I Love Irony

President Obama seems to have an ability to mistreat our allies and attempt to make friends with people who have hated us and will continue to hate us. However, some of our allies understand that despite our President, the American people support them. Israel is one of those allies that stands with us regardless of who is President.

The U.K. Daily Mail reported yesterday that the FBI has managed to get into the Apple iPhone that belonged to the San Bernardino shooter. Technical people were very concerned about who actually managed to get into the phone–fearing that a criminal would now have a mechanism that could hack any Apple iPhone. However, the truth is very reassuring.

The article reports:

An Israeli company helped the FBI in unlocking the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters, according to reports. 

Israel’s Cellebrite, is a provider of mobile forensic software that says it does business with thousands of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, militaries and governments in more than 90 countries.

An official source told NBC News that the company had helped. Neither the FBI nor Cellebrite has confirmed the reports.

The FBI hacked into the iPhone used by gunman Syed Farook, who died with his wife in a gun battle with police after they killed 14 people in December in San Bernardino. 

The iPhone, issued to Farook by his employer, the county health department, was found in a vehicle the day after the shooting.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It is rather technical, but very interesting.

Thank you, Israel, for helping America deal with terrorism.

There Is A Way To Do This Legally

Yesterday The Los Angeles Times posted an article about the ongoing battle between Apple Inc. and the federal government. Apple cell phones have systems built into them that prevent someone who steals your cell phone from having access to all of your personal (and professional) information. Obviously, if you are a terrorist, this works really well. I am not a computer/cell phone-savvy person and did not understand what was going on here. The explanation you are about to hear is the result of a techie explaining the situation to me.

The article in the Los Angeles Times reports:

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym in Riverside directed Apple on Tuesday to help the FBI get around the phone’s passcode protection and any auto-erase functions the device might employ.

In a statement, Cook said that such a move would undermine encryption by creating a backdoor that could potentially be used in the future on devices.

…The Manhattan district attorney‘s office said in a report issued in November that it was unable to execute 111 search warrants for smartphones over the last year because they were running on encrypted technology offered through Apple’s iOS 8 operating system.

So let’s look at some possible solutions that do not create a backdoor.

First of all, the government should need a warrant to search any cell phone. Considering this phone belonged to a terrorist shooter, that should not be a problem. Second of all, there is no reason why the government can’t turn the phone over to Apple and ask them to please provide the government with all information on the phone. Since Apple set up the programs that encrypted it, they should be able to unencrypt it. Again, I am not technically savvy, but that seems to me to be the obvious solution. In future cases where an Apple cell phone needs to be searched, a warrant shall be required, and the phone should be turned over to Apple. Therefore, no backdoor is created, and the feds can go merrily on their way with the information they need. I would be very reluctant to give the federal government a means to unencrypt any cell phone. I simply don’t trust the government with that kind of power.

The Numbers Don’t Add Up

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about American air strikes on ISIS.

The article reports:

President Obama said for the first time this week that U.S. and allied airstrikes are targeting ISIS training camps in Iraq and Syria, but new figures reveal only 20 camps were hit in recent months.

Since May, U.S. and allied air forces conducted 17 attacks hitting a total of 20 camps in Syria and Iraq, according to the U.S. military command in Iraq.

Critics in the Obama administration and U.S. military say ISIS has been operating more than 60 training camps since 2014 in areas of Syria and Iraq. The camps are said to be producing an estimated 1,000 fighters a month.

Somehow I don’t think 17 attacks in more than six months is the best we can do. The reason given for the lack of attacks is the proximity or the camps to civilians areas.

The article further reports:

Long War Journal reported in June that the number of terrorist training camps in Syria and Iraq continues to increase, for both ISIS and al Qaeda. The journal reported that more than 100 training camps have been identified in the two Middle East states.

“The proliferation of training camps in Iraq and Syria speaks to the strength of the Islamic State and its ability to continue to gather and instruct recruits despite the U.S. and allies’ air campaign,” said Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal.

“It is unclear if U.S. airstrikes have significantly set back the Islamic State’s training program,” he told the Washington Free Beacon. “We may not be hitting the training facilities quick enough to make a difference.”

Obama, under pressure from critics at home and abroad over the limited military strategy against ISIS, on Monday vowed that the U.S. strategy is “moving forward with a great sense of urgency” following ISIS-linked attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.

We should have learned from past experience that wars need to be fought by the military–not the politicians. If we do not plan to win, we have no business getting involved in a war. When we go half-way to war, Americans die needlessly.

Time To End My Naivety

I am relatively  new to the south. I lived here for a few years as a child, but have been away a long time. Thirty-five years in New England left me immersed in a culture I was not really aware of until I left. Southern culture includes guns, gun safety, hunting, and other forms of recreation and personal protection that are totally alien to me. Recent events have convinced me that it is time to embrace that aspect of the culture of my new home.

I love steak. As far as I am concerned, steak comes from a styrofoam and plastic package in the supermarket meat section. By faith I accept that and refuse to look past the obvious. Until recently, I believed that my safety was the responsibility of the local and state law enforcement people and that they would adequately do their job. I still believe that they do their job to the best of their ability, but it has occurred to me that I need to look past the obvious and begin to take some responsibility for my own safety.

The shootings in Paris and in California both took place in locations with strict gun laws. In both cases, the shootings occurred in gun-free zones. I believe that the end result would have been different in both cases if one of the intended victims had been armed. Despite the fact that the news is reporting today that the weapons used in California were legally purchased between 2007 and 2012, gun controls in California have supposedly taken those weapons off the streets. Obviously, not everyone in areas where certain (or all) guns are banned is interested in following the law.

I am not enthusiastic about learning to shoot and learning to defend myself, but on the other hand, I definitely have a vested interest in my own safety. At least temporarily, I believe that we have reached a place in America where good people have to take responsibility for their own safety. Unfortunately, the police cannot be everywhere at once, and there are obviously some people in this country who want to do us harm. Historically speaking, police will tell you that most murder victims are murdered by family members or people they know. This means that as long as you are careful in choosing your friends (and hopefully have upstanding family members) you are unlikely to be a victim of a killer. Since Paris, San Bernardino, and other incidents involving members of the military on American soil, that has changed. It is time to put away our naivety and learn to protect ourselves. Hopefully at some time in the future, the threat of terrorism will be gone, but it will still be to our advantage to know how to defend ourselves.

This Isn’t How It’s Done On CSI

On Friday, Breitbart.com posted an article about the actions of the FBI regarding the home of the killers in San Bernardino. The actions taken by the FBI were inappropriate; and unfortunately, fit a pattern of conduct that is not constructive.

The article reports:

The shocking sight of journalists storming into the apartment of the San Bernardino terrorists, less than 48 hours after the attack, was apparently allowed by the FBI, which handed the apartment back over to the landlord, who let the media in with a crowbar.

How much information will be lost to the investigation because the FBI was so quick to leave the place where pipe bombs were being built and ammunition was being stockpiled? How many sets of fingerprints will never be investigated?

Unfortunately this is not a unique situation for President Obama’s FBI.

The article further reports:

For example, the government has done almost nothing with the treasure trove of intelligence information it recovered during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011. Stephen F. Hayes of the Weekly Standard has waged a lonely battle to force the government to take the intelligence seriously–intelligence that could disrupt terror networks and prevent future attacks around the world. “They haven’t done anything close to a full exploitation,” perhaps only 10%, he quoted one analyst in May 2015.

The following year, after the Benghazi terror attack–which the Obama administration insisted was a protest over a YouTube video–the FBI arrived on the scene several weeks later, after terrorists and curious locals had enjoyed the opportunity to roam the scene and remove or change whatever they wanted. Fox News reported on Oct. 5, 2012 that an FBI team had waited for weeks before visiting the consulate, and that they stayed only briefly. (To this day, Democrats insist a video explanation was plausible.)

Somehow I am convinced that this is not the way CSI would have done it.

Workplace Violence Does Not Usually Involve Removing A Digital Footprint

Yesterday The Washington Times posted an article about some of the actions the killers in San Bernardino took before going on their killing spree. It is becoming very obvious that this was a planned attack and that the killers did not complete all of what they set out to do.

The article reports:

The Muslim husband and wife behind the mass shooting in San Bernardino began erasing their digital footprint a day in advance of the deadly attack, deleting email accounts, disposing of hard drives and smashing their cellphones, according to law enforcement investigators who are treating the probe as a counterterrorism case.

Investigators edged closer Thursday to the conclusion that Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were radicalized by Islamist extremists either in the U.S. or during trips to the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.

Working to determine whether terrorism was the motive in the attack at a government-organized holiday party, officials scrambled to re-create the travels, contacts and lifestyle of Farook, a 28-year-old U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, and his 27-year-old Pakistani wife.

Please reread that last sentence. The killers had bombs, automatic weapons, combat gear, etc. The were planning on killing people they knew and people they did not know. Why are we so reluctant to call it terrorism? Don’t you think that the people in that building were terrorized?

The article further reports:

But fresh details continued to emerge about the background of the two — supporting the notion that the attack was planned and not a spur-of-the-moment response to a party snub or quarrel.

The couple had a 6-month-old daughter, who was left in a relative’s care before they stormed the Inland Regional Center bedecked in tactical-style clothes and spraying 75 rounds into the conference room.

Three pipe bombs configured as one large explosive device were recovered from the center. Police also found bomb-making materials, 12 pipe bombs and more than 4,500 rounds of ammunition inside the couple’s home.

“This is not your average investigation,” said David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, mentioning the multiple crime scenes, victims and recovered evidence. “It will take time.”

Officials involved in the investigation said the couple appeared to have gone to great lengths to conceal themselves and make difficult investigation of their plans — further suggesting premeditation.

A cellphone recovered from Malik’s body was newly purchased and had been used only recently. Two other cellphones that were recovered had been smashed with a hammer and were expected to be sent to the FBI’s forensic lab in Washington for examination.

Authorities also noted that a hard drive and motherboard were missing from a computer found at the Redlands, California, home that the couple rented.

This was a well-planned attack. The solution to this sort of attack is to train civilians in the use of guns and encourage civilians to carry. A gun in the room carried by a trained civilian would have cut the number of casualties and ended the attack on the spot.