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BBC News - Panetta backs Syria rebels arms plan
The US defence secretary has acknowledged for the first time that he supports arming Syrian rebels.

In testimony to Congress, Leon Panetta said he still supported the supply of weapons to rebels fighting forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The plan was proposed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus, then director of the CIA, but reportedly rebuffed by the White House.

The US has so far offered only diplomatic backing to Syria's rebels.

More than 60,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the 22-month conflict.

The UN says it fears continuing violence could destabilise the whole region, and more than 600,000 Syrians have fled into neighbouring countries.
syria  politics  diplomacy  military  protest  LeonPanetta  congress  usa 
february 2013 by jtyost2
BBC News - Pentagon to end ban on women in front-line combat
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has decided to lift the military's ban on women serving in combat, a senior Pentagon official has said.

The move could open hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and elite commando jobs to women.

It overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to small ground-combat units.

But the military would have until 2016 to argue for any specific posts they think should remained closed to women.

The decision is expected to be formally announced on Thursday.
usa  military  gender  feminism  legal  LeonPanetta 
january 2013 by jtyost2
US prepares first-strike cyber-forces
Cyber-attacks could inflict as much damage on the US as the physical attacks on 11 September 2001, the US defence secretary has warned.

Leon Panetta said the country was preparing to take pre-emptive action if a serious cyber-attack was imminent.

He said US intelligence showed “foreign actors” were targeting control systems for utilities, industry and transport.

Advanced tools were being created to subvert key computer control systems and wreak havoc, said Mr Panetta.

“An aggressor nation or extremist group could gain control of critical switches and derail passenger trains, or trains loaded with lethal chemicals,” said Mr Panetta in a speech to business leaders held on the USS Intrepid - a former aircraft carrier that is now a museum.

“They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.

“Such a destructive cyber-terrorist attack could paralyse the nation and create a profound new sense of vulnerability,” he said.

Smaller scale cyber-attacks were now commonplace, said Mr Panetta.

In recent weeks, many large US firms had suffered attacks that had involved them being bombarded with huge amounts of data, he said. In addition, oil companies in Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been hit by the Shamoon attack, which had tried to replace computer data with gibberish. About 30,000 machines were hit by the Shamoon attack.

The US defence department had developed tools to trace attackers, he added, and a cyber-strike force that could conduct operations via computer networks. And it was now finalising changes to its rules of engagement that would define when it could “confront major threats quickly”.

“Potential aggressors should be aware that the United States has the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable for actions that harm America or its interests,” he said.

“If we detect an imminent threat of attack that will cause significant physical destruction or kill American citizens, we need to have the option to take action to defend the nation, when directed by the president.”
security  hacking  privacy  legal  military  technology  LeonPanetta  usa  politics 
october 2012 by jtyost2
BBC News - US prepares first-strike cyber-forces
Cyber-attacks could inflict as much damage on the US as the physical attacks on 11 September 2001, the US defence secretary has warned.

Leon Panetta said the country was preparing to take pre-emptive action if a serious cyber-attack was imminent.

He said US intelligence showed "foreign actors" were targeting control systems for utilities, industry and transport.

Advanced tools were being created to subvert key computer control systems and wreak havoc, said Mr Panetta.

"An aggressor nation or extremist group could gain control of critical switches and derail passenger trains, or trains loaded with lethal chemicals," said Mr Panetta in a speech to business leaders held on the USS Intrepid - a former aircraft carrier that is now a museum.

"They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.

"Such a destructive cyber-terrorist attack could paralyse the nation and create a profound new sense of vulnerability," he said
BBC  2012  LeonPanetta  USmilitary  cybersecurity  from delicious
october 2012 by Dan_10v11
US says Israel undecided on Iran
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has played down reports that Israel is moving closer to taking military action over Iran’s nuclear programme.

“I don’t believe they’ve made a decision as to whether or not they will go in and attack,” he told reporters.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said recently that time was running out - a view also echoed by Israel’s ambassador to the US.

But Mr Panetta said the US believed there was still room to talk to Iran.

Tehran denies that its nuclear programme is aimed at producing nuclear weapons, insisting that it is for civilian energy purposes.

“The additional sanctions have been put in place. They’re beginning to have an additional impact on top of the other sanctions,” Mr Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon in Washington.
israel  iran  nuclear  diplomacy  military  usa  LeonPanetta  politics 
august 2012 by jtyost2
US defends Pakistan drone strikes
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has backed the use of drones to target militants in Pakistan, two days after a missile strike reportedly killed al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi.

Mr Panetta said the US had made it “very clear that we are going to continue to defend ourselves”.

He made the comments while attending a conference in neighbouring India.

On Tuesday, Pakistan summoned the US deputy ambassador to reiterate its “serious concern” about drone strikes.

There have been eight US drone strikes in the past two weeks despite Islamabad’s demands for them to be stopped.

Pakistan says the drone attacks fuel anti-US sentiment and claim civilian casualties along with militants. The US insists the strikes are effective.
LeonPanetta  politics  legal  diplomacy  USA  Pakistan  AlQaeda  military  from instapaper
june 2012 by jtyost2

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