09.07.17

The next cyberwar fantasy

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Cyberterrorism, Shoeshine at 2:59 pm by George Smith

From the New York Times, today, Bret Stephens writes about what he wishes:

A troubling thought for you: What if the Americans really did succeed in pressuring the Chinese to cut you off? Or what if somebody found a Stuxnet-type solution to cripple your only operational refinery or blow up the pipeline through which you import crude from China?

As with Tom Friedman a couple weeks ago, the opinion pages of the newspaper, trained to be receptive to the alleged magical power of the National Security Agency.

Consider, if left of launch works any better, the next thing you’ll see is a blinding flash of light.


The Shoeshine Machine runneth overtime.

08.05.17

Ricin Mama gets 18 years

Posted in Bioterrorism, Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Ricin Kooks at 2:19 pm by George Smith

Shannon Richardson, the original ricin mama, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for making castor powder containing the toxin. Richardson mailed the powder in three letters in 2013, one of which was sent to the president.

From thw wire:

TEXARKANA, Texas – A Texas woman was sentenced Wednesday to 18 years in prison for sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

A federal judge gave Shannon Guess Richardson, 36, the maximum sentence under her plea deal on a charge of possessing and producing a biological toxin. She was also ordered to pay restitution. She pleaded guilty to the charge in December.

“I never intended for anybody to be hurt,” she told the court, adding later, “I’m not a bad person, I don’t have it in me to hurt anyone.”

Richardson said she thought security measures would prevent the letters from ever being opened.

Prosecutors say Richardson mailed three letters then went to police and claimed that her estranged husband, Nathan Richardson, had done it.

Richardson, who was trying to build a career as an actress had minor roles in The Walking Dead and The Blind Side.

Richardson has six children, one of whom was born after she was taken into custody in the case.

At the outset of the case she became known for a flurry of publicity pictures showing herself in a variety of fetching outfits.

Words do little to adequately describe such an unusual case. In review, then, here are pictures of Shannon Richardson and the castor powder-stained letter to the president, from “Ricin Mama:”


From the archives, Shannon Richardson.

07.28.17

America’s cyberwarriors lose another one

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 1:31 pm by George Smith

it appears our cybwewarriors tore down the goal posts and danced in the end zone in the first few minutes of the game only to find, [pause], they eventually lost. Again.

“Depending on how heavy a warhead it carries, this latest North Korean missile would easily reach the West Coast of the United States with a range of 9,000 to 10,000 kilometers,” or 5,600 to 6,200 miles, said Kim Dong-yub, a defense analyst at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul. “With this missile, North Korea leaves no doubt that its missile has a range that covers most of the United States.”

The United States has gone to extraordinary lengths to slow North Korea’s missile testing program — feeding flawed parts into the North Korean production system and attacking the missile program in cyberspace to cause test failures.

This cyberwar was that “left of launch” bit. Working good, we see.

That’s two or three wars in cyberspace the NSA has lost after dancing in the endzone early.

Iran/Stuxnet, this, WannaCry. My interpretation on Stuxnet, and that of arms control agencies, was that Iran wound up with the capability to produce more Highly Enriched Uranium than if Stuxnet hadn’t happened. Negotiations eventually worked.

How old fashioned.

Message to American cyberwarriors. Stop talking/leaking to journalists. Stop drinking own Kool-Aid. Stop making world accelerate to bad places more quickly by surreptitiously antagonizing and attacking the presumed bad people.

Update:

One thing to keep in mind is that there is no reason to believe American cyberwar is immune to any of the problems that plague its conventional war operation.

US cyberwar, then, just may be incapable of decisive action. On the other hand, since it generates news it may just stimulate the weapons programs it’s designed to hinder in adversaries, making them only more determined to proceed because they know they are under attack.

06.28.17

Reviewed: American Anarchist & Control Room

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle at 3:26 pm by George Smith

Control Room, now streaming on Hulu, takes viewers back to 2004 and the rise of al Jazeera as the Arab world’s first top rank Western-style news organization covering Iraqi Freedom. Relevant 13 years later, the original is from 2004 because Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and a couple other American toady nations have demanded Qatar suppress the news channel. In Control Room, it’s Central Command in Doha, the President and the US military against it for having the temerity to transmit both sides of the conflict, not just a sanitized US-approved version.

Control Room climaxes with a news event that has passed into obscure history: the US military’s attack on al Jazeera’s Baghdad operation as the city was being occupied, the result of which killed one of the agencies camera men. Two other journalists were also killed when the US military struck a Reuters/international news facility separately.

It’s menacing footage. Al Jazeera’s control room witnessing from afar as a US A-10 begins a missile attack run.

The bombing closed al Jazeera’s office in Baghdad and effectively ends the documentary. Al Jazeera is a small tv station arrayed against the most powerful military on the planet and it made that military angry. Message sent.

The reporters from al Jazeera are pros. They do their job, cynically noting behind the scenes the mishandling of the war as the US attempts to shape coverage. There is video American POWs (protested by the US military). But it was OK to show Iraqi POWs and dead men. There is more of American and British troops kicking down the doors of residences while Iraqis cower inside. Compared to today, when the latest news is a puff piece on America’s Otto Skorzenys and their commando operations are said to confer considerable advantages to the US side, al Jazeera was just doing its job.

Are there wars? Yes, certainly. Does the big American press cover them anymore? Not really. It takes too much effort to fight the war machine and the domestic audience doesn’t care.

At one point, one of al Jazeera’s editorial decision makers, a man who chain smokes like the character Nathan Thurm in old Saturday Night Live sketches, cynically notes that the pulling down of the statue of Saddam Hussein is (obviously to an Arab audience) an engineered stunt with an American-tanked in crowd of young men. Where are the women and neighbors another producer drily notes.

“David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, said in a statement that the demand ‘represents a serious threat to media freedom if states, under the pretext of a diplomatic crisis, take measures to force the dismantling of Al Jazeera,’ reads a news short today. At al Jazeera.

Paradoxically, David Kaye began his career at the US State Department.

Other affairs that have now faded into a distant fog: the folly of the production of a deck of playing cards with the faces of wanted Hussein regime leaders. (There are none made available to the press.) The Jessica Lynch rescue that wasn’t. (“Her Iraqi guards had long fled, she was being well cared for – and doctors had already tried to free her.” — the Guardian). A military spokesman’s absurd insistence that as Baghdad was being looted and the US military stood by that Iraqis should rise themselves and protect stuff. And, at the end, Mission Accomplished.

By the end of Control Room, remember this was in 2004, there is the dawning recognition that we’d triggered an epic human catastrophe still to unfold.


A poignant documentary of William Powell, the author of The Anarchist Cookbook, is currently streaming on Netflix. American Anarchist traces Powell’s life in simple interview from the age of 19, when angered by the Vietnam War he set about to write it, to a long segment in which he expresses “remorse” over the bloody path of mayhem, plots and murder to which its pages may have contributed.

Anyone who has become familiar with American far-right anarchist listerature is also aware that Powell’s cookbook is the volume with the biggest footprint — 2 million copies sold world wide; uncountable copies now distributed by the web.

Indeed, The Anarchist Cookbook has had many offspring, some of which like the Mujahideen’s Poisons Handbook (contructed from the American volume, The Poisoner’s Handbook) have been dealt with quite closely on this blog.

And as everyone who walked the territory of the web in the mid-Nineties, the electronic versions were everywhere, to such an extent that they became things investigators looked for when prosecuting domestic as well as international cases of terrorism and murder.

What will stun the viewer is that Powell was largely unaware of it all. He took up a career in teaching in the far reaches of the world and with his wife, leading training couses on how to teach and reach children who aren’t motivated by traditional pedagogy. In so doing he spent much time in Africa, noting at one point that his family didn’t even have a television and so news from America was virtually non-existent.

This does not deter the interviewer who doggedy walks Powell through the laundry list of very bad people who were fond to be in possession of his book. As the documentary proceeds its clear that the black history of it in bombings and shootings have weighed heavily upon him and his wife.

In 2000 Powell disowned the book on Amazon. Thirteen years later, for the Guardian, he asked that those publishing it cease doing so. Did he, however, do enough? I think so but the answer is left to every viewer.

In the mid-Eighties Powell could not possibly have known what would happen with The Anarchist Cookbook. He believed it be a poorly written fad book on bomb-making, violence and sabotage that was fading in popularity. Powell, along with everyone else, didn’t see what cyberspace and the nascent web would do for the book: Make it easily available to everyone, not just to visitors of odd bookshops, survivalists and gun show anti-government fanatics. Digital existence bundled the book into its growing family of recipes-for-death literature and made the whole mix easily searchable on the web.

For example, one of its lesser offspring mentioned above, the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook, no longer in the dark but mainstream (virtually), for everyone, like it or not.

The majority of Powell’s life was spent in loving education of the world’s impoverished, very very far from the path taken by The Anarchist Cookbook in America. And American Anarchist leaves no room for doubt that this vocation was very dear to his heart.

As a good man and sadly, The Anarchist Cookbook trailed Powell into death, of which the world did not become aware until movie reviewers saw it as a note at the end of America’s Anarchist in March of this year, that its subject had died a short time after the interviews took place.


1. From the New York Times:

The book, a precursor to more recent publications like “The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook” and “Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla,” was at times angry, but it also came with cautionary notes (“This book is not for children or morons”)…

2. The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook — here, here and here.

05.16.17

Infamous old words: The Nebulous Menace vs the NSA’s Ugly Conduct

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 1:20 pm by George Smith

In 2013:

While some recent estimates have more than 90 percent of cyberespionage in the United States originating in China, the accusations relayed in the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on Chinese military capabilities were remarkable in their directness. Until now the administration avoided directly accusing both the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army of using cyberweapons against the United States in a deliberate, government-developed strategy…

This from, The Nebulous Menace: Shoeshine at its Best, a piece onthe meme of the year, that US coporate intellectual property was being carted away en masse by Chinese cyberwarriors.

The passage of time always affords for the changing of boogeymen pointed out by the American national threat industry. Today it’s Russia and even fresher, maybe North Korea, as responsible for the now famous global ransomware attacks.

You might take North Korea as a convenient distraction for the root of the problem, the NSA’s malware industrial complex, ultimately responsible for the ETERNALBLUE vulnerability, a NOT NEBULOUS menace, at the heart of the problem.

Paradoxically, from the South China Post:

More than 4,300 Chinese educational institutions were infected by the WannaCry ransomware that spread across the globe last Friday, according to Chinese cybersecurity giant Qihoo 360’s Threat Intelligence Centre. Almost 30,000 organisations across the country were affected in all.

But the Ministry of Education’s China Education and Research Network (Cernet) said just 66 out of 1,600 Chinese universities were affected, rejecting reports of widespread damage in higher-education computer systems as “malicious” hype.

Cernet said the 66 universities were affected mainly because their operating systems were not regularly upgraded rather than any major security shortcomings …

Students in campuses affected by the ransomware, however, told of their horror finding their experiment data encrypted and half-completed theses files lost, which could affect their graduation, according to Chinese media reports.


Also from The Nebulous Menace, another wote illustrating why this blog was read:

American business ceded its property to the Chinese industrial base for immediate profit in pursuit of the very cheapest unprotected manpower. This was long before Chinese espionage became an issue the national security megaplex decided to exploit for the purpose of parasitic rent-seeking.

Who are you going to find on the street who cares if Chinese cyberwarriors from a building in Shanghai are into American businesses? They’ve already lost their jobs or much of their earning power. And their access to the Internet is a smartphone made in China.

Take a day off from the memes. Corporate America isn’t hiring, haven’t you heard? It’s not because of mass Chinese cyber-spying.

04.24.17

One year ago…

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 11:34 am by George Smith

First, we were bombing their cash money (videos made available on YouTube). You could see the money flying through the air. (BTW, if you want to make money fly through the air, how ’bout making it fly through Pasadena?!)

Then we sent in the B-52s to bomb ISIS in Syria. Just like in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Then we sent in the the special cyberforce. Over there, over there!

“We are dropping cyberbombs,” a man named Mr. Work, a deputy secretary of defense at the Pentagon, said. “We have never done that before.”

Actually, we have. We dropped cyberbombs on Iran.

But, anyway, A year or so ago: Cyberbombs! B-52 bombs! Bombs for cash money!

They’d surely need to quit amidst the rubble of Syria! V-ISIS Day was just around the corner.

The stuff really works, don’t it? What tactics and strategy, or lack of any, more likely. And recall the next time Trump orders a publicity stunt bombing, these were all the property of the Obama administration.

Apropos or not, here’s The Cyberwar Boogie which doesn’t sound much like cyberwar. The laughter is just right, though. Hee-hee-hee-h-h-hee-hee-hee-hee, oh yeah!


Would you help finance a custom run CD with this included?

04.14.17

If you have gold and your ass don’t smell…

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle at 11:42 am by George Smith

If you have gold and your ass don’t smell…we won’t bomb you straight to Hell.

Still perfect for most situations. C’mon, peeps, please push it to 3,000!

The Empire and its Vengeance Weapon

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle at 11:17 am by George Smith

Today Fox News is getting shelled on social media for playing Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue” over footage of the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) in Afghanistan. [1]. This seems unfair to me.

The “we’ll put a boot in your ass” theme of the Keith song is right in line with the glee that made the news of the MOAB go viral yesterday. As in 2003, the mainstream media has not been able to get enough of the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB).

It’s a bit late in the game to try shaming someone else over it now when there was no problem initially. We even liked all the news we could get of sticking it to anybody and everybody in the Middle East.

We wet the bed but good. No second thoughts and finger-pointing allowed now.

Keep in mind that fifteen years in Afghanistan is a solid indication this is a war that’s lost. The US military has no strategy except brute force and terror. Use of the monster bomb, then, is use of a vengeance weapon, something a military that’s desperate for a success, any success, does.

The choice of the term vengeance weapon is deliberate. Vengeance weapons, or the V weapons like the V-1 and V-2, were developed and used when there was no hope of the Third Reich winning the war in Europe.

The vengeance weapons were military insignificant. In the end they accomplished nothing, only further hardening the wills of the civilians in London they were used against.

The Pentagon claimed 36 ISIS fighters were killed. At about 16 million dollars per bomb, that’s about over haf a million dollars a head. It’s in line with the pointlessness outside of symbolic terror of the Third Reich’s vengeance weapons.


[1]. “Given this culture, maybe the U.S. isn’t the best country to bring humanitarianism and freedom to the world by dropping love bombs on them” tweet from the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald.

Keep in mind that news anchor Brian Williams waxed rhapsodic over Tomahawk missile salvos being launched into Syria just last week. They were said to be “beautiful” by Williams.


While the news over the MOAB has been enthusiastically over-the-top domestically (“It’s the first time this bomb has been used in combat!”), in the end the President and the Department of Defense will find that use of the MOAB has just been seen as a morally bankrupt stunt everywhere else. The world now sees the wealthiest country in the world dropping a ridiculously cruel bomb on one of the poorest places in the world, a country it’s been punishing without much effect except to make more enemies for a decade and a half. And that the originating country thinks this is such a good thing it arranges a publicity party for the coming out.


Here, another excerpt from Weapon of the Week in March of 2003, a column that was totally unique and way ahead of its time.

Entitled “The War Wanker:”

“Operation Iraqi Freedom” would not be complete without the combined power of war wankers. The wanker army, consisting of retired generals, TV reporters, administration fuglemen, and national pundits, stroke and soothe the polity with kriegfreude—war glee.

It conducts this operation by either suppressing pictures of naked horror—war blood and guts—or delivering only the most fleeting images of it. Into this void it jams a wealth of interesting and true stories, the tales that are interesting being not true and the ones that are true being not interesting.


War wankers agonize over American casualties but leave enemy dead invisible. They yak about violations of the Geneva Convention without considering that the dropping of thousands of tons of explosives from on high requires a good deal of cold blood and inevitably inspires awful retaliations.

The war wanker dwells lovingly on wonder weapons from the land of the brave, prattling on from a green television stage or a blacked-out flight deck.

But the best thing about the war wanker is that he or she comes cheap. Statements like “they’ll be feeling pain tonight in Baghdad” are pennies on the word, with salaries almost always less than the cost of machinery of destruction. And some in this army even labor for free—the joy of the work being its own reward.

04.13.17

Mother of All Bombs joy: A pure Culture of Lickpittle moment

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle at 11:47 am by George Smith

It’s been fourteen years since I wrote about the MOAB (the Mother of All Bombs) for my Weapon of the Week column in the Village Voice. And today the MOAB is back in hot, trending viral news as the US employed it in one of our forever wars in Afghanistan. Wars we never win but for which there is a never-ending supply of really big bombs from our weapon shops.

Weapon of the Week was a satirical run on the implements of war and killing then common in US newspapers. As part of the joy over war the US mainstream media loved weapon stories. Much of the time leading up to the invasion of the Iraq was spent devoting column inches to Gobble-Wallah coverage of what the Department of Defense was readying for the citizens of the Middle East.

And no matter how badly the wars have gone this has never changed. In fact, the cheerleading has become worse. Criticisms and derision, no matter how well-reasoned and deserved, have been utterly dismissed from the national conversation. And the web and old media now overflow with cheerleading pieces on the technologies and ways of American war (see The National Interest, Business Insider, War is Boring et al).

So there’s really no point to doing something new on the MOAB. My original was perfect and it’s all you have to know.


Exultation over the new MOAB—perhaps the ugliest and most stupid of new weapons in the U.S. armory—reveals a poverty of intellect and heart in the country. A clumsy multi-ton monster bomb tested in Florida last week has no practical war purpose other than terror, in a military whose signal achievement in the last decade has been to make smaller weapons unerringly accurate.

The MOAB is the natural result of allowing munitions engineers to run amok, a design by the aggressively mediocre who in a better time and place would be sent into early retirement for the good of the taxpayer.

The Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or Mother of All Bombs (quite the rib-tickler), is so big it must be shoved out the tail of a lumbering transport plane on a sled attached to a drag parachute. This means MOAB can only be used against the helpless—an enemy who cannot shoot back because its air force has already been utterly smashed, its anti-aircraft missile network erased from the target area. A very large, undefended mosque would be a good hit for MOAB—meeting the bomb’s criterion of use for “psychological” effect.

An idiot stationed in the Pentagon TV newsroom jabbered about the MOAB’s “guidance” by Global Positioning System—great precision being unnecessary on the 21,000-pound bomb, another clue to its construction by government-sanctioned ninnies.

A small part of the blame for the MOAB must go to Dynetics, one more in a dismaying number of corporations that exist to provide applications in mayhem. The company’s logo on the MOAB’s tail was probably thought of as a coup in corporate advertising, although a bracing “Fuck You!” might have better created the impression that the thing was made by real people rather than a labful of killer androids on Eglin Air Force Base.

The MOAB is said to be a long-awaited improvement on the 15,000-pound Commando Vault (“Daisy Cutter”) bomb, a canister of aluminum powder mixed in a slurry originally made to clear landing spaces of underbrush and demolish minefields. Daisy Cutters were used in Gulf War I and again in Afghanistan, to no obvious effect other than the creation of media and Pentagon erections. These cost $27,000 and change per bang, so even allowing for a three-ton increase in weight, MOAB should be cheap by Defense Department standards.

If the MOAB makes an appearance over Iraq, count on it to be enthusiastically superfluous due to the military axiom: A handful of really big bombs dropped in the open can’t compare to thousands of much smaller ones smashing through windows, doorways, and hidey-holes.

the Village Voice, March 18, 2003


The MOAB was made for Iraq. It has been more of a symbolic, in a real murderous asshole way, thing. It serves no military purpose other than pure spite. Deploying it over Afghanistan after fifteen years of relentless bombing and black-bagging of the populace is nothing more than use of it as a vengeance weapon.

So what are the Gobble-wallahs actually saying about the MOAB today?

U.S. forces in Afghanistan dropped a 22,000-pound bomb on Islamic State forces in eastern Afghanistan Thursday, the Pentagon announced in a statement.

Gen. John W. Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said the bomb was “the right munition” to use against the Islamic State because of the group’s use of roadside bombs, bunkers and tunnels. — The WaPost

The right munition.


Donald Trump described the dropping of the GBU-43 bomb as “another successful job” by the military.

Just minutes after news broke that the U.S. military had dropped the “mother of all bombs” — the biggest non-nuclear weapon — on an ISIS cave complex in Afghanistan Thursday, the president dismissed the idea that it was meant to influence North Korea.

“Really another successful job,” Trump said from the White House. “We’re very, very proud of our military. We are so proud of our military and it was another successful event.” — Daily Caller

Another successful job after 15 years of bombing and assassinations.


“Everybody knows exactly what happened,” Trump said. “We have the greatest military in the world…We have given them total authorization…If you look at what’s happened over the last eight weeks and compare that really with what’s happened over the last eight years, you’ll see there’s a tremendous difference. Tremendous difference.” — NBC News

Use of bigger vengeance weapons over a country with no air defense, yes, that’s a difference.


Spicer said all proper precautions were taken before the drop. — the New York Daily News


U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the use of this bomb was a sign that the United States was committed to Afghanistan.

But Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a Democrat who was the only “no” vote for authorization for use of military force in Afghanistan in 2001, said the move was unprecedented and asked for an explanation. — Reuters

A sign that the United States was committed to Afghanistan? Yes, how lucky they are to get such big bombs. It’s a particularly hilarious and Orwellian twisting of language.

04.06.17

Time flies on the down escalator

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle at 9:40 am by George Smith

Another musical measuring stick in the Culture of Lickspittle. Half a decade in and things are, astonishingly, much worse than when The National Anthem was written. Even the fictitious movie poster can’t quite do the national apathy and horror justice. Bombing paupers is our most famous character trait.

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