Sunday, February 19, 2006

GS(3) Intelligence Briefing (2-20-06)

NOTE: GS(3) Intelligence Briefing is posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. The Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue provides insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. “Words of Power" commentary is also posted on a bi-weekly basis. This commentary explores a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit.

In a tragically poetical twist, the swans have brought bird flu to Western Europe. The deadly strain has now been detected in Italy, Greece, France and Germany. Ominously, India, Egypt and Nigeria have also detected it. According to Dr. David Nabarro, the UN’s “Bird Flu” expert, we are only two mutations away from a pandemic (Daily Times of Pakistan, 2-12-06) and the spread of infection into Africa and Europe increases the likelihood of such a pandemic (Scotsman, 2-18-06). But although the temptation to turn your attention to Europe is powerful, remember to follow what is going on in Indonesia closely. According to the Indonesian Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono, “the amount of time between contracting the virus and death is becoming shorter, raising the possibility the virus is becoming more virulent" (Jakarta Post, 2-16-06). Perhaps the greatest concern, at least for the next two weeks, is in countries such as Rumania, Nigeria and India, where populations are living in close proximity to livestock, with poor sanitation and limited resources for early detection of outbreaks. There are serious crisis management issues that your organization should have already dealt with, including the imposition of travel protocols (e.g., do you have processes to authorize and monitor travel?), the development of alternatives to business travel (e.g., video conferences, placeware, etc.), the roll-out of awareness and education programs for the workforce (e.g., provide them with updates and a checklist that empowers them, rather than leaving them in fear and ignorance), the expansion of telecommuting programs, the testing of contingency plans for the conduct of business with a significantly reduced workforce, preparations for possible quarantines, etc. These recommendations should be acted upon not only by organizations with interests and operations in Southeast Asia, Africa or Eastern Europe, but throughout Europe and the Americas as well.
This issue of the GS(3) Intelligence Briefing epitomizes what I call the rapidly evolving 21st Century Security Crisis. In “Europe, Middle East & Africa,” I have included five news items and opinion pieces on the new “Great Game” and its potential to mutate into WWIII. In “Asia Pacific,” you will find information on latest developments in the global spread of “Bird Flu” and its potential to evolve into a pandemic. In the “Global” section, I have cited several important articles on the acceleration and impact of Global Warming. In “Americas,” I have posted more shocking evidence of why the Bush-Cheney regime is utterly incapable of leading the world community in overcoming these challenges. In “Cyberspace,” you will find some disturbing indications that blog creation, because of its increasing role as an alternative source of news, commentary, and investigative reporting, is being targeted in the struggle for control over the Internet and the imposition of limitations on the freedom of cyber speech – all under the guise of fighting the “war on terrorism.”
Remember, is also a searchable database. It is meant to accelerate, intensify and enrich your online research.

Europe, Middle East & Africa

The attempt by the country of 9 million people to become the world's first practically oil-free economy is being planned by a committee of industrialists, academics, farmers, carmakers, civil servants and others, who will report to parliament in several months. The intention, the Swedish government said yesterday, is to replace all fossil fuels with renewables before climate change destroys economies and growing oil scarcity leads to huge new price rises. Sweden has a decent head start—about 26 percent of its energy already comes from renewable resources (the EU average is 6 percent)—and plans to meet its goal by using biofuels, along with wave and wind power, to generate the needed electricity, rather than relying on new nuclear plants, which already supply half of the country's electricity. The Volvos, meanwhile, will all run on hydrogen

Sweden to Go Oil-Free, Mother Jones, February, 2006

Syria has switched all of the state's foreign currency transactions to euros from dollars amid a political confrontation with the United States, the head of state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria said on Monday.
"This is a precaution. We are talking about billions of dollars," Duraid Durgham told Reuters…"It looks like a kind of pre-emptive action aimed at making their foreign assets safer, preventing them from getting frozen in case of any conflict," said a Middle East economist who requested anonymity.
Syria switches to euro amid confrontation with US, Reuters, 2-13-06

China is hastening to complete a deal worth as much as $100 billion that would allow a Chinese state-owned energy firm to take a leading role in developing a vast oil field in Iran, complicating the Bush administration's efforts to isolate the Middle Eastern nation and roll back its nuclear development plans, according to published reports. The completion of the agreement would advance China's global quest for new stocks of energy. It could also undermine U.S. and European initiatives to halt Tehran's nuclear plans, muddling Beijing's relations with outside powers…China's voracious appetite for energy is increasingly guiding its foreign policy. China has used the threat of a Security Council veto to limit sanctions against Sudan, the African nation in which China's largest energy firm, China National Petroleum Corp., is the largest investor in a government-led oil consortium. China is the largest buyer of Sudan's oil, as well as the largest supplier of arms to its ruling regime. The Sudanese government has been accused of massacring villagers to clear land for further energy development and of committing genocide in its efforts to crush separatist rebels in the western region of Darfur. China's pursuit of a completed energy deal with Iran comes as Tehran has announced the resumption of its uranium enrichment program.
Peter S. Goodman, China Rushes to Complete $100B Deal With Iran, Washington Post, 2-17-06

Call it the new "axis of Islam," or, more accurately, the anti-American and anti-Israeli alliance. In the wake of strong performances by Islamist forces at the ballot box in recent months there's a new power rising in the Middle East. At the Beirut headquarters of Hezbollah, the Shia militia that controls south Lebanon and regularly exchanges fire with the Israeli army, they don't have a name for the new grouping, but there's a definite feeling that the bloc is on the rise, strengthened by Iran's increased willingness to butt heads with the international community and the victory of the militant Hamas movement in the recent Palestinian legislative election. Hussein Hajj Hassan, one of 14 Hezbollah members in the Lebanese parliament, said the new alliance was cemented in a little-publicized summit in Damascus late last month that was attended by leaders of both Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Syrian leader Bashar Assad. Islamic Jihad, another armed Palestinian faction dedicated to the destruction of Israel, was represented at the meeting And the Iraqi Shia firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also travelled recently to Damascus for talks. "If neighbouring Muslim countries are attacked, the Mahdi Army will support them," Mr. al-Sadr said last week after his meeting with Mr. Assad. "I am at the service of Iran and Syria."
Mark Mackinnon, New Islamist alliance alters Mideast dynamic, Globe and Mail, 2-17-06

Although we cannot hope to foresee all the ways such forces will affect the global human community, the primary vectors of the permanent energy crisis can be identified and charted. Three such vectors, in particular, demand attention: a slowing in the growth of energy supplies at a time of accelerating worldwide demand; rising political instability provoked by geopolitical competition for those supplies; and mounting environmental woes produced by our continuing addiction to oil, natural gas, and coal. Each of these would be cause enough for worry, but it is their intersection that we need to fear above all…Nor should the possibility of a direct clash over oil and gas between great powers be ruled out. In the East China Sea, for example, China and Japan have both laid claim to an undersea natural gas field that lies in an offshore area also claimed by both of them. In recent months, Chinese and Japanese combat ships and planes deployed in the area have made threatening moves toward one another…The sole way out of this trap is to bite the bullet and adopt heroic measures to curb our fossil-fuel consumption while embarking upon a massive program to develop alternative energy systems – an effort comparable to, and in some sense a reversal of, the coal-and-oil-fueled industrial revolution of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the United States, this would, at an utter minimum, entail the imposition of a hefty tax on gasoline consumption, with the resulting proceeds used to fund the rapid development of renewable energy systems. All funds now slated for highway construction should instead be devoted to public transit and high-speed inter-city rail lines and all new cars sold in America after 2010 should have minimum average fuel efficiencies of 50 MPG or higher. This will prove costly and disruptive -- but what other choice is there if we want to have some hope of exiting the permanent global energy crisis before the global economy collapses or the planet becomes uninhabitable by humans.
Michael T. Klare, The Permanent Energy Crisis,, 2-10-06

Asia Pacific

India said it was testing dozens of people for bird flu on Sunday, while France confirmed its first avian cases of the H5N1 virus as the deadly strain spread around the globe…Avian influenza has flared anew in recent weeks, spreading among birds in Europe and parts of Africa, and prompting authorities to impose bans on the poultry trade, introduce mass culling and vaccinate poultry flocks…India, the world's second most populous nation and a major poultry producer, reported its first bird flu cases in poultry on Saturday, after 50,000 birds died in Maharashtra. In France, Europe's biggest poultry producer, the farm ministry confirmed that a duck found dead on Monday in the east of the country had H5N1. France's H5N1 case was one of several wild ducks found dead near Lyon in a region famous for the quality of its chickens. Elsewhere, authorities in northern Spain are testing a duck found dead in lake to see if it carried H5N1, while Britain said bird flu was now more likely to reach its shores. Germany and Austria have reported more cases of bird flu, while authorities in Bulgaria put a man in an isolation chamber and were testing him for H5N1 after two of his ducks died. The disease has also spread to Egypt, which reported its first cases of H5N1 on Friday, while in Nigeria authorities are culling poultry and urging people not to eat sick birds after outbreaks there. Indonesia confirmed on Saturday that a 19th person had died of bird flu, which has been reported in chickens and other domesticated fowl in most provinces of the sprawling country of 220 million people. The H5N1 virus is known to have infected 171 people worldwide since late 2003, killing 93 of them. Two hundred million birds across Asia, parts of the Middle East, Europe and Africa have died of the virus or been culled.

Bird flu spreads, India tests dozens of people, Reuters, 2-19-02

With more human cases of bird flu being reported in [Indonesia], ministers warn the virus may be mutating into a more virulent form that is capable of being transmitted from human to human. "The amount of time between contracting the virus and death is becoming shorter, raising the possibility the virus is becoming more virulent," Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said Wednesday before a limited Cabinet meeting with governors from five provinces to discuss efforts to combat bird flu. The meeting comes at a time of increased criticism over the government's perceived failure to respond to the crisis with the necessary speed or force. Of the 26 people who have tested positive for the H5N1 form of the avian influenza virus since last year at a World Health Organization-accredited laboratory in Hong Kong, 18 have died. Eight of these cases have occurred this year, with seven fatalities…Indonesia has reported the second-highest number of human bird flu cases in the world, and has suffered the second-highest number of fatalities…According to a report from the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, 30 million village households in Indonesia are keeping around 200 million chickens, excluding wild birds.
Rendi Akhmad Witular, The Jakarta Post, 2-16-06

The bird flu virus is only two mutations away from a form that can spread easily between people, sparking a pandemic in which millions could die, the UN bird flu chief said in an interview published in Portugal Saturday.
“Only two mutations are needed for it to become easily transmissible among humans,” Dr David Nabarro, who heads the UN drive to contain the virus, told weekly newspaper Expresso.
“I wake up every morning thinking that today could be the day that I will see a report about a strange case of bird flu among humans,” he added. The H5N1 bird flu virus has killed tens of millions of birds since 2003 and there have been at least 165 confirmed cases of the strain spreading to humans, causing about 90 deaths, mostly in Asia…
Daily Times (Pakistan), 2-12-06

THE spread of bird flu from Asia to eastern Europe and west Africa has increased the chance that the virus will mutate and cause a pandemic among humans, the United Nations' expert on the disease has warned. Dr David Nabarro said there was no evidence yet of any change in the bird flu virus. He said: "Unfortunately, we cannot tell when the mutation might happen, or where it might happen, or how unpleasant the mutant virus will turn out to be. "Nevertheless, we must remain on high alert for the possibility of sustained human-to-human virus transmission and of a pandemic starting at any time…"We have got bird flu now in south-east Asia, central Asia, eastern Europe, and west Africa," he said. "Compared with eight months ago, this is a major extension of the avian influenza epidemic."
Bird flu spread 'raises chance of pandemic through human strain', Scotsman, 2-18-06

Near-panic has spread through Africa following the confirmed outbreak of the deadly bird flu virus in Nigeria that has led to the slaughter of tens of thousands of chickens, turkeys and other domesticated birds. The arrival of the H5N1 strain of bird flu from Asia fulfils one of the most dreadful fears of international experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH). These organizations and others are sending teams of experts to Nigeria in an effort to control an outbreak that went unreported for at least four weeks from the time thousands of birds began dying at the beginning of January. Nigerian traders continue to sell sick chickens, or birds killed by the virus, in unsanitary marketplaces. Poverty and lack of infrastructure make control more difficult in Africa than in Asia – where bird flu first struck – the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Detection is hard enough in rich countries. Currently, only two laboratories on the African continent are able to conduct safe diagnostic tests for bird flu in animals: one in South Africa, the other in Egypt. Few African countries have surveillance systems for H5N1.
Fred Bridgland, Bird Flu: Experts’ Fears Realized in West Africa, The Sunday Herald (Scotland), 2-12-06


The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has launched a passionate attack on President George Bush, saying his administration's refusal to close the notorious Guantanamo Bay camp reflected "a society that is heading towards George Orwell's Animal Farm". Dr Sentamu, the Church of England's second in command, urged the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) to take legal action against the US - through the US courts or the International Court of Justice at The Hague - should it fail to respond to a report, by five UN inspectors, advising that Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay should be shut immediately because prisoners there are being tortured. The report was published on Thursday, as a senior High Court judge, Mr Justice Collins, stated that American actions over Guantanamo's Camp Delta do not "appear to coincide with that of most civilised nations”.

Ian Herbert and Ben Russell, 'The Americans are Breaking International Law...It is a Society Heading Towards Animal Farm' - Archbishop Sentamu on Guantanamo, Independent/UK, 2-18-06

A coalition of American churches sharply denounced the U.S.-led war inIraq on Saturday, accusing Washington of "raining down terror" and apologizing to other nations for "the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown." The statement, issued at the largest gathering of Christian churches in nearly a decade, also warned the United States was pushing the world toward environmental catastrophe with a "culture of consumption" and its refusal to back international accords seeking to battle global warming. "We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights," said the statement from representatives of the 34 U.S. members of World Council of Churches…The World Council of Churches includes more than 350 mainstream Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox churches; the Roman Catholic Church is not a member. The U.S. groups in the WCC include the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, several Orthodox churches and Baptist denominations, among others…The churches said they had "grown heavy with guilt" for not doing enough to speak out against the Iraq war and other issues. The statement asked forgiveness for a world that's "grown weary from the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown."
BRIAN MURPHY, U.S. Church Alliance Denounces Iraq War, Associated Press, 2-18-06

The most serious problem with US intelligence today is that its relationship with the policymaking process is broken and badly needs repair. In the wake of the Iraq war, it has become clear that official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized. As the national intelligence officer responsible for the Middle East from 2000 to 2005, I witnessed all of these disturbing developments…A view broadly held in the United States and even more so overseas was that deterrence of Iraq was working, that Saddam was being kept "in his box," and that the best way to deal with the weapons problem was through an aggressive inspections program to supplement the sanctions already in place. That the administration arrived at so different a policy solution indicates that its decision to topple Saddam was driven by other factors - namely, the desire to shake up the sclerotic power structures of the Middle East and hasten the spread of more liberal politics and economics in the region. If the entire body of official intelligence analysis on Iraq had a policy implication, it was to avoid war - or, if war was going to be launched, to prepare for a messy aftermath. What is most remarkable about prewar US intelligence on Iraq is not that it got things wrong and thereby misled policymakers; it is that it played so small a role in one of the most important US policy decisions in recent decades.
Paul Pillar, Intelligence, Policy and The War in Iraq, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006

Outraged intelligence professionals say President George W. Bush is "cheapening" and "politicizing" their work with claims the United States foiled a planned terrorist attack against Los Angeles in 2002.
"The President has cheapened the entire intelligence community by dragging us into his fantasy world," says a longtime field operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. "He is basing this absurd claim on the same discredited informant who told us Al Qaeda would attack selected financial institutions in New York and Washington."
Within hours of the President’s speech Thursday claiming his administration had prevented a major attack, sources who said they were current and retired intelligence pros from the CIA, NSA, FBI and military contacted Capitol Hill Blue with angry comments disputing the President’s remarks.
“He’s full of shit,” said one sharply-worded email.
Although none were willing to allow use of their names, saying doing so would place them in legal jeopardy, we were able to confirm that at least four of the 23 who contacted us currently work, or had worked, within the U.S. intelligence community. But Los Angeles Mayor Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is willing to go on the record, claiming Bush blind-sided his city with the claims. "I'm amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels," the mayor says…
“DHS is a political police force,” says a retired CIA agent. “They exist to enforce the political propaganda program of George W. Bush. That’s all they’re good for and they’re not very good at that.”
Doug Thompson, Intel pros say Bush is lying about foiling 2002 terror attack, Capitol Hill Blue, 2-10-06

DOBBS: Dr. James Hansen is our guest here tonight. It's good to have you here. He's worked for NASA for nearly four decades.
He first warned Congress about the dangers of global warming two decades ago. He's now director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and joins us now…The idea that a 24-year-old political appointee has the sway to influence whatever you say or do not say about science, it just infuriates me to tell you the truth.
JAMES HANSEN, DIR. NASA'S GODDARD INST.: Yes, it's good to be here. I have to first note on the advice of counsel that I speak on the basis of my 39 years of NASA but I don't speak for the agency.
DOBBS: So stipulated and understood.
HANSEN: And I don't specify policy or criticize policy. I let the data and its policy implications speak for themselves.
DOBBS: Your feeling is, after studying the data for a mere 400,000 years, would that be about right?
HANSEN: Yes, we have good data for 400,000 from the ice scores in Antarctica.
DOBBS: And your conclusion is?
HANSEN: Well, the conclusion is the earth has warmed about .08 degrees Celsius, which is about one and a half degrees Fahrenheit in the last century, most of that in the last 30 years, while greenhouse gases have been increasing very rapidly and the main point that I was trying to make is that we're getting very close to a point of no return.
If the planet warms more than two degrees Fahrenheit additional, we will begin to have a very different planet.
DOBBS: And why did the Public Affair's Office not want you to share those concerns?
HANSEN: Well, global warming is a sensitive topic. Yes. And the public should know about it. My job, the first line of the NASA mission is to understand and protect our home planet and that's the reason that I'm speaking out.
DOBBS: And the public affairs office? Didn't understand the mission?
HANSEN: Well, they apparently feel that it's OK to filter the information going to the public. Which is, from a scientific point of view, you have to present all the data. Not filter it. But from the public's point of view, they're the ultimate policymaker. So they have to have the information. And so they have to get the whole story.
DOBBS: They have to get the whole story. Michael Griffith, a scientist himself, a man I personally respect, his background is extraordinary, the administrator. How has he reacted here in your judgment and has he been supportive of you and the need to have one of our leading scientists be able to openly speak? I mean taxpayer pays your salary.
HANSEN: Yes, that's right. And he has said exactly the right things that NASA is open but as yet, Public Affairs does not admit they've done anything wrong. And frankly, the story that came out was that as a 24-year-old. But no, in fact, he was doing what he was told by the higher ups.
DOBBS: By the Public Affairs Office.
HANSEN: Absolutely.
DOBBS: Which has had extraordinarily influence unlike any other Public Affairs Office in any other agency that I'm aware, the NASA P.A. Office is very powerful. Do you think you're going to see a change here? Or do you face, as the charge says, dire consequences if you speak out?
HANSEN: Right. I think there's a good chance that, because we do have a really good administrator and he said he's going to fix problem. But this is not limited to NASA. In fact, the problem is more serious in NOAA and still worse in EPA.
DOBBS: NOAH and EPA two of our most important agencies, if not most important agencies, in point in fact, in terms of looking at our climate, our ecology and what we're doing to both.
HANSEN: Right.
DOBBS: Dr. James Hansen, we thank you for your courage. We thank you for being here. Let's hope that this administration does the right thing, failing that, let's hope that Michael Grffin has the courage and the character that I suspect of him of having and we thank you for your display of both qualities.
HANSEN: It's good to be here.
DOBBS: Thank you.

Lou Dobbs interviews Dr. James Hansen, CNN Money Line, 2-15-06


Greenhouse gases are being released into the atmosphere 30 times faster than the time when the Earth experienced a previous episode of global warming.
A study comparing the rate at which carbon dioxide and methane are being emitted now, compared to 55 million years ago when global warming also occurred, has found dramatic differences in the speed of release.
James Zachos, professor of earth sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said the speed of the present build-up of greenhouse gases is far greater than during the global warming after the demise of the dinosaurs…He warned that studies of global warming events in the geological past indicate the Earth's climate passes a threshold beyond which climate change accelerates with the help of positive feedbacks - vicious circles of warming.

Steve Connor, Global Warming '30 Times Quicker Than it Used To Be', Independent/UK, 2-17-06

Global warming is causing the Greenland ice cap to disintegrate far faster than anyone predicted. A study of the region's massive ice sheet warns that sea levels may - as a consequence - rise more dramatically than expected.
Scientists have found that many of the huge glaciers of Greenland are moving at an accelerating rate - dumping twice as much ice into the sea than five years ago - indicating that the ice sheet is undergoing a potentially catastrophic breakup.
The implications of the research are dramatic given Greenland holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by up to 21ft, a disaster scenario that would result in the flooding of some of the world's major population centres, including all of Britain's city ports. Satellite measurements of the entire land mass of Greenland show that the speed at which the glaciers are moving to the sea has increased significantly over the past 10 years with some glaciers moving three times faster than in the mid-1990s.
Steve Connor, Sea Levels Likely to Rise Much Faster Than Was Predicted, Independent/UK, 2-17-06

The argument that business would not be able to cope with curbs on greenhouse gases is a fallacy; the longevity of capitalism is due almost entirely to its ability to adapt to any regime. What business lacks now is a clear steer; it has the expertise…Governments are almost certainly wrong to believe that action on climate change means economic stagnation. On the contrary, it would probably lead to an unleashing of a new clean industrial revolution based on green technology. They are also wrong to believe that the Kyoto process - rather than a new, comprehensive global solution - is the way to cut carbon emissions in any meaningful way. If the initiative does not come from governments, it may eventually come from business itself. In particular, the insurance industry sees itself facing ruin if climate change leads to more hurricanes on the scale of Katrina. The executives of companies in the US have what is known as directors' -and officers' - insurance, which indemnifies them against lawsuits arising from their companies' actions. But they are going to be very wary indeed about writing insurance for companies that are at risk from lawsuits arising from climate change. Exxon Mobil looks vulnerable in this respect. It accounts for around 1% of carbon emissions globally but has lobbied long and hard against efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions. Christopher Walker, head of the greenhouse gas risk solutions unit at Swiss Re, says his company may be forced to approach Exxon Mobil and say: "Since you don't think climate change is a problem, and you're betting your stockholders' assets on that, we're sure you won't mind if we exclude climate-related lawsuits from your D&O insurance." That sort of talk, you can be sure, tends to concentrate minds in the boardroom.

Larry Elliott, Winds of climate change are about to make their impact felt in many a boardroom, The Guardian, 2-6-06

The US government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity. The system - parts of which are operational, parts of which are still under development - is already credited with helping to foil some plots. It is the federal government's latest attempt to use broad data-collection and powerful analysis in the fight against terrorism. But by delving deeply into the digital minutiae of American life, the program is also raising concerns that the government is intruding too deeply into citizens' privacy "We don't realize that, as we live our lives and make little choices, like buying groceries, buying on Amazon, Googling, we're leaving traces everywhere," says Lee Tien, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "We have an attitude that no one will connect all those dots. But these programs are about connecting those dots - analyzing and aggregating them - in a way that we haven't thought about. It's one of the underlying fundamental issues we have yet to come to grips with." The core of this effort is a little-known system called Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic Enhancement (ADVISE). Only a few public documents mention it. ADVISE is a research and development program within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), part of its three-year-old "Threat and Vulnerability, Testing and Assessment" portfolio. The TVTA received nearly $50 million in federal funding this year.

Mark Clayton, US plans massive data sweep, Little-known data-collection system could troll news, blogs, even e-mails. Will it go too far?, Christian Science Monitor, 2-9-06

The government concluded its "Cyber Storm" wargame today, its biggest-ever exercise to test how it would respond to devastating attacks over the Internet from anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and bloggers. Participants confirmed parts of the worldwide simulation challenged government officials and industry executives to respond to deliberate misinformation campaigns and activist calls by Internet bloggers, online diarists whose "Web logs" include political rantings and musings about current events…Experts depicted hackers who shut down electricity in 10 states, failures in vital systems for online banking and retail sales, infected discs mistakenly distributed by commercial software companies and critical flaws discovered in core Internet technology. Some mock attacks were aimed at causing a "significant cyber disruption" that could seriously damage energy, transportation and health care industries and undermine public confidence, said George Foresman, an undersecretary at the Homeland Security Department…Government officials from the United States, Canada, Australia and England and executives from Microsoft, Cisco, Verisign and others said they were careful to simulate attacks only using isolated computers, working from basement offices at the Secret Services headquarters in downtown Washington…Homeland Security coordinated the exercise. More than 115 government agencies, companies and organizations participated.

TED BRIDIS, U.S. concludes 'Cyber Storm' mock Internet attacks, Associated Press, 2-10-06

In the Web universe, how popular are blogs? A report today by The Gallup Poll organization on its latest surveys could be interpreted two ways.
On the one hand, asked to rank their most frequent online activity, Americans who use the Web (now 73% of the population) placed "reading blogs" at the bottom of its list of 13 choices.
But on the other hand: blogs barely existed until recently and now fully one in five Americans say they consult blogs "frequently" or at least "occasionally." That 20% figure trails instant messaging (28%), auctions (23%), videocasts and downloading music (22%).
E-mailing still heads the list at 87%, followed by checking news and weather (72%) and shopping and travel planning (both at 52%).
In terms of blog activity, there is a slight gender gap (24% of men and 17% of women read them), and of course a generation gap, with 28% of those 18 to 29 using them and only 17% of those over 50.
Nearly 60% still say they "never" look at blogs.
Gallup reported big jumps in those paying bills online and making travel plans.
A total of 1,013 adults were surveyed nationally for the poll.
Gallup: Blogs Catching On With Web Users, Editors and Publishers, 2-6-06

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to