May 27, 2006

HOW'S IT GOIN' GOLIATH? (via Tom Morin):

Armed groups shun electronic media to counter U.S. high-tech surveillance (Azzaman, May 24, 2006)

No mobile phones, no landlines, no Internet – that is the message anti-U.S. rebels have recently received from their commanders.

The message is believed to have even spread in neighboring states as part of the package of instructions foreign fighters receive before heading to Iraq.

“You are not to use electronic communication or even land lines when communicating,” said a leaflet which the groups distributed recently.

The instructions are apparently a response to what are described as ‘moderate successes’ U.S. troops have achieved in the past few weeks in their fight to flush out rebel cells.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 27, 2006 8:56 PM

Passing notes. Great idea. Completely undetectable.

Posted by: erp at May 27, 2006 11:21 PM

"Gee, if we can't use cell phones or even land lines, how are we supposed to communicate?"
"Obviously, with smoke signals!"
"But there's no fire here, sir."
"There will be. First we'll put this suicide vest on you, and you stand right here on this pile of logs."
"...Um, sir, are you sure there isn't an easier way?"
"...Hmmm... nope, I don't think so."

Posted by: Just John at May 27, 2006 11:40 PM

They're reduced to stone age communications. Who's winning this war? (rhetorical question)

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 28, 2006 5:38 AM

They're giving up on 19th Century comm technology because of their enemy's "moderate success"? If I didn't know better, I'd call that panic.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at May 28, 2006 7:23 AM

They'll lose if the Iraqi domestic security forces fight them. That by no means seems to be a given. The South Vietnamese had everything to lose from the communists, but they just sat there passivly behind the Americans untill the US forces were withdrawn. They fought a little, but not like people defending their freedom.

This will be decided by Iraqi vs Iraqi, nothing else, already there is almost intolerable domestic political pressure to withdraw or begin seriously winding down.

I hate to day it but what they really need are death squads. Thousands of Sunni need to die, not random Sunni civilans, but certain Sunni clerics, certain Sunni politicians, certain Sunni sheiks, and a few thousand ex-baathists. Dead, bullet in the head, ditch, that's it. Sting can write a sad song about it afterwards.

The feeble, tottering, baby Iraqi legal system can't take the kind trauma inflicted on it by these barbarians. Can you imaging trying each and every road-bomber, kidnapper, random murderer, financier, and common criminal turned jihadi in a court of law? Could you even keep the courts from being blown up and the judges murdered while it was going on, never mind finding people to testify against baathists who live in and terrorize their own neighborhoods? The U.S with all it's resources, at peace and firmly under the rule of law, could barely get the mafia under control.

This is war. Lists need to be drawn up, people on them sysematically executed and every scumbag they already have in holding pens taken out and shot.

Posted by: Amos at May 28, 2006 7:38 AM

The notion that the Shi'ites may not fight Sunni Islamicists is simple ignorance.

Posted by: oj at May 28, 2006 8:08 AM

"notion that the Shi'ites may not fight Sunni Islamicists is simple ignorance"

Amos accurately describes what needs to be done. (or rather what the Shi'ites need to be willing to do if necessary, which I hope isn't necessary)

The fact that he is saying that it is still an open question is not "simple ignorance", but a prudent assessment given that the past three years. Also given the previous 80 years.

Posted by: h-man at May 28, 2006 9:46 AM

The idea that it's an open question is ignorant too, ignoring the past three years (not to mention the last 1400).,0,3364549,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Posted by: oj at May 28, 2006 9:50 AM

There are two sides to this. One is they are very limited in the methods and speed of their communications. That's a good thing. The other is they are aware of the surveillance and are changing their behavior. If we were having good success with the surveillance, that's a bad thing. After all, Germany not knowing he had the Enigma figured out, gave us a great advantage. Better than just denying them the resource and having them move on.

This also highlights why a lot of the reporting on the NSA stuff here is potentially very damaging. If terrorists want to be sloppy and use communications that are vulnerable, this can greatly help us. By splashing it on the front page and hammering it in, we might only succeed in making them harder to stop.

Posted by: RC at May 28, 2006 10:17 AM

My ignorance is certainly an awesome thing to behold, seeing as how it extends for over 1400 years.

Thank you for the link to Shi'ite feistiness, while under what may be temporary protection of American forces.

Posted by: h-man at May 28, 2006 10:47 AM

We're going to help the Shi'ites settle the Sunni hash.

Posted by: oj at May 28, 2006 11:27 AM

Conversely, perhaps we allowed them to show our hand on purpose forcing terrorists to use more primitive and less effective methods of communication, or perhaps we have even more dazzling abilities to eavesdrop developed by the military that the traitors in the CIA and NSA don't know about further muddying the picture for everyone who aren't with us.

Posted by: erp at May 28, 2006 1:05 PM

Amos is right about the need for fell strokes, but dead wrong about South Vietnam.

South Vietnam fought as well as a partial armed force could, but was defeated when the American Watergate Dolchstoss congress backed out of our treaty obligations.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 28, 2006 1:24 PM

Yes Lou. To our everlasting shame many millions of lives were lost on our watch. I think Bush is bound and determined not to let it happen again.

Posted by: erp at May 28, 2006 4:11 PM

I don't know that it's 'simple ignorance'. Alot of Shia will fight, how many, how effectivly? Often we see populations who should be fighting for their freedom just sort of passivly sitting there, while the killers and would-be tyrants, Nazi, Communist or Islamist, are filled with almost suicidal frenzy. The march of democracy only seems to have a sense of historical inevitability in the Anglo West, everywhere else it seems to be the fascists who win unless the English-speaking people intervene.

The Shia forces have had some sucesses, but not very spectacular ones. They have some good officers and alot of potentially good soldiers, but their political leadership appears incompetent and cowardly and it remains to be seen if they can win without borrowed American backbone.

The fact is, even a hundred sheep can't beat ten wolves. If these people are so pathetic and weak they can't slaughter an enemy they outnumber 5 to 1 they deserve to be slaves. Centuries of Sunni rule have bred a culture of defeat and submission into the Shia, they go into every fight expecting to lose. Meanwhile the Sunni grow up believing themselves the rightful lords Iraq. A culture of slaves vs a culture of masters, we'll see who wins.

I think the Sunni won't stop fighting until they're smashed, slaughtered, ground into the dust. God knows they deserve to be, but America doesn't have the nerve to do it. Plus, of course, the international Left will do everything in it's power to cripple the new democracy's attempts to defend itself.

My prediction: The Shia will destroy the insurgency, but it's not a forgone conclusion, and it's not 'simple ignorance' to say so.

I add that I have much, much more confidence in the Kurds.

Posted by: Amos at May 29, 2006 12:28 AM

The Kurds just had cover from us. The Turks beat them silly. The Shi'a death squads are already ripping up the Sunni. The notion that they might not have fought the Sunni is ignorant of events on the ground, nevermind history.

Posted by: oj at May 29, 2006 8:23 AM