Category Archives: Geopolitics

InSecurityWatch: Threats, war, hacks, spies


And more. . .

We begin with a very real security threat from Salon:

Americans see economic inequality as a bigger threat than nuclear weapons

  • Asked to name top threat to the world, a plurality of Americans say it’s the gap between rich and poor

Pew polled people in 44 countries for the survey. In the U.S., 27 percent of respondents named income inequality as the biggest danger to the world, followed by religious and ethnic hatred (24 percent), nuclear weapons (23 percent), pollution and the environment (15 percent), and AIDS and other diseas (7 percent). Europe, which was also hard hit by the Great Recession and whose leaders have since embarked on an agenda of economic austerity, joined the U.S. in seeing economic inequality as the top global threat.

The findings are part of Pew’s spring 2014 Global Attitudes poll. Earlier this month, Pew unveiled data from the survey showing that a plurality of Americans support raising taxes as a means of combating economic inequality.

The percentage of Americans naming inequality as the top global threat has increased sharply since the Great Recession. In 2007, just 17 percent of Americans told Pew that they considered inequality the biggest threat.

And on to the highest profile conflict of the moment from BBC News:

Islamic State ‘being driven out of Syria’s Kobane’

The Islamic State (IS) militant group has been driven out of most of the northern Syrian town of Kobane, a Kurdish commander has told the BBC.

Baharin Kandal said IS fighters had retreated from all areas, except for two pockets of resistance in the east. US-led air strikes have helped push back the militants, with another 14 conducted over the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, the new UN human rights commissioner has called IS a “potentially genocidal” movement. Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein described the group as the antithesis of human rights.

From TheLocal.dk, the latest player in the bombing war:

Danish F-16s carry out first mission against Isis

For the first time since parliament approved Denmark’s military involvement in northern Iraq, Danish jets took to the air to support an American-led mission.

Danish F-16 fighter jets participated in their first mission over northern Iraq on Thursday, the Defence Ministry announced.

“The jets took part in an operation over Iraq in close cooperation with our coalition partners. Our people have made dedicated and highly professional efforts to be ready and I am very pleased that the Danish F-16s are now actively contributing to the international coalition’s fight against the Islamic State,” Defence Minister Nicolai Wammen said in a statement.

Another high-flyer from the Guardian:

UK to send armed drones to assist campaign against Isis

  • Foreign secretary says drones will carry out surveillance over Iraq, and defence secretary says they will add to strike capability

Britain is to send heavily armed Reaper drones to the Middle East to help in the fight against forces from the Islamic State in Iraq.

Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, told MPs that the Reaper drones would add to Britain’s surveillance operations over Iraq. Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, said the drones would add to Britain’s “strike capability”.

Hammond told the Commons: “We are in the process of redeploying some of our Reaper remotely piloted aircraft from Afghanistan to the Middle East to add to our surveillance capabilities.”

Blowback from the Guardian:

Threat of extremist attack in UK is escalating, say police

  • About 50 people a week referred to deradicalisation programmes, with 218 terror-related arrests so far this year

Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer has said that several plots this year to murder people on Britain’s streets “directed by or inspired by terrorism overseas” have already been disrupted, with police activity to prevent extremist attacks at its highest level for years.

Scotland Yard assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said Britain’s counter-terrorism network was battling increasing radicalisation via the internet, with fears that young British people are being brainwashed by material including depictions of beheadings, suicides, murder and torture. About 50 people a week are being referred to deradicalisation programmes, he said.

Activity to stop an attack was said by one source to be the highest since the aftermath of the 7 July 2005 attack on London’s transport system, with the threat level escalating as the year has worn on.

From BBC News, gee, we’re shocked:

US ‘hid Iraq chemical weapons incidents’

US troops and Iraqi police were wounded by exposure to abandoned chemical weapons in 2004-11 in a series of incidents largely kept quiet by the Pentagon, a US newspaper has reported.

The New York Times said the weapons were built by Saddam Hussein’s regime during the 1980s Iran-Iraq war.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/14/world/middleeast/us-casualties-of-iraq-chemical-weapons.html

Soldiers and police uncovered about 5,000 warheads, shells or bombs.

The Times based its report on dozens of pages of classified documents, and interviews with soldiers and officials.

And from the Intercept, an ominous development:

New Zealand Cops Raided Home of Reporter Working on Snowden Documents

Agents from New Zealand’s national police force ransacked the home of a prominent independent journalist earlier this month who was collaborating with The Intercept on stories from the NSA archive furnished by Edward Snowden. The stated purpose of the 10-hour police raid was to identify the source for allegations that the reporter, Nicky Hager, recently published in a book that caused a major political firestorm and led to the resignation of a top government minister.

But in seizing all the paper files and electronic devices in Hager’s home, the authorities may have also taken source material concerning other unrelated stories that Hager was pursuing. Recognizing the severity of the threat posed to press freedoms from this raid, the Freedom of the Press Foundation today announced a global campaign to raise funds for Hager’s legal defense.

In August, one month before New Zealand’s national election, Hager published Dirty Politics, which showed that key figures in Prime Minister John Key’s National Party were feeding derogatory information about their opponents to a virulent right-wing blogger named Cameron Slater. Hager published evidence in the form of incriminating emails, provided by a hacker, demonstrating coordination between National Party officials and Slater. The ensuing scandal forced the resignation of a top Key ally, Justice Minister Judith Collins, and implicated numerous other National Party officials and supporters. Despite the scandal, the National Party won a resounding victory in the election, sending Key to a third term as prime minister.

From Al Jazeera America, The Most Transparent Administration in American History™ is a sore loser:

US may appeal release of Guantanamo tape

Federal judge asked to halt plans for releasing video showing Guantanamo Bay hunger striker being force-fed his meals.

The United States government has asked a federal judge to halt plans for releasing videotapes showing a Guantanamo Bay hunger striker being force-fed his meals.

In court papers filed on Wednesday night, the Justice Department told US District Judge Gladys Kessler that the government may appeal an order by the judge that would, for the first time, lead to disclosure of classified information in a proceeding involving a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.

The Justice Department told Kessler that she was substituting the court’s judgment for that of executive branch officials, contrary to established precedent.

intelNews covers old school spookery:

Senior Polish defense official detained for ‘spying for Russia’

A high-ranking official in Poland’s Ministry of National Defense has reportedly been arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia.

Poland’s Dziennik Gazeta Prawna said early on Wednesday that a man had been detained by Polish security personnel because it was thought he had been acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign country. Another source, Poland’s commercial news Radio Zet, reported that two men had been arrested, a colonel in the Polish Army and a lawyer with dual Polish-Russian citizenship.

Later in the day, an official statement from the office of the Senior Military Prosecutor said simply that Poland’s “Ministry of National Defense detained a Polish Army officer on suspicion of being a member of a foreign intelligence service.”

And RT covers Cold War 2.0, the latest complication:

US tanks arrive in Latvia to ward off ‘perceived’ Russian threat

US tanks have arrived in Latvia as NATO flexes its muscles in an apparent show of strength towards Moscow. The machines are being deployed across the Baltic States and Poland over the next two weeks and will be used for training exercises.

The 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood in Texas, was deployed in Adazi, not far from the Latvian capital of Riga. 150 soldiers used five M1A2 Abrams tanks, as well as 11 Bradley Fighting Vehicles in a training demonstration.

The commander of the 1st Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division, John Di Giambattista said, “This is more than just a training mission. This is more than just a trip across the Atlantic; this is more than a multinational training exercise. This is how we demonstrate our nations’ commitment to reassure our NATO allies,” Reuters reports.

After the jump, neo-Nazi legislators to stand trial in Greece, Another FBI blast at citizen encryption coupled with a shot at China, hackers game the latest online ad tech, cybercam spookery, another corporation found selling our their “secure” devices, an NSA exec’s curious enterprises, an intriguing story about what Greenwald and company haven’t published, “smart meter” hacking, the latest Cold War 2.0 move, more mass grave found as search for Mexican students intensifies and anger rises, an Aussie/Japanese Channel sub deal draws closer, Korean military talks stall, another Korean nuclear threat [from the U.S.], on to Hong Kong as the crackdown intensifies, America responds, and pointless talks are proposed, Taiwan frets over Chinese maritime moves and Japan looks to America for critical help, Japanese lawmakers pay a provocative visit [Abe does it with an offering], and an even more provocative moved aimed at banishing any admission of World War II war guilt. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: War, a drone, spies, lies, more


First, via Reuters, blowback:

U.S.-led air strikes intensify as Syria conflict destabilizes Turkey

American-led forces have sharply intensified air strikes in the past two days against Islamic State fighters threatening Kurds on Syria’s Turkish border after the jihadists’ advance began to destabilize Turkey.

The coalition had conducted 21 attacks on the militants near the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani over Monday and Tuesday and appeared to have slowed Islamic State advances there, the U.S. military said, but cautioned the situation remained fluid.

U.S. President Barack Obama voiced deep concern on Tuesday about the situation in Kobani as well as in Iraq’s Anbar province, which U.S. troops fought to secure during the Iraq war and is now at risk of being seized by Islamic State militants.

And another Arab Spring country bombed by yet another, via the Associated Press:

Egypt warplanes hit Libya militias, officials say

Egypt deepened its involvement in the fight against Islamist militias who have taken over key parts of Libya on Wednesday, with officials saying Egyptian warplanes have bombed their positions in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The two officials, who have firsthand knowledge of the operation, said the use of the aircraft was part of an Egyptian-led campaign against the militiamen that will eventually involve Libyan ground troops recently trained by Egyptian forces.

The operation, they said, was requested by the internationally recognized Libyan administration based in the eastern city of Tobruk. That elected administration was thrown out of the capital, Tripoli, by rival militias allied with Islamic political factions.

That drone we promised you, via the Yomiuri Shimbun:

Drone-sparked fighting ends Serbia-Albania match

A small drone dangling an Albanian banner and circling the soccer field touched off fighting between Serbian and Albanian players and fans Tuesday, forcing a European Championship qualifier to be called off.

English referee Martin Atkinson halted the match in the 41st minute when a Serbian player grabbed the banner and Albanian players tried to protect it. Several Serbian fans ran onto the field and clashed with Albanian players. The score was 0-0 at the time.

The Union of European Football Associations said the match was later abandoned because of a “disturbance” on the field.

From Reuters, partnering up:

EU, China agree to step up cooperation against terrorism: EU

Leaders from China and the European Union agreed to step up cooperation to counter extremism and terrorism in the Middle East and Africa, the EU said on Thursday.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on Wednesday evening on the sidelines of a gathering of Asian and European leaders known as the Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan.

“They reviewed the situation in the Middle East, northern Africa and the Sahel (region of Africa) and agreed to increase cooperation to counter the common threat of extremism and terrorism in these regions,” an EU statement issued after the talks said, without specifying what kind of cooperation.

From TheLocal.de, the singing Nazi judge:

‘Neo-Nazi’ magistrate quits Bavarian post

A magistrate in Bavaria resigned on Tuesday after police discovered that he was a former singer in a neo-Nazi band and had long standing links to the far-right scene.

The young lawyer, who was working in a court in Lichtenfels, Upper Franconia, met the president of the higher state court in Bamberg on Tuesday and resigned.

After studying in Brandenburg, the lawyer was named as a magistrate on a provisional basis by the Bavarian judiciary in November 2013.

While a student, he had been under observation by the Brandenburg security services between 2003 and 2013 due to his alter ego as “Hassgesang” (“hate song”), his neo-Nazi one-man music project.

From the Independent, Old Blighty’s money laundry:

The great British money launderette: At least 19 UK firms under investigation for alleged conspiracy to make $20bn of dirty money seem legitimate

Front companies in the UK are at the heart of an investigation into one of Europe’s biggest money-laundering operations, allegedly forming part of a conspiracy to make $20bn (£12.5bn) of dirty money look legitimate. The funds are believed to have come from major criminals and corrupt officials around the world wanting to make their ill-gotten cash appear “clean”, so they can spend it without suspicion.

At least 19 UK-based front companies are under suspicion. The scandal highlights how lax corporate rules have made this country an attractive destination for global organised crime. The secrecy company directors are entitled to under UK law is also hindering attempts to identify the “Mr Bigs” behind the scam.

An investigation by The Independent and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, an NGO, has identified dozens of firms in a global web spreading from Birmingham to Belize.

The scam appears to have gone on for four years before being shut down in May by investigators in another of its main centres – the former Soviet republic of Moldova.

From TheLocal.it, proving crime really does pay, at least in a neocon world:

Sex and drugs help lift Italy out of recession

Italy learnt it was no longer in a recession on Wednesday thanks to a change in data calculations across the European Union which includes illegal economic activities such as prostitution and drugs in the GDP measure.

Adding illegal revenue from hookers, narcotics and black market cigarettes and alcohol to the eurozone’s third-biggest economy boosted gross domestic product figures.

GDP rose slightly from a 0.1 percent decline for the first quarter to a flat reading, the national institute of statistics said.

Google hack, with Network World:

Security vendors claim progress against Chinese group that hacked Google

A group of security companies say a collaborative effort has helped counter several hacking tools used by a China-based group most known for provoking strong condemnation from Google four years ago.

The companies, which include Cisco, FireEye, F-Secure, iSIGHT Partners, Microsoft, Tenable, ThreatConnect, ThreatTrack Security, Volexity, Novetta and Symantec, said their efforts have led to a better level of protection in their products against the hacking tools used by the group. How long the effort will stymie the hackers remains to be seen.

“We’re not naïve,” said Novetta CEO Peter LaMontagne in a phone interview Tuesday. “Our view is that the threat actors that are out there are absolutely focused on staying ahead of our defensive efforts.”

But China is worried about being spied on, as Want China Times reports:

Retired ROC military officers recruited to spy for PLA

To steal crucial intelligence regarding the Republic of China Armed Forces’ new weapons systems, China has recruited several retired officers through Taiwanese businesspeople working in mainland China, getting them to conduct espionage against their own country, Wendell Minnick wrote in his article for the Washington-based Defense News.

Minnick lists the officers who sold information on the E-2K Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft, the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and PAC-2 anti-ballistic missile systems, the Hawk air defense missile system, and the Raytheon Palm IR-500 radiometric infrared camera to China in recent years.

Peter Mattis, a research fellow from the Jamestown Foundation, said that contrary to popular opinion, China hires professionals and not “amateur free-for-all sources” to steal information from Taiwan.

And from the Intercept, if its ours, it’s theirs:

Local Cops Say Your Driving History Is Public — Unless You Want a Copy

What’s public for me is private for thee. At least that’s what Monroe County, N.Y. believes when it comes to where you drive your car.

Monroe Police have been using high-speed cameras to capture license plates in order to log vehicle whereabouts. As of July, the County’s database contained 3.7 million records, with the capability to add thousands more each day. The justification for cops having records of the whereabouts of law-abiding citizens is that the vehicles are driven in public and therefore drivers have no expectation of privacy. It’s an argument that’s at odds with the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in U.S. v. Jones. In Jones, a GPS tracking case, the court held that individuals do have an expectation of privacy when it comes to their long-term whereabouts, even when using public roads.

If cops are determined to violate this privacy, then at least they could behave more consistently. Last summer, Rochester, N.Y.’s Democrat & Chronicle filed a state open records request — more commonly called a FOIL (for Freedom Of Information Law) — for information on seven of it’s reporter’s license plates as well as two city and county government vehicles. After all, if such information is public when collected, why would it change merely because it’s sitting in a database?

On to Asia, starting in Hong Kong with the Guardian:

Hong Kong police use pepper spray as video of beating reignites protests

  • Hundreds gather to express outrage at violent police attack on pro-democracy party member

Hong Kong police used pepper spray early on Thursday to stop pro-democracy protesters from blocking a major road near the office of the city’s embattled leader amid public anger over the police beating of a protester a day earlier.

At the police HQ in the nearby district of Wan Chai, hundreds of people gathered outside into the early hours of the morning to express outrage at the beating, with dozens queuing to lodge formal complaints over the incident.

Authorities said on Wednesday that police involved in the beating of Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, a member of the pro-democracy Civic party, would be suspended.

Footage of the beating has gone viral and injected fresh momentum into a protest movement that had been flagging after nearly three weeks of demonstrations over Chinese restrictions on how Hong Kong will choose its next leader.

Here’s the video, via corc buhs:

Hong Kong Police Carry a Protester to a Dark Spot for a Beating

Program notes:

Hong Kong police officers involved in an apparent assault on a protester have been “removed” from their positions, the city’s security chief said Wednesday, after video emerged of a handcuffe.

The London Telegraph covers censorship:

China blocks BBC website as Hong Kong tensions rise

Broadcaster defends move as ‘deliberate censorship’

Chinese censors have blocked the website of Britain’s national broadcaster, the BBC said in a statement late on Wednesday, coming as tensions rise in Hong Kong between pro-democracy protesters and police.

The broadcaster said that the move seemed to be “deliberate censorship”. It did not say what may have prompted the move by Beijing, which also blocks the websites of the New York Times, newswire Bloomberg and the BBC’s Chinese language website.

“The BBC strongly condemns any attempts to restrict free access to news and information and we are protesting to the Chinese authorities. This appears to be deliberate censorship,” said Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC World Service Group.

The BBC’s English-language website was still inaccessible in China on Thursday morning.

From Want China Times, a strategic edge:

PLA’s DF-21D missiles already in service, says US report

A forthcoming report from the bipartisan US-China Economic and Security Review Commission indicates that two brigades of DF-21D ballistic missiles have already entered service with the People’s Liberation Army, Bill Gertz, senior editor of Washington Free Beacon, wrote in an article on Oct. 13.

The report will be published on November to discuss China’s military expansion. Citing China’s development of two stealth fighter models, the first deployment of a naval expeditionary amphibious group to the Indian Ocean and aerial bombing exercises in Kazakhstan, the report paints an alarming picture of China’s growing aggressiveness and expanding power that the country could bring to bear against the United States and its regional allies.

Despite the strong trade and financial links between Beijing and Washington, the report said that the Communist Party government in China still views the United States as its primary adversary. China’s rapid military buildup is changing the balance of power in the Western Pacific, it said, which may bring destabilizing security competition between China and its neighbors while exacerbating regional hotspots in Taiwan, the Korean peninsula, and the East and South China seas.

And from the Japan Times, refusing to learn from history:

Web page on ‘comfort women’ donations taken down by Foreign Ministry

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration has again deepened international suspicion that it aims to revise history despite repeated denials.

The Foreign Ministry has deleted a page from its website that carried a 1995 appeal for donations to a government-linked fund for former “comfort women” forced to work at Japanese wartime military brothels.

The move drew immediate protest from the South Korean government, which issued a written statement by a spokesperson at its Foreign Ministry, because it came at the demand of a right-leaning lawmaker who has called for the retraction of the government’s apology, made in 1993.

A key part of the appeal read: “Particularly brutal was the act of forcing women, including teenagers, to serve the Japanese armed forces as ‘comfort women,’ a practice that violated the fundamental dignity of women. No manner of apology can ever completely heal the deep wound inflicted on these women both emotionally and physically.”

For our final item, a Toky0/Washington disagreement from Kyodo News:

U.S. opposed to Japan’s plan to end Futenma base operations by 2019

The U.S. government is opposed to Tokyo’s plan to end the operations of a key U.S. military base in Okinawa by February 2019, according to U.S. government sources.

The U.S. side conveyed to Japan during a meeting of the countries’ foreign and defense officials in Tokyo on Oct. 2 that the timing for the end of operations at the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station should be 2022 at the earliest, given the time required to complete construction of a replacement facility in the prefecture, the sources said.

Washington was “surprised” by Tokyo’s announcement last month that it will aim to end operations at the Futenma base by February 2019 and views the Tokyo-set deadline as “fanciful speculation,” U.S. officials told the meeting, adding that the announcement placed the United States in a “difficult position,” according to the sources.

InSecurityWatch: War, spies, hacks, Hong Kong


We begin with suspicions confirmed from the Christian Science Monitor:

Islamic State: Britain’s top diplomat says endgame is regime change in Syria

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says training up to 50,000 Syrian rebels is crucial to fighting Islamic State militants. The US said Monday that Turkey had agreed to train rebels there.

Britain’s top diplomat says the US-led military campaign in Syria against Islamic State militants must be followed by regime change in Damascus, the seat of power for President Bashar al-Assad.

In an interview, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Britain would help the US to stand up a proxy army in Syria that would be capable of fighting both Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and President Assad’s forces. The US Congress last month approved a spending bill to train and arm a force of moderate Syrian rebels.

Mr. Hammond says Britain, which has carried out airstrikes in Iraq against IS targets, may join the US-led bombing campaign in Syria. But he insists that the end goal of military intervention in Syria’s civil war, now into its fourth year, must be the removal of Assad. And he rejects the suggestion by some former defense officials in Britain, including the former head of the army, that the West may have to make common cause with Assad against IS, as the greater threat to global security.

Curious, via Reuters:

Syria’s air force ramps up strikes in west as U.S. hits east

Syria’s air force carried out strikes against rebels at more than double its usual rate on Monday, according to a monitoring group, ramping up its offensive near the capital while Washington strikes Islamic State fighters far away.

The intensified air strikes by President Bashar al-Assad’s government will add to the fear among Assad’s opponents that he is taking advantage of the U.S. strikes to crush other foes, including the “moderate opposition” that Washington backs.

The United States says it does not want to help Assad’s government despite bombing Islamic State, the most powerful group fighting against Damascus in a three year civil war. Washington aims to help arm moderates to fight against both Assad and Islamic State.

From the Associated Press, chaos reigning:

Militants take Iraq army camp, bombs grip Baghdad

Militants with the Islamic State group on Monday captured a military training camp in western Iraq, inching closer to full control of the restive Anbar province, as a spate of deadly bombings shook Baghdad, hitting mostly Shiite neighborhoods and leaving at least 30 dead.

The attacks, which came as Iraqi Shiites marked a major holiday for their sect with families crowding the streets in celebration, raised new concerns that the Sunni militant group is making gains despite U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on a visit to Iraq warned that the airstrikes will not be enough to defeat the militant group and stressed that the Iraqi security forces would have to do the “heavy work on the ground.”

From Reuters, the ineffable:

Islamic State seeks to justify enslaving Yazidi women and girls in Iraq

The Islamic State group said it enslaved families from the minority Yazidi sect after overrunning their villages in northwestern Iraq, in what it praised as the revival of an ancient custom of using women and children as spoils of war.

In an article in its English-language online magazine Dabiq, the group provides what it says is religious justification for the enslavement of defeated “idolators”.

The ancient custom of enslavement had fallen out of use because of deviation from true Islam, but was revived when fighters overran Yazidi villages in Iraq’s Sinjar region.

“After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations, after one fifth of the slaves were transferred to the Islamic State’s authority to be divided as khums,” it said. Khums is a traditional tax on the spoils of war.

Feeding the flames with the Guardian:

Tunisia becomes breeding ground for Islamic State fighters

  • By some estimates, there could be more Tunisians fighting for Isis than combatants from any other single country

Though Tunisia is in many senses the most advanced and secular of Arab states – and the only country to have come through the revolutions of 2011 relatively unscathed – that is only half the story. According to some estimates, there are more Tunisians fighting for Isis than from any other single country.

The Tunisian interior ministry itself estimates that at least 2,400 of its citizens have become combatants in Syria since 2011, and that around 400 have returned. Several thousand more have been prevented from travelling, they say, and there has also been an attempt to close down the recruitment networks. The well-worn routes led through Tunis airport, especially flights to Istanbul, or across the southern land border, via Libyan training camps.

In Douar Hicher, a poor district at the edge of Tunis, it is common knowledge that 40 or 50 young men have left to fight and perhaps a dozen have been killed.

The same neighbourhood contributed four “martyrs” to the 2011 revolution that ousted long-time dictator, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Since then, amid a general loosening of the control of the state, radical Islam has moved into the mosques and an overexcited free-for-all has overtaken the internet and social media now that censorship has ended.

British blowback from the Independent:

Three more men arrested in London on suspicion of planning terrorist attack

Three more men have been arrested in central London on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack. The suspects, aged 24, 21 and 25 are being held in custody after being detained on Monday by the Metropolitan Police.

A spokesperson said: “All three were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.”

A search was also conducted at a business address in west London and at a further four homes in the north-west of the capital.

The arrests on Monday were in connection to an alleged Islamist plot that was foiled last week.

Comparative media chops from Defense One:

ISIS Is Better Than Al-Qaeda At Using the Internet

Al-Qaida has an Internet presence nearly two decades old, using various platforms and—more recently—social media to push its message. But it is ISIS, the relative newcomer, that has escalated its Internet efforts to the point that governments are beginning to see winning the Internet as central to the fight against terrorism.

European government officials reportedly met Thursday in Luxembourg with heads of tech companies—including Twitter, Facebook, and Google—to discuss how to combat online extremism. And the U.S. State Department launched its own Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications in 2011.

Much of ISIS’s online strategy stems from lessons learned while its members were still in al-Qaida’s fold. But when the groups split apart, their online strategies diverged as well—especially in how they use social media.

Cjurious covert ops from the Washington Post:

Probe of silencers leads to web of Pentagon secrets

The mysterious workings of a Pentagon office that oversees clandestine operations are unraveling in federal court, where a criminal investigation has exposed a secret weapons program entwined with allegations of a sweetheart contract, fake badges and trails of destroyed evidence.

Capping an investigation that began almost two years ago, separate trials are scheduled this month in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., for a civilian Navy intelligence official and a hot-rod auto mechanic from California who prosecutors allege conspired to manufacture an untraceable batch of automatic-rifle silencers.

The exact purpose of the silencers remains hazy, but court filings and pretrial testimony suggest they were part of a top-secret operation that would help arm guerrillas or commandos overseas.

Black prison blowback from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

UNC legal team, rights advocates take up cause of tortured ex-prisoner

North Carolina human rights advocates and a legal team from the University of North Carolina School of Law are pressing for an apology on behalf of a man who was tortured in Pakistani and Moroccan prisons over nine years, and, according to documents, secretly transported by the CIA on a North Carolina-based plane.

“I would like recognition of the injustice I went through,” Abou Elkassim Britel, an Italian of Moroccan descent who lives in Italy, said in an email Friday to McClatchy, written with his wife, Anna. “My honor and my dignity have been violated. I was deprived of family and freedom, or a future and career. I returned home after a 10-year exile with my health and mental state ruined, with no work and with much suffering.”

Britel said he wanted the apology as a public recognition of his wrongful suffering and to press the United States and other governments involved “to put an end to abuse and torture.”

The Independent covers reciprocity:

Bahrain ‘spied on political activists living in the UK’

The police National Cyber Crime Unit has been asked to investigate allegations that the Bahrain government and a UK-German technology company criminally conspired to spy on political activists living in the UK.

Three British-based Bahrainis say that sophisticated “spyware” software was introduced to their computers so that the Gulf country could monitor their activities.

Privacy International (PI) has made a criminal complaint against British company Gamma International after evidence was posted online, including real-time conversations in which the company’s staff gave technical support to Bahraini officials in using its FinFisher spyware. The leak of 40 gigabytes of information suggested 77 people had been targeted by Bahrain.

From the Guardian, an Aussie spooky giveaway:

Australia’s defence intelligence agency conducted secret programs to help NSA

  • It is unclear, from documents leaked by Edward Snowden, whether programs to hack computer networks continue at ASD

Australia’s defence intelligence agency has conducted secretive programs to help the US National Security Agency hack and exploit computer networks, according to documents published by the Intercept.

The documents, which were leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, reveal new details about some of the NSA’s most closely guarded secrets. The documents describe a class of “exceptionally compartmentalised information” (ECI) that strictly classifies information about select NSA programs.

The information is so secret that some parts of these operations are only released on the approval of the NSA director. The US’s “five-eyes” partner countries, which include Australia, Canada, Britain and New Zealand, have access to some of this information although release is handled “on a case-by-case basis”.

A collective effort from the Japan Times :

Millions of voiceprints quietly being harvested

Over the telephone, in jail and online, a new digital bounty is being harvested: the human voice.

Businesses and governments around the world increasingly are turning to voice biometrics, or voiceprints, to pay pensions, collect taxes, track criminals and replace passwords.

“We sometimes call it the invisible biometric,” said Mike Goldgof, an executive at Madrid-based AGNITiO, one of about 10 leading companies in the field.

Those companies have helped enter more than 65 million voiceprints into corporate and government databases, according to Associated Press interviews with dozens of industry representatives and records requests in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

The Register delivers a dressing down:

Cops and spies should blame THEMSELVES for smartphone crypto ‘problem’ – Hyppönen

  • Spooks are ‘imperfect’ warns top securo-bod

Law enforcement and intel agencies have no right to complain about the improved security of smartphones because they brought the problem on themselves, according to security guru Mikko Hyppönen.

Policing and government officials on both sides of the Atlantic have been vociferous in their complaints about Apple and Google’s respective decisions to include more effective encryption on their smartphones.

FBI Director James Comey, US attorney general Eric Holder and Europol boss Troels Oerting have all waded in to say that the changes would make life difficult for law enforcement.

“Governments annoyed by companies taking a stand on security should remember they caused this themselves by hacking companies from their own countries,” Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at F-Secure, told El Reg.

“Instead of just considering attacks from criminals some of the largest software companies have to consider attacks from their own governments too.”

Nextgov covers a hacking claim:

DHS: Attackers Hacked Critical Manufacturing Firm For Months

An unnamed manufacturing firm vital to the U.S. economy recently suffered a prolonged hack, the Department of Homeland Security has disclosed.

The event was complicated by the fact that the company had undergone corporate acquisitions, which introduced more network connections, and consequently a wider attack surface. The firm had more than 100 entry and exit points to the Internet.

The case contains a lesson for civilian and military agencies, both of which are in the early stages of new initiatives to consolidate network entryways.

From the Independent, modified resoration:

‘Rich Kids of Tehran’ are back on Instagram – but this time they’ve been forced to clean up their act

The first post of the new account defended their use of social media as a way of showcasing an alternate view of Iranian culture and society to the rest of the world.

They said: “We have changed the way the world looks at us. People don’t use camels for transportation but some choose to use ‘Italian and German horses.’

“We did not have any bad intentions and we are not against anyone. We wanted to show the luxurious side of Tehran to the world. Only thing we did was to post some pictures on Instagram.

“We love our country and like any other country we have rich and we have less fortunate people. Some rich people in Iran come from wealthy families who have been rich for generations. Others simply made their wealth by working hard.”

Snappish blowback from The Hill:

Snapchat under fire following photo leak

Snapchat could be in hot water with federal regulators after private images and videos from as many as 200,000 people were posted online.

The widely popular photo-sharing service has denied that it was hacked and has instead blamed the release on outside companies that users rely on to store their photos.

But the smartphone application is under new pressure from privacy advocates just months after it settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over charges it misled consumers about its data collection, and only weeks after an unrelated leak of hundreds of celebrities’ nude photos.

After the jump, foundation funding for U.S. police spyware, protests in Ferguson, another police shooting in Mexico, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang heads to Moscow as ties between the two countries tighten, police and triad thugs attack protesters, an ultimatum follows, and on to North Korea with Kim unapparent and a bodies of dead Americans are used as a political ploy. . .   Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: War, spooks, cops, drones, zones


We begin with war underway from the Observer:

Kobani: time running out for hundreds of besieged civilians

  • UN warns of possible massacre if town falls after Isis takes control of government buildings

Islamic State (Isis) fighters are closing in on the centre of besieged Kobani, where the Kurdish militia have sworn that they will fight to the death, and hundreds of desperate civilians are trapped in streets rank with the smell of rotting bodies.

The extremist group is trying to cut off the city’s border crossing into Turkey, its last link to the outside world, and penetrate the western enclave where the Kurdish People’s Protection fighters (YPG) are most firmly entrenched. Those units stopped at least five suicide car bombs sent to blast through their last layers of defence in the past two days, activists and politicians inside the city said. But Isis is throwing fighters and ammunition at the exposed road to the border, and if that falls it would be a devastating blow to the Kurdish units.

“If they cut off the border, then everyone inside is going to die,” said activist and journalist Mustafa Abdi, who lived in Kobani until a week ago and edits the website kobanikurd.com.

Canadian boots headed for Mideast ground, from CBC News:

ISIS mission: Canadian advance team leaves for Kuwait next week

About 120 members of the Canadian Armed Forces will depart from Trenton, Ont., next week to join the fight against ISIS in Iraq, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson announced on Saturday.

Nicholson said the team will be preparing for the arrival of CF-18 fighter jets and other aircraft in the coalition campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“The deployment of the Theatre Activation Team is a key step in arranging the initial preparations for the CAF units that will deploy in support of Operation IMPACT. Responsible for initiating the infrastructure support required in-theatre, this team plays an important role in support of our mission,” the minister said in a statement.

“The government continues to work with our allies to degrade the ISIL terrorist threat at home and abroad” he said.

More northern exposure from CBC News:

RCMP has intervened 28 times against people tied to foreign militant groups

  • Cases include people who have returned to Canada after working with groups abroad

CBC News has learned the RCMP has disrupted or intervened in 28 instances involving people who fall into its high-risk travel category. That includes people who have returned home after joining a government-designated terrorist group abroad and are intending to travel again, or people who are sympathizers in Canada and are about to travel abroad.

Intervention and disruption is a process the Mounties use as they gather evidence that may lead to future charges. It can include conducting interrogations, talking to family members, surveillance and even referring some cases to Passport Canada to have the suspect’s passport revoked.

The 28 cases CBC News has learned about all fall into the high-risk travel group and are being monitored closely by both the RCMP and CSIS.

CBC/Radio-Canada raises a question:

Did censoring a 9/11 report pave the way for ISIS?

A former U.S. senator and co-chair of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks says the rise of ISIS could have been stemmed if 28 pages from the inquiry’s report had not been classified.

As co-chair, Bob Graham was one of the authors of the report, 28 pages of which have remained classified since it was published in 2002. At the time U.S. President George W. Bush said releasing the information posed a threat to national security.

Some who have had read the excised pages say they relate to Saudia Arabia’s support for the 9/11 hijackers. Graham says that Saudi Arabia has a long history of ideological and financial support for Wahhabism, a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. ISIS ascribes to that interpretation.

“I believe that had the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11 been disclosed by the release of the 28 pages and by the declassification of other information as to the Saudi role and support of the 9/11 hijackers that it would have made it much more difficult for Saudi Arabia to have continued that pattern of behaviour…and I think would have had a good chance of reigning in the activity that today Canada, the United States and other countries either are or are not considering going to war with,” said Graham in an interview with Brent Bambury host of Day 6 on CBC Radio.

Another leaker lurking, via the Guardian:

Second leaker in US intelligence, says Glenn Greenwald

  • Citizenfour, new film on spying whistleblower Edward Snowden, shows journalist Greenwald discussing other source

The investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald has found a second leaker inside the US intelligence agencies, according to a new documentary about Edward Snowden that premiered in New York on Friday night.

Towards the end of filmmaker Laura Poitras’s portrait of Snowden – titled Citizenfour, the label he used when he first contacted her – Greenwald is seen telling Snowden about a second source.

Snowden, at a meeting with Greenwald in Moscow, expresses surprise at the level of information apparently coming from this new source. Greenwald, fearing he will be overheard, writes the details on scraps of paper.

The specific information relates to the number of the people on the US government’s watchlist of people under surveillance as a potential threat or as a suspect. The figure is an astonishing 1.2 million.

Legal revelations, via The Hill:

Snowden: I’d ‘love’ to have a fair trial

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden tried to negotiate with government officials about being able to stand trial for alleged crimes, he said in an interview with the New Yorker on Saturday.

“I had told the government again and again in negotiations if they’re prepared to offer an open trial, a fair trial, in the same way that Dan Ellsberg got, and I’m allowed to make my case before a jury, I would love to do so,” he said over a video feed. “But they declined.”

Ellsberg, who released the controversial Pentagon Papers in 1971 that detailed U.S. decision-making in Vietnam, essentially faced the same set of charges levied against Snowden. Ellsberg wrote in a May op-ed that even though his opportunity to speak at his own trial was limited, it would be even worse for Snowden.

Unraveling the net wth JapanToday:

States and corporations grab for reins of the Internet

As the U.S. steps back from overseeing the group entrusted to essentially run the Internet, states and corporations are grabbing for the reins.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has gone from being behind the scenes tending to the task of managing website addresses to being center stage in a play for power on the Internet.

“Governments want to exert control over the sweeping trans-national power of the Internet that is effecting their policies, politics, social fabric and/or their economic conditions,” ICANN chief executive Fadi Chehade told AFP just days before the group gathers in Los Angeles beginning Sunday to tackle an array of hot issues.

Google this, from the Japan Times:

After court loss, Google rethinks search results linking man to criminal group

Google Inc. has informed the man who successfully sued the U.S. Internet giant that it is considering complying with a Japanese court order to remove some online search results found to infringe on his privacy rights, his lawyer said Friday.

Google told the plaintiff Friday it wants to know which results should be erased as it looks into whether to heed the Tokyo District Court’s decision Thursday ordering that some of them be removed.

The man wanted 237 results removed as typing his name into Google brings up many articles hinting he may have been involved in a crime in the past. On Thursday the court ordered that 122 search results be deleted.

On to cops and robbers, first with filthy lucre from the Washington Post:

Asset seizures fuel police spending

Police agencies have used hundreds of millions of dollars taken from Americans under federal civil forfeiture law in recent years to buy guns, armored cars and electronic surveillance gear. They have also spent money on luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.

The details are contained in thousands of annual reports submitted by local and state agencies to the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, an initiative that allows local and state police to keep up to 80 percent of the assets they seize. The Washington Post obtained 43,000 of the reports dating from 2008 through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The documents offer a sweeping look at how police departments and drug task forces across the country are benefiting from laws that allow them to take cash and property without proving a crime has occurred. The law was meant to decimate drug organizations, but The Post found that it has been used as a routine source of funding for law enforcement at every level.

Protesting with the Guardian:

Thousands march through St Louis to condemn police shootings of teens

  • Demonstrators call for arrest of officers and end to profiling
  • Police chief meets with marchers as fragile peace holds

Thousands of people marched through downtown St Louis on Saturday, to demand the arrest of the white police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson two months ago and to condemn racial profiling.

The organisers claimed the protest drew about 3,000 people – far fewer than they had predicted – from across the country as part of a “Weekend of Resistance” against police forces in many parts of the country that are seen to target people of colour in general and young African Americans in particular.

“We’re fighting for our lives,” a St Louis rapper, Tef Poe, told the crowd.

From the Guardian again, public and private:

Security firm involved in shooting of St Louis teen has history of lawsuits

  • Company that employed off-duty police officer who shot Vonderrit Myers Jr has paid out settlements over other incidents

The security company for which a St Louis police officer was working when he shot dead a black 18-year-old this week paid out tens of thousands of dollars to settle lawsuits over incidents involving other off-duty police officers working for it, according to the plaintiffs in those suits.

Vonderrit Myers Jr was killed on Wednesday evening by a 32-year-old city police officer who was working a shift as a security guard for GCI Security. St Louis police said that Myers shot three times at the officer, who has not been named, and that the officer fired repeatedly in response.

The shooting has drawn attention to the widespread practice of St Louis police officers working second jobs as private security guards. The officer who shot Myers was wearing his police uniform at the time, something permitted by the department. GCI alone was reported in 2012 to employ 168 police officers.

After the jump, more drone deaths in Pakistan and conflicting numbers, a deadlock in Hong Kong, blaming Uncle Sam, hints that is Macau may be next, shots traded across the Korean border, in Japan, Comfort Women have their say and a ruling party legislator retracts racist remarks. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Wars, spies, hacks, drones, more


From the Associated Press, another current in the war of the moment:

Turkey, Kurd tensions worry US in fight for Kobani

Even as it prods Turkey to step up in the global fight against Islamic State militants, the United States is worried that Ankara might use military action to target Kurdish fighters who are the last line of defense against extremists trying to take over the Syrian border town of Kobani.

In a careful-what-you-wish-for scenario, U.S. officials acknowledge that drawing Ankara into the war could open a new line of attack against a Kurdish movement that has for decades sought greater autonomy inside Turkey.

At the same time, Americans officials fear Turkey could simply choose to remain out of the fray, and let two of its enemies — the Islamic State group and Kurdish guerrillas — fight for Kobani. That would give the militants an opportunity to do as much damage to the Kurdish fighters in Syria as possible.

A parallel development from BBC News:

Turkish action against IS in Syria ‘unrealistic’

Turkey’s foreign minister says it cannot be expected to lead a ground operation against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria on its own.

Mevlut Cavusoglu also called for the creation of a no-fly zone over its border with Syria after talks in Ankara with new Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg.

Turkey is under intense pressure to do more to help Kurdish forces fighting IS in the strategic Syrian town of Kobane.

From Reuters, the focus of the storm:

Islamic State seizes large areas of Syrian town despite air strikes

Islamic State fighters seized more than a third of the Syrian border town of Kobani, a monitoring group said on Thursday, as U.S.-led air strikes failed to halt their advance and Turkish forces looked on without intervening.

With Washington ruling out a ground operation in Syria, Turkey said it was unrealistic to expect it to mount a cross-border operation alone to relieve the mainly Kurdish town.

The U.S. military said Kurdish forces appeared to be holding out in the town, which lies within sight of Turkish territory, following fresh airstrikes in the area against a militant training camp and fighters.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Islamic State, still widely known by its former acronym of ISIS, had pushed forward on Thursday.

The Associated Press covers the newest player:

Australia launches first airstrike in Iraq

Defense officials say an Australian jet fighter has made the country’s first airstrike against an Islamic State target in Iraq since the Australian government committed its air force to combat missions last week.

An Australian Defense Force statement said on Thursday: “Two bombs were dropped from an F/A-18F Super Hornet on to an ISIL facility” overnight.

It added that: “All aircraft exited the target area safely and returned to base.”

And from intelNews, a spooky discovery:

Secret Russian spy base in Syria seized by Western-backed rebels

Rebel forces aligned to Syria’s Western-backed opposition have announced the seizure of a joint Syrian-Russian spy base, which observers say reveals the extent of Russia’s intelligence cooperation with Syria. The base is located at the base of the Tel Al-Hara Mountain, in southern Syria’s Golan Heights region, just south of the border crossing with Israel in the now largely destroyed Syrian city of Quneitra.

The Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) said it took over the spy base on Sunday, following several weeks of fighting against rival groups, including Syrian government soldiers and members of Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.

The FSA said the base, referred to as “Center C” by Russian intelligence, had been under Russian command until it was abandoned at a time and for reasons that remain unknown.

The Mainichi covers Japanese war tourism:

Ex-SDF member took part in battle for Syrian rebel group in 2013

A former member of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) has revealed that he previously joined an Islamic militant group in Syria as a fighter and took part in combat there in 2013.

Yoshifumi Uzawa, a 26-year-old resident of Tokyo’s Ota Ward, said he returned to Japan about two months after joining the rebel group, having suffered heavy injuries, including gunshot wounds to his legs, when he came under attack from an armored vehicle.

Uzawa joined the SDF after graduating from junior high school. When he subsequently succeeded in his own business selling organic vegetables door-to-door, he decided to go to Syria. “I was satisfied with my life, but I wanted to take one more step forward. I don’t have any political or ideological beliefs. I thought I would be able to see something if I became a fighter having a brush with death,” he said.

Domestic InSecurity from the New York Times:

Protests in St. Louis After Police Officer Kills Black Teenager

An off-duty police officer shot and killed a black teenager in St. Louis on Wednesday night, setting off a demonstration just days ahead of long-scheduled protests in Missouri about the use of lethal force by the authorities.

The St. Louis police chief, D. Samuel Dotson III, said at a news conference that the teenager had fired at least three shots toward the officer, a six-year veteran who was working in the city’s Shaw neighborhood for a private security firm.

Chief Dotson said that the officer had fired 17 rounds, but that he did not know how many times the teenager had been hit.

The teenager was identified as Vonderrit D. Myers Jr. by Peter M. Cohen, a lawyer who said had been representing Mr. Myers on charges that included unlawful possession of a weapon.

More from CBC News:

Man killed by off-duty St. Louis officer was unarmed, mother says

  • Police say man had gun, fired three shots at officer

A state senator and other black leaders in St. Louis are calling for the Justice Department to investigate the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by an off-duty police officer.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says the 18-year-old, identified by his mother as Vonderrit D. Myers, shot at the officer Wednesday night. Dotson says the officer returned fire. He didn’t identify the 32-year-old officer.

The shooting led to an angry protest.

Syreeta Myers told The Associated Press by phone Thursday that her son wasn’t armed, as police contend.

At a news conference on Thursday, Democratic state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed questioned why the officer approached Vonderrit Myers in the first place. She called it a clear case of racial profiling.

From the Washington Post, the latest Ferguson revelation:

Ferguson police continued crackdown on protesters after federal, state interventions

Despite federal and state attempts to intervene during the two months since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed, the Ferguson Police Department continued — and even accelerated — efforts to suppress peaceful protests using arbitrary and inconsistently applied arrest policies, according to Justice Department officials who are investigating the department and county police officials who have since taken over for the city.

A Washington Post review of county and state arrest records, and interviews with Justice Department officials, Ferguson and St. Louis County police chiefs, dozens of protesters and several civil rights officials reveal that:

Hundreds of protesters have been arrested since August for violating unwritten rules and committing minor offenses, such as failure to disperse or unlawful assembly, and for violating a noise ordinance. Many have been taken to jail without being told what charges they may face and are often released without any paperwork. For weeks, officers employed a “five-second rule” under which any protester who stopped walking was subject to arrest — a policy ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge this week.

On to the spooky realm with Network World:

Judges spar with attorneys on national security data requests

Federal judges challenged attorneys on Wednesday to clarify the rationale and constitutionality of government data requests, in a line of questioning that may ultimately introduce greater transparency into what is now a tightly cloaked process.

The hearing, held in a federal appeals court in San Francisco, focused on National Security Letters, or NSLs, a type of data request commonly used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to obtain information from companies, ostensibly for the purposes of investigating national security matters. The government issues these data requests to telecommunications and Internet providers such as Google and Verizon without any review by a court, and the letters almost always have a gag order attached to prohibit the recipients from saying much about them.

Wednesday’s hearing followed a ruling last year by the U.S. District Court for Northern California, in which the judge struck down the gag orders as being unconstitutional. The plaintiff in that case, the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, represented an unnamed service provider that argued the NSL it received restricted its free speech rights and was served without adequate oversight. The government appealed the ruling, arguing that the standards around NSLs are in fact constitutional.

The Intercept covers priming:

How The NSA Plans To Recruit Your Teenagers

Kids across America no longer have to wait until college to plan on being a part of the National Security Agency. In fact, they could start preparing for their NSA careers as early as age 13.

The NSA has begun sponsoring cybersecurity camps for middle and high school students, agency recruiter Steven LaFountain told CNBC’s Eamon Javers in a recent interview. Six prototype camps launched this past summer, and the NSA hopes to eventually have a presence in schools in all 50 states.

The camps, LaFountain told CNBC, teach “low-level programming… where most cybersecurity vulnerabilities are” and sponsor activities like a “wireless scavenger hunt” in which 10th graders were dispatched to hunt down “rogue access points.” The general idea is to eliminate “threats out there on the Internet”

“The students are really, really into it,” LaFountain added.

TechWeekEurope covers embarrassment by hackery in Old Blighty:

UCL Students Receive Thousands Of Spam Emails In ‘Bellogate’

  • Student added to mailing lists of PornHub and UKIP as email addresses are compromises in Bellogate

Students at University College London (UCL) were subject to thousands of unsolicited emails after spammers gained access to an all-student mailing list.

UCL was forced to shut down the mailing list at 9:30 this morning following complaints from students who say they were signed up to mailing lists from the likes of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), One Direction fan groups, and PornHub.

Some students have exacerbated the situation by replying to emails or clicking ‘unsubscribe’ to others

Selfish selfies thwarted by Tehran, via the Guardian:

Iran blocks Instagram account of ‘rich kids’ showing off wealth in Tehran

  • The richkidsoftehran group flaunts lifestyle of young Iranian elite, featuring sports cars, luxury goods and expensive homes

Iran has blocked access to an Instagram page devoted to the lifestyle of Tehran’s young elite that stirred indignation and spawned a rival site on how the majority live.

Richkidsoftehran, created in September on the photo-sharing service, attracted almost 100,000 followers, with its contributors saying they wanted to show a different image of Iran from the stereotypes in the west.

Its photo gallery was filled with Ferraris, Maseratis, luxury watches, expensive homes in upmarket northern Tehran – “all the accessories a Persian boy needs”. It also showed parties and women in western dress, despite the ban on alcohol in Iran, where women are obliged to wear headscarves.

Beijing takes exception, via Reuters:

China angered after FBI head says Chinese hacking costs billions

Speaking on CBS’ 60 Minutes program on Sunday, FBI Director James Comey said Chinese hackers were targeting big U.S. companies, and that some of them probably did not even know they had been hacked.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, asked about Comey’s remarks at a daily news briefing, said China banned hacking and “firmly strikes” against such criminal activity.

“We express strong dissatisfaction with the United States’ unjustified fabrication of facts in an attempt to smear China’s name and demand that the U.S.-side cease this type of action,” Hong said.

“We also demand that the U.S. side cease its large-scale systematic internet attacks on other countries. The United States tries to divert attention by crying wolf. This won’t succeed.”

And from the Guardian, censorship of another sort:

China bans actors with a history of drug use from film or TV roles

  • A state crackdown leading to several arrests is aimed at removing actors who ‘corrupt the social atmosphere’

Chinese stars with a history of drug use or involvement with prostitution will be banned from appearing on film or television in the latest fallout from Beijing’s ongoing moral crackdown, reports Foreign Policy magazine.

Officials from the state administration of press, publication, radio, film, and television (SARFT) are said to have ordered cinemas and TV networks to halt all screenings of movies featuring stars with “morally dubious” pasts. The move follows the 17 September arrest of Jackie Chan’s son, Jaycee, for allegedly smoking marijuana at his apartment. The actor Huang Haibo and director Wang Quan’an were arrested in May and September respectively on suspicion of having sex with prostitutes.

Citing a piece on the Chinese website Netease, Foreign Policy reports that more than 40 performing arts organisations in Beijing have also agreed not to employ actors with an alleged history of drug use. SARFT said it has introduced the new regulations because actors “corrupted the social atmosphere” through their behaviour and created a “detrimental influence on the development of many young people”.

Network World covers a worm infestation:

Android SMS worm Selfmite returns, more aggressive than ever

A new version of an Android worm called Selfmite has the potential to ramp up huge SMS charges for victims in its attempt to spread to as many devices as possible.

The first version of Selfmite was discovered in June, but its distribution was quickly disrupted by security researchers. The worm—a rare type of malware in the Android ecosystem—spread by sending text messages with links to a malicious APK (Android Package) to the first 20 entries in the address book of every victim.

The new version, found recently and dubbed Selfmite.b, has a similar, but much more aggressive spreading system, according to researchers from security firm AdaptiveMobile. It sends text messages with rogue links to all contacts in a victim’s address book, and does this in a loop.

After the jump, more graves found in missing Mexican students mystery as protests mount, another conviction in Argentina’s Dirty War, more U.S. drone death in Pakistan and two more Pakistani journalists killed, Fourth Estate murders in Pakistan, and an increasingly bloody cross-border engagement with India, Hong Knong cancels talks with protesters and how demonstrators avoid social media shutdowns, plus a new call to action, a Chinese cybermilitary defensive move, major Chinese missile plays, speculation about a curious absence, and a push to pujt Pyongyang before a war crimes tribunal. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: War, Hacks, drones, & zones


First, from the Washington Post, bombs away:

Intensified U.S. airstrikes keep Kobane from falling to Islamic State militants

The U.S.-led coalition stepped up airstrikes around the Syrian border town of Kobane on Tuesday after Turkey appealed for help, enabling Kurdish fighters to reverse the advance of Islamic State militants for the first time since the extremists launched their assault about three weeks ago.

The strikes followed the request by Turkey for intensified U.S. efforts to prevent the predominantly Kurdish town, known as Ayn al-Arab in Arabic, from falling to the Islamic State, Turkish officials said. Turkey has lined up tanks and troops within view of the Syrian Kurdish fighters defending Kobane but has not sought to intervene — for a tangle of reasons bound up with its complicated relationship with Kurds and its doubts about the goals of the international coalition fighting the extremists.

Turkey insisted, however, that it does not want the town to fall, and a senior official said Ankara asked the United States on Monday to escalate strikes.

Sky News qualifies:

US Military Says Airstrikes Alone May Not Stop IS

  • Islamic State fighters could take control of more towns and villages despite an increase in coalition airstrikes, officials warn

Airstrikes alone may not be able to stop the advance of Islamic State fighters in Syria, US officials have warned.

Barack Obama met military commanders to discuss the campaign against IS in Syria and Iraq amid fears troops would be needed on the ground.

“Our strikes continue, alongside our partners. It remains a difficult mission,” the US President said. “As I’ve indicated from the start, this is not something that is going to be solved overnight.”

Al Jazeera English adds another complication:

Turkish-Kurdish relations threatened by ISIL

  • The stakes are high for Turkey if ISIL took over Kobane, say Turkish analysts

According to analysts, Turkey does not believe that ISIL poses such a major threat.

“ISIL is not Turkey’s concern,” said Soli Ozel, a Turkish political analyst and journalist. “It’s more interested in dealing with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Bashar al-Assad regime. Turkey considers this as an opportunity to accomplish its goal in the region: deal with its two major enemies, and ISIL is not one of them.”

Kobane is a strategically located town, covering a large swathe of land stretching from the Turkish border to Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of Syrian Kurdistan (aka Rojava) on the Euphrates river in Syria.

If Kobane falls entirely under ISIL control, it will not just mark another territorial gain for the group but the acquisition of a key border crossing. ISIL has already taken the industrial regions including Maqtala al-Jadida and Kani Arabane in eastern Kobani after violent clashes with Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters. In Syria, ISIL has control over most cities along the Euphrates River, including Deir el-Zor, Raqqa and al-Aqim in Syria.

From Homeland Security News Wire, hmmmmm:

Four arrested in London in plot to behead people on city streets

Officers from the Metropolitan Police counterterrorism unit early yesterday arrested four young men in London over a suspected terrorist plot to grab people on the streets of London and behead them. One of the four arrested was said to have links to Syria and Islamic State (ISIS). Security analysts have said that ISIS would likely seek to retaliate against the United Kingdom in response to British fighter planes joining the U.S. and Arab states in bombing raids on ISIS targets in Iraq.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police counterterrorism unit early yesterday arrested four young men in London over a suspected terrorist plot to grab people on the streets of London and behead them. One of the four arrested was said to have links to Syria and Islamic State (ISIS).

Counter-terrorism officials said one of the four had access to weapons and, accordingly, the officers who raided his address were heavily armed. This one suspect was subdued by a Taser gun.

From the Associated Press, more bombs on their way:

Canadian Parliament authorizes air strikes in Iraq

  • Following a request from the U.S., Canada’s Parliament has voted to authorize airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party introduced the motion last week and it was debated this week. Harper has a majority of seats in Parliament so the vote was all but assured. The motion passed Tuesday 157-134.

The motion authorizes air strikes in Iraq for up to six months and explicitly states that no ground troops be used in combat operations.

While the Canadian Press covers Northern anxieties:

RCMP investigating dozens of suspected extremists who returned to Canada

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney says the RCMP is investigating dozens of Canadians who have returned from fighting extremist wars overseas.

A recent federal report said the federal government knew of more than 130 individuals with Canadian connections who were abroad and suspected of supporting terror-related activities.

Blaney also told the Commons public safety committee Wednesday that the government will bring forward new measures to help monitor suspected terrorists, but he offered no details.

And the Washington Post looks South:

Tom Cotton: Terrorists collaborating with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate Arkansas

There’s been a ton of chatter to the effect that Republicans are on offense against Democrats on immigration and national security alike. Yet to convert these issues into political gain, some Republicans apparently believe they need to go to extraordinary lengths to conflate terrorism and illegal immigration into one giant, terrifying, hydra-headed threat to the country.

Exhibit A: GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, who is running for Senate in Arkansas. The Congressman told a tele-town-hall meeting that the Islamic State is actively working with Mexican drug cartels who are looking to expand into the terrorism business — and that the groups, working in tandem, could infiltrate the country and attack people in Arkansas.

While the McClatchy Washington Bureau chills out:

No Islamic State fighters coming from Mexico, Homeland Security says

The Department of Homeland Security is trying to shoot down reports that terrorist fighters are operating in Mexico and that some already have been caught attempting to cross the United States’ southern border.

Homeland Security officials said Wednesday that there was no truth to reports that fighters affiliated with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, have been apprehended on the border.

“The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground,” Marsha Catron, DHS press secretary, said in a statement.

From RT, bringing the war home to Europe:

Pro-ISIS radicals with machetes, knives attack Kurds in Germany

Peaceful protests against IS in Syria and Iraq organized by Kurdish nationals in several German cities ended with serious clashes with pro-jihadist Muslims in Hamburg and Celle. Police had to request reinforcements to restore order.

Police in Hamburg, a port city of 1.8 million people, used water cannons, batons and pepper spray late Tuesday to disperse crowds of warring Kurds and pro-jihadist Muslims, armed with knives and brass-knuckles, following a protest against Islamic State militants who are attacking the Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria near the Turkish border.

In most of the cities, protests went off peacefully and were virtually trouble-free, but in Celle police failed to prevent clashes.

The first brawl between about 100 Kurds and Muslims on each side took place Monday, but police in Celle, a town of 71,000, with the help of colleagues from Hannover, Oldenburg and Wolfsburg, prevented serious clashes between the two groups.

On Tuesday, however, the two sides, armed with stones and bottles, attempted to break through police lines to attack each other.

intelNews covers a mystery:

Iran silent about deadly blast that ‘lit up sky’ near Tehran

The government of Iran is refusing to comment on a reported blast at a secretive military facility that some sources say “lit up the sky” last week. The blast is said to have taken place on Sunday night at the Parchin military complex, located approximately 20 miles southeast of Iranian capital Tehran.

The semi-official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on Monday that the explosion had been caused by a “fire [that] broke out in an explosive materials production unit” east of Tehran, and that two people had died. Interestingly, however, the news agency did not specify the precise location of the blast, nor did it identify the “explosive materials production unit” in question. There was also no mention of the cause of the fire that allegedly resulted in the blast.

A few hours later, the Iranian-language news site SahamNews, which is politically linked to the Iranian opposition, claimed that the blast happened at Parchin and that it was a “massive explosion” that “lit up the evening sky” and caused windows to shatter as far as 9 miles away from the complex. It is worth noting that the blast was reported just hours after Israeli officials accused Iran of conducting nuclear implosion tests at a host of nuclear facilities, including Parchin.

From CBC News, covering up to the north:

Federal scientists muzzled by media policies, report suggests

  • Defence scores highest for openness, while Natural Resources Canada among lowest

Canadian government scientists face far more restrictions on talking to the media than their U.S. counterparts, a new analysis has found.

The study of media policies from 16 federal departments was released today by Evidence for Democracy, a non-profit group that advocates for evidence-based public policy. The group organized rallies across the country in support of federal scientists in 2013.

The analysis, led by Karen Magnuson-Ford, a researcher at Simon Fraser University who has a master’s degree in biology, found that all but one department performed worse than the average for U.S. government departments in similar analyses in 2008 and 2013.

Onto the world of spooks and hacks, first with The Hill:

Google chief on NSA: ‘We’re going to end up breaking the Internet’

The integrity of the Internet could be at risk if Congress does not act to rein in the National Security Agency, Google head Eric Schmidt warned on Wednesday.

Speaking alongside other tech executives and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) at a Silicon Valley event, Schmidt said the revelations about U.S. surveillance could prompt countries to wall off their networks.
“The simplest outcome: We’re going to end up breaking the Internet,” Schmidt said, “because what’s going to happen is governments will do bad laws of one kind or another, and eventually what’s going to happen is: ‘We’re going to have our own Internet in our own country, and we’re going to do it our way.’ “

“It is fundamentally about breaking the Internet,” echoed Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch. “The Internet is a medium without borders, and the notion that you would have to place data and data centers and the data itself [in a particular location] … is fundamentally at odds with the way the Internet is architectured.”

The Guardian covers the reality of Gitmo:

Guantánamo use of olive oil in force feedings ‘astonishing’, doctor tells court

  • Testimony on second day of court challenge to force feedings focuses on long-term health effects on detainees after procedure

The methods used by the US military to feed inmates in Guantánamo Bay against their will presents a long-term risk to their health, a federal court heard on Tuesday.

Steven Miles, a doctor and professor of medical ethics at the University of Minnesota, told a courtroom that lubricating the feeding tubes at Guantánamo, used on hunger-striking detainees, can cause a form of chronic inflammatory pneumonia, and questioned whether the force feeding was medically necessary.

The condition, resulting from olive oil reaching the lungs due to misplaced insertions, would be hard to detect by physicians for released or transferred detainees, as it might look on x-rays like tuberculosis or lung cancer, Miles testified, calling the olive oil lubrication “astonishing to me”.

“There’s simply no debate about this. All the medical literature I’ve found said the [lubrication] had to be water-soluble. One doesn’t have to make very many salads to know olive oil is not water soluble,” Miles said.

And Threatpost covers hacking at the money spot:

Tyupkin Malware Infects ATMs Worldwide

Criminals in Eastern Europe have evolved their attacks against automated teller machines, moving beyond solely targeting consumers with card skimmers that steal debit card numbers, to attacks against banks using malware that allows someone to remove money directly from an ATM without the need for a counterfeit or stolen card.

Researchers at Kaspersky Lab, in conjunction with Interpol, today said they have detected the Tyupkin malware on more than 50 machines; only ATMs from a particular manufacturer running a 32-bit version of Windows are impacted.

Most of the Tyupkin submissions to Virus Total are from Russia (20) with a limited number of samples (4) reported from the United States.

From Network World, hooking up:

Windows XP flaws help Russian ‘Qbot’ gang build 500,000 PC botnet

The Russian gang behind the obscure Qbot botnet have quietly built an impressive empire of 500,000 infected PCs by exploiting unpatched flaws in mainly US-based Windows XP and Windows 7 computers, researchers at security firm Proofpoint have discovered.

A year or two ago, what the Qbot (aka Qakbot) campaign has achieved in the roughly half dozen years the actors behind it have been operating would have been seen as a major concern. Recently, standards have gone up a notch.

These days Russian hackers are grabbing headlines for altogether more serious incursions such as the recently revealed attack on US bank JPMorgan Chase, and botnets sound like yesterday’s problem.

And then there’s spying of another sort, a Windows on your soul, perhaps. From TechWorm:

Microsoft’s Windows 10 has permission to watch your every move

As more and more users are jumping the queue to download the Windows 10 through the Windows Insider Program, almost all of them have forgotten to check the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions users accept while downloading the Windows 10.  If you study the privacy policy you will be startled at the amount of freedom you are giving Microsoft to spy on you.

“Microsoft collects information about you, your devices, applications and networks, and your use of those devices, applications and networks. Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage.”

The above stuff may or may not be used against any user and forms the standard of any privacy policy by any Applications maker but study a bit further and you may get more and more surprised.  In a way by accepting the Windows 10 Technical Preview installation you are giving Microsoft unhindered access to your behavioural habits

“We may collect information about your device and applications and use it for purposes such as determining or improving compatibility” and “use voice input features like speech-to-text, we may collect voice information and use it for purposes such as improving speech processing.”

More of the same from DeepLinks:

Adobe Spyware Reveals (Again) the Price of DRM: Your Privacy and Security

The publishing world may finally be facing its “rootkit scandal.” Two independent reports claim that Adobe’s e-book software, “Digital Editions,” logs every document readers add to their local “library,” tracks what happens with those files, and then sends those logs back to the mother-ship, over the Internet, in the clear. In other words, Adobe is not only tracking your reading habits, it’s making it really, really easy for others to do so as well.

And it’s all being done in the name of copyright enforcement. After all, the great “promise” of Digital Editions is that it can help publishers “securely distribute” and manage access to books.  Libraries, for example, encourage their patrons to use the software, because it helps them comply with the restrictions publishers impose on electronic lending.

How big is the problem? Not completely clear, but it could be pretty big. First, it appears Adobe is tracking more than many readers may realize, including information about self-published and purchased books. If the independent reports are correct, Adobe may be scanning your entire electronic library. Borrowing a copy of Moby Dick from your public library shouldn’t be a license to scan your cookbook collection.

After the jump, more on those student murders in Mexico including eyewitness accounts, pressure on government, and Uncle Sam’s own ties to the killers, death squad target Colombia reporters, Raging artillery and an exodus on the Indo/Pakistani border and a ceasefire demand from New Delhi, a protest fizzle in Hong Kong, Japanese/American military plans move forward and China reacts, while an Abe aide hints government will nullify the Comfort Women apology, another official act of historical revisionism, and the foreign press reacts to a government refusal to disavow racists, a Stalinist admission from Pyongyang, and Seoul arrests a Japanese reporter for lèse majesté. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: War spies, hacks, drones, zones


From the New York Times, a city on the brink:

Syria Border Town, Kobani, Falling to ISIS, Leader of Turkey Says

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said Tuesday that the Syrian border town of Kobani, under siege from Islamic State fighters, was about to fall to the militants despite United States-led airstrikes on the group.

Asserting that aerial attacks alone may not be enough to stop the fighters’ advance, Mr. Erdogan called for more support for insurgents in Syria who are battling the Islamic State, and reiterated Turkey’s earlier call for a no-fly zone and a buffer zone along the border. Yet he stopped short of committing Turkey to any ground operation, something he has long said would require an international agreement and a no-fly zone.

His comments highlighted a key sticking point between Turkey and Washington: President Obama wants Turkey to take stronger action against the Islamic State, while Mr. Erdogan wants the American effort to focus more on ousting Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. Turkey has long supported the armed opposition to Mr. Assad.

One reaction, via Reuters:

French discussing Kobani action with Turks: minister

France said on Tuesday it was vital to act in order to stop Islamic State’s advance on the northern Syria border town of Kobani, and was discussing with Turkey what could be done.

“A lot is at stake in Kobani and everything must be done so that the Daesh terrorists are stopped and pushed back,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the French parliament.

“A tragedy is unfolding, and we must all react.”

And another reaction, via BBC News:

Kurds protest against Turkey as IS advances on Kobane

Kurds across Turkey have vented their anger at the government’s lack of military support for the defenders of the Syrian border town of Kobane being attacked by Islamic State militants.

Police used tear gas and water cannon as unrest spread to at least six cities. At least three protesters died.

Turkish troops and tanks have lined the border but have not crossed into Syria. Fresh US-led air strikes have tried to repel IS, but Turkey’s president warned Kobane was “about to fall”.

Kurdish protests weren’t limited to Turkey, as RT reports:

Kurds storm EU parliament, stage rallies across Europe demanding crackdown on ISIS

Program notes:

Dozens of Kurdish protesters have stormed into the European Parliament building in Brussels, demanding swift military action against militants from the Islamic State group to save the majority-Kurd Syrian town of Kobani from annihilation.

Another reaction, via the Guardian:

Battle between Isis and Syrian Kurds for Kobani sparks unrest in Turkey

  • President Erdog(an says ground operation necessary to defeat militants as thousands protest over government’s inaction

Fighting between Kurdish forces and Islamic State (Isis) militants for the Syrian border town of Kobani fuelled rising tensions inside Turkey on Tuesday as thousands of protesters took to the streets to voice anger and frustration about the inaction of the Ankara government.

In a graphic illustration of the domestic and regional impact of the deepening crisis, demonstrations turned violent and Turkish police used teargas and water cannon. Curfews were imposed on several towns in the province of Mardin.

Following a warning from the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdog(an, that Kobani was “about to fall”, one man was reported to have been killed by a bullet to the head in Varto in the eastern province of Mus when police allegedly fired live ammunition.

And from the Associated Press, a latest domestic terror alarm:

FBI: Militants may be working on plan to strike US

An al-Qaida cell in Syria that was targeted in American military airstrikes last month could still be working on a plan to attack the United States or its allies and is “looking to do it very, very soon,” the head of the FBI says. “Given our visibility we know they’re serious people, bent on destruction,” FBI Director James Comey said.

The Khorasan Group, a small but battle-hardened band of al-Qaida veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, was the target of U.S. strikes near Aleppo, Syria.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Comey said the militants were “working and, you know, may still be working on an effort to attack the United States or our allies, and looking to do it very, very soon.”

Another one across the Atlantic, via BBC News:

Arrests ‘may have foiled terror attack planning in UK’

Four men have been arrested in London as part of an investigation into Islamist-related terrorism, Scotland Yard has said.

Whitehall officials told the BBC the arrests “may have foiled the early stages” of a plan to attack the UK. The four men, aged 20 and 21, were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism.

Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said it was a “quite serious case”.

And the latest from Japan via Kyodo News:

Man allegedly trying to join Islamic State planned trip Tues.: sources

A 26-year-old Japanese university student who police suspect planned to go abroad to join the Islamic State militant group as a “fighter” made a travel plan to leave Japan for Syria on Tuesday after giving up a trip in mid-August, investigative sources said.

The student, who is on a leave of absence from Hokkaido University and lives in Tokyo, was questioned Monday on a voluntary basis by the Metropolitan Police Department’s public security bureau, which also conducted a raid on several locations in Tokyo.

He is suspected of violating a Penal Code provision that stipulates punishment by imprisonment between three months and up to five years for a person preparing or plotting to wage war against a foreign state in a personal capacity.

From the Guardian, a revelation and a complication:

Syria discloses four secret chemical weapons facilities, UN says

  • News raises concerns Islamic State could get hold of remaining stockpiles a year after UN joint mission set out to destroy them

Syria has declared four chemical weapons facilities it had not previously disclosed, a special representative of the United Nations secretary general told the security council on Tuesday. The news heightened concerns that the Syrian government has not been fully open about its chemical weapons program.

Diplomats said Sigrid Kaag told them during closed consultations that three of the facilities are for research and development and one is for production, and that no new chemical agents have been associated with the four sites.

The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, tweeted: “Must keep pressure on regime so it doesn’t hide CW capability.”

And from the Express Tribune, more U.S. drone kills in Pakistan:

US drone strikes in North Waziristan kill at least eight suspected militants

Missiles from US drones hit a gathering of militants and a suspected training camp in North Waziristan in two separate attacks on Tuesday, killing at least 8 people, intelligence officials said.

Attacks by US drones have intensified in recent months after a pause in the first half of this year. Tuesday’s attacks mark the third and fourth drone strike in three days.

In the first attack, three missiles from the unmanned aircraft hit a suspected training camp in the Shawal area of North Waziristan just after midday, two intelligence officials told Reuters. Six suspected militants were reported killed and nine injured, they said.

In the second attack, missiles hit a gathering of militants on a mountain in the Datta Khel region in North Waziristan, killing two people and wounding at least four on Tuesday evening, said intelligence officials.

The Intercept covers a reaming from Rahm:

Panetta Says Rahm Emanuel Cussed Him Out for Cooperating With Torture Inquiry

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta, in his new book, describes being summoned to a White House meeting and cussed out by President Obama’s chief of staff after he agreed to give the Senate intelligence committee access to documents chronicling the agency’s use of torture during the Bush administration.

“The president wants to know who the fuck authorized this release to the committees,” Rahm Emanuel, who served as Obama’s chief of staff and enforcer in 2009 and 2010, is quoted as saying while slamming the table for emphasis.

Panetta’s book, Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace, is a blunt account of his time as Obama’s CIA director and, later, Secretary of Defense.

He describes being micromanaged and second-guessed by White House aides who seemed focused on political appearance over substance. White House pushback on the Senate torture inquiry, which came despite Obama’s pledge to run the most transparent administration ever, is in that way typical – as is Emanuel’s profane tirade. (Emanuel, as I’ve written before, saw even the most deeply moral and legal decisions in purely political terms.)

The National Journal covers spooky litigation:

The FBI’s Secret Surveillance Program Is About to Go on Trial

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a case this week that could have seismic implications for how the government spies on Americans.

A federal appeals court this week will review whether the government can secretly conduct electronic surveillance on Americans without first obtaining a warrant.

The case, to be brought before a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Wednesday, could have sweeping digital-privacy implications, and it represents one of the most direct challenges to the legal authority for government spying in the post-Snowden era. Many observers expect the case to ultimately reach the Supreme Court.

At issue is whether the FBI can use so-called national security letters, or NSLs, to compel companies to hand over communications data or financial records of certain users for the purposes of a national security investigation. These letters permit the FBI to collect telephone and Internet data of suspects without court approval and they often place a gag order on companies, which prevents them from disclosing the government order.

The Guardian another spooky suit:

Twitter lawsuit seeks right to inform users of US government surveillance

  • Company cites first amendment right to free speech
  • ACLU says Twitter ‘doing the right thing’

Twitter has filed a lawsuit against the US government in which it asks to be allowed to publish information about government surveillance of users, the company announced today.

In the suit, filed in the US district court of Northern California, Twitter requests “relief from prohibitions on its speech in violation of the first amendment”.

In a blog post, Ben Lee, Twitter’s vice-president, legal, said: “Our ability to speak has been restricted by laws that prohibit and even criminalise a service provider like us.”

Currently, he said, Twitter is restricted by law from disclosing the number of requests it receives for user data through either National Security Letters (NSLs) or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders – “even if that number is zero”.

On to the hacking front, first with the Guardian:

Jennifer Lawrence denounces nude photo hack as a ‘sex crime’

  • Actor says websites are responsible and that the theft and online publication of photos are ‘a sexual violation’

Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence has called the theft and publication of nude photos of her a “sex crime” in the actor’s first public comments since dozens of nude celebrity photos werestolen by hackers.

“It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime,” Lawrence told Vanity Fair contributing editor Sam Kashner in an interview to promote new movie Serena. “It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting.”

“The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these websites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.”

The Verge covers spooky evasion:

Surveillance drives South Koreans to encrypted messaging apps

  • Millions of users have fled the country’s largest chat program after new crackdown on speech

Two weeks ago, Kakao Talk users in South Korea users got an unpleasant surprise. After months of enduring public criticism, President Park Geun-Hye announced a crackdown on any messages deemed as insulting to her or generally rumor-mongering — including private messages sent through Kakao Talk, a Korean messaging app akin to WhatsApp or iMessage. Prosecutors began actively monitoring the service for violations, promising punishment for anyone spreading inappropriate content.

In response to the crackdown, South Koreans have voted with their feet, heading en masse to encrypted chat programs hosted outside the country, particularly an app called Telegram known for its encryption features. Based in Germany, Telegram reports roughly 1.5 million new South Korean users have signed up in the past seven days, giving the app more than 50 million users worldwide. Telegram’s Markus Ra says it’s not the only country where government controls have made Telegram an attractive option. “People frequently come to Telegram looking for extra security — some of them from countries with censorship issues,” Ra says. “What really makes us happy is that the users stay when the privacy scandals have died away.”

Telegram offers an option for “secret chats” that use end-to-end encryption, which means that the company facilitates key exchange but doesn’t hold the keys itself and can’t decrypt any of the messages. Created by Russian-born entrepreneur Pavel Durov, the app’s offshore location makes legal compulsion much more difficult for South Korean prosecutors. Telegram’s South Korean user base is still just a fraction of Kakao’s 35 million users — the vast majority of cell-phone owners in South Korea — but the rapid growth shows how much privacy features can pay off in the face of high-profile censorship.

From the Associated Press, there’s an ap for that:

US investigators expand kid predator-catching app

An iPhone app designed to enlist the public’s help to catch fugitive and unknown suspected child predators led law enforcement officials to a suspect less than 36 hours after it became available. A year later, they are hoping to greatly expand their reach by making the app available in Android and Spanish versions, officials announced Tuesday.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations introduced the “Operation Predator” app for Apple products in Sept. 2013.

“This app is one piece of our commitment to ensuring child predators have absolutely nowhere to hide,” Acting ICE Director Thomas Winkowski said in a statement about the expansion.

From the Los Angeles Times, a victory in Ferguson:

Police in Ferguson can’t forbid protesters to stand still, judge rules

Officers in Ferguson, Mo., violated the Constitution by requiring peaceful protesters to keep moving rather than stand still during demonstrations that followed the Aug. 9 police shooting of an unarmed man, a federal judge said Monday.

U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry issued a preliminary injunction ordering Ferguson authorities not to adopt such a policy again. Perry emphasized that police are free to place reasonable restrictions on protests and “to use the full range of lawful means” to control and disperse crowds and to protect people from violence and vandalism.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit brought by Mustafa Abdullah, an ACLU worker, against St. Louis County and the superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

And from intelNews, curious:

Estonia arrests Russian ex-KGB intelligence officers

Authorities in Estonia have announced the arrest of two Russian citizens, said to be former employees of the Soviet-era KGB, who allegedly crossed into Estonian territory without a permit.

The men have been identified as Alexandr Ladur, 54, and Mikhail Suhoshin, 64, and are reportedly retired intelligence officers. Estonian border police said the two men were apprehended while sailing on the river Narva, which flows from Lake Peipsi into the Baltic Sea and forms part of the border between Estonia and Russia.

The two Russian citizens are being held on charges of illegally entering Estonian territory and resisting arrest.

After the jump, the latest on the Mexican student murders and the arrest of suspects in a congressional slaying, Morocco going to pot, Cold War 2.0 heats up both in the under and beneath the waves, an Indo/Pakistani border dispute turns violent, on to Hong Kong with fading protests as businesses grow restive and both sides agree to Friday talks, the two Koreas trade shots at sea, Japan seeks U.S. help in the Game of Drones against China, Japan pushes a submarine deal Down Under, Washington aims a jab at Japan over Comfort Women revisionism, and Taiwan launches its own submarine program. . . Continue reading