Category Archives: History

Cyber Yankee: U.S. Cyber Marines in Cyber Team Cyber War

Cyber War. It’s long been used to scare Americans into spending money. The military is again talking about protecting the country from disasters by training on cyber (information technology).

Who can forget, for example, the 2022 NYT opinion piece alarmingly titled:

I’ve Dealt With Foreign Cyberattacks. America Isn’t Ready for What’s Coming.

It’s been crickets since then, and rightfully so. In fact, Cyberattacks have been the exact opposite of such predictions with Russia losing badly and nobody really talking about it — a blog post for another day.

So let’s take a look one again at allocation of risk resources versus reality of disaster in America.

First, to properly set context, in a non-military operation to prevent fireworks on Independence Day (a widespread tradition, despite southern American states since losing the Civil War have considered 4th of July as a Black holiday), we see the Bay Area firefighters this year partnered with law enforcement to run “zero-tolerance” enforcement.

Last year, authorities promised to crack down on the use of illegal fireworks by issuing a “zero-tolerance policy” in counties where fireworks were already illegal, The Chronicle reported. This year, authorities were expected to do the same. [Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jon] Heggie said Cal Fire departments were coordinating with local, state and federal agencies to create task forces intended to prevent the use of illegal fireworks. Anyone caught with illegal fireworks could be fined up to $50,000 and sent to jail for up to one year, according to Cal Fire.

It seems to have been a roaring success as I’ve found exactly zero fires reported due to fireworks. In fact, I’ve seen and heard almost zero fireworks.

Second, that’s in stark contrast to the regular news about fires.

I mean everyone surely knows how a privately-run power utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PGE) in California has been very weakly regulated despite massive repeated disasters.

Starting fires all over the place for decades, seemingly all the time killing Americans, hasn’t been stopped by local authorities and the military certainly hasn’t been called in.

The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reported that investigators attributed more than 1,500 fires to PG&E power lines and hardware between June 2014 and December 2017. CAL FIRE attributed 12 fires that started in Northern California on October 8 and 9, 2017 to PG&E power equipment.

It’s unbelievably just how constant disaster has become, literally synonymous with critical infrastructure in the U.S. Is there an oil rig or tanker around. Expect a devastating spill. Did a power line run through some remote wilderness? Expect a devastating fire.

The biting analysis could go on for years, there’s so much evidence of critical infrastructure being a giant dumpster fire with little to no real safety.

Over 1,500 California fires in the past 6 years — including the deadliest ever — were caused by one company: PG&E. Here’s what it could have done but didn’t.

It has a real and present danger (including but not limited to wrongful death, personal injuries, property loss, and business losses), which is so very unlike cyber. Here’s a headline you WON’T see…

U.S. Marines Protecting California from critical infrastructure business management — threat to national security is coming from inside.

Third, in other words, it seems like on the 4th of July in the Bay Area you would need only to drive a big truck with PGE logos full of fireworks and you could launch all you want wherever you want. Just make sure you don’t put the word “cyber” on anything and it will be seen as business as usual for critical infrastructure.

In fact under the logos you could write “Go ahead and fine us again, we don’t care” as the motto of the privately-run power utility; nobody is going to call the Marines in to defend America from obvious and present disaster… unless of course you put the word “cyber” on anything.

Did I mention PGE is privately-run? The wealthy owners faced upwards of $30 billion in fines from its disasters over just three years (2015–2018) and all they did was declare bankruptcy for ONE YEAR.

This is like Cyber War destroying PG&E ability to distribute power (even killing people and destroying homes and businesses) and the company announcing it will simply pay some fines and declare bankruptcy for a year then declare everything back to normal. Who need a military to train for that?

How bad can any Cyber War really be compared to ongoing existing disasters, seriously?

Is it any wonder we hear about “22 mayors, including San Jose’s, pushing to make PG&E customer owned” so it can be less of a threat to security.

And so (fourth), now let’s dig in a bit more to a National Interest story at hand about the U.S. Marines gearing up to defend America from “disaster”.

During a conflict with the United States, an opponent could try to disrupt power and water supplies by knocking regional power supplies off-line or cutting off access to running water. In response to this challenge, the Marine Corps is working with National Guard units to prepare for this challenge. […] “They vary in levels of sophistication from a cyber-criminal or hacktivist that is doing nothing more than low risk access attempts that can be mitigated by very simple security controls and elevate all the way up to the most advanced threat act or using sophisticated means of initiating access with stealthy movement throughout the IT enclave and into the operational technology enclave where the critical infrastructure is located,” [cyberspace operations chief of the Marine Innovation Unit, M Sgt. Mike] McAllister continued.

Oh no, a hacktivist! Wonder if that includes a mayor who would be trying a hack to protect his city from PG&E-led dangers.

Can you image the U.S. Marines being called in on behalf of a morally and literally bankrupt privately-run utility, to stop citizens and their leaders from defending against national security risks posed by those utilities?

Sounds like Guatemala, or Hawaii for that matter.

This is a topic I’ve worked on for ages, even inside the world’s leading response teams, and I have seen the worst of it. That’s probably why I see cyber much like Eisenhower described things in the 1950s: a funding sinkhole (congressional-military-industrial complex) begging for massive cash and time allocations when other areas of safety and security are in far greater need.

When the president’s brother asked about the dropped reference to Congress, the president replied: “It was more than enough to take on the military and private industry. I couldn’t take on the Congress as well.”

If firefighters and police can completely shut down fireworks to protect the country from disaster, let them go after the utilities too. The military probably wouldn’t even have to be involved in Cyber (just like they aren’t involved in fires) if American civic action to stop harms from giant private companies like bulk energy was in any way effective.

Related: “Was Stuxnet the First?

Medal of Honor for Major John J. Duffy

A recurring theme in Duffy’s new MOH award statement is repeatedly taking on more responsibility to benefit others, courageously disregarding self, a remarkably caring leader even under the most extreme pressure even from an enemy battalion.

In the two days preceding the events of 14 to 15 April 1972, the commander of the 11th Airborne Battalion was killed, the battalion command post was destroyed, and Major Duffy was twice wounded but refused to be evacuated. Then on 14 April, Major Duffy directed the defense of Fire Support Base Charlie, which was surrounded by a battalion-size enemy element. […] With the goal of a complete withdrawal, Major Duffy was the last man off the base, remaining behind to adjust the covering fire from gunships until the last possible moment. When the acting battalion commander was wounded, he assumed command of the evacuation and maintained communication with the available air support to direct fire on the enemy. […] Only after ensuring all of the evacuees were aboard, did Major Duffy board while also assisting a wounded friendly foreign soldier in with him. Once on board, he administered aid to a helicopter door gunner who had been wounded during the evacuation.

I would argue this is the definition of “type A” personality, to give up anything so that others may have something.

The Army page points out Duffy was very highly decorated for his four years in Vietnam, including 1972 special advisor for Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) Team 162 “Red Hats”; and for his poetry.

…honored with 64 awards and decorations, 29 of which are for valor, including the Distinguished Service Cross (currently in final stages to an upgrade), the Soldier’s Medal, four Bronze Stars with “Valor” device, eight Purple Hearts, seven Air Medals (six with “Valor” device), three Army Commendation Medals with “Valor” device, the Cross of Gallantry with Palm (Vietnam’s highest award for valor), two Crosses of Gallantry with Silver Stars, one Presidential Unit Citation (Naval), three Presidential Unit Citations (Army), the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Palm (Unit), the Vietnam Valorous Service Medal (Unit), the Combat Infantry Badge, Master Parachutist Wings, plus numerous other awards for service and merit. […] Duffy has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and has published six books of poetry. Two of his poems were selected to be inscribed on monuments, and others appear in countless publications and anthologies.

The Forward Air Controller
by John J. Duffy
Dedicated 2008 FAC Memorial Park
(With MOH Bud Day present)
Colorado Springs, CO

It is the lonely mission,
The Forward Air Controller.
His are the eyes above the battle.
His is the link to those below.

While others avoid and strike fast,
He lingers and trolls for contact,
Seeking out the enemy below,
Determining the strike force needed.

His is the job to control the air attack.
He determines the needs of the troops,
And works the airstrike margins.
His judgement is relied upon by all.

Watching a “FAC” roll in hot on target,
All guns blazing at his destruction,
Is to watch a man of courage in action.
This is the daily job of the “FAC”.

U.S. “foreign internal defense was the hottest mission set”

An article about the importance of the U.S. troops understanding foreign languages has this buried lede:

…foreign internal defense was the hottest mission set, and every unit — even Navy SEALs and Delta Force, which tend to focus on direct-action operations — jumped at the opportunity to conduct it in order to be deployed.

It makes the military sound geared towards being highly competitive on budget to be sent far away, which seems ironically contradictory to core concepts of internal defense values (collaborative and local).

Also it reminds me of the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), which was chartered 5 June 1916 to better “understand” foreign languages within and around the British colonial empire.

In other words during the height of WWI the hottest mission set was to train officials (e.g. spies) for overseas postings who would maintain and expand British influence and resist German sabotage. One might even say this training for internal defense is what laid the foundation for the English expression “101”.

Cryptocurrencies are digital blood diamonds, driverless cars are digital munitions

For many years now I’ve been telling people cryptocurrency is a modern form of blood diamonds.

One of the important lessons from Nazi Germany and its derivative regimes like the South African apartheid government (e.g. two countries where Peter Thiel is from) is that money laundering can be a powerful means of evading global sanctions against rights violations (e.g. how Peter Thiel made his fortunes at PayPal).

It therefore should be obvious from history lessons that cryptocurrency serves a well-known anti-humanitarian pattern. Or maybe it’s easier to see the problem as popularized in “fascist pig” movies and books.

He has vices. He doesn’t have any real virtues. If you think James Bond is a fascist pig then Fleming seems largely on your side.

A very long time ago a bank that ran a large regional power company (common in America) called me to consult on security as ethics. Their risk team asked me if they should approve a plan for excess power generation during idle production to be poured into an on-site Bitcoin mining operation.

My answer was a simple question: “Do you really want to fund ICBM development in North Korea?” I guess I could have asked if they wanted to generate more fascist pigs.

The bank seemed genuinely surprised, which reminded me of the Sierra Leone lyric

I thought my Jesus piece was so harmless
’til I seen a picture of a shorty armless

They asked a few questions, thanked me for explaining international history, and said they had to reject the plan.

Fast forward to today and more and more proof of the problem finally is reaching the news.

North Korea Used Crypto to Hack Its Way Through the Pandemic. The isolated country continues to find ways to evade sanctions and generate income while operating on the fringes of the global financial system.

To be fair blood diamonds for money laundering are just the start of the problem… the laundered money is used for laundered technology sold by Americans.

That’s why I often remind people the American NRA played an essential role in South Africa by importing guns to prop up the illegal white police state in direct violation of international sanctions.

Now who is the digital NRA?

So maybe think of crypto even more as digital blood diamonds to buy digital arms, such as access to algorithms in a Tesla to kill people by weaponizing cars.

As I’ve said in my presentations for at least a decade, it’s far easier these days to direct 40,000 loitering “driverless” vehicles (really munitions) to destroy a city than to launch missiles from far away.

American Cowboy Hat True Origins: The Mexican Sombrero

“Do these Mexican hats make us look Mexican?”

An interesting note in True West magazine is that the cowboy hat was a product of shameless appropriation — white immigrants stealing everything they could from Mexicans.

As Texian cattlemen appropriated Mexican cattle and land, they adopted elements of the vaquero’s working attire. Modern buckaroos throughout the Southwest inherited much of their forebearers’ culture, including their name—an imprecise rendering of the word vaquero.

The dimensions of the sombrero overwhelmed the anglo interlopers who wore small-billed caps, slouch hats, bowlers and derbies. In 1865, Philadelphia hatmaker John B. Stetson designed a more modest version that still sheltered its wearer from the sun and rain. Stetson’s “Boss of the Plains,” originally a hand-felt design meant to amuse traveling companions on a tour of the American West, quickly became the first, and arguably the most distinct, identifiable part of a cowboy’s ensemble.

And on a related note, Atlas Obscura wants us to know the bad guys wore white hats (if not hoods).

Go digging into the history of black hats vs. white hats, and you’ll find that good guys wore black, bad guys wore white. “There is no trope or consistency in who wears white or black,” says Peter Stanfield, who’s studied the B-westerns of the 1930s.

For one obvious example, the “legend of the West” and lawman (Sheriff and Marshall) Bat Masterson wore the true working-man’s hat, the British black bowler.

Source: USPS Commemorative Stamp

In fact the black bowler was by far the most popular hat in the West and favored by cowboys and railroad workers for its obvious advantages — designed in 1840s as protective gear for hard-riding British horsemen it was firmly fitted to the head and durable. No wonder Butch Cassidy, Black Bart, Billy the Kid, Curly Howard, Shemp Howard, Roscoe Arbuckle, Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy… all were known to wear the bowler.

Some might even argue the Stetson “American cowboy” hat company fame came directly from combining the British bowler tough guy design with the Mexican sombrero hot sun features (sombra in Spanish means “shade”), yet that also traces back to the British.

Miller Christys’ hat factory in Frampton Cotterell (moved near Bristol from London “as a result of labour troubles”) indeed recorded that it had fought a patent dispute against J. B. Stetson and WON the case.

The British hat maker had designed their wide brimmed fur felt hats long before Stetson, for the 1800s slave plantation “Boss” in the West Indies.

Source: Leverhulme Trust project “Runaway Slaves in 18th century Britain”, University of Glasgow.
Source: British Online Archives

Christys barely mention this major detail on their history page where they also show the “Boss” design that Stetson obviously took from them.

1849 The Bowler hat is invented by Lock & Co and The Bowler Brothers. Christys, from its factory in Bermondsey, London, becomes one of the largest manufacturers of this iconic British styles.

[…]

1886: JB Stetson visits the Christys’ Stockport [Manchester, England] factory and writes to enquire ‘How Christys maintains such a productive workforce? Stetson use Christys’ design for the Ten Gallon hat – for which Christys received an on-going royalty.

The original “Ten gallon” hat designed by Christys was stolen by Stetson. He was forced to pay royalties after being sued in court. Source: Christys’ official history pages

Stetson literally had to pay a foreign company a license fee to market his most famous hat that Americans somehow were led to believe wasn’t entirely foreign (when really both Christys and Stetson should have paid far more respect to Mexican hat makers).

I have yet to see anyone in America really admit the point that a slave plantation “Boss” hat of Christys is where Stetson even got his idea for a “Boss of the Plains” marketing campaign WHEN U.S. CIVIL WAR ENDED.

That’s right, in 1865 the Civil War is over and slavery is abolished. That was the year Stetson claims to have started his design — appropriation of a British felt big brimmed “Boss” design that symbolized riches for a white population, based on violent power to expropriate labor and wealth from enslaved people.

It’s easy to explain why, as some historians already have in books like How the South Won the Civil War:

Once Reconstruction ended, and with it black voting in the south, Republicans looked west. Anti-lynching and voting rights legislation lost because of the votes of westerners, and new states aligned for decades more “with the hierarchical structure of the south than with the democratic principles of the civil war Republicans”, thanks to their reliance on extractive industries and agribusiness. […] [Pro-slavery politicians] mythologized the cowboy, self-reliant and tough, making his way in the world on his own”, notably ignoring the brutal work required and the fact that about a third of cowboys were people of color.

Reagan, George W. Bush, Trump all have tried to convey themselves as “cowboy” Presidents, meaning embrace of a Southern plutocracy/oligarchy-wild west grabbing and conquering approach to governance.

The character “Hoss” on the fictional TV show “Bonanza” (1959-1973) helped to popularize a British slave plantation hat based on a Mexican design as somehow being American.

Americans today thus should probably associate their “cowboy hat” with a desire to continue Civil War more than anything, which isn’t any kind of secret if you peruse flyers from domestic terror groups.

Source: Skousen manual for white militias

You might be wondering where the two “dimples” on the top of a Stetson came into being… but yet again the Mexicans wore a pinched sombrero, long before Stetson stole that idea too.

Anyway the next time someone in security calls themselves a white hat, perhaps ask them if they meant to say the dumb bad guy “Boss” wearing a British imitation of a Mexican idea.

Which sombrero indicates the bad guy?

As I wrote here a while ago…

…Texas “exceptionalism” and “frontier” spirit meant slavery. Again, Texas was Mexico until white immigrants came with slaves and said no white man could survive the harsh conditions without non-whites to do all the hard work for them. They usurped power and seceded from Mexico (and later from America) just to avoid hard work and keep slaves instead. Being “free to be stupid” is thus a dog-whistle to slavery, which is not freedom at all.