Schneier on the media information clampdown around Mumbai

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

This fear is exactly backwards. During a terrorist attack — during any crisis situation, actually — the one thing people can do is exchange information. It helps people, calms people, and actually reduces the thing the terrorists are trying to achieve: terror. Yes, there are specific movie-plot scenarios where certain public pronouncements might help the terrorists, but those are rare. I would much rather err on the side of more information, more openness, and more communication.

He gets it.

I was going to post a reply to his previous blog on the subject that said the same thing, but then – especially having realized that he wasn’t buying the Associated Press bullshit erm, disinformation piece which claimed there were “only 10 terrorists” either – I realized that 1) I was preaching to the choir and 2) he’d probably find a way to say the exact same thing I wanted to, and say it better. He did.

My 20 year career in IT has revolved around the use of technology to ensure that people can communicate, especially in a time of crisis. I’ve lived through two such crises in which there was a major disruption of communications: the Flugtag/Ramstein Air Show disaster of 1988, and the attacks on the WTC. I’ve provided mission critical IT support during the first Gulf War. What I’ve learned from these experiences is that it’s far better to have a well-informed citizenry who are on your side, untrained civilians though they might be, than to worry about giving away information to a small number of enemies. Our government is supposed to be of the people, by the people, for the people. In such a crisis I, for one, would never hesitate to give any civilian – perhaps a fellow citizen soldier – the best possible fighting chance, even if their only desire was to get away unharmed.

So yes, as clinical as I might sound, there actually is a shred or two of compassion in there. Indeed, I find the willingness of the media to outright lie to the folks who need them the most to be one of the foulest manifestations of the lack of compassion displayed by the mindless and yes, heartless servants of the military/industrial complex.

Schneier seldom, if ever, disappoints. I really hope the coming administration will take his advice seriously.

Fifty days until sanity…

My blog entry from several days ago went into detail about just how much the traditional American media were NOT telling us, along with my primary suspicion as to why:

Three days ago I checked my usual “Rove-Free-Zone” news sources so that I’d be able to get half a clue about what was really happening in Mumbai.

There was an inflatable dinghy “with a brand new Yamaha motor” that landed at a dock and ten guys got out of it. According to an interview with a witness, the men who got out were wearing orange vests, which they abandoned along with the boat. They carefully parcelled out heavy backpacks amongst themselves. There were reports of four other boats like that landing at different places along the shoreline, but now we are being told there were only ten guys who did this. By an amazing coincidence, nine militants were killed and one was captured. So we’re all supposed to believe that there was only one dinghy with ten guys in it, so let’s just forget about the part with the four other boats, mmmmkay? This story has been taken down from the Internet between Saturday and when I read it about 24 hours before. It has simply disappeared.

One story mentioned that some militants had checked into the hotels four days before and were using the rooms to store ammunition. This would make sense for an operation of this size that went on for as long as it did. But of course, if the ten guys on that one single boat were the only ones who did it, this makes no sense. I guess that’s why I can’t find that story on the net anymore either. Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket.

There’s almost no mention in the American traditional media of the Kuber, the Indian fishing trawler that was hijacked by the militants. Some accounts have the captain as having been bribed, other accounts claim he was found bound with a slashed throat. The bodies of the five other crewmembers have been found, having washed ashore.

And there’s minimal significance attached to the fact that among the other casualties, two particular persons of interest died during this set of events. One was Hemant Kakare, the head of India’s counterterrorism force, and the other was Ashok Kapur, an influential banker based in Dubai.

Who benefits? This is a question not enough people are encouraged to ask. Well, aside from the usual button-pushing and fearmongering directed toward Americans, Brits and Jews, here’s a thought. If India and Pakistan were to go to war, certain war profiteer types can sell to both sides.

After all, it’s not like it hasn’t been done before.

Sleep tight, America. Your traditional media are on the case. Now if they’d only just stop sitting on the lid. ;-7


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  1. lots of confusion, nobody knowing what exactly was going on…

    I kept going to the Guardian, and to Orange, and gleaned info about multiple boats, a ship they launched from (but didn’t know about the hijacking or murder of the captain)…still, we have the technology: when the U.S. media disappoint, there are many other outlets.  I like BBC & the Guardian as my first choices, but there are plenty more.

    10 was never a plausible number, not when battles were ongoing in so many locations at once, over so long a time.

  2. …this is exactly the sort of thing that ten very very well trained soldiers can pull off; though of course they wouldn’t tell if they’d failed to get all of them (which seems, on the face of it, quite possible)  Is it true?  Was it ten of forty?  I doubt we’ll ever find out.

    I read very, very little in the western press about Gujarat; indeed, if I weren’t a person who would happily read Arundhati Roy’s laundry list, I doubt I would know that 2000 muslims had been slaughtered a few years ago except in the vaguest sort of way.

    The outrage to me in this is clear difference in life’s value as a measure of ethnicity and wealth and whether the story of one’s demise is suitable for going viral in the media.  

  3. want is to calm people down. They want you afraid very afraid. The threat of terrorism then works and they can make a killing off the chaos and have a good excuse for authoritarian clamp downs. They win because the methods of terrorists are always going to be low tech and dragging out the military just inflames it, drives the so called terrorists to be more creative in their attacks and weaponry. The governments can then get more power under the name of protection and keeping the citizens safe.


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