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ICG Risk Blog - [ Insurgents harvest Secret NOFORN materials from botched redaction of Nicola Calipari-Giuliana Sgrena incident report ]

Insurgents harvest Secret NOFORN materials from botched redaction of Nicola Calipari-Giuliana Sgrena incident report

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In misapplying a graphics editing function as a legitimate redaction tool, a botched redaction of Nicola Calipari-Giuliana Sgrena incident report revealed some interesting statistics on the number and severity of attacks on coalition forces while allowing insurgents to fall beneficiary to classified materials.

A 1 May DefenseLINK News item stated that "Calipari's death, according to a recently completed [29 April] Army investigation, was wholly unintentional and not attributable to negligence by the soldiers," recommending "that no disciplinary action be taken against any soldier. A 'related site' link to Multinational Force Iraq carried a highly redacted report of the incident at BP 541 briefly here but it was soon removed as its redaction process was so flawed that it could be effortlessly defeated.

As tempers and interest in the Calipari-Sgrena affair were unabatedly strong in Italy, Gianluca Neri of Macchianera.net took the original 'redacted' US PDF text, converted the formerly "hidden" text into visible text highlighted in yellow for easy reading, and then posted the process along with the original detacted text and recovered cleartext. Unlike other mirrors, Neri retained all paragraph security classifications so that readers could see that many of the redacted items were classified S/NF or Secret NOFORN (NO FOREIGN DISSEMINATION).

As Neri's recovered text does not allow a reader to cut and paste text, one can visit one of the many major Italian newspapers that mirror the text. La Repubblica mirrors both the original redaction and even a copy translated into Italian

At roughly the same time, readers in the US were doing much the same thing from a copy posted to the NPR website. By 2 May, articles were rising in English to explain how the 'redaction' fails in both MS Word and Adobe Acrobat.

Insurgents will be interested in the Effectiveness of their attacks, page 9; Procedures for Entry Control Points (ECPs) Traffic Control Points (TCPs) and Blocking Positions (BPs), page 14; Rhino bus (armored bus) convoy details, page 19; Blocking Position (BP) training, page 20; Rules of Engagement (ROE), page 21; Mission positioning of men and equipment, page 27; Mission Communication, page 29; Forensic Evidence, page 34; and Recommendations, page 38.

US readers learn that:

  • From 1 November 2004 to 12 March 2005 there were a total of 3306 attacks in the Baghdad area. Of these, 2400 were directed against Coalition Forces.
  • The number of IED detonations from 15 June 2003 through 4 March 2005 (the date of the incident), has steadily increased. Although the effectiveness of those detonations has decreased over that timeframe, the overall average number of casualties during that period is nearly one per IED detonation.

The incident site, BP 541, is on Route Irish, "commonly referred to as "the deadliest road in Iraq" by journalists, Soldiers, and commanders. There is no corresponding alternative route from downtown Baghdad (and the International Zone) to BIAP [Baghdad International Air Port], which gives the route a heavy traffic flow and causes Coalition convoy movement to become more predictable. These conditions make Route Irish a lucrative target area for insurgents to employ improvised explosive devices (IEDs) of varying types and to achieve effects in terms of casualties. Soldiers in 1st Cavalry Division and 3d Infantry Division have come to refer to Route Irish as "IED Alley.""

Part 2

Military mistake caused data leak
By ANICK JESDANUN
The Associated Press/NEW YORK
May 2, 2005

Il rapporto Calipari senza omissis
Gianluca Neri
Macchianera.net
Domenica 1 Maggio 2005

Investigation Finds Italian Officer's Death a 'Tragic Accident'
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 1, 2005

Ex-Hostage's Italian Driver Ignored Warning, U.S. Says
By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and ROBERT F. WORTH
New York Times
May 1, 2005

Gordon Housworth



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