Monday, June 7, 2010

Women in Afghanistan. How are things progressing?

An outstanding series of interviews including Laura Bush (who visited Bamiyan, site of two gigantic statues of Buddha that were demolished by the Taliban), U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer, UNESCO's Irina Bokova, and Afghan Ambassador Said Jawad. This is the latest episode of the new television show "Ideas in Action" produced by the George W. Bush Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. You can find both the program and the institute linked on my blog/site rolls.



Marinestan

A well taken precautionary from Victor Davis Hanson

The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, retired three-star Army General Karl W. Eikenberry, reportedly made a comment about there being 41 nations serving in Afghanistan — and a 42nd composed of the Marine Corps. One unnamed Obama administration official was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, "We have better operational coherence with virtually all of our NATO allies than we have with the U.S. Marine Corps."



Some officials call the new Marine enclave in Nimruz Province "Marinestan" — as if, out of a Kipling or Conrad novel, the Marines have gone rogue to set up their own independent province of operations.


Yet once again, it would be wise not to tamper with the independence of the Marine Corps., given that its methods of training, deployment, fighting, counterinsurgency and conventional warfare usually pay off in the end.


The technological and political face of war is always changing. But its essence — organized violence to achieve political ends — is no different from antiquity. Conflict will remain the same as long as human nature does as well.


The Marines have always best understood that. And from the Marines' initial mission against the Barbary Pirates to the battles in Fallujah, Americans have wanted a maverick Marine Corps — a sort of insurance policy that kept them safe, just in case.

Wiki Leaker busted.

And he may have done heavy damage to the U.S.

Army Intelligence analyst, SPC Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Maryland, fed the so called "collateral murder" video and much more to the despicable Wiki Leaks organization.

From WIRED

Federal officials have arrested an Army intelligence analyst who boasted of giving classified U.S. combat video and hundreds of thousands of classified State Department records to whistleblower site Wikileaks, Wired.com has learned.

Manning was turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online. In the course of their chats, Manning took credit for leaking a headline-making video of a helicopter attack that Wikileaks posted online in April. The video showed a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.

When Manning told Lamo that he leaked a quarter-million classified embassy cables, Lamo contacted the Army, and then met with Army CID investigators and the FBI at a Starbucks near his house in Carmichael, California, where he passed the agents a copy of the chat logs. At their second meeting with Lamo on May 27, FBI agents from the Oakland Field Office told the hacker that Manning had been arrested the day before in Iraq by Army CID investigators.

Lamo has contributed funds to Wikileaks in the past, and says he agonized over the decision to expose Manning — he says he’s frequently contacted by hackers who want to talk about their adventures, and he’s never considered reporting anyone before. The supposed diplomatic cable leak, however, made him believe Manning’s actions were genuinely dangerous to U.S. national security. He said he also leaked three other items to Wikileaks: a separate video showing the notorious 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan that Wikileaks has previously acknowledged is in its possession; a classified Army document evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; and a previously unreported breach consisting of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables that Manning described as exposing “almost criminal political back dealings.”

“Hillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,” Manning wrote.

Lamo says he felt he had no choice but to turn in Manning, but that he’s now concerned about the soldier’s status and well-being. The FBI hasn’t told Lamo what charges Manning may face, if any.


The agents did tell Lamo that he may be asked to testify against Manning. The Bureau was particularly interested in information that Manning gave Lamo about an apparently-sensitive military cybersecurity matter, Lamo said.


That seemed to be the least interesting information to Manning, however. What seemed to excite him most in his chats was his supposed leaking of the embassy cables. He anticipated returning to the states after his early discharge, and watching from the sidelines as his action bared the secret history of U.S. diplomacy around the world.

“Everywhere there’s a U.S. post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed,” Manning wrote. “It’s open diplomacy. World-wide anarchy in CSV format. It’s Climategate with a global scope, and breathtaking depth. It’s beautiful, and horrifying.”

Enjoy your time behind bars Mr. Manning. And, if I were running things, every effort (legal and cyber) would be made to take WikiLeaks down. This is obviously much easier said than done. They are nothing if not savvy, if this information is correct:

Wikileaks describes itself as “an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking”. Wikileaks is hosted by PRQ, a Sweden-based company providing “highly secure, no-questions-asked hosting services.” PRQ is said to have “almost no information about its clientele and maintains few if any of its own logs.” PRQ is owned by Gottfrid Svartholm and Fredrik Neij who, through their involvement in The Pirate Bay, have significant experience in withstanding legal challenges from authorities. Being hosted by PRQ makes it difficult to take Wikileaks offline. Furthermore, "Wikileaks maintains its own servers at undisclosed locations, keeps no logs and uses military-grade encryption to protect sources and other confidential information." Such arrangements have been called "bulletproof hosting".

Efforts should be made to hobble the site. At the same time, other sorts of efforts should be made to overload it with information, efforts which, at the same time, can work toward rendering WL disreputable.

Some number of people associated with the site do 'vetting' of information with the final say belonging to five individuals. The ultimate call is Julian Assange's, 'president' and public face of the organization. This is an exploitable point of weakness. If the site were a mere hub, or electronic dumping ground for disgruntled employees with beefs, it would certainly attract less attention. But, because they fancy themselves to be journalists and whistle blowers, they of necessity must take the time to vet all materials submitted. That being the case, they can be overloaded with attractive information, chewing up limited vetting time. What is more, it should be possible to set them up with plausible but phony 'leaks' that would pass vetting and prove embarrassing to their reputation, such as it is.

WikiLeaks states that it has never released a misattributed document. Documents are assessed before release. In response to concerns about the possibility of misleading or fraudulent leaks, Wikileaks has stated that misleading leaks "are already well-placed in the mainstream media. [Wikileaks] is of no additional assistance."[58] The FAQ states that: "The simplest and most effective countermeasure is a worldwide community of informed users and editors who can scrutinize and discuss leaked documents."[59]

According to statements by Assange in 2010, submitted documents are vetted by a group of five reviewers, with expertise in different fields such as language or programming, who also investigate the background of the leaker if his or her identity is known.[60] In that group, Assange has the final decision about the assessment of a document.[60]

This seems to be the easier route to taking down Ass...ange and his gang, as compared to the daunting technological challenge of cyber attack, and the usually slow and unreliable route of legal challenges, what with the vagaries of international law. But having said that, they do seem to collect great reams of private information and seem to already be in some ethical if not legal hot water for doing so. So that angle of attack should not be abandoned.

In the meantime, we can only hope that the information that was provided by Manning is not as damaging as he claimed in his emails with the hacker that eventually turned him in.

Last word: Prosecute Manning to the fullest possible extent. Make an example out of him.