TagOsama bin Laden

How Osama bin Laden Used E-Mail Without An Internet Connection

According to the Associated Press’ sources, Osama bin Laden routinely typed e-mails on an Internet-less computer in his compound, saved them to a USB thumbdrive and had a courier e-mail them from cybercafes in nearby towns. Apparently this went on for years, undetected. According to the AP, Navy SEALS found about 100 flash drives that apparently contain series of these e-mail communications.

This is what’s referred to as a sneakernet, and as Internet crackdowns occur all over the world, it may become an increasingly popular way for people to communication.

A couple years ago, in these very pages, Trevor Blake wrote:

Now is a good time to establish lines of electronic communication that are not entirely (if at all) reliant on the Internet as it currently exists. Hand delivery of a stack of media is still one of my favorites. At a certain point it the best bit-per-second value known, it has certain privacy features that can’t be beat and it requires very little technical know-how or fancy equipment or money. For all the gnostic freakout of The Matrix, the scene where a disreputable character knocks on Mr. Anderson’s door and passes him a data disc might be the most prophetic.

Learning about cryptography, fidonet and the postal system won’t do anyone any harm. Nothing beats trusted person-to-person connections established in many only-partially overlapping social / professional circles.

Despite the Death of Osama bin Laden, the Terrorists are STILL Winning

A week ago today it was announced that the U.S. had assassinated Osama bin Laden – an unarmed, sickly 54-year-old man who had eluded us for 13 years. I shed no tears for bin Laden, and have no illusions about the practicality of putting him on trial (though I do think that would have been the right thing). But was it a triumph for the U.S.? Hardly. Before we managed to track this man down and kill him, we as a nation have spent trillions of dollars on a multi-front war, stripped our own citizens of civil liberties and generally made fools of ourselves.

The latest example: We have to take off our shoes to go through airport security. We can’t carry more than 3.4oz of liquids or gels. We go through full body scanners, or subject ourselves to pat-downs. And yet, we still don’t feel safe. When two guys dressed in traditional Muslim garb get on a plane, we lose our shit.

That’s not the sign of a brave, powerful country. It’s the sign of a nation of cowards. The death of Osama bin Laden wasn’t a great victory. I shed no tears for bin Laden, but it’s hard to feel triumphant today when he’s accomplished what he set out to do. The U.S. is an empire in decline – broke and both unable and unwilling to provide for its own people. Meanwhile, we cower in fear at the sight of unattended packages, blinking LEDs and dudes with beards. Putting a bullet in bin Laden’s brain at this point was an exercise in futility. It’s hard to look tough when you shoot an unarmed man and then refuse to get on an airplane, even after you’ve body scanned every single person boarding the plane.

In 2006 Bruce Schneier wrote that the only way to beat the terrorists is to refuse to be terrorized. It’s cliché to say at this point, but yes, the terrorists have won. Until we grow a proverbial pair, stop gloating about unremarkable political assassinations and get on a fucking plane with some people who look different than we do, they will continue to win.

What’s it going to be America?

Interview with Adam Parfrey from 2002

Extreme Islam was produced primarily to get across an idea that wasn’t disseminated widely in American culture — to show how strong the [fundamentalist Muslim] belief system is and how unmanageable it is, considering there are tens or possibly hundreds of millions of people sharing these ideas. America has to come to grips with the intensity of their beliefs. Any conflict with them will not be resolved by simply saying we’re great guys, we believe in democracy.

I believe Osama bin Laden, if you examine the Koran, is closer to the Koran and the prophet Mohammed’s beliefs than the hope that Islam can be democratic. It’s not a very democratic belief system. To say that it is comes out of a wish that has nothing to do with Islam. It comes from the idea that everything good has to do with democracy or democratic ideals. Well, there are different ideals at work in the world, and we need to come to grips with that.

Full Story: Reason.

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