A WikiLeak Too Far?

Why do I get the feeling that this won’t end well for Julian Assange and his motley crew of information pirates?

WikiLeaks: Is Russia the Next Target?

Say what you will about Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, but his work has shown him to be pretty fearless. After his site published the biggest cache of secret files in U.S. history on Oct. 22, detailing some of the ugly truths about the war in Iraq, he continued to travel around Europe despite U.S. reprimands and warnings. He even told the global media that new leaks will expose more secrets not only about the U.S. military but about other “repressive regimes,” such as Russia and China. The signals coming from Moscow, however, suggest that the Russian reaction will not be as reserved as America’s. So is WikiLeaks really ready to take on the world’s more callous states?

It’s certainly talking the talk. In an interview published on Tuesday in Russia’s leading daily newspaper Kommersant, WikiKeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said that “Russian readers will learn a lot about their country” after one of the site’s upcoming document dumps. “We want to tell people the truth about the actions of their governments.” (See the top 10 leaks in history.)

So far Russia has had no official response. But on Wednesday, an official at the Center for Information Security of the FSB, Russia’s secret police, gave a warning to WikiLeaks that showed none of the tact of the U.S. reply to the Iraq revelations. “It’s essential to remember that given the will and the relevant orders, [WikiLeaks] can be made inaccessible forever,” the anonymous official told the independent Russian news website LifeNews.

See also:
Wikileaks vs. the FSB
WikiLeaks to publish classified documents from Russia, China
WikiLeaks to release secret Russia, China logs – paper
WikiLeaks Has Something to Tell the World About Russia
WikiLeaks to post Russian, Chinese files
WikiLeaks ready to drop a bombshell on Russia. But will Russians get to read about it?
Wikileaks to leak China and Russia’s secret documents
Wikileaks admits it has material on Russia
Has WikiLeaks landed in cyberattack crosshairs?

Unlike the United States, it sounds like Russia isn’t about to let any attempt to leak their classified documents go unpunished.

/R.I.P. Julian Assange, enjoy your self inflicted death wish

Confirmed Sniper On The Loose

Here we go again. It’s a sure bet that whoever’s doing these shootings won’t stop until they get caught.

FBI Links 3 Military Shootings in DC Area

The FBI has confirmed all three military related shootings in the Washington D.C. area are connected, saying Thursday ballistic evidence shows the same weapon was used at each site.

The latest shooting occurred at a vacant Marine recruiting station in Chantilly, Virginia sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

In the early morning hours of October 19 police and FBI investigators responded in force when six shots were fired into the south side of the Pentagon, leaving bullets embedded in two different windows. Just two days earlier police in Quantico, Virginia responded to a similar attack on the Marine Corps Museum, where bullets were also fired at windows in the early morning hours.

At the time of the Pentagon shooting police said the weapon used was believed to be a high-powered rifle.

So far the FBI has yet to identify any suspects and no one has been injured in any of the attacks. An investigation is being headed up by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

See also:
FBI: Same Gun Shot at 3 D.C. Military Buildings
Tests Show the Same Weapon Used in 3 Shootings, Including Pentagon
FBI links shooting at recruiting center to 2 others
Shootings at Pentagon, Marine museum, recruiting station linked
Mysteries abound in shootings of D.C.-area military buildings
FBI: Same Gun Used In Military-Related Shootings
3rd shooting at military building linked
FBI links shots fired at Pentagon, Marine museum
Recent shootings raise concerns about Marine Corps Marathon
Security heightened for Marine Corps Marathon

Obviously, whoever it is doesn’t like the U.S. military, or at least their buildings. Let’s just hope our mystery sniper(s) don’t graduate to shooting at people, although, at this point, that wouldn’t be much of a leap. It’ll be interesting to see who law enforcement eventually catch.

/not to speculate or anything, but the last D.C. snipers were arguably Muslim jihadis and certainly terrorists, just sayin’

The Mask Falls Off

It’s official. Obama hates the military and he’s not even trying to hide it anymore.

Obama’s War With the Pentagon

James Jones is out as national security adviser; Tom Donilon is in. What does it mean? Among other things, that we may be headed for one of the greatest civilian-military showdowns in decades.

If you haven’t read Bob Woodward or Jonathan Alter’s accounts of Obama administration Afghan policy, here are the CliffsNotes: Since the moment Obama took office, the military, led by David Petraeus, has been pushing for a full-on counterinsurgency effort. In other words, a lot of troops for a very long time. Obama, from the start, has resisted, raising awkward questions about why we’re expending massive amounts of blood and treasure in Afghanistan when Pakistan is the country that really matters. Vice President Biden has gone further, warning that given the mind-boggling corruption of Hamid Karzai’s regime, committing to an Afghan counterinsurgency war would be lunacy.

This policy struggle has not been waged according to the Marquis of Queensbury rules. The White House believes the military brass is blind to America’s crushing financial constraints and the public’s eroding support for the war. The military believes the White House cares more about domestic politics than national security. The White House believes the military keeps screwing the president by telling reporters and Republicans that we need more troops for a longer time, thus forcing Obama’s hand.

General Jones was chosen, in part, because Obama knew this fight was coming. He wanted someone who could communicate with the generals and keep them from knifing him in the back. Jones didn’t entirely succeed in that effort, which is one reason people in the White House never embraced him as one of their own. But if Jones was unable or unwilling to extinguish the flames of civil-military conflict, Donilon is the political equivalent of dousing them with gasoline.

See also:
Commander-in-Chief Obama Fights Pentagon
Tom Donilon’s Revolving Door
Departing National Security Adviser Leaves Mixed Reviews
A Political Hack and Fannie Mae Democrat
Hope is not a strategy: James Jones
10 reasons to be worried as Tom Donilon, Afghan war sceptic & desk-bound foe of US military, gets top foreign policy job
The declinists win
Gates in 2010: Donilon Would Be a “disaster” as National Security Adviser; Jones: Donilon Has “No Credibility With the Military”
Woodward: Gates Thinks Donilon A “Disaster”
Gates downplays quoted objection to Obama adviser

This move proves that if Obama could snap his fingers and eliminate the U.S. military, he would do so without hesitation.

/this does not bode well for our brave troops in harm’s way, fighting the Taliban is hard enough, they shouldn’t also have to fight their commander in chief

Should Be Dead Man Still Walking And Talking

Why is Julian Assange still even alive at this point, let alone walking around free and giving interviews?

Pentagon pleads with Wikileaks not to release more files

The Pentagon is trying to persuade the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks to abandon its planned release of 15,000 more classified files on the Afghan war.

Intelligence analysts have now identified which files are involved and Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell says their release will be even more damaging to national security and the war effort than the thousands already published.

“We are concerned the additional documents they have may cause even greater risks than the ones they released previously,” said Mr Morrell.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned that the release will put American and allied soldiers at risk with “potentially very severe” consequences.

He says that the documents “convey a huge amount of information about our tactics, techniques and procedures” and may be of great help to both the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Last month WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – a former computer hacker – released 76,000 secret military files that the US government claims threaten the lives of Afghan civilians who have co-operated with US and Nato forces.

Joining a growing chorus of condemnation, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that any new release of files would help the enemy.

A new poll shows that 61 per cent of Americans consider the release to be an act of treason.

Reporters Without Borders – guardians of international press freedom – have accused Mr Assange of “incredible irresponsibility.”

Clothilde Le Coz, the group’s spokesperson, said Mr Assange and WikiLeaks were “going way too far” and putting lives in danger.

See also:
WikiLeaks says it won’t be threatened by Pentagon
Wikleaks will release 15,000 more secret documents about war in Afghanistan, despite Pentagon orders
WikiLeaks Says More Afghan War Documents To Be Released Soon
WikiLeaks: Rest of war documents to be released in a few weeks
Pentagon: Undisclosed Wikileaks documents ‘potentially more explosive’
Support for WikiLeaks Evaporates as New Release of War Documents Looms
Time for Obama to shut down WikiLeaks’ Assange
Reporters Without Borders: WikiLeaks Was Reckless
Reporters Without Borders Blasts Wikileaks
WikiLeaks to Publish More Secrets With Some Data Removed
Wikileaks
Wikileaks

Are you seriously telling me that all the combined resources of the United States military and intelligence services can’t hunt down Julian Assange and his co-conspirators, recover the stolen information, and shut down their internet presence?

/Assange has clearly demonstrated that he’s an enemy of the United States with fresh blood on his hands, he has the right to be disappeared and remain permanently silent

Feeding The Hand That Bites Us

I think you can safely say that the war’s not going well when you have to pay the enemy to protect your supply lines. That’s just seriously [expletive deleted] up.

U.S. indirectly paying Afghan warlords as part of security contract

The U.S. military is funding a massive protection racket in Afghanistan, indirectly paying tens of millions of dollars to warlords, corrupt public officials and the Taliban to ensure safe passage of its supply convoys throughout the country, according to congressional investigators.

The security arrangements, part of a $2.16 billion transport contract, violate laws on the use of private contractors, as well as Defense Department regulations, and “dramatically undermine” larger U.S. objectives of curtailing corruption and strengthening effective governance in Afghanistan, a report released late Monday said.

The report describes a Defense Department that is well aware that some of the money paid to contractors winds up in the hands of warlords and insurgents. Military logisticians on the ground are focused on getting supplies where they are needed and have “virtually no understanding of how security is actually provided” for the local truck convoys that transport more than 70 percent of all goods and materials used by U.S. troops. Alarms raised by prime trucking contractors were met by the military “with indifference and inaction,” the report said.

“The findings of this report range from sobering to shocking,” Rep. John F. Tierney (D-Mass.) wrote in an introduction to the 79-page report, titled “Warlord, Inc.: Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan.”

The transport contract “has fueled warlordism, extortion, corruption, and maybe even funded the enemy,” Tierney said Tuesday in a House subcommittee hearing on the issue. “U.S. taxpayer dollars are feeding a protection racket in Afghanistan that would make Tony Soprano proud.”

See also:
Warlord, Inc.: Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan
Afghanistan haulage contract helping to fund Taliban, says US report
‘US money in Afghanistan lands up in the hands of Taliban’
US military faulted over truck security in Afghanistan
U.S. funds protection racket in Afghanistan, report says
U.S. Military Supply Chain Relies on Afghan Warlord Payoffs, Report Says
US Funds Used to Pay Afghan Warlords
US security contract ‘fuels Afghan warlords’
U.S. Said to Fund Afghan Warlords to Protect Convoys
‘Shocking’ Report: U.S. Funding Afghan Warlords
US money going to warlords in Afghanistan: Report
Lawmakers: Pentagon ignored payments to warlords

/pay your enemy for protection, hell of a way to run a military supply chain in the middle of a war

The Curious Case Of Gary Brooks Faulkner

What’s the deal with this guy? There just has to be more to the story here.

U.S. Man Arrested for ‘Hunting’ Bin Laden

An American construction worker who was arrested with a 40-inch sword, a pistol and night-vision goggles in northwestern Pakistan told investigators Tuesday that he wanted to kill Osama bin Laden to avenge the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Gary Brooks Faulkner, 50 years old, of Greeley, Colo., was caught by Pakistani police Monday in the remote Bumburat Valley near the border of Afghanistan’s Nuristan province, where he apparently hoped to find Mr. bin Laden.

Police quoted Mr. Faulkner as saying he wanted to avenge the victims of the attacks on New York and Washington. He was carrying Christian religious books, according to Mumtaz Ahmed Khan, a senior police officer in the northwestern town of Chitral.

Mr. Faulkner arrived in Chitral on June 3 and stayed in a hotel in Bumburat Valley, an area famous for its spring dancing festival, which attracts large number of foreign visitors every year.

At a news conference near the Colorado statehouse in Denver, Mr. Faulkner’s younger brother, Scott Faulkner, a physician, described Gary as “a man on a mission.”

“He’s not crazy,” Dr. Faulkner said of his brother. “He’s not a psychopath. He’s not a sociopath.”

. . .

After the 9/11 attacks, he said Mr. Faulkner began visiting Pakistan to try to find Osama bin Laden because he felt the U.S. military was not “doing enough.” Dr. Faulkner said his brother grew a beard and adopted local attire to assimilate in Pakistan and obtain intelligence there.

“Who says, ‘Why do I rob banks? Because that’s where the money is,'” Dr. Faulkner asked. He said his brother went to Pakistan because “that’s where Osama is.”

The current trip was roughly Mr. Faulkner’s sixth to Pakistan since 2002, Dr. Faulkner said. The physician said he drove his brother to the airport, and that Mr. Faulkner wasn’t carrying any weapons when he boarded the plane. “He did not have a sword, although that is his weapon of choice in Pakistan,” said Dr. Faulkner, who said he thought his brother obtained the sword in Pakistan.

Dr. Faulkner said his brother also brought wire ties to use as handcuffs on Mr. bin Laden. He said that if Mr. Faulkner, who must undergo dialysis three times a week, killed or captured Mr. bin Laden, he planned to use his reward money to retire to Nicaragua, where he would help locals build houses.

See also:
Pakistan holds American man hunting bin Laden
US officials meet with American hunting bin Laden
Pakistan: US bin Laden hunter on mission from God
Gary Brooks Faulkner: Was ‘American ninja’ working for CIA?
‘Rambo’: Osama hunt my holy war
Gary Brooks Faulkner examined by doctor in Pakistan, say Bin Laden hunter has psychological problems
Details Emerge On Would-Be Bin Laden Assassin, Gary Brooks Faulkner
What was Gary Brooks Faulkner reading?

You know, if you’re an lone American wandering around the lawless Afghanistan-Pakistan border, carrying a sword and Christian reading materials is a nice touch. One thing’s for sure, he was in the right ballpark for bin Laden hunting and $25 million in bounty is a lot of money. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

/is Faulkner crazy or crazy like a fox?

Obama Plans To Invade Pakistan

Mister Nobel Peace Prize winner is apparently preparing to keep one of his campaign promises and launch “overseas contingency operations” on Pakistani soil.

Options studied for a possible Pakistan strike

The U.S. military is reviewing options for a unilateral strike in Pakistan in the event that a successful attack on American soil is traced to the country’s tribal areas, according to senior military officials.

Ties between the alleged Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, and elements of the Pakistani Taliban have sharpened the Obama administration’s need for retaliatory options, the officials said. They stressed that a U.S. reprisal would be contemplated only under extreme circumstances, such as a catastrophic attack that leaves President Obama convinced that the ongoing campaign of CIA drone strikes is insufficient.

“Planning has been reinvigorated in the wake of Times Square,” one of the officials said.

At the same time, the administration is trying to deepen ties to Pakistan’s intelligence officials in a bid to head off any attack by militant groups. The United States and Pakistan have recently established a joint military intelligence center on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, and are in negotiations to set up another one near Quetta, the Pakistani city where the Afghan Taliban is based, according to the U.S. military officials. They and other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding U.S. military and intelligence activities in Pakistan.

The “fusion centers” are meant to bolster Pakistani military operations by providing direct access to U.S. intelligence, including real-time video surveillance from drones controlled by the U.S. Special Operations Command, the officials said. But in an acknowledgment of the continuing mistrust between the two governments, the officials added that both sides also see the centers as a way to keep a closer eye on one another, as well as to monitor military operations and intelligence activities in insurgent areas.

Obama said during his campaign for the presidency that he would be willing to order strikes in Pakistan, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a television interview after the Times Square attempt that “if, heaven forbid, an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences.”

Obama dispatched his national security adviser, James L. Jones, and CIA Director Leon Panetta to Islamabad this month to deliver a similar message to Pakistani officials, including President Asif Ali Zardari and the military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani.

Jones and Panetta also presented evidence gathered by U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies that Shahzad received significant support from the Pakistani Taliban.

The U.S. options for potential retaliatory action rely mainly on air and missile strikes, but could also employ small teams of U.S. Special Operations troops already positioned along the border with Afghanistan. One of the senior military officials said plans for military strikes in Pakistan have been revised significantly over the past several years, moving away from a “large, punitive response” to more measured plans meant to deliver retaliatory blows against specific militant groups.

See also:
Report: US Preparing for Retaliatory Strike if Terror Attack Traced to Pakistan
US mulls unilateral Pakistan raids
U.S. studies options for possible Pakistan attack: report
US Army reviewing options for ‘unilateral’ strike on Pakistan
US develops plans for unilateral strike on Pakistan
US Preps a Retaliatory Hit on Pakistan
Airstrike on civilians blamed on mistakes…Pakistani Taliban could face retaliation if they strike the US

If you’re willing to put American boots on Pakistani ground in response to an attack on the United States you should also be willing to do the same as part of the war in Afghanistan.

/you can’t beat the Taliban unless you ultimately take the fight to where they live, in their Pakistani sanctuaries

You’ve Got To Get Out To Get In

“Retreat Hell! We’re just attacking in another direction.”
(Attributed to Major General Oliver P. Smith, USMC, Korea, December 1950.)

Afghanistan war: US leaves remote outpost of Korengal

It became known as “Enemy Central,” a small, isolated slice of eastern Afghanistan synonymous with violence, a dogged adversary and, increasingly, futility. More than 40 US soldiers have died there after being drawn into battles of attrition for questionable return. In the worst such incident, 16 American troops on a special forces mission were killed when their helicopter crashed under enemy fire.

Now the last US troops have pulled out of the Korengal valley on the grounds that they can be better used somewhere else. “This repositioning, in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces, responds to the requirements of the new population-centric counterinsurgency strategy,” Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, joint commander of international forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement on NATO’s website. “The move does not prevent forces from rapidly responding, as necessary, to crises there in Korengal and in other parts of the region, as well.”

Part of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s strategy is to pull troops back from remote mountain outposts and concentrate them in the towns and villages where more of the Afghan population lives. By putting the emphasis on protecting civilians instead of killing Taliban fighters, he hopes to drive a wedge between the two, isolating and alienating the insurgents.

The withdrawal in Korengal – a short tributary valley so isolated that its inhabitants speak their own language – has been going on for months. Combat Outpost Vegas, high up in the valley, closed last year. But US military officials have said in the past that the strategy was delayed by a shortage of cargo helicopters, military bureaucracy, and Afghan politics.

And it is not just Korengal that is seeing American forces depart. The US footprint in nearby Nuristan Province – the mountain highlands that were the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s tale of imperial hubris, “The Man Who Would Be King,” has all but vanished, too. Two separate attacks in 2008 and 2009 saw a total of 17 US soldiers die when insurgents overran their outposts in remarkably similar circumstances.

The signs in Nuristan, though, are encouraging. Since the US pulled all its troops out of Kamdesh district, the scene of the most recent of these battles, Taliban-linked insurgents have been on the back foot as local communities and elders turn against them.

See also:
ISAF Units Realign in Eastern Afghanistan
American troops pull out of Korengal Valley as strategy shifts
US forces leave Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley
U.S. Forces Leave Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley
U.S. retreat from Afghan valley marks recognition of blunder
After the bloodshed, the leaving
US leave, Taliban claim victory
Korangal valley
Hi-Def Pics – One of the Heaviest Taliban Combat Areas: Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley (15 photos)

Well, McChrystal wrote the U.S. book on counterinsurgency, so he certainly knows what he’s doing, given the terrain and number of troops available, we certainly can’t occupy every square inch of Afghanistan. Besides the bloody fighting for limited returns, it also appears that our very presence in the Korengal valley was counterproductive to positive relations with the local civilian population living in the area. Not only weren’t we accomplishing much militarily, we weren’t winning any hearts and minds either, better to redeploy our limited resources and try our luck somewhere else.

/all that said, it doesn’t mean the Taliban and the Lefty media won’t be doing a happy dance while spinning this withdrawal as a propaganda victory and an American defeat

His Own Private CIA?

What the hell is up with this?

Adviser linked to Afghan deaths, St. Pete firm ran Socom unit

When Mike Furlong was stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, he headed up a unit charged with breaking the will of enemies, not by dropping bombs or firing missiles but by messing with their minds.

Now he is the center of a controversy about misusing information gathered for educational purposes. The New York Times reported Monday that Furlong set up a network of private contractors to hunt down and kill militants.

Between August 2005 and February 2008, Furlong was deputy director of the Joint Military Information Support Command at MacDill. As head of the unit, which used to be known as the Joint Psychological Operations Support Element, Furlong was responsible for “military and civilian personnel whose mission is to plan, coordinate, integrate and execute transregional psychological operations to promote U.S. goals and objectives for overseas operations,” according to Maj. Wes Ticer, spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command headquartered at MacDill.

At the time, Furlong was a much-lauded military veteran. He served as an arms control negotiator at the Pentagon. He served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He was an operations officer with the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He commanded the 6th Psyops Battalion and Joint Psyop Task Force in Bosnia. He won a Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters and a number of other medals and commendations.

After retiring from the military, Furlong became a vice president and director of the Strategic Communications and Information Operations Division of Science Applications International Corp., a key government and military contractor. He served in a similar capacity at Booz Allen Hamilton.

Then he came to MacDill, where Furlong’s command served “as a key contributor” in the Defense Department’s “ongoing efforts to erode adversary power, will and influence,” according to the U.S. Special Operations Command fact book.

What happened after Furlong left MacDill, particularly in the areas of power, will and influence, was the subject of a front-page story Monday in the New York Times.

In February 2008, Furlong became a strategic planner and technology integration adviser at the Joint Information Operations Warfare Command at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

The Times wrote that in mid-2008, “the military put Mr. Furlong in charge of a program to use private companies to gather information about the political and tribal culture of Afghanistan.”

The paper said that under this “benign government information-gathering program” Furlong hired contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan to help track and kill militants. Those activities “seemed to accelerate” in the summer of 2009. According to one contractor the Times interviewed, Furlong referred to his contractors as “my Jason Bournes,” a reference to the fictional American assassin created by novelist Robert Ludlum and played in the movies by Matt Damon.

Furlong did not return an e-mail seeking comment.

His network ultimately ran afoul of military brass. It was dismantled, and he is under investigation, the Times reported.

See also:
Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants
Outsourcing intelligence
Pentagon probes alleged ad hoc spy ring
Senior US official Michael Furlong questioned over private security contractors
Official: Pentagon probing alleged spy operation
Contract killers
Afghanistan Spy Contract Goes Sour for Pentagon – Part 1
US official estalished private spy network: report
Booz Allen Hamilton: A Strategy and Technology Consulting Firm
SAIC: From Science to Solutions

Mike Furlong is obviously an extremely skilled operator and an American patriot, well qualified to be running the type of operation he’s alleged to have been running. That it’s possibly illegal is certainly poking around in a gray area of U.S. law. By definition, the CIA breaks foreign law all over the world, every day, that’s what they do. In today’s reality of global conflict, the official line between military, civilian contractor, government agent is blurry almost to the point of imperceptibility.

/anyway, Furlong tried to do the right thing, perhaps in the wrong way (or maybe with tacit, plausibly deniable permission), I hope he doesn’t get in any trouble over this