Monday, April 12, 2010


There was a big tempest in a teapot that I missed last week when I was On The Road, apparently, over some gun camera footage revealed by an organization that calls itself Wikileaks.

Some angst out there over whether or not American attack helicopter crews are 'gaming' the Rules of Engagement and the Law of Land Warfare. If you ask me they're adhering to the ROE; and I'd give them a pass for firing up the guy pointing the shoulder-mounted TV camera at them - I know a guy who shot a man who was holding a video cassette box in his hand, on the grounds that it looked like an automatic pistol, and he wasn't even charged. Adrenalin does things like that to your peripheral vision.

Anyway here it is, you can look at it in it's entirety and judge for yourselves.

If you ask me this whole issue is Ultimate Armchair Quarterbacking and resides within the Dimension of Legaldom - and lawyers are the natural enemy of the warrior class. If I must offer an opinion based on the second-hand info presented here, I'd say we're talking about a war we won, against an enemy who was never held to the same rules with which we constrained ourselves.

When it comes to warfighting (or any kind of fighting) the Philosophy of Stormbringer draws upon the genius of Guderian: "Klotzen, nicht Kleckern!"

In other words proportionality works like this: they bring a knife, you bring a gun. They bring a gun, you call in Spectre AC-130 gunship. The current occupier of the Whitehouse agrees with me on this, apparently, or at least he talks a good game. Of course we all know how he talks out the side of his mouth.

In studying this material, I have no problem with the actions of the helicopter crews. Those outraged by this footage are grasping at straws if you ask me. If there is a war crime here, then I ask: is there a war crimes tribunal going on that I don't know about?

Something keeps bothering me, however; the video opens on a frame with a logo, and it says: "Wikileaks obtained and decrypted the video you are about to see."

The problem I have with this is: it is not possible to encrypt video.

Don't you remember that news story from about a month ago, where the Taliban were able to hack into the drone's signal and see the video that the drone could "see"?

This was no great technical feat - they were able to hack into it using computer interface skills, but there was no decryption required because . . . it is not possible to encrypt video.

More and more I say this is a tempest in a teacup.

Perhaps the file was zipped and bundled into secure software or something.




  1. But weren't the drone feeds unencrypted because of the lag decrypting them at command caused.
    That footage was shot more than 2 years ago and I seriously doubt that they've been decrypting it that long. They probably just received the encrypted video from some mole in the military.

  2. good thing they didnt follow me around with camaras, however not saying i didnt get in trouble for being a little mean on occaision. you always do what it take to get the right results, in some cases a little more forceable than others. seems to me the old way was easier why take them prisioner they would not do the same for one of ours. wounder how much paper work just to shoot, are we allow to use the press as bait in a hostile envoriment. isnt that what they are doing to our troops, those guys in the movies get to beat their prisioners. now we have a president who watches to many movies of mini seires, reality check the one that has the bigger rock and throws faster usually wins. and how come there is no video of the same folks with guns 5 min earlier, or did i miss the radio com saying that some one was taking small arms fire. how quickly we forget the boys saying that they were using hit and run tactics, like hitting our troops and taking off hiding when they hear air cover coming. i do remember seeing video showing this was happening, they still do it today across the battle field. so next question if you saw this in your neighborhood would you take the shot, i will say that the folks in the video did apear to be acting awful weird if they had nothing to hide. whos to say this wasnt the guy that was taking the pictures showing the insergents firing on american troops and then hidding their weapons and running. hey i might be on to something maybe?

  3. -AK47's and an RPG are clearly visible.
    -There was no way for the pilots to see into the van.
    -There were American soldiers wrapped up in a firefight nearby and it was entirely reasonable to presume this group was headed there. Even if they weren't they were armed in a combat zone.
    -It's called combat journalism for a reason. If you don't want to take a chance on getting shot get another job.
    -If you embed with an enemy we are in active combat with it's reasonable to assume that at some point they (and by extension, you) are going to get shot at.
    -The pilots did just fine. It's never a good thing when non-combatants get hurt or killed but The United States does a better job than anyone could expect, especially given the theatre, enemy ROE and conditions. I support them completely.

  4. Sorry, video can be encrypted. Don't ask me how I know.

    Their lag in getting their P.O.S. campaign with their edited video posted may have been syncing and decoding the video-stream, not decrypting it. There's a BIG difference. Ask NASA about encoding video, with the non-standard, missing Apollo 11 landing tapes. For video, you have frame rates, sync rates, different things like sync-on-green, etc. And the DoD does something different for every platform and data-link. Just getting the equipment to read the tape can be a real PITA.

    I absolutely agree, Wikileaks has an agenda, as well as the other agencies involved in this farce.

    Keep up the good work, you've got lots of friends out there watching and supporting you, and building neat toys for you.

  5. Adding to my previous comment about encrypting video...

    The video recorded on a platform such as helicopter or fixed-wing is not normally encrypted, but it is possible, with enough processing power. It's just not necessary, unless the video is being broadcast to another platform. The first comment about uncrypted drone data is correct as well, the encryption causes a delay in decryption, and there must be enough processing power on each end as well.

    Larger platforms... They have the power.

    BTW, the NSA Crypto Museum is a blast... Lots of neat stuff if you get the opportunity.

  6. Thank you all for the information & support - I'm being overrun by Trolls over at Frum Forum - so I'm borrowing liberally from your input here. "Team" - key word - "Team".

    And YES I have been to the NSA Museum. They have an original Enigma machine of course, and fascinating displays on Francis Gary Powers and the Pueblo Incident.

    Keepin' it real . . .

  7. Anonymous (of the encrypted video and NSA Museum comments) adds:

    I really liked the SIGSALY terminal: WWII grade encryption via vinyl records!

    Ne Iligetimii Corubundum
    (pig-Latin for Don't Let the Bastards Wear You Down)