Ally Financial on Thursday became the latest U.S. financial institution to face cyber attacks that may stem from hackers in Iran …
Regional bank BB&T and credit card issuer Capital One confirmed disruptions earlier this week. A spokeswoman for Ally, the former auto lending arm of General Motors, said the bank was investigating the “unusual traffic” on its website.
Sources have previously told Reuters and NBC News that the attacks could be part of a year-long cyber campaign waged by Iranian hackers against major U.S. financial institutions and other corporate entities.
The number of cyber attacks on U.S. banks is rising …
Larry Castro, a managing director of The Chertoff Group (yes, that Chertoff), tells The Daily Ticker, that there’s been no breach of customer personal data or financial information as a result of these attacks, according to bank reports. Castro, who spent 44 years at the National Security Agency, says these “denial of service” attacks are “a significant nuisance” but not as serious as a loss of actual personal data.
Earlier this month Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned about a possible “cyber-Pearl Harbor,” saying it could potentially wreak havoc on the nation’s financial system, power grid, transportation system and government.
It’s always worth repeating that, as a nation, the US has put itself in a situation where it’s in no position to complain about cyberattacks from Iran. And that is because we have been attacking Iran and other Middle Eastern nations with malware produced by a state-run virus-writing lab (or labs).
However, the current round of news has been a convenience — in terms of publicity — for both sides. Those launching the attacks get the gratification of seeing stories which tend to exaggerate their impact in the mainstream press. And US government officials, anonymous and publicly, get to use them in scare statements meant to grab attention.
As near as I can figure, it’s a threat because because people say it’s a threat and because they don’t like President Ineedashaveabad’s manners.
*Loopy theories about “cyberterrorism” are not admitted as legitimate arguments. They are part of the “full employment for security consultants” movement and aren’t taken seriously by persons who know how computers and networks actually work.
The persistent meme from the Cult of Cyberwar is that nothing of the infrastructure is safe. Especially the financial system.
Earlier in the year, the National Security Agency’s Keith Alexander tried to get people to believe that cyberattacks on the US have constituted “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.”
The amount of damage being inflicted on countries around the world by bad economic policy is astounding. As a result of unemployment or underemployment, millions of people are seeing their lives ruined. The current policies have led to trillions of dollars of lost output. From an economic standpoint this loss is every bit as devastating as if a building had been destroyed by tanks or bombs. And people have lost their lives, due to inadequate health care, food and shelter, or as a result of the depression associated with their grim economic fate.
If an enemy had inflicted this much damage on the United States, the countries of the European Union, or the countries elsewhere in the world that have been caught up in this downturn, millions of people would be lining up to enlist in the military, anxious to avenge this outrage. But, there is no external enemy to blame. The villains are the economists, still mostly men, in business suits …
the United States is also losing close to $1 trillion in output each year, with close to 23 million unemployed, underemployed or out of the workforce altogether because of poor job prospects.
The economists in policy positions are doing their best to convince the public that the economic catastrophe that they are living through is a natural disaster that is beyond human control. But that is what Vice President Biden would call “malarkey.” This is a disaster that is 100 percent human caused and is being perpetuated by bad policy.
The original collapse was the result of central bankers who were at best asleep at the wheel, or at worst complicit in the financial sectors’ wheeling and dealing, ignoring the risks that massive housing bubbles obviously posed to the economy. However the response to the downturn has made a bad situation far worse than necessary.
Read the entire piece. It makes sense, encapsulating the story of economic collapse and continued suffering, all due to western financial systems and easily verified economic policies.
It is not some arrant and callow bullshit about cyberwar catastrophe emitted for the benefit of stenographers on the security beat in the mainstream media.
In 1998 I wrote “Electronic Pearl Harbor, Not Likely” for the National Academy of Science published magazine, Issues in Science and Technology.”
That was fourteen years ago. When I mention to reporters who call how long I’ve actually been looking at these issues they seem to have a hard time getting their brains around such a fact.
While all the technology mentioned in the piece has dated, as a general prediction, it’s still pretty great. I was right.
And that was an unpopular position then, as it is now. What’s perhaps more surprising is that genuine education and debate on these matters has become much worse.
You can’t write critical things like this at big venues, or even publicize them very much anymore.
Cyberwar, like many other topics in national security, has been converted into a third rail issue. There is only one way it is discussed or publicized: Catastrophe is looming, always coming, imminent.
Call it the radioactive fallout of the war on terror. Careful thinking on national security was washed away in favor of compiling enemies lists and creating a great professional corps of paranoids and salesmen to develop cant on how easy it would be for just about anyone, anywhere, to bring down the US or kill tens of thousands, at any time.
Yes, we are all going to die someday. That’s certainly true.
In 1998, me:
Another reason to be skeptical of the warnings about [cyberwar] is that those who are most alarmed are often the people who will benefit from government spending to combat the threat. A primary author of a January 1997 Defense Science Board report on information warfare, which recommended an immediate $580-million investment in private sector R&D for hardware and software to implement computer security, was Duane Andrews, executive vice president of SAIC, a computer security vendor and supplier of information warfare consulting services.
Assessments of the threats to the nation’s computer security should not be furnished by the same firms and vendors who supply hardware, software, and consulting services to counter the “threat” to the government and the military. Instead, a true independent group should be set up to provide such assessments and evaluate the claims of computer security software and hardware vendors selling to the government and corporate America. The group must not be staffed by those who have financial ties to computer security firms. The staff must be compensated adequately so that it is not cherry-picked by the computer security industry. It must not be a secret group and its assessments, evaluations, and war game results should not be classified.
Quaint. And where did that reasonable suggestion go?
The exact opposite is what we have today: A national security infrastructure totally permeated with conflicts of interest in threat assessment and revolving doors in which people routinely go from positions of oversight to the national security private sector and vice versa.
Trivia: Bill Clinton was president in 1999. And Leon Panetta, who probably did not even know the word cyberwar at the time, was the White House Chief of Staff.
The Clinton administration’s “digital Pearl Harbor” man was Assistant Secretary of Defense John Hamre. Hamre is now CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, one of those many think tanks now responsible for finding and analyzing all the many enemies we must build our fortresses against.
Now be good people and listen to Binders Full of Women Blues. That’s not faked, either.
Jorge Scientific — really, that’s the name. They’re a bunch of scientific guys, of that there can be no doubt.
Unsurprising, though. From a country that’s addicted to permanent wars, regarded by security corporations as money-making much like professional football, it would be unusual if there were none of this. In fact, one suspects there is plenty of private digital phone camera video of security men and soldiers who appear to smell strongly of drink.
The Molotov cocktail was named after Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister during the 1950s. It is a general term used to describe improvised incendiary devices.
The Molotov cocktail, contrary to the beliefs of some US news ninnies, was used in World War II and a bit before, getting its name in the Russo-Finnish conflict, as described in William L. Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.”
This came at the end of a story on the ridiculous gone real — how a kid’s magazine — think Highlights for Children, only Tunisian — put the above how-to for fire bombs in its current issue.
The editor was compelled to apologize for his lapse of judgment on television.
Perhaps they will give him a public whipping, it not obviously being an issue of the Tunisian edition of MAD.
Morons are much cheaper than a dime a dozen worldwide. Stan Lee, who — overall — always believed in setting a good example for young readers, if he’s seen it, must be appalled.
General John Allen: “I am completely devoted to these magnificent troops …”
60 Minutes showed we’ve managed to make Afghanistan into a shit magnet for the remains of al Qaeda. Like insignificant iron filings, they’re all drawn to the lodestone of American soldiers.
Did Pete Seeger’s old song achieve any result during the Vietnam War?
He reflects on the linked page: “No one can prove a damned thing. It took tens of millions of people speaking out, before the Vietnam War was over. A defeat for the Pentagon, but a victory for the American people.”
American human right researchers on both coasts — at Stanford out here, and NYU, have published a collaborative study on the drone campaigns in Pakistan. And it isn’t pretty. For practical purpose, drones are conducting a campaign of terror despite official blandishments to the contrary.
The drone campaign is also free of democratic control.
Far more civilians have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas than U.S. counter-terrorism officials have acknowledged, a new study by human rights researchers at Stanford University and New York University contends.
The report, “Living Under Drones,” also concludes that the classified CIA program has not made America any safer and instead has turned the Pakistani public against U.S. policy in the volatile region.
[US drone strike policies] cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury. Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. In addition, families who lost loved ones or their homes in drone strikes now struggle to support themselves.
The Living Under Drones researchers recommend the US government institute a new set of procedure, all of which will presumably be found quite unpalatable by the Obama administration.
They include: “[ensuring] independent investigations into drone strike deaths.” conducting “robust investigations and, where appropriate, prosecutions [while establishing] compensation programs for civilians harmed by US strikes,” and fulfilling “its international humanitarian and human rights law obligations with respect to the use of force, including by not using lethal force against individuals who are not members of armed groups …”
Journalists, it advises, “should cease the common practice of referring simply to ‘militant’ deaths, without further explanation. All reporting of government accounts of ‘militant’ deaths should include acknowledgment that the US government counts all adult males killed by strikes as ‘militants’ …”
Naturally, there has been a loud cry against the incessant escalating use of drones abroad. In a slew of cartoons, editorials and even some news pieces, the drone campaign has been heavily criticized.
All without effect, demonstrating how the drone program has gone completely beyond democratic control. Indeed, the use of drones to kill people in the poorest and most desperate places of the world has not even been a momentary topic for discussion in the current presidential race.
Osama bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda has been rendered virtually non-operational, except for moments of opportunity in places wracked by civil war and total societal breakdown.
Yet, eleven years after 9/11, the eye barely blinks when news stories come across the wire on the thrumming of General Atomics’ Reaper drones in the air above the blighted areas of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. And the subsequent technological vengeance brought down on those in the targeted areas.
The Congressional Research Service continues to produce reports laden with information on major issues, analysis unlikely to be popular with one entire side of the political spectrum. For this, it deserves a pat on the back. Sadly, it would seem facts do have a liberal bias, to repeat a common saying some now find annoying.
“In 2011, 46.2 million people were counted as poor in the United States, the same number as in 2010 and the largest number of persons counted as poor in the measure’s 53-year recorded history,” reads the opening sentence in the report’s summary.
“The increase in poverty over the last four years reflects the effects of the economic recession that began in December 2007,” it continues. “Some analysts expect poverty to remain above pre-recessionary levels for as long as a decade, and perhaps longer …”
Excerpts from graphs in the CRS report, Poverty in the United States: 2011, illustrate the assertions.
The graphs show that poverty reached a low at the end of the Clinton administration, but began a slow rise during the presidency of George W. Bush, reaching a plateau in the middle of its eight years before abruptly beginning to soar in 2007, the onset of the economic collapse brought on by Wall Street.
The Obama administration inherited the Bush economy, one that was failing catastrophically in 2008, when the number of people falling into poverty increased at a chilling rate.
The graph excerpted above shows the millions of people in poverty from 2000 to 2012, the red line showing totals, the blue — the elderly, and the green line, the national average in terms of the percentage of the national population.
This second graph shows poverty statistics by age group, one in which children are shown as the most affected.
The above map shows the states with the highest increases in poverty. In a fair interpretation, although poverty has increased virtually everywhere in the country (except perhaps in a geographic ring around the capital marking the governing population and its support) the modern radical GOP control the majority of the economies of the states where things are the worst.
Over the course of the Obama administration, GOP politics in the House and Senate have made it largely impossible to do anything about the economy except practice austerity and maintenance of the status quo. It is therefore remarkable, that at least for the elderly, poverty — the CRS notes — has reached an historic low.
However, not all of the nation has done very badly in the last few years. And, for this, the Obama administration must shoulder responsibility.
At a time when so many Americans at home see their lives blighted by an economy of no opportunity, there is one place immune from the problems of being poor.
It is in arms manufacturing and sales, and the following chart — published originally at the New York Times, shows a stark moral dilemma faced by the United States.
In a nation as powerful and with as many resources as ours, it is unconscionable that such a divergence in conditions between the many, and a chosen few — in this case, the makers of the instruments of war, exists. It is pure immorality — in graphs.
Again, Poverty in the United States: 2011, at the Secrecy blog, is here.
Alert readers will have noted the number of people in poverty aligns closely with the number receiving food stamps — 46-47 million.
[Romney] went on, “The numbers on food stamps are really revealing. When the president took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. And now that number is 15 million higher, almost 50% higher. Now, 47 million people on food stamps. You’ve got Americans falling into poverty under this president.”
That’s a rhetorical one-two punch, first emphasizing the need for jobs — a message that resonates at every rung of the economic ladder — then cite data showing how things are getting worse, not better, under Obama.
Granted, the food-stamp issue could be problematic for Romney too. Republicans have proposed to cut billions of dollars from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by narrowing eligibility for benefits …
And part of this is certainly true. But as everything from the Romney secret video, it also shows a grotesque and twisted view of how things have transpired. The majority of those who qualified for food stamps during the Obama administration do so as a consequence of the economic collapse that came upon the nation in 2007, during the Bush administration. The data is quite clear.
It should also be noted, although it contains little solace, that the graphs from the CRS report show a stabilization of the percentage of those in poverty over the last two years.
It was sent through a mail server in China, perhaps one operating off the cn.com domain, to about 1000 recipients, using a variety of spoofed originating addresses.
Six of the book’s seven “5-star” reviews were placed before, during and just after the spam campaign.
This could indicate stimulus from the spam, or perhaps more likely, astro-turfed reviews placed to take take advantage of curious clicks by those who received the spam.
Fatima received a total of 122 reviews on Amazon. 111 were “1-stars,” the others all “5-star.” It is a distribution with no middle.
All of the “1-star” reviews came in the time frame of the book’s spam,
reacting to it, some so noting with imprecations to cease and desist. They indicate the reviewers had no interest in buying it although they may have seen enough from Amazon’s “search inside … ” option to get the gist.
Indeed, I’d find it remarkable if the book sold any copies. But some rotten game was afoot.
The book was originally published in 2009 and ignored. So why the renewed push?
Early yesterday morning VICE was anonymously furnished with documents that link a California man named Robert Brownell (aka Robert Brown) to the pre-production of Innocence of Muslims, the F-grade anti-Islamic film that has resulted in violent protests at and around US embassies in Sanaa, Yemen; Cairo; Tripoli; and Doha, Qatar. He is a man who has, as of yet, not been named in association with the film.
The documents clearly state that in 2009 and 2011 Robert Brownell purchased pre-production services related to Desert Warrior, which has been widely reported as the working title of the film that the world now knows as Innocence of Muslims.
The cause of the the lethal Libyan and Egyptian riots against the American embassies is now known as a promoted video, The Innocence of Muslims, made by someone named “Sam Bacile,” a pseudonym.
No links, as it’s now unavoidable.
However, reading of it today I had the uneasy feeling it was a bit familiar.
At the end of August, this blog — and many others around the web — was sent spam mail about a book called How Fatima Started Islam: Mohammad’s Daughter Tells It All by one Noor Barack, a pseudonym.
The spam blurb:
Did you know that Mohammad was a drunken, child molesting, cowardly pimp? The Ayatollahs and Terrorists do not want you to know the truth about Islam and promise to harm you if you tell anyone. Fight back and read this well written, totally funny, parody on the founding of the so-called religion …
See sample Chapters, the back cover showing Mohammad depicted after a 5 day bender (the terrorists hate this picture), read about the never sober Mohammad having sex with camels, pre-adolescent girls and boys, the terror, sneak attacks, killings, rapes, assassinations, mutilations, back stabbing and mental illness. No other book in the world is at all like this one. Strike a blow for American Freedom by reading it.
I looked at the Amazon page, noted it was a piece of hate literature and promptly forgot the thing.
But today the news about Sam Bacile and the alleged nature of “The
Innocence of Muslims” trailer hinted at something I’d seen recently. It had the same peculiar and hateful idiosyncrasies as the Fatima book.
How Fatima Stated Islam was published first in 2009. And it was in English, a vanity publication by “Camel Flea Press,” vended on Amazon.
Since it was in English one would not expect the insult of it, and
believe me, that’s what it’s loaded with, to have made any impression in
the Muslim world.
However, “The Innocence of Muslims” is visual and, according to the
news, was subtitled/translated in Arabic.
The new spam promotion for the Fatima book came at the end of August.
“The Innocence of Muslims” was made in 2011, allegedly shown once in Hollywood to a near empty theater, but was heavily promoted yesterday in a live Internet stream from hate-pastor Terry Jones’ church.
Are these two things from the same people? The push on them is similar, solely through the web, the only place where they could be marketed. And everyone, from mailers to authors, uses obvious pseudonyms. So maybe.
It’s worth looking into.
Like “The Innocence of Muslims,” it portrays Mohammed as a buffoon and a criminal. From front to back, it is a merciless parade of juvenile, odious slurs and fabrications, passed off as humor, on everything associated with Islam.
Excerpts (warning: very offensive), from How Fatima Started Islam: Mohammad’s Daughter Tells It All:
Fatima: So on the eve of my twelfth birthday, with little fanfare and very matter-of-factly, I was turned out as a whore … The local yokels and camel jockeys who were the bulk of the customers generally would screw one of [us] chippies anywhere and everywhere.
The four pillars of Islam, the founding supports that were needed in order that the religion could flourish and grow, and conquer, were the
essentials. The first three were the camel, alcoholism and prostitution. The fourth and last pillar, the final original building block needed to complete the quartet that enshrined Islam, was the pillar of mental illness.
I was very afraid of someone … seeing [the Prophet] wearing a linen with an obvious yellow-brown stain on the backside.
It’s worth noting the extremist American purveyors of such things want publicity in Islamic nations. Video of riots are vindication, getting them off.
The United States has its own riotous history connected to relatively recent religious offense.
Because it would be so unusual after a revolution and the total breakdown of the country for lots and lots of young men in Libya to have automatic weapons, rockets and grenades.
“The fact that some of the attackers were armed with rockets and grenades is one of the factors leading to that initial conclusion,” reads the piece.
Honestly, where do they come up with the people who anonymously tell reporters such things?
It’s OK to stop refilling the prescription of stupid pills, guys. You’ve had enough.
Remember, there’s always a self-serving ‘think tank’ you’ve never heard of, with right-wing counter-terror experts consisting of old refugees (in London, or Los Angeles, New York, or DC) from any country you care to name, ready to give the inside poop on what’s really happened.
Today is no exception, from CNN:
According to our own sources at Quilliam Foundation, the attack was the work of roughly 20 militants, prepared for a military assault. It is rare, for example, that an RPG7 — an anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launcher — would be present at a civilian protest. The attack against the consulate had two waves. The first attack led to U.S. officials being evacuated from the consulate by Libyan security forces, only for the second wave to be launched against U.S. officials after they were kept at a secure location.
[A] former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a jihadist organization that fought against Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in the 1990s. After resigning from L.I.F.G. in 2002, he became a prominent critic of jihadist and Islamist violence.
Ten to twenty years ago. What’s a decade or two and an entire revolution out of the loop, huh?
Update: The al Qaeda’s behind it all theory, laughed out of town by spreading violence and closer-to-the-scene accounts.