20 May 2010

And the combination is: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Thanks to Josh Foust, I came across an article
released last year on Wikileaks concerning a series of documents leaked from US Central Command. The documents, which contains ISAF's "Narrative"--the talking points for all of its public affairs units--appeared on the whistleblower site last year, although it was largely ignored by the mainstream media.

What's interesting is the ease with which Wikileaks broke CENTCOM's password. Whereas every US service member must answer ridiculous personality questions after entering a strong password (something along the lines of 12-14 characters, special characters, the Batman symbol, and so forth), the upstanding citizens in the secret lairs of US Central Command's public affairs teams can get away with the following password:
While it's not as bad as posting your social security number all over the Internet and daring someone to steal your identity, it's still pretty bad. What's sad is that I have a stronger password on my subscription to the Bang Bus than the DoD has on their For-Official-Use-Only media guidance. (By the way: Mom, Dad, I know you read this. Please don't Google search "Bang Bus"...)

Granted, the document isn't classified as secret, so it's not a huge loss, but it still represents the gross contradictions inherent in the DoD's IT policies within the last few years. On one hand, bloggers tended to carry out their business in secret, always aware that not only Big Brother was reading their daily misadventures, but also the enemy. Strangely enough, milbloggers realized the operational security risks and tended to censor themselves appropriately--providing an excellent "on-the-ground" analysis of military operations and the day-to-day life of troops abroad, but without jeopardizing security. Instead, official military sites are responsible for far more security violations than blogs. By a few orders of magnitude. But you don't have to take my word for it.

So what about that "master narrative", which was so sensitive? Well, check out this bit from the NATO Media Operations Center's guidance to subordinate public affairs units:

NATO and the Allies are aware of the volatile security situation in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Baluchistan and Northwest Frontier Province. The number of cross border incursions from Pakistan to Afghanistan continues to be monitored.

Only if pressed: ISAF forces are frequently fired at from inside Pakistan, very close to the border. In some cases defensive fire is required, against specific threats. Wherever possible, such fire is pre-coordinated with the Pakistani military.
Basically, this is all information the media reports on anyway. We all know there's a drone war in Pakistan, and it's no secret that many believe that elements within Pakistan's security apparatus (specifically, the ISI and, according to some reports, the Frontier Corps) actually support the Taliban.

1 comment:

David U said...

Haha, great post!