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

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Anonymous of Course says:


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.

Mr Stalin to you... says:


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

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re:4 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.

Nobody says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

Charming Charlie says:

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

Anonymous Coward says:

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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