29 March 2009

Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries

Controlled by the Chinese Government? Or by freelance hackers? Or a set-up by Western Intelligence Agencies? Report from the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto. There doesnt seem to be a link to it in the New york Times article.

26 March 2009

DNA "bungle" haunts German police

German police may have been hunting a non-existent woman for 15 years. Hmmm...and DNA is "infallible"? Identical female DNA found at 40 crime scenes. If they had had a DNA database of everybody, some poor cotton bud manufacturer might have gone down for a very long time. Of course not! the innocent have nothing to fear...except science abused in the name of law enforcement...

Officcials Lay Out Details of How Pakistan's Spy Agency Support Militant Groups

From the New York Times, and the article is widely quoted in the US Press today. Alleges proof from electronic surveillance and trusted informants. The only dispute is as to whether the connections reach right to the top of the ISI or stop in the middle levels.

A direct quote from the article:

"Little is publicly known about the ISI’s S Wing, which officials say directs intelligence operations outside of Pakistan. American officials said that the S Wing provided direct support to three major groups carrying out attacks in Afghanistan: the Taliban based in Quetta, Pakistan, commanded by Mullah Muhammad Omar; the militant network run by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; and a different group run by the guerrilla leader Jalaluddin Haqqani."

Councils Launch 20,000 Spying Missions on Fairy Light Thieves and Illegal Crab Sellers

This is one of the great headlines. As Jacqui Smith creates her army of 60,000 to fight terrorism, presumably they will all have these powers too. OK, swivel-eyers, I do quote the Torygraph in this blog as well as the Antichrist Gazette [Guardian]. These powers must go! But will the Tories promise to abolish them? [The Liberals, as always, don't count] I saw a poster yesterday, with a telephone number for anonymous denunciation of people who you think might be terrorists...Ah, the spirit of Stalin lives on! Here comes the Great British Purge. Labour camps for re-education purposes will be where exactly?

This counter-terroism plan is in ruin. Try one that works

Phew. What a relief. Sometimes I begin to think that it's my eyes that are beginning to swivel. Seumas Milne's article in the Guardian [yeah I know. All you swivel-eyed UKIP supporters out there think the Guardian is evil] restore a sense of proportion. hazel Blear's decision to cut links with the Muslim Council of Britain, the soggiest, Uncle Tommiest organisation going, just cuts the ground away from any attempt to engage with British Muslims.
Milne's words: "the dispute goes to the heart of the fatal flaw in government policy towards the terror threat. Instead of simply aiming to stop indiscriminate attacks, something that unites almost all Muslims as well as non-Muslims, the idea underlying the new strategy is to confront "nonviolent extremism" as well." This is dangerous ground and ends up with locking up all BNP supporters, UKIPpers, Marxists, Trots anarchists...and probably half the Catholic and Protestant churches. The only good news is that gingers will turn out to be on the list too, and that will include la Blears.

Comments on the piece also worth reading. Anyone doing an essay on Britain's counter-terrorism policy has all the arguments in this discussion. Its a gift!

25 March 2009

Ministry Tries to Make Gentlemen of Cops

Oh God. They've got personnel departments in Russia. Even the Ministry of the Interior...Why? Flower arranging classes next and group hugs with their clients. You will love their new code of behaviour. Only a personnel department could have vreated it...ah well, here comes the Human Resource Management Department, careering down the road in a VW microbus...

Clinton admits US blame for drugs

This is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accepting US responsibility for Mexico's problems. The beauty of this particular piece is the map at the bottom showing the influence ares of individual drug cartels.

24 March 2009

New UK Counter-terrorism strategy

I suppose I had better read this, rather than the newspaper reports. I offer you the link. There's a massive .pdf file two clicks further on for those of you who can face it. BBC comments at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7961299.stm
Again the two sides on Bob Lambert's thesis are in full play in the PREVENT part of the document. Better get some references in there, Bob. Jim and Abdul haqq!

Stand up for convicts, if you want to be fair

David Aaronovitch, another man who seems terribly confused. He is right, however, to question the objectivity of a Report drawn up by people who all think the same way. He is incorrect on the reasons the European Court of Human Rights declared the DNA database illegal. The problem was that once your DNA has been taken, there is no way of having it removed from the database. There are, in other words, no procedures governing placement, removal and appeal. The ECHR has been pretty clear on this principle for quite some time as it applies to all issue, as has the European Court of Justice. nevertheless, his argument, though casuistry, needs to be addressed, because it clearly is one he has acquired from late night brandies with senior legal figures, who are also confused. O tempora, o mores!

This is no way to counter Islamic Terror

Lord Guthrie, former Chief of Defence Staff comments on the Government's counter-terrorist strategy. I find his argument and his conclusions somewhat at odds with each other. I thought he was going to argue one set of lessons from Northern Ireland, but he argues exactly the opposite. For that very reason, it deserves to be in the blog. I thought at first he was arguing with Bob Lambert, but he argues against him from the same premises. Better get this into the PhD, Bob!

Raid on safe deposit boxes uncovers "Aladdin's cave of ill-gotten gains"

Lovely phrase! This raid was mentioned last year, when the raid occured, somewhere around June. Operation Rize was its name. 40 arrested, 11 charged and 700 referred to HMRC for tax evasion involving £15 million. More than half the over 3,500 boxes suspected of connections to criminality.

22 March 2009

Stasi HQ UK...where details of your journey are secretly logged and kept

I'm having a right-wing day clearly. This one appears to be from the Daily Mail, but its actually a Facebook group too, called "Eating lentils doesnt make me a terrorist suspect" Now, the Mail seems to go berserk about "profiling" which is in fact a perfectly respectable technique, designed to minimise the number of people in transit who are given a higher level of inquiry and perhaps a search so that the other travellers may move quickly.
There are huge problems with the algorithms, indeed I have given papers about the problems of cross-examining a computer in court. You can become guilty because the algorithms say you are suspicious and the step from one to the other is the step that must be prevented. Profiling means risk-profiling here. But someone needs to risk-profile the algorithms themselves and hold up their hands about what might go wrong.
The innocent may have nothing to fear, but those adjudged suspicious by the algorithms do, because being judged suspicious means youre caught up in the "no smoke without fire" mentality. You havent got a right of access to legal services when someone starts messing with your right to fly either. I hate agreeing with the Daily Mail and the brown-rice eating, open-toed sandal brigade simultaneously.

Our prisons must be freed from this cycle of failure

Well, dear old Ian Duncan Smith has asked Jonathan Aitken to produce a report on prisons, on the grounds that he has spent time in one. Perhaps he will be asking Bernie Madoff to run his fraud sub-committee.

Nevertheless, he seems to have "got" drugs, rehabilitation and mental illness as the big three problems. sadly, his only policy is to bring in the charities...well their record in drug rehabilitation has been very poor, IDS...You gotta spend money on more prison officers and get rid of group therapy in favour of individual approaches. Some of the rest is sensible. In other words, as usual, we can agree the critique, although the idiocies of the Thatcher period need to be remembered, but where is the hard cash for the solution going to come from?

EU banks named in dirty money report

Ah. Back to business as usual. Global Witness has brought out a report detailing the business done between EU banks and corrupt regimes.
Undue Diligence-Banks: Helping the poor to get poorer: http://www.undue-diligence.org/
I havent had a chance to read it yet, but it sounds excellent.

In Iraq, Chaos Feared as US closes prison

Camp Bucca closing and out go the inmates, most of whom should never have been arrested in the first place. Yup, they're going to be cross and some hardcore guys will cause trouble. The US started wrong and they're finishing wrong. Lessons for Afghanistan? Send in the clowns. Talking of which, tourists are back in Iraq.

Seriously, what is the lesson here? There are many others wrongly detained by the Iraqis themselves. This is now an Iraqi problem...time to go! The spooks are packing for Kabul, Kandahar and Jallalabad, where they will make another nice mess, Stanley! The lesson is, spooks gather intelligence, but don't put them in charge of a policing job. Refocus the US Army away from fighting war to police support...hmmm, no, I cant see it either. Police primacy? The UK had problems with that too. So many lessons to be learnt from Northern Ireland and so many mistakes being forgotten.

Pakistani villagers Pay a Price for Defying Rebels

These are the guys that matter. Local communities fighting back. Like the anti-Mafia marchers. I await the British Muslims marching in support of Gordon Brown...or even against the jihadists. Empower the people on the street. You cant win these conflicts with databases and bureaucracies with boxes to tick...which is what these "training programmes" of the Home Office amount to.

Envoy damns US Afghan drug effort

"Richard Holbrooke said the $800m (£550m) a year the US was spending on counter-narcotics would be better used in supporting Afghan farmers." Now that applies to the previous posts too, in its own way. Stop the paramilitary top-down approach and get back to bottom-up community empowerment. Holbrooke is Obama's special envoy. Now if Obama could just get some policies together to match the rhetoric, particularly with regard to the world financial system, we could all sleep easier. Here and in Northern Pakistan is where the big problems of both drugs and terrorism originate. Gotta get this one right, boys and girls! Then lets sort out Colombia, bottom-up too...I'm such a dreamer!

Crowds march against Naples mafia

Best of luck guys. This takes courage.

Scottish jails "awash" with drugs

Keep em calm, eh?? We can't afford rehabilitation, so lets keep em stoned. The massive public sector cuts next year really arent going to help, either. And the health service really isnt going to prioritise drug rehabilitation therapy, is it? All that money being wasted on training retail workers in counter-terrorism when shoplifting is much more likely to affect them. Ah me! All this and the Tories are coming back. Private prisons and more Americanisation. Yippee, eh?

UK plans comprehensive terror law

"The Home Office says the proposal would give the UK the most comprehensive counter-terror strategy in the world." Apparently we have trained tens of thousands of people including retailers...but we are still marching to the tune of the security services, not the service policing model. Ho hum...what was it ...History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce....The 18th Brumaire of Gordon Brown. I really must write it someday.

Gordon Brown tells us how is protecting our rights

Sorry Gordon, we dont believe you. We are just so disappointed in you. You have proved that "anybody but Blair" is not enough. When we arent allowed to photograph police officers in the name of counter-terrorism or even take photos in shopping malls because of the petty security officers you have given power over us, we dont see how your strategy benefits us. Read the comments, many of which are from the swivel-eyed brigade. No apologies, no admitting to overreaction. Just the continuing hope that authoritarianism keeps the red-tops happy and will bring votes. You continue to do the terrorists jobs for them and you dont even know what you are doing.

Symbionese Liberation Parolee

Goodness me. This takes me back. The Symbionese Liberation Army, Patty Hearst and all the weirdness of American domestic terrorism. The Weathermen [later Weather Underground], the Black Panthers [J.Edgar Hoover really bent the law around them]...all the stuff that supposedly never happened, because the USA has never had any domestic terrorists....hah! Its amazing how the modern academic hates to read! This editorial very remeniscent of the problem of what to do with Astrid Proll and other members of the Baader-Meinhoff/June 2nd groups when they were discovered long after going to ground.

Some intresting comparisons to make with white collar crime...white collar terrorism? Sounds like a book title to me. Conference money anybody?

15 March 2009

Police Stress Deterrence Measures as Bank Robberies Surge in New York

What? Another surge? Two guys mainly responsible...hmmmm

Pentagon Rethinking old doctrine on 2 wars

What's this got to do with crime? I hear you ask...Well, someone seems to have forgotten in the Pentagon/White House or wherever that a national security strategy is being fought against terrorism and organised crime. It isnt just Iraq and Afghanistan, its terror and drugs as in war on terror, war on drugs...Afghanistan is as much about drugs as it is the Taliban...and Iraq? That was just a terrible mistake...and Colombia, in the shape of FARC as well as what is left of the Medellin and Cali cartels...and Mexico? and the enemies of Israel? and Somalia?...and the Sudan and Zimbabwe..and Cuba...and Venezuela...Ok the last 6 arent declared wars on the part of the US of A...but you get the point? The resources arent there to use force against all your real and imaginary enemies...time for diplomacy?

12 March 2009

How Risky is that drink?

Nothing to do with crime...yet! But I know many of my readers have been hiding behind the red wine alibi for years. As your blogger completes three months of abstinence, he just thought a cautionary word would be timely...Mind you, it's British research, all of which seems to be done by a combination of the Temperance League and Cassandra these days. Yeah, life is a terminal disease. if the thunder dont get you the lightning will!

Financial Fraud is Focus of Attack by Prosecutors

Pity they didnt start sooner. I suppose the difference is that juries want blood. Defendants will know that conviction is more than likely and will plea bargain. But the article suggests they will either plead stupidity, or "everyone else was doing it". Only obeying orders, eh? This all happening in the US.

10 March 2009

In Afghanistan, Less can be More

Excellent piece on the lessons even the Americans learned [well some of them] from counterinsurgency in the 1960s, applied to strategy for Afghanistan today. Keep it Simple, Stoopid!

We were wrong to film journalists say police

Surveillance teams didnt understand press cards..yeah, right! So thats alright then. Everyone else can go on the database and the press can stop worrying their pretty little heads...

Big rise in cannabis factories

Regular readers will have spotted the geographical spread of this phenomenon. South East Asian gangs are suspected to be behind it.

Policeman shot dead in Northern Ireland

The "Real IRA" determined to kill off the peace process. This is when we will find out if the Catholic population has accepted the legitimacy of the PSNI.

08 March 2009

US trops face a tangle of goals in Afghanistan

Good piece depicting all the old dilemmas. It's a police job, not an Army job, but creating an honest police force that the people trust...that's the key problem to solve.

Baghdad police attack "kills 28"

And so it goes on. Nothing very analytical in this piece.

"Real IRA was behind Army attack"

Last of the psychopaths gun down two pizza delivery boys in order to shoot two soldiers. Sooner theyre caught and locked away the better. Back in the late 60s there was serious discrimination against the Catholic community. Now they have full civil rights. "Zombie" sang the Cranberries. Correctly.

07 March 2009

A professor's bold thinking on terrorism

Louise Richardson, author of "What Terrorists Want", interviewed by the Financial Times. It doesnt say clearly, bu she appears to have taken over as principal at St. Andrew's University [in Scotland for our overseas readers]. Fascinating piece.

Companies "paid for secret database on troublemakers"

Just in case you thought your blogger was exaggerating earlier about employers and activists...Here's a story about allegations against a private detective and 40 major British companies.

Merrill Lynch trader is suspended over £120 million rogue currency deals

Not necessarily a crime, though. More likely a "cock-up". the crime remains that systems allow someone to play with money in such a way that so much can be lost in such a small time. Where's Captain Mainwaring when you need him?

Police turn mapmakers to count CCTV cameras

No-one knows how many there are and there is no regulatory system or even legislation covering their use. I have this image of Britannia stripping on webcam...cartoonists out there want it? Copper looking at the image from the control room while City financier steals from her handbag?

Major City frauds uncovered by police

I had to ask, didnt I? Director of SFO, says a big Ponzi scheme will be revealed soon. The Independent newspaper here claims that several smaller investigations will soon come to court.

The Tottenham lawyer, the £100 million Nigerian bribe and Dick Cheney

Bibes allegedly paid to obtain a contract for Haliburton. Its the US that will prosecute...well you wouldnt expect the SFO to get out of bed for £100 million would you?

Man jailed for conning £15 million from investors

Just how many bogus hedge funds are there out there?

"Cocaine cast" man arrested at Spanish airport

Ive chosen the Telegraph account for two nice details:

The man was taken to hospital AFTER the cast was removed.

Officers are investigating whether the injuries were inflicted intentionally so he could smuggle the drug.

Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Binmen trained to be eyes and ears of police

Honestly, I'm not making this up. Today Cambridgeshire...tomorrow your incorrectly filled wheelie bins...The cops are too busy watching protesters to catch burglars, so theyre training up binmen. Comic Relief stunt?

Revealed: polics databank on thousands of protesters

But dont you dare take a photograph of them! Just pray Stalin or Hitler doesnt come to power in the next few years, because they will have a wonderful police database to lock up all the possible resisters. Or that the database gets privatised ...then it can be made accessible to employers...Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Errr...Nobody.

This is the text linked to the video in the previous post. Really cheerful Saturday morning!

Police target journalists and protesters

This'll cheer you up. Only coming out because journalists themselves beginning to feel threatened by police surveillance. This link goes to a video with police comments. Allegedly.

Madoff expected to plead guilty Thursday

But its a plea bargain...

NY "mafia cops" get life in jail

Feeling safe? That cop that flagged you down could be a Mafia hitman...This has been on the blog before and there's something odd about the story. NYTimes story at: http://tinyurl.com/c2qgqg

Just what you always feared private prisons could turn out to be about

Two judges plead guilty to accepting money from the owner of a private detention facility to send juveniles there. Read and weep...Of course it doesn't matter because it happened somewhere really obscure in Pennsylvania USA. Its a one-off...yeah, sure. And bankers are honest...was that a pig I just saw flying past the window?

03 March 2009

01 March 2009

As Italy's Banks tighten lending, desperate firms call on the Mafia

Banks stop lending. The loan sharks move in. The Mafia is still cash heavy and the interest rates they charge may mean they end up taking over the business. Plus ca change...