Friday Squid Blogging: Book by One Squid-Obsessed Person About Another

Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer, by Matthew Gavin Frank.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

Posted on September 5, 2014 at 4:06 PM • 222 Comments

Comments

nobody@localhostSeptember 5, 2014 8:10 PM

From the "holy-cow-I'm-not-the-only-one-who-thinks-this" dept:

Everything Is Broken, by Quinn Norton

Exercise left to reader: Pick out the two issues everybody seems to miss. (A third key issue, that everything really is broken, is discussed often here---but almost nowhere else.)

SkepticalSeptember 5, 2014 8:51 PM


I have some reservations about posting this, but what the hell, why not.

A couple of days ago Matthew Olsen, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, gave this speech at the Brookings Institution (the link is to a PDF).

The topic was ISIL and global terrorism generally. In the fairly brief remarks, he gives an excellent background brief on ISIL, its origins and the factors that enabled it to develop, its capabilities, goals, and prospects, and the challenges that it poses.

He also gives a sharp summary of the challenge posed by international terrorism generally, emanating from decentralized networks growing from the abandoned or lost territory of failed or weak states.

For those things alone, it's worth reading.

In addition, he noted: And following the disclosure of the stolen NSA documents, terrorists are changing how they communicate to avoid surveillance. They are moving to more secure communication platforms, using encryption, and avoiding electronic communication altogether. This is a problem for us in many areas where we have limited human collection, and depend on intercepted communications to identify and disrupt plots.

NovaSeptember 5, 2014 9:16 PM

@nobody@localhost, on that article

Security bugs -- niche industry. There are distinctly different levels of experience there. You have the lower level of being capable of finding security vulnerabilities in the web applications of smaller companies... and the higher level of being able to find critical security vulnerabilities in major applications where the companies have strong security qa teams.

Demand is above supply, but demand is nowhere near where it should be. Companies don't even know very often they should have people who can find security bugs in their products, or who can lead a secure development program.

And even when they do, they often under employ.

But, most good bugfinders remain employed as demand is much higher then supply. The governments hire, directly and via defense contractors. Software companies hire. Not many major zero days are created by rogue hackers, and this is why the presence of even one such zero day says to investigators, "This is state based" in more then a few cases.


Intelligence -- far from perfect, and the "intelligence community" is extremely diverse. People usually do not hear about their flaws and compromises however because of counterintelligence needs -- to keep such things secret. Snowden is one of those exceptions to that rule. Some cases being leaked are exceptions. Some cases where prosecution is decided to be pursued are exceptions. Very often, they do not make these things public, instead they spy on the spies who compromised their systems and organizations which is far more valuable then sending someone back to Russia with a slap on the wrist.

Vast difference in intelligence between law enforcement focused, terrorism focused, local focused, foreign focused, technical focused, human focused... between analysts and cover agents (and agents themselves)... between top rung guys who get deals with major telcos made or countries... versus invisible ghosts who wear disguises as a regular part of their job.


I think the main danger there everyone is worried about is seeing intelligence undermine the freedom of free nations. So, obviously, support of whistleblowers is critical.


Hernan C.September 5, 2014 9:24 PM

Regarding your last paragraph on the NSA and terrorism, that is yet another reason why the NSA should stop collecting EVERYHTING and using the resources wisely and in a more targeted manner. Wasting taxpayer dollars is easy and they are going the easy way.

BuckSeptember 5, 2014 9:52 PM

@Skeptical

Noo $#!+ - decentralized communities of common understanding can pose a 'threat' to counterintelligence professionals everywhere?
The real threats are the nexuses of power, for which as long as they exist, can and will continue to be abused by those with psychopathic desired...
Until the sources of this so-called 'intelligence' are made readily available to those in the public who pay for it (and for all those who could certainly benefit from it), we will remain quite skeptical of the vested interests who supply it.

NovaSeptember 5, 2014 10:03 PM

@Skeptical

The paper is good, at giving a wide sweep of the issues, some of which they understand, but there are clear biases running through out their analysis.

These biases, like most, are due to *people believing what they want to believe based on their own preferences*.

- The Snowden issue is not about Big Mean Mr Snowden who single handedly whipped the United States of America and her poor Industrial Intelligence Conglomerate. It is about a colossal cluster fuck of incompetence in how they are keeping secrets and sharing information at a core level. This is like when a teenager says, "It wasn't my fault". Not taking responsibility for their own trip ups ensures the problems will continue.

This is besides the fact that the US was and is engaging in extremely highly questionable activity on a moral level which is bound to produce whistleblowers, moles, and general incompetence.

If your store gets robbed, you improve security. You do not go on whining about how much of a victim you are. That is weak.

- The situation he presented is a true global massive apocalyptic scale cluster fuck of a hell. And it is true, except to the idea that "we are doing all we can and on top of everything". Which is what he and others *want* to believe, but clearly is not the case.

- ISIL did threaten to attack the US and Europe, and it can be expected, like so many before them (hitler, osama bin laden, etc, ad infinitum), they will make do on their word. If your intelligence analysis is missing that major point, your intelligence analysis is only muddying up what should be extremely clear.

- The insularness of some of the wording made me wince, like "the West", but some of this is likely due to the audience... though clearly they are not very aware of what is also happening in Asia. I think the Asian problems only carried a word or two with no explanation.

- He did not well describe the viewpoint of ISIL, what their religious view is, what their successes have meant in terms of their religious views. It is a mistake to lump them up with other groups and equate them. They know better or they would not have focused so much time and effort on them.


I do believe governments dealing with Islamic extremism are as effective as humanly possible, however. It is a motivating cause for all of them from the US to China. It is also very human for intel and law enforcement leaders to have severe errors in their outlook. They are also human.

paranoia destroys yaSeptember 6, 2014 12:22 AM

There is a story on various sites about fake cell phone towers were detected when GSMK was testing their encrypted phone.
The speculating is on who put them up and if what they may be used for but I wonder if this is to drum up business.
Does anyone have anything more definitive?

vasSeptember 6, 2014 12:34 AM

Mr. Schneier:

Why is schneier.com not secured by DNSSEC? You don't believe in DNSSEC or just don't care?

Thank you for replying.

BenniSeptember 6, 2014 4:34 AM

Now its out: NSA has documents saying that they spy on foreign companies and research and development facilities for profit of domestic companies:

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/05/us-governments-plans-use-economic-espionage-benefit-american-corporations/

NSA previously admitted that it does some kind off "economic espionage" but NSA always claimed they do not give the information that they learn when they break into companies like Huawei http://goo.gl/qyd0tA to domestic companies. However, I noted before that the US government has founded an "advocacy center" where US companies can revive information from US intelligence services. . But there was no proof what information NSA does hand over there, although some hints existed, since they say this information would be for the purpose of "levelling" "the playing field" and "opening" "competition in the bidding arena". In the year 2000,James Woolsey, a former Director of Central Intelligence even wrote in an article: "What is the recent flap regarding Echelon and U.S. spying on European industries all about? Yes, my continental European friends, we have spied on you. And it's true that we use computers to sort through data by using keywords.", important documents are here, though they are coming a pre snowden aera: http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/7/7743/1.html
http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/7/7744/1.html
http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/7/7749/1.html
http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/7/7747/1.html
http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/7/7752/1.html
http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/7/7796/1.html
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+REPORT+A5-2001-0264+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN
http://cryptome.org/echelon-cia2.htm

Now according to the new Snowden files

"In particular, the DNI’s report envisions “cyber operations” to penetrate “covert centers of innovation” such as R&D facilities.". "In a graphic describing an “illustrative example,” the report heralds “technology acquisition by all means.” "The report thus envisions a scenario in which companies from India and Russia work together to develop technological innovation, and the U.S. intelligence community then “conducts cyber operations” against “research facilities” in those countries, acquires their proprietary data, and then “assesses whether and how its findings would be useful to U.S. industry”.

SoWhatDidYouExpect?September 6, 2014 6:42 AM

Shadowy Tech Brokers Deliver Data To the NSA

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/14/09/05/2158257/shadowy-tech-brokers-deliver-data-to-the-nsa

More on just how pervasive this whole business has become. It would seem the "only" reason greater bandwidth and higher speed is needed would be for moving "collected data" to the spooks. Not only will the spooks pay for getting that data (taxpayer dollars) but the communciation providers will probably charge your account as well (under the expected "billing by data volume").

Boo hoo hoo hoo hooSeptember 6, 2014 6:56 AM

Props to skep for a priceless example of the BMD commanders' comical lack of self-awareness.

Professional chickenshit Matt Olsen, paid to be scared of his shadow, is now scared because he can't watch hot teen selfies, uh, Imean, identifyanddisruptplots. This is the apotheosis of the beltway tax parasite, whining petulantly about peoples' defense of the right to privacy. Olsen comes right out and says it, but amazingly, the nickel doesn't drop. Limited human collection. So sack up and do some human collection, timmie. What are you scared of ? All the competent spooks worldwide can take it, why can't you?

We know why, of course. America's soft wussy intel bureaucrats don't want to get sand in their socks. They don't like messy diarrhea. The language is too harrrd. They're still shakin in their boots cause of Buckley. They just want to live in McLean and suck up my taxes and spy on law-abiding Americans because that's easier.

Olsen, you human hookworm, get a real job.

DBSeptember 6, 2014 7:26 AM

@skeptical: God Himself (if he exists) is a terrorist, according to you, he causes the sun and the rain to benefit terrorists. Throw him in prison forever and may he be condemned to everlasting hell when he eventually dies? Never mind the fact that all of us would quickly die without sun and rain. You are a stupid stupid man, and a blatant troll sent by the US government to peddle their falsehoods. There is no other possible way to explain you.

@moderator: in case it's not clear, I am specifically referring to his complaint that Snowden benefits terrorists, and using an analalogy to explain how ridiculous and not-well-thought-out that kind of argument is.

BenniSeptember 6, 2014 8:10 AM

In order to have something to laugh about, I would want skepticals reply to this here:

"U.S. intelligence community then “conducts cyber operations” against “research facilities” in those countries, acquires their proprietary data, and then “assesses whether and how its findings would be useful to U.S. industry”."

BenniSeptember 6, 2014 8:33 AM

the german government thinks that IMSI catchers are too imprecise for getting terrorists. It says that especially in highly populated areas with buildings one has reflections of the radio waves that lead to imprecise localization.

Therefore the german government funds active research on how to localize terrorists even in these areas by their mobile phones:

https://netzpolitik.org/2014/bundeskriminalamt-forscht-an-alternativen-zu-imsi-catchern-zur-genaueren-ortung-von-mobiltelefonen/

Note that the targets for the US drones in africa are nominated in Stuttgart, germany, and the drones catching terrorists in Somalia by use of their phone metadata are piloted from Rammstein, germany:
http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/angriffe-in-afrika-drohnentod-aus-deutschland-1.1829921

Surely, the drone murders have to be more precise in the future, with all this bad press...


CallMeLateForSupperSeptember 6, 2014 9:04 AM

@Paranoia Destroys Ya

The only report I've seen about this resides on a web site of a CBS affiliate station in Chicago. Supposedly, some number of fake cell phone "towers" have appeared in several cities across the U.S. Chicago is specifically mentioned. It is said those "towers" are not actual towers but rather laptops, for example, and are operated by miscreants (though not NSA critters). To me, the news item sounds suspuciously like an advertisment for a particular company's "secure" mobile phone: quotes of company official(s); description of company's "SC5000" product (do you suppose that model name could indicate "Secure Phone, five-thousandth iteration"?).

I'm not convinced by any of it...... except that the company is selling something.

BenniSeptember 6, 2014 9:15 AM

regarding the faked cell towers: That is probably the NSA wanting to grab content, since from a provider, they only would get metadata on americans. The article mentions that most of these towers are on us military facilities. Apparently they want to monitor every call around there in order to find terrorists who try to attack domestic military bases

pull the other oneSeptember 6, 2014 9:37 AM

@p on 'nobody in America trusts anyone'

Glad to see research on this. Trust and security are two sides of the same coin. Bruce also discussed the costs of lack of trust recently. I'm often appalled at the unconditional distrust I meet when trying to do business with US companies. I do R&D at a national government research institution in Scandinavia, and I routinely need to order or specifiy instruments and electronic parts.

I've come to the point where it is often cheaper and more efficient to pay higher unit prices from somewhere else in the world rather than wasting my secretary's time jumping the hops needed to setup a net 30 days customer account to source stuff from the US, if I can avoid it.

I mean, sometimes it is even difficult to provide acceptable business references because apparently a number of larger companies do not give each other references, European representatives and subsidiaries of other US companies are not 'US enough', even a small US engineering firm we use to work with, a spin off from a well known university, 'did not qualify' as a trusted reference and so on and so forth. And we are a largish national government institution established by a specific, public law of parliament, in one of the most stable and financially and economically robust countries in the world. How risky can it be to ship even 500 USD worth of parts to our main headquarters address?

Frequently just looking for suppliers in Canada makes things so much easier. R&D may be small volumes, but it leads to larger business down the road. As consultant for operational and commercial applications (satcomm-related stuff), I already advised moving significant exisiting contracts from US to other suppliers - because many US businesses are increasingly a pain to deal with. I don't want to tell my customer we have to wait for some middle manager in the US to be back before things happen. Some services are still only available from the US, but the list is shrinking fast.

So I wonder - have I been unlucky or is this the standard in doing business with US entities? If it is, it could be hurting US businesses quite more than they realize. Or perhaps this much distrust is justified by very frequent fraud attempts against US companies. Then it may not be such a good move anymore for new ventures to be established there. If so - how sad indeed.

NovaSeptember 6, 2014 10:20 AM

On fake cell towers (& @Benni)

That is probably the NSA wanting to grab content, since from a provider, they only would get metadata on americans. The article mentions that most of these towers are on us military facilities. Apparently they want to monitor every call around there in order to find terrorists who try to attack domestic military bases

When I read it is near us military facilities, I was thinking military counterintelligence or fbi counterintelligence. Or just military security, as military base areas can be havens for foreign spies. Of course, it could also be foreign intelligence. But, most likely local counterintelligence looking for spies, and moles... and extremist or other illegal activity with the soldiers.

It would be interesting if more information on this was given, and I could see people starting to make maps of these fake cell towers. I would not be surprised if these towers are not up where they believe there may be hotbeds of foreign spies and or extremists. (Justifiably, or not.)


SkepticalSeptember 6, 2014 10:22 AM


I want to reply to some of the other comments and links, but let me address a communications failure first.

@DB: God Himself (if he exists) is a terrorist, according to you, he causes the sun and the rain to benefit terrorists. Throw him in prison forever and may he be condemned to everlasting hell when he eventually dies? Never mind the fact that all of us would quickly die without sun and rain. You are a stupid stupid man, and a blatant troll sent by the US government to peddle their falsehoods. There is no other possible way to explain you.

I quote DB here as the best example, but there are others.

I think some commentators misunderstood Olsen's remark. While describing the challenges that the US faces, he noted the effects of the publication of the stolen NSA documents on the behavior of terrorist organizations. That's all he did.

There was no ethical or legal evaluation of Snowden's actions. No one called Snowden a terrorist.

Olsen's statement was entirely neutral, and fact-centered. It's also frankly unsurprising: if you were a terrorist organization, and you began reading not just the Snowden documents, but also some of the more alarmist descriptions and interpretations, you might reassess and adjust your OPSEC as well.

CuriousSeptember 6, 2014 10:27 AM

The Intercept published a thing called "Quadrennial Intelligence Community Review, Final report 2009", authored by "Office of the director of national intelligence".

I only had a glance at this, but this report apparently makes a point of advocating this peculiar strategy of conducting espionage against, well, anyone, in the form of the following phrase on page 23:

"In this case, the IC would need a concept of Money Mastery to penetrate corporations, markets, foreign central banks, and foreign financial ministries and organizations so that it could gather and analyze proprietary data."

IC = Intelligence community

The initial paragraph under "Strategic hedge: Money Mastery" opens up by sort of laying out this idea of simply wanting breaking and entering as a goal, for when they felt motivated for it, in order for there to be this "provision".

Strategy, theory, concept, idea, motivation, intent, option, action, provision.. sort of being the same thing here I would think (acting on special interests), but would be associated with differing names for having the different types of spin and sentimentalities suitable to motivate both so called U.S policy makeres and obviously the personell in the intelligence community.

This particular report is probably linked to this article dated 5. Sept:
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/05/us-governments-plans-use-economic-espionage-benefit-american-corporations/

SkepticalSeptember 6, 2014 11:35 AM

@Benni: Now its out: NSA has documents saying that they spy on foreign companies and research and development facilities for profit of domestic companies:

Wrong. Let me talk about what the document published by The Intercept actually says first, and then note how The Intercept misunderstood it.

Quick Document Description

The Quadrennial Intelligence Community Review (QICR) is a thought-exercise in which participants try to anticipate intelligence capabilities and missions that may become needed over the long term.

To do this, the QICR set up two dimensions of uncertainty projected forward 10-20 years, (1) importance of the nation-state, and (2) extent of global cooperation. So you could place the importance of the nation-state as the x-axis, and the extent of global cooperation as the y-axis. Shift positively on the x-axis to represent an increase in nation-state importance, and negatively for a decrease; similarly shift positively on the y-axis to represent an increase in global cooperation, and negatively for a decrease.

They then examined speculative scenarios in different quadrants, with the aim of identifying capabilities and missions that would be called for regardless of how one shifts the two given parameters (nation-state importance, and global cooperation).

Two Scenarios: Cold War II, and Back to Mercantilism

Now, these scenarios are all highly speculative. Indeed the Forward to the QICR Report closes by noting that it hopes to inspire spirited debate within the IC. In other words, nothing in this document is actual policy.

There are two scenarios in which the participants could imagine the IC being used to collect technology that could be transferred to US companies.

In one scenario (call it Cold War II), the US and allies are locked in a bitter struggle with another bloc of nations. Nation-states are very dominant, and there is a clear global order.

In this scenario, it is further imagined that the Red Team has made an important breakthrough (or series of them) and will deny access to that technology, placing the Blue Team at a substantial disadvantage. It is not implausible to imagine that the IC would be tasked with obtaining access.

In the other scenario, the world has dissolved into nations that have adopted mercantalist economic policies, i.e. the end of global free trade. Here nation-states are still dominant, but the global order has fragmented completely. Under the "rules of the game" that would obtain in such a scenario, it's not implausible to imagine that the IC would be used to collect intelligence on key emerging technologies as related to key economic sectors and businesses.

These scenarios require imagining not only what the major problems confronting policy-makers would be given shifts in the two dimensions described, but also require imagining how those policy-makers would, in turn, task the IC.

Exercises like this can be very useful for stimulating thinking about building capabilities that can be used in a variety of scenarios along the dimensions of uncertainty. But they don't represent policy in the current world, nor are they an endorsement of any future policy.

Reading The Intercept though, one gains the impression that the document is practically a plan to actually undertake the imagined missions in the future. Worse, The Intercept takes the imagined missions as policy endorsements, when of course they're nothing of the sort.

Finally, it is noteworthy that the two scenarios in question both require either the growth of a second Cold War (not necessarily against Russia, of course) or the collapse of international trade agreements and a reversion to mercantilism.

In other words, unless some set of events radically changes the world, the IC doesn't even bother imagining that the long-held US policy of NOT practicing commercial or industrial espionage, and protecting all companies within its borders from commercial espionage, would change.

NovaSeptember 6, 2014 12:13 PM

On: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/05/us-governments-plans-use-economic-espionage-benefit-american-corporations/ and the 2009 document...

The 2009 document looking forward to the 2025 future is a very interesting document and likely exposes a lot of current methodologies.

That the US is likely engaging in espionage on behalf of US companies far more directly then companies being forced to ask some agency... is reflected far moreso in the PRISM disclosure. Indirectly. It is also indirectly reflected in the consideration of the overall disclosures made which reveal a very strong reliance of US intelligence on major US companies. They deeply rely on companies like Verizon, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and so on, clearly... which means they have to give them strong incentives, and very likely also get them engaged in lucrative and illegal activity to ensure their compliance to secrecy.

Likewise, I have been very disappointed by the lack of evidence of widescale extortion and other nasties including more direct profiting from widescale secret surveillance their systems enable. It reminds of the movie on tracking the Robert Hansen serial killer, where they *know* Robert Hansen is a serial killer but they do not have adequate evidence. Unfortunately, this is likely because the more secret operations are involving such activity where all participants are under extraordinary surveillance and under severe threats. So they will not talk nor whistle blow.

All of these matters are extraordinary threats to the freedom of the world. Nothing could be more threatening then ostensibly "free" nations sliding fast and hard towards totalitarianism. The idea that they "just won't because they are good people" is the height of pride and arrogance, it is also deep hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the very definition of error, sin, lack of accuracy.


On the document its' self: I think it reflects a great deal of incompetence on their intelligence services, which is no surprise considering, for instance, Iraq. The "solutions" they provide for many of these situations involve extremely poor human intelligence capabilities relying on quickly devised American company fronts and bringing in human agents that were not there in the first place -- further painting a picture of relying on intelligence solutions that does not involve having a widespread, permament, strong system of human networks.

The cover ideas are absurd and would produce, as they have, individuals clearly who are boy scout/girl scout material and visible as spies from miles away.


Fact is: Americans are completely unwilling to move to foreign nations in mass droves, while giving up their lives for the cover of "illegal spies" such as what China and Russian citizens are very willing to do. So, at best, you have "spies" that operate as members of various companies using their real identities, and American citizenship in countries. Which is a joke in comparison to Directorate S like programs.

(Yet, bizarrely, Americans are deeply fascinated and enamored with spies and military people in general, to a near worshipful level. Kind of like the overweight adults who armchair quarterback sports. This trend of behavior, btw, is, of course, extremely dangerous and indicative of a deep sickness in the society.)

Nick PSeptember 6, 2014 12:33 PM

re leaked document on economic espionage

I agree with Skeptical on this. His analysis fits what I've seen studying DOD for many years. They have tons of think tanks that produce a never ending amount of speculation, simulation, policy suggestions, etc. Some of these end up becoming policy, partly or wholly. Many don't.

The document itself indicates it was a group doing analysis of several potential policy directions in the future attached to certain circumstances. That doesn't qualify as current policy by far. I'll add that them discussing whether they should target companies in the future implies the authors believe they're *not* doing it in the present. Although, there's still the possibility that it was happening and they just weren't cleared into those programs.

Currently, the only espionage the we *know* the U.S. does is political, macro-economic, targeted to identify corruption in foreign deals, and many forms to weaken INFOSEC to enable ELINT collection. The rest is still unproven and if happening must be assumed to be isolated cases until proven otherwise.

Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hooSeptember 6, 2014 12:34 PM

It's all of a piece, skep's nervous insistence on Olsen's 'neutrality,' when he's whining that it's harder to help suburban drone cowards blow up kids and even MAMs in breach of universal-jurisdiction law,
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/11/201111278839153400.html

and skep's Rain-Man delight in quadrants and y axes and x axes and scenarios and parameters.

In your incestuous culture of white men in ties comparing missile size, you just go from failure to clusterfuck to fiasco and in the little squirrel cage in your head the answer is always keep up the good work. No matter how you fail you don't get fired, like in the working world.

You mediocre weasels blew up Iraq. Then you tried to blow up Syria but Putin Systema-ed you and tied you in knots and made you yell uncle so then you just shipped arms in until Stevens got caught and whacked. Naturally both states are wrecked because even a moron can wreck things. So now skep's going to protect me from decentralized quadrant-parameter networks in failed states on the x-y axis asymtote.

Stick your security up your ass. I don't need you to keep me safe. I want all of you sent to the place you fucked up so they can saw your head off to make you stop blowing shit up.

IncredulousSeptember 6, 2014 4:42 PM

I'm finding it impossible to believe that the "War on Terror" is about fighting terrorism. What its effect has been is to create terrorism and then increase it. I can't believe policy makers are not cognizant of that. As far as the media goes: Perhaps they ARE stupid, but at the same time corporate media tends to be owned by companies that benefit from defence spending.

We were arming and training ISIS a year ago before they became the boogeymen du jour. They OBVIOUSLY are doing everything they can to pull us into a greater conflict. Doesn't that give us pause? No. Why not? Because more conflict is exactly what war lords like the US and ISIS need. Two peas in a pod. If we disliked harassing journalists why do we condone Egypt (not to mention Ferguson)? If we don't like beheadings and amputations why do we support Saudi Arabia? What do we think is left after a drone strike?

The United States is the world's largest supporter and weapons provider to terrorists today. We left weapons around Iraq because we didn't want the bother of bringing them home? Come on. The result has to have been obvious. But it works for us: The defence contractors get to sell more weapons and we have another war to distract everyday people from the reaming they are getting.

From 1984 article in wikipedia:

"We've always been at war with Eastasia"

"The book" explains that the purpose of the unwinnable, perpetual war is to consume human labour and commodities, hence the economy of a superstate cannot support economic equality (a high standard of life) for every citizen. By using up most of the produced objects like boots and rations the "proles" are kept poor and uneducated so that they will not realize what the government is doing and they will not rebel."

The song remains the same.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 6, 2014 6:54 PM

@ SoWhatDidYouExpect,

With regards robot servants turning on us...

I guess you don't have children of a certain age. Obviously as babies they are not a lot of use around the house, and a positive nuisance as toddlers, however that runing around does keep you fit. Then from around four they start to be helpfull, in fact they positively want to be helpfull, and you can get them chearfully doing most of the house work for a smile and a hug, unless they are the mercenary type that want pocket money. By the time they are twelve you as an adult probably cannot remember how to change the bag in the vacuum or kitchen swing bin. Then to your horror they change... those happy little home helps become knuckle dragging hissy fit throwing teenagers, who won't leave their room or bathroom, let alone clean anything, including themselves... As a parent you find you've lost the skill to dust and vacuum, and to add injury to insult they start bringing herds of other knuckle dragging monstrosities round to locust like eat you out of house and home. It's at this point the fantasies of wax dolls and pins start and you cannot wait to send them off to college/Uni in some distant place where comming home for the weekend is not logistically possible...

So who needs rebellious robot servants when you have children to drive you to an early grave?

P.S. this is only slightly in jest ;-)

IncredulousSeptember 6, 2014 7:11 PM

My previous comment was in reaction to the idea that Snowden's revelations hurt the war on terrorism. The fact is: we are not fighting a war for victory. We are running a recruiting drive for perpetual conflict, because it pays for those who pull the strings.

Snowden hurts simply because he has woken some people up and exposed what the real conflict is: The people as a whole vs. the permanent government, impervious to and dismissive of democratic change, that lives off of their efforts.

I would love to be proven wrong. But after the Obama false-flag election and its aftermath I am not hopeful.

NovaSeptember 6, 2014 8:40 PM

@Incredulous

The problem with the "conflict as a business model" is that it is not sustainable. Eventually, someone fires a nuke. My guess it would be Israel. Then, all the nations can get together against Israel and there will be unification in the Middle East. Sunni, Shiite, Kurd -- they all hate Israel. About the only thing they all agree on. And the other world powers have little to no investment there. After all, the only reason the world is so deeply concerned about the Middle East is because of oil.

So, then you have the UN troops in a coalition against Israel, and probably everyone else quiets down. There could even be seen as a peace situation. Everyone would be going, "Ah, finally, peace, because now we will all join together against a common enemy we can all agree on".

Of course, that is just one possible scenario. If you run with scissors long enough, you are going to fall and get stabbed. They won't stop running.

(I find this abhorrent, of course, but this is one real possibility. There are other grim end games to a business model that runs on conflict. None of them are pretty.)

Nothing will change in time for disaster to happen in the region [or because of the region]. It is as close to a powder keg as it can get. And people are taking pot shots at it.

With cartels on the border, Russia going crazy over the Ukraine - who knows what else - rash decisions can be made.

Kind of a Watchmen style end game, only with a horrendous twist at the end.

Good enough of an ending to reboot history with? Maybe. Depends how it plays out.

As for these nations changing? It simply will not happen.

Wesley ParishSeptember 6, 2014 9:02 PM

@Incredulous

But it works for us: The defence contractors get to sell more weapons and we have another war to distract everyday people from the reaming they are getting.

You might like to study the history of the (not-much-lamented) Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, in particular the growth of the security state in the wake of the Civil War and the Western Intervention.

It's amazing how stalinist the modern world has become.

AdjuvantSeptember 7, 2014 2:25 AM

Haven't posted this yet since I've been meaning to make a proper reply to @Nova and @Skeptical in the previous squid thread and the ISIS thread first, but since it's time-sensitive and already starting to get stale:

http://consortiumnews.com/tag/veteran-intelligence-professionals-for-sanity/

On 9/1, the steering group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), composed of such luminaries as William Binney, Ray McGovern, and Colleen Rowley (i.a.), released an open memo directed at German Chancellor Merkel addressing the rumors of Russian invasion of Ukraine. To excerpt:

You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian “invasion” of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the “intelligence” seems to be of the same dubious, politically “fixed” kind used 12 years ago to “justify” the U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then; we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now.
...
Hopefully, your advisers have reminded you of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s checkered record for credibility. It appears to us that Rasmussen’s speeches continue to be drafted by Washington. This was abundantly clear on the day before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq when, as Danish Prime Minister, he told his Parliament: “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. This is not something we just believe. We know.”

Photos can be worth a thousand words; they can also deceive. We have considerable experience collecting, analyzing, and reporting on all kinds of satellite and other imagery, as well as other kinds of intelligence. Suffice it to say that the images released by NATO on Aug. 28 provide a very flimsy basis on which to charge Russia with invading Ukraine. Sadly, they bear a strong resemblance to the images shown by Colin Powell at the UN on Feb. 5, 2003, that, likewise, proved nothing.
...
The anti-coup federalists in southeastern Ukraine enjoy considerable local support, partly as a result of government artillery strikes on major population centers. And we believe that Russian support probably has been pouring across the border and includes, significantly, excellent battlefield intelligence. But it is far from clear that this support includes tanks and artillery at this point – mostly because the federalists have been better led and surprisingly successful in pinning down government forces.

At the same time, we have little doubt that, if and when the federalists need them, the Russian tanks will come.

Here is a further interview on 9/4 with signatory and ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, in which he provides additional background:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o526WhBCZ2A&feature=youtu.be

Douglas McClendonSeptember 7, 2014 2:46 AM

@everybody - thank you for providing such oasis-like "skeptical" talk about security. The current state of affairs, only historically theorized, but now realized by the Snowden revelations, scares the crap out of me (someone who has read 1984 and a Schneier book). I read the WaPost, NYTimes, Wired, etc, and I don't see anybody else with the kind of serious concern that I see here. My gratitude to this forum for existing.

Now on to @skeptical... part of that sentiment was based on reading your comment, getting a bit inflamed myself, but then seeing lots of others intelligently discuss what is so inflammatory about your comments. When you conclude your long spin (we all do it) and vaguely logical comment with-


In other words, unless some set of events radically changes the world, the IC doesn't even bother imagining that the long-held US policy of NOT practicing commercial or industrial espionage, and protecting all companies within its borders from commercial espionage, would change.

It becomes clear that you are misguided or misguiding. You defend your stance as if - in the face of the Snowden revelations - *it matters* that the US might have a superficial long-held policy of "NOT practicing commercial or industrial espionage, and protecting all companies within its borders from commercial espionage".

After the Snowden revelations, and more acutely, the government's strategic public response to such (including further attempts to be dismissive toward the problem that inspired the whistle blowing), it just plain begs belief that corrupt/long-held-policy-violating use of this surveillance apparatus is not already going on and headed towards epic escalation. This is simple human corruption. This is simple "power corrupts...". The U.S. current spin on the Snowden revelations - even after everything we have seen to this point - suggests they want and expect the public to believe that widespread serious abuses have not occurred, are not occurring, and will not occur. This is not a credible stance. In fact, the more they, and people like you defend this stance, the more certain I am of its fallacy.

If one could have that level of trust in their authorities and police, we would not have the 4th ammendment. Police would be allowed to commit random inspections at all residences, as long as they were polite enough to wait until the inhabitants temporarily vacated the premises and didn't disturb anything while they were there. In addition to the sun and rain helping terrorists, the 4th ammendment certainly does as well. But the 4th ammendment is there because any decent student of human nature will understand that giving such power to the police would inevitably lead to more corrupt use of it, than benefit to society.

But that argument, or even cogniscence of it, is starkly absent from your comments. This explains the vitriolic response to them you are seeing.

FigureitoutSeptember 7, 2014 3:38 AM

Opensource NSA Ant Catalog

Michael Ossmann and some associates made a website recently, where he and a few others thought about how they could implement some of the NSA 'bugs' from the Snowden leaks.

http://ossmann.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-nsa-playset.html
http://www.nsaplayset.org/

Well, turns out it isn't that hard, in fact there are already many existing solutions, it's just...most normal people (or engineers) don't have requirements for products whereby they need to surrepticiously bug people.

Pretty hilarious site, definitely check out this pdf; it will almost assuredly make you laugh. One little neat solution he came up w/ for the "RF-Retroflectors" was to use some Hotwheels toy radar gun! Hilarious. Ugly link though [PDF warning]:

https://a973aeed-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/nsaplayset/ossmann_hitb2014.pdf?attachauth=ANoY7cqw9wQbimcthIyMMTn0VGj06gV8tfT8CL6MD8crJ1hyv9nOD_8xyK7DIsjEh7ESKsc3eJC4q38x6vojB4zMtk6Rp2ORAxXEbRAYtU2KRkARlXKErUfkDNo_NhD2Y5TTlFcvYEriQkm3ZKu-QI1Mumd6gTOEFZT6ylOjnI7KnYLp5XfRms-Y8nUD01hS_9dxrjVr2ygk5QGsKLvraOcdnkHBDlz1eA%3D%3D&attredirects=0

/*** Shout out to Adjuvant as your link on Libreboot on an X60 Thinkpad got me re-charged to get in my highly infected laptop again and begin to "harden" it just for practice/fun. Also was nice to see one of my 'puters is supported by Coreboot BUT it still looks too risky and there's bugs still to be solved. If I could I would chip in but that low of level coding is very hard and simple tricks can really throw you off reverse engineering proprietary whatever. Inline assembly I can mostly read, but still be really lost. All it takes is 1 bad flash and buh-bye computer...So I'll be flashing other smaller chips where I'm not losing a working computer first. ***/

Single Laptop Modification for Big Gains in Proximity Security

I am talking of course...about your WIFI card! Goodbye bluetooth, wish I never met you! Very simple modification (well, at least mentally, just very annoying) to take it out (and the antennas! Get out!). Thought I'd get some other stuff out too, need to get the speakers out still, but I also got the little laptop camera and microphone and those won't be working anymore...I only need the headphone jack anyway and other ports. Also, I have a little USB-wifi module, which I just had to get a driver and "Voila", I can get wifi if I need it. May even get a custom wifi module w/ an antenna port so I can hook up a big antenna just for hell of it.

So taking apart a laptop is a bit of a pain. Mine is a Fujitsu Lifebook A-Series. It took me like 2-3 hours to take it all apart and put humpty-dumpty back together again (w/ a scary moment which I'll describe). Be sure to look up your model of course, that should be the first thing you'd do anyway; just in case someone has already taken one apart (it's not fun jamming a knife in to get it open and not knowing if your "stabbing" an important component).

There's a million screws, ok something like 25 just for the exterior(!), and you need to make sure all the screws are out before you start pulling plastic out. Did you know that w/ a paper clip, you can open up the CDROM w/o power? If it has a tiny hole, you can. Feels like picking a lock. I SUPPOSE that's for non-malicious innocent reasons, you have to suppose that...and of course you're probably screwed anyway at that point, so meh.

Ok, so you should be able to see a small HDD which is almost a cell-phone size block, go ahead and take that out. You won't be able to remove the CDROM (if you have one) until getting a large plastic piece. Take the battery out too. Make sure as many screws as possible are out before you start pulling on the plastic cover. Sometimes you just have to "go for it" a little before the cover gives way. It'll snap out. Now for my particular laptop, *boom*, there's the Intel Centrino wifi card. If you're lazy, you could just take the screw off, pull the antennas off, and just pull out the card and maybe snip the antenna as far as you can get to it. But I wanted to do a complete job (almost bit me in the ass). Frickin' antenna is snaking all over the computer, goes down another hole; so now you have to flip the computer over and take out the speaker cover and the keyboard. These pieces just snapped off, you need a kitchen knife or paint scraper to get in the crack (don't go there :p). Ok, so get that off, and I can pull some more of the antenna off, but guess what?! The damn snake antenna is going up the LCD screen! Damnit! So you have to take off the LCD screen completely, in my case it was held on w/ only 2(!) screws, they put a million screws on but only hold the screen w/ 2, wtf...So get the screen off and you have to pry it open too (after taking more screws off of course). And Fujitsu tricks you which rubber covers have a screw under it, there's 4 total on my particular screen. So get the screws off and pry open the screen. Should see the antenna as it goes all the way up to the where the camera/microphone is! And I just rip it out, and I also snip and rip out the camera and microphone (no more ugly piece of tape needed anymore!). I rip out the rest of the antenna and finally it's done! Oh no it's not I have to put everything back together. As I'm doing it *of course* I drop a screw in a funny place and now I have to play snafu to get it out. As I'm doing it I also yank out the keyboard connector to the motherboard, sh*t! Fratically put it back together and try to type, nothing. F*ck! Keep messing w/ it, using tape, etc. Pushing the backspace was creating characters! No! Well, turns out the connector can fit in w/o glue/tape, basically fits in like clamped hands, and it finally worked!

So, all I've done is remove some components that are untrustworthy and/or completely not wanted/needed. It was easier than I thought even though I kept putting it off. Just a basic hardening though, I want shielding, like that stuff Iain Moffat was talking about for LCD screens and at least some tin-foil (insulated foil so as not to short!) wrapped around everything. Then next up is software coming in and already flashed from up the supply chain...ugh...

Clive RobinsonSeptember 7, 2014 5:22 AM

@ Figureitout,

So you have got the "easy bit done"... ;-)

The hole in the CD drive to open it when powered down has been a lesser known feature for I guess a couple of decades. There are various reasons given for why it exists only one of which I've actually witnessed, which is the "exploding CD", and it scares the 541t out of you when it happens. Basically the polycarb they are made of is like various toughened glasses, they don't crack just spontaneously shatter into fragments, which might be scary in a bathroom shower screen but in one of those 54speed drives they become shrapnel and unlike the glass has a dagger like quality and sharpness with needle points. And thus creates a "dive for cover" moment if you have the drive out on the bench when it happens.

As for those "click down" flat cable connectors used on your keyboard connector, yes they can be a pain. Back in the early 1990s I had an expensive "built in" Samsung Microwave oven and it had an intermittent fault as it was under warranty I had the service bods out six or seven times and they could not find the fault.

Eventually I decided to get it replaced and they brought round and installed a new one from a European manufacturer with a higher spec (which was nice). Any way they left the old Samsung behind and after waiting a few days for them to pick it up I got curious and opened it up on the work bench. I noticed almost by chance that the front pannel connector and cable were not at 90 degrees, and a little further investigation showed it had been "jammed in on the piss at manufacture" and actually had a defect marker on it... so much for Samsung QC. Anyway about five minitues work to remake the end and insert and lock it down correctly and my workshop had it's own microwave. I told the suppliers I'd got tired of waiting for them to pick it up and had slung it in the "builders skip".

Any way it served me well for several years in the workshop for reheating mugs of tea and the other "true engineers staple" of a hand size "cow bits" pie. It then became first a way of "securely erasing CDs", then briefly an experimental HERF gun run from a modified UPS whilst in the process of converting it into a "field portable" CW amateur radio transmitter for EME experiments and accidently "frying low flying" night time objects such as moths that got to close to the feed point, so it was even a "death ray" as well...

So remember as they say on TV shows "Don't try this at home Boys and Girls, we've had the fun so you don't have to"...

Nick PSeptember 7, 2014 11:16 AM

@ Figureitout

Thanks for the Ossmann paper. It was pretty nice.

@ Adriana R.

The link had a few good technical ideas; Mask ROM, use of simple architectures like MIPS, physically disabling risky components, etc. A problem is see is that their solution posts put overwhelming detail into a few things while neglecting others. If people can even read through it all, the result of their activities won't be secure.

That TLA's are supposedly putting more effort into these average individuals than they do high priority targets makes me suspect it's merely paranoid schizo ranting (or intentional BS). Both history and the present indicate that they focus their high-end efforts onto those that truly worry them. These people wouldn't worry any TLA. The original badBIOS claim was more believable as the target, especially his connections, was worthwhile.

NovaSeptember 7, 2014 12:15 PM

@Adjuvant

What a spectacle. These persecuted whistleblowers being forced to plead with nations to notice that American intelligence was wrong about Iraq having WMD. That what they are saying now should be taken as likely incorrect information. That they should not repeat that mistake.

They believe there is no accountability. They believe they can do anything without any repercussions. They are youthful, looking about, going, "Who can stop us?" Countless people behind them agreeing with them.

Armies of experts working overtime to assure them, "There is no accountability, no one can stop you, you can do whatever you want."

Armies of defenders telling them, "You are doing good. This is good. Lying and telling the truth are the same thing. Believe what you want to believe. That is the truth."

So much drama! But, it is so true. What a spectacle. And so many do not even see it. But, the show is just getting started....

@Douglas McClendon

Very good points.

Your very healthy thinking process there very well reminds me of those who curiously consider joining a group, and then realize the group is some kind of cult. You know so many do not then listen to any critical thinking that kicks in. They succumb.

Then, there is no truth. Just a really elaborate delusion that is "truth" because everyone else in the group is agreeing with it. They create their own consensual delusion and this is their paradise, their utopia.

With plastered fake smiles and exuberance that sends the signal, "What we have is good, come with us, join us". Very cunning mimicry. That reveals the darker truth, if you are healthy enough to see through it: they must be very damaged goods to work so hard at pretending to have something good.

K-VeikkoSeptember 7, 2014 12:27 PM

I have lately noticed that a lot of pages have introduced (from central server) an addon that prevents browsing from tor network. – Unless you fill a captcha (several times in sequence).
Now.
I am wondering if the captcha server owner, or anybody having total access to this server or traffic upon it, can use the captcha visitors behaviour to map tor network. I.e. get essential information of tor networks current state?

AlanSSeptember 7, 2014 12:48 PM

More on Zelda, the NSA's agony aunt, based on FOIA docs obtained by the Boston Globe.

Apparently employees are upset by the lack of civility at the NSA. And the NSA has a 'Civility Matters’ campaign. Really? And does Civil Society also matter?

EFF (see Benni's post here) and the Intercept covered Zelda earlier based on documents from Snowden.

Lot's of agony at the NSA about being spied on by coworkers and no sense of irony.


Boo hoo hoo hoo hoohoo hooSeptember 7, 2014 1:06 PM

Civility. Yes, crucial to NSA discourse. The most pernicious thing about skeptical's fake developmental disorder is the way he tries to make everyone confine their attention to his little technical lemmas. He always wants you to talk about a single tightly-circumscribed aspect of NSA's complicity in aggression, torture, sabotage, and extra-judicial killing, which special procedures and treaty bodies have formally described in terms of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community - specifically, crimes against humanity. NSA chose victims for torture, disappearance, indefinite detention, and murder as defined in the Geneva Convention common articles. It's like if Doktor Mengele came here and started prattling politely about which are the best tattoos for your Jewhide lampshades. This is not like your cubicle, skep, you can't put crimes against humanity in one of your little compartments and stamp them with a little stamp so nobody should talk about it. They do not ever go away for a second.

NovaSeptember 7, 2014 1:13 PM

Have not seen mention of this, but looks interesting, Beeswarm:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/08/28/security_bods_release_free_active_deception_honeypot_network/

Honeypot that simulates real traffic, and the article discusses some of the issues with ordinary honeypots.

My thinking is both that "honeypot strategies & tactics" are critical for a healthy security strategy, but I am skeptical of the capability of creating a honeypot that well mimics real traffic in this way: is it not much better to intentionally lower security on swathes of systems and employ strong monitoring tools that can effectively turn your everyday systems into very persuasive and so strong honeypots?

And might be added to that: without intentionally creating false traffic, how can you better create real "in use" systems into honeypots?

Of course, a major problem here is simply: how can you ensure absolute accuracy in detecting aberrant behavior if you must discern between it and normal behavior? Which kind of leads you back to square one.

Considerations: There may be three major problems here (to solve). One, is to simulate as real of traffic as possible for the system. Two, you need vast improvements in authenticity of systems beyond legitimate traffic. Three, you need emulated systems of a wide array. Smartphone honeypots. Corporate website honeypots. Database honeypots. Router honeypots. IDS honeypots. "IOT" honeypots... refrigerators and toasters, security video cameras, and teller machines.... for even that matter, everyday users browsing the web... social media users... internet trolls and opinionators... high level VIPs accidentally revealing their identity...

Many of these things are being worked on, many are years away to come. (Decade plus.)

CzernoSeptember 7, 2014 1:36 PM

@ K-Veikko, re. Tor-users presented with captchas

Main probleme I can see is that usually, seeing the captchas requires javascript enabled, which in turn enables an adversary to sniff much more information about the user environment, and by using known or unknown exploits may help in deanonymising them.

Although the dangers posed by browser active scripts of all flavour are well known to the Tor team, for some reason their so called "browser bundle" still comes with JScript enabled, or so I'm told. Dangerous ! Perso I won't enable scripts when browsing thru Tor (and I don't use their stinking "tor browser" bundle either, only the naked Tor itself with my own customised browser.)
Tor devs will say this is bad because then I might stand out of the Tor "crowd", but actually, since I disable all scripting it's very difficult for a non global adversary to build an identifying web "fingerprint" of myself. (And a global adversary such as the NSA can get anybody they care to chase, scripting or no scripting anyways)

AlanSSeptember 7, 2014 2:24 PM

@Skeptical

"Matthew Olsen, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, gave this speech at the Brookings Institution (the link is to a PDF). The topic was ISIL and global terrorism generally. In the fairly brief remarks, he gives an excellent background brief on ISIL, its origins and the factors that enabled it to develop..."

I could find no mention of either Bush or Cheney or their failed war on terror. Here's an alternative take on the development of ISIL: How to Ensure a Thriving Caliphate.

NovaSeptember 7, 2014 3:43 PM

@AlanS, @anyone

Nice source, bookmarked to pick up the book, and added the site to my feed.

Contrasting the below quote versus the entirety of the US Counter-terrorist position speech linked to by @skeptical far above... it is quite clear that the writer of the below is absolutely correct, while the US counter terrorist positioning is entirely faulty:

Not everything that went wrong in Iraq was the fault of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as has now become the political and media consensus in the West. Iraqi politicians have been telling me for the last two years that foreign backing for the Sunni revolt in Syria would inevitably destabilize their country as well. This has now happened.

By continuing these contradictory policies in two countries, the U.S. has ensured that ISIS can reinforce its fighters in Iraq from Syria and vice versa. So far, Washington has been successful in escaping blame for the rise of ISIS by putting all the blame on the Iraqi government. In fact, it has created a situation in which ISIS can survive and may well flourish.

Not surprising considering the Iraq war. ('They have WMD', 'they are linked to Al Qaeda'.)


FigureitoutSeptember 7, 2014 5:05 PM

Clive Robinson
--Haha yeah...I was so relieved when I could type again...phew. Yeah I have a few older CDROMs, one of which after going for a while made a big grinding noise. I think the CD just got off-balance or something, but it re-adjusted. On the little hole, it also makes for quick break-in work...Suppose you could simply glue the hole w/ gorilla glue if that's a problem for you. Aaaanndd we're getting to Paranoia-Land...

RE: you calling tech. support
--What..? Is this true? You...actually needed some help? So you are human. :p And I've actually started drinking hot tea while working, usually having 2 cups a day and it would be nice to heat up as you get near the end lol; but the "cow pie" thing, is that haggis? You eating that...haggis? Yuck. Saw that for breakfast in London one time at the Jolly St. Ermins or whatever hotel...I passed lol.

How do you shield a laptop keyboard? Regular keyboard would be easier, just be a pain. Is there a way to encrypt LCD/keyboard/mouse pad signals using the connectors? I imagine that'd be a long project...Probably best just to make your own cover and make the laptop a tad more bulky; just a pain again and long to do right. Oh and one more thing, I notice the fan to the CPU has a nice copper metal "highway" right to it from the vent. Is that where you were injecting signals straight to the CPU..? If so, all I can think of is either an external extra shield, a rated mesh screen like on shield rooms for air (for humans to breathe), redesign the air route for the CPU, use water cooling, or maybe copper fan blades. Man that's frustrating.

Adriana R.
--Thanks, some of it is interesting; but a lot of it is sparking bad memories...

Nick P RE: your failed HDD's
--Were they all internal or did you have external ones too? So, if you had 3 separate brands, and maybe 1 was internal and 2 others were external or vice versa or all 3 either/or; and they all failed at different times...yikes. If you're storing all the same things too then it makes it even harder to think what it would've been. So there were no other hints of what may have been attacked? This is why I'm doing USB backups too, going to do DVD's, and maybe even a compact flash card and/or smart card. Different memories at least. Just such a pain to back all that up. The thing that kills me though is backing up malware.

SkepticalSeptember 7, 2014 5:46 PM


@Incredulous: We were arming and training ISIS a year ago before they became the boogeymen du jour. They OBVIOUSLY are doing everything they can to pull us into a greater conflict. Doesn't that give us pause?

The US hasn't been arming or training ISIL.

As to why ISIL taunts the US, they probably do so for "street cred," for prestige. You're looking at this in a very US-centric fashion. Remember that ISIL is jockeying for power with other extremist groups, and relies on reputation to draw recruits and bolster morale.

Now, do I think that ISIL's leadership actually wants the US to engage fully with them? No. ISIL's leadership makes profligate use of suicide bombers, but the leadership themselves are not suicidal.

To the extent some of their more provocative acts were cleared with the leadership, I would guess that the leadership doesn't think the US has the interest to engage again in a fight in Iraq, and that they'll be able to weather any air strikes thrown their way. There are other possibilities - perhaps the leadership is disjointed, and a crazier faction approved the provocation before the less-crazy factions could stop it - perhaps the leadership isn't thrilled with the level of provocation, but fears that it would undermine its own position in ISIL if it were to order the provocation stopped.

The United States is the world's largest supporter and weapons provider to terrorists today.

This is ludicrous. It is completely false.

We left weapons around Iraq because we didn't want the bother of bringing them home? Come on. The result has to have been obvious. But it works for us: The defence contractors get to sell more weapons and we have another war to distract everyday people from the reaming they are getting.

"left weapons around Iraq"? I'm not sure what you're talking about. You mean weapons provided to Iraqi military and security forces, which were captured by ISIL?

SkepticalSeptember 7, 2014 5:59 PM


@Douglas McClendon: You defend your stance as if - in the face of the Snowden revelations - *it matters* that the US might have a superficial long-held policy of "NOT practicing commercial or industrial espionage, and protecting all companies within its borders from commercial espionage".

After the Snowden revelations, and more acutely, the government's strategic public response to such (including further attempts to be dismissive toward the problem that inspired the whistle blowing), it just plain begs belief that corrupt/long-held-policy-violating use of this surveillance apparatus is not already going on and headed towards epic escalation. This is simple human corruption. This is simple "power corrupts...".

The Snowden documents indicate that the NSA follows policy scrupulously. There are a lot of legitimate questions raised about whether it is good policy or the best policy - but there's no indication of elements within the NSA going rogue and, say, conducting commercial espionage even when not tasked to do so.

Power can corrupt, but institutional structure, culture, and incentives go a long way towards preventing that.

SkepticalSeptember 7, 2014 6:41 PM


@AlanS: I could find no mention of either Bush or Cheney or their failed war on terror. Here's an alternative take on the development of ISIL: How to Ensure a Thriving Caliphate.

Much of the take is not alternative at all, since much of what Cockburn writes is consistent with what Olsen said. In part for example Cockburn writes of the extent to which AQ affiliated groups are decentralized, and spring up in various regions around the globe. Olsen says the same thing, in fact.

Cockburn's view of how the US sees AQ is out of date by several years, and the US view is largely consistent with his own. He writes:

It has always been in the interest of the U.S. and other governments that al-Qa‘ida be viewed as having a command-and-control structure like a mini-Pentagon, or like the mafia in America. This is a comforting image for the public because organized groups, however demonic, can be tracked down and eliminated through imprisonment or death. More alarming is the reality of a movement whose adherents are self-recruited and can spring up anywhere.

Here is President Obama last year, for example:

Today, the core of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on the path to defeat. Their remaining operatives spend more time thinking about their own safety than plotting against us. They did not direct the attacks in Benghazi or Boston. They’ve not carried out a successful attack on our homeland since 9/11.

Instead, what we’ve seen is the emergence of various al Qaeda affiliates. From Yemen to Iraq, from Somalia to North Africa, the threat today is more diffuse, with Al Qaeda’s affiliates in the Arabian Peninsula -- AQAP -- the most active in plotting against our homeland. And while none of AQAP’s efforts approach the scale of 9/11, they have continued to plot acts of terror, like the attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009.

Where Cockburn and President Obama differ is on the scale of the perceived threat. Cockburn thinks that it's actually worse than before, while the President believes that these groups are less able to mount attacks against the West.

With respect to President Bush's strategy, and President Obama's, Cockburn believes that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were not sufficiently confronted regarding their role in terrorist financing, ideological support, and in the case of Pakistan's ISI, other forms of support as well.

If SA and PK had been confronted, then we would not be witnessing what we are today, Cockburn asserts.

There's little substance to his argument. Saudi Arabia has been highly cooperative in cracking down on terrorist financing, and the US pushed them very hard to do so. Pakistan is a more difficult case, in which the Pakistani Government clearly cooperated to some extent, but wished to have that cooperation not made public. Simultaneously, the ISI, or figures within or linked to it, clearly continued to support elements of the Afghan Taliban and to hamper US efforts along the border region.

I'm not sure what Cockburn thinks "confronting" them means then, really, or why he thinks it would make a difference today. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are big, complex societies, with governments that (especially in the case of Pakistan) do not always act as coherent units.

Boo hoo hoo honk sniffle hoo hooSeptember 7, 2014 7:10 PM

Little Mengele has ascertained that brain tanning is a superb way to give the skins a pleasing rosy translucency, however overstretching is to be avoided. Gassing and mass-grave policy must of course be strictly adhered to, for the subjects' sake.

NovaSeptember 7, 2014 8:18 PM

@Skeptical

Power can corrupt, but institutional structure, culture, and incentives go a long way towards preventing that.

They do if they exist. Would be great if there was meaningful structure, culture, and incentives towards these ideals of preventing corruption in the NSA. Of course, there is not.

How does anyone know? The nature of the work, the paucity of cases, the nature of cases that are made and how they are found, the history of corruption in US secret agencies, the history of corruption in US police departments, the estimated number of employees and contractors, the statements made by whistleblowers and the reactions made by the agency from those statements.

Of course, there is the problem of opaqueness in general. And the understanding of how opaqueness and secrecy can work in evading investigation.

Finally, perhaps one can look at the patterns of corruptions in other countries... current and historic. Spies & intel bureaucrats close rank on corruption and off the books work just as cops do. And they know far, far more fancy financial footwork then corrupt financial firms and the Enrons of the world know. It is part of their damned job to be able to construct accounting lies.

So, I can only conclude, this is a highly naive viewpoint, one that is part of the PR culture we see so often these days. Torture becomes "enhanced interrogation". Major financial fraud becomes "creative accounting". It does not help these agencies, and it surely does not help America.

I further do not think any advocate of US intel agencies pristineness would argue 'off the cuff' that they are opposed to 'off the books', rogue black operations. How much moreso would employees?

Never even mind the extraordinary impropriety intel top leaders have in money making with defense contractors. People are just not that stupid.

The Snowden documents indicate that the NSA follows policy scrupulously. There are a lot of legitimate questions raised about whether it is good policy or the best policy - but there's no indication of elements within the NSA going rogue and, say, conducting commercial espionage even when not tasked to do so.

Snowden documented many alleged illegal activities of the NSA and other agencies. There are ongoing court cases. There are likely - one would hope - actual investigations into these allegations. But, it is true, much has been swept under the rug, or highly dubious rubber stamping performed.

Some of these disclosures have been denied or ignored. Overall, the general response has been a PR campaign. Leading intelligence executives were not fired.

Establishing highly dubious paper trails for highly dubious operations that could be normally considered "trivially obvious as a federal crime", has been in case with some of the operations Snowden exposed, but not all. The material Snowden revealed was material widely shared across intelligence agencies. Before being so shared, and as matter of "standard operating procedure" it is not a surprise that highly dubious rubber stamp paper trails were created.

Is unauthorized access of an American's computer a federal crime? What about performing a wiretap on an American citizen on American soil, is that some sort of federal crime? Why, folks, no it is not! Poof. "Not a crime". Slick maneuvering. Does not help America at all, and promotes a message of lawlessness loud and clear to the entire world. Believe it or not, but this actually is known to cause damage.

These things said, you have to be either mentally retarded or a really disturbed liar to pretend that there must not also be operations which Snowden did not have access to. My goodness, did Snowden have access to ***everything*** the US government was doing?

Flashback - and another HUGE point about how little oversight there is - Snowden did grab all of the information he did grab without getting caught.

What if he was working for the Russians or Chinese, or many others? What if he was using that data and those systems for his own spying? He sure could have, and who knows in how many ways he could have abused his position for his own profit *without* selling anything to any nation ... and gotten away with. Because there is no meaningful accountability or self-policing.

"Self-policing". Fox in henhouse. Foxes rule the henhouse. So, no accountability and no meaningful systems whatsoever.


Calling a bag of shit, "a bag of aroma filled flower fuel" does ***NOT*** magically change that bag of shit into something sweet and nice. Arguing from the mindset of "who will you believe, me, or your lying eyes" does not work with everyone.


AlanSSeptember 7, 2014 8:20 PM

@Skeptical

My point was that it could hardly be an "excellent background brief on ISIL, its origins and the factors that enabled it to develop..." without reference to Bush, Cheney, Rummy and all their neocon pals who were going to wage a world war on terror that would crush America's enemies, spread democracy far and wide, and protect ours. (You'd think conservatives would understand that state planning doesn't work.) I think you missed my point.

Here's Engelhardt's post without the Cockburn stuff added. Cockburn's book looks interesting but I haven't read it so have no opinion on his argument.

Douglas McClendonSeptember 7, 2014 9:17 PM

The Snowden documents indicate that the NSA follows policy scrupulously. There are a lot of legitimate questions raised about whether it is good policy or the best policy - but there's no indication of elements within the NSA going rogue and, say, conducting commercial espionage even when not tasked to do so.

Power can corrupt, but institutional structure, culture, and incentives go a long way towards preventing that.

Wow, I'd like to move to your reality. Remember how in Snowden+1month we heard about "a limited number of LOVINT violations". Then how that was completely out of the news for a solid year until a few months back when that story became "18-22 year old NSA agents were routinely passing around naked pictures from intercepts as trophies- like 'hey, here is a picture of a beautiful woman'".

Seriously, you can read that story, and not see the multiple red flags jumping out at you? And then go on to claim that "The Snowden documents indicate that the NSA follows policy scrupulously.". You are a riot. Keep it up. We'll tune it out.

Yes people, the government made this massive intelligence gathering tool, which one lone sysadmin was able to unnaccountably slurp data from and release it to the world, but at the same time, nobody ever used it for insider trading. Riiiiigght....

Nick PSeptember 7, 2014 9:33 PM

@ Figureitout

They were all external USB HD's. The internal ones didn't allow persistence of anything that might be at risk. So, such things were moved onto the external drives with different encryption on each with some key material stored on paper. Highly critical things were eventually copied to all three drives. Less critical things were on just one HD to get more stuff on the drives. There were three brands and two companies. I was a repeat buyer of one company because their stuff worked so well so could've been some chipset similarities there. It was only the encrypted volumes that failed on two and I know where they failed. The problem is the failure was ridiculously unlikely. It could've been bad luck (I got plenty) or a very careful attack.

Such a situation meant I felt the loss but didn't worry about the details. I just tried every recovery method I could with no luck as my too-clever-for-my-own-good custom crypto turned out unbreakable (far as I can see) and resistant to drive recovery companies. That was intentional by design but still sucked given circumstances haha... Last resort was to ensure the data was unrecoverable to everyone else, esp in case the situation wasn't accidental. I got rid of most of the hardware, especially the keys on paper, after I figured things were bricked indefinitely. I at least got a nice bonfire* party out of it, though. :)

Note: For anyone at EPA reading, the hard drive was not tossed into the bonfire as that would violate numerous environmental statutes and I'm the biggest supporter of law and order. I've even watched the show once.

ThothSeptember 7, 2014 10:12 PM

@anonCoward
The use of insecure platforms like android devices, SD cards and so on and so forth is like an invitation to TLAs. Storing crypto keys in SD cards is the last thing any TLA-resistant measures is going to agree on. First step to breaking crypto is to simply circumvent it.

@Clive Robinson
Your way of describing the typical kids are very well illustrated. Like it. All the memories :) .

Have you tried to manually extract data on CDs that are fried in microwave ? I haven't had the luxury of experimenting secure physical destruction due to the tiny little cage issued to us here at home and to not trigger the neighbours calling in emergency services or neighbourhood patrol. Always wanted the luxury of a workbench to test them out but impossible to obtain one in my country unless you own a factory.

@Clive Robinson and Nick P
Any good ways of secure physical destruction of HDDs and CDs besides 'dd' and 'shred' ? Throwing them into the bin is a bad idea as we all know. Only thing I can afford to use is a hammer if I don't want neighbours getting pissed or suspicious.

We always have to worry of the unlimited and blatantly broad search power of security personnels allied to the government here. Even the security personnel in the train station can search and remove items with the same power of regular police officers. You know those scenario where they can blow your front door up any moment and walk in like they are the boss and take anything they want.

SkepticalSeptember 7, 2014 10:57 PM


@Nova: How does anyone know? The nature of the work, the paucity of cases, the nature of cases that are made and how they are found, the history of corruption in US secret agencies, the history of corruption in US police departments, the estimated number of employees and contractors, the statements made by whistleblowers and the reactions made by the agency from those statements.

Despite the number of whistleblowers or leakers, depending on your vantage, none has shown serious corruption issues. The closest would be complaints filed through channels regarding TrailBlazer and ThinThread; these complaints were thoroughly investigated.

But the whistleblowers/leakers release matters of policy they believe to be illegal, or unethical. We can argue over whether they have done so, but I do not see any evidence of widespread corruption, and given the number of leaks, we would if there were such corruption.

@AlanS: My point was that it could hardly be an "excellent background brief on ISIL, its origins and the factors that enabled it to develop..." without reference to Bush, Cheney, Rummy and all their neocon pals who were going to wage a world war on terror that would crush America's enemies, spread democracy far and wide, and protect ours. (You'd think conservatives would understand that state planning doesn't work.)

The chaos following the invasion of Iraq and the early decisions of the occupation certainly furnished the ground - that of a failed state - from which ISIL's partial forebear, AQI, sprung. Beyond that, delving into neocons takes us a bit off the topic of ISIL. I'm willing to do that - it's the Squid thread - but I can understand why Olsen didn't.

@Douglas McClendon: Remember how in Snowden+1month we heard about "a limited number of LOVINT violations". Then how that was completely out of the news for a solid year until a few months back when that story became "18-22 year old NSA agents were routinely passing around naked pictures from intercepts as trophies- like 'hey, here is a picture of a beautiful woman'".

These are limited cases of irresponsible and unprofessional behavior. Neither the handful of instances in which analysts abused their powers to eavesdrop on individuals for purposes other than the collection of foreign intelligence, nor Snowden's anecdote about a group of guys gawking at a photograph, are red flags for serious corruption.

In any large organization, you will have some percentage of individuals who will, at one time or another, act unprofessionally in some capacity (gawking over intercepted photographs) or will break the law and regulations to satisfy some personal need. It's unfortunate. The numbers we're talking about don't make these red flags for widespread corruption. Not even close.

Yes people, the government made this massive intelligence gathering tool, which one lone sysadmin was able to unnaccountably slurp data from and release it to the world, but at the same time, nobody ever used it for insider trading. Riiiiigght....

No one has been stupid enough to do so yet, it appears. Nor is there any indication that it would be easy to do and avoid detection.

In fact, quite frankly, I suspect strongly that it would be an extremely unwise move.

Nick PSeptember 7, 2014 11:00 PM

@ Thoth

The best way to delete a disk is to encrypt it with strong methods and loose the key. If the physical disk must be destroyed, then you can use homemade thermite on the platter (among other things) and any chip with memory on it. Then, toss the pieces in various trash or ocean spots. This has been my scheme for almost a decade without any strong risk of failure.

IncredulousSeptember 7, 2014 11:27 PM

@Skeptical

You said: The US hasn't been arming or training ISIL. I say: You haven't seen the picture of McCain posing with their leaders? They were our "allies" against Assad.

Re your characterization of ISILs leaders: Sounds like wishful thinking.

I said: The United States is the world's largest supporter and weapons provider to terrorists today.

You said: This is ludicrous. It is completely false.

I say: Well, now that I have your word...

I'm sure you believe what you are saying is true in some overly literal interpretation of my statement.

But we ARE the biggest promoter of terrorism. Without our military incursions and interference in the sovereign affairs of other countries, international terrorism would die out from lack of fuel. Not that dissidents and revolutionaries would disappear, but they would be engaged with their own countries.

Interfering in everybody's affairs -- basically just because you can -- and with a poor track record in doing anything but spawning death and destruction and death squads and torture and people being dropped off helicopters into the
delta -- rightfully pisses people off.

And when was the last time that it really gave us the result we claimed we wanted? It wasn't how the Cold War was won. Diplomacy and having faith that the systems we say suck will actually be as bad as we say they are and will fail of themselves: That works. If something is so bad people will figure that out. Bashing people on the head just slows that realization down because we become the bad guys and our opponents gain legitimacy.

You said: "left weapons around Iraq"? I'm not sure what you're talking about. You mean weapons provided to Iraqi military and security forces, which were captured by ISIL?

I say: Yes, leaving weapons all over an unstable country with an unstable government, a country on the brink of civil war, whether or not the weapons are initially in the hands of people who initially appear friendly, IS effectively leaving weapons all over Iraq. Was their capture by unfriendly forces so inconceivable?

ThothSeptember 8, 2014 12:05 AM

@Nick P
I am not sure if thermite is feasible in my setup as we dont have much free space to use it in confined corners of apartment flats (usual housing methods locally) without attracting unwanted attention. I guess the reduced version would be to encrypt the disk, lose the keys, smash the disk with a hammer (most feasible in an apartment flat setup) and then scatter smashed pieces in different public bins properly. As for keys, probably password derived keys since the keys exist in the memory of the user. Tossing electronic products into nature might violate environmental laws (we have harsh environmental penalties here and have wardens on patrol).

WinterSeptember 8, 2014 12:55 AM

@Thoth
"I am not sure if thermite is feasible in my setup as we dont have much free space to use it in confined corners of apartment flats (usual housing methods locally) without attracting unwanted attention."

Maybe you can use a pottery oven (kiln)? That would reduce the hassle.

At ~1000 Celsius, I doubt that much useful data can be extracted afterward. I am not sure about the fumes. Maybe you could encase the drive in clay before you put it in the oven?

MrCSeptember 8, 2014 12:57 AM

@ Thoth:

Long ago someone told me: Dismantle it with a screwdriver, take out the platter, and burn it down to ashes.

I guess you could also chop up the platter with a kitchen knife and scatter the pieces. Maybe running some strong magnets directly across the platter surface would suffice, but you should probably physically destroy it just to be safe.

As for any chips where memory might be lurking: First, I'd wager their capacity is far too small to matter if you've encrypted the disk. Second, if you want to destroy them too anyway, I dunno... maybe desolder them and short a car battery across the pins? (I just made that up on the spot, and I'm sure there's an easier way, but you have to admit that it sounds pretty fun.)

FigureitoutSeptember 8, 2014 12:59 AM

Nick P
--Hmm...so it was just a specific area of the disk that failed, not something like w/ me where the entire SATA controller failed on the computer (I'm still too scared to plug in the drive to other computers, as I'm 90% sure a nasty infection resides there. Could use a SATA-USB connector and put up a Raspi to wipe the drive). So no more HDD's can connect to that motherboard, the HDD remains usable *I believe* but I don't have a machine ready to sacrifice and find out yet.

Well hopefully, if it was an attacker, they got a bunch of crap.

And you probably wouldn't even want to chill at the bonfire w/ a HDD in it, probably doesn't smell too good. I really cringe seeing more smashed drives being sent to the landfill instead of being used to their real death. Yet, one time a younger me and some buddies threw a bunch of unopened coke cans in a fire and they explode nicely lol. Now though any bonfire I have I can't help thinking, "Look at all this wasted energy just burning up!" At least cook something.

Thoth
--Thermite isn't something I'm trying to play w/ either. Even as some posters here in the past mentioned having a thermite system rigged for a string pull and burn everything in its path. You need an outside shed for that or if you don't care about burning a hole in your house. I say your method of encrypt, lose keys, and smash is very sufficient. I personally like a wipe-encrypt-wipe combo and relegate the drive to experimenting w/ new OS'es until death.

I don't really buy that a recovery is possible in some of these scenarios, it would be not even close to worth the cost if possible.

WinterSeptember 8, 2014 1:02 AM

@Skeptical
"These are limited cases of irresponsible and unprofessional behavior. Neither the handful of instances in which analysts abused their powers to eavesdrop on individuals for purposes other than the collection of foreign intelligence, nor Snowden's anecdote about a group of guys gawking at a photograph, are red flags for serious corruption. "

Except that these anecdotes were also verified with phone tapping, but then about conversations between spouses and lovers.

It is not the fact that it has happened once or twice, but the fact that there was no policy of oversight for abuses. The NSA is still not able to determine which documents Snowden took with him. In the same way, the NSA has always been unable to check what their operatives were doing.

You are not a skeptic, you are in denial.

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 8, 2014 1:07 AM

@ Thoth

A long time ago I read that overwriting data should be done at least 7 times because of magnetic memory. A method is to to create a script that allows you to open all files and then rewrite these 7 times with only zero (and flush each time) for the size of the file. And after that you reformat the drive. This obviously doesn't work with a copy-on-write FS such as ZFS where every new write is only appended. So my answer would be to reformat the drive a couple of times.

OR you buy a very powerful small magnet. You open the hard drive and use the magnet. Be careful with these magnets btw, I am not kidding.

For CD's and memory chips, just shred them. A dremel, drill or a the hot tip of a glue pistol would do. If you want break them in half, wrap them in a dish towel first or wear protective eye glasses. They break nasty.

FigureitoutSeptember 8, 2014 1:23 AM

Gerard van Vooren
Be careful with these magnets btw, I am not kidding.
--I recall some NASA test facility (can't find link, been a year or so), where this magnetic system they had set up (some extreme configuration of magnets that resulted in such a powerful magnetic field) was so strong, it could pull cavity fillings out of your teeth...

Even the smaller neodymium magnets, they could still pinch your fingers pretty good (tried it). The bigger ones, could smash fingers.

SkepticalSeptember 8, 2014 1:29 AM

@Incredulous You said: The US hasn't been arming or training ISIL. I say: You haven't seen the picture of McCain posing with their leaders? They were our "allies" against Assad.

The US distributed aid via an umbrella group of sorts (mostly run by Syrian exiles in Turkey - and you can imagine what that did for their credibility), which was to direct that aid towards the more "moderate" (I use that label in a highly relative sense) rebel groups - and most explicitly NOT the hardcore Islamists, such as ISIL.

Because of US skepticism as to the viability of acceptably moderate Syrian rebel factions, US aid was quite limited. Some say that current events show the truth of that prediction; others say that current events show that the US should have poured aid to "moderate" factions earlier and in greater amounts.

The real danger that sophisticated lethal arms would wind up in the hands of people like ISIL was a prime reason that the US probably did not provide that level of aid to any of the groups at all.

In any case, as to whether the US armed - much less trained - ISIL, the answer is an emphatic no.

ISIL is a derivative of AQI, a group that the US fought a brutal counterinsurgency against in the Anbar province, and elsewhere, eventually winning (though the surviving AQI elements became bolder as soon as US troops withdrew). Under the leadership of Maliki, all of the hard fought gains of the Awakening were lost. It's truly a travesty.

With that background, you can understand why any claim that the US trained ISIL should be dismissed as false unless there is overwhelming evidence.

Re your characterization of ISILs leaders: Sounds like wishful thinking.

Yes and no. It's always hard to gauge fanatical leaders, and it's especially hard to read organizational politics knowing so little about the players involved. I gave a number of hypotheses. One of them may be close, or all of them may be wrong.

But we ARE the biggest promoter of terrorism. Without our military incursions and interference in the sovereign affairs of other countries, international terrorism would die out from lack of fuel. Not that dissidents and revolutionaries would disappear, but they would be engaged with their own countries.

Let's say we take your advice.

Tomorrow, the President announces the unilateral, full withdrawal of all US forces from overseas bases.

Do you think that the Middle East becomes more, or less, stable?

How about East Asia?

How about Eastern Europe?

The US can't withdraw from the world. And unfortunately, sometimes our interests in stability, in governance, in growth, and even sometimes in rights, will conflict with the goals of extremist groups that fester and erupt in lawless areas of the earth. These need to be contained, where necessary, so that they don't cause greater regional, or even international, problems.

Interfering in everybody's affairs -- basically just because you can -- and with a poor track record in doing anything but spawning death and destruction and death squads and torture and people being dropped off helicopters into the
delta -- rightfully pisses people off.

Except that's not the full track record.

Compare South and North Korea. South Korea is pretty happy that the US is interfering there - in fact last year they urged the US to delay, for a few more years, handing off control of the South Korean military.

The Kurds are quite happy that we're interfering.

Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq, are all quite happy that we're interfering.

Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, the DRC, and more, are all quite happy that we're interfering.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, are all quite happy that we're interfering.

Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, are all quite happy that we're interfering.

During the Cold War the US made its share of mistakes, and did business with some pretty bad people. No question.

But overall, US involvement in the world is a strikingly positive benefit for free and democratic nations.

As to pissing people off... you're analyzing ISIL, and similar groups, with far too great an emphasis on the US. For ISIL, it's not about the US - it's about defeating its peer competitors and establishing power. For al Qaeda Central, it was about dissuading the US from supporting governments like that of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, believing that without such support al Qaeda could then successfully attack.

The US is just a means to an end for those groups, nothing more. Anti-americanism isn't the driving force - you have to take the ideology of those groups seriously to understand them, and it involves a lot more than hatred of America.

And when was the last time that it really gave us the result we claimed we wanted? It wasn't how the Cold War was won. Diplomacy and having faith that the systems we say suck will actually be as bad as we say they are and will fail of themselves: That works. If something is so bad people will figure that out. Bashing people on the head just slows that realization down because we become the bad guys and our opponents gain legitimacy.

You forget that throughout the Cold War the US had to be willing not just to bash people on the head, but to end civilization itself if necessary.

I say: Yes, leaving weapons all over an unstable country with an unstable government, a country on the brink of civil war, whether or not the weapons are initially in the hands of people who initially appear friendly, IS effectively leaving weapons all over Iraq. Was their capture by unfriendly forces so inconceivable?

We were building their military and security forces to prevent them from becoming unstable again. Our exit was, judged by that objective alone, premature. Arguably though, the exit was justified by the costs of remaining and the urgency of interests elsewhere in the world.

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 8, 2014 1:36 AM

@ Figureitout

Yes, I mean these magnets. Put one of them on each side of your wrist and then gently pull them to the side. Ouch!

ThothSeptember 8, 2014 1:41 AM

------

-- Goal --
The main thing is we are living in very close proximity and the destruction of sensitive mats must be convenient and not disturbing, alarming or detected. It must happen as quickly as possible due to close proximity (people can just break your window and jump in - no kidding).

Searching for techniques in challenging environments could proof useful for anyone working in the similar conditions.

-----

-----

-- Images --
Here are some Google Images on the environment of housing estate apartments in Singapore.

Corridors:
http://www.h88.com.sg/images/content/guides/hdb/corridor.JPG
http://mendecor.blogspot.sg/2011/04/gardening-in-hdb-flats.html

Houses:
http://helmihakim.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/hdb.gif
http://therealsingapore.com/sites/default/files/field/image/income-ceiling_HDB-flats_14.jpg

Living Room:
http://propertyfreedom.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Marine-Parade-HDB-for-sale.jpg

I would be interested in finding a proper place to use pyrotechnic equipments without triggering the police, emergency services, neighbours or my parents. The images above are houses belonging to the upper middle class so they look abit nicer.

-----

-----

-- Common Spying Techniques --
* Hide or use the next door apartment or the apartment opposite and install lookouts.
* Employ agents to stake out by walking about the corridor as cleaners or passerby.
* Main door lock picking by authorized covert personnel.
* Vehicle carpark stakeouts.
* Public switch interception (public switches are not locked :) ).
* Window way entry (force or pick window lock).

-----

-----

-- Environmental Layout in Apartment Flat --
* Front metal gate with iron padlock.
* Secondary heavy wooden front gate behind front metal gate as second line of defense.
* Glass window with(out) iron grills and lightly protected with easy to pick locks.
* Kitchen window usually has no grills as it's a high rise flat.
* Garden ... non-existent unless you count the corridor as a garden.
* Public corridor.
* Close proximity with neighbouring unit. One high rise flat can house about 70 families and each flat is about 20 meters from each other.
* 1 living room, 1, 2 or 3 bedroom(s), 1 kitchen acting as dining room.

-----

ThothSeptember 8, 2014 1:47 AM

@Gerard van Vooren
Breaking devices in towels would be a good idea. I would replace the towel with tonnes of old newspapers. It is easily available.

Anything of industrial grade is not going to be easily available in this urban city. I wouldn't be able to find any strong magnets lying around easily available as these are rarely sold here in your neighbouring craft shop. The craft and wares shop here are at best ... not very well stocked with anything industrial.

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 8, 2014 3:13 AM

@ Thoth

I think for the harddisk I would just remove the cover and then smash the platters with a hammer and chisel, again maybe covering it with a dish towel (for noise reduction). After that dispose it, but wipe your fingerprints.

The problem with encryption/formatting is that it takes forever.

T!MSeptember 8, 2014 4:05 AM

@SoWhatDidYouExpect?

You could see this through the outsourcing-strategy, too. Change robot into external staff and you get the same problems, because the know-how of your internal staff was given to the external staff before the internal staff has been kicked out of the front door. All this in the hope to save money and reduce risks of cases of the disease, pregnancy, labour time, and so on. Today it seems to be more faithful to managers to read in the service level agreement "we do all you want, anytime you want and cheaper than any internal staff...." knowing that they only walk aside you exactly as long as you paid for and no more step. As internal staff you can say and do what you want and if you get a burnout they argue, that you were not strong enough for the job and blend out, that they lower constantly the internal staff and raise the work the same time to get higher profit (from my persprective the most profit is spent for external staff and nothing to support the internal people who have left to manage their work without getting burned-out).

This blog is about security, right?

What about the criminal potential created by treating internal staff that way? If you give programers the feeling of disrespect some of them could program small time-bombs into the code and in combination with lax testing, lax formality and shrinking personel for testing, the risks get higher.

And what is with the external staff protecting the office entrances, if you press the last possible coins of savings out of the agreement so they get less money but need the job. For a few bucks in the hand some of them would let any "service technican" into your server room to install his devices or to install devices into the companies boss office.

Years ago, when I wanted to drive by car to a new place I took a map and worked out the best route. Since a few years I use a navi device on my front window to do this and mostly I take a look into google maps before to see additional information just to have them in mind, if the device would get out of order. To not to become completely dependant of this device, I memorise the route the navi shows me to drive the next time to this place by my own (with the navi for plan b).

AnuraSeptember 8, 2014 4:46 AM

@Gerard van Vooren

If you encrypt the drive beforehand and store a salt that gets combined with the password or keyfile in one place, then you just overwrite the salt with random data to make the entire disk go from accessible to completely unrecoverable in a matter of milliseconds. Just don't store the salt on an SSD.

Wesley ParishSeptember 8, 2014 5:22 AM

Just a small comment on the last cooment of @Skeptical

He never mentions Latin America, the US stomping ground for over a century and the reason for the Monroe doctrine - which, fair to say, was toothless at the time Prez Monroe declared it: it was the British Empire that held the European empires at bay.

Now why would he not mention Latin America as one set of people who are glad for the US to interfere? Perhaps it's because they're not happy about the massive interference that took place since the days United Fruit owned Mesoamerica and the CIA overthrew an elected Chilean President and plunged Chile into the dungeons of an unelected psychopath?

You know, it's interesting that the US media and their hangers-on have had a hate-in for the recent Venezuelan political configuration, yet we never hear about Venezuelan drug-runners in the States: it's Colombian drug-runners and Mexican drug-lords who feature most prominently in the news. Colombia is one of the US' closest allies in South America; Mexico jumps when America sneezes: Venezuela laughs.

I think we can extrapolate that to Iraq, former Prime Minister Maliki, and the Islamic State. As we can extrapolate the way many former imperial possessions have failed as states from the way in which their imperial possessors developed them as political entities.

Iain MoffatSeptember 8, 2014 6:17 AM

I generally dispose of old rotating HDDs after using DBAN as follows:

1) Hit the case with a hammer enough to bend it and prevent any rotating parts from doing so - if concerned about noise you could probably bend it with a vice or clamp and some long handled pliers
2) Saw a slot in the case with a hacksaw, to open it to the air. If possible (only with aluminium platters) saw in half completely across the middle to allow disposal in different places at different times
3) Leave in a bucket of water or outdoors for as long as possible to corrode the surfaces inside - I wonder if salt would help ?
4) Dispose of it in parts as scrap (if you have to) or as domestic waste (if you can) in different places at different times

To defeat the average criminal who wants the most personal data for the least effort it is probably enough to prevent the disc from rotating again. For absolute certainty over other people's data or valuable intellectual property I think the key is to ensure that enough of the platter surface is reduced to sawdust or otherwise removed that the file system and data cannot be reconstituted in useful sized chunks.

USB sticks and memory cards are best addressed between a stone and a large hammer - it is really necessary to see the packages of the ICs break and the silicon die inside in pieces.

Paper collateral such as keys really has to be burnt - I believe there has been significant progress in reconstituting shredded paper over the last decade. I liked my all-consuming stove in my previous home-office ! I wonder if there is a chemical alternative that is legal today for those with no chimneys and smoke alarms (I remember hydrochloric acid made short work of returning a chemistry lab notebook to pulp at school ...)

Iain


Boo hoo hooSeptember 8, 2014 8:24 AM

Now, to displace intrusive thoughts of crime, skep latches onto... corruption! Corruption. Corruption corruption corruption. Corruption! Tsk tsk, A few bad apples. In truth, the overwhelming majority of NSA torture targeteers are sincere, well-meaning, and proud of their brave service, just like Jakob here,

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/spiegel-interview-with-a-91-year-old-former-auschwitz-guard-a-988127.html

Now you know what skep will be like at 90! The so-called black sites that US desk jockeys worked to fill, they too are not only torture chambers but death camps. There's a lot of forensic archeology to be done in Afghanistan and Iraq. You know who knows where the bodies are buried? Russia! Because they know how to do HUMINT.

"These need to be contained, where necessary, so that they don't cause greater regional, or even international, problems."

Criminals always have reasons. If you're a torturer, death squad targeteer, or aggressor, those lightly armed irregulars 7,000 miles away, they threatened you. If you're a child molester, that four-year-old seduced you, she sat right on your lap! Humane low-country prisons are full of people with reasons.

We can wait. There are no statutes of limitations. Times change. We'll get you scumbags yet.

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 8, 2014 9:09 AM

@ Anura

If you encrypt the drive beforehand and store a salt that gets combined with the password or keyfile in one place, then you just overwrite the salt with random data to make the entire disk go from accessible to completely unrecoverable in a matter of milliseconds. Just don't store the salt on an SSD.

Extending your suggestion a bit more:

You modify the login screen in a way that when you enter a specific password it activates a script that rewrites the salt with random values and then automatically reboots. Bonus points if it also zero's the ram before reboot.

In that case when "they" ask your password you have a choice ;-)

JacobSeptember 8, 2014 9:32 AM

@ Nick P

you had commented on some failed external USB disks, and I wanted to respond to that. However, I can't find you original post in this thread - just responses from other members to your original post.
Can you please indicate date/time of your original post?

IncredulousSeptember 8, 2014 10:07 AM

@Skeptical

It is pointless to argue with you when you just blankly deny what is known to be true. I will note that you didn't respond to my McCain comment but I suppose you will just blankly deny that too.

Blink your eyes and uncomfortable facts disappear. Frown and you turn millions of people -- just like us, who would live their lives in peace if we didn't destroy their countries, kill their families and spit on their human rights -- into subhumans beneath contempt.

As I said it is pointless to engage with you and so I am finished.

MrCSeptember 8, 2014 10:08 AM

@ Gerard and Anura:

As I understand it, the problem with overwriting a specific file (or a specific part of a specific file) is that neither the OS nor the drive firmware give any guarantee that the new data is going to the same physical spot as the old data. (In fact, write leveling on SSDs basically guarantees the opposite.) Nor do they give any guarantee that a surviving second copy of the old data wasn't generated by caching, writing leveling, defragging, etc. Overwriting the entire drive is the only way to be sure to hit overwritten-but-not-physically-gone data and incidental copies. (Note: Won't work on a SSD because you can't access the entire physical memory from the OS level.)

NovaSeptember 8, 2014 10:12 AM

@Skeptical

Despite the number of whistleblowers or leakers, depending on your vantage, none has shown serious corruption issues. The closest would be complaints filed through channels regarding TrailBlazer and ThinThread; these complaints were thoroughly investigated.

But the whistleblowers/leakers release matters of policy they believe to be illegal, or unethical. We can argue over whether they have done so, but I do not see any evidence of widespread corruption, and given the number of leaks, we would if there were such corruption.

In any large organization, you will have some percentage of individuals who will, at one time or another, act unprofessionally in some capacity (gawking over intercepted photographs) or will break the law and regulations to satisfy some personal need. It's unfortunate. The numbers we're talking about don't make these red flags for widespread corruption. Not even close.

"Yes people, the government made this massive intelligence gathering tool, which one lone sysadmin was able to unnaccountably slurp data from and release it to the world, but at the same time, nobody ever used it for insider trading. Riiiiigght...."

No one has been stupid enough to do so yet, it appears. Nor is there any indication that it would be easy to do and avoid detection.

In fact, quite frankly, I suspect strongly that it would be an extremely unwise move.


Abusing power and authority is always an unwise move. Crime is an unwise move. As it stands though there is no reason to believe there is accountability or policing. My reasons stand and they are solid reasons.

You mention "in a large organization there will always be a percentage", which is exactly what I was arguing. That percentage is too low. Very far too low. It is ludicrous.

Worse... This loveint data was released because it was asked for in the wake of Snowden. They had to give something up. What they gave up was far too low, probably even made up.

One can say there are systems and polices in place, but this does not make it so. Employees and contractors have lie detector tests. I doubt they well test for corruption on these tests. The tests are also extremely fallible: case in point, Snowden.

Snowden noted he could do about anything on anyone at his station. He noted it was routine for people to share sex data they got which they found interesting. Snowden was one person. Magnify that. So, you can see it is systematic and unreported.

Nobody was fired for that, as well.

As for whistleblowers, they would not have had access to any serious law breaking besides what is done institutionally and with rubber stamps. That sort of law breaking people keep close to their chest. This does not mean it is not massive.

Much of what is going on in these agencies the American public can not see. Of what very little we can see, we do see their leaders are making an enormous amount of money from their business dealings with sellers. In their positions as buyers.

I understand they justify these sorts of things to themselves, and technically it may not be legal. But it is every bit a stink of highly unethical impropriety. Put another way: that kind of person is a criminal. They will get what they can, while they can. They are money lovers, money motivated, and absolutely untrustworthy.

That, and on top, you see these federal agencies have wiretapped all Americans, effectively.

All the indicators are that there is widespread corruption. And that there is no one who will investigate.

No one is investigating.

In practical terms of "could they get away with it", that is a joke. Obviously, they can. How much harder is it to go from sharing nudie pics to seeing something that you can act on in the financial market? How difficult is it for someone higher up to use data stolen from firms to finance whatever they want without anyone knowing? Or to get paid off not just by say foreign intelligence, but say by organized crime? There is no enforcement.

What is it, twelve loveint cases, out of 30-40K employes, and how many contractors? Hundreds of thousands? On top of this, their data is shared across how many more agencies and organizations?

Why would anyone talk on self-profiting. They do not give a shrug about Alexander and Clapper impropriety. They close ranks is what they do. Maybe if someone is acting on their own working for cartels, organized crime, they *might* tell. If they are just "innocently" making their own money from data on overseas spying data, would they? Doubt it.

'Hey -- they are underpaid. Not fair, right? And there is no God, no heaven, no afterlife ... so if they can get away with it, good for them, right? And why would anyone bother arguing to get policing in there? Really, unfair guys. You are anti-America. '

....

Anyway, doesn't matter much to me. I can argue until I am blue in the face that America is blind & deaf in the head, their government, because their intelligence is their eyes and ears. Nothing will change.

If the intelligence catastrophe of Iraq did not bring about change, what possibly could?

The question is just: how will America bring disaster to the world considering this situation? My guess is it will have something to do about the Middle East, but it could be something else altogether.

You just don't put a blind and deaf bull in a china shop and think nothing will happen.


NovaSeptember 8, 2014 10:27 AM

@Thoth

Thoth, whatever the case, please note that it is highly dangerous for you to state such things on a forum you frequent. *I* even know someone in the government there (though everyone has to serve). Even if you were using Tor all the time, if you plan to be a regular poster it is just too easy to track a person back. (Natural language processing, befriending someone, state based analysis of ip address tied to times, leaks in trivial seeming data that lead to you, idiosyncrasies.... )

I am assuming here you are not doing anything which may hurt anyone else and it is of conscience. I work with the underground church, so have helped people in countries where what they are doing is lawful and of good conscience.

I would suggest since you are very interested to figure out how to read the raw disk programmatically. It is actually quite easy, and you can learn a lot from doing so.

JacobSeptember 8, 2014 10:36 AM

@ Nick P

Yes, I saw that response of you to Figureitout - but for the life of me I can't find your original post on that subject - to which FIO responded. Has it automagically disappeared from this thread?

Any way, If you found out that three external USB drives have corrupted (same) data, did you do the back-up onto those drives from Windows 7? if yes, the fault is not in the USB HDD, but due to a known bug in that OS.

I can elaborate if this is the case.

NovaSeptember 8, 2014 11:27 AM

@anyone
On, is the US Mostly doing good in the world, and has it set the stage for ISIL:

Iraq *was* a failure of intelligence of an unprecedented magnitude. You can further gauge the health of the US intelligence services by the Snowden & Manning leaks. I am talking here from a sheer "business" angle. They are tasked as a core part of their duties to keep secrets, but these leaks show they are failing at that. Likewise, their intelligence led the US into war in Iraq, and it was faulty intelligence. Further, it was faulty in deliver of intelligence product.

I put this simply: intelligence is the eyes and ears of a country, and the US - the most powerful nation on earth - is blind & deaf.

Another major indicator of US intelligence health is 'how they dealt with these issues after the fact'. If an organization is found with errors - like as with individuals - a key indicator of health is how they turn around and fix those errors. These indicators are all very bad for the US.

Political viewpoints... left, right, middle -- whatever. Point is security here.

The consequences of the Iraq invasion were known from the beginning, and were very easy even for laypeople to understand. Cheney himself had advised against 'going all the way' in the first Gulf War for the very same reasons: Iraq was a nation which, like most ME nations, very divided. It was held together by a strongman, Saddam Hussein. Remove that strongman and you have a serious problem because the nation is so divided.

What is happening now is by no means a mystery to anyone. One could argue it is political sabotage. The Democrats wanted to get out. The Republicans knew if you pull out disaster would follow. For the Republicans it was win-win. This was foreseeable. It is nothing like "seeing seven moves ahead in chess". It was trivially predictable.

They knew this when going in... as clearly as if they pulled the pin from a grenade - held the handle so it would not explode - and then handed it off to the Democrats. One can wonder if they were not snickering while doing so.

Morally, I think the Democrats had the right idea. Pull out and leave that mess to the Iraqis.

Point is: there are consequences to having a sick intelligence services. There are consequences to having as a business model one of conflict. You are making money from creating hell on earth, eventually you have to reap that hell. People are very right who understand this is something nations should flee from.

In another sense, the US has made a lot of crack addicts. They want more dope. Of course they would. So, technically, it may be true that they enjoy the US intervening again.

The US has been arming multiple sides in these conflicts. They are not the only nation doing this. But we do know they make enormous money from doing so. Defense contractors, weapons dealers -- these guys pay intelligence and political leaders. It is a sick system, and there is no way to stop the wheels of it.

What will happen is anyone's guess. Maybe there will be a major terrorist strike that then turns the "free" nations full blown totalitarian. The infrastructure is very well setup to allow that. This includes the moral system and politics of the people involved.

Is or has there been any good done by "free" nations? I definitely think so. Such things are hard to calculate. The freedom and lifestyle of people in first world nations is amazing. This is the way things should, and far moreso. Where there is good. But there remains much bad. And it is the bad here which is the topic, and how and where security fails.

Nations are wasting trillions on defense and intelligence they do not need. That money comes from somewhere. It comes from the people and the economy. Some defense and some intelligence is good. But nothing like what is happening. And this destabilizes these countries. It also sets up a perfect precedent for totalitarianism. The poor become more abused, policing agencies become more well armored...

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 8, 2014 12:58 PM

@ Nova

"Iraq *was* a failure of intelligence of an unprecedented magnitude."

I don't think so. They *wanted* to invade Iraq.

Hans Blix reported that there were no WMD in Iraq. And besides that, if the *only* reason they invaded Iraq was WMD, then why didn't they left right after they discovered there were no WMD?

From the information standpoint, the system worked before 9/11. G.W.Bush got informed about 9/11. He only dismissed that (which he later denied).

But Iraq was from head to toe lies. That is also why everyone says it is complicated. It was complicated because it was *made* complicated. It was a racket.

There are several documentaries about this subject.

NovaSeptember 8, 2014 2:58 PM

@Gerard van Vooren

""Iraq *was* a failure of intelligence of an unprecedented magnitude."

I don't think so. They *wanted* to invade Iraq.

Hans Blix reported that there were no WMD in Iraq. And besides that, if the *only* reason they invaded Iraq was WMD, then why didn't they left right after they discovered there were no WMD?


You are not contradicting me...

Intelligence services are not supposed to tell their "consumers" what they want to hear.

This is a major intelligence service failure.

They are supposed to give as accurate of data as they can.

Another major factor in this failure is that they did not have good intelligence on Iraq. Sure, Hans Blix could have told them. The rest of their intelligence infrastructure would have done well to have stayed home and relied on Hans Blix.

I am not even saying, "They were able to lie about it because they had such horrible intelligence". But, this is one inference a person could make.

The US is horrible at some forms of intelligence. At some other forms of intelligence they are very good. But, they really had very bad intelligence as for what was going on in Iraq. They even admitted their human intelligence, ground coverage was abysmal. And this is very evident in their actions.

The US relies on other countries and networks of informants (called "agents" -- the real agents of the CIA) for human intelligence. They have some deep cover operatives, of course, and then lighter cover. They also contract out. The problem with relying on informants and other countries is: bias.

With these informants you have all the problems cops have: everything from the fact that they are paid for their work... that they may work for adversaries.

Now a big problem with human intelligence inside Iraq is they did not have any cover agents (agent handlers) that they could use. Unlike most countries, they did not have an embassy where they could run light cover cover agents.

(Of course, maybe they had a few, I believe they may have had their agents meet them in a third country.... but a few is not nearly enough for that sort of analysis.)


So, yes, intelligence told Bush and team *what they wanted to hear*. And one reason there they were so amiable in doing this is, **they really did not know what was going on there**.

This sort of thing is why I felt that the loveint cases may have been faked. The NSA was asked for evidence by an overseer on cases of abuse, post Snowden. They had to throw them something. So they gave them a handful. And all cases where people just were bothered about their spouses or lovers. What scouts. Wow. Hundreds of thousands of workers... and twelve cases of abuse of power.

They did not know, so they made something up. (Maybe is true, who knows... but the point remains the same.)


From the information standpoint, the system worked before 9/11. G.W.Bush got informed about 9/11. He only dismissed that (which he later denied).

But Iraq was from head to toe lies. That is also why everyone says it is complicated. It was complicated because it was *made* complicated. It was a racket.

There are several documentaries about this subject.


I rely on as many sources as possible. Documentaries can be great for information, and I have seen a number on Iraq. But, political documentaries often have bias in them. I prefer paper sources on such matters.

I think this is a pretty simple argument I am making. Their intelligence sucks. They do some things well, other things they do horribly.

A lot of people say this. I don't care much about Bush in this equation. He is not a spy, he is not an analyst. It is true part of the problem is also that Presidents can be so biased and put into leadership seats entirely incompetent people with no experience.

That is another flaw.

If anybody wants to argue, though, that intelligence ***should*** tell their consumers just what they want to hear: then with this, I disagree heartily. If anybody wants to argue that the US had good "on the ground" intelligence on Iraq before the war? This, also, I disagree with.


911 is a different matter. They did drop the ball there, as well. You are correct, they were warned about an attack before it happened, however.

911 is actually *less* of an intelligence failure then Iraq. This statement could be controversial for some. But they are both way up there.

Put the two together, it paints an even nastier picture.

I think, though, 911 was more, "what could we do better". Al Qaeda was slick in their operation there. That was original. Their terrorists operated very intelligently and professional. I can understand something like that slipping by.

But, going to war based on intelligence which was known to be crap? Bending intelligence to suit such an aim? This is very difficult to discern between sheer insanity and such actions.


NovaSeptember 8, 2014 3:20 PM

@Gerard van Vooren

BTW, as an afterthought: I am just a security researcher. I like to read non-fiction. Never worked for US agencies. I am going from books from people who have worked there, and from interviews. Not even my primary subject, but I do take sourcing and information collection seriously. I use this to find security bugs, create security products, predict attack trends, make attack probability likeliness, etc.

I can feel the same way about bad journalism.

In some ways, I do have my own bar lowered here. I am not providing sources because I have kept the material to what is publicly available and I expect everyone to have come across. I am not writing a book on the subject, and there are plenty more qualified then my own self. Buyer be ware.

A problem with analyzing intelligence agencies is, of course, disinformation. For all I know the US systematically has presented a picture of their intelligence agencies through memoirs and anonymous and named interviews as incompetent to aid their business. But, considering the forum, I do trust everyone considers such factors.

SkepticalSeptember 8, 2014 5:41 PM


@Incredulous: It is pointless to argue with you when you just blankly deny what is known to be true. I will note that you didn't respond to my McCain comment but I suppose you will just blankly deny that too.

You claimed that the US had funded and trained ISIL, and that McCain posed for photographs with ISIL leaders.

Since this indicated to me that you didn't know much about how the US did provide funding to Syrian rebel groups, I tried to explain how it worked.

As to McCain, he was given a brief tour by the head of the FSA (remember the umbrella group I was telling you about?) during which he did a meet and greet with 6-12 members from different rebel groups - NOT ISIL.

The entire reason for McCain's trip was to put pressure on President Obama to provide more aid for Syrian rebel groups. The President was reluctant, and continued to be reluctant, because in part of the fear that any weapons provided to so-called "moderate" rebel groups would fall into the hands of more extreme rebel groups, like ISIL. Even given McCain's trip, the US didn't begin providing lethal aid until many months later - and then in limited form to specific groups.

To further show how absurd the notion is that the US was funding and training ISIL, I pointed out that they are a descendent of al Qaeda in Iraq, who is not on the US holiday card mailing list.

Those are the facts.

If you wish to continue in the delusion that the US funded and trained ISIL, that's your right.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 8, 2014 6:18 PM

@ Thoth,

Your problem has three aspects,

1, The data.
2, The hardware.
3, The "glue" between the two.

It should go without saying but the data should always be encrypted, and at all levels. That is each successive container should be encrypted.

Dealing with the hardware is a more interesting problem it has several asspects to do with drive mechanics and the associated electronics. They need seperate solutions to be totaly effective unless you want to do it the dangerous way with thermite or a bucket of hydrofluric acid etc.

Then there is the real problem of the OS, drivers, file systems etc.

You also need to consider time into your solutions. Nick P, and myself have in the past had discussions as to how to use thermite in a relativly safe way to rapidly destroy disks and electronics built into a safe. Whilst thermite it's self is not an explosive and should not if properly made produce poisonous gas the same cannot be said for what you use it on.

If you have a reasonable amount of time the way to deal with an HD is to take it to pieces and "Dremel" the HD platter surfaces and the chips on the PCB. This takes a couple of hours.

Providing you prepare in advance a middle road is to inject a concentrated solution of Ferric Chloride (a PCB etching solution) through one of the HD vent holes so it goes into the platter cavity. WARNING although FC eats copper off of PCBs quite nicely it reacts more strongly with aluminium, and this can be quite exothermic in nature. So much so it can in it's powdered form be mixed with thermite components, such that you can get the thermite reaction going simply by adding a small amount of water... FC is also quite a nasty stain creator, it will quite happily ruin stainless steal and all manner of materials used for making clothes, and it's also not something you want to injest, and does react in quite interesting ways with "domestic cleaning" chemicals.

Two domestic cleaning materials that are used for cleaning blocked plug holes, toilets and drains, these are Caustic Soda and hydroclohric acid. Both of these will quite happily attack the drive platters and aluminium casing etc of a hard drive. They have the advantage of being "non suspicious" items to buy, if you say you have a blocked toilet. Again use with care as they are both quite corrosive.

I won't go into the likes of rolling your own file system as it's too lengthy for a blog post, but it's something you should think about looking into. Linux and other *nixs tend to be easier platforms to do this with than MS and you can find lots of software on the Internet to examine ranging from simple 12 bit FAT through to quite complex journaling file systems. I would look at modifing FAT such that you can add encryption at the various container levels for the data and metadata.

If your skills are upto it, you might also consider building your own "Inline Media Encryptor" to do your HD crypto, Nick P has mentioned in the past one or two ways to do this, and with a little thought it's not to difficult to see how to do it.

Likewise the storage and handeling of KeyMat along with various anti-duress features is a subject to long for a single blog post, but if you look back over this blog you will see it has been discussed in the past.

My usual advice to people who might be subject to surveillance by their business competitors or national level agencies is control of data in electronic format is a very very hard issue especially when you include off site backups etc. Thus consider older well proved methods before leaping into electronic systems for storing sensitive information.

SkepticalSeptember 8, 2014 7:29 PM


Re: the Iraq and intelligence discussion

Three very different issues are being confused.

(1) The WMD Analysis

(2) The Decision to Invade Iraq

(3) The Mistakes During the Occupation of Iraq

Though related, they're also quite distinct (1 and 3 are more distinct than 1 and 2), especially if one is going to use any of them to assess the performance of the Intelligence Community (obviously (1) should be, and has been, the subject of multiple, in-depth assessments).

NovaSeptember 8, 2014 7:50 PM

@AnonLurker

[Post-mortem on psychiatric study where students obeyed orders to give others electric shock discovers that it was not mere banality and order following that inspired them, but a cause. According to a careful study of the comment cards by the participants. The cause Milgram sold them on? You are doing it for science!]

Interesting response to the Milgram study, which, I have seen very often taken as the biblical word though it is just one study. Rarely contrasting with anyone else's work, at all.

This finding makes me feel much more confident about that study. I think that this error shows just how bad sometimes science can get, people relying on a singular study, and the conclusions effectively being off.

It rings true. The Nazis did not just blindly obey with no other motive. They loved their little suits and getups. Made my a major fashion designer. They loved the respect they got. They loved the power, the authority. Does not matter if they were just pencil pushers. Look at 'House of Cards'.

And, you are correct, you see the exact same thing happening in a lot of "free" countries today... where military becomes "patriotism" and "patriotism" really becomes a religion. To dare offer criticism is to speak blasphemous things, to be a heretic -- worthy of a burning! Truth becomes meaningless, 1+1 = 3 if they so deign it.

Who can make war with the beast, the people gasp in shock and awe and praise...


Nick PSeptember 8, 2014 7:54 PM

@ Jacob

I think the original post was in another thread and Figureitout just responded to it in this thread as it's the active Squid thread.

"Any way, If you found out that three external USB drives have corrupted (same) data, did you do the back-up onto those drives from Windows 7? if yes, the fault is not in the USB HDD, but due to a known bug in that OS."

One failed due to something on a Linux box, but all of them touched a Vista box at one point. Might share the flaw as Win7 is just a polished up Vista. I'd be interested in hearing about it to prevent it happening on any future Windows boxes.

@ Clive Robinson, Thoth

It's funny you mention hydrochloric acid for data destruction as I just today received another batch of "muriatic acid" for cleaning my house's bricks. Among other things... It's such useful stuff. ;)

Note to Thoth: That it's used for cleaning toilets, pools, bricks, and even making food last longer give an alibi for having the stuff. So long as you keep doing one of those things consistently to justify buying it.

SkepticalSeptember 8, 2014 8:11 PM

@Nova: They knew this when going in... as clearly as if they pulled the pin from a grenade - held the handle so it would not explode - and then handed it off to the Democrats. One can wonder if they were not snickering while doing so.

The grenade DID explode - in 2004. And it burned for years, until then President Bush, now deeply "in the weeds" of the matter, took a gamble and gave the green light to the counterinsurgency strategy led by General Petraeus and to 5 additional brigades (the "surge"). It worked.

What President Obama inherited was a range of choices between continuing a very expensive nation-building operation that had overcome the worst but would require extensive investment to continue gains, and, at the other end of the choice spectrum, withdrawing US troops entirely. To some extent his hand may have been forced by domestic politics in Iraq, but he went with the withdrawal end of the spectrum. And, in consequence, some gains were reversed.

So the actual sequence of events doesn't fit with the narrative you propose, in which the Bush Administration went in, pulled the pin but gripped the handle, and then handed it off to the Obama Administration with a smirk.

Instead, the Bush Administration went in, smashed Iraqi Government forces in spectacular fashion, and then found themselves adrift in the aftermath. Lack of unity of command, insight, committed resources, clear objectives, and speed of action contributed to multiple failures of the post-war phase, which allowed an insurgency to explode.

This is consistent with the narrative that the Bush Administration did not expect the insurgency, and that President Bush was not adequately aware of multiple points of possible failure in the planning process. In part that's because of the extremely experienced bureaucratic warriors who composed his key advisors, each of whom jockeyed for influence and consequently, at times, obscured the President's visibility into what was actually going on in the government. And in part it's because the President should have pushed harder for better visibility.

No one wanted Iraq to explode. Wars in general are NOT good for American business, because while a few defense companies might make more money, most companies suffer from higher supply costs, more skittish consumer demand, and perhaps, in some areas, a loss of labor force - and that's why equity markets tank when the spectre of a significant conflict appears.

JacobSeptember 8, 2014 8:49 PM

@ Nick P

A few months ago I copied a 30+ GB file from WIN7 to an external USB HDD (Transcend 1GB purple drive, NTFS). I used the XXCOPY copy command utility for that. Copy exit code was good, but since this was an important back up I compared hashes. They did not match.
More tests ensued- using XXCOPY at low transfer rates, using WIN Explorer, using other copy/archiving utities - all copied without any error alerts, size matched OK but hashes were different.

Used another Transcend, called a buddy who also has a purple Transcend - same bad results. Copying from a linux box was fine though.

A quick search brought up tons of complaints on this critical issue, but Microsoft didn't care. See e.g. http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-files/corruption-in-large-file-copies-to-usb-win-7-pro/f695136f-3892-4727-8d27-189821ecc430?auth=1

Although most people reported the issue with WIN7 64bit, I used the 32bit version.
People speculated that the problem lies in the buffer handling specifics of the OS, and have reported that TeraCopy (has its own buffer handlers) manages to avert the problem. So I used the free utility AxCopySum (also self-manages the buffers) from Svante Seleborg - terrific guy from the AXCrypt fame - and no problem since then.

NovaSeptember 8, 2014 8:56 PM

@Skeptical

This is evading the point. Obviously, many different narratives can be made from the Iraq war and there were many different junctures of extraordinary intelligence failure. I was more interested in the bigger picture, but you do bring up other details where US intelligence failed.

I am not sure if you are capable of criticism of US intelligence, even in the wake of 911, Iraq, and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. It seems to me that such criticism to you is as something impossible to hold in your mind. Granted, no idea who you are, and I take you simply as someone presenting a devil's advocate viewpoint. I have no idea if you really believe your arguments or not. I rarely take people at face value.

I do think it is okay for people to admit it sucks, because it does. Though they are very good at some things. I am sure they worked their way deep in major US companies, and I am sure they are well using all that metadata of US citizens. Probably, they have made some really interesting connection maps.

No one wanted Iraq to explode. Wars in general are NOT good for American business, because while a few defense companies might make more money, most companies suffer from higher supply costs, more skittish consumer demand, and perhaps, in some areas, a loss of labor force - and that's why equity markets tank when the spectre of a significant conflict appears.


This is a highly naive viewpoint, you have to close your eyes to believe this sort of thing. Look at Clapper & Alexander and their defense contractor ties. I have never bothered to look at more public, non-elected officials and their ties. I am sure it would be a truly noxious map.

A "few" defense contractors "might" make more money? This is not how it went, at all. The business of war has been booming.

Maps of links of defense contractors to elected officials has been made. It is disturbing. I will let you do your own homework, however, as persuading people of what they should already know is not much my concern.

I do not buy that you are this naive.

I wonder what your explanation is for Obama not firing his intel heads at the Snowden disclosures....

But, no, overall, I do not think war is good for the economy. As I argued, it is actually bad for the economy. It divests the economies of essential resources that could be empowering it. It forces taxes to be raised.

There is a good reason Washington warned not to be entangled in foreign engagements.

As for officials doing what it takes to make money, that is part of it. So, you are employed by contractors, making money from them, on the board for a lot of them... and the prospect of war comes up? Obviously, they would be eager for this. So, people pleasing and prestige concerns come into these things. Then, there is the allure of power, of commanding troops, of plotting mass murders, of rampaging, of victory. Of being saluted and being honored.

So, it is much more then just money. I am not saying otherwise.

But the impropriety of the monetary connections is bad enough alone.

Nick PSeptember 8, 2014 9:13 PM

@ Jacob

Oh wow that makes a lot of sense. I used TeraCopy on WinXP to speed up copying of backups. They fixed copying speed in Vista onward to the point that I stopped using it. Due to issues with the Linux truecrypt, I at one point created new containers and moved the files using the Vista box. Although bloated, it was more reliable than my other boxes at the time. Now you're showing me that this is probably what happened to the two that went through Windows. The Linux box might have even done something similar, esp since their drivers are often partly reverse engineered.

sena kavoteSeptember 8, 2014 9:23 PM

Mathematical ways to show that some communication channel leaks information

Let's say that Alice has to communicate series of numbers in secret. But Bob intercepts every number and then uses that information to adjust his behavior in a way that can be described with a number. For every number Alice communicates, there is one optimal number that Bob could choose. We can plot those optimal numbers derived from every message by Alice, to x-axis, and the actual numbers that Bob chose, to y-axis. The closer the plotting resembles 45 degree line, the likelier it is that Bob has intercepted messages of Alice. Also, Bob may have used a safety margin to try to obscure his knowledge, but it may be non-random in a way that follows the optimal line somehow. For example, Bob may have added some constant number like 10 or 256, or chosen the nearest round number.

To increase confidence in the results, it may be possible to plot numbers sent via 2 different channels, one secure and one not so secure, to the same graph. If the points representing situations with insecure messages follow the 45 degree line more tightly i.e show higher correlation between optimal choice and actual choice, then it is clearer sign of spying than just plotting of one message type.

Using these kinds of methods could result in some great investigative journalism and history research, if the data can be collected because it is already outdated. For example, some negotiations 5 or 10 years ago...


Anti-malware system taking advantage of open source

I don't know if this is a good idea, but if this is not, the reason will enlighten us.

It is possible to make a highly complex c++ class that does something security related with the operating system, but is extremely simple to include in any source code.

Using it could be like:

#include"SecurityCheckerClass.h"

...
security_checker MyVirusBusterObject;
...
MyVirusBusterObject.run();


It does not do anything if the new run is too soon after the last. It has some mildly complex functionality to ensure that it does not get into way of normal software operation and does not collide with different instances of it in the same and in other software. It communicates with other instances by random obscure ways, for example via fake jpg files in random folders. They coordinate their actions like a swarm. Malware will have great difficulty attacking this kind of hiding antivirus system if the security_checker class is included / hidden in 10 or 100 random software.

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 8, 2014 10:50 PM

@ Clive Robinson, Nick P, Thoth

The whole idea was to disable the harddisk while "they" are knocking at/forcing the door or tap on your shoulder.

I don't know how the chemicals work in that situation. It needs to be activated in a split second, work flawlessly, and you don't want it to activate by itself when you are working with your computer in a normal situation. It just seems clumsy to me, especially with a laptop that you carry with you all the times.

FigureitoutSeptember 9, 2014 12:20 AM

Jacob
--Kind of pointless now, but this was the post Nick P started: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2014/09/security_of_pas.html#c6678042

You can follow the rest through-out the thread, pretty quick to find b/w MTG and NP.

That he kept a lot of his work and even references from previous employers on 3 drives only and highly encrypted so as to prevent recovery in case of accident says a lot about his mindset. I've become a lot more open about my work, I blog it and spread it all over; except my paid work which I can only stop so many threats there and actually get deliverables for the company. One time a fellow employee gave me a link to nice dev board for my attempt at a secure PC and HTTP-webpage was infected w/ something while HTTPS "seemed" ok. The employee printed out the HTTP-version on the company networked printer...

Me being secretive just hurts my chances of getting attention of recruiters I want to get in touch w/. And they will not ever understand why I or the few others out there are naturally cautious.

I have *suspicions* about tampering w/ testing, viral infections brought in from all over the place, of course wifi would be easy to crack for a wardriver, other employees OPSEC isn't what I'd call great, and random contractors walk in the building on regular occurences.

Securing a portion of the building (or a new location) would be fun but there needs to be something worth that effort.

RE: Win7 issues
--For my infected HDD (w/ Win7 installed), I *should* just wipe and destroy this HDD but I leave it and continue to use it as I want to be sure to get rid of another Win7 PC. If I get too many problems again w/ usability it's getting smashed. It's been completely commandeered, as in encrypted volumes resisting Windows re-install and formating (not surprised as it's weak as hell) and my entire account gets pushed into some /tmp folder. Infection happened A LONG time ago (would turn on bluetooth/wifi while on the road to an otherwise remote location), and so much activity w/ it; just been observing. Obvious keylog and exfil activity. Overall, the data received was a lot of porno and garbage as I knew the infection was beyond my ability to remove; and they can continue to "suck it".

ThothSeptember 9, 2014 12:37 AM

@Gerard van Vooren
Most of the solutions seem to be a cold disk destruction. I have not seen a hot disk destruction. At the moment the adversary taps the shoulder or breaks down the door, even if a person hits the "shred" button, it would have been too late. There are still RAM and cache data besides hard disk data in the hot zone. To add to the clumsiness of a laptop, how about a smartphone ? We accidentally unlock our phones all too often and it's highly likely we do accidentally hit some trigger.

I think the general tone I have set in this topic is mostly based on destruction of device at rest but it is good to include choices we have for destroying devices in use.

I guess if you are caught with pants down, it's game over ?

sena kavoteSeptember 9, 2014 1:45 AM

Retro printers and trust on paper

This is wild idea about increasing trust to very special paper documents: Use old printing technology connected to a modern computer, so that the tech is recognizable from the paper and really hard to forge. Something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCuU0JMCP7Q

Similar or same typing spheres were used in computer printers too.

Those machines still exist and can be bought on scrap metal prices. Maybe that IBM selectric electronics would be easiest to connect on raspberry pi GPIO pins. Digital information must be flowing somewhere in those printers, so connection would mostly be a programming challenge.

Banks and officials etc. might be interested...

Does this make sense?

sena kavoteSeptember 9, 2014 2:23 AM

Re: Alternative to this blog

Given the subject, it is proper and fitting that an alternative would be a TOR hidden service, and therefore TOR-browser is highly recommended for that, although tor-to-web services can be used.

I think torchan is suitable. By searching "torchan" on ahmia.fi, one can get this:

http://torlinkbgs6aabns.onion/

Where the torchan link can be found:

http://zw3crggtadila2sg.onion/imageboard/

I have seen this torchan site working at least a year.

This can be used for file uploads:

http://flfibej3wc3myvwv.onion/fileuploader/index.php

The address has it's own discussion forum too, but at least at the time of this writing, it has little activity.

http://flfibej3wc3myvwv.onion

I also think that sites like these could serve as torproject discussion forums better than writing on the comment sections of random blog posts in the torproject blog.

JacobSeptember 9, 2014 2:52 AM

@ Figureitout

Thanks for the OP link. I did not think about thread hopping until Nick P and you brought it up.

You know, I've been following your comments for quite some time, and I wonder if your observations regarding the things happening to you and your equipment are real or not. Since you make the observations and then you deduce the reason, with the right psycological state the logic flow can be flawed. If you can not bring in a trusted party to independenly assess your situation, I think it would be advantageous to apply the following reality check:

a. Some unknown entity either wants something from you or just wants to toy with you.
b. The operational cost to support what you observe is rather high - possibly running into 6 figures.
c. If the entity wants something that you have, it would be cheaper just to break into your house and take whatever it wants.
d. If it wants to extract a long term info flow that you either generate or privy to, are you that valuable, or work in a place that generates such valuable data (are there other people that work with you that also experience similar phenomena?)
e. If it wants to toy with you, do you really think someone would draw such a pleasure out of this that it would worth a sum of 6 figures?
Mind you, the East Germans' Zersetzung was applied only toward high value political opponents - and unless you live in N. Korea and politically active, I can hardly think of any other country today that would entertain such an idea.

sena kavoteSeptember 9, 2014 3:15 AM

Process communication graph

It would be good to have a system monitoring utility that draws a network graph of the information flows between processes and files in a running Linux. Rudimentary version of this may not need any specific software, if the connections can be listed on text files and then some mindmap software can be put to turn that text data into pictures. Any ideas how to do this? What command line programs can give the needed data?

Clive RobinsonSeptember 9, 2014 3:59 AM

@ Gerard van Vooren,

The whole idea was to disable the harddisk while "they" are knocking at/forcing the door or tap on your shoulder.

It's why I specificaly mentioned "time" requirments and safes.

If the HDs are running inside a locked safe an attacker has the option of trying to attack the physical safe or the data connection. Both of which are slow operations to carry out.

If the safe is loaded with fire bricks/putty and thermite, then it usually buys more than sufficient time as the safe will become quite warm to the touch in a few minutes due to leakage around the door seams.

Physical security is almost always about buying time against an attacker untill alternative resources can be brought to bear on them, it's why the security of safes is generaly quoted as a time function. Aside from physical resistance of objects like safes, another is disorientation with the likes of "smoke cloaks" multiple high intensity flashing lights and multiple high intensity sound sources (it's why the military etc have "flash bangs" and terrorists have "deadmans switches"). If you hunt back far enough on this blog you will see we have discussed this in the past on a number of occasions.

Whilst thermite is generaly chemicaly stable it's ignition is not always guaranteed due to degredation in chemical igniters or electrical igniter batteries. Hydrochloric acid is perhaps the most chemicaly stable of the strong acids which is why I sugested it and fairly freely available despite being a recognised precursor for amongst other things illegal drugs production. Despite being quite corrosive it's not poisonous which is a major pluss point in it's favour. It's purpose is not to disolve the whole drive, but to make the magnetic surface of the platters unusable in a reasonably short time (less than thirty mins). It's prefarable to using either "Kings water" which degrades almost as fast as quick dry paint dries or other more unhealthy chemicals containing quite unpleasant elements that are poisonous in microscopic quantaties.

As for laptops, yes they are a problem, but there are solutions to many of them have a hunt back to discussions on crossing boarders and how to protect data.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 9, 2014 4:17 AM

@ Jacob,

There are a couple of other things you need to consider in your reasoning.

The first is the disconnect between the Intel Bods and those contractors who carry out the work. It is not in the contractors interests both financialy or reputationaly to say an asigned target is clean. Thus you have a very high incentive to report back any target activity as suspicious in a way that keeps the money tap on.

Secondly is the issue of "training" new operatives. The final stages can often be to set them up against what are considered "nuisance tarkets" as this keeps the target busy and saves in training costs, which is a win-win for those doing the training.

I've mentioned in the past it's often not difficult to spot operatives undergoing home "field training" and thus you can if you were of sufficient mind mark them and or play with them (it's something the Russians used to do during the cold war which was why many operatives were known prior to even entering hostile territory).

Andrew_KSeptember 9, 2014 7:15 AM

@T!M, SoWhatDidYouExpect

I am truly irritated by the wide spread use of temporary or contract employment in otherwise security aware environments (yes, one could mention Snowden at this point). To me, it's playing russian roulette with company's secrets (the knowledge being the bullet, the person's loyality being the chance).

I like the idea of frustrated former contract employees founding their own company. They have all the knowledge. They know the big companie's weaknesses. Especially in IT, there is no need for great investments in technology. They just need to get into business...

Boo hooSeptember 9, 2014 8:34 AM

Skep loves to talk and talk and talk and talk about all the multitudinous mistakes and decisions that resulted in their crime against humanity for which by law no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification.

By law all states must search for persons alleged to have committed, or ordered to have committed these crimes, and they are doing so in a bloc of every sovereign country in the world, in treaty bodies and charter bodies and special procedures and and civil society organizations and national criminal courts. No one in the world can stop this process, by design. Skep's idols are deciding who to sacrifice even now. The wheels are turning while all the skeps talk and talk and talk but ultimately you can't talk your way out of it, Can you?

Reminds me of this,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LYL1PTrtXo

BenniSeptember 9, 2014 9:58 AM

the public prosecutor of Switzerland says that there would be no legal problems for Snowden staying in Switzerland without getting extradited. The only problem is, how to get him safely to Switzerland:

https://twitter.com/FabianEberhard/status/508509453566877697/photo/1

BND makes a full take from the entire middle east and saves email, voip, phone, internet, with metadata AND content for 7 days in Bad Aibling.

https://netzpolitik.org/2014/bundesnachrichtendienst-ueberwacht-in-kooperation-mit-der-nsa-mehr-staaten-als-bekannt/

NSA then asks BND for IP adresses, phone numbers, names or email adresses, and the BND spooks then type this into their databases.

A portrait of the state secretary who is responsible for the german secret services:
http://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article131991745/Dieser-Mann-kennt-alle-Geheimnisse-der-Bundesrepublik.html

He says that the services did not predict ISIS in Iraq. The article mentions him saying, there were no right wing terrorists in germany, at a time when these people did several murders, and even after the right wing terrorists were caught, the state secretary praised the intelligence services.


It presents some BND knowledge on Russia. In 2013, russia did a military excersise, where BND caughth them to hold secret excersises, with additionally 30.000 men. Russia jammed NATO radar stations and even fired an Iskander missile with the mockup of a nuclear warhead towards Lithuania, which went to ground shortly before the border.

Then it says that the german government wants BND cooperation with NSA and GCHQ to increase.

"just a few days before, Fritsche was in the US. He was there to discuss the work of the five eyes group. From this knowledge, germany wants to get profit. Therefore, Fritsche is working on a treaty about the cooperation. The germen services get much information, but they just have parts of the puzzle determines that what happens in the world"

Nick PSeptember 9, 2014 10:14 AM

@ Figureitout

"That he kept a lot of his work and even references from previous employers on 3 drives only and highly encrypted so as to prevent recovery in case of accident says a lot about his mindset."

It says more about my circumstances at the time than my mindset. The environment had gotten considerably worse. Anyone attempting true high assurance security or even change in the government could see themselves painted as a potential terrorist. I'm sure you know what could happen to such people. I ended all online activity related to my professional security work, did what few local consultations I could get, kept what I had on what few drives I could afford, and started posted some of my stuff here as a last chance effort to have an effect.

Politically, the situation has only gotten worse. A few extra HD's (or web services) wouldn't change my odds if the worst happened.

Nick PSeptember 9, 2014 11:06 AM

@ sena kavote

re communication graph

Google "taint tracking" and "information flow analysis." Maybe add the word process. There plenty of work, hardware and software, done in the areas in quotes. They either try to prevent malicious influence or track the effect of incoming data on other data. Someone might have done something at the process level.

re printer

I'll check the video out later. I'll only say that I agree that looking into old printers is interesting idea for anti-subversion. I posted something about that here once where I recommended creating an open source printer using 20+ year old tech to prevent patent suits. I dug for it for 10 min and couldn't find the post. Anyway, patent resistance and better inspection for anti-subversion was the main reason for old tech.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 9, 2014 11:07 AM

@ Nick P,

What you want is a "burn proof" "backup and deadmans switch" disclosure system.

There are ways to do it but I'll have to leave you to think about them, for obvious reasons.

One thing I will say is that you realy need to consider non-electronic storage, for several reasons, like it's much more tamper resistant, and that even supposed "plain text" formats like RTF have gotchas in them that do not age well.

Even the likes of PDF and PostScript are unlikely to be readable in twenty years. Idealy you need the documents etc to be stored on the likes of microfile or 16mm film stock, with an inverted list DB printed out in CSV with checksumed records format with a simple printed text file of the actual CSV spec you use. All of which can be OCRd into an up to date DB with little or no effort. Further all colour images should be stored as RGB or CMYK equivalent seperated images on black and white film stock as this appears to be the only physicaly compressed data storage format that's got better than a snowball in hells chance of making it beyond 100years and might well last very much longer if kept at or just below -18C (see what professional photographers recomend, you might also consider "fixed but not developed" if you need copy/tamper evident security).

I know I normally say "Paper Paper, Never Data" but that is for transfering data to hostile entities not longterm archiving. The simple fact is modern paper with laser printer/photocopier ink is not going to last more than five or ten years reliably without considerable and quite expensive precautions as the ink does not realy bond with the paper fibers or paper coating and simple preasure and a few changes in poluted humidity will make it stick to the piece of paper or plastic pressing against it etc... Also storing paper is bulky at the best of times.

I have been looking at 2D bar codes for storing on 16mm film stock some of which will give you upwards of 20KByte per film stock frame, but there is likely to be a format issue with some of the barcodes and the required error correction codes.

Another issue is the "stop frame" cameras used by animators are becoming a realy scarce item these days as the "digital solution" is increasingly preferred...

NovaSeptember 9, 2014 11:28 AM

@figureitout
@cc'd, Jacob, Clive Robinson, Nick P


I would gently suggest what Jacob did here was good. I am not much apprised of the situation, however. But, making lists on pros and cons is important on thinking on any matter, isn't it? You have to consider situations from many different angles to find the correct angle, don't you?

There has been some histories of intelligence and policing forces harassing citizens, though excepting in "the mirage men" situation... I am not aware of this happening to people who are not extreme in their political beliefs. (I am also here not including VIPs or intelligence personnel.)

Some good questions to get down, in a brainstorming session:
-> Who might want to hack me?
-> Why might they want to hack me?

These two questions, of course, are inter related. And in this, one should also include:

-> Where are cases like this I have heard of or read about?
-> What is the potential monetary or other value of hacking me?

Also, in such a situation: **You Need Evidence**. Evidence must drive investigations.

-> How can you gather evidence?
-> What evidence do you have already?
-> What is your gameplan for collecting and gathering evidence?
-> And, finally, careful consideration of all possibilities for attribution of that evidence.

Finally, in such a situation, you want to come up with a strong counter-surveillance strategy.

-> What is your counter-surveillance strategy? Have you studied or thought about counter-surveillance strategies? Are you aware of counter-surveillance strategies, how they work, how they do not work, and so on?

This may be the most important, and I can offer a lot of ideas, though this is online and if you are under surveillance then they would be watching this... which means your counter-surveillance strategy would have to adapt to that.

(Even if you are not under the scopes of a determined attacker, you want as flawless of a pull off of a counter surveillance strategy as possible... in order to prove to your self you are not under a determined attacker's gaze...)


NovaSeptember 9, 2014 12:04 PM

@Skeptical

Afterthought...

I have to admit your approach is a puzzle to me. I am not sure what is motivating you, nor why, so it is difficult for me to approach you with suggestions or know how to persuade you. From what I gather, you seem intent on approaching the US issue as if you are an evangelist, politician, or marketer.

I fail to see how that is helpful. Because nations *will* have problems, even serious problems. Blinding people to these problems is not helpful to the stability of those nations. Reframing everything, rewording everything... like torture becoming "enhanced interrogation", or kidnapping becoming "rendition"... is a very dangerous, slippery slope.

The danger against the stability of the United States and other "free" nations ultimately is not "out there". It is from within. It is from within the government its' self. It is not from within the people. This was also understood by the founders, and well put by them.

Considering the scope of this site, where security theater and FUD are often exposed, and strong, unbiased reasoning is used... I am simply positing that US Intelligence is deeply sick. Even if it has many strong capabilities and earnest workers, the work of the few can undermine the work of the many. This is an useful observation to make. And it effects the entire world.

Consider it from this angle: Look at what you are thinking and consider, "Have you genuinely thought out fully the *other side* of the equation? Are you looking at issues you divest your heart's belief in fully without trying to first consider all angles, and weigh all possibilities against one another?" Further, "are you willing to consider that which you have dared not consider as fully as possible?" And, accompanying that, "when you are deeply confident of a belief, is it not then considered as 'truth' to you, and it is unassailable? What, then, is the harm in considering alternatives?"

I do not know about you, but I enjoy those who give alternative viewpoints to my own, because it helps me more deeply consider my own viewpoint. But there are many times when one has a complete paradigm shift in viewpoints. I would point out, I do believe that time - for many self-styled "patriots" - is very far past due.

It is *not* patriotic to whitewash problems and dismiss the possibilities of disaster people do not want to hear. (As there are many sorts of disaster and problems people do want to hear.)

It does not matter if there is nothing one can do about it. It is good to have foreknowledge to be prepared. It is good not to be deluded. And it is good... to pray. (ref: An American Prayer)


NovaSeptember 9, 2014 12:28 PM

@Wesley Parish

'Just a small comment on the last cooment of @Skeptical...'


I think it is quite clear that Skeptical is very set in his viewpoints, and this is representative of the view of many.

I think it is self-evident that nations are generally not happy with US interventions, and they are not happy to keep them with their nations. This is difficult for Americans to consider, because they are not in the habit of considering the problems from the opposite spectrum: Would you like foreign troops in your nation? Would you like to have drones from a foreign nation in your nation? Would you like a foreign nation arresting and hassling citizens of your nation? These are all very alien considerations.

Yet this very mindset is what is required for empathy.

A major problem here is these sorts of perspectives remain largely unseen by Americans and other Westerners, or even by "free" world Easterners. Iraq and Mexico, for instance, are on the top ten list for murdering journalists.

There, are, however as well other major problems: Diversion. The US has high violent crime rates and many other internal problems. The wars are operating like some form of theater. Politics is typically funded by corporate interests on both sides of the spectrum. There is a wake of obesity and extremely high psychiatric and recreational drug use. There are also severe problems with many of the ground politics, left and right. Deep inaccuracies that undermine any legitimate accusations.

There is an extremely high number of people jailed... and the prisons systems operate as nexus points for further corruption.

I do believe one big punch in the gut a lot of people have gotten is from Obama. He came on in a platform of change, and actually made many things worse. Change & Hope. Smashed.

Finally, there has crept in a dark culture of bloodlust, of conquering, of war. Though, never even mind all of the legitimate foreign problems.


Nick PSeptember 9, 2014 12:55 PM

@ Clive Robinson

"What you want is a "burn proof" "backup and deadmans switch" disclosure system."

I have one. I've mentioned before I had insurance. It's also torture proof as even the details of its implementation I don't know. All I know is it got implemented, it's reliable, and they watch my posts here & else where. If I'm alive and free, the good designs/commentary keep flowing. If I'm not & they suspect foul play, something else starts flowing or happening.

I think the part of my method that would entertain you most is how I avoided remembering details. I noticed my Irish blood made me function very well while I'm drunk, but the one effect I couldn't kick was memory loss. So, while sober, I devised how it would be set up, encrypted, people selected, tools used, etc. I wrote all that down. Then, I implemented it slowly over a period of years. Each time I worked on details, I did so after 4-8 shots of 100 proof vodka (Tvarsky) on equipment & connections they didn't know about. I used plastic to pay so they'd have a record of the alcohol. I wrote results and what I found out in a notebooks that was hidden very well with tamper evidence. (Bought them with plastic too...) I never read them sober. Once notes I left to myself indicated it was done, I burned the notebooks, notes, and digital media in a nice bonfire party. I'm not saying everyone should work on security-critical stuff drunk, but it was the only way I could achieve torture-resistance on a budget without traveling or setting off alarms. And it was more a desperate survival move than a brilliant strategy, I'll admit.

Only thing I remember today is main data was encrypted 3-6 times, there's a threshold scheme, I took special measures to ensure they wouldn't arbitrarily release it, and the threshold keys were sent stego-style through BitTorrent packets. I did *a lot* of BitTorrent, too, so even if they mass collected every packet it would only narrow it down to tens of thousands of other users. I literally don't remember anything else about it except the nature of the data. They want to know that they just have to ask as I'd love to see them sweat and gulp a few times. Like I said, though, whoever has it won't release it except as agreed. Snowden leaks were a nice test of that commitment as it was probably tempting to let what they have go and they didn't. My methods are solid. Whatever those methods were lol...

All that said, my greatest defense is that I've been very clear here that I have no interest in going to war with TLA's or ending their SIGINT collection. Foreign intelligence collection is justifiable. It's the scale and accountability that concerns me. As I told Bruce, the solution to such problems must be political as technical one's (and their human promoters) will just be snuffed out by TLA's in various ways. They also seem to imitate tech I post on rare occasions & certainly have a use for anything I develop. All parties involved, even Five Eye's, stand to gain more by not messing with me. And, if they do mess with me, their losses will increase dramatically. They'd only hurt themselves. Incentives. ;)

Note: Patriot Act and their policy of declaring people enemy combatants is what inspired my insurance. I saw journalists criticizing Bush going on the Do Not Fly list, certain security projects going offline, and CIA disappearing suspected terrorists. Such an extraordinarily risky environment demanded extraordinary efforts at self-protection. I keep it purely self-defense, though, to ensure they don't freak out if their analysts start doing risk calculations on me.

NovaSeptember 9, 2014 4:11 PM

@Skeptical

I think, finally on this, though I will check back for responses... what is troubling to me about your posture is that you present the US as a nation which primarily does good in the world and strives for peace.


On the surface, this may appear to be the case. After all, criminals and other malcontents have plenty of "usual suspects" do they not? Russia is authoritarian, China is communist, much of the world is authoritarian and leaning strong to religious zealotry. But here are the free nations promoting, liberty, justice... and the American way. (As opposed to the Biblical verse that quote comes from 'liberty, justice, and humility'.)

Yet, while all the usual suspects are out there... America is slinking around, saying one thing, and doing something else. What is it like? Like a happy volunteer trying to help someone with a medical emergency... who ends up killing them because they have no idea of what they are doing? Or, is it more sinister? Is America operating like some kind of conscious monster, keeping up appearances, while going about and stealthily murdering nation after nation?

A surprising analogy I am sure you have never pondered. But...

- Mexico, anyone? Mexico's current very horrible problems are because of America and her drug problems. There are a wide variety of possible solutions, but America has not really tried any of them. Though, my point here is not to argue the merits of easy possibilities America *could* try. The fact is, Mexico's problems are because of America. Accidental, or not, America stands there smiling, "I am so very sorry we are causing your problem, but *some* of our people just love your drugs. Have a good day!"

- The Middle East, Muslim North Africa, and Muslim portions of Asia. Oh yeah. Who would figure. After all, look at how crazy these guys are! Problem is, while their religion is different, and I am not a believer, most Muslims are peaceful, law abiding people who have never wanted any trouble. In came America, the good ole, U S of A.

Where could one begin there or end? Everywhere America has gone, they have left a wake of disaster. Posters above point out how America came into Iraq, removed the power structure, then left. Warned supporting the Sunnis in Syria was a bad idea, they did so anyway. And lo and behold, the group that was Al Qaeda in Iraq, now ISIL, comes in and conquers much of Iraq. Now, the US continues a bombing campaign. Which worked really well in Laos and Cambodia...

Iran is a good place to start. You don't really need to mention the 53 situation, the US was there all along propping up the brutal Shah system. Oh nos. How did they miss that one? Mass torturing of the Iranian people? They didn't know! Then, they have continued since doing everything in their power to further isolate and keep Iran on the defensive.

A lot of their moves surely seem innocent enough. Like knowing that Iran was behind the bombing in Lebanon against the Marine barracks and embassy... then pulling back and not confronting them on this. (ref: Syriana. The book, not the movie. Totally different.) How could that cause problems? And we watched while Shiite forces built themselves in the preceeding years up in both Lebanon and Syria thanks to the US turning tail and running.


But these things can just go on and on and on. Some argue it is a pattern of intentional maliciousness. I think there is merit behind that, but for reasons other then what they typically think. I also believe a lot of it is simple incompetence and blindness. A continuation of a distinct pattern of making bad choices which has been vaulted as good.

Surely, the conceit of believing that by violent action one might do good, and by turning the other eye to violent action one might be doing a wise and virtuous move.

Is it best summed up by Jack Bauer's frequent, "I had no choice" mindset? Which should be countered, "You always have a choice"?

Perhaps it is simply by the conceit of simply believing one's self superior and interfering in the first place that causes these problems? There is much justification for this possibility. But, whatever the case, the US is leaving destruction and discord wherever it goes.

AlanSSeptember 9, 2014 5:50 PM

@ Skeptical

"...delving into neocons takes us a bit off the topic of ISIL..."

Really? They "furnished the grounds" and they are still doing the rounds pushing their interventionist fantasies (see today's media coverage of Cheney). The easy route for Obama will be to go all Bushie, just as he's done on the NSA.

For perspectives critical of the neocon strategy from both the left and the right see Iraq and the Neocons: The Sequel and The Rise of ISIL: Iraq and Beyond.

From the latter: "Intervention brings unintended consequences which often are unpredictable and uncontrollable.... seeking to transform another society from outside, despite significant differences in history, religion, culture, tradition, ethnicity, interest, and more—inevitably creates a large risk of failure. And such an action almost inevitably will replace one set of problems with another set of equal if not greater magnitude. Indeed, our experience in the Middle East highlights how one intervention almost always begets another and another.... little about American involvement in the Middle East suggests the necessary combination of perspicacity, nuance, competence, and humility."

NovaSeptember 9, 2014 7:36 PM

@Alan S

Again, excellent articles! Interesting to me to see I am coming to the same conclusions of a number of people, though from an entirely different direction. I have a lot of reading material to pick up.

Despite their impressive credentials and pedigree, the intellectuals among US foreign policy elites often lack common sense. They tend to see countries not as peoples and cultures and histories, but as pieces on a game board. It's hard to believe they could be so blind to the idea that invading Iraq would breed heightened nationalism, hatred for the West, and a long-term resistance struggle against military occupation.

from
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-a-palermo/iraq-and-the-neocons-the-_b_5506571.html

Which was an especially enlightening and superb article. (I did not agree with many of the conclusions of the Cato Institute paper, but do strongly agree with the underlining thesis echoed in your quote.)

For me, my opinion is not a little formed by witnessing people in my own area of specialty who do not know what they are doing... do not think it out... making problems even worse then what they were before in their attempt to "help".

Blind leading the blind.

On:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/09/09/dick-cheney-advises-house-gop-on-foreign-policy-as-some-republicans-ignore-him/

Interesting to hear of the enlightened responses of some of the younger, more libertarian minded Republicans.

Too little, too late. But good to see people trying... though it does appear from the Cheney supporters that the general base of the Republican party is going to be relying on war profiteers.

IMO, they messed with things they do not understand one too many times. Their pride has done too much damage. Now the barrel they have been kicking all along is finally on fire... and it is going to explode in their faces.


FigureitoutSeptember 9, 2014 10:40 PM

Jacob
--I'd prefer to not get into that aspect as it gets me too mad I can't think coherently. What I was wanting to see was a little pattern w/ HDD failures and suspicious activity, but nope. Not the same. Something else weird is my speakers have been disabled after a new process got added (audiodg.exe), as well as the TPM and any kind of standard crypto programs in Windows, that's been disabled since 2011. I kind of deliberately let my PC infection just keep growing and growing though when I realized I couldn't w/ confidence restore it and tack on protection (needs moar porn lol), so many processes and it would still function slightly normally; weird.

As to my psychological state, certainly damaged from actions against me, my genes, and life. I've offered for a *free* diagnosis (I don't want to pay) if a doctor wants to. I'd bet money they won't see anything wrong (on the outside...).

I've offered before to send out this USB stick that I'm very certain has spread it's infection (and I stupidly let it continue to happen) as well as my laptop as a whole. But how can I know it's going to, as you put, be "an independent trusted party"? Got any in mind? Does said party want what I've experienced coming their way? Not to mention my laptop is the 2nd fastest PC I own, I can still use it for lots of things. Just, want to be sure before I get rid of Win7 as Windows is useful to me for certain programs I need. I suppose a better test is in order and get a whole new HDD.

So I'd prefer to either give an email or you and chat "offline" online. I wouldn't advise it though as people mention attacks afterwards...

a. They want my method of ID'ing and yes they love to toy w/ me for reasons that can only be described as "vindictive pleasure" as far as I'm concerned.
b. Yes, I've racked my brain many hours at just how many resources they threw at me. Young recruits in training even. They were cool except our entire relationship was based on a lie, so they can go to hell. Keep in mind, they brought down a South American President's plane b/c they thought Snowden was on board. Just shows how far they take things.
c. No comment
d. Refer to (a). That is it, searching for anything else is a fool's errand. I'm an average person, average coding, average math, below average physics, average radio, average circuits. Just have a very unique skill which I honed w/ all the attacks against me and it was/is my main defense.
e. Yes.

As I said, please make an email to talk about this stuff more, if you want. I don't really want to though.

Nova
--Please if you would, have the decency to spell my name right if you address me; otherwise please don't talk to me.
No durr. I already did all that 5 years ago. Gameplan is to stick up my middle finger and focus on my work I find interesting in what little time I have left on the earth.

Nick P
--You speak as if you noticed a change in the environment into the "terrorist age". Your words ring too true. Guess let it all fail then; and just focus on science. That's my strategy now. Except your scientific tools could have a rootkit...

sena kavote RE: Backup sites to the blog in case of shutdown
--It's an option. Probably forget the site names a year down the road though lol.

SkepticalSeptember 9, 2014 11:20 PM

@Nova: This is a highly naive viewpoint, you have to close your eyes to believe this sort of thing. Look at Clapper & Alexander and their defense contractor ties. I have never bothered to look at more public, non-elected officials and their ties. I am sure it would be a truly noxious map.

Nova, for every one company in the defense sector that might profit from a war in the Middle East, there are thousands that will lose money. This is why nations that trade with one another tend NOT to go to war with one another: the commercial interests in such nations oppose it.

It's an understandable error. Stalin, in fact, a fervent believer in Lenin's view that capitalist nations would forever be at odds, indeed at war, had made his post-war plans with the view that Britain and the United States would quickly become blood enemies after WW2 due to the influence of capitalists who profited by war. Needless to say, he was grossly mistaken.

As for defense or intelligence officials, companies in that sector will be striving to hire them regardless of whether there is a war. The notion that officials corruptly steer the nation into war for the chance of being hired after they retire is mere fantasy.

Everywhere America has gone, they have left a wake of disaster.

Western Europe, Japan, South Korea, yes, utter disasters.

The reality is that America has a very mixed record when it comes to particular foreign policy actions. Some turned out very well - the Marshall Plan, NATO, the reconstruction of Japan after WW2, the defense of South Korea, intervention in the Balkans, and others. Some turned out very poorly - the Vietnam War, the Iraq War.

But pretending that it's all one or the other is simply ridiculous.

Posters above point out how America came into Iraq, removed the power structure, then left.

The Iraq War was certainly a mistake, but it's equally a mistake to believe that the US simply went into Iraq, removed the power structure, and left. You managed to forget about the years between 2003, when the US invaded, and 2011, when the US left.

Warned supporting the Sunnis in Syria was a bad idea, they did so anyway.

I'm not sure which is more mistaken here: the idea that there is unity among Sunnis in Syria (when in fact there are a large number of splintered, and internally warring, rebel groups) or the idea that the US provided great support to any of them (it did not, and it's now debated whether the US erred in not providing more support to certain groups).

And lo and behold, the group that was Al Qaeda in Iraq, now ISIL, comes in and conquers much of Iraq. Now, the US continues a bombing campaign. Which worked really well in Laos and Cambodia...

It's a good analogy, except for the differences in terrain, forces, technology, societies, and context.

Extraordinary generalizations like those you're attempting require getting the underlying facts right. And facts are stubborn things.

@AlanS: Really? They "furnished the grounds" and they are still doing the rounds pushing their interventionist fantasies (see today's media coverage of Cheney). The easy route for Obama will be to go all Bushie, just as he's done on the NSA.

You're confusing the democratization-as-cakewalk fantasies of neoconservatives with Obama's objective of killing an organization. They're very different. The strategy to destroy ISIL will have much in common with that to destroy al-Shabaab, AQAP, and other groups. It has very little in common with the dreams of neoconservatives for Iraq.

CatMatSeptember 9, 2014 11:58 PM

“Hello, NSA” – Intel’s New Mobile Chips Are Always Listening

Can someone tell me why this is supposed to be a good idea?

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 10, 2014 2:17 AM

@ Skeptical

"Extraordinary generalizations like those you're attempting require getting the underlying facts right. And facts are stubborn things."

Fact is that *almost* every war the US started after WW2 was based on lies. According to general Smedley D. Butler the US did this even from 1900 on [1]. And in the process making military industrialists a lot richer and increasing national dept exponentially.

Just look at the US national dept [2] and military spending [3] throughout the years. Hint: Reagan, Bush sr/jr and Obama didn't do very well. Nixon, Carter and Clinton did very well.

Also look that it took 30 years to deal with the spendings of WW2. Then "Wall Street Ronnie" came and messed it up. (think about the incredible expensive B-1, F-117 and Star Wars projects and the war on drugs)

[1] https://archive.org/stream/WarIsARacket#page/n0/mode/2up
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_of_the_United_States
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States#mediaviewer/File:PerCapitaInflationAdjustedDefenseSpending.PNG

sena kavoteSeptember 10, 2014 2:21 AM

Off-line databases as a method for avoiding metadata collection

Depending on situation, it may be better to get huge databases (in consumer scale) of web sites, rather than browse those web sites via TOR. Maybe the biggest and most important example is Wikipedia and one system that enables it's off-line viewing, Kiwix:

http://www.kiwix.org/wiki/Main_Page

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiwix

Over 40 Gigabyte bittorrent download has small pictures that usually are large enough for understanding. It works at least with Windows, Debian Linux and Ubuntu Linux. I did not get it to work with OpenSUSE, at least not with just small trying. Privacy and security is just one reason to use Kiwix and other off-line databases. It is also faster, internet is not everywhere and wikipedia servers are sometimes off-line. Wikipedia may also be censored somewhere or become censored.

Why is it so that makers of memory sticks and external hard drives are not disseminating that kind of huge databases with their media?

Other examples besides Kiwix could be: open street map, NASA and ESA databases of space missions, declassified old spy satellite and U2 photos, movies like Charlie Chaplin's modern times and reefer madness...

It may be possible to automatically and recursively download sites with web scrapers like httrack or wget, but CAPTCHA may be thrown...

Andrew_KSeptember 10, 2014 2:52 AM

@Nova
Regarding the obeyism in the nazi time, I think they did a very clever trick. Their elite force, the SS, was given the motto "Meine Ehre heisst Treue" ("my honor is loyalty"). In the prussian society, there were only very few things more precious to a man than his honor. Thus, a man disobeying an order was not only a man with questionable loyalty (which might have been ok) but also an honorless man (which was a no-go).
This probably worked its way through society, ending in 10 year old boys proudly serving at "Volkssturm" (home guard), thinking they defend what was left of their families.

Without comparing the both of them, the marine corps does a similar clever thing. You don't serve at the marines. You are a marine. Being a marine is not a job, it's a (way of) live.

It's the two sides of esprit de corps. It can be a rich and enlightening experience when strangers become close as family. But it can also lead to complete desaster when no one has both the reputation and the balls needed to stop them if they're wrong.

My two cents from everyday life without scientific evidence: Milgram works. Take ten people in a room. Hand half of them visible markers (let's say, a button). Just of that, there will probably be two groups. Which of them is dominating depends probably on the persons in the groups. Even if you change the number of buttons, the dicision whether buttons are elite-markers or victim-markers depends largely on the persons.
Now, change the marker to something with a semantic of its own (but still no evicent power). Say, a known symbol (sherrif's star, military emblem -- or something connected to a convicted criminal). Make it a sign of authority, and you have Milgram. He had a very complex sign: A whole lab. People obeyed because he could use it as his marker for being authoritaty and credibility. It's social engineering.

I'd love to do a simple experiment on this: Stand on the street and command pedestrians to slap each other. I would do it a) wearing average clothing for that street, b) wearing a fine suit, c) wearing a "scientific uniform" (whatever that may be), d) wearing a soldier's uniform, e) wearing a police officer's uniform. For obvious reasons, I haven't done that experiment yet.

@Nick P
I really like the idea of how you made your system torture proof by inducing retrograde amnesia. Only drawback is that you must not have made any mistake while planning. Uncorrelated: Torture is used not only to gather information from a suspect but also to change the tortured person's behavior (there has been significant research on torture an behavior modification in German Democratic Republic which is unfortunately not publicly available).

JacobSeptember 10, 2014 3:37 AM

@ Figureitout

Here is an idea:
(Note: you don't need to comment on this - consider this as a one-way suggestion - will add another layer of uncertainty re your plans)

1. Buy a new cheap computer anonymously (cash and carry at a random store). Alternatively, ask a friend face-to-face to buy one for you on-line and reimburse him when you pick it up from his place.
2. If it comes with a OS - do not add anything to it. Otherwise, install your favorite OS.
3. From a friend house contact 2 separate commercial outfits, located in foreign countries, which provide services for continous penetration testing, deep inspection and remote health monitoring. There are many of those, some good ones.
This will cost you probably a few hundreds for a 3-months period, but considering what you go through it may be money well spent.
4. Start using the computer on-line, but without installing any utilities/programs/addons to it. Just use the programs it comes with.
5. See what the contract companies come up with after 3 months of continuous monitoring.
- If positive, then you may be either under dedicated attack or just a casual victim to hackers on the prowl. It is time to think about the next move.
- If negative, you may sleep better at nights.

AlanSSeptember 10, 2014 8:42 AM

@ Skeptical

You miss the point again. The point is that intervention, whatever the goal might be, in countries on the other side of the globe; based on a weak understanding of local history, culture and politics;  driven mostly by our own internal political issues; and without a coherent and realistic strategy is highly risky. "Destroy ISIL" isn't a strategy.  And the fact that ISIL is the product of previous 'destroy strategies' should give one pause. What's the goal? What's the strategy for getting there? Are they realistic or just more wishful thinking?

Quoted text from post above again: "...our experience in the Middle East highlights how one intervention almost always begets another and another.... little about American involvement in the Middle East suggests the necessary combination of perspicacity, nuance, competence, and humility."

BooSeptember 10, 2014 9:13 AM

"The strategy to destroy ISIL will have much in common with that to destroy al-Shabaab, AQAP, and other groups. It has very little in common with the dreams of neoconservatives for Iraq."

Oh, now I see. You're gonna grab some 70 year old lady and ride her like a donkey. You're gonna pick some poor chump, maybe pick Binyam Mohamed again, what the hell, and ship him off to get his penis slit open and hot stinging liquid poured into the slits. You're gonna stick a chemical light stick up some guy's ass and leave him there for days like a big lightning bug. You're gonna grab some random innocent American citizen, like, I don't know, Gulet Mohamed, and hood him and shackle him and beat him to a pulp while FBI agents sit around and wait for him to talk. You're gonna stage Poe's Premature Burial with some babbling moron like Abu Zubaydah. You're gonna drown some guy with doctors there to keep him at the point of death. And then, if there's any hot babes, you're gonna take em to abu Ghraib and do this.

Systematic, widespread. Crimes against humanity.

NovaSeptember 10, 2014 10:10 AM

@Figureitout

"Nova
--Please if you would, have the decency to spell my name right if you address me; otherwise please don't talk to me.
No durr. I already did all that 5 years ago. Gameplan is to stick up my middle finger and focus on my work I find interesting in what little time I have left on the earth.""

I apologize for failing to capitalize your false name... my statements were not, however, "no durr" material, I should point out. I deal with more unknown shit then John Constantine. That is a professional opinion. And that is not some procedure you do once, five years ago. You keep doing it. You rinse and repeat everytime something happens.

You get evidence, you stick to the evidence. Where you do not have explanations, it is okay to consider possible theories. But, the theories have to be evidence based, or be thrown out.

Please note: I am not even saying "nothing is happening". A guy who says "I have more unknown shit happen then John Constantine" does not say that. But, attribution is key.

I suppose, to completely change the tune here: is there anything happening which you believe is impossible?

Is there anything happening which you do not tell people about, because you are afraid they would think you are crazy?

In other words, is it just your computer? Or are other things happening? Physical things? For instance. Or psychological things?

Besides that you believe some people have treated you maliciously?

FYI, I am not saying "nothing is happening". What I am trying to get you to consider is other possibilities of what may be happening.


Nick PSeptember 10, 2014 10:27 AM

@ Nova

We've actually all had this discussion on the blog (including name spellings). Things got a bit heated, Moderator had to get involved, everyone ended it thinking exactly what they thought before, and we all agreed to just drop the topic. I advise you to do the same because (a) the discussion won't go anywhere productive and (b) we're better off staying focused on tech, tactics, policy, etc discussions this blog is well regarded for. Just saying this so things stay civil.

NovaSeptember 10, 2014 11:25 AM

@Skeptical

"It's an understandable error. Stalin, in fact, a fervent believer in Lenin's view that capitalist nations would forever be at odds, indeed at war, had made his post-war plans with the view that Britain and the United States would quickly become blood enemies after WW2 due to the influence of capitalists who profited by war. Needless to say, he was grossly mistaken.

As for defense or intelligence officials, companies in that sector will be striving to hire them regardless of whether there is a war. The notion that officials corruptly steer the nation into war for the chance of being hired after they retire is mere fantasy."

Like any crime, motive is necessary to be worked out. Taking the known examples of Clapper & Alexander, for instance, their interests are with defense contracting firms. Crime... sin. Sin is an archery term meaning "to miss the mark". Point is there is inaccuracy.

Iraq, as we have all agreed, even you, was a very missed shot. It was an action of enormous inaccuracy to begin with. We could go further here and probably agree America's dealings with Iran from 53 to 79 - and perhaps even beyond - was all full of gross, negligent inaccuracies.

There are then to questions here as in regards to these inaccuracies, or sins... or crimes. Why. What were the motives?

If you look at these people, you see a lot of possible motives. Obviously, money is one of them, and it is worth mentioning. You or I may not care so much about money, but they clearly do or they would not make so much efforts to make so much more then they could ever possibly need.

This idea that leaders of countries invariably care about their people... well, go back to Stalin on that one. He was presented that way. Uncle Joe. Did Stalin really care about his people? You are talking about people who have small, black raisin hearts. Of course they did not care about their people!

I may or may not spend more time investigating these... inaccuracies of the US. It is interesting to me. In which case, I am sure I could compile lists of how people are making money from defense contracting and weapon dealers. This is beyond the motives of such things as prestige and "power".

All day long they walk around exercising their prestige and power, getting the fruit of the honor others give them. You know they love that. They live for it. That is why they longed to be in such roles, and that is why they continue in such roles even after they have retired from them (or been fired).

I am not sure why you have such a naive viewpoint, but many do. They are fooled by the very cunning Judases out there. Of these devils... Stalin, Lenin are pretty clearly bad apples. Cheney is not very hard to spot. Rumsfeld is better at posing in the guise of good, the man has charm... but a cursory deeper look shows there is nothing deeper in him. The man is simply not there.

Basic, basic thing: errors result, try to figure out what went wrong, then try and figure out how it might have been performed differently. No one has an obligation to trust and admire blindly authority regardless of what they do and say. Not in a free country -- not in any other country.

And, FYI, Stalin was very much a warmonger, a man with a deep taste of bloodlust.


"Everywhere America has gone, they have left a wake of disaster."


Western Europe, Japan, South Korea, yes, utter disasters.

The reality is that America has a very mixed record when it comes to particular foreign policy actions. Some turned out very well - the Marshall Plan, NATO, the reconstruction of Japan after WW2, the defense of South Korea, intervention in the Balkans, and others. Some turned out very poorly - the Vietnam War, the Iraq War.

But pretending that it's all one or the other is simply ridiculous."


Words like "everywhere", "all the time", "every time" are vague words. They are generalizations except in the most rare of circumstances. I have every capacity of stating something as literally true. Everyone does.

So let us rephrase that, "America has a tendency to leave destruction in her wake wherever she goes". Is that statement less confusing to you?

That is fine, however, that this has given you a response to the positive. Japan and Germany, of course, were devastated after the war. The US did drop two nuclear weapons on Japan. They cut a deal with Stalin to give away half of Germany to the Soviet Union. They were in a difficult situation, however.

Instead of taking North Korea, they kept North Korea in a backwards, lost world of early 1950s Communism. So, the world remains on edge to this day because of North Korea.

Is America solely to be congratulated on the post war successes of South Korea, Japan, and Western Europe? Could it be you are attributing their own successes to the USA?

Whatever the case, let us backtrack a little here. I live in America. I love the music, I love the shows. For the most part, I love the people. I love the diversity. I strongly believe in the ideals of the founders... though these days I am skeptical they will ever be practiced and upheld. Probably just wait until "Kingdom Come" for Paradise.

I think there have been a great number of Americans who have striven for right ideals expressed in the founders thoughts over the years. That is between them and God.

I am not a fan of either extremist Islam nor Communism. I work for the church. I am definitely no fan of Fascism.

In almost all of these failed foreign actions, there is strong guise of doing good... and for many involved, I think they generally were attempting to do good.

What, I think best explains my viewpoint is something kind of like this...

I watched two great shows this week. Low Winter Sun & A Simple Plan. Hat tip to the brits here, Low Winter Sun was made from a Brit show. Point is it is one of the smartest
detective shows I have seen in a very long time... it showed a good homicide cop doing bad things. Very much like A Simple Plan.

I will assume you have seen A Simple Plan... but quick recap as it was in the 90s... the show is your typical "group of people find a bag of money, chaos results". What was ingenius about that show is the writer kept the people as sympathetic through it all. They made errors, bad errors. But you could still see their redeeming goodness through it all.

Same with Low Winter Sun... only the big difference was: these were homicide cops. They knew what they were doing. They knew how to cover up and commit crimes. It was their day job. It was what they did. They were street smart. In a Simple Plan, these people had no idea of what they were doing. Their plans were off base.

Long story, short: these guys leading the country are like the guys in a Simple Plan. They really have no idea of what they are doing. Some are sympathetic, they mean well. Some are not. But, they never should have been doing what they were attempting to do in the first place.

Quicker metaphor: Do not put someone who does not know how to fly a large plane behind the wheels of one. Chaos will result.

In all of these actions, I think you do have people who are very good at what they do: you have people skilled at interrogation who get results, you have people they know how to fly literal planes, you have people that know how to fight unconventional warfare... but many of the bigger picture areas, there is no expertise and you are talking about politicians. They are very good at politics. But on what they are actually tasked to do, they are horrible at.

It is like in the technical security field: no one is a master of all matters, and we are always swimming just trying to keep our head above water regardless of how experienced and results driven (or not) we may be.

This is, in fact, however **false humility** to believe otherwise. People live a very short span, a blink of an eye. Their minds complete the picture constantly -- as modern science has shown. They have vast gaps of perception. Some, like Stalin, may have read tens of thousands of books... but this does not mean they learned anything.

They have to shit, they have strong urges to procreate, they have to sleep. They have deep problems of bias. They do not have the time nor mental capacity to be the flawless people so many make them out to be. Put them in the elements, they tend to be very poor at surviving. As quick as they may master one subject, their body is already starting to break down.

Maslow's pyramid of needs does not go away just because they have become wealthy. They crave constantly, and there are addictions to praise, to prestige, to receiving honor. To illusions of power. They have a tendency to try and get far more money then they need, like obsessive collectors.

I think human beings resist looking at international events in this way because it is a very scary mindset for them to have. To consider that no one is actually behind the wheel. Like that ghost plane wreck last week... the pilots are knocked out, but the plane just keeps on flying.

Now, obviously, I do have another opinion on whether or not someone may be behind the wheel, but that is outside the realm of this forum. I just keep it as, "there are forces at work beyond their comprehension and control."


sena kavoteSeptember 10, 2014 12:13 PM

@Nick P

Reducing recall

Your description about erasing your mind memory by getting drunk is like a satirical take of "The onion" about security craziness sparked by Snowden revelations.

Interesting if alcohol works that way. I remember hearing that temporary labor with a one time government project involving corpses did their work drunk to avoid getting traumatized and to avoid remembering it.

Doing things really tired / sleep deprived has similar but weaker effect on recall. I think it might be a good idea to watch war related youtube videos with content warning, only in a very sleep deprived state. Imagine if police officers investigating child porn or NSA employees trying to get clues from jihadist videos could get really really tired or mildly drunk for that work...

To the extent that this relates to information security, rather than calling this "torture-proofing", it would be more relevant to call this "non-verbal info-flow proofing". Non verbal means appearance and pronunciation, possibly even - this is wild - some limited form of telepathy / transmission based on some yet-unknown physics and biology.


name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 10, 2014 12:18 PM

@ AlanS, @ Nova, @ Skeptical, @ et al
I have to give Skeptical kudos for being consistent, but not in a good way. Lately the substitution of tactics as strategy is of extreme concern. This is one are the U.S. fails on a regular basis, we think that solutions come at the end of barrel and not with a perspective that shares the concerns those under our thumb (that's a nice way of saying it). Much of the hegemony that we promote comes with monolithic thinking and a binary perspective of the world (We are good, you are bad). This kind of fatalistic thinking needs to be flattened, much like the view that is that of the world (the world is flat thinking).

Until we break the log jam that is the assinne hubris in our righteousness, we will continue to stumble around the world like a 800 ft tall drunken sailor.

NovaSeptember 10, 2014 12:42 PM

@Skeptical

The Iraq War was certainly a mistake, but it's equally a mistake to believe that the US simply went into Iraq, removed the power structure, and left. You managed to forget about the years between 2003, when the US invaded, and 2011, when the US left.

I'm not sure which is more mistaken here: the idea that there is unity among Sunnis in Syria (when in fact there are a large number of splintered, and internally warring, rebel groups) or the idea that the US provided great support to any of them (it did not, and it's now debated whether the US erred in not providing more support to certain groups).

"And lo and behold, the group that was Al Qaeda in Iraq, now ISIL, comes in and conquers much of Iraq. Now, the US continues a bombing campaign. Which worked really well in Laos and Cambodia..."

It's a good analogy, except for the differences in terrain, forces, technology, societies, and context.

Extraordinary generalizations like those you're attempting require getting the underlying facts right. And facts are stubborn things.


Consider that *you* may be missing the "forest for the trees". You are looking at details, that really do not matter much, they certainly do not change the essential meaning of what I am saying. You are *pretending* you are a person whom never uses generalizations, and focusing merely on the details there, too: semantics. Because you can not focus on the arguments.

I surely do not "manage to forget the years between "2003 and 2011". Nobody does, and it is absurd to posit that *anyone* does.

But you are not keeping your eyes focused: others and myself have mentioned these things time and time again -- and I do not even think you would disagree. What is the problem there? I think you are wanting to say something like "but there was good done"! This is not even a case where someone found a fly in their meal, ruining the whole thing. This is a case when the meal its' self was made from fly garbage -- but there is some real food in the details there!

So what?

None of this is "all America's fault". Obviously. This may be where you are confusing fair critics with those who simply are looking for scapegoats. Obviously, the Middle East is a genuine, deep mess. Going in there, however, did not make it any better! It just stirred it up and made it worse.

-> how much of US Aid made it to Al Qaeda in Iraq fighting in Syria, aka, now called ISIS/IS/ISIL? (According to the CT Paper you posted at the beginning of this thread.) Nobody knows. What everybody *does* know is that it is expected at least *some* did. Further, because they aided the Sunnis, this **very likely** operated as a positive benefit of **very possibly strong value** to ISIL.

You are *pretending* as if people are **literally** saying "America gave all their money to extremists in Syria". They are not. You are pretending as if you have AS and metaphors and generalizations are beyond your capacity. I think it is very clear *this is not the case*.

You are further *pretending* - losing focus, keeping your eyes on the trees, but missing the forest - that there is no precedent for this sort of damage.... but you know very well: **this is most surely not the case**.

Where is that gorilla/guerilla in the room? Al Qaeda in Afghanistan anyone? Pakistan's ISI? The Taliban?

Now, I am not a truther, and I do not think anyone really responding here is. I do not think the US intentionally decided to effectively empower Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I do not think they intentionally decided and intended to empower the corrupt Pakistani secret services. But, they effectively did do this.

We can there, also get lost in the details: Well, the Soviets were the bad guys there. The US was trying to get them stuck in their own quagmire. The US was trying to just arm the more moderate Afghani liberators. The US did not intentionally try and create the conditions for the Talibani rise of power there. And so on. But this is all very much what happened... and clearly, no lessons were learned.

-> Other gorillas in the room? How is Libya doing these days?

-> Even worse, much worse: Why, in all these decades did no one already remove Saddam? Are we blind or ignorant of this? No, I am not, and I know **you are not**. No one removed Saddam because, as bad as he was, he was keeping the country together... and he was a bulwark against Iran.

What does that mean? That means everyone refused to do this who could have - including the Bush Sr administration and the Reagan administration - because they knew if they did this the region would collapse.

There were successes between 2003 and 2011, sure. But there were also horrendous mistakes made. They effectively lobotomized and weakened the state. Alan S' paper at the Huffington Post put it well enough, and I take it bears some repeating:

The US invasion also initiated the most radical and ill-informed experiment in forced privatization that any imperial power has ever attempted. In 2004, President George W. Bush sent L. Paul Bremer III to act as a kind of Viceroy in Iraq in the guise of the head of something called the "Coalition Provisional Authority." Bremer is a blueblood corporate guy who apparently didn't have a clue about the people over which he ruled.

For a time Bremer's power was total and he didn't hesitate to use it. Soon he was issuing daily "orders" all designed in one way or another to turn Iraqi society into an Ayn Rand novel. For example, "Order Number 39" privatized Iraq's 200 state-owned enterprises; allowed for 100 percent foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses; and gave away unrestricted, tax-free remittances of all profits and other funds to foreign companies (i.e. American and British) working under 40-year ownership licenses.

Bremer's "Order Number 1," with its ostensible aim of "de-Baathifying" the Iraqi state, destroyed just about every major governmental institution left standing in Iraq. He disbanded the Iraqi Army and police, cutting off the salaries and pensions of high-ranking officers and enlisted soldiers. With one imperial stroke of his pen, Bremer swelled the ranks of the resistance against the American occupation with capable fighters, field engineers, and other security technicians.

And none of Bremer's "orders" were legal under international laws dating back to 1907 because an occupying power has no right to change the legal system of the country it is occupying.

The car bombs and IEDs that became a permanent fixture of Iraqi life mirrored the exact skill set of the Sunni technocratic class that Bremer sent packing. It has been reported that former officers of the Baath Party are directing some of the Sunni organizations that fight alongside ISIL.


But, these, too, are details. They are, however, relevant details. The picture that "the forest its' self is on fire", as opposed to, "gee, just this tree is on fire"... should not have to be made.

Should I further simply point out: 2003-2011 was not enough time, besides that they simply really did not know what they were doing? No, it was not enough time, and they did make many small and large bad decisions in those years.

Getting stuck on semantics is not helping your case.

I think that you must admit, some time or another, "okay, maybe they are very bad at what they do, whether they mean well or not... and they are very bad at correcting their mistakes".

Continuing to repeat the same error over and over again is what? Insanity.

Or there is something much darker going on.

NovaSeptember 10, 2014 12:54 PM

@Skeptical

"You're confusing the democratization-as-cakewalk fantasies of neoconservatives with Obama's objective of killing an organization. They're very different. The strategy to destroy ISIL will have much in common with that to destroy al-Shabaab, AQAP, and other groups. It has very little in common with the dreams of neoconservatives for Iraq."

I have totally agreed with you - and since come to learn this is also what the Pentagon is saying - that air bombing will not destroy ISIL.

Obama has no effective strategy on ISIL.

Look, Obama looks like a congenial guy. I think he has a lot of charm. It is great that an African American is serving as President. (And as head of the DoJ.) But Presidents are simply politicians. And they are biased by default. They have to consider their party's political considerations.

...

There is a method of analysis where people look at behavior in the following way: person does X, X causes mistake Y. That is it. Forget all the details.

Figure out, then, *why* person keeps doing mistake Y. They often will claim they are trying for accurate product Z, but they keep doing Y.

Continuing the usage of archery terms, you are training someone to shoot an apple off someone's head. But they just keep hitting the people in the head! After a certain number of times, you have to conclude, "Gee whiz, they are really horrible at hitting the apple, but oddly good at killing people."

That they deny this or express frustration that they just can't hit the apple is irrelevant.

They should not be firing the bow in the first place. And they most surely should not be trying to shoot an apple off someone's head!

NovaSeptember 10, 2014 1:02 PM

@Andrew_K

It's the two sides of esprit de corps. It can be a rich and enlightening experience when strangers become close as family. But it can also lead to complete disaster when no one has both the reputation and the balls needed to stop them if they're wrong.

(And the rest of the response.)

Interesting perspective...


I would only add here: the situation is bad all the way around. From a critical standpoint, it is hard not to feel empathy for the soldiers on the allied side. Admitting mistakes, in general, is very difficult to do. It is painful. It leaves people going, "Now what?" Or even can make them hopeless.

And you know, the Japanese, also had this kind of system.... failure for them was treated even more harshly.

Will can be celebrated as strength, but arrogance also disguises its' self as strength.

NovaSeptember 10, 2014 1:34 PM

@name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons

This is one are the U.S. fails on a regular basis, we think that solutions come at the end of barrel and not with a perspective that shares the concerns those under our thumb (that's a nice way of saying it). Much of the hegemony that we promote comes with monolithic thinking and a binary perspective of the world (We are good, you are bad). This kind of fatalistic thinking needs to be flattened, much like the view that is that of the world (the world is flat thinking).

Until we break the log jam that is the asinine hubris in our righteousness, we will continue to stumble around the world like a 800 ft tall drunken sailor.


Yes, and very well put.

SkepticalSeptember 10, 2014 5:03 PM

@AlanS: You miss the point again. The point is that intervention, whatever the goal might be, in countries on the other side of the globe; based on a weak understanding of local history, culture and politics; driven mostly by our own internal political issues; and without a coherent and realistic strategy is highly risky. "Destroy ISIL" isn't a strategy. And the fact that ISIL is the product of previous 'destroy strategies' should give one pause. What's the goal? What's the strategy for getting there? Are they realistic or just more wishful thinking?

Alan, let me emphasize: I did not say "destroy ISIL" is a strategy.

I said that the strategy to destroy ISIL will have much in common with that used to target other organizations, such as al Shabaab and AQAP.

The 30 second brief on the strategy would likely be as follows (we'll see what the President has to say in a few hours, of course, so this is my best guess):

Desired end-state: ISIL lacks (1) ability to mount significant attacks or (2) control territory.

(1) ISIL lacks ability to mount significant attacks:

This will be accomplished by depriving ISIL of effective leadership; removing their ability to efficiently communicate and coordinate; removing their ability to organize and launch attacks; removing their access to significant quantities of weapons; removing their supply sources; degrading their public image and ability to recruit; neutralizing personnel with key expertise and experience; strengthening its near competitors; strengthening those it seeks to target.

Multiple lines of effort will lead to this, but the most significant are:

US and allied direct action against key ISIL assets (leadership, personnel with key expertise, personnel with key relationships, weapons, supplies, communications, electric power sources, fortifications or shelters, stores of goods or cash, financial assets, economic assets, information assets).

US and allied support for the Kurds in Iraq and in Syria.

US and allied support for Iraqi forces.

US and allied pressure on the Iraqi government to win the loyalty of key Sunni tribes.

Saudi, Qatari, Jordanian, and other regional support for all of the above actions, as well as support for a continuing information campaign against ISIL and its recruiting efforts.

(2) As to the other part of the end-state, ISIL unable to control territory:

This will take time. In Iraq, it will be accomplished primarily by Kurdish and Iraqi forces, working together with Sunni tribes whose loyalty to ISIL will be eroded. In Syria, it will be accomplished primarily by rival rebel groups and perhaps revolts within ISIL itself. Obviously, many of the lines of effort described will be directed to supporting these efforts as well.

Now, as to cultural knowledge, the US views such knowledge as priority information in planning this type of campaign. It will have its own considerable knowledge of relevant cultures to draw upon, which it has developed over years of deep engagement, as well as that of its partners in this effort.

US contributions here will be important, but this should not be a massive campaign that would divert attention and resources from higher priority matters.

Instead I would envision a flexible policy of variable intensity with a long timeline to accomplishing the objectives.

I think there's a lot to discuss, debate, and analyze here, but I do not think comparisons with the neoconservative rationale for toppling Hussein are fruitful. This is a different type of effort, with a different, very limited, set of objectives.

Wesley ParishSeptember 10, 2014 8:51 PM

@Nova

This is difficult for Americans to consider, because they are not in the habit of considering the problems from the opposite spectrum: Would you like foreign troops in your nation?
I remember a discussion by letter with the First Secretary of the US Embassy in New Zealand in 1988 after I'd written a rather harsh letter criticizing the then outgoing US Ambassador's rather harsh speech on New Zealand's Nuclear Weapons Free Policy.


I had said in one of those letters that I thought the US decision not to penalize New Zealand with trade sanctions was very wise and I hoped they would treat the Philipines with the same level of respect when it came time for the bases to be returned and US forces to leave.

He wrote back saying he did not know what I was talking about. And it was one of the things known from one side of the Pacific to the other: that the Philipines were eager to see the bases closed and the US forces gone; because, while they were (technically) not an occupying force, they had operated in that way for the Marcoses. And so, they had overstayed their welcome.

NovaSeptember 10, 2014 9:38 PM

@Wesley Parish

Well, there at least seems to be some movement in the populace towards an return to an "isolationist" stance. In both parties. Unfortunately, I think defense contractors have only increased their hooks in the political process, so that probably won't gain traction.

@Clive Robinson

I've mentioned in the past it's often not difficult to spot operatives undergoing home "field training" and thus you can if you were of sufficient mind mark them and or play with them (it's something the Russians used to do during the cold war which was why many operatives were known prior to even entering hostile territory).

Really, so they staked out the farm and made profiles of everyone, that is amusing. Though it also goes to show how the US probably has foreign field operatives they are careful not to have sent to the farm... :-O I don't think *anyone* is quite so stupid. That area is even back then well known to be a harvest of foreign spies... :-)

But, who knows, maybe they were, and are...


@Nick P

Your blackout drunk methodology of security is epic.


@Skeptical

I may come back here if you bother to respond to anything I posted, though you seem to believe past behavior is irrelevant and the major issue of consideration is ISIL. Some merit to that, and I thank you for your polite responses. It has helped me mature some of my own opinion.

ISIL, I think, is a bad situation. I do think people will see the situation in the future as condemnatory, both in the Iraq response (from how it was performed to how they went in and why)... and with the Syria situation.

I do not believe military air strikes are wise. They may be able to make strong progress if they can replicate IS' own tactics: IS had a resounding success the other night assassinating many leaders of the Syrian opposition, as you probably know. For such things, I am not even sure if Israel human int could pull such a thing off.

But, we will see. Something has to be done, one could legitimately argue, though I think air strikes is likely just security theater. Unless they could get the 'on the ground' intelligence to really know where IS leaders are and hit them there...


There are some matters, as I have said, where I do have confidence in the US. They are good at counter-terrorism on some levels, not so good at others. Unfortunately, no one can prevent such a determined attacker coming from such a mess as Iraq and Syria... and I hate to say, but I am among those who believe a bad attack is likely forthcoming.

Somewhere in the near future, I expect a real screw up, however. Maybe it will be from the US playing both sides of the Palestinian-Israli equation... maybe from playing both sides of the Sunni-Shiite equation. Maybe with their new found friendship with Iraq... or with these turk kurdish terrorists...


In these things it is I who am cynical. I almost wish I could share your mindset of optimism, though I would prefer to know something bad is coming... then to be surprised by it, my own self.


SkepticalSeptember 10, 2014 10:12 PM


@AlanS: You are a true believer.

The strategy I outlined was largely the same as the President outlined a few hours later. I didn't come to my prediction by a rigid adherence to ideological principle.

You also seem to think that the US is in the same state of knowledge about Iraq, counterinsurgency, and counterterrorism, as it was in 2003.

But the US military is a fairly professional organization, with huge amounts of experience from across the globe, and one that places immense emphasis on learning from past mistakes and experiences. Nor are the leaders stupid people. Petraeus, for instance, has a PhD from Princeton University.

That doesn't make them a perfect organization, but it does mean that the strategies they've developed for dealing with a recurring problem set may be slightly more sophisticated than you give them credit for.

While somewhat tangential to the problem of ISIL, I'd highly recommend reading FM 3-24, available from the Federation of American Scientists if you're uncomfortable downloading something from a .mil site.

I'd also recommend Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaysia and Vietnam.

Both of those works will give you a much better sense of actual US strategy and thinking than rehashes of neoconservative dreams.

There's also a voluminous literature at this point addressing counterterrorism strategies and approaches, but in some ways ISIL falls between the two, and frankly I'm just too tired to dig up the links I'd want to provide.

Finally, inspired by Clive's suggestion to compare ISIL to cartel groups in South and Latin America, I suggest this illuminating Washington Post article on US covert action in Colombia against FARC, which has been extremely successful.

And to reiterate, I think there's a lot to discuss and debate about the President's strategy. I'm just also aware of the vast differences between the neocon means and objectives in Iraq in 2003 and those of the US against ISIL in 2014.

The true believers, Alan, are those who have fervent opinions yet haven't bothered to avail themselves of any real research into strategy, doctrine, or history.

SkepticalSeptember 10, 2014 10:38 PM


@Nova: Should I further simply point out: 2003-2011 was not enough time, besides that they simply really did not know what they were doing? No, it was not enough time, and they did make many small and large bad decisions in those years.

I think that you must admit, some time or another, "okay, maybe they are very bad at what they do, whether they mean well or not... and they are very bad at correcting their mistakes".

You preceded those remarks with a lengthy quote about Bremer's more disastrous decisions in Iraq.

Your analysis fails to capture the degree to which the US did learn, and change tactics and strategy, over the course of 2003-2011. You write as though the US Government ignores history, when in fact, if you were familiar with the nature of changes that are made to doctrine and training would know, and and if you read primary source material on the memoranda and briefings that ultimately shaped the decisions of US Presidents, you would see that history plays an enormous role in shaping US policy.

As to what the US learned during its time in Iraq, they learned many things (or perhaps re-learned), not least of which was how to conduct a successful counterinsurgency. The counterinsurgency was actually successful, and that success was won because of a change in strategy in 2007. The US learned from previous mistakes.

I do not believe military air strikes are wise. They may be able to make strong progress if they can replicate IS' own tactics: IS had a resounding success the other night assassinating many leaders of the Syrian opposition, as you probably know. For such things, I am not even sure if Israel human int could pull such a thing off.

The US approach to terrorist networks has been, in significant part, by targeting and killing key nodes in those networks. They've used this to great effect against al Qaeda in Iraq, AQAP, the Haqqani network, and AQ. I have no doubt that they will use such a strategy against ISIL.

I would also expect them to combine it with other elements, as I speculated earlier in an above post, and as President Obama stated in his speech a few hours ago.

You say that you are pessimistic. I wouldn't be. ISIL is a manageable problem, with many critical vulnerabilities.

Now, if we're not speaking simply about ISIL and about the situation in Syria generally, then our views are not necessarily (they might be) in contradiction. I expect Syria to remain in chaos for a long time - but quelling that chaos is not a US objective, and absent a massive occupying force I do not think such an objective would be attainable.

NovaSeptember 11, 2014 1:09 AM

@Skeptical

Your analysis fails to capture the degree to which the US did learn, and change tactics and strategy, over the course of 2003-2011. You write as though the US Government ignores history, when in fact, if you were familiar with the nature of changes that are made to doctrine and training would know, and and if you read primary source material on the memoranda and briefings that ultimately shaped the decisions of US Presidents, you would see that history plays an enormous role in shaping US policy.

Okay, so I see... you aren't here just arguing *your own viewpoints*, you are actually **defending the honor of the country**.

That must make things simple for you.

Well, that is one way to go. And maybe you are right. But, I think you have to analyze the situation from a different perspective then just accepting what people are saying. You have to look at what they are doing.

The US has been playing this game for awhile. They say the right things. It is beguiling. One would think they have been playing to make the Middle East a safe haven for Democracy for years. More then Democracy, for freedom, for liberty... for justice!

But, that is what they have been saying, isn't it? And not what the results have been?

Which makes one, just maybe, start to look at things a little more critically: maybe the US has been playing both sides of the fence for so long there because they are trying to make the region as unstable as possible? Hrrm?

Play the Israelis, play the Palestinians. Pit them against each other. Play the Sunnis, play the Shia. Pit them against each other. Arm one side, then arm the other side.

Rinse and repeat.

Say you are just doing the best you can. Say you are an angel. Not a devil. Say you are just being diplomatic. Say you have hard choices to make, only the best choices out of two bad ones. Always play up that things like sunshine policies do not work, or some other way find your self out that sort of posture. Do not *not* get involved. Do something! You are just trying to help!

Libya, after all, was an accident.

Funding the Pakistani ISI, an accident. Funding Al Qaeda and the Talibani in Afghanistan -- an accident. Leaving behind the perfect conditions for a fundamentalist breeding ground. Whoops! Sorry!

Isolating and putting Iran against the way? Just trying to help.

Funding the rebellion in Syria? Well... you know, Assad is such a bad guy.

Refusing to break up Iraq into three separate countries: Kurd, Sunni, Shiite. Never would have worked!

Accidentally allowing for the circumstances to allow Pakistan, India, Israel, and now, Iran to get the Bomb? Not your fault! Definitely, no way, what you wanted!

Like Mexico. Total accident. All their fault.

I see you mention to Alan S the good work the CIA did with FARC. Maybe so. FARC has lost power recently. Kind of makes sense. But, then, during these same years, the Mexico crisis deeply worsened. Probably doesn't have anything to do with anything.

Al Qaeda in Iraq... sheesh, becoming, this Islamic State? Who would have guessed? I mean, sure, a systematic working of Iraqis in the prison system where their leader and others learned all about the very best side of America. You know what they say about prisons? Well, besides that is where people get raped (because you know that isn't cruel and unusual punishment)... it is a college for crime.

Beheading the Iraqi infrastructure... yowsers. Dumping all those angry Sunni men that were cops and military? What could they possibly do with their time after that?

Did you even know Iran was fingered for the Lebanon marine barracks and embassy attacks? Yep. Their intelligence units tried to make it look Sunni, but the US correctly saw through their efforts. No response to Iran. Zero. No, instead, the US lessened their presence in Lebanon, while Shia radicals gained ground. Further destabilizing both Lebanon and Syria.

Why, exactly? I mean... is there some master plan behind all of this? What about poor Jordan and Egypt? What is the plan there? I wonder how the struggles in Syria might pour out into Jordan and Lebanon.

The Pentagon admits air bombing won't do it. Right. So, why exactly do it?

And, really, let us go back to before this Gulf War. You are aware that the US was already bombing Iraq on a regular basis and had them gripped with very painful sanctions, right? Not that this would have made the area more chaotic, no way.

Nothing like supporting the Shah all those years...

Turning the other cheek, is the saying for that? Hand holding vicious dictators who are talented at getting their people against them?

What other element but the most radical could have risen from such a perfect swamp of chaos?

Kind of reminds me of the approach to Saudi Arabia.

But, if you look at everything on a more individual level, you really just have a bunch of people who are making some money, having some fun, having a life for themselves... thinking that they can treat a bunch of hard case nations like it is their own personal chess board.

Personally, despite strong pretensions to being a friend of Israel, I am thinking the US is doing all it can to try and destroy Israel. Best friends so very often turn out to be archenemies.

But, hey, let us see as events unfold.


The US approach to terrorist networks has been, in significant part, by targeting and killing key nodes in those networks. They've used this to great effect against al Qaeda in Iraq, AQAP, the Haqqani network, and AQ. I have no doubt that they will use such a strategy against ISIL.

I would also expect them to combine it with other elements, as I speculated earlier in an above post, and as President Obama stated in his speech a few hours ago.

You say that you are pessimistic. I wouldn't be. ISIL is a manageable problem, with many critical vulnerabilities.

Now, if we're not speaking simply about ISIL and about the situation in Syria generally, then our views are not necessarily (they might be) in contradiction. I expect Syria to remain in chaos for a long time - but quelling that chaos is not a US objective, and absent a massive occupying force I do not think such an objective would be attainable.


I am skeptical the US is not trying to foment more chaos in the region. So, I think, if this is what they are doing, then chaos in Syria is exactly what they want. Iran, of course, does not want this.

I am wondering if all of this will not soon spillover to Lebanon and Jordan.

The US has done very well at chopping down elements of Al Qaeda. However, IS is a strong portion of what was Al Qaeda in Iraq.

I will also give strong kudos to the US at preventing onshore terrorism. The Boston Bombing was a major failure, however, which gives me little confidence. They should have had that guy on their radar for bothering to travel across the world to spend a lot of time at a known terrorist mongering mosque.

Frankly? I think their attention was diverted into such games as setting up the telecom surveillance infrastructure.


In a sense, the IS problem is interesting from a perspective of the US being forced to be friendly with many of the same parties at the same time: The shia, the sunni, the kurds. They all have a common enemy, and it isn't the Jews right now. It is IS.

But, they are not friends among each other. They have strongly competing interests nationally and spread all through the region.

So, such alliances can breed serious problems.

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 11, 2014 1:34 AM

@ Skeptical

Sometimes you are really over the top with your true believe.

I leave it with that. Feeding you takes too much time and energy.

sena kavoteSeptember 11, 2014 1:50 AM

Desertion from land war

If there is going to be even bigger war in Europe, a rare kind of law breaking will see massive growth in many European countries: Desertion from frontline posts during a time of war.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertion

Whatever we think about those laws, it is always worrisome when lots of people are in violation of law. Similarly it is worrisome that high percentages of populations are breaking copyright laws with bittorrent in amounts that would, by law, call for years in prison. This may include me too.

If internet is still working in that situation, it gets used for organizing escape and hiding of deserters. And that would be a big argument for curtailing internet freedoms.

It is possible that military officers in most threatened countries from Finland to Poland to Ukraine to Germany, take law in their own hands and begin to use field justice, drumhead courts and executions.

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 11, 2014 2:26 AM

So the US is gonna get rid of IS. It is final. They are gonna bomb them down. They bypass approval of Congress, of course. And it wouldn't surprise me that a side effect will be that Assad will be replaced by a more Western friendly "democratic" leader. And again, it is not about oil!

Obama, you are an evil lying tacky monster!

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 11, 2014 2:49 AM

Adding to my previous post:

The best part is that there will be no US bodybags. It will be another hi-res video game. The bodybags are Iraqi so who cares. You probably won't even see them on camera.

Obama, you are an evil lying tacky manipulating monster! You are no different than the evil lying manipulating monster G.W.Bush.

WinterSeptember 11, 2014 2:57 AM

The advances of the Islamic State are the result of the very brutal oppression of Sunni Arabs by Assad on the one hand and the violent oppression by Shiites in Iraq on the other hand.

Protracted civil wars tend to give birth to bloody regimes.

The Islamic State is in all respects equivalent to Nazi Germany. Be it ethnic cleansing and mass murder, to expansionist aspirations. They are a threat to all people living in the Middle East and North Africa.

The fact that neither Saddam Hussein nor the Taliban were much of a threat to their neighbors is no argument that IS is not. Nor is the fact that it is mainly earlier interventions by the USA that brought IS around an argument to let the region go up in flames now. And we know how wars in the Arab countries have a way of contaminating deep down into South and Central Asia and Africa.

The protracted wars in Central Africa show what happens when you do not intervene in genocide. The Vietnamese have shown in Cambodia, and the USA and EU have shown on the Balkans that you can stop genocide and ethnic cleansing and get some type of order again.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 11, 2014 7:37 AM

I know it's been more than a decade since 9/11, but I hope people will spare a thought for those who were lost and those still living who were effected by the loss of friends or loved ones or ill health caused by the attack.

Please make the thoughts positive, as I doubt that those nolonger with us would like what has been done by Politicos in their name to be their memorial.

NovaSeptember 11, 2014 8:51 AM

To Defeat the Islamic State, Follow the Money
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/09/to-defeat-isil-follow-the-money-110825.html?utm_source=digg&utm_medium=email#.VBGnK_ldWfi


A few things come to mind at this:

-> The US created a monster... they ballooned Al Qaeda in Iraq. IS was originally presented as coming out of nowhere, just seven months ago Obama was saying they are junior varsity pretending to be pro ball.
-> in retrospect, there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq before the US got there
-> I wonder if they will quickly attempt to cut off ISIL's money, but doubt it as they have been around for quite some time...

Moreso, I would like to see proof the US did not intentionally create this.

Did the original Al Qaeda ever come close to making this kind of money?

And Osama Bin Laden was not "trained" and "educated" in American prisons in Iraq.

This all stinks to high heaven.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 11, 2014 10:06 AM

With regards ISIS / IS / ISIL,

Much of what is being discussed here is to modern and to first western world in perspective.

You need to look back in history as to why the "mandates" of WWI and WWII were split up the way they were. To understand this you need to look long back prior to that Andrew the policy of Cecil Rohdes and his cronies in drawing the map of Africa the way they did. Put simply they split up tribes so that two thirds of one tribe was in one state, and one third of another tribe with them, they then armed the minority sufficiently so that they were nearly but not quite in control, and thus relient on "the white man" [1].

However there is another issue to be considered, if you look back in European history from around 1000AD you will see that political power was wielded by two factions the King and the Church. As time progressed the Churches gained two much power and this caused significant problems, in that the Holy Roman Empire set it's self up as a super state, and demanded obedience of kings, and their peoples and armed forces. Eventually Christianity split into factions and these sects started the equivalent of blood feuds and wars against the people at the whim of monarchs or against the people of other states. This persisted through the middle ages, Victorian era and in some places like NI the feuds carried on passed down by grandfather to his grandchildren as soon as they could talk, thus glorifing or demonising events from half a millennia prior as though they happend within living memory.

Back in the 1960's it was often claimed that due to the fact that the people of Africa had "not yet had their middle ages" democracy would not work there. Certainly when you look at events there in the past fourty years it could easily be claimed that in some areas they were having their middle ages, but compressed by the supply and use of modern weapons. Likewise in what were the "Russian Republics" in Eastern Europe after the fall of the CCCP.

If we now look at the middle east, we see there has been religious / ethnic feuds occuring for hundreds of years, with factions within the Muslim faith, claiming they are the true heirs and other factions to be heritics / unbelievers who should be converted or die. Through this various princes and clerics have sought political power etc. As in eastern europe it required powerfull dictators backed by outside nations to keep a semblance of peace.

Part of the current problems are caused by "power vacuums" created either by foreign nations or by internal uprising.

In a way these countries are not nations, thus democracy will not work. The people unfortunatly need to be able to go through a change to become a nation. Whilst going through the equivalent of a middle ages is not a requirment to do this, there are those who are effectively forcing it, for their own political ideology even though it might hide behind the pretence of religious orthodoxy.

[1] I'm using "white man" here not to be racist but in the terms Kippling and others did when talking about empires (look up "white mans game").

Nick PSeptember 11, 2014 11:11 AM

@ Clive Robinson

I'll certainly spare some time remembering them and spent plenty in the past fighting for them. I'll counter, though, that it was the victim's families that took the lead charging against the U.S. government for an official investigation and accountability. Many of them ended up in the "9/11 Truth Movement" or in Congressional hearings questioning the many simultaneous government failures that enabled the murder of their loved ones. Imho, the best way for us strangers to remember the 9/11 victims (aside from supporting families) is to ensure people know why they're victims & prevent it from happening to others. That was the wish of many of the families.

The motives (incompetence or false flag) that caused the failures aren't as important. That's a guessing game. That we know who failed, why, and hold them accountable is important. There's laws for that & no statute of limitations for murder-related charges. Additionally we roll back any power and budget increases that resulted from it. Otherwise, it will happen again and again. And on your side* of the world, too.

*Note: The Italian Gladio confessions showed certain European groups are already doing false flags to increase govt power. Much worse than mere incompetence. If Britain isn't trying it, they will eventually.

NovaSeptember 11, 2014 11:57 AM

@Nick P

The motives (incompetence or false flag) that caused the failures aren't as important. That's a guessing game. That we know who failed, why, and hold them accountable is important. There's laws for that & no statute of limitations for murder-related charges. Additionally we roll back any power and budget increases that resulted from it. Otherwise, it will happen again and again. And on your side* of the world, too.


^^^ That. Very well said.

AlanSSeptember 11, 2014 12:16 PM

@ Skeptical

Despite "availing" yourself of "real research on strategy, doctrine and history" you appear to be arguing that the War on Terror mess we've created over the 13 years was just a practice run and now we've finally figured out from our earlier mistakes how to create stability and peace in the Iraq and that this time it really will be different.

However, ISIS isn't the problem. The problem isn't how to get rid of X (Saddam, ISIS, AQ, the Taliban, Gaddafi, ...). The problem is how are you going to create stable political systems in regions riven by vicious sectarian strife. Got a solution for that? If not, we're just doing the same old thing, messing in problems we can't solve and will most likely exacerbate. All we accomplished back in 2003 was to blow the lid off a can of vipers. Now we want to organize and train some of the vipers, many of whom we failed to organize before, to fight the scariest viper of the moment. Obama says this won't be over soon. No kidding.

Ant-Sized RadioSeptember 11, 2014 12:21 PM

Stanford Engineer Aims to Connect the World with Ant-Sized Radios

# Article:
http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/september/ant-radio-arbabian-090914.html

# From Article:

"A Stanford engineering team has built a radio the size of an ant, a device so energy efficient that it gathers all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna – no batteries required.

Designed to compute, execute and relay commands, this tiny wireless chip costs pennies to fabricate – making it cheap enough to become the missing link between the Internet as we know it and the linked-together smart gadgets envisioned in the "Internet of Things."

"The next exponential growth in connectivity will be connecting objects together and giving us remote control through the web," said Amin Arbabian, an assistant professor of electrical engineering who recently demonstrated this ant-sized radio chip at the VLSI Technology and Circuits Symposium in Hawaii.

Much of the infrastructure needed to enable us to control sensors and devices remotely already exists: We have the Internet to carry commands around the globe, and computers and smartphones to issue the commands. What's missing is a wireless controller cheap enough to so that it can be installed on any gadget anywhere.

"How do you put a bi-directional wireless control system on every lightbulb?" Arbabian said. "By putting all the essential elements of a radio on a single chip that costs pennies to make."

Cost is critical because, as Arbabian observed, "We're ultimately talking about connecting trillions of devices.""

# Archives of Article:
1: https://archive.today/5aIuj
2: http://web.archive.org/web/20140910034449/http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/september/ant-radio-arbabian-090914.html

JacobSeptember 11, 2014 12:30 PM

I see that this thread becomes a venue for discussions about middle-eastern international politics and superpower influence and activities, so I suggest that people who are interested in the history of the conflict should take a look at these 2 book:
-"A Line In The Sand"
-"The Secret War for the Middle East: The Influence of Axis and Allied Intelligence Operations during World War II"

The first book is way better that any John le Carré's novels, detailing the disasterous effects of the Anglo-French rivalry in the region during the period 1917-1948, a rivalry whose fruits can be traced to today's regional mess.

Short reviews for the first book are here:
http://www.jamesbarr.org.uk/ReviewsALITS.html

A short review of the second book is here:
http://www.navyhistory.org/2014/05/book-review-the-secret-war-for-the-middle-east-the-influence-of-axis-and-allied-intelligence-operations-during-world-war-ii/

It is well worth noting that the authors of the second book also comment on their recent analysis of captured al-Qaida intelligence and counterintelligence manuals, and conclude with lessons to be learned:

“… before undertaking war, it is vital to know the region, the area of operation, your nation’s place in it, and previous armies that have fought in the area. Get inside the history of the region; walk around between perception, conspiracy, and fact to gain a true understanding of those fighting alongside you, and against you.” (p. 190)

And this is something that the USA, with its cowboy mentality, will never have the patience for nor the understanding of these.

AlanSSeptember 11, 2014 12:37 PM

@Clive

Too true. One of the ways a small country like Britain managed to create an empire was through divide and conquer, pitting one ethnic or religious group against another and running off with the spoils.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 11, 2014 1:11 PM

Previously I understood that we live in the "Information Age", I'd argue that we are still in the "Steel Age".

@ Skeptical demonstrates the use of "Information" but lacks the ability to allow the information to be transformative--in other words--information is no substitute for "Knowledge" or "Wisdom".

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 11, 2014 1:16 PM

Security methods employed as a strategy--is no strategy. If I boil everything I am to touch things start not working. My phone, after being boiled becomes inoperable as does my remote controls and I haven't figured out how to get my car boiled so there it sits. Most of my books, again after boiling, are no longer legible.

SkepticalSeptember 11, 2014 1:32 PM


@AlanS: Despite "availing" yourself of "real research on strategy, doctrine and history" you appear to be arguing that the War on Terror mess we've created over the 13 years was just a practice run and now we've finally figured out from our earlier mistakes how to create stability and peace in the Iraq and that this time it really will be different.

You're not reading me. This is a campaign with a distinct objective - destroy ISIL. Nothing more. Not winning a "war on terror", not transforming any country or any region.

I provided you with sources to show you the importance that the US places on understanding the cultural, political, social, and economic context. I didn't provide you anything showing that 13 years of war was a practice run.

However, ISIS isn't the problem. The problem isn't how to get rid of X (Saddam, ISIS, AQ, the Taliban, Gaddafi, ...). The problem is how are you going to create stable political systems in regions riven by vicious sectarian strife.

Alan, we can't simply go around the world and create stable political systems riven by vicious sectarian strife. No one has the resources or willpower to do that. That is something akin to a neoconservative fantasy.

We can do things to help nudge and encourage such stability, and there are policies in place to do so. But ultimately most progress will have to come from within societies, not from an imposition forced upon it.

Now, if necessary, the US can deploy the resources needed to a particular problem area and stabilize it - which is what the US did with its counterinsurgency strategy in 2007.

But ISIL doesn't rise to the level that would justify such a strategy, which is incredibly expensive on multiple levels.

Got a solution for that? If not, we're just doing the same old thing, messing in problems we can't solve and will most likely exacerbate.

Killing ISIL isn't intended to be a solution to instability in the Middle East. It's intended to remove a particular organization that has posed a particular set of problems.

The US doesn't have the magic solution to the problems of the Middle East. But on ISIL, there's enough cohesion of interests among Arab nations, Western nations, Turkey, and local ethnic groups, to at least resolve this one particular problem.

NovaSeptember 11, 2014 1:53 PM

There are a lot of powerful forces at work with people supporting these things. Not all of them are from those who support them. Many can be from opposition who go over the top.

Then, you can have friends and family. Group dynamics can be profound.

Reporting can be poor, so often sources come from governments.

There can definitely be economic impact, even legal impact if you work in security. There really is not the same level of freedom of opinion in those sorts of positions.

This does not lead to good product if people are all forced to be gung ho for the group think of the team.


I am wondering if the errors are not just too large to backtrack.

I think if you find your self in a position where changing your mind would mean to you significant personal loss, then you may not even think about changing your mind without even considering that potential loss. It may just be the unthinkable. So, you are forced in your position without even having the capacity to realize just how trapped you are.


Instinct just knows. Reasoning does not kick in.

I would suppose, maybe one trick here would be to go, "What if I were to change my mind on all these matters. Where would I find myself?" And if you believe you would find yourself losing, personally, you might question the legitimacy - the accuracy, the rightness - of your current position.


Far better to be right, to be accurate, then to be firing blanks.

A lot more fun, too.


Stinks to be wrong, to miss a shot. But why go to the firing range if you are not trying to become a better shot? People do the weirdest things, myself included.


AlanSSeptember 11, 2014 2:10 PM

@Skeptical

You have a reading disability if you read any of my posts above as arguing that we can "simply go around the world and create stable political systems riven by vicious sectarian strife." You're the interventionist but to what end is a mystery. You say "stability" but all we've accomplished after 11 years of intervention is greater instability so why is it different this time?

BenniSeptember 11, 2014 2:13 PM

http://cybertinel.com/news/press-release-harkonnen-operation/

Modiin, Israel, 2nd September, 2014. CYBERTINEL, the Israel-based developer of a signature-less endpoint security platform, has uncovered a massive cybercrime network which has already penetrated hundreds of blue-chip companies, government institutions, research laboratories and critical infrastructure facilities throughout the DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) region, with further revelations in other European countries expected to follow. The network was facilitated for 12 years by the incorporation of over 800 false companies registered in the UK.

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 11, 2014 2:58 PM

The personal website of Richard Stallman (RMS) is sometimes a good source of information. Today he wrote:

Today we commemorate the September 11 attacks, which killed President Allende of Chile and installed Pinochet's murderous military dictatorship. More than 3,000 dissidents were killed or "disappeared" by the Pinochet regime. The USA operated a destabilization campaign in Chile, and the September 11 attacks were part of that campaign.
I also support a new investigation of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US.

Later on he writes:

If the US goes to war with ISIS, how long before Americans conclude that it was a mistake?
ISIS is evil enough that fighting ISIS is not inherently wrong. The same was true for Saddam Hussein — but launching a war against his regime made things worse in Iraq, and the same thing could easily happen again.
Thwarting ISIS in a conventional war of movement is easy. Destroying ISIS would mean an urban guerrilla war, which would be horrible (as it was 8 years ago in the same part of Iraq) and would not succeed. To really defeat ISIS requires convincing Iraq's Sunnis to kick ISIS out.

NovaSeptember 11, 2014 3:34 PM

The ISIL intervention is guaranteed to be a catastrophe.

There is a very long and deep track record of severe incompetence and failure in the US intelligence and military, as well as in the overall political structure -- including how those three systems work together. Which is badly.

But, they all over the Middle, N Africa, and Asia. They just finished with Libya, now under militia chaos. They are hard at work on Syria.

Besides the very fact they should not be doing any of this in the first place, there are hosts of well known, even atrocious problems, they have never done anything about. Regardless of how loudly the problems have been exposed.

Nick PSeptember 11, 2014 5:06 PM

@ Gerard

Thanks for the link. I like the juxtaposition. Bothers me a little that a proven false flag and a possible false flag happened on the same day. Covert ops community likes doing subtle references to pat themselves on the back or feel clever. Mainly the old guard of them. Could also be a coincidence. Typical for that day...

Boo hooSeptember 11, 2014 5:10 PM

Skeptical loves to play dumb, but nobody's stupid enough to forget what he ignores. Use or threat of force is above his pay grade. It's above the president's pay grade. Under the supreme law of the land, the UNSC decides on behalf of the UN member nations. No resolution, no force. Let's hope skep's not stupid enough to think attacking IS would be self defense, the only exception - even given what we know of skep's intellect, that would boost the pathos to Sling Blade levels.

In a clear historical pattern, each time the US government shits on the rug, it furthers the ongoing project of codifying the Nuremberg Principles. Law that started to punish the Nazis has ended up as a way to deter the psycho US 조선소년단 cadres that skep aspires to. Continued illegal use of force in Iraq will put Article 8 bis over the top before 2017. As more and more failure and disgrace bleeds the US white, the world can start taking scalps in onesies and twosies. Wannabes like skep are probably safe. They'll just end up as harmless embarrassments like your senile KKK great-grampa.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 11, 2014 5:54 PM

The article 1 powers of the U.S. Constitution are clear, specifically section 8; "To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water..." and further "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions to repel invasion and to quell insurrection."

What is clear under Constitutional law is the following:
1.) All authorities are to be declared within the context of the constitution (no office, legislature, or court can derive its own authorities--PERIOD). This is recognized explicitly in the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights.

2.) Rewording "declare war" does not equal "Authorization to Use Military Force". This is an authorization--not enumerated by the Constitution.

I don't know why academic haven't caught on to the wording "Authorization" and the use of military force and specifically how that equals a declaration of war?

There is not authorization for use of military force ANYWHERE within the consitution. So tell me, how is this authority derived you smart ass government lawyers and representatives? You're all traitors to this country--PERIOD.

SkepticalSeptember 11, 2014 5:58 PM


@AlanS: You're the interventionist but to what end is a mystery. You say "stability" but all we've accomplished after 11 years of intervention is greater instability so why is it different this time?

I think we're talking past each other.

Here's my view on this in a nutshell:

ISIL is an extremist organization of remarkable savagery that is at the point of amassing sufficient resources to become a danger beyond the Middle East. It has expressed the intention of using its resources to do so. It has recruited, and continues to attract, significant numbers of Westerners to its ranks.

This alone is sufficient reason to consider action against it. However, the danger it poses to the Kurds, a society of relative tolerance in a region mired in the bloody mud of intolerance, the acts of barbarity it has committed against tens of thousands, and the destabilization it can spread to other nations in the Middle East, all tip the scale firmly towards action in opposition.

To be effective, the action will need to be multi-pronged, regionally supported, and locally supported. US air power and various special operations capabilities will form only a part of the action. Important as well will be the information war against ISIL propaganda, the funding and training of competitors to ISIL, the strengthening of ISIL's targets (such as the Kurds), and so forth. This will require a cooperative effort that will include Western as well as Arab nations.

Indeed, today ten Arab nations have pledged their support to destroying ISIL.

It's important to understand that the forces that will remove ISIL from Iraqi cities and towns will be Iraqi forces, and the forces that will overcome ISIL in Syria will be local elements. The counterinsurgency portion of this effort will be largely in the hands of the national and local governments in Iraq.

Obviously there are enormous differences between what I sketched above, and the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. So I am not quite connecting your critical references to that affair to the one currently underway. This may be because what I envision regarding the current effort, and what you envision, are very different. If so, perhaps by exploring those differences we can arrive at a better understanding of what each of us is arguing.

I also suspect that there are many areas on which we agree. I am dubious as to the reliability of the Syrian rebel groups likely to be strengthened against ISIL; the press calls them "moderate", but "moderate" here is highly relative. I am also dubious as to the ability of the Iraqi national government to persuade disaffected Sunnis, and to provide the kind of security, and population-centric approach, necessary to success in counterinsurgency.

So that's my view. I'm not a neoconservative, nor am I an apologist for US policy (I can fulminate about the stupidity of much of it with the best of them). Some of the criticisms of US policy expressed in the comments have been inaccurate, and in my view they often derive from an inaccurate view of the world. Challenging those incorrect criticisms is a means to providing a more accurate picture - which in turn leads to accurate criticisms, and from there, realistic and effective solutions.

AnuraSeptember 11, 2014 7:00 PM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/us-threatened-massive-fine-to-force-yahoo-to-release-data/2014/09/11/38a7f69e-39e8-11e4-9c9f-ebb47272e40e_story.html

The U.S. government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day in 2008 if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user communications — a request the company believed was unconstitutional -- according to court documents unsealed Thursday that illuminate how federal officials forced American tech companies to participate in the NSA’s controversial PRISM program.
The documents, roughly 1,500 pages worth, outline a secret and ultimately unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government’s demands. The company’s loss required Yahoo to become one of the first to begin providing information to PRISM, a program that gave the National Security Agency extensive access to records of online communications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms.

Well, at least we can say Yahoo wasn't willing to do everything the government asked, however this doesn't mean they weren't a willing participant in at least some of the government surveillance. It also ignores that Yahoo and companies like it do their own surveillance on the public for their own uses.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 11, 2014 7:16 PM

More people die every year drowning in their own bathtubs than have been killed by terrorists in this country in this century. The scale and scope of the threat is purely hyped by those who'd profit from the FUD--and the U.S. citizenry is too stupid to appraise their own security and their government's constitutional relationship to law. And the idiots in Washington DC and their minions (and masters) harm the public by taking advantage of these know conditions. Their actions amount to criminal negligence and fraud.

The MIC; Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrup Grumman, and their partners in crime are completely complicite in their involvement and profit from the FUD that supports this "theatre of war". All the CEO's should be lined up to face a firing squad. Let god sort out the rest.

Nick PSeptember 11, 2014 8:43 PM

@ name.withheld

A YouTube link? That's an odd choice unless you're going out with a bang via a vid. Consider using Google Sites or a major free host if you want a place for people to contact you, present content to them, etc without arousing too much suspicion. Main risk is you are tracked and they'd sell you out, but that's same with YouTube. Main advantage of a hosted page, esp if it has scripting, is you can implement all sorts of functionality for presenting or receiving information. And in a more secure way.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 11, 2014 8:52 PM

It may not matter if ISIS / IS / ISIL are a "clear and present danger" to the US. The question is if they are about to commit or have committed Genocide.

If that is the case and it might well be a reasonable assumption then it is not a question of going to war against ISIS but of protecting others from Genocide.

International law on Genocide is quite forgiving on those who seek to prevent it, the only real criteria being that the presumption of genocide is reasonable, and the preventative actions proportionate.

If what has been reported by various news outlets is factual and not inflated then it appears that ISIS is hell bent on genocide, selling into slavery and sex trafficking, all of which most people would find repugnant irrespective of any other of ISIS activities.

Thus is there sufficient evidence that ISIS or those acting in it's name need to be stopped, and if so the question arises as to what is proportionate.

Personaly I do not think that the use of drones or more traditional air strikes is proportionate. The reason being the level of collateral damage that is likely to be involved, causing significant harm to the civilians the action is designed to protect.

What is probably acceptably proportionate is supplying arms and ammunition that will alow the likes of the Kurds to adiquately defend themselves. However this raises various questions about control and escalation now and in the future.

It is a thorny issue and one that needs to be resolved quickly, and may well require some "boots or sneakers on the ground" for at a minimum intelligence gathering.

AlanSSeptember 11, 2014 9:26 PM

@ Skeptical

Ok. Here's my take. I think the US has little control over the current situation. There are lots of players involved who have little love for each other and all have different strategic objectives. It's not exactly a great recipe for destroy ISIS. And even if ISIS is destroyed or weakened there will be plenty of other jihadis and warring factions to fill the space left. This could go on for a very long time.

The need for America to destroy ISIS seems to be mostly a reaction to the very effective use of the media by ISIS and the supposed threat to America. But the immediate threat to America appears to be a very small. One could make a much stronger argument for some type of more limited action based on humanitarian grounds and on the grounds of moral responsibility but we were already engaged in that type of action before last night.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 11, 2014 9:53 PM

@ Nick P

The youtube link is innocuous, there is no relationship to my personal ID. In fact, I'd offer a challenge to extrapolate any useful information...

This is a layover from the early days of google and youtube that has allowed me to fly under the radar (100ft above the tarmac/surface).

Don't know if you read my story about meeting with L. Page and I suggested that he use his thesis project at Stanford to build a search engine. And then I went on to describe what DEC's scooter was doing...and how to derive context from "non-contextual" data. There's still much research in this area--one DARPA is very interested in--but they can go f' themselves.

ThothSeptember 11, 2014 9:55 PM

The effective tracking down and preventing foreign fighters from entering or supplying ISIS would be the most effective method which would essentially snuff ISIS out on it's own. As usual, proper education is required on the consequences of joining armed terror groups. Holding discussions with religious leaders and religious groups to promote awareness of impulsive decisions to join foreign terror cells.

Supplying arms and training civilians will in the end become a cyclic effect for the worse. International peacekeeping forces can be introduced in the event armed escalation goes out of control. Training and equipping local law enforcement to better handle threats would also be a better suggestion.

Tighter laws should be in place to penalize citizens who turn into foreign fighters and rehabilitation and reintegration works for those who have defected or captured. This is a good time for the TLAs to do it's job and focus on actual threats and to use targeted operations instead of sweeping everyone including innocents.

FigureitoutSeptember 11, 2014 10:36 PM

Jacob
--Thanks for advice. I'm working towards purchasing a new PC, to practice a better setup "from the start". Fairly certain it will get infected from the "baggage" w/ me. As far as sending off my PC & USB stick to get analyzed, I'd prefer to do that myself and I don't care enough about the laptop to constantly carry it w/ me everywhere (I do a lot of walking) to prevent what I'm looking for to be removed. The USB stick though, I think I can find out what's going on myself, and I will share; years from now (got other more pressing projects/things to do).

Another thing I noticed recently is a possible financial breach, I believe money is missing from my checking account. It would piss me off less if I was actually hacked by a random scumbag, than "one of my friends" that are just doing it to make themselves feel like a hacker or simply gave my info to a carding forum.

Nova
--I refuse to talk about that anymore on this blog; so worthless and I just make a complete idiot out of myself ranting. I've done enough damage to my future; the ranting lunatic is not me. So, YOU can link an email for me to contact you in your name instead of a rape pic if you are so curious. I'm getting more and more busy that I'm probably going to stop posting a lot. As always, I have to verify in some way you aren't malicious, so if you're not willing to do that, again do not talk to me and don't question my judgement on the matter.

TO: schneier.com
RE: ISIS
--So have the past 11/12 years been for nothing, how can a country just get run over by a bunch of thugs on gun-mounted trucks after all the investment done there? How could we not see that coming w/ all the drones and intel gathered? Language issues? Training issues? Hasn't the US already got its oil wells, which is all we need.

Don't support it. GTFO. Re-build THIS country, invest HERE. Military should be hosting leadership classes here, using a group like the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild our infrastructure to be the best in the world again. Go back to America's roots of isolationism; only getting into conflicts when attacked and we can morally cream whoever. Then when there's a massive failure, and the UN and Europe cry about needing something done, then we have leverage to use military force in the "international community" AKA global elites. All the posters in their cozy homes calling for troops on the ground, go fight yourself. Hopefully you aren't the next one to get decapitated for the world to see.

T-RoySeptember 11, 2014 11:03 PM

U.S. Government Threatened Yahoo With Massive Fines To Force NSA Compliance
http://news.yahoo.com/u-government-threatened-yahoo-massive-fines-force-nsa-215019368.html

Court documents unsealed Thursday reveal how the U.S. government forced Yahoo to cooperate with NSA’s PRISM bulk Internet surveillance program in 2008 by threatening to fine the company $250,000 daily if it refused to turn over user data. The Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/us-threatened-massive-fine-to-force-yahoo-to-release-data/2014/09/11/38a7f69e-39e8-11e4-9c9f-ebb47272e40e_story.html) reports the web giant tried to fight the order it believed to be unconstitutional but ultimately failed to do so, making Yahoo one of the first Internet companies in a list including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and more to become complicit in the signals intelligence agency’s net-wide warrantless data collection program.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 12, 2014 7:48 AM

@ Figureittout,

With respect to,

All the posters in their cozy homes calling for troops on the ground, go fight yourself.

Some of were there the first time around nearly a quater of a century ago...

The real need for boots on the ground falls into three areas,

1, Gathering Humint / tactical liaison.
2, Hearts & minds.
3, Maintaining / ensuring civil stability.

None of these of necessity require an active "combat role" any more than you would expect from a civilian police force. However without (1) any action would be doomed to fail, without (2) you give the opposition a propergander advantage and the ability to hide within the civilians, likwise withoit (3) you effectivly give the opposition easy propergander and the ability to set up their own power structures.

The noticeable thing about the actions carried out by the US is it's almost entirely lacking in these areas. Because it does not trust those it is aiding, and commit to the long road from day one. Due to this it is in turn not trusted by those it is aiding and thus seen as an invading ravening hord not unlike the view we were taught of the Vikings, seeking to "rape pillage and plunder". But worse the US has also now earned the image of despoiling, as has been pointed out Sadam had no WMD as was known prior to embarkation, the US then used large quantities of DU munitions from tanks and gun ships. DU munitions have some unpleasant properties one of which is the uranium effectivly burns and spreads almost mist like leaving a heavy metal highly toxic dust behind. In the six cases of blue on blue with DU the vehicles were so toxic they had to be buried very deaply. Thus many consider DU to actually be the equivalent of a "chemical weapon" and thus should be rated as a persistent WMD...

Also the much vaunted and publisized "smart weapons" were anything but with over 50% failing to work causing significant collateral damage not just to civilians but as blue on blue.

Further US and coalition command and control systems were not interoperable, with some radio sets being "crystaled up" incorrectly so no comms occured from forward and behind enemy lines intel observers, which is why contrary to popular belief no scud launchers were attacked let alone destroyed. It also ment that the "outflanking" measure that was supposed to engage / trap Iraqi troops only outflanked empty dessert or friendly forces, as the Iraqi troops had fallen back way way faster than expected. Hence the "turkey shoot" on the Bassra road, and Bush senior being dragged out of bed to order the halt to hostilites before it all turned into seriously "Bad TV".

Subsiquent serious analysis of the CC situation has shown that even headless chickens have more sense of direction than the coalition, and that even after "taking out Iraqi CC electronic comms" the Iraqi's still had better CC be it by runner or dispatch rider. The conclusion is that the coalition victory was not due to military skill and advance technology but the Iraqi forces withdrawing quickly out of the coalition planed area of conflict, it is presumed so that Iraq would still retain sufficient military capability to keep Iran out.

This ill advised Bush senior decision to "let em run home" had serious knock on effects over the next ten years with amongst other things Sadam obliterating the "marsh arabs" habitat and fixing in Iraqi minds that the US were seriously bad news, which became self forfilling in "round two" under Bush junior, in that there was little or no civilian support. Few if any Iraqis believed that the US would do anything other than destroy civil infrastructure and leave rapidly thus leaving any who assisted them open to reprisals... As it turns out their predictions proved more or less correct, except the US hung about and in effect commited reprisals against the civilian popullation as well as leaving them open to reprisals by those factions that have over time become the likes of ISIS.

The US for some reason also still has belief in the idea of being able to achive signifigant military objectives by air only. It has been known since WWII that air only stratagies only work in exceptional circumstances, and in general due to damage to civil infrastructure and civiliann deaths, actually acts as a "recruiting campaign" for the likes of ISIS etc. Worse varrious groups have demonstrated that the US reluctance to get decent Humint and thus over reliance on Elint and Sigint can be turned against the US with seriously Bad TV of women and children seriously injured or dead by drone and conventional air strikes.

Finaly it would appear that part of the ISIS stratagy is to force the US into making very bad decisions due to appeasing home politics and thus appear in others eyes to be weak, impotent, ineffectual or plain incompetent, and it appears to be working for them...

NovaSeptember 12, 2014 11:05 AM

@Figureitout

"So, YOU can link an email for me to contact you in your name instead of a rape pic if you are so curious"

I noticed that, and initially thought there might be either a MITM attack on myself, or XSS.

If you notice, the normal "dot" between the name and the link to the message was also made into a clickable link.

On investigating, however, I realized that the issue was a minor parsing error in the site and the link merely came from the post directly above that one, "Boo's" post.


If you wish to contact me, you have to jump through a minor security hoop: you have to get an account at ARS technica and PM unknown.soldier there. I will talk through that PM system, if you wish. I will not leave that system up forever, for security reasons. I wash my identities on a regular basis.

NovaSeptember 12, 2014 11:25 AM

@Anura, @anyone/@everyone, on Yahoo PRISM Extortion Case


I was hoping to talk on that on today's Squid, but sure it will come up there, as well:

There are many points to be made on this, and it is rightly outraging people in the technical community.

This manner of behavior is symptomatic to totalitarian nations. It should not happen in a nation professing to be free.

Especially not in a nation that relies on its' moral authority from that profession.


To a degree, I am waiting a bit to see what defenders may say on this issue, to see where their flaws in thinking is, but I can say, from flaws I have seen:

They implicitly trust people in government. I can see and have seen various reasons for this: they served or do serve, or have family who served or do serve. They believe abuse will never happen to them, nor to anyone they know. They find it in their own best interests to always cheer the team. Even if they are not on it.

Even if it is the opposing team.

From a security standpoint such implicit trust is abhorrent. You do not trust people in privileged positions. You do not trust people in privileged positions whom you do not know. You build and maintain systems that manage trust with a very paranoid eye.

You further do not trust that "regardless of what corruption may happen, or what failure may happen the nation will still stand" -- as if, this, too, is wise or honorable.

Why work in security if you believe such things?

So even from their own perspective: you see that they are far from trustworthy managers or even cheerleaders. They fail their country, they fail the world, and they fail all the people they claim, erroneously, to care about.


NovaSeptember 13, 2014 11:59 AM

@Figureitout

Scratch that, I am sorry, but I am out of here (and that other site). And on these issues entirely. I am simply "taking too much of the air in the room up". I am also sick of the subject. At this stage of things, I do not even believe in positive change.

Might as well just wait for the Apocalypse.

As I do not wish to get you worked up on your issue, there is not much of any advice I can give even in parting.

(I would never share any details about myself, my thoughts on personal security, or what security *I* rely on honestly to any stranger on the internet... anyway. So I could only speak on the most generic terms, anyway. I have no idea of who may or may not be an "hacker", and those who seem the most implausible as such are actually the most plausible as such.)


Sancho_PSeptember 13, 2014 6:37 PM

@ Figureitout, Clive:

I absolutely love what you both wrote regarding our involvement in the Middle East.
Let me add just one very basic point :

It seems the “white men in ties comparing missile size” (LOL) can not understand that other cultures could have a different mindset.
In fact, Arabs (Muslims) have.

To them any foreign involvement is blasphemy and has to have deadly consequences.
Islam is by far not what westerns simplified call “a religion”. It is their life, the only truth.
WE can not make (them) friends at gunpoint.

—> Keep OUT.

SkepticalSeptember 14, 2014 10:34 AM

@AlanS:

Your view consists of a two-part critique, as I read it. First, you have doubts about whether efforts to destroy ISIL will be successful. Second, you have doubts about whether, even if it were, the objective would be worthwhile to achieve.

So, for the first, you write:

I think the US has little control over the current situation. There are lots of players involved who have little love for each other and all have different strategic objectives. It's not exactly a great recipe for destroy ISIS.

Right, that's fair. What can the US do here?

-> Intelligence: imagery and other forms of intelligence as to ISIL movements, meetings, logistics, etc.

-> Air support: provide Kurdish, Iraqi, and possibly other forces with supporting air strikes and supply drops

-> Air strikes in depth: strike ISIL points of vulnerability anywhere, at any time

-> Special operations

-> Training, weapons, supplies, advice

-> Leverage other nations in the region to aid and assist as well

Who are the parties in general (I'm not doing a detailed sketch of the Syrian groups likely to receive aid from the coalition):

1 - ISIL. Islamist organization. Objective: establish territorial control and institute Islamist governance. Controls large portions of Syria and western Iraq, and some key Iraqi cities. Relies on oil sales, hostage ransoms, and pillage/robbery for funding.

2 - Government of Iraq. Strained by sectarian ties, distrusted by Sunni populations in key areas held by ISIS. Corrupt. Concerned about Kurdish independence. Compelling interest in removing ISIL from Iraq and restoring stability, both from vantage of own survival and from vantage of its strongest external influence, Iran. Has sufficient well-trained forces with modern equipment and some air power. Requires political influence to conduct counterinsurgency operations properly, air support, intelligence.

3 - Kurdish Regional Government. Distrustful of GOI, and now blood enemies against ISIL. Highly coherent political entity with cohesive, highly motivated military force lacking in artillery, aircraft, and other equipment, but with a deep well of experience to draw upon. Needs equipment, additional training and advice.

4 - Sunni populations in Anbar and elsewhere. Distrustful of GOI, dominated by and fearful of ISIL. Counterinsurgency campaign and establishment of trustworthy local governance in secure environment required. Will need outreach from local Sunni nations as reassurance, very strong presence of Iraqi troops who must acted in a restrained fashion aligned with a population-centric counterinsurgency, and will need to see ISIL's ability to reinvade destroyed.

5 - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey. All with strong interest in destruction of ISIL given possible effects on Islamist groups within their own respective borders. All susceptible to US leverage. Can offer training, cultural expertise, human intelligence (possibly), knowledge of Syrian rebel groups and leverage over same. Can offer ideological, religious, and information campaign to undermine ISIL's standing.

6 - Syrian rebel groups. Weakest link. Disorganized, prone to Islamism. Provide sufficient support for some to defeat ISIL, a bloody rival, and evaluate over time for additional support.

And even if ISIS is destroyed or weakened there will be plenty of other jihadis and warring factions to fill the space left. This could go on for a very long time.

What does "fill the space" mean? There will be other Islamist groups, but it won't be easy for any of them to achieve what ISIL has, and there will be substantial obstacles to any who attempt to do so that ISIL did not face.

Part of undermining groups like this over the long run involves demonstrating the futility of the means they are choosing. Destroying ISIL is therefore a part of a viable longer term strategy (only a part, I stress).

The need for America to destroy ISIS seems to be mostly a reaction to the very effective use of the media by ISIS and the supposed threat to America. But the immediate threat to America appears to be a very small. One could make a much stronger argument for some type of more limited action based on humanitarian grounds and on the grounds of moral responsibility but we were already engaged in that type of action before last night.

The immediate threat to the US is small but difficult to assess, and it has the likelihood of becoming one in the future. Given ISIL's clearly hostile intentions, its brutality, and the interests of other parties in the region in killing ISIL, US action here is in accord with US interests and humanitarian obligations.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 14, 2014 1:00 PM

@ Skeptical

At first I only had one word to describe my reading of your "opinion"--BULLFROG!!!

And nice ending (the most important drivers you've chosen to rationalize the U.S. government's killing of people posing no imminent threat to the US), dragging other people into your rational using a weak opinion (weak caveat included) and masquerading analysis by superimposing your own FEARS as a form of justification...good work.


The immediate threat to the US is small but difficult to assess, and it has the likelihood of becoming one in the future. Given ISIL's clearly hostile intentions, its brutality, and the interests of other parties in the region in killing ISIL, US action here is in accord with US interests and humanitarian obligations.

Let's break it down:
The immediate threat to the US is small but difficult to assess,

What the hell, you are either saying nothing, washing your hands, or tacitly and subconsciously elevating the RISK.

and it has the likelihood of becoming one in the future.

1. If the previous clause is a non or dismissive fragment (nothing or hand wash) then you are still defaulting to an assumed threat that supports "preemptive" killing. If your are using the first clause to surreptitiously elevate the risk, than it is your support argument for, again, preemptive killing.

Given ISIL's clearly hostile intentions, its brutality, and the interests of other parties in the region in killing ISIL, US action here is in accord with US interests and humanitarian obligations.

2. Based on the analysis of the first statement (reference the analysis in line item 1 of this list)...it doesn't matter if authorities are defined--the need to perform preemptive killing by the hands of the U.S. is necessary and just fine--by you.
--------------------------------
MY SOLUTION:
BOYCOTT ALL OIL AND GASOLINE PRODUCTS...

EVERYONE GET OUT OF YOUR SUV's AND LOSE YOUR SPOILED SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT ("Driving my Hummer around town has no consequences").

SkepticalSeptember 14, 2014 5:43 PM

@Clive: Subsiquent serious analysis of the CC situation has shown that even headless chickens have more sense of direction than the coalition, and that even after "taking out Iraqi CC electronic comms" the Iraqi's still had better CC be it by runner or dispatch rider.

Iraqi C3 survived the air campaign to some extent, quite true. Better than the coalition? Seems unlikely.

The conclusion is that the coalition victory was not due to military skill and advance technology but the Iraqi forces withdrawing quickly out of the coalition planed area of conflict, it is presumed so that Iraq would still retain sufficient military capability to keep Iran out.

I'm scratching my head at this one too. The objective of the coalition was to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, not to accomplish a change of regime in Iraq. They achieved that objective by military force, in which skill and technology played a large role.

The US for some reason also still has belief in the idea of being able to achive signifigant military objectives by air only. It has been known since WWII that air only stratagies only work in exceptional circumstances, and in general due to damage to civil infrastructure and civiliann deaths, actually acts as a "recruiting campaign" for the likes of ISIS etc. Worse varrious groups have demonstrated that the US reluctance to get decent Humint and thus over reliance on Elint and Sigint can be turned against the US with seriously Bad TV of women and children seriously injured or dead by drone and conventional air strikes.

None of the beliefs you impute to the US here are actually held by the US.

It is true that some forms of human intelligence are exceedingly difficult to acquire in some circumstances, leading to reliance on other forms of intelligence. But that's not due to a reluctance by the US to seek human intelligence.

@name.withheld: With respect to the portions of my statements that you quoted, I indicated my agreement with AlanS that the immediate threat of ISIL to the US is small (though I noted it is difficult to assess), but also noted that the threat is likely to grow. Can you tell me why you believe that this is "saying nothing"?

As to the rest of your comment, I'm not sure I understand it. I do think that the President has the authority to take what military action he has against ISIL, but for a broader campaign I would prefer Congressional authorization.

Sancho_PSeptember 14, 2014 6:40 PM

@ Skeptical:

You can not make friends by killing family members.

What did you think when someone killed 2000+ in NY?

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 14, 2014 8:21 PM

@ Skeptical

I made three possible suppositions for your definition or scope of the ISIL threat. To simplify, pick on of the following three arguments to support your use of the phrase "difficult to assess":

1. The phrase diminishes the VALUE of an accurate assessment. (This can be used later to dismiss an accurate assessment if it contradicts your supposition. )
2. To reduce the responsibility of pending decision by blaming "the assessment".
3. Trying to dissuade the reader from any substantive analysis by pre-supposing any value that COULD be derived from different or other analysis. (Creating or suggesting a event/outcome bias for the reader.)

Did anyone else not get what I am driving at here? Acknowledging the instruments and the subjects of debate can be fruitful and may help illuminate discourse in more than just the arguments, statements, and rebuttals. Especially when there is a difficult rebuttal...

SkepticalSeptember 15, 2014 6:57 AM

@Name.withheld: I think X is Y, but X is difficult to assess means that while I believe X is Y, there is a lot uncertainty attached to my belief. I have no idea why you'd attribute any of the three rather silly motivations you listed to me.

@Sancho: You can not make friends by killing family members.

Can you make friends by letting tens of thousands of family members be slaughtered by a cult of thugs while you did nothing?

Clive RobinsonSeptember 15, 2014 9:08 AM

@ Skeptical,

Better than the coalition? Seems unlikely.

To you maybe, but not to those who subsiquently reviewed what happened.

It was the first military action of a western coalition where the communications did not go up to the commanders not in the field. The lack of compatability in systems and command structures caused compleate mayhem not just between various nations but the various arms within a nations forces.

I can asure you it provided a lot of lessons which are still causing issues nearly a quater of a century later.

In fact several observers have indicated that one of the things they did get right was to distract / snow journalists with "smart weapon" films...

As for the objective, it was quite a bit more than to drive the Iraqi's out of Kuwait. A large part was to destroy the Iraqi offensive capability, by capture / destruction of as much of their forces as possible, on this score the action was pretty much a failure, it was the "turkey shoot" on the Basra road where "Bad TV" arose it's embarrassing and politicaly unaceptable head where this objective became clear to most of the world who had TVs to watch.

But their was the issue of "promises", the US had to buy a lot of support from the Arab world to get two things, the support of various Arab nations, and preventing Israeli involvment. These promises Israel exploited and forced the coalition to not deliver on promises to other Arab nations and peoples.

As for "total air war" and "Elint / Sigint not Humint" and the US, I am realy surprised you think you can get away with making your statments. Look at what is driving the use of Drones and the long long history behind it, I suspect most readers here are sufficiently well versed in these US policies to see through your comments.

Sancho_PSeptember 15, 2014 5:59 PM


@ Skeptical:

Great, you have correctly quoted what I wrote !!!

Now, please read again, probably ask some friend to read it with you:

You can not make friends by killing family members.

Think about it. Discuss it. Do not try to evade until you understand.

Basically it boils down to a simple statement: "You must not ****."

¿ What is the missing word ? (hint: 4 characters)

Wesley ParishSeptember 15, 2014 7:41 PM

@Skeptical (so-called)

Can you make friends by letting tens of thousands of family members be slaughtered by a cult of thugs while you did nothing?
My thoughts exactly on IDF's recent Gaza pogrom. It should explain why the United States is not going anywhere fast in the Middle East, more like chasing its tail. ("cult of thugs" - read up on the IDF's origin from the forced merger of haGanah, lehi aka The Stern Gang, and etzel aka Irgun. For what it's worth, at a time when Nazi Germany was starting the final solution and murdering some distant Jewish relatives of mine, lehi sought an alliance with Nazi Germany, for precisely the same reason the Mufti of Jerusalem (uselessly) sought an alliance with Nazi Germany.)

SkepticalSeptember 15, 2014 10:37 PM

@Clive: t was the first military action of a western coalition where the communications did not go up to the commanders not in the field. The lack of compatability in systems and command structures caused compleate mayhem not just between various nations but the various arms within a nations forces.

Sure, the coalition went through quite a few growing pains. 6 aircraft carriers, 100,000+ sorties, etc. with a multinational force, will do that.

I objected to the idea that Iraqi Forces, after 40 days of aerial strikes, had better C3 than the coalition.

I can asure you it provided a lot of lessons which are still causing issues nearly a quater of a century later.

Huge lessons learned.

In fact several observers have indicated that one of the things they did get right was to distract / snow journalists with "smart weapon" films...

Eh, I never thought much of that controversy. Keeping casualties to a minimum had become a priority, which meant pilots were released munitions at higher altitudes than recommended, resulting in loss of accuracy in many cases.

As for the objective, it was quite a bit more than to drive the Iraqi's out of Kuwait. A large part was to destroy the Iraqi offensive capability, by capture / destruction of as much of their forces as possible, on this score the action was pretty much a failure,

Quoting form National Security Directive 45, issued by President Bush on 20 Aug 1990:

Four principles will guide U.S. policy during this crisis:
-- the immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait;

-- the restoration of Kuwait's legitimate government

--a commitment to the security and stability of the Persian Gulf

-- the protection of the lives of American citizens abroad.

See GWU's National Security Archive

The President's planning directives expanded to include explicitly eliminating the Republican Guard as a fighting force, in National Security Directive 54, but the aim remained to drive Iraqi forces from Kuwait, and restore Kuwaiti government.

Certainly the President wanted the Iraqi forces to retreat in severely weakened fashion, unable to contemplate a similar invasion again.

it was the "turkey shoot" on the Basra road where "Bad TV" arose it's embarrassing and politicaly unaceptable head where this objective became clear to most of the world who had TVs to watch.

At that point, the President was about 24 hours away from ending it. He asked in a meeting why not just end it now rather than wait a day? The objectives are achieved, why risk more American lives and why kill pointlessly? So they announced the end that day.

As for "total air war" and "Elint / Sigint not Humint" and the US, I am realy surprised you think you can get away with making your statments. Look at what is driving the use of Drones and the long long history behind it, I suspect most readers here are sufficiently well versed in these US policies to see through your comments.

Drones are used because they're highly effective. It doesn't imply a dismissal of the utility of ground troops. The US has sufficient range of forces that it can tailor its approach to the problem at hand.

@SanchoP: You can not make friends by killing family members.

Think about it. Discuss it. Do not try to evade until you understand.

Basically it boils down to a simple statement: "You must not ****."

Whenever you find yourself thinking that foreign policy boils down to a single statement, you can be sure that you've left the pot on too long.

As to not killing - I don't think that's realistic in this world.

@Wesley: My thoughts exactly on IDF's recent Gaza pogrom. It should explain why the United States is not going anywhere fast in the Middle East, more like chasing its tail. ("cult of thugs" - read up on the IDF's origin from the forced merger of haGanah, lehi aka The Stern Gang, and etzel aka Irgun. For what it's worth, at a time when Nazi Germany was starting the final solution and murdering some distant Jewish relatives of mine, lehi sought an alliance with Nazi Germany, for precisely the same reason the Mufti of Jerusalem (uselessly) sought an alliance with Nazi Germany.)

IDF and ISIL actions are about a million miles apart from a humanitarian perspective.

As far as that conflict goes... one of two things need to happen. Hamas must go, and someone credible and willing to deal must take its place; or, Hamas must reform itself from within.

The process can take decades of relentless pressure and covert struggle, but the walls do seem to be closing on Hamas, so we'll see. They are survivors, so I would not be completely surprised by the emergence of some moderation.

Sancho_PSeptember 16, 2014 10:44 AM

@ Skeptical:

Please try to stick to the point: We are not talking about “foreign policy” - whatever that mess is.

We are talking about that fascinating creature walking on two legs,
controlled by both heart and brain. We are talking about us.

We are talking about the very basic principle that we must not kill.

Realistic or not isn’t the point, the point is the principle.

Can we agree on this principle?

SkepticalSeptember 16, 2014 4:53 PM

But Sancho, whether a proposed moral principle is actually compatible with human well-being and progress is a vital consideration in evaluating it. When I assert that "we must not kill" is unrealistic, I mean that it fails that vital consideration. I'd agree that killing should be a last resort, though.

As to foreign policy... sometimes I wonder whether we fail to realize how quickly things can, and historically have, changed. Few predicted WW1. WW2 was more foreseen, but obviously with insufficient clarity. The course of the Cold War was fraught with uncertainty.

The comfort level we've developed is in large part due to success in the foreign policies of Western democracies, though this is not to understate the enormous credit that belongs to leaders like Gorbachev, who, though lacking the clarity as to how to transition his nation to a different system with a more just and democratic system of law and governance, did not lack for the courage to undertake incredibly bold changes, and reach across divides to forge the foundations of a more lasting global peace.

What ultimately made the foreign policies of Western democracies successful was their willingness to allow, encourage, and hope for other nations and peoples to meet them in common cause. So credit for the progress made belongs with many nations and persons, West and East, North and South.

We're transitioning now into a more dangerous period, with the rise of great powers who may wish to challenge the status quo, with the disruption that could be caused by that extremist group, the one out of a hundred, that manages to acquire a WMD and use it to effect, with the immense complexity and interdependence of so many different parts of society, with the speed at which changes can cascade through national and international systems.

Foreign policy is ideally about two objectives: national security, and shaping the international environment so that a nation may both prosper from the work and skill of others while also contributing to the prosperity of others. Both, in my view, are essential to the progress of humanity. And so foreign policy is never something, especially in this world, that can or should be neglected or dismissed.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 16, 2014 7:51 PM

@ Skeptical

And so foreign policy is never something, especially in this world, that can or should be neglected or dismissed.

Ironic--you have accomplished the task of avoiding both policy and discource brilliantly. How prideful you must be.

Nick PSeptember 16, 2014 9:10 PM

@ Sancho_P

"We are talking about the very basic principle that we must not kill.Realistic or not isn’t the point, the point is the principle."

If your foundation is essentially this, it's crumbling before you build something on it. Realistic *is* the point because we live in the real world. We live in a world with a 100% death rate where many creatures, including human hunter-gatherer tribes, murdered to survive or thrive. We grouped together enforcing group values that reduced it to productive work for most & wars (involving killing) for others. People also killed to eliminate known or perceived threats to themselves or their country. Over time, the world evolved where some countries will only permit killing under narrow circumstances, some regularly endorse genocide, and plenty in between.

Killing isn't wrong: it's a fact of life. Different people & groups do it for different reasons in different ways. In the U.S., our guns, capital punishment, and strong military show we're fine with killing so long as it's perceived to be the right people and circumstances. So, the question you must pose to an American is "Is it justifiable or necessary to kill (target/targets) given (circumstances)?"

Skeptical (and many Americans right now) believes that killing certain people in the Middle East, including recent extremist organizations, is justified because it might prevent future American deaths or damage from economic crashes tied to a Middle East erupting in flames. I'm not so certain because we've already been bullshitted into too many wars that such organizations' own covert behavior largely caused. This might be another one. It might also be a legitimate target that's not as significant as they make out. It might also be a legitimate target with large risk that needs to be hit hard. Many possibilities & I haven't been following the situation enough to make a declaration on it. That part is for others.

That there is a principle of "no killing" in a world full of it is hard to believe. That we should never kill in such a world is harder to believe. We should kill, we do plenty, we could certainly improve on the amount/targets/ethics, we should kill only when necessary, and those that kill without solid justification should be imprisoned or executed after convicted in court. Good news is we already have laws for that proven out by plenty of convicted murderers in prison. We just need to apply them to these other organizations full of psychopaths that so far have had criminal immunity for countless crimes, including murder.

Sancho_PSeptember 17, 2014 6:38 PM

@ Skeptical:

You avoid to clearly answer the fundamental question, fearfully touching it by using “should be a last resort”. Will you teach that to your kids, “should”, instead of “must”?
Shame on you. Now go and ask your wife what she’d answer.

Then dribbling around, glorifying “foreign policy” instead to confess that mankind didn’t realize the real challenge to live on a nutshell in the universe.
We had our chance but we’ve missed it. It’s too late.
That's foreign policy.

Sancho_PSeptember 17, 2014 6:42 PM

@ Nick P:

First I thought you’ve missed the scenery that I’ve set up for Skeptical.
I wanted it very short and basic, because Skeptical tends to weasel around and often changes the direction without focussing “to the point”, deliberately or not, I don’t know. Here he’s trying to give the global player by introducing “foreign policy” into the basic issue of killing family members in foreign cultures, which will never result in peace until it ends in extinction (… need an example?).

But then I was not sure how to read your posting, e.g. “Killing isn’t wrong”
(OK, that’s a bit out of context, but i do not love the context, too).

My basic values say otherwise.

I think we must start with the fundamental, simple “must not kill”.

This is similar to the US Constitution. The basic statement. Never touch it.
Then the amendments may follow.
Then all the law / interpretation of law. Bad things happen here, too. Real world.
Then the invisible, secret interpretations, secret court - not acceptable at all.

Anyway, the basic, the foundation is “we must not kill”.
Killing is always wrong.

So the basic answer is “Yes” - and realistically “Yes, but …”
The answer is not what Skeptical tried: “But …”

So “Yes”.
Now come the amendments, very likely one is self defense.
But be very careful with that, listen into yourself (switch off TV and PC),
if it came to that point: You have killed a human. A son. A brother.
This is not a PC game.

And if that was a different race … You can not understand that they think different.
America has that often, within the borders.

What I want to say:
Death is different in TV / PC game and in reality, you only know if someone died in your arms.

Nick PSeptember 17, 2014 8:33 PM

@ Bruce Schneier & crypto fans

John Young of Cryptome.org issued a FOIA request for any information about Suite A cryptography. I doubt many details, if any, will be provided. They might, though, and he deserves credit for being the only person I've read that made an attempt at it. Their Type 1 crypto is what they really trust. Learning more about it will only help whether it's worth imitating or not.

Nick PSeptember 17, 2014 8:45 PM

@ Clive Robinson

EMSEC Offense and Defense in 1960's
https://blog.cyberwar.nl/2014/09/dilemma-of-offense-versus-defense-tempest-in-1960s-nsa-bullrun-gchq-edgehill-in-2000s/

The interesting part is that their (mainly UK) solution was to poison crypto advice and equipment to enable SIGINT. Took NSA quite a while to focus enough resources on this. Then they finally succeeded. So, subversion turned out to be the greatest risk point as people like Myers predicted. And it was the most ignored by security specialists and customers.

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