[Ryan Lackey in Iraq] Wiring the War Zone

Peter Thoenen eol1 at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 25 10:30:37 PDT 2005

> What he's doing is supplying US soldiers with an independent,
> uncensored and unreviewed channel through which they can find
> out outside views of the war, information which their superiors
> won't pass down to them, and a means by which they can
> pass back their own views and opinions. Frankly, I'm suprised
> the brass are letting him do it.

Now that is the biggest line of shit I have heard in a while, enough that I am
actually motivated to respond.  Troops are NOT (I say again NOT) being filter
from political sites in any way / shape / form.  I have worked Bosnia (SFOR),
Kosovo (KFOR), and for the past year in Iraq (MNFI).  Current working on some
sensor systems but handled Information Assurance (govspeak for network security
to include site filtering) for the entire Balkans theatre and have a good
working relationship with the guy in country doing it for Iraq.  CENTCOM has a
clear (and heavily enforced) policy on web filtering and political websites are
cleared mandated as being ALLOWED.  There is a arbitration process incase your
favorite I Hate Bush site is being blocked by some other category (most likely
'Hate' or 'Personal Website') to get it unblocked.  The military does NOT
categorize all of this, has better things to do.  Websense handles all this. 
Any false positives are clearly in there folk and effects anybody who uses
their product.

Troops are purchasing independent access not to get around political censorship
but to get around corporate (military in this case) usage policies, e.g. we
block most (would like to get all but not going to happen) software download
sites, sex, instance messenger, bandwidth intensive items (mp3's, video's, etc
etc), VOIP ... items troops want.  They also want a connection in their hooches
where they can chat back home, use VOIP, webcam with the families, download
gigs of porn and music, and play games.  This is not a censorship issue.

> Would you rather the soldiers rely on Stars & Stripes for info
> on the changing situation back home?

Thats unfair.  Stars and Stripes is highly accurate of the situation 'back
home' and does a good job reporting them surprisingly.  You get week long
flamewars going on in the editorial over very non-PC items (worthlessness of
national guard / reserve units, dying for oil, bring on troops home, etc).  The
simply sad fact of the matter is the majority of the troops truely believe Fox
is the gospel and watch is 24x7 religiously.  Hell, they even webcast Fox over
the SIPRNET now just incase you are in a location that doesn't get AFN.

> If anything, what Ryan's doing advances the so-called
> 'cypherpunk agenda' more than anything being done at the

He is doing nothing of the sort.  He is doing the same thing as me and
countless of others, making money.  I work as a merc, he's a war profiteer ...
same shit different name.  At least I am stealing from the tax payer in an
abstracted way (or as I look at it, getting my money back ... I will die in the
black ... the government will have paid out more money to me that I have paid
in to them), he is taking it right out of lonely kids who miss their families
pockets.  That crazy profit he is making is buying ripping folks off.  He is
dropping something along the lines of 500 folk per 1 MB link WITH total
bandwidth caps and restrictions all while charging them a hundred or two a
month (not counting the initial install / equipment charge).

While I am here though, let me rant a bit about the article and once again
state how much I despise Wired magazines coverage of anything.  Might as well
just print IRC chat logs and call it a magazine.

"Inside, everything is painted black" -> No there not.

"crew chief distributes earplugs" -> only because your a journalist.  If you
were some Jo or a contractor you either bring your own or do without.  This is
not standard SOP.  Big sign at LP says 'Bring your own hearing protection'

"But not too far.  Blackhawks fly just 100 feet above the ground, at 200 mph.
It's a smooth, exhilarating ride, landscape zooming past like a dream of
flying" -> Also bullshit.  I fly these things weekly all over the country. 
Smooth sometimes, exhilarating never, hot yes.  As for low level, we aren't in
the cold war dodging radar here.  The helo's fly usually up around a thousand
feet (not 100 like you seem thing) as part of SOP ... the biggest worry here is
ground fire, not aircraft.  Flying low will get you killed.

"In a freak accident at the helipad, the rotor wash hurls one of the boxed
satellite dishes into Lackey's chest like a massive Frisbee. His armor saves
him from anything worse than bruises." -> Give me a break.  How exactly does a
'boxed' dish look like a Frisbee (implies round).  I install 2 and 3 meter
dishes about once a month (and we fly them out also) .. they ain't going
anywhere with the helo wash.  Armored saved him from anymore than bruises my
ass.  Would like to see those bruises.

"After five minutes in the midday Iraqi sun, metal can sear an ungloved hand"
-> No it can't.  Nobody here uses gloves (just to damn hot) and nobody gets
burned.  Metal gets hot sure but not that hot.

"The iDirect system is robust enough for Iraq's extreme heat, dust, and wind,
and even handles  voice-over-IP calls." -> Nice product placement.  They might
also want to mention any satellite provider (and there are a bunch, they make
it sound like he is the only game intown) with an off the shelf UHF dish can do
all this.

"He winds up stranded at Warhorse for two days before catching a ride back to
Anaconda on an armored convoy. This means spending an hour in the back of a
truck traveling through some of the most active insurgent territory in Iraq."
-> My ass. Any flight that requires moving equipment requires an AMR.  You
can't miss an AMR, they will wait for you.  Also, there are flights between
Annaconda and Warhorse multiple times a day, daily.  As for convoy, thats utter
bullshit.  Military will NOT (I repeat NOT) led civilians ride in military
convoys anymore (to damn hot and bad press when killed).  No commander will
sign that risk.  You will be told to wait till you can catch a helo.  Got stuck
at a truly remote base for two weeks once waiting on a flight.  

"Back in Anaconda, he has to deal with Blue Iraq's literal cash flow problem.
The military pays in greenbacks, meaning he routinely has to fly on a cargo
plane to deposit thick wads of currency at his bank in Dubai." -> Or just go to
bank at the green zone and make a deposit.  If he is going to Dubai, its for
pleasure (Los Vegas of the Middle East, gambling, drinking, drugs, whores on

Wired, you don't have make a dull article about just another ISP in Iraq into a
war romance porn novel.  Get your facts straight and learn how to report.


"I think everyone understands that it's getting better every day.  Or course, every nation that's got IEDS and drive-by shootings and suicide bombers definitely got some security issues" -LTC Gibler, Mosul, IQ 05MAY30

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