Tuesday, January 27, 2009

NZ man's MP3 player holds US military files

A New Zealand man who bought an MP3 player from a thrift shop in Oklahoma found it held 60 U.S. military files, including names and telephone numbers for American soldiers, a media report said Tuesday.
TV One News said the 60 files contained personal details of U.S. soldiers, including some who had served in Afghanistan and Iraq. A New Zealand security expert said the information should not be in the public domain, but that it did not appear likely to affect U.S. national security.
The U.S. Embassy declined to comment on the incident.
Similar breaches occurred in Afghanistan in 2006, when U.S. investigators reportedly bought back stolen flash drives that contained sensitive military data from shops outside a main U.S. base in the Afghan city of Bagram.
Chris Ogle, 29, from the northern New Zealand city of Whangarei, said he bought the music player at a thrift shop in Oklahoma, and that he found the files when he linked the $18 device to his computer, TV One News reported.
The report did not say exactly where and when the device was purchased, and Ogle could not be reached by The Associated Press for comment Tuesday.
The private information about troops included U.S. Social Security numbers and even which female troops were pregnant, TV One reported.
Details of equipment deployed to bases in Afghanistan and a mission briefing were also found on some files, the report said, displaying names like "Bagram," a main U.S. base in Afghanistan, from the files on screen.
A TV One News reporter called some of the phone numbers listed in the files and found that some of them were still active.
Some of the files included a warning that the release of its contents is "prohibited by federal law."
Most of the files are dated 2005 so are unlikely to compromise U.S. national security, said Peter Cozens, director of Victoria University of Wellington's Strategic Studies Department.
"This is just slack administrative procedures which are indeed a cause of embarrassment," Cozens said. "It's the sort of thing which ought not really to be in the public domain."
Ogle told TV One News he would hand the files to U.S. officials if asked.
"The more I look at it, the more I see and the less I think I should be" looking, Ogle said.
Janine Burns, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Wellington, told the AP, "We have nothing to add at this time."
She had no response to Ogle's offer to hand over the electronic files.
It's not the first time such data files have surfaced in public.
In 2006, shopkeepers outside the Bagram base said they were selling flash drives with U.S. military information that had been stolen by some of the 2,000 Afghans employed as cleaners, office staff and laborers at Bagram.
Included on some memory drives seen by AP at the time were the Social Security numbers of hundreds of soldiers, including four generals, and lists of troops who had completed nuclear, chemical and biological warfare training.
The Los Angeles Times also reported that some drives had classified military secrets, including maps, charts and intelligence reports that appeared to detail how Taliban and al-Qaida leaders had been using southwestern Pakistan as a planning and training base for attacks in Afghanistan.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

White House stuck in "technological dark ages"

Obama might be keeping his BlackBerry, but his tech-savvy staffers are reportedly stunned by the West Wing's painfully antiquated gear, not to mention a constricting, Web 2.0-stifling catalog of security and record-keeping regulations.As this funny/sad story in the Washington Post reports, Obama's team arrived at the White House Tuesday to find only a handful of laptops, old PCs running outdated software, disconnected phone lines, and a series of rules and regulations that essentially forbid anything resembling Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, or AIM.

Indeed, as the Post points out, Obama's sleek new White House Web site is looking pretty weak right now, with only five posts (as of Thursday morning) on the official White House blog (including a "Hello World" post and a video of Obama's inaugural address, minus comments), a couple of executive orders, no pool reports, old bios and agenda items from the campaign, and a standard "Contact Us" Web form.

My favorite: The list of Cabinet appointments, all displayed in a basic HTML table circa 1996.

I'm sure the sketchy gear in the West Wing came as a rude shock to Obama's staff, which dazzled the nation during the campaign with its technical prowess and social-networking wizardry. But then again, government is probably one of the most tech-adverse institutions around, right up there with schools (pretty sad) and the legal community (oh, come on, Counselor—don't deny it).

Why? Again, as the Post notes, part of it is tradition, another part is security. Also: What we might call an innocuous e-mail or tweet, a White House lawyer would call evidence.

Obama and his administration have promised transparency of government—especially though its White House Web site—and I have high hopes they can achieve it. That said, they're facing an uphill battle.

Obama: Great speech but can he deliver?

Posted 6:00AM Tuesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's goals...can he execute?

At this time of change, we need to remind our readers that the Global Power Barometer measures "which nations, ideologies or movements are best exercising their power to achieve their desired goals." In the process of defining the "desired goals" of any player, we need to figure out what they are. Then, GPB staff and computers can measure progress. After a significant change in any nation's government, we need to adjust the goals we have for that country.

In the case of the new Obama Administration, we understand general directions, but we do not yet fully understand specific foreign policy goals. Nor do we fully understand execution strategies and whether the Obama Administration will learn from the mistaken strategies of the past years and begin to fight the next crisis rather than the last crisis.

Here are the general goals we've been able to identify so far:

* Restoration of US global influence. By this, we mean not just restoring the image of the US, but increasing its "soft power" or "smart power" as Hillary Clinton put it in her confirmation hearings. Certainly, the mere act of electing an African American by the name of Barack Hussein Obama has raised US standing throughout the world (a good friend of ours...a Republican...is traveling through Africa and has reported uncountable celebrations...formal and also spontaneous street celebrations). But we're not yet sure whether the Obama Administration fully understands the "power of smart" in controlling particularly the success of non-state actors such as al-Qaeda, or in stabilizing failing states, but they clearly have made re-establishing US influence a high priority. Connected with this, it appears the Obama Administration also has recognized the key role of diplomatic power in resolving international disputes...that's diplomatic "power" not just "diplomacy". It means creating and revitalizing alliances that can themselves put pressure on rogue nations. At least initial signs are that the new Administration gets the point that multilateralism - not unilateralism - is key to a peaceful 21st Century world.
* Phased withdrawal from Iraq. The Obama Administration is stuck with what has been negotiated between the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government...due for a vote in July. But the trick will be how they deal with the inevitable increases in conflict among religious groups and tribal factions as Iraqis have to govern themselves (see today's US Articles).
* Reintroduction of the US to the Mideast peace process. We've not yet identified a goal because many analysts believe the 2-state option is dead, having its coffin sealed by rocket attacks and the Israeli tactic of punishing civilian populations for transgressions of its elected leaders. Without a clear view of a solution, the present Obama goal is only to get itself back into the game. Of course, connected closely to this is the US relationship to Israel. Obviously, Mr. Obama will keep the relationship strong. But in the incremental world of diplomacy, many analysts expect an Obama Administration to begin in subtle ways to pressure Israel and take an ever so slightly more balanced role in the Mideast. One key indicator the GPB is watching is whether President Obama will appoint former Sen. George Mitchell to the post of Middle East envoy. Senator Mitchell is considered to be one who, while maintaining the US relationship with Israel, would also pressure Israel incrementally for new solutions. That said, the GPB will be looking very very hard toward the form of a new solution from the Obama Administration.
* Calming Afghanistan. During the campaign, candidate Obama stated he wanted to effect an "Afghanistan surge"...more troops to calm the nation and more money to reconstruct Afghanistan. Yet, most analysts question whether more US troops are the answer. A number of NATO members believe Afghanistan was handled so badly that it is essentially lost. They are trying to reduce their troop levels. While there are differences between the Soviet experience and strategy and the current US strategy, many point to the fact that the USSR couldn't subdue Afghanistan with a considerably larger force. The measure of whether the Obama Administration will make progress in Afghanistan will be viewed by the type of strategy they develop (e.g., one that involves political integration, assistance from Iran and other new tactics) and the progress that strategy creates.
* Defeating al-Qaeda. The lack of any attempt to disrupt the Obama Inaugural despite its attractiveness and relative ease as a target has suggested that President Bush is correct that constant US military pressure has weakened and isolated al-Qaeda. Yet, the Bush strategy is unsustainable in terms of cost. While denying al-Qaeda safe haven in the border areas of Pakistan (without destabilizing Pakistan) is an important goal, the ultimate success of the Obama fight against terrorism will depend on whether the new national security team can find new approaches sustainable over the long term that don't destabilize countries or regions..
* Independence from oil. Obama has set as a high priority weaning the US from oil...not just foreign oil, but oil in general. This goal has the potential for the greatest foreign policy benefit of anything since the US entered WWII. But it won't be easy...though given that energy independence is as much a question of infrastructure development (e.g, natural gas, electric distribution) as technology, it may be more possible at this time of economic stimulus than at any time in history. We'll be watching closely.
* A new approach to Cuba. This is actually part of an apparent goal to change how we deal with "enemies" such as Venezuela and Iran. However, Cuba, 90 miles off the Florida shore, is perhaps most important. While candidate Obama proposed only incremental steps, the opening of Cuba could be the most important symbolic move of the past two decades and could create opportunities with developing nations across the globe. This in turn would lead to a significant strengthening of the US against its rivals, Russia and China, for the (in many cases natural resource-rich) non-alligned nations.
* Russia and China? We lump these together though the strategies for dealing with either would be very different. We have not yet seen much evidence of a new strategy for dealing with these countries. We're anxiously awaiting clues.
* Nuclear non-proliferation. This is a key challenge but it can only be achieved by the "smart power." It appears the Obama Administration as a top priority will restate US adherence to critical treaties that the Bush Administration decided to ignore. Yet, much more needs to be known about new initiatives to convince rogue nations such as North Korea to abandon hopes of becoming nuclear powers.

Obviously, we will identify more goals and greater detail to these goals as this Administration progresses. We also would ask our readers to identify what you believe the goals of the Obama Administration appear to be. Remember, that's how we'll measure progress of the new President.

Note that GPB staff has decided to leave the US icon where it is (which is significantly in negative territory) rather than zero it out. President Obama has inherited a US foreign policy in complete disarray and he'll have to dig out the country from its negative position. We as all Americans and citizens of the world hope he will...and sooner rather than later.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How sick is Bush?

Editor's Note: Medical evidence shows George W. Bush to be seriously ill -- physically. Bush's physical symptoms point to stroke, cardiac arrest, dementia, and hyperthyroidism. Not to mention the heavy burden of killing innocent Iraqi men, women and children.)

Obama not ruling out prosecution of Bush officials for crimes in office

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President-elect Barack Obama said Sunday he was not ruling out possible prosecution for abuses committed under the George Bush administration, saying no one "is above the law".

"We're still evaluating how we're going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth," Obama said in an interview aired Sunday on ABC's This Week program when asked about alleged abuses under Bush.

"Obviously we're going to be looking at past practices and I don't believe that anybody is above the law," Obama said.

But Obama, who takes office on January 20, added that he wanted his administration to focus on tackling problems moving forward, rather than reviewing policies under his predecessor.

"My instinct is for us to focus on how do we make sure that moving forward we are doing the right thing," he said.

"That doesn't mean that if somebody has blatantly broken the law, that they are above the law. But my orientation's going to be to move forward."

Human rights and civil liberties groups have called for senior Bush administration officials to be prosecuted for a series of alleged abuses, from mishandling the conflict in Iraq to the illegal detention and torture of terrorist suspects and domestic spying.

In the interview, Obama criticized Vice President Dick Cheney for his public defense of "extraordinary" interrogation methods used against top terrorism suspects, including simulated drowning known as waterboarding.

"Vice President Cheney, I think, continues to defend what he calls extraordinary measures or procedures when it comes to interrogations and from my view waterboarding is torture," Obama said.

"I have said that under my administration we will not torture."

Obama declined to say whether he could appoint a special prosecutor to look into possible charges against Bush and his deputies, saying the issue whould be up to his attorney general.

"He is the people's lawyer," he said of the attorney general-designate, Eric Holder.

"So, ultimately, he's going to be making some calls, but my general belief is that when it comes to national security, what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future, as opposed looking at what we got wrong in the past."

Bush defends interrogation record

President Bush on Sunday defended controversial interrogation measures established by his administration, arguing that techniques like water-boarding helped save American lives.

“The techniques…were necessary and are necessary to be used on a rare occasion to get information to protect the American people,” Bush said during an expansive exit interview that aired on Fox Sunday.

Citing an interrogation with Al Qaeda strategist Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, which included simulated drowning, otherwise known as “waterboarding,” the outgoing president said, “We believe the information we gained helped save lives on American soil.”

The Bush administration has been criticized by civil liberties advocates and others for the use of, and legal justifications underpinning, these harsh interrogation methods. President-elect Barack Obama has already promised to review these policies when he takes the oath of office later this month.

In the interview with Fox News Sunday, Bush joked that his administration has been “slightly criticized” for its policy to push the legal limits of the rights, the treatment and the interrogation of suspected terrorists detained by U.S. military and intelligence officials, or cooperative governments.”

The president defended those measures repeatedly on Sunday, saying, “I firmly reject the word ‘torture.’ Everything this administration does had a legal basis to it; otherwise, we would not have done it.”

In a separate interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Obama said, “From my view, waterboarding is torture.”

Whatever Bush administration policies he overturns, the president-elect wants to protect intelligence officials at the Central Intelligence Agency in order to do their jobs.

“At the CIA, you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working hard to keep Americans safe,” Obama said on ABC. “I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders.”

The outgoing president is “confident” that his successor “understands the nature of the world and understands the need to protect America.” But Bush hopes Obama and his intelligence team “take a hard look at the realities of the world and the tools now in place to protect the United States from further attack.”

In the exit interview, Bush specifically mentioned Mohammed, whose interrogation became a flashpoint in the broader legal debate about the rights of suspected terrorists detained abroad.

Mohammed, a top Al Qaeda strategist, was arrested in Pakistan and eventually flown to a secret detention site in Poland, where he reportedly endured a series of harsh interrogation methods, most notably waterboarding. But Bush administration officials have repeatedly argued that that session with Mohammed gave them leads to prevent other attacks.

“Look, I understand why people can get carried away on this issue, but generally they don’t know the facts,” Bush said of his critics on Sunday.

“But I am concerned that America, at some point in time, lets down her guard,” the president said. “If we do that, the country becomes highly vulnerable.”

Saturday, January 3, 2009


UMNO lebih kepada pak turut dan tidak langsung bercakap memperjuangkan IJN dari disambar rakus oleh pihak yang berkepentingan diatas nama pengswastaan. Sedar atau tidak IJN adalah hak rakyat. Jatuhnya IJN kepada pemodal, IJN akan terdedah kepada penyangak di dalam pasaran saham di mana wang mula bercakap. Untung rugi menjadi ukuran prestasi doktor.

Tidak hairanlah IJN nak diswasta kerana UMNO pun telah diswastakan sekarang dengan limpahan kelaku pengamal politik wang di kalangan pemimpin mereka. Kalau IJN di swasta seharusnya kita kuburkan juga UMNO.
UMNO pengkhianat bangsa!