Tag Archives: Intelligence

The European Axis of Evil

The term got phrased in 2002 by George W. Bush, it was a term to describe governments accused of helping terrorism, digging for weapons of mass destruction and so on. The list had Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Yet now 14 years later, some consider that Iraq is no longer that, the other two remain, or do they? In all this there is a new player, the player is Turkey. It is not because of their affiliation to Iran, although that does not help their case. It is that our good old pressie GW the act of intentional destabilisation. You see terrorism is all about destabilising and Turkey has had its hand in that for the longest of times. A well heard case of last week was the scuffle that the Greek Coast Guard went into last week. At http://greece.greekreporter.com/2017/07/04/turkey-tries-to-exploit-incident-of-greek-coastguard-firing-warning-shots-at-turkish-cargo-ship/ we see ‘Turkey Tries to Exploit Incident of Greek Coastguard Firing Warning Shots at Turkish Cargo Ship‘, with the quote “The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned Greece for the incident, making reference to “dry cargo” being carried between the Iskenderun port to Izmir port. “We strongly condemn the unmeasured act of Greek authorities in this disgusting incident,” a Turkish foreign ministry statement said“, yet in all this, do you know what is the most surprising part? The part that instead of making a thorough search on this ship showing that there were no drugs and that there was no case (which might have embarrassed the Greek authorities a little), everything became about the shots on a cargo ship and the Turkish fleet sending three ships into the region. So instead of the 1978 ‘Midnight Express‘ where the authorities went overboard on the American smuggling the drugs, they seem to go soft and facilitating on the drug dealers from Turkish descent. Is that corruption or what? As for the part of ‘disgusting incident‘, when we compare the Greek Coast Guard stopping a possible drug smuggler versus the amount of Kurds casually murdered by Turkish troops. I know what gets my vote for ‘disgusting incident‘ and it will not be the Greek Coast Guard.

The second issue is Qatar. Now there are a few unknowns here in the general part of Qatar. I do not claim to know all the inns and outs of the events, yet when one nation pisses off the bulk of the OPEC nations and basically all the neighbours, there is an issue. When Iran suddenly comes to the ‘aid’ of Qatar, we can accept that Qatar is not relying on the best voice to make any claim they might have. For Turkey to walk in brazen (or if that high on testosterone?) to play ‘protector of the underdog‘ they are not aiding, they are destabilizing the situation. As we see on how the papers all claim “President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday reaffirmed Turkey’s support for Qatar“, I remember the issues in 2002. America had been under attack and they needed their European ‘ally’ to grant them access to an air base. So what happened? Turkey thought it was a good moment to try some blackmail. Like nullifying all debts, large cash incentives and the list went on for a while. That was for me the first clear indication that a nation like Turkey had no business being part of the EU or given any of its privileges. Turkeys only concern is turkey, which is acceptable to some extent. I accept that any nation is in it to make its life and the life of its citizens better. Turkey just did that in a few too unacceptable ways. Basically at that point, Turkey became a facilitator and to the smallest extent a protector of the terrorists that had attacked America.

When we look at the June article in Al Jazeera, we see: “Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and several other countries cut their ties with Doha on Monday, accusing it of supporting armed groups and their regional rival, Iran – charges Qatar says are baseless“. So is this merely about intelligence and evidence? Can 4 nations be so wrong? The issue added to this is that Turkey is less about support for Qatar, as it is to destabilize the situation. In addition, it seems to be less about ties with Qatar as it is about making stronger bonds with Iran. You see Turkey is not stupid, Iran with some of the sanctions lifted could be a haven of consumer exploitation in Iran, a large chunk of cash turkey is always greedy to get their fingers on (and with the state of their currency, who can blame them?), so as we see these iteration play out, we see two events where Turkey is not an example of positivity and merely another piece of evidence that Turkey has become a member of the Axis of Evil. In all this America is also active trying to resolve issues, where only 15 minutes ago, the first draft of meeting points for the meetings that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be discussing in Kuwait on Monday. Yet in all it is the other part, parts touched on yet not discussed in detail which is the accusation from the Saudi led group on “the continued events seeking to sabotage and undermine the security and stability in the Gulf region“. Another side to this was given by foreignnpolicy.com only mere hours ago. “Regardless of what the United States does, sharply increasing the vitriol towards Iran while at the same time laying siege to fellow GCC member Qatar will likely weaken the Saudi position and what is left of an already compromised Arab political order. Intended to take Iran down a notch, these actions instead will likely strengthen Tehran’s hand“, this is where the destabilising part of Turkey comes more into play. As Turkey commits military support, Iran can void their actions to interfere by merely calling Ankara to do so. It does not merely make Ankara the puppet of Tehran, a game they will be rewarded for later, it allows for any resolution into the entire matter to not become a reality and as such, the evidence on terrorist support by Qatar becomes more believable. In this the second side would be that both Turkey and Iran can give support to Yemen to bolster pressure. In this, my most inhumane statement of all-time! ‘Thank god for Cholera!‘ If Yemen was not hit by cholera the way it is, the pressure on Saudi Arabia would have been a lot higher and as such escalations by the 4 members would have been near impossible to avoid. In this the four would have additional options if a large humanitarian front towards Yemen would open up to give relief to the speculated 275,000 cholera cases in Yemen. The reason is not merely Yemen, the danger of Cholera moving from Yemen into Oman and Saudi Arabia is getting more and more likely, implying that once it gets into Saudi Arabia, the pressure becomes even greater. In all this Turkey is sending tonnes of supportive goods to Yemen, which looks pretty good on the Turkey resume and through that they are only increasing their visibility to both Iran and Qatar. As such, if the Saudi led group would send humanitarian assistance, it could diminish Turkey’s growing footprint and it would be the right thing to do. In all this we now see (yesterday that is) is that ‘Qatar ‘opens its books’ to Germany’s intelligence agency to clear up terrorism claims‘, (at http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/qatar-opens-its-books-germanys-intelligence-agency-clear-terrorism-claims-1629260), we see the part that I was all in favour of close to a week ago. I reckon it takes time to get the ball rolling in Qatar. So how will this unfold? You see, in the end there are two elements. Not just what Qatar has in intelligence, because there will always be an issue between home and foreign intelligence. We should be able to agree that the 4 nations are not doing this for mere fun, so there is a level of intelligence that there has been an issue and Iran is not known to be the nice guy in any of this, strengthening the issue that Saudi Arabia et al have. You see, the following quote “Germany’s foreign minister has said his country’s intelligence agency will audit Qatar to help clear allegations Doha supports terrorism“, “However, they decided to continue with the ongoing embargo, following Qatar’s rejection of a list of demands it was told to meet to end its isolation” as well as “The United Nations undersecretary general, Jeffrey Feltman, met Qatar’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi, on Thursday. He expressed concern over the continuation of the crisis and stressed the UN support of Kuwait for its mediation efforts to solve the situation, Al Jazeera reported“.

So, why these three?

First

The fact that Qatar might not have put any part of these issues of intelligence to storage (or to whatever intelligence recording process they have, does not mean that it does not exist. We have examples that go back to world war one proving that, yet the most visible one was ‘Das England spiel‘ where dozens of radio operators were arrested the moment they landed, it showed huge flaws in the system and even as the fable of intentional misdirection was given at some point by non-official players, we see that there are needed moments of not committing any intelligence to storage media. The fact that Iran only trusts Iran is partially supportive evidence of that. when data is not available we cannot state whether the issue does or does not exist, we cannot predict the data that is not there, we can only consider other evidence that the lack of data is more likely than not, to be intentional.

Second

In this needed path to find evidence, it does not mean that the opponents stop their actions, until clear evidence is given, the opponents are in denial and even when after all this time the data comes out, any evidence stating that Qatar had not been part of the Iranian actions, does not mean that the evidence is accepted. Merely because someone vouches for another does not mean that the voucher is valid. Tools can be found on any level and the absence of evidence does not make a person guilty of innocent, the application is in the eyes of the beholder and Iran has soured the milk for the longest of time in the region making the option of Qatar making any case of defence harder, not easier.

Third

The fact that Jeffrey Feltman and Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi met does not give too much credence on any level. No matter how UN American he seems to be, as President Trump had given ‘support’ to Saudi Arabia gives less value to the existence of Jeffrey Feltman in this particular case. There would have been a better situation if this case was taken over by a non-American. This is not an assault on Jeffrey Feltman himself. It is merely that Americans are now on both sides of the table. This is great when you are an arms dealer, slightly less great when you need trust on any side of the table. The fact that a mere week ago Jeffrey Feltman stated that ‘No report on violation of resolution 2231 by Iran‘, giving on that “the supply, sale or transfer to Iran of nuclear-related items” has been set as fact does not mean that he lied or knowingly misrepresented his office. It merely gives rise that he might not be regarded as a trustworthy source by Saudi intelligence. That is the nature of the game and in this it is a mere consequence.

In addition, German sources give us “So far Turkey has sent more than 100 planeloads of relief and most recently a cargo ship carrying 4,000 tons of food aid. Ordinarily, affluent Qatar relies heavily on Saudi Arabian food exports“, now there is no indication that Turkey is doing anything but that, yet is that a certainty that Saudi and Egyptian intelligence will rely on? I know some of these people, paranoid, the whole lot of them! (It is a job requirement I guess). In this Turkey might be showing their ‘good’ side, yet in effect they are merely a more and more destabilising factor in this mess. It is that very same source that gives us a gem. We get “Galip Dalay, research director at the Al Sharq Forum and associate fellow at the Al Jazeera Center for Studies, a think tank funded by the broadcaster, Turkey has lost the opportunity to claim neutrality and mediate“, which is at the heart of the matter. Turkey has plenty of clever people, some exceedingly so, why would a ‘throne creating opportunity’ be missed like that? The one act that could have propelled Turkey in a positive way was merely cast aside by sending in the troops. In all this the quote “Turkey’s support for Qatar has actually prevented a potential invasion or toppling of the current Qatari administration“, I do not believe this to be the case, or ever was a valid concern. Should any of the 4 invaded Qatar; they would have been painted as the black trump card, the card that holds no value. It would not have mattered that there is ‘Oil in the family’; it would be the dark mark none of the 4 players wanted. This, when weighed gives additional value that Turkey is the new player in the Axis of Evil. I took the long way round to show you as the elements have multiple sides and you need to see more than one angle in this. So as we see that the Cyprus talks have collapsed, the call to suspend the Turkey ascension talks to the European Union are all elements of inaction, destabilising actions and what could be nothing else than stupid actions in uplifting whatever view of Turkey was possible, these elements buy themselves are no reason to see Turkey as the new member of the Axis of Evil, yet together they are a clear pattern in setting a tone of chaos whilst effectively removing the options of clarity to the diplomatic board. There can be no other option in this. It is not merely a one stage view; it is the view of close to half a dozen theatres where Turkey is setting the negative tone.

How wrong am I?

That remains to be seen. I am not proclaiming to have all the wisdom in town (just a lot of it), what is a given is that the board is always larger than one person can behold and the latest acts by Turkey, in light of the trade deal with Indonesia might have been a positive one, were it not that the first path they take is regarding the defence industry and the production of a medium tank named ‘Kaplan’. I am thrilled for President Joko Widodo to get his economy running a little better, yet Germany started their economy in an upwards trajectory by pushing the weapons industry. In this Indonesia merely gets a nice opportunity, in regards of Turkey I am a lot less certain on their motives. In addition, as we see those ties strengthen, there will be additional options for Iran and Russia, not the people I prefer to have as a neighbour, as Indonesia is a mere 400 Km to the north. I have no issue with Indonesia as they offer the greatest Batik’s on the planet. Having Iran and Turkey 400Km to the north was not what I had in mind when I decided to plant a vegetable garden with a view to the North. Yet, that might just be my limited view on life and global events.

The mere question remains, when we consider the political plays turkey could have made, is there an option that Turkey is a mere puppet in a game they don’t really understand? #Justasking

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Military, Politics

In light of the evidence

We tend to accept facts and given situations whenever we have a reliable source and a decent level of evidence. The interesting side is that howling to the moon like a group of sheep hoping the lone wolf will not hear them is an equally weird revelation. The question becomes at that point, who is the lone wolf and who are the sheep, because neither position nor identity is a given. Now, for the first art, we have the Guardian article (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/27/eu-theresa-may-combat-terror-brexit-europol), with the expected title ‘We need deal with the EU to combat terror, experts tell Theresa May‘, which of course gets them the DGSE, yet the usefulness of the rest becomes a bit of an issue. For this part we need to look somewhere else, and we will do that after the given quote in the mentioned article “Although our partnership with the US for intelligence sharing is extremely important, the fact is that the current terrorist threat is very much a European dimension issue. The Schengen database and knowing about who has moved where are all intimately dependent on European systems and we have got to try to remain in them“. This could be a valid and valued statement, yet is that truly the case? For this we need to take a little gander to another place of intelligence and Intel interest. The Cyber monkeys, or is that the cyber-mercenaries? The difference is merely a moment when you WannaCry 1.4. You will have heard, or perhaps read regarding the NHS as it was struck, here again we see: “However, it instead appears to be down to organisations and individuals failing to run keep Windows up to date“, which was actually voiced by NHS Digital, the failure of policies as they were not adhered to by IT staff, or at least those responsible for keeping those PC’s up to date with patches. The second quote given much earlier in the IT article is ““To be abundantly clear, the recent speculation concerning WannaCry attributes the malware to the Lazarus Group, not to North Korea, and even those connections are premature and not wholly convincing,” wrote James Scott, a senior fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT)“, which is where I have been all along. The one nation that has less computer and internet innovation than a Nintendo GameCube sets this level of hardship? It is just too whack for thought. It is the quote “At best, WannaCry either borrowed heavily from outdated Lazarus code and failed to change elements, such as calls to C2 servers, or WannaCry was a side campaign of a minuscule subcontractor or group within the massive cybercriminal Lazarus APT” that changes the game. In addition we see: “The publication referred to “digital crumbs” that the cyber security firm had traced to previous attacks widely attributed to North Korea, like the Sony Pictures hack in late 2014″, we will exclude the quote “Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth has said Labour would invest an extra £5 billion into new IT infrastructure for the NHS, after hospitals and services were affected by the widespread Ransomware attack on Friday“, especially as Labour had in the previous government wasted £11.2 billion on an IT system that never worked, so keeping them away from it all seems to be an essential first.

The issue is now in several phases. Who got hit (those not updating their systems). It affected according to some sources thousands of systems, yet when it comes to backtracking to a point of origin, the Cyber Intelligence groups remain unclear. The IT article (at http://www.itpro.co.uk/security/28648/nhs-ransomware-north-korea-may-not-be-behind-wannacry), gives us a few things, yet the clear reference to the Guardians of Peace, the identity the hackers had given themselves in the Sony event gives a few additional worries. Either this is clearly a mercenary group without identity, or we have a common new issue on identity when it comes to Cyber criminals. You see, as we see more and more proclaiming the links between the Lazarus group and North Korea, we do not get to see a clear link of evidence. Many sources give us ‘could be linked‘, or ‘highly likely‘, which is an issue. It makes the evidence too shallow and circumstantial. The NY Times gives us (at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/22/technology/north-korea-ransomware-attack.html) yet they are basically stating what Symantec game us and mention that. My issue here is “But the hackers left behind a trail of digital crumbs that Mr Chien and his colleagues had traced to previous attacks by the Lazarus Group“, what if the crumbs were an intentional side? You see, the quote “another group of hackers that call themselves the Shadow Brokers published the details of National Security Agency hacking tools that the WannaCry hackers were able to use to add muscle to their attacks” give a different light. The fact that there is a team reengineering tools and flaws to get somewhere fast is one. We have seen the lack of actual cyberpower of North Korea in the past, the fact that they are regarded on the same level as Chinese Cyber forces is a bit silly. You see, any country has its own level of savants, yet the fact that North Korea, a nation as isolated as it is, gets to be on par with China, an actual superpower that has Cyber infrastructures, experts at the University of Shanghai (the white paper on cracking AES-256, 2001), as well as a growing IT technology base is just a little too whack.

This now reflects back to the European need of Schengen. The UK needs quality intelligence and with the US breaches of Manchester, the fact that no high quality evidence was ever given regarding the Sony Hack, the growing source of all kinds of hacker names and no validity or confirmable way to identify these groups leaves us with a mess that pretty much anyone could have done this. In light of the NSA flaw finders, there is now more evidence in the open giving the speculative hacker as one with skills that equal and surpass people graduating with high honours at MIT, than anything North Korea could produce. It does not put North Korea in the clear (well the fact that the generals there had no comprehension of a smartphone should be regarded as such), and as we see the entire Bitcoin go forward, we need to take more critical looks at the given evidence and who is giving that evidence. We all agree that places like Symantec and Kaspersky should be highly regarded, yet I get the feeling that their own interns know more about hacking then the sum of the population of all North Koreans do, which is saying a lot. We see supportive evidence in the Business Insider (at http://www.businessinsider.com/wannacry-ransomware-attack-oddities-2017-5). Here we see IBM with “IBM Security’s Caleb Barlow, researchers are still unsure exactly how the malware spread in the first place. Most cybersecurity companies have blamed phishing emails — messages containing malicious attachments or links to files — that download the ransomware. That’s how most ransomware finds its way onto victims’ computers. The problem in the WannaCry case is that despite digging through the company’s database of more than 1 billion emails dating back to March 1, Barlow’s team could find none linked to the attack“, one billion emails! That is what we call actual evidence and here IBM is claiming that the issue of HOW the malware spread remains a mystery. Now, can you see that the entire North Korean issue is out of touch with the reality of Common Cyber Sense and Actual Cyber Security? Two elements, both are essential in all this. It is the lack of actual evidence that seems to be the issue, giving us the question, who wants the North Korea issue propagated? Any answer here is more likely to be political than anything else, which now gives us additional questions on where for Pete’s sake the need of European Intelligence remains as they fall short of providing answers. In light of the Schengen database. Why would that not be shared? If the US has access as a non-European, non-EC nation, why would the UK, a clear European nation be barred from access? With all the flawed acts by the US, having actual professionals look at Schengen data, seems to be an elemental first, would you not agree?

An additional question would be on how these Bitcoins would be cashed, it is not like an isolated nation like North Korea ever had a flying business in Bitcoins in the first place. It is actually (yes, I am shocked too), that quality information comes from PwC. In this case Marin Ivezic, a cyber-security partner. He gives us “EternalBlue (the hacking tool) has now demonstrated the ROI (return on investment) of the right sort of worm and this will become the focus of research for cybercriminals“, which would be a clear focus for veteran cyber criminals, yet the entire re-engineering foundation gives another slice of circumstantial evidence that moves us actually away from North Korea. So in this we have two elements. As the FBI and CIA have been all about pointing towards North Korea, the question becomes, where do they not want us to look and whatever else do they not have a handle on? These points are essential because we are shown an elemental flaw in Intelligence. When the source is no longer reliable, why would they be around in the first place? We can agree that governments do not have the goods on Cyber criminals, because getting anything of decent value, tends to require inside knowledge, which is the hardest to get in any case, especially with a group as paranoid as cyber criminals. The second side is that China and Russia were on the list as one of the few abled parties to get through Sony, yet Russia has fallen of the map completely in the last case, that whilst they are actually strengthening ties with North Korea. That does not make them guilty, yet on the sale required Russia was one of the few with such levels of Cyber skills. The fact that we see in the NY Times that it is too early to blame North Korea is equally some evidence, it gives vision to the fact that there are too many unknowns and when IBM cannot give view of any mail that propagated the worm, gives additional consideration that there are other places who cannot claim or show correctly how the worm got started, which is now an additional concern for anyone altering the work for additional harm. As the point of infection is not known, stopping the infection becomes increasingly difficult, any GP can tell you that side of the virus. There is one more side I would like to raise. This comes from a source (at http://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/59458/breaking-news/wannacry-linguistic-analysis.html), it is not a journalistic source, or a verified source, so please take consideration that this news could be correct. It is however compelling. The quote ““The text uses certain terms that further narrow down a geographic location. One term, “礼拜” for “week,” is more common in South China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Singapore. The other “杀毒软件” for “anti-virus” is more common in the Chinese mainland.” Continues the analysis “Perhaps most compelling, the Chinese note contains substantial content not present in any other version of the note, is lengthier, and differs slightly in format.” The English note of the ransomware appears well written, but it contains a major grammar mistake that suggests its author is either not a native speaker or possibly someone poorly educated“, that would make sense, yet how was that source acquired?

The second quote: ““Given these facts, it is possible that Chinese is the author(s)’ native tongue, though other languages cannot be ruled out,” Flashpoint concluded. “It is also possible that the malware author(s)’ intentionally used a machine translation of their native tongue to mask their identity. It is worth noting that characteristics marking the Chinese note as authentic are subtle. It is thus possible, though unlikely, that they were intentionally included to mislead.” The Flashpoint analysis suggests attackers may have used the Lazarus code as a false flag to deceive investigators, a second scenario sees North Korean APT recruiting freelance Chinese hackers to conduct the campaign” gives us a few elements, the element of misdirection, which I had noted on from other sources and the element that North Korea is still a consideration, yet only if this comes from a freelance hacker, or someone trying to get into the good graces of Pyongyang, both options are not out of the question as the lack of Cyber skills in North Korea is a little too well set from all kinds of sources. The writer Pierluigi Paganini is a Cyber professional. Now even as Symantec’s Eric Chien is from California, did they not have access to this part and did no one else correctly pick up on this? As I stated, I cannot vouch for the original source, but as I had questions before, I have a few additional questions now. So, exactly how needed is European Intelligence for the UK? I think that data should be shared within reason. The question becomes, how is Schengen data not shared between governments? The Guardian gives us “After the Manchester attack, which killed 22 people and left dozens of others grievously injured, it was revealed that suicide bomber Salman Abedi had travelled back to England from Libya via Turkey and Dusseldorf four days before the attack“, so how reliable is Turkish intelligence in the first place? How could he have prepared the bomb and get the ingredients in 4 days? There is an additional view on ISIS support active in the UK, yet as we now see that this drew attention to him, why on earth was the trip made? Also, was Libya or Mecca the starting point (source: claim from the father in earlier Guardian article)? How would sharing have resolved this?

Now look at this in light of the US leaks and the Cyber Intelligence of a dubious nature. There is a growing concern that the larger players NSA, DGSE, GCHQ have flaws of their own to deal with. As they are relying more and more on industry experts, whilst there is a lack of clear communication and reliable intelligence from such sources, the thoughts now become that the foundation of fighting terror is created by having a quality intelligence system that recognises the need for Cyber expertise is becoming an increasing issue for the intelligence branch. Should you wonder than, then reconsider the quote: ‘demonstrated the ROI (return on investment) of the right sort of worm and this will become the focus of research for cybercriminals‘, if you think that cyber jihadists are not considering the chaos that they could create with this, then think again.  They will use any tool to create chaos and to inflict financial and structural damage. They might not have the skills, yet if there is any reliable truth to the fact that the Lazarus group is in fact a mercenary outfit, there would be enough critical danger that they will seek each other out, that is providing that ISIS could bring cash to that table. I have no way of telling how reliable or how certain such a union could be. What is a known is that Sir Hugh Orde is not answering questions, he is creating them, as I personally see it. The quote “UK membership of EU bodies such as Europol and Eurojust, which brokers judicial co-operation in criminal cases, not only allowed access to huge amounts of vital data, but also meant UK police could set up joint inquiries with German police or those from other national forces without delay“. You see, the UK remains part of Europe and Interpol existed before the EC, so as we now see the virtual creation of red tape, the question becomes why the EU has changed rules and regulations to the degree that the UK would fall out of the boat. Is it not weird that the EU is now showing to be an organisation of exclusion? Even if we laugh on the ridiculous promises that Corbyn is making, just to be counted shows that there is a larger problem in place. Why is there suddenly a need for 1,000 more intelligence staff? Can we not see that the current situation is causing more issues then resolve them? As such, is throwing money and staff on a non-viable situation nothing less than creating additional worries?

The last part is seen in “The Schengen database and knowing about who has moved where are all intimately dependent on European systems and we have got to try to remain in them“, yet this does require all players to enter the data accurately, in addition, that only applies to people entering Schengen, yet as has been shown in the past, after that getting locations on people is becoming an increasingly difficult problem. The fact that after the Paris attacks, some people of interest were found to be in Belgium is one side, the fact that these people could have met up with all kinds of contacts on the road is another entirely. The truth is that the intelligence branch has no way of keeping track in such details. In addition we have seen that the list of people of interest is growing way beyond normal means and organising such data streams and finding new ways not just to find the guilty, but to decrease the list by excluding the innocent is growing in complexity on a nearly daily basis. And that is before the cyber mess is added to the cauldron of nutrition. There is at least a small upside, as the technology stream will soon be more and more about non-repudiation, there will be additional sources of information that adds the branches by pruning the list of people of interest. The extent of pruning is not a given and time will tell how this is resolved.

It all affects the evidence that the parties hold and how it is applied, it remains a matter of time and the proper application of intelligence.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Military, Politics, Science

The Syrian Fuck Up

There are a few things playing, for one the Bremain group is trying to push again in some way to scare people and set uncertainty all over the place. To be quite honest, at what point are such people regarded as traitors? I know the term is much to harsh, yet the fact is that the vote has been passed, there is a direction and those people are actively trying to mislead left right and centre, like the roaches of the old ways of profit, profit for the few! How come that side is not placed into the limelight? The second issue is seen in NY and a few other places where bombs are exploding. We can speculate in several ways, but that is not my way and until solid intelligence is seen, only then can we form a view. The most likely being that the US is now seeing the direct consequence from lone wolf attacks. There is no likely answer immediately, it will take time, yet the numbers are on terrorism. Confirmation is outstanding for now, but the most likely scenario. We will see later, no matter what the answer is, for the US their issues have now become a lot more complex. It is my personal view that I still believe that Edward Snowden is to some extent a joke at best and a traitor at worst. By illuminating actual parts of projects like PRISM, the lone wolves are now taking other measures and what might have been prevented will now only be prevented after many casualties, so feel free to send him a card with the text “شكرا لمساعدتك” (source: Google Translate).

Where we are actually going is Syria. You see, there has been an issue for a long time, we can go with the idea that people have been lucky for too long and there is the idea that a truce was never an option in Syria. Yet when we read ‘Syria ceasefire on brink of collapse after raids on Aleppo, Syrian troops’ (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-19/syria-ceasefire-teeters-after-raids-on-aleppo/7856670). You see, my view comes from the initial issue I had when President Obama claimed ‘No boots on the ground in Syria‘ (at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2015/10/30/16-times-obama-said-there-would-no-boots-ground-syria/74869884/), shows that this statements goes back as far as ‘meeting with Baltic State leaders, August 30th, 2013‘. Here we see the quote “In no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground that would involve a long-term campaign. But we are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act that would help make sure that not only Syria, but others around the world, understand that the international community cares about maintaining this chemical weapons ban and norm. So again, I repeat, we’re not considering any open-ended commitment. We’re not considering any boots-on-the-ground approach“. You see, my issue is that any air force strike needs quality intelligence. You see, as I personally see it, the Air force is meant to be force in support of the Army! That’s how it is supposed to be! This is not negativity, because the Air force is its own power in the sky, but when it is required to go after ground forces, it needs eyes on the ground, which implies boots on the ground. It is that simple. Of course they can try to rely on the INTEL that they get from third parties, but that tends to lead to wrong tagging, inaccurate intelligence and not to mention the wrong coordinates get to be transmitted. I reckon that this latest issue could be either one of those failures. And when we get to see this “Russia said the situation in Aleppo city was “especially tense” on Sunday, blaming the instability on rebels.” The amount of shelling by rebel groups against positions of the Syrian Government troops and of residential areas is increasing,” Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said“, so what ceasefire? If a ceasefire is one-sided, there is no ceasefire. It seems to me that the issues shown on the news is that there is inaccuracies on all sides, not just the military parts. That can be construed from the quote “Also on Sunday, a senior adviser to President Bashar al-Assad said Damascus believes Saturday’s strike that killed the Syrian soldiers was “intentional”.” None of the facts on the ground show that what happened was a mistake or a coincidence,” Buthaina Shaaban said.” This could be the case on one side, if there was no ceasefire. So what is the case? Al Jazeera gives us ‘Ceasefire terms pose major risks for Syrian rebels‘ (at http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/09/ceasefire-terms-pose-major-risks-syrian-rebels-160915092126740.html), there we see the agreement painted as a one-sided solution for the Syrian government. Sharif Nashashibi writes in this article “This is a clear indication that, to him, such ceasefires are stepping stones to achieving that aim, not to a negotiated political solution. Indeed, pro-Assad forces continue to besiege rebel-held areas during the current ceasefire“, so from all this we can speculate that that fingers can be pointed on more than one issue. When we look at the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-37398721) we see “The US said its planes had halted the attack in Deir al-Zour when informed of the Syrian presence. A spokesman for the US administration expressed “regret” for the “unintentional loss of life”.“, as I remember it, a meeting at the United Nations Security Council under these conditions tends to be not too boring, so my advice to the Honourable Matthew Rycroft and the Honourable Gerard van Bohemen would be to bring tea and cucumber sandwiches to the next meeting, it should be fun to watch the US and Russian incriminate back and forth!

Now, I am not going to give you the goods on those two, the upcoming cold war will be a fun job soon enough. What is essential is to realise that the Air force could possibly have acted on incorrect, inaccurate or incomplete data soon enough. This is however an issue on more than one level. If you recall the initial chemical attacks, the US was unable to give clear evidence on who did what, meaning that either the satellite lag is too great or lacking too much details. You see, this is not TV, this is not an episode of NCIS where we see that the satellite could be used to watch a topless girl sucking the sunshine. This is real life and even as we know that it can give clear mechanical movements, troop movements, especially in an urban environment like Aleppo could be an issue to some extent, this is corroborated in this event. There will be conspiracy minds giving the notion that the US is trying to win by striking Assad forces ‘accidently’, a scenario that is not impossible, but likely a lot more improbable. Without clear deniability President Obama would not got near this issue now, so close to the election with the possibility of wrecking the election chances of the Democratic Party. In addition, with minus 18 trillion and no exit strategy there, increasing actions and requirements in Syria is one part he cannot afford in any way shape or form. That leads back to the attacks on the US, if there is any possibility that this is indeed a lone wolf wave, the US will have dire need for many more resources soon. No matter how it looks in the news and how it is played. Syria has been an issue for too long and as politicians and ambassadors seem to try and find a solution that will make everyone winners, I have to look back at 1939 when the UK decided that Hitler had to be stopped. It would take 2 years and a large sacrifice of part of the US Navy until the US took that stance openly. The issue is that too many politicians are taking the Charlie Brown approach (Walk softly and carry a Beagle). I think that with so many political fires stating that you are the fireman and you are here to chop away flammable constructs is not the worst position to take. In all this there is a genuine issue of missing trust. The BBC stated “Russia’s defence ministry earlier said that if the US air strikes did turn out to be an error, it would be because of Washington’s refusal to co-ordinate military action with Moscow“, it is not that Russia has any level of record in creating trust. The Ukraine and the Crimea region both have visible scars regarding that issue, there is of course the MH-117 so I reckon that Sergey Shoygu should review his options and find a third solution all parties can work with. The simple truth is that during these election the US side (for now) will be flaccid and useless unless a clear and distinct order is given by the Obama administration. Russia might gain trust all over the field if an actual solution for Syrian battle intelligence is found.

The worst issue in all this is that this is a serious fuck up, because the intelligence as given, is now sitting on the premise of two sides. From the initial part we can go with the two possibly oversimplified sides. US Air force was either unable or unwilling to see the intel. This path is taken because it is a simple truth, when we cut away the sides these two give rise to the actions. If actions were taken whilst unable to see, they would be rash actions, showing that boots on the ground were essential to recon data. If they were unwilling to see the Intel, it becomes a very different discussion, one with large implications on the US military actions. This path is taken to show you that for the most the path was not that complex. The only complexity is the accountability of actions. Sometimes, especially in armed conflict the issue tends to remain simple, or better stated ‘lacking complexity’. So why was it a ‘fuck up’? Again, in my personal view, and standing aside human error, the air force relies on levels of quality intelligence. Whenever we add just one level of impurity, we see that actions become a risk or rash to say the least, the fact that there was no supporting recon team means that someone let US pilots enter a blind stage where identification is hard at best. That is not the fault of the pilot or his commander. In this arena where uniforms are very much alike, telling one party from another becomes nearly impossible. This explains why ‘no boots on the ground’ was close to idiotic from day zero. This would always happen and it is a near miracle that it did not happen more often. One could argue that the entire mission as set out as it was doomed to fail from the very beginning, which now makes us wonder if the current administration wanted a clear victory to begin with. If not, we have ample evidence that this American administrations wasted billions on posturing, which sounds odd too.

In the end, the reality around this will take years to clarify and even then messages, mails and documents will have been ‘accidently’ destroyed or classified for 2 generations at least. In the end, for the most it is easy to agree that the Syrian events were a fuck up, but to what extent and until which person and function (read: who’s desk) is a question not easily (if ever) answered.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Military, Politics

The tactical changes

Only 9 minutes ago, information reached me that takes a different turn to several events. On the 1st of May I wrote about the Homerun UKIP made (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/05/01/homerun-by-ukip/). In this I linked a video (containing extremely graphic executions), it was a presentation of sorts, and there were several ‘links’ that implied that ISIS was active in Germany. Now I see the following (at https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2016/05/22/isis-had-a-social-media-campaign-so-we-tracked-them-all-down/), apart from the social media implication there are other implications too. The links to Munster, close to the Netherlands now give another scenario to consider. First of all, this could be a steeplechase, a red herring hunt. When you leave clues this open, with so many options to match images with the local population, the people involved are either massively stupid, or a little too clever. I have learned to always consider my enemies to be superior, so I will not make the mistake to consider them too stupid. There is of course a third side, this could be a hoax by anyone with Arabian language skills, the beginning of a steeple chase, to see if Americans/NATO people will take the bait.

One part that is a given is that in the past open source intelligence have (apart from verification) shown to have effective options. You see Americans (at times not the brightest collection of people) have worked from the ‘Americans only’ recruitment campaign, which makes perfect sense. Yet without local and language skills many details tend to go missing. Even as certain parties adjusted this view, there is a limit that hinders any intelligence investigation at times. In that same light we can see Bellingcat. It can be a great source for investigative journalists, that is, if they can successfully verify the intelligence obtained.

In an equal light, the information that I gave would require scrutiny too. Was German intentional for the locations, or is there another reason (like anti English reasoning). The other part was the language in the video. Their level of German was high, which leads to more questions, but are the questions relevant? That remains the issue.

So as I ponder the issues I saw, I also question the quote “However, these photographs revealed the exact locations of the ISIS supporters in their photographs, in some cases even exposing their home addresses. Numerous Twitter users crowdsourced the geolocation of these photographs throughout the day on Saturday, eventually pinpointing the locations of several photographs shared by ISIS supporters“, what if the trail is false? What if the locations lead to people, not pro ISIS, but the arrest that follow could turn family members more extreme, possibly even into the hands of ISIS?

It is a valid question, but for now, there is no way to see what is what, not on the information I currently have. Even when we see that some of the photographs seem to lead of Hoofddorp, a small town next to Amsterdam international and really close to Amsterdam, with plenty of possible targets. Yet, in equal measure, it could be a foxhunt whilst the fox remained intentionally absent. Without more clear intelligence there is no way for me to tell, but that does not mean that there is no way to find out.

There is one clear danger in all this, this is a move that UKIP can exploit. If ISIS sympathisers are this deep in France and the Netherlands, it will scare too many Brits into the Brexit field, no matter if Brexit is the best solution or not, moving to the Brexit field out of fear will never be the right reason or action for that matter.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Military

Chapter 13

I have been aware of the story for almost a day now. To be honest, it took a little while to let things sink in. Also, my approach here is completely different from my other stories. This all is not a clear cut thing and I might be barking up all the wrong trees. The story ‘Argentinian government moves to dissolve domestic intelligence agency‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/27/argentina-government-domestic-intelligence-agency-alberto-nisman) should be a wake-up call to many people. What you are about to read is not based on evidence, evidence that we see as quality facts that can be used to speculate on what actually happened. I am stating that none of the evidence is of any calibre at all, I am however using the events that I am aware of and as such, I see a different escalation, one that could be utterly wrong. I leave it up to the reader, I am just warning the reader at this point, to scrutinise my thoughts, as I do and do not accept the speculation on face value alone.

You see, for the most a population has little to no clue what their levels of protection are, until they are removed. Consider that we in Australia need to remain safe whilst someone decided that Australia will be a lot safer if the ASIO is disbanded. I can tell you now that this would be the worst idea in a long line of really bad ideas. If we go by the oldest book on this (the art of war), then at some point, the reader gets to chapter 13, which is all about espionage.

Today, we have a host of issues with spooks, but the one we ignore is that they are here to prevent issues. Yet now consider that these are used against us. However, be aware that spies can be used in any matter of ways, in addition, these groups do not just represent governments, at times large corporations employ them for similar reasons.

So as we look at the initial text, I will add the conversion to modern and technological approach

From the view of the Art of war, we get the following:

  • We employ the use of spies, of whom there are five classes:
    • Local spies;
    • inward spies;
    • converted spies;
    • doomed spies;
    • Surviving spies.

There is a book; it is called ‘Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage’ by Eamon Javers. It is not a bad read, more important, this current world has an evolved use of former intelligence officers (from many countries), some come from the redacted world of cutbacks in the US and some who privatised themselves. They use their spy craft to aid corporations in distinguishing weaker targets, preparing for cases and litigation in several legal areas and to aid in final trading decisions, as well as change the premise of trade agreements (or to destabilise them by interfering with costs and profit margins. For these options, they might choose to employ Local Spies and/or Inward spies.

In modern days, we will actually see the converted spy in several ways, whether this person is an informer through IT, a trader, or merchant. In the household form, see this person as one of your distributors, however, as he is getting his bonus from another source, he will tip the revenue scales in a minor way, you that you almost got the job, but almost getting the job is not the same as getting the job and you lose out on revenue. I can go on and give you examples of the last two types, but you get the picture!

So why is this event an issue at present?

Consider that Argentina, as it is in such a dire situation, that it needs to get its economy in a much better place. Now we look at the first quote “Argentina’s president announced a major shakeup of her country’s intelligence network on Monday in her most combative step yet to address the fallout from the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman“. This sounds all fair and good, but is dissolving the intelligence agency a step that should be considered? Let’s not forget that Argentina has two enemies, the first one is big business. Big Business will always be an enemy of ANY government that prefers to give a fair deal to the people of its nations; the second is X, which is not the United Kingdom or the Commonwealth. Yes, there has been and there will remain a clear difference of opinion there, but that is a disagreement, not a statement for hostile acts.

When we look at what drove all this (at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/20/world/americas/alberto-nisman-found-dead-argentina-amia.html), we see the title, which gives us a first clue ‘Puzzling Death of a Prosecutor Grips Argentina‘. “From the moment 10 years ago when he was assigned to investigate the 1994 suicide bombing of a Jewish centre here that left 85 people dead, Mr Nisman, an even-keeled lawyer, became entangled in a labyrinthine plot that he traced to Iran and its militant Lebanese ally, Hezbollah“, in addition we get “explosive accusations that top Argentine officials, including President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, had conspired with Iran to cover up responsibility for the bombing as part of a deal that would supply Iranian oil to Argentina“. You see, Argentina has a few issues all over the place, in addition, there is no denying that the people have never forgotten what happened in 1994, yet, and my deepest apologies to those who had lost loved ones, friends and people they knew, this event is not the highest priority for Argentina in their current dilemma, so why is there suddenly a revelation?

I am not entirely sure that any of these facts are true (pure speculation), when looking at the timeline, the events are off. Is it not convenient that Alberto Nisman ends up dead just after he accuses certain people from a case that is two decades old? Did he actually find evidence? Perhaps something was given, or left for him to find. Consider the implied involvement of Iran and its oil delivery, why would that now get distorted, just when oil is massively on the way down in price. So as we read: “He accused Hezbollah of having carried out the bombing and senior Iranian officials of having planned and financed it“, based on what evidence? This is not a case that has had nonstop attention; it was a specific case, a 20 year old one. How hard would it have been to insert scraps leaving to fictive evidence? In addition, Hezbollah has eagerly taken credit for their actions in the past, so why deny it now? I am not stating that they are innocent, but the fact that Hezbollah has a fading course of visibility, this claim would give them the ‘image’ they wanted to have.

The next part hits back to all the parts mentioned before. The person implied in this, now suddenly disbands one intelligence branch and creates a new one. Is this just a shifting label, or are the people getting replaced. I reckon in Argentine’s current predicament, to remove their intelligence branch for someone else is tactically bad (guess where all these officers would go to) and if it is just a sanitation of bad apples, the branch would not needed to be disband in one instance and created in a reformatted version the next.

All these elements are not adding up. Now, let us be fair, why would it make sense to me? I am not in Argentina, I have no clue what the reasoning is and why certain political steps are taken. So, consider this quote from the guardian “Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said she would support a bill to dissolve the existing structure – which employs more than 2,000 people – and replace it with a new federal intelligence agency“. When we add the following part “It follows a protracted struggle with the intelligence agency that has come to light after the suspicious death of Nisman, which the president blames on rogue spies who are trying to undermine her“, as well as ““We must start to work on a project to reform the Argentine intelligence system, in order to clear up a system that has not served national interests,” Fernández said“, so as we see the known facts, the president, who will be leaving  office after two terms is now, 9 months until elections, shoveling over a massive anthill called the ‘Intelligence branch’? So, as we see the accusation of ‘rogue spies’, instead of cleaning house, they are resetting the entire branch? That does not seem like the best idea. Regardless whether there are rogue elements, it is likely that other connections remain hidden as it all goes into another form, which means that it could easily start again. The question on how Alberto Nisman died is still not settled with clarity, so if it was murder, than shuffling the intelligence branch seems an even less good idea.

I can also state with some certainty that doing all this, whilst Argentina is still in treacherous economic waters, having a reliable intelligence branch is pretty essential. Yet, this gives us the part, is it reliable? Latin American nations have been accused more often implied accused seen as a harsh, possibly corrupt group of power brokers. If that is the case, cleaning the intelligence foundations make a lot more sense than ‘just’ relabeling it. If we accept the last quote “her tussle with the spy agency has so far led to increased surveillance powers for the army“, we must consider more than one path. Was this step deliberate, or was it orchestrated? You would think that both answers are the same, but they are not. In the first case we see the consequence of shifting powers, which grows the military oversight, in the other situation it was always about setting military oversight and this was being orchestrated by reshaping the intelligence branch into a Federal Intelligence Agency. The question then becomes, if this is a step towards the ‘FIA’, why was it done in this way? Consider the espionage part in the beginning. Venezuela is in a very bad state and until the hedge funds issues are completely resolved, having an active intelligence branch at your disposal seems pretty essential as well. Let’s not forget the reference to the book in the beginning, under these conditions, there could be profit for both Uruguay and Paraguay, Chili is also a player in this case. As the intelligence branch falters, it also means that economic and corporate advantages could be gained at the expense of Argentinian margins, that whilst the hedge funds vulture issue remains unresolved. All this leads to the question what has actually been happening, it seems decently clear (in my personal view) that the reference to the Jewish centre was not a cause for accusation, but likely a diversion. So, why were certain allegations made, more important, why is the accused president not receiving a lot more opposition and vocal complaints?

We won’t know what is actually in lay, perhaps for some time, but when this article gets more space, at that point, I will follow up on this story, hopefully all loaded with verified facts.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Military, Politics

First Blood

It’s nice to see the Guardian this morning, first there is the news on Alan Rushbridger who stops being a teenager and starts heading the Scott Trust the power that be, behind the Guardian and several other media companies. Why Teenager? Well, as I see it, when you follow your passion you tend to avoid having to grow up (a sort of Peter Pan syndrome) and this man has lived his dream as I see it. I have written against the Guardian more than once, but it is clear Alan knows what he was doing and he was doing it quite well. Lastly, the bastard looks 15 years younger than his actual age (geriatric envy).

Anyway, now that is out of the way, let’s focus on some first blood. Some will have missed it, but with this jab, President Obama has started his feeble attempt in getting the Democratic Party re-elected in 2016. He needs to get an early start, because if the House Elections are anywhere near an indication, the democrats will lose by a landslide as I see it at present. The Republicans now have 246 seats against the democrats 188, which means that minority speaker Pelosi needs to seriously woe the republicans to get anything sorted, this also implies that President Obama needs to get used to the word ‘No’ a lot more then that he is comfortable with.

So, as we look at the continuation of a white horse, we look at the latest article called ‘White House under pressure as calls for CIA accountability grows stronger‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/10/white-house-cia-torture-report). Now there is nothing really against the article itself, it is just a reflection for that what seems to be. But the following parts jumped out at me.

The White House is under growing pressure to hold individuals accountable for covering up the torture of terrorist suspects, with calls coming from a senator for a purge of top CIA officials and a furious row over whether the agency kept both Congress and the previous administration sufficiently informed of the program“, which senators? To give some of these people the label ‘pussy’ seems harsh but in effect that is the truth. These people are all about ‘not getting hands tainted’, ‘I still need to sleep at night’ and ‘as long as I am kept in the dark’. The real terror world outside the US is a nightmare realm, if you can stomach it, the consequences and the acts you have to live with you do not and never will belong on the hill and you belong as a part of the Langley brotherhood, likely trained or to be trained in Quantico or Lejeune. Going up against terrorists is a dirty business and it will damage your soul, whether you believe it or not. Now, I spoke out against the acts yesterday and to the major extent I believe that it was a flawed approach from the beginning. But the reality is that bringing a terrorist into the yard for a meeting with Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, having tea and a biscuit will not lead to information or determent. You must become the beast they fear. If there is one clear directive that we learned from the KGB (now the FSB) and how they dealt with the Russian Mafia, it is that a soft glove leads nowhere.

So which senator made that call? Well, the information is that it came from Senator Mark Udall from the state of Colorado, which seems to be predominantly Republican. By the way, how loud were some of these people before 2010?

The next statement: “When countries are threatened, oftentimes they act rationally in ways that in retrospect were wrong”, is one I can go along with, it is true that this happens, yet the one thing we still ignore is that the terrorist attack we saw had been so unprecedented, that any ‘rational’ response could be thrown out of the window. This compared to the Chechnyan act of parking trucks loaded with explosives next to apartment buildings and blow them (Moscow 1999), try that approach in San Francisco and watch millions go insane with rage. It is a mere and simple cause & effect. If you go into a war against such opponents you need to keep your cool and show that you are willing to do that what they could not fathom. In other words you need your own kind of monster available.

This does not change my premise that the intelligence gained from prolonged torture tends to be ineffective and mostly useless. Whatever answer in regards to state ‘we got Bin Laden this way‘ is on thin ice, regarding how many people it took to get any information on one person.

many insiders perceive as an attempt to isolate the intelligence community from Washington’s political leaders was also supported by former CIA director Michael Hayden“, which is exactly what I would consider to be a fact and the administration had some knowledge of what happened (like water boarding), yet they would never know, or want to know the details, they wanted to see results. Which calls the following to be called into question: “White House rejects claims agency misled President Bush“, which might be academically true, but ““That’s a point of some contention,” he said, when asked whether the CIA had lied to the White House. “There are some people who have said that that’s not true.”” here we see the crux, what EXACTLY was not true? You see, we get a number of ambiguous references, but did the CIA lie, or did they not reveal all facts? There is a large difference here, and as such part of this what we read becomes a deception on how ‘guilty’ the previous administration could have been. It is first blood, the Democrats seem to be pushing for a moral guilt call, in reflection on President Obama ‘stopping’ the torture procedures, yet, if we believe the Huffington Post (at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/obama-black-sites-rendition-torture_n_1812578.html), we see that like the technical support of their phone lines, it had been outsourced. The headline that gave us ‘Obama Administration Outsources Torture: Can U.S. Ever End Human Rights Abuses?‘ also tells us: “Despite the closure of these facilities, the administration’s use of extraordinary rendition has outsourced human rights abuse to other countries. Will we ever get rid of torture?” It gives a whole new meaning to the claim ‘it was not us!’

Black water anyone, or do we call it coffee?

What is in a name, in an act and in any non-written, non-verbal agreement is being looked at, which means it is a discussion of innuendo, whilst the politicians hide behind ‘if it is not written down, it does not exist’, knowing that they play this game, selling whatever service they condoned for their own selfish need of re-election. That is how this reads between the lines. So when we read “Director [John] Brennan and the CIA are continuing to wilfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture. In other words, the CIA is lying,”, we should ask certain questions of Senator Udall as well, The senator, who was before that in the House of Representatives, representing the community of Boulder (where Mork from Ork used to live), representing the Judiciary and Agriculture Livestock & Natural Resources Committees, can we all agree that litigating for cattle is not really the same as discussing the finesses of intelligence?

The final part is seen with “Yet Obama’s spokesman went out of his way to defend Brennan on Wednesday, denying that he had lied about any aspect of the torture inquiry“, yes, the President would not like to get his hands tainted on fingering guilt towards Director John Brennan, yet overall this entire article reads like the Democratic administration has started regaining votes and visibility through false morality by having a Minority Democratic Senator stand up and voice thoughts that are morally right, but for the morally wrong reasons. It is almost like the initial invasion on Iraq, when you do the right thing for the wrong reasons you corrupt whatever banner you wish to hold high. In a faltered economy, virtually boosted, the losing party of the next election will feel the consequences of this depreciated position. The democrats are desperate to make sure it is not them.

There is one more quote that calls it all into question. Consider ““The lines of accountability that needed to be set up weren’t always in place and that some of these techniques that were described were not only wrong were counterproductive.”“, it is so nice that President Obama is trying to fit this into the hands of the Intelligence community, like ‘vice holds’ and ‘muzzles’, would it not be nice if he had taken that approach towards the financial industry at least three years ago? If he had done that, America might not be in the desperate economic state it is now; moreover Russia might take America serious when they discuss the Ukraine. This article is all fine, but it read like the democrats will be using this for something entirely different, I hope the people can read between the lines here, because holding certain people to account after the fact, whilst the condoning politicians remain unaccounted for is more than just a little shady.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Military, Politics

Perception from the outside

It is hard to write about this. Not because of the topic, but because of the implications that derive from the thoughts I have. You see, I have thus far always had faith in the intelligence branch. When we look beyond the implied Hollywood drama of all matters, the intelligence branch is a dedicated underpaid group trying to keep its nation and its citizens safe. Yet, what lies beneath the veneer when we look deeper into certain matters. Are they for real or are we all played by the press to some extent?

This is at the foundation, as we cannot rely on any first-hand information, especially when the press is part of it, we are left with a question mark. One that might not need answering, but one that should not be ignored, this is at the core of me, for better or worse, I seek answers.

This all started yesterday when I got wind of a Guardian article at the earliest of dawn, as a final paper was due, I just left it to look at later (that later is now). The article is ‘Lee Rigby murder: internet firm could have picked up killer’s message – report‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/25/lee-rigby-murder-internet-firm-could-have-picked-up-killers-message-report-says).

Now, this should be a shock, especially to the family members of Lee Rigby, so why is this even a story? It starts with the first paragraph “Internet companies face intense demands to monitor messages on behalf of the state for signs of terrorist intent after an official report into the death of Fusilier Lee Rigby said one of his killers wrote on a website – later named as Facebook – of his desire to slaughter a soldier, without the security services knowing“, was this written by someone who had a clue? If we consider CNet (at http://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-processes-more-than-500-tb-of-data-daily/), we see that Facebook processes 500 Tb a day, now this is all manner of data, yet consider another indirect connection when we see ‘Tesco director facing questions about lobbying government over dirty chicken report‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/25/-sp-tesco-director-facing-questions-lobbying-government-dirty-chicken-report), the first paragraphs says it all (as far as information goes) “Former FSA chief Tim Smith understood to have warned Department of Health that revealing food poisoning contamination rates could provoke a food scare and damage the industry“, so when we add the text “Tim Smith is understood to have warned the Department of Health in June that FSA proposals for publishing results, which included naming and shaming individual supermarkets, could provoke a food scare and damage the industry“, so when was all this released to the media? how much delay was there? Consider the implication of the statement in there that “it kills around 100 people and makes an estimated 280,000 sick each year“, now we get back to the implied message that might have saved Lee Rigby, if we take that a message in total is no more than 60Kb (it is a lot smaller, but could include graphics), we are looking at 8 billion messages each day (those we make, we forward or share, those we get offered as advertisement). Now, there is more, Facebook has applications with within that application message options. Not one or two, but a few dozen, which means additional messages, like simple online messengers, all that data, now also consider the implied message that the Guardian mentioned. “The report said the authorities were never told that one of the killers, Michael Adebowale, wrote of his murderous intent six months before he and his accomplice, Michael Adebolajo, brutally attacked Rigby in May 2013 in a street near his military barracks and attempted to behead him“, so finding the message, investigating it and acting on it. In well over 2.5 billion optional threats, the National lottery in the UK has better odds of winning a big price in it, so how did all this come about?

Here we get to the issue “The ISC chair, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, accused internet companies of providing a “safe haven” to terrorists but said a despite a string of failings by the security services, which had repeatedly monitored both men before the attack, there was nothing they could have done to prevent the murder of Rigby“, here I start having an issue, particularly with Sir Malcolm. Consider one sincere threat in a place where there are millions of threats, boasts and pranks, all claiming something pretentiously grandiose. It is my believe that Sir Malcolm is all about trying something different and he going about it the wrong way, he is trying to get to Damascus, via Washington and Los Angeles. Not the brightest route to take. Apart from the approach he is implying to take, he is also forgetting about a series of events that he needs to take, which will fail and in the process will enable commercial companies to actually hammer down on consumers in the wrong way. Does Sir Malcolm realise that, or did he intentionally forget about that part?

What did I mean by that? You see, the intelligence branch has access to enhanced statistical algorithms; they match it via other created profiles. Now, normally such a profile is only created when a person has too many flags in his/her name. For example members of an extreme faction, people with links to organised crime and those with additional political agendas. There is a bunch of reasons which will result on the eye of the intelligence community on you. For the most they are checked every now and then and if nothing happens, nothing happens, it is that simple, which an accumulative approach to sifting data tends to be. This is all good and proper; it is a way to protect national interests. For the most they end up verifying that you are not a threat, or not a concern to them, it comes with their territory.

The intelligence branch has resources, they are there, but they are finite. Sir Malcolm seems to be pushing for a change that is extremely dangerous, you see, at some point, Facebook, Google and others will all be shanghaied into becoming ‘volunteers’ in data oversight. They will get all kinds of tax breaks, so there will be interesting benefits for these data farms, but now we get to the real dangers. At one point, they want more and push for a change that will allow these farms access to those advanced algorithms, now we get a new problem, now we see a change where those farms will get to analyse US ALL! they will have the algorithms and the linked data no commercial enterprise should ever be allowed to have, now we will all be set into those who get access (viable as retail commodity) and those who do not matter, we will get marketed into oblivion, but now directly into the realms we use to love, it will be a push to sway us into a direction we never wanted to go, our freedom becomes a point of pressure. Consider, you might love ‘the Office’, once social media digs deep, how much will you enjoy getting 10-20 sales pitches a day on your personal interests? How long until you stop sharing interests?

Now consider the following:

The ISC said in its report: “Whilst we note that progress has started to be made on this issue, with the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (Drip) and the appointment of the special envoy on intelligence and law-enforcement data-sharing, the problem is acute. The prime minister, with the National Security Council, should prioritise this issue”.

The part not mentioned or looked at is data retention. I wrote about it on October 2nd 2014 in ‘Advice from the press?‘ there I wrote “I am still convinced that if data retention becomes a larger issue, the intelligence community will be lacking in hardware, knowledge and staff to deal with these massive amounts of data, which leaves us open to other issues, yet this is just my view!“, now we see a push that social media will do more scanning.

The next two paragraphs illustrate certain dangers down the track: “Adebolajo, the more dominant of the two, had featured in five MI5 investigations and Adebowale in two, but none found evidence of an attack. The ISC said MI5 made errors and was plagued by delays, but even if corrected none of this would have helped the security service to spot the level of danger posed by the attackers before they struck“, so how could we have kept Lee Rigby alive? The information to the better extent is stating that this would not have been the case and I am not the only one thinking this.

When we consider “The Guardian understands senior figures in MI6 expressed anger at the criticisms in the report. One source familiar with the committee’s work said: “It is fair to say that the chaps across the river are not happy at all.”“, we see another part. This is not just within the UK, the UK needs to protect itself, especially with the ISIS acceleration we see all over North Africa and in the Middle-East; this all requires a new strategy. Data is at the centre of it, that part is correctly seen by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the ISC. Yet, my issue is the view the man seems to have in regards to integrity. Commercial enterprises have no integrity and to a larger extent, neither do internet providers. So we have an upcoming issue. The next part you the reader might observe is the part that was not clearly seen in the article and it has been part of the events that miss one item as we see these discussions.

What time is it?

Yes, the timeline! That is part of all this. No matter how lovely that ‘donut’ looks in London, the people there have been delaying with an increased amount of data. I personally would consider it to be in excess of 30% in growth per year, which means that the data collectors and analytical group grows over 100% in size in a little over 3 years, the accumulated requirement for the UK, and beyond that the Commonwealth requires growth beyond that. In my view, letting places like Facebook crunch that data and giving them access to some of these algorithms is clearly a bad idea. In addition, consider that these firms could harbour ‘sympathisers’ to chaos. Once these algorithms gets into other hands, how long until those supporting ISIS and like-minded extremists will get a handle on lowering their profile even further, making this entire approach pointless?

That danger is twofold, storage, which is the non-essential part. As storage seems to become cheaper and cheaper, that part will be decently manageable overall, the other part is the issue, processing power. We can want for all the processors we can, but the power processors of tomorrow are less and less equipped to deal with such a growing load of data. Now consider that this is just Facebook, how much additional data will we need to see mail providers, twitter, Instagram and loads of other multi Gigabyte collecting options. There is no denying that data needs to be looked at, yet direct data crunching is less and less an option. The question becomes how to tackle it, can or even the question should it be tackled like this at all?

That is the dangerous side, isn’t it? When we are confronted with such an abundance of data, why seek the pressured solution? Let’s not forget that the example taken here, namely Lee Rigby, would not have been saved. So why try to seek a solution in such a pressured environment? Consider the lottery example; if 1,000 out of the 5 billion are death threats, we get a number one in 5 million, now we need to tackle these 1000 messages, which ones are genuine? Consider that some are below the radar, which means that some could be WRONGLY disregarded. Add to that the danger of a prank jest where a group and all THEIR friends send one threat regarding a VIP, politician or regent. It would drown out intelligence resources in mere minutes.

So yes, no one denies that something must be done, yet giving social media these responsibilities is not the best idea, giving them access in some way to other algorithms is less a solution, we are in a shift of dimensions, an interaction of data dimensions and profiling intelligence. Consider the NSA data center in Utah, costing over 5 billion in total, in addition, the cost of electricity, manpower and other costs, taking it to an additional 50 million a year (for just one location). Now consider that this centre will need to grow processing power in excess of 50% within two years, how much additional costs will it require? Add to this the energy needs, well over 60 Megawatts, yet within 2 years, that could be closer to 80 megawatts. That means in excess of 10 wind turbines, just for one location, the equivalent of 15,000 households of energy. I think that certain parties are not thinking in the right location, if we disregard the lack of expertise and an offer (in abundance) of revenue based (read commission seeking) expertise, it seems to me that even though data should never be ignored, certain approaches will require a different hand.

Perhaps it is not a new solution they need, but to reinstate a very old one.

Leave a comment

Filed under IT, Law, Media, Military, Politics, Science