Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages - We Are The Mighty
Intel

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages

The world of espionage requires two equally important things: access to information and a means of getting that information back to the other side. Modified DNA might make that a little easier.

Throughout history, spies have concocted many different means of secret communication. In the earliest days of modern spycraft, ink and paper had to be concealed from prying eyes. Spies wrote with anything that could be used as a kind of invisible ink, everything from lemon juice to semen. Hey, sometimes spycraft is just stressful. 

As technology advances, using biology to enhance the ability to send covert messages is only increasing, but in a very different way.

Transmitting secret messages via radio or morse code carries risks. Israeli spy Eli Cohen ascended to a high rank in the Syrian Defense Ministry over four years by befriending important people in the Syrian government. The entire time he was transmitting information back to the Mossad through radio. He was caught red-handed during a transmission. 

Being able to deliver information will always be the most secure means of communication. Over time, complex cyphers, micro-dots that can hold thousands of documents on a mark the size of a period, and dead drops of actual documents were solid means of getting that information back to handlers. Spy agencies developed incredible technology to obtain information. 

A new biological means is taking that technology a step further, using specially-modified strands of DNA to imprint messages on a molecular level. 

Though the process is complex for the layman (at the moment, don’t sleep on the CIA’s technological engineers) anyone looking to send a secret message can create a strand of DNA with the coded message. Only the receiver will be able to decode it, and possibly even know it’s there.

Like the microdot, the hidden DNA message can be pasted on a dot in a standard letter and simply mail it to whomever is intended to receive it. 

A strand of modified DNA
DNA can be used to store information, but in very tiny pieces.

According to the New York Times, the procedure was developed by a civilian, Dr. Carter Bancroft, professor of physiology and biophysics at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital. 

The idea is to arrange the four nucleotides that comprise DNA into a simple encryption cypher using the letters that denote the nucleotides: A,C, G, and T, then marking them with “primer” DNA. It would be mixed with human DNA and sent off. The receiver would have the key to the cypher.

DNA manipulation can be a useful way to send messages because of the complexity of human DNA. It can be “chopped up” into 30 million different strands. 

The Mount Sinai researchers then hid the DNA onto a microdot in a regular letter and mailed it through the U.S. Postal Service.

Once received, a spy agency would then use techniques common in DNA laboratories to replicate the strand containing the hidden message, so long as they know the “primer” sequence. If an intercepting agency suspects a DNA microdot but doesn’t know that sequence will have 30 million possibilities to sift through.

Until the Alan Turing of DNA cyphers is born, that is. To get the general idea of how it works, watch the video below.

Intel

Putin’s spies are getting sloppy: ‘America isn’t sending a guy to your house to kill you with a hammer, but the Russians will,’ NATO official says

  • Bulgaria arrested six people allegedly spying for Russia inside NATO. One spy was nicknamed “The Resident.”
  • NATO officials were shocked at their “amateurish” lack of espionage tradecraft.
  • “They should have taken the time and been more careful to isolate each agent so that they didn’t all end up starring in a YouTube video,” a source tells Insider.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It was one of Russia’s deepest infiltrations of NATO in recent years, and the nickname given to one of the spies was reminiscent of a John Le Carré novel: “The Resident.”

There were clandestine exchanges of cash for secrets in the centre of Sofia, Bulgaria. Officials were seen counting out cash in Bulgarian government offices. And at the center of it all was a dual national Russian-Bulgarian citizen married to a top defense ministry official. 

The Russian spies posing as diplomats in the Russian embassy in Sofia focused their recruiting efforts on the top echelons of the Bulgarian defense establishment, as the newest member of NATO. Their specific target, according to both Bulgarian media reports and officials who spoke to Insider, was a new NATO facility on the Black Sea.

All told, six Bulgarians with close ties to either Russia or defense ministry projects were arrested for espionage.

But in a 20-minute video released by Bulgarian intelligence a few days later, the reality was less like a slick espionage thriller: The Russians had retained a crew of bumblers whose only skill was their proximity to Bulgaria’s secrets.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages

A tasking memo written ‘in illiterate Bulgarian’

“They’ve got the wife of a prominent figure in the defense industry — who happens to hold dual Bulgarian-Russian passports — coordinating a bunch of agents herself and she’s on video taking meetings at the embassy and in public with Russian officials,” said a NATO counterintelligence official who works undercover and cannot be named. 

“And who is running this woman — again married to one of the top agents — on the Russian side? The top two Russian diplomats at the embassy in Sofia run her themselves to the point they’re caught on video with her,” said the NATO official. “This isn’t a bunch of dumb thugs from the GRU [Russian military intelligence] either, this is the proper SVD [a premier Russian intelligence service previously known as KGB]  running operations from an embassy in a NATO capital.”

The counterintelligence official was particularly shocked at both the clumsy nature of the operation and the bizarre lack of language skills of those running it, considering the spies involved would have been elite intelligence officials with extensive language training who were working in Bulgarian, a Slavic language with close ties to Russia. (There is a lengthy Twitter thread discussing details of the failed operation here, by the journalist Christo Grozev of Bellingcat.)

“The tasking memo was pretty amateurish but normal I guess, they wanted as much info on anything related to NATO that wasn’t Bulgarian because they don’t care about Bulgaria they clearly only care about foreign NATO officers. But that it’s in illiterate Bulgarian makes me crazy. An American or French officer with terrible Bulgarian — but good Russian — would make sense but the SVD has no excuse,” the official told Insider.

‘That’s a major mistake to leave all the sub-agents exposed in a single trail’

After months of closely watching the two Russian officers meet the handler and his wife, Bulgarian authorities became convinced that they had the entire cell under surveillance because of the single point of contact between the spies: The woman who was married to the top official involved, nicknamed “The Resident” by Bulgarian officials, a play on an old KGB term for a spy.

“It looks like maybe the Russians recruited this single MOD official, who then expanded the network to include others and it was all run through that central point,” said the NATO official of the spycraft involved. 

“That’s a major mistake to leave all the sub-agents exposed in a single trail: In this case [if you] figure out The Resident or his wife then you have caught all the agents, not just one,” said the official. “It can be hard to arrange but this is a valuable agent in a NATO MOD [Ministry of Defence]. They should have taken the time and been more careful to isolate each agent so that they didn’t all end up starring in a YouTube video.”

‘It’s as if they don’t really care’

The NATO official said that Bulgaria’s success in the past at catching Russian agents should have been a warning that the situation posed challenges to spy operations:

  • In 2020, Bulgaria deported four top Russian diplomats for spying.
  • In 2019 it banned a former Russian intelligence official from entering Bulgaria over spying claims.
  • And in 2015 Bulgaria saw the first use of the Novichok nerve agent by Russian spies in an attempt to kill a Bulgarian arms dealer who had run afoul of the Kremlin. Novichok was later used in Salisbury in 2018 on a defected Russian spy and his daughter and in 2020 the same substance was used to poison Russian dissident politician Alexei Navalny.

“They get caught a lot in Bulgaria but like everywhere else it’s as if they don’t really care,” said the NATO official. There has been a string of Russian operations in Europe that were so messy they were quickly detected.

“We end up seeing so many Russian operations because they’re crazy: America isn’t sending a guy to your house to kill you with a hammer, but the Russians will. And if you send a guy to kill someone with a hammer or nerve agents the message you send is that you don’t care if you get caught.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Intel

The insane Israeli special op that gave the US terror intel

President Trump caught a lot of flak for sharing intel with the Russians last year. Specifically, in May when he shared classified info from Israel with Russian envoys Sergey Kislyak and Sergey Lavrov.


 

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
President Trump with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

(White House Photo)

Keep in mind that sharing classified information is something the President of the United States can do whenever he wants. It’s not illegal, but it could hurt our chances of other countries sharing intel in the future.

What Trump shared was information regarding a new ISIS weapon and the Saudi bomb maker who developed it — laptop computer bombs that are undetectable at airport security.

Vanity Fair detailed how Sayeret Matkal forces — elite Israeli counter-terror troops — flew undetected across Jordan and then north into Syria. The helicopters dropped the troops and Syrian Army jeeps a few miles away from their target. They then drove on toward their objective.

 

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Sayeret Matkal commandos in training.

(IDF Photo)

Related: This Israeli special forces unit is their version of Navy SEALs

According to latest intel, hey were on their way to a meeting house of an ISIS cell. The Israelis wanted to ensure it was tapped so they could hear every word. An operative in the field guaranteed them valuable information would come from there. At first it sounded like the bug was a bust — no one was saying anything.

Then it happened. The ISIS troops started talking about how to build the laptop weapon that couldn’t be detected at airports. The bombs would cause airplanes to fall from the sky in huge fireballs. Once the Mossad had the info, they quickly shared it with other potential targets, namely the United States.

Al-Qaeda’s chief bomb maker in Yemen and Saudi Arabian national Ibrahim al-Asiri was thought to be the mastermind behind the weapon. 

 

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Ibrahim al-Asiri.

Now Read: 6 miraculous operations of the Israel Defense Forces

That’s what President Trump shared with the Russian Foreign Minister.

Only the Mossad knows what happened to Israel’s inside man in Syria as a result of his location being leaked. An Israeli official told Vanity Fair that, “whatever happened to him, it’s a hell of price to pay for a president’s mistake.”

Intel

It’s Ridiculously Expensive To Fly Air Force One

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
The base of the stairs of Air Force One as US President Barack Obama arrived at Ruzyne Airport in Prague in 2010. (Photo: The White House)


Taxpayers fork over $206,337 every hour the world’s most famous plane is in flight, according to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) letter obtained by the nonprofit Judicial Watch.

Also Read: 11 Killer Photos Of Jets In Full Afterburner

The FY15 cost per flying hour for Air Force One (VC-25A) includes “fuel, flight consumables, depot level repairables, aircraft overhaul, and engine overhaul,” according to the letter from the Department of the Air Force Headquarters Air Mobility Command to Judicial Watch.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Obama with members of Congress on Air Force One after he spoke at an AMA conference in Chicago in 2009 (Photo: The White House)

According to the National Taxpayer Union Foundation, President Barack Obama has traveled internationally more than any other president, and he has done it on the “most expensive-to-operate Air Force One to date.”

Here are some examples from Judicial Watch:

 • Flights for Obama’s 2014 Labor Day weekend fundraising trips to Westchester, New York, and Providence, Rhode Island, cost taxpayers $527,192.50

 • Transportation for Obama’s round-trip flight from Washington, D.C., to Westchester, New York, to attend a wedding cost taxpayers $358,490.90

 • The flight for Obama’s trip to Milwaukee to speak at “Laborfest 2014” cost taxpayers $653,718.70

 • Obama’s June 17-19, 2013, trip to Belfast, Ireland, including a Dublin sightseeing side trip by Michelle Obama, her daughters, and her entourage, cost taxpayers $7,921,638.66

Within the US, Obama has visited all but three states during his presidency. According to The Washington Post, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush were the only two presidents to visit all 50 states in the past 38 years.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Obama with the Congressional delegation aboard Air Force One in 2009, during a flight from Port of Spain, Trinidad, to Andrews AFB. (Photo: The White House)

The three-leveled “flying Oval Office” has 4,000 square feet of interior floor space and boasts a conference room, a dining room, a private quarters for the president, offices for senior staff members, a medical operating room (a doctor flies on every flight), a press area, two food-preparation galleys that can provide 100 meals, and multifrequency radios for air-to-air and air-to-ground communication, according to the aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Obama on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aboard Air Force One en route to New Orleans in 2013. (Photo: The White House)

According to the White House, the retrofitted Boeing 747 can fly 6,205 miles from Washington, D.C., to Baghdad without stopping for fuel. The plane can also be refueled while in flight in case of an emergency, The Post reports.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Air Force One before leaving Cleveland for Philadelphia in 2013. (Photo: The White House)

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Intel

Here is (not) the US military’s answer to Russia’s flagship Armata tank

An animated video claiming to be a new U.S. military weapon concept to target T-90 and T-14 Armata tanks has gotten a lot of attention on the Internet. The video titled “US Military SNEAKY SURPRISE for T-90 Armata Tanks” was published on December 10, 2015, and has more than 1.2 million views on the popular YouTube channel ArmedForcesUpdate.


Related: The Russian military actually used this hilarious video to recruit paratroopers

While cool in concept, we were more surprised by the video’s creators, RT News—Russia Today—who’s logo and spinning globe appear at 3:16 of the video. The video’s animation, music and naming convention is also strikingly similar to the Russian transformer video WATM published in November 2015 called “Russian military NASTY SURPRISE in a box for US Military.” RT is a Russian government-funded television network directed to audiences outside of its federation. The network is based out of Moscow and broadcasts around-the-clock programming in different languages across the world.

It’s unclear why would Russian state media make a video destroying its new main battle tank. In the meantime, check out the video. (Russia paid good money for it.)

Watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55fBmn2y2-s

Intel

The US military dropped off its last batch of artillery shells carrying deadly VX nerve agent to be destroyed

  • The US military delivered the last of its artillery shells carrying VX for destruction this week.
  • VX is a highly lethal and persistent nerve agent outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention.
  • The US hopes to eliminate all of its chemical weapons by the end of 2023 to meet its treaty goals.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US military delivered the last batch of the nation’s stockpiled 155 mm projectiles carrying VX nerve agent for destruction this week, according to the US Army Chemical Materials Activity.

Blue Grass Chemical Activity crews moved the last of the nearly 13,000 projectiles filled with the highly lethal and persistent VX nerve agent and stored at Blue Grass Army Depot to the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant, which has already destroyed 133.2 tons of chemical agent since 2019.

The Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky is one of only two remaining chemical weapons stockpile locations in the US. The other is the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado. Chemical weapons destruction began at the latter in 2015.

The Blue Grass Army Depot originally stored over 500 tons of mustard and nerve agents in 155 mm projectiles, 8-inch projectiles, and M55 rockets. Each 155 mm munition can carry either 6 pounds of VX or 11.7 pounds of a mustard agent.

The facility has already disposed of its 8-inch projectiles containing GB nerve agent, and it began disposing of the 155 mm H mustard rounds in 2019, with more than 64% destroyed by January 2021. Efforts to dispose of the 155 mm VX artillery shells started on January 10, 2021.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
A US Army graphic showing the 155 mm chemical agent projectile. 

A BGCAPP spokesperson explained to Insider that the length of time it takes for the plant to destroy a batch of chemical weapons projectiles varies. The number of weapons the plant can process at a time can range from a handful to several dozen.

To dispose of the VX projectiles, automated equipment first dismantles the munition, and then the chemical agent and weapons components are destroyed separately through chemical and thermal treatments.

The next phase will start this fall, when the plant will start disposing of the M55 rockets, each carrying about 11 pounds of VX, that are still stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot.

The Department of Defense announced last September that the Pueblo Chemical Depot, once home to more than 780,000 chemical weapons munitions, had successfully disposed of all of its nearly 300,000 155 mm mustard agent projectiles.

The US military is working to eliminate its entire chemical weapons stockpile by the end of 2023 in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. This international treaty prohibits the production and use of chemical weaponry and requires the disposal of stockpiled weapons.

US chemical weapons were once stockpiled at nine different facilities. About 90% of the national stockpile of more than 30,000 tons of chemical weapons were destroyed at the majority of those facilities. All that remains are the weapons in Kentucky and Colorado.

“With the VX projectiles delivered for destruction, the US is one step closer to meeting its treaty goal,” Army Chemical Materials Activity said in a statement.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Intel

DARPA’s new jetpack is a flightless sci-fi bummer

When you hear the word “jetpack,” you picture someone zooming through the sky like the Rocketeer. But DARPA and Arizona State University’s version of the jetpack is a complete let down.


“We’re not able to fly with our jetpack,” said graduate engineer Jason Kerestes, in a video from Arizona State University. “We have instantaneous thrust and we can pretty much trigger it to allow for faster movement and agile motions.”

The pack is designed to enable troops to run a mile in four minutes, but it doesn’t look like they’re quite there yet. At 3:07 of the video, the engineers say to a runner that his time improvement with the jetpack was only three seconds.

Watch the jetpack in action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=290REmBFuIE

NOW: This teenage genius created the best prosthetic ever

OR: The military department you didn’t know Samsung had

Articles

The 19 greatest empires in history

History has seen empires that stretch across a fifth of the world; others that ruled hundreds of millions of people; and some that lasted more than a millennium.


Also Read: The 4 US Presidents With The Craziest War Stories

Each empire seemed unstoppable for an age, but they all crumbled in the end.

Indeed, the age of empires may have ended with World War II, as world powers have moved on from colonization and conquest in favor of geopolitical and commercial influence.

We’ve ranked the 19 greatest empires of all time by the number of square miles each had conquered at their peak.

The Turkic Khaganate spanned 2.32 million square miles at its height in 557 until a civil war contributed to its collapse in 581.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The Han imperial dynasty spanned 2.51 million square miles at its peak in 100 B.C. It collapsed by A.D. 220 after a series of coups and revolutions.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The Ming Dynasty spanned 2.51 million square miles at its height in 1450, but economic breakdown and natural disasters contributed to its collapse in the early 17th century.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The Sasanian Empire spanned 2.55 million square miles at its peak in 621 and was the last Iranian empire before the rise of Islam. It fell around 651 following economic decline and conquest by the Islamic caliphate.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The Empire of Japan was one of the largest maritime empires in history, spanning 2.86 million square miles at its peak in 1942 before surrendering to the Allies on September 2, 1945.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The Achaemenid Empire, also known as the First Persian Empire, spanned 3.08 million square miles at its peak in 480 B.C. before falling to Alexander the Great in 330 B.C.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The First French Colonial Empire spanned 3.12 million square miles at its height in 1754, before a series of wars with Great Britain resulted in both countries losing most of their New World colonies.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

After declaring independence from Portugal, the empire of Brazil spanned 3.28 million square miles at its height in 1822, but it would soon lose the territories that make up modern Uruguay, and the empire would fall in an 1889 coup.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The Rashidun Caliphate spanned 3.6 million square miles at its peak in 654, before being followed by another Islamic Caliphate. It was the largest empire by land area ever at that point in history.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The Portuguese Empire reached 4 million square miles at its height in 1815, before losing Brazil and most of the rest in the next 150 years.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The Abbasid Caliphate covered 4.29 million square miles at its height in 850 before losing ground to the Ottomans, who captured the capital city, Cairo, in 1517.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The French bounced back with second colonial empire that covered 5 million square miles at its peak in 1938, before shedding territories in the post-World War II decolonization movement.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The Yuan Dynasty, the first dynasty to rule all of China, extended 5.4 million square miles at its peak in 1310, before being overthrown by the Ming Dynasty in 1368.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The Qing Dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China, controlled 5.68 million square miles in 1790 at its greatest point. It fell in 1912 following defeat by foreign powers in the Boxer Rebellion and many local uprisings.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The Umayyad Caliphate spanned 5.79 million square miles at its height in the 7th century, before it was defeated by the Abbasids in 750.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The Spanish Empire governed 13% of the world’s land — 7.5 million square miles — at its height in the 18th century before losing much territory in the 19th century Spanish-American wars of independence.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikispace

The Russian Empire spanned 8.8 million square miles at its peak in 1866. It was overthrown by the February Revolution in 1917 and was replaced by the Soviet Union.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The Mongol Empire spanned 12.7 million square miles at its peak in 1279, spanning from the Sea of Japan to Eastern Europe, but it disintegrated into competing entities at about 1368.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

The British Empire stretched over 13 million square miles across several continents — 23% of the world’s land — at its height in 1922, until decolonization began after World War II.

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Intel

This is why Russia loves biological weapons so much

It’s no secret the Soviet Union had trouble keeping up with the United States in terms of heavy weapons during the Cold War. Even though the United States claimed there was a significant so-called “missile gap” between the US and the USSR, the reverse was actually true. 

In reality, though the Soviet Union kept a large number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, it preferred to spend on other weapons of mass destruction. The main reason was cost. Until the oil boom of the 1970s, the Soviet Union wasn’t as flush with cash as we tend to believe.

The USSR was looking for ways to be competitive in the arms race, but without the hefty price tag the United States military was paying to develop, build, and maintain its arsenal of nuclear ICBMs. 

According to defectors, the Soviets employed tens of thousands of scientists and workers to create alternative weapons of mass destruction, like chemical weapons but especially biological weapons. One Soviet scientist told the New York Times that biological weapons were very cheap, especially compared to nuclear and chemical weapons. 

Army Sgt. 1st Class Virginia Vaile-Nelson, a public affairs specialist assigned to the 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, conducts Nuclear Biological and Chemical training qualification at Camp Atterbury, Ind., Nov. 1, 2014.

Judging the weapons efficiency by how much it would cost to kill half the population of one square kilometer of the United States, there was just no comparison to biological warfare. 

“We calculated to achieve an effect [of killing half the population] in one square kilometer it cost $2,000 with conventional weapons, $800 with a nuclear weapon, and $600 with chemical weapons and $1 with biological weapons,” the scientist said. 

The Soviet Union created entire secret cities dedicated to developing biological weapons, often disguised as anti-biological weapons research stations. Even after signing onto the United Nations Biological Weapons Convention of 1972, the USSR continued to experiment with anthrax, tularemia, Q-fever, brucellosis, glanders, the plague, Crimean-Congo fever, typhus, botulism, Venezuelan equine encephalitis and smallpox. 

Many of these toxins were engineered to also be resistant to antibiotics and other common treatments for the diseases, forming “super” versions of the strains. 

It could also mass produce all of the biological agents on an industrial scale, even though it wasn’t necessary. Biological agents are difficult to weaponize for use against a military target. The Soviets had to keep its own weapons handlers from getting sick and spreading the pathogen, they had to deliver the weapons and then ensure it was resistant to treatment. 

By far the most horrifying examples of the effects of biological weapon use comes from the Soviet Union itself. In 1971, a smallpox weapon test accidentally infected the city of Aralsk in what is today Kazakhstan. It was powerful enough to be resistant to the smallpox vaccine and killed six people. In 1979, experimental anthrax spores escaped from a research facility in Sverdlovsk, killing 19 people before the virus was contained. 

The Soviets may have even used biological weapons in Afghanistan. In a 1999 book, former Soviet scientist Kenatjan Alibekov charges that the USSR sprayed glanders, bacteria found in  horses that can be lethal to humans, on Taliban rebels there. 

While weaponization is the most difficult step, it doesn’t take a lot of the pathogen to introduce it to a civilian population. As we have seen throughout the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, just a small introduction can have catastrophic effects on a population. Fallout from the spread of a disease can include hundreds of thousands of deaths, along with crippling production and economic consequences long before the pathogen is contained.

Intel

The US Military Once Considered Making A ‘Gay Bomb’

Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Photo: Wikimedia


Yes, you read the headline correctly. In 1994, an Air Force laboratory submitted a three-page proposal to develop a hormone bomb that would turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals.

Also Read: 13 Tips For Dating On A US Navy Ship

“The Ohio Air Force lab proposed that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soldiers to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistibly attractive to one another,” reported Edward Hammond of bioweapon activist group the Sunshine Project.

The Air Force requested a $7.5 million grant and six years to create the bomb and other non-lethal weapons according to their project, “Harassing, Annoying and ‘Bad Guy’ Identifying Chemicals.”

Aside from the “gay bomb,” the laboratory also included similarly questionable ideas, such as bad breath bombs, flatulence bombs and bombs designed to attract stinging insects.

After the program was revealed, the Pentagon responded (via the BBC):

Captain Dan McSweeney of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate at the Pentagon said the defence department receives “literally hundreds” of project ideas, but that “none of the systems described in that [1994] proposal have been developed”.

He told the BBC: “It’s important to point out that only those proposals which are deemed appropriate, based on stringent human effects, legal, and international treaty reviews are considered for development or acquisition.”

For their attempt to bring such innovative ideas to the battlefield, the Air Force research group was awarded the IG Nobel Peace Prize – a parody set of the Nobel Prizes – in 2007.

This short video demonstrates how the ‘gay bomb’ would work in real-life:

ALSO: A Top US Navy Officer Thinks That One Of The F-35’s Most Hyped Capabilities Is ‘Overrated’

AND: DARPA Is Making A Real Life Terminator (Seriously)

Intel

Watch a soldier return from Afghanistan to surprise a total stranger

We’ve all seen the military homecoming videos, with a service member returning from overseas to surprise their loved ones.


But what happens when a soldier comes home and surprises a total stranger? Well, not to worry, because the satirical website ClickHole has you covered.

“I think he’s going to be very surprised, because he has no idea that I’m finally back from Afghanistan,” says “Sgt. Luke Brundage,” in the video produced by the one-year-old offshoot of The Onion.

With the look and feel of many familiar homecoming videos, the video hilariously illustrates a very awkward meeting, if something like this ever did occur. Interestingly enough, the actor who portrays Brundage is a Marine veteran, according to The Marine Times.

And while it does have some technical errors (using “soldier” instead of Marine, for instance), it’s still funny as hell. And the actor, Jonah Saesan, had little to do with pointing those out.

“A few people want to focus on the detail,” Saesan told The Times. “I don’t think they understand how little I had to do with the creative process.”

Now watch the video:

NOW: The hilarious ‘Awesome Sh-t my Drill Sergeant Said’ is now in book form

Intel

Kids Hate MREs Just As Much As You Do

A local news crew was there when a group of middle schoolers got their first taste of MREs at Caruso Middle school in the Chicago suburbs, and it turns out they don’t really like them either.


Also Read: The Best Military Meals Ready-To-Eat, Ranked

The event was put on by the school council last year as part of their “Empathy Meal” program where students eat meals like those consumed by people of different backgrounds.

The school went for the authentic experience, with students heating their meals using chemical pads and eating on the ground outside.
Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages

Students were assigned a meal, either cheese tortellini or pasta marinara.
Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages

It was a communal meal and students, like the service members they were emulating, exchanged components of the meals.
Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages

The popular items with the teens were, to the surprise of no one, the cookies and trail mix.
Spies can now use modified DNA to send secret messages
Check out the full video.

And also, via Buzzfeed, it turns out adult civilians don’t like them much either:

NOW: The 13 Funniest Military Memes Of The Week

OR: The 7 Things That Bring Joy To Soldiers In The Field

Intel

Video: Iraq war vet relives his most intense gunfight

Colby Buzzell was almost killed when his entire battalion was ambushed by insurgents in Iraq.


“I heard and felt the bullets whiz literally inches from my head, hitting all around my hatch and making a ping, ping, ping sound,” Buzzell said, recalling how the enemy armed with rifles and RPGs attacked from rooftops, alleys, windows from every imaginable direction.

Even worse, a few minutes after the battalion fired their way out of the kill zone, they were ordered to go back to where they got ambushed.

“I literally felt sick to my stomach,” Buzzell said. “I felt like throwing up. My gut, my body, my mind, my soul, my balls were all telling me loud and clear not to go back. I was scared to death, but we had to go back. And, we did.”

Watch how (a scared) Buzzell musters the courage to do things most Americans couldn’t imagine doing in this riveting short video:

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