Weaving together the chatter of intelligence and business
- Gordon Housworth [ 4/20/2004 - 10:09 ] #
Dan Farber does a fine job of looking past the "constant chatter among businesses and the intelligence community about insufficient budgets, technology complexity and regulatory compliance" to see that it is a distraction that "masks the underlying failure to inculcate a culture that can overcome those problems with a clear and strategic focus on identifying the key business levers and extracting the relevant data."
He goes on to say that the markers of this decline are only rarely of a 9-11 stature but rather an invisible (perhaps 'ignored under the press of daily threats' is a better phrase) accumulation of degrading capability. I concur with his comment that they rise "from the same source-a lack of essential insight and analysis."
As chance would have it, just moments before Farber's article crossed my desk so did a public list comment by Myron Tribus (a superb disciple of Deming and a gifted thinker in his own right):
"When Dr. Deming spoke of the need for an outside agent to cause a transformation, he was referring to the fact that the basic paradigm upon which the people in the system are acting is invisible to them. You have heard the phrase: "The fish is the last to discover water". A system has great difficulty understanding itself. Of course, people within a system can make changes -- that's understood. What they cannot do unaided is transform the system."
Think of Farber's comment applied to our intel agencies:
"Many companies suffer from this plague of data blindness, which ends up producing negative results. It's the major differentiator of the sickly, underperforming companies from those that lead and prosper. The leaders minimize surprises--and the associated reactionary behavior--because they have a better handle on extracting the meaningful information from the terabytes or petabytes of data."
"Without that focus, companies are doomed to live in the past and have a very uncertain future."
I have often said of such companies that, "They live at the sufferance of their competitors." The extension of that idea to our intel agencies, their data fusion, and subsequent dissemination to relevant consumers is not a sanguine thought.
Business blind spots can have devastating consequencesTech Update
By Dan Farber,
April 16, 2004
Cybersecurity Public InfoT Public Infrastructure Defense Public Strategic Risk Public
Hemorrhaging intellectual property to Asia
- Gordon Housworth [ 4/20/2004 - 09:01 ] #
In response to a comment regarding one's risk detection and amelioration posture when venturing offshore into a region, or an industrial segment, of high value to nations such as France, Israel, Germany, Russia, or the PRC, a private list member noted:
"I truly believe that your analysis applies to the current "outsourcing" outcry. But, the outcry is just about jobs now. It's the future (the USA's) that is in economic peril. Our industrialists don't seem to get it."
Unfortunately the commercial stampede at both the industrial and venture capital level has long been underway and the PRC is harvesting the bounty.
We have painfully learned that at the Venture Capital (VC) level, investors are driving their stable of firms to create product and produce revenue. Risk assessment is very low on their horizon. Private conversations reveal that VCs preach the mantra "to their portfolio companies to outsource hardware development and manufacturing to China or become uncompetitive." Some VCs have already made the next step of forming development groups in the PRC precisely to serve their entire stable of firms. Now the VCs have put a superb target-rich environment under one roof. Unlike established industrial firms that already have revenue streams, VCs have little of value in their stable of firms save their intellectual capital.
On the established industrial side, the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers at the top of their respective supply chains) have been virtually ordering their suppliers explicitly or implicitly to China (a) to produce lower cost products for resale back to the OEM or one of the subsuppliers in the chain, or (b) support OEM plants in-country. The demand for cost reduction is the pole star. Our prediction is that the OEMs, whose hubris leads them to mistakenly feel themselves above the risk horizon, will not protect their suppliers as new Chinese or other low-cost country providers come on line and will shift purchases to those new firms, hollowing out their own industrial infrastructure, even as OEMs press those same suppliers for cost reductions on a year-to-year basis.
I can speak to the means and actors that would gain access to the technologies being developed. It is extreme in its impact on US interests and I think that the VC and industrial communities are blind to it. We are in the process of contacting certain VC and commercial firms to outline the intellectual property (IP) theft being carried out by overt and covert subsidiaries. It is our opinion that the charge of fiduciary breach can be leveled at anyone who callously lets the IP of their stable be stolen.
Certain firms have a sensitivity to risk analysis (Intel, IBM, and HP come to mind), but their horizon has more to do with minimizing time and delivery/availability risk (above and beyond direct costs) in their supply chains. What they almost universally do not do is extend that risk assessment and mitigation to a level that generates legitimate security. It is too often 'feel good' security uniformly applied to all assets instead of a prioritized response against the assets most at risk.
Our experience has shown that there is a lack of tailored, proactive due-diligence and surveillance put in place to identify, and then mitigate. All technology leaks over time. The trick is to degrade and delay that leak. A major component of that is to put in place a process that, in simple terms, drives the bad guys down the street to a less well protected firm.
InfoT Public Infrastructure Defense Public Intellectual Property Theft Public Strategic Risk Public
Had our intelligence analysis only matched our capacity for hubris
- Gordon Housworth [ 4/20/2004 - 02:49 ] #
The US had the expectation of a quiescent, grateful citizenry that would permit administration on the cheap while criminals were tried and democratic institutions were built from scratch. That assumption coupled with fear of the then Iraqi army may have led to the disbanding of the military. The immediate lack of security in a stroke allowed an already failing infrastructure to be looted to the walls while the failure to sequester vast arms caches allowed Baathists to stockpile arms for the asking. There seemed to be no understanding of the debilitating impact of delay, no jobs, and no visible improvement of daily life.
It is like no one ever read Robert Ruark's book, "Something of Value," set in the Mau Mau revolt of Kenya in the 1950s. The British destroyed the existing infrastructure but substituted nothing to replace it:
"If a people lose their gods, they must replace them with something of value."
That something was the Mau Mau revolt and terrorism. It was the Rwanda of its day.
In retrospect, had we garnered a larger coalition including Turks, Indians, Pakistanis, French and Germans, we'd have had sufficient boots on the ground to instill confidence and forestall looting. A complete postwar breakdown of order drew cries of Iraqis that soon mirrored those of Russians after the fall of Communism: no order, no security, no infrastructure, no gas or goods. Iraqi patience soon faded as clerics and insurgents surged into the vacuum:
"Iraq was held together by the army before, now it's being held together by the mosques."
Former Baathists and jihadists created a destructive cycle of destabilizing attacks, halting reconstruction, Iraqi unhappiness, and rising support for insurgents. Destruction has displaced construction.
Al Sadr's social services network of police, civil services and health care mimic those services provided by Hamas and Hezbollah in Palestine. They also mimic the winning hearts and minds of those organizations who are anything but terrorists in the eyes of their adherents. While oil and electricity production is back at prewar levels, the US-led administration gets no credit.
The US gave the Arab 'news hole' to the Iranian Al Alam, and when it did respond with Al Hurra it was derided for excessive happy talk and hiding issues of pressing interest to Iraqis.
The US may never recover its miscalculation of a pliant Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. The abortive process of attempting to create a constitution outside of Iraqi hands smacked of a textbook reading of postwar Japan instead of present day Iraq.
Military theorists (for what happened on the ground) and political analysts (for what happened in Washington) will have a field day for years to come.
Early U.S. Decisions on Iraq Now Haunt American Efforts
Officials Let Looters Roam, Disbanded Army, Allowed Radicals to Gain Strength
Failure to Court an Ayatollah
By FARNAZ FASSIHI, GREG JAFFE, YAROSLAV TROFIMOV, CARLA ANNE ROBBINS and YOCHI J. DREAZEN
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
April 19, 2004; Page A1
InfoT Public Strategic Risk Public
US to put an Iraqi basket on UN's doorstep
- Gordon Housworth [ 4/18/2004 - 22:16 ] #
Mere weeks ago Lakhdar Brahimi's proposal was downplayed by the US yet now he is the man of the hour and his plan for a caretaker government, the dissolution of the US-appointed council, and a post-transition consultative assembly to advise that caretaker government is being supported by the US will all due speed. I fear that just as with calling in the Iranians to negotiate with al Sadr, that the administration is trying to land Iraq on the UN's doorstep.
The UN, in response, is understandably resisting this newfound US initiative until it is presented with a profile that meets Kofi Annan's requirements that it be "realistic, feasible and advisable." This cannot be made any easier by the mutual distaste of US and UN personnel for one another.
The entire situation is fluid in my mind, not least of all, with the comments by Bob Woodward on 60 Minutes this evening on the apparently unilaternal drive towards war in Iraq, a drive that had the White House briefing 'Bandar Bush' with Top Secret Noforn (no foreign) maps when the Secretary of State had not been informed.
The Spanish are pulling out of Iraq with all due speed and I now wonder about the English due to repercussions over Woodward's book, British fear of a Shiite revote in the south if the US proceeds against al Sadr's forces in Najaf, the general decline in the situation on the ground, and continued US support to Sharon in the face of British and European displeasure .
Al Sadr's spokesman is claiming that the US had made "insuperable obstacles," that discussions are at an end, and that a US assault "will represent the zero hour for the launching of a massive popular revolution." The Iranians have withdrawn their mediation.
The extra-judicial killing of Hamas' Rantisi has inflamed Palestinian and Arab feelings, and has spelled over into Iraq. The killing has provoked condemnations from many nations, but not the US. It saddens me that the administration can presume that its tacit approval of Israeli actions can proceed in a vacuum that does not impact its support elsewhere and its ability to prosecute the wider war on terrorism.
Friends and enemies alike see the UN as the "only institution that can confer immediate global legitimacy" on a US-initiated representative government in Iraq. I do wonder what their proposal will look like and will it be readily "realistic, feasible and advisable" to all. If not, how long will it take and what concessions will the US administration make in an election year.
Recast in Key Iraq Role, U.N. Envoys Are WaryBy WARREN HOGE
April 18, 2004
New York Times
InfoT Public Strategic Risk Public Terrorism Public
Closer than you think - chemical attack thwarted in France
- Gordon Housworth [ 4/17/2004 - 09:31 ] #
When speaking of the possibility of chemical or biologic attack, it is all too easy to dismiss it as improbable. This should be a marker of reality -- and worst of all -- it was decidedly low-tech.
While the recent arrests in the Pacific Northwest for ricin production have been more likely criminal foul play or derangement, the ricin sent to the White House, Transportation Department, and Senate Majority Leader Frist are leaning more along the lines of the thwarted terrorist attacks in France.
It is instructive to remember how relatively low tech its production is and how fatal it is. (This said, the current ricin recipe circulating on the web is a bit off the mark and we should let it stay that way.) While there are more dispersible vectors such as anthrax and smallpox, ricin remains one of the most poisonous naturally occurring compounds in nature. It is an attack agent for both foreign and domestic terrorists.
The French DST have been pursuing members associated with the ricin production and delivery for more than a year, detaining individuals here and there. Originally seen as an anti-Russian attack by Chechen separatists, it has assumed wider scope.
In January, 2004 the French press reported that an Islamist chemical attack had been thwarted by French DST internal security arrests in the Lyon area. Plans for the attack came to light during the arrest of six suspected Islamic extremists, including the Imam of a Lyon mosque. The suspects appeared before Paris anti-terrorist judges the following week. Evidence gained from the suspects made it clear that an attack with botulism or ricin toxins was being actively prepared. Chellali Benchellali, an imam in Venisseux in the Lyon suburbs, his wife Hafsa and his son Hafed were among those detained on 6 January in a series of dawn raids.
While it has not gained any traction in the US, the Guardian article is the best single English summary that I've seen. (And as the Guardian is seen as some as center left, I have Reuters articles on file that corroborate).
Al-Qaida terror plot foiled, say French police
Jon Henley in Paris
Monday January 12, 2004
The Guardian (UK)
InfoT Public Strategic Risk Public Terrorism Public
Woodward follows Clarke
- Gordon Housworth [ 4/17/2004 - 08:15 ] #
It will be interesting to hear Woodward's interview on 60 Minutes this Sunday (the interview was taped a week ago). I do so like the "the Pottery Barn rule," or the "you break it, you own it" rule of military action.
I remember Tom Friedman using it in February 03: "The first rule of any Iraq invasion is the pottery store rule: You break it, you own it. We break Iraq, we own Iraq - and we own the primary responsibility for rebuilding a country of 23 million people that has more in common with Yugoslavia than with any other Arab nation."
I am discomfited by the fact that, "Conservatives have long accused Mr. Powell of pursuing his own agenda, and of being more interested in depicting himself as right on the issues than as loyal to his president." Personally, I favor 'right' over blindly 'loyal' as you may not be extending allegiance to the right person. And if you cannot, then leave or start looking around.
It is daunting to follow the Quaker admonition "to speak truth to power" and I think that Powell does a creditable job. Perhaps Powell felt that he could have an influence. I think that he has but it has been more an external influence on a portion of our electorate and upon foreign leaders. It's a hard job. More of us track to Voltaire's "I am very fond of truth, but not at all of martyrdom."
Exploring the episode with Tenet and McLaughlin will be interesting.
Wary Powell Said to Have Warned Bush on War
By DOUGLAS JELL
April 17, 2004
New York Times
InfoT Public Infrastructure Defense Public Strategic Risk Public
Hundreds of hand-wired satellite TV dishes in slums without sanitation
- Gordon Housworth [ 4/16/2004 - 15:52 ] #
NewsHour, 15 April, carried an audio clip on Al Hurra (The Free One), a US sponsored TV channel broadcasting to 22 Middle Eastern countries with 170 million potential listeners that is fighting for space among the some 130 satellite stations now in the Middle East.
Yes, al Hurra has blundered badly, perhaps very badly, commencing its inaugural broadcast with talking head interviews so reminiscent of other state sponsored stations and failing to report news of critical interest to listeners at the same level of priority coverage.
Yes, US diplomatic circles have voiced considerable frustration over earlier efforts, and many potential listeners say that, "If U.S. policy in the region was sound and convincing, they would not resort to cosmetic means to improve their image."
Yes, its sibling Arabic-language radio, Radio Sawa, or in English, begun two years earlier is doing better.
But as the NewsHour clip pointed out that in slums "too poor to have plumbing and sanitation," it was easy to spot the "hundreds of hand-wired satellite TV dishes."
Yes, we desperately need to balance our approaches to Israel and the Palestinians, but we must continue this program -- and continue to improve it -- as some will admit to watching it in private.
As the audio concludes, "The stakes are huge, nothing less than the hearts, minds, and attitudes of the Arab world."
Think what the Voice of America did for the US during the Cold War. Al Hurra could be the cheapest weapon that the US ever inserted into the middle east.
InfoT Public Strategic Risk Public
Blowback on French institutional coupling of politics and business
- Gordon Housworth [ 4/16/2004 - 12:46 ] #
I found the extended criminal trial over French culpability in the collapse of the large California insurer, Executive Life, in the early 1990s, less interesting as a marker of a declining Franco-American relation than as a window into a very tight coupling of French politics and business (supported by intelligence) that assumes ('presumes' might be a better word) a "political solution" can always be relied upon to sweep away the putative laws and treaties in force between any partner, competitor, and customer.
In a series of court proceedings that predated by far the second Iraqi invasion, one negotiated settlement after another fell through as the French "couldn't accept that there was not a political solution," and that the criminal matter being pursued by US federal court would proceed unimpeded.
Now the French government has pleaded guilty to a criminal count, paid a packet over and above the bailout costs already borne by their taxpayers, and is staring down the bore of 'big money' in the US civil suit to follow. It must astonish the French just as it has, and still does, the Chinese, say, when they expect the US in suppress activities of Chinese dissidents here in the US.
On the reverse, US businesses are lulled into a false sense of security when they go overseas assuming that the 'script as written are the words that make it into the movie.' It does not work that way and US firms need to have a risk mitigation strategy in place when they go so that their investment is protected.
As one who has advised US firms in resisting the deprecations of combined French political, intelligence, and industrial assets in the energy sector, part of our guidance to mid-size energy firms operating in Africa are to:
Be offshore in partnership with at least one other major US player. Third world governments are less prone to interfere with the super majors.
If no US player is possible, be offshore in partnership with at least one major non-US player that has similar interests and risk assessments. Areas where the French have an overwhelming presence carry added risk.
Postwar France has deemed its right to a foreign policy independent of NATO to rest upon its nuclear Force de Frappe and its suzerain over Francophone Africa. France exercises that suzerain aggressively by using all its state and commercial assets. (The French are not all that pleased of our presence in non-Francophone Africa for that matter. Witness our rapprochement with Libya. In a stroke, we divert both Libyan spending and Libyan crude oil to the US -- crude oil that was flowing inexpensively across the Med to France, a point not lost on the US government.)
Do read the article as it is a delicious tale. And do armor up your risk detection and risk amelioration posture when you venture offshore into a region, or an industrial segment, of high value to France. Or Israel, or Germany, or Russia, or the PRC:
How Insurance Spat Further Frayed U.S.-French Ties
Paris Forks Over $375 Million In Executive Life Dispute; Gucci Owner Pinned Down
California's Civil Suit Looms
By JOHN CARREYROU and GLENN R. SIMPSON
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
April 16, 2004; Page A1
InfoT Public Intellectual Property Theft Public Strategic Risk Public
Muslim extremist sites borrow e-commerce tools
- Gordon Housworth [ 4/15/2004 - 10:32 ] #
Ref my earlier note on sites offering guidelines for prioritized attacks on Western commercial and private humint targets, these sites also offer their own form of 'sign-up here" along with tradecraft instructions. Al Jazeera (in English) is tame in comparison to Maktab-al-Jihad. Both are worth reading from time to time as you will wonder if you and they are on the same planet. Not much room for compromise here.
Our tools work just as well for them as they do for us. I find it interesting that the most conservative wings of Muslims and jihadists that would take themselves, and presumably ourselves had they the option, back to a seventh century apogee in terms of cultural horizon are only too willing to harvest 21st century communication tools to get there.
This article details some of the offending sites as well as efforts to take them down. As of this writing the Islamic Jihad site may be installing a new Apache web server version, but still validates its URL; the Hamas page is returning "page cannot be displayed;" and the Al-Qaeda site remains in 'takeover state.'
But al Fateh for children and Maktab-al-Jihad for adults are alive and well, as well as many more.
Activists Crusade Against E-Jihad
IPS-Inter Press Service International Association (Rome)
InfoT Public Infrastructure Defense Public Strategic Risk Public Terrorism Public
The wisdom of laying siege to Najaf
- Gordon Housworth [ 4/15/2004 - 08:18 ] #
Before starting any discussion on Arabs and Middle Eastern Muslims, I keep in mind this Bedouin saying:
"My full brother and I against my half-brother, my brother and I against my father, my father's household against my uncle's household, our two households (my uncle's and mine) against the rest of the immediate kin, the immediate kin against non-immediate members of my clan, my clan against other clans, and, finally, my nation and I against the world."
The many-to-many relationships of interacting clans is much more useful to understanding this area than is the concept of a nation-state. Indeed, Saddam Hussein acted much like Josip Broz Tito in Yugoslavia in restraining this web of conflicting relations that US forces released at the fall of Saddam.
Juan Cole (Middle East history at the University of Michigan) writes with much nuance on the region. In a recent PBS Newshour interview with Ray Suarez, both Cole and Reuel Gerecht (ex CIA DO now at the American Enterprise Institute) weighed in on the merit of entering Najaf. Both academic and operative were firmly against it. I find it astonishing that we can be massing at the gates of what a US commander has called the 'Shite Vatican.' Yes, I appreciate the threat of force as a negotiating tactic but if our bluff were called we would face a fearsome endgame. Here is a snippet of that exchange:
RAY SUAREZ: Well, Professor Cole, the commanding officer of those troops, U.S. troops outside Najaf, said today, 'look at this as the Shiite Vatican, a single shot in Najaf could outrage the Shia majority.' He seems to be well aware of the delicacy of his mission. Is that a good analogy? Is Najaf the Shiite Vatican?
JUAN COLE: It is an excellent analogy and it should be remembered that the implications of U.S. invasion of Najaf would go far beyond Iraq.
All the Shiites in the world, in Lebanon, in Iran, in Bahrain and Pakistan and Afghanistan would be outraged by such an action and there would be terrible repercussions possibly for the United States in moving in this way.
And the problem is the U.S. military authorities have said that they want to either capture or kill Muqtada al Sadr. I don't understand this aspiration. If they capture him, there will be demonstrations by all of his fanatical followers -- and they are not miniscule in number. Every day in many cities until he is released, there will be hostage taking in hopes of trading hostages for him. If he is killed, then they will go into a guerilla insurgency. There has to be a third way -- possibly finding a way to exile him to a neighboring country without harming him.
Having US forces (read Infidels) at the gates of the Shite Vatican at all, much less without a plan other than to lay siege, is numbing. It is difficult to operate solely on unclass information, but one wonders who is thinking of the immediate secondary effects much less the longer term effects. It reminds me of the change that I so often level at Israelis in their dealings with the Palestinians: They win every battle and lose every war.
Even as I write things are moving rapidly as the US has enlisted Iran to offer temporary sanctuary to al Sadr after he surrenders to the grand ayatollahs who will then negotiate with US authorities. Cole is surprised that the US would seek Iranian assistance, thinking it a "sign of real desperation on the part of the Bush administration to turn to the Axis of Evil for help."
Cole warns that once Iran is in Iraqi politics that it will not be easy to get it out.
InfoT Public Strategic Risk Public Terrorism Public
|Prev 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48  50 Next|
You are on page 49
A total of 52 pages are available.
Items 481-490 of 520.
Pages: [1 - 25] [26 - 50] [51 - 52]
|<< | May 2013 | >>|