Author Archives: miatadmin

How to act now? Look to the past

A founding father provides sage guidance:

“I propos’d to myself, for the sake of clearness, to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annex’d to each, than a few names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues all that at that time occurr’d to me as necessary or desirable, and annexed to each a short precept, which fully express’d the extent I gave to its meaning.”

Changing the site name, not mission

This site has become as much as an occasional blog on security topics as a reminder that the issue of torture endures, so we thought it was time to change the name to a more positive statement that reflected the broader base of concerns: Veterans For Values. We still stand against torture, we’re just saying it in a more forward looking, positive manner. We maintain that while war is hell, torture is wanton and cowardly, against our interests, and not necessary to gain security. Those who differ or have questions are welcome to reach out and schedule a conference with us. We’re happy to educate.

Misinformation and Maginot

Many security analysts argue that one of the chief threats of our time is the rise of the use of internet misinformation as an asymmetric tactic in information war. Free internet information services like FaceBook, Twitter and Gmail, and others, too, which collect user data and sell targeted ads to make money, can be exploited by bad actors; individuals, corporations and nation states can create bogus ads and “fake” news targeted to specific audiences, facilitating influence operations that result in large effects, including the possibility of mass violence or changes in election outcomes, for little expense. (Digital pioneer Jaron Lanier explains this emerging threat in detail here.)

The rise of this threat begs the question: Would more widespread use of chain of proof for internet information help counter deliberate misinformation campaigns? Wikipedia already alerts users of dubious information through a system of trusted content creators (human beings). Could every article online have an evidence chain associated with it (a source, or lineage) verified by human beings? Would blockchain be of use here?

Many of us who grew up on the internet enjoyed, celebrated, and defended the privacy and anonymity of communicating online. The rise of centralized systems and their abuse, however, seems to insist that digital information be tied to real human beings who should be held to account for what they say online, or, at least, real human beings should be there to judge the veracity of digital content whomever or whatever the source.

YouTube videos, or FaceBook articles, for example, could have a “B.S.” meter that reflects the level of verified misinformation in the content. Those who pass tests of expertise or earn reputation points would gain access levels on the platform that would allow them to judge content as a “verified human expert”. Something like this already works in content value systems like Stack Exchange’s reputation system.

Below, the author likens current tactics combating digital information warfare to the Maginot Line, arguing that they are outpaced by the tempo of bad actor innovation, that we are in a state of reaction when we should be on the offensive. The solutions argued for here are for governments to incentivize platforms to build in detection for emerging tactics and for platforms to take consequential direct action against those who misuse their systems in cooperation with government law enforcement agencies. The author fails to say precisely how this would be done, but the points are very much worth investigating.

The Digital Maginot Line

There is a war happening. We are immersed in an evolving, ongoing conflict: an Information World War in which state actors, terrorists, and ideological extremists leverage the social infrastructure underpinning everyday life to sow discord and erode shared reality.

Simmer down

We are the luckiest human beings in history, we Americans. We live in a continent-sized nation surrounded by oceans with friendly neighbors north and south. We enjoy the largest economy in the world, an ample safety net for the least among us, an old age pension system for our elderly, beautiful, bountiful lands to explore at our leisure, a highly diversified, free market economy to provide opportunity for all who want to take the risk, and police, military, and rescue personnel to keep the peace.

None of our systems are perfect, and strong, passionate arguments should take place among our leaders to find the best way to make our institutions more fair, more perfect for our great union. But they must do so respectfully, civilly, and while heeding the Constitution and Declaration of Independence that bind us, as a collective, in a national identity devoid of creed, in awe of liberty and the natural rights we enjoy as “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Our politicians and media should pause and take stock of how resentments cavalierly stirred over electronic ink, chirped through the fiber optic nerves of our body politic, come home to roost.

America’s leaders must now bring us together, remind us of our common humanity, our great fortune to be by happenstance born free citizens of a free land of abundance.

In lieu of expressions of gratitude we may end up like a pair of rich siblings fighting smugly over whether to take the Tesla or the Suburban to the dance, bound to wreck both in the process, sinking our luxury vehicles in a mire surrounded by a paradise, choking each other zealously as we go down together, a haughty fratricide.

Crazy people need few excuses for mayhem. Let’s give them none. Simmer down the divisive tone:

Florida man charged in connection with 14 bombs sent to Trump critics

The man suspected of mailing at least 14 pipe bombs to some of U.S. President Donald Trump’s leading critics was arrested on Friday in Florida on federal charges in a case echoing the rancor of one of the most toxic election campaigns in decades.

Instead remind the people of our great fortune to be who we are, where we are:

A journey to the poorest place on earth

But the people I met in Niger’s villages and towns illustrated the human cost when food starts to run out in the poorest of places. One of them was four-year-old Adam El Hadji Abail. Ten months ago, his mother died suddenly and now the food crisis has left him seriously malnourished.

Difficult clients

“If we do not take action, including potentially arms sales, as a result of this, if it turns out to be what they say it is, then we are not going to be able to with a straight face or any credibility confront Putin or Assad or Maduro in Venezuela or frankly confront the Chinese and their human rights violations.”

Senator Rubio says U.S. must take action over Saudi journalist

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said the United States must confront Saudi Arabia or risk losing credibility on human rights, if allegations are proven true that the Saudi government orchestrated the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

They earned a chance

Let’s give our Afghan and Iraqi allies a place in line, preferably at the front.

Veterans Call on Congress to Protect Afghan Allies

Washington, D.C.-A group of veteran organizations today urged Congress to take action to protect Afghan military allies seeking refuge in the United States. In a letter sent to the House and Senate, Veterans for American Ideals, High Ground Veterans Advocacy, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, No One Left Behind, and Vietnam Veterans of America called on members to allocate four thousand visas through the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program, for those who served alongside U.S.