Category Archives: Phonies and Assclowns

Oh, the Syrians are shaking in their flip-flops…

If you’ve given up waiting for the US Government to do something smart in reference to Syria, and are willing to settle for just doing something, you may find this report heartening.

DAMASCUS — The U.S. military took an unusual move Tuesday with the deployment of two battalions of amateur airsoft players to the Syrian capital, in an attempt to depose Bashar al-Assad, or at a bare minimum, just look like they are at least doing something in the two-year-old civil war.

Indeed, the battalions of fully-grown men — who dress up in military uniforms and shoot each other with Airsoft guns on the weekend — are currently en route to the conflict zone via an extremely short C-130 airbus.

“I’ve been training for this my whole life,” said Jeremy Lyons, a 32-year-old college dropout who swears “Airsoft is just a hobby,” even though his entire Facebook features photos of him looking like a goddamn Navy SEAL.

“We think this is a step in the right direction and a humanitarian way of dealing with these people,” said Pentagon spokesman George Little, although he refused to clear up confusion among reporters of whether he was talking about Syrian civilians or the hundreds of douchebags who play airsoft and think that gives them military experience.

“Since most of their parents bought their equipment, they’re also better outfitted than Delta Force and SEAL Team 6,” said one official, speaking of the most elite military units.

It’s the Duffel Blog, a former Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week (date), which is a satire site. (We spell that out for retired sergeants major and others who got the short humor chromosome). These days, you sometimes can’t tell. Do Read The Whole Thing™, and don’t miss their many other fine reports, like: “Admin Error sends Bradley Manning to Death Row, Nidal Hasan to Gender Reassignment“.  Satire so good you wish it were true.

The Castro Groupie who would write America’s gun laws

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAJulia E. Sweig is, at first glance, typical of the drones who circulate in the committee staffs and think tanks of Washington: dumpy body, bad teeth and skin, crooked nose, thick glasses, unkempt hair. Not to mention the man hands. She personifies the adage that Washington is “Hollywood for ugly people.” She has degrees from the “right” schools, and circulates with the “right” people on the Beltway self-promotion circuit: credentialed, highly verbal, same backgrounds, same ideology: once they called it “scientific materialism.” We know the type: bent double under the weight of naked ambition and lust for power, while utterly unburdened by self-doubt, conscience, or respect for the lesser proles who teem in their herds in the Great American Desert between the coasts.

A repellent creature, to be sure, but why do we even care about this disease-bearing tick on the body politic? Because from her perch at the Council of Foreign Relations, she wants to revise American gun laws, and her Beltway colleagues in the industrial media are holding her up as a neutral policy expert. She writes:

 [T]he U.S. civilian firearms market continues to supply the region’s transnational criminal networks with high-powered weaponry that is purchased with limited oversight, especially from unlicensed individuals at gun shows, flea markets, pawn shops, and on the Internet. Lax U.S. gun laws enable straw purchasers, including those under investigation in Operation Fast and Furious, to legally procure thousands of AK-47 and AR-15 variants every year and traffic them across the border to sell them illegally to criminal factions.

That’s from the web page for the CFR memo; it’s a hell of a reference to Fast and Furious, in which Sweig’s beloved ATF (the nearest she can find to the police apparatus of her real hero, whom we;’ll get to in a moment) trafficked roughly 3,000 weapons (including an FN FiVeSeVeN personally owned by one of he ATF participants) to the Sinaloa Cartel, producing over 500 murders including several of US law enforcement officers.

First, let’s look at the facts. There is no evidence that “transnational criminal networks” go to the US civilian market for their arms. There are not enough private sales to be a percent of the market.   If she thinks guns change hands at flea markets, let her cite an example: she can’t show us one gun in international crime that passed through some “flea market” which she imagines happening in the Dreaded Flyover States. The reference to pawn shops shows how shallow her research is: pawn shiops must have a Federal Firearms License to trade in firearms, and they must comply with all Federal and state requirements, including NICS checks. She’s simply lying, which turns out to be one of her default modes of argumentation, probably because of her Marxist background (see below). Again, we defy her to cite a single gun, let alone the tens of thousands used by “transnational criminal networks,” that made its way to her imaginary villains through this imaginary path. Finally, “Internet sales” also need to comply with Federal and state laws. Unlike Sweig, we’ve bought a few guns via Internet advertisements and auctions. Every one passed through an FFL and required a NICS check.

Also unlike Sweig, we’ve actually seen “transnational criminal networks.” We’ve trained cops to fight them. We’ve stood there while they outlined a body in chalk.Exercise for the reader: Google “los Zetas” and look at the images. Are those guys equipped with random stuff from flea markets and gun shows?


Yet Sweig seems to think the US civilian market drives Latin American crime and unrest. (So who;’s responsible for the first 240 or so coups in Bolivia? Frank Bannerman?) She claims 70, or 80, or 90 percent of organized crime guns come from American retailers and individual sellers. Sweig’s position stems from a deliberate misreading of ATF trace data. She writes:

U.S. government data highlights the problem. …. Over 70 percent of the ninety-nine thousand weapons recovered by Mexican law enforcement since 2007 were traced to U.S. manufacturers and importers. Likewise, 2011 eTrace data for the Caribbean indicates that over 90 percent of the weapons recovered and traced in the Bahamas and over 80 percent of those in Jamaica came from the United States. The ATF has not released data for Central America, but the numbers are likely similar.

In fact, what traced to US FFL points of origin were 70% of the weapons Mexican officers submitted to trace, which were the weapons they thought likely to be of US origin. ATF can provide no assistance with tracing weapons that have no US manufacturer or importer. How can they tell if a gun has a US manufacturer or importer? It is marked on the gun. If a firearm is marked only with Russian factory markings and with no US importer name, city and state, it’s a lead-pipe cinch the thing didn’t come through US civilian legal gun markets. Likewise, if it’s marked with the name of FN Herstal or Waffenfabrik Karl Walther but doesn’t have an American importer mark, it came from some other channel.

Sweig knows this. The anti-gun groups she coordinates her message with know this. This old canard has been debunked time and again (for example, here, here, here, right here at, thank you very much, herehere, and an overview explaining how traces work (and don’t) in .pdf. What she is doing, then, is not analysis. It’s advocacy — or in terms she’ll recognize, agitprop.

So who is Julia Sweig, inside the rebarbative exterior? She’s a full-on apologist for the Castro regime, as a read of her book, Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know will tell you. If you want to go beyond that, you can read her other books: Friendly Fire, which explains that the US has caused all the evil in the world and if we just started, say, toeing the Cuban Communist line, things would be better; and Inside the Cunam Revolution.

The most interesting book is the one on the revolution, Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground which appears (from its dry and stilted tone, craptacular writing, and mountains of awkwardly-formatted footnotes) to be a hastily-published version of her doctoral dissertation. What makes it interesting is that Sweig, as an ideologically pure and doctrinally compliant researcher, was given access to Cuban underground archives that previously, only Cuban government propaganda writers have seen.

When you read her book, you understand why. She’s just another Cuban government propaganda writer. Not surprisingly, Amazon tells us that people who bought her books (which are used by a number of Marxist professors as texts) also bought tomes by Marx, Chomsky, and Che Guevara.

As Ernesto Betancourt (whom she quoted without interviewing in Inside) has noted, she did not interview him nor any of the other 26th of July Movement revolutionaries who were later exiled or purged, but only quotes the selected documents and the surviving island heroes. She got the “unperson Betancourt crimethink” message.

She’s multilingual, dispensing anti-American propaganda in Portuguese and in Spanish for her Cuban… fellow travelers? Masters? Crushes?

Don’t take our word for it. Here’s La Sweig on NPR, gushing and giggling over having actually spoken with The Great Man Himself, and trying to rationalize a way forward for the economy of the Detroit of the Caribbean. Is the “Castro Groupie” in our title too cruel? Here are some lines from the NPR transcript:

“He looked great. He sounded great. You know, I met him for the first time when I worked for a Washington-based think tank in 1987. I then met him in 1998, and about 10 years later and then most recently, about 10 years ago, still at that time with the Council on Foreign Relations. Hadn’t seen him since 2001. He suffered a very serious illness. He has in color in his cheeks, bright disposition, voluminous energy.”

“Cuba has always been, in a way, too small of a stage for Fidel Castro, even when he was president. Big issues of international security, and war and peace, and globalization, and debt crisis and climate change. And sort of the big global issues of the day have been his priority and his focus.”

Hell yes, she’s a groupie. She’s still the fat, dumpy Jewish girl who never got over her crush on the tall Latino starting pitcher.

Here’s her Amazon author page where you can see her books, and how others have reviewed them. Here’s her twitter feed, with a few examples screencapped below.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 2.25.39 AM Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 2.26.49 AM Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 2.27.15 AM

The Violence Policy Center, that is working hand in glove with Havana Julie here, is the Joyce-funded gun-ban group. “Smart Gun Laws” is the Law Center to Prevent Gun Ownership Violence, an Alinskyite group that aims to use legal attacks to undermine Americans’ gun rights. It is also funded by the Joyce Foundation. It was founded as the Legal Community Against Violence by far-left San Francisco lawyers after a 1993 mass shooting by an ambulance chaser’s scorned client, but like most anti-gun groups, changes names as its old names establish a reputation. For example, it often describes itself as the Law Center to Prevent Violence (leaving out the “Gun”), and sometimes represents itself as an allegedly neutral organization, the Firearms Law Center.

We may have a few pearls from her books as we review her recommendations for American gun policy, in the light of understanding those are the recommendations that Fidel Himself (as she might capitalize Him) would make if he had the ear of the American public. He doesn’t, but Havana Julie is eager to intercede on his behalf.

Exit question: how much airbrushing went into the thumbnail for twitter?

TSA: Evil, but Incompetent

tsa-bozoThe worst agency of the government? It was once a tough competition, but the TSA has all but retired the trophy: there is not one intelligent, good, decent, moral or ethical individual employed by the TSA or who has ever been employed by the TSA.

Employers, watch for that line on resumes. it is the mark of evil incompetence, and you don’t need ex-TSA problems in your work force. If one of these payroll patriots is seeking work in the Dreaded Private Sector™, it’s someone who was so bad as to get fired from an agency that has no standards whatsoever. Consider their recent achievements:

ITEM: Apparently not content with their massive, chronic and pervasive thefts from travelers’ baggage, they’ve decided they really ought to search their parked cars, too

(Does the TSA really steal from baggage? Let me Google that for you. Short answer: hell, yes, all the time). Of course, they’re having the parking valets do at least some of the car-searching, which is a good thing: in our experience, parking valets are much more trustworthy. They are more carefully selected, more thoroughly trained, and have much higher levels of integrity and accountability than TSA employees).

ITEM: Their “improved” security provisions at Kennedy Airport locked first responders out of the facility, so when a middle-aged man collapsed in Terminal 4, the ambulance crews couldn’t get through the doors or into the elevators. The security Nazis forgot to port their access cards over — too busy tossing citizens’ cars for resalable stuff, perhaps.

No doubt “Blogger Bob” Burns, the overpaid Goebbels to this horrid horde of half-assed Heydrichs, has some lame excuse and some fingers to point somewhere else. He always does. Doesn’t wash. Your guys own this, Bob.

Of course, as good economists, we must weigh the benefits against the costs. So let’s add up the benefits. Against the massive inconvenience and waste, the loss of privacy, and the occasional dead traveler, we can weigh:

  • Terrorists caught by TSA: 0.
  • Terror plots stopped by TSA: 0
  • Terrorists inconvenienced by TSA: 0

It’s zeroes all the way down… kind of like their employees. There is no intelligent, good, decent, moral, or ethical person at TSA. Never has been.

Want to be cheered up?

The TSA has some employees who are authorized to carry guns, and they want more. What could possibly go wrong?

VA Agent Orange $ went to VN Wannabees

Vietnam Memorial Soldiers by Frederick HartAlong with the six who pled guilty, there are a dozen more veterans or VA workers who are likely to stand trial. The organizer of the scheme, a VA worker named David Clark, is very likely to go to Federal prison. Good. The whole Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome mess at VA long has been overdue for this kind of corrective (for our generation, it’s bogus PTSD claims. Come to think of it, the Vietnam generation produced plenty of those, too).

This all happened at the Baltimore VA, which is notoriously bad. Its persistent underperformance led to it being labeled worst in the nation in January, with the lowest level of claims that were handled properly (only 7%!), the highest backlog, and the highest error rate; with problems that have persisted, despite lip service from VA’s senior leaders, for years.

One of the dirty little secrets of government is that the VA pays a metric crapton of money for things that are not remotely military-related, but are just consequences of old age, or the bills coming due for vets’ longterm bad habits like smoking and substance abuse. Because their budget grows when their claims grow, they periodically turn a blind eye to suspect claims, and accept pseudo-science tenuously tying cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and probably halitosis to Agent Orange exposure, and then, assuming every veteran ever within hailing distance of Vietnam was exposed to Agent Orange. This creates a playground for greedy scammers. Erik Slavin at the Stars and Stripes:

Six veterans have pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges after receiving payments for falsely claiming exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, according to the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office.

They obtained a combined total of more than $500,000 in cash and tax benefits after allegedly paying Maryland Veterans Administration employee David Clark, 68, to falsify their claims, according to Maryland federal district court documents.

Clark, an Army veteran who served as Maryland’s deputy chief of veterans claims, has been indicted but was not among those who pleaded guilty.

via Six Md. veterans plead guilty to Agent Orange benefits fraud – News – Stripes.

The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines all had representatives among these Agent Orange scammers. Sad. Many of the “Agent Orange” sufferers, including Clark, never served in Vietnam at all; Clark helped them create bogus records, as he did for himself.

Clark created false Vietnam service records in those cases, complete with false commendations — including a Purple Heart for himself — according to the indictment allegations. He is also accused of forging medical diagnoses.

“Clark created fake doctors’ letters for the claimants using the names and addresses of real doctors who were unaware of his conduct,” according to the indictment.

In most cases, Clark diagnosed the veterans with diabetes, and then further increased their payouts by falsely stating that they were taking insulin, according to the indictment.

NVA propaganda photoThese scamming leeches ought to get the insulin injections they’ve been on disabiity for — all the back doses, at once. Disability, my eye.

As for Clark and his bullshit Purple Heart, will cheerfully pay the air fare so we can bring an NVA veteran here to shoot and bayonet him with a rusty SKS. We’ll even provide the SKS!


More vital than GI education? $600k hotel bill. One night.

VP Joe Biden and his entourage: over 100 various security gnomes, equerries, knob-polishers, horse-holders, chai boys, praise bestowers and a food taster — spent une nuit à Paris in the celebrated Hotel Intercontental. One-night bill: Almost $600k. ($585,000.50, to be precise..50?).

This is vital, essential government spending. According to Obama and Biden, not to mention Panetta and Hagel, the money promised to GIs in order to recruit them to risk their lives for the Beltway ingrates is wasteful and was the first thing chopped when budget sequestration forced a reduction in the rate of growth of Defense Department spending.

The VP got a much better deal for the taxpayers the night before in London. He only blew $458,388.65. (Actual bills at the two links).

Update 26 March:

A Canadian blog plays a related game of sequester juxtaposition.

Vets — beware spammer, possible scammer

Keep an eye out for these shifty guys:

Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 1.38.42 PM

They are not your friends. They send you spam, then claim you opted in. Naturally they want you to give them money. And they play the brother-vet card.

“LighthousePAC is founded and staffed by young professionals and veterans of the United States Armed Forces, which gives us a unique perspective on how to solve these issues.”

Its head appears to be an actual vet of Afghanistan and Iraq, who somehow was affiliated with President Romney’s brilliant digital strategy (oh… wait, what?). But the group seems actually to be just another Beltway PR firm’s astroturf outfit. (They’re connected in some way, maybe just as customers, with the Leesburg, VA spammer Paramount Communications Group). Like one more of those was really needed.

More likely, some political coatholder whose patron wasn’t able to patronize him needed a job, and figured begging money from working vets was better than actually going out and getting one.

There are plenty of real and well-established veterans’ advocacy and issue groups out there, run by honest vets who don’t grab your email off of some other list and lie about you opting in to their crap.

Lighthouse? We get the -house part, but we’d substitute a short Anglo-Saxon term, making the compound word indicate another structure entirely.

Assclown of the Ides

These Vietnam War vets are not amused.

These Vietnam War vets are not amused.

If there’s one thing that gives Vietnam veterans the ass, it’s phony veterans doing the stolen valor thing. (We say this based on long association with these men, but make no claims of Vietnam status — we want to make that abundantly clear). Vietnam vets hate phony vets and really hate phony heroes.

It turns out that’s the case even when they’re all VC. Ho Xuan Man produced a lot of purportedly wartime paperwork that made him out a hero, and got himself awarded Hero of the People’s Armed Forces, a very high decoration. His story sounds familiar to anyone who;s heard a lot of phonies bloviate: derring-do, enemy slain, singlehanded feats of military arms. All bullshit, say his VC contemporaries.

The documents seem to have had to go through the provincial Party Chief (we don’t need to explain what party, right?) and they did. It just so happens that the Chief was … drumroll… Mr. Man his own self at the time.

According to Man’s declarations, he joined the provincial security and armed forces to protect the people’s committee of the party in 1964. He also claimed that his unit killed a squad of six American soldiers in 1966.

But Le Van Uyen, former head for organisation board of Phong Dien District, said, “This is completely false. Between 1964 and 1967, Mr. Man stayed in his hometown. He was a student and herded buffalo. In 1967 he did serve as a guerrilla fighter in Phong An commune, but this would not have allowed him to protect the provincial party committee.”

This is not Mr Man.

This is not Mr Man — even though it IS party propaganda showing staged valor.

The group of veterans also denied that Mr. Man’s unit ambushed and killed nine American soldiers in May 1968, as well as his claims that he gave instruction to comrades to carry out an operation to kill six American soldiers at Ta Luong base the same year. They said that during this time, Man was in Phong An Commune, while Ta Luong base was located in A Luoi Distrct. In May, Phong An Commune did not witness a fight that would have resulted in the number of kills Man has claimed.

Hoang Phuoc Sum, a former provincial police officer, and one of the accusers, attested in a letter to the Party Unit in February that Man was a fellow student in neighbouring of Quang Binh Province from 1969 to March 1971, and then worked as assistant to the Phong Dien District Party Chief, Le Van Sau from March to November 1971.

“Man was just a local guerrilla and not a party member, so how could he said he have led the nearly 100 attacks he has taken credit for, or killed 150 American soldiers, and destroyed an aircraft along with 37 other military vehicles,” Mr. Sum said.

via Former party official accused of falsifying wartime achievements | DTiNews – Dan Tri International, the news gateway of Vietnam.

These VC early in the war were almost certainly dead by 1972.

These VC early in the war were almost certainly dead by 1972.

Gee, even the enemy are not immune to Stolen Valor syndrome. But maybe someone will speak up for Vietnamese Vietnam War phony, Mr. Man. Anyone have the phone number of the other celebrated phony Vietnam hero, Connecticut Senator Slick Dick Blumenthal?

No doubt the enemy’s surviving combatants, like our own, know that the truest heroes didn’t come home after the war, which is all the more reason to be outraged by Blumenthal — or Man.

Osama had documents from Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning Support NetworkIf you’re a big-P Patriot, you might not like Manning — neither Eli nor Peyton. But if you’re a small-p patriot, the Manning that gets up your nose is ickle Bradley, the toy-poodle-sized traitor with the rottweiler-sized ego. PFC Bradley Manning released hundreds of thousands of classified documents in an ill-advised attempt to conduct his own foreign policy.

The latest revelation is that the documents not only might have been of interest to US enemies, they definitely were  — as evidenced by the fact that Osama bin Laden had them in his Abbotabad hangout. The information was teased out by the UK’s Telegraph.

Today, prosecutors argued they should be allowed to call a military “operator” – a common term for a US commando – as a witness, saying he could offer testimony about evidence collected from the 2011 raid in Pakistan.

The potential witness was named only as “John Doe” and referred to him as “the operator who actually collected the evidence in Abbottabad and handed it to an FBI agent in Afghanistan”.

Major Ashden Fein, the lead prosecutor, said Doe would describe “how he went into a room, how he picked up the three pieces of information and what he did with them”.

Military authorities have consistently refused to release documents associated with Private First Class Mannings court martial, making it impossible to confirm Does exact role or his relation to the case.

Prosecutors also requested that Doe be allowed to give his testimony in an “offsite location”, away from the military courtroom where the case is being heard.

The secrecy surrounding his testimony makes it seem likely that he was among the members of Seal Team 6 who killed the al-Qaeda leader two years ago.

The government is also seeking to call eight other “chain of custody witnesses” who would describe how the files were transported from bin Ladens compound back to the US for analysis.

Among the requested witnesses is a translator who examined “letters to and from bin Laden”.

via WikiLeaks: US to call bin Laden raid Navy Seal to testify against Bradley Manning – Telegraph.

Naturally, Manning’s al-Qaeda lawyer is arguing vociferously against this evidence being presented in his charge’s trial. It’s not that it might have some relevance to the accusation that Manning released classified information that aided an enemy; oh no! The lawyer says, in that uniquely mealy-mouthed way in which a paid, amoral mouthpiece can utter the most baldly counterfactual rubbish, that Osama winding up with the files “has no bearing” on the case. See, he’s simply concerned that presenting evidence against his client will cause “undue delay.” He’s just trying to save the taxpayers money! It just looks like he’s a slimeball for the ages.

Manning does want to read a 24-page statement more-or-less confessing, while bashing the Army and whining about how he’s being picked on.

Follow up – wrist tap for traitor

John_KiriakouWe’ve covered this dirtbag before, but we didn’t update you when he was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in Federal prison for multiple felonies last month.

A former CIA officer who pleaded guilty to identifying a covert intelligence officer was sentenced on Friday to 30 months in prison.

John Kiriakou and prosecutors agreed on the term as part of the plea agreement he struck in October.

Kiriakou, 48, declined to make a statement at the Alexandria, Virginia, federal court prior to sentencing by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema.
“Alright, perhaps you’ve already said too much,” Brinkema said.

She rejected defense attempts to characterize Kiriakou as a whistle-blower.

The judge was bound by the plea agreement, but said she would have handed down a tougher sentence had Kiriakou been convicted at trial.

“This case is not a case about a whistle-blower. It’s about a person who betrayed a very solemn trust,” Brinkema said.Ex-CIA officer in the news before

via Former spy sentenced for leaking another spy’s identity – CNN Security Clearance – Blogs.

Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s about a traitor. 

Kiriakou leaked the names of multiple Clandestine Service members to reporters and to lawyers working for Al-Qaeda detainees. Private investigators hired by the lawyers then built target packets on the clandestine operatives for their al-Qaeda paymasters.

Kiriakou’s motivation wasn’t anything special:

“The defendant acted out of a sense of ego and narrow-minded self-interest to raise his media profile,” [prosecutor Mark] Schneider told the court.

His ego was strong enough that he initially thought he could weasel out of this case:

Kiriakou pleaded guilty in October only to intentionally identifying an undercover CIA officer.

So initially, he tried to brazen it out. But as prosecutors revealed more of the evidence against him it was clear he was going down for several felonies, and witthout a deal he was going away, as Judge Brinkema said, for a very long time. At that point, he instantly transformed from fearless warrior for transparency, to quivering nebbish trying to save as much of his own skin as possible.

Who funded Kiriakou’s top-drawer defense is not certain, but it may have been the same terror financiers that arrange “pro bono” lawyers from white-shoe law firms by allowing them to pad bills for unrelated legal work.

He also admitted to other allegations, including illegally telling reporters the name of a different CIA employee involved in a 2002 operation to capture alleged al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah, and lying to a review board about a book he was writing. But those charges were dropped as part of his plea deal.

The charges arose out of communications Kiriakou had with two journalists between 2007 and 2009.

Most news stories are coy about identifying the journalists, who were not charged with any crimes in the case because of the political difficulty of prosecution. We’ll name them here, though. Matthew Cole was a producer for Brian Ross at ABC News, and was apparently moonlight both as an aspiring book author, and as an assistant to the al-Qaeda investigators. Cole was fired by ABC when the case threatened to blow up and involve Ross, a marquee name at the network. Richard Esposito of ABC was also a conduit for Kiriakou’s treachery, as was the New York Times’s Scott Shane.

ABC and the Times refused to cooperate with American investigators and prosecutors in the Kiriakou case, just with those working for Osama Bin Laden at the time.

Meanwhile, Judge Brinkema gave Kiriakou a delay before reporting to serve his sentence. This is customary with non-violent offenders, to give them time to settle their affairs. So what has Kiriakou been doing? Trashing his agency, his country and even the judge who cut him this slack, in state-controlled Russian media. We guess this means that even Brian Ross won’t touch him now, and the only outlets left for his ego are in the propaganda organs of opponents and enemies of his rejected country.

And… 30 months? Wherever he is, Major John André, who suffered a much worse penalty for doing much less damage to the United States, and didn’t have a number of oaths to the US to betray, is entitled to feel pretty badly done by.

German PR executive threatens NRA with hackers

logo_populeaks“Pretty nice organization you have here. It would be sad if something happened to it.” That’s the essence of the threatening message sent by German PR executive Sven Lilienström to the NRA. The actual words are: “To the NRA Board of Directors: Try to protect your data/files and emails!” and if they can actually do it, he promises to show up with “two team members” to “polish 500 weapons” at the NRA annual meeting.


Portrait of the artist as he sees himself.

He shows he’s serious with a European’s idea of a threatening gangsta: some soft and lissome Eurotrash male model, wearing lipstick and gripping an Airsoft MP5K. In his weak hand. (Or maybe the weaker of two weak hands?) Lord love a duck. Apparently this is Sven Lilienström, as he sees himself. An edgy gangsta, commanding hordes of pimply hackers.

Lilienström doesn’t actually seem to be connected to the hacker community in any obvious way. Far from having techie cred, his education equips him to be a fitness trainer (German language link). He has almost zero presence n the net, apart from self-promotion — and inept self-promotion at that (he’s got a MySpace page! Himmel Herrgott, can we touch him?). As you can see from his real picture, he’s about as hip as Homer Simpson. He’s based in the international hi-tech nexus of Kaarst, in North Rhein-Westphalia.

The artist's other face -- equally phony.

The artist’s other face — equally phony.

Lilienström — he of the MySpace social media presence — runs a PR agency, which he says is expert on social and guerilla media. (What he means by that, as we shall see, is that he is unburdened with ethics). His firm is called Rheingewinn (loosely, Rhein profit!) showing that someone really did see the underpants gnomes as role models.

He’s done some self-promotion as a global warming causista, and some self-promotion while flacking for a european racket called the Plus-X Award which turned out to be “pay for play.”  (German language, but a nomination cost €464 and a win — which a third of the nominees got — an adittional €3,064). We reckon it was a short step from bribery to extortion.

His new approach is a mock-Wikileaks called Populeaks. It works like this: Lilienström sends a threat to some target — in this case the NRA — and gives them a deadline.

While many of his past letters have attacked his old bêtes noires — One beats the global warming drum, and one rather rudely demanded answers about a micro-scandal involving manufacturers misleading Stiftung Warentest, a German equivalent of Consumer Reports and a respected competitor to his pay-for-play Plus-X Awards — most have not actually been threatening. One, to a Canadian government contractor, did claim that he had hacked Canadian immigration data.

So what we have here is part and parcel of Lilienstrom’s earlier work: self-promotion, with questionable ethics.

The NRA bet: Try to protect your data and emails! – The Leak Preventers.

The question is: does NRA have to worry? The answer: probably not. It’s hard to imagine the clownish Lilienström, a PR executive that could have been sketched by Gilbert and Sullivan (had such a trade existed in their era), being effective at anything.

But consider this: there are certainly people who have an interest in hacking NRA’s membership data, including news media organizations (the British media, which extensively cross-pollinates ours, is in the throes of a criminal hacking scandal at this very moment) and ATF management (it would be illegal, but mere black-letter law has never stopped them before). And those threats have always been out there. While the people that run NRA might be complacent, they’re not incompetent, and one must assume that they keep their data close and their systems closer, and have good security folks, if not in-house, on speed dial.