I have been looking at different policy papers this morning. Yea.. Great way to spend a Sunday. It is what interests me when I have time to look it over. I have a really good source for these Foreign Policy papers. Here is two that stood out to me today.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) commenced a secret detention program under which suspected terrorists were held in CIA prisons, also known as “black sites,” outside the United States, where they were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” that involved torture and other abuse. At about the same time, the CIA gained expansive authority to engage in “extraordinary rendition,” defined here as the transfer— without legal process—of a detainee to the custody of a foreign government for purposes of detention and interrogation.2 Both the secret detention program and the extraordinary rendition program were highly classified, conducted outside the United States, and designed to place detainee interrogations beyond the reach of the law. Torture was a hallmark of both. The two programs entailed the abduction and disappearance of detainees and their extra-legal transfer on secret flights to undisclosed locations around the world, followed by their incommunicado detention, interrogation, torture, and abuse. The administration of President George W. Bush embraced the “dark side,” a new paradigm for countering terrorism with little regard for the constraints of domestic and international law.
Today, more than a decade after September 11, there is no doubt that high- ranking Bush administration officials bear responsibility for authorizing human rights violations associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition, and the impunity that they have enjoyed to date remains a matter of significant concern. But responsibility for these violations does not end with the United States. Secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, designed to be conducted outside the United States under cover of secrecy, could not have been implemented without the active participation of foreign governments. These governments too must be held accountable.
However, to date, the full scale and scope of foreign government participation—as well as the number of victims—remains unknown, largely because of the extreme secrecy maintained by the United States and its partner governments. The U.S.
Case for Syria non involvement
Cato institute makes a case for non involvement in Syria which I tend to agree with.
In the midst of growing public wariness about large-scale foreign interventions, the Obama administration has decided to arm the Syrian rebels. Those who call for increasing the scope of U.S. aid to the Syrian rebels argue that (1) arming the rebels is the cheapest way to halt a humanitarian catastrophe, hasten the fall of the Assad regime through a rebel military victory or a negotiated settlement, and allow the Obama administration to influence the broader direc- tion of Syrian politics in a post-Assad world; (2) failure to step up U.S. involvement will damage America’s credibility and reputation in the eyes of our allies and adversaries; and (3) U.S. objec- tives can be accomplished with a relatively small level of U.S. commitment in Syria.
These arguments are wrong on all counts. There is a high risk that the decision to arm the Syrian rebels will drag the United States into a more extensive involvement later, the very sce- nario that the advocates for intervention claim they are trying to avoid. The unique characteris- tics of alliances between states and armed non-
state groups, in particular their informal nature and secrecy about the existence of the alliance or its specific provisions, create conditions for states to become locked into unpalatable obli- gations. That seems especially likely in this case. The specific way the administration has chosen to increase the scope of its support to the rebels sets the stage for even greater U.S. commitment in Syria in the future. The Obama administra- tion, therefore, should not have decided to arm the Syrian rebels.
Looking ahead, it is important for policy- makers to understand the nature of alliances between states and armed nonstate groups even after the Syria conflict is resolved. Given that Americans are unwilling to support large-scale interventions in far-flung reaches of the globe, policymakers looking for military solutions to political problems may conclude that arming proxy groups may be an attractive policy choice. They should instead, however, avoid committing to conflicts that don’t threaten core national se- curity interests.
abundance of elements
50 years of space exploration
“>50 years of space exploration
How encryption works
Thought I would share this well written and received paper. With the news that GCHQ destroyed the hard drives of the Guardian.
Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on. Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.
— Edward Snowden, answering questions live on the Guardian’s website
The NSA is the biggest, best funded spy agency the world has ever seen. They spend billions upon billions of dollars each year doing everything they can to vacuum up the digital communications of most humans on this planet that have access to the Internet and and the phone network. And as the recent reports in the Guardian and Washington Post show, even domestic American communications are not safe from their net.
Defending yourself against the NSA, or any other government intelligence agency, is not simple, and it’s not something that can be solved just by downloading an app. But thanks to the dedicated work of civilian cryptographers and the free and open source software community, it’s still possible to have privacy on the Internet, and the software to do it is freely available to everyone. This is especially important for journalists communicating with sources online.
link to news about the Guardian newspaper
A little over two months ago I was contacted by a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister. There followed two meetings in which he demanded the return or destruction of all the material we were working on. The tone was steely, if cordial, but there was an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.
The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.” There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more.”
During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian’s reporting through a legal route – by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government’s intention. Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK. But my experience over WikiLeaks – the thumb drive and the first amendment – had already prepared me for this moment. I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations and the way in which, these days, media organisations could take advantage of the most permissive legal environments. Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that Greenwald lived in Brazil?
The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. “We can call off the black helicopters,” joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.