04.05.13

Idiot of the day

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Imminent Catastrophe at 1:12 pm by George Smith

The web is so full of worthless news organizations it is hard to pick out truly spectacular examples of BAD.

However, today Benzinga made it easy.

On its website:

Benzinga is a dynamic and innovative financial media outlet that empowers investors with high-quality, unique content that is coveted by Wall Street’s top traders. Benzinga provides timely, actionable ideas that help users navigate even the most uncertain and volatile markets – in real-time with an unmatched caliber.

In one of its “most read” stories, “10 Ways to Prepare for a North Korean Nuclear Attack,” written by some random moron:

4. Insure Your Assets

The best time to prepare for nuclear catastrophe is not after the fact. Review your homeowner’s and auto insurance policies, making sure that your coverage extends to nuclear attacks — in most cases, it doesn’t.

Checking life insurance policies and protecting any other assets you may have is also a good idea.

Insure your assets.

And:

Beggars can’t be choosers following a nuclear attack, so prepare yourself to feast on pigeon, rabbit and other readily available sources of protein. These can be killed with a BB gun or crossbow. Remember to skin the animal before you eat.

You might almost think it’s a humor piece were it not for the careful inclusion of all relevant stock tickers/abbreviations.


From the not-moron parts, John Pike — someone I know on a weekly basis, in Newsday:

By now, Pike said he is worried North Korea has painted itself into a corner situation where it must make good on its threats or risk losing face and credibility …

“The North Koreans have run out of non-kinetic provocations, haven’t they? I mean, how many times can you declare war?” he said. “If they don’t start shooting within the next week or 10 days, everybody’s going to say they’re a bunch of chickens, that they can talk the talk but they’re not willing to walk the walk, aren’t they? And they’re going to say of Kim Jong Un, he don’t know how to run nothing but his mouth,” to paraphrase a classic Marion Barry quote.

But even for a hardware expert like Pike, the U.S. solution does not lie in deploying more weapons. South Korea and the Americans, he argued, “can take it up the escalation ladder as far as the North wants to go.” The thing that could change North Korea’s tune, he said, is China.

“The North would run out of rubble to bounce before the Americans would run out of hydrogen bombs.”

Apt, it made me laugh.

To which I’d add, no one wanted WWI after the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by some nut from Serbia. But look what happened.

Our president has demonstrated, quite admirably during his first term, that he’s poor at dealing with crazy people. And that’s our crazy people.

11.25.12

From the Love Blog of John McAfee: Beachfront property

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Imminent Catastrophe, Phlogiston, Uncategorized at 11:02 am by George Smith


John McAfee’s coastal retreat?

Lads, you can do this at home! Take a Google satellite-view beach tour stroll along the northern part of Ambergris Caye in Belize and see if you can spy John McAfee’s center of adventure and intrigue.

The above snapshot may not be McAfee’s home north of San Pedro. But judging by a photo posted on his blog here, it is something of a match.

If you care to waste the time, try it yourself and see if you agree or find a better candidate. At max magnification, it take some time to scan the coast north of San Pedro for about six miles to approximately where John McAfee’s neighbor is said to have been murdered in news reports.

McAfee’s blog entries provide some additional information on the beach locations nearby, although he is quite possibly fudging it a bit (and has admitted to being interchangeable with fact and fictions).

“Sam and I began our ungerground oddessey [sic], not on the day after Mr. Faul’s death, but on Monday, the 15th of October, early in the morning,” reads a recent entry.

As far as being on the lam and intriguing goes, it’s not a bad place to be.

The McAfee blog has been hit or miss. It could use some better copy-editing and style. And McAfee has informed readers all the stuff about drugs posted on another Internet site was a practical joke, so descriptions of what’s real and what’s not are of an undetermined elasticity. For example, McAfee exhibits his enthusiasm for forged press identifications in a photograph. His display of, one presumes, a forged laminate attributed to “The Molokai Island Times” of Hawaii, an inactive newspaper which apparently exists only as a Facebook website with 189 “likes” is here.

Readers will note the curious nature of a Colorado address on the “Hawaiian” document.

More recently McAfee has announced the arrival of a Financial Times of London reporter who will, presumably, investigate and report the truth of the events now surrounding the life of the ex-anti-virus king in Belize.

The sometimes keenly interesting love blog of John McAfee is here.


Readers may note I do not refer to the blog of John McAfee as what he calls it, The Hinterland. This is because it is so obviously not.

On the Sand, A Whale of Tales, To Hide and Hide Not, all would be more descriptive. Think up your own!

11.21.12

Down in the Bunker in Whitemanistan at Midnight

Posted in Extremism, Imminent Catastrophe at 4:34 pm by George Smith

It is not right to coddle the beliefs of idiots or encourage their manias. Doing it puts you on the side of evil, even if it’s just television and you need the money.

Doomsday Preppers’: The craziest bunkers we’ve seen so far: \

Larry doesn’t want “possible marauders” stealing his stuff in a post-apocalyptic free-for-all, so he’s doing what any sane individual would do: He’s building an entire condo building underground, fourteen stories embedded in nine feet of concrete. When it’s finished, Larry says this luxurious bunker will have a swimming pool, exercise rooms, and a movie theater …

Demoralizing.


The dogshite that is National Geographic on cable — from the archives.

11.16.12

Friday Fiore

Posted in Extremism, Imminent Catastrophe at 2:29 pm by George Smith

You see, citizens, the cliff would dramatically cut the deficit, but it would do so by cutting Pentagon spending–

Which through the mysteries of Newly Frugalness, is huge government spending that is amazingly not socialistic!

We all know true deficit reduction can only come from cutting pinko social programs like schools, health and welfare!

The Fiscal Cliff also threatens to blow up the Bush tax cuts and devious Spendocrats want taxes for the rich to return to what they were during the dark days of Clinton, back when the economy was, was, well . . . never mind.

Run, don’t walk.

10.09.12

The mainstreaming of hate

Posted in Extremism, Imminent Catastrophe, Psychopath & Sociopath, Ted Nugent at 2:33 pm by George Smith


Laboratory of democracy, example #1. And some experiments yield results that are no good.

The current Republican Party has mainstreamed all the tropes of “The Turner Diaries,” the premier piece of race hate fiction in this country. I don’t say this lightly.

But after the last four years of the Obama presidency, it’s quite clear. One cannot ignore the mindless stockpiling of weapons in the absence of even the slightest moves toward gun control legislation, or even enforcement of exisiting rules.

And you would had to have been living in Antarctica to have missed all the common heroes of the right, portrayed as patriots, who generally and loudly profess to stand ready to revolt against the tyrannical government, warn of the alleged creeping menace of shariah law, people who wish and fantasize about the tossing out, reduction and destruction of others who’ve allegedly made the society corrupt — the blacks and browns (in “The Turner Diaries” called “mud people”) the millions of moochers, the poor, government bureaucrats and elites. The list of enemies of the good people of the place we live in is long.

Indeed, the entire survivalist moment, now calling themselves “preppers” in an unsuccessful attempt to achieve distance from the old designation because of its association with neo-Nazis, is all of the extreme right.

There are no progressives or Democrats in the prepper patriot bunkers. No, the modern patriot drills in camouflage clothes and on gun ranges, honing shooting skills to stop crime, to make society more safe by peace through strength, but later needed when they must defend their families, stuff and bug out homes after society collapses.

Who will they be defending against?

Why, of course, all those on the enemies list: The non-whites who didn’t stockpile food, who lived on the government teat, those on the food stamp rolls (especially the food stamp EBT carders!) the corrupt and lazy progressives, any voters for the other side, a horde predicted to come boiling out of its urban warrens to take what all the good white people have.

The continued reality of this imagery, in political campaigns, as entertainment reality television, in daily news stories, in vanity press prepper civil war fiction (take a look at this mind-numbing collection at Amazon), is as morbidly depressing as a first, and only, reading of “The Turner Diaries.”

Only you can put the book back on the shelf or into the trash.

Pine View Farm has done a lot of documentation of spot news of this and today is no different, that blog pointing to an essay by Mr. Chauncey Devega.

Devega writes:

Americans are unable to come together to solve common issues of public concern because political elites–the Right is preeminently guilty here–have developed a concerted campaign to “otherize” and marginalize those Americans with whom they disagree.

In all, the Right-wing media apparatus feeds conservatives a daily diet of misinformation, distortions, and hate speech in which their foes are described as insects to be crushed, mentally defective, traitors, and people not fit to live. Such rhetoric is not harmless political theater: seeds do indeed bear fruit.

In September, the conservative website the Free Republic published a hypothetical scenario about how the American economy will collapse and “urban” riots by black people will need to be put down by white suburban vigilantes.

Devega excerpts from “a hypothetical scenario about how the American economy will collapse and ‘urban’ riots by black people will need to be put down by white suburban vigilantes.”

A piece related to it is a tough read, allegedly inspired as a response to a Small Wars journal article I referenced briefly a couple weeks back:

A new social contract has been created, where bread and circuses buy a measure of peace in our minority-populated urban zones. In the era of ubiquitous big-screen cable television, the internet and smart phones, the circus part of the equation is never in doubt as long as the electricity flows. But the bread is highly problematic. Food must be delivered the old-fashioned way: physically. Any disruption in the normal functioning of the EBT system will lead to food riots with a speed that is astonishing. This will inevitably happen when our unsustainable, debt-fueled binge party finally stops, and the music is over. Now that the delivery of free or heavily subsidized food is perceived by tens of millions of Americans to be a basic human right, the cutoff of “their” food money will cause an immediate explosion of rage. When the hunger begins to bite, supermarkets, shops and restaurants will be looted, and initially the media will not condemn the looting. Unfortunately, this initial violence will only be the start of a dangerous escalation …

In order to highlight their grievances and escalate their demands for an immediate resumption of government benefits, the [black or brown] MUY flash mobs will next move their activities to the borders of their ethnic enclaves. They will concentrate on major intersections and highway interchanges where [white] non-MUY suburban commuters must make daily passage to and from what forms of employment still exist …

The results of these clashes will frequently resemble the intersection of Florence and Normandie during the Rodney King riots in 1992, where Reginald Denny was pulled out of his truck’s cab and beaten nearly to death with a cinder block.

“Sniper ambushes” will be the tactic developed to counter the non-white mob, writes the “author” at the Western Rifle Shooters Association:

This extremely deadly trick was developed by our war fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan, taking advantage of the significant effective range and firepower of our scoped 5.56mm rifles. Tactics such as the sniper ambush may not be seen early in the civil disorder, but they will surely arise after a steady progression of atrocities attributed to rampaging [blacks] MUYs.

The piece, the author writes, was inspired by something this blog noted a month or so ago — a Small Wars Journal think piece on the US military fighting a domestic insurrection in Darlington, South Carolina.

The Tea Party promptly showed up in force to vent in the comments section:

Those who would actually need to invoke the Insurrecton [sic] Act would already have conducted the affairs of their offices in such a patently un-American, unethical, illegal, unconstitutional and treasonous manner (anybody we know?) that the elected official should uave already been arrested and put on trial. Only if for a protracted period the citizenry feels patriotically obligated to follow the constitution (the part about abolishing a corrupted government) to the point where knowing the US military will become involved, do it anyway.


This is the modern Republican Party, the party of Mitt Romney. If you think there’s little difference between the two current candidates for president or that voting in November is an exercise in holding your nose, you couldn’t be more wrong.

“The right has nothing to sell but hate, but, sadly, hate sells,” concludes Frank at Pine View Farm.

This is not the fringe. It’s solidly entrenched in the mainstream.


See The Pyschopath Vote, preppers and anything under the Ted Nugent and Extremism tabs for the last few years. It will leave your stomach upset.

09.20.12

Supplier businesses to the Psychopath vote …

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Extremism, Imminent Catastrophe, Psychopath & Sociopath at 9:49 am by George Smith

Are dependent on an Obama win for a continued business boom, according to the Wall Street Journal:

As Cabela’s Inc. prepares the selection of guns it will sell for the holiday season and winter hunting, the outdoor-gear retailer has two plans: one if President Barack Obama is re-elected, and one if he isn’t.

The Sidney, Neb.-based retailer and other companies in the guns-and-ammo business say if Mr. Obama wins a second term they are preparing for a surge in sales—the same as they saw after he was elected in 2008—from buyers fearful the president would back policies to make buying a gun more difficult. If Republican challenger Mitt Romney wins, though, the chain plans to stock more items such as waterproof boots and camouflage hunting gear.

“[Mr. David Humke], an avid deer hunter, worries guns might become less available in the future,” reads the Journal. “People feel it’s coming so they’re stockpiling,” he said.


Obese white guy in gun shop, with kid in cart, the kind of dude DD never meets, anymore. Different worlds, Nebraska might as well be Pluto.


Growing up in southeastern Pennsyltucky, I was in a community of hunters. Public school was always canceled the first day of hunting season. In fact, it was rare that people didn’t have guns in Pine Grove, PA. I had no problem with gun ownership.

But the continued completely irrational surge of gun sales nationwide during the Obama administration, in the absence of any gun legislation, is the hallmark of a people and culture with which I have nothing in common.

I don’t want to meet them again. What happened to their minds?

07.27.12

Water, power, money — all at risk, always

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Imminent Catastrophe at 4:34 pm by George Smith

Earlier this week, I was asked if I was going to hear Keith Alexander’s speech at Def Con, a first. Nope.

What could he possibly say new? Nothing. Nice p.r., though.

Most of the publicity was reserved for Alexander’s appearance at the Aspen Institute, where he apparently delivered a speech much like he has in the past.

Everything’s at risk — power, water, money. (Even the air is now at risk when the poison gases are released.)

“I’m worried most about power … I’m worried about water,” he said.

“Alexander repeated his view that computer-based espionage against the industrialized world amounted to ‘the biggest transfer of wealth in history’ because ‘adversaries have gone into our companies and taken intellectual property,’” reads the LA Times, posted a few minutes ago.

If you collect Mr. Keith Alexander’s remarks then he must be the most important man in the country, ultimately responsible for securing the US in cyberspace against the ton of trouble coming against everything.

If we had better reporters, rather than just compilers and tape-recorders, someone would be pointing this out. But the current state of journalism cannot deal with repeated claims that a host of catastrophes are imminent.

Therefore, well meaning or not, Mr. Alexander abuses the publicity afforded him at these functions. It’s flagrant and too many people give it a pass.

“All ur H20 belong to us,” cackled the fiend from inside the cyber-bunker, somewhere in the eastern hemisphere. “Does Mr. Alexander know haxorz can haz make H20 to bleach?”

Get off the cyber-corruption of water meme already, sir.


Related:

The greatest transfer of wealth in history …

All ur water does not belong to the cybermen.

07.19.12

The President delivers his cyberscare story

Posted in Cyberterrorism, Imminent Catastrophe at 6:31 pm by George Smith

The President delivers his digital Pearl Harbor story, not using the phrase because presumably has been told of its exposure to ridicule, in the Wall Street Journal (excerpted):

Last month I convened an emergency meeting of my cabinet and top homeland security, intelligence and defense officials. Across the country trains had derailed, including one carrying industrial chemicals that exploded into a toxic cloud. Water treatment plants in several states had shut down, contaminating drinking water and causing Americans to fall ill.

Our nation, it appeared, was under cyber attack. Unknown hackers, perhaps a world away, had inserted malicious software into the computer networks of private-sector companies that operate most of our transportation, water and other critical infrastructure systems …


It doesn’t take much to imagine the consequences of a successful cyber attack. In a future conflict, an adversary unable to match our military supremacy on the battlefield might seek to exploit our computer vulnerabilities here at home. Taking down vital banking systems could trigger a financial crisis. The lack of clean water or functioning hospitals could spark a public health emergency. And as we’ve seen in past blackouts, the loss of electricity can bring businesses, cities and entire regions to a standstill …


For the sake of our national and economic security, I urge the Senate to pass the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 and Congress to send me comprehensive legislation so I can sign it into law.

It’s time to strengthen our defenses against this growing danger.

Nothing new in the lede graphs, the President resorting to the stock scary cyber-wargaming and scenario-concoction the US national security apparatus has delivered since … always.

Historically, the meme is invariant, delivering news that everything is vulnerable. The entire nation falls over from surprise cyberattack.

First, let’s deal with the alleged coordinated attack on trains, one which causes them to jump the tracks, releasing toxic chemicals everywhere.

If you think about this a little it falls apart,

The US has a rail system, like all countries, and mistakes happen occasionally. These cause accidents and derailments.

And throughout the nation there are lights on the tracks that signal switches open and closed, and warning and so on. Plus there are controllers. Plus people who react immediately to side-strep or remedy problems.

There is not one master switch for all rail, hubs are scattered all across the US, thousands of them, I imagine.

So, with one sentence, you are asked to belive there’s going to be an attack on specific trains loaded with what just happen to be specifically dangerous chemicals so that it or they jump the rails and cause a national catastrophe?

The intelligence requirements just to start thinking about that are beyond belief. This belongs strictly to the last Die Hard movie, the one where the fired Pentagon security contractor battles McClain.

“Trigger the accidents and the release of the poison gases now!” cackled the fiend from deep within his cyber-bunker, somewhere in the eastern hemisphere.

So shame on President Obama or, more likely, a staffer for putting it in. So the occasional bad rail accident from normal human error will remain more likely than hack or cyberwar attacks on the same.

The presumption that this has changed, or is about to, is senseless.

To make another counterpoint, there is little to zero evidence reservoirs and water systems can be significantly damaged by cyberattack, even if one grants the minor possibility of remote trifling with pumping systems.

The hazard posed to water supplies was worked out early in the war on terror, motivated by fears of chemical and biological terrorism aimed at them.

Water is difficult to ruin, unless one is speaking about massive oil spills, run-offs into rivers from mismanaged chemical plants or massive industrial accidents that release materials into natural waterways.

Every year such events happen throughout the US. Recovery is swift.

In addition, water purification and supply is a nationally distributed matter. There is no way to universally degrade it in the United States.

For example, my brain tells me, and it’s usually pretty good at these things, that it would be virtually impossible to affect water in Los Angeles County short of destroying the Owens Valley, the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the Colorado River and the Colorado River Aqueduct. It would take an almost irreversible blackout in California to hinder the flow of water into LA County.

What, could hackers or cyber-soldiers blow up Pasadena Water & Power or make the complex unusable and all the water unpotable?

How do you do that locally in Los Angeles, one of the most populous places in the world? Water supplies in ponds are scattered everywhere, there is no one central water supply and plant to do something to.

Theoretically, if you believe someone can turn up the addition of chlorine, so what? You can’t supersaturate water with it. There is no way to turn water into bleach in everyone’s tap from the Internet. You can’t turn it into poison in any serious way. You can only try to turn it off.

Details matter, not potential bluff by one hacker, published in hundreds of stories — truth being determined by the number of people convinced to reprint exactly the same thing — that “[said] hacker posted pictures of [a water] facility’s internal controls.”

This matter, being more of a personal publicity stunt executed through PasteBin by a hacker personally indignant at the Department of Homeland Security at what he saw to be it’s dilatory attitude toward the dangers posed to the nation’s water system.

Indeed, using one minor news story, never really followed up to make a case that the entire nation’s water is threatened, is an obvious kind of propaganda.

Further, how could cyber-soldiers or hackers make doctors stop dealing with the sick in hospitals? They’ll turn off the power and corrupt all the patient data, never mind the senselessness of doing both.

Just go with me for a minute.

They’ll take away Internet connectivity and e-mail, and put ridiculous and dangerous results in digital logs of patient records, like prescribing insulin shots for everyone except the diabetics or Viagra for people with really bad tickers. Then the staff will roll out the needles, pills and drips and put everyone into a coma.

Ahem. Do you really think that the practice of medicine hasn’t had years of experience dealing with bad or screwed up e-mail, malware, and criminal pests who get into networks?

Anyway, it is exceptionally bad to try and stampede people into believing stupid things through the use of fear, no matter how well meaning you are.

In his essay the President is working from the script that the United States can be turned off with select manipulation of a few switches. This is an absurd construct, but an old one, and something that can also be dubbed a zombie lie.

Finally, readers can take note of the placement of this in the Wall Street Journal, the newspaper of the financial system.

Attack on the financial system has become a regular part of the mythology used to influence policy makers, even though it’s to laugh. Consider the state of the economy and the predicament of the 99 percent. The financial sector might be attacked! Really?!

What, exactly, would that do to the 99 percent? Not a trick question.

From last week, mirrored at GlobalSecurity.Org (excerpted):

Cybersecurity is a serious national issue. But the implication that it is the issue or that your future is disappearing in front you due to the lack of it should put a bug up your a–…


[If] you conduct a meaningful public poll on how much average Americans really care about “the financial sector” being protected against cyberattacks, you might get an earful on how they’d like to be protected from the financial sector. Bank of America and Wall Street aren’t going to be popular again for a good long time. This is called ignoring the big picture, or historical context, and it has always had meaning for issues in national security. You cannot defend something or win the war when the little people, the locals, have little or no interest or incentive in rallying to your side.

Put another way, it’s impossible to ultimately secure an infrastructure of businesses the majority believes to be corrupt.


For the sake of a discussion that emphasizes the gravity of dealing with cybersecurity it’s just easier to quote someone higher up, like Leon Panetta: “Technologically, the capability to paralyze this country is there now.”

It works in a talks even though the people who’ve been around since the beginning quietly hoot and roll their eyes.

I didn’t care much for your decision to use computer viruses as weapons either, Mr. President.


The argument that careless connection of remote systems to the Internet has been with us for a very long time. People have been saying this for years. Exercise caution when connecting stuff that you believe to be critical.

Some people do. Some don’t. Some do it and add security or presume they have. Others just put it on-line so they don’t have to be on-site all the time. This is the way of things and it probably always will be.

So, yes, there are going to be security problems but where are they in the entirety of the big nation and is there a master map?

These are unquantifiable questions no one can really answer except to say managing the security of such things and the risk imposed is a day to day battle.

The problem arises when it is all spun, as the President has done for effect, into a message of fear, delivered from the notion that it is trivial to collapse the nation from remote access, all for the motivation toward a policy.

There are arguments and debates to be made on this to persuade people, but sincere efforts take time and aren’t served by stuff like this. Yet it has always proven convenient to go with the pungent essay seasoned with fearful examples.

07.13.12

It’s the greatest transfer of wealth in history …

Posted in Cyberterrorism, Imminent Catastrophe at 4:39 pm by George Smith

“In my opinion, it’s the greatest transfer of wealth in history,” said general Keith Alexander, he of the National Security Agency, on cyberattacks launched at our great country. Not quite, and no one has to rely on opinion. The greatest transfer of wealth in history is the economic collapse of 2008, a disaster that shaved 40 percent off the worth of most Americans and which still has the nation in a deep slump.

“That’s our future disappearing in front of us,” Alexander added on the consequences of cyberattack.

It’s a claim that’s been made more than once, mostly because it gets your attention.

However, Monday was the latest example, in a talk on cybersecurity and American power given at the American Enterprise Institute.

The entire session is here.

Cybersecurity is a serious national issue. But the implication that it is the issue or that your future is disappearing in front you due to the lack of it should put a bug up your ass.

The preeminent national security challenge faced by this country is devolution into the equivalent of a banana republic with the largest military in world history and all the implications of that for stability and, ahem, the preservation of economic well-being. The future disappeared for millions, right in front of their eyes, between 2007 and 2008. What’s left is still dribbling away.

Moving on, in the introductory part of the talk Alexander reflected on the advances made in computing power, musing about what it would mean for gene sequencing — “think what we can do for gene research” (leave the predictions on molecular biology to the experts, is all I’ll say), invoking the number of apps for Crapple devices — 500,000, and that in a couple years there will be more mobile computers in circulation than people.

Which tells you that the world’s haves are accumulating multiple gadgets at a furious rate, not that conditions are wonderfully transformative.

The statistics are necessary to give an audience reference points to hang onto.

Americans love statistics and if furnished with enough they will often not notice when one is straying into quantifying the unquantifiable. Which is where you are when hearing about the greatest transfer of wealth, ever.

But all of this was just a preamble to the center of Alexander’s talk on cybersecurity, the meat of which started with the problem posed by companies that did not know they had been hacked. They outnumber those that do, 100 to 1, he said. This is very bad and requires an evolution to information sharing at “network speed.”

This, according to the discussion, hinges on applying a “thin layer” of security on top of the “cloud,” with the patches, updates and anti-malware signatures pumped out automatically. In addition, information sharing equals the rapid dispensation of data on threats occurring in real time.

Alexander assured the crowd this was all to be done with care for civil liberties. It’s not the e-mail they’re interested in so much as what’s coming with it, and the signatures of attackers.

Information sharing between government and industry has been an issue for almost twenty years. No one who has argued for more of it has ever believed there is enough. It’s always been that way, along with the promises that no one will be reading the mail. That’s the standard line. Nothing new here.

Paradoxically, the people making the arguments for more information sharing now know that the conditions they want are virtually impossible. It’s always unfinished business with many private sector institutions not interested in that level of two way flow on computer attacks. However they cannot bring themselves to say it. Thinking in the United States has always been crippled by a beamish adherence to a “can do” ethic. A realistic admission that some things just can’t be done is heresy.

One suspects the battle is also lost to get the “American people” to trust anyone from the government on the issue. This is not any fault of Keith Alexander but a national condition that can’t be remedied by good words, or even law.

Many already believe their mail is being read, anyway. It’s a perception that’s fatalistic and entrenched. Does it matter? The way things have gone, it would seem not. Public debate has made very little difference on what the national security side of the US government wants to do, or does, in the last decade. No heads have rolled because the security men have gone too far.

In Tim Weiner’s “Enemies,” a history of the FBI, the author asserts the FBI was reading national e-mail for most of the war on terror, anyway, part of this under the name of what has been called Stellar Wind. But then it stopped.

By the record of who the FBI was arresting in this country and the charges brought, particularly through the middle years of the last decade, there appears to be a great deal of truth to such assertions.

However, the new requests for information sharing are for different reasons than digging up terrorists in the country’s backyard. Now it’s for the timely and rapid application of technical solutions.

Alexander also spoke to the audience about not wanting to wait for something bad to happen and then jumping to “where we don’t want to be” in the world of monitoring and collection.

Well, that would seem to have already happened and cyberattack was not the precipitating cause — it was that Osama bin Laden fellow.

Alexander told his audience he would be where he didn’t want to be the day after “there went the electrical grid, there went the financial sector.” Testifying before Congress about how it all could have been avoided, as with 9/11.

That’s what everyone says and Alexander is sincere. He does sound like he means it. But you’re always gonna have those kinds of days, one or two of them, in a lifetime. That’s the vagary of history and no one can get around it.

On the other hand, if you conduct a meaningful public poll on how much average Americans really care about “the financial sector” being protected against cyberattacks, you might get an earful on how they’d like to be protected from the financial sector. Bank of America and Wall Street aren’t going to be popular again for a good long time. This is called ignoring the big picture, or historical context, and it has always had meaning for issues in national security. You cannot defend something or win the war when the little people, the locals, have little or no interest or incentive in rallying to your side.

Alexander took questions for about fifteen minutes. To his credit he dismissed one reporter’s query on whether or not al Qaeda had a serious cyberattack capability. No, he answered but if someone with the right training were able to take advantage of knowledge and tools available on the Internet …

I’d have answered, “Look, buddy, al Qaeda’s virtually operationally dead. They have a hard time making underwear bombs, finding people to run them and even getting out .pdf files of their company organ. What makes you think they’re great cyber-warriors?”

It’s sort of like asking if one thinks the Cleveland Browns might win the Super Bowl in 2013. Y’know, the name was good once. A real long time ago. And, theoretically, they could get better.

But government men have to be cautious about what they’ll admit.

For the sake of a discussion that emphasizes the gravity of dealing with cybersecurity it’s just easier to quote someone higher up, like Leon Panetta: “Technologically, the capability to paralyze this country is there now.”

It works in a talks even though the people who’ve been around since the beginning quietly hoot and roll their eyes.

The presentation, again, is here.

Better get prepping

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Extremism, Imminent Catastrophe at 2:06 pm by George Smith

Extreme heat, power blackouts and wildfires are no reason to mull over the consequences of global warming. Keep your eyes on the ball, folks! Instead they illustrate how frail US civilization is. And they let us have just a little taste of what life might be like after electromagnetic pulse doom.

If you thought embarrassing failure in the Republican presidential primary was any reason to keep Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy chief Newt Gingrich off the pages of the Washington Post, you were mistaken.

Excerpted from the WaPost:

Without power, the comforts of home become worthless. You sit in the sweltering heat, realizing you are living in a box that, without electricity, is a trap. You pray for the “juice” to return before your groceries go bad. You either make do in the heat or find refuge with friends who have electricity …

I write this now because of my concern for national security and our power grid, which are susceptible to doomsday-level damage if hit by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) strike …

In 2009, my friend — and sometimes co-author — William R. Forstchen published a truly frightening book, “One Second After.” (I wrote the foreword.) The story is fiction but based on hard facts. It is a cautionary tale about the threat of EMP strikes and major solar storms, known as coronal mass ejections.

William turned to bipartisan congressional studies published in 2004 and 2008 and interviewed many experts. His book made the New York Times bestseller list and helped to trigger what some call the “prepper” movement …


The Cult of EMP Crazy — from the archives.

A beginner’s guide to the immense library of unreadable Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy Bodice Ripper novels.

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