CIA Red Cell

This is a fascinating glimpse into the history and practices of the CIA’s “Red Cell” group.


“Nobody [but Phoebe Maltz Bovy] Wants To Take Your Guns”

As additional evidence of what we are repeatedly told isn’t the case, in fact, being the case, New Republic ran Phoebe Maltz Bovy’s article articulating a specific desire to “take all the guns” on December 10th. Rather than point out the speciousness of Bovy’s absurdist call for action, I’m going to just assume this is click-baiting on behalf of New Republic, and not meant to be taken seriously by anyone. I think that’s rather generous of me.

For future reference, the difference between “trolling” and “click-baiting” is that, in the case of “click-baiting”, there is a financial motive to sell more ads. That said, trolling seems a less crass and more noble pursuit.

Subject Matter Expertise

As can be expected these days, the cable news networks are filling the pipelines of media with hour after hour of coverage of the latest “gun-related” tragedy, the terror attack in San Bernardino. And as can be expected, a sizable percentage of the folks invited to run their gobs on said cable news networks are getting a sizable percentage of the facts dead wrong.

CNN’s infographics department ran this image, describing the armament found in the now-dead suspects’ home:


In the event you aren’t remotely familiar with firearms terminology, the very idea that there are “.9mm rounds”, “.223mm rounds” or “.22mm” rounds is laughable. Get out a metric tape measure, and try to see just how tiny these sizes would be. Basic fact checking isn’t for everyone, I guess.

Meanwhile, Gregg Jarrett, a Fox News commentator, described the California-mandated “bullet button” as being a “modification” which allows the gun user to insert the tip of a round of ammunition into it, thus converting the gun from a semi-automatic, legal rifle into a death-spraying full-auto “assault weapon”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The “bullet button” required on Scary Black Rifles in California actually serves one function; it makes standard reloading of a magazine more difficult, by necessitating the use of a tool in order to eject the magazine, above and beyond simply pressing the magazine release button.

You know, I understand that cable news wants to sell ads, so they need to fill the dead air in between those ads with jabbering pertinent to $recent_tragedy, but it wouldn’t be that hard to do a little vetting of the sources they invite to fill that dead air, so as to make sure that people passing themselves off as “subject matter experts” were, at the very least, not completely subject-illiterate. Instead, they’re filling the air with the laughable and absurd rantings of “Subject Matter Know-Nothings”. That doesn’t bode well for the “national conversation” we’re all being beseeched to engage in. There’s a very simple rule that applies; if you don’t know the answer to a question, please take the opportunity to just shut your mouth. And if you’re not sure whether or not you know the answer, I assure you, you don’t.

Russian Script Kiddies.

My home server is Apache, and sees fairly sparse traffic. Still, I’m constantly seeing IP addresses that resolve to Russian control in the log files, looking for whatever they can find in “/admin/” or “/manager/”, then leaving disappointed. Today, I set up a special treat for them; now they can see themselves when they visit the ‘/admin/’ directory at any of the sites I run from home. Here’s how:

echo 'Most recent assholes to check for an administrative app at this URL:'
tail -n500 /var/log/apache2/access_log | grep -v "my_ip_address" | grep '/admin/' | awk '{ print $2 }'

First, I knocked up the script shown above, which I named “”, and placed it in a “safe” executable location. It should be fairly obvious what this script does, but if you’re not familiar with scripting, the ‘echo’ line prints that statement that follows it, then I “tail” the last 500 lines of my web server access log, exclude all instances of my own IP address, and include only access log lines generated by people looking for the ‘admin’ directory, finally using awk to print only the second field of the access_log entries, which in my instance of apache, happens to be the originating IP address a request was made from.

Then I created a subdirectory in the web documents directory called “admin“, and added the following chunk of PHP to a file in that directory called “index.php“:

$output = shell_exec('/pathtomyscript/');
echo "<pre>$output</pre>";

Finally, I spiced it up a little and added the other template crap, which includes my CSS formatting info, the surrounding text, images, etc. from my normal PHP page format, so it looks a little prettier.

If this continues to be a problem, I may automate the process of adding firewall rules preventing people from looking in the /admin/ directory, but for now, this should do.

The Dumbest Thing I’ve Read in Months, if not All Year

Senator Harry Reid issued a “press release” insisting that Congress act to close the “terrorist loophole” that:

“allows FBI terror suspects to buy guns and explosives legally, without background checks. As we speak, a terrorist on the FBI’s terror watch list can walk into a gun show in your hometown and buy as many AK-47s and explosives as they need to commit the kind of mass, heinous slaughter of innocents we witnessed in Paris and which we know terrorists want to perpetrate here in America.”

I’ve got better things to do with my time than unpacking the multiple layers of deception he’s engaging in here, but the short version would be something along these lines: fully automatic weapons and explosives, the likes of which that were used in the Paris attack,  are highly regulated, and not available at gun shows or gun stores. Period. There is no “terrorist loophole” that allows the legal purchase of these things by terror suspects. Claims to the contrary, particularly given a Congress that he knows won’t pass this sort of ridiculous and unnecessary legislation, are little more than moral posturing through deception. Now, the question as to why Reid chose to engage in this deception, right now, is a more interesting one. If I had to guess, I’d say he’ll see a cash inflow soon from the sort of people who believe in propagating the deception he’s peddling here.