View Full Version : U.S. Military Secrets for Sale at Afghan Bazaar

04-10-2006, 02:14 PM
U.S. Military Secrets for Sale at Afghan Bazaar (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-disks10apr10,0,7789909.story?coll=la-home-headlines)

...A reporter recently obtained several drives at the bazaar that contained documents marked "Secret." The contents included documents that were potentially embarrassing to Pakistan, a U.S. ally, presentations that named suspected militants targeted for "kill or capture" and discussions of U.S. efforts to "remove" or "marginalize" Afghan government officials whom the military considered "problem makers."

The drives also included deployment rosters and other documents that identified nearly 700 U.S. service members and their Social Security numbers, information that identity thieves could use to open credit card accounts in soldiers' names....

...Other documents on the computer drives listed senior Taliban commanders and "facilitators" living in Pakistan. The Pakistani government strenuously denies allegations by the Afghan government that it is harboring Taliban and other guerrilla fighters.

An August 2004 computer slide presentation marked "Secret" outlined "obstacles to success" along the border and accused Pakistan of making "false and inaccurate reports of border incidents." It also complained of political and military inertia in Pakistan.

Half a year later, other documents indicated that little progress had been made. A classified document from early 2005 listing "Target Objectives" said U.S. forces must "interdict the supply of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) from Pakistan" and "interdict infiltration routes from Pakistan."

A special operations task force map highlighting militants' infiltration routes from Pakistan in early 2005 included this comment from a U.S. military commander: "Pakistani border forces [should] cease assisting cross border insurgent activities."...

04-11-2006, 05:30 AM
F- that sucks.

I've seen every bad infosec habit there is... Personal jump drives being used, then misplaced or lost; E-6's writing reports in their hooch on personal computers... It's simply laziness disguised as "doing what it takes to get the job done".

04-11-2006, 12:43 PM
Look we know this is the best thing to happen.
But something simple, besides a control factor of the people in control of sensitive items would help.
But with Computer file or drives need to be encrypted to some point. One thing, even if the Gov't doesn't "approval"" EFS, they would help out, at least in the basic needs.
Encrypting File System (EFS) protects against attackers who physically obtain the computer and try to go a "steal" them.

Microsoft even has a "How to" enable Encrypting File System file sharing on their Support Web site.

My .02

04-12-2006, 08:05 AM
12 April - U.S. Military Looks Into Data Sales in Afghanistan (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-disks12apr12,1,4643052.story?coll=la-headlines-world).

... The U.S. military said Tuesday that it was looking into reports that computer drives containing military data, some marked "secret," were available for as little as $20 in a bazaar outside its biggest base, and soldiers were visible making rounds there. But once they passed, at least two shopkeepers still offered memory drives for sale.

They were from military intelligence," said the one with the hidden shelf as he pulled out the plastic bag containing four drives. "They won't be able to do anything," he added, with a dismissive wave of his hand.

Nearby, another fence displayed two memory drives that he said an Afghan worker on the base delivered to him after a shift change Tuesday morning. He invited a shopper to return today, when he expected four more drives to arrive...

One shop owner said he "washed" the drives, meaning that he erased the contents, in case U.S. soldiers came looking.

But deleted files were readily retrievable using German software downloaded from the Internet.

The drive contained dozens of personal photographs and two cockpit videos of air attacks by a U.S. helicopter and a C-130 Specter gunship. One scene shows night-vision images of people being fired upon. The helicopter footage was broadcast by television news outlets, and the gunship footage was available on the Internet...

04-13-2006, 12:28 PM
13 April Los Angeles Times - Data Leaks Persist From Afghan Base (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-disks13apr13,1,5101806.story?coll=la-headlines-world).

A computer drive sold openly Wednesday at a bazaar outside the U.S. air base here holds what appears to be a trove of potentially sensitive American intelligence data, including the names, photographs and telephone numbers of Afghan spies informing on the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The flash memory drive, which a teenager sold for $40, holds scores of military documents marked "secret," describing intelligence-gathering methods and information — including escape routes into Pakistan and the location of a suspected safe house there, and the payment of $50 bounties for each Taliban or Al Qaeda fighter apprehended based on the source's intelligence.

The documents appear to be authentic, but the accuracy of the information they contain could not be independently verified.

On its face, the information seems to jeopardize the safety of intelligence sources working secretly for U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan, which would constitute a serious breach of security. For that reason, The Times has withheld personal information and details that could compromise military operations....

04-14-2006, 08:37 AM
14 April Los Angeles Times - Drives Outline Military Tactics (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-disks14apr14,1,5560560.story?coll=la-headlines-world).

Maps, charts and intelligence reports on computer drives smuggled out of a U.S. base and sold at a bazaar here appear to detail how Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders have been using southwestern Pakistan as a key planning and training base for attacks in Afghanistan.

The documents, marked "secret," appear to be raw intelligence reports based on conversations with Afghan informants and official briefings given to high-level U.S. military officers. Together, they outline how the U.S. military came to focus its search for members of Taliban, Al Qaeda and other militant groups on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border.

In one report contained in a flash memory drive, a U.S. handler also indicates that the United States discussed with two Afghan spies the possibility of capturing or killing Taliban commanders in Pakistani territory.

Pakistan has long denied harboring Taliban leaders or training bases and has engaged in several well-publicized battles with insurgents in its tribal territories bordering Afghanistan.

But the documents contained on memory drives sold at a bazaar in front of the main gate of the Bagram air base suggest that although Pakistani forces are working to root out foreign Al Qaeda fighters from the northwestern tribal regions, the Taliban has been using Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan in the southwest, as its rear guard for training and coordinating attacks, some by foreign Arab fighters, in Afghanistan...

04-14-2006, 08:23 PM
I understand that mistakes happen and people take shortcuts but this seems incredibly sloppy some place like Afghanistan where the consequences of bad security should be obvious. It seems there needs to be a serious investigation into what happened there. It sounds like a massive failure in leadership.

04-14-2006, 11:45 PM
Could be a signal for Pakistan to clean up their act without saying it aloud.


08-16-2007, 12:06 AM
Sounds like a chance to feed disinformation except the news media would probably grab it first.

Anthony Hoh
08-16-2007, 04:08 PM
Could be a signal for Pakistan to clean up their act without saying it aloud.


This may just be my naiveté but I really hope this is a back channel to get Pakistani officials/military in gear.

08-16-2007, 08:50 PM
While on the surface the bleeds all appear to hammer Pakistan and little more, this is slightly more disturbing than getting Islamabad in gear :mad:

The drives also included deployment rosters and other documents that identified nearly 700 U.S. service members and their Social Security numbers, information that identity thieves could use to open credit card accounts in soldiers' names....

Rob Thornton
08-16-2007, 09:12 PM
When you start looking at the causality train, you might start with direct leadership, but I'll bet there is a much deeper cause. This and other trend type failures are beyond attributing to a single issue of "leadership failure" but would point to systemic problems like the over-all quality of the people that manage the information. You get what you pay for.
Regards, Rob

08-17-2007, 01:14 AM
I find these stories a little too convenient. First of all Secret is not that high up in OPSEC and the things they allegedly found would certainly warrant something higher than Secret. I'm not buying it.