By Michael Ramirez
THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE II
By Richard Fernandez
Zepplin vs the PterodactylsForeign Policy
has a long article on the Russian cyberwarfare campaign. The most
interesting aspect was how they mobilized bloggers to carry the
Kremlin’s agenda forward.
“But sophomoric pranks and cyberattacks were only the
first shots of a much wider online war in which Russian bloggers
willingly enlisted as the Kremlin’s grass-roots army. For Russian
netizens, ‘unconventional’ cyberwarfare—winning the hearts and minds of
the West—became more important than crashing another server in Tbilisi.
Managing information seemed all the more urgent as there were virtually
no images from the first and the most controversial element in the
whole war—the Georgian invasion of Tskhinvali, the capital of South
Ossetia—and the destruction that, were one to believe the Kremlin’s
account, followed shortly thereafter.”
In January of this year the old Belmont Club, hosted on Blogspot, carried a long post called the “Ghost in the Machine” focusing on cyberwarfare. It contained a description of China’s system, the so-called Three Headed Monster.
the “Three Headed Monster”: the “NET Force”
corresponding to a general staff; the “Red Hackers Union” (RHU). These
are several hundred thousand patriotic Chinese programmers and Internet
engineers who wished to assist the motherland — all behind the Golden
Shield Project (also known as The Great Firewall of China) manned by
30,000 Ministry of Public Security employees to keep the targets from
repaying Beijing in kind.
One of the reasons that Russia and China spend so much effort on
cyberwarfare is that Western information institutions — universities,
the press and even the Internet — are so vulnerable to disinformation.
The MSM in particular is structurally incapable of classifying and
analyzing new information at a near real-time rate. It can be
cyberherded easily. And because it is institutionally perpetually
amateur, it often can’t even tell when it is being had. Plus many of
its major connected nodes are probably compromised and the small world
property means that these compromised nodes will spread the poison. Thursday, August 14, 2008
OPEN SEASON ON REPORTERS
By Ed Morrissey
no one got seriously hurt makes watching this video clip somewhat
easier. Apparently, Russian soldiers don’t particularly like
international journalists watching them around the Georgian city of
Gori, and one in particular made that spectacularly clear. When firing
his pistol in the air didn’t chase Israeli reporters from Ynet out of
the area, he aimed a little lower:
“We arrived on the outskirts of Gori on Thursday, during
the afternoon. There were a lot of Russian troops and television crews.
We arrived about two hours after an altercation almost broke out
between Russian troops and Georgians. The Georgians were there to
welcome their army, and the Russian troops brushed them off.
“As I was taking pictures around Gori, a Russian soldier approached
me and started shooting his weapon in the air,” added Sheizaf. “People
were running scared and our driver had disappeared. Suddenly a soldier
appeared, I didn’t know if he was an Osstetian or a Chechen. He pointed
his weapon at me and screamed, ‘Where are the car keys?’
“I approached the driver’s side of the car and saw that the keys
were in the ignition. I tried to get into the car and run, but the
soldier pushed me and then he fired a round which nearly hit my foot,
it actually hit the tip of my sandal.["]
The YouTube description says the soldier was drunk, a detail that
doesn’t make it into the Ynet report, but may account for why the
journalist survived his encounter. Russian soldiers stole the car and
sped off, taking with them the reporters’ passports — which could have
complicated their exit from Georgia, especially with the diplomatic
turmoil in the nation at the moment.
Surprisingly, Russian officers drove the car back to the journalists
within 20 minutes. They got better treatment than the Georgians, who
still cannot come back into their own city, which the Russians have
Update: This wasn’t an isolated incident,
apparently. A Georgian reporter got hit by a sniper on live television,
but kept her composure (via Power Line):
Maybe Russia has declared open season on reporters? And why would a
sniper aim for an unarmed woman in the middle of the street in broad
daylight, who’s doing nothing but reporting for a television station?
Mighty brave fellows, those Russian soldiers.MUSHARRAF TO QUIT?
By Ed Morrissey
Pervez Musharraf has worked out a deal with the new civilian government of Yousef Gilani to retire to his Islamabad farm,
rather than put Pakistan through an almost certain impeachment. His
resignation would be accepted with a promise to end any efforts to
prosecute him for crimes while in office, a perhaps
less-than-satisfactory outcome for Nawaz Sharif, whom Musharraf deposed
in 1999 and who wanted the former dictator prosecuted. In the end, the
army insisted on Musharraf’s terms:
Pakistan’s beleaguered president Pervez Musharraf is to
step down after nine years in office, government officials and a member
of his circle have told the Financial Times.
A senior officer in Mr Musharraf’s camp on Thursday conceded that he
had decided to step down to avoid a parliamentary impeachment that was
likely to begin on Monday.
A senior Pakistani government official said that a deal had been
brokered between president Musharraf and members of the newly elected
coalition government, with the army playing a key role in the agreement.
“The president will neither be impeached nor prosecuted on any charges. He will try and stay in Pakistan,” said the official.
The army actually facilitated a deal by withdrawing its support of
Musharraf in the last few days. According to FT, the army had
threatened to intervene if the civilian government pursued either
impeachment or prosecution — not surprisingly, since the leadership had
been all Musharraf’s men. In an unusual development, though, the army
finally blinked, backing away from Musharraf and leaving him vulnerable
to his political opponents. Immunity was the price the Gilani
government had to pay to avoid yet another military coup.
According to the report, Musharraf will resign by Monday. He will
immediately decamp for his farm, leaving the Pakistani government in
the hands of the coalition headed by Gilani. Whether that means an
immediate revote for the presidency remains to be seen. If this all
takes place as reported, it means the real transfer of power to
civilian control in a decade — and it could also mean a new period of
even greater instability. Musharraf provided a focus for Pakistani
discontent, and with him out of the picture, the Gilani government will
have to start delivering better days, and soon. Thursday, August 14, 2008
WHERE TO DRILL FIRST
By John Hinderaker
Those who favor outsourcing our energy production
generally argue that there is no point in opening up domestic drilling,
since it would take many years before oil actually begins to flow. In
some cases, it will indeed take a considerable time, although this
problem is mostly self-inflicted: the delay will result more from
regulatory hurdles and litigation than from the time it takes to build
platforms, pipelines, and so on.
But there are areas where, if Congress acts to remove existing bans
on drilling, oil could be flowing in a matter of months, not years.
Foremost on this list is oil off the coast of California. We asked Dan
Kish, Senior Vice President, Policy, at the Institute for Energy
Research to comment. This is what he told us:
For oil, California is the quickest relief. Existing
platforms there would allow access to some of the leases companies paid
$1.1 billion for in 1981, but have been precluded from developing for
26 years. California is the nation's largest consumer of gasoline, so
it could go directly to their extensive refinery network, also. The
estimates are that 10 billion barrels exist off the coast of
California, and tankers full of imported oil and Alaska North Slope oil
go through those protected waters every day.
Santa Barbara is also home to one of the largest oil seep trends
ever observed, and in one small area 100 bbls per day seep to the
surface, except around an existing producing platform that releases the
pressure causing the seeps. 100% of the oil on the beaches in Santa
Barbara county, and 50% of the oil on the beaches of LA County are
caused by Santa Barbara's seeps. The local group Stop Oil Seeps
advocates drilling there to improve the environment.
Off California, oil could be flowing in less than a year. For us to
send hundreds of billions of dollars overseas, so that Venezuelans,
Nigerians, Russians, Saudis, Canadians and Mexicans can do the
high-paying jobs that hundreds of thousands of Americans would be
delighted to do, is insane. Thursday, August 14, 2008
WINNIE THE PUTIN
By Jerry Holbert
US-POLAND MISSILE DEFENSE PACT
By Charles Johnson
SAUDI ARABIA OFF THE HOOK FOR 9/11
The United States and Poland have agreed on a missile defense deal, and according to the Associated Press Russia is “infuriated.”
WARSAW, Poland - Poland and the United States reached an agreement
Thursday that will see a battery of American missiles established
inside Poland, a plan that has infuriated Russia and raised the specter
of an escalation of tension with the region’s communist-era master.
The deal, which was to be signed later Thursday in Warsaw by Poland
and the United States, includes what Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk
called a “mutual commitment” between the two nations — beyond that of
NATO — to come to each other’s assistance in case of danger.
By Charles Johnson
These are the kinds of court rulings that put big smiles on the faces of our friends the Saudis: Court: Saudi Arabia not liable in 9/11 attacks.
A federal appeals court today rejected lawsuits by victims of the
Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against Saudi Arabia and senior members of the
Saudi royal family, alleging that they helped foster al-Qaeda and other
Islamist terrorist groups.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, ruling in
Manhattan, said Saudi Arabia and members of its royal family were
protected from being sued because the State Department had not
officially designated the desert kingdom as a supporter of terrorism.
Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, foreign governments are
immune from such lawsuits unless the State Department finds in advance
that they had actively supported terrorist groups.
Lawyers for the kingdom argued that there was no credible evidence
that senior Saudi officials had any knowledge of terrorism activities
by the charities or that they intended for the charities as vehicles
for funding al-Qaeda. Thursday, August 14, 2008
FOUR TO WATCH
By Paul Mirengoff
argues that the presidential election probably will come down to four
key states: Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, and Virginia. Rove provides
valuable insight into the political dynamics of each state.
President Bush carried three of these four states in 2004 (all but
Michigan). However, his margin in Ohio was small, and the Democrats
have surged in Colorado and Virginia since 2004.
To win Michigan, McCain will have to run substantially better than
Bush did in 2004; to win Ohio he will have to run about as well. On the
surface, both scenarios seem a little bit unlikely, since 2008 should
be a better year for Democrats than 2004, especially in states like
Michigan and Ohio whose economies have been hard hit. In Michigan,
though, the Detroit's Democratic mayor is fighting felony charges and
the Democratic governor is widely blamed for much of the state's
economic woes. On the other hand, McCain ran poorly in the state's
primary, experiencing a rare defeat at the hands of Mitt Romney.
McCain's strong free trade, free market stance is not well calculated
to win over voters in either Michigan or Ohio. But Obama fared poorly
against Hillary Clinton in Ohio, and Rove shows that the state's
demographics don't favor Obama.
Virginia and Colorado are similar in that, as noted above, the
Democrats have surged in both since 2004. But they diverge in that
Obama seems like a good fit in Colorado, whereas he's substantially to
the left of the Democrats who have prevailed in Virginia recently.
Perhaps putting Tim Kaine, one of those Dems, on the ticket would
partially compensate for this disadvantage.
The state polls, such as they are, also point slightly in Obama's favor. He's a few points ahead in Michigan and Colorado, and even in Virginia. For some reason, there are no current polls in Ohio, but Obama led by two percentage points in the most recent one.
In sum, the picture in Rove's four battleground states looks
basically the same as the picture nationally -- Obama has a small edge.
This makes sense; in a tight national race one would expect the swing
states to be tight. A surge by either candidate nationally would almost
certainly bring along enough of Rove's four states (probably all four)
to ensure victory for the beneficiary. But if the race remains tight
nationally, these are probably the states we'll be biting our nails
over in late October and early November. Thursday, August 14, 2008
Diyala Governor Ra’ad Rashid al Tamini. Photo by Bill Murray.
BAQUBAH, IRAQ: Governor Ra’ad Rashid al Tamini didn’t seem in an
overly jovial mood on Wednesday, even if his aides all agreed on his
high spirits. An outsider may say his face displayed more relief than
joy, which is no surprise: firing your militant police chief, then
surviving an assassination attempt and a coup d’état in a two-day
period can wind even the most talented of political athletes.
Observers hope events this week in Diyala may portend for larger
gains for civil society in Iraq, where demonstrations of civilian
authority over security and military affairs can be rare. Indeed,
implementing civil authority in Iraq has been the crux of the political
adventure here since 2003, which is the reason successful military
actions by Iraq’s central government against Shia militants in Basra
and Sadr City in April and May were interpreted as political watersheds
for the country’s leadership.
In Diyala, north of Baghdad, months of a “cold war” between al
Tamini and the provincial police chief, Ghanem al Qurayshi, came to an
end Aug. 10. Diyala’s provincial council voted 36-0 to oust the police
chief, after numerous run-ins with councilors and the governor over the
extent of his police authority. Even after the vote, the central
government in Baghdad could have countermanded the decision, given al
Qurayshi’s close ties to powerbrokers within the Shia-based political
“We have enforced the laws,” said al Tamini in an interview. “Our
society will improve so much if we can educate people about how the law
strengthens the country. It was the first time the provincial council
applauded for me. The decision came from their hearts.”
It was a series of missteps by the police chief that lead to his
permanent dismissal. The council acted only after al Qurayshi bungled
an order from the central government creating a civilian security
detail for provincial officials and judges.
Instead of adapting the poorly written rule to local circumstances,
like other provincial police chiefs, al Qurayshi stuck to the letter of
the law, leaving public officials throughout the province woefully
under protected at a time when Diyala qualifies as the most dangerous
province in Iraq.
The day after his dismissal, several hundred of his supporters
within the Iraqi Police staged a demonstration in front of the Diyala
government complex. The protesters began chanting slogans, including a
Saddam-era “with my blood, with my life, we support you” chant that
curdles the blood of any Iraqi who felt the boot of the Hussein regime
on their neck. It was this chant that steeled elements within Prime
Minister Nouri al Maliki’s government past the point of no return.
Inside the governor’s office, al Tamini sat with General Ali
Ghaidan, head of Iraqi Army ground forces in the region, listening to
the chant on a cell phone. Upon hearing the protesters, General Ghaidan
put the gears in motion in Baghdad to guarantee al Qurayshi’s permanent
dismissal, but with an Iraqi twist. Al Qurayshi was given a promotion
and moved to a deputy position in Baghdad with little direct influence,
although it’s not sure whether he will accept the posting.
Finally, a male suicide bomber dressed as a female blew himself up
as al Tamini and Ghaidan left the government complex to consult with
the provincial council, killing two people and narrowly missing the
The vote “was a unifying event for the council, giving them the
first real taste of democracy – the kind that we take for granted every
day,” said US Major Timothy Hunt, the main US military advisor to al
Police Chief Had Support
There were numerous accusations of corruption against al Qurayshi,
but very few stuck, and ultimately poor communication with elected
leaders and a lack of appreciation for civilian authority, i.e. not
following orders, which led to his downfall, rather than his ties to
militants, Iraqis said.
While it’s doubtful al Qurayshi himself organized the protest, he
walked outside and was viewed as supporting the chants, soaking up the
personal adulation instead of ordering his subordinates to shut the
The chief still has support among other leaders in the provincial
police, who view him as a strong military leader who brought police
authority back from the brink in 2006 when the province was dominated
by al Qaeda in Iraq and Mahdi Army extremists. Baqubah that year was
declared the capital of the Islamic State of Iraq by an al Qaeda front
organization, while Abu Musab al Zarqawi, al Qaeda in Iraq’s founder,
was killed in Diyala by a US airstrike in June 2006.
Iraqi Police Colonel Ragheb Radhy Abbas. Photo by Bill Murray.
“At the end of 2006, beginning of 2007, the security situation was
very bad. When they asked for someone to become the IP [Iraqi Police]
Chief, a lot of generals refused,” said Iraqi Police Colonel Ragheb
Radhy Abbas. “He accepted and started work. He was a great man, but the
way he operated politically was not the best. He operated in a military
fashion, more than as a policeman. He could not balance between his job
Al Qurayshi was in charge during the period joint Coalition-Iraqi
offensives that took back control over Baqubah and Diyala from
insurgents. About 10,000 U.S. troops and an unknown number of Iraqi
troops took part in the Arrowhead Ripper in March 2007. The Iraqi
Police rolls in Diyala grew from 8,000 police at the end of 2006 to
18,000 in August 2008.
“What the IP did yesterday was because they were intimidated by
him,” al Tamini said. “It shows and explains that he did it to himself.
Most people are concerned with peace.”
Al Tamimi ordered an indefinite curfew in Baqouba after the suicide
attack occurred. Major General Abdul Kareem Khaleef has become acting
Diyala police chief.
Earlier this week, the Maliki government announced a weeklong
suspension of military operations in the province to allow militants a
chance to surrender. Iraqi forces have detained 663 wanted terrorists
since the operation began on July 29, said Major General Mohammed al
Askari, the spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, in a press
conference in Baghdad on August 13. Thursday, August 14, 2008