NYT: Obama stepped up cyber attacks against Iran. New York Times:
Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.
At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised. ...
The current iteration of the virus is known as Flame.
While Stuxnet was crafted to do real-world damage to machinery, Flame was designed to suck information from computer networks and relay what it learned back to those controlling the virus.
Flame can record keystrokes, capture screen images, and eavesdrop using microphones built into computers.
In an intriguing twist, the malware can also use Bluetooth capabilities in machines to connect with smartphones or tablets, mining contact lists or other information, according to security researchers.
Flame was discovered by the Russian firm Kaspersky.
Kazakh border death toll rises to 15. Reuters: 'Two more bodies of Kazakh border guards have been discovered at a burnt-out border post near the frontier with China, the border guard service said on Friday, bringing the death toll in an unexplained incident to 15. "The total number of the dead are 14 servicemen and one civilian - a gamekeeper from a local game reserve," the service said in a statement. ...'
Turkish columnist: Our bleak options in Syria. Semih Ildiz via al-Monitor:
Can our AKP government, which has become a hardline party within the conflict, accept a Yemen model that the Sunnis in Syria will not? Also, will the new administration that would emerge in such a scenario see Turkey as a friend, after all that has taken place?
The events in Syria have exposed a fundamental fault line between Middle Eastern Muslims. Turkey, with its grandiose regional ambitions of soft power, should have remained neutral, but it couldn’t. We now live with the negative consequences of this in our relations with Iran and Iraq.
It is not realistic to expect positive change in near future. ...
Also via al-Monitor, Fikret Bila warns that Ankara's current course may lead to a PKK stronghold in northern Syria - hardly a desirable outcome from Turkey's standpoint.
Jihad in Seattle. 'Last week, Michael D. McCright, a.k.a. Mikhial Jihad, a previously convicted felon from the north Seattle suburb of Lynnwood, pled guilty to lesser charges in a case involving his attempt to force a government vehicle carrying two Marines off the road and cause a collision on an interstate highway in Seattle. The incident occurred on July 12, 2011 and resulted in McCright's arrest in Seattle on Sept. 8. McCright is linked to another American jihadist who plotted a suicide attack against Marines. ...'
Commentary. The Belmont Club asks: When does compensation become over-compensation?