Review (Guest): THE WATCHERS–The Rise of America’s Surveillance State

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FIVE STARS The People We Pay to Look Over Our Shoulders

By Shane Harris

At this very moment analysts at the National Security Agency some 30 miles north of the White House are monitoring countless flashpoints of data — cellphone calls to “hot” numbers, an e-mail message on a suspicious server, an oddly worded tweet — as they carom around the globe like pinballs in cyberspace.

The snippets of information could conceivably lead them to Anwar al-Awlaki, a fugitive cleric in Yemen whose fiery sermons have inspired violent jihadists. Or to the next would-be underwear bomber. Or, much more likely in the needle-in-a-haystack world of cyber detection, it might lead to nothing at all — at least nothing of any consequence in determining Al Qaeda’s next target.

This is the world of modern eavesdropping, or signals intelligence, as its adherents call it, and for many years it operated in the shadows. “The Puzzle Palace,” the 1983 best seller by James Bamford that remains the benchmark study of the N.S.A., first pulled back the curtain to provide a glint of unwanted sunlight on the place. And the years after the Sept. 11 attacks — a period in which the surveillance agencies’ muscular new role would lead to secret wiretapping programs inside the United States, expansive data-mining operations and more — gave rise to public scrutiny that made the place a veritable greenhouse of exposure.

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Feb 24

Journal: Cyber-Security or Cyber-Scam? Plus Short List of Links to Reviews and Books on Hacking 101

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Full Story Online

Full Story Online

COVER STORY: The Cyberwar Plan  It’s not just a defensive game; cyber-security includes attack plans too, and the U.S. has already used some of them successfully.

by Shane Harris Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009

Full Story Online

Full Story Online

14 tech firms form cybersecurity alliance for government Lockheed Martin, top suppliers launch initiative for government market

By Wyatt Kash  Nov 12, 2009

Phi Beta Iota: It is a scam, big time.  The U.S. does not have–outside of our small number of colleagues in Hackers on Planet Earth and the Silicon Valley Hackers/THINK Conference–the brainpower and cummulative skills to fill the Potemkin Center, much less staff a capability with global reach.

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Nov 15

Worth a Look: The Cato Institute on Intelligence

Categories: Worth A Look
CATO on Intelligence List

CATO on Intelligence List

We have not featured “think tanks” on this web site because all of them, with one exception, are ideologically biased and financially-beholden to one of the two parties that monopolize power and exclude both the majority of Americans from an honest electoral process, and the majority of objective experts from the policy and budget dailog.

The CATO Institute appears to be an exception.  Below are a few of their generally dated but still relevant pronouncements on the subject of intelligence as decision support.

Why Spy? The Uses and Misuses of Intelligence Stanley Kober (1996)

Building Leverage in the Long War, Jim Harris (2002)

Intelligence Failures Now and Then, Christopher Preble (2004)

Enemies of Intelligence (Book Review), Justin Logan (2007)

Real Intelligence Failures, Richard W. Rahn (2008)

The Need for Judicial Oversight of Domestic Intelligence Gathering, Timothy Lee (2008)

Mike German on ‘Intelligence’ Reports, Jim Harper (2009)

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Oct 14

Journal: Weaponizing Web 2.0

Washington Post Full Story

Washington Post Full Story

By Brian Krebs

July 29, 2009; 3:15 PM ET

The Washington Post

Imagine simply visiting a Web forum and finding that doing so forced your browser to post an embarrassing Twitter message to all of your contacts, or caused you to admit a stranger to your online social network. Now consider the same dynamic being used to move money out of your online auction account or delete the contents of your e-mail inbox.

. . . . . . .

The problem with the token-based security approach, as researchers prior to Hamiel and Moyer have noted, is that it works only if the attacker doesn’t have access to that random string of data as well.

To take the Alice and Bob on the forum example a step further, consider what happens when Alice views a forum posting by Bob that includes a link to an off-site image hosted at a site controlled by Bob. That image, when loaded by Alice’s browser, will automatically send Bob’s site a referrer URL that includes the full token that is unique to Alice’s browser session with that forum. Armed with the referring URL’s token, Bob can then respond to the image request from Alice’s browser with a request to silently take action on that forum in Alice’s name.

. . . . . . .

Moyer said one way to prevent this attack is commonly used on banking Web sites involves what’s known as a nonce, which is essentially a random, one-time-use-only number that is appended to a URL each time a visitor loads a page on that site. He noted that one reason most sites don’t adopt this approach is that it requires far more computational and Web server capacity, which can drive up costs — particularly for high-traffic sites.

DefCon White Paper

DefCon White Paper

+++++++Phi Beta Iota Editorial Comment+++++++

In 1990-1991 Winn Schwartau testified to Congress.  They ignored him the way they ignored Peak Oil testimony in 1974-1975.  In 1995 Robert Steele organized three top experts, Schwartau, Jim A from NSA, and Bill Caelii, and submitted a cross-walk of crystal clear recommendations adding up to $1 billion a year to Marty Harris, responsible for the security of the National Information Infrastructure (NII).  Today the US Government is about to waste $12 billion a year helping NSA further its own agenda while ignoring the root needs of the American people for trusted electromagnetic services.  The federal government is so busy attacking other people it is neglecting the people that created the federal government as a service of common concern.  The gap between those exercising public power and those who elected them and pay them has grown cataclysmic.  Public intelligence in the public interest is one way to help the Republic heal.

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Jul 30

Review DVD: Copying Beethoven

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DVD Copying Beethhoven

Amazon Page

Ed Harris Reigns, Diane Kruger Blooms

October 8, 2007

Ed Harris, Diane Kruger

This is such an extraordinary movie that I watched it twice and then ordered it from Amazon as a permanent part of my library.

Ed Harris moves into the very top ranks of male actors. He is nothing less than brilliant, an Oscar on steroids. Diane Kruger is utterly lovely and talented and surely a rising star of great importance and nuance.

The music is devastatingly perfect, there is so much life in this movie that I am inspired.

“The vibrations are God’s breath. Music is God’s message.”

Totally, utterly, wonderful in every respect.

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Oct 8

Review: Understanding Weatherfax

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WeatherfaxReally great book, part of the whole picture,

May 16, 2007

Mike Harris

I bought this book in preparation for an advanced mariner’s meteorology course, and could not have made this comment without having first gained that higher level of knowledge.

This is a suberb book. It provides superb information about the weather fax, including an excellent and easily portable manual for the various symbols. It has two areas for improvement:

1) It sticks to the two-dimensional depiction of weather that is common to the average person. Although there are a couple of illustrations showing altitude, the author could easily have put in a few pages on the rotation of the earth, the 500 mb level, and how weather on the surface cannot be understood without underestanding what is happening at the 18,000 level. As my instructor put it, the high-level troughs are the chicken that hatches the surface level (scrambled) egg.

2) It does not make the connection, at least that I could see, between the vital importance of making your own observations at 00 and 12 Zulu, so that when you finally receive the weather fax six or seven hours later, you can compare reality with what was provided. This also applies to forecasts–you can keep them, compare your own observations as the time passes, and get a sense of the difference.

Add the above, and read “Mariner’s Guide to the 500-Millibar Chart” by Joe Stenkiewicz and Lee Chesneau, and Google for <Lee Chesneau> to find his web site, and you’ll have all you need to move to the better three-dimensional interactive viewing of weather and weather charts.

I also recommend The Weather Wizard’s Cloud Book: A Unique Way to Predict the Weather Accurately and Easily by Reading the Clouds

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May 16

Review: Hannibal Rising

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Amazon Page

Amazon Page

More than Satisfies, Ignore the Nit-Pickers,

January 23, 2007
Thomas Harris
Having read “Silence of the Lambs” first, and then the other two books by this author, I was skeptical but interested when I saw this book at an airport. It is excellent. Having fully engaged me with his earlier books, I was absolutely delighted to have this book fully occupy my flight from Denver to Dulles. It is carefully crafted and completely credible.

Future readers will benefit from being able to read the Hannibal series from start to finish. I am quite eager to see the author craft a book in which Hannibal takes on Wall Street and selectively culls the herd of greedy lying cheats that manage the Enron clones so proud of “exploding the client” (see my review of Michael Lewis’ “Liar’s Poker” and also “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” as well as “Cheating Culture” and “The Manufacture of Evil.”

Although I normally do not read or review fiction, this author has joined John Le Carre (the George Smiley series) and is one of handful of “must read” authors of fiction that is to my personal taste as a former spy and infantry officer.

This author has found his niche. Hannibal must live and love and kill with elegance. Bring on the next one!!!

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Jan 23

Review: The End of Faith–Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (Paperback)

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Amazon Page

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Very Important, Objective, Valuable, Relevant to Peace,

August 8, 2006
Sam Harris
Of the 3000 or so books I have read in the past decade, 750 or so them reviewed here at Amazon (almost all non-fiction) this is perhaps the single most important work that declares, and then documents, the “naked Emperor” of religion.

While I agree with the reviewer that sums it up as saying that religion in the form of blind faith does more harm than good, I would hasten to add that faith is an essential part of the American value system, and can do a great deal of good when channeled in partnership with a tolerant secular state. See my reviews of “The Left Hand of God,” “Faith-Based Diplomacy,” and “American Gospel.”

The alternative sub-title of this book could be “The Cost of Intolerance.” However–and I strongly recommend this book to the Information Operations and Public Diplomacy or Strategic Communication professionals–the author is brilliantly on point when he suggests that the third world war now happening is about beliefs–about good beliefs versus bad beliefs, about a need for a morality order of battle. As Robert Garigue sums up in his own original work offered as a technical preface to my book on Information Operations, war has moved to the semantic level, and we have to focus on identifying, containing, and then eradicating belief systems that are totally set against our once-balanced (not now) combination of secular state and diversity of belief.

It merits comment, as discussed in Howard Bloom’s “Global Brain,” that belief systems, once embedded in a person older than 30, are not changeable. World War III is a war for the minds of those in elementary and secondary school. We have to contain or kill the adults who believe that martyrdom awaits those who kill “unbelievers.” On a positive note, the disciplines of psychology and neuroscience are now coming together (see my review of “Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and the New Biology of the Mind” by Eric Kandel). At the same time, the discipline of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is finally about to be funded properly, and we are within arms reach of being able to make sense of all information in all languages all the time.

Over-all the author agrees with those who say we are engaged in a clash of ideologies rather than civilizations. He notes that democracy can NOT be seen as a precursor to changing beliefs, for as we have found in Iraq, given a vote, most rabid Muslims would vote to give up their public liberties in favor of their blind and intolerant faith.

The author is compelling in also noting that poverty, among other high-level threats, is not the source of the conflicts that should frighten us with the prospect of being wiped out. It is about belief systems. He suggests that energy independence is actually a pre-requisite to gaining the economic leverage we need, while depriving the radical Muslim states of oil revenues they have consistently used to finance Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, among others.

Among the varied insights offered by the author I especially appreciated these:

1) Discussion of how evangelical Christians are penetrating the federal and state governments and subverting secular policy to fight “reasoned policy” and channel tax-payer funds to specific evangelical missions and churches.

2) A fascinating review of our skewed priorities, where we spend $4 billion annually to eradicate marijuana, which kills no one, while refusing to spend $2 billion one time to secure our ports, meanwhile ignoring the fact that alcohol kills hundreds of thousands.

3) Priceless quote, on page 165: “And yet, religious faith obscures uncertainty where uncertainty manifestly exists, allowing the unknown, the implausible, and the patently false to achieve primacy over facts.”

4) The author provides a very comprehensive review of both the Koran and the Bible, citing many specific passages, and concludes that even “moderate” Muslims are inherently trained to believe that “unbelievers” are to be converted or killed. This is, incidentally, the first stage of genocide, where the one to be killed is put into a class with vermin to set the stage for acceptable massacres.

The book concludes with a brilliant and provocative call for a science of good and evil, an ethics and science of the mind. The author states that truth is NOT just a matter of consensus or belief, and that some truths, in a human or reality sense, must be absolute. He calls for common sense and a sensibility of tolerance for others, while stating quite clearly that we must identify and kill those who threaten us “blindly.” He concludes that both torture and pacifism are wrong, and that principled moral engagement, one for all and all for one, is what is right. He supports non-violence where it works, but force is still needed for the greater evils that will respond to no other means.

The author documents the origin of the yellow star to “mark” Jews as having been in Baghdad, and only much later adopted by the Nazis.

The paperback version has a Question & Answer section that is not in the hardback original.

This is an extraordinary book, and should be–but of course is not–influencing those who would lead their Nation into a future of peace and prosperity. We have no strategy, no policy, only predatory capitalism fueled by militant unilateralism, and a Vice President who has usurped power from the President to pursue cheap oil at the expense of longer-term prosperity and peace. If ever there was a book to help us understand all that is wrong with America and the Muslims today, this is it.

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Aug 8

Reform Archives for Public Intelligence (1992-2006)

Categories: Reform

2006

US

Reform Steele Open Source Intelligence Familiarization Documents (One Page of Links)

2004

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Reform Atlee A Model of Intelligence Systems (Individual to Social)

2004

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Reform Atlee Beyond Intelligence Reform Toward Co-Intelligence

2004

Austria

Reform Beer Need for a Theory of Intelligence

2004

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Reform Harris Beautiful Minds: Maverick Minds Needed to Achieve Reform

2004

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Reform Marrin Improving Training for New Analysts

2004

NL

Reform Wiebes Intelligence and the War in Bosnia

2003

CA

Reform Fyffe OSS ’03 Presentation on Information Sharing

2002

Israel

Reform Crevald van Twenty Four Theses on Intelligence

2002

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Reform Herz Harnessing the Hive via Online Games for Networked Innovation

2002

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Reform Pinkham Citizen Advocacy in the Information Age

2001

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Reform Foster Getting to Tomorrow: A Plea for Strategic Reformation

2001

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Reform Gessaman Summary of Comments on National Security Budget with Slides

2001

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Reform Treverton Reshaping National Intelligence for an Age of Information
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Jul 18

Process Archives on Public Intelligence (1992-2006)

Categories: Methods & Process

2006

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Process CRS Data Mining and Homeland Security

2006

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Process Turnbull GSA Collaborative Workshop on Information Sharing

2005

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Process Clapper Interview

2005

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Process DNI Press Release on Appointment of ADDNI/OS

2005

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Process DNI Office of the DNI Organization Charts

2005

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Process Gerecht Need for New Clandestine Service

2005

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Process Harris ABLE DANGER Summary

2005

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Process JHU-APL Asymmetric Information

2005

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Process Kamien et all Needs Analysis for Information Sharing

2005

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Process Liszkiewiez Reconfiguring the Global System through Mobile Democracy

2005

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Process Peters On the Soul of Intelligence

2005

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Process Rushkoff Open Source Democracy

2004

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Process Steele OSS Proprietary Listing of Capabilities Needed by Open Source Agency

2001

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Process Chester The Atlantic Command’s Open Source Intelligence Approach & Future

2001

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Process Dziedzic & Wood Information Technology as Catalyst for Civil-Military Unity of Effort

1999

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Process Appleby Feedback: The Missing Link in Information Superiority

1997

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Process Gupta & Pabian Tricks of the Trade: Analytic Tools and Techniques

1997

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Process Pinchot Beyond Bureaucracy: Intrapreurship

1993

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Process Bermudez Letter from a Source

1993

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Process Bonthous Culture: The Missing Intelligence Variable

1993

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Process Brodwin & Bernardi Information Overload

1993

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Process Christian Area Information Servers (WAIS) and Global Change Research

1993

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Process Halberstadt Power and Communication in the Information Age

1993

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Process Herring The Role of Intelligence in Formulating Strategy

1993

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Process Horowitz Understanding Sources: The Real Challenge

1993

JP

Process Ishii Cross-Cultural Communication & Computer-Supported Collaboration

1993

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Process Magee The Age of Imagination: Coming Soon to a Civilization Near You

1993

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Process Pedtke Putting Functionality in the Open Source Network

1992

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Process Andriole IT Support for OSINT Analysis & Production (Slides)

1992

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Process Andriole IT Support for OSINT Analysis & Production (Text)

1992

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Process Bodansky & Forest GOP Terrorism Task Force: Research Techniques & Philosophy

1992

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Process Fedanzo Implementing OSINT Through a Distributed Collection Model

1992

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Process Kees Advanced Information Processing and Analysis

1992

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Process McIntyre Competitive Advantage: The Power of Online Systems

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Process Ogdin Words Are Not Enough

1992

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Process Sacks Using the Telephone as a Research Tool

1992

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Process Shepard Analysis in the Year 2002: A Concept of Operations

1992

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Process Sibbet Commercial Remote Sensing: Open Source Imagery Intelligence

1992

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Process Tenny Government Information Wants to be Free

1992

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Process Thompson Ranked Retrieval and Extraction of Open Source Intelligence

1992

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Process Tow Painting the Future: Some Remarks from INTERVAL

1992

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Process Whitney-Smith Information Revolutions and the End of History

2003

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Process DoD Defense Intelligence Meta-Tagging
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Jul 18