Christian Issues Digest: Somali charged in New York in more ship hijackings

Somali charged in New York in more ship hijackings

Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:57pm EST

Factbox

·        Ships held by Somali pirates

Tue, Dec 29 2009

Related News

·        Maersk says hired Tanzanian warship against pirates

Tue, Jan 5 2010

·        Somali pirates seize two more ships

Tue, Dec 29 2009

·        Yemen says Somali pirates seize Yemeni cargo ship

Mon, Dec 28 2009

·        Somali pirates say $4 million ransom paid for coal ship

Sun, Dec 27 2009

(Adds plea and other details)

STOCKS

By Edith Honan

NEW YORK, Jan 12 (Reuters) - A Somali teenager extradited to New York last year on charges he attempted to hijack a U.S. ship in the Indian Ocean pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to taking part in two additional attacks.

Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, the sole surviving accused pirate from the foiled bid to hijack U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama in April 2009, entered the plea through a Somali interpreter in Manhattan federal court.

He has already pleaded not guilty to the original charges of piracy, conspiracy to seize a ship by force, conspiracy to commit hostage taking and related firearms offenses.

A lawyer for Muse, whose age is unknown, is expected to file papers with the court arguing that Muse should be tried as a minor. The prosecution says he is at least 18 years old.

The captain of the Maersk Alabama, Richard Phillips, was held hostage on a lifeboat for several days after he volunteered to go with the pirates in exchange for the crew. He was rescued when U.S. Navy snipers killed three pirates and captured Muse.

Prosecutors accuse Muse and others of hijacking two additional ships, including one that is still being held. The indictment does not name the ships or provide details about the attacks.

Muse faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Heavily armed pirates from lawless Somalia have been striking vessels in busy Indian Ocean shipping lanes and in the Gulf of Aden, capturing dozens of vessels, taking hundreds of hostages and making off with millions of dollars in ransoms. (Reporting by Edith Honan; editing by Stacey Joyce)

Christian Issues Digest

This material was brought to you by Christian Issues Digest, a ministry of Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, Michael James Stone, Volunteers, and people dedicated to the Love of God and Salvation of Souls. We hope it helps you to face your personal  issues daily as a Christian, as well as prepare you for the return of Jesus Christ, He is Coming Very Soon.

Only God can heal hurts often caused by unintentional consequences of actions done by those who don’t know any better, and those who do. We all can only pray the same thing Jesus did when He said. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”  I pray you forgive as He did and we all learn better how to forgive. -Michael James Stone

Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, operates by you, for you and about you. You can make a difference in someone’s life.  “Freely you have received, freely give”  Pass this on, everywhere you can, anytime you can, anyway you can. You will be blessed if you do.

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Christian Issues Digest: The Iranian Cyber Army (ICA),after attacking Twitter, has hit again

Baidu defaced by ICA after DNS hijacking

by Steve Ragan - Jan 12 2010, 23:25

Baidu defaced by ICA after DNS hijacking.

The Iranian Cyber Army (ICA), not a month after attacking Twitter, has hit again, this time altering the DNS of China’s largest search engine Baidu.

For two to three hours, Baidu was altered to display the ICA markings, until administrators were able to reverse the changes.

Like the Twitter attack, the Baidu attack is political and offered no malicious payloads to those viewing the defacement. While the basics of how Twitter was compromised are all but public record, at this time there are only guesses as to how Baidu managed to get a face lift.

The crew at Praetorian Prefect noted that the defacement pointed the Baidu site to a server in Texas hosted by the Planet, and speculated that “…the changes were initially made at [the] .com level, most likely through Register.com to point the Baidu.com domain name to DNS servers controlled by the attackers.”  [Praetorian Prefect]

Aside from the fact that Baidu has returned to normal, officials in China are keeping silent on the DNS hijacking.

It’s interesting to note that this is the second time a major site has been defaced for political means. Another interesting observation is that both defacements were the result of unauthorized access to DNS controls, and not because of a flaw in the site’s code.

In the Twitter attack, while not confirmed by the micro-blogging service itself, the DNS hijacking took place because of a compromised email account used by a Twitter staffer. This account was used to order DNS changes from Twitter's DNS provider Dyn Inc.

Shortly after the Twitter DNS hijack, Dyn Inc. altered their authentication process, and removed the ability to request or reset passwords via email.

It is entirely possible that the Register.com account was compromised in some fashion, but Register.com will not discuss the matter. If so, this moves the discussion forward on the debate over access control within critical infrastructure.

Ten years ago, a username and password worked well when securing access to domain information or DNS records, now there are calls for stronger methods of protection, including layered authentication protocols.

We'll update this story as more information becomes available.

Read more: http://www.thetechherald.com/article.php/201002/5069/Baidu-defaced-by-ICA-after-DNS-hijacking#ixzz0cRt5xi3Q

Christian Issues Digest

This material was brought to you by Christian Issues Digest, a ministry of Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, Michael James Stone, Volunteers, and people dedicated to the Love of God and Salvation of Souls. We hope it helps you to face your personal  issues daily as a Christian, as well as prepare you for the return of Jesus Christ, He is Coming Very Soon.

Only God can heal hurts often caused by unintentional consequences of actions done by those who don’t know any better, and those who do. We all can only pray the same thing Jesus did when He said. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”  I pray you forgive as He did and we all learn better how to forgive. -Michael James Stone

Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, operates by you, for you and about you. You can make a difference in someone’s life.  “Freely you have received, freely give”  Pass this on, everywhere you can, anytime you can, anyway you can. You will be blessed if you do.

Posted via email from Christian Issues Digest

Christian Issues Digest: Two Asteroids Pass Near the Earth this week

Weird Object Zooming by Earth Wednesday is Likely an Asteroid 
By Tariq Malik
SPACE.com Managing Editor
posted: 12 January 2010
5:15 pm ET

This story was updated at 7:33 p.m. ET.

A weird object that left some observers wondering if it was a piece of space junk is most likely just a small asteroid, and will zoom close by Earth Wednesday, NASA scientists say. It may be visible to seasoned amateur astronomers as it passes harmlessly by the planet.

The space rock won't hit the Earth, but it will make its closest approach at 7:45 a.m. EST (1245 GMT) when it comes within 80,000 miles (130,000 km) of our planet. That's nearly one-third the distance between the Earth the moon.

Astronomers announced the discovery of the asteroid, which they named 2010 AL30, on Monday. It is relatively small, about 36 feet (11 meters) wide, NASA researchers said.

There was some early speculation that the object was a part of a derelict spacecraft, but NASA scientists have concluded that it is most likely a simple space rock flying near Earth.

"I looked at this object closely yesterday morning and concluded that this object is probably not artificial," said Paul Chodas, a scientist at

NASA's Near-Earth ObjectOffice at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

What makes 2010 AL30 weird is its orbit, which is almost exactly one Earth year long, leading to some discussion that it might be a man-made spacecraft launched in the recent past.

But Chodas said the asteroid's trajectory is not the kind used to transfer spacecraft out of Earth's orbit, nor is the space rock followed by other objects that escaped from Earth or lunar space. The asteroid was also far from Earth during the Apollo lunar missions of the late 1960s and 1970s, when many spacecraft were launched into the space near the moon, Chodas said.

Professional astronomers have already snapped photos of the object and seasonedskywatchers may be able to do the same if they know where to look.

According to Spaceweather.com, 2010 AL30 will appear as bright as a 14th magnitude star and pass through the constellations Orion, Taurus and Pisces as it passes the Earth. Magnitude is a standard used by astronomers to measure the brightness of objects in the sky. The lower the number, the brighter the object, with the brightest stars in the sky categorized as either a zero or first magnitude.

2010 AL30 is not the only space rock passing relatively close by Earth this week. Another recently discovered object, known as 2010 AG30, will zip by the planet on Thursday. But that asteroid is about 43 feet (13 meters) wide, and will pass by at a comfortable distance of about 650,000 miles (1 million km) from Earth, NASA scientists said.

·        Video - Asteroid Collision Watch

·        NASA Needs More Money to Hunt Killer Space Rocks

·        Catastrophe Calculator: Estimate Asteroid Impact Effects Online

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This material was brought to you by Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity. Last Call Digest, is a ministry of Michael James Stone, volunteers, and people dedicated to the Love of God and Salvation of Souls. It is an aggragate of Christian Material selected to Bless you and Prepare you for each and every day you read them. May God Bless You as You Do!! Reading these Devotions will help you to prepare daily for life, living, and your Lord. You will hear God Speak To You thru them.  Jesus  is Coming Very Soon.

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Christian Issues Digest: Abortion doctor's killer to tell court he was right

Abortion doctor's killer prepares to tell court that he was right

Supporters and opponents shocked by judge's decision to allow the gunman to make an unprecedented defence in court

The body of Dr George Tiller is removed from the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas. Photograph: Orlin Wagner/AP

The tense standoff in America between extreme anti-abortion protesters and doctors who provide abortions has been ruptured by a judge's ruling in Kansas that the killer of a doctor will be allowed to argue in court that he believed he was justified in trying to save unborn children.

Under the ruling, Scott Roeder, 51, would become the first killer of an abortion doctor in US history to be allowed to present his belief in the justification of violence to the courts. He has been charged with murder after shooting George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas in May last year.

The ruling spread dismay among abortion clinics across the US and warnings that it would encourage further violence. Anti-abortionists, however, hailed the decision as a step to natural justice.

Judge Warren Wilbert dismissed prosecution objections and refused to bar Roeder from presenting to the jury his belief in the legitimacy of violence.

Tiller was one of just a handful of doctors in America who provide abortions in later stages of pregnancy, after 21 weeks. The procedures were legal, but became the target of attacks. His clinic was bombed in 1986 and he was shot in both arms in 1993. Tiller was killed with a shot to the head inside his church.

Roeder confessed to the shooting, saying last November: "Defending innocent life – that is what prompted me."

Before Christmas, Wilbert rejected Roeder's attempt to present a "necessity defence", in which he would have argued that he was justified in pulling the trigger because by stopping abortions he acted for the good of society. But last week he said he would permit a defence that would allow Roeder to tell the court why he believed his actions were justified.

Roeder would be permitted to argue that he should be convicted of voluntary manslaughter, a lesser charge, which carries a sentence of just five years as opposed to life in prison for murder. He would have to prove that he had honestly believed that violence against Tiller had been justified, no matter that his belief had been utterly unreasonable.

"This is absolutely insane," said Charlotte Taft, director of the Abortion Care Network, which represents about 70 independent clinics. She said her members were "highly afraid" that a courtroom diatribe by Roeder could spark copycat acts.

Roeder's witnesses include Phill Kline, a former Kansas attorney general who had previously aggressively investigated Tiller. Roeder's defence team has also subpoenaed the clinic's calendars, appointment books and scheduled procedures.

Jeanne Tiller's lawyer, Lee Thompson, argues this is a gross violation of the privacy of the women who used the clinic.

In legal papers, Thompson has also ridiculed the idea that Roeder should be allowed to plead voluntary manslaughter, saying it was equivalent to permitting a terrorist to argue in court that they believed they were duty bound to kill a soldier to protect civilians dying in Iraq.

Anti-abortionists have hailed the ruling as a triumph. In 2003, Paul Hill was executed for murdering a doctor in Pensacola, Florida. His lawyer, Michael Hirsh, tried unsuccessfully to persuade the courts to hear Hill's self-justification. Hirsh is known to have advised Roeder.

Shelley Shannon, who shot Tiller in 1993 and is in prison for arson attacks on abortion clinics, is one of several extremist anti-abortion activists who have called for a renewed wave of violence on the back of Roeder's trial, scheduled to begin tomorrow.

Last Call Digest

This material was brought to you by Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity. Last Call Digest, is a ministry of Michael James Stone, volunteers, and people dedicated to the Love of God and Salvation of Souls. It is an aggragate of Christian Material selected to Bless you and Prepare you for each and every day you read them. May God Bless You as You Do!! Reading these Devotions will help you to prepare daily for life, living, and your Lord. You will hear God Speak To You thru them.  Jesus  is Coming Very Soon.

Last Call        

Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, operates by you, with you, and for you. “Freely you have received, freely give”  Pass this on, everywhere you can, anytime you can, anyway you can. You will be blessed if you do.LastCallDigest@michaeljamesstone.com

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The REAL War in Yemen

This Week at War: The Middle East's Cold War Heats Up

What the four-stars are reading -- a weekly column from Small Wars Journal.

BY ROBERT HADDICK | AUGUST 28, 2009

Are Saudi Arabia and Iran at war in Yemen?

Has a proxy war broken out in Yemen? The Los Angeles Times has reported that 100 Shiite rebels are dead and 100,000 refugees are on the move in the Saada region of northwestern Yemen after the Sunni-dominated government attacked rebel positions with tanks, artillery, and air strikes. According to The Economist, the rebels retaliated with volleys of Katyusha rockets. The current round of fighting, now in its second week, is the sixth uprising in this area since 2004.

What raises the profile of this development are accusations of foreign intervention in the conflict. The Yemeni government has accused Iran of providing funding and weapons to the Shiite rebels. Iran's news media has in turn reported that Saudi Arabia's military forces have joined in the fighting. The Saudi government acknowledges consultations with Yemen but denies any direct participation by its forces.

Evidence of foreign intervention in the conflict is sparse. But Yemen's foreign minister was at least concerned enough to summon Iran's ambassador his office. Meanwhile the Saudi and Yemeni defense ministries have stepped up consultations. According to The Economist, Iran's Arabic language news service has been reporting the latest round of fighting, including Saudi Arabia's support of the Yemeni government.

Even if the actual foreign material support in Yemen's civil strife is minimal, the conflict is probably the newest front in a broadening proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Lebanon is one front. Iranian attempts to gain influence over Shiite populations in eastern Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf is another. Some factions in Iran may feel obligated to support what they believe are oppressed Shiite minorities around the mostly Sunni Middle East. In the case of the rebellion in Yemen, some nervous officials in Riyadh may see an Iranian plan to achieve control over the Red Sea shipping lane.

Now there is another dimension to Saudi-Iranian competition. Despite having the largest crude oil reserves on the planet, the Saudi government recently announced plans to build a nuclear power plant. Even though it will take many years for Saudi Arabia to build up the necessary proficiency in nuclear engineering, Saudi policymakers must view the establishment of nuclear expertise as an essential strategic hedge.

A nuclear arms race and proxy wars were two prominent features of the Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. We should not be surprised to see that pattern of behavior repeat itself with Saudi Arabia and Iran. Compared with Saudi Arabia, Iran has a large head start. The Saudis will have to rely on their friends for protection while they try to catch up.

The autumn of Afghan discontent

August has been as cruel to President Barack Obama's policy for Afghanistan as it has for his health-care reform plans. As autumn arrives, it is likely that an increasing number of Americans, most crucially members of Obama's Democratic base, will conclude that the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan is unrealistic and not worthy of increased support. This bad news for the administration will negate what could be one bit of hopeful news, the possibility that Afghanistan's presidential election will actually be accepted as legitimate.

The best outcome to the first round of Afghanistan's presidential vote is no outcome at all and a second-round runoff. Although it is too early to draw firm conclusions, it appears today that incumbent Hamid Karzai will not receive more than 50 percent of the votes. If this turns out to be the case, Afghan election officials will get "a mulligan," another chance in the run-off election to demonstrate that the election process is reasonably clean. Should Karzai win the first round in a landslide, his government would have about as much legitimacy as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has in neighboring Iran. And should Karzai barely crawl over 50 percent, the accusations of fraud by opposition candidate Abdullah Abdullah and others would sting. Thus, for the sake of legitimacy, a runoff vote is the best possible outcome.

And while Afghanistan's presidential election drags into October, this autumn will bring heightened debate about the wisdom of the U.S. military strategy. Gen. Stanley McChrystal's report on the situation in Afghanistan, which Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen has already described as "serious and deteriorating," is due in September. Although Defense Secretary Robert Gateshas already banned any mention of additional troops from McChrystal's report, such a requirement will be the obvious conclusion.

When Gates ordered McChrystal to prepare a detailed study of the Afghan situation, Gates was thinking like the former intelligence analyst he is. Perhaps he should have been thinking more like a litigator, whose first rule is "never ask a question you don't already know the answer to." Vice President Joe Biden, national security advisor James L. Jones, and Gates himself have opposed additional U.S. troop increases in Afghanistan. Resistance to Obama's Afghan policy among Democrats is increasing. The arrival of McChrystal's report will amplify Obama's political problems and force Gates and his colleagues to either defend or recant their positions.

Domestic political pressure has created an additional problem for the Afghan campaign. To gain short-term support for the current strategy, Gates and Mullen have agreed to a 12- to 18-month deadline to show results (in May, I discussed Gates' impatience for results). The Taliban, knowing this self-imposed deadline, can now conserve their forces and regulate the pace of their operations in order to deny the coalition the appearance of progress as the deadline approaches. Coalition and Afghan forces have been unable to seize the initiative over the Taliban because the Taliban have been able to avoid contact with coalition forces when they choose. In theory, a prolonged population-centered counterinsurgency campaign would erode this Taliban advantage. But U.S. officials have indicated that they lack the patience to execute this strategy.

After McChrystal's report arrives, Obama will have to either reject the judgment of his field commander (and assume full responsibility for the consequences) or go for another troop increase (which may not yield any military benefit) and risk further alienating his supporters.

There is another choice -- to change the goals of the mission in Afghanistan. Might Obama opt to climb down from his commitment to Afghanistan just months after unveiling his policy? Such a choice is hardly appealing, but may soon become the least worst option.

Christian Issues Digest

This material was brought to you by Christian Issues Digest, a ministry of Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, Michael James Stone, Volunteers, and people dedicated to the Love of God and Salvation of Souls. We hope it helps you to face your personal  issues daily as a Christian, as well as prepare you for the return of Jesus Christ, He is Coming Very Soon.

Only God can heal hurts often caused by unintentional consequences of actions done by those who don’t know any better, and those who do. We all can only pray the same thing Jesus did when He said. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”  I pray you forgive as He did and we all learn better how to forgive. -Michael James Stone

Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, operates by you, for you and about you. You can make a difference in someone’s life.  “Freely you have received, freely give”  Pass this on, everywhere you can, anytime you can, anyway you can. You will be blessed if you do.

Posted via email from Christian Issues Digest

Christian Issues Digest: The Intelligence Wars -From the Inside B

'Langley Won't Tell Us'

How I fought the intelligence turf wars -- and lost.

BY RON CAPPS | JANUARY 11, 2010

And the competition doesn't end there. Funding is another sought-after prize that erects dangerous barriers between all the agencies fighting for it. Technology can also prove a problem. For example, intelligence-system designers create unique hardware platforms and software applications for each agency, and sometimes for separate elements within agencies. Because each of these platforms and applications requires hard firewalls, gaps can occur, and agencies or sections of agencies can get shut out of intelligence-sharing.

Take the case of the newest military command, Africom. To build its intelligence database, analysts and managers had to collect data from the three major commands that were previously responsible for watching the African continent. Each command had used different and incompatible data storage software, making it nearly impossible for the data to be collated. The lines are drawn even more impenetrably between the foreign intelligence services (think CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency) and the domestic law-enforcement communities (think FBI and the Department of Homeland Security). Now, imagine being an analyst at the National Counterterrorism Center, intended to pool and analyze all that data. Senior managers might have four or five different computer hard drives at their desks in order to access upward of 20 different intranets.

If you think that's bad, here's another barrier to intelligence-sharing: the love of secrecy for its own sake. Information is categorized and classified into levels from Confidential to Top Secret according to the level of damage to the United States its disclosure might cause. Information can be even further caveated so that, say, among Top Secret analysts, only certain analysts and consumers can view it. All this is meant to protect not only the information but where it came from and how it was collected, the sources and methods used. And in principle, of course, it is correct and necessary. In reality, such categorizations stovepipe information, and they are often used irresponsibly.

Such problems are hardly new. During the Vietnam War, combat commanders complained that their intelligence officers didn't share critical information with them. When I was a young intelligence officer, this was referred to as "green door syndrome" for the literal closed door behind which we worked.

Today, the door is electronic but just as effective. Commanders in the field have all the requisite clearances to know what sigint or humint is bringing in, but the big-brain analysts in Washington classify their work at such a level that information cannot be sent forward to troops in the field -- who are, ironically, some of those who collected the raw data in the first place.

Flynn says he's going to set up offices in Afghanistan where anyone with something to share or who needs information can come and talk to an analyst. He's on to something. Probably 90 percent of what we need to know is unclassified. Known in the community as open-source material, it's the stuff that's in newspapers, on the radio, stuffed in some professor's head, or happening on the street to be observed. The remaining 10 percent is stuff that's really hard to get, and that's what our intelligence services go after.

So what's the solution? Publishing more reports unclassified would be a start. I once tried to publish a piece this way. I had written it based on information I collected myself in the field, and I wanted anyone who needed it to be able to access it easily. But the mere idea of my organization publishing something unclassified was so foreign that it took three weeks to get it cleared -- that's about 2½ weeks longer than usual. In some organizations, the format of their reports is considered confidential, so regardless of the source, even if it's a local newspaper, the report itself is classified.

These are the true failings that Obama described last week. It's up to him and to the director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, to resolve them and to rethink the system itself. Until that happens, in Afghanistan, in the Horn of Africa, and in other places where what we don't know really can hurt us, we'll continue fighting ourselves as well as our enemies.

Ron Capps served as an area intelligence officer in the U.S. Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency. He was director of human intelligence and counterintelligence operations for U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003 and division chief in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research from 2006 to 2008.

Christian Issues Digest

This material was brought to you by Christian Issues Digest, a ministry of Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, Michael James Stone, Volunteers, and people dedicated to the Love of God and Salvation of Souls. We hope it helps you to face your personal  issues daily as a Christian, as well as prepare you for the return of Jesus Christ, He is Coming Very Soon.

Only God can heal hurts often caused by unintentional consequences of actions done by those who don’t know any better, and those who do. We all can only pray the same thing Jesus did when He said. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”  I pray you forgive as He did and we all learn better how to forgive. -Michael James Stone

Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, operates by you, for you and about you. You can make a difference in someone’s life.  “Freely you have received, freely give”  Pass this on, everywhere you can, anytime you can, anyway you can. You will be blessed if you do.

Posted via email from Christian Issues Digest

Christian Issues Digest: The Intelligence Wars -from the Inside A

'Langley Won't Tell Us'

How I fought the intelligence turf wars -- and lost.

BY RON CAPPS | JANUARY 11, 2010

In recent weeks, following the shocks of the Christmas Day bomber and the Dec. 30 attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan, observers have tried to understand why U.S. intelligence failed so badly. President Barack Obama argued that the intelligence-gatherers have been doing a bang-up job, while the analysts back at home have not. The Christmas attack, he said, was "a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had." Then a New York Times article asserted that the problem is really communication between different sectors. Finally, the senior U.S. military intelligence officer in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, blasted intelligence-gathering in Afghanistan, calling data "only marginally relevant" because it was disconnected from local politics and conditions on the ground.

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But any evaluation that merely blames the analysts, the intelligence-gatherers, or even both of their abilities to communicate misses the point: Major parts of the system itself are broken, and no surface-level changes will fix that.

The trouble starts with bias. I spent a few years working in the field as an intelligence collector, a few more directing operations, and a few back in Washington as an analyst and manager. Like everyone else in the business, I have preferences for certain ways of collecting information. But part of the reason that U.S. intelligence has so much difficulty catching terrorists and quashing insurgencies is that these biases aren't just individual -- they are corporate.

Within the intelligence community there are numerous collection methods known to insiders as "ints": satellite imagery (imint), electronic eavesdropping (sigint), human sources (humint), and so on. Each of these ints has a value and a purpose. But senior managers, analysts, and operators within the alphabet soup of no less than 16 agencies tasked with mastering these methods tend to become so deeply entrenched in the arcana of their own fields that they can fail to appreciate the products of their colleagues.

Consumers of the intelligence also have their favorites. Special Forces operators love imagery. Navy guys get really excited over electronic intelligence. Consumers develop a relationship with a collector and the analysts in that field and then start to lobby for that specialty, urging Congress to pour money into the so-called "black" budgets -- the sections that don't appear on the regular, unclassified version.

Little by little, agencies and collectors each develop their separate little fiefdoms. And inevitably, competition results. Agencies vie for the ear of senior leaders, most importantly the president. The objective is to be the indispensable agency, the one that fills the pages of the President's Daily Brief (or simply PDB, as insiders call it). The competition drives arrogance and a lack of trust and respect among agencies. As an analyst and a manager of analysts, my biggest problem was getting other agencies to tell me what they knew. When advising policy designers and decision makers, I was often forced to answer their queries with "I don't know; Langley won't tell us."

Christian Issues Digest

This material was brought to you by Christian Issues Digest, a ministry of Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, Michael James Stone, Volunteers, and people dedicated to the Love of God and Salvation of Souls. We hope it helps you to face your personal  issues daily as a Christian, as well as prepare you for the return of Jesus Christ, He is Coming Very Soon.

Only God can heal hurts often caused by unintentional consequences of actions done by those who don’t know any better, and those who do. We all can only pray the same thing Jesus did when He said. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”  I pray you forgive as He did and we all learn better how to forgive. -Michael James Stone

Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, operates by you, for you and about you. You can make a difference in someone’s life.  “Freely you have received, freely give”  Pass this on, everywhere you can, anytime you can, anyway you can. You will be blessed if you do.

Posted via email from Christian Issues Digest

Christian Issues Digest: Report: Freedom Around World Declines for 4th Consecutive Year

Report: Freedom Around World Declines for 4th Consecutive Year

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·        Freedom House Report: Asia Sees Some Significant Progress

Freedom House, a U.S.-based organization that monitors democracy and political rights world wide, says global freedom declined last year for the fourth consecutive year.  Although the group says there were some improvements, last year's slump represents the longest continuous decline in the nearly 40-year history of the report.  

Freedom House says that whether it was the brutal repression of demonstrators in Iran, the sweeping detention of activists in China or the murder of journalists and human rights advocates in Russia, 2009 was a year that was marked by intensified repression of human rights defenders and civic activists. 

Arch Puddington, director of research at Freedom House, says that last year 40 countries saw some degree of decline while 16 improved. 

"The declines were notable in almost every part of the world, but particularly in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the former Soviet Union," Puddington said. 

Freedom House ranks each country in its annual survey by using one of three rankings for freedom:  "free," "partly free" or "not free."  It also tracks the number of electoral democracies.

According to its ranking system, of 194 countries and 14 territories Freedom House examined, the number of "free" countries and territories remained steady at 89, but the number of those "not free" rose to 47, an increase of five from the previous year.

Freedom House ranked nine of its "not free" countries and one territory as its "Worst of the Worst."  The list includes Burma, North Korea, Tibet, Libya, Sudan and Somalia, among others.

Arch Puddington says that part of the reason for the overall decline was that a small collection of big influential, geostrategically self-confident countries such as Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran stood as models and protected smaller, authoritarian countries.

He says a push-back by countries to control an increasing number of assertive civil rights groups and non-governmental organizations was another reason for the decline in freedom. 

"You have in many many countries, most countries in the world, an upsurge in civil society organizations," Puddington said. "You have NGOs, you have womens' organizations, environmental organizations, you have unions.  And they are all challenging the status quo." 

Puddington says that the decline in freedom as group's become increasingly assertive, might lead to more freedom in the long-term. 

Freedom House says that while Asia saw the most significant improvements in freedom last year, the Middle East remained the most repressive region in the world.  

Africa, it says, saw the most significant declines. 

Puddington says setbacks for freedom in Africa came across the board - from the continents wealthiest, reform-oriented nations to Africa's most repressive countries. 

"It's very hard to detect a real pattern here," Puddington said. "You've had it [i.e., declines] in different regions of Africa and different clumps of countries - reformers as opposed to authoritarians." 

According to the survey, the number of electoral democracies shrunk by three and stood at 116.  Developments in Honduras, Madagascar, Mozambique and Niger disqualified them from that list.  But conditions in the Maldives improved enough for it to be added to the roster.

Freedom House says 2009 was also marked by growing pressures on journalists and new media, restrictions on freedom of association, and repression that was aimed at civic activists engaged in promoting political reform and respect for human rights. 

The group says U.S. President Barack Obama faced a major challenge last year as he tried to balance security concerns with his promised rollback of some of the Bush administration's antiterrorism policies.

In Western Europe, where countries are struggling to deal with an influx of immigrants from countries with large Muslim populations, Puddington says anti-immigration policies led to a decline in the rating for Switzerland and Malta.

Christian Issues Digest

This material was brought to you by Christian Issues Digest, a ministry of Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, Michael James Stone, Volunteers, and people dedicated to the Love of God and Salvation of Souls. We hope it helps you to face your personal  issues daily as a Christian, as well as prepare you for the return of Jesus Christ, He is Coming Very Soon.

Only God can heal hurts often caused by unintentional consequences of actions done by those who don’t know any better, and those who do. We all can only pray the same thing Jesus did when He said. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”  I pray you forgive as He did and we all learn better how to forgive. -Michael James Stone

Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, operates by you, for you and about you. You can make a difference in someone’s life.  “Freely you have received, freely give”  Pass this on, everywhere you can, anytime you can, anyway you can. You will be blessed if you do.

Posted via email from Christian Issues Digest

Christian Issues Digest: Blast Kills Iranian Nuclear Physicist

Blast Kills Iranian Nuclear Physicist

Photo: AP

Man closes door of Iranian nuclear physics professor Massoud Ali Mohammadi's home, after he was killed in bomb blast in Tehran, 12 Jan 2010

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An Iranian nuclear physicist has been killed by a remote-controlled bomb hidden in a motorcycle.  Iranian prosecutor general Abbas Jaafar Dolatabadi is pointing the finger at Western intelligence agencies.   A U.S. State Department spokesman called the accusation "absurd."

Iranian-government TV is calling the explosion that killed a physics professor at Tehran University a "terrorist act."  The TV report says a bomb hidden in a motorcycle killed Massoud Ali-Mohammadi as he was getting into his car.

The TV showed relatives of Mohammedi crying in front of the building where he lived, as a large crowd of bystanders gathered around his burned-out vehicle.  Most windows in the modern-looking building where he resided appeared to have been blown out from the force of the explosion.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmenparast accused Israel, America and Iranian mercenaries of being behind the "terrorist incident."

Tehran prosecutor-general Abbas Jaafar Dolatabadi told Iranian TV a similar story, saying because Massoud Ali Mohammadi was a nuclear scientist it was likely the CIA and the Mossad spy services and their agents had a hand in his killing.

At least a dozen street-cleaners worked feverishly with their brooms, sweeping up broken glass.  An older man who witnessed the explosion explains what happened.

He says it was shortly after 7:00 a.m. when he heard the sound of an explosion that he thought was an earthquake.  When he arrived at the scene, he says, the door of professor Ali-Mohammadi's house was torn off and there was a fire.  He adds the professor's wife and children were crying, and the professor's head was slumped to the side as he pulled him out of his vehicle, dead.  I have known the family, he notes, for 24 years.

A monarchist opposition group reportedly claimed responsibility for the assassination, accusing the professor of being involved in Iran's nuclear program.  Several people that knew him indicated that he was a "theoretical physicist," denying he was involved in Iran's disputed nuclear program.

Iran's Arabic-language al-Alam TV called Mohammadi a "hezbollahi teacher," to indicate that he was a staunch government supporter.  But an opposition Web site loyal to leader Mir Hossein Mousavi said Mohammadi was a well-known Mousavi supporter.  Mohammadi was also a veteran of the bloody, eight-year Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s.

Christian Issues Digest

This material was brought to you by Christian Issues Digest, a ministry of Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, Michael James Stone, Volunteers, and people dedicated to the Love of God and Salvation of Souls. We hope it helps you to face your personal  issues daily as a Christian, as well as prepare you for the return of Jesus Christ, He is Coming Very Soon.

Only God can heal hurts often caused by unintentional consequences of actions done by those who don’t know any better, and those who do. We all can only pray the same thing Jesus did when He said. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”  I pray you forgive as He did and we all learn better how to forgive. -Michael James Stone

Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, operates by you, for you and about you. You can make a difference in someone’s life.  “Freely you have received, freely give”  Pass this on, everywhere you can, anytime you can, anyway you can. You will be blessed if you do.

Posted via email from Christian Issues Digest

Christian Issues Digest: US Defense Spy Chief: Iran Undecided on Nuclear Bomb

US Defense Spy Chief: Iran Undecided on Nuclear Bomb

Photo: AP

Then Maj. Gen. Ronald Burgess, May 11, 2004 file photo

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In an exclusive VOA interview, the Pentagon's top intelligence official says there is no evidence that Iran has made a final decision to build nuclear weapons.  But the chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) adds that much about Iran's inner workings remains murky.

Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess says the key finding that Iran has not yet committed itself to nuclear weapons, contained in a controversial 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), is still valid.

DIA.gov

Lieutenant General Ronald L. Burgess, Jr., USA, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency

"The bottom line assessments of the NIE still hold true," he said.  "We have not seen indication that the government has made the decision to move ahead with the program.  But the fact still remains that we don't know what we don't know."

General Burgess says it is difficult to ascertain the intentions of Iran's leaders or the level of political infighting among the country's leadership.  But he adds that Tehran's statements and behavior have only fueled suspicion in Western capitals.

"The fact is, Iran is not dealing straight up," he added.  "So they can say whatever they would like.  I'm an intelligence professional.  My job is to verify.  And so we continually work on trying to verify what it is the Iranians say.  But they are engaged in use of words that is not moving this in a positive direction."

The 2007 NIE, a consensus judgment of all U.S. intelligence agencies, concluded that Iran halted nuclear weapons design work in 2003.  The study sparked a fierce controversy with critics charging that the NIE was flawed and asserting that Iran is clearly on a path to become a nuclear power.  Some recently published news reports quote unnamed sources as saying that many of U.S. President Barack Obama's advisors are skeptical of the intelligence estimate.

Iran has been pushing to enrich uranium, a critical step in building nuclear weapons, but continues to insist that it is for peaceful nuclear energy.  

Talks with Iran on the nuclear issue have been frustrating for Western negotiators.  In October, it appeared that an agreement had been reached for Iran to send its uranium to a third country for enrichment.  But then Tehran backed away from the deal.

General Burgess likens Iran's behavior to bargaining in a bazaar, saying that by walking away, Tehran hopes to get a better deal.

"I think that there is always an idea in their head that they can either ultimately get what they've put on the table or move the ball further in their direction.  And I think that's clearly one of their aims," he explained.

Given the hidden nature of decision-making in Tehran, it is difficult to say how protests by the country's reformist movement might be affecting the government's nuclear ambitions.  But Burgess says the movement is resilient and will be difficult to suppress.

"There is a reform movement in Iran.  It has legs," he said.  "It is attempting to get its message out.  I do not see indication that that movement has been stamped out or put totally under the direction of the government.  They still have a voice.  They are still attempting to get their message out.  And so this will be an interesting dynamic for us to follow in that country."

The Obama administration has been careful in its support of the protestors so as not to compromise the activists' efforts in the eyes of the Iranian government.  At the same time, the United States is considering new sanctions aimed specifically at the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.  The Revolutionary Guards has not only spearheaded the crackdown on the protestors, but also plays a critical role in Iran's nuclear program.

Christian Issues Digest

This material was brought to you by Christian Issues Digest, a ministry of Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, Michael James Stone, Volunteers, and people dedicated to the Love of God and Salvation of Souls. We hope it helps you to face your personal  issues daily as a Christian, as well as prepare you for the return of Jesus Christ, He is Coming Very Soon.

Only God can heal hurts often caused by unintentional consequences of actions done by those who don’t know any better, and those who do. We all can only pray the same thing Jesus did when He said. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”  I pray you forgive as He did and we all learn better how to forgive. -Michael James Stone

Broadcast(B.C.)Christianity, operates by you, for you and about you. You can make a difference in someone’s life.  “Freely you have received, freely give”  Pass this on, everywhere you can, anytime you can, anyway you can. You will be blessed if you do.

Posted via email from Christian Issues Digest

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