Dec 22, 2009

Where's An Ariens Snow Thrower When You Need One?


Remember the SMC maxim: "Any time a U.S. official publicly refers to chatter, you can be sure that some variety of bullshittery is afoot."

The SMC maxim cited here has only a slight direct relevance to the overall story (the part where DHS issued the upgraded threat level based on "chatter"), but it is an indication that the dude's program was a stinker and that people knew all along that it was crap.


The weeks before Christmas brought no hint of terror. But by the afternoon of December 21, 2003, police stood guard in heavy assault gear on the streets of Manhattan. Fighter jets patrolled the skies. When a gift box was left on Fifth Avenue, it was labeled a suspicious package and 5,000 people in the Metropolitan Museum of Art were herded into the cold.

It was Code Orange. Americans first heard of it at a Sunday press conference in
Washington, D.C. Weekend assignment editors sent their crews up Nebraska Avenue to the new Homeland Security offices, where DHS secretary Tom Ridge announced the terror alert. “There’s continued discussion,” he told reporters, “these are from credible sources—about near-term attacks that could either rival or exceed what we experienced on September 11.” The New York Times reported that intelligence sources warned “about some unspecified but spectacular attack.”


The financial markets trembled. By Tuesday the panic had ratcheted up as the Associated Press reported threats to “power plants, dams and even oil facilities in Alaska.” The feds forced the cancellation of dozens of French, British and Mexican commercial “flights of interest” and pushed foreign governments to put armed air marshals on certain flights. Air France flight 68 was canceled, as was Air France flight 70. By Christmas the headline in the Los Angeles Times was "Six Flights Canceled as Signs of Terror Plot Point to L.A." Journalists speculated over the basis for these terror alerts. “Credible sources,” Ridge said. “Intelligence chatter,” said CNN.

But there were no real intercepts, no new informants, no increase in chatter. And the suspicious package turned out to contain a stuffed snowman. This was, instead, the beginning of a bizarre scam. Behind that terror alert, and a string of contracts and intrigue that continues to this date, there is one unlikely character.

The man’s name is Dennis Montgomery, a self-proclaimed scientist who said he could predict terrorist attacks. Operating with a small software development company, he apparently convinced the Bush White House, the CIA, the Air Force and other agencies that Al Jazeera—the Qatari-owned TV network—was unwittingly transmitting target data to Al Qaeda sleepers.


An unusual team arrived in Reno, Nevada in 2003 from the Central Intelligence Agency. They drove up Trademark Drive, well south of the casinos, past new desert warehouses. Then they turned into an almost empty parking lot, where a sign read "eTreppid Technologies." It was an attractively designed building of stone tile and mirrored windows that had once been a sprinklerhead factory.

ETreppid Technologies was a four-year-old firm trying to find its way. Some of its employees had been hired to design video games. One game under construction was Roadhouse, based on the 1989 movie in which Patrick Swayze plays a bouncer in a dive bar.
Other programmers worked on streaming video for security cameras.

(…)

He is an unusual man. In court papers filed in Los Angeles, a former lawyer for Montgomery calls the software designer a “habitual liar engaged in fraud.” Last June Montgomery was charged in Las Vegas with bouncing nine checks (totaling $1 million) in September 2008 and was arrested on a felony warrant in Rancho Mirage, California. That million is only a portion of what he lost to five casinos in Nevada and California in just one year. That’s according to his federal bankruptcy filing, where he reported personal debts of $12 million. The FBI has investigated him, and some of his own co-workers say he staged phony demonstrations of military technology for the U.S. government.

Montgomery has no formal scientific education, but over the past six years he seems to have convinced top people in the national security establishment that he had developed secret tools to save the world from terror and had decoded Al Qaeda transmissions. But the communications Montgomery said he was decrypting apparently didn’t exist.


Since 1996 the Al Jazeera news network had been operating in the nation of Qatar, a U.S. ally in the war on terror. Montgomery claimed he had found something sinister disguised in Al Jazeera’s broadcast signal that had nothing to do with what was being said on the air: Hidden in the signal were secret bar codes that told terrorists the terms of their next mission, laying out the latitudes and longitudes of targets, sometimes even flight numbers and dates. And he was the only man who had the technology to decrypt this code.

As strange as his technology appeared to be, it was nevertheless an attractive concept.
Montgomery was as persuasive as some within the intelligence community were receptive. Al Jazeera was an inspired target since its pan-Arabic mission had been viewed with suspicion by those who saw an anti-American bias in the network’s coverage. In 2004 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld accused Al Jazeera of “vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable” reporting. Will Stebbins, Al Jazeera’s Washington bureau chief, told The Washington Post, “There was clearly an attempt to delegitimize Al Jazeera that came during a period of a lot of national hysteria and paranoia about the Arabic world.” (“It is unfortunate,” an Al Jazeera spokesperson told Playboy when asked for comment, “that a select few people continue to drag up these completely false conspiracy theories about Al Jazeera, which were generated by the previous U.S. administration.”)


Over the years Montgomery’s intelligence found its way to the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, Special Forces Command, the Navy, the Air Force, the Senate Intelligence Committee and even to Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Back in 2003, just before the terror alert caused by Montgomery’s technology, eTreppid held a Christmas party in a ballroom at the Atlantis Casino in Reno. Employees gathered at round tables to dine and drink. Even a CIA man showed up, a lanky fellow wearing a button-down shirt with an oxford collar. By the end of the night, employees noticed Montgomery and eTreppid chief executive Warren Trepp talking closely. A photo snapped by an employee shows Montgomery with his jacket off and a Christmas ribbon wrapped around his head like a turban with a rose tucked into it. He was hugging Trepp, who sobbed into his shoulder. The festivities were a rare break for Montgomery, who had been busy churning out terrorist target coordinates for the CIA.On Sunday, January 4, 2004 a British Airways flight out of Heathrow was delayed for hours for security reasons, and FBI agents demanded that hotels in Vegas turn over their guest lists. It was also the day a top CIA official flew to the eTreppid office in Reno. There, on eTreppid letterhead, the CIA official promised the company’s name would not be revealed and that the government would not “unilaterally use or otherwise take” Montgomery’s Al Jazeera technology.

Back in
Washington, few insiders in government knew where the intelligence was coming from. Aside from Tenet and a select few, no one was told about eTreppid’s Al Jazeera finds. Even veteran intelligence operatives within the CIA could only wonder. “These guys were trying to hide it like it was some little treasure,” one former counterterrorist official told me.


The reason the whole thing worked was because Montgomery’s CIA contact was with the agency’s Directorate of Science and Technology. That’s the whiz-bang branch of the intelligence service, where employees make and break codes, design disguises and figure out the latest gadgets. S&T was eventually ordered by CIA brass to reveal its source to small groups from other parts of the agency. And when some experienced officers heard about it, they couldn’t believe it. One former counterterrorism official remembers the briefing: “They found encoded location data for previous and future threat locations on these Al Jazeera tapes,” he says. “It got so emotional. We were fucking livid. I was told to shut up. I was saying, ‘This is crazy. This is embarrassing.’ They claimed they were breaking the code, getting latitude and longitude, and Al Qaeda operatives were decoding it. They were coming up with airports and everything, and we were just saying, ‘You know, this is horseshit!’” Another former officer, who has decades of experience, says, “We were told that, like magic, these guys were able to exploit this Al Jazeera stuff and come up with bar codes, and these bar codes translated to numbers and letters that gave them target locations. I thought it was total bullshit.”

The federal government was acting on the Al Jazeera claims without even understanding how
Montgomery found his coordinates. “I said, ‘Give us the algorithms that allowed you to come up with this stuff.’ They wouldn’t even do that,” says the first officer. “And I was screaming, ‘You gave these people fucking money?’”


Despite such skepticism, the information found its way to the top of the U.S. government. Frances Townsend, a Homeland Security advisor to President George W. Bush, chaired daily meetings to address the crisis. She now admits that the bar codes sounded far-fetched. And, she says, even though it all proved to be false, they had no choice but to pursue the claim. “It didn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility,” she says. “We were relying on technical people to tell us whether or not it was feasible. I don’t regret having acted on it.” The feds, after all, had a responsibility to look into the technology. “There were lots of meetings going on during the time of this threat,” says Townsend. “What were we going to do and how would we screen people? If we weren’t comfortable we wouldn’t let a flight take off.” Eventually, though Montgomery continued to crank out his figures, cooler heads prevailed. The threat was ultimately deemed “not credible,” as Townsend puts it.

A former CIA official went through the scenario with me and explained why sanity finally won out. First,
Montgomery never explained how he was finding and interpreting the bar codes. How could one scientist find the codes when no one else could? More implausibly, the scheme required Al Jazeera’s complicity. At the very least, a technician at the network would have to inject the codes into video broadcasts, and every terrorist operative would need some sort of decoding device. What would be the advantage of this method of transmission?

A branch of the French intelligence services helped convince the Americans that the bar codes were fake. The CIA and the French commissioned a technology company to locate or re-create codes in the Al Jazeera transmission. They found definitively that what
Montgomery claimed was there was not. Quietly, as far as the CIA was concerned, the case was closed. The agency turned the matter over to the counterintelligence side to see where it had gone wrong.


Read more over at Playboy (PNSfW)

Dec 6, 2009

Our Game - Diplo-Blowback at Pearl Harbor


SIXTY-EIGHT years ago tomorrow, Japan attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. In the brutal Pacific war that would follow, millions of soldiers and civilians were killed. My father — one of the famous flag raisers on Iwo Jima — was among the young men who went off to the Pacific to fight for his country. So the war naturally fascinated me. But I always wondered, why did we fight in the Pacific? Yes, there was Pearl Harbor, but why did the Japanese attack us in the first place?

In search of an answer, I read deeply into the diplomatic history of the 1930s, about President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policy on Asia, and his preparation — or lack thereof — for a major conflict there. But I discovered that I was studying the wrong President Roosevelt. The one who had the greater effect on Japan’s behavior was Theodore Roosevelt — whose efforts to end the war between Japan and Russia earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.

When Theodore Roosevelt was president, three decades before World War II, the world was focused on the bloody Russo-Japanese War, a contest for control of North Asia. President Roosevelt was no fan of the Russians: “No human beings, black, yellow or white, could be quite as untruthful, as insincere, as arrogant — in short, as untrustworthy in every way — as the Russians,” he wrote in August 1905, near the end of the Russo-Japanese War. The Japanese, on the other hand, were “a wonderful and civilized people,” Roosevelt wrote, “entitled to stand on an absolute equality with all the other peoples of the civilized world.”

Roosevelt knew that Japan coveted the Korean Peninsula as a springboard to its Asian expansion. Back in 1900, when he was still vice president, Roosevelt had written, “I should like to see Japan have Korea.” When, in February 1904, Japan broke off relations with Russia, President Roosevelt said publicly that he would “maintain the strictest neutrality,” but privately he wrote, “The sympathies of the United States are entirely on Japan’s side.”

In June 1905, Roosevelt made world headlines when — apparently on his own initiative — he invited the two nations to negotiate an end to their war. Roosevelt’s private letter to his son told another story: “I have of course concealed from everyone — literally everyone — the fact that I acted in the first place on Japan’s suggestion ... . Remember that you are to let no one know that in this matter of the peace negotiations I have acted at the request of Japan and that each step has been taken with Japan’s foreknowledge, and not merely with her approval but with her expressed desire.”

Years later, a Japanese emissary to Roosevelt paraphrased the president’s comments to him: “All the Asiatic nations are now faced with the urgent necessity of adjusting themselves to the present age. Japan should be their natural leader in that process, and their protector during the transition stage, much as the United States assumed the leadership of the American continent many years ago, and by means of the Monroe Doctrine, preserved the Latin American nations from European interference. The future policy of Japan towards Asiatic countries should be similar to that of the United States towards their neighbors on the American continent.”

In a secret presidential cable to Tokyo, in July 1905, Roosevelt approved the Japanese annexation of Korea and agreed to an “understanding or alliance” among Japan, the United States and Britain “as if the United States were under treaty obligations.” The “as if” was key: Congress was much less interested in North Asia than Roosevelt was, so he came to his agreement with Japan in secret, an unconstitutional act.

(...)

Roosevelt had assumed that the Japanese would stop at Korea and leave the rest of North Asia to the Americans and the British. But such a wish clashed with his notion that the Japanese should base their foreign policy on the American model of expansion across North America and, with the taking of Hawaii and the Philippines, into the Pacific. It did not take long for the Japanese to tire of the territorial restrictions placed upon them by their Anglo-American partners.

Japan’s declaration of war, in December 1941, explained its position quite clearly: “It is a fact of history that the countries of East Asia for the past hundred years or more have been compelled to observe the status quo under the Anglo-American policy of imperialistic exploitation and to sacrifice themselves to the prosperity of the two nations. The Japanese government cannot tolerate the perpetuation of such a situation.”

In planning the attack on Pearl Harbor, Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto was specifically thinking of how, 37 years earlier, the Japanese had surprised the Russian Navy at Port Arthur in Manchuria and, as he wrote, “favorable opportunities were gained by opening the war with a sudden attack on the main enemy fleet.” At the time, the indignant Russians called it a violation of international law. But Theodore Roosevelt, confident that he could influence events in North Asia from afar, wrote to his son, “I was thoroughly well pleased with the Japanese victory, for Japan is playing our game.”

It was for his efforts to broker the peace deal between Russia and Japan that a year and a half later Roosevelt became the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize — and one of only three presidents to do so while in office (the other two are Woodrow Wilson and President Obama, who will accept his prize this week). No one in Oslo, or in the United States Congress, knew the truth then.

But the Japanese did. And the American president’s support emboldened them to increase their military might — and their imperial ambitions. In December 1941, the consequence of Theodore Roosevelt’s recklessness would become clear to those few who knew of the secret dealings. No one else — including my dad on Iwo Jima — realized just how well Japan had indeed played “our game.”

-NYT

Nov 29, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving.

Here is a pretty interesting speculative piece `bout a historical medical mystery (I saw it referenced in the NYT).

Roosevelt's Last Days: Did cancer kill FDR?

Is it conceivable that Franklin D. Roosevelt's doctors knew he had widespread cancer in 1944 and still let him run for his fourth term as president? New research makes this astounding argument—and claims that the physician who supposedly told the truth about Roosevelt's death in 1970 was in fact continuing the deception he had helped create.

Nov 18, 2009

Mussulmann, Mutation, and Matural Melection


Curious factoids for friendz tasked with shaping (lol!) those most pesky of Eastward minds. ("Redeploy domestic 911 IO Brigades. Red'ploy!")

Muslim scholars around the world are increasingly rejecting Darwin's theory of evolution as an "unproven".

Muslim students and academics also said they felt they were being asked to make a "binary choice" between Darwinism and creationism, rather than both having a place.

The claim was made by Nidhal Guessoum, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, at a conference organized by the British Council to celebrate the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth.

He told his audience that in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia, only 15 per cent of people surveyed believed Darwin’s theory was “true” or “probably true”.

A poll he conducted at his own university showed that 62 per cent of Muslim professors and students believed evolution to be an “unproven theory”, compared with 10 per cent of non-Muslim professors.

“The rate of acceptance of evolution and of the idea of teaching evolution was extremely low,” he said. “I wondered, who are all these educated people rejecting evolution? They are even rejecting the fact that it should be taught as scientific knowledge.”

Telegraph

Nov 10, 2009

Triggers & Fundies; Graft Save Us From The PackyMan


`Dis much we SMC hacks know: Received wisdom has it down as-- if da´shit hits the fan -- we have the knowledge and capability to secure Pakistan's nukes.

A new piece by Seymour Hersh questions this assumption.
Last year, the Washington Times ran an article about the Pressler Amendment, a 1985 law cutting off most military aid to Pakistan as long as it continued its nuclear program. The measure didn’t stop Pakistan from getting the bomb, or from buying certain weapons, but it did reduce the number of Pakistani officers who were permitted to train with American units. The article quoted Major General John Custer as saying, “The older military leaders love us. They understand American culture and they know we are not the enemy.” The General’s assessment provoked a barrage of e-mail among American officers with experience in Pakistan, and a former member of a Special Forces unit provided me with copies. “The fact that a two-star would make a statement [like] that . . . is at best naïve and actually pure bullshit,” a senior Special Forces officer on duty in Pakistan wrote. He went on:

"I have met and interacted with the entire military staff from General Kayani on down and all the general officers on their joint staff and in all the services, and I haven’t spoken to one that “loves us”—whatever that means. In fact, I have read most of the TS [top secret] assessments of all their General Officers and I haven’t read one that comes close to their “loving” us. They play us for everything they can get, and we trip over ourselves trying to give them everything they ask for, and cannot pay for."

Some military men who know Pakistan well believe that, whatever the officer corps’s personal views, the Pakistan Army remains reliable. “They cannot be described as pro-American, but this doesn’t mean they don’t know which side their bread is buttered on,” Brian Cloughley, who served six years as Australia’s defense attaché to Pakistan and is now a contributor to Jane’s Sentinel, told me. “The chance of mutiny is slim. Were this to happen, there would be the most severe reaction” by special security units in the Pakistani military, Cloughley said

[...]

Leslie H. Gelb, a president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, said, “I don’t think there’s any kind of an agreement we can count on. The Pakistanis have learned how to deal with us, and they understand that if they don’t tell us what we want to hear we’ll cut off their goodies.” Gelb added, “In all these years, the C.I.A. never built up assets, but it talks as if there were ‘access.’ I don’t know if Obama understands that the Agency doesn’t know what it’s talking about.”

The former high-level Bush Administration official was just as blunt. “If a Pakistani general is talking to you about nuclear issues, and his lips are moving, he’s lying,” he said. “The Pakistanis wouldn’t share their secrets with anybody, and certainly not with a country that, from their point of view, used them like a Dixie cup and then threw them away.”

Nov 8, 2009

Kinda Transparent


Don't leave us, an Afghan radio programmer tells U.S. audiences

The former anti-Soviet jihadi who later went to Harvard before returning home says a troop pullout could spark chaos in the whole region.

Mohammed El Fazazi Flipped


Merkel might have done better had she spent some time as a trainee on Wall Street before playing for keeps with the big boys of GM and the Obama posse--could've mightily spared the girl a bamboozling and berating smack to her chic-chops.

Meanwhile, some other protestant Krauts are making mighty fine progress in the predominant strategic PSYOP.

Muslims should make peace with Germany, argues former hate preacher Mohammed El Fazazi, the man who once provided religious instruction to the men behind the 9/11 terror attacks. SPIEGEL ONLINE has published an abridged version of his open letter to Muslims.

In 2001, imam Mohammed El Fazazi of Morocco preached that it it is a Muslim obligation to "slit the throats of non-believers" in a Hamburg mosque. Among his listeners and star pupils were Mohammed Atta, Ramzi Binalshibh and Marwan al-Shehhi, three of the men who participated in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Today, eight years later, Mohammed El Fazazi has foresworn acts of terrorism against Western targets. "I admit that I went too far and overshot the target," he wrote in an open letter to his daughter, who lives in Hamburg, and Muslims living in Germany. Muslims living in Germany, he said, should draw attention to themselves and their issues through "peaceful demonstrations, strikes and protests that are far removed from indiscriminate attacks" and the "killing of innocent people with the argument of killing kuffar," or non-believers.

Nov 3, 2009

NASA-BOY mUMBLEZ


You know, there is something so very NOT stochastic about this. This kind of shit seems to swirl around you.

And lame? I think not. Perhaps to normal people, this would be lame, but to Ik. This is fascinating. Of course, questions immediately spring: what company? agency? who? Hah. It sounds like Operation Mockingbird is still running.

You need to start carrying some sort of digital recording device. We can tweak S/N and amplify later.

Sep 4, 2009

Swine Flu (H1N1)


Oft found underwriting our SMC significations, we seldom durst abscond from whiffing upwind scents gust-drifted our skankiest of ways from the stolid camps of reinsurers and money marketeers. Not to second guess our incontestably tendentious inclinations is to be a que sera sera kinda' gal. Daily is the struggle not to wax t'wards femme fatale.

Scor SE, France’s largest reinsurer, renegotiated a contract with JPMorgan Chase & Co. to make cash more quickly available if needed for a surge in claims tied to a swine flu pandemic.

JPMorgan will pay as much as $75 million when an index tied to European and U.S. death rates climbs to between 105 percent and 110 percent. The earlier arrangement was for $100 million and 36 million euros to be paid when the index reached 125 percent, the Puteaux-based reinsurer said today in a statement. The protection was renegotiated to guard against an increase in deaths caused by terrorism, pandemics and natural disasters, Scor said.

“We are taking the current threat of the Influenza A, H1N1, virus seriously,” Jean-Luc Besson, a Scor chief risk officer, said in the statement. Pandemics “may have corresponding financial repercussions on both sides of the balance sheet.”

Countries in the northern hemisphere should prepare for a second wave of pandemic spread, the World Health Organization said in a report last week. More than 209,000 swine flu cases and 2,185 deaths were reported to the organization as of Aug. 23. The U.S. has the highest influenza rates for this time of year since the 1968 Hong Kong flu, said Joe Quimby, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Scor fell 4 cents to 18 euros earlier today in Paris trading. It has climbed 10 percent this year. JPMorgan advanced $1.25 cents to $42.11 as of 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Insurers and investors bet on life expectancies using indexes such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s QxX index, which includes a sample of U.S. residents older than 65. Life insurers may hedge against a crisis that increases the death rate, while companies with pension obligations seek to protect themselves as medical advances boost life expectancies.

-Bloomberg


Aug 26, 2009

Abu Yahya 's Strategic PSYOP Pointers - Oh STFU, willya´!


It's kinda ignominious when we are encouraged to take Strategic PSYOP pointers from the likes of this odious dude.

Needless to say, all six of the gambits cited here were dreamed up by our side [and hinted at on Swedish Meatballs Confidential] long before 2007.



From Strategic Insights (Summer 2009), Center for Contemporary Conflict -- Naval Postgraduate School.

"Could Al Qaeda’s Own Strategy to Defeat Itself Actually Work?"
by Carl J. Ciovacco

Abu Yahya al Libi’s importance within Al Qaeda and influence on its strategic decisions cannot be overstated. However, in his video titled "Dots of the Letters" released on September 9, 2007, Abu Yahya sabotaged the terrorist organization from within by providing the United States with six of the most potentially effective policy solutions to combat Al Qaeda to date. While not out of swagger or self-defeating tendencies, Abu Yahya offered these policy recommendations to illustrate just how far off the United States has been in its quest to defeat Al Qaeda. [...]

Since his 2005 escape from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, Abu Yahya al Libi’s stock within Al Qaeda has continued to rise. As a member of the infamous "Bagram Four" which escaped U.S. custody, Abu Yahya publically defied and embarrassed the United States and gave hope to his fellow jihadists. Overnight he became the jihadist movement’s Robin Hood. He is young, energetic, intelligent, charismatic, well-spoken, and considered by many to be the future of Al Qaeda.

Further strengthening his resume within the jihadist movement, he, unlike Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, is trained in religion. Abu Yahya is not only a senior member of Al Qaeda and member of its Shari’a Committee, but he has also been dubbed Al Qaeda’s Defense Minister, Theological Enforcer, and the High-Command’s attack dog. In addition, his numerous appearances on as-Sahab, Al Qaeda’s media entity, ranks second only to Zawahiri.
Abu Yahya’s importance within Al Qaeda and influence on its strategic decisions cannot be overstated. Why then would he personally wheel a Trojan Horse into Al Qaeda Central’s compound in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan? This Trojan Horse arrived eight months ago in the form of a 93 minute video where Abu Yahya laid out how the United States could defeat Al Qaeda. In his video titled "Dots of the Letters," the Libyan provided six steps for the United States to win the war of ideas.

Jarret Brachman at the Combating Terrorism Center, West Point, has offered his insights as to why Abu Yahya has provided the United States with Al Qaeda’s weaknesses. He argues that it was neither out of "goodwill nor self-destructive tendencies." Brachman explains Abu Yahya’s actions as an "explosive cocktail of youth, rage, arrogance and intellect," with the purpose of first, exposing how far behind the United States is in competing with Al Qaeda in the war of ideas and second, dispelling fears from within Al Qaeda that the United States will win the war anytime soon. As one of Al Qaeda’s chief strategists, however, Abu Yahya may now be regretting letting this as-Sahab video get away.

[...]

Abu Yayha’s six steps for defeating Al Qaeda are:
  1. Focus on amplifying cases of ex-jihadists who have renounced armed action
  2. Fabricate stories about Jihadist mistakes and exaggerate mistakes when possible
  3. Prompt mainstream Muslim clerics to issue fatwas that incriminate the Jihadist movement and its actions
  4. Strengthen and back Islamic movements far removed from Jihad, particularly those with a democratic approach
  5. Aggressively neutralize or discredit the guiding thinkers of the Jihadist movement
  6. Spin minor disagreements among leaders of Jihadist organizations as being major doctrinal or methodological disputes

Aug 21, 2009

Air Force Used Twitter to Track NY Flyover Fallout

Clunky. Yeah, "Clunky" is right. Geriatric mentation -- even using techno-gimcracks -- is still lame. Glad to hear you are safe and sound, despite all noisome impediments. Have a good visit to the land of wooden shoes and smiles.

Air Force Used Twitter to Track NY Flyover Fallout

As the Pentagon warns of the security risks posed by social networking sites, newly released government documents show the military also uses these Internet tools to monitor and react to coverage of high-profile events.

The Air Force tracked the instant messaging service Twitter, video carrier YouTube and various blogs to assess the huge public backlash to the Air Force One flyover of the Statue of Liberty this spring, according to the documents.
... According to the Air Force One documents released through the Freedom of Information Act, a unit called the Combat Information Cell at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida monitored the public fallout from the April 27 flight and offered recommendations for dealing with the fast-breaking story. ...

A Utah Air National Guard unit, the 101st Information Warfare Flight in Salt Lake City, was also monitoring the social sites. ''To say that this event is being beaten like a dead horse is an understatement,'' reads an April 28 e-mail from the unit to other Air Force offices. ''Has really taken off in Web. 2.0.''

Both the 101st and the Combat Information Cell are attached to the 1st Air Force, which is based at Tyndall and is in charge of guarding U.S. airspace.

Aug 20, 2009

The $5 Million Bar Bill

[Note perhaps how they waited until December 2001 to buy the Russian helicopters. (About a month after the fall of the Taliban)]

On Dec. 4, 2001, five members of a Las Vegas-based charter crew were detained by Russian authorities after they landed without visas in Petropavlovsk. The remote Russian city, located on the Kamchatka peninsula and surrounded by active volcanoes, is nine time zones east of Moscow and cannot be reached by road.

Three days earlier, the privately owned Boeing 737 had left Biggs Army Airfield in Texas, carrying the crew and 16 Americans traveling on tourist visas. The plane, a luxury aircraft outfitted with wood paneling and a three-hole putting green, had been chartered by a small company from Enterprise, Alabama, called Maverick Aviation.

What the plane and its passengers were really doing in Russia in the middle of winter is only hinted at in an appeal filed by two federal prisoners this year. But interviews with those involved in the case reveal a secretive, and sometimes comical, mission to strike back at the Taliban after 9/11 -- a rare glimpse into the CIA's efforts in Afghanistan.

According to unclassified court documents, the group was traveling to a helicopter plant in Siberia, where Maverick Aviation, which was experienced in acquiring Russian aircraft for the US military, was planning to buy two helicopters for a "customer."

Not mentioned: That "customer" was the Central Intelligence Agency.

The CIA needed Russian helicopters because of its clandestine operations in Afghanistan. On Sept. 24, 2001, a Russian-made helicopter loaded with $10 million in cash carried a small CIA team into Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley. Code-named "Jawbreaker," the mission was to cement support among tribal leaders and pave the way for US military operations. It was the first entry of Americans into Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

The aging helicopter, an Mi-17, was the team's only way of getting in or out of the country. Though hardly state-of-the-art, the Russian helicopter had a distinct advantage for the CIA: it allowed the agency to operate relatively unnoticed in an area where Russian equipment left over from the Soviet occupation was commonplace.

There was only one problem: The CIA owned only one Russian helicopter. It needed more, but a clandestine American agency couldn't exactly pick up the phone and call a Russian factory. So it turned to Jeffrey Stayton, then the chief of the Aviation Division at the US Army Test and Evaluation Command and an expert in Russian copters.

Stayton's plan was to find a private American company to buy the helicopters, send a team of people over to pick them up from a plant in Siberia, modify them to CIA standards, and then get them to Uzbekistan, a staging ground for CIA operations into Afghanistan. And they would do it all within a matter of weeks.

Eventually, the team included William "Curt" Childree, whose company, Maverick Aviation, won the contract to buy the helicopters and organize logistics; Army personnel and contractors from El Paso with experience modifying Russian aircraft for use by the US military; and then "six guys from the customer's office," as Stayton put it (a CIA team that included special operations personnel).

That's when things started to get complicated.

In an interview, the pilot, Fred Sorenson, said he thought visas they had ordered would arrive by FedEx by the time the plane landed. When he found out over satellite phone that the papers hadn't arrived, the plane was already descending, so he hid the fact from the crew for fear of a cockpit argument. The team was detained on arrival.

In the end, the visas came, and the crew was released the next day. But when the plane finally made it to Ulan Ude, in Siberia, the crew and passengers faced more challenges. To say merely that it was cold does not capture the Siberian winter, where temperatures that month approached 30 degrees below zero. Even worse, the team was in a Russian hotel with spotty electricity and limited heat.

The charter crew was shocked at the conditions (Siberia, after all, was off the beaten track of their typical VIP clients), but the Army personnel from El Paso also seemed woefully unprepared. None of them had ever been to Russia before -- some had never left Texas -- and the rough conditions shocked them. "I had the sense that I might end up in a Russian jail," Kimberly Boone, a Russian translator for the Army, later recounted in court testimony.

Several members of the team grew sick with flu-like symptoms. There was also a major hitch with the helicopters. According to the factory, there was the equivalent of a mechanic's lien on the helicopters, and they couldn't be released. While Stayton and Childree attempted to negotiate the release from the factory, the Army personnel were told to act like tourists on a winter getaway to Siberia: They visited a Buddhist monastery and shopped for fur coats.

Childree, by then suffering from pneumonia, flew to Moscow to meet with the broker, where he found that a competitor (no one knows for sure who) had apparently offered $30,000 to kill the deal.

After some heated discussions, the helicopters, which cost about $1.6 million each, were released.

Back in Siberia, meanwhile, Stayton was having problems with Brian Patterson, the Army warrant officer in charge of the El Paso team, who, according to multiple people on the trip, was drinking heavily.

Lisa Teuton, a flight attendant for the charter company, recalled several members of the El Paso team drinking and bragging about their work for the CIA. "It just blew me away," said Teuton. "I thought they would have been more professional and more secretive."

The charter crew, fed up with the delays and the conditions, threatened to leave, but the El Paso team was having none of it. According to Sorenson, chief warrant officer Patterson poked him in the shoulder and said: 'If you leave, we'll shoot you down.' "

Patterson laughed when asked about the incident. "I would like to know how I could accomplish that," he said.

That night, while the others were settled in their rooms, the crew surreptitiously checked out of the hotel. They used some of their remaining cash and alcohol to bribe airport personnel not to notify the Army of their departure. With no cash left for additional fuel, and no clearance to fly over China, the aircraft headed toward Japan, as the flight attendants kept watch out the windows to see if they really would be shot down.

The real question was: Did anyone not know it was a CIA trip? The CIA team had traveled under the amusingly obvious cover name of Donovan Aerial Surveys (William "Wild Bill" Donovan is regarded as the father of the CIA). The Russians in Ulan Ude were wondering what a group of private Americans were doing in Siberia in the middle of winter buying helicopters.

"They were very curious the whole time [about] why we were there; they would ask questions: 'What are you doing?' " Joe Perry, a master sergeant on the mission, recalled. "Our rooms were bugged . . . It was just unreal some of the things they were doing."

Relations with the Army team had been bad from the start. Stayton was unhappy with many of them, and the CIA considered them a nuisance. After one final argument, Stayton informed the Army's Patterson that his team was going home immediately on commercial flights. The CIA team would finish the work on the helicopters.

Less than a week later, the two helicopters were packed in an Antonov cargo plane. When Stayton and the CIA personnel left Russia on the evening of Dec. 31, 2001, they had just 30 minutes left on their visas.

From the perspective of the CIA, the mission to Siberia, whatever its quirks, was a success. But the contract, which was administered by Army officials in New Mexico unaware of CIA involvement, quickly attracted scrutiny from the Army Criminal Investigative Division.

Agents found some unusual things. For instance, Army officials paid the most of the $5 million contract in a credit card transaction in an El Paso bar called the "Cockpit Lounge." More troubling, the file was missing signatures; included few of the required supporting documents; and no invoices. When asked by investigators to explain why he allowed so many irregularities to go unnoticed, Edwin Guthrie, the contracting officer, responded: "Sleep apnea."

There were other strange aspects, all related to the CIA's secret involvement. Money allotted to pay expenses associated with mystery "subcontractors" (CIA personnel traveling under fictitious names); helicopters bought by the military being given civilian registration numbers (another quirk of CIA aircraft); and large cash transactions (typical of Russia). "They, the government, really leaned on me," said Childree, noting that provisions, such as support for the CIA personnel, were added on to the contract at the last minute.

Investigators also focused on all the problems that took place on the trip, which the El Paso team blamed on Maverick Aviation and Stayton. "It was a nightmare," recounted Boone, the Russian translator (it was Boone's first trip to Russia).

But John Wilson, whose company also competed for the helicopter contract and was interviewed by law enforcement officials, was surprised that anyone thought the problems were a big deal. Buying helicopters in Russia isn't easy. "I sat there going: Is that all?" he said. "That's a good trip; I mean, really, honestly and truthfully, that was a pretty good trip as far as normal stuff goes."

Continue reading Sharon Weinberger´s article at the New York Post

Aug 18, 2009

Legal Considerations of Online PSYOP - Stay Golden


...thought the whole premise of the article below was kinda quaint -- Legal Considerations of Online PSYOP. Haven't they heard that per recent precedent, USG only needs a lackey staff attorney to craft a reliance memo declaring whatever you want to do to be legal. Stay within the four corners of the dodgy opinion and you are golden.

From "An Ever-Expanding War: Legal Aspects of Online Strategic Communication” by Daniel Silverberg and Joseph Heimann [PARAMETERS -- US Army War College Quarterly -- Summer 2009][17-page pdf]:

The thrust of the IIA [Interactive Internet Activities] policy rests in a delegation of authority from the Deputy Secretary of Defense to the Geographic Combatant Command­ers (and Commander, US Special Operations Command [USSOCOM] when designated as the supported commander) to approve IIA “in sup­port of their operations and public affairs activities.” The significance of this delegation cannot be overstated. Contrary to two decades of practice, the delegation empowers commanders to conduct information operations at their discretion. Previously they had to seek senior-level Department approval. In essence, this means that a Combatant Commander who wishes to blog on an Arab Web site or exchange e-mails with a Muslim commentator may do so without additional approval.

[...]

[T]he IIA guidance autho­rizes “actions that shape emotions, motives, reasoning, and behaviors of selected foreign entities.” This phrasing is curious for two reasons.

First, the language is nearly identical to the definition of PSYOP, ex­cept for use of the term “shape” instead of “influence.” Second, contrary to the limitation of media contact to “public affairs personnel,” the pol­icy does not say who may implement communications that shape emo­tions and behaviors on behalf of the Geographic Combatant Commander (GCC). In fact, the policy is silent regarding those most likely to use IIA methods—PSYOP forces—whose historical mission is to influence for­eign audiences via information operations and whose training involves “motivating” behavior and “shaping” emotions. Although the policy would allow PSYOP forces to add IIA to their list of authorized means of disseminating messages to shape a battlespace, it also potentially al­lows other personnel—public affairs practitioners and others—to engage in activities traditionally performed by PSYOP specialists.

The ambiguity regarding who will conduct these shaping activi­ties is legally significant for the following reason: Once one amalgamates the public affairs mission to “inform” with the PSYOP mission to “influ­ence,” the statutory basis to conduct the activity becomes increasingly dubious. A DOD agenda to “shape emotions” may well overlap with the State Department mission to counter propaganda; both programs involve commu­nicating with foreign audiences in order to positively shape their views of the United States. Once DOD separates IIA from psychological operations and removes a requirement that Internet communication be linked to a specific military mission conducted by PSYOP forces, DOD undermines the very authority it has to conduct such activities, Title 10, section 167. Absent the statutory authority of Title 10, the policy itself simply purports to authorize influence operations that are the equivalent of a State Department function.

[...]

The policy contains four primary limitations.

First, it requires that all IIA conducted under its authority “will be accurate and true in fact and intent.”

Second, the policy provides that a Geographic Combatant Commander will coordinate IIA with the US ambassador, as appropriate. This caveat could be interpreted in a number of ways. The phrase “as appropriate” possibly means that coordination is necessary only when the GCC assesses that it is. It might also mean that a commander has to coordinate with each ambassador who is ac­credited to a nation impacted by the IIA. If one pursues the latter interpretation, the limitation potentially causes conflict with existing military programs. Legal­ly, a commander assigned a mission from the President or Secretary of Defense to execute a military operation abroad has no obligation to seek the approval of, or even coordinate with, an ambassador. The GCC decides the limits of the mis­sion to “defend the United States” and the times when it is “appropriate” to con­sult with the ambassador regarding how the commander attempts to fulfill the mission (in fact, coordination does occur as a matter of prudence and good prac­tice). A requirement to coordinate with the US ambassador thus imposes a re­striction on commanders that does not exist in traditional military missions.

Third, the policy has an “attribution” provision. Read in conjunc­tion with the statutory provision restricting DOD’s conduct of covert operations, this section simply states a preference for US involvement in IIA to be “openly acknowledged.” The policy offers commanders two ex­ceptions. First, it permits a commander to attribute his or her IIA activities to a “concurring partner nation” if the partner nation and the US chief of mission agree. Second, the policy grants permission to disseminate infor­mation via IIA without “clear attribution” in support of a named operation in the Global War on Terrorism or when specified in a Secretary of Defense-approved Execute Order when attribution is not possible due to “operational considerations.” The policy stipulates that a commander will disclose US attribution “as soon as operationally feasible.” Because a named operation may be geographically broad or nonkinetic, this limitation could empower com­manders to engage in clandestine IIA across a wide geographic area. This lim­itation offers no guidance on where the State Department’s or even possibly the Central Intelligence Agency’s role and authorities intersect with DOD’s in conducting influence operations via the Internet.

Finally, the policy expressly provides that commanders may not delegate the authority granted in the policy. This limitation simply affects who may direct the mechanisms used, and it has no bearing on the under­lying substance of the activity.

The IIA policy grants broad authority to GCCs to use IIA in support of their missions. By not specifying who may engage in “shaping operations” or limiting the geographic scope of such activities, the policy in essence estab­lishes a hybrid PSYOP-public affairs model. The activity is, at a minimum, one of publicity, and likely one of propaganda. Yet the personnel engaging in operations to “shape” the emotions and motives of foreign audiences might not necessarily be PSYOP specialists, and the underlying mission itself—to “shape a security environment”—has little definition.

Jul 18, 2009

Our Boy - Rested & Ready?


...been wondering when our boy would make his appearance (vacation?).

The latest "scandals" involving the Central Intelligence Agency are genuinely hard to understand, other than in terms of political payback. Attorney General Eric Holder is considering appointing a prosecutor to investigate criminal actions by CIA officers involved in the harsh interrogation of al-Qaeda prisoners. But the internal CIA report on which he's said to be basing this decision was referred five years ago to the Justice Department, where attorneys concluded that no prosecution was warranted.

(...)

"Will anyone go to jail? Probably not. But you will leave a trail of destroyed officers," predicts one CIA veteran. Meanwhile, I fear, CIA employees will steer away from areas such as counterterrorism, where the political winds may change.

(...)

Obama understands that the country needs a better and stronger intelligence agency. He wants more information than he gets in his daily intelligence briefings, and he has discussed with Panetta the challenge of building a tougher, smarter, more aggressive CIA. That's a righteous goal, but it begins with depoliticizing the agency and ending the culture of permanent scandal.

If Obama means what he has said about looking forward rather than backward, then he should stick to his guns -- and hope that the attorney general and House speaker agree that it's time to stop kicking this football.

Jul 17, 2009

Practical PSYOP Afghanistan

Dead-tree tactical PSYOP - someone is definitely keeping the Risograph busy over there.

U.S. military spokeswoman Captain Elizabeth Mathias said the military had posted and distributed leaflets in Paktika and neighboring Ghazni province calling for his [the missing U.S. soldier in Afghanistan] safe return.

"One of our American guests is missing. Return the guest to his home," reads the leaflet, which includes a phone number and shows a U.S. soldier shaking hands with smiling Afghan children.

Mathias said another leaflet had been distributed which read: "If you do not release the U.S. soldier then you will be hunted." It shows U.S. soldiers kicking in the door of a house.

Jul 16, 2009

Ho ho ho Honduras

The Honduran minister who called U.S. President Barack Obama "that little black guy" quit the country's post-coup interim government on Tuesday, citing U.S. Embassy "pressures."

A U.S. embassy spokeswoman denied the United States was exerting any pressure, saying the embassy had no contact with a government it did not recognize. [ho ho ho] Enrique Ortez's resignation comes just days after he was moved from the post of foreign minister to minister of government and justice in the wake of his comment about Obama. The interim government had previously apologized to the United States.

Jul 15, 2009

Twitter You


Right or wrong - no bum We know assumed otherwise.

Is Twitter Handing Over Private Data to the Feds?

A source tells us that a loose-lipped Twitter staffer recently dished at a lunch that the company has allowed a federal agency to set up a tap to monitor a "firehose" of its data, including private details on users, presumably including private "direct messages," IP addresses and account information. The Feds — the NSA would seem the most logical agency —then analyze the data to mine for information they deem of interest.

Twitter, it is said, is one of only a handful of internet companies large enough for the Feds to bother setting up such monitoring.

Jul 10, 2009

G-8 agrees on something

O and Sarkozy lovin´ that ass.
(From today's WaPo)




(...perspective)

Jul 8, 2009

On Facebook, a Spy Revealed (Pale Legs, Too)

-always hele, forever conceal and never reveal ...
--unknown


-hide in a field, not in a cave
--BoM 54:66


-Don't wait to be hunted to hide, that's always been my motto. --Samuel Beckett




LONDON — The man in the Facebook photographs seems like your average guy having a little fun. Here he is in a festive scene at a park, gamely wearing a red fleece and a Santa Claus hat. Here he is again, playing Frisbee on the beach, clad in a pair of snug bathing trunks that show off his muscular, if pale (he is British) legs.

Oops. It turns out that this is not a regular person at all. He is in fact Sir John Sawers, diplomat and spy, currently the British ambassador to the United Nations and soon to be the chief of MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service. It is as if, suddenly, the Internet were awash with pictures of the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, cavorting half-naked on vacation.

(...)

[T]he disclosure, such as it was, raised a little flurry of excitement in diplomatic and journalistic circles. On one hand, The Mail on Sunday fulminated that the existence of the now-defunct items represented a shocking breach of security that exposed the failings of the state apparatus, possibly compromised the safety of Sir John and Lady Sawers and was “potentially useful to terrorists.”

On the other, “It is not a state secret that he wears Speedo swimming trunks,” Foreign Secretary David Miliband declared snippily in a television interview. “The fact that there’s a picture that the head of MI6 goes swimming — wow, that really is exciting.”

(...)

It was not so long ago that MI6, the agency that in fiction employs James Bond, was so shrouded in secrecy that the government barely admitted that it existed, let alone condescended to reveal the identity of its chief (forget photographs). That never seemed to stop counterspies from, say, the KGB from knowing a great deal about the secret services, as various episodes over the decades proved.

-Jacked & Hacked NYT

Jun 23, 2009

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Whacked GWOT Strat PSYOP Asset


A spick-and-spanny narrative has the Pakistanis turning against the Taliban. But what else can we have them say?

The last few months were really hairy in Swat and various other locales, and it was looking touch and go for our prospects in (the now officially obsolete usage -- per Bruce Riedel) Af-Pak

Per digression -- supposedly Baitullah Mehsud is in the crosshairs himself right now. Happy hunting.

A tribal leader who opposed the head of the Taliban in Pakistan has been shot dead in the north-western Pakistani town of Dera Ismail Khan, police said.

Qari Zainuddin, 26, who often criticised Taliban head Baitullah Mehsud, was killed by a gunman in his office early on Tuesday.

(...)

Earlier this month, Zainuddin criticised Mehsud after an attack on a mosque which killed 33 people.

He told Associated Press: "Whatever Baitullah Mehsud and his associates are doing in the name of Islam is not a jihad, and in fact it is rioting and terrorism".

"Islam stands for peace, not for terrorism," he had said.

Zainuddin's killing is being seen in Pakistan as a setback for the government in its efforts to isolate Mehsud as the security forces prepare for the next phase of their anti-Taliban offensive in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, says the BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Islamabad.

Earlier this month a prominent Muslim cleric who was outspoken in his opposition to the Taliban was killed in a suicide blast at his seminary in Lahore.
-BBC News Online

Jun 14, 2009

Ohnesorg Revelation


...recently in Berlin--first time back since peri-wallfall times. Commemoration:

The Ohnesorg revelation is really something. The "hidden hand of history" and all.

Even if Kurras had no orders to commit murder, the revelations will prompt Germany to contemplate its recent history once again.

Until now, no one had called into question the notion that Kurras was a "potentially fascist individual" with what German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno called an "authoritarian character."

He remains Ohnesorg's killer, but he can no longer be characterized as a puppet of a potentially fascist state. In fact, he was the puppet of a socialist state imbued with an equally authoritarian character, a realization that highlights yet again the similarities between the two ideologies.

All of this raises an intriguing question: What would have happened if the members of the student protest movement had soon discovered that Kurras was a member of the SED and worked for the Stasi?

Would an important part of German history have fallen by the wayside?

Would there have been no '68 movement, no student rebellion and no terrorist activities committed by the Second of June Movement and the Red Army Faction (RAF)?

Jun 12, 2009

Duel of the Spy Chiefs


From our boy. Shocker! [LMAO]:

Duel of the Spy Chiefs: A Turf War Exposes a Botched Reorganization

There are spy wars, and there are turf wars. But watch out when the two are combined, as in the battle over who will appoint America's intelligence chiefs abroad -- Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, or Leon Panetta, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

(...)

The bureaucratic battle was unfortunate, but it will serve a useful purpose if it forces the White House, finally, to clarify the intelligence reorganization process that created the DNI structure in 2005.

The right division of labor is to let the CIA run operations, which begins with picking the people who will be America's point of contact with foreign intelligence services. Blair has the authority on paper to challenge that prerogative, but he was wrong to do so in practice. This is CIA turf, not just by tradition but also by common sense. Blair should back off.

Jun 11, 2009

Clausewitz on IO - The Taliban is Very Good


The plaintive (and yes, whiny) observation that the enemy is better than us in IO is getting kinda old. Kinda like the "we won all the battles in Vietnam" BS. Maybe someone should break it to them about war as the extension of politics.
U.S. fights an information war in Afghanistan -- L.A. Times

(...)

American public affairs officers previously have been slow in responding. U.S. military officials here complain that Taliban leaders are often better and faster at spreading their versions of deadly events.

(...)

[Public affairs officer Army Lt. Col. Clarence] Counts said U.S. officials understood that they needed to improve their information efforts, but often were constrained by security regulations that keep sensitive information under wraps. Taliban militants release detailed statements almost instantly because they often make up the information, Counts said.

An improved flow of information is seen as a crucial priority for Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the incoming commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, as he overhauls the Afghan war strategy.

Further underscoring the importance, the military has appointed a Navy rear admiral, Greg Smith, to oversee public affairs operations in Afghanistan. McChrystal is said to want more rapid public disclosure of information.

Recently, U.S. commanders here have expressed frustration over the propaganda bonanza provided to insurgents by the deaths of civilians in numerous U.S. airstrikes over the years.

(...)
"We're the superior fighting force, but they [the Taliban] find our weaknesses and go for them," said Air Force Lt. Col. Keith Bryza, who helps plan air support for ground units but is not involved in information efforts. "The Taliban is very good" at information operations.

Jun 3, 2009

Comrade Cell & Hurricane Nikita - About a Wall


...figured that the Cold War story might be of some interest. Always assumed that it had been a Sov decision -- as you know, that's not the kind of action that the client state would have wanted to conduct sans instructions or endorsement.

Who Ordered the Construction of the Berlin Wall?
Historians have long argued over whether East German leader Walter Ulbricht or his Soviet counterpart Nikita Khrushchev was ultimately responsible for the construction of the Berlin Wall. A newly discovered Russian document from August 1961 provides some answers.

(...)

For years, historians have been trying to clear this contradiction, and now an answer may be in the offing. It appears in a Soviet document that Matthias Uhl of the German Historical Institute in Moscow has discovered: a previously unknown record of a conversation that took place between the two leaders on Aug. 1, 1961.

By that time, the preparations for building the Wall were well underway, and the initiative apparently came from Khrushchev, as he said himself in the August meeting with his East German counterpart. A short time earlier, according to the document, Khrushchev had sent the Soviet ambassador in East Berlin to Ulbricht in order to "explain to him my idea of taking advantage of the current tensions with the West and laying an iron ring around Berlin." In the conversation, Khrushchev pointed out that "many engineers" had already left East Germany, and that something "had to be done."

(...)

Khrushchev wanted to convince the East German population that the wall being built would protect them from Western spies, and he said that the Germans would understand.

But even Khrushchev didn't appear to totally believe his own propaganda. When Ulbricht told him, during the August meeting, that he wanted to bring his economic experts into the loop, Khrushchev advised him otherwise. "You should not explain anything before the introduction of the new border regime," he said. "It would only strengthen the flow of people leaving."

If word got out about the wall construction, the Kremlin director recognized correctly, there could be "traffic jams" on Berlin's access roads. Such forms of traffic obstruction would constitute "a certain demonstration," he said.

Jacked & Hacked Spiegel Online

Jun 1, 2009

The Consumer's Guide to Intel Networks


Here's a copy of a handbook[114-page pdf] that is distributed to intelligence professionals, which, among other things, highlights some top-secret networks that until now have been, well, top secret.

Steven Aftergood, an analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, who directs the organization's Project on Government Secrecy, said about half the classified networks revealed in the 2009 "National Intelligence: A Consumer's Guide" handbook (really, that's the name) are new to him.

Those include:

-- HUMINT (Human Intelligence) Operational Communications Network (HOCNet), which provides information technology, communications and desktop services for Defense Department HUMINT needs.

-- Capitol Network (CapNet), formerly known as Intelink-P, provides congressional intelligence consumers with connectivity to Intelink-Top Secret and CIA Source. Intelink is the intelligence community's classified intranet.

-- Contractor Wide Area Network (CWAN) is NRO's Top Secret computer network for contractors.

-- The National Geospatial Intellligence Agency's Top Secret-Sensitive Compartmented Information Network.

-- The National Reconnaissance Office Management Information System (NMIS) is NRO's Top Secret network. NMIS is also referred to as GWAN (Government Wide Area Network).

-- Stone Ghost, the top-secret network run by the Defense Intelligence Agency to share information with Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. This capability also may be referred to as a "Q-Lat" or "Quad link."

Stone Ghost does not carry Intelink-Top Secret. It surfaced briefly and obliquely in a comment on an article written about a push by the National Security Agency to open up the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network to Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

The Consumers Guide also disclosed the existence of two classified phone/fax networks that Aftergood said were new to him:

-- The National Operations and Intelligence Watch Officer Network (NOIWON) is a dedicated secure telephone system with a conferencing capability for the rapid exchange and sharing of high interest and time-sensitive information between Washington-area operations centers.

-- WashFax, a secure fax system intended for use within the Washington Beltway.

The Consumers Guide also hails Lt. Col. George Custer - famed for his last stand -- as a pioneer in the kind of geo-intelligence practiced by NGA. The handbook said Custer used a balloon to spy on confederate soldiers during the battle of Richmond in 1862, locating enemy encampments from high up, and, "as a result, he became one of the world's first geo-spatial intelligence analysts."

Too bad he did not have a balloon at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, where he and his men were soundly defeated.

Aftergood said Custer, at long last, "is entitled to some credit for a constructive contribution. Good for him."

-Jacked & Hacked NextGov

May 28, 2009

Chump Change - GWOT Strategic PSYOP


For the attention of the microscopically small brethren and sistren of folks interested, yesterday afternoon GAO released a critique of U.S. Public Diplomacy which touched upon the main GWOT Strategic PSYOP (leaving OGA out of it, as it should be).

U.S. Public Diplomacy: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight. GAO-09-679SP, May 27 [43 page pdf]


The national communications strategy identifies the principal mechanism for the coordination of U.S. government strategic communication activities, namely the Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC) on Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication led by State’s Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, but does not address which agencies, departments, and offices will implement the strategy and their roles and responsibilities. The lack of guidance on DOD’s and State’s respective roles and responsibilities is of particular concern. Both departments have made marginalizing extremism—one of the three national communication goals—their top communications priority and are undertaking activities in this area. While State has been formally designated as the lead for all U.S. government strategic communications, DOD has more resources than State to apply to the strategic communications goal of marginalizing extremism. In 2006, DOD established the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Support to Public Diplomacy to support and coordinate public diplomacy efforts, and serve as the lead for developing policy within DOD on countering ideological support for terrorism. DOD officials said this office was disbanded in early 2009 and it is unclear what existing or new mechanisms, if any, will conduct its functions. Further, despite internal planning initiatives that began in 2006, DOD has not defined the roles, responsibilities, and relationships of its internal military capabilities that support strategic communications, such as public affairs, information operations, and defense support for public diplomacy.

May 27, 2009

Yankees vs. Cowboys - Effwit Unperturbed


















Two Ex-Timesmen Say They Had a Tip on Watergate First

“The fact that he had seen Gray and he had talked to me after his lunch, that I remembered,” Mr. Phelps said. But he said it was not until Mr. Smith jogged his memory that he recalled what revelations had the young reporter so excited.

In the book, he wrote, “We never developed Gray’s tips into publishable stories. Why we failed is a mystery to me.”

“My memory is fuzzy on the crucial point of what I did with the tape,” he wrote.


An Effwit says , "Probably not Wisner's Mighty Wurlitzer (since they had some interest in bringing out the story), but maybe someone else's handiwork.

Yankees vs. Cowboys stuff? Who knows."

Effwit holds his lotus position through small and great quakes.

Unperturbed be a real Effwit.

May 19, 2009

Tiger Down - Tarry On


The death of Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in a fire fight with Sri Lankan forces on Monday probably marks the end of the legend of Tamil Tigers he had scripted and directed. Without a Prabhakaran to lead, motivate and discipline them it might be near impossible to build another Tamil Tiger organization in the near future.

Prabhakaran is a product of the fifties when a whole generation of Tamils in Sri Lanka turned bitter against the government that proclaimed ‘Sinhala only’ was the national language and hurt the pride of the Jaffna Tamil who was the cock of the walk dominating all walks of life. He showed a violent and revengeful methodology for directionless Tamil youth to settle scores with an insensitive Sinhala chauvinist regime that had let loose violence to control Tamil aspirations for equity.

A man of many moods, Prabhakaran was no great orator, an essential skill to be a Tamil politician on both sides of the Palk Strait. In fact, he was a shy man who spoke in a low monotone. But still Prabhakaran had a charisma that enabled him to attract his followers who swore personal loyalty to him. His credibility as a unique leader was carefully built by his daring operations - be it the raid on the Katunayake air base near Colombo in July 1991 or the assassination of President Premadasa of Sri Lanka. His ruthless killings cost him a lot. It turned him paranoid of his own safety. He was shy of publicity and it built an aura of fear around him. On the other hand the mindless killings managed to get the LTTE banned in 33 countries.

The LTTE of Prabhakaran was one among the over 30 Tamil militant organisations that thrived in the aftermath of the infamous Black July pogrom against Tamils in Colombo in 1983. In spite of their lofty Free Eelam rhetoric, many of them degenerated into undisciplined gang of thugs when Sri Lankan government started losing control of Jaffna by 1985-86. It was in this period Prabhakaran set out to make a distinct reputation for the LTTE as a ruthless, disciplined body of Tamil fighters. It was this ironclad discipline that helped him build his insurgent body into one of the most dreaded terrorist force with land, air and sea capability.

There was a streak of cruelty in the way he enforced his punishments whether using a burning tyre around the neck of the victim or using his pistol gang. Drug traffickers and prostitutes were mercilessly put to death. He plotted and killed rival Tamil militant group leaders and cadres who wanted the very same Tamil Eelam he dreamed of because he believed only he could get it. So he did not suffer from any qualms in killing those who stood in his way. And his victims included the high and the mighty including Rajiv Gandhi, Amirthalingam, and Premadasa.

Yet this man’s iron discipline gave way when he fell in love with Mathivathani. And he breached his own rule that no cadre of LTTE would be allowed to marry. Such was the power of love. This personality contradiction was there in his attitude to the use of child soldiers. He was extremely kind to children orphaned due to military action. Yet he did not hesitate to use them as deadly suicide bombers in his Black Tiger squads. They became the cutting edge of naval operations. They did not mind either to sacrifice their lives: by 2008, 356 Black Tigers including 147 young women commandos perished in operations to fulfill the wish of the 'thalaivar' (leader).

He loved movies of martial arts - gun slinging Clint Eastwood movies were a favorite. These videos were the bill of fare of entertainment for cadres in training. Perhaps this was due to his great faith in the power of the weapon.

Prabhakaran had limited education. Yet he showed a readiness to absorb the latest in technology to improve operational capability. He was always on the look out for the latest developments in communication and weapon technology, enabling him to build up the LTTE’s capability to design rocket weapons and manufacture most of the munitions required for warfare. The air arm of the LTTE showed the innovative use of light aircraft for bombing. His thirst for shock action was facilitated by technology innovations.

Prabhakaran was first among insurgent leaders in realizing the value of psychological warfare techniques as force multiplier. He quickly adapted the reach of the internet to spread confusion in the enemy ranks. He had a natural sense of military strategy which over the years appeared to grow a rather stodgy.

Prabhakaran glorified death and sacrifice as the essence of life. He was never comfortable with intellectuals or political pundits. He had little time for politicians or politics - believing actions spoke better. His loyalty was to his cause and not his words or promises made to politicians. In fact, that was the biggest weakness in his leadership skill set. He failed to see the political opportunities offered by the peace process 2002 and preferred war. The man who decided the life and death of thousands with a gun in his hand, stuck to what he preached:“Saithu Mudi Alladu Seththu Madi” – do or die. And in the end he appears to have done just that.

All the while many an instigating fundamental tarries on.