Category Archives: Warfare

InSecurityWatch: War, hacks, cops, Hong Kong


And lots more. . .

We open with diminished expectations, via The Hill:

Obama: Expect ‘setbacks’ in ISIS fight

President Obama on Tuesday warned that there would be periodic “setbacks” in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as the administration faces criticism over its strategy.

“This is going to be a long-term campaign, there are no quick fixes involved,” Obama said after a meeting with coalition military leaders at Joint Base Andrews, adding that there were “going to be periods of progress and setbacks.”

The president acknowledged that the terror network, which controls large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria, did not present a “classic” military challenge.

From BBC News, what a difference a border makes:

Turkish jets bomb Kurdish PKK rebels near Iraq

Turkish F-16 and F-4 warplanes have bombed Kurdish PKK rebel targets near the Iraqi border, as their ceasefire comes under increasing strain.

The air strikes on Daglica were in response to PKK shelling of a military outpost, the armed forces said.

Both sides have been observing a truce and it is the first major air raid on the PKK since March 2013.

Kurds are furious at Turkey’s inaction as Islamic State (IS) militants attack the Syrian border town of Kobane.

From BBC News again, adding fuel to flame:

Terror trial: Suspect ‘had Tony Blair’s address’

A terror suspect was considering an indiscriminate Mumbai-style attack and had an address for Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, the Old Bailey has heard.

Erol Incedal plotted to attack a “significant individual” or killings similar to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which left 174 dead, prosecutors said.

He also had a phone containing material supporting Islamic State, they added.

Mr Incedal, 26, from London, denies preparing for acts of terrorism. He is being tried partly in secret.

From the Guardian, noteworthy:

US security contractor shot dead in Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh

  • One American killed and another wounded in gun attack at petrol station in eastern district of city

A US national was shot dead and another wounded in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh on Tuesday, police said, in what appeared to be the first killing of a westerner in years in a gun attack in the kingdom.

Police later shot and wounded an assailant and then arrested him, said the brief statement, carried by SPA, the state media agency said.

“The attack resulted in the killing of one person and the wounding of another and it turned out they were of American citizenship,” it said.

A US official said both victims were working with a private security contractor, Vinnell Arabia. The company was working with the Saudi national guard, the official said.

An echo from Cold War 1.0, via the London Daily Mail:

Atomic bomb spy David Greenglass, whose false testimony sent his own sister and her husband to the electric chair, dies aged 92

  • David Greenglass served 10 years in prison for his role in the most explosive atomic spying case of the Cold War
  • He gave testimony that sent his brother-in-law and sister, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, to the electric chair in 1953
  • Greenglass, 92,  died in New York City on July 1
  • He lived for decades under an assumed name in Queens, hoping to be forgotten for his part in the case that is still furiously debated to this day

A clarion call from the Guardian:

UK intelligence agencies need stronger oversight, says David Blunkett

  • Former home secretary tells committee continued secrecy is undermining public confidence in wake of Snowden revelations

The former home secretary David Blunkett has called for stronger oversight of the UK’s intelligence agencies and warned that the “old-fashioned paternalism” of secrecy based on perceived security interests was undermining public confidence in their activities.

Blunkett called for the legal framework on mass surveillance to be updated on a regular basis and for judicial oversight to be made much more robust and transparent.

The Labour MP’s call came during only the second public evidence session ever held by the intelligence and security committee. Its inquiry into security and privacy was set up following the disclosures by Edward Snowden of the scale of the bulk collection of personal data by GCHQ and the US National Security Agency.

From the National Journal:

Snowden’s Closest Confidant Reveals What It Was Like Spilling the NSA’s Secrets

  • “We knew we were going to piss off the most powerful people in the world,” Laura Poitras told National Journal

There’s a prolonged scene in Laura Poitras’ new documentary, Citizenfour, when Edward Snowden looks in his hotel room’s mirror and tussles his hair in a nervous—and, ultimately fruitless—attempt to defeat bedhead.

The shot is a revealing and humanizing moment for Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who became known the world over last summer after his leaks exposed the agency’s vast phone and Internet surveillance programs.

Despite his notoriety, such an intimate look at Snowden has been missing from the story of arguably the greatest heist and disclosure ever of U.S. government secrets—until now.

Cyberwar revelations from SecurityWeek:

Russia-linked Hackers Exploited Windows Zero-day to Spy on NATO, EU, Others

Attackers exploited a zero-day vulnerability in Windows to spy on NATO, the European Union, Poland, Ukraine, private energy organizations, and European telecommunications companies, according to cyber-intelligence firm iSight Partners.

Microsoft is expected to patch the flaw today as part of October’s Patch Tuesday release.

The espionage campaign began five years ago and is still in progress, iSight said in its advisory. It has evolved several times over the years to adopt new attack methods, and only began targeting the Windows zero-day with malicious PowerPoint files in August, according to the company. iSight analysts have named the operation “Sandworm Team” because the attackers included several references to Frank Herbert’s Dune in the code.

Very curious, via the Guardian:

Chat logs reveal FBI informant’s role in hacking of Sun newspaper

  • US agency faces questions after records show Lulzsec leader, who was informant at time, helped attack that closed UK sites

The FBI is facing questions over its role in a 2011 hacking attack on Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper in the UK after the publication of chat logs showed that a man acting as an agency informant played a substantial role in the operation.

In July 2011, a group of hackers known as Lulzsec – an offshoot of Anonymous – posted a fake story about the death of Murdoch, penetrated several News International (now News UK) corporate sites, and claimed to have obtained gigabytes of material from the company’s servers.

The attack was so successful that the publisher took down the websites of the Sun and the Times while technicians worked out the scale of the hack.

Dropbox punts, via SecurityWeek:

Dropbox Denies It Was Hacked, Says Passwords Stolen From Other Services

On Monday, a group of hackers posted a message on Pastebin claiming they have “hacked” nearly 7 million Dropbox accounts. The cloud storage giant said the data was stolen from other services, not from its own systems.

The hackers have already published hundreds of email addresses and associated passwords in clear text. They claim they will publish more as they get Bitcoin donations, but so far only 0.0001 BTC has been transferred to their address.

Reddit users have confirmed that at least some of the credentials are valid, but Dropbox says the information has been stolen from other services. In an effort to protect its customers from such attacks, the company is resetting the passwords for compromised accounts.

Another hack from TechWorm :

Personal Data of 850,000 job seekers of Oregon potentially compromised

  • 850,000 Job seekers from Oregon at risk of data theft

News emerge of another hack taking place, this time in Oregon, USA. The system in question is Oregon Employment Department’s WorkSource Oregon Management Information System (WOMIS).

This system is in short, a database for job seekers. Potential candidates share personal information on the site, information that might help them secure a job. This information has apparently been breached.

An anonymous tip was sent to the organization notifying them of a security vulnerability in the WorkSource Oregon Management Information System (WOMIS).  As per the reports available, the data that may be compromised includes names, addresses and Social Security Numbers.

On to Ferguson with BBC News:

Dozens arrested in Ferguson protests

Nearly 50 people have been arrested at protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the shooting of an unarmed black teenager two months ago.

Civil rights activist Cornel West was among those held after he led a march to the police station.

Riot police lined up outside the building and arrests were made when people tried to break the line.

The protests were part of four days of events called “Ferguson October”, which calls for an end to police brutality.

A video report from RT America:

Police shut down protests in Ferguson

Program notes:

Marches continued in Ferguson, MO on Monday, with protesters descending on several Walmarts to demonstrate against police violence and what they call racial discrimination by law enforcement. Part of “Moral Monday,” the activists demanded justice for the killings of Ferguson resident Michael Brown and John Crawford III, who was gunned down inside an Ohio Walmart in August. RT’s Lindsay France followed the protests and has more details.

After the jump, it’s on to Mexico and the deepening mystery of the missing students, protest takes an inflammatory turn, Mexican anti-riot police dispatched, on to Asia and a reappearing Kim, it’s police to the barricades in Hong Kong, Japan sends mixed messages on the eve of a China trip as maritime talks also draw near, and Shinzo Abe grabs the power of the state secret and protests ensue. . . Continue reading

A rebuff to Japanese revisionism: Iris Chang


The militarists of the Shinzo Abe government in Japan have let it be known that they may order the renunciation of  the apology to the so-called “Comfort Women,” women forced into sexual slavery in nations conquered by Japan in World War II.

Also up for their campaign of historical revisionism is the Rape of Nanking, one of the greatest atrocities committed during World War II, in which 300,000 men, women, and children were slaughtered and countless women raped were raped.

In light of that, we offer this talk by the Iris Chang, a brilliant journalist whose seminal 1997 book The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II broke new ground a revealed the true scope of atrocities committed by Japanese troops during the six weeks after the city fell on 13 December 1937.

The book landed like a bombshell, in part because Chang had written not only a piece of brilliant journalism; she had written a notable work of serious historical scholarship as well, a book that impacted world politics roiled Sino/Japanese relations.

The book also had a profound impact on survivors.

Chang was passionate, and like so many brilliant writers, her life was to end at her own hand on 9 November 2003 as she was working on another grueling work on wartime atrocities committed during the Bataan Death March.

On her website is posted this statement:

I want the Rape of Nanking to penetrate into public consciousness. Unless we truly understand how these atrocities can happen, we can’t be certain that it won’t happen again.

If the Japanese government doesn’t reckon with the crimes of its wartime leaders, history is going to leave them as tainted as their ancestors. You can’t blame this generation for what happened years ago, but you can blame them for not acknowledging these crimes.

Denial is an integral part of atrocity, and it’s a natural part after a society has committed genocide. First you kill, and then the memory of killing is killed.

Please believe in THE POWER OF ONE.  One person can make an enormous difference in the world. One person — actually, one idea — can start a war, or end one, or subvert an entire power structure. One discovery can cure a disease or spawn new technology to benefit or annihilate the human race. You as ONE individual can change millions of lives. Think big. Do not limit your vision and do not ever compromise your dreams or ideals. — Iris Chang

In light of the epidemic revisionism sweeping Japanese right wing politics, we offer this talk by Chang, delivered 0n 22 November 1998 at Miami-Dade Community College and aired on C-Span’s Book Channel.

Via the Film Archive:

The Nanking Massacre: Iris Chang on the Controversy, Causes, Casualties, Denial

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

Clarke and Dawe: Which Iraq War would that be?


Aussie satirists John Clarke and Bryan Dawe [previously] are at it again, delving into their country’s decision to join the latest Mesopotamian combat.

From ClarkeAndDawe:

Clarke and Dawe – The War in Iraq. Not the Previous One. The Current One.

Program note:

“Roger Wilco. Pilot with the Tax Dept.”

InSecurityWatch: War, Snowden, cops, drones


And mores. . .

First, a stalemate, via Reuters:

Kurds hold off Islamic State in Kobani; fighters strike in Iraq

Kurdish defenders held off Islamic State militants in Syria’s border town of Kobani on Sunday, but the fighters struck with deadly bombings in Iraq, killing dozens of Kurds in the north and assassinating a provincial police commander in the east.

The top U.S. military officer suggested that Washington, which has ruled out joining ground combat in either Iraq or Syria, could nevertheless increase its role “advising and assisting” Iraqi troops on the ground in future.

A U.S.-led military coalition has been bombing Islamic State fighters who hold swathes of territory in both Iraq and Syria, countries involved in complex multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake.

A predictable call for boots on the ground, via the Guardian:

McCain urges ground troops to defeat Isis: ‘They’re winning, and we’re not’

Republican senator says US needs ‘fundamental re-evaluation’ of strategy to defeat militant group in Syria and Iraq

Senator John McCain has warned that the Islamic State (Isis) is winning in Iraq and Syria, and that the United States needs to deploy ground troops if it is to stave off defeat.

The Arizona Republican urged a “fundamental re-evaluation” of US strategy on Sunday, as the extremist group, which is the target of US-led international air strikes, continued to advance into the Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria, near the border with Turkey, and towards the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

“They’re winning, and we’re not,” McCain told CNN. “The Iraqis are not winning. The Peshmerga, the Kurds are not winning.”

And from the London Telegraph, a response to the idea:

Islamic State ‘eagerly awaits’ boots on ground

Islamic State (Isil) releases new video with British hostage John Cantlie, as victim Alan Henning is remembered at service in Manchester

Islamic State (Isil) “eagerly awaits” western boots on the ground in the Middle East, the British hostage John Cantlie has said in a video released by his captors.

In a video entitled “Lend Me Your Ears”, Mr Cantlie says it will be impossible for the west to conduct a war against Isil without getting their “hands dirty”, as he talks of the group’s strength.

The professionally-produced video was released as hundreds of people gathered at a Muslim heritage centre on Sunday night in memory of Alan Henning, a British hostage murdered by Isil.

In the film Mr Cantlie, a photojournalist, says: “One month ago Obama pressed the button on air strikes. Now we have to wonder how long his policy of no boots on the ground has left to live.

“As for [Isil], they eagerly await to see those boots”.

From the Associated Press, a shift:

US says Turkey OKs use of bases against militants

Turkey will let U.S. and coalition forces use its bases, including a key installation within 100 miles of the Syrian border for operations against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, American defense officials said Sunday.

The Obama administration had pressed Turkey for a larger role against the extremists, and a senior U.S. official confirmed Saturday that Ankara had agreed to train and moderate Syrian rebels on Turkish soil. A Turkish government official said Sunday that Turkey put the number at 4,000 opposition fighters and said they would be screened by Turkish intelligence.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has been traveling in South America, has said the U.S. wanted access to the Turkish air bases, including one at Incirlik in southern Turkey, from which to launch strikes against the Islamic militants.

Advice from someone who knows, via TechCrunch:

Edward Snowden’s Privacy Tips: “Get Rid Of Dropbox,” Avoid Facebook And Google

According to Edward Snowden, people who care about their privacy should stay away from popular consumer Internet services like Dropbox, Facebook, and Google.

Snowden conducted a remote interview today as part of the New Yorker Festival, where he was asked a couple of variants on the question of what we can do to protect our privacy.

His first answer called for a reform of government policies. Some people take the position that they “don’t have anything to hide,” but he argued that when you say that, “You’re inverting the model of responsibility for how rights work”:

When you say, ‘I have nothing to hide,’ you’re saying, ‘I don’t care about this right.’ You’re saying, ‘I don’t have this right, because I’ve got to the point where I have to justify it.’ The way rights work is, the government has to justify its intrusion into your rights.

He added that on an individual level, people should seek out encrypted tools and stop using services that are “hostile to privacy.” For one thing, he said you should “get rid of Dropbox,” because it doesn’t support encryption, and you should consider alternatives like SpiderOak. (Snowden made similar comments over the summer, with Dropbox responding that protecting users’ information is “a top priority.”)

From the Guardian, old school:

Large haul of explosives recovered from farm near Northern Ireland border

  • Police claim discovery has prevented dissident republicans opposed to the peace process from causing severe harm

Irish republican dissidents appear to have been dealt a blow with the discovery of a large quantity of explosives on Friday in a border area of Northern Ireland.

The head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) described the explosives find as significant. It was uncovered during a security operation in County Fermanagh.

Chief constable George Hamilton said the operation had prevented dissident republicans opposed to the peace process from causing severe harm.

“The threat level is severe and has been for some time, I’m not sure we’re any more vulnerable now than we have been in recent months, and it is a concern to me,” he said.

“We do believe that violent dissident republicans are behind this activity in Fermanagh.”

From United Press International, a number marking a national shame:

Analysis finds young black males 21 times more likely to be shot by police than whites

  • The study focuses on black males between the ages of 15 and 19

A new analysis from ProPublica found that young black males are 21 times more likely to be shot by the police than their white counterparts. The analysis used the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report to analyze the over 12,000 police homicides recorded between 1980 and 2012. Between 2010 and 2012, they found young black males between ages 15 and 19 were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, compared to 1.47 per million for young white males.

Some of the black males who are killed are very young, with 27 black males who were 14 or younger reported as killed for the duration of the records. Much of the records do not show why police killed the person. “There were many deadly shooting where the circumstances were listed as “undetermined.” 77 percent of those killed in such instances were black,” the study says. It also shows black officers kill people less than white officers, with only around 10 percent of reported killings being related to their actions, but they also kill mostly black people, who accounted for 78 percent of people killed by black officers.

The analysis states that black youth are being “killed at disturbing rates.” It also states that there needs to be more data, because many police departments across the country do not contribute shooting records to the database. Specifically, Florida police departments “haven’t filed reports since 1997,” it says.

Continued protest in Ferguson from the Washington Post:

Protesters take to St. Louis streets as part of ‘weekend of resistance’

There was no riot gear, no tear gas and no arrests when a crowd of more than 1,000 people surged through downtown St. Louis on Saturday, demanding justice for Michael Brown, the unarmed black 18-year-old shot and killed by a white police officer just over two months ago.

Instead, police kept their distance from the spirited morning march, which included participants from across the country.

The event was part of a four-day “weekend of resistance” and came as a grand jury is still considering whether to charge Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s death.

More from the Washington Post:

Protesters stage surprise sit-in at St. Louis gas station; 17 arrested

In a symbolic and defiant act of civil disobedience, more than 100 protesters staged a sit-in at a QuikTrip gas station in St. Louis near the site of a police-involved shooting last week — prompting riot police to deploy tear gas and make arrests.

The mass arrest event was the first time that any demonstrator had been taken into custody this weekend, which has been branded Ferguson October. Just before noon Sunday, St. Louis police said they had made 17 arrests for “unlawful assembly on the parking lot of the QuikTrip.”

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson took to Twitter to accuse the demonstrators of throwing rocks at officers. “There were no reports of injuries or property damage,” said Schron Jackson, the police department’s spokeswoman. “Chief Dotson himself was nearly struck with a rock thrown at him from the crowd.”

A mother takes the lead, via the Independent:

Ferguson October protest: Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, leads protests condemning ‘terror on US soil’

The mother of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager whose death sparked weeks of protests in Missouri, led hundreds of people at the “Ferguson October” demonstrations this weekend, marching down the streets of St Louis in protest against police violence before taking stand outside the force’s headquarters.

Lesley McSpadden walked at the front of Saturday’s evening rally, held in the St Louis suburb, where more than 1,000 people eventually gathered in protest against the recent police shootings.

Ms McSpadden, whose 18-year-old son was shot and killed by police while he was unarmed on 9 August, has rarely participated in protests, but she took a prominent place in Saturday’s events, which were part of a weekend of planned demonstrations.

After the jump, the ongoing tragedy of murdered Mexican students including mounting anger, a presidential challenge, mass protests, parental anxieties, and more confusion over bodies in mass graves, Germany mulls extending boots on Afghan ground, Pakistani drone strike claims al-Qaida casualties, China and Iran strike a media deal, a noteworthy Sino/Iranian media deal, a Hong Kong mandate to protesters, pondering provocative moves and American response, a frank Chinese admission of military weakness, spy satellite questions, and secret Beijing/Tokyo talks. . . Continue reading

Edward Snowden on his motivations for leaking


A fascinating conversation with America’s foremost leaker on the reasons he decided to hand his files over to the press from the New Yorker magazine’s festival.

One of the most fascinating insights comes at the end when interviewer Jane Mayer is bidding adieu with a remark that Snowden can now go off for a shot of vodka. He responds that he’s a non drinker. “I’ve never been drunk,” he says with a smile.

From the New Yorker:

The Virtual Interview: Edward Snowden – The New Yorker Festival

Program note:

The New Yorker Festival presents Edward Snowden in conversation with Jane Mayer.

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