A Suicide Bomber’s Guide to Online Privacy is the title of a keynote talk that Peter Watts (previously) gave to the International Association Of Privacy Professionals' Canada Symposium.
My immediate reaction was that this had to be some kind of cruel hoax. But they hooked me anyway, with what basically came down to a double-dare: “You’ve got a chance to talk to the regulators who enforce privacy law and the executives as big companies who make decisions about what to do with your data – what do you want to say to them?” Well. Since you ask.[more inside]
Inside The One-Man Intelligence Unit That Exposed The Secrets And Atrocities Of Syria's War
He had no formal intelligence training or security clearance that gave him access to classified documents. He could not speak or read Arabic. He had never set foot in the Middle East, unless you count the time he changed planes in Dubai en route to Manila, or his trip to visit his in-laws in Turkey. Yet in the 18 months since Higgins had begun blogging about Syria, his barebones site, Brown Moses [previously], had become the foremost source of information on the weapons used in Syria's deadly war. Using nothing more sophisticated than an Asus laptop, he had uncovered evidence of weapons imported into Syria from Iran. He had been the first person to identify widely-banned cluster bombs deployed by Syrian forces. By The New York Times' own admission, his findings had offered a key tip that helped the newspaper prove that Saudi Arabia had funneled arms to opposition fighters in Syria.[more inside]
Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy And Doom is a new book by Elaine Scarry, author of The Body In Pain (NYRB, LRB), in which she contends that the existence of nuclear weapons creates an unaccountable monarchy. [more inside]
The Littlest Boy - Twenty years after Hiroshima, elite American troops trained to stop a Soviet invasion -- with nuclear weapons strapped to their backs. [more inside]
The Men Who Leaked The Secrets
To the likes of Brooks, Snowden was a disconcerting mystery; Glenn Greenwald, though, got him right away. "He had no power, no prestige, he grew up in a lower-middle-class family, totally obscure, totally ordinary," Greenwald says. "He didn't even have a high school diploma. But he was going to change the world – and I knew that." And, Greenwald also believed, so would he. "In all kinds of ways, my whole life has been in preparation for this moment," he says.[more inside]
Declassified Spy Outpost Lurks on the Dark Side of the Earth Canadian Forces Station Alert is "the most northerly, permanently inhabited location in the world, located only 817 kilometres from the geographic North Pole." On Assignment At CFS Alert. CFS Alert (Part 1). [more inside]
From 1949 onwards, the closed city of Semipalatinsk (now Semey, Kazakhstan) was the test site for 456 nuclear devices. The test site was known as "The Polygon." Testing was stopped in 1989, but the long term effects remained. [more inside]
NSA Haiku Generator - "Create a poem out of the NSA search terms that flag you as a potential terrorist!
When the car exploded, the same two words occurred to him, and to the ticket taker, and to every other person who saw or heard the blast, which could be heard on the other side of Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city: Boko Haram. That neither they, nor practically anyone else in Nigeria, knew what Boko Haram was exactly or why it would want to bomb a bus station was beside the point. Officially, according to the Nigerian government, Boko Haram is a terrorist group. It began life as a separatist movement led by a northern Nigerian Muslim preacher, Mohammed Yusuf, who decried the country’s misrule. “Boko Haram” is a combination of the Hausa language and Arabic, understood to mean that Western, or un-Islamic, learning is forbidden. In 2009, after Yusuf was killed [BBC, The Guardian]—executed, it’s all but certain, by Nigerian police—his followers vowed revenge.[more inside]
The Sound of Terror: Phenomenology of a Drone Strike
Opponents of drone strikes say they violate international law and have caused unacknowledged civilian deaths. Proponents insist they actually save the lives of both U.S. soldiers, who would otherwise be deployed in dangerous ground operations, and of civilians, because of the drone’s capacity to survey and strike more precisely than combat. If the alternative is a prolonged and messy ground operation, the advantage of drone strikes in terms of casualties is indisputable, and it is not my intention to dispute it here. But the terms of this debate give a one-sided view of both the larger financial and political costs of drones, as well as the less than lethal but nonetheless chronic and intense harm continuous strikes wage on communities.[more inside]
The United States' National Security organization has many parts, from the famous (NSA, CIA) to the mundane (OCI, NGA) to the more esoteric (NRO, CSS). But even the most dedicated Washington insider may not have heard of INR. [more inside]
Criminal Cartels And The Rule Of Law In Mexico: Summary, PDF
The cartels have thousands of gunmen and have morphed into diversified crime groups that not only traffic drugs, but also conduct mass kidnappings, oversee extortion rackets and steal from the state oil industry. The military still fights them in much of the country on controversial missions too often ending in shooting rather than prosecutions. If Peña Nieto does not build an effective police and justice system, the violence may continue or worsen. But major institutional improvements and more efficient, comprehensive social programs could mean real hope for sustainable peace and justice.[more inside]
Practical Ethics: Enlightened Surveillance?
Surrendering on surveillance might be the least bad option – of all likely civil liberty encroachments, this seemed the less damaging and hardest to resist. But that’s an overly defensive way of phrasing it – if ubiquitous surveillance and lack of privacy are the trends of the future, we shouldn’t just begrudgingly accept them, but demand that society gets the most possible out of them.[more inside]
Frequently dismissed as trivial or unimportant because untrue, rumors are a potent in the information war that characterizes contemporary conflicts, and they participate in significant ways in the struggle for the consent of the governed. As narrative forms, rumors are suitable to a wide range of political expression, from citizens, insurgents, and governments alike. The authors make a compelling argument for understanding rumors in these contexts as "narrative IEDs," low-cost, low-tech weapons that can successfully counter elaborate and expansive government initiatives of outreach campaigns or strategic communication efforts.Narrative Landmines - The Explosive Effects of Rumors in Syria and Insurgencies Around the World [more inside]
Does Big Data Mean The Demise Of The Expert - And Intuition? - "Data-driven decisions are poised to augment or overrule human judgment." What Is Big Data? [more inside]
A Contagion Of Violence
In exploring the occurrence of violence, researchers have recognized the tendency for violent acts to cluster, to spread from place to place, and to mutate from one type to another – similar to the infectious disease model, in which an agent or vector initiates a specific biological pathway leading to symptoms of disease and infectivity.Is It Time To Treat Violence Like A Contagious Disease? [more inside]
A Trail of Bullet Casings Leads From Africa’s Wars Back to Iran. Iran’s Cartridges & Their Quiet Distribution to Brutal Regimes and Many Wars. [more inside]
Iraq, Kurds, Turks and oil - A tortuous triangle The governments of Turkey, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan play a dangerous game [more inside]
1. Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. Pity. A signature strike leveled the florist’s. The Disposition Matrix. Anti-Drone Camouflage: What to Wear in Total Surveillance. Drone City. Books Not Bombs.
Why Privacy Matters, Even If You Have Nothing To Hide, by Daniel J. Solove
The nothing-to-hide argument pervades discussions about privacy. The data-security expert Bruce Schneier calls it the "most common retort against privacy advocates." ... To evaluate the nothing-to-hide argument, we should begin by looking at how its adherents understand privacy. Nearly every law or policy involving privacy depends upon a particular understanding of what privacy is. The way problems are conceived has a tremendous impact on the legal and policy solutions used to solve them.[more inside]
In 2006, the United States Air Force declassified part of one of its secret programs: Constant Peg, the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron, which flew MiGs. [more inside]
Al Jazeera: 'US admits ops in Yemen and Somalia: White House formally acknowledges "direct action", believed to mean drone strikes, against al-Qaeda and its affiliates.' [more inside]