aa-jv 10 days ago

Of course the US Military wants to know what you're reading:

“I believe the perception caused by civilian casualties is one of the most dangerous enemies we face.” - U.S. General Stanley A. McCrystal in his inaugural speech as ISAF Commander in June 2009.

The publics' democratic attitude about America's war machines is a threat to Americas national security, especially if that public starts to question the nature of the crimes being committed in their name, and the costs ..

The Pentagon probably wants to get out in front of any populist rise against their war crimes. Makes sense, given the magnitude of the crimes but also the magnitude of ignorance. This blowback may be the one thing that topples the security-states vast, significant fortress ..

  • TakeBlaster16 9 days ago

    If you're worried your citizens might not appreciate you committing war crimes, there's an obvious solution to that.

    • danielvf 9 days ago

      McCrystal was in fact all about actually reducing civilian deaths. He drastically altered almost every aspect of daily combat life of US and Afghanistan government soldiers in that quest.

      An example from someone I know: Multiple helicopters are searching for a piece of enemy equipment hidden in the mountains. They find it, miles from the nearest anything in a rocky open mountain. The helicopters then spend six hours in pair shifts circling it, while the authorization to shoot at it works it's way up to Washington DC and back down again, with multiple calls coming in to "confirm there are no civilians in the area". All to destroy something worth like $200.

      Airstrikes and artillery use were cut way back, and subject to crazy delays and process. This reduced how far out units could push, since support was far delayed.

      Army staff even proposed a medal for "Courageous Restraint", for going above and beyond not shooting even when threatened and allow by the rules of engagement.

      It was deeply unpopular with the boots on the ground. And civilian deaths actually went up. From an academic paper:

      "The restrictions on the application of firepower protected the Taliban as well. This was likely a contributing factor in the dramatic overall increase in civilian deaths during the year that courageous restraint was implemented given that the large majority of civilian deaths recorded were attributed to actions initiated by the Taliban."

      • colpabar 9 days ago

        100% of these problems could have been avoided if we just didn't invade afghanistan.

        • 2OEH8eoCRo0 9 days ago

          That's a political question, not a warfighting question and it doesn't help the soldiers on the ground fighting the war. The fact is that they are there, now what can they do about it?

        • shuntress 9 days ago

          Ok but it's kind of complicated.

      • aa-jv 7 days ago

        >McCrystal was in fact all about actually reducing civilian deaths. He drastically altered almost every aspect of daily combat life of US and Afghanistan government soldiers in that quest.

        Please cite a source. Everything I have read from him indicates he was more concerned with the perception that civilians were being intentionally targetted, and it is also specious to argue that he attempted to reduce civilian casualties during a period when Obama intentionally changed the definition of "male enemy combatants" to ensure that any males in the target area - any at all - would be counted as combatants, not civilians - regardless of whether they were actually aggressive.

        This was a highly duplicitous act that has done more harm for American interests than good.

        • danielvf 6 days ago

          Sure, here's one source:


          This paper is very in favor of paying the cost on reducing civilian casualties, but even so quotes things like:

          "They were on target and began taking fire from a two-story compound. One of the Rangers was seriously wounded. The Platoon maneuvered and suppressed the target but based on the thickness of the walls were unable to neutralize the threat. They fired 40mm, m320 rounds, m240l, and multiple m3 Carl Gustaf rounds without any success. They then requested permission to utilize a Hellfire (air to ground missile) from a support Apache (attack helicopter), and were denied. They were told to withdraw and return to base. These types of missions were the hardest to explain to the guys who were risking all and feeling that they weren't always supported based on the need to prevent the strategic negative."

          • aa-jv 6 days ago

            >>McCrystal was in fact all about actually reducing civilian deaths.

            Unfortunately, manifest whitepapers about 'honor' notwithstanding, McCrystal did absolutely nothing to effectively reduce civilian casualties - beyond whitewashing the scene, that is.

            This is demonstrated in the actual statistics of civilian murder that have occurred since his command. It has not reduced tempo, one bit:


            • danielvf 5 days ago

              As I said, McCrystal intentions were to reduce civilian casualties; he took drastic actions to reduce civilian casualties; and yet the overall number of civilian deaths from all causes went up.

              You can see that he was taking actions by just looking at things like the number of close air support weapon releases per month during his one year stint as commander. After taking command, the number of weapon releases went to one half that of the previous year. And once he was relived of command, they went back up again. The number of weapons releases per close air support sortie went from around 33% to less than 15%.

              McCrystal made major changes to operational procedures - as an example the following rule:

              "Prior to the use of fires, the commander approving the strike must determine that no civilians are present. If unable to assess the risk of civilian presence, fires are prohibited...".

              That's far beyond a rule of "if you don't see any civilians", instead going to the level of forbidding strikes when unable to verify that there are no civilians around.

              And that's not to mention the creation of whole bureaucracies poking into every corner of operations and focused on this.

              Regardless of the actual outcome, McCrystal took many major, concrete, costly, and unpopular actions to attempt to reduce civilian casualties.

              That some or many of those changes didn't stick afterwards, doesn't mean that his primary objective was whitewashing, rather than actual change.

              • aa-jv 5 days ago

                Did civilians casualties go down?

                No. They went up.

                It therefore doesn't matter one iota what the war criminals responsible for that murder, have to say about it. No amount of flowery 'brave' language is going to bring those kids back from out under the rubble.

                Stop defending known war criminals. McCrystal belongs in chains in The Hague, as does Obama. They both worked too damned hard to justify their murder of civilians to the rest of the civilized world.

                • danielvf 5 days ago

                  While McCrystal was in command, US caused Afghani civilian casualties went quickly down from what they were and stayed down while he was in command.

                  However the Taliban had been killing around 400% of the number of civilians that the ISAF was. Reduced ISAF force projection and increased Taliban activity resulted in the number of civilians killed by the Taliban going up. Thus the overall number of civilians killed during those 11 months went up. But it went up because the Taliban were killing more, not because the US was.

                  Another way of looking at it, if airstrikes and artillery fire were the primary drivers of US caused civilian deaths, then reducing the number of times those were used by 50% would obviously cause a noticeable reduction in US caused civilian deaths.

                  Anyway, it appears that we are at an impasse, and both believe that the other cannot see the obvious facts about McCrystal either doing nothing, or doing a lot to reduce civilian casualties.

                  Have a good day, and may there be joy in it.

                  • aa-jv 5 days ago

                    The difference is that I consider McCrystal a vile war criminal and have no desire whatsoever to see his fake 'honor' defended by anyone. He belongs in chains, rotting in the Hague, as do most of his seniors.

    • ARandomerDude 9 days ago

      Judging by world history, the usual solution is crush the citizens.

    • HeckFeck 9 days ago

      Indeed. Normalising the targeting of civilians is not a path we want to tread. The rule has already been applied against the aggressing nation.

  • case0x00 9 days ago

    The publics' attitude toward America's military, more like. It is easy to get people to spy on their own country if they already have a hatred for it, and that _is_ a national security risk. That is not to say you must be blindly patriotic, but if you hate your country, hate your military, and only want to burn everything to the ground rather than reform, that is a massive insider threat that is exploitable by our adversaries. If you don't think the excessively high number of america-hating americans is concerning, then I don't know what to say.

    • aa-jv 6 days ago

      >If you don't think the excessively high number of america-hating americans is concerning, then I don't know what to say.

      The higher number of American citizens who have absolutely no idea the magnitude of the crimes against humanity and war crimes being committed in their name is a far, far greater concern.

      As is the number of American citizens who are willing to justify those crimes as long as they remain the recipients of the related war treasure.

      These figures are of a much greater threat to American military-industrial 'security' than any other statistic, since its not just American's who will pay the ultimate price.

    • Nasrudith 9 days ago

      Concern is relative. Namely concern for nobody in a building is working is concerning. Except when there is a workplace shooter in the building or the building is on fire.

      It is the root cause which is in dire need of being addressed. Frankly if everyone hates the government you need reformers not spooks.

photochemsyn 9 days ago

Government is not allowed to collect and store data on citizens without a warrant.

No such prohibition applies to the private sector, although data privacy laws are starting to become more popular globally, so this may change - although if they don't give citizens the right to sue corporations who unlawfully collect and store personal data, they'll be ignored. See Americans with Disability Act.

Hence, governments simply avoid the need to get a warrant by purchasing the data from the private sector.

Incidentally, in "Permanent Record" Snowden said that ensuring the data was kept in the private sector was a kind of victory, but in reality that's meaningless. The merger of government and corporate systems is well under way, particularly in the military-industrial-tech-spying world.

  • flavmartins 9 days ago

    > purchasing the data from the private sector

    Just wanted to highlight this piece right here. Making sure others see this.

2OEH8eoCRo0 9 days ago

Good whistleblower. Contacted a US Senator and got the word out. This is a good use of the system.

With that said, I don't blame the Pentagon. This information shouldn't be for sale in the first place. If the US govt can buy it then so can others. Troves of personal data beg to be misused.

vaadu 9 days ago

No warrant? And government folks wonder why they're not trusted.

And how many of these government data purchasers' next job is with these data brokers?

denton-scratch 9 days ago

> seeking out data from shady data brokers

Team Cymru is not a shady data broker. They're an internet security company that has been monitoring networks for a couple of decades, and providing the resulting information for free. If you've never used them, it's worth taking a look. It might not be up your street, but if you're even slightly into internet sleuthing, it's gold.

  • m3047 9 days ago

    I don't know where the start or end of this is. They bought netflow data from Cymru. By itself that gets you this: https://github.com/m3047/rear_view_rpz/blob/main/utilities/P...

    Passive DNS reconstruction is a real thing. I wouldn't test out a web site on its own FQDN and expect it to stay unnoticed; just sayin'.

    Just because the PTRs are garbage doesn't mean that Amazon, Fastly, Cloudflare don't have the data. Nuggets of truth are scattered in other comments. The GitHub tool is a political statement in and of itself.

guest987543456 10 days ago

This is in sense known since Snowden times. Google CEO and others got mad their data were taken "for free" due to lack of SSL within data centers. That was quickly fixed by industry major players, DoD was visited, and all were happy thereafter. DoD can get same data as before by paying for them now.

  • nycdatasci 10 days ago


    • guest1234gt678 9 days ago

      Sorry I only created the account to post that, so I am creating a new one:

      Source is me, kind of :) - check the news of that time about Google CEO visit some months after Snowden revealings. The Google rhetoric slowed down after that. Very likely, some kind of deal was made to pay for the "anonymized" data. Someone else is now confirming that obvious suspicion. The "anonymized" data are for sale if you are the right customer and the government is another right customer.

      For the data to have value, not have much noise, it should be easy to de-anonymize those. All the dark UI / settings patterns from the industry and government laws to verify age, etc, point to one common goal, to make it easy to massively collect quality clean data, to co-use.

      I have no motivation to make an essay for you with references on this, but hope you get the idea.

      E.g.: The government can find your phone number and can find / buy the internet traffic from that, as well as things you typed in applications, location, etc - all kind of "anonymized" but grouped. If all these are collected (by separate parties) and obtained (all by one party), then it is easy to correlate and get clean non-anonymized data. A global played with lots of budget can do that.

phkahler 9 days ago

>> At least four agencies within the United States Department of Defense, including the Army and Navy, have collectively spent at least $3.5 million on a little-known data monitoring tool with the reported ability to provide access to vast swaths of email data and web browsing activity.

Imagine if different parts of the government are redundantly paying for the same data. No wonder its so valuable to collect.

  • kube-system 9 days ago

    Per-user licensing is hardly something that only happens at the DoD

    • dylan604 9 days ago

      Shoot, with today's modern CPU core counts, the old school per-core licensing would make one Scrooge McDuck diving into piles of money rich.

convery 9 days ago

Reminds me of the Snowden leaks where the NSA and the Swedish FRA had a deal as neither was allowed to spy on their own citizens, so they just spied on eachother and then shared the data.

OliverJones 9 days ago

Cymru is the Welsh-language name for Wales. I wonder how this cybersecurity outfit picked the name? Anybody know?

  • denton-scratch 9 days ago

    As a matter of fact I always assumed they were Welsh. This is the first I've heard that they're based in Florida.

sylware 9 days ago

conspiracy mode: a high-ranking individual in the pentagon, member of a religious network, made the pentagon buy for a non-pertinent sum of public money, the piece of software from the company belonging to other members of its religious network.


  • boomboomsubban 9 days ago

    This may be true, but it wouldn't make the software less damming. It'd show that there are enough brokers in the spying business for cronyism to also play a factor.

  • peteradio 9 days ago

    What? Like Amway but for spycraft?

    • aa-jv 9 days ago

      In this regard, the truth is truly stranger than fiction.

      (PS - yes, there are crazy religious zealots in Americas upper ranks.)

      • sylware 9 days ago

        In my country, explicit laws were setup to protect ppl from those religious networks of ppl. It seems, they take over whole chunk of the economy, no room left (or as an economic slave).

        • dylan604 9 days ago

          yeah, church hasn't been separated from state here for a loooooong time

          • sylware 9 days ago

            but for the economy, laws were added.

incomingpain 9 days ago

Check out this video by 'smertereveryday': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOTYgcdNrXE

He has access to a 4 star general who gives him a little too much information. The first screen in the video is that it has been approved for public release.

The military understands the situation. You can see why they are purchasing internet data. I don't see the problem. Who exactly has been punished by this?

Or even snowden? NSA is spying on everyone? But is there people in prison for this? If so, were they people who did need to go to prison?

You can pretty much bet every country has 'lawful intercept'

  • dylan604 9 days ago

    Man, I really was hoping there was a spoof channel called SmerterEveryDay instead of just a typo. Sadly, I spent a >0 amount of time thinking about the host of that channel being the Sweedish Chef borka borka "we're smerter every day"!