Monthly Archives: November 2009

Need to Know: 11/19/2009

Born in U.S., a Radical Cleric Inspires Terror
Mr. Awlaki, 38, the son of a former agriculture minister and university president in Yemen, has never been accused of planting explosives himself. But experts on terrorism believe his persuasive endorsement of violence as a religious duty, in colloquial, American-accented English, has helped push a series of Western Muslims into terrorism.

Statement by Secretary Clinton on 20th Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution
Twenty years ago, the people of Czechoslovakia carried forward the wave of freedom that began in the Polish shipyards, surged over the Wall in Berlin, and ultimately liberated millions of people across Europe. Americans prayed for the students in Prague who faced down an oppressive regime and propelled a dissident playwright from prison to the presidency. We cheered for a nation that had grasped for liberty in the spring of 1968 and seen its dreams deferred for decades. And when democracy finally came, we welcomed new partners committed to building a free and unified Europe and a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Video: Risk Communication in a Constrained Information Environment
Matt Armstrong: Last week at the Heritage Foundation, I sat on a panel with CBS News correspondent Kim Dozier, former Director of External Affairs for FEMA Jonathon Thompson. The panel was moderated by my friend Dennis Murphy, professor at the US Army War College. The two-day event, Homeland Security’s Wicked Problems: Developing a Research Agenda for Homeland Security, was webcast live.

Obama: Talks underway on Iran sanctions
American president says United States has begun talking with allies about fresh punishment against Islamic Republic for defying efforts to halt its nuclear weapons pursuits, could have a package of steps to take ‘within weeks’

Circling Sharks Smell American Blood
Add it all up and there is a growing sense that America is in fact hemorrhaging — as both friends and enemies abroad smell blood in the water. The president through conciliation and concession — not to mention constant talk — is trying to superficially restore the influence we once earned by virtue of our economic power and self-confidence in our exceptional past and singular values.

The military parade in Beijing–for domestic consumption
…as China’s pol-mil ability to defend its growing vast network and trade and financial connectivity with the world is marginal at best, meaning there’s a big shortfall between capability to defend and vulnerability–very USA circa 1880.

Pakistan Crumbles
Pakistan’s military offensive against the Taliban in Swat has not produced the desired effect, as commander Maulana Fazlullah and many of his fighters have escaped the region (Fazlullah is in Afghanistan). Much the same thing is happening with the Taliban in Wazristan as a result of the Pakistani offensive there.

In-Q-Tel Invests In Cybersecurity Company
In-Q-Tel and FireEye didn’t disclose terms of the agreement, or which intelligence agencies are particularly interested in the technology. However, in a release, they said that the investment “will extend FireEye’s cyber security product development and stealth malware technical capabilities to protect against cyber threats.”

SA ‘probing Guinea mercenaries’
South Africa’s government says it is investigating reports that South African mercenaries are training supporters of Guinea’s military junta.

Worth Watching: FireEye, Blogs of War on Facebook

Need to Know: 11/18/2009

Cyberwarfare: The Issue China Won’t Touch
Almost every other conceivable area of disagreement between China and the U.S. will have been raised during Obama’s visit by one side or the other — even such highly sensitive issues as human rights and the unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang province. But even if U.S. officials try to raise the issue of what they believe is a constant and growing campaign by China to infiltrate U.S. networks, steal secrets and hone Beijing’s ability to wreak havoc in case of military conflict, the likelihood is that Chinese officials will simply deny that the problem exists, as they have done with great success in the past.

Springer CEO Saves Potsdam Villa to Recall Cold War Spy Swaps
Before Villa Schoeningen opened to the public, there was nothing except a commemorative plaque for tourists at Glienicke Bridge, though the name resonates with anyone who remembers the Cold War. Villa Schoeningen is a focal point, a place to relax in nature, reminisce and marvel at how much the world has changed, not only in 20 years, but over the past century.

Blogs of War on Facebook
Become a fan without leaving Blogs of War on this new community page.

3 basic steps to thwart most cyberattacks, courtesy of NSA
Computer systems with proper security and network controls should be able to withstand about 80 percent of known cyberattacks, according to a senior National Security Agency official.

FBI Suspects Terrorists Are Exploring Cyber Attacks
While there is no evidence that terrorist groups have developed sophisticated cyber-attack capabilities, a lack of security protections in U.S. computer software increases the likelihood that terrorists could execute attacks in the future, the official warned.

Spy Agencies’ Quest: What Makes A Terrorist?
The U.S. government has focused significant intelligence resources on the question of radicalization in recent years, but they admit the dynamics are still not well understood.

The Real Intelligence Wars: Oversight And Access
Competition between the CIA, the nation’s intelligence service, and the DNI, its new intelligence manager, has become fierce in the Obama administration. A victory for one side is seen by the other as a loss of power and authority.

Opening Remarks for Hearing on Counterterrorism in Africa (Sahel Region)
This hearing is very timely. While the security challenges in the Sahel are not new, several attacks in recent months against African and western targets have drawn additional focus to the situation. Key countries in the area, including Algeria, Mali and Mauritania, have intensified efforts to coordinate their activities against AQIM and address the region’s short, medium, and long-term vulnerabilities. At the same time, we have consulted with African and European partners to identify areas where we can more effectively support regional efforts to improve the security environment in the Sahel over the long-term.

Video: The Charlie Rose Show – President Obama in China 11/17/09
As President Obama leaves China tomorrow we have an assessment of his visit with Nicholas Burns, former diplomat, Jim Fallows of the Atlantic Monthly and Elizabeth Economy from the Council on Foreign Relations

Top German agent and gay lover face spy trial in Germany
A senior German spy and his male lover, who was allegedly an undercover agent for a foreign country, went on trial in Munich Wednesday for wrecking a Balkans espionage network.

Inside the IED Battle Drill: How Hollywood Is Prepping Soldiers for Roadside Attacks
Training today’s soldier requires something more like a video game or a Hollywood blockbuster, says Rick Travis, a military trainer from the National Training Center. The average soldier is 23 years old and has a bachelor’s degree–they’ve grown up with video games, and are no strangers to realistic on-screen graphics.

Hood Slayings Prompt Full DoD Review
Worried that the Army may have missed red flags about the alleged shooter in the Fort Hood massacre, the Pentagon probably will open an inquiry into how all the military services keep watch on other volatile Soldiers hidden in their ranks, officials said Tuesday.

Why China resists foreign demands to revalue its currency
If a stronger exchange rate is in China’s own interest, why does it resist? Beijing rejects the accusation that its exchange-rate policy has given it an unfair advantage. It is true that other emerging-market currencies have risen sharply this year, but this ignores the full picture. Last year China held its currency steady against the dollar throughout the global financial crisis, while others tumbled. Since the start of 2008, the yuan has actually risen against every currency except the yen.

China govt pleased but ordinary folk cool on Obama
State media heralded President Barack Obama’s maiden trip to China as a triumph, but ordinary Chinese were largely shielded by their government from his most critical remarks and activists were disappointed by the measured tone of those they did hear.

As If We Didn’t Have Enough Enemies Already
The Pentagon should quit its habit of issuing an annual report about the military capabilities of the People’s Republic of China, said former Undersecretary of Defense Jacques Gansler.

Podcast: Army and National Institute of Mental Health Collaborate on Suicide Study
Dr. Robert Heinssen, acting director of Division of Services and Intervention Research at the National Institute of Mental Health, discuss the largest study of suicide and mental health among military personnel ever undertaken

Bill Would Ban P2P Use By Federal Employees
Following a leaked document that disclosed ethics investigations of members of Congress on a file sharing network, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee has introduced a bill that would ban the use of public peer-to-peer networks by federal employees.

A firing offense?
Obama, speaking to CBS in Beijing, says he’s “furious’ about the stream of leaks characterizing the Afghanistan deliberations.

In Seoul, Obama takes on N. Korea nuke plans
President Barack Obama arrived in South Korea on Wednesday for talks that will focus on how to lure North Korea back to nuclear disarmament talks and a delayed trade pact between Seoul and Washington.

Kazakhstan, Beacon of Anticorruption Activity?
While the goal of accurately ranking all the countries in the world in terms of corruption may be neither attainable nor desirable, it’s one of the few tools that really makes an effort to assess corruption on a year-to-year basis, and the changes are usually an interesting barometer of attempts at reform. How came out Kazakhstan is pretty interesting.

Open Source Insurgency Through Software Tools
For example, say I wanted to run an insurgency against financial capitalism, and in particular an effort that specifically targets Goldman Sachs. The software tool approach offers a variety of entry points for this endeavor.

Just barely on-topic: Angelina Jolie ‘Salt’-y or Sweet?
In the film, Jolie plays CIA agent Evelyn Salt whose loyalty is tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. She goes on the run in a hunt to defend her name and reputation and suddenly turns into the Angie we all know and love: not the adoptive mom to Maddox and company, but the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider star.

Worth Watching: JohnRobb