JERUSALEM (AP) — U.S and British intelligence cracked the codes of Israeli drones operating in the Middle East and monitored their surveillance feeds for almost 20 years, according to documents leaked by an American whistleblower and published in international media on Friday.
Reports by the German magazine Der Spiegel and the investigative website The Intercept said the details emerged from documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked millions of documents about U.S. government surveillance in 2013.
The reports said the intelligence agencies were able to watch information that the drones and other aircraft broadcast back to their handlers. The project codenamed “Anarchist” has operated since 1998 and was based near the highest point in Cyprus. Israel was the focus of the program but it also hacked into systems in Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Syria, the reports said.
In one instance in 2008, an NSA internal newsletter boasted of the Anarchist program successfully collecting video from the cockpit of an Israeli F-16 fighter, the Intercept report said. It said the hacking granted intelligence agencies a “virtual seat in the cockpit” as Israeli aircraft hit targets.
It also showed footage of what it said appeared to be armed drones. Israel neither denies nor confirms use of weaponized drones.
There was no official comment on the reports In Israel. However, Israeli Cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz, who has held the post of minister of intelligence affairs, said, “We are not surprised; we know that the Americans spy on every country in the world and on us as well, on their friends.”
“It is nevertheless disappointing because among other reasons, we haven’t been spying or collecting intelligence or cracking codes in the United States for decades,” he told Army Radio.
Britain’s Foreign Office said: “We don’t comment on intelligence matters.”
Associated Press writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report
This story has been corrected to show that Der Spiegel is a magazine, not a daily and to show that intelligence agencies were granted a “virtual seat in the cockpit” as Israeli aircraft hit targets, not as drones hit targets.
Rashan Gary is a baby-faced man-child and a defensive tackle who could become the foundation of a championship team.
As national signing day approaches, the No. 1 recruit in the country according to most everyone who rates them is still weighing his options. Gary’s choice could be part of a power shift in college football.
Will Gary become a Michigan man and help lead the Wolverines’ rebirth under coach Jim Harbaugh? Will he become the latest five-star to join Nick Saban’s championship machine at Alabama? Will Gary join the Clemson team that nearly took down the Crimson Tide? Or will he pick one of Alabama’s Southeastern Conference rivals?
“A lot of college coaches are trying to get back into the fight. It’s getting crazy, but I’m enjoying it,” said Gary, the senior from Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey.
At 6-foot-5, 292 pounds, Gary is the rarest of recruits — an interior defensive lineman with elite athleticism.
“Defensive linemen are the hardest people to recruit,” said Gerry DiNardo, the former college football coach who is now an analyst for the Big Ten Network.
“When you watch what Alabama has done and when you watch what Urban (Meyer) has done at Ohio State, you can track the last two national champions and probably go back through the BCS era and you could track the winner of the national championship to the line of scrimmage.”
Mike Farrell, director of recruiting for Rivals, compared Gary to Stephon Tuitt, the Pittsburgh Steelers starter and former Notre Dame star.
“It’s hard to find a 6-5 guy who can play D-tackle and also end because they just don’t exist very often,” Farrell said.
Hence, all the teams scrambling to the finish line in pursuit of Gary.
Michigan is the presumptive favorite in the race. Harbaugh and his staff have been cleaning up in New Jersey during this recruiting cycle, with five commitments already from the Garden State. Harbaugh’s point man in New Jersey has been newly promoted linebackers coach Chris Partridge, Gary’s former coach at Paramus Catholic who came to Michigan last year as director of player personnel.
Paramus Catholic is also the alma mater of Michigan defensive back Jabrill Peppers.
Gary visited Ann Arbor last week and his planned two-day trip turned into a long weekend because of the East Coast snowstorm.
“Shared time with the players. Played video games. Just studying for my midterms I had coming up,” Gary said Thursday while in the Atlanta area to receive the Bobby Dodd national high school lineman of the year award.
While down South, Gary met with coaches from Auburn, Ole Miss and Michigan — the Wolverines sent Partridge to check in on his former player — and he was planning to take his last official recruiting visit to Clemson. Gary said he has an uncle who lives in South Carolina, not far from Clemson.
He said he heard from Saban, who was making a pitch to get Gary to Tuscaloosa for one last visit before he and his mother returned to New Jersey.
Saban. Harbaugh. Meyer. Dabo Swinney. Gus Malzahn. Gary and his mom, Jennifer Coney, have been pitched by them all and many more.
“It’s unreal. Big names like that, just having them sit down in your own living room and really getting a feel for them. It’s very cool and obviously a blessing,” Gary said.
Getting in that living room is a big deal for Michigan and, by extension, the Big Ten.
“Not every school can usually get in on the No. 1 recruit in the country. That matters,” DiNardo said.
Closing the deal matters even more. Just a couple years ago, Da’Shawn Hand, a defensive end from Virginia, was the top-rated recruit by many experts and his choice came down to Alabama or Michigan. He picked the Tide.
It was only one choice by one player, but the high-profile jilting of Michigan seemed symbolic of the state of college football.
“The SEC is getting kids they want. The Big Ten can’t compete in recruiting. And I think that’s changed with Harbaugh,” Farrell said. “(Getting Gary) would send a message to other recruits … I think it would send a message to kids all over the country that Michigan’s an option for them.”
Even after Michigan State was thumped by Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinals, the Big Ten is still riding the momentum of the recent success by the Spartans and Buckeyes, along with Michigan’s better-than-expected first season under Harbaugh. All three stand a good chance to sign top-10 recruiting classes Wednesday.
Gary said conference matters.
“That’s why I’m still considering schools in the SEC and Big Ten,” he said. “Definitely the style of play and physicality of it, that’s what I think about, too. You’ve got to play against the best to be the best.”
Gary will announce his decision at ESPN’s Bristol, Connecticut, studios Wednesday morning, but he said he plans to sit down with his mom Sunday and make a choice.
“When Rashan and I go to colleges, we have notebook for pros and cons,” Coney said. “We put down things we like, things we don’t like and put them together. We’re going to go over it Sunday. It’s going to be our own war room.”
Sports Writer Charles Odom in Atlanta contributed to this report.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The suspended University of Missouri assistant professor who was charged with misdemeanor assault stemming from a confrontation with two student journalists during November’s campus protests reached a deal Friday with prosecutors, getting community service but no jail time or fines if she stays out of trouble for a year.
Columbia city prosecutor Steve Richey said he decided to forego pursuing the misdemeanor assault case against assistant communications professor Melissa Click, who has pledged no further illegal behavior for a year and to complete 20 hours of community service, he said in a statement.
If Click fails to comply, “prosecution of the case will resume at that point,” Richey said, adding that he believes “this disposition to be appropriate.” Click was charged Monday, and could have faced up to 15 days in jail.
Click, who seeking tenure with the university, did not respond to an email seeking comment Friday. Her university voicemail was full, and her home number was disconnected.
The university system’s governing board of curators suspended Click on Wednesday and ordered an investigation by its general counsel to determine whether additional discipline “is appropriate,” board chairwoman Pam Henrickson said in a statement.
A message regarding whether Friday’s action would affect the suspension was left with Hendrickson’s law office.
Click had a confrontation with a student photographer and a student videographer during the Nov. 9 protests at the Columbia campus over what some saw as university leadership’s indifference to racial issues. Click called out to recruit “some muscle” from protesters to help remove the videographer, Mark Schierbecker.
That same day, the president of the four-campus University of Missouri system and the Columbia campus’ chancellor resigned over the unrest.
Click later said publicly she regretted her actions. She also apologized to Schierbecker, all journalists and the university community for detracting from the students’ efforts to improve the racial climate on the Columbia campus.
A message left Friday on Schierbecker’s cellphone was not immediately returned.
WASHINGTON (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is largely looking past Monday’s Iowa caucuses, where he barely registers in preference polls, to New Hampshire, where he’s staked his flag in the 2016 race for the Republican presidential nomination. Here’s a quick snapshot of things to know about him.
A year ago, it was hard to imagine any candidate overshadowing Christie in the charisma-and-entertainment department. But his “Sit down and shut up!” made-for-YouTube moments began to seem tame compared with Donald Trump’s insult-fueled reality show campaign, which arrived in June. That, combined with New Jersey’s sluggish economic recovery, his evolving policy positions and his staff’s politically motivated traffic jam near the George Washington Bridge, have emerged as Christie’s chief challenges.
Christie has bounced around in the polls — qualifying for early debates, missing the main stage in another, then qualifying again. Christie aides are hoping a stronger-than-expected finish in Iowa — which they define as beating the two other governors in the race — will boost him heading into New Hampshire, where he’s counting on a strong finish to keep his campaign alive.
The son of an Irish father and a Sicilian mother (to whom he credits his combative nature), Christie, 53, grew up in Livingston, N.J., playing Little League and high school baseball. He met his future wife, Mary Pat, at the University of Delaware and returned to his home state with her to attend Seton Hall University School of Law. Before he was governor, Christie built his reputation as a media-savvy prosecutor who took on the state’s notorious public corruption and won, scoring 130 convictions or guilty pleas on his watch.
He was widely praised for his performance, despite skepticism: Critics charged President George W. Bush only appointed the lawyer and registered lobbyist to the post of U.S. Attorney in New Jersey because of the money he raised for Bush’s 2000 campaign. A year after leaving that office, Christie, whose political career had consisted of failed bids for state office and several years as a local freeholder, defeated Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009. He secured a commanding re-election victory in 2013 after a term spent confronting public employees’ unions and rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy. He also stoked anger when he embraced President Barack Obama in the aftermath of the storm.
Christie has highlighted his background as a federal prosecutor by criticizing Obama’s handling of law enforcement issues, and by claiming that his history in the courtroom makes him the best candidate to take on Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic presidential nomination.
“The fact is we need someone who knows how to beat Democrats, who knows how to beat Democrats in a Democratic area,” Christie said in a debate. “I’ve done it twice as governor of New Jersey, and Hillary Clinton doesn’t want one minute on that stage with me next September when I’m debating her, and prosecuting her for her vision for America.”
Christie has consistently cast himself as the Republican presidential candidate who speaks directly to voters and best understands middle-class concerns. He laid down that marker at a debate in September when Christie bluntly told Trump and former tech company CEO Carly Fiorina that voters don’t care about their resumes.
“You’re both successful people. Congratulations,” Christie scolded. “The middle class in this country who’s getting plowed under by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, let’s start talking about those issues tonight and stop this childish back-and-forth between the two of you.”
MOMENT TO REMEMBER
Christie’s compelling recollection of losing a friend to drug addiction was captured in a Huffington Post video in October 2015, which at last count had racked up more than 8.6 million views on Facebook and liked by site founder Mark Zuckerberg and tens of thousands more.
“It can happen to anyone,” Christie said. “And so we need to start treating people in this country, not jailing them. We need to give them the tools they need to recover.”
The video caught fire just before Christie fell far enough in preference polls to lose his place in the GOP’s top-tier debates. But it underscored Christie’s raw political talent and ability to connect with an audience in ways many of his rivals cannot. The video, combined with Christie’s strong performance in the undercard debate and his constant campaigning across New Hampshire, helped improved his standing in preference polls enough to win back a place on the main stage in later debates.
Aides to Christie were accused of engineering the traffic jams at one of the world’s busiest bridges in September 2013 to punish a Democratic mayor who didn’t support his bid for re-election. Christie has consistently denied any knowledge of the plot, which led to federal indictments of his former deputy chief of staff and two other close allies. It was a scar, however, that raised questions about Christie’s judgment and put his campaign behind even before it started.
ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
This story has been corrected to reflect that Christie defeated Corzine a year after leaving his job as U.S. attorney, not two years after that appointment.
ZIKA FOREST, Uganda (AP) — Birds sing in the canopy and a leopard roams the thick undergrowth of this rainforest in Uganda, where the mosquito-borne Zika virus was discovered almost 70 years ago. Yet while alarms are being sounded in the Americas amid serious health issues, there is little concern here.
Zika fever is suspected in a surge of birth defects in Brazil, where infections were first identified last year, but in Uganda, humans have never suffered a Zika outbreak since the virus was first found, in a monkey, in 1947.
Now, there is sudden interest in the 25-acre (10-hectare) forest for which the virus is named, located on the edge of Lake Victoria and 23 kilometers (14 miles) from Kampala, the capital.
“People have been calling me and saying, ‘What are you going to do with that mosquito? What are you still doing there?’ And I tell them that I have lived here for seven years and nothing has ever happened to me,” said Gerald Mukisa, a caretaker and tour guide at the forest.
An Associated Press team this week visited the Zika Forest, which has 35-meter (38-yard) -tall trees and is, now fittingly, a research site for scientists with the Uganda Virus Research Institute. There’s also a derelict observation tower. Birdwatchers come and go, and musicians have come here to shoot videos for their songs. Real estate developers threaten encroachment on the forest reserve.
But until the breakout of Zika in the Western Hemisphere, not much attention was paid to the virus in the forest, according to Ugandan officials. Zika is not considered a very important disease in tropical Africa where malaria, also transmitted by mosquitoes, is a major killer.
“We have foxes here, rabbits, pythons, and even a leopard that lost its partner,” Mukisa, stocky 50-year-old in jungle boots, said as he trekked through the forest, bending away undergrowth that blocked his path. “People come here mostly as students or tourists. Now people are starting to ask about the mosquito.”
The different impacts of the virus on humans in the tropics of Africa and those in Latin America and the Caribbean may be related to immunity and the fact that the mosquitoes carrying the virus here and there are different, with different habits.
The mosquito responsible for the virus’ spread across the Atlantic belongs to a subspecies called Aedes aegypti aegypti, and that might be a crucial difference. The one found in Uganda is known as Aedes aegypti formosus, and it targets animals more than people, according to Dr. Julius Lutwama, the leading Ugandan scientist investigating viruses spread by bugs. He said there have been no reported cases here of birth defects like microcephaly — babies born with small heads — that have been linked to the virus in Latin America.
While there has never been a known outbreak among people in Uganda, a few people have tested positive over the years, said Lutwama, who works with the Uganda Virus Research Institute and has investigated Zika for years. Yellow fever and dengue fever are more commonly reported in Uganda, and people infected with those diseases may also build resistance against Zika, he said.
“Because these diseases are closely related and they are being transmitted by the same mosquito, the likelihood of cross immunity is very high,” he told The Associated Press.
Matthew Aliota, a University of Wisconsin expert on the spread of mosquito-borne viruses, said scientists believe the cycles of Zika transmission are different in Uganda. While the Aedes aegypti aegypti in Latin America and the Caribbean prefers feeding on human blood, in Uganda the other type of the mosquito is spreading the virus. And that one prefers feeding on animals.
“Most of the transmission is in the animal cycle, with occasional spillover in humans,” said Aliota, who recently studied the eruption of Zika cases in Colombia.
Lutwama said the last time a sample in his lab tested positive for Zika was about three years ago, when a woman in northern Uganda with suspected yellow fever was found instead to be infected with Zika.
“This patient had a fever, joint paints, nausea,” he said, adding that the symptoms were mild.
Dr. Issa Makumbi, the head of epidemiology and surveillance at Uganda’s Ministry of Health, told AP “there is no threat” of a Zika outbreak in Uganda.
Associated Press writer Mike Stobbe contributed to this report from New York.
In this photo by Wally Santana, a video game player experiences a virtual reality headset at the Taipei Game Show in Taiwan, which attracted more than 130 game companies and gaming teams from 24 countries. The companies unveiled their latest games and gadgets, and enthusiasts got a chance to sample the new releases. Many of the players who tried the virtual reality headsets had to adjust their balance and coordination in the initial moments of wearing the headset because the scenes were so lifelike they were disorienting.