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Current Topic: War on Terrorism

Secret Intelligence and the 'War on Terror'
Topic: War on Terrorism 12:47 pm EST, Dec 11, 2004

Now is a good time for Americans to pause and consider our progress in the war on terror.

The CIA finds itself at the center of this unfolding story in a way we have come to expect ...

The fate of the agency is no minor matter to intelligence professionals who have spent their careers trying to serve both presidents and the nation; all know that these two masters are often at odds. There is no easy way to reconcile these divided loyalties. But there are good reasons for trying to understand what has now brought the stresses to the breaking point.

This article will leave you enraged or in tears or both. Whether your emotion is directed at the author, or at the President, or at the CIA, or at Saddam, or at bin Laden, or elsewhere ... well, that depends on your politics.

This is not breaking news, but you may find it heartbreaking. If you follow this area closely, then few to none of the individual facts presented here will come as a surprise to you. However, Thomas Powers has selected and organized them into a powerful essay in support of his thesis. While Powers clearly comes across as Blue, I find that his analysis on this particular topic is closely aligned to that of George Friedman, who is said to be Red.

When experts from across the spectrum agree on a thesis like this, I fear that we are getting very close to the truth of the matter.

I am still a bit conflicted as to whether this gets a Gold Star, but for now I am giving it one.

Gold Star.

Secret Intelligence and the 'War on Terror'

In Wartime, Deceit Can Be the Better Part of Valor
Topic: War on Terrorism 9:52 am EDT, Oct 21, 2004

The political and operational risks associated with counterterror deception are undeniably great.

Nevertheless, it should be used.

This op-ed by Michael Schrage recently appeared in the Washington Post.

In Wartime, Deceit Can Be the Better Part of Valor

America's Secret War - George Friedman - Author interviews
Topic: War on Terrorism 1:11 am EDT, Sep 30, 2004

The 30 minute video here is not to be missed.

Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan


America's Secret War - George Friedman - Author interviews

America's Secret War
Topic: War on Terrorism 1:22 am EDT, Sep 28, 2004

In the book, George Friedman identifies the United States' most dangerous enemies, delves into presidential strategies of the last quarter century, and reveals the real reasons behind the attack of 9/11-and the Bush administration's motivation for the war in Iraq. It describes in eye-opening detail America's covert and overt efforts in the global war against terrorism.

Stratfor's George Friedman has a new book. It will be released on October 5, 2004. Here you can read the preface and prologue as well as chapter summaries.

This web site also includes a 30 minute video interview with George Friedman. It's available at

America's Secret War

Inside Al-Qaeda’s Hard Drive | The Atlantic | September 2004
Topic: War on Terrorism 1:14 am EDT, Aug 31, 2004

This article was sufficiently popular that editors at The Atlantic put it back behind the subscription wall.

If you didn't catch it before, it's worth checking out in print.

In general, life inside al Qaeda is rather boring.

Inside Al-Qaeda’s Hard Drive | The Atlantic | September 2004

RE: A sampling of the state run television in Saudi Arabia
Topic: War on Terrorism 7:35 pm EDT, Jun 26, 2004

Decius wrote:
]] Jihad today has become an individual duty that applies to
]] each and every Muslim. It is forbidden for a person to
]] remain silent. When the Muslims fought in
]] Afghanistan they destroyed the Soviet Union, which was a
]] superpower.
It collapsed and Allah willing, so will this
]] [the U.S.] collapse.

As If.

Someone needs to translate the Castells trilogy into Arabic -- especially "End of Millennium".

Also, viewers of Saudi TV ought to ask their investigative reporters to follow the money that enabled the mujahideen to fight off the Soviets. They'll find that it came from a democratic, capitalist superpower, not from madrassas or from Saudi "charities."

RE: A sampling of the state run television in Saudi Arabia

A Pretext for War
Topic: War on Terrorism 1:39 am EDT, Jun  8, 2004

Talk about a preemptive strike ...

I'm put off by the partisan, polemical tone of the flap copy, but you might be interested. Personally, I prefer a more even-handed approach.

... This book will be released on June 8. I'm interested in reading reviews as they hit the press, but I think I'll wait for the 9/11 Commission report in July.

The bestselling author of Body of Secrets and The Puzzle Palace presents his most hard-hitting book to date -- a sweeping, authoritative, and fearless account of the failures of America's intelligence agencies and the Bush administration's calculated efforts to sell a war to the American people.

Bamford argues that the Bush administration has co-opted the intelligence community for its own political ends, and at the expense of American security.

A Pretext for War homes in on the systematic weakness that led the intelligence community to ignore or misinterpret evidence of the impending terrorist attacks of 9/11 -- a failure rooted in the refusal to acknowledge the central role of the Palestinian cause in igniting Arab rage against the United States. Compounding the errors, the Bush administration's immediate response to 9/11 was to call for an attack on Iraq, and it subsequently invented justifications for the preemptive war that has ultimately left the United States more vulnerable to terrorism.

A Pretext for War is an unprecedented, utterly convincing exposé of the most secretive administration in history.

Any cheese to go with that? I'll buy a book that makes solid recommendations. And I don't need to spend $18 to hear Bamford tell everyone to "be more open," "stop lying," and "create an independent Palestinian state."

How much can I get for "Remember to floss and exercise regularly"?

A Pretext for War

RE: Chalabi told Iran U.S. broke their codes?
Topic: War on Terrorism 11:14 pm EDT, Jun  2, 2004

Decius wrote:
] ] American intelligence officials have said that Mr.
] ] Chalabi informed Iran that the United States had broken
] ] the secret codes used by Iranian intelligence to
] ] transmit confidential messages to posts around the
] ] world.
] Very interesting. Get your bullshit detector warmed up because
] maybe he did, or maybe they want you to think that he did, or
] maybe they want you to think that they want you to think that
] they did, or maybe ...

When this story first broke, and before it, when the more general "Chalabi leak" stories were going around, my reaction was, "This is news? To whom?"

Shouldn't they have assumed this was the case? Shouldn't everyone assume this is the case? If not, who are they kidding but themselves? I mean, the Iranian intelligence service can't honestly be surprised by this news. Sure, it is perhaps embarrassing to have it publicly disclosed, but really -- is this a news flash?

As I listened to the NPR story this afternoon, all I could do was keep saying to myself, "Games! Games! Games!" Games within games within more games. It's a regular Alice in Wonderland.

] I wonder what Iranian encryption is like. I wonder how easy it
] is for them to deploy a new cipher. I wonder how hard it will
] be for us to break their new cipher. If they've got one
] waiting in the wings, then maybe we also have a crack waiting
] in the wings ...

Perry Metzger posted the NYT story to the cryptography list, but there's been no discussion as yet.

The NPR story was talking about how absolutely disastrous this disclosure would be for the US. The reporter was really dressing it up, big time. My, oh, my. Can you see the sky falling? On and on.

You have to assume they were already using the best they had. Any alternative to which they would hastily switch over is unlikely to be dramatically better. Actually, this pseudo-crisis represents a certain kind of opportunity, because they may soon reach out for some emergency help.

Don't overthink the "cipher" end of things. Proper protection has as much to do with key generation and management, maintaing positive control and physical integrity of the hardware, etc. as it does with "cryptography" in any academic sense.

RE: Chalabi told Iran U.S. broke their codes?

The World Has Changed, But Our Mindset Has Not
Topic: War on Terrorism 2:17 pm EDT, May 22, 2004

The end of the Cold War fundamentally changed the security environment, which changed further on 9/11 and yet again as a consequence of the war in Iraq.

We have yet to digest the full impact of these changes, seeing them as temporary tactical deviations, exotic interludes. We have barely begun to reexamine our obsolete assumptions about the way our enemies organize and operate.

We wage a "global war on terror" -- a confusing conflation of threats -- while we continue to concentrate on future conventional wars with hypothetical, nation-state foes.

We ignore the vital role of the drug traffic in central Asia as we single-mindedly pursue terrorists.

It is time for us to take a deliberately unconventional, broad, and inclusive approach. My intention is not to argue for one threat over another. No single scenario predominates. That is the point.

The World Has Changed, But Our Mindset Has Not

The Terrorist Leader as CEO
Topic: War on Terrorism 2:13 pm EDT, May 22, 2004

Killing Osama bin Laden will not quash the terrorist threat from al Qaeda.

The closest organizational relative to al Qaeda is perhaps a private multinational corporation.

Bin Laden has operated as a venture capitalist by soliciting ideas from below, by encouraging creative approaches and out-of-the-box thinking, and by providing funding to those proposals he finds promising.

The epic battle launched by bin Laden is not over. If anything, al Qaeda’s commitment and sense of purpose today are arguably greater than ever.

The Terrorist Leader as CEO

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