Saturday, October 2, 2010

Largest Cyber Crime Gang Busted, Blackwater Gets New Contract, Hillary's Sanctions

Dana Milbank
Shushannah Walshe
Micah Zenko
"President Obama has been meeting with voters in what he calls 'backyard chats.' He's held these in real people's backyards. You know something, I think all politicians should talk to people in their backyards. Then you could take what they say and spread it on the lawn." – Jay Leno

"It's getting very nasty in Louisiana in the Senate race down there. The Democrat that's running has a two-minute TV ad about Republican Sen. David Vitter, which features the hooker that Vitter paid $300 to. It's a two-minute ad. And here's the embarrassing part for Vitter: the ad lasted a minute longer than he did." –Jay Leno

"Yesterday President Obama told voters that he's a Christian. But you see how Fox News reported it? They said Obama admits he's a follower of the bearded radical from the Middle East." –Jay Leno

The FBI announced that it has busted one of the largest international cyber crime organizations, and arrested more than 90 people inside the US, the Ukraine, Netherlands, and the UK on charges of bank fraud and money laundering. The method used was: "Hackers in Eastern Europe would use spam email to infect computers of small businesses and individuals in the US with a virus known as Zeus, the FBI said in a statement.

The unnamed hackers were then able to to access users' online passwords and bank account details and used them to transfer money to the bank accounts provided by the go-betweens in the US. The crime ring attempted to steal around $220m, the FBI added." One reason that small businesses were targeted is because they are often lax in providing a secure firewall for themselves and their employees, thinking that they are too insignificant for thieves to bother. Another is that they often won't shut out all mail from Russia, China, or Florida and Texas, the major places where fraud originates. The criminals don't have to be smart, here they were just patient and persistent...

That's some good news. Some bad news is that it looks like the State Department has worked with the infamous Blackwater mercenary outfit, by creating a shell company and awarding a government security services contract to them worth up to $10 billion.
Never mind the dead civilians. Forget about the stolen guns. Get over the murder arrests, the fraud allegations, and the accusations of guards pumping themselves up with steroids and cocaine... Apparently, there is no misdeed so big that it can keep guns-for-hire from working for the government.
"Blackwater and the State Department tried their best to obscure their renewed relationship. As Danger Room reported Wednesday, Blackwater did not appear on the vendors’ list for Worldwide Protective Services. And the State Department confirms that the company, renamed Xe Services, didn’t actually submit its own independent bid.

Instead, they used a blandly named cut-out, “International Development Solutions,” to retain a toehold into State’s lucrative security business. No one who looks at the official announcement of the contract award would have any idea that firm is connected to Blackwater... According to State’s statement, the contracting process for the new Worldwide Protective Services deal included a “review” to ensure that companies met “minimum criteria” for eligibility. “This review included a process to determine whether any offerors had been suspended or debarred from the award of federal contracts,” it said. Despite Blackwater guards killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, killing two Afghan civilians on a Kabul road in 2009, and absconding with hundreds of unauthorized guns from a U.S. military weapons depot in Afghanistan using the name of a South Park character, federal contracting authorities have never suspended or debarred Blackwater."

In her 2008 campaign statement, Hillary Clinton promised that she would not give out any more contracts to Blackwater. She certainly cannot pretend that she didn't know. Many people have found it troubling that we are increasingly contracting out jobs to mercenaries which our military can do a better job, especially guarding our embassies abroad. Also troubling is how quickly people like Hillary and Barack totally ignore these issues, implicitly accepting and condoning them. The State Dept says that it is combatting past abuses by providing for cultural awareness classes and finally banning the use of alcohol, which means that they are using government gobbldygook-speak showing they are just as insensitive and don't really care about your complaints - BFD  MTF's...

Hillary Clinton has been too busy issuing new sanctions against Iranians to take notice of much else, I wonder if she has noticed the impasse in the current Palestinian peace talks. It's clear that Israel needs to replace the right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu, after all, it really is no big deal to extend the construction moratorium in the West Bank until the after the talks are over. Barack Obama should offer to sit in on a couple of sessions, maybe that would help spur things along. I'm surprised that both sides didn't produce a basic agreement, a template to fill in the details during the coming months, but then that would look too concrete... It's plain to see that Israel will have to move at least 60,000 people out of the West Bank, the rest get to pay their rent to the Palestinians, so putting off that basic problem for as long as possible gives worth to doing something stupid like building more houses... Remember that Hillary voted to go to war with Iraq, and that she is a hawk more in favor of the Israeli position that the Palestinian one.

Let's see, we have issued new sanctions against Iranian companies, military Generals and government officials, frozen their bank accounts in European banks and one in the UAE. Four major oil companies are pulling out of energy projects, and it looks like the Japanese are too. Iranian shell companies are not allowed to do business throughout the Gulf area, nor in places like Crete. There is a computer virus infecting their nuclear program and has spread out to many more government computers, and they have arrested 30 people they say may be involved. Both the US and Israel have had roving groups in the southern oil fields, trying to sabotage whatever they could, and we have warships stationed in the Persian Gulf. We totally ignored Ahmadinejad when he came to New York and feigned moral outrage at the pranking remarks he made, instead of trying to have a conversation with him. If Obama had invited him, he would have responded, they could have had a near-beer together... Iran may well fall apart from within, as the different kinds of conservatives begin to snipe at each other, and all turn on Ahmadinejad like a cornered rat. He may well have wished he had claimed political asylum when he was here...

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