Thursday, March 29, 2007

NSA, US Military Target Computer Users, For Freedom!

Jim Michaels of USAT reports in Military beefs up Internet arsenal--Terrorists expand use of computers...that the NSA, the Pentagon and the Air Force are working on a 4–year, $40 million project to "expand capabilities to attack terrorists computer networks, including websites that glorify insurgent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq” with the contracted ‘help’ of private companies, of course.

Apparently the desk-bound US military is pretty upset with the “sophistication and volume” of their [Al Qaeda and others] videos and messages. Terrorists, it seems, make the best mash-ups.

"You should not let them operate uncontested" on the Internet and elsewhere in cyberspace, said Marine Brig. Gen. John Davis, who heads a military command located at the National Security Agency.

Davis and other officials declined to say whether the military has actually attacked any networks, which would require presidential authorization.

Given that the president has already attacked Iraq, liberals, Democrats, the Constitution and international law I’d be surprised if he hadn’t already authorized network attacks too (the NSA wiretapping of the US phone network doesn’t count as an attack, it's defense).

So how would the NSA attack terrorist computers and networks?

The techniques are highly classified.

So the NSA isn’t using standard techniques like spamming, port intrusion, spy-ware, ad-ware or viruses? I guess not, otherwise they wouldn’t need to spend $10 million a year to employ those readily available techniques, would they?

John Arquilla, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School who also works for the Defense Department on cyberwar issues…favors an offensive approach he calls a "virtual scorched-earth policy."

Unfortunately Jim Michaels doesn’t seem to have enough column-inches to explain what the hell this means, but it sounds like some kind of secret DoD-sponsored Second Life landscaping business that sneakily ruins the Second Life lawns of Second Life terrorists.

Read the whole article –it’s short, but its chock full of stupid ideas from stupid people fucking-around with an extra $40 million of taxpayers’ money on top of their regular salaries and benefits.

Jim Michaels did manage to find a couple of reasonable voices that expressed circumspection about the premise (if not the actual program) but Marine Brigadier General John Davis has at least one politician behind him, money in his pocket, and some kind of pixilated, VRML Mount Suribachi in his sights:

"Our opponents do a heck of a lot more than just watch us in cyberspace," Davis said. "They are acting in cyberspace. We need to develop options so that we can … dominate cyberspace."

I’ve never served, I’ve never fired a gun, but I have to ask: What the fuck kind of Marine Brigadier General is this?

Your opponents, General Davis, attack Marines with real bullets and real explosives and I highly doubt that they would feel particularly well-served that $40-million is being spent on the crackpot computer game you are running when that money could be spent in the field, on vital supplies and support.
What are you planning to do General; defeat terrorism in an online version of Zork? Or do you plan to defeat the enemy in a more up-to-date competitive arena, like HALO?

But apart from all that, I have to wonder what this means for the rest of us. After all doesn’t Bush decide who is a terrorist, based on what Jesus or Barney or Cheney or Gonzalez tell him? And if this $40 million program actually produces anything at all, couldn’t the NSA then apply it domestically too?

You know, former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld (after much deliberation with the voices in his head) figured out that the reason the freedomization of Iraq wasn’t working out the way he expected was that although the army he thought he had were actually a bunch of whining fuck-ups, the real problem was that the terrorists had superior and more creative public-relations which is why Rumsfeld spent $100 million to create an entirely fake “free-press” to inform the Iraqis on the fantastic benefits of invasion, war and occupation (this old post is IMHO one of my funniest—take a look, please!?)

I try to find the humor in absurdity and adversity--I really do; but Jesus H. Christ! the money, lives and futures of millions are STILL in the hands of MORONS!
The US military hasn't necessarily been broken so much by being given a mission it was not designed or properly trained or equipped for (occupation and urban combat) but by the entrenchment of business practices and corporate ideals over military practicalites, and Brig Gen. John Davis's cyberwar fantasy is just one example.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Worse Than Walter Reed?

"Soldiers on crutches and canes were sent to a main desert camp used for Iraq training. Military experts say the Army was pumping up manpower statistics to show a brigade was battle ready". ---By Mark Benjamin,

Apparently this little statistical game was played so that Bush could have his 21,000-man “surge”. But because more than 21,000 were needed, some of those unfit for service were magically declared fit after all and sent off to Iraq.

"In an interview for the Salon report earlier this month, Col. Wayne W. Grigsby Jr., the commander of the 3rd Brigade, did not dispute that injured troops were being deployed, but insisted they would be put in safe noncombat jobs once they were in Iraq" (emphasis added).

"it's just a flesh-wound, soldier! So get your ass into gear and report for duty, on the double!!"

Add this to the Walter Reed scandal.
And the reclassifying of injuries to reduce veterans’ benefits scandal.
And the unarmored Humvee scandal.
And the not-enough body-armor scandal.
And the not-enough bullets scandal.
And the not-securing 477 tons of explosives scandal.
And the Pat Tillman scandal.
And the Jessica Lynch scandal (and don’t forget Shoshanna)
And the Abu Ghraib scandal.
And the Haditha scandal.
And the shooting and bombing of non-US journalists scandal.
And Rumsfeld’s automated bereavement letters scandal.
And the air-freighting of the dead as baggage scandal.
And the KBR contaminated water for the troops scandal.
And the waiving of normal recruitment standards scandal.
And the not–enough troops in the first place scandal.
And the invasion-on-false-pretenses scandal.

"Pete Geren, the acting Army secretary, told a Senate panel on March 14 that the Army would investigate the injured soldiers' claims that their medical records were modified at Fort Benning in February in order for them to be sent to Iraq. House Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., has asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate. The Army inspector general has also launched a probe. It remains unclear if any of those probes will also look into injured soldiers being sent to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin in January."

Meanwhile the GOP and Bush are insisting that they “support the troops” whilst the Democrats are somehow undermining their effectiveness.

This shit has got to stop, and the only way to do that is to bring the troops home now and then put all the Army bureaucrats, GOP politicians and administration officials involved on trial.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lies, Shoots and Leaves

Republicans and their political conservative allies in the media have an interesting relationship with words, don’t you think? It’s as though every week they learn to say a new word without learning what the word actually means.

For instance, when the Democrats introduced a bill insisting that the US should see some tangible strategic progress from the use of American tax-dollars in Iraq—the Republicans called it “micromanaging the war”.

There’s nothing in the Democrats’ bill about firing generals because they want realistic numbers of troops, or appointing an ambassador to personally write Iraqi traffic laws, or requiring troops to keep painting schools that kids can’t attend for fear of being kidnapped or killed, or any demands that interviews with soldiers be scripted and rehearsed. That sort of thing would strike me as micromanagement.

What about the phrase “Global War on Terror?”
Terror is an emotion, global means the whole world, war is an armed conflict; but the US military is engaged in armed conflict in just two relatively nearby countries (comprising 1/148th of the global landmass an 1/500th of the world’s surface area) against forces that might number 30,000. The GWOT then is hardly a “global war” and it certainly isn’t combating terror, let alone terrorism (which, being a tactic, is a hard thing to have a war with too). It should come as no surprise then that if the description of the policy makes no sense, neither should the policy itself.

What about “accepting full responsibility”? Saying these words is apparently all that’s required to absolve a Republican of any moral, professional or legal transgression large or small, even after weeks of adamant claims of innocence, denials of self-incriminating evidence and false counter-accusations of their critics. For some reason responsibility means something quite different to ordinary citizens.

Of course the constant distortion and outright misuse of words by Republicans and their conservative supporters may be mistaken, but it is no “mistake”.
It is a strategy long employed by GOP staff specifically devoted to crafting and testing new uses for words and phrases that will help sell policy as product, where the packaging is paramount, regardless of the products’ merits or flaws and the ‘pitch’ is then distributed with instructions to the salespeople who sell the package without consideration of the contents.

It’s not that they promote the good and minimize the bad of the product they are selling, they simply totally misrepresent their “product”: The “Clean Air Act” was NOT designed to produce cleaner air.
Invading Iraq and killing Saddam Hussein was supposed to eliminate the supposedly global threat he posed—yet having accomplished that leaving Iraq would pose a greater global threat? Duke Cunningham and Jack Abramoff were completely innocent until they weren’t just proven guilty but admitted their guilt. In literally every aspect of policy and action the Republicans have lied about their motives, their actions and have even lied about their lies.

And whenever they are caught, they claim ignorance, memory loss and inadvertent illiteracy.
In any other job or circumstance these Republican pundits and politicians would be fired, imprisoned, remitted to counseling and professional care or locked-up as being criminally negligent or insane or for being a danger to themselves and to the public at the least for not knowing the difference between right and wrong or being able to distinguish reality from fantasy.

But instead they are allowed to lie, to shoot their mouths off and leave the consequences of their actions behind for everyone else. They lie about their motivations; they shoot their opponents and then leave without concomitant consequences.

And they do all this with words they don’t understand and refuse to understand. As the saying goes " a little learning is a dangerous thing"; Republicans and their conservative compatriots almost without exception clearly have very little learning, and as the rest of us have learned. it has proven and continues to be, a very dangerous thing.