Monday, April 27, 2009

America finally on the offense in Cyber War

Maybe. The New York Times:
"When American forces in Iraq wanted to lure members of Al Qaeda into a trap, they hacked into one of the group’s computers and altered information that drove them into American gun sights.


"In interviews over the past several months, a range of military and intelligence officials, as well as outside experts, have described a huge increase in the sophistication of American cyberwarfare capabilities."

If only the government could also ensure computers with highly classified material aren't plugged into the world wide web, exposing them to hackers. The F-35, Marine One... what's next?

Marines on the trail of tracking

Michael Yon in Borneo at Tracking School:

Apparently the Dutch will not be coming for the big exercise, though I am told that the USMC is coming.  British instructors tell me that the U.S. Marines actually are very forward-leaning on tracking.  That the U.S. Marines are on the trail of tracking probably has General James Mattis’s fingerprints on it.  That man is a warrior.  I met him in Fallujah, and Mattis actually told me his name as if I didn’t know.  (Who doesn’t know General Mattis?  In smaller circles, he’s as respected as Petraeus.)


Anyway, another great day was had in the tracking school, and I think this British soldier from Nepal helped me figure out why the U.S. Army near-about ignores tracking; it’s incredibly effective, simple and cheap, and so we probably wouldn’t want to get involved.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Church Service at the Hanoi Hilton

Leo Thorsness, writing in National Review Online:

"When the 42nd man said yes, it was unanimous. We had 100-percent commitment to hold church next Sunday. At that instant, Ned knew he would end up in the torture cells at Heartbreak. It was different from the previous Sunday. We now had a goal, and we were committed. We only needed to develop a plan."

Unyielding bravery, limitless will, and boundless fortitude. Read the rest.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tightening the Defense Budget

Secretary of Defense Gates talks about the defense budget, and defends recent cuts, particularly cuts to the F-22 Raptor:

SEC. GATESI think what we’re trying to do is not reduce emphasis on conventional warfare, but be more selective about the weapons systems that we fund to fight that kind of a fight. I’m not cutting the F-22; I’m not recommending the F-22; I’m simply recommending that the program set in 2005 was to build 183 of these aircrafts. I’m simply saying, let’s finish that program and then let’s focus on buying large numbers of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35, which has 10- to 15-year newer technology, has some capabilities that the F-22 doesn’t have.

The F-22 is a great airplane, all you have to do is ask the pilots who fly it, but – and it will remain in the inventory, but there is no military requirement for more than 183 of them, 187 with those that are in the supplemental. So we’re doing that, we’re building additional ships, we’re doing more in the way of theater and tactical ballistic-missile defense. We’re converting more ships to have ballistic-missile defense that would help against China. So I think there’s kind of a misunderstanding of exactly what it is we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to be more selective about systems that actually work and that can be delivered in a reasonable period of time than some of these exotic systems.

Regarding missile defense:

SEC. GATES: We have two threats: theater and tactical ballistic missiles and ballistic missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles from rogue states like North Korea. We are significantly increasing the missile defense capabilities to deal with the theater and tactical threat, from Iran or Hezbollah or others like that, in a number of different ways – a lot of money being added to the budget.

We are not cutting the number of interceptors in Alaska, we are going to fund – robustly fund research and development to keep enhancing their capabilities, we are keeping alive the airborne-laser program, we are just not buying a second research platform. We’re going to make do with one 747 to do this research. The procurement program was completely out of control, with 27 47s and so on and so forth. So I think we are doing a lot, we do very well with terminal defense, with THAD and the theater missile. We do very well at midcourse with the ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California.

Now, we’re continuing to do research work on the boost phase, where they’re just coming off the pad, and we have several programs, some of them classified, that are aimed at taking care of that. So I think we have really strongly supported missile defense, and I think that what we have taken out of the budget, frankly, were some experimental capabilities that were really not intended for the rogue-state missile threat but rather, a much larger threat. So I’m trying to conform our program to our policy. Our policy is to have a missile defense and it was – as it was in the Bush administration, our policy is to have a missile defense against rogue states, such as Iran and North Korea. That’s what our program does.

Popular Mechanics has more: The 7 winners and losers under Gates' proposed budget. Littoral combat ships and the F-35 win big, the Army's Future Combat System and F-22 lose.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Has Interrogation Produced Results?

Marc Thiessen tries to answer that question at The Corner, and totally dismantles the opposition in the process: "And the whole chain I have just described began with the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah."

Since his capture, Abu Zubaydah had provided the CIA with the critical link that had identified KSM as “Muktar” and the mastermind of 9/11, as well as information that led to the capture of Padilla and the disruption of a planned attack on the American homeland. The CIA knew he had more information that could save American lives, but now he had stopped talking. So the CIA used enhanced interrogation techniques to get him talking again — and these techniques worked. 

Zubaydah soon he began to provide information on key al Qaeda operatives, including information that helped us find and capture more of those responsible for the attacks on September the 11th, including Ramzi bin al Shibh. At the time of his capture, bin al Shibh had been working in Karachi on follow-on operations against the West — including a plot to hijack passenger planes in Europe and fly them into Heathrow airport. Bin al Shibh had identified four operatives for the operation, when he was taken into custody. 

Together Zubaydah and bin al Shibh provided information that helped in the planning and execution of the operation that captured KSM. KSM then provided information that led to the capture of a Southeast Asian terrorist named Zubair — an operative with the terrorist network Jemmah Islamiyah, or JI. Zubair then provided information that led to the capture of a JI terrorist leader named Hambali — KSM's partner in developing a plot to hijack passenger planes and fly them into the tallest building on the West Coast: the Library Tower in Los Angeles. Told of Hambali's capture, KSM identified Hambali's brother "Gun Gun" as his successor and provided information that led to his capture. Hambali's brother then gave us information that led us to a cell of JI operatives that were going to carry out the West Coast plot. 

KSM also provided vital information that led to the disruption of an al Qaeda cell that was developing anthrax for attacks inside the United States. He gave us information that helped us capture Ammar al Baluchi. At the time of his capture, al Baluchi was working with bin al Shibh on the Heathrow plot, as well as a plot to carry out an attack against the US consulate in Karachi. According to his CIA biography, al Baluchi “was within days of completing preparations for the Karachi plot when he was captured.” 

In addition, KSM and other senior terrorists helped identify individuals that al Qaeda deemed suitable for Western operations, many of whom we had never heard about before. These included terrorists who were sent to case targets inside the United States, including financial buildings in major cities on the East Coast. They painted a picture of al Qaeda's structure and financing, and communications and logistics. They identified al Qaeda's travel routes and safe havens, and explained how al Qaeda's senior leadership communicates with its operatives in places like Iraq. They provided information that allowed the CIA to make sense of documents and computer records that we have seized in terrorist raids. They identified voices in recordings of intercepted calls, and helped us understand the meaning of potentially critical terrorist communications. It is the official assessment of our intelligence community that “Were it not for this program, our intelligence community believes that al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland.” 

And the whole chain I have just described began with the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah.

When the Press mounts a baseless attack, just respond with the facts.