Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's Missing Here?

From the Lawfare blog, discussing Guantanamo:

Like Steve Vladeck and unlike some of the human rights groups, in other words, David acknowledges that there is a legitimate role for non-criminal detention in the current conflict.
I would suggest that the missing phrase should be along the lines of "subject to the controls and limitations contained in the 3rd Geneva Convention of 1949 on the Treatment of Prisoners of War". Something notably missing at Gitmo.

That's your choice: PoW = rights but indefinite detention or criminal = trial and detention after sentence.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Speaking to the Deaf

I've just seen this wee video on cracked, and it reminded me of an old post.

Now, I know the Twin Towers weren't nuclear reactors - but their structural concrete (inside, hence the lack of visible disintegration) would have been of the same order of strength - oh, and they did fall down (not something you would have wanted to happen to a reactor containment building).

And I know that an F-4 is a lot smaller and tougher than a 767 (but that makes my side stronger). So, Billy, if you are still watching, have a look at what actually happens when a modern aircraft hits a modern building wall ...

CyberWar - Some Discussion

On another blog which doesn't allow comments, Gary Warner from the "University of Alabama at Birmingham", posts some quite sensible stuff about cyberwar.

However, as usual, I have some nits to pick and, as he doesn't allow comments ... (I'd also note that I am basing my comments on a UK MoD understanding of the International Law of Armed Conflict, so US military law, their UCMJ, may vary.)

Civilian Infrastructure Attacks

Declaration: "A direct attack on a civilian infrastructure that caused damage, even loss of life of civilians, would, I think, be a war crime." - Professor Daniel Ryan, National Defense University

Response: Didn't the United States blow up electrical plants, television and radio stations, bridges, roads, runways, and water treatment plants during the two Iraq Wars? Were those war crimes, too? Professor Ryan? We have to use a consistent definition. If its not a war crime to attack civilian infrastructure kinetically, why is it a war crime to do so electronically

Attacks on some civilian infrastructure are automatically war crimes: nuclear plants, dams and "cultural property". Attacks on some others are illegal in most circumstances: hospitals and religious sites come under this category. Although, if you are attacked from them, you can retaliate.

Attacks on other civilian infrastructure are subject to the "proportionality test". What military benefit do you achieve? If the enemy are using the local mobile phone network to organise their operations, then you could definitely make a case for blowing it up. Despite the impact on civilians. Identical comments apply to his example under "Electrical Grid Targeting".

Ninety-Five Percent?

Declaration: "Computers don't always have signs over them that say, 'I'm a military target' [or] 'I'm a civilian target,' " says Harvard's Goldsmith. "Also, the two things are intermixed. Ninety to 95 percent of U.S. military and intelligence communications travel over private networks."

Response: The Department of Defense has more than 7 million computers. I don't know how Army works, but I know the Navy Marine Corps Internet was at one time the largest private Intranet on the entire planet. The US Army has maintained a stand-alone Intranet since at least 2001, and has repeatedly had headlines about it being the largest stand-alone network in the world. Soldiers don't call down an airstrike and then update their Facebook pages and do a little online banking as the implication seems to infer.

All I'd say is "you'd be surprised!" Okay, they'll not use the same systems (SIPRNet isn't internet connected, NIPRNet is and the terminals are separate devices, even if you might have both of them, and a Coalition network terminal, on your desk) but there is a surprising mixing of comms links etc. And the IP address assignments will probably all be in the DoD or RFC1918 address spaces ... Anecdata: I've been on Google chat, under mortar fire in Baghdad, and trying to convince Clydesdale Bank to transfer money via internet banking under rocket attack in Basra.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cynical bastard, that's me.

Who's going to get the first "Nigerian flood victim" 419 then? Just asking.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Votematch - Labour Leadership

Okay, so I played. And what a surprise I got:

Balls: 62%
Millielder: 58%
Milliyounger: 46%
Token Commie: 38%

So I went to check.

I agree with Bollocks on:
  • No law limiting highest salary to 20x lowest (clearly, utter statist bollocks and not even Ben and Jerry's could make it work)
  • Private companies within the NHS allowed to make profit (err, yes, that's the whole point of the 'private companies' bit - if you don't want a profit motive, keep it internal ...)
  • Tuition Fees tbrb "Graduate Tax" - although I don't feel particularly strongly about this one.
  • Academy schools - yes, bin them - stop ragging on public schools charitable status and bring back the 'Assisted Places Scheme'.
  • FCO should promote British Business - yes, after promoting British government policy and the British public interest, that's what they should be doing (Consular Services being a different arm.)
  • Third runway at Heathrow - yup - the market wants it. If the market can provide it ...
  • Nuclear power - duh.
  • Labour should have said what they were going to cut in their general election campaign.
  • No tax relief on donations to political parties.
Okay - so that's 9 out of 21 - and, looking at them, I don't feel too dirty. So, what did I agree with Diane Abbot on?
  • Tax credits too bureaucratic.
  • Approval of drugs wholly free from government interference.
  • Academy schools (yes, although she wouldn't like my alternatives!)
  • 28 days detention without charge
  • Low earners out of tax (a UKIP, Libertarian and Liberal policy, now being implemented!)
  • Alternative cuts
Nope, still don't feel sullied by the reeking slime of socialism ...

And interesting to add that the only points of mutual agreement (as far as this fairly trivial survey is concerned) between me, Balls and "Token Black Female" are academy schools (where we actually fundamentally disagree) and the massive public distrust over what a 2010-elected Labour administration would have cut. That, is quite heartening.
 
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