Essay talk:Wherein you ask me about intelligence, international politics and the war on terror

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So what languages do you know/speak? Blue Talk 02:51, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Arabic, Spanish, Russian and Farsi fluently. I know bits and pieces of many others.UncleHo (talk) 03:20, 29 October 2010 (UTC)
Wow, those seem to be very disparate - different language family, alphabet for Farsi/Arabic, Spanish, and Russian. I envy you! That must take tremendous intellect. I've tried to learn Russian, Spanish, and Arabic at one point, but the only one I succeeded at was Spanish. Blue Talk 03:25, 29 October 2010 (UTC)
I knew Spanish and a little German before I joined the Army. Spanish was actually my first language, as my mother was an immigrant from Peru. Arabic, Russian and Farsi are the most in-demand languages for intelligence now, so they make sure to teach you. The Army actually has a very effective program for language, using some immersion techniques (Think Rosetta Stone, which was actually developed by a retired Army linguist) instead of memorization.UncleHo (talk) 03:33, 29 October 2010 (UTC)
(EC) I've found RosettaStone to be adequate and great in certain circumstances (I got a functional level of Italian in the few months before a long trip to Italy), but for me, memorization and practice can't be disparaged. In via maxima in caso linguarum antiquarum. Blue Talk 03:41, 29 October 2010 (UTC)
But I'm sure the army does it better than me. (: Blue Talk 03:43, 29 October 2010 (UTC)
Of course, we learned through both methods. The thing is, memorization is difficult for many students to truly grasp, and leads them to be less studious. Even with it's flaws, the immersion style makes learning quicker and easier. I also received more training after I moved to intelligence, this time from native speakers.UncleHo (talk) 03:46, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Political views[edit]

Did you become an egg-breaking revolutionary socialist before or after your time in the army? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:59, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

I have been a leftist for most of my life, but I only really became a socialist after my time in the Army.UncleHo (talk) 03:20, 29 October 2010 (UTC)
So you did not see it as a murder squad of jackbooted thugs when you joined up? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 03:30, 29 October 2010 (UTC)
I saw it as a way for me to earn a $10,000 sign up bonus, which was more money than I had ever had in my life at that point. It was also a consistent source of food, shelter and income, none of which I had.UncleHo (talk) 03:34, 29 October 2010 (UTC)


Were you an interrogator? Did you work with such?

Reading newspapers and listening in on voice traffice is one thing... Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:02, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

I wasn't an interrogator, but being in HUMINT, I did work with them. I never worked with CIA, and since I know you're about to ask this next, I never saw torture. That's mostly the CIA's thing, Military intelligence has a hell of a lot more red tape.UncleHo (talk) 20:52, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
Actually I wasn't about to ask that next. My first shirt in SE Asia had been an interrogator in some Eastern European languages, and I've known some "analysts" whose specialty was Near Eastern area stuff, hence the remark about reading newspapers. Got anything to say about hanging out in coffee houses, gathering what you can from idle conversation over a glass of tea and a game of shesh-besh? That, in my view, has been neglected in our HUMINT efforts. I would love to be wrong about that. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 02:36, 2 November 2010 (UTC)
Well, I can't talk too much about my activities, I will say I spent more time in bombed out shitholes than nice cafes.UncleHo (talk) 04:07, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Well, I suppose that rules out most of the really interesting stuff, and understandably so. So, how about those Giants? Never mind...

  • More seriously, how did you like to spend your down time, when you weren't working? Was there any such thing?
  • Did it feel like you were giving your "co-workers/customers" value for their money (or in this case for the space you took up) or was it more like pushing the proverbial eternal boulder uphill for small return?
  • Among the ones you had to get direction from, was there an acceptable ratio of competent professionals to jackasses? (Of course, this one has only one right answer.)
  • Knowing what you know now, would you still sign up for that gig?

Thanks for having spent the time with this. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 14:27, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

  • I had downtime. Like everyone else in the industry, I spent nearly 100% of it drinking with my co-workers. It can become difficult to socialize outside our own crowd, so spooks tend to stick together. Dealing with heavy shit like we do, the booze helps. We also got leave like everyone else, which again, was spent drinking.
  • Intelligence is a tough game. Most of the information you'll gather is either already known or useless, and even the stuff that sounds good can be wrong, or worse yet, a trap. In Iraq, everyone hated us, no one would talk unless they felt they had to. You'd spend a long time gathering intel, talking to people, trying to build up relationships, running sources, all for your source to end up decapitated in a ditch and you at square one. So yeah, it was hard, but we did our jobs as best as we could. You'd be surprised how much luck can play into things.
  • High. Although, the problem was not so much jackasses as morons.
  • No, joining the Army was a mistake.

UncleHo (talk) 18:39, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Ah, yes, drinking with co-workers. I remember that part. Thanks, man! Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 21:32, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Story time![edit]

As I said, Iraqis hated us and wouldn't talk. The tough male agents found ways around this through repeated visits, promises and general macho bravado. This became the accepted way to operate and it got old quick, with the Iraqis realizing our visits were a sham, our promises were a lie and our bravado was a front. This cost us a lot of leads.

But, our best agent found a unique new way. I will call her Brittany.

It's a general rule that people want what they don't have. The poor want cash, the rich want to escape their "unbearable" lifestyle, and sexually repressed Iraqis want sex. Iraq is generally considered a very conservative, sexually repressed nation. While the former is true, the later is not so much. After the fall of Saddam, Iraqi men lived out the teenage years of a westerner in earnest. They were notorious for looking up porn on our computers, and although they didn't outright hit on our people, you could tell by their looks they wanted to.

Brittany was an attractive young woman of about 25. She worked around Iraqi men and saw how they operated in their new "free" society. Being as she was an excellent intelligence officer, she had a great idea. Without asking our CO's, who would have denied it, she decided to intervene on a few interrogations.

She did so in a short skirt, tight fitting top and garter belt. Iraqis who didn't respond to weeks of our best interrogators instantly opened up when they got a little sweet talk and grinding. To this day, Brittany holds the record for most useful intelligence gathered in Iraq. Watching her work was simultaneously sexy and awe-inspiring. Without hurting them, she milked the detainees for all they were worth, and then some. If the detainee seemed eager, she'd turn it up a notch and get that little extra out of them.

The COs eventually found out, but too much intelligence had been gathered to stop her, it was the best operation since the cold war. As far as I know, Brittany is now in the CIA, and I'm sitting here, talking to you.

Guess I should have grown a set of tits.UncleHo (talk) 04:43, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

Cool story bro. ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:42, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

Come on...[edit]

"Come on. You have the chance to ask me about real, important shit and this is all I get?"

The way I read the deafening silence is that those who know need no explanation; those who don't know will get none, or more realistically, do not know what to ask. May I suggest dumping stories on this page as they occur to you? If you tell it, the feedback may come. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:34, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

How a terrorist is born[edit]

In Iraq, both as a linguist and an intelligence officer, I saw many awful things. One that sticks out to me was in my first deployment.

Shortly after the invasion of 2003, I was attached to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines as an Arabic linguist. Things went pretty well until we rolled up on Nasiriyah (An Nāşirīyah, to me) and shit went all pear shaped. We came under both direct and indirect fire, with bullets zipping through our unarmored Humvees. Sgt. Ham, the gunner on my Humvee, had his MK-19 grenade launcher jam after about 10 shots, leaving us with only small arms fire from a moving platform against stationary, well armed Iraqi army and foreign insurgents. We were under attack from small arms, anti-vehicle weapons and mortars, so everyone prayed to whatever they believed in to get them out alive, and fought like possessed men, and it was apparently successful as we suffered only minor causalities. After a lot of shooting at puffs of smoke, we eventually pushed forward to Saddam Alley. Saddam Alley would eventually become infamous among Marines as "Ambush Alley" where 18 Marines would be killed. It was our task to hold the alley open during and after the fighting to allow other units to advance.

About 2 hours in (And nearly 30 hours after the last time we had slept), a Marine saw a red Toyota sedan coming at us. I was sleeping near the 3rd Humvee in the convoy. After a lot of shaking, I awoke to "wake up, you spic motherfucker, fucking hajis are incoming." You have to understand that there were a lot of people coming at us, some of whom were innocents, some of whom were fighters, and some of whom were makeshift ambulances, trying to get medical assistance for the wounded. The problem is, after getting on the line, you only had maybe a minute to decide which was which. We had been ambushed by people all day, and had an attempt to car bomb us only a few hours earlier.

I hope you can understand that we were all tired, pissed off and at the end of our patience. I shouted "الولايات المتحدة قوات مشاة البحرية. وقف اطلاق النار ونحن الآن أو سوف!" (United States Marines. Stop now or we will shoot!) over the PA and the Toyota kept coming. I yelled توقف الآن! نحن لسنا هنا ليصب عليك! وقف السيارة! توقف ، تعطينا أوراقك ويمكنك الذهاب بحرية! (Stop now! We are not here to hurt you! Stop, give us your papers and you can go freely!) and we fired several smoke rounds.

The Toyota didn't stop. We opened fire, and ripped it to shreds. Sgt. Ham had long ago gotten his gun fixed and fired at least 3 rounds into the vehicle, along with hundreds coming from the Marines and myself. We advanced on the vehicle, with me taking up the rear. When we got there, we surveyed the damage. We opened the doors, one by one, with one marine each taking a door. I moved up on the last one and opened it.

It was obvious we had just shot up a taxi driver acting as an ambulance. We saw no weapons, no bombs. Then the remains of a small boy fell out. I tried to move back, but I slipped on the gore falling out of the car and fell face first into what we had just done.

After several minutes spent vomiting and crying, I pulled myself together long enough to continue the mission. The Marines made it through Saddam Alley and suffered fairly light causalities, all things considered.

I consider myself one of those, as I would never look on life the same after that.UncleHo (talk) 06:06, 9 November 2010 (UTC)

nothing special[edit]

Well, then, you spic sonovavuvuzuela, if I may call you that... What scraps of Castellano I have learned came in major part from una Peruvana who knew how to talk to me simply, yet correctly. She had two entire words of inglés, them being "thank you." I heard her trying to say "you're welcome," and it came out somewhat like "gu gwalkom." Bless her heart, she was a smart lady, very intelligent, but could not wrap her buccal anatomy around the sounds of our local gringo talk.

About the same time, there was this peruvano Julio, a real mensch, working in the same department... I tended to call him Julio César because the dude looked a lot like this. He was the kind of guy who could calm the waters with sweet reason when some of the ladies were on the verge of quitting, and kept a land yacht running, among other things for ferrying some of his co-workers to the job site and back again.

About the same epoch, there were a lot of Guatemalans there too, probably with untold tales of strife at home. Most days we got along pretty well. No real point, just putting in some keystrokes. Be well, Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 02:05, 10 November 2010 (UTC)

Yeah, Marines called me a spic all the time and called Spanish "that dirty mud language", to which I would respond with calling them neo-nazi trailer park motherfuckers. This exchange usually ended with both parties laughing and exchanging high fives. That's just the way things work with Marines. They are capable of holding a conversation with nothing but profanities, and they love shit talk, but they know better than to actually insult someone who has their back in a firefight.UncleHo (talk) 00:21, 12 November 2010 (UTC)

On Korea.[edit]

Recently, many have been going ape shit about the current situation in Korea, where (if you live under a rock at the bottom of the ocean) North Korea shelled some little island under ROK control and killed some Marines. People are already preparing for some sort of hellish armageddon where Kim Jong Il unleashes huge waves of brainwashed men streaming across the artillery ruined border of the ROK, or worse, calling for America, China, NATO, Superman and Jesus to strike down these stunted, malnourished devils.

I'm here to tell you all that won't be happening. The first rule of intelligence, it's grand law of everything, is cui bono. Every single time you make a decision in this field, that is the first (and often last) question you need to ask. So, who would benefit from a war in Korea? The answer is no one. The ROK and their allies would face huge causalities. Much of South Korea is under an umbrella of North Korean artillery, which is dug into mountains and can't be easily taken out. All they would gain is a shitty, frozen wasteland full of a starving populace who hates them.

Likewise, the North will not do anything more than prod the ROK a few times, because despite their capacity to inflict some serious damage during initial artillery strikes on Seoul, they know they could not possibly win a war, especially now that China and Russia would not support them.

Neither side has anything to gain here, so why was the attack launched? Lil Kim is on death's door and is in the process of transferring power over to his son, Kim Jong-un, who is seen as something of a wimp, and faces the serious threat of being deposed by his own army, or his younger brother Kim Jong-chul. That means, one of two things happened here. Either Kim Jong-un is flexing his muscles to show the jackals (And the international community) he's every bit as nuts as his father, or the DPRK army is showing Kim what they are capable of doing, if crossed.

The situation in Korea is a very sticky one, and it seems the only rational choice is just waiting it out until the Kim family is deposed from within.UncleHo (talk) 01:28, 24 November 2010 (UTC)


Since no one asked me about this, I will address it on my own.

The situation with Wikileaks, in my mind, is a total non-issue, blown up by the media. If the intelligence services of the world thought Wikileaks could do any damage to them whatsoever, it would be shut down and Julian Assange would be fish food on the Great Barrier Reef. That said, the government can't say that it's a non-issue, so they have to posture and shake their fists to make sure no one is encouraged to take the situation a little farther. The sexual assault charges against Assange are nothing more than a scare tactic, and probably the result of a honey pot trap. Intelligence is testing the waters to see how easily Assange will fold. His best bet is not to fly to Sweden (Where he will be spirited away) or to Ecuador (Where he would have no protection) but to start living the most public life possible in Australia, which will offer him some protection. A rich white man living in a rich white nation is hard to deal with.

When it comes to Pfc. Manning, I think what he did was for the public good, but I also have no idea how he lasted even a day in intelligence, as he's an indiscreet blabbermouth. That sort of person is usually run out of intelligence before they can say "honey pot trap." If he had learned to shut his trap instead of bragging about leaking tons of classified documents, he might have avoided an all expenses paid trip to Quantico.UncleHo (talk) 17:10, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

I think the arrest of Assange for "refus[ing] to use a condom during consensual sex" will only make things worse for keeping the secrets. How the fuck can they arrest someone for that?!?!? They've become accustomed to "journalists" keeping secrets for the government?!?! Their system is asking for it and they blame the weather for failures, as usual. Unlike the Pentagon Papers, which required everything be photocopied, spies can simply download the whole database from one location! The government is as retarded about computer security as the average Windows user.
And now they claim it is a naughty "crime" to VIEW or DISCUSS the information:
[...]the Obama administration has warned federal government employees and students in educational institutions studying towards careers in public service that they must refrain from downloading or linking to any WikiLeaks documents. According to a 3 December 2010 article in The Guardian,[53] access to WikiLeaks has been blocked for federal workers. The U.S. Library of Congress, the U.S. Commerce Department and other government agencies have confirmed that the ban is already in place.
A spokesman for Columbia University confirmed on 4 December that its Office of Career Services sent an e-mail warning students at the School of International and Public Affairs to refrain from accessing WikiLeaks cables and discussing this subject on the grounds that "discourse about the documents would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information".
These idiots will have to learn the hard way that genies do not go back in bottles when you bark at them. The more they try to suppress it the more they will publicise it. Democracy Now said something like that this was one of their most popular stories now. Chomsky is weighing in there. He mentioned that he was one of the first to review and create the analysis packaged with the Pentagon Papers. I watched a documentary on the Pentagon Papers and I don't recall hearing about his involvement.
Perhaps the gov knows the futility of supressing news, and are trying to deter future leakers. These sorts of things could always be leaked over anon networks such as i2p or Freenet where they will be published all over the regular internet. If big news is scared to mention them then this will be the best way to drive people to the new media.
Or perhaps the gov is planning to take the data by force while Assange is preoccupied? Assange has helped develop steganography software. I'm sure Wikileaks have encrypted and uploaded it to various secret storage places accesible over the net. The gov would have to go back to storing video on VHS tapes, in order to stop massive leaks every now and then. So many intelligence people can't be trusted even if the US wasn't a deceptive hypocrytical empire. ~ Lumenos (talk) 08:15, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
There are far more dangerous places to be Assange, than in the custody of HRM and her coppers. Just saying, in case nobody brought that up yet. Discuss?
In the Nixon and Reagan days I held various clearances, and once heard a credible fellow tell the story of how some paper counter/bean pusher tried to get Ohm's Law classified Top Secret, because of the context in which e found it. E=IR. There. I said it. Try and wipe that off teh innertubes now. Still, I don't think hte gummingt is quite as naive about security as "the average Windows user." Joey or Janey Winderzz do not have a ponderous bureaucracy of trained and vetted professionals at their beck and call. Some of those folks do indeed have a smattering of clue. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 15:31, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
Of course I am exaggerating but an abundance of wealth often allows people to overpay and trust "professionals" who are often really professional salesmen, consciously or not. It was estimated that for every 1 dollar Al-Qaeda has spent on the "wars", the US has spent a million. The British gov learned the hard way that MS Office leaves all kinds of incriminating invisible things in its documents. And here we have a massive leak, the great majority of which has not been released. Good security? Has any gov representative admitted a flaw in their system? What they do instead is attempt to make adjustments to the world to compensate for their pathetic security. It is like blaming "hackers" for publishing flaws instead of expecting the system to have exploitable bugs and having security apparatus to prevent these doing damage (ie AppArmor, SE Linux, etc). I think a lot of home users, schools, businesses, and gov agencies would be better off using free operating systems such as Ubuntu, if they only knew about them. All of Ubuntu's software can be (automatically) updated from signed repositories and the entire OS can be upgraded to newer versions without reinstalling. This for zero cost! ~ Lumenos (talk) 22:05, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
Preaching to the choir, my friend. I lost any good will I might have had for μ$oft in the mid 1980s when an application "engineer" in Beaverton told me their x86 assembler would not assemble certain perfectly valid machine instructions "for my protection," and that I could expect even less control over hte hardware in future. Found an easy way to code around it, and haven't looked back since. This image about sums it up. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 05:45, 9 December 2010 (UTC)
Don't under-estimate HRM's bobbies. These are the same people who fought against the IRA, a much more dangerous and hardened foe than some hacker who can't even figure out how to work a rubber. Trying to raid for the data would do nothing but get it moved somewhere else. As I said before, this is all a scare tactic. If intelligence thought Assange was a real threat, he'd be dead. The man isn't exactly well protected, Kazakh intelligence could take him down easy, let alone the CIA, MI-5/6, SVR or ASIS.UncleHo (talk) 23:39, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
No underestimation going on... I was just wondering if the "arrest by appointment" could have been a voluntary move into protective custody. Is it unwarranted stereotyping to assume that HRM law enforcement considers him theirs for the moment? Similarly, doesn't it seem reasonable that those bobbies would meet any threat to their new meat with, shall we say, a stout measure of gruffness? Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 01:26, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
Possible, although it would only be in the interest of the British to protect him if he gave them something in return. Set up or not, the man is a fugitive, and he's pissed off their politicians and their greatest ally. I think the arrest is real, unless Assange is ready to stop or has squealed on someone.UncleHo (talk) 02:51, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

Allow me to expand on this a little bit. Assange isn't the real issue here. If he goes down, any other web admin could take his place and if he's smart, he already has one lined up for such an eventuality. If Assange goes down, the leaks keep coming. If anything, more of them come than before, as he becomes a hero, a martyr to the cause, and the cause becomes even more powerful. What the police and intelligence agencies want isn't Assange. It's his whistle blowers. If they start getting nabbed, Wikileaks goes with them. Any arrest is an attempt to either get these names, or scare him so badly he backs out on his own. Nothing else makes sense, to me.UncleHo (talk) 03:57, 11 December 2010 (UTC)

Assange is not the issue. There are numerous "media" people transmitting and publishing the information. Why is Assange the only one they demonize? How come I haven't heard the word "scapegoat" yet? Assange is a scapegoat that they are so successfully using to divert the blame/attention for the Army's schisms and technological insecurity. I have yet to hear anyone make a critical remark regarding how the US ARMY LEAKED this data. Assage didn't break in and steal something, he was contacted by an Army employee who requested that he take on this arguably heroic responsibility because THE ARMY WAS OVERWHELMED by the belief that it had been taken over by corrupt influences. Manning isn't the only one who believes this, and there is reason to believe the military is united by profit and coersion, moreso than honor, chivalry, virtue, love, and that sort of thing. But we are told that the Army is controlled from the top down, much like we are told that we are "we" and people in other countries are "they" and "we" are fighting "them".
The leakers requested that the military/gov help to redact information. They refused like a bunch of fucking babies who got their toy taken. The next leaker may not be so thoughtful if they think it would be safer to leak it all anonymously, uncencored. Maybe the "expatriate" will throw in some of their own disinformation, as intelligence services and public relations aggengies routinely do. (You can see how they fooled some RatWikian's in this case; someone thought that Manning and Assage had published all the information uncensored and everyone is talking about Assage's responsiblity instead of the Army's.) How would you feel if you were Manning and Assage was kicked to the curb, as many politicians would prefer? The message is, "We expect complete obedience in every jurisdiction, or we won't even help you help us". This arrogance is as much a threat to national security as enemies, because it makes enemies. ~ Lumenos (talk) 06:25, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, Manning is an idiot who leaks 250,000 cables and then brags about it, and Assange is just an admin of a website, so both of them could be kicked to the curb and Wikileaks would keep going. Also Assange is not being hurt nearly as badly as Manning. Trust me on this one, Pfc. Manning is in a hell right now you don't even want to think about.
That said, Assange is being targeted because he is the only Wikileaks council member who has gone public, and his arrest will satiate the politicians. If there was a real threat here, Wikileaks' "council" would be wiped out.UncleHo (talk) 07:17, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
If Assange hadn't "gone public", they would still need a scapegoat. It seems that would have to be Assange or the entire coucil.
The "threat", is that taxpayers are discovering a little more about what's being done with their labor and more lies are also being revealed to those in other "liberated" areas. I'm doubtful that "threat" could be removed by trying to separate Wikileaks' council from the leaked data (by killing or imprisoning them). It depends on how many people they will trust with the uncensored data. The more hostility is shown to those who have the data now, the more likely that they will have to hide the data with less sympathetic or competent parties. The fed is threatened in the sense that it can lose funding for weapons and war. They don't like to retreat and therefore Vietnam situations are possible. Chomsky claims that the organization against the Iraq war is far more organized and strong, at an earlier time than with Vietnam, although the Iraq war seems to be going better AFAIR. ~ Lumenos (talk) 21:06, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
I actually think Assange being the public face of Wikileaks was a move to satiate his ego. I can tell just watching the man and listening to him talk that he is very insecure, so being cast as the badass rebel hacker taking on THE MAN would be a very appealing thing to him. Unfortunately, the move backfired quite badly. Also Noam Chomsky is full of shit, and I usually disregard anything he says.UncleHo (talk) 23:44, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
I think Assage made case very well and it good idea to be very loud when stalked by gentlemen who depend on darkness to do nefarious activity. You may not have opportunity to defend yourself in media when they have you in guarded cage. The old/new media and public opinion are the only things keeping federal mercinaries in check. Although the old media tries to lean our faith on the "authoritees", they are only half-trusted by the average Joe, they have to report some facts here and there, and most of the people whose perceptions matter, get the real story from the Internet or word of mouth. Chomsky is anointed one and now prepare yourself for cross examination. ~ Wong (in karate attire) (talk) 13:41, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

[Wikileaks (break to make the handy edit button ==>)][edit]

Why does everyone seem to jump to this silly conclusion that if governments wanted to, they'd have Assange unpersoned? If Assange "conveniently" died (by an accident, like falling down an elevator shaft, on to some bullets.) then he'd go down as a martyr. A dozen people would rise up to take his place if that happened. Far better to destroy his reputation and the reliability of his organisation - precisely what is happening, too. They'd never effectively shut down WikiLeaks or any similar site because it's the internet, it can be backed up, disseminated and delocalised. If the US government and its allies had the ability to outright shut down and completely silence something on the net like WikiLeaks they'd have the ability to destroy something like Al Qaeda in about ten seconds flat. Clearly this isn't happening so the all that remains is the damage limitation option. Scarlet A.pngpostate 01:15, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
If you think the governments of the world just now found out about Julian Assange and wikileaks, you're a fool. I guarantee he has been watched for years, and if there was any chance of a threat, he would have been dealt with long before the current situation. Also, what they're doing isn't shit. It's a test, a chance to pressure Assange and the Wikileaks council to give up sources or scare them off. This is the equivalent to firing a warning shot. These are the people who brought you COINTELPRO, so if they want to get down and dirty, they will do it. That said, going public was a blessing and a curse for Assange. It will open him up to being smeared, but it may well save his life. After all, if you didn't know him as the face of Wikileaks, why would you or anyone else care Julian Assange shuffled off the mortal coil? The only problem is, I really can't see him as being tough enough to resist the coming onslaught.
As far as al-Qa'ida is concerned, you are mistakenly assuming that it is an organization, when in reality it is more an idea than anything. You can't destroy ideas. You can, however, destroy websites and the people who operate them.UncleHo (talk) 01:26, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
The blessing/curse thing is what I was getting at. WikiLeaks has been going for a long time, to think that they weren't under some kind of scrutiny would be naive. But what constitutes a threat (especially before it becomes a threat) is notoriously hard to predict, so by the time anyone realised that WikiLeaks posed a security threat it would have been too late (to cut a long story short, a Black Swan). So if they'd bumped Assange off before he was famous, they'd probably have to deal with someone else doing the exact same thing.
I'm not mistakenly thinking Al Qaeda is an "organisation", because it's certainly not - it's an organisation in the sense that Anonymous is. You might not be able to destroy an idea (I say, resisting the urge to add a V for Vendetta quote) but wouldn't WikiLeaks count as an idea too? You might be able to destroy its servers and shut its websites, but similarly you can take out Al Qaeda members, destroy their weapons and cut their sources of funding. Ideas might not be able to be destroyed, but ideas need people to carry them and spread them and they aren't bulletproof (sorry). Scarlet A.pngpostate 16:51, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Uncle Ho writes:
  • If you think the governments of the world just now found out about Julian Assange and wikileaks, you're a fool. I guarantee he has been watched for years, and if there was any chance of a threat, he would have been dealt with long before the current situation.
If the world's (or the west's) intelligence services are so effective or powerful how how come Bin Laden wasn't eliminated years ago?--BobSpring is sprung! 17:00, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Because Usamah bin Ladin is a fabulously wealthy man with an extensive international network of well trained insurgents who would die for his ideals and connections to one of America's foremost allies in the Middle East, whereas Assange is a stuttering hacker with prematurely white hair. Comparing the two is like comparing the New York Yankees to a little league team.UncleHo (talk) 20:23, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Comparing the two is like comparing you [UncleHo] to Charlie Manson [George Bush US Presidents who think God is on their side]. Assange shouldn't have to be a fugitive living in caves in foreign countries for allowing American's to practice their First Amendment "right" and see what is all over the military Internet (minus the personal info). ~ Lumenos (talk) 18:04, 13 December 2010 (UTC) offering a free service wherein they redact personal information from leaked data. ~ Lumenos (talk) 18:45, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, just like Iraqi children shouldn't have their faces shot off to keep you swimming in western privilege. Maybe if people like you and Assange would actually do something about it instead of posting cables about how Angela Merkel is boring, we wouldn't be talking about any of this right now.UncleHo (talk) 03:52, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
What do you mean, "you"? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:11, 14 December 2010 (UTC)
If you are asking me, I meant UncleHo because he is telling us "insignificant" secrets like Assage is assumed to be doing. ~ Lumenos (talk) 08:27, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

You are wrong to think that wikileaks is just another website. Leaking is more than dumping bits anonymously to the net. You have to make sure the data is anonymous so that the leak can't be traced back to you (which might mean "rewording" the data extensively), and you have to have some authenticity. It takes co-operation with a trustworthy and competent organisation to achieve both. Wikileaks is exactly that kind of an organisation, and has an ideology to back it up. -- (talk) 18:35, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Perhaps you (UncleHo) believe that the Iraqi War will lower the cost of oil and this will offset the cost of the war or other resulting conflicts? I'm not convinced that we are the benefactors. For example, it seems that weapons dealers are profiting from taxpayers. ~ Lumenos (talk) 06:51, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

The weapons dealers are taxpayers. Even if it's not nearly what it should be, Uncle Sam takes a chunk of all those profits and uses them to build your roads, schools and fire stations. The wealth coming into society benefits you, directly or indirectly.UncleHo (talk) 00:21, 15 December 2010 (UTC)
Hugh? I'm talking about when Uncle Sam is buying the weapons, not taxing trades made by others. I can't see how Sam is going to turn a profit without getting something out of the countries he invaded. I thought that would mainly be oil. (If Iraq recovers, maybe the fed collects "taxes" from protected markets for Western corporations and dept slavery for the world banks?) Chomsky says that the fed believes that oil is a crucial resource because any group who controls it has veto power over anything another country tries to do. ~ Lumenos (talk) 08:14, 15 December 2010 (UTC)
Uncle Sam buys the all the equipment and weapons for his armed forces from Uncle Sam's own manufacturing. In fact, government contracts are just about the only thing keeping that sector of the economy going. I'm working on putting up some power cables in a new addition to an air force base, for example. I am getting paid and escaping layoff because America kills people overseas, and I'm not the only one. Oil is an important resource, for sure, but the America is all in when it comes to the military-industrial complex. If it ends, the economic damage would be so severe it would make the Great Depression look like a cakewalk.UncleHo (talk) 02:20, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
UncleHo said, "[...]just like Iraqi children shouldn't have their faces shot off to keep you swimming in western privilege. Maybe if people like you and Assange would actually do something about it instead of posting cables about[...]" At the moment what I am doing is trying to see if it is a myth that that we economically benefit from harm to Iraqi children.
I've heard that the "wars" actually have resulted in less suffering than the sanctions. The sanctions prohibbited things like the import of chlorine which lead to widespread disease, from lack of water treatment. Some proponents of what I will call "collateral genocide", would have us believe that all this collateral damage is necessary for "liberating" Iraq and that this collateral damage will benefit the majority of Iraqis and Americans, in the long run. Other proponents of "collateral genocide" rationalize that the Iraqi people are our enemy, and therefore we shouldn't fret over harm to them. This isn't your possition, but you may help their case by suggesting that we benefit from Iraq's misery.
You suggest without the "military industrial complex" a greater depression would occur. That seems bizzare but without debating that, lets just say that instead of removing any funding for the MIC, the fed diverts all funding for "collateral genocide" to employ the MIC in mutually cooperative activity. For example, they would be required to act as a "police" force in Iraq, not one that opens fire on a crowd because someone in that crowd started shooting, or one that bombs an entire village because someone said there were some terrorists there. Does the economy collapse? If not, this means that shooting children in the face is not what is keeping me swimming in privilege. ~ Lumenos (talk) 22:52, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
My point here is that you, like every other American, are benefiting from the military industrial complex. Our economy is structured in such a way that massive defense spending is one of the few things many sectors of the economy going. It's not just manufacturing, either. Science, engineering, even logistics greatly benefit from defense spending. Police, or a Kucinich style Department of Peace don't need whiz-bang fighter jets, a dominating blue water Navy, cruise missiles or new landing strips for bombers. All of these things are employing American workers, all of them are being made here, taxed here and used to build society here. Like I said, America is all in with the military industrial complex. It basically IS our economy, and I'm not even going into the benefits it offers with regards to other sectors of the economy. I don't think it should be that way (and I think it's especially dumb that the same people who push free market ultra-Capitalism seem to favor keeping lots of Americans working for Uncle Sam's defense contractors) but barring a revolution, there's not really any way to change it.UncleHo (talk) 02:24, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
I have seen your point, I'm just incredulous that for all your intelligence, experience, and revolutionary rhetoric, you gobble up the tripe that we all depend on the genocidal industrial parasite. You are talking about some nanny state trickle-down Ponzi scheme. I don't believe it is so complex. If the taxes weren't spent on genocide there would be less taxes or there would be more money spent on more productive activities. Make sense so far? We benefit from the taxes not spending those taxes in counterproductive ways. If we are benefiting from "collateral genocide" it is because genocide is the best way to gain territory, markets, or natural resources; and this pillaging is carried out successfully. Is this the case? Have aggressive wars turned a profit for the fed or only for the genocidal industrial parasites? The federal dept from war is massive and increasing, is it not? ~ Lumenos (talk) 06:38, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

What is it you think we should do? Chomsky has suggested that we try to stop the fed from crushing democratic movements such as that of Mossadegh . It seems this has lead to the rise of Islamic extremism along with the CIA promoting it to fight the Soviet Union. It seems the best way to do these sorts of things is to shine a light on covert operations. If we can't even protect those who reveal what you may call insignificant secrets, how will we protect those who discover things like Iran-Contra? ~ Lumenos (talk) 06:51, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Whistleblowing by itself does nothing, because there are no consequences. Ollie North (who was just a pasty anyway) went on to a nice, lucrative career writing books and fellating Reagan's corpse. There was no shakedown in government, no one responsible was punished, nothing changed. Shit, the same guy who authorized the whole lot was elected president 3 years later.UncleHo (talk) 00:21, 15 December 2010 (UTC)
You aren't saying what it is you advocate. Why do they bother hiding and lying if there is no need? Whistleblowing can influence votes of the legislature and the public. When the legislature does not act, discontent builds and uprisings develop. The Vietnam war ended in part because the demonstrations, rioting, and vandalism (Weather Underground) were overwhelming. These are inspired by the widespread perception that the fed is out of control. I'm not saying that "whistleblowing" or the ways that people may react to the revelations, were necessarily good. When faced with uncertainty some turn to violence or destruction and others try to find solutions that are more "diplomatic", "entertaining", or elegant (like Gandhi). Leaking information can be done without detection/consequence and it seems basically nonviolent in the way Wikileaks does it. More destructive forms of direct action are more dangerous and can be used to justify the fed increasing "security" as with the "Patriot" Act after 9/11. ~ Lumenos (talk) 08:14, 15 December 2010 (UTC)
And? The more the state cracks down, the more the people are revolutionized. Eventually, critical mass is reached, and the state does nothing but harm itself. It's pretty much the first law of any popular insurgency, and all it requires is a populace with enough balls to do it. Blow all the whistles you want, all you'll do is turn corrupt politicians into corrupt authors, speakers and TV hostsUncleHo (talk) 02:20, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
Isn't that a win? -- (talk) 08:49, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin have made more money off their whack job, anti-science, reds under the bed bullshit than Steven Hawking or Carl Sagan made writing books about the laws of the universe. So yes, I would say that is a win for the fascists. If we want to talk politics only, Chomsky, Zinn and Obama have sold only a fraction of what Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Ollie North (Who you "activists" let off the hook) have sold. You're losing the battle, but I suspect you neither know this nor do you care, because you never had the guts to fight in the first place.UncleHo (talk) 09:36, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
I think it is major progress to turn corrupt politicians into "corrupt" authors. I have no problem with Ollie North putting his claims and theories down where we can analyse them. If he had humbly done that to begin with, much needless misery may have been avoided.
Whistleblowing is just giving educators and policy makers, more information to make decisions. You speak the truism to say that "whisleblowing by itself does nothing", but if the legislature and public don't know what the military/CIA is up to, they can't control what type of foriegn policy they are funding. Is it impossible to change policy by showing people that indiscriminate warfare and genocidal sanctions are not liberating anyone or making the majority of US citizens more secure or wealthy? ~ Lumenos (talk) 11:36, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
You call it analysis, people like North call it free publicity. He's getting paid VERY well, and I seriously doubt he gives a shit about what you think about it. Fact is, there have been whistleblowers for a long time. There has been an anti-war movement for a long time. Lots of people have known about government misdeeds and outright crimes for a long time. Yet they still occur, because none of these people are willing to stop them.UncleHo (talk) 02:26, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
Apparently you have some ingenius plan that we can't analyse. Is whistleblowing or "anti-war movement" detrimental to the plan, or just ineffective? Does it require greater sacrifice or skill? Is there much potential for blowback or harming the wrong people? I'm not sure that whistleblowers/antiwarriors would, could, or should do this, but since we've no clue what it is, we can't very well compare the two. ~ Lumenos (talk) 08:45, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

I don't need my own plan, as Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh wrote perfectly good ones. Why mess with perfection? All the leaked documents and marches in the world will never get anything done. Never have. No social movement has created significant change without at the very least, the credible threat of violence, if not an outright armed insurgency.UncleHo (talk) 18:15, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

I get so mad I make new forum so you please go answer question now! Forum:Nonviolence,_non-coercion,_non-destruction_vs_COMMUNIST_REVOLUTION_NOW!!!!! ~ Wong (in karate attire) 00:45, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't need my own plan, as Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh wrote perfectly good ones. I know I am probably begging for a smackdown with this one, but I submit that the only lasting "change" Mao and company made in that area was to change some millions of living Chinese into some millions of dead Chinese. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 03:13, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
Politically, Mao was not a great leader. However, unless you're totally intellectually bankrupt, even you must admit that he was a great revolutionary. To put it into LX terms, Mao was like Tyr. Good at fighting, not so good at controlling the wolves.UncleHo (talk) 05:23, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
If by that you mean that Mao was able to overthrow the previous government and install himself in power, I would be inclined to agree. However, Mao did not exactly achieve the goals for which he required that power. (And if you are talking about the Gleipnir story, that is a remarkably bad analogy.) Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 05:37, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, Mao was too merciful. He didn't kill enough of the ListenerXs of China, and that was his greatest failing. If he killed more useless fascists like you, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Mao even let Unit 731 live, the proto-LXs of their time.UncleHo (talk) 07:00, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
You remind me strongly of the objectivists who use the words "communist", "socialist" and "fascist" interchangeably. I'd ask you to stop, but I lost what small respect I had for you when you started these ad homs in the first place, so I will simply get some popcorn. Evil word Phantom! 20:51, 22 December 2010 (UTC)
I assume that you are using "fascist" in its communist sense of "dissenter," or to make allowance for the more benign communist regimes, "person who is sadly lacking in devotion to Lenin's Holy Word"? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 08:44, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

Do the local grade-school kids get any interesting field trips?[edit]

In Vietnam every now and then, there would be an array of stiffs, from a handful to a dozen or more, neatly laid out like the beginnings of a woodpile by the side of the road. At least once I saw what looked like a class of third- or fourth-graders being taken to "see the fascinating phenomenon" by an an adult who just as easily could have been their teacher. No time to stop and ask what the civics lesson of the day was... any ideas?

More to a point worth exploring, do you have a sense of how the local kids are developing? In the mid-east, and elsewhere, kids tend to accept adulthood and its responsibilities sooner than some pampered sons and daughters of the "developed" world. Related to my café comment earlier; do you have any chance to see what every day life is like behind the front doors, or is your contact with civilian population limited? Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 21:18, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

Yes, Iraqi kids tend to come to age quite quickly. This is mostly because their fathers (The only breadwinner in their society) tend to die very early. Iraq has either been at war or under crushing sanctions for the past 30 years, and most Americans tend to forget how much damage the Iran-Iraq war caused to them. Before they could even really recover, the Gulf war started, then economic sanctions and constant bombings, then OIF. Being as Iraq has no infrastructure to speak of, the kids are quite the little hustlers. They sell bootleg DVDs, home made booze, cheap cigarettes, shoe shines and anything else they can. There's not much education for these kids, and what little there is tends to be right-wing American brainwashing run by staunch neo-conservatives. Honestly, the future doesn't look too good for these people.
I did occasionally get to see glimpses of Iraqi life, but you must understand that people seen openly co-operating with me tended to meet a bad end.UncleHo (talk) 22:52, 10 December 2010 (UTC)


Do you know anything about SIPRNet where apparently a lot of the Wikileaks stuff came from? Can anyone with a Secret clearance just read anything on there or is it restricted so people can only read things related to their work? I'm wondering why Manning had access to things like diplomatic cables in the first place, even with a clearance. WP tells me that ~3 million people had access so I'd think that any government who wanted to be reading anything there probably already was. --MarkGall (talk) 20:40, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

It's restricted, and nothing that is seriously damaging is there.UncleHo (talk) 20:51, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
3 million?!?! Are you kidding me? They should call them journalists rather than secret agents. Could they really be so stupid as to not expect this leak to occur? I'd say a secret is leaked when it is put on these networks or told to someone who would. ~ Lumenos (talk) 17:49, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
No, nothing top secret is on SIPRNet. The worst you'd find on there is things like these cables, and even those would be restricted to people who need to know. SIPRNet is just secret classified documents, and there are LOTS of people with that clearance. Shit, a janitor at the pentagon (Or an air force base, for that matter) would need that clearance.UncleHo (talk) 18:04, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
I disagree. I've worked in very sensitive facilities, and the janitorial force is not cleared (though they have a very minimal background check, for criminal activity and citizenship status.) They are sometimes escorted by cleared personnel.
If someone is wondering "what do they do with classified waste?", it's put into sealed bags by the cleared workers, pulped, and recycled. Incidentally, one of the companies that buys the pulped waste makes pizza boxes. So, they next time you order a pizza, you may be eating it off of cardboard that was once America's most secret material. MDB (talk) 18:12, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Alright, I was exaggerating somewhat, but secret clearance isn't that hard to get.UncleHo (talk) 23:01, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

To expand on this a little further, I think I should explain how the US classification system works. There are basically 3 levels. Confidential, secret and top secret.

  • Confidential: By far and away the largest category, confidential documents are things that are, at best, mildly embarrassing but not actually harmful. Most of the correspondences between government agencies would fall into this category, and a good example would be the Wikileaks diplomatic cables, most of which are confidential. These documents have wide access and aren't that hard to get.
  • Secret: This is where you're going to find a lot of day to day things from the military, intelligence, federal law enforcement and so forth. It's nothing TOO damning, but secret documents can contain operational information that could be harmful. For example, lots of air force missions fall into this area. It's not secret squirrel shit, but the government would rather not have the potential target (Or any terrorists) knowing exactly where the bombers are headed. You'll also find a lot of weapons and equipment plans and schematics in secret classifications, as well as minor dirt on people. We're talking about "Sarkozy is a blow hard" not "Sarkozy has been sleeping with male hookers, one of whom is our agent. Also here's the agent's name, safe house location and blood type."
  • Top Secret: This is the real Jack Bauer shit. Top secret clearance is VERY hard to get, and someone caught leaking TS information would probably be found in a river somewhere outside Cairo. Even in intelligence, we rarely dealt with TS information. What we're talking here is detailed plans of usually very morally questionable operations, very damaging dirt and the names, statements and reports of some very high up sources and agents. The real cutting edge plans and information on new weaponry and equipment can also be TS classified. Nothing TS classified can be found on SIPRNet.

Now, just because someone has a security clearance doesn't mean that you have access to all information at that level. This is all on a need to know basis. A diplomat, for example, can't just log into a database and browse weapons plans. There are also some restrictions on unclassified documents, but there is no real penalty for leaking those. Police memos tend to fall into this category.UncleHo (talk) 03:00, 17 December 2010 (UTC)