A Visit to the NSA’s Data Center in Utah

These many DoD outposts aren’t why the Economic Development Corporation of Utah says the state’s a great place for data centers. Instead, they mention that it’s generally untouched by natural disasters, and it’s a pretty secure region given that it’s very isolated and spacious. It’s also in proximity to a lot of Internet backbone, and the state “has a long and distinguished history in the high-tech industry,” which presumably makes it easier to find skilled IT workers.

That long and distinguished history really kicked off around 1969, when the University of Utah was made one of the four original nodes of ARPANET. Its presence in that initial constellation (the only non-California node in the network) was largely due to the efforts of David C. Evans, a Utah native who had been teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, when ARPA was just getting started. The U of U lured him back to Salt Lake to create and chair their new computer-science program. He brought his DoD connections with him, and an ARPA contract named “Graphical Man/Machine Communications” that funded a lot of the department’s early activities.

Evans’s reports to the DoD and papers published under the contract are available online via the university library. They’re pretty amazing documents of Internet and computer-graphics history—one features an abstract of Alan Kay’s dissertation. Other U of U computer-science alumnae have been involved in the formation of companies like Silicon Graphics, Pixar, and Adobe.

Today, the University of Utah’s computer-science program continues to have interesting DoD ties. When the NSA Data Center was initially being built, the agency worked with the university to develop a data-center-engineering certificate program, essentially building a pipeline for students to continue to support Utah’s data-center industry, with one data center in particular presumably needing a lot of support (U of U also has a Big Data certificate program; weirdly, neither of these programs currently require any ethics coursework).

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/11/a-visit-to-the-nsas-data-center-in-utah/416691/? Continue reading

There Were American Nazi Summer Camps Across the US in the 1930s

During the latter half of the 1930s, a surprising number of Nazi-themed summer camps sprouted across the United States. Organized locally and without the support of Germany, these summer outings bore a startling resemblance to the Hitler Youth. Here’s what these camps were like—and how, for a short time, the Third Reich came to America.

Parents lining up to give the Hitler salute. Children wearing uniforms adorned with swastikas. The stars and stripes raised alongside the Nazi flag. Looking back with hindsight, these images of summer camps appear ludicrous and deeply offensive. Yet, in the late 1930s, a small minority of Americans were subsumed by the same fascist fervor that had swept Nazi Germany.

While these retreats had obvious appeal to Nazi sympathizers, they were also part of a larger plan to awaken fascistic sensibilities in America and to foster the transition of the US into a Nazi stronghold.

Welcome to Nazi Camp, USA

These summer camps, organized by a grassroots organization called the Deutsche-Amerikanische Berufsgemeinschaft, or German American Bund (“bund” meaning “alliance” in German), were established in the US during the latter half of the 1930s.

By the time they were shut down at the onset of the Second World War, some 16 of these camps and family retreats had emerged, including Camp Siegfried in Yaphank, New York, Camp Hindenburg in Grafton, Wisconsin, Camp Nordland in Andover, New Jersey, the Deutschhorst Country Club in Sellersville, Pennsylvania, Camp Bergwald in Bloomingdale, New Jersey, and Camp Sutter near Los Angeles.

Camp Siegfried, among the most prominent of the retreats, was situated in the particularly pro-German hamlet of Yaphank on Long Island. Its streets, which were the scenes of regular Nazi parades, were named in honor of Hitler, Goering, and Goebbels. Attendees of this camp planted swastika topiary lawns and constructed fake artillery installations comprised of tin cans.

http://gizmodo.com/how-american-nazis-used-summer-camps-to-indoctrinate-th-1743267747 Continue reading

POPPYLEAKS, PART 4 The Story of Bush 41 the Establishment Won’t Publish

In the art of propaganda, and in the daily business of public relations, a cardinal rule is that if a problem emerges, it must be managed immediately. The trick is to quickly acknowledge and gain control of the new material, mitigating the damage by redirecting it in a beneficial way. This is known in tradecraft as “block and bridge.”

Thus it was that the first and only Bush family acknowledgment of where Poppy Bush was on that red-letter day came in classic form — from the wife, in the most innocuous swathing. The venue was in her 1994 book, Barbara Bush: A Memoir, which was published ten months after the document’s declassification. Deep in that book, mostly a compendium of narrow-gauge, self-serving recollections, there it was: not just a recollection of the assassination, but the reproduction of an actual letter written by Barbara on the very day, at the very moment, that Kennedy was shot. The letter has plenty of details, but it omits one important personal item from that day: Poppy’s call to the FBI; perhaps Poppy did not mention it to her?

Barbara begins to describe that fateful day on page 59 of her memoirs:

On November 22, 1963, George and I were in the middle of a several-city swing. I was getting my hair done in Tyler, Texas, working on a letter home.

Here are some excerpts:

(The following is how the excerpts appear in the book, ellipses and all.)

Dearest Family,Wednesday I took Doris Ulmer out for lunch. They [Al and Doris Ulmer] were here from England and they had been so nice to George in Greece. That night we went to … I am writing this at the Beauty Parlor and the radio says that the President has been shot. Oh Texas — my Texas — my God — let’s hope it’s not true. I am sick at heart as we all are. Yes, the story is true and the Governor also. How hateful some people are…. Since the Beauty Parlor the President has died. We are once again on a plane. This time a commercial plane. Poppy picked me up at the beauty parlor — we went right to the airport, flew to Ft. Worth and dropped Mr. Zeppo off (we were on his plane) and flew back to Dallas. We had to circle the field while the second presidential plane took off. Immediately Pop got tickets back to Houston and here we are flying home. We are sick at heart. The tales the radio reporters tell of Jackie Kennedy are the bravest I’ve ever heard. The rumors are flying about that horrid assassin. We are hoping that it is not some far right nut, but a “commie” nut. You understand that we know they are both nuts, but just hope that it is not a Texan and not an American at all.

I am amazed at the rapid-fire thinking and planning that has already been done. L.B.J. has been the president for some time now — 2 hours at least and it is only 4.30.

My dearest love to you all,


http://whowhatwhy.org/2015/11/19/poppyleaks-part-4/ Continue reading

Life as a drone operator: ‘Ever step on ants and never give it another thought?’

In a secluded room at an airbase in Nevada, young men hold the power of life and death over people thousands of miles away. Former servicemen tell their story

Haas is one of four former air force drone operators and technicians who as a group have come forward to the Guardian to register their opposition to the ongoing reliance on the technology as the US military’s modern weaponry of choice. Between them, the four men clocked up more than 20 years of direct experience at the coalface of lethal drone programs and were credited with having assisted in the targeted killings of hundreds of people in conflict zones – many of them almost certainly civilians.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/18/life-as-a-drone-pilot-creech-air-force-base-nevada Continue reading