Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Fishing Moves North in California

Warmer waters are moving squid fishing up the California coast.

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 26, 2014 at 4:28 PM • 162 Comments

Comments

ThisIsPeachySeptember 26, 2014 7:24 PM

How the NSA Profits Off of Its Surveillance Technology

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/14/09/26/1451223/how-the-nsa-profits-off-of-its-surveillance-technology

And where do those profits go into the federal account coffers to offset expenses incurred by taxpayers (for developing those technologies)? Or, are they redirected into private accounts that are used by the management of the spook organization?

By the way, isn't patenting against the law for technologies developed at taxpayer expense? Are those patents listed as owned by the federal government (if so, that might be illegal)? If not, who is listed as the patent owner?

Do they pay taxes on those profits?

Since the taxpayers own those products, they should be freely available to all U.S. citizens (restrictions on use might apply, but they are still ours).

ThereGoOurRightsSeptember 26, 2014 7:28 PM

Forest Service Wants To Require Permits For Photography

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/14/09/25/230212/forest-service-wants-to-require-permits-for-photography

This is blatently illegal and purely represents over-reach by a publicly owned and funded organization. It is an example of impinging on the rights of U.S. citizens, much like that which happened after 9/11 when police departments across the country attempted to stop photography of public structures. It is probably backed by existing large scale image, audio, and video copyright holders in an attempt to satisfy their greed (if you limit citizens rights over everything, then you have greater control over your things).

Afterthought: they are not doing their job and are trying to cover it up.

MaxSeptember 26, 2014 11:02 PM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/09/26/the-phone-of-choice-for-the-pedophile/

Law professor in response to the FBI director criticizing Apple's new iPhone encryption system:
"...in the wake of the Snowden revelations and related news over the past couple of years, that the one absolutely certain result of all of the attention being paid to government snooping was going to be the development and widespread deployment of more powerful encryption mechanisms for ordinary folks like you and me to use. "

A. FriendSeptember 26, 2014 11:48 PM

@ThereGoOurRights
I think they are out of money. I understand where you're coming from.

...as the tax base erodes....

65535September 27, 2014 4:22 AM

@ ThisIsPeachy

Why brute force a crypto key when you can just “escrow” the key? I wonder how many “parameter z” fields have been given to the TLA’s?

'PASSING A CRYPTOGRAPHIC KEY AND ALLOWING THIRD-PARTY ACCESS TO THE KEY'

"PATENT No.: 6,724,893"

"This invention is a method of passing a cryptographic key between users so an authorized third party (i.e. law enforcement) can access the
key. This method is called key escrow."

"With this method, a key recovery access field is embedded into the key pass method. The access field is embedded into a parameter “z.” The access field allows an authorized third party to recover the key with the help of an escrow agent. Alternate methods adds steps That would allow the second user to determine if the first user is complying with escrow aspects of the method."

"Value: Authorized third-party able to access key Exchange key in certified, bandwidth efficient manner"

Page 19:
https://www.nsa.gov/research/_files/tech_transfers/nsa_technology_transfer_program.pdf

[And]

"I didn't see anything really cool," Bruce Schneier, a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and a world-renowned computer security and cryptography, said after the Daily Dot showed him the catalog.

The Daily Dot relayed one NSA employee's claim to Schneier, that the TTP was a means of injecting federally-funded research back into the U.S. economy. "Bullshit," he responded. “The NSA's not stimulating the economy. They just said that and it sounds good. They just made that up."

http://www.dailydot.com/politics/nsa-technology-transfer-program-national-security-agency-ttp/

h7B0September 27, 2014 12:55 PM

@65535
'PASSING A CRYPTOGRAPHIC KEY AND ALLOWING THIRD-PARTY ACCESS TO THE KEY'
"PATENT No.: 6,724,893"

Now I wonder if web browsers like Chrome and others could be utilizing this...

Private Key ExchangeSeptember 27, 2014 2:08 PM

@65535
RE: 'PASSING A CRYPTOGRAPHIC KEY AND ALLOWING THIRD-PARTY ACCESS TO THE KEY'

Even if third-party access is denied during in-band key exchange, the metadata produced indicating that a key may have been passed is a security weakness.

That implies out-of-band key exchange as a solution, and further that the value of public key encryption has been fundamentally undercut by a network observer able to record everything.

Nick PSeptember 27, 2014 3:27 PM

@ Private Key Exchange

It's why I previously recommended exchanging a master secret with each party, then generating other keys from it + nonces. Let's one use one or more symmetric ciphers instead of asymmetric. It's also faster & easier to obfuscate.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 27, 2014 10:02 PM

I find it unimaginable that not only are we BACK IN IRAQ, but now we are in Syria. Pundits and politicos call it an "action". When you drop 500 or 10000 pound bombs and launch cruise missiles into a country that hasn't ordered them--where is sovereignty? It's not like we are delivering cold pizza. Add the insult and injury to our foundational principles and the lessons of history (Vietnam, Central America, Iraq war II, Libya) and you must conclude that crypto fascist minions are at the helm. WHERE THE HELL IS EVERYONE ON THIS ONE?

We started BOMBING the peoples of Syria two weeks ago without discourse, no protest, and literally no dissent. I thought even the wingnuts would take this on; silence. Rand Paul even laid downed his supposed constitutional hubris to embrace bombings in Syria and only a handful have asked congress to come back and debut the use of war powers. With all this Senator McCain hasn't released a new single or LP with a new Beach Boys redux.

The failure here is not to consider the action(s) outside of the supposed eminent threat. The Middle East, Arab, and Muslim communities must believe we are serial rapists/murders. They see that we've done nothing in Ukraine (a much bigger kid in the sand box) and we pick on the little guy over and over again.

Our failure of imagination is so complete that I believe the United States has delivered the final death nail to any legitimacy or moral authority of what little remaind.

If we even want to pretend we have a process, or if you like a cogent political screenplay, the President should call for an emergency session of congress.

If we allow congress to forgo their constitution obligations for political agency--WE SHOULD ALL BE SHAMED!!! Being reelected or winning seats in congress for an f'ing party is no rational choice that forgives the killing of others...perceived security risk or not!!!

AnuraSeptember 28, 2014 1:39 AM

@name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons

Well, if it worked for Iraq and Afghanistan, it will work for Syria as well.

glasses.held.for.covert.reasonsSeptember 28, 2014 5:27 AM

@name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons

"WHERE THE HELL IS EVERYONE ON THIS ONE?"

Television Host: "The feeling is definitely there. It's a new morning in America... fresh, vital. The old cynicism is gone. We have faith in our leaders. We're optimistic as to what becomes of it all. It really boils down to our ability to accept. We don't need pessimism. There are no limits."

And when you source the quote you'll understand where we really are today, for real.

65535September 28, 2014 6:25 AM

@ h7B0

“Now I wonder if web browsers like Chrome and others could be utilizing this...” –h7B0

I do also.

Chrome uses a lot of server-side extensions and I wonder if those extensions do “key escrow.” Firefox apparently uses some code from Chrome so I wonder about it also.

@ Private Key Exchange

“…third-party access is denied during in-band key exchange, the metadata produced indicating that a key may have been passed is a security weakness.” –Private Key Exchange

I agree.

“That implies out-of-band key exchange as a solution, and further that the value of public key encryption has been fundamentally undercut by a network observer able to record everything.” – Private Key Exchange.

We know that the NSA has little trouble decrypting SSL/TLS sessions.

I have not found much information on the exact method the NSA is using [other than the Z field – and possibly the firms who make the initial private key and Certificate Signing Request to major pubic CA vendors – at which time the private key is forwarded to the NSA].

Are you saying that a non-standard port be used for key exchange? Are you referring to another method of key exchange outside of the documented SSL/TLS exchange be used?

The out of band key exchange sounds promising – but exactly how is it accomplished?

For example, how would an out of band key exchange be done on a website like Bruce’s website?

@ Nick P

“It's why I previously recommended exchanging a master secret with each party, then generating other keys from it + nonces. Let's… use one or more symmetric ciphers instead of asymmetric. It's also faster & easier to obfuscate.” –Nick P

That sounds good on the surface. But, how will it be done on a website like this one?

If you don’t know the other parties at the other end of the encrypted circuit how do you actual employ non-asymmetric encryption?

We know that Clear Http is "MIT'd" very easily by the NSA [and probably most hackers]. How do we communicate securely.

ThothSeptember 28, 2014 7:28 AM

@65535
I am very doubtful of how difficult it is to walk into a CA and get their root CA private keys. The usual setup of HP Proliant Server + Ubuntu Server OS/Windows OS/CentOS/RHEL + HSM + Firewall appliance and they are happily celebrating their successful setting up of a CA service for the public and definitely earn their cash.

Let's take a look at what you can't TLA in the default CA configuration....

HP Proliant Server - TLA'ed
Ubuntu/Windows/CentOS/RHEL OS - TLA'ed or susceptible to TLA
HSM - DEFINITELY TLA'ed
Firewall (mostly Cisco/Juniper stuff) - DEFINITELY TLA'ed

Hmmm .... so you can see their root CA cert private keys now ? Destroying integrity of computer security especially the infrastructure of CA architecture is just the snack for NSA and their buddies. It isn't even the main course meal yet.

If you exchange secret keys on websites, it is definitely a gone case with assurance it is not going to be even remotely secure. All you can do is just continue the public chatting on Bruce's comments section without the hope of actually getting to contact any of us unless we allow by somehow putting out our contacts unless Bruce decides to do something to allow us to communicate securely by some design of his website or his website starts leaking all over.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 28, 2014 7:44 AM

@ GHFCR

And when you source the quote you'll understand where we really are today, for real.

Don't you mean "for reel"?

I'm confusing you with another blogger, beer.goggles.on-head.just.cus, living in SC?

Okay? Quoting television sources tells me all I need to know. And, best first guess is Fox Nudes--right behind that choice would be MSNBC. Hard to discern which political party the cheerleaders are in, even with the outliers like Rand Paul sporting pom poms it is not obvious. And, the MIC is not saying anything--again.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 28, 2014 8:42 AM

@ Name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons,

And, the MIC is not saying anything--again.

But if you listen carefully in their direction, you will hear the poping of champagne corks, as they toast a new "war on tax payers" which heralds bumper profits for them.

As Private Eye so succinctly puts it "Trebles all round" with the self elected senior members of Government seeing a nice rosie future of consulting at a million a month as those we elected look forwarad to ever larger campaign funds being channneled through dodgy organisations....

As you dear tax payer are bought, sold and traded for profit and forced to pay through the nose for such abuse....

EvanSeptember 28, 2014 9:08 AM

@ThisIsPeachy:
The rules for patents on government-funded or government-developed inventions are somewhat obscure to me, but it is in principle possible. Feynman's memoirs touch on the subject; apparently patents cannot be issued to the government itself, but they can be issued to individuals working for the government and then sold to the government.

Government works cannot, however, be trademarked or have copyrights. That's why there are special laws handling the misuse of the seals and sigils of various agencies.

SkepticalSeptember 28, 2014 9:33 AM


@Clive: But if you listen carefully in their direction, you will hear the poping of champagne corks, as they toast a new "war on tax payers" which heralds bumper profits for them.

Here is the S&P Aerospace & Defense Select Industry Index.

It actually hasn't moved much at all since early July.

The simple answer is you cannot with weapons but you might be able to with the ammunition they use (using say rapidly aging chemicals for propellants or explosives or even batteries). [from the Kill Switches for Weapons thread]

Or you might design critical electronic components to degrade beyond usability within a certain time-frame.

@name.withheld: We started BOMBING the peoples of Syria two weeks ago without discourse, no protest, and literally no dissent. I thought even the wingnuts would take this on; silence.

There was a lot of discourse, actually. Congress held hearings on the subject; the matter was debated publicly for weeks.

The US - in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, and Bahrain - targeted ISIL and AQ-affiliated forces in Syria.

You don't hear many objections because most people are in favor of this action. Indeed the debate at the moment is centered around whether the strategy requires additional US commitment of forces to be successful.

The failure here is not to consider the action(s) outside of the supposed eminent threat. The Middle East, Arab, and Muslim communities must believe we are serial rapists/murders. They see that we've done nothing in Ukraine (a much bigger kid in the sand box) and we pick on the little guy over and over again.

Actually US air strikes have been welcomed. Anti-US rhetoric in the Middle East, aside from that spewed by ISIL supporters, focuses on the theory that ISIL is a creature controlled by the CIA.

As to Ukraine, there are no terrorist organizations in Ukraine that are beheading kidnapped journalists after torturing them and forcing them to make lengthy propaganda statements; nor are there any expressing their intent to attack Western nations; nor are there any committing savage atrocities on the scale of tens of thousands in the course of invading a neighboring country.

This has nothing to do with "pick[ing] on the little guy." The world is not a schoolyard and war isn't a tournament among knights. ISIL isn't less of a legitimate target because they haven't armed themselves as well as the US.

Our failure of imagination is so complete that I believe the United States has delivered the final death nail to any legitimacy or moral authority of what little remaind.

From August until today, the US has been very smart and restrained, focused properly on grounding its planned action in legitimacy and in moral authority before undertaking them.

Nick PSeptember 28, 2014 9:56 AM

re ISIL/MiddleEast

I agree with Skeptical's analysis of the ISIL situation. I previously said I haven't studied anything about them so my agreement is conditional on it being true that they're doing the stuff he describes. If they are, then they've also done the following:

1. Sent a message to U.S. saying our people will die so long as they live.
(Always a bad message to send to someone stronger than you...)

2. Began to make the region more chaotic.

3. Started committing war crimes that bring international condemnation.

4. Piss off other Middle Eastern powers to the point that they actually want to partner with U.S. on a major military action.
(Who saw that coming post-Iraq?)

So, that's what ISIL has been doing. Like Skeptical said, the U.S. debated this among themselves in the media, in Congress, and in the international community. I saw some people wanting us to avoid military effort, but I saw nobody defending ISIL. And many people (majority here in South) wanted us to smash them to pieces. So, this is a legitimate target for the U.S. and the U.S. acted legitimately in securing favor for the attack. Nothing for me to gripe about.

If I'm worried about money, I'd be focused on the $100bil of the defense budget spent on stuff we don't need at all and that could be focused on domestic benefit. Not to mention the $250bil+ annual tax dodges government allows the wealthy. This effort is only a tiny fraction of the bigger issues.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 28, 2014 10:21 AM

To all--I apologise in advance for responding to "the troll"--but If I am wrong about his/her trollship I offer the following (sort of).

@ Skeptical

There was a lot of discourse, actually. Congress held hearings on the subject; the matter was debated publicly for weeks.

ARE YOU A COMPLETE MORON? My question is not sarcasm and your rhetoric is certainly not related to "skepticism". You must own pink pom poms that are 100 meters high. The previous sentence is sarcastic.

Please define "a lot" and how that squares with bombing people! How much of your version of discource is required to permit bombing someone else? Where inside Iraq, is Syria? That's what YOUR thinking implies. I won't even respond to your thoughtless comments that fail to rise to the level of discourse/debate. What you've expressed is thougthtless and irresponsible...

I suggest you print a hundred copies on paper of this thread, leave DC., and head to Perioa and go to Main Street. Stand on the corner and hand copies to passers by, see what reaction you get. If you aren't pummelled into the ground I'd be surprised.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 28, 2014 10:32 AM

@ Nick P
My god man, have you lost your mind?

Congress totally failed to carry out its responsibility constitutionally--and--is killing people under the umbrella of POLITICAL expediency while dodging being on record. THEY ARE COWARDS AND TRAITORS.

Are you now a fan of fascism? The people are not relavent? Our representative form of government requires our consent before we use the awesome power of war. My only thought is your anonymous tag has been hijacked/abused.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 28, 2014 10:45 AM

@ Skeptical
Wow, so the king of Saudi Arabia and the king of Jordan and the king of qatar are on board? What was I thinking--I am so surprised! How wrong could I have been...

wider.contextSeptember 28, 2014 11:08 AM

In view of the fact that the NSA has subverted the Constitution and everyone knows it, the Syrian bombing operation may simply be a distraction.

The military coup in the US needs to be covered up with something compelling, like a propaganda operation in the form of a war.

In other words, the Syrian bombing operation makes sense if the main target is in the minds of thinking people around the world.

وسخSeptember 28, 2014 11:48 AM

Nick P. has not lost his mind, but for a super-stealthy clandestine anti-authority cypherpunk anonoid, he sure does use a lot of government lingo. What is this "legitimate" business? Use of force is not legitimate or illegitimate, it's legal or illegal. Legitimate is Beltway bureaucratese for illegal. And what is this about targets? Target is a word used by military cannon fodder or gumshoe cops or associated civil service drones. There are no targets, only threats to peace.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 28, 2014 12:12 PM

@ wider.context,

The military coup in the US needs to be covered up with something compelling, like a propaganda operation in the form of a war

As written by Orwell in his 1984 play book.

@ Others,

With regards Syria and IS / ISIS / ISIL and US and now other nations use of airstrikes.

What has made the difference between 6months ago and today?

The reality is a crazed --probably-- UK citizen who has traveled out there and takes pleasure in killing a couple of people also from the UK and other western nations by chopping their heads off.

It is these comparitivly minor events that have caused the change in public opinion in the West. Few if any are actually overly concerned about the real atrocities being commited on the people that live in the area.

Contrary to what many think IS do actually have quite a bit of support on the ground in Iraq. The reason is the major Muslim sect in the area sees it's self as being badly treated by the corrupt puppet government put in place by the US in Iraq. It also happens that the House of Saud also comes from that religious sect, and already suspected of supporting IS.

The situation is to put it mildly is confusing, because the Syrian's are strongly backed by Russia, thus trying to get authority for air strikes etc from the Uan Security Council is likely to be a compleate non starter ad Russia will do what the US does with Israel and veto the issue.

What we are seeing is a local civil uprising being used by various Super Powers as yet another "pissing contest" and it's rapidly turning into yet another "Proxy War".

Mean while don't take your eye off of China, they are accelerating their push to control both the south and east China Seas, and enslave various peoples on islands in the area into Chinese state control against their wishes (see what is currently happning in Hong Kong which is against the treaty promises China made when the UK left). I suspect it won't be long before another proxy conflict starts in that region.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 28, 2014 12:35 PM

@ wider.context

In other words, the Syrian bombing operation makes sense if the main target is in the minds of thinking people around the world.

You're giving REAL thinking people a bad name. I would refer to them as the clueless and ignorant. I make no apologise to/for STUPID.

@ وسخ
I have known Nick P to be thoughtful and insightful. My surprise is that he is even considering the propaganda. Where is the intelligence coming from? And, I hate to put it this way but a hostile group shoots down MH-17 and the response is tepid at best, two beheadings (yes, cruel no doubt) and the world is about to end and we have another existential threat to the father/home land.

@ et al

I have no confidence in our officials and government in any sphere of activity. Myself, I must be an f'ing genius because I see no end to the possibilities and options and instead the most repugnant and useless form of a response is chosen. Where are the intellectuals on this one? Oh yeah, they're scared speechless and thus hand the reins willingly to the bully of the solar system.

The failure of modern society to address "evil", or whatever other symbolic label used, that doesn't involve munitions is tragic--AT BEST!!! Complete lack of intellectual and moral resolve and history WILL record this as a failure of leadership (in every sphere) and of the peoples in support of it. I know that when my neighbours dog poops in his neighbours yard I don't go over and shot my neighbour for keeping his dog in check.

Sauda Arabia and Isreal are the most problematic (when tied to the US) elements of this whole sociopolitical calculus. A table, without kings, needs to be set that represent the true interests in the region (its people and not its lords) to convene a ad hoc "ministry of interests" that can speak to the underlying causes of grievance in the region. People don't blow themselves up or behead journalists because they are "mad" or "insane". It is because they have no reasonable options.

And bombing, shooting, and droning the "evil-doers" to death will not improve or expand their number of choices. They need more alternatives, not ultimatums.

I CALL FOR A WORLDWIDE BOYCOTT OF OIL AND GAS.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 28, 2014 12:48 PM

@ Clive Robinson
I believe you're close on this one, one element that is missing that would not make this hegemony possible is to call the cowardly intellectual and political classes to account. And we both know the problem with that. Other than that we are going to have to rely on the direct action of the people to remove the incentives (money) from the greedy liers. There isn't the time to wait for enlighten self interest or that the general population wakes from its stupor/idiocy/ignorance/malaise.

BOYCOTT OIL AND GAS GLOBALLY!!!

DanielSeptember 28, 2014 1:30 PM

Look, I'm no dove but the fundamental problem with the US attitude is that it doesn't know how to solve problems without resorting to violence. When it doesn't get its way, it bombs the shit out of the opposition. The question isn't whether this or that group of the moment deserves it--some of them most definitely do. The problem is that it has become a habitual, reflexive response imbedded in the national psyche. When we don't know what to do-kill, kill, kill.

The first problem with this habit is that it breeds the same habit in other people. People quickly learn that there isn't any real sense in talking with America and so problems flare up and escalate into violence more quickly than before. When a country's attitude is "capitulate or die" its not shocking that some people would chose death over capitulation.

The second problem is what it does to our own psyche. By defining every dispute as a conflict we lose our ability to respond creatively to events. We come to accept that violence is not simply one means of dispute resolution but the only means of dispute resolution. The end result is always rubble--a country can't destroy itself to greatness. Rome and her ruinous wars, and all that.

So the problem with Nick P and other's response is that it isolates to the present and ignores the trend. The coalition of the willing is an ever shifting mirage the occludes the pattern. And the pattern is that America is a warrior nation--orcs in red, white and blue. As an American I've come to accept it and I'm not blind to the fact that I even benefit from it, but I'll never agree to it or like it.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 28, 2014 2:52 PM

@ Daniel

As an American I've come to accept it and I'm not blind to the fact that I even benefit from it, but I'll never agree to it or like it.

You can't have your cake and it too--you are more than tacitly involved.

I understand those that serve, god and country and all. They are the audience the propaganda is targeted at--ignorant and ill informed masses. Dont think they are political just political fodder.

But those that know more, not ignorant of many facts, have not only a duty, but a moral responsibility to answer the lies.

BenniSeptember 28, 2014 3:13 PM

NSA, that are these competent guys who tap the phone of the german chancellor. They place their bugs in german satellite internet providers whose customers are oil companies. And CIA infiltrates the german BND and places its moles in the german liberal party: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/a-teflon-chancellor-and-wildcard-foreign-minister-how-america-views-the-germans-a-731645.html

But when it comes to terrorists, then NSA says:

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, in which he said, “We overestimated the ability and the will of our allies, the Iraqi Army, to fight.

That's true. That's absolutely true,” Obama said. “Jim Clapper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”

Thats what NSA can do. Tapping the phones of their allies, but on terrorists they have no clue. Great...

BuckSeptember 28, 2014 3:36 PM

@name.withheld

But those that know more, not ignorant of many facts, have not only a duty, but a moral responsibility to answer the lies.
I, for one, wholeheartedly agree!

Nick PSeptember 28, 2014 4:07 PM

@ all re my comment

Remember that my opinion was conditionally tied to Skeptical's claims about the organization being true. Specifically, recruiting operatives to use against us, destabilizing the region, committing atrocities, and (personally important) beheading journalists. If these aren't true or U.S. is hiding another motive, then naturally my opinion will no longer apply as it's conditional. I'll also reiterate what I've said before: I'm not following the ISIL situation at all because it would be too time consuming to anlayze. Got more pressing issues. I'm just commenting on comments and the logic behind them.

@ name.withheld

What little I've looked at suggests Congress, the President, the courts, and many Americans favor action against ISIL. Although specifics might *technically* be unconstitutional, it would seem that *in practice* the various parties are being represented correctly. Contrast this to the pure propaganda used to get us into Iraq. I wanted a few leaders tried and executed for treason, there. So, constitutional or not, they've handled this one way better than Iraq and I'm quite glad. Whether they go or not I really don't care ("more pressing issues"). My only concern is they minimize collateral damage (read: murder) and blowback. They're not going to quit screwing with the Middle East so that's the best I can hope for.

@ وسخ

"Nick P. has not lost his mind, but for a super-stealthy clandestine anti-authority cypherpunk anonoid, he sure does use a lot of government lingo. "

Lol I needed that laugh. I appreciate it. :)

I learned most of my espionage and military tactics studying governments... as a cypherpunk living in areas full of gangs, dirty cops, and honest cops. I was survivalist out of necessity. The BBS's, Internet, and emerging Web provided a treasure trove of content. There were also groups like Paladin and Eden Press supplying interesting information. I read manuals, books on Cold War espionage, nonfiction/fiction on covert ops, DOD/NSA's security materials, and so on. I also read philosophical debates, books on government abuse, conspiracy sites, declassified documents, hacker sites, and so on. I turned into an ideological supporter of civil rights, privacy and government accountability. However, I'm also practical enough to recognize certain tradeoffs must be made to get an activity to succeed. And some I won't like. So, I'm a complex guy that thinks from a variety of perspectives with experience in each. Private sector only, though. ;)

Note: I'm just citing what's relevant to military, espionage, security, etc discussions. Most of what I did/do was very normal and nonviolent: hang out with friends, chase women, party, do science, read books, exercise, activism, consulting, etc. I wear different hats for different situations. Recent comparisons people have made include Sheldon on Big Bang Theory, John Nash, "The Engineer" of Wikileaks (not him btw), the ever charming Casanova, and "Red" on Blacklist. I just laugh, enjoy their explanations, imitate the character around them as an inside joke, and continue to be my unusual & mostly genuine self.

"What is this "legitimate" business? Use of force is not legitimate or illegitimate, it's legal or illegal."

Nah, laws are just rules powerful people decree, others *might* accept, and violence is used to enforce. The Constitution seems like a reasonable set of rules and tradeoffs, so I'm with it. International treaties and foreign laws? The U.S. just makes calls on risk on which to ignore and follow. My use of the word "legitimate" seems more appropriate if you look at its implied meaning: is our intervention ethical? Was it mostly or wholly Constitutional? Is it in our national interests? Do the major players in the Middle East support it? If yes to all of these questions, then it's wholly a legitimate option among numerous options.

The world is a competitive place where nations look after what's good for them (and maybe their people). If it's good for either, it's legitimate from a national perspective. Anyone who disagrees for ethical or legal reasons can feel free to challenge the U.S. military and voters to end all foreign interventions. I'm not going to wait to see how that turns out.

@ Clive Robinson

"Contrary to what many think IS do actually have quite a bit of support on the ground in Iraq. The reason is the major Muslim sect in the area sees it's self as being badly treated by the corrupt puppet government put in place by the US in Iraq. It also happens that the House of Saud also comes from that religious sect, and already suspected of supporting IS."

And if it's something like that I'd might oppose the action in favor of counterinsurgency techniques and government reform. Might also be in favor of temporary, minimal action to stifle the organization while the above two techniques are implemented. Situation would be complex and beyond a blog comment to solve.

@ Daniel

Great points. That's exactly the problem with most activities in the Middle East. It's why I've opposed how we've handled Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and many others. I'll add that the U.S. proactively causes their biggest problems in many countries with covert ops designed to aid their imperialism. My only minor gripe is...

"So the problem with Nick P and other's response is that it isolates to the present and ignores the trend. "

You're missing that there's actually several trends. One is America the Global Benefactor and Policeman. That's often a coverup for imperialism. However, certain interventions were welcomed and positive for the countries involved far as I can tell: fighting communism in South Korea, Khmer Rogue in Cambodia, and Nazi's in Europe. If American people don't oppose them, then I consider those legitimate so long as they're like examples I gave rather than diguised imperialism. To be fair, Germany was actually a mix of both. Another trend is America The Empire pushing their demands, laws and products on others with a variety of coercion tactics (including bombs). Also, stealing resources, manipulating politics, and rigging economies. All mainly benefiting a rich few her and there. This trend I oppose (and expose) every time I get a chance along with time/energy.

My claims were conditional on Skeptical (and the media's) claims about ISIL. If the claims were valid, then it is a somewhat isolated situation as most organizations aren't acting anything like that. They're practically asking to be hit. The trend would be America the Policeman, maybe with positive results for us and them. (MAYBE...) If it's propaganda and Clive's right, then it's another result of American The Empire. My supporting comment wouldn't apply and I'd oppose the action. I'd support alternatives like I told Clive.

@ AlanS

Thanks for the links.

SkepticalSeptember 28, 2014 4:24 PM


@name.withheld: Please define "a lot"

It's more than the amount of discourse you claimed to have occurred: none. Go google the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings if you'd like an example.

Stand on the corner and hand copies to passers by, see what reaction you get. If you aren't pummelled into the ground I'd be surprised.

A solid majority of Americans approve the military actions in Syria.

@Filthy: Nick P. has not lost his mind, but for a super-stealthy clandestine anti-authority cypherpunk anonoid, he sure does use a lot of government lingo. What is this "legitimate" business? Use of force is not legitimate or illegitimate, it's legal or illegal. Legitimate is Beltway bureaucratese for illegal. And what is this about targets? Target is a word used by military cannon fodder or gumshoe cops or associated civil service drones. There are no targets, only threats to peace.

I'm not sure you realize how humorous this blatant personal attack is.

Those who fetishize authority care only about legal and illegal. Those who question authority care about legitimate and illegitimate.

You managed to get it completely backwards - and with a tone of condescending indignation in the bargain.

Thanks for the laugh.

@Clive: The reality is a crazed --probably-- UK citizen who has traveled out there and takes pleasure in killing a couple of people also from the UK and other western nations by chopping their heads off.

It is these comparitivly minor events that have caused the change in public opinion in the West. Few if any are actually overly concerned about the real atrocities being commited on the people that live in the area.

A majority of Americans supported airstrikes against ISIS before the videos of their murders of James Foley and Steven Sotloff were released. Indeed US airstrikes against ISIL had been underway two weeks before those murders occurred.

You are also minimizing ISIL's startling gains in Syria and Iraq over the last six months. They drove to the outskirts of Baghdad and to within 35 kilometers of Erbil. Along the way they committed outrageous acts of savagery on a grand scale. In the process, they acquired oil refineries, immensely greater access to "tax" (i.e. extortion) revenue from businesses, and expanded a very profitable kidnapping-and-ransom enterprise.

As a result, by the middle of August ISIL was earning millions of dollars per day, had acquired artillery, armor, and possibly other weapons from retreating or killed Iraqi Army forces. It had doubled or tripled the number of personnel under its command. And it had intensified its outreach to Westerners and other terrorist organizations while expressing its intent to strike at Western societies.

Even just undertaking a conventional threat analysis, ISIL fits the bill. I'll boil it down to two elements:

Hostile Intent + Capability.

Their access to funds, personnel, weapons, and the bomb-making expertise of related groups provided them with a sharply growing capability.

Their intent was beyond doubt.

By August - and according to some long before - the question was not whether ISIL constituted a threat, but rather the most effective means of countering it.

@name.withheld: two beheadings (yes, cruel no doubt) and the world is about to end and we have another existential threat to the father/home land.

No. Actually President Obama has wisely refused to hype the threat posed by ISIL. They are a threat, but hardly an existential one, and our response to that threat must fit into a larger strategic policy for the Middle East as a region and with US national security strategy as a whole.

That is why the US response has been comparatively limited and has sought to encourage and empower other parties in the Middle East to address ISIL and what it represents.

ISIL is destined for the ash-heap of history. We all know that. It would be a mistake to overreact to it, to derail policies that will address bigger and longer-term problems in order to counter ISIL. Instead the US, and much of the world, has exploited ISIL as an opportunity for unity and for progress on those greater issues.

@Daniel: The problem is that it has become a habitual, reflexive response imbedded in the national psyche. When we don't know what to do-kill, kill, kill.

This is far from the strategy that the US has adopted against ISIL. Instead it has organized a coalition of countries from across the Middle East and the globe to counter not only ISIL itself at a military level, but also to undercut ISIL's ideology and propaganda, to reduce funding and support for extremist ideology in the Middle East generally, to safeguard and protect the Kurds, and to encourage the reform of corrupt governance in Iraq.

It is true that in Vietnam, for a long time, the US allowed the military to adopt such a strategy as you criticize, measuring progress by body counts. And without doubt, that was a mistake (to understate it).

But US strategy historically has really never been that limited. Remember the Marshall Plan? The support for, and protection of, elections in Western Europe, even where Communist parties stood a good chance of winning? Remember US support provided to Tito, notwithstanding that he was a Communist leader? Remember Nixon's trip to China? Remember Reagan's outreach to Gorbachev?

All of that is mixed with other decisions where the US did choose force as a primary mechanism, but it's really not, and has never been, the sole tool of US policy.

At the level of popular discourse, you'll of course hear those who talk only of military force, and when they do it's usually in complete isolation from the rest of US policies and commitments across the globe. But that popular discourse isn't reflective of the whole of actual US strategy or foreign policy.

But it does often grab the most news coverage. Which makes for better video after all - a document being signed by two old men, or F/A-18s roaring as they leap from an aircraft carrier into the sky?

The latter is more fun to watch, to be sure, but don't be misled by it.

BoppingAroundSeptember 28, 2014 4:54 PM

Benni,

It seems I'll have to learn German — too much interesting stuff coming from 'german-sp
eaking' websites.

Nick P,

> There were also groups like Paladin and Eden Press supplying interesting information. I read manuals, books on Cold War espionage, nonfiction/fiction on covert ops, DOD/NSA's security materials, and so on. I also read philosophical debates, books on government abuse, conspiracy sites, declassified documents, hacker sites, and so on.

Are these still on-line?

Nick PSeptember 28, 2014 5:24 PM

@ BoppingAround

Paladin Press is still going strong. They're missing some good stuff that's either out of print or banned. That happens steadily with these outfits. Eden Press is still up but be more careful with them. Identity, laws, hacking, etc are all fields where the situation changes constantly, the tactics change, and new materials are needed. I stopped checking on Eden after I noticed they were just publishing the same stuff. Some things aren't affected by this, though, and their catalog has new items it seems. The privacy and business books might still have value.

Note: For either site, be sure to check eBay or Amazon first to see if they have it cheaper. That's S.O.P.* for me. ;)

* Oh damn, there goes my "government lingo" again... haha

Nick PSeptember 28, 2014 5:38 PM

@ Bopping Around

Wait, for some reason I only saw the Eden/Paladin reference. Now I realize you're probably talking about the whole thing. A few from old days I still remember are textfiles.com, cypherpunk's mailing list, spy books in the local library (check university if not local), articles on net from reputable sources, Marcinko/Beckwith books, Ludlum's fiction for good ideas, War is a Racket by Butler, How to Lie with Statistics, guides on disinformation, and anything you can find *with strong evidence* on U.S. covert operations (or conspiracies).

On the latter I'm talking only those that proved out. Operation Northwoods, Ajax in Iran, MKULTRA, Manhattan Project, Lusitania, Pentagon Papers, Iran-Contra, BCCI, various CIA programs, NSA deceptions, etc. Get first hand accounts & docs that they used to promote the cover story. Then, look at declassified docs and accounts *after* the confessions or leaked/declassified documents. The differences are highly educational about how governments can act covertly with varying levels of success and morality. Many patterns you see will repeat because they rarely change them: they work too well. (sigh) Others they alternate as they learn new tricks or try to prevent previous failures.

وسخSeptember 28, 2014 5:48 PM

Ooh, touchy! Goaded skep to a ponderous Har-Har-Har! attempt at humor, painstakingly explained yet ultimately ineffable. Don't quit your white man's welfare job for stand-up.

Our fearless questioner of authority will now explain to us whether the US security state is merely illegal, hostis humani generis, facing prosecution or extradition in every jurisdiction in the world, or illegitimate, risking the fearsome onslaught of skip's sniffy disapproval.

Or just a bunch of sick brainwashed fucks who'll ream skep soon as look at him.

Sancho_PSeptember 28, 2014 5:49 PM

”… but on terroroists they [NSA] have no clue.” [Benni]

I think that would not be fair: On the contrary, they knew exactly.
Only they wouldn’t tell ;-)

As we know, the mantra of our worldwide economy is growth, the defense industry being no exception.
They badly need a target, a shooting range + sinkhole, to keep the business alive.
So they have carefully prepared the target.
And it doesn’t matter that there isn’t anything in return with this kind of warfare.
Peace is no option in business.

We need sinkholes all over the place to run our worldwide Ponzi scheme called economy.

But - why oh why - can’t we target the Mars?

Rem:
I have dear memories of my time in the Middle East, also Aleppo and Ar-Raqqah.
As a “Western”, not a Muslim, I was welcomed like a king. All doors were open, I was treated with hospitality and respect. No second of fear, neither day nor night, in any place.
Oh, well, the scorpions … Sometimes there were no doors at all …

Shame on western imperialism, national capitalism and hypocrisy!

Keep OUT !

AlanSSeptember 28, 2014 5:56 PM

The road to "real security and peace" from 12+ years ago:

Remember the Bush Doctrine

"Meanwhile, President Bush needs to stay focused on Iraq. Many of those who want him to become deeply and personally involved in the Middle East peace process also want him to do nothing about Saddam Hussein. In the Arab world, in Europe, in Washington and New York, and in some corners of the administration itself, there is the hope that Bush will become so immersed in peace-processing that he'll have neither the time, the energy, nor the inclination to tackle the more fundamental problem in the Middle East. By turning Bush into a Middle East mediator, they think they can shunt him off the road that leads to real security and peace--the road that runs through Baghdad. We trust the president will see and avoid this trap."

And still no coherent strategy.

BloodResourcesSeptember 28, 2014 6:46 PM

Just as we have seen blood diamonds and blood metals fueling war and conflict, is this another variant of blood oil?

Exxon and Russian Operation Discovers Oil Field Larger Than the Gulf of Mexico

http://news.slashdot.org/story/14/09/28/156255/exxon-and-russian-operation-discovers-oil-field-larger-than-the-gulf-of-mexico

That is, negotiate your way out of the Ukraine affair by presenting economic opportunity, that may be tied to cooperation (you back off or you no get any).

I sense a degree of FUD in this, or propoganda just to change the game (the test well was drilled before a granted deadline...)

Your thoughts?

SkepticalSeptember 28, 2014 7:22 PM


@AlanS: re Bacevich & Iraq

While I have great respect for him, the analogy with the Iraq War is all wrong.

First, no one is claiming that defeating ISIL is the key to peace in the Middle East. The President has made every effort to underscore that this is a long-term grind which will largely be fought by Iraq and other nations in the Middle East, and that while ISIL does constitute a threat, it is similar to many other terrorist threats that emanate from around the globe.

Second, the effort to defeat ISIL is multilateral in a way that the Iraq War never was. The US has managed to enlist Arab nations to help bomb ISIS and to train and equip opposition forces. The effort also has substantial support from allies across the globe, with little controversy.

Third, these efforts are very limited from a military perspective. Thus far the numbers contemplated are 5,000 fighters trained per year, and the airstrikes, while steady, tend to consist of several each day, not hundreds each day. There are no plans for a large-scale US invasion of Syria, nor for a conventional US combat role in Iraq.

Bacevich may merely be attempting to strike a cautionary note, which is fine, but it's not a note that renders any criticism of the strategy as it currently exists.

وسخSeptember 28, 2014 8:17 PM

Skep using big words, just like a big boy! Can you say multi-lateral? I knew you could! But MisterRogers is thinking, If you're all so multilateral, how come you can't get a frickin authorizing resolution? No, 2178 is not it, you little retard, can't you read?

Substantial support from allies all over the globe, that's priceless, even the servile limeys just zoomed their Tornadoes around and went home with a full load. They're happy to let the wogs rope-a-dope USAF and then blow the balls off JSOC crackers.

Best of all is Skep playing think-tank big shot. Fighters trained per year. Wow. That's on top of all the warriors you trained to frag fatass Pentagon colonels and desert under fire.

Secret Agent Charlie Foxtrot. Trained to fail. That's Skep.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 28, 2014 9:19 PM

@ Nick P,

You might find this of intrest,

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/iraq-crisis-how-saudi-arabia-helped-isis-take-over-the-north-of-the-country-9602312.html

It's from a couple of months back. The ex MI6 head, has made other observations with regards ISIS and so far they appear correct.

His main message is it's "Muslim -on- Muslim" and other unfortunates in the area not "Muslim on the West". That is it is Sunni on Shia (and Alawites etc), and funding has been coming from Saudi and Qatar Sunni's with the hardline, intolerant and purpuritanical Wahhabism version of Islam as their core beliefs. That condem Shia, Alawite and other sects as non Muslim apostates that should be treated worse than non beleivers. This extream viewpoint is often espoused by wealthy Saudi's and is seen by Shias as not just Saudi Sunni demagoguy but actual policy as expressed through the "payed for" actions of ISIS, and to be the worst of "ethnic cleansing".

A further consideration he has indicated is that there is to much of the wrong sort of press in the West which is actually aiding and abetting ISIS in that it had caused an upsurge in disafected muslim youth to "fly out" to get their share of the spoils of war.

Predictably though ISIS rather than reward them as they expect are using them as cannon fodder. It is only those of realy extreamist views who revel in inflicting pain and suffering in psychotic measure that are being rewarded with the power to inflict it further and wider and given publicity etc.

@ Skeptical,

The fact that ISIS are "grabing what they can" is to be expected historicaly it's "the spoils of war". The fact they pay off supporters and attract recruits with money, property and humans and probably drugs as well is not peculiar to ISIS but quite a few such organisations around the world and goes back into the mists of time. However it also enables them to now be financialy independent of their original Saudi and Qatari sponsers, who are now scared ISIS will not just ignore them but activly seek out and destroy the House of Saud for their dependence on non believers such as the West (a theme that re-occurs with fundamentalist Muslim groups with regular monotony AQ being but one of several).

As for minimising ISIs gains, no I did not go into it. The initial funding and covert support from Saudi and Qatari backers enabled them to start geting others to join them, thus rapidly building up their organisation. Also contrary to what others portray, they do actually have quite a bit of support on the ground from the local Sunni's who have an active hostility to Shias and most other Muslim sects and other religions. Sunnies actually outnumber Shia about ten to one, and considerable resentment to Shias in government and the armed forces has been very apparent since not long after Sadam was unadvisably removed from power by US interests and Coalition forces. The fact that the Iraqi forces contain a large number of Shia and the ISIS atrocities to Shia were well known amongst them, and the fact the troops felt like they were not going to be supported in hostile territory, no doubt led to what was a mass desertion fall back out of Sunni regions, thus leaving littler or no impediment to ISIS's advance. However as was seen with the Kurds ISIS for all their money, weapons and oil are defeatable even by lightly armed and unsupported troops.

Arguably US airbourn attacks on ISIS or ISIS supporters have been going on well prior to the two weeks you indicate, and were in no way dependent on US citizen support / opinion, which is recently coincidental with the otherwise unpopular long running drone and other airbourn activities in the Middle East ranging from Iran to Pakistan if not beyond into Kashmir etc.

Which brings us to the question of if ISIS are going to survive, I suspect the simple answer is yes but not quite in the same format.

The daft notion that air strikes are going to do anything other than act as a recruitment drive for ISIS flies in the face of historical evidence. The argument that we won Gulf War I was not true, it was but a single battle that was the prelude to Gulf War II which in turn was a prelude to the current situation, each step along this road costs more in human lives, suffering, and resources than we could ever hope to gain from it. It will get steadily worse untill one of two things happen, a dictator to replace Sadam arises or the rest of the world comes to it's senses and stops making weapons or the parts required to make them to these parts of the world. The simple fact is that though many, probably the vast majoity, in the region long for peace, others do not as they significantly benifit by the hostility. The choice is eradicate them or negotiate a settlement, neither of which appears acceptable to various factions in the US and other Western governments, so weapons etc will go in for natural resources out for the next twenty to sixty years. When the resources to buy weapons are gone, the fight will continue unless the various sects learn to live together, which history sugests is unlikely.

That is people often only get over religious differences when they nearly all perceive they have more to gain together than they have either apart or fighting. Thus you have to somehow take the gain out of war for all concerned.

AlanSSeptember 28, 2014 9:39 PM

@Skeptical

"The President has made every effort to underscore that this is a long-term grind..."

That's stating the obvious. It's already been a long grind and it will continue to be a long grind. To what end it is hard to tell as there's no strategy.

thevoidSeptember 29, 2014 1:01 AM

was just watching something i think many here would be interested in.

'rise of the hackers' on nova:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/rise-of-the-hackers.html

most surprising was the fact that it was not the typical drivel you see about
anything computer on anything mainstream. there was some talk about breaking
RSA with quantum computers, and a very interesting authentication mechanism
based on a unique pattern in the brain created by repeating certain tasks (like
playing a song). someone even gave an explanation of quantum crypto using
alice/bob/eve examples. not your typical lame-brained media reporting. even
mentions that the weakest link may not be the tech, but humans, and that there
are always other ways to break encryption systems (example given was eve ties
alice up).

Gerard van VoorenSeptember 29, 2014 1:04 AM

@ Nick P • September 28, 2014 5:38 PM

Good writing!

Btw, as a funny note, I just read on Wikipedia that Colin Ross received the Pigasus Award. Well I think that every person has his/her fascinations. Isaac Newton for instance: "Few remember that he spent half his life muddling with alchemy, looking for the philosopher's stone."

WinterSeptember 29, 2014 3:32 AM

@Clive Robinson
"The daft notion that air strikes are going to do anything other than act as a recruitment drive for ISIS flies in the face of historical evidence."

My understanding of the air strikes is that they have nothing to do with "destroying IS" directly. They are intended to stop IS from ethnically cleansing the region between Lebanon and Iran, committing genocides on scales not seen since WWII, and capturing the oil fields of Syria and Iraq.

The way these air strikes can do this is by destroying IS' two strong points: Income by destroying the installations they need to exploit the oil fields, and heavy weapons by directly attacking concentrated deployments of heavy guns and tanks.

Without the income to organize their "state" and the heavy arms to overrun their opponents, the Kurds and other troops can IS them in. The crucial points for the future extermination of IS state aspirations will be to get the Shiites of Iraq to include Sunnites in their government and a way to "deal" with Assad.

I also suspect that the Turks will intervene when there are too many Kurds flying into Turkey. That would start a new uprising in Turkish Kurdistan.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 29, 2014 7:05 AM

@ Winter,

You forgot to mention the third leg to ISIS's stool and that is support of the populous on the ground, through the likes of the elders in the Sunni comunities who have very conservative if not Wahhabism views and will use whatever powers they have to maintain their "status".

As long as this aspect is in place ISIS will be very difficult to remove or eradicate. Not even --supposadly-- "Free and fair elections" will work as ISIS will just morph untill they obtain political power, and then the noose will tighten and the Conservatives will push for religious "over" leadaship over any future elections. We have seen this in other areas of the Middle East.

As for Assad, getting rid of him is not likely to happen for various reasons, firstly he has strong political support in major areas within Syria, but more importantly Russia sees Syria as strategically important and Assad knows this, and how to use it to good effect.

In effect as long as Assad plays it carefully he has the Russian veto on the UN Security Council and a reliable supply of high quality Intel and where required weapons.

As for ISIS and heavy weapons, they don't need them, and loosing them may actually be advantageous. The reason is ISIS are fighting "Warlord" style, for which heavy machine guns on fast moving easily repaired Toyota and similar flatbeds are actually better suited. We see this in the likes of Somalia and other African countries. ISIS just do not have the required infrastructure and logistics to support the use of heavy weapons such as tanks and long range artillery, that realy are not that much use in open scrub country unless those using them are highly trained in their use. Mobility is the key to fighting wars in open scrub country where targets move faster than non face to face intel can keep up with. I'm sure that ISIS are aware that the 20th Century tanks they have access to are going to be 21st Century "Tommy Cookers" for them with regards well trained troops with 21st Century weapons systems such as hellfire equiped drones. I'm also certain that they are now aware that tanks will break down every day or so unless competently maintained by skilled staff with access to the required tools and spares.

As for oil instalations ISIS are almost certainly aware that the oil is only of use if they can sell it, thus it's currant strategic use is to actually cut off the revenue stream to their opponents and cause international preasure to be brought to bear on other Middle East nations.

Any oil revenue they might hope to gain will be either in the longterm future or by chance. They know that the fixed targets of wells, storage etc will more than likely be attacked, but even if not that they will break down and parts will not be available. Thus I expect them to take the "hostage" view on the oil wells and fairly soon mine them in the way Sadam did with those in Kuwait back in first Gulf War.

As I said earlier ISIS are hear to stay in one form or another, dealing with them effectivly will need not just boots on the ground, but "Hearts and Minds" long term plans which the US have so far failed to acknowledge to their citizens (if they actualy have any). It will take atleast two or three generations to alow the conservative sect leaders to die out and reliable secular education and democracy for all to gain a secure foot hold. Thus we are looking at spending the bulk of the 21st Century getting there...

SkepticalSeptember 29, 2014 7:50 AM


@Clive: I'm not yet persuaded that Qatari, much less Saudi, funding (at the government level I stress - private donors is another matter altogether) was behind ISIL's rise. At this point I view them as a split from the original AQI group who initially found some success in Syria and gained access to revenue from control of lucrative smuggling routes. However, if evidence should emerge showing otherwise, I'd have no difficulty changing my view.

And from Syria to Iraq?

First, remember that AQI never really disappeared from Iraq. They were crushed when the US implemented a correct counterinsurgency strategy, but began to re-emerge as the US departed. Indeed, they ran recruitment campaigns, and, having shown some signs of lessons learned from how the US defeated them, attempted acts of good will towards local population - all mixed, of course, with the usual bombings, kidnappings, extortions, and murders.

Second, as you note and I agree in full, the policies of Maliki and the corruption of the Iraqi Army and other national security forces have long disaffected Sunni populations. ISIL's rise coincided with that of Sunni militants in Anbar, and both together with an Iraqi Army crippled with corruption and a Sunni population angry and without hope.

It was a perfect storm, and ISIL rode it to victory after victory in Iraq.

I think you and I largely agree on the above.

Keep in mind that it was precisely the awareness of this problem that caused the US to condition its intervention on the removal of Maliki from office and the election of a successor who could implement a strategy to regain lost Sunni areas and populations.

Where we disagree somewhat:

However as was seen with the Kurds ISIS for all their money, weapons and oil are defeatable even by lightly armed and unsupported troops.

The Kurds were actually in serious trouble before receiving air support from the US and other parties. ISIL's heavy weaponry and mechanized forces provided an advantage that the Kurds had not been able to blunt.

As Winter points out, one of the purposes of the air strikes is to deprive ISIL of those advantages, at which point, with better arms and perhaps a little additional training and advice, the Kurds can take the initiative.

Arguably US airbourn attacks on ISIS or ISIS supporters have been going on well prior to the two weeks you indicate, and were in no way dependent on US citizen support / opinion, which is recently coincidental with the otherwise unpopular long running drone and other airbourn activities in the Middle East ranging from Iran to Pakistan if not beyond into Kashmir etc.

The first US strikes against ISIL were to stop their advance towards Erbil and to provide some relief to the Yazidis (many of whom remain victims of ongoing ISIL atrocities.

While not dependent on US public support, the fact is that the US public DID support them and that this support occurred BEFORE the footage of the murders of Foley and Sotloff appeared.

Which brings us to the question of if ISIS are going to survive, I suspect the simple answer is yes but not quite in the same format.

I agree in part. Over the course of years though I expect them to disappear entirely.

The daft notion that air strikes are going to do anything other than act as a recruitment drive for ISIS flies in the face of historical evidence. The argument that we won Gulf War I was not true, it was but a single battle that was the prelude to Gulf War II which in turn was a prelude to the current situation, each step along this road costs more in human lives, suffering, and resources than we could ever hope to gain from it. It will get steadily worse untill one of two things happen, a dictator to replace Sadam arises or the rest of the world comes to it's senses and stops making weapons or the parts required to make them to these parts of the world.

I don't know of anyone who suggests that air strikes alone will be sufficient. Winter's points on this are good.

Re the Gulf War and the Iraq War - the hope of course was that the Iraq War would never be necessary (and indeed, I don't think it was).

As to ultimate resolutions... for Iraq, the answer will be greater power and autonomy for provinces, and the growth of local national guards who can provide local population with legitimate law enforcement and protection - backed, ultimately, by foreign airpower and the leverage of commerce. The challenge here will be the maintenance of peace among the provinces.

For the Middle East as a whole... it will require existing governments to maintain stability while eroding extremist ideologies and inculcating more tolerant and functional beliefs and behaviors. It will take generations, and will involve uneven progress.


@Winter: re Turks - my hope was that Turkish intervention will come along with a final resolution with the PKK, though recent events may have derailed that prospect. We'll see.

WinterSeptember 29, 2014 9:25 AM

@Clive Robinson
"As for ISIS and heavy weapons, they don't need them, and loosing them may actually be advantageous. The reason is ISIS are fighting "Warlord" style, for which heavy machine guns on fast moving easily repaired Toyota and similar flatbeds are actually better suited. We see this in the likes of Somalia and other African countries."

As has been mentioned before, without its heavy weapons, the Kurds (and other factions) are perfectly able to contain IS. In Africa, groups without heavy weapons are relegated to "hit and run" actions. That is not a good basis for setting up a state. This is exactly what the Kurds are now finding out.

The Sunni support for IS is shallow. There are not that many conservative Muslims who advocate the type of atrocities and ethnic cleansing of the IS. Most certainly not when IS is aiming at conquering all of the Arabic countries, from Morocco to the Arabic peninsula.

BillSeptember 29, 2014 10:05 AM

I just received another call from my electric and gas service provider (BG&E in Maryland) in reference to getting me to sign up for smart meters. They are now using $ to get customers to switch over. They managed to get a $75 up front cost plus >$11/month to op out.

I questioned the ability of someone out on the Internet being able to break into their network and arbitrary turn service off and on via the smart meters. I was told by the person that that was next to impossible. They have secured their network and are confident that it cannot be broke into to cause service disruptions. My next question was, “What are my litigation options when my service is disrupted?” In this day I find it unbelievable that someone would make a statement that their network is next to impossible to be compromised.

It is easy to envision an attacker utilizing the selective tripping of the grid to take out large sections. Just turn off enough loads and then turn them all on at the same time.

Nick PSeptember 29, 2014 10:15 AM

@ Gerard

Thank you and good example with Newton. Like myself, different people would have different reactions: genius, idiot, crazy person, "burn him at the stake."

@ Benni

I don't remember you commenting on the recent confession that Germany is secretly controlled by the US via post war treaties. The treaties allegedly allowed US bases, our spying on your politicians, and more. If true, then everything you posted so far makes plenty of sense and is legal under secret laws.

The German people would need to collectively agree to nullify those treaties. They should also allow our bases, SIGINT, and any privileged trading status to remain to prevent the situation from becoming crazy. They might even use the moment to negotiate into the Five Eyes partnership.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 29, 2014 10:36 AM

@ Skeptical

There was a lot of discourse, actually. Congress held hearings on the subject; the matter was debated publicly for weeks.

You've yet to demonstrate the ability to engage in discourse (directly or indirectly) so I have no confidence in your ability to identify discourse as or from an observer's perspective/viewpoint.

Confusing or perceiving propaganda as discourse is not uncommon. The majority of media, news, and press outlets fail to achieve even modest levels of public engagement that would constitute discourse. Whether it is moderating a political debate or analyse and reports that engage constituents, citizens, and others; these organisations act more as trumpeters in the King's court than a conduit for discourse.

I have an example for your edification. Look at the Buckley and Chomsky Vietnam war conversation hosted on Firing Line. THIS IS WHAT DISCOURSE/DEBATE LOOKS LIKE.

Nick PSeptember 29, 2014 10:37 AM

@ Bill

Smart thinking. Next time you talk to them you might mention that it was just a few years ago that Boeing was asked to *start* determining how to secure a smart grid. The research, theirs and others, is ongoing. Last proposal involved $200k+ guards, advanced software protection, mandatory access controls, and so on.

You might suggest that if they've solved the problem they should license their solution to the US and industry. That they're ahead of every defense contractor & lab is more than impressive: it would save taxpayers a ton of money.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 29, 2014 11:11 AM

@ Bill

In this day I find it unbelievable that someone would make a statement that their network is next to impossible to be compromised.

Several years ago, vaguely, I managed a CALISO, generator, network access provider, the transmission owner, and major utility to integrate a backend portion of the smart meter initiative and the first Smart Grid efforts.

My take away, it was terrible in that I had to drive the design, implementation, and integration with the stake holders. Even pushed some of the generation SCADA tech companies (Siemens, GE, Schneider, ABB, etc) to rethink their standardised implementations (separation, layering, isolation, explicit permissive, and denials for logging). Producing a series of logical and partitioned network topologies just on the SCADA net(s) required a push on the NAP and the ISO.

What I saw in the implementation scared me poopless. A dedicated gateway device, ISOGen was configured by default to enter S3 power save mode, it went offline after 15 minutes. The equipment was required and supplied by the ISO/Utility, and any down time is charged to the generator. Eventually I stepped in on that platform too...purely out of the need to have the system work. I won't even mention anything about network, system, or SCADA reliability and security.

During that time I discovered that assurance, availability, and robustness required a bottom up push (management across spheres of influence were unable to evaluate or articulate critical system issues). Unless the designs are thoughtfully engineered and the implementations were re-tasked to other projects, there will be major headaches in the future.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsSeptember 29, 2014 11:23 AM

@ Bill
It's easier to do some other things that have much the same effect without traveling all the way down the control net--touching all Smart Meters isn't possible (even within a single Utility domain (the level of variability serves as a pseudo anti-mono culture). A denial of service is more plausible within a specific logical partition (DDoS).

BenniSeptember 29, 2014 2:47 PM

@Nick P:
"I don't remember you commenting on the recent confession that Germany is secretly controlled by the US via post war treaties. The treaties allegedly allowed US bases, our spying on your politicians, and more. If true, then everything you posted so far makes plenty of sense and is legal under secret laws."


Actually, that is not the case. But what we have is a NATO agreement, which says that NATO countries should exchange all military information.
This means, for example, that if there are terrorists in germany who get into airplanes and fly into skyscrapers, the americans have some right to get the necessary military information from german ground. There is this NSA site Dagger complex, where local protesters are meeting every weekend. Some time ago they wrote about a spook coming out of the complex. After shouting a big "fuck you" the spook told something about a NATO agreement....

And that is how NSA justifies its presence in germany. NATO states have to collect and share every military information. So it makes sense for NSA, to cooperate with german BND spooks in germany, and to exchange data. It also makes sense for NSA to get additional data on german terrorists from german ground that BND is not able to collect.

This is the legal justification for most of their activities. However, spying on german military, the german chancellor, or german telecommunication companies is not legal under NATO agreements. But they probably simply do not give a fuck on any agreements.

Among the providers where, according to Spiegel, NSA has illegaly placed bugs, are ones from the US and UK. This is illegal. NSA would, if it were to follow us law, have to ask a fisa court to get a national security letter and then the US provider hands them over all data they want. But no, for NSA this was not enough, they covertly placed bugs into US providers....
It is like what whistleblower Binney answered on the question what could persuade NSA to obey german law: "German law? They first have to learn to obey US law"....

So no, I do not think an alleged secret treaty explains what NSA is doing in germany.

These services are used to operate outside the law. After bnd agent Bodenkamp was convicted of forging contracts, ruining a company and stealing the intellectual property of a small database firm, the BND president wrote in a letter that "He can not see any wrongdoings of employees of the BND, this includes the criminal charges against Bodenkamp". Such an answer can only come from an authority for which it is usual to operate outside the law.

Similarly, it is with NSA. Does NSA collect data? "No, not whittingly?" said Clapper...

For these organizations, treaties and laws are of very very limited value



وسخSeptember 29, 2014 8:20 PM

Skep's endless droning blah blah blah blah blah blah blah at 7:50 may seem a bit difficult to follow, especially if you're not brainwashed into a delusional fugue by free-and-worth-it ROTC caliber education in marching and asskissing. So here's a glossary of key terms:

departed: cut and ran like a little whipped bitch when Iraq refused them impunity.

defeated: blew it up and gave it all to Iran on a platter.

correct counterinsurgency strategy: (1) widespread and systematic crimes against humanity, subject in November to urgent Article 20 investigation by the treaty body that criminalizes torture, and next spring to priority reporting to the treaty body that reviews compliance with the law on which state sovereignty is contingent under R2P. (2) Deep deep shit for US torture cowards.

eroding extremist ideologies: the kind of military intervention that makes skeptical sniffle and rub his ass

AdjuvantSeptember 30, 2014 2:17 AM

OFF-TOPIC

I might weight in on the geopolitical conversation here later, but right now there are a bunch of (semi-)technical stuff that have piled up, and I want to unload them from my mind.

Of SystemD and Resistance to its Emerging Monoculture
A follow-up to my post on this last April.

Debian's adoption of SystemD in Jessie seems indeed to cross a line in the sand for many, and the issue has once again reached a fever pitch. A good summary:

This time, it was a post on the Linux kernel mailing list that set it ablaze.

"Systemd is a trojan," developer Christopher Barry recently wrote in "An Open Letter to the Linux World."

"We all need to collectively expel it from our midst because it will own Linux, and by extension us and our freedoms," he argued. "Systemd will *be* Linux. Sit idly by and ignore this fact at all of our collective peril."


(Reddit reaction here

This has escalated to the point that we're now seeing

Debian Mempo -- Hardened Debian Kernel?
Incidentally, a reference in one of these discussions to possible foci of Debian fork-cessionism alerted me to the existence of a Mempo project within Debian. Still in early stages, it is seeking to apply GRSecurity and PAX to Debian's GNU/Linux kernel. It also seems to be aiming towards additional enhancements over and above those in Hardened Gentoo, the benchmark against which it will inevitably be compared. Worth a look.

Other Hardened Projects:
Liberte Linux
Speaking of Hardened Gentoo, it's worth noting that its derivative anonymous amnestic (Tails-like) Live CD, Liberte Linux seems to be approaching a new release. Currently only available as source, but it builds.

@Nick P especially: Qubes R2
I mentioned last month that Qubes OS had stabilized the V2 release. According to Rutkowska's blog, it's now official. Qubes is an isolation OS, rather than hardened kernel, but I include this here because The Grugq and Rutkowska get into an argument over the relative merits of the two in one of the Twitter threads on Liberte Linux linked above. @NickP, I know you've butted heads with her before, so you might find it entertaining!

Alpine Linux
Amidst the kerfluffle surrounding the bash bug (age-old vulns in my TERMINAL? REALLY? Ugh!), my thoughts have turned to available options that avoid many legacy codebases entirely, which gives me an excuse to mention a lightweight, hardened distro I've been wanting to plug for some time: Alpine Linux. This only shipping distro with GrSec stack-smashing protection and PAX-enabled kernel I have never seen mentioned here, and it looks like a very nice little package.

Since its 3.0 release last June, Alpine been based on the brand-new musl libc (a lightweight C library which aims for standards-correctness and "simple code that is easy to understand and maintain."). It borrows the Busybox userland apps instead of GNU, and it's minimalist and lightweight to the point that even the Suckless folks are impressed. (Really. One of them coined the phrase "increfuckingdibly awesome" to describe it!) Reviews here and here.

Plan 9 GPL'ed
Speaking of minimalist, well-constructed OSes that dodge the problem of huge, crufty legacy codebases, I don't think it's yet been mentioned here that
Plan 9 was finallyGPL'ed last February. Anyone using Rio certainly side-stepped ShellShock. Now who wants to re-implement it in SPARK 2014? ;-)

Ada/SPARK
Speaking of Ada/SPARK: I mostly attribute my near-complete ignorance of coding to a long-standing fear of becoming just another hackish "code-cutter." Accordingly I've taken a personal interest in these languages based on discussions here, since they would seem to provide an ideal foundation for developing secure coding practices. Apparently Ada was once a very common introductory programming language, so I figured I'd find out who still teaches it as such. A little investigation turned up a 2012 paper by one Prof. Robert Siegfried (Adelphi U.), "Whatever Happened to Richard Reid’s List of First Programming Languages?", which breaks down the languages used in introductory programming courses at 410 US colleges and universities. Apparently there are now only 5 that use Ada, and 2 more that offer tracks for either Ada or Python. I wish I knew which they were! Unlike the previous version of the Reid list (from 2005, and very much outdated -- I checked, and it seems the Ada profs at the schools listed then have retired), Prof. Siegfried does not provide data at the level of individual schools, but I've requested those details from him and will post it here if I get them.

This has been quite the scattershot post, I'm aware, but I hope there's something in it for everyone's personal armamentarium. Goodnight!

Wesley ParishSeptember 30, 2014 5:29 AM

@Benni

Instead of monitoring the russian or chinese military, the NSA is monitoring, guess who, the german military on german ground
But you're expecting the NSA to work for their pay, and that would constitute cruel, inhumane and unusual punishment. Which is illegal in the USA, at least for anyone in a Feral TLA. Or on Wall Street.

Andrew_KSeptember 30, 2014 6:08 AM

Regarding IS-ISIS-ISIL vs. U.S.

The whole IS being a CIA plot, no.
CIA supporting the IS in it's early days, perhaps -- fits the pattern.
Agents arranging the cruel execution of some random but western people in the scenery of an existing struggle to conduct a massive PSYOP? Perverted but not impossible. These actions shifted media viewpoints all over the world. Aside -- you can always force some one elso to do your dirtwork.

@ Benni

Regarding Mrs. Malmstroem

Be careful considering everyone agreeing to U.S. interests a spy. There may also be naive people falling for propaganda or persons thinking they would benefit personally of it. And of course, there may also be people who just think, something is right.

Regarding the Intelligence's competence

Well, it's easy to spy on someone not suspecting you a real threat comparing to spying on someone considering you hostile.

@ Nick P

Followed your links to Paladin and Eden Press. Wondering which watchlists I just have been added to and which watchlists I will join if I can't fight my urge to buy their books. I don't think using eBay or Amazon will do anything to his.

وسخ @

Your GQ-link shines a bright spot on dark places, thank you.
Read the article. Sodomizing is one of the most available and effective ways of torturing a person to destroy his or her personality. Recruits should be told this. Not to instruct them but to realize how bad they hurt those they need to rely on in battle. Would you take a bullet for one who raped you the other night? This may be controversial, but for the esprit de corps it would be better if those needing this feel of control go to the local jail for a nightly "visit" at the child molerster section.
The last sentence was cynism.

I'm not afraid to ask and I would gladly take a lecture on what is tought in Military torture training (yes, they have the more shiny name "Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape" for it). We can find a different communication channel than this, if needed.

وسخSeptember 30, 2014 9:27 AM

More about that is likely to come out soon. By hook or by crook, PL110 Sec. 6 is going to give way to the Convention Against Torture. Cryptocat's an OK way to make offline arrangements.

All your PII are belong to KasperskySeptember 30, 2014 9:39 AM

Kaspersky Labs is recruiting for an Information Security Manager, North America (http://usa.kaspersky.com/about-us/careers/opportunities-at-kaspersky). Leave behind for the moment the fact that Eugene Kaspersky is reportedly a retired Russian Intelligence Officer, and that he maintains close ties to the Putin government, and even forget the fact that the company itself is headquartered in Mother Russian. These facts alone are enough to give the “professionally paranoid” among us cause for thought. But the real kicker comes if you decide to apply. One of the first tings their site asks you for is your SSN. To be fair, Kaspersky isn’t alone in this (I’ve been asked for my SSN by a number of sites). Of course, like any good Information Security professional would do, I entered a bogus number instead. They also asked for my date of birth. Alarms were sounding in my head because these are 2 of the Holy Trinity of pieces of information needed for identity theft.
After finishing the process, I decided to send an email to the HR folks and ask them if this was a test of my Information Security awareness or if the company actually collected SSNs from all potential applicants. I sent the email from my heavily masked email account located in Sweden. I haven’t received an answer although I did get a mysterious phone call from an anonymous caller to the masked phone number on my resume.
My thoughts, and questions, are these:
• Are there any laws that protect job seekers from being forced to give up their SSNs too early in the hiring process?
• What exactly are our rights to the protection of our SSN?
• What would stop an evil-doer from posting a $1M a year job on one of the top career boards, but requiring all applicants to pony up their SSN, city and date of birth? At the end of the process I could be sitting on top of thousands of very marketable PII.
• Any thought from the very well informed followers of this blog?

Your comments are greatly appreciated.

Nick PSeptember 30, 2014 12:22 PM

@ Adjuvant

Nice links. Especially thanks for the link to Alpine Linux. Their clean slate, but compatible, strategy is smarter than what most are doing.

re SystemD

People should resist it. It's really a control thing. It's taking too much control of the kernel, replacing much functionality with its own. It's predominantly controlled by Red Hat, whose income is mostly DOD derived. There's just too much risk in the whole thing. It needs to be replaced by Linux kernel code and apps that do the same thing in true UNIX fashion.

re QubesOS

Thanks for the link. I'll try QubesOS again in the near future. It's got some interesting properties if we're concerned about vanilla malware, system bloat, and CMW-style use cases (eg separation of different data). The argument with grugq shows her tendency to aggressively self-promote without reason. She turned a debate into a flame war in our last exchange. She also showed a lack of understanding about things like secure decomposition of systems, TCB, microkernels*, etc. She also seems to censor my comments on her blog, even compliments to certain efforts. So, from a technical & personality standpoint, she's not capable of building a secure system: just things like QubesOS for low grade attackers. It has *great* usability, though, which is why I still encourage them. Plus, I can always bake some of my real security methods into it for personal use once it's stable enough. ;)

* She cited Mac OS X as a "microkernel approach" and it's insecurity as proving something about them. Seriously lol...?

re Plan 9

The best thing to do is to merge Plan 9 with Tannenbaum et al's distributed system work like Globe while modifying a microkernel like OC.L4. Throw in secure-by-default primitives like Bernstein's Ethos project, support for strongly typed popular system language like Go, possibly high level capability language like E, and the runtimes coded in Ada/Spark where possible. Result should be quite highly assured & support distributed computing effortlessly.

re Ada/SPARK

I don't think it's a good teaching language. The fact is that Ada has a steep learning curve and most of the industry doesn't use it. Starting people off with something simple, usable, and similar to a subset of industry languages is ideal. Wirth's languages, like Pascal, are much better suited for that. They were used before they were traded off for industry languages like Java. And the education results began to plummet. Predictable.

Learning Ada/SPARK would be good for an intermediate or advanced class. This class would be about high integrity programming, what Ada is built for. The important things about Ada are that it's a systems language, it has lightweight runtime, it supports cross-language development well, it reads like a specification as much as code, and it can prevent/catch many errors if used correctly. The tools are largely GPL with plenty of available libraries. A class teaching this stuff would produce students that know how to code reliable stuff and will spot the many myths propagating in programming community, largely due to C/C++, Java, and .NET.

Note: One that keeps coming to mind is that you need languages like C/C++ to code OS's, etc. Despite having plenty of examples in the past in PL/S, Pascal, BASIC, Ada, Modula-2, Oberon, and so on. And those were the competitively good ones. There were academic prototypes in Scheme, Java, C#, Haskell, and so on that leveraged only a core of unsafe code. Yet, people keep repeating that same myth.

@ Andrew_K

You will just be on the core LEO and intelligence watchlists. You know... just the ones that can imprison, torture or kill you. Nothing scary like Dept of Human Services or the SEC.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 30, 2014 12:51 PM

@ Nick P,

You keep mentioning Wirth Pascal, I don't know if you have the source code or not, but you might be interested in,

http://history.dcs.ed.ac.uk/archive/languages/pascal/

They also have other teaching languages such as HAL and IMP (not to be confused with the other one ;-)

I've always liked the idea of HAL for writing the low level OS bits that are best not mangled into other high level languages.

Any way they are from times passed when even the Z80 was "not even a twinkle in the eye".

Security News NetworkSeptember 30, 2014 3:13 PM

Man charged with selling smartphone spying software
http://phys.org/news/2014-09-mobile-app-spyware-indicted.html

Charges leveled against 31-year-old Hammad Akbar, 31, of Lahore, Pakistan, were billed by the US Department of Justice as the first-ever criminal case centered on the advertisement and sale of an app tailored to spy on smartphones.

"Selling spyware is not just reprehensible, it's a crime," assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell of the Justice Department criminal division said in a release.

"Apps like StealthGenie are expressly designed for use by stalkers and domestic abusers who want to know every detail of a victim's personal life - all without the victim's knowledge."

Caldwell added that the Justice Department is "cracking down" on those intent on using technology designed for "brazen invasions" of people's privacy.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 30, 2014 3:35 PM

OFF Topic :

It would appear that Google and Apple have rattled the Feebies chain, and they are barking at the bars over it,

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-30/u-s-seeks-to-reverse-apple-android-data-locking-decision.html

Note the Feebies "think of the children" rhetoric along with the other "four horsmen of the Internet" rantings. The simple fact is that the Feebies have way to much power as it is and have a history of abusing it to the nations disadvantage. Perhaps it's time they stopped polishing the seats of their trousers/skirts in the leather chairs on the hill and actually went out to earn their pay the old fashioned way with a little honest work...

On another note the Chinese Government are up to all sorts of illegal action in the China seas, and as they are getting away with it, they are breaking international agrements over Hong Kong and free and fair elections by trying to rig who can be a candidate. Well the students out there have taken to the streets with peacfull protest. Many are taking their mobile phones, but rather than communicate through the mobile network which is both monitored and controled or Wifi that can likewise cause them problems they are using a mesh network app that uses Bluetooth,

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/09/29/352476454/how-hong-kong-protesters-are-connecting-without-cell-or-wi-fi-networks

I'm doubtfull if it will offer safety/security in the long run but it does show that people are getting creative with what they have.

AnuraSeptember 30, 2014 4:18 PM

As Microsoft announces it is skipping Windows 9 and heading straight for Windows 10 (wait, wasn't Windows 9 supposed to be a good one? Does that mean Windows 10 will be a bad one?), I can't help but wonder how many people will be upgrading. Windows 7 will be going end of life in 2020, Windows 8 scheduled for 2023, for a 10-11 year lifecycle.

They are on track to perpetually supporitng three to four versions that are very far apart from each other in time of release, and there has been a lot of reluctance to upgrade leaving people on old versions. XP systems are still plentiful, and in 2020 I still suspect Windows 7 to be pretty common when it goes end of life, especially given the reluctance to upgrade.

Personally, I think it makes sense not only for them, but for their customers to move to rolling releases. Instead of a new version every 3 years, they should have one version that is constantly receiving updates. This helps in two ways: They don't have old systems they have to test for and they don't have customers waiting for a future release to upgrade.

The thing is, it wouldn't actually cost them that much in sales. They still sell new copies through OEMs, businesses would still pay for support contracts, and initially peoeple are more likely to upgrade if they aren't waiting for a future version. Of course, they might want to ship a UI that works for keyboard and mouse, not just touchscreen, but that's a different problem.

FigureitoutSeptember 30, 2014 5:16 PM

All your PII are belong to Kaspersky
--Won't say much besides it's already happening (literally emailed today):

It has come to our attention that on Friday, September 26 at least one Purdue student received a request from someone claiming to be Nancy Clasps at PepsiCo asking for students to complete an i-9 Employment Eligibility Verification. This communication did not originate with PepsiCo and is a scam designed to capture personal information, including legal name, social security number, date of birth and more. An i-9 should only be submitted once you begin work with your chosen employer.
If any of you received this request, please DO NOT respond to the email and do not submit the attached paperwork. In addition, if you have the email please forward it to pepsicosecurity@pepsico.com. PepsiCo will work with the CCO and other agencies to provide information to help avoid such attempts in the future.

Sancho_PSeptember 30, 2014 6:29 PM

National Security Agency or National Security Business?

For some (not too skeptical) this might be a good essay:

”Perhaps it's worth thinking of those overlapping agencies as a fiendishly clever Rube Goldberg-style machine organized around the principle that failure is the greatest success of all.  After all, in the system as it presently exists, every failure of intelligence is just another indication that more security, more secrecy, more surveillance, more spies, more drones are needed; only when you fail, that is, do you get more money for further expansion.”

http://www.alternet.org/massive-failure-american-intelligence

ThothSeptember 30, 2014 10:30 PM

@Security News Network
It seems interesting that selling 'spy tools' is illegal in the eyes of the powers that be but for those powers that be, spying on everyone else is pure legit regardless whether they have broken regulations, standards, constitutions or guides.

It is not terribly hard to make 'spy tools' due to the 'brazen weaknesses' in all systems. It's like almost all digital systems have some form of weak genes and all you need is some a text editor and a compiler.

@Clive Robinson
Firechat is an interesting and insecure mesh tool (not made for security anyway - like how the internet started). I was chatting with some HK people and they were wondering when 'Grand Daddy' a.k.a China would really fume mad and deploy military tactics on them.

I heard from sources that the Chinese have re-arranged their troop formations and are preparing themselves inside HK and the mainland. Probably yet another Tiananmen on massive scale again if it spiral out badly.

Wonder if the Chinese would simply deploy jammers or use some form of kill switch to knock out all civilian electronics to render the entire cities helpless while they conduct entry operations.

Are there any advise in the face of strong state adversaries (anti-EM tactics) which the civilians can take to protect themselves ?

I would suggest using the old school paper and pencil style if EM tactics are used.

AdjuvantSeptember 30, 2014 10:57 PM

@Thoth
Jammers would be less bad for PR than destructive pulses. In order to get video out in case of jamming, one possible reply might involve switching to other portions of the spectrum that aren't being jammed. Until they catch on, Slow-Scan TV might be an option. e.g. http://www.hamuniverse.com/sstv.html

That's all I've got, but I'm not really the guy to ask.

JacobOctober 1, 2014 1:38 AM

With the deluge of info that have been coming from Snowden since last year, some people are becoming numb and just condense all of these revelations into a fuzzy ball of "yes, we are being surveilled".

But the details are important, and should never be forgotten. I don't recall reading the Bloomberg article from June 2013 when it was published
( http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-14/u-s-agencies-said-to-swap-data-with-thousands-of-firms.html ) , but going over it (again?) highlights the extensive penetration and close cooperation of TLA with so many supporting and
participating US corporations.

And this article provides details corroborated by other unnamed persons in the know. If a specific Intel's business unit (Mcafee) is actively cooperating with the NSA, should we assume that the whole Intel business products are tainted? And when Microsoft is an active participant with its online and comm products, will Office 365 and Windows itself be spared?

ThothOctober 1, 2014 2:27 AM

Hong Kong protestors hit by Chinese scripted malware:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/10/01/hong_kong_protesters_targeted_with_ios_droid_spyware/

Firechat is nice but FOSS with strong security is going to be their saving vector. Firechat is only good for the initial efforts but once the Chinese figures it all out, they are over.

Users who are guillble due to their rash efforts in their cause would fall into these traps set by the Chinese.

What any protestors who are security cautious need in a campaign is a FOSS mesh device/tool with strong security and not to touch any other tools until verified.

1.) An advise to those protestors would be for them to not download anymore stuff from the networks of Hong Kong/China as it's been poisoned by the Chinese (they figured it all out).

2.) They should remain using their mesh network (Firechat at their current version and not update to prevent malware/spyware).

3.) Create their own FOSS tools and distribute over their current mesh. it should feature crypto communications with message authentication via asymmetric encryption.

4.) Be careful of downloading/uploading data/files over their mesh network.

5.) Keep alive alternate mesh networks as alternative channels that may use other communication methods (radio frequencies and all that).

6.) Different mesh sub-segments (if exists) can arrange for hopping tables.

7.) Phone communications should be encrypted if possible. Open Whisper System (https://whispersystems.org/) OTR phone encryption is a suite of FOSS tools that provide strong security available on iPhone and Android.

For now that's what they can make do with due to the practicality on the field which require simple / ease of use without being technies. Data assurance (due to iPhone and Androids not being tamper resistant or backdoor resistant devices) and the nature of these commercial phones makes it a worry.

I wonder why few companies actually bother to take a step back on smartphone designs and make high assurance components in phone and design them as assured products from ground up ? Probably it's more profitable to follow the insecure road ?

ThothOctober 1, 2014 3:30 AM

Cryptographic Reverse Firewall.

http://eprint.iacr.org/2014/758

Will be interesting on how to integrate it with a data diode to test integrity of a crypto protocol to detech side channels like ASA attacks. In essence it is a method to prevent exfiltration as the paper claims.

Andrew_KOctober 1, 2014 6:39 AM

@ Clive Robinson

As sad as it is to see the old "evil people will use $technology for criminal purposes" rethoric at work, as expectable is it. Funny thing is that no one ever uses this logic when it comes to weapons. Which can be used to shoot a kid. Or cars. Which can be used for kidnapping.

Regarding the Hong Kong protesters I cannot help myself but feel proud of them, without having any ties to them. They stand their democratic ground. I hope they will get their reward. They earned it. I pray that there will not be a seccond Tiananmen.

@ Sancho_P

Regarding National Security Business.
This business is not that unusual. It is the basic idea behind every service which is payed for avoiding something. It is the same for bodyguards, system administrators, and so on. Their service can only sold because there are attackers or systems that do not manage themselves entirely.
And of course, incidents are helping to sell such services. Ask anyone in the (European) IT-Security business what happened after the Snowden leaks started. Ask a salesman for home security what happens when a burglar pays frequent visits to a neighborhood.

@ Thoth

Regarding Anti-EM tactics
It would be really nice to see the protesters use jammers on Chinese police/military.

Regarding communication in case of riot/war/...
I tought myself to use pen-and-paper crypto (thank you, Bruce), I learned Morse code. I prepared myself.
But whom shall I communicate with? This is a very real problem, especially in Western society. I have a message for the press, they won't be able to decrypt it. I have a message to my friends, but they won't be able to decrypt it. Internet may be bricked.
I tried to teach friends Morse code and Solitaire. The are interested and let me explain it -- but they're unwilling to train. Because there seems to be no reason to do. I cannot push harder without facing social punishment like being treated as paranoid or awkward.
In military, such preparation is so much easier. Learn Morse code, they say. And I learn Morse code.
Private communication should be tought in school.

ThothOctober 1, 2014 7:46 AM

@Andrew_K
I don't think a Government who is so hungry for power (most Govt) would want their people to know cryptography or security. The more insecure, the easier to manage them. The reason cryptography and security are allowed is probably due to dual use controlled items which the Govt cannot simply shoulder all the manufacturing and of course the banking industry (which controls and funds large portion of most Govt). Otherwise, security and crypto would be purely for the privileged.

I would alos wish that security and crypto are taught in school but they are not unless you are specifically offered a course on it in university or college.

It is definitely a brilliant idea to execute jamming on Government units' radio signals but it's going to be very difficult and the effects it leaks into civilian realms can be a possibility.

Some of the open source mesh network (mostly Android phones) I found in a quick search:
- The Serval Project (http://www.servalproject.org) [Supposedly use NaCl cryptolib by DJB]
- RetroShare / Desktop (http://retroshare.sourceforge.net/downloads.html) [Not a traditional mesh but would be useful over insecure ISP controlled domains]
- Commotion (https://commotionwireless.net) [Based on Serval]

Do help to suggest more FOSS mesh tools if you have any in mind. Hopefully they will get to read it :D .

I may continue my posting on low-mid assurance security (Nick P's Security Standards) for the newbies again in the near future once I have the time.

AlanSOctober 1, 2014 8:19 AM

The Guardian identifies the cunning plan.

Why stop at Isis when we could bomb the whole Muslim world?

"By this means you could end all human suffering, liberating the people of these regions from the vale of tears in which they live. Perhaps this is the plan: Barack Obama has now bombed seven largely Muslim countries, in each case citing a moral imperative. The result, as you can see in Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan,Yemen, Somalia and Syria, has been the eradication of jihadi groups, of conflict, chaos, murder, oppression and torture. Evil has been driven from the face of the Earth by the destroying angels of the west."

Thomas_HOctober 1, 2014 10:06 AM

Contrary to what many think IS do actually have quite a bit of support on the ground in Iraq. The reason is the major Muslim sect in the area sees it's self as being badly treated by the corrupt puppet government put in place by the US in Iraq. It also happens that the House of Saud also comes from that religious sect, and already suspected of supporting IS.

And what does the newly elected corrupt puppet government do as one of its first acts? Why, sign an agreement with the US so that foreign troops can stay for year longer in Iraq, of course. So unsubtle. And people in the West fall for it. ISIL will also love to use that as a bit of propaganda. Maybe they are set up by the CIA for real? I can't decide whether the behaviour of Western governments is a serious case of Dunning–Kruger effect or that there really is a conspiracy to create an enemy for instigating a permanent climate of fear, and thus easily controlled populations in Western countries (with currently two major efforts in doing so: Russia and Muslims).

TheLongArmOfTheLawOctober 1, 2014 4:17 PM

Obama Administration Argues For Backdoors In Personal Electronics

http://it.slashdot.org/story/14/10/01/186228/obama-administration-argues-for-backdoors-in-personal-electronics

What the president and his minions fail to point out is the damage already being done to EVERYONE in the U.S. (and elsewhere) due to overreach by the spy agencies with their data collection, of which some is being made available outside the country. Why aren't they using the data already collected to address the (smoke screen) situations mentioned in their talk for "backdoors"? Heck, they have open doors at the WH where almost anybody can walk in and nothing is done unless someone makes a stink about it. Why is it always the case that EVERY citizen must be monitored to supposedly catch someone they AREN'T monitoring anyway. Electronic "backdoors" don't protect children from being kidnapped and they are unlikely to catch any kidnappers after the fact. This is just a ruse to monitor all U.S. citizens (among others) for purposes of protecting those in power.

AdjuvantOctober 1, 2014 5:17 PM

@Benni: So no, I do not think an alleged secret treaty explains what NSA is doing in germany.

The specific claims to which NickP was referring are those I cited here. So just to be sure we're all on the same page, you're saying that you're familiar with these claims made by GenMaj (Ret.) Gerd-Helmut Komossa, (former head of Germany's MAD) and Prof. Josef Foschepoth (U. of Freiburg), and your opinion is that these claims are invalid?

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsOctober 1, 2014 8:08 PM

It appears it's too late for enlightened self-interest by the political and corporate royals/class. The EU and China now share a "non-USA" market trade forex environment; decoupling Wall Street from the two largest markets outside the US is a significant development.

I'm sure other markets were tired of being dilluted by having to trade in overvalued US dollars. This is the most significant change in global trading since it went electronic in 1987. It took two weeks for a non-linear edge to the market topology to hit. Any bets on the trigger/event date.

Caution is the word of the day, when the rat goes rabid the level of unpredictable behaviour increases by an order of magnitude. False flags tend to be raised in these types of situations.

ThothOctober 1, 2014 9:06 PM

@TheLongArmOfTheLaw
I think it is quite futile to argue with the US Govt corporation on their business model of war mongering/privacy breaching/security theater. What we need is the population band together to introduce robust and highly assured technologies from the ground up to make it very difficult for the US allied corporation and those of China, Russia and the power hungry ones to continue their abuse of their people.

The most robust way is to consistently create every product with security in mind, setup warrant canaries properly, setup and constantly use secure and robust communication lines and good QA with security in mind.

Obama and the powers that be (including that of Russia and China) will only wake up once they see the devastating effects of their policies affecting them personally. If Obama and the TLAs love to push for TLA backdoors, until they have a taste of their own medicine would they wake up and see the sufferings of their own people.

SkepticalOctober 1, 2014 10:22 PM


@name.withheld: You've yet to demonstrate the ability to engage in discourse (directly or indirectly) so I have no confidence in your ability to identify discourse as or from an observer's perspective/viewpoint.

Merriam-Webster on discourse: : the use of words to exchange thoughts and ideas

Confusing or perceiving propaganda as discourse is not uncommon. The majority of media, news, and press outlets fail to achieve even modest levels of public engagement that would constitute discourse. Whether it is moderating a political debate or analyse and reports that engage constituents, citizens, and others; these organisations act more as trumpeters in the King's court than a conduit for discourse.

Previously you claimed there was no discourse at all before the air strikes. If I understand you correctly, you mean to claim that the discussion that occurred was inadequate in certain key respects.

So, which aspects did you think inadequate?

@AlanS: The Guardian identifies the cunning plan.

The author of that article seems to have no grasp at all of foreign policy. There are always multiple values and considerations at play when any decision point is reached. Those who wish to have it all boiled down to a single rule or value will of course become frustrated, befuddled, and declare it all a pack of lies as they search for a simplifying framework.

Or they'll write silly articles that argue, for moral consistency, we are also obligated to bomb Shia militias in Iraq.

@Winter: As has been mentioned before, without its heavy weapons, the Kurds (and other factions) are perfectly able to contain IS. In Africa, groups without heavy weapons are relegated to "hit and run" actions. That is not a good basis for setting up a state. This is exactly what the Kurds are now finding out.

Once the Kurds have some medium to heavy artillery of their own, the training and support to use it, and a few other types of equipment and assistance, ISIL will be rolled back.

The Sunni support for IS is shallow. There are not that many conservative Muslims who advocate the type of atrocities and ethnic cleansing of the IS. Most certainly not when IS is aiming at conquering all of the Arabic countries, from Morocco to the Arabic peninsula.

Very true. Frankly I'm rather amazed at ISIL's strategy: piss off every powerful nation in your region, alienate populations that are just barely cooperative out of fear and a lack of alternatives, and just in case that's not good enough, behead a few Americans to see if you can win the express ticket to hell.

In some ways, frankly, it's morally offensive that we're NOT doing more to kill these people, destroy their ideology, and replace it with a gradual road to freedom, prosperity, and tolerance. But, obviously, things are more complicated, more difficult and more intractable, and the US must act prudently and husband its resources carefully, as long-term dangers begin to grow in East Asia.

WhistlerOctober 2, 2014 12:10 AM

@nick p and Clive.

I found this. If not vapor it is interesting. Not sure how to get around it if it does everything they say and someone practiced good security (setup and practice). It could really give someone a headache. I am gonna think on this one but would be interested in your points of view.

This is odd, but I would love to see a video showing all actions...parameters, cell call, loss of gsm, taps, attempts, disconnection from sata connection, etc. triggers busted chips on SSD.

http://gizmodo.com/self-destructing-ssds-will-nuke-themselves-if-you-text-1640733628?utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_twitter&utm_source=gizmodo_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

ThothOctober 2, 2014 12:58 AM

@Whistler
It seems that SecureDrive uses some "rapid shockwave" to rupture/shatter the chips. I am not sure if the TLAs are about to acquire the shattered chips, read the contents inside and somehow piece them back.

The best way to destroy electronic components with high assurance is to destroy the component beyond recognition so that efforts to pieces the broken parts back or trying to read data from broken parts would not be effective.

It might sound like an overestimation of the TLAs ability to read data from broken chips or electronic components but it is always safer to overestimate an adversary than to underestimate one.

The best destruction technique would stil be thermite because of it's ability to simply destroy the entire electronic component instead of just shattering it into pieces that can still be pieced back. If you noticed from the picture, the shattering of the chips can still be pieced back with relative ease. The only way is to shatter it into dust or into molten disformed amnd unrecognizable substance (melt it).

Thermite would not be applicable if you are using it in a portable travelling form (USB keys or drives) so the only way would be to encrypt everything from the beginning and to simply destroy the master key.

The hard part is to destroy the master key residing on the flash chip or whatever storage it has onboard. The usual techniques would be to zeroize the onboard master key but that does not seems to be very reassuring. A physical destruction of the onboard master key beyond recovery of physical electronic components and data would be the best assurance but how to approach it ?

Password based key deriviation is one of the most common technqiues so you simply refuse to spit out the password and it doesn't decrypt/encrypt (you may spit it out under coercion). Passwords have very low entropy as well so it's a bad idea.

A way to destroy the NAND chips would include using drills (huge diameter drill bits) to drill the chips into scrap but what happens if you PCB board has a ton of NAND chips, you would be busy drilling them all.

A dedicated tiny chip (probably 4KB) for a password protected master key would be a good idea because of it's size. The chip should be no more than a centimetre (the ones used in microSD) which you could simply use a household drill and with a single drill bit you would be able to cover it.

The negative side is with drills, you need to carry one which is quite implausible and you might want to self destruct the specialized master key micro NAND chip as quickly as you can if the situation arises and you are on the move which ass to another layer of problem.

For such a construct of a self destructing chip, a new construct of a specialized component that can be reduced to dust upon application of electricity and it should not hold more data than it is supposed to, would be much better but for now it's probably just a fantasy.

In regards to the SecureDrive, it doesn't sound very convincing yet.

IncredulousOctober 2, 2014 5:55 AM

@Skeptical

"In some ways, frankly, it's morally offensive that we're NOT doing more to kill these people, destroy their ideology, and replace it with a gradual road to freedom, prosperity, and tolerance."

I guess its too much to expect you to see (or admit) the absurdity of killing people, destroying their ideas and replacing them with your own, ALL IN THE NAME OF TOLERANCE. Our politics has destroyed the meaning of words, as anticipated in 1984 (or perhaps merely noted: I guess politics has always been this evil pit of lies).

"Killing is peace"

"Killing is tolerance"

No, it isn't.

And no, I am just noting your statement. It is pointless to engage with you:

From Meriam Webster on obfuscation:

transitive verb
1a : darken
1b : to make obscure
2: confuse
intransitive verb: to be evasive, unclear, or confusing

SkepticalOctober 2, 2014 6:44 AM


@Incredulous: Yes, sometimes the defense of the values of liberty requires killing those who would - in the case of ISIL - annihilate them and many others. The very existence of ISIL is in a certain respect a sad comment on how far we, as humanity, still must develop.

There's no logical contradiction there. If you think there is, perhaps you ought reread George Orwell. Start with Homage to Catalonia this time, detailing his participation in the Spanish Civil War.

IncredulousOctober 2, 2014 8:32 AM

@Skeptical

Your ideology is no different than ISIS's: Kill the infidel. You just have a different meaning of the word "infidel". And a different method of execution.

And really a different meaning for most of the words of the English language. Just like the NSA.

I don't claim to be tolerant. And, surprisingly, I am still not killing people or destroying their ideas. Call me inconsistent or maybe I just think there is more to life than trying to squeeze everyone through the same tiny hole and calling it "freedom".

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsOctober 2, 2014 8:51 AM

@ Skeptical
Just because you can enunciate the word tree doesn't mean you can describe or recognise a tree.

@ T
I'm afraid the number of degrees of freedom that allow for some triggered non-linear event makes prediction difficult, the component of time is first order and that can be used for projection. I'd guess that a major event will be quicker to materialise than the 1987 event chain.

SmokingHotOctober 2, 2014 11:40 AM

@Skeptical, @everyone

Very true. Frankly I'm rather amazed at ISIL's strategy: piss off every powerful nation in your region, alienate populations that are just barely cooperative out of fear and a lack of alternatives, and just in case that's not good enough, behead a few Americans to see if you can win the express ticket to hell.

In some ways, frankly, it's morally offensive that we're NOT doing more to kill these people, destroy their ideology, and replace it with a gradual road to freedom, prosperity, and tolerance. But, obviously, things are more complicated, more difficult and more intractable, and the US must act prudently and husband its resources carefully, as long-term dangers begin to grow in East Asia.

What you are perceiving there with the difficulties is:

You are over-estimating the capacity of the US government to effect positive change. That is misplaced faith. They are just human beings. I think you are likely sincere here, but simply ignorant of what human beings are actually capable of doing. This is a belief problem. You have not critically considered all angles of the problem.

Ironically, you call your self "Skeptical", but you are the exact opposite of being skeptical, at least, on your own beliefs. I have to come away from such a statement as the above with the distinct impression that you have not considered a critical or alternative viewpoint to your beliefs at all.

Consider: can you change a single person who has a belief system you believe should be change? No. Then, how can the US Government expect to do this on a mass scale?

What, exactly, is the game plan there? Or what is the science they are basing such capacity of? There is no science, and there is no game plan.

Even your assessment of ISIL is wrong. They are not operating by your standards. Yet, they have been and are successful. They have taken over the Sunni area of Iraq and have taken over the Sunni area of the rebellion in Syria. They are from from alien with the people there. Their beliefs, while strange to Americans, are reeked in Wahhabist Sunnism.

The US feels they "have to do something" in this situation. Why? Because they were involved in Iraq and they were involved in Syria. They created the conditions that ISIL capitalized on.

ISIL is the baby of the US and other nation's actions.

What the problem is here is these people do not have the same confidence in the US as true believers do. They have seen how crappy the US was in their dealings with Iraq and Syria. So they know they will only continue to screw up.

And they are right.

BS propaganda aside, these are unwinnable fronts. The US has already made a disaster of everything by alienating Iran, Russia, and China on these fronts while befriending the Sunni nations. While they unlikely could have created a multi-faith coalition, they did not have to be repugnant in their approach to that problem. They could have been diplomatic and played both sides while staying neutral.

They are playing neutral with the repugnant Wahhabist Sunni regimes, why not play neutral with the Shiite regime and Shiite people? Why not play neutral with China and Russia?

Because they are prideful and arrogant, as your words imply and so well reflect. This is a bad way for any person to carry one's self, and a terrible way for nations to carry themselves: it assures disaster. Pride comes before a fall. Rule of nature.

They do not have the capacity to do what you are suggesting, and they do not have the capacity to do what they are attempting to do right now. They are vastly overestimating their own capabilities.

This is why things are not perfect at home, yet... here they are pretending they can make utopias overseas. This is patently absurd.

All they are certain to do is further create problems. Like having a kindergartner fly a Boeing 747. Disaster. Which is worse, to have a kindergartner drive a car or fly a Boeing 747?

Worse, they are trained just enough to get that sucker up in the air so it can do real damage.

Had the US focused on diplomacy and legal and good conscience "direct actions" over the decades in these regions, they would not be the mess they are in now. Consider: would being a manipulative control freak arrogant jerk do well with your neighbors? Of course not. Contrast with being friendly, diplomatic, and gently pushing them to better directions.

So, individually people know good from bad, but when they put their faith in collective organizations, they leave all good reasoning behind.

Not always. Organizations can be reality focused and humble. But when they are endemic with pride and operating by blind faith (as in 'blind leading the blind'), problems are guaranteed.


shivering.in.my.bootsOctober 2, 2014 1:35 PM

So how long before ISIL or some other terrorist organization sponsors a trip to visit a poor African nation in the middle of the Ebola epidemic and then travel to some other country and spread Ebola widely enough to overwhelm that country's healthcare organizations? All it takes is a fanatic willing to die for their cause, albeit extremely painfully in this case, and is able to board an aircraft.

SmokingHotOctober 2, 2014 2:12 PM

@shivering.in.my.boot

Bombing the hell out of an area which people know is not going to work won't stop an attack like that. In fact, considering all the resources poured into screwing up the Middle East, Asia, North Africa, and other terrorist prone areas is not exactly a wise strategy to take unless you want to create *more enemies* and make them *more desperate*.


Best bet would be to maybe doing things with all that money and resource savings like investing in alternative energy research & cures for ebola and other serious diseases.


On ISIL and US Strategies:

It does not take a genius to realize the US track record in dealing with Muslims in their own nations is abysmal.

What it takes is the self-honesty for realistic assessment of that track record, instead of making it a near religious belief as many of these nation worshipers do.


LandOfFreeOctober 2, 2014 3:47 PM

Not sure if its been commented but the so called Thai Governement
has suddenly realised they dont need tourists anymore:

http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/764631-thailand-mulls-id-wristbands-curfews-for-tourists/page-18?PageSpeed=noscript

It is an intresting country and so is Singapore, how is it possible that Singapore Chinese are not protesting on the streets yelling with yellow ribbons to help the brothers and sisters in HK one may wonder ?

Maybe we should call South East Asia the land of Inprisonment
Singapore at least you need to get a grip of your selfe and start doing something about what is going on .. .. ..

SkepticalOctober 2, 2014 4:09 PM


@Incredulous: Your ideology is no different than ISIS's: Kill the infidel. You just have a different meaning of the word "infidel". And a different method of execution.

ISIL ought be killed because of what it is doing.

I don't endorse killing anyone because of what that person believes.

You see the difference?

@SmokingHot: Consider: can you change a single person who has a belief system you believe should be change? No. Then, how can the US Government expect to do this on a mass scale?

I'm actually not sure what you're referring to here.

Are you talking about what beliefs need to be affected in a given population for a counterinsurgency effort to be successful?

Are you talking about changing the beliefs of ISIL's personnel?

What, exactly, is the game plan there? Or what is the science they are basing such capacity of? There is no science, and there is no game plan.

In one sentence: enable local parties to plan, prepare, and execute successful counterinsurgency campaigns in their various areas of responsibility, while leveraging the special assets of other regional governments and governments outside the Middle East to counter ISIL's propaganda campaign, to air interdict ISIL assets, to provide close air support to ground forces, to collect and provide timely intelligence, and to train and develop local forces unaffiliated with existing governments for operations in Syria.

The above includes military, political, social, cultural, religious, economic, and psychological lines of effort.

Even your assessment of ISIL is wrong. They are not operating by your standards. Yet, they have been and are successful. They have taken over the Sunni area of Iraq and have taken over the Sunni area of the rebellion in Syria. They are from from alien with the people there. Their beliefs, while strange to Americans, are reeked in Wahhabist Sunnism.

I'm not sure what your point here is. ISIL in some ways has acted very astutely from a strategic vantage; but it has made some rather obvious fatal mistakes.

The US feels they "have to do something" in this situation. Why? Because they were involved in Iraq and they were involved in Syria. They created the conditions that ISIL capitalized on.

The US made a determination to become more actively involved once it became apparent that ISIL was a threat to its own security and to wider regional stability.

ISIL is the baby of the US and other nation's actions.

Everyone has responsibility except ISIL, eh?

What the problem is here is these people do not have the same confidence in the US as true believers do. They have seen how crappy the US was in their dealings with Iraq and Syria. So they know they will only continue to screw up.

You haven't been following events. The US isn't offering to occupy the region. It's enabling local actors instead.

BS propaganda aside, these are unwinnable fronts. The US has already made a disaster of everything by alienating Iran, Russia, and China on these fronts while befriending the Sunni nations.

The US put together a regional coalition consisting largely of Sunni governments to take on ISIL. This undercuts ISIL's propaganda, and provides a host of other benefits. Iran's helpfulness here would largely be behind the scenes, and not as an overt participant.

They are playing neutral with the repugnant Wahhabist Sunni regimes, why not play neutral with the Shiite regime and Shiite people?

The only condition that the US has placed on Iran is that it forsake the development of a nuclear weapon.

Why not play neutral with China and Russia?

I don't know what you mean by "play neutral."

Because they are prideful and arrogant, as your words imply and so well reflect. This is a bad way for any person to carry one's self, and a terrible way for nations to carry themselves: it assures disaster. Pride comes before a fall. Rule of nature.

Your explanation of American foreign policy, something that is immensely complex and spans the globe, is "they are prideful and arrogant." I'd respectfully suggest you do additional research.

IncredulousOctober 2, 2014 5:48 PM

@Skeptical

"ISIL ought be killed because of what it is doing.
I don't endorse killing anyone because of what that person believes.
You see the difference?"

Skeptical, are you having a bad day? Your responses are lacking the old Skeptical magic blend of hand picked "facts" and pseudo-plausible assertions.

Do you ever try turning your statements around and seeing if they might apply equally to your side?

ISIL IS killing people for what they are doing. - Like the US
Sure there are innocent victims aplenty - As there are around US actions

No difference.

You write: "I don't endorse killing anyone because of what that person believes." and yet, you wrote: "In some ways, frankly, it's morally offensive that we're NOT doing more to kill these people, destroy their IDEOLOGY, and replace it with a gradual road to freedom, prosperity, and tolerance"

(I can't resist: New Improved Tolerance (tm), now brought to you by our sponsor, Genocide, now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Free Market System, Newly Compounded with less of those irritating Freedoms that distract your from Television and Shopping!!)

Sure, this is also a war of ideology as well - On both sides. Wackadoodle extremists - Both sides have them. Epic push for the absolute destruction of the evil opponent and whoever may be guilty of not getting far enough away from them? US, check!, ISIS check! Role call for the end of the world? All present and accounted for on both sides...

This conflict is fought between mirror image combatants. The major difference is that ISIL has the guts to fight in person on the ground, including their commanders, while we fight at a distance and our leaders hide far from the front lines. I will admit that this difference may just be a reflection of ISIL having less resources and less to lose, but NOBODY is a hero from thousands of miles away.

Sancho_POctober 2, 2014 6:32 PM

@ Skeptical wrote:

”… and the US must act prudently and husband its resources carefully, as long-term dangers begin to grow in East Asia.
[emphasis added]

Our answer is simple, as always:

-> Bomb the hell out of them - immediately - but no boots on the ground, please!

Instead instruct, support and enable others to kill using the equipment we supply.
Billions of $$$ granted by US taxpayer majority, no doubt.
Revolving door will swirl.
Big business.

Smile. Happiness. Growth.

And peace will come to those who haven’t died before.

Sancho_POctober 2, 2014 6:35 PM

@ Adjuvant:

When I’ve read Benni’s post the first time I was confused, too.
But then I took it as “I do not think”, not “I do not believe”.
I guess many in Germany know.

SkepticalOctober 2, 2014 7:29 PM


@Incredulous: ISIL IS killing people for what they are doing. - Like the US
Sure there are innocent victims aplenty - As there are around US actions

ISIL kills those who do not convert to their perversion of religion.

The US protects the religious freedom of its citizens.

ISIL attempted to exterminate the Yazidis, killing thousands and enslaving thousands more.

The US dropped hundreds of thousands of pounds of food, water, and supplies to trapped Yazidis, and sent in its own men, at risk, to help seek out a safe passage and guide the relief drops.

If you still can't see any difference then you're just not seeing.

Sure, this is also a war of ideology as well - On both sides. Wackadoodle extremists - Both sides have them. Epic push for the absolute destruction of the evil opponent and whoever may be guilty of not getting far enough away from them? US, check!, ISIS check! Role call for the end of the world? All present and accounted for on both sides...

To bring you back to reality for a moment: there is no "epic push" from the US to destroy ISIL. The US is devoting significant resources, but this is largely being fought by the Kurds and the Iraqis and the Syrians.

The US is certainly opposed to the ideology of ISIL - as is most of the world.

This conflict is fought between mirror image combatants.

It's stunning that anyone actually thinks this.

The major difference is that ISIL has the guts to fight in person on the ground, including their commanders, while we fight at a distance and our leaders hide far from the front lines. I will admit that this difference may just be a reflection of ISIL having less resources and less to lose, but NOBODY is a hero from thousands of miles away.

That's because it's all pageantry to you. Bringing a knife to a gunfight isn't guts; it's stupidity.

AlanSOctober 2, 2014 7:55 PM

@Skeptical

"The author of that article seems to have no grasp at all of foreign policy...."

That may be so but you don't have to be an expert in transportation to recognize a train wreck when you see one. You can rabbit on all you like about "multiple values" and "decision points" but it doesn't make your argument any less "silly". We are where we are as a result of a long history of dubious interventions engineered by so-called foreign policy experts that never led down a "road to freedom, prosperity, and tolerance".

AlanSOctober 2, 2014 8:06 PM

@Skeptical

"ISIL ought be killed because of what it is doing.I don't endorse killing anyone because of what that person believes. You see the difference?"

So why is Saudi Arabia part of America's coalition against ISIS?

Saudi Arabia, key to Obama’s strategy, beheaded at least 8 people last month

In the space of two weeks last month, according to the rights group Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia executed as many as 22 people. At least eight of those executed were beheaded, U.N. observers say. It appears that the majority of those executed in August were guilty of nonlethal crimes, including drug trafficking, adultery, apostasy and "sorcery."

IncredulousOctober 2, 2014 8:08 PM

@Skeptical

As others have pointed out, you are not at all skeptical of the claims of western media, largely government controlled or owned by the same corporations that profit from continual war.

I'm sorry I don't believe the narrative. ISIL may well be horrible, but so are we and our Allies. This "Look Over There!!" misdirection only works for people who have no ability to remember recent history and who are very easily manipulated.

War sucks. Torture sucks. Imperialism sucks. Domination sucks. Intolerance of other people's varying choices sucks. Racist policing of minorities sucks. Government corruption sucks. Indefinite detention without charges sucks. Allowing all the resources of the country to be sucked up by an oligarchy sucks. The degradation of our rights sucks.

War is a big smokescreen. We have no direct experience of ISIL except through media outlets that have already been proven unreliable and that we know only reports that which benefits them. We need to have some make believe boogieman to keep people distracted and stupid.

We have IMMENSE problems at home that we claim to have no money to address while we blow money continuously on wars that don't benefit us or anyone except the people who make the weapons, and the thieves in power who want a diversion while they rob us blind. It is a distraction, pure and simple.

I tire of your hair splitting. One second you are talking of "In some ways, frankly, it's morally offensive that we're NOT doing more to kill these people, destroy their IDEOLOGY, and replace it with a gradual road to freedom, prosperity, and tolerance" and the next second you are talking about "there is no "epic push" from the US to destroy ISIL." Your narrative and narratives like it are what I am talking about, Skeptical. You words are an example of this apocalyptic bs narrative.


AlanSOctober 2, 2014 8:14 PM

@Skeptical

Please tell us how the road to "freedom, prosperity, and tolerance" runs through Saudi Arabia. And why we gave them free passes for 9/11 and ISIS.

AlanSOctober 2, 2014 8:25 PM

@Incredulous

"We have IMMENSE problems at home that we claim to have no money to address"

Neoliberal ideology:

The role of government is the ensure the security of the market but the market itself is a quasi-natural entity that self-organizes to maximize efficiency and benefit us all. Government interference causes market failures.

It's a contradictory mix of laissez faire and Big Brotherism.

WhistlerOctober 2, 2014 8:42 PM

@thoth
Thanks for the response. Yes, foiling reconstruction is the key. They appear to use the physical approach here. The steel toothed shredders reduce hard drives to powder. Drill would indeed work. A small, inside the case physical destruction? Not easy to my way of thinking. Small vial of acid or big discharge of a cap maybe. I just thought the parameters were interesting. The actual mechanism is, as you point out, problematic.

People are approaching security in many different angles in light of theft, state sponsored spying, and in case of places like HK--control. From a tech point of view now is really a challenging but productive time in history even if it feels like a hamster wheel with attack/defend/attack/defend.

It's a long way from dropping CPUs to reseat chips, bubble charts, writing code on floppy, or playing text based Star Trek. Lol 😃 although clive may remember rope memory (before my time).

The fun part is seeing old stuff coming up over and over. Reflash USB firmware? Lol trace the signal or code and you can always find a way for both attack and defense. Clive and others know a lot from having done just that for years. I have a great deal of respect for the old timers. ;)

BuckOctober 2, 2014 9:51 PM

Re: JPM

Hey, weren't we running digital war simulations around that period of time..? Well at least they've finally detected and owned up to the implants and/or interdiction networks that we are all so vulnerable to! At least, I hope it's a lesson learned... ;-)

ThothOctober 2, 2014 11:48 PM

@Whistler
We can store all the stuff securely if we can remember everything in our heads (every nibble of private key bytes, every character of passwords) but that would not be possible in any feasible manner. Computing platforms are insecure too. It is indeed a hamster wheel of sorts.

The only way out is to live like the Amish off the grid.

In fact, we are too reliant on technology but we are not capable of controlling the technologies we create.

Nick POctober 3, 2014 12:01 AM

@ Thoth

"The only way out is to live like the Amish off the grid."

That's dangerous and was used to get rid of people before. People who are odd, live off the grid, etc. are seen as potential threats via the media. Most people wouldn't think of the Amish as a threat, though, even when they do the same thing. So, one can't just live off the grid: he or she must do so with a cover story or cultural identity that mainstream would accept as innocent. And many must do this so it appears to be a common thing. There's been plenty of ideas in the past on setting up such things but my view is it's best disguised as a sect of the dominant religion (Christianity).

Believe it or not, there's movements that are quite libertarian in philosophy with people who are nearly beyond reproach. A number have been afraid the government might be listening in for the devil. Giving them privacy tech that spreads as they spread might be beneficial if a person is willing to live like them and appear to be them. The double edge of this sword is that, if they become aggressive, they'll be more capable than before. And those using the strategy must live two lives: the one they hate in public (and private with groups); the one they love alone. Quite a trying experience for an individual.

SkepticalOctober 3, 2014 12:46 AM


@Incredulous: ISIL may well be horrible, but so are we and our Allies.

This indicates a level of ignorance about relevant facts that is overwhelming.

Please find some reputable sources of information on ISIL, and there are many, and read about them. Learn that there are gradations of "suckiness" to use your repeatedly employed term. Not everything sucks equally and the differences can be fairly dramatic.

@AlanS: Please tell us how the road to "freedom, prosperity, and tolerance" runs through Saudi Arabia. And why we gave them free passes for 9/11 and ISIS.

Sorry, you're confusing metaphors. I didn't say that the road runs through anywhere. I talked about replacing ISIL with a gradual road towards freedom and prosperity - and then noted, however, that the US is constrained by limited resources and other priorities.

I've emphasized repeatedly that the kind of change we want in the Middle East will take generations to achieve, and will depend upon the ability of states in the Middle East to maintain stability while gradually moving in the right direction. Confusing me with neocons who claimed that the road to peace in the Middle East runs through Baghdad won't enhance our communication with one another.

And are you really asking why we're not treating Saudi Arabia in the same way that we're treating ISIL? You're too intelligent a person to be seriously asking a question like that.

ThothOctober 3, 2014 1:38 AM

@Nick P, all
Police departments handing out spywares to parents to monitor kids and found insecure:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/10/03/eff_warns_computercop_kidmonitoring_software_does_more_harm_than_good/

The people living off the grids are dangerous not to normal citizens but they are dangerous to those whom have too much power and never satisfied. If people living off the grids are dangerous, we would need to consider all the tribes (Amazon tribes, native americans.. ), religious hermits and practitioners, non-religious hermits..etc.. as dangerous as well and that would include a large part of the world that have no access to digital technologies yet.

Technology is convenient for the ordinary people and the powers that be. The ordinary people have a much easier life by clicking on screens and keyboard while the powers that be can conveniently sit between the same screen and kyboards to tap people and listen in regardless if it is warrnated or not without. They can launch missiles from silos or drones to murder other human beings by a click of a button or a move of a joystick.

Technology makes the spies lazy as well. Now they don't have to do HUMINT that much (which is tedious and expensive) and simply sit behind air-con rooms with screens and keyboards.

The view that living off the grid is dangerous is due to propanganda by the powers that be whom want to spread FUD amongst us and make us less human. Look at the strategies used by them to settle international disputes (warfare, sactions, espionage and so forth...). If we as humans can sit down and simply talk (putting aside our differences, desires and fears), a lot of the world issues could have been solved but this is naive wishful thinking as there are those who simply refuse to cooperate by being human again.

We have failed in the field of practical field privacy and security on a massive scale. How many of you here are accessing these webpages from a web browser you have not verified it's source codes with ? How many of you are not using secure trusted platforms and machines to login online to view this page ? How many of you even trust your own machines or codes ? All we can do is make compromises and just live with it because it's highly impractical you are going to secure everything and all things and all we can do is lower our footprint.

In regards to living off the grid for the general population, the people who view you as dangerous are probably misled due to agenda and that is why they are termed dangerous. The better solution would be to lower the footprint as Nick P suggested but living off the grid itself is not that dangerous unless you are a highly wanted person and suddenly live off the grid then that will arouse suspicion. If you do not suddenly just disappear from the grid but slowly over time move away from the grid, you might have much higher chances than a sudden blackout.

Clive RobinsonOctober 3, 2014 4:54 AM

@ Whistler,

What type of "rope memory" are you refering to, that which went orbital with NASA or the ones used by the realy old boys south of the border befor the border existed and long befor the Spanish went spreading disease and pestilence in a lust for many things including gold?

If the one that was in Apollo's control system, yup I've got an original ROM "rope memory" from an entirely different system in my "museum box" along with a RAM "Core Memory" from the same system.

For those that do not know what a ROM Rope Memory is, it is a collection of transformers with a multi-wound output coil and several single turn input windings. The transformer outputs represent the bits in an output word, the input winding is the equivalent of the address select line used to set the output bit pattern for that word. That is if the line goes through a transformer then when it is pulsed the coresponding bit pulses as --say-- a one, if the wire does not go through a transformer then the output remains a zero. For more details see, http://qrp.gr/coreROM/

You can also turn the idea around and by pulsing the transformer outputs as inputs with a binary word, you can get the sum of the input currents on what was the sense wire. By adjusting the windings you can get the equivalent of a DtoA converter. As the transformers will work into the UHF frequency band you could in the 1980's have a very high frequency DtoA up into the VHF band with ECL drivers.

However if you adjust the windings correctly you can use Walsh Transforms to produce very spectraly clean sine wave outputs, that can cover more than a decade range. Thus you can cover the entire AM band (0.5-1.6MHz) in a transmitter without having very expensive switched filters. Better yet if you design it correctly you can easily and efficiently produce AM modulation in any required modulation depth directly from Class D amplifiers. Thus instead of having grosely inefficient transmitters where you have to supply the peak output power continuously to the PA and lose 50% or more as heat you can get efficiencies up in the 90% range. Which is rather more advantageous cost wisa than it sounds when you consider the much much reduced needs of cooling etc. I designed a combined class D & H system a decade or so ago, based on an earlier design for an efficient pure sine wave UPS I'd designed back in the 1980's whilst working with a "prof" who consulted for Wier Power Supples (and no I did not get any royalties or other payment which realy anoyed me).

BJPOctober 3, 2014 7:53 AM

@Skeptical (@all)

"@Incredulous: ISIL may well be horrible, but so are we and our Allies.

This indicates a level of ignorance about relevant facts that is overwhelming."

Those willing to invoke moral equivalency between fundamentalist Islamic non-state roving executioners and the West, our allies, and even other Middle Eastern governments, are so far beyond rational thought as to be worthy of ignoring as mere trolls. You people should be ashamed.

AlanSOctober 3, 2014 8:10 AM

@Skeptical

"And are you really asking why we're not treating Saudi Arabia in the same way that we're treating ISIL? "

No, I'm not suggesting we treat them the same way. And I know the answer to the question why we aren't treating them the same way. But the contradiction involved is why the US strategy in the ME is incoherent and will fail to achieve positive change.

Clive RobinsonOctober 3, 2014 8:17 AM

@ Nick P, Thoth,

There are other options than living off grid. For instance compartmentalize your life more fully, both online and in meatspace.

We all know / find out in our early years and most definatly before we are adults, that we all have multiple roles in life. That is work, hobby, father, spouse etc etc, most roles actually don't overlap or even have a concevable need to overlap. It's just that for some strange reason most think life is easier if they do, on the optimistic "saves time&effort" idea. Only to then find out that if one thing goes wrong they all go wrong and life can very abruptly change for the worst (think divorce and "shared friends"). Oddly and perhaps perversely when it goes wrong most fail to learn from the experiance, over and over again and in so doing confirm Einstein's view on what constitutes madness.

Thus we exchange a little more effort for a real nasty bruising which takes considerable more effort to resolve. Thus it's healthier, safer and less harmfull to others if we do practice segregation.

Sadly the "powers that be" don't want you to do this as it makes their life more difficult and error prone so they activly discorage it in various legal ways. And then through a whole bunch of FUD about behaving in any but their chosen way is by implication a primary indicator you are a terrorist / child molester / drug dealer / sex trafficer etc etc get others to bring preasure on you to conform to what is the worst possible social normality there can be for you and others.

But it gets worse we get preached to by the less than impartial. As you may be aware it was not so long ago that "Satan's spwan" himself Mark Zuckerberg said that in this modern world people can only have "one identity" and further that acting differently even in seperate roles showed a considerable "lack of integrity". Which I'm sure says more about his preditory way towards women and his other nasty habits than about the people he activly exploits in just about every way he can.

So my advise to all is put in that little bit of extra effort and practice segregating your roles in life, it will unless you are an impossibly lucky person make your life less painfull in the long run. This is not new if you think back to advise about using an OS on CD/DVD for online banking as opposed to general browsing. The reasoning was it lowered your financial risk. Well the same reasoning applies to all roles in your life, they are less risky not just for you but those you know and care about as well.

Sadly as I've been known to complain about quite often, is that software developers be they the likes of Micro$haft or Open Source, don't want to make having seperate roles in life easy. It's beyond lazyness on their part which raises questions as to their ethics, morals and life views or lack there of.

One last thought on the matter, in the UK Army there is an expression of "Never leave ammunition for the enemy", it actually applies in every concievable part of your life. For instance we recently had a bruhar about celebs "nude selfies" etc being revealed or threatened to be revealed, in one case for what appears to be blackmail. Well the same applies to non celebs as well, we hear and see ex-partners posting similar pictures on the Internet as "revenge porn" with politicos talking about laws to make it illegal. In both cases those who had such pictures of them selves taken realy should have realised that they were ammunition that would in all probability be used against them. Likewise those drunken antics pictures, or "big it up Rap Gangster" poses, through to the rather more obvious stupidity such as a UK junior minister reacently did, in a journalists entrapment... So think before you click or let others click, and don't ever put photos out of your control, it's just asking for trouble and heartache. And as evidenced by journalists, hackers and revenge porn, others just love to inflict "maximum damage" either through malice or profit when they not you have control of the photos etc.

CallMeLateForSupperOctober 3, 2014 9:00 AM

We "see" your BadUSB and "raise" you one.

"The Unpatchable Malware That Infects USBs is Now on the Loose"
http://www.wired.com/2014/10/code-published-for-unfixable-usb-attack/
The title is misleading: "on the loose" means "available to the general public", not "widely deployed".

"It's been just two months since researcher Karsten Nohl demonstrated an attack he called BadUSB to a standing-room-only crowd at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, showing that it’s possible to corrupt any USB device with insidious, undetectable malware. Given the severity of that security problem—and the lack of any easy patch—Nohl has held back on releasing the code he used to pull off the attack. But at least two of Nohl’s fellow researchers aren’t waiting any longer.
[...] the hacker pair has also published the code for those attacks on Github, raising the stakes for USB makers to either fix the problem or leave hundreds of millions of users vulnerable."

SmokingHotOctober 3, 2014 9:27 AM

@Skeptical

On beliefs, and the incapacity to change beliefs: I am talking about "the bigger picture". You mentioned other problems, such as East Asia. You could mention that there is an enormous problem, in general, across the world. ISIL is just one part of the problem.

This problem is not too distant from the Cold War Communist problem. How to change mindsets, how to change beliefs.

That is the root of all these problems, and without that capacity one is just cutting off branches.

I am not saying beliefs can not be changed. I am saying that they can not be changed by a doctrine of only war, and creating alliances with dubious parties (the Sunni Wahhabists), while castigating other dubious parties (Russia, China, and Shia).

(I will also state that this area is well beyond the capacity for human beings. Unfortunately, the US and similar nations have a taste of what they think is success there, citing "their" success via their own nations, via nations such as Germany, Japan, Italy, and ex-Communist nations.)

The "their" is in quotes, because this is not their work. Even if it were, Islam is an entirely different animal then Communism or Shinto Japanese or National Socialism.

History has well proved this. The problem is not the ordinary Muslim, it is in the core of those religious beliefs and how it is set to react to outsiders.

...

In one sentence: enable local parties to plan, prepare, and execute successful counterinsurgency campaigns in their various areas of responsibility, while leveraging the special assets of other regional governments and governments outside the Middle East to counter ISIL's propaganda campaign, to air interdict ISIL assets, to provide close air support to ground forces, to collect and provide timely intelligence, and to train and develop local forces unaffiliated with existing governments for operations in Syria.

The above includes military, political, social, cultural, religious, economic, and psychological lines of effort.

Military... political... social... cultural... religious... economic... psychological...

That is a very big plate.

Your confidence in American capabilities also includes confidence in Sunni nation capabilities. That is another big plate.

Do you recall problems with the Sunni ISI support America gave Pakistan? How they had many taliban and extremist supporters in their ranks? And how this backfired?

I think you are likely aware, at least, somewhat of exactly how backwards these nations are which the US is depending on. Saudi Arabia is actually foremost there.

But, there are far more severe problems the US is trying to juggle: a major reason the US did not divide Iraq into three separate countries as the regions are so designed is because of Sunni alliance and Shia concerns. The Shia region would have empowered Iran. The US responded, diplomatically, in the press with scathing statements against Iran. These are the sorts of statements one might here from high school kids.

But, considering the US interests with Saudi and their extraordinary dislike for all things Shia... this was a juvenile way for the US to deepen their support with the Sunnis. There was the context here, as well, of "being strong towards one's enemies". Which is a justification that is meaningless but has the appearance of being thought about.

Bad diplomacy causes problems. This is why there are diplomats. Contrast this with say, cops. Cops actually have to be good diplomats. They do this because they can not possibly manage everyone directly. So, they do not want to create enemies. Creating enemies is bad. It is bound to backfire.

This is slang. In reality, Sunni and Shia interests are ultimately not friendly to the US. This is why, of a list of countries one might make of backwards nations, Saudi Arabia is in the top ten list right up there with North Korea.

Here is another problem: Religious Sunnis despise Americans. They actually get along well enough with Christians. The US is secular, not Christian. They view secularists as true infidels, despicable people.

Unfair! Because they work in government. They work in military. They work in intelligence. They have diplomats that say otherwise. They have people that say otherwise. Rank and file? No.

Conservative elements of nations are the bulwark of their military, intelligence, and ultimately the silent majority of their governance. Conservative Saudi is absolutely alien to conservative American.

What you are expecting here is a miracle. You are expecting for America to deliver on the impossible. On not just one front, but many: military, social, economic, religious, psychological, cultural, religious.

So what is the problem there? What happens on failure? Obviously, there are many complex points here, and failure might happen on many of them. So, this is difficult to predict. What is not so difficult to predict is:

Who will govern Syria when Assad is gone.

I will not answer that question, but that answer is obvious. One has to be vague here, because the specifics are not yet known. It is not "who", but "what". And "what" is chaos. The same sort of chaos one now sees in Libya. Or, maybe it will be the sort of chaos one saw in Afghanistan? Perhaps, another form of chaos, such as the one seen in Iraq right now.

For these matters, what about the sort of chaos that US interactions with Saudi Arabia caused in the first place, helping to inspire and create Al Qaeda? (Sure, other factors were there, too, like US bombing Iraq for many years... )


ISIL in some ways has acted very astutely from a strategic vantage; but it has made some rather obvious fatal mistakes.


Ah yes, the astute chessboard opponent, the seasoned team of strategic planners they have. Much like other groups the US has faced, abroad, and at home. Gangs. Cartels. The Drug War.

Planning... is not some trivial task. It is unusual for human beings to be good at extensive planning. Some efforts have been made in effective planning in military and intelligence organizations. On extremely limited scopes.

ISIL does not operate this way, anyway. Not anymore then the Taliban did. With the exception of the capacity Al Qaeda had to plan out terrorist attacks. Reality is Al Qaeda largely had very terrible plans. But their 911 plan hit pay dirt. Their other actions which succeeded or failed were either hit or miss, or pretty much crap.

911 worked because of basic things they learned from the ISI and US intelligence. It worked because there were severe flaws in the security of the US. It was also a second attempt to down those buildings, where the first failed miserably.

Point is, Americans will overestimate their opponents. That is not the critical flaw in their thinking. The critical flaw is the Americans expect them to be playing one game, but their opponent is playing an entirely different game. This is why they win.

America invites them to a chessboard, and the opponent comes and machine guns everyone down instead.

ISIL is not a reasoning, thinking group. They are a cunning group running by instinct, instinct born and bred in the region they are operating in. Human instinct is profound. What people call "street smarts". The US tries to understand distantly, remotely. They can not tame their own prisons or crime for the very same reasons. They are incapable of operating by the instinct ISIL is running by.

Some vague mental considerations are at play in their instincts. One is that by forcing the US into the region, they will be empowering their own people. One might say, "Wait, non-ISIL Muslims are not their own people because they are killing them". Some. They do not have such a swathe of region, however, because they are incapable of controlling their own, Sunni people.

Even if they do lose: the Sunnis, these people they come from, will win. Their strict religious beliefs will conquer. Only, it won't. Because the region is not all Sunni.

Gerard van VoorenOctober 3, 2014 9:27 AM

@ BJP

"Those willing to invoke moral equivalency between fundamentalist Islamic non-state roving executioners and the West, our allies, and even other Middle Eastern governments, are so far beyond rational thought as to be worthy of ignoring as mere trolls. You people should be ashamed."

IS is fighting a war. War is dirty.

However the US is torturing. And millions of people are behind bars for dealing in harmless drugs. I can go on for a while.

Don't talk about moral / ethics of the US. The only reason the US is there in the first place is OIL.

BJPOctober 3, 2014 9:57 AM

@Gerard

IS is crusading. Crusading is dirty. Just like when the Catholic church did it. Fundamentalism is a cancer to excise.

Forget the US. Would you draw equivalency between the non-US actors (eg Canada, say) and IS?

We lock people up for harmless drugs. IS executes them. Not buying it.

IncredulousOctober 3, 2014 10:04 AM

@Skeptical, BJP

This indicates a level of ignorance about relevant facts that is overwhelming."

"Those willing to invoke moral equivalency between fundamentalist Islamic non-state roving executioners and the West, our allies, and even other Middle Eastern governments, are so far beyond rational thought as to be worthy of ignoring as mere trolls. You people should be ashamed."

These are non-arguments. It is a human trait that our moral assessments are always biased towards our group, so maybe that explains your inability to see the parallels. But your statements are one size fits all, facts be damned pseudo-moralizing, akin undoubtedly to the arguments that ISIS makes to justify itself.

I'm sorry, I won't be ashamed for recognizing that we are creating the disorder in the Middle East that creates such extreme opponents. I won't be ashamed for thinking about what the perspective of the other side might be. And I won't be ashamed of disbelieving a media narrative that historically has been shown to be controlled by government propagandists.

Facts: We have killed more non-combatants than ISIL. We support Israel in the continual deprivation of Palestinians of their basic rights. We support regimes that execute people for their ideas. By beheading. I really can't think of a category of evilness in which we don't match ISIL. And this is just what is reported in the news. When you throw in all of the evil we do in secret, it is staggering.

Even if ISIL is worse than us in significant ways -- It is really hard to tell through all the media distortion -- ISIL is a reflection of the chaos we created in the area by our own acts. The same sort of acts we insist on continuing. Ultimately we are responsible for the evil they do, too.

Well, I am ashamed that any of my taxes go to this. But ashamed of objecting to it, no I am not.

The fact that a dubious, government controlled, propaganda narrative convinces any of the reasonable people on this list discourages me. Remember the babies being taken out of incubators in Kuwait? Never happened. Remember weapons of mass destruction? There weren't any. Remember the horrible Kourasan group that appeared on the news a couple of weeks ago? https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/28/u-s-officials-invented-terror-group-justify-bombing-syria/ And is now nowhere to be seen.

ISIL is more of the same. A continuous war distraction just like in 1984. Think about it.

BJPOctober 3, 2014 10:22 AM

@Incredulous

I'm generally an isolationist. It's precisely BECAUSE of the fact that we in the US screwed Iraq up so royally over the last 20+ years that we bear the responsibility for what's going on there. That does not make us morally equivalent to them, however.

Yes, we bear blame. But if you refuse to see gradations of evil and want to focus on the US as the Great Satan, you are unserious.

SmokingHotOctober 3, 2014 10:35 AM

@Skeptical

Continuing.

'The US feels they "have to do something" in this situation. Why? Because they were involved in Iraq and they were involved in Syria. They created the conditions that ISIL capitalized on.'

The US made a determination to become more actively involved once it became apparent that ISIL was a threat to its own security and to wider regional stability.

ISIL overwhelmed the Syrian rebellion, where the US was engaged. And ISIL overwhelmed the Sunni province of Iraq, where the US was engaged.

Not unlike how the Taliban overwhelmed Afghanistan, or how militants have overwhelmed Libya. And so on. And so on.

I am not saying this is the reason the US is engaging ISIL, but it is a reality of what has been happening here.

There are gears at work here which are beyond the control of America. America's actions are predictable. That is being played on.

Just sticking to ISIL: what they did with the video releases is not at all new. They are repeating a trend. They might go, "Hey, this did not fare so well for the original Al Qaeda." But, it did. It is a war cry. The more the US gets engaged in these situations, the more resistance among Muslims is built up.

The bigger the terrorist threat grows.

Collateral damage. Blowback.

'ISIL is the baby of the US and other nation's actions.'

Everyone has responsibility except ISIL, eh?

Very wide miss there on attempting to guess at my perspective.

ISIL is predictable. Saudi Arabia is predictable. Iran is predictable. The US is predictable. And so on, down the line.

Americans have flaws which are predictable and containable. ISIL have flaws which is predictable and containable. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China. And so on, down the line.

My perspective is alien. Who do I work for? What do I really do for a living? What am I doing posting here, anyway? Am I trying to persuade you? Do I have no agenda here? What are my beliefs?

If you disliked ISIL, really, you would dislike the roots from which ISIL comes. This is clearly not the case with American actions.

The monsters have been loosed from their places, but their chains are carefully measured.

A dash of implausibility here, and the eyes are firmly closed so work can continue.

'What the problem is here is these people do not have the same confidence in the US as true believers do. They have seen how crappy the US was in their dealings with Iraq and Syria. So they know they will only continue to screw up.'

You haven't been following events. The US isn't offering to occupy the region. It's enabling local actors instead.

Again, wide miss. I would suggest not trying to guess my perspective, but attempt to take my words at face value.

I did not state America was offering to occupy the region. That would be another form of chaos. No, America is enabling "local actors" to occupy the region. That is a different form of chaos.

Both parties are monsters of chaos. Not order.

But it is a controlled chaos. Regardless, when you sow chaos, you reap it back in spades. Bad policies beget bad crop.

Of course, America could end up in the region in force again. Very easily. This should be understood as an ultimate result of the work being done today. Unless, of course, America is well ready to deal with severe oil problems. Which, of course, they are not. Alienating Iran, empowering the completely stable Sunnis, alienating Russia and China... yes, America will end up on the ground again in the Middle East. I am not saying "occupy", please note. That could be part of the agenda which happens, but not the meaningful part.

I don't know what you mean by "play neutral."

In context, "play neutral" means to try and be diplomatic with all parties involved. "Diplomatic" here, as in "good public relations". Not "diplomatic" as in "be a jerk and cast that off as being useful".

The US is playing neutral with the Sunnis, in this sense. US outlooks and Sunni outlooks are dramatically different. They are opposed to each other at a fundamental level.

You might say, "this is not the case". This is the case. The Sunnis have people who can speak to Americans on their terms. But these individuals are smooth talking the Americans. They are operating diplomatically.

The core base is very much opposed to American ways, and very much opposed to objective peace in the Middle East. They are a religious animal.

There are national and racial preferences at play in their religious heart. This is true, and always has been true with Islam. But, peace is not part of that game play. The infidels are winning. And the infidels hold a vast moral system which is absolutely abhorrent to them. Besides that they are winning. For them to have success, they must reverse that. Because on the core level, the "winning" is: because there is a struggle going on here where America and nations like it are very much the adversary.

Your explanation of American foreign policy, something that is immensely complex and spans the globe, is "they are prideful and arrogant." I'd respectfully suggest you do additional research.

Ah, of course, you must put in there "I'd respectfully suggest" in stating that I believe American foreign policy is "prideful and arrogant" to help along with the suggestion you are making that this is not true. Otherwise, you might say, "Shut up you ignorant asshole, clearly you work at McDonald's and must be twenty years old with zero schooling".

Wise assessment of me. I am astonished. I am twenty years old, rely on youtube for my foreign policy information, do not work with any government, and have no idea on American foreign policy whatsoever. It is amazing I can string some sentences together!

"Pride" is often the problem with an individual or organization which has some level of quality. Their successes and competency can breed "pride". Catch me if you have heard this before: a reason why we do not, in my organization, promote people too young is because they can then become ruined by pride.

Here is a strategy: one great way to bring about the downfall of a highly talented individual. Or organization. Is to provide them with stunning victories. Let them win battle after battle. Then wait. This builds up their confidence until their confidence overshoots their capacities. Then, strike with full force, and the individual - or organization - is totaled. The battles are lost, but the war is won.

So, pride can be systematically created with planning and correct observation.

There is even such a thing as valuable pride. As pride in real value which is not over estimation.

My two cents. I learned while flipping burgers at McDonald's and listening to youtube.

SmokingHotOctober 3, 2014 10:58 AM

@Incredulous, @all

"@Incredulous: ISIL may well be horrible, but so are we and our Allies.

This indicates a level of ignorance about relevant facts that is overwhelming."

Those willing to invoke moral equivalency between fundamentalist Islamic non-state roving executioners and the West, our allies, and even other Middle Eastern governments, are so far beyond rational thought as to be worthy of ignoring as mere trolls. You people should be ashamed.


Incredulous, I am not sure what all you said before this, but this is a riot. I could not help but notice this.

"Fundamentalist Islamic 'non-state' -- let us stop that sentence, right there. BJP indicates by the necessary inclusion of the term "non-state" that he has some cognizance that there are state actors who fit this "t" entirely.

But, hey, we are all aware that there are fundamentalist state actors operating as roving executioners, are we not? The human rights disasters that are these very Middle Eastern allies.

Where, oh where, does all of this fundamentalist Muslim mess come from? Why it is indoctrinated and produced by Saudi Arabia. It is exported. It is spread by great expenditure. And the US is enabling these systems and this very fundamentalist Islam by allying with them.

I can only be struck, then, by what is apparent: these pretenses to moral outrage and this demonization as a rhetorical tactic. If it is not sarcasm, because believe me, it is hard not to see this as sarcasm.

Because a tyrant and totalitarian system is an ally means the magic fairy wand has been waved, and poof, they are all good and innocent of all charges!

Only... of course, this is not the case. You get in bed with monsters, you better believe you will end up with monsters as your little babies. And they grow up. Al Qaeda and ISIL (which was Al Qaeda), alike, are such bed fellow baby monsters between the union of these nations. And here they are, back in bed, and making more little monsters.

This is good, this is a hymn: let us all see nationalism as a religion. Whatever ones nation does, well, it is sheerly divine. Holy. Beyond reason, no, you must have blind faith. With an emphasis on the word "blind". As opposed to faith based on a bedrock of reason.


Where, I wonder, are all the really good documentaries on all of this "collateral damage" we keep hearing about? Where are the good documentaries on all the refugees? The interviews with angry, everyday people? In Iraq. In Syria. In Afghanistan. Few and far between. Iraq has one of the highest rates of murdering journalists there is out there. Not too far from Mexico, but let us forget about that.


Who remembers the helicopter video? Or the statements of Manning about what he saw going on in Iraq?


War, my friend, is peace. The fighters are noble beings. They have wings like angels. Really, they do. The vast system that creates all these bullets and bombs are not hurting anyone. Why complain?

Who, in these nations really wants to hear about the problems and concerns of all those Sunnis or Shias, anyway? Boring.

Though, everyone here is capable of doing the math: maybe the best way to do this is imagine -- what if your nation was invaded? By people who have no respect for your deep beliefs? And who have very little respect for your people, seeing them as something on the level of animals, so they can justify killing without pause?


Maybe Saudi Arabia should start making videos of their public executions? Would that inflame the public around the world? Or... perhaps... the US should start making videos of their public executions?

Both are wrong. Varying degrees. One is more coarse then the other. The other is more subtle. The other has more knowledge, yet commits its' wrongs with this knowledge. The other is more like a gorilla. Which is really worse?

Maybe the US would have had more resistance had it made many helicopter videos and released these. But, of course, the US is not so crass. They pretty up their war videos and mass produce them to indoctrinate the public in the rightness of their ways.


ThothOctober 3, 2014 11:41 AM

@Clive Robinson, Nick P
It is quite appauling of how people simply "leave ammo for the masses". I have been telling everyone I meet to stop geo-tags + photos + twitters/facebook and all the privacy upsetting nasties and no one seems to get it not because they don't realize the dangers of it but they think it's cool, everyone does it and no one's going after them... but once something comes after them, they beg for help but it's game over.

Even among the security people in the local industry here, I am always being 'criticized' as overly paranoid (good to know that :D) and that should tell you how much corruption the security-military-TLA complex have sunken into locally.

The biggest motivation for insecurity is probably profits. We call it "coffin money" here and in English it's probably the word called "war mongering". We have to "thanks" the military-security-TLA industrial complex that have actively promoted their coffin money agendas to everyone in the world.

BJPOctober 3, 2014 12:14 PM

@SmokingHot:

"Fundamentalist Islamic 'non-state' -- let us stop that sentence, right there. BJP indicates by the necessary inclusion of the term "non-state" that he has some cognizance that there are state actors who fit this "t" entirely.

But, hey, we are all aware that there are fundamentalist state actors operating as roving executioners, are we not? The human rights disasters that are these very Middle Eastern allies."

I mostly agree (though I would argue "roving" as those ME allies are mostly not expanding territory, though that's not relevant).

Even Stalin eventually joined the Allies to defeat Hitler. That "kinda evil" and "very evil" can join forces temporarily to destroy "mind numbingly evil" should not come as a surprise or indicate any other endorsement of anything.

In mathematics one has the concept of "small infinity" and "large infinity", to distinguish between immeasurable numbers that clearly vary by orders of magnitude. To stomp up and down and scream "but the US is evil" detracts not one bit from the clearly more malevolent actors there.

Should the US be involved in Iraq right now? My default position is NO. But we ruined stuff over there enough that each death there today is on us and the fundamentalist garbage we allowed to sprout from the flames of our mistakes deserves summary execution. I'd be more than happy for the rest of the world to step up and for the US to not be involved at all. That we suck does not change their cockroach nature and their need to be killed.

SmokingHotOctober 3, 2014 1:48 PM

@BJP

Thank you for the well worded response.

Should the US be involved in Iraq right now? My default position is NO. But we ruined stuff over there enough that each death there today is on us and the fundamentalist garbage we allowed to sprout from the flames of our mistakes deserves summary execution. I'd be more than happy for the rest of the world to step up and for the US to not be involved at all. That we suck does not change their cockroach nature and their need to be killed.

Just so you can understand my perspective: I am outside of these things. There is not a "we" for me, that the US is so engaging these powers. You could chalk that up to my reluctance to invest and suffer loss.

I would say I just try and objectively observe.

Perhaps I have my horse in another race entirely.

From that angle, the US predictably got involved. In Libya, in Syria, in Iraq, and in Iraq again. I would describe the US, like the Sunni forces, as "monsters on a leash", but there is no moral outrage attached to such observations.

From the information people have, there appears to be no choice. This is true.

Devil's advocate view: this was also said in the second Iraq war. There was no choice. They were said to have connections to Al Qaeda, and were said to have WMD and the intent to use both those connections and the WMD against the US.

Does this matter, effectively? No. They are there, and they are invested. Nothing will change that. Some Republicans and some Democrats are against all such foreign incursions, but they are unlikely to win anything substantial.

I do point out, I do not have many concerns with the ISIL intervention, necessarily. And in the sense most would mean it, "no concerns about any of this". That aside, I can point out that the likelihood of increased instability in the ME because of the Syrian work foremost, and the ISIL work, secondarily, is extremely high.

Morally, I do not condone these actions, but realistically, this is simply what people will do. As they have always done. War is the hammer of nations.

So, there is nothing I could do about it, nor anyone who believes "war is not the answer". That where there seems to be no choice, there is always choice. Sometimes, it just might be impossible to see.

So, I do not bet on any of these horses.

None of them look like winners. But, I am invested in another horse entirely, anyway, so not much thought has to go into such things.


Even Stalin eventually joined the Allies to defeat Hitler. That "kinda evil" and "very evil" can join forces temporarily to destroy "mind numbingly evil" should not come as a surprise or indicate any other endorsement of anything.

Nations, like people, are predictable. Put before them a choice: good and less good, and they will invariably take the greater good. These are just words, however, and to be more realistic one might better define this as: their choices will be weighed according to the information available to them, where it is that they choose between two or more evils the lesser of these evils.

Choice, the impossible choices, actually, of course, are paradoxical. They have no choice when better choices are unknown to them. Information rules their lives.

In this situation, there are many complexities beyond just "working with a Stalin". Who was, of course, in reality, very much a "mind numbingly evil person". But these alternative choices are not available because of information available to those making the decisions.

Nor is it available to those asked to approve and back those decisions, such as the general public.

For the most part. China, Russia, many Shia, Iran, and other nations would agree. Besides many others observing this spectacle without a horse in the race. Or with a contrary horse in the race.

The US has the Sunni horse in the race. These others are rivals racing against them. All are bad. They are just people, born of their circumstances. What else could be expected from them.

These things said:

I would not put confidence in the aftermath of Iraq nor Syria. I am sorry for those who believe that anything but chaos will be waiting for them. Hope and blind faith do not give pigs wings.

And believe me. I hate being wrong. I like being right. I get joy predicting what will happen. I live in the US. I like it here. Great entertainment, great technology. Very high rate of living.

I would love to "rah rah" the team. Democracy, as much of it as it is, open markets, the human rights here: much to profit on. I would love to see this standard of living in the Middle East. Outside of Israel. Hey -- the whole world. Why not.

Who is going to take over Syria. Really. Who is going to take over that province of Iraq. Really. And how will all of this effect the vast Sunni - Shia conflict going on through out the region.

But, people will do what people will do, so there is no use in arguing otherwise.

I do not post to persuade skeptics. Of what. I post, partly, besides whatever ominous agendas ;-), because people are so curious in what they believe and how they see things.

And, I like being right ahead of time. I do not gloat when it happens. I secretly gloat before it happens. Then, after it happens, I am typically sympathetic.

It is more of a mathematical gloating, though. It is definitely not one involved in enjoying knowing bad things will happen. No, with that, there is only sadness.


SmokingHotOctober 3, 2014 2:26 PM

On ISIL, @Skeptical, @BJP, @whomever is interested


I really do not have anything else to say on this matter. I find some very interesting points brought forth, and some very expected and usual responses. Some with extraordinary flair.

BJP and Skeptical both strike me as highly intelligent individuals who are extraordinarily well read. Not to lump the two together. Skeptical is very polished and strikes me as someone who is somehow professionally paid for his horse in the race. Nothing wrong with that, per se. I strongly doubt, as some suspect, he is literally paid to post here.

That, would be weird, and with extremely little value, especially considering his expertise as public relations.

Skeptical, your oratory expertise could simply be from an abiding interest in politics. Maybe you have no professional governmental work. I can find similar "on message" polemics from a wide variety of republican and democrat pundits. No offense at some lame attempt to guess.

Very possibly, you could work in some think tank or governmental fashion, seeing this forum as a place to polish your stances.

I, myself, work at a burger joint. I am 23 and did not finish high school. I get most of my information from youtube.

I should be spending my time playing call of duty and smoking pot in my parent's basement.

But, nooooo.

Joking, in reality, I have noticed you have expressed knowledge of some technical terms, that are unlikely to be known and so expressed by laypeople. But, that is not my interest. What matters is the message.

*My* message is quite simple, and there won't be any good rebuttal here. Repeating it is wearisome, and I do have other axes to grind. I come here, actually, for the technical discussions.

Though the ISIL discussion is interesting from the "security theater" angle:

The end results is guaranteed to be bad. Negative numbers subtracted from each other will not equal anything greater then Z-E-R-O.

The end results with Iraq will be bad. The end results with Syria will be bad. And the end result of the already nasty mess that is "the middle east" will end up completely... abysmal.

To use a completely random word.

War.

Really, really bad war.

That is what you get when you put all of these numbers together. There won't be any other final result.

If you can not see this now, you never will until it happens.

Consider, even, the Stalin angle: The Cold War. Eastern Europe in chains. Vietnam. Korea. Laos. Cambodia. Central and North Africa. South America. On and on and on. That was nothing. Communists are not Muslims. That region is tied directly into the entire energy supply of the global economy.

Look at the Muslim conquests, add in nuclear weapons.

Or something "like that".

What happens if oil prices skyrocket to these societies you guys belong to.

Terrorism is just one scenario. Reality is everyone is tied to that hell because of the unfortunate existence of oil there.

I feel for people with a horse in that race. I really feel for people that are investing in something good to result from such an investment as a "positive income". Nothing like getting one's beliefs shattered.

But, that drum can be beat and beat, and what is the point.

There is this bizarre mental aberration that happens with some stroke victims. They believe they can see. They create what they think they are seeing with their eyes. But they are as blind as a bat. Like waking dreaming. Eventually, they start to quickly discover they are running into things, like blind people do. And they can freak out without medical care.

Before they discover this evidence for their own self, there is no hope for them. Because they are thoroughly persuaded they can see.

BJPOctober 3, 2014 2:33 PM

@SmokingHot

Cheers, indeed. I mostly post here due to interest in infosec and don't wade into the politics too much. Mostly I do it when I see people taking the sort of reductio ad absurdum position as Incredulous did wrt considering the West functionally equivalent to these barbarians, out of some deeply held, patently ridiculous sense of overt moral subjectivity coupled with covert "blame the West first always for everything".

I don't expect to change anybody's mind but I enjoy watching that type froth at the mouth, as evidenced by numerous randomly capitalized words and entreaties to international law and breathless claims of the US being subject to courts and tribunals that it has never been recognized as treaty obligations.

Would that it were all black and white. We would have many more wars if combatants could be assured of victory beforehand. Please don't mistake as one who thinks that US or non-US action will demonstrably improve the situation in Iraq. But as the second-order proximal cause of this (by eliminating the dictator Saddam who kept the place tidy through brutality, by removing troops before establishing a government as capable as Saddam's) it remains US responsibility to try.

The milk spilled. We shouldn't have been there. But if anyone thinks ranting about how horrible the West was in the past absolves us of the responsibility to clean up a mess we made or the general civilized human responsibility to stop those bent on genocide, I hope they have a wonderful time doing so but that they don't mistake their joy for a meaningful contribution.

I too greatly enjoy predictions. A prediction kept to one's self is like kissing one's sister, there's no fun there. That one believes all signs point to some depressingly bad thing happening is interpreted by the foolish as wanting that thing.

AdjuvantOctober 3, 2014 4:00 PM

@SmokingHot I, myself, work at a burger joint. I am 23 and did not finish high school. I get most of my information from youtube.
Tough break! You seem quite bright. If I were you, I'd look first here
here, then here.
Best of luck!

SmokingHotOctober 3, 2014 5:35 PM

@BJP

Thanks for statements.

I can not say more because I am moving on from that. I was not intending to loop you in with Skeptical. You two have very dramatically different viewpoints. I am not sure what "incredulous'" viewpoints are, either, as I have not read this entire thread.

I think you have a more reasonable viewpoint on matters, and it sounds like you have some strong understanding of planning and risk assessment.

You strike me as older, whereas Skeptical strikes me as middle aged, upper middle aged.

Maybe you just have what some call an "old soul".

That said, I do have a different perspective then yours, but I hear you. Really, I can't even state my opinions fully on these matters because the cultural boundaries are just too extreme to do so. Same words on many of the subjects, but vastly different meanings.

SmokingHotOctober 3, 2014 5:39 PM

@Adjuvant

Thank you for the offers.

I was just joking around, however. Skeptical was making a number of far misses in terms of his assessment of me, so I decided I might as well throw in some sarcastic information to feed that fire.

I apologize for accidentally taking you in with that.

BenniOctober 3, 2014 5:40 PM

Now details are coming on "project Eikonal" where NSA and BND monitor the world's largest internet node de-cix in Frankfurt.

Interestingly, BND caught NSA to use this access for spying on the European airplane manufacturer EADS and the helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/bnd-nsa-datenweitergabe-101.html

Blueprints of the Airbus A380 airliner must be really interesting for the Americans, given that Boeing has so much problems with its 787 Dreamliner

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/28/ntsb-doesn-t-think-the-boeing-787-dreamliner-is-safe-enough-to-fly.html

I think the codename, project "Eikonal" is simply disgusting. Usually, the eikonal equation is a non-linear partial differential equation encountered in problems of wave propagation, when the wave equation is approximated using the WKB theory. It is derivable from Maxwell's equations and provides a link between physical (wave) optics and geometric (ray) optics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eikonal_equation. Can't these spooks stop, just for one time, using codenames from physics?

AdjuvantOctober 3, 2014 7:34 PM

@SmokingHot

No worries. I just toddle back off to my van down by the river ;-)

“As a general rule, people, even the wicked, are much more naive and simple-hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are, too.” --Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

SmokingHotOctober 3, 2014 8:31 PM

@Adjuvant

No worries. I just toddle back off to my van down by the river ;-)

“As a general rule, people, even the wicked, are much more naive and simple-hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are, too.” --Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

One of my favorite lines, or was, years ago, I think. Doubt I ever used the word "toddle" though. :-)

Either you tracked me back, or just happened on target right there.


I wouldn't post on a site like this, and ever express any sort of technical information, if I was not aching for some track back. But, I am always disappointed on that front, even here. :-)

It is so lonely down this rabbit hole.

So much to see and do, and no one ever to tell.

AdjuvantOctober 4, 2014 3:39 AM

@SmokingHot No, I didn't find you. Call it a coincidence. And yes, I'm certain it would be trivial to find me. So be it.

A propos of the sentiment you express,
From: http://jacketmagazine.com/34/scott-p-d-5p.shtml

...
The American dilemma: to heal this world
we must become intimate with it
but the search for political truth
will lead one deeper and deeper into falsehood

so we all end up like the good Germans
not thinking about who caused the Reichstag Fire
or the hundreds of people we do not know
taken off to secret camps or distant countries.

It is a dilemma: part of me
needs to agree with the left
that we have to wake up America
that knowledge will make us free

the idea being that truth
unites us in thinking together
even though these truths of darkness
have been known to destroy

those who have published them Gary Webb, Independent 10/8/05
and I myself can share with no one
except those who like myself
have become distanced from the crowd

so that I hate to go on
transmitting the testimony
of witnesses like Steve Carr
who predicted correctly they would be murdered Scott and Marshall 155
Scott ‘05

and it is a struggle to keep in mind
that by seeking the truth
from the hidden sphere of life
in its hidden openness Havel 57, Schell 197

I have not in fact been alone:
there have always been strangers
some in scattered parts of this land
or in countries unvisited

others though the great chain
of the centuries
who without ever meeting
it is possible to trust

in the truth of yin
that is always gentle
like water flowing
to the lowest places Tao Te Ching viii

the Tao where the soft and gentle
overcome the hard and strong Tao Te Ching xxxvi
because truth being that which is
can never be destroyed Gandhi 2:389, Schell 206

and reminds us that America
the land of nonviolence violence
snake handlers peace workers baseball movies
sweat lodges genealogists and stock car races

is undefinable
from the jazz of Ledbelly
and concerts of the Grateful Dead
to the Wiffenpoof song

from Whitman’s hopes for the unwritten
to the New Yorker poets
with a toad in their lawn mower
or snake in their burning brush pile

the land which Reiko aged eighteen
refused to leave
when her parents returned
to tradition-bound Japan.

Uncertain as always
whether this republic is past saving
or whether some of us still tread
the perilous path of the future

part of me just meditates
on the new and more flourishing wildlife
that is improving Point Reyes
ten years after the Mount Vision fire. San Francisco Chronicle 10/2/05

From the glories of the Tang Dynasty
I recall only one date: the year
the usurper An Lushan
drove both Wang Wei and Du Fu

far from the corrupt court
into the mountains
where for the first time they were free
to write the only poems we remember.

SkepticalOctober 4, 2014 1:55 PM


@Incredulous: Facts: We have killed more non-combatants than ISIL. We support Israel in the continual deprivation of Palestinians of their basic rights. We support regimes that execute people for their ideas. By beheading. I really can't think of a category of evilness in which we don't match ISIL. And this is just what is reported in the news. When you throw in all of the evil we do in secret, it is staggering.

This is silly, Incredulous. Yes, the US has killed more non-combatants than ISIL, nowhere more so than in Europe and Japan during WW2.

Imagine the number of non-combatants that ISIL would kill had it the military forces that the US did, and you begin to approach a reasonable comparison. And obviously ISIL would have handle the liberation of Europe, and the occupation of Germany and Japan, in a very different fashion than did the United States.

The US doesn't control Israel, much less Saudi Arabia. So ascribing the shortcomings of those nations to the US is specious.

You're comparing a liberal democracy, which for all its shortcomings does a pretty good job of protecting the rights of its citizens and of encouraging, and protecting, democracy elsewhere in the world - to ISIL, a group of religious fanatics who in their short period of existence have already mounted attempts at ethnic and religious "cleansing" and who have achieved infamy by slaughtering whole families as a matter of policy if the family is not of the right religion.

If the US had the ethics of ISIL, most of the world would be a nuclear wasteland and discussions like this would be deadly for any participants.

SkepticalOctober 4, 2014 2:44 PM


@AlanS: And I know the answer to the question why we aren't treating them the same way. But the contradiction involved is why the US strategy in the ME is incoherent and will fail to achieve positive change.

But there is no contradiction. ISIL and Saudi Arabia are materially different in many respects, and US policy towards each is, as a result, appropriately varied as well.

@SmokingHot: Where, oh where, does all of this fundamentalist Muslim mess come from? Why it is indoctrinated and produced by Saudi Arabia. It is exported. It is spread by great expenditure. And the US is enabling these systems and this very fundamentalist Islam by allying with them.

The US encourages, pushes, and assists the Saudi Government in identifying and countering terrorist and extremist financing that originate inside Saudi Arabia. That's not an easy task, for several reasons. Two of the most important are these:

1 - financial surveillance requires a certain infrastructure, systems, and trained personnel - this is a problem that is being remedied, but of course it remains feasible for large sums of value to be sent from Saudi Arabia via means that are difficult to detect

2 - the Saudi Government must be concerned with its own position within Saudi Arabia, and cannot simply adopt positions that would spark a dangerous level of outrage from large portions of the populace.

So progress there has actually occurred, and will continue, but it will be slow.

Because a tyrant and totalitarian system is an ally means the magic fairy wand has been waved, and poof, they are all good and innocent of all charges!

United States Department of State - Human Rights Report - Saudi Arabia - 2013

Innocent? No. Better than ISIL? Enormously. Cooperation necessary for regional stability and progress? Definitely.

So the US works with them.

Only... of course, this is not the case. You get in bed with monsters, you better believe you will end up with monsters as your little babies. And they grow up. Al Qaeda and ISIL (which was Al Qaeda), alike, are such bed fellow baby monsters between the union of these nations. And here they are, back in bed, and making more little monsters.

There is a large number of ways that nations can work together. It's not simply "in bed" or "not in bed." Once you understand this, your metaphor falls apart and you are forced to look at policy specifics.

AlanSOctober 4, 2014 3:20 PM

@Skeptical

The contradiction is that we are allying with the infection to treat the symptoms

SmokingHotOctober 4, 2014 6:24 PM

@Adjuvant

Unfortunately, while you were quite right on the mark with that statement -- should I present myself as a kid living in a garage, or as some guy who lives down by the river in a van....

But, the poem is quite off from my viewpoints.

America is not, at all, the center of the world for me.

I am in no way aligned with any political movement or group. I find truth and error in many opposing viewpoints.

I can, if I must, talk on terms so that others can understand what I am trying to say. But, when doing so, I am using their own language, including their own specific perspectives, and not my own.

So, for instance, I could appear as a conservative American, or I could appear as a liberal American. But, I am neither.

Like with all the other nations, I see America as being right on some things, wrong on others. Saudi Arabia, America, China, Russia... whatever. They are the same animals. They all see themselves as different. They simply have different moral codes, different errors.

But, I can also say, these are generalities. America, to me, is the real estate on the ground. Peoples change. America excels at some of my favorite past times, and that is the America for me. They are very good at entertainment media, they are very good at music, technology, clothes, and many forms of businesses which are consumer focused.

Those nations I listed above? They do not have such niceties.

Morally, I see a lot of common problems in Americans, which I do not see in, say, Chinese, or Saudi Arabians, Russians, Iranians, etc. But they all have their own brand of problems.

Environment wise, America is actually pretty open, in terms of tolerance. So, someone like me does not have to completely hide. It is an extremely diverse country, but so are the other "free" nations. (I do not use the term "West", which is clearly ethnocentric. Japan, Taiwan, South Korea are as free as the US. Anyway, these days, there is no West nor East. It is a *globe*. West of whom? North of whom? East of whom? To China, we are the East.)

I also can probably best express myself metaphorically, thinking about this, sometimes I feel like Ozymandias, willing to do the ugly things that must be done to fix the world, believing it can be fixed. Other times I am more like Dr Manhatten, who "neither condemns nor condones".

To use one example, from one example cultural pool available.

SmokingHotOctober 4, 2014 6:59 PM

@Skeptical

There is not much to say there, because I am removing myself from the topic of ISIL, and likewise, I think the topic of the US is not something that can be discussed with you. I do not see you as objective, at all. You are deeply subjective and deeply "ethnocentric". I put that in quotes, because it is something different then true ethnocentricity... it is like you worship your government and think of them as gods.

They are surely not gods, they are human beings.

I see this with a lot of Catholic Conservatives. They import that "divine right" sentiment, from their religion. They actually think their government is equivalent to Heaven. And that is reflected in their viewpoints. Which is why many of the National Review pundits, Hannity, O Reilly, Powerlinebloggers, and so many more are Catholic.

Protestants, of course, pick this up from them, and go with it. After all, they also, ultimately came from Catholicism, so they are very influenced by those viewpoints.

They pose as secularists, and they may even sometimes talk about separation of state and religion, but this is not how they really are.

It might be noted that this division between church and state was especially brought about not from old Catholic abuses. Those Protestants had long left that system. But, from Protestant abuses which had little else to go on but to mimic the old Catholic system.

So, this is all very pertinant, because this is where these sort of super nationalist sentiments come from. Especially as it relates to these nations who have adopted this manner of sentiment in aggressive foreign policy where they act as if they believe their government is Heaven and their leaders are God. Like their politicians and leaders and workers are angels.

So, they believe they can go in and fix problems. They justify this saying "Well, they are unbelieving savages and we want Christianity exported there". But, this is not how their behavior really is.

Unfortunately, all of this is simply ingrained. They do not know any better. They do not even have the objective capacity to be self-critical and notice these things. They are not, at all accustomed, to being critical of their current government, nor these past governments. They view them as if they are holy.

Now before you start to think you then know all about me, because this seems somehow like what a lot of hard core leftists and secularists say: reality is no, we simply agree. This is also what a lot of Protestants, Orthodox, and other Christians believe. Some Catholics believe these things. Some who say they are unaligned with any of these systems.

And so it is, that is the objective reality here. Which sentiment wins out? Very clearly, the "divine governance sentiment". Why. Look at the political scene. It is an intoxicating belief system to take. It makes all the doubts and concerns go away. It gives people something and someone tangible to believe in.

It justifies feeding off foreign nations who are unfortunate enough not to be Christian.

It allows them to put all the blame on God.

It is, bizarrely, a very political, materialistic religion. And, of course, if one contrasts it with the actual person of Jesus, it is entirely alien.

Objectively, this is how Muslims see the situation. It is Islam against Christianity. And likewise, for these fellows, it is Christianity against Islam. For both of them, the religion never really mattered. It is just words, religious theater. It is for show.

For the US, of course, these days, they know to shy far away from these things. In private, of course, there is a very different story. And, not ironically, it ties in with real Christian belief systems. Islam is incorrect and very Pharisaical. But that does not mean you go and kill them... :/

Man and men's nations will not change fundamentalist Muslims. They further surely will not bring peace to the Middle East.

Strongly fundamentalist Muslim populations will not change by any means to "liberty" and "democracy". No human beings can force them to do this, not by propaganda, not by encouragements, and certainly, not by war.

It really reminds of situations I find in security, where people want to break the law or something to *enforce the law*. To catch the bad guy. Problem is they are only going to interfere with the law and lawful investigations which are going on -- or they hope eventually will by doing so. They want to play Batman.

Like the US, they mean well... on one level. But everyone means well. Hitler thought he was bringing about a thousand year paradise on earth. Stalin thought he was doing something like this. The Cambodian Communists changed the calender date to "year zero", as if they were Jesus Christ.

Fundamentalist Muslims are the exact same way.

And I mean there fundamentalist. Deeply religious Muslims. Not even terrorist Islamists. They believe in global domination by their own weapons of war and efforts. But, many step back and take a nearly Christian view to simply wait for God.

Exact same sort of problem with these Americans trodding around the world trying to change nations, as if they have the capacity to do so.

Some are not even religious, necessarily. On either side of the coin. It does not matter. It is their subjective, insular, cultural viewpoint.

They do not put themselves in the shoes of their adversaries. If they did, to, say, consider "what it might be to do good to them", they might actually break out of their delusional bubble and achieve some remarkable enlightenment.

Wait for God. Wait for Heaven. Don't rush off as if God and Heaven does not exist.

But. They insist.

Because none of that is real to them.

They have their "god" and they have their "heaven" and it is but men.

That, that is real to them.

The Sunnis and Shia are exact same way. This is all exactly what they are doing in other nations as well. And Communists are the same way, though China is much more isolationist.

AdjuvantOctober 4, 2014 7:42 PM

@SmokingHot:
For the record, Scott is a former Canadian diplomat with a Ph.D in Political Science from McGill (also my father's alma mater), who was primarily stationed in Communist Poland. And his view of the US, his adopted country as a UC-Berkeley English Professor, is satifyingly complex. I'm not sure where you read partisan leanings or cultural insularity into the excerpt, which counterposes dark truths and cultural richness. You might be more appreciative of this:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/poem-to-the-tea-party-patriots-a-berkeley-professor-says-hello/21727
and this:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/loving-america/20394

Wesley ParishOctober 5, 2014 1:46 AM

@SmokingHot

But, hey, we are all aware that there are fundamentalist state actors operating as roving executioners, are we not? The human rights disasters that are these very Middle Eastern allies.

That's a very apt description of the drone strike syndrome.

Yemeni man brings the horror of drone strikes home to US Senate

This Yemeni Man Loves America, Hates al-Qaeda, and Says Drone Strikes Make Them Stronger

Drone Strikes Turn Allies Into Enemies, Yemeni Says

Andrew_KOctober 6, 2014 4:38 AM

@ Thoth

If there was a USB stick with two memory chips (a small one for the key, a huge one for the data), the destruction problem can be minimized to destroying a tiny chip. Imagine this construction: The key chip has housing weak enough to destroy if with one fingerpush. Now build a chassis for the whole usb device with a mounted "destoy pin" that can be pushed from the outside. It would mechanically penetrate the key chip and then hit and destroy its die physically. If your enemy is able to reconstruct a die, you are lost anyway.

This design features two problems:
a) The user cannot control whether he just triggered a switch to hide data or whether it is really inaccessible (this is a quite frequent problem),
b) Incrimination. Why do you carry a destroyable USB device? Why did you destroy it, if you did nothing wrong? If didn't do bad, there wouldn't have been something you need to hide, would it?

About the education, you're probably right. Sad.

Jamming Government radio does not necessary have to interfere with civil use. Most Governments reserve special frequency bands. All that's needed are jammers carefully designed.

Anyhow, @ all
Over the last years, seeking privacy seemingly has become an indicator for criminals, at least to some. Thus, privacy needs to be even more secretive to avoid raising suspicion. Destroying a key physically without leaving a trace that there just has been data destroyed would be a long time goal. I think along the lines of turning a stick with incriminating data into a stick with (not so much) incriminating erotic imagery, as it would epxlain a certain secrecy.

T!MOctober 6, 2014 8:51 AM

I have a simple question about the bashbug/shellshock problem and hope you can give me an answer and rate the risk.

Is it possible that an attacker could create a website with javascript, that changes the user-agent for the connection between the users browser and the proxy-server of the company so that the proxy initiates a reverse-shell to the attacker outside the company?

How would you rate this risk comparing this with directly attacking a webserver of that company?

SmokingHotOctober 7, 2014 12:04 PM

@Adjuvant

I wasn't really, I was more responding to other issues. Largely, because I state a criticism here, or a criticism there, I did not want anyone to think I fit 'this or that' perspective. Because I do not.

America could go totalitarianism, and definitely does lean towards that. I am not sure if they will have time to do so, but if they had time I think they surely would. That is the road they are on, that is for sure.

And if America does go this way, so will the rest of the "free" world.

A number of my compadres in crime are Canadian, I might add.

My conclusion is not trying to state the poetry is this or that. I do not view poetry that way, poetry is like a tree, it is what it is. It expresses something that may or may not be true, but needs to be expressed. It gives us options, it gives us insight.


It is a dance, not a sermon. Even if someone intends it at the moment to be one.


SmokingHotOctober 7, 2014 12:12 PM

@Wesley Parish

'But, hey, we are all aware that there are fundamentalist state actors operating as roving executioners, are we not? The human rights disasters that are these very Middle Eastern allies.'

That's a very apt description of the drone strike syndrome.


And an additional quote note: BJP used the term 'fundamentalist actors operating as roving executioners'.


Wesley, this is true of the US, via drone strikes and many other ways. The US is very much underwater in a very warlike culture.

They paint the picture pretty, but what they are painting over are still instruments of death.


They demonize their opponents making these things noble necessities. But, a frog is still a frog, not a prince, and no manner of clever sophistry will turn a frog into a prince.

It is the dark arts of the tainted tongue.

And people believe that magic spun from that tongue.


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