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Welcome to the blogosphere, fl!

fl, a great friend of mine and a first-rate thinker of all things Shakespeare, has started a new blog, Pimrose Primrose Road. Here’s to the expansion of the blogosphere. I’ve added, fl’s site to my google reader. Here are the first posts:

Of course, Pimrose Road will be added to tdaxp‘s blogroll for the September update.

Happy blogging!

You Can’t Handle the Truth

This is too funny:
Son, we live in a world that has powerpoint. And those slides need to be produced by men with oak leafs. Who’s gonna do it? You? You with a star? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for my briefings and you curse my formatting. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that my briefings, while drawn out, probably save lives. . . You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at meetings, you want my presentations. You need my presentations. We use words like diagram gallery, paste special, clipboard . . . we use these words as the backbone of a job spent briefing something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain why I formatted an object to a man who briefs and gets promoted by the very presentation I make, then questions the way in which I format it! I’d rather you just said Thank You and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you make your own slide, and give the briefing. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think the slide should say.
Posted by Phil

4G Tactics: Cyber-Crime or Cyber-Terrorism

Dan’s earlier post on how to fight a blog highlights some efforts by those for whom persuasion and peaceful political processes are not enough.
These are the same kinds of tactics we have seen on college campuses over the past couple of decades where it has become common practice for leftists to shout down speakers they disagree with, disrupt events, steal or vandalize campus newspapers, etc., all in an effort to stifle debate and the free exchange of ideas. As Dan has shown how some of these tactics have migrated to the internet. A perfect example of this is the recent “hack attack” perpetrated against the website of Protest Warrior, a pro-liberty and anti-leftist organization. Here is their account of the attack:
In January 2005, Jeremy Hammond and the hacker group collectively known as the “Internet Liberation Front” gained illegal access to the ProtestWarrior server. Thousands of customer credit card numbers were then stolen for the purpose of making millions of dollars in donations to various leftwing organizations. In early February, ProtestWarrior discovered the illegal breach and the identity of the criminals responsible.

Using the hacker recruiting ground www.hackthissite.org, Jeremy Hammond put together and led a team of politically motivated “hacktivists” to probe the ProtestWarrior server for months until an exploit was found. When an obscure vulnerability was discovered in the PW server’s newsletter subscription code, they managed to upload malicious files that gave them the ability to execute commands on the server.

Upon discovering the hack, we immediately began collecting information on the breach and managed to penetrate Jeremy’s inner circle. We then collected evidence that more than 5,000 credit card numbers had been stolen by Jeremy and the “Internet Liberation Front” and that they were planning on doing the following:

*charge hundreds of dollars per stolen credit card number as donations to various left-wing organizations by using an automated donation submission script

*send the entire ProtestWarrior HQ database (complete with usernames, passwords, and operation details) to left-wing groups hostile to ProtestWarrior (including the entire contents of our mail server)

*upload all credit card numbers and other sensitive customer information to hundreds of anarchist and left-wing sites (specifically Indymedia) as a downloadable zip file

*anonymously send press releases and material to thousands of media contacts to boast of the malicious hack and the millions of dollars defrauded, and to publish any and all sensitive information regarding the ProtestWarrior organization

*erase the entire PW server

*launch simultaneous attacks on other conservative sites

Upon discovering their plans, we contacted the FBI and the Secret Service, who immediately launched an investigation. We were able to provide them with a tremendous amount of evidence regarding the breach, the criminals responsible, and their plans to commit massive credit card fraud. We also reported the incident to all credit card companies involved to make sure that ProtestWarrior’s customers were protected. With our help, the FBI was able to thwart Jeremy and his army of “hacktivists”.

After contacting the FBI, we immediately hired a security consultant and removed all sensitive information from the server. We eventually moved the server to a new box, where we blocked off the system and data files from the web server and changed the online store software to a super-secure system that stores zero sensitive customer information. In addition, we hired an internet security firm to run a series of vigorous vulnerability tests on our server, which our server all passed.

The reason we haven’t made this announcement earlier is that our customers were already protected and we didn’t want to jeopardize the ongoing FBI investigation of Jeremy and his “hacktivist” army.

The reason we’re posting this now is that Jeremy, in a desperate move, is publicly appealing to the internet community regarding his pending FBI investigation. Using his site www.freejeremy.com, he is trying to solicit donations for his defense fund and generate public sympathy while spreading libelous disinformation regarding ProtestWarrior and the events leading up to the FBI investigation.

Posted by Phil

Have the jihadists gone too far?

 In a fourth generation war, the enemy attempts to use the media and other institutions of the country it is attacking to its benefit. The images and reports of American soldiers dying in Iraq are used by the enemy as part of a strategy of demoralizing the American people in order to weaken support for the war here at home. But, as we all know, media is now a global phenomena and so the acts of violence that terrorists use to get airtime not only are shown in the US, but also in the Muslim world. As the terrorists in Iraq have taken to blowing up Iraqi civilians instead of just American soldiers, we are starting to see this having a negative impact among some of their supporters and others who are sympathetic to their cause.

I was browsing Austin Bay’s blog  http://www.austinbay.net/blog/ and came across an item that caught my eye. USA Today reports:

Al-Barqawi, known in militant circles as Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi, said in an interview with Al-Jazeera from Jordan last week that militants in Iraq should revise their tactics, saying “the number of Iraqis killed in suicide operations has become a tragedy.”

…In the interview, al-Barqawi said suicide bombings should be carried out, only if necessary so that “no harm would befall Islam.” He also disagreed with al-Zarqawi on killing Shiites — a frequent target of attacks by al-Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent groups…

…Al-Barqawi, who wrote several books mostly on militant Islamic philosophy, is considered one of a few remaining terror ideologues, and he enjoys wide support among radicals worldwide.

…Al-Zarqawi defended attacks on Shiites, saying they had “sacrificed soldiers on behalf of the infidel occupier and supported them against the sincere mujahedeen.”

“After their support for the Crusaders, how is it possible for me to not fight them,” he said


What will be the consequence of one of their prominent supporters and ideologists questioning their strategy, suggesting that even he feels they are going too far? And he does this on Al Jazeera which is broadcast all over the Middle East. While the jihadists have proven themselves to be media savvy, we can see by Zarqawi’s response that following the internal logic of their ideology can easily result in actions that undermine their cause.

 So what if the acts of terror that are supposed to weaken the will of the American people, instead end up weakening support for the terrorists within the Muslim world itself? This is a situation in which the terrorists could end up defeating themselves. The same ideology that can serve as a powerful tool in a fourth generation war can also be a fatal flaw.

Posted by Phil


The American Crisis of Legitimacy

A great discussion is taking place at Zenpundit, The Glittering Eye and American Future on “How does a Democracy effectively fight an enemy who can recruit our own citizens to commit atrocities and still remain a democracy?” and what happens if “we abandon ‘E Pluribus Unum'” and more.
America is facing a crisis of legitimacy in which the fundamental ideals of the American experiment are losing their currency. We are seeing this in the education system were students are increasingly ignorant of American history and the ideas that are at its core. Alongside that ignorance is what they do know which is all the bad stuff, propagated by people who, in the words of Mark at Zenpundit, “accept the revisionist critique that America is itself a bad idea.”
In an interview with Brian Lamb on Booknotes historian Gordon Wood addresses this issue: 
WOOD: “…the thing about the American Revolution is that it created the ideology that holds us together. I think without that revolution, we would be, I don’t know, like Argentina, a nation without any kind of adhesive. We have an intellectual, and ideological adhesive that makes us one people, insofar as anything can, because we’re so diverse…
“…this is our great achievement, that we are a nation based on — based on beliefs. To be an American is to believe in something, not to be someone. To be an Englishman is still to be someone. And they have a hard time absorbing all these immigrants, and they’ve got a lot of them now, and they don’t know how to deal with it.
“We have this — this marvelous country which is held together, I think, by ideology, by a set of beliefs that came out of the Revolution. It keeps us together. You don’t have to be someone. You don’t have to have a certain ancestor. You can learn to be an American by coming to believe in these things — liberty, equality, constitutionalism, and so on. You don’t have to come from a certain race or ethnicity. That’s not true of most of the world.
“LAMB: Why don’t we hear much from people who came from other countries that live here, became American citizens, about the very points that you’re making?
“WOOD: Well, I don’t know. Maybe our educational system ought to be emphasizing this. But I think most Americans — it can’t be enough to be an American to go to McDonald’s. I mean, that can’t be the only adhesive that holds us together. It has to be something else. And it’s our history, and particularly the Revolution, but our whole history is what really holds us together. And if people can — can come to believe in that history or in the ideals that come out of that history, then that’s enough of an adhesive, I think.”
I believe immigrants want to be Americans. By coming to America they have chosen to leave behind the kind of factional conflicts that have caused so much misery, but when they get here they are greeted by an anti-American multiculturalism that tells them that America is a horrible, racist, imperialist monster. I dated a woman a few years ago who taught English as a Second Language at the university level and she told me that in addition to teaching English she tells her foreign students the “truth” about America. Right from the beginning foreign students and immigrants are bombarded with anti-American propaganda.
The efforts of the left are dissolving that adhesive which has proven so successful at integrating so many different kinds of people into America, which is leaving us open to Islamist recruiters and creating a large population that sees no reason to defend America. We have to continue to find ways of articulating the ideals that came out of the Revolution in order ensure that they have sufficient currency within our culture. If we don’t they will disappear and we will really face some hard times ahead as the population breaks down into more particular identities and allegiances. In order to do this we have to join the battle of ideas and defeat the left’s post-modernist, transnationalist, multiculturalist ideology in addition to fighting the Islamist ideology.
Posted by Phil

Measuring the impact of 4GW on the home front

“In this 4th Generation War we are fighting, the American public is as much a target as Marines and Iraqi Security Forces and Iraqi politicians.  While the Marines and Iraqis face bullets and bombs, the American public is targetted by GRPs.

“The Nielson organization uses Gross Ratings Points (GRPs) to measure the reach and frequency of a commercial.

“If each TV news story, newspaper article, etc., is thought of as a commercial about Iraq, the number of ratings points can be arrived at.

“Each report about Iraq can be generally categorized as negative or positive.  The terrorists prefer negative reports, the Coalition prefers positive reports…”


Click on the link for the full analysis. The author of the blog, Faces from the Front, is a former Marine combat cameraman, when he found out his old unit was deploying he arranged to be embedded with them.

Posted by Phil

Interested in Special Operations? Here’s the magazine for you

  I spent most of today painting my house, but now I’m relaxing enjoying a cold beer and googling, resulting in my discovery of a great magazine that I had never heard of before:

Special Operations Technology: http://www.special-operations-technology.com/
All kinds of great stuff here about all the services’ special ops guys and you can explore the archives too. Here’s an excerpt from an article by Royal Marine Colour Sergeant M.R. Tomlinson who is doing an exchange with the USMC and has spent time in Iraq. I didn’t know the Marines were engaged in this kind of riverine combat:
We deployed on the night of November 8, 2004 from our launch site and commenced our transit downriver toward Fallujah. Five SURCs and one Rigid Assault Craft (RAC) were used during this operation, with 53 Marines of SCCo spread between the craft as boat captains, coxswains, gunners, mechanics, my GCE of ten Marines and the medic. As with all other operations, the GCE would always be seated in the first two craft. Their task is mainly as a dismount section utilized for infantry tasking.

Within 20 minutes of launch we were at our limit of exploitation. The intelligence we had received, that insurgents were actively patrolling the riverbanks, proved accurate. No sooner had we arrived when the enemy engaged the front two boats from a range of 50 meters. A mix of HMG and small arms fire ripped overhead, some rounds striking the gunner’s Kevlar plates on the GPMG mounts, others passing directly through the open console of the craft. Immediately, we returned fire into the building and riverbank positions where the enemy had foolishly tried to take us on. The rear SURCS maneuvered forward and increased our return fire. The craft turned 180 degrees to enable the rear .50 caliber guns and MK19 to fully engage the attackers.

The craft then moved upstream 300 meters and established the FOB. Luckily we had survived what would prove to be the first of several ambushes.

The Fallujah offensive lasted approximately 19 days of which SCCo spent 15 days operating from the FOB. We took on multiple tasks and certainly proved an asset to the land force commanders. Each day we were subjected to mortar and rocket attacks, snipers, and heavy, medium and small arms fire.

Seven days into the operation, on November 15, at 1500 hours, we were tasked to search a compound for a suspected weapons cache in our TAOR. We decided to set a diversionary maneuver and patrol upriver past our intended target, with the intention of inserting the GCE further upstream. All was going according to plan, however, a well-prepared ambush lay in wait. The insurgents had actually dug in several fighting positions along the riverbank with good cover and concealment. Just as the two lead boats (with myself and GCE embarked) started to about turn, we came under sustained RPG, RPK and small arms fire. Rather than attempt to drive through the ambush the boats turned directly into the ambush. With GPMGs, MK19s, .50 cal and even the GAU 17 returning fire, we closed their position. No sooner had the two SURCs rammed into the riverbank than I disembarked with my two fire teams and the ever-enthusiastic Captain ‘W’ and began assaulting the fire positions. Over the next 48 minutes we were in contact, fire and maneuvering across irrigation fields, closing with and destroying the enemy.

During this time the SURCs and crew were taking RPG and small arms fire, yet they still managed to provide us invaluable fire support. It seems that a local village not 400 meters from our position was accommodating a large number of insurgents that had obviously fled from Fallujah. It soon became apparent that we were nearly surrounded, as we started taking fire from left and right and to the rear. We were greatly outnumbered and running low on ammunition; with an ever-increasing number of insurgents pressuring our position, we decided to call in the SURCs to conduct a hot extraction. We finally broke contact after 68 minutes. The only casualty was a lance corporal.

The Fallujah offensive continued for another eight days, during which time we continued to engage pockets of insurgents both from the boats and on the ground. We were also subjected to several attacks involving extremely close air burst mortar fire, sometimes falling 10 meters from the boats.


Mortified right ignores message of Durbin speech

Borrowing a tactic from Dan, the Right has ceaselessly chastised Senator Durbin the past few days for comments likening Guantanamo to concentration camps. They’ve happily made so much noise about the syntax that the return value has been conveniently ignored. This is a masterful tactic. Focus on the text and not the message. Unlike Dan, however, they have no convenient excuse like “I’m drunk by 3pm” or “I have no concept of right or wrong” to cover for their maneuvering.

Former President Clinton was absolutely correct in his comments that we need to either clean up or we need to shut it down. When we watch the news, we’re horrified to see civilians and military personnel alike taken hostage and presumably harmed or tortured by enemy combatants. However, there’s no outrage that the very same is most likely going on outside the borders of our great Nation, just under our supervision? A lot of Americans were dismayed there was no Muslim outrage at the events occurring in the Middle East. Why would there be? There’s no Christian outrage that the detainees holy symbols are being desecrated, that their way of life in regard to women and sexuality is constantly being affronted, or that they’re being forced to listen to American pop music. While I would welcome strippers and would laugh at the misguided destruction of Bibles, as the message is what’s important to me, not the worthless paper it’s printed on, the music would definitely be torture.

Dan has expressed concern that these people “do not deserve honor or humanity or honesty.” What he’s failed to do is distance himself from moral relativism. He has determined that some of these uncharged “criminals” do not deserve to be treated well, or for that matter, not subjected to cruelty or torture. He says this because presumably they’re responsible for or have some connection to the deaths of Americans, or perhaps they’ve stolen his corporate card number and are charging phone sex. Either way, his hatred for enemy hostage-takers can be assumed. But to them, are the people they are capturing, torturing, and in some cases beheading on television not responsible for the deaths of THEIR people? I doubt these men are blowing themselves up in at military checkpoints because they’ve nothing better to do. They must perceive their way of life must be in jeopardy, and it is America that is responsible. While I do not lament the loss of their backwards cultures, their human rights violations, or their lack of respect for women, I do understand that these things they think are “normal” and that they do not like having their views changed forcibly.

I’m not justifying their actions. But I’m saying that if we want to level the playing field, we have to show the enemy that we’re treating prisoners with respect and that we are not harming them, we are not being destructive in regards to their beliefs, and that we have a legal and well-documented due process for them. The President hides behind comments like “processing these men would put our troops in danger” and other bait-and-switch tactics. “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” What damage could determining these mens’ guilt or innocence do to our current operations in the Middle East? If Ackbar is found innocent, what is likely to happen? He returns to Iraq/Afghanistan and tells his comerades “be careful, the employ women in their ranks, who at any moment may begin to dance and remove their clothing to Britney Spears music… I saw it with my own eyes, and I may never sleep again… Oh, also, they’re looking for us in Pakistan now too.” What sensitive information could they give up? “They are searching for our leaders in the mountins along the border… Oh, you know? Yeah, I guess it’s hard to miss the tanks and helicopters and Hum-Vees, and that FoxNews van is quite colorful for a desert setting.”

While possibly shortsighted as to the quick rhetoric and shallow understanding of his detractors, Senator Durbin was exactly correct. The Nazis detained people they determined to be guilty without a trial of their peers, held them in conditions that were aversive to their needs and their faiths. The SS pulled people from the streets who were never heard from again and weren’t acknowledged as being prisoners of war. The Nazis decided that Jews were the enemy because of their actions that affronted their beliefs. They believed the Jews were responsible for the starving deaths and horrible economy of their people. They provided no evidence to the people of Germany that the Jews were criminals or had done anything wrong. Perhaps we could see a list of crimes the Guantanamo detainees are being held for? The hostage-taking and murder by suicide-bombing of our people is deplorable. The Arabs in this case are mimicking the Nazis quite well. But we are putting on a good show as well.

The far Left wants the draft

Dan and I argued mightily over Kerry’s purported support of the draft. Besting me on technicalities, as usual, Dan had nothing substantive to say in the arguments, so I’ll just say I won. Dan supports ill-planned and unnecessary wars, and therefore the draft, and I support James Bond, and therefore deserve a beer. That aside, the energetic Kos and many of his readers have been calling for a draft for the past few weeks. Continued coverage of the “Hollow Army” talks about declining enlistments, raising bonuses, preventing loss and turnover, etc. The readers rightly criticize the armchair hawks of the right, who blog comfortably from their deckchairs in Aruba, sipping margaritas and no doubt wondering how much of their ill-gotten campaign kickbacks it would take to purchase the buxom serving girl from her Saudi banker / resort owner masters.

This causes me to wonder, what is their motivation? Greater equality? Get more of the white affluent campaign-contributing Christians into battle to lighten the load of the minority poor that are taking the brunt of insurgent attacks? Or are they hoping the draft would be so unpopular as to unseat the current Administration? Hard to say at this stage.