Posts Tagged ‘exformation’

Arbeit Macht Drei

September 5, 2011

Special Labor Day edition –dedicated to all those hard-working guys and gals on the shores of Tripoli.

When dynasties fall/ old titles must go
— Water Margin

The building was relatively undamaged by air strikes. Its rooms had instead been broken apart by people searching through cabinets and closets.
— Al Jazeera

Welcome to Phase Two of the Libya Campaign –Tripoli: the Afterparty.  All kinds of messy things occur on the cusp of regime change:  summary executions, dramatic (almost miraculous) changes of allegiance, interruptions of food distribution and utility services, and (best of all) the sudden revelation of jealously-guarded intelligence secrets.  Sometimes (and this is one of those times) the manner in which those secrets are revealed is just as revealing as the secrets themselves.  Or perhaps more so.

Let’s take a quick look at the way various world media outlets have reported the Libyan rebels’ seizure and occupation of Gaddafi’s intelligence headquarters.  In the chaos of the battle for Tripoli, journalists and NGO workers had partial (guided) access to various buildings in the intelligence compound.  They poked through the offices of the defeated(?) regime, viewed (and in some cases spirited away) abandoned intelligence files, and took photographs or video for posterity.  What has been made public thus far?

Al Jazeera :
Influential Americans tried to help Gaddafi cling to power
Gaddafi Had Spies in Rebel Camp

Al Jazeera’s reporting emphasizes current or recent events.  One story highlights “a top-secret document …found in a sealed envelope… that appears to be a briefing for Libyan intelligence mastermind Abdullah Senussi.”  To Al Jazeera, the intell report suggests that “Gaddafi had spies at the highest levels of the rebel movement.

However, in focusing on the here-and-now, Al Jazeera does not ignore international dimensions to the Libyan revolution.  Its initial story described a meeting in which Bechtel executive David Welch (former Bush regime ASecState) counsels Gaddafi underlings on their damage control options.  The same story cites other documents which purport to describe efforts by Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) to assist the Gaddafi regime.

The official state media provides a bland, superficial gloss:

“the documents illuminate a short period when the Libyan intelligence agency was a trusted and valued ally of both MI6 and the CIA.”

The Guardian (UK) :
Spies at the top of the rebel movement
Sir Mark Allen: the secret link between MI6, the CIA and Gaddafi
Libyan papers show UK worked with Gaddafi in rendition operation
NTC Commander Abdul Hakim Belhaj demands apology over MI6 and CIA plot

The Guardian concentrates its extensive coverage on Britain’s intell cooperation with Gaddafi’s government, and some of the aftermath:

“Sir Mark Allen Allen, formerly MI6’s director of counter-terrorism, left MI6 in 2004 … to join BP, for which he later helped arrange lucrative oil and gas contracts in Libya.”

The Independent (UK) :
Gaddafi, Britain and US: A secret, special and very cosy relationship

In-depth review of Libya-UK rapprochement in 2003-2004 and beyond.  Much of the story’s focus appears to be on heaping opprobrium and blame onto Tony Blair’s Labor government of the time.

New York Times :
Files Note Close CIA Ties to Qaddafi Spy Unit

NYT [1] distances itself from the material by attributing its provenance to “journalists and [NGO] Human Rights Watch;” [2] focuses the story on “ancient history” –Bush-era rendition activities of the CIA; [3] subtly develops the sub-theme of Islamist extremism within some elements of the NTC; and [4] mentions but minimizes the involvement of MI-6 in rendition of Islamist suspects to the Gaddafi regime.  Must have been all the news that was fit to print.

“While most of the renditions referred to in the documents appear to have been CIA operations, at least one was claimed to have been carried out by MI-6.”

Los Angeles Times :
CIA once handed key Libya rebel figure to Kadafi, documents show

Quotes a retired CIA official affirming Abdel-Hakim Belhadj’s extremist credentials.  To show its fairness and balance, the LA Times also presents Belhaj’s side:

He said his group had rejected overtures to affiliate with Al Qaeda and that Libya’s new government will not be Islamist.
“We believe that Libya should have relations with all nations,” Belhadj said at his heavily guarded seaside complex in Tripoli. “We Muslims need to interact with all other nations, and all other religions. This is what Islam tells us.”

Washington Post :
Gaddafi assisted CIA rendition efforts

Its only coverage of this story is an AP reprint:

“An embarrassing example of the U.S. administration’s collaboration with authoritarian regimes in the war on terror.  The documents mention a half dozen names of people targeted for rendition, including Tripoli’s new rebel military commander, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj.”

The Post’s own reporters prefer to focus on political developments in Tripoli, and accentuating the positive.  The head and subhead:

Reining in Libyan rebel commanders: civilian rulers take control of military chiefs in effort to ease internal strains and curb Islamist influence.”

What can we learn from this?  Several things.  First, the chaos of regime change is the perfect time to run a disinformation operation, so there’s no guarantee that all of the documents conveniently exposed for journalistic review at ESO headquarters are actually genuine.  Maybe they are, and maybe they’re not.  Lunghu can envision a scenario in which the Tripoli representatives of various competing intell agencies had to take turns planting fake documents in ESO offices once the buildings were captured.  Perhaps they drew up an access schedule in advance, in the spirit of international cooperation which has thus far distinguished the Libyan revolution.

why is this file upside-down? ... and what USED TO BE on the shelf below?

Second, regardless of the authenticity/veracity of this document trove, NTC decisionmakers are likely to take future action as if much of the material is true (minus whatever disinformation they themselves fed to Gaddafi’s intell crew).  This implies that certain nations and corporations may well be viewed with less favor than others by a governing NTC.  The primary goal for all the NATO/EU players sniffing at Libya’s oil is now to minimize their past sins and emphasize their current sanctity.  In this respect, France (despite being tainted by association with Ben Ali in Tunisia) can plausibly claim to have mostly steered clear of Gaddafi.  Italy, Germany, Britain, the USA, Russia, and China –not so much.

... just make sure you count your fingers afterwards.


Third, let the games begin!  The desert dust has far from settled in Libya.  The moving and shaking, deal-cutting, back-stabbing, coalition-building and tit-for-tat assassination have only just started.  Each of the major European and Asian powers has its own set of favored sons whose factional interests they will seek to promote:  the last ones left standing will be in charge of Libya’s territory, polity and natural resources.  Naturally, their external allies –who see themselves as sponsors but are viewed by Libyans as a temporary expedient– will seek recompense for prior services and assistance.  The bargaining should be interesting to watch.  In’shallah.



Your Doxy, My Doxy

January 8, 2011

Lunghu is truly saddened to learn that Igor Shevchuk, President and General Designer of aircraft manufacturer Tupolev, has died of heart failure at age 57 on January 6, 2011.  According to Itar-Tass, Shevchuk “was the Chairman of the Tupolev Board of Directors since 1998, and the Tupolev President and General Designer since 2001.

This has not been a good start to the New Year for Tupolev:  earlier this week, Rostransnadzor proposed  a temporary suspension of all Tupolev 154B flights in Russia following a fatal engine fire in Surgut (Siberia).   Three passengers were killed when fire erupted during engine startup on the main airport taxiway.  The crew shut down engines and initiated evacuation, but fire spread rapidly inside the cabin, destroying the aircraft.

Tupolev also made the wrong kind of aviation news in September 2010.   In that incident, a Tu-154M passenger flight lost all of its electrical systems at an altitude of 10,600 meters in the region of Usinsk.   The crew succeeded in making an emergency landing at an abandoned air strip near the town of Izhma.   There was no loss of life.

As chairman, president and general designer, Shevchuk must have had more on his mind than his body could bear.   Rest In Peace.

On a lighter note:

Elsewhere in the down-to-earth world of Russian aviation, everyone’s favorite multi-modal logistics specialist (that’s right –Viktor Bout) didn’t quite receive the Orthodox Christmas gift he had been hoping for.   Although Bout’s attorney had filed a court motion requesting a delay of 30 days before the first pretrial hearing in SDNY Federal Court (originally scheduled for Monday), the presiding judge granted only a two week postponement, until 16:30 EST January 21.   In Lunghu’s admittedly limited experience, 4:30 on a Friday afternoon would seem to be an extremely unusual time to find a federal judge at his or her bench, but there’s a first time for everything.

In related(?) news:

Bout’s family —his wife, Alla, daughter Liza and [mother], Raisa—  flew into New York from Moscow on Thursday to support him during the court process.
“We had to wait for more than two hours while immigration officers examined our luggage, everything we had in our bags:  notebooks, photographs, all personal belongings, my personal papers,” [Alla Bout] said.     She said immigration officers did not allow them to contact the Russian consul.

Hmmmmmmmmm.   Lunghu likes the script.   Welcome to America, Liza.

This has not been a good start to the New Year for Tupolev: earlier this week, Rostransnadzor proposed  a temporary suspension of all Tupolev 154B flights in Russia following a fatal engine fire in Surgut (Siberia).  Three passengers were killed when fire erupted during engine startup on the main airport taxiway. The crew shut down engines and initiated evacuation, but fire spread rapidly inside the cabin, destroying the aircraft.

Words of the Lagoon

November 23, 2010

Mau Piailug may be wriggling in his grave, but Lunghu ain’t taking skywalker’s stanky bait.   Not atoll.

If this is jet-jockey navigation, it’s no mystery why there are so many combat deaths from ‘friendly fire.’

'Mystery Island'

Damn the Torpedoes! Full Speed Ahead!

November 20, 2010

The New York Times has been running a two-part mini-series about forensic research into the characteristics of the Stuxnet computer virus.   Predictably, NYT is focused on the fact that Iran’s nuclear research program appears to have been Stuxnet’s primary target, and on the “possibility” that Israel may have authored and delivered the Stuxnet virus.

“[Stuxnet] was discovered by a Russian antivirus company [Kapersky Labs] in June [2010], after the company received complaints from Iranian customers.”

” …. [Stuxnet contained] two different attack modules … designed to run on different industrial controllers made by Siemens.  Equipment made by Siemens and its competitors is used around the globe to manage virtually all of the world’s transportation, power distribution and communications systems.

” …. [Stuxnet] was intended to induce fluctuations in the rotational speed of motors, by taking over a power device known as a frequency converter, a type of power supply that changes its output frequency to control the speed of a motor.  The worm’s code was found to attack converters made by two companies, Fararo Paya in Iran and Vacon in Finland.  It … inserts fake data, fooling [Siemens industrial control computers] into thinking that the system is running normally while the sabotage of the frequency converters is taking place.”

Lunghu has a slightly different take on the topic, and it can be summed up in two words:  Sayano-Shushenskaya.

From January to March 2009, turbine 2 was undergoing scheduled repairs and modernization.  It was the first and only turbine in the station which was equipped with a new electro-hydraulic regulator of its rotational speed supplied by the Promavtomatika company. …  The turbines of this type have a very narrow working band at high efficiency.   If this band is exceeded the turbines begin to vibrate, caused by the pulsation of water flow and water strokes.  … On the day of accident turbine 2 worked as the plant’s power output regulator and [therefore] its output power changed constantly.  The turbine often operated in powerband II mode, which is accompanied [by] pulsation and strokes of water flow.

[On 17 August 2009] a fire at the hydroelectric power station of Bratsk broke both communications and the automatic driving systems of other power plants in the region, including Sayano-Shushenskaya.   At 8:12 AM local time, turbine 2’s output power was reduced by the turbine regulator and it entered into non-recommended powerband II.  Shortly after, bolts keeping the turbine cover in place broke, and water pressure of about 20 bars (2,000 kPa) [lifted] the spinning turbine with its cover, rotor, and upper parts, destroying machinery hall installations.  Pressurized water flooded the rooms [ultimately killing 75 persons].

Casual students of history may wish to refresh their recollection concerning what sorts of issues were of intense interest to Russia, the United States, Israel and Iran at just about the same time that this tragic accident occurred.   Here’s a hint: at least two Black Sea vacations were already ruined before Sayano-Shushenskaya blew out.


November 17, 2010

Lunghu does not have a Facebook page, and Lunghu does not tweet on Twitter.  He just has this blog, which almost no one reads.   A small audience, but a very select and self-selecting one.  Nor, malheureusement, is Lunghu French.   All of which makes it very unlikely that Lunghu will fall prey to the perils that so concern M. Frederic Pechenard.

In particular, those [police personnel] with secret defense clearance “by being on social networks are exposing themselves to possible approaches by foreign intelligence agencies.  Detailing aspects of their personal and professional lives. … is liable to expose those concerned to malicious acts because of their profession (and) could damage their reputation as well as that of the police,” Pechenard wrote [in an internal memo to French police commanders].

Lunghu feels he need not be unduly worried, despite the fact that he might very well be vulnerable to potential honeytrap operations staged by the intelligence services of Norway, Sweden, France (and possibly the Netherlands).   Give it a try, and see how things work out.   Just remember, Lunghu deals with false-flag recruitment attempts very harshly.   Consider yourselves forewarned.


Aloha, Viktor

November 16, 2010

The ASEAN conference in New York City laid the groundwork and the G-20 meeting in Seoul sealed the deal.  Lunghu finds it interesting that Bangkok Post first covered the story by printing an Agence France-Presse report.

Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was flown out of Thailand on Tuesday on a special US government jet to face trial in the United States, bringing to an end months of legal wrangling over his extradition.

As Lunghu predicted back in August, there’s been an air of inevitability surrounding this saga from the outset.

[Bout] showed no signs of emotion or worry.  He was even heard whistling a song repeatedly during the short trip to the airport, a security source said. [Probably not the Col. Bogey March.]

Russian reaction was predictably frosty:

“The independence of the Thai judicial system has to be called into question given the US interference,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

Now the fun really begins.   Lunghu expects to enjoy months & months of highly entertaining shadow-world machinations and skullduggery during the remainder of the year and well into 2011.   It will all work out, Viktor.   When Alla and Elisabeth come to Washington DC New York for the show trial, just make sure they don’t go back to Russia once it’s all over.   We’ve got a nice dacha on the Gulf Coast picked out for the three of you.

Why is this man smiling?

Journey of 10,000 miles begins with single step.

Adroit … or Gauche?

November 16, 2010

Seeking to improve his electoral prospects for re-election in 2012, Nicholas Sarkozy has shifted various ministerial derrières to new seats within the French cabinet.  Kouchner and Borloo are out, Fillon, Lagarde, Juppé and Alliot-Marie are in-likeFlynnDelon.   Conventional wisdom among the talking têtes who opine/bloviate/pontificate about such matters (in the elite media only, of course) is that Sarkozy is dumping the centrists and token lefties who acted as bi-partisan window dressing during the early years of his term, and is now moving further toward the right in an attempt to once again pre-empt the Front National on its own turf.   This was the strategy that secured his election to the Presidency in the first place, so why not give it another shot?   So goes the story line among these blitherati.

Predictably, Lunghu has a slightly different take on these matters.   In Lunghu’s all-seeing eyes, this cabinet reshuffle reveals a deeper truth –a reallocation/redistribution of spoils entre les trois éminence grises de la société française:  Grande Loge de France, Grande Loge National Française, and Grande Orient de France.   In this three-way scramble to carve up the pâtissierie, the GOdF has come away with the smallest slice, while GLNF has grabbed the rooster’s share with the help of their (temporary?) allies in GLdF.   GOdF still has the IMF, the Outre-Mer and assorted crumbs in international trade, but will be playing a distinct second fiddle in defense, finance, transport, energy, communications, etc.  Sarkozy’s principal constituency  –GLNF–  is the main beneficiary.

Is this analysis far, far off the mark?   Has Lunghu got some minor (or major) details completely wrong?   Will critics pan this gloss?   Be candid.   Enlighten Lunghu: surely we live in the best of all possible worlds.

The striped, multi-color button on Juppé's lapel can be read either as "Bx" (for Bordeaux) or "13X" (meaning something altogether different).

How many jewels in that brooch on her lapel? We need a better angle.


Getting a Grip

November 1, 2010

Recently I had a brief conversation with one of the top coaches in collegiate rowing (if your metric = racing success of his boats) about the transition from athletic performer to athletic coach.   The conversation on this topic could have been longer, but Lunghu is often a laconic kinda guy in situations where verbal brevity can actually increase information throughput (it’s that exformation phenomenon), and anyway both our schedules were dictated by events beyond our control.

He described his own experience as a young assistant to his first true coaching mentor, a former Olympic medallist who took over a struggling Division I women’s program with the goal of getting the team back on a winning course.   As someone who had rowed and raced at the elite level of the sport, she initially had great difficulties adjusting to the reality that not all of her athletes shared the same approach to rowing and level of commitment that she herself had lived and breathed during her entire career as a competitor.   At first, it was tremendously frustrating for her to see rowers who weren’t giving everything they had, who weren’t supporting the other rowers in the boat, who wouldn’t push themselves a little (or a lot) further beyond the point where it started to hurt.   Eventually, she came to accept the fact that some of her rowers would come to the team already equipped with the mindset and tenacity to compete at the highest level, that others might perhaps learn from the example of their coach and teammates, but that some rowers would never be able to make that leap.

Lunghu then remarked that  –after all–  it’s part of any coach’s function to impart that spirit of ferocity and tenacity to [his] rowers, but acknowledged that by the time you get down the roster to the “C” boat and beyond, it’s gonna be a struggle to get the message across.   What Lunghu didn’t tell the coach was that one of his own assistants had inadvertently turned Lunghu into a much more tenacious rower, although she’d used a very unorthodox method and wasn’t even aware that she’d done so.   Wasn’t the time or place to tell that tale…

Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional.

Knocked for a Loup

October 16, 2010

It’s sad to see the inexorable decline of Comrade Wolf:  not only is he doing poorly in the United States and its slowly dwindling sphere of influence, but news from Finland indicates that he’s no longer thriving in the boreal forest that has been his ancestral home.

Any mammalian biologist worth her salt lick will probably tell you that this has a lot to do with the shrinking size of reindeer herds in the White Sea littoral, but it’s certainly not encouraging to learn that wolves are no longer migrating from Russia to the west.   I guess Nokia just isn’t hiring these days.

The Bad News:

The size of the Kainuu wolf population was estimated at 29–37 animals, a decrease of about 50% compared with the previous year.

The Good News:

The population size of the lynx was estimated at 140–190 individuals, including 23–31 litters. This estimation is over 40% higher than the 2007 estimate.

Related News:

Mountain hare populations have declined in most of Finland.  The normal population cycles seem to remain only in the game management districts of Lappi, Oulu, Kainuu and Keski-Suomi.  In all other areas the population has significantly decreased (mean 42%) from 1989–1993 to 2003–2007 …  Mortality rate of hares was highest and reproduction rate rather high in a declining population.  Therefore the high mortality rate seems to be responsible for the decline in hare numbers.

Takeaway Lesson:

Comrade Wolf needs an increase in populations of docile reindeer and timid hares in order to prosper.  That doesn’t seem to be happening in Finland, or in the United States either.

Eeey!! Abre los ojos!

October 3, 2010

When Lunghu remarked a six weeks ago that “armed rebellion counts as a democratic expression of the People’s Will,” his intention was to be ironic, sarcastic, and acerbic rather than prescriptive.   Let’s not forget that he was using Kyrgyzstan as an example of Russian-style democracy in action, not pointing out a timeless model of the political form itself.

Therefore, Quito’s recent Golpe de Canteros should not, in Lunghu’s eyes, be considered as anything other than an all-too-traditional armed intervention inspired by entrenched economic interests.   With a little help from their friends.

Comenza la busca por los delantales enlodados y las llanas sucias.