Tuesday, March 16, 2010

FOX Reports 3yr-old 60 Minutes Piece as Recent Anti-Terror Development

Both FOX News and The Jawa Report are reporting today that our military intelligence services have only now become aware of and are warning about terrorists on the web.

Mark Dubowitz of Fox says,
"Terrorist Internet sites are not only yelling fire in a crowded movie theatre, they are providing the match, the gasoline, and the arsonist.

Terrorists and rogue states are moving their battle to the Internet in a virtual war against liberal democracy. For too long, the United States and its allies have ignored the incitement and violent propaganda from Internet platforms operated by violent Islamist extremists.

Today, such neglect is not an option. As we have been warned by Harry Wingo -- a former Navy SEAL who now serves as Google's Washington, D.C. policy counsel-- "the code is mightier than the sword."

Internet code is an operational weapon used by terrorist groups to indoctrinate, recruit, train, and finance the next generation of terrorists. Terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas (with support, in some cases, from rogue states like Iran) use a vast and anonymous terrorist Web network as another front in their war against the West. These Web outlets should be treated as indistinguishable from the terrorist organizations that use them.
Dubowitz goes on to quote the Commanding General of the U. S. Army Intelligence Center, Major General John M. Custer III,
"I see 16, 17-year-olds who have been indoctrinated on the Internet turn up on the battlefield.” He describes Internet sites that look like current news sites. -- With a single click, you're at an active jihad attack site viewing small arms attacks. The next links take you to motivational sites, where mortar operatives and suicide bombers are pictured in heaven [providing] religious justification for mass murder.
The Jawa Report, Breaking: Terrorists on, Gasp!, The Internet, has the above and quotes FOX's Dubowitz.
Aggressive action is needed against these media properties. The goal: to shut down those sites that yield little actionable intelligence while infiltrating, monitoring and countering the more dynamic sites that serve as operational tools for the terrorists. An effective strategy should limit and discredit the jihadist message, deny safe haven to terrorists on the Internet, thwart their ability to obtain support from a vulnerable online population, and continue to monitor their communications on Web forums.
Jawa Howie then adds his own completely justifiable comment,
What an original idea! You've got to be kidding me? We've only had 8 1/2 years since 9-11 and the "Its Happening" website. We're just now getting this?

We Jawas may seem a bit frustrated by all the sudden attention to online terrorist propaganda and its consequences.

Well, if you had been screaming about it for years and years and years, and then finally people die (Fort Hood) and a slough of arrests take place and then ..... suddenly its important.
CBS 60 Minutes aired the report 3 years ago March 9, 2007. FOX quotes generously from the Scott Pelley interview with the Brig. Gen. John M. Custer III, including the quotes above without attribution or explanation. Though Custer would not discuss how many web sites his unit have destroyed, civilian anti-terror computer sleuth Aaron Weisburd working with the FBI, Homeland Security, and British Intelligence had shut down 1000 terror sites by 2007.

CBS reporter Daniel Shorn, in the written 60 Minutes report, says,

"Custer wouldn’t say anything at all about how the U.S. is fighting the Jihadi Internet online. But 60 Minutes found other Americans who have started their own counter attack. Aaron Weisburd joined the battle from his home in Illinois.

"I'm in Carbondale. In the middle of middle America. Waging war against them. It makes a very small world. What works in a cave in Afghanistan, you know, works in a living room in Carbondale," Weisburd says.

Weisburd was so angered by what he saw on the Web that he quit his job as a programmer and now spends every day attacking extremist websites.

His goal is to mess with them online. "Absolutely. In as many different ways as I can," he says.

And he says he's "sowing seeds of distrust."
This is the short 60 Minutes video with Custer and Weisburd -

Watch CBS News Videos Online, 60 Minutes
This is the entire 14 minute 60 Minutes segment -

Watch CBS News Videos Online, 60 Minutes
FOX News did not credit CBS, 50 Minutes, or Scott Pelley as the source of a major part of their story today. Neither did FOX indicate any time frame for the plagiarized portions leaving any reader with the impression The Jawa Report and Howie got - the US military is only now, after 8 1/2 years of active combat and thousands of dead, getting around to tracking and fighting terrorists online.

FOX is wrong in their reporting and the plagiarism. They are wrong to ignore the progress Major General John Custer and his personnel have made. It may not be as exciting as combat or as sexy as espionage, but his team and the many civilians working on their own dime have made advances that should not be belittled or disregarded. Especially not because the man's name is Custer, as some Jawa commenters have done.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


Howie said...

Thanks, linked.

Indigo Red said...

Happy to help, Howie. Thanks for the link!

Ismail said...

Aaron here. You know, it always pained me that 60 Minutes set up Custer - he wouldn't say what .mil was doing because he couldn't - it was classified - but already they were doing quite a lot. And then they segued to me as an example of what someone was doing - which was true enough - but as though USG in general and DoD in particular were doing nothing - which was simply not true.

Indigo Red said...

That was my impression, too, Aaron. 60 Minutes tends to trap folks. For me, I was somewhat aware of Gen Custer before the 60 Min piece from his association with Gen Stanley A. McChrystal when he was commanding the SOFs tracking OBL and the killing of Zarqawi. Lots of ops are still unknown to the public just as Bush said they would be - many unsung heroes.

Thanks for coming here, Aaron, and for the work you do.