campaign—with military homeland defense organizations, as well as the CIA’s new domestic operations [in] Colorado.… Colorado is now the American epicenter for national domestic spying.” Arkin notes that previous news reports have said that the CIA is planning to move much of its domestic National Resources Division to Aurora as well. He also notes that Colorado is the home of the US military’s Northern Command (NORTHCOM), the military arm responsible for homeland defense. The move also allows the NSA to better coordinate its efforts with private contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman Mission Systems, and Raytheon, all of which have presences in Colorado. Arkin names all three firms as partners with the NSA in building the ADF. Former senior AT&T technician Mark Klein (see July 7, 2009 and May 2004) will later write, “Over months and years, the database would be huge, ready for data mining whenever the government wants to go after someone.” [Washington Post, 1/31/2006; Klein, 2009, pp. 40-41]

Entity Tags: National Security Agency, Aerospace Data Facility, Government Executive Magazine, Mark Klein, Northrup Grumman Mission Systems, William Arkin, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Raytheon, US Northern Command

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

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