Other Tools Terrrorists Might Use: Voice, Pencils, Fax Machines, Email, Mobile Phones, Etc.

from the everyone-be-afraid! dept

In recent months, we've seen various politicians freak out over the possibility that terrorists might possibly (gasp! oh no!) make use of YouTube and Second Life, and now a new Army intelligence report can get politicians all worked up over the possibility that terrorists might use Twitter. While there's nothing wrong with various intelligence officials looking at possible scenarios for how terrorists might make use of various communication tools, how long will it be until we get politicians complaining that "something must be done!" The fact is that anyone can use pretty much any communication tool for either good or bad purposes. For the most part, I'd imagine that Twitter would be a pretty bad tool for terrorists to use, since so much of it is public. There are Twitter competitors that allow much more private conversations, but maybe terrorists are like Silicon Valley hipsters who only go with the hottest of the hot web 2.0 startups. So, yes, it's important for intelligence officials to think through scenarios in order to be aware and ready for them, but hopefully calling out Twitter specifically won't lead to a ridiculous overreaction from politicians.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Alex Morse, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 8:53am

    Thank you!

    Nice to see a voice of reason instead of alarmist BS. When I first saw that headline I thought it was some publicity stunt to give twitter some attention... and then I saw that there was government funded research involved.

    It's amazing how many ways we can come up with to waste money!

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 9:01am

    CYA

    Tangential story on surplus military equipment.
    Hundreds and hundreds of the beloved R390A
    were destroyed because congress decided that
    huge hulking vacuum tube filled receivers
    might be used by terrorists. Ok, not that
    specifically but communications equipment
    in general. It took a lot of effort to
    get the R390A delisted.

    It's rather stupid when you consider that
    ham radio equipment is smaller, lighter,
    solid-state, cheaper and will do the job.

    I put all of this legislation in the at least
    we're doing something class of laws. And a
    reflection on the relative intelligence of
    the people we elect.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 9:02am

    "but maybe terrorists are like Silicon Valley hipsters"

    Great line. I started seeing the BS about this report last night, and have been waiting for you to cover it.

     

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  4.  
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    Mr Stalin to you..., Oct 27th, 2008 @ 9:05am

    Ridiculous

    Terrorist could be using ANYTHING... they could be in World of Warcraft making plans to destroy the white house... but talking in code so people think they are planning a raid on a in game monster.

    Do I want my tax dollars used for patrolling WoW? Um... sure... as long as they pay me to do it!

    As long as their are freedoms, there will people who will abuse those freedoms. But the solution is NOT to take away those freedoms.

    "Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither."
    -Benjamin Franklin

     

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  5.  
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    eleete, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 9:09am

    Re: Ridiculous

    I'm sure the quote has been twisted more ways than one, but I believe it goes....

    They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security

     

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  6.  
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    John Doe, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 9:16am

    Re: Ridiculous

    Sounds like a real advocate of the 2nd amendment. :)

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 9:38am

    Show me the money

    The politicians will fight for any cause that has lobbyist in favor or opposed to it. As soon as some one offers them money to fight against twitter, the politicians will line up for an opportunity to bash it and make a buck.

     

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  8.  
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    eleete, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 9:42am

    Re: Show me the money

    Of the money, by the money, for the money. People, who cares about them !! Polluticians I tell ya.

     

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  9.  
    icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), Oct 27th, 2008 @ 9:46am

    Re: Re: Ridiculous

    "Sounds like a real advocate of the 2nd amendment. :)"

    *I* certainly am. Without the 2nd amendment, the rest of the document is just wishful thinking. Which is precisely why Obama wants to repeal it.
    ---
    www.chl-tx.com

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Ridiculous

    Perhaps you should re-read Obama's stand on the 2nd amendment, before spouting your uninformed BS. He does not want to repeal the 2nd amendment, or any other amendment. Unless there's an amendment that says asshats like you can spout bullshit whenever you please -- I'm sure he'd be more than happy to repeal that one. So would the rest of us.

     

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  11.  
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    Craig, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 10:00am

    What next -- talking?

    Obviously some people who are elected into office are nothing more than mindless puppets. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy about how your country is run when you have "Lloyd and Harry"** running the place.

    **Dumb and Dumber

     

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  12.  
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    John Doe, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 10:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Ridiculous

    What exactly does he want to do with the 2nd amendment? The Dems wouldn't even think of changing one word of the Roe v. Wade decision, but they would love to get their paws on the 2nd amendment.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 10:26am

    Let them use Twitter

    Let them use Twitter. It is probably a lot easier to monitor Twitter than it is to monitor most other forms of communications. In fact, revealing that the government has thought about using Twitter will tend to drive them elsewhere.

     

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  14.  
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    Dave, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ridiculous

    I'm all for the 2nd Amendment. It allows closed minded people to get a whole bunch of guns and kill each other off.

    That way when intelligent discussions are necessary, they're not around to interrupt them with bogus, uninformed political statements.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ridiculous

    You really don't paint yourself in an "intelligent" light with this post. Do you even know why the 2nd amendment was created? It wasn't created for defending yourself against thugs. It wasn't created to allow you to put food on your table. It was created to keep the government honest, pure and simple. After all, the founding fathers just overthrew one government and wanted to make sure it could be done again if necessary.

     

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  16.  
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    Urban, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 10:46am

    Ridiculous

    "It was created to keep the government honest, pure and simple."

    And how is that working out for ya?

     

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  17.  
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    Wayne, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    Ban Pencils and Paper

    I say we ban all pencils and paper immediately!

    Pencils could be used by terrorist to take somebody's eye out. We all know it's all fun and games till that happens. And paper, well, terrorists could use it to give us all nasty paper cuts.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    eleete, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 11:04am

    Re: Ban Pencils and Paper

    Stop the stinging paper cuts now ! Oh the humanity !!

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Ridiculous

    For me? Surely you mean for "us" as we are all in the same boat here. I guess you think you have put me in my place with this comment? Kind of hard to put me in my place when we are both in the same place isn't it?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Charming Charlie, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 12:28pm

    The only thing that is alarmist about this article is the reaction to it in the comments here on Techdirt or Wired.

    If secretary of defense gave a press conference talking about a new 10 billion appropriation to investigating terrorist coordination through mobile phone maps and tweets, then you would be justified in facepalming.

    But that's not what happened. This is some random report that's amateur nature is only exceeded by it's destined obscurity. Why the FAS decided to pick on it, of all the myriad opportunities presented by government agencies, is unclear, but it's very likely one person wanted to facepalm about the military and technology and this was a decent opportunity. We might guess the same motives for Noah Shachtman of Wired or Mike Masnick of Techdirt.

    The origin and author of the document is unclear. So is who it was written for. According to Wired it was "put together on the Army's 304th Military Intelligence Battalion" which could mean anything. However, the OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) nature of the "report" would suggest that the military’s best minds are not the ones working with it. The trained and experienced officials have access to classified information. It is the amateur intelligence wannabee who writes Open Source Intelligence briefings using "rudimentary Arabic languages skills and the Google translating tool to extract website context." And that’s what this is, one person cruisng some Arabic boards who sees a lot of talk about jihadism and Nokia maps juxtaposed and feels like he might bring a little attention to it.

    This amateur briefing shouldn't be used as evidence in anyone's book that the military is wasting tax payer dollars, failing to win their war on terror, or inferring that one day we'll read a report about the dangers of pencils and fax machines. It's all well and good to have a laugh, but lets not be the idiots we make fun of by taking something we read on the internet and drawing sweeping conclusions from it.

    Check out the article yourself: http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/mobile.pdf

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Ben, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 12:48pm

    Flashback: Report: US spied on Americans' intimate conversations abroad

    So they want to monitor more communications, when they can't (allegedly) monitor phone calls with tact?

    Lovely.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 2:03pm

    FBI must stop peer-to-peer messaging being hosted by Washington

    there is a form of peer-to-peer messaging which the NSA/CIA/DHS simply cannot intercept... and it is being hosted and administered by a government agency based in Washington, DC just miles from the White House...

    terrorists can use it without ever needing to bother themsleves with credit cards, able to buy access via incremental payments...

    Q: will someone please get the FBI to shutdown the USPS (aka: post office) before Al-Quida exploits to plan another terrorist attack?

    >>

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Howard_NYC, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 2:06pm

    SARCASM TAG --> FBI must stop peer-to-peer messaging being hosted by Washington

    SARCASM TAG WAS DELETED FROM MY PRIOR POSTING... "FBI must stop peer-to-peer messaging being hosted by Washington"

    the last thing I want to do is p*ss off the FBI right before the elections...

    ** CHUCKLE **

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 3:05pm

    Why beat around the bush?

    Start the presses!

    We have a book we need to the kindergartners!

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Nobody, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Ridiculous

    "Unless there's an amendment that says asshats like you can spout bullshit whenever you please -- I'm sure he'd be more than happy to repeal that one. So would the rest of us."

    That would be the first amendment. I don't agree with Obama, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to repeal that amendment, no matter what bullshit those asshats might spout.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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