Thursday, June 16, 2011

Who played that trumpet last night?

Col. Jack tells his story

Confirming the obvious, Zawahiri inherits forehead bullseye

From this story:
"The general leadership of al Qaeda group, after the completion of consultation, announces that Sheikh Dr. Ayman Zawahri, may God give him success, has assumed responsibility for command of the group," the network said in a statement posted on Islamist websites which it often uses. well, they announced he is 'assuming' the dreaded SEAL Team 6 Bullseye of Doom.

No word yet from his Pak handlers as to whether or not this promotion will entail a move into nicer digs in Hey Abbotabad (do do do do).

Now we know what that thing on his forehead is..

Richard Clarke on Chinese cyber aggression

From the WSJ. The growing list of intrusions is, to say the least, troubling.

Recently the computer-security company RSA (a division of EMC) was penetrated by an intrusion which appears to have stolen the secret sauce behind the company's SecureID. That system is widely used to protect critical computer networks. And this month, the largest U.S. defense contractor, Lockheed, was subject to cyberespionage, apparently by someone using the stolen RSA data. Cyber criminals don't hack defense contractors—they go after banks and credit cards. Despite Beijing's public denials, this attack and many others have all the hallmarks of Chinese government operations.

In 2009, this newspaper reported that the control systems for the U.S. electric power grid had been hacked and secret openings created so that the attacker could get back in with ease. Far from denying the story, President Obama publicly stated that "cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid."

There is no money to steal on the electrical grid, nor is there any intelligence value that would justify cyber espionage: The only point to penetrating the grid's controls is to counter American military superiority by threatening to damage the underpinning of the U.S. economy. Chinese military strategists have written about how in this way a nation like China could gain an equal footing with the militarily superior United States.

What would we do if we discovered that Chinese explosives had been laid throughout our national electrical system? The public would demand a government response. If, however, the explosive is a digital bomb that could do even more damage, our response is apparently muted—especially from our government.

Congress hasn't passed a single piece of significant cybersecurity legislation. When the Chinese deny senior U.S. officials' claims (made in private) that Beijing is stealing terabytes of data in the U.S., Congress should not leave the American people in doubt. It should demand answers to basic questions:

What does the administration know about the role of the Chinese government in cyberattacks on public and private computer networks in the United States?

If there is widespread Chinese hacking of sensitive U.S. networks and critical infrastructure, what has the administration said about it to the Chinese government? Specifically, did President Obama raise concerns about these attacks with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House this spring?

Since defensive measures such as antivirus software and firewalls appear unable to stop the Chinese penetrations, does the administration have any plan to address these cyberattacks?

In private, U.S. officials admit that the government has no strategy to stop the Chinese cyberassault. Rather than defending American companies, the Pentagon seems focused on "active defense," by which it means offense. That cyberoffense might be employed if China were ever to launch a massive cyberwar on the U.S. But in the daily guerrilla cyberwar with China, our government is engaged in defending only its own networks. It is failing in its responsibility to protect the rest of America from Chinese cyberattack.

Guesses as to the intent:

1. Espionage.
a. It's easier to steal emerging information technology than it is to create it yourself.
b. Ditto, military tech.
c. They want to be a fly on the wall listening in on all major foreign leaders that may give them trouble, so as to better predict their reactions to..
2. They want to retake Taiwan, and, wanting to avoid as much 'kinetics' as possible, seek to temporarily disable our ability to detect and/or respond to an invasion. (Taking out the power grid may help in this. Being able to penetrate more secure and isolated DOD systems will also help. Having anti-satellite and EMP capabilities may help as well. If they blind us long enough, once we regain our sight, we will be presented with a fait accompli. They read that we will grudgingly acquiesce. Hence, they keep exploring, poking and prodding. At some point the will be confident enough to pull the trigger. It may be years down the road, but that is the eventual goal.

Yeah, yeah I know...speculation...

Libyan Rebels improvise machine gunner robots. Droid army next? Let's hope they're better shots than the Lucas variety.

You have to hand it to these guys. First they improvised missile launchers on beds of Toyota pick-ups, now they are using remote controlled machine gunners crafted from RC hobbyist equipment.

I imagine Wackie-Kadaffi wouldn't like seeing one of these babies rolling into his tent. Seriously though, in the event that the Rebel Alliance is able to bring these units to full autonomous functionality, let's hope the "ethical governor" will have been programmed to avoid shooting at the vaunted Amazonian body-guard. We can't have that. Until then, we have to rely on the guys behind the RC controls.

Exit: Helpful hint for rag-tag Rebel Alliance: Don't stow your sleeping bag near the rocket launcher

Our Erstwhile Friends arrest five people that helped us track down Binnie.

Pretty good summation of several threads of this developing story is HERE, at Front Page.

Key graphs:

..A continuing problem during the War on Terror has been the lack of any Western “boots on the ground” for intelligence gathering. The CIA’s recruitment of these Pakistani operatives is noteworthy for that alone. Identifying bin Laden’s hideout with enough certainty to kill him would likely have proven impossible without their help.

The killing of bin Laden was a victory for the United States, but a humiliation for Pakistan. It proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Pakistan is not a reliable partner in the War on Terror. To be sure, no doubt some Pakistanis are loyal to the West and consider al-Qaeda and the Taliban to be a hated enemy. But it is equally sure that just as many, if not more, of Pakistan’s military, political and intelligence elite are actively working against America’s interests in pursuit of an Islamist and/or nationalist agenda. Pakistan is a country riven into many disparate factions, some pro-Western, some pro-jihad, and everything else in between. It often tries to pretend otherwise, but discovering the world’s most wanted man living a few minute’s walk from a major Pakistani military academy hung out Pakistani’s dirty laundry for all the world to see. According to Western intelligence officials, retired senior officers from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (their senior spy agency) were aware of bin Laden’s location, and even helped to construct his home.

Which leads us to believe the arrests were made to silence those who would confirm the obvious: Elements of the PAK army and/or ISI actively aided Binnie in Hey Abbotabad (do do do do) Abbotabad (do do do do).