LONDON (Reuters) – Invisible ink, false identities, secret codes.
At first sight the latest U.S.-Russian spy row seems a Cold War flashback, with the drama played out against a deceptively genteel backdrop of cafes, embassies and suburbs.
Adorned with the Internet-era gadgetry of 21st century modernity, the story told in court papers filed in New York poses a series of conundrums about sources, targets and contacts — as yet unsolved — redolent of 1970s and 1980s spy scandals.
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain, France and Germany must shun the use of intelligence from torture by third-party allies, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday, arguing the practice was not only illegal but also self-defeating for counter-terrorism.
In the long term, abuses in the name of fighting militancy feed the grievances that fuel radicalisation and recruitment to terrorism, the organisation said in a report “No Questions Asked: Intelligence Cooperation with Countries that Torture”.
LONDON (Reuters) – Western prisons could root out militant Islamism among inmates by adopting the more imaginative approaches to prisoners used in parts of the Middle East and Asia, a British study suggests.
The provision of religious advice and helping prisoners cultivate non-extremist social networks are among measures proposed in the study of prisons in 15 countries.
LONDON (Reuters) – The world transmits 2.8 million emails a second. Britons sent 60 billion text messages in 2009. Can Britain’s vast signals intercept operation, a pillar of its alliance with the United States, keep up?
The simple answer is no, at least not with traditional bugs and intercepts, says Richard Aldrich, author of a study of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) monitoring agency.
LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. goals in Afghanistan will be “incredibly hard” to achieve because of tough Taliban armed resistance and weaknesses in political reconciliation efforts, a U.N. official who monitors al Qaeda and the Taliban said.
In a Reuters interview, Richard Barrett added that Britain’s justification for deploying troops in Afghanistan on grounds of national security was “debatable”, as it was not clear that a post-war Taliban movement would bring back al Qaeda.
LONDON (Reuters) – Provided Kyrgyzstan does not descend into total chaos, its ethnic violence is unlikely to hand gains to militant Islamists whose creeping influence in central Asia is testing nerves from Moscow to Beijing.
Radical groups sympathetic to the Taliban or al Qaeda have had nothing to do with the unrest that has cost at least 176 lives since June 10 in the country’s worst clashes for 20 years.
LONDON (Reuters) – The U.S. government’s defences against foreign cyber-foes are “very much a close-run thing” but experience has quickened and toughened its response to attack, a veteran of the National Security Agency (NSA) said on Thursday.
“You are never going to be bullet-proof,” Prescott Winter, a former chief information officer and chief technology officer for the NSA, the world’s largest electronic eavesdropping agency, told Reuters on a visit to London.
LONDON (Reuters) – Undercover police spot a suspected suicide bomber apparently about to attack a crowd: They alert a commander, explaining the evidence is inconclusive.
Does the commander neutralize the threat by shooting dead a possibly innocent man, or go for an arrest, thereby alerting the man, who then explodes a device? The clock ticks unforgivingly.
AMMAN (Reuters) – U.S. special forces must avoid harming civilians in raids and realize that such operations are best handled by local allies, a U.S. general said on Monday in remarks on a topic of prominent concern in Afghanistan.
“Raids and kill/capture operations remain important. However, they must be precise,” Major-General Charles Cleveland, Commander of Special Operations for U.S. Central Command, told a conference in Jordan.
AMMAN, May 10 (Reuters) – U.S. special forces must avoid harming civilians in raids and realise that such operations are best handled by local allies, a U.S. general said on Monday in remarks on a topic of prominent concern in Afghanistan.
"Raids and kill/capture operations remain important. However, they must be precise," Major-General Charles Cleveland, Commander of Special Operations for U.S. Central Command, told a conference in Jordan.
"They must avoid producing civilian casualties. Indeed (such operations) are best executed by the forces of the affected countries."
Attending an international gathering on the future of special operations forces, Cleveland made his comments in a largely theoretical speech about the future of warfare. The passage on raids did not refer to any country in particular.
In March, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, said these forces would be permitted to carry out raids at night only when there were Afghan security forces present.
The order fell short of a total ban on raids at night sought by President Hamid Karzai, but would ensure such raids took place only with Afghans included in the planning.
TARGETING MUST BE "PRECISE"
Civilian deaths and injuries inflicted during operations by international forces have caused deep anger among Afghans. Analysts argue that such casualties encourage people to join the Taliban-led insurgency.
Cleveland argued that special operations forces were best suited to handling what many experts see as the increasingly prominent role of counter-insurgency in contemporary conflict.
Irregular warfare placed a premium on understanding and working with local populations, said Cleveland, whose area of responsibility includes Afghanistan. Where confrontation was unavoidable, accuracy in using force was essential, he said.
"Targeting must be precise, both in execution and in selection of timing and objective, and is executed best by forces from the affected country," he said.
He said local allies were important to the West in part because large overseas deployments were too expensive.
"The reality is that today there is no appetite for large foreign military footprint in anyone’s country.
"And moreover, the cost of sustaining such large forward deployed military formations represents a significant financial burden on contributing nations."
U.S. special forces still had a long way to go to master warfare in the emerging "human domain" of counter-insurgency, he said, but he added that recent evidence from Afghanistan and Iraq showed special forces were best suited for this new style of conflict.
Asked by Reuters if missile attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles complicated the work of special forces by stirring up anti-U.S. sentiment among local populations, he replied that it depended on how such strikes were explained to local people.
"It depends on the location and frankly how the use of that particular technology has been framed for the local population."
He added, in answer to a question, that giving the host country a role in drone attacks would go "in line" with the requirement for more local involvement in conflict, but there was a complication with confidentiality.
"The industry issue here is how do you give capability without giving away secrets. That’s part of the challenge."
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)