Monday, June 28, 2010

Fear sustains NATO mission in Afghanistan

Explaining the continued need to wage war in Afghanistan, UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox writes in a WSJ op-ed:
We must hold our nerve and maintain our resilience. If we want people to pay the price of success, we must spell out the cost of failure. If NATO left Afghanistan now, the Taliban would wrest control of parts of the country and al-Qaeda and their terrorist training camps could return. It would be a shot in the arm to violent extremists everywhere. Instability could spread across this volatile region. Failure would also damage the credibility of NATO, which has been the cornerstone of the defense of the West for the past half-century. We would be less safe and less secure, our resolve called into question and our cohesion weakened....

American and Britain have stood shoulder to shoulder many times in the past, in the face of tyranny and adversity—in defense of freedom. Today in Afghanistan we stand shoulder to shoulder again, alongside our many partners and alongside the Afghans themselves. The struggle against terrorism endures and is bigger than any single country or any single leader, political or military...
UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox understands that fear is critical to sustaining the commitment of Americans to fighting the war in Afghanistan and is determined to stoke it.  DoF is a proud partner of the new government of Great Britain.

Once identified, ICE will respond

Do you live in a Secure Community?   Legislation passed by Congress in May 2010 compels anyone who is arrested in the United States to give a blood sample.  Once the DNA of every suspect has been entered into a national database, the information can then be shared with various agencies, such as DHS or DoF.  Armed with biometric information, we can root out potential terrorists, and others deemed to pose a threat to national security.
RICHMOND, Va.- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Secure Communities was activated as of last week in every county in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This biometric information sharing strategy enables ICE to identify any alien booked into local law enforcement's custody for a crime. This capability is part of ICE's comprehensive strategy to improve and modernize the identification and removal of criminal aliens from the United States.

Formerly, during the booking process, arrestees' fingerprints were checked for criminal history information only against the biometric database maintained by the FBI. With the implementation of Secure Communities, this fingerprint information is now automatically and simultaneously checked against both the FBI criminal history records and the biometrics-based immigration records maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If any fingerprints match those of someone in the DHS biometric system, the new automated process notifies ICE.  ICE evaluates each case to determine the individual's immigration status and takes appropriate enforcement action. This includes aliens who are in lawful status and those who are present without lawful authority. Once identified through fingerprint matching, ICE will respond...
Eventually, the agency urges Congress to approve the acquisition of a far more comprehensive database that would include the DNA profile for every resident of the United States.   For example, blood samples should be required of anyone applying for a drivers license or passport. Ideally residents' biometric identification would be incorporated into a mandatory national identification card.   There are many government agencies and initiatives involving our partners in the private sector that could profit from having access to the biometric profiles of all residents.

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Protecting Cyberspace Act" targets WikiLeaks threat

As anyone following the news knows, the United States is at risk of "cyber attack." The impact of cyber war could prove devastating to the economy (and imagine your life without Facebook). The cyber attack threat is not only real, it is broad, encompassing threats that include the potential leakage of classified documents.  For example, the unauthorized release of classified reports detailing how America continues to fight global terrorism.

Fortunately, Congress is taking action:
Confronting threats ranging from Chinese superhackers to the release of secret documents on WikiLeaks and other whistleblowing websites, the Obama administration may be on the verge of assuming broad new powers to regulate the Internet on national-security grounds...
A new bill would grant President Obama the power to declare a “national cyber-emergency” at his discretion and force private companies tied to the Web, including Internet service providers and search engines, to take action in response—moves that could include limiting or even cutting off their connections to the World Wide Web for up to 30 days.

The Protecting Cyberspace Act was introduced last week by Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the panel’s ranking Republican. Counterparts in the House Homeland Security Committee have endorsed identical legislation, meaning that a final bill could be adopted by the full Congress within weeks. The White House has not taken a stand on the legislation so far.

Lieberman said the bill was intended to prevent a “cyber 9/11” in which “cyberwarriors, cyberspies, cyberterrorists and cybercriminals” take aim at the United States and try to shut down infrastructure that is dependent on the Internet—a list of targets that include everything from nuclear power plants to banks to Pentagon computer networks.
We must hope Congress passes "The Protecting Cyberspace Act" quickly.  Of course, this kind of legislation cannot prevent a cyber attack from happening. The underlying danger will not go away. Nevertheless, our president must have tools at his disposal to contain the damage -- especially in the (likely) event WikiLeaks were to release more US government secrets. 

We can never know what information the terrorists will try to use against us.   Common sense says that the fight against global terrorism requires that secrecy be maintained wherever possible throughout all levels of government.  Even the most innocuous government data, report, or document could be turned into a weapon that could be used by our enemies to destroy America.  That's why DoF urges that all federal agencies endeavor to classify information wherever possible.  

Therefore, on one hand, the federal government must seek to classify everything it possibly can; on the other, it must clamp down on so-called "whistle-blowers." Fortunately, the Obama administration is taking the whistle-blower threat seriously.

WikiLeaks is diametrically opposed to some fundamental DoF principles.    Although WikiLeaks cannot easily be shut down,  it can be contained and -- as a 2008 US Army Counterintelligence report suggests -- discredited.

In the meantime, fear Wikileaks.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"An opportunity to share even the most tentative threats"

The New York Times reports on how the US military is tapping social networking skills:
Hunched over monitors streaming live video from a drone, Lieutenant Christopher and a team of analysts recently popped in and out of several military chatrooms, reaching out more than 7,000 miles to warn Marines about roadside bombs and to track Taliban gunfire...  

...three-quarters of the 350 analysts here have never been to the war zones, so a cultural divide can pop up. Several said they were a bit intimidated when Sergeant Smothers, 36, who has had five tours in Iraq, strode onto the floor here in February.

At the time, the analysts were blending data from the U-2s and the drones to watch the roads into Marja and fields where helicopters might land. But as Sergeant Smothers looked over their shoulders, encouraging them to warn the Marines about even the most tentative threats, the analysts warmed up.
The mission of America's social network warriors parallels that of DoF.   Just as Sergeant Smothers wants social networking military officers to "warn the Marines about even the most tentative threats,"  the Department of Fear wants you to share information about "even the most tentative threats" with your friends.  

Let's say you hear that a terror suspect has been captured.   Shock soon gives way to relief that the monster was caught.  But deeper down you are likely frightened.  You are more than little nervous because you have doubts about whether your leaders have been doing enough to protect you.   DoF urges you to share these kinds of fears on a blog, video-blog, Facebook, or Twitter.  Communicate what would make you feel better:   Enhanced interrogation of the suspect?  Stripping the terror suspect of US citizenship? New laws passed by Congress to better balance freedom with security?  More pervasive wiretapping?  Fewer trials?   Shouldn't our president have the authority to do whatever it takes to avert another deadly terror strike?   Do you want to see more public investment in the US Military?  How about tax relief for companies responsible for manufacturing our great arsenal of democracy?  Should the president increase the frequency of US predator drone strikes throughout the Muslim World?  Has the time come to bomb bomb bomb Iran?  Share your personal priorities for making America feel safer. 

If you're pressed for ideas, turn on Fox News.  Then get on twitter and tweet what you've learned. Or sign in to  Facebook where you should strive to be "authentic" with  your online friends.   Genuine people don't just poke their friends and share jokes.  They don't just fret about their diets and trade fashion tips. True patriots are concerned about the security of the homeland.   They talk about how the terrorists seem to hate us so much for our freedoms. They upload photos from of the week's "most wanted" terrorists and post them on their wall.   They chat about nightmare scenarios.*  They know that DoF is there to support them in making the most of today's social networking opportunities.  
* America's pharmaceutical companies have developed products that help us to cope with anxiety.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Gaza terror flotillas pose danger to Americans

This week the world learned that the terrorists will even use the cover of aid ships as a pretext to attack Israeli soldiers.  The Jerusalem Post has profiled the identity of passengers on board one ship in the so-called "aid flotilla":
Dozens of passengers who were aboard the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger ship are suspected of having connections with global jihad-affiliated terrorist organizations, defense officials said on Tuesday, amid growing concerns that Turkish warships would accompany a future flotilla to the Gaza Strip.

According to the defense officials, the IDF has identified about 50 passengers on the ship who could have terrorist connections with global jihad-affiliated groups.
Israel apprehended ships full of terrorists in search of martyrdom.  According to a new DoF report, last minute intervention against the flotilla by the heroic IDF forces likely saved many American lives.  The report takes into account the timing of the flotilla mission.   Every summer thousands of American holiday-makers cruise the Mediterranean.  Cruise ships may well have been the intended target of the flotilla. Were it not for decisive Israeli military intervention, tourists might have unwittingly fallen prey to this terror flotilla.

This is the third "Gaza aid flotilla," there will likely be others. In the eastern Mediterranean, the only thing standing between your cruise ship and a terrorist convoy is the Israeli military.  Take this opportunity to call your congressman or senator and ask that the United States increase military assistance to Israel.