Saturday, May 23, 2015

Medical Pattern of Life in the bin Laden Case

This remarkable document excavated from the Snowden cache makes me wonder what other gems remain among the unreleased 200,000 documents originally exfiltrated. 

In this document NSA outlines a method (as in "sources and methods") called "medical pattern of life." It consists of a medical diagnosis, and then extrapolates a signature based on medications or medical supplies needed to treat the conditions suffered by a High Value Target, which in this case was bin Laden. 

The medical pattern of life is an artifice which I had not seen previously, but then, I do not get out much. It is nothing less than taking medical facts known about a target and converting them into vulnerabilities and vectors. Sneaky bastards. 

Here is what the card says: "Medical POL--> Identification of all recurring, and therefore predictable, patterns of behavior that constitute the specific treatment regimen for a target's medical illness." These would include "Medications, Medical Tests, Medical Surgical Treatments, Hospital and Doctor Visits."

Targeting the Medical Pattern of Life was an effort to "leap over the non-electronic moat with which HVI's surround themselves," planting a tag or a beacon on them, "enabling their geolocation." Obviously a drone strike could ensue, or as in the case of bin Laden, a visit from his friendly neighborhood SEAL team. 

There is a tantalizing reference to a "Doctor in Theater, 2000," which could mesh with reporting by Seymour Hersh about Dr. Shakil Afridi, who remains incarcerated in Pakistan due to the incompetence of the Obama regime. This could be a reference to a different physician, as Afridi was known to be in American custody in 2002, subjected to a month of CIA and FBI interviews and interrogation. 

Sheik Osama was known to suffer from "Middle Stage Renal Disease," with "Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections and Kidney Stones." Otherwise uncommented "Intestinal Problems" are also cited. The signature of his medical pattern of life was unique enough that tracking treatment materials and medications for his ailments could be followed like medical breadcrumbs. 

Significant NSA capabilities are blown, including a photograph of a "Tiny, Embeddable Form Factor" beacon or tag, apparently called the "PAITS Long Range Tag," which is quite small, with "Very Low Power" requirements, built from "non attributable electronics." It features a "Long Stand-Off Range," which is covert.

Alternatives or perhaps separate components include an RFID system called the "Sandia National Labs PAITS, LPS, RX," which utilizes a "gas taggant" feature, "Enabling Taggant: RX, ORNL," which emits a gas which can be detected across vast distances, perhaps via satellite. It is unclear if these are components of the PAITS or modular methods which can augment the PAITS.

The system works as follows:

1. The seal of the medicine or equipment is broken, releasing the gas, which is detected by the "Existing Infrastructure."

2. The RFID Tracking System is activated. 

3. The tag is geolocated from long range. The document cites an "existing infrastructure," suggesting that sensors capable of sensing these devices are deployed and functioning. Such sensors would have to be on satellites, though I suppose that they could be installed on drones or on aircraft. 

This PowerPoint deck was authored by a medical doctor assigned to the office SSG13, with the title "Clinical Psychologist to Operations." He or she apparently collaborated with another individual, also assigned to SSG13, from the "Senior Technical Development Program."

The Intercept notes that there is a reference to ICRC Hospitals, which indicates International Committee of the Red Cross, which was predictably unenthused to learn that it had been targeted for penetration and compromise by NSA / CIA. 

The article on The Intercept was authored by Cora Currier. 

We Need to Get Back to Being Americans

Because it is Memorial Day, the "Editorial Board" of the New York Times pontificates over the lack of an Authorization for Military Force (AUMF) by Congress. Now, the NYT decides to get Constitutional? Please.

It is the law, that American military forces cannot be sent to war by a president, even an imperial president, absent Congressional authorization. Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, of the Constitution, known as the War Powers Clause, reserves that right to the Congress. "The Congress shall have power to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water." Presidents cannot declare war. Only Congress. Our Framers set this division of powers in stone when they signed the Constitution. We ignore it. And nothing happens.

Amazingly, we have not seen a declaration of war from the Congress since WWII. Only five wars have been declared in American history, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish American War, WWI and WWII. There was no declaration of war for the Korean conflict, none for Vietnam, none for Grenada, none for Panama, none for the first desert war against Saddam, none for the Somalia intervention, none for the Balkans interventions, and none for our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, or Yemen. 

The AUMF which the Obama regime and the Congress hang their hats on today is not a declaration of war. Like the AUMF Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 and the Gulf of Tonkin resolution of 1964, the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists was based on lies and spin, and the rage coursing through America after 9-11. 

It remains for another historian to investigate the cabals that manipulated the Congress after Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and 9-11. There are perturbing similarities among these three affairs that are not coincidental.

But I wonder, truly, why the Editorial Board of the NYT suddenly had an attack of conscience? To commemorate Memorial Day? I do not believe that the Editorial Board of the New York Times cares one whit about Memorial Day, nor about the soldiers who died to afford them the space that they exploit to speak freely. I believe that the Editorial Board is speaking up now because they are obeying the Obama regime. They are just supporting their favored president, doing his bidding. Like puppets. So much for the newspaper of record.

The only reason for the Congress to take up an AUMF at this time, or at any time, really, is to share the blame for going to war, and theoretically, to provide an opportunity for politicians to debate the merits and the strategies undergirding our war policies. An AUMF is not a declaration of war, and I do not believe that either the Congress or the executive branch really wants one. An AUMF is much easier, and all involved can continue the charade, “America is not really at war."

Make no mistake. America is at war. America will stay at war. Our wars will remain relatively small, they will incur few American casualties, and at no time will Americans be discomfited, but just because you are not aware of our wars, does not mean that they are not happening. Americans can keep going to the mall, while overseas our praetorian class of professional soldiers does what it does. 

Why, you ask? Why is America permanently at war? Because it is Memorial Day, it is appropriate to ask that simplest of questions. Why is America always at war?

Because that is what the deep state, consisting of the Wall Street financiers, the national security state, and the military industrial complex, want. They just want everyone to sign on the dotted line as they push through ever greater budgets to pay for war. That is what is really at stake. More profits for the deep state. In other words, more profits for the big banks, more money shuffled by the Fed, more bombs, more missiles, more aircraft, more everything. 

These war policies and their advocates span both parties. Most politicians in Washington get their bread buttered by Wall Street and the military industrial complex. They know where their money comes from, and they know where they need to work when their long careers in politics finally end. Congressman Ron Paul was the singular exception, lobbyists knew better than to darken his doorstep, but now he is retired. 

The Clintons set a new example, perhaps, when they founded the Clinton Foundation. But look at its donors. Look at who funds it, and why. 

While you grill hot dogs, American soldiers are in combat, right now, fighting for their lives. The wars that we are fighting are not just wars, they are not moral wars, fought for high ideals. We fight modern wars to enrich the military industrial complex and Wall Street, for oil, for geopolitical advantage. 

Sheik Osama is dead. Yes, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mullah Omar still evade us, but they are not even on the FBI's Top Ten List of Terrorists, and we will kill them eventually. So why are we still at war in Afghanistan, after fourteen years? Nation building? Did somebody not get the memo? Nation building does not work. It is not working in Afghanistan. Billions of dollars have been wasted there, and the country is poised to topple back into the grip of the Taliban as soon as we depart. 

Most American conflicts since WWII will not withstand honest scrutiny. But no one in Washington wants to actually scrutinize modern wars. Mostly the power elites just want the wars to happen, and they want to preserve the option to say at some future point, "I did not vote for that war." Even though their inaction, by intent, results in more war, stokes more war expenditures, and more war financing.

American soldiers fight these wars, and we do not care about high ideals. When a soldier is actually in combat, he fights for his fellow warriors, not for politics, not for geostrategy, not because the enemy actually is evil, and we are the objective forces of goodness. 

It has been a long time since we could honestly look ourselves in the mirror as Americans, and say that we set a fine moral example. In America, militarized police shoot fleeing black men in the back and grand juries refuse to indict. We torture. We drone. This is why homegrown jihadis keep erupting in our midst, and why others plot to come to our homeland to kill us. Because we are in their lands, killing them, droning them, creating vast migrations of human refugees, destroying entire countries, leaving chaos in our wake. 

Who can honestly say that demolishing Libya was good? Who can say that demolishing Syria is good? Who can say that we are on the right side in Iraq, where we are inexplicably aligned with Iran, our sworn enemy? And again, can anyone explain to me why it is in the American interest to create the greatest narco state in history in Afghanistan?

If we are to return America to a moral course of action, we must disentangle ourselves from the Middle East. We have done enough damage. Libya is now a failed state because of us, and endless African migrants landing in Italy are the result. Our program of regime change in Syria fomented war and created millions of displaced refugees. We broke Iraq and insist on a government uniting Sunni, Shia and Kurds which does not exist, which cannot exist, while the Mullahs convert it into an Iranian client state. The Houthis evicted us from Yemen, leaving the Saudis to confront Iranian hegemony and clean up our mess. Afghanistan is a slow-motion debacle, but a debacle it is, with billions of dollars wasted. And somebody, anybody, needs to yank President Obama’s chain. His Iran negotiations are an absurdity. 

We should not give one thin dime to zealots who hold Americans hostage, call us the Great Satan, and threaten to rain missiles down upon Israel. Granting sanctions relief to Iran facilitates their regional hegemony, helps rearm the Assad regime in Syria, and helps them rearm Hezbollah. It is claimed that Iran will receive approximately $120 billion dollars if and when the Obama nuclear deal is ratified. Obama should not be permitted to negotiate with Iran, or with anyone who holds Americans hostage. This should not even have to be said, but President Obama is so desperately obsessed with his legacy, this petty matter of how he will be assessed by history, that he has already dispensed approximately $7 billions of dollars to Iran, and he intends to dispense far more. This paves their path to yet another Islamic bomb. Iran spent those Obama billions supporting the Houthi takeover in Yemen, and subsidizing Assad in Syria. The Saudis now want their own bomb, they will get it from Pakistan, as they paid for that Islamic nuke already, and Obama's true legacy will be nuclear proliferation, not nuclear control.

Our way out is clear. We should mob up hard with the Kurds, a people and a nation who, like the Israelis, are our natural allies. I have long advocated direct military support and basing agreements between a sovereign Kurdistan and the United States, I think that we should be flowing in at least one heavy division with tanks, and we should drop the entire ready brigade of the 82d Airborne to hold the line until the big units can get situated. We need to lavish training and equipment on Kurdish Peshmerga, and watch from the sidelines as ISIS avoids Kurdistan and kicks Shia ass all the way to Tehran. We should take no position on the key questions of Kurdish borders, as Iran will lose territory, Turkey will lose territory, and Syria will lose territory. Those lands are Kurdish lands, and they will gravitate back to Kurdish control given time and patience. 

We should let the Sunni v. Shia conflict burn itself out. We should support our allies, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, but leave Iraq to its fate. We broke it, we cannot fix it, and Iraqis only want our weapons, mostly because they keep abandoning them in the field in the face of ISIS assaults. Because of Iraqi martial incompetence and cowardice, we are now the primary arms supplier for ISIS. Iraq is a de facto province of Iran, and it will be between ISIS and Iran that the future of what used to be Iraq is determined. It no longer has anything to do with us, and we should not interfere. We should relocate the largest American Embassy on the planet to Kurdistan. It is not defensible in Baghdad's Green Zone. 

You may be wondering at what point will the rapacious financiers of Wall Street and the military industrial complex finally accept that they have profited enough from American wars? 

Maybe never. 

If we wish to honestly celebrate Memorial Day, a true assessment of what America has become in the early decades of the 21st century would be a good place to start. Our dead died for America, and for American values. Unfortunately, our leaders long ago abandoned them and our values. No matter how cynical our leaders are, the sacrifice of our soldiers was sincere. We should try to be worthy of it. 

We should at least be honest with ourselves about what we do and why.

That is the best way to express gratitude for their ultimate sacrifice. We need to get back to being Americans.