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Cellphones

Taliban Demands Downtime on Afghanistan Cellphone Networks 659

Posted by samzenpus
from the since-you-asked-nicely dept.
faster_manic writes "The Taliban has demanded that cellphone network providers in Afghanistan cease service between the hours of 5pm and 7am each night of the week, as they believe American troops are able to track down Taliban members using their cellphones."
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Taliban Demands Downtime on Afghanistan Cellphone Networks

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  • by tnoren (1246462) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:06AM (#22559040)
    Turning the cell phone off? Maybe Airplane mode?
  • obvious answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sl0ppy (454532) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:07AM (#22559054)
    afraid of being tracked? don't carry your cellphone.

    it's much easier to make a personal change than to have a whole infrastructure shut down.
  • DIAL MYCROFTXXX... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phil-14 (1277) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:08AM (#22559074)
    It occurs to me that in a country like Afghanistan, which like most developing countries these days has better cell infrastructure than landline infrastructure, cellphones may be the _only_ way of calling the local police to say the Taliban are attacking you.
  • Re:obvious answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Manhigh (148034) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:09AM (#22559100)
    They seem to have a history of preferring others to change rather than change themselves.
  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:09AM (#22559106)
    I had the same thought.

    Maybe they're thinking that people who regularly turn off their phones at night (and why at night?) will be obvious Taliban sympathizers and hunted down during the day? Beats me.
  • by bannerman (60282) <bannerman@rocketmail.com> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:17AM (#22559300)
    Their goal is obviously to disrupt communications, not to avoid being tracked. If they knew we were using their phones to track them, they could use that as an advantage to setup traps and make us confident of their whereabouts. They could always just remove the batteries or stuff the phone in a lead box or whatever. If you can't call for help it makes the decision to resist or just do whatever these psychopaths want a much simpler one.
  • by edward2020 (985450) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:20AM (#22559342)
    lol, the local police. Pres. Karzai is more like the mayor of Kabul. In a country like that which totally lacks any rule of law, I wouldn't doubt that the police (if there are any outside the capital) may be just as bad as the warlords or the Taliban.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:24AM (#22559410)

    I suggest reading this site [thereligionofpeace.com]. Not all Muslims are radical crazies, but it's also not true that the religion has nothing to do with making certain elements radical crazies. Islam needs to learn tolerance, not the other way around.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:29AM (#22559506) Homepage
    You need to understand and appreciate the mentality that doesn't seem to be exclusive to muslim extremists.

    The mentality I speak of is "The entire world around me should be adjusted to fit my way of thinking or doing things."

    If you happen to live in an area where "blue laws" exist, you'll know what I'm talking about. In my area, you cannot buy beer on Sunday before 12:00 noon, so if you forgot to buy beer before the game starts the previous day, you're SOL thanks to these religiously sponsored legislative actions. Such laws do not serve the community -- they serve to create a society that better aligns itself with religious interests.

    In this case, it would make more sense that Taliban people should have to turn their phones off to avoid being tracked... but it's too inconvenient for them to change the way they do things. So instead, they want to make things inconvenient for EVERYONE to better suit their individual needs.

    This just goes to show what is truly broken about their minds. They are far too self-interested to really be concerned about anything resembling "greater good." And I'll say it once again -- this is not the exclusive territory of muslim extremists. It's not even the exclusive territory of religious extremists though it does seem to be something of a hallmark of them. It's a problem of the self-interested mind.

    So every time you see someone trying to get new law written to protect their children when they should be doing it themselves, this is a sign that they have the same mental weakness that requires the rest of the world compensate for their stupidity.
  • by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:31AM (#22559566) Journal
    Well, when you see concentrated movements at night and it isn't going to a pub, you pretty much know that you should at least check into it when your in a war zone.

    The interesting thing here is that we are seeing two things that we haven't really saw before. One and probably the most significant, is that taliban tactics are being traded and treated like open information like the US government's terrorist spy program. This tells me that people aren't as afraid of the taliban as they used to be. The other is that we are hitting them so hard that they are scrambling for a way to mitigate it. If it was something they weren't worried about, they would simply say leave them off. But for some reason, they are desperate enough to ask for help in turning the towers off because they think it is how we are finding them.

    Either way, I like it.
  • the muslim world (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:33AM (#22559616) Homepage Journal
    needs to control their radicals. of course the majority of muslims are moderate. but if their radicals are allowed free reign, the muslim world invites deserved criticism

    the usa gets plenty of criticism for its actions in the world. much of it deserved. do you think the usa deserves no criticism? of course you don't

    so, in the spirit of an open mind, you accept that the muslim world deserves criticism as well

    there are some xenophobic bigots who are doing the criticism of the muslim world, yes. there are also some mindless bigots criticizing the usa

    the point is, the existence of these bigots does not mean that all criticism of the muslim world, or criticism of the usa, is simple bigotry or without merit

    so if you dismiss all criticism of the muslim world out of hand, simply because you think it is all bigotry, it is you, as well as the bigots, with a closed, simple partisan kneejerk mind
  • and also that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:36AM (#22559650) Homepage Journal
    anything that is landline based is usually blown to smithereens in the prolonged effort to keep the people of afghanistan in the middle ages, where the ideology of the taliban actually works
  • Re:obvious answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CSMatt (1175471) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:36AM (#22559664)
    So does this mean that we can call the "think of the children" groups terrorists now?
  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:42AM (#22559748) Journal

    [the Muslim world] needs to control their radicals. of course the majority of muslims are moderate. but if their radicals are allowed free reign, the muslim world invites deserved criticism


    Absolutely! As do the Jewish, Christian, and Hindu worlds (and some of the Buddhists in Sri Lanka are a little scary too). Radicals need to be gotten under control in all of the world's religious communities.

    so if you dismiss all criticism of the muslim world out of hand, simply because you think it is all bigotry, it is you, as well as the bigots, with a closed, simple partisan kneejerk mind


    Ah, but I don't dismiss all criticism of the Muslim world out of hand. I dismiss criticism which amounts to saying that the whole of Islam and the Muslim world may be fairly judged as being indistinguishable from the Taliban.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:45AM (#22559802)

    This just goes to show what is truly broken about their minds. They are far too self-interested to really be concerned about anything resembling "greater good." And I'll say it once again -- this is not the exclusive territory of muslim extremists. It's not even the exclusive territory of religious extremists though it does seem to be something of a hallmark of them. It's a problem of the self-interested mind.
    s/religious extremists/linux zealots/
  • Re:obvious answer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:45AM (#22559804)
    Unfortunatly your "solution" doesn't address the problem.

    In particular it doesn't stop someone from calling NATO when he sees the Taliban fighters doing something in the middle of the night.

    But hey, we don't expect you to know (or care) about technical details, do we?
  • Re:obvious answer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dave420 (699308) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:45AM (#22559824)
    They're known EXACTLY for not doing what they are told by their leadership. Don't confuse fanaticism with obedience. They're tenacious fighters, but their command structure leaves a lot to be desired, especially as they're disparate groups of fighters. So your example might work, but then that's just one commander, and there are hundreds of those guys out there. It just takes one signal for the bombs to be called in. "Lol" indeed.
  • by Eli Gottlieb (917758) <eligottlieb@gBAL ... com minus author> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:47AM (#22559844) Homepage Journal
    That's just how the mujahideen think. When they play dirty, it's the for the greater glory of Allah. When someone else manages a clean kill on them, it's time for those bullies to start playing fair! Perfect example: Palestine. No, I mean it. Apparently when the Palestinians blow up a nightclub it's "resisting occupation", but when Israelis assassinate a Hamas leader it's time for an investigation into human rights violations.

    What total bitches.

  • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:48AM (#22559862) Homepage
    "All cars with OnStar can be monitored the same way. Welcome to 1984."

    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. --Benjamin Franklin


    I love Ben's wisdom, but this quote is being so overused and so often poorly used that it is being diminished. Please note the word "essential", Ben put that word in there for a reason. His words were carefully crafted and extraneous words were not left in. In short, non-essential liberties are excluded by the quote and anonymity while driving is a non-essential liberty, actually a non-existent liberty. We have no right to drive on public roads, it is a privilege. We knowingly enter into a contract in order to exercise that privilege. Our cars must be registered and display a unique identifier, the license plate. We are required to be licensed and must present that license upon request. Furthermore, OnStar is voluntary and has positive benefits, any good contract should, such as notifying rescue personnel of an accident's location. Ben's quote is quite inappropriate here.
  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:51AM (#22559914) Journal

    Fortunately, a huge wholesaler, Costco is challenging the constitutionality of those laws in Oregon and Washington (which has similar laws) because they make so much money off of liquor in CA

    They will lose. Let me save them the trouble:

    The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use there in of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited

    In broad terms the 21st Amendment allows the states to do whatever the hell they want with liquor sales. That was the price of repealing prohibition -- the states gained full control to do virtually whatever they want within their own borders. There's nothing preventing a state from adopting statewide prohibition tomorrow if it desired to do so -- well, nothing except the voting public :)

  • by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @11:54AM (#22559958) Journal
    ...if you forgot to buy beer before the game starts the previous day, you're SOL thanks to these religiously sponsored legislative actions.

    That's something I can't understand, except that people are too lazy to read their own bibles and fall prey to the wolves in sheep's clothing.

    There is nothing whatever in the Christian Bible that says drinking is a sin. Ok there is a passage in the old testament that says kings shouldn't drink, and one in the new testament that says we should soberly wait for the second coming - but it also says "give strong drink to the dying and wine to those with the blues." It also chronicles the fact that on Jesus' last night on earth, all the apostles were shitfaced drunk.

    These peole aren't reading Christ's bible, they're reading Pat Robertson's bible. Jesus had quite a few things to say about people like Robertson and his four thousand dollar suits...

    -mcgrew
  • by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:01PM (#22560070) Homepage Journal

    In this case, it would make more sense that Taliban people should have to turn their phones off to avoid being tracked... but it's too inconvenient for them to change the way they do things.


    It's not that easy. Then turning off your cell phone at night becomes reason for the occupation forces intelligence to investigate, making it easier to narrow down just who to track down.
    The request to the cell phone companies would then change from "We are the Taliban, and we want the cell phone service off at night" to "We are the guys with the BIG bombs, and we want lists of everyone who shuts down their phone at night".

    --
    *Art
  • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:02PM (#22560084) Homepage
    Isn't it as easy as turning the cell phone off? Maybe Airplane mode?

    No, it is not that easy, they have a "legitimate" complaint from their perspective. The "problem" is *not* their people and their cell phones. The "problem" is that ordinary citizen are reporting suspicious nighttime activities. Their are essentially trying to turn off the tips hotline.
  • by neersign (956437) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:07PM (#22560178)
    I'll play devil's advocate- US Army Joe: Hey, Abdul turns his cell phone off every night at 5pm and turns it back on at 7am. US Army Joe 2: Achmed does the same thing. We know Achmed is a terrorist, Abdul must be too. -doesn't seem so stupid now.
  • by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1 AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:08PM (#22560190) Journal
    > The mentality I speak of is "The entire world around me should be adjusted to fit my way of thinking or doing things."

    It also seems to be a common mentality with certain industry cartels and corporations - The RIAA/MPAA, and Microsoft for example...
     
  • by blueskies (525815) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:15PM (#22560316) Journal

    But if that's the will of the majority, then so be it. And if that's not the will of the majority, then get organized and change the law.
    You mean the tyranny of the majority, right?
  • by KevMar (471257) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:16PM (#22560326) Homepage Journal
    They are doing this backwards. instead of educating its members to turn the phone off. They instead go after the towers. If you shut the towers off, the phones are still on.

    Now the US will drive in a moble cellphone tower. All the phones will connect to it because it is the only available tower in range. Now the US can easily fallow the signal or use more moble towers to pin point an exact location and just bomb it.

    And because the towers are off, the people that would have turned the phone off dont.

    This is the stupidest mistake they could make.

    on the other hand, if the cellphone makes that tone indicating that it is roaming late at night something is up.

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:20PM (#22560412)
    I dismiss criticism which amounts to saying that the whole of Islam and the Muslim world may be fairly judged as being indistinguishable from the Taliban

    The problem is that you lead off with a pre-emptory attack on anyone that might consider Islamic culture conducive to the breeding of these crazies, and you don't - in your own words - personally condemn them. That's exactly the problem, here. You attack - as your opening sentiment - everyone else, and not a peep out of you, in the same breath, about how little you think of the people who are trying so hard to defame the wider Muslim culture through their actual, murderous actions. This is exactly what I encounter in almost every conversation I have with Muslims. A completely defensive posture about the whole thing - so defensive, in fact, that they sweep defense of retrograde mysoginst killers like the Taliban right up into their piety and wounded feelings. In essence, people who think and act like the Taliban are busy making the world a more miserable place for Muslims, and Muslims are so busy saying how offended they are when lumped together with the Taliban that they forget to bother to proactively differentiate themselves from those clowns. If a culture of untold millions of people is unable to regularly figure out that they're not helping themselves by aggessively shouting down and personally doing everything they can to extinguish movements like the Taliban, then I have a hard time feeling sorry for them when they're perceived as being part of the problem.

    The people in quesition kill women for teaching their daughters to read. They stone women to death for having been raped. And what do I hear from somewhat more modern Muslims? Not, "These people have to be stopped, especially since they want to run the entire middle east that way (and London, and Canada) - how can I help?" but rather, "Oh, we're not all like that, and you're a bigot for even wondering if Islam itself, by its nature, seems to be built around these notions." Passively allowing violent medieval theocracies to try, again, to take root and spread is only scarecly worse than actively pushing for it. Making the people who honestly express disgust at that entire world view sound like the villains is your primary mistake, and if anyone should be insulted it's them, not you.
  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:20PM (#22560424) Homepage Journal
    I dunno...I think I saw a poll on TV this morning when getting ready for work saying that the percentage of religious, Christian religious in the US had dropped to just below 75%....

    So, only about 25% of the people in the US don't claim to be assoc. with some form of Christianity.

    I'd have to guess the Atheists are the loud, vocal minority in the US.

  • Re:obvious answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:26PM (#22560524) Homepage Journal
    Actually, Iraq is a bad war. Afghanistan was legit.

    US: Give us bin Laden.
    Taliban: We don't have him.
    US: Bullshit. Give us bin Laden.
    Taliban: OK, we have him, but we'll try him in our own special way.
    US: Bullshit. Give us bin Laden.
    Taliban: Come and get him. But remember the USSR.
    US: [invades]
  • by sayfawa (1099071) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:34PM (#22560624)
    The interesting thing here is that we are seeing two things that we haven't really saw before. One and probably the most significant, is that taliban tactics are being traded and treated like open information like the US government's terrorist spy program. This tells me that people aren't as afraid of the taliban as they used to be. The other is that we are hitting them so hard that they are scrambling for a way to mitigate it.

    It tells me quite the opposite. It tells me that the Taliban is back to being powerful enough to make demands of companies and think it has a chance of being listened to. Over 6 years after they were almost bombed out of existence they are now almost back to running some things.
  • by db32 (862117) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:41PM (#22560716) Journal
    Except you are misapplying "essential" the sense that he is describing some liberties as essential and others as nonessential. Liberty itself is essential is the point. The idea that you can qualify some as nonessential is exactly what leads to the big brother state of "it is better that we watch all of you to keep you safe" nonsense. So you are grossly misapplying the words to twist it into a justification for exactly the opposite of what he said.

    Oh...and you are right to a degree, driving on roads is a privlidge the key being on the roads. The fact that they are nice paved roads is certainly a privlidge that we have purchased through our taxes. The problem is traveling about as I see fit how I see fit is actually more of a liberty issue. The fact that we are willing to follow a set of rules in that traveling is a matter of convenience and cooperation. In fact, my right is to travel how and where I want, it is through collective cooperation that we give up this part of this right to make it a bit better and more convenient for everyone.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:43PM (#22560732)

    I spent a few weeks in WI this summer, and was completely blown away by their state fair.

    Glad you liked it. It's typically thought of a pretty good fair.

    Every food booth there sold beer along with food.

    Hmmm... It's been too long since I've been to the state fair. I can say for things like SummerFest [summerfest.com], there are big beer stalls pretty much everywhere that you buy beer from. I don't recall the food vendors selling beer. I'm kind of surprised that food vendors at the state fair do that, only because fairs tend to like to keep things streamlined.

    In Oregon, you have to have a fenced off area, with guards manning the entrance, ID'ing everyone that wants to walk in.

    That's not much different than Wisconsin. The state fair might not have fenced off beer gardens but most city festivals will have one with the same ID policy. Heck, in Madison we call those beer gardens "bars".

    My cousin couldn't enter the beer garden, because her 1 year old son was with her in a stroller, and they wouldn't let her in

    Too bad the police where the ones having to give you cousin some common sense.

    she might give alcohol to a minor!

    A likely story. I think the cops are probably smart enough to know that a 1-year old kid in a stroller in a packed beer garden full of stumbling inebriated beer bellies is probably not the "safest" place for a child and had to dumb it down for your cousin. Of course, if you've seen YouTube lately, it shouldn't be too surprising to see parents give their 1-2 year old beer, pot, or other drugs. Of course, I think there's policies all over Wisconsin that bar things like strollers in beer gardens. Though, if the parent wants to get a beer, it's Wisconsin law that minors can be in bars (and even drink) if accompanied by their parent/guardian. Though, the bar tender doesn't *have* to server you if he doesn't want.

    Nice to know that Oregon is there to Protect you from yourself!

    Sounds like your family needs it.

    The grass is always greener. You're welcome to have our "beer policies" if we trade our tax burdens [taxfoundation.org] as well.

  • by Dmala (752610) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:43PM (#22560736)
    If you happen to live in an area where "blue laws" exist, you'll know what I'm talking about. In my area, you cannot buy beer on Sunday before 12:00 noon, so if you forgot to buy beer before the game starts the previous day, you're SOL thanks to these religiously sponsored legislative actions. Such laws do not serve the community -- they serve to create a society that better aligns itself with religious interests.

    Strangely enough, at least in MA, this really wasn't the case. When the laws were enacted 150+ years ago, they may have been intended to serve religious interests. When they repealed the law banning Sunday liquor sales not too long ago, it was the packies, err... liquor stores that fought tooth and nail against it. Apparently, many stores actually saved on operating costs by not having to open on Sundays. I guess in the case of small mom-and-pop shops, it was a choice between working seven day weeks or paying someone time-and-a-half to come in and man the store. "Having" to open on Sunday (because the competition would) was actually costing them money. I suppose there was some outcry from religious interests, but it was pretty minimal, relatively speaking.
  • Back atcha (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kahei (466208) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:48PM (#22560824) Homepage

    So, you live in an area most of whose people have decided that beer shouldn't be sold before noon on Sunday. But that doesn't suit you. You'd prefer it to be changed -- you want the world around you adjusted to fit your way of thinking. Tough luck.

    Those laws *do* serve the community. Whether they make sense I don't know, but the community opted for them. Whether the community are happier this way or not, whether they know what they're doing or not I don't know, but they picked what to do, and if that doesn't suit you that doesn't mean everyone *else* has to change and do it *your* way. Maybe you don't share their religious views. Maybe you don't spend your Sunday the same way as them. That doesn't mean they have to do things differently for your benefit.

    It's ironic that you can use this as an example of *other people's* self-interestedness and closed-mindedness. You're right, those things aren't the exclusive territory of muslim extremists; suburbanites can be pretty darn focused on themselves too. Of course, not many devout Muslims would talk about unbelievers with quite the same lofty scorn that you use in your second-to-last paragraph, there.

    The rest of the world really *isn't* asking you to compensate for their stupidity. But you seem to ask a heck of a lot from the rest of the world. Not everyone is the same as you and not everyone -- not the Taliban, not regular people who happen to have a religion, not your local town council -- has to be like you. They can write laws that they think protect their children if they darn well want to.

  • Re:obvious answer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:00PM (#22560976)

    Afghanistan never invaded a foreign country.
    They never invaded, but they sure did bomb.

    Harboring known terrorists (even hosting their training camps!) is an act of war, even if you consider the terrorists to be freedom fighters or a legitimate military force.
  • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:02PM (#22561006)
    Except you need to read the article to realize that the actual situation has no relation to your analysis. They are not using cell phones. The people phoning in tips have the cell phones, and the Taliban doesn't want them phoning in tips while they're doing their raids.

    *POOF* (your insight, disappearing in a puff of smoke)
  • by iso-cop (555637) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:24PM (#22561274)
    Hmm...you might be in the right zip code there but do not forget Ephesians 5:18, 1 Peter 4, 1 Thessalonians 5, Galatians 5:19-21, and such. The Bible does not advocate drunkenness and excess.

    Where you quote Proverbs, you are seeing the contrast between a person of leadership who restrains themselves from drunkenness and those dying and in anguish who indulge. It also follows up by saying that the one in leadership should speak up for the one who is destitute to help pull them out of that miserable situation.

    I am not sure where we find the apostles drunk. I would appreciate if you can clarify. They were celebrating Passover, which does involve wine but I do not find them drunk in the scriptures.

    All that said, I am not sure that sales blackout periods or state ownership of alcohol distribution address the core issue.
  • by AsnFkr (545033) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:41PM (#22561578) Homepage Journal
    2) all cellphones, whether active or not, can be located (by sending out signals which will provoke a passive response from their antenna's), over a short range (but still a few miles, given enough power in the transmitter)

    Here's an honest question as you seem to know about this type of thing: With this type of technique would one be able to find the location a *specific* cell phone, or just find *a* cell phone? I can see how you could detect the existence of any cell phones in an area, but I'd be amazed if you could track down a specific cell phone that was powered down and perhaps had the battery removed.
  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @02:02PM (#22561952)

    Of course for the Taliban, there really is only one recourse, give up.


    That's unlikely since in a guerilla war like this they could go on for a long time. They come from the largest ethnic group, the Pashtuns (42% of the population). The United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan (or the Northern Alliance as the media prefers) is mostly made up of Tajiks (27% of the Population), Hazara and Uzbeks.

    This whole thing is broken down on ethnic grounds and NATO have chosen to back one ethnic group over the others. The United Islamic Front (UIF) are really no better than the Taliban if you look at the human rights reports.

    Either they will lose gradually, or they will cause massive casualties


    The UN recently reported that NATO and US forces had killed more civilians than the Taliban, mostly in air-strikes. There is a policy of sacrificing civilians in order to keep military casualties down. It's safer to bomb something than to send troops in. 10 dead Afghan civilians is more politically acceptable than 10 dead US soldiers. In the unlikely even of the media kicking up a real fuss about the civilian deaths, you can always just dredge up the tired old excuse that it's the enemy's fault for "hiding among the civilians".
  • by Viol8 (599362) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @02:04PM (#22561970)
    "2) all cellphones, whether active or not, can be located (by sending out signals which will provoke a passive response from their antenna's), over a short range (but still a few miles, given enough power in the transmitter)"

    Sorry , I don't buy that. To get a readable reflection off a mobile phone antenna you'd either have to have a very highly focused beam - effectively a radar system - or broadcast a megawatt power RF signal which would probably knock out just about every cellphone and numerous other devices in the vacinity not to mention the potential harmful effects to people. Even if you do get a reflection how would you know which phone it is or even whether its a phone at all or just some other bit of metal that resonates at that frequency?
  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @02:14PM (#22562150) Journal

    Sadly enough people probably would riot if you tried to take away Budweiser. Yet nobody bothers to riot over the erosion of habeas corpus, our civil liberties, or other injustices (poverty, hunger, AIDS) in the World.

    *sigh*

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:58PM (#22563846)

    All they need to do is call a phone in the US. Then the Gov't can't track them without a warrant.

    While funny, this is not true. The F.I.S.A. statutes [wikipedia.org] specifically allow the government to conduct domestic surveillance involving U.S. persons and a phone call from a foreign entity or individual without a warrant until 72 hours after the surveillance begins. If the person inside the U.S. is also a foreign entity or individual (rather than a U.S. person), the surveillance can take place for a full year without a warrant. These provisions are in the 1978 act passed to protect Americans from a president run amok (by using foreign surveillance domestically). It is only fitting the current president does not follow the law [thesmokinggun.com]. Bush believes he does not have to even follow the F.I.S.A. statutes. I wonder what Nixon, if he were alive today and drawing from his own experience, would say to Bush's bad behavior.
  • by orzetto (545509) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:05PM (#22563954)

    Of course for the taliban, there really is only one recourse, give up. Either they will lose gradually, or they will cause massive casualties, [...]

    What about dragging the war on until the US gets beaten, like in Vietnam? I would suppose that is their goal, and they are winning at that: attacks in the north are increasing, my country has soldiers in Herat and only in recent months they have started to come under fire.

    which will provoke a really big attack on the population of pakistan (did you know, in reality as opposite moonbat's mindsets, that in the geneva conventions civilians amongst whom non-uniformed enemy fighters are located, are fair game and can be killed. The decision whether or not terrorists are amongst them can (only) be made by a field commander, in short, every bomb short of a nuke would be perfectly legal to shoot into a mass of afghan civilians), and the commander giving that order would go completely free under international law.

    Aside from the fact that you are suggesting practices typical of the SS divisions (I don't care about Goodwin: they were the last ones in the West to do anything like that, it's the only example available), the Geneva conventions is only about war prisoners, and makes no mention of civilians only because of that. That a US commander would walk out freely I have no doubt, they are pretty much untouchable no matter what crimes they may commit; what is sure is that, no matter what, any attack directed against civilians is a war crime [wikipedia.org] . Surely, Nazi officers who practiced retaliation on civilians were jailed for decades when they could be tried in the countries where they committed their atrocities.

    Only civilian prisoners and UNIFORMED enemy prisoners cannot be killed.

    Such utter disrespect of the life of a person who is not a threat is really appalling. Of course, other than being brainwashed by war-time propaganda, you are also wrong: the Geneva convention, article four [yale.edu], states very clearly:

    Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

    1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
    2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfill the following conditions:
      1. that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
      2. that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
      3. that of carrying arms openly;
      4. that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
    3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.
    4. Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization, from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.
    5. Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit
  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:34PM (#22564446)
    The SS were not the last ones in the West to target civilians. The Russians, the US and the UK all did it before and after D-Day. This is an extremely difficult ethical question, and before some kneejerk moderates this flamebait, please read on.

    Max Hastings, the military historian, has written in his remarkably fair and balanced book Armageddon about the British policy of carpet bombing civilians, and how it probably lengthened the war (because it diverted resources from protecting shipping in the Atlantic, and because strategic attacks on oil plants could have caused the German army to come to a stop much sooner. He describes revenge attacks by many Allied groups. Apart from Bomber Harris, the Allied commanders were in general much more careful than the Russians, and this reduced casualties in the West. In the east, knowing what the Russians would do, the Germans fought with more desperation.

    Hastings points out, very fairly, that Japan suffered far less than Germany because the result of the A-bomb attacks was surrender without invasion. Therefore, paradoxically, the A-Bomb may well have reduced the death rate in the Far East very considerably.

    This shows how ethically difficult the whole thing is in the context of all out war.

    It is also very difficult nowadays to define who is a civilian. Is a worker in an oil production plant a civilian when a tanker driver is a soldier? They are part of the supply chain, and the oil plant could well be a legitimate military target. In a country where the majority of men carry guns, how do you tell a civilian from a soldier?

    I am not in favor of indiscriminate war, believe me. Thanks to my father and my uncle and their friends, my only experience of the military has been as an R&D engineer. But I do think we often expect the military to solve ethical problems that philosophers give up on, and that when it comes to people who want to run a country so they can torture and abuse women versus people who, basically, don't, I think we need to be very careful before sounding off.

  • by Eli Gottlieb (917758) <eligottlieb@gBAL ... com minus author> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:00PM (#22564894) Homepage Journal
    Hey, you don't find me supporting the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. We were supposed to have caught Osama Bin Laden and brought him to trial like the criminal he is YEARS AGO!

    And don't even get me started on the sheer boneheadedness and immorality of invading Iraq. And PLEASE DEAR GOD let's not invade Iran next. I know some Persians. They're good people. In (a little-known fact), the Persians are more or less on the side of civilization, on the side of not fucking up other people. They just have a crap government that wants to make itself a regional power by sponsoring bitchy, terrorist Arabs who would normally earn nothing more than a sneer from Iran or Persians (Persians have a long-running ethnic dislike of Arabs that not even Islamism can paper over).
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:11PM (#22565110)
    Don't you think these Muslims are sick of hearing about it?

    Sure. Why is it do you suppose that they don't do anything about it?

    Can you blame them for being defensive?

    Sure. I wouldn't blame them for actually stepping up and putting a stop to it, though. But that's where the total passivity kicks in, except for a few very brave people down at the police-officer level... and they tend to get killed for doing so. Killed, by people operating out of basements, building bombs made from materials bought with cash that could be dried up in an instant, if the wider body of Islam actually wanted to stop it. They SHOULD feel defensive about it.

    When some addled-brained US serviceman pulls some sort of crap overseas, he winds up in a court martial. When a foreigner from Syria is in Iraq with a bomb he bought using cash that laundered its way to him from a jewelry kiosk in a mall in Detroit straps it onto a mentally retarded woman and sends her into a market full of kids to die and take dozens with her... that person's family gets treated like neighborhood celebrities. Yeah, that's worth getting defensive over, I'd say.
  • by raju1kabir (251972) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:20PM (#22565226) Homepage

    You'll still get a passive response from the antenna even if you take out the batteries. It's a basic-properties-of-RF-radiation thing.

    I don't see how this would be useful at any reasonable distance. You'd have to flood the area with enough RF to fry small animals. And it definitely wouldn't be useful for identifying individual phones (unless you have a REALLY good database of imperfections in their antennas, and how many keys each Talibanister carries in his pocket).

    Furthermore, the Taliban have requested to have the towers turned off, not to have the batteries removed from each phone by some form of remote magic. So evidently they're already comfortable with remaining trackable, they just don't want to be annoyed by stupid ringtones after dark.

    If the phone company towers were turned off and I were the CIA, then promptly at 5:01pm each evening I'd turn on my own promiscuous CIA towers, and all phones in the country would cheerfully tell me where they are.

    Basically, it appears the Taliban's grasp of telecommunications is about on par with their grasp of Islam.

  • by budgenator (254554) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:39PM (#22565522) Journal
    Makes no difference, if the NSA rate their own room at AT&T, then I'll bet those rooms were spec'ed out in advance by the KBR people that build the networks under contract from the USG.
  • by Solandri (704621) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:39PM (#22565530)

    The mentality I speak of is "The entire world around me should be adjusted to fit my way of thinking or doing things."

    If you happen to live in an area where "blue laws" exist, you'll know what I'm talking about. In my area, you cannot buy beer on Sunday before 12:00 noon, so if you forgot to buy beer before the game starts the previous day, you're SOL thanks to these religiously sponsored legislative actions. Such laws do not serve the community -- they serve to create a society that better aligns itself with religious interests.

    In this case, it would make more sense that Taliban people should have to turn their phones off to avoid being tracked... but it's too inconvenient for them to change the way they do things. So instead, they want to make things inconvenient for EVERYONE to better suit their individual needs.

    This just goes to show what is truly broken about their minds. They are far too self-interested to really be concerned about anything resembling "greater good." And I'll say it once again -- this is not the exclusive territory of muslim extremists. It's not even the exclusive territory of religious extremists though it does seem to be something of a hallmark of them. It's a problem of the self-interested mind.

    I'm gonna burn some karma. I don't see anything wrong with that attitude. In fact, I'd argue that that attitude is what drives us to come up with new and better laws. "Hey, did you hear people are snapping up domain names without paying for them (i.e. "tasting them")? That's just wrong." "Yeah, ICANN should change its policies to prohibit it..."

    The problem isn't that people want to change the world in a way which they believe will make it better. The problem is when they fail to convince the masses or lose the vote, some people feel strongly enough about it to resort to violence or brute force to impose their changes on an unwilling population.

    You feel the Taliban thinks everyone else should follow their way of thinking or acting. You claim their rules aren't for the greater good. Yet from their point of view, you think everyone should follow your way of thinking and acting, and they would claim your rules aren't for the greater good. You're making the mistake of categorizing right and wrong based on a subjective measure ("greater good").

    The idea behind democracy is to side-step this subjective measure entirely by letting the affected population decide for themselves what is the "greater good". Democracy just presents a framework for making decisions which will affect the entire population; the population itself makes the subjective judgments of right, wrong, and "greater good". If the majority decides they want the blue laws, then they (and you) get blue laws. If you're on the losing side of that vote, respect the democracy and abide by the laws decided upon by the majority. Ignoring those laws because you don't feel they're right destroys your credibility when asking others to abide by laws you feel are right. Resorting to ad hominem attacks (criticizing their mentality) as justifications for why they're wrong makes you no different from the people you're criticizing. If you don't like blue laws, start up a state-wide petition to get them repealed within the democratic process.

  • by budgenator (254554) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @06:06PM (#22565844) Journal
    I'd even expect that more than half of those "Christians" are not participatory "christians" but the went to Sunday School a couple times, and got married in church type of "christians".
  • by budgenator (254554) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @06:34PM (#22566222) Journal
    They just don't want the common Afghan civilians to call the authorities and report their movements, it's not about the towers tracking the cellphones of the Taliban.
  • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @09:04PM (#22567730)
    Well that's certainly not something a civilised, enlightened, peaceful and freedom loving society with a strong sense of compassion and dedication to the furthering human rights would actually do.

    You tell me.
  • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @12:50AM (#22569800)
    Wow
    I hope you're being sarcastic.

    You can measure how free and fair a society is by examining the way it treats it prisoners.

    I mean it must be safe and reassuring in a society that condones biological warfare. You never have to treat the enemy the same way they treat you, you always have the choice to be better and in the long run the most ruthless don't always win (American revolution, Napoleonic wars, WWII FFS).

    Until we own their kids via MTV middle east or their society collapses from AIDS we should keep the fanatics locked up (at least the few competent ones). It that's for life so be it.
    I really hope you're being sarcastic.

    Your idea of victory is to become your enemy?
    Convert to westernism or die from a horrible communicable disease.
    I'm sorry but you earn a big EPIC FAIL here. If we followed this strategy we'd all earn a big EPIC FAIL. I mean here's a fantastic idea, lets give people who hate us and already are willing to die an incurable, slow acting fatal disease. By George that's fantastic thinking make a fanatical people more desperate, that'll show em, they'll never retaliate.

    Radical Islam is not the enemy, thinking like this is the enemy, thinking you own the world is the enemy. Radical Islam can only be defeated by discrediting their leaders, a video of Bin Laden having a glass of wine would be more effective than all the bombs dropped in the last 6 years. If left alone, Radical clerics will lose support, Radicals need an enemy otherwise the indoctrinated have time to think. Radical Islam will never force western nations to convert and the chance of western society being destroyed by external influence is so astronomically low that it is not worth mentioning so to succeed against radical Islam, we don't have to win, we just have to survive. I would rather see my free and fair state destroyed than see it succumb to ignorant and extremist thinking from inside. If I can go about my daily business then that is a victory.

    I'm sorry but your logic of war fails when you don't understand your enemy or the logic of war to begin with. The logic behind releasing non-uniformed combatants is to create a bridge to peace, holding them only continues the to fuel a cycle of hate. The true objective of war is not the elimination of the enemy but the elimination of their reason to fight you. If you continue to hold there citizens they will continue to have a valid reason to attack you, an enemy without a valid reason for a war will not be able to garner much support (Sun Tzu covered this 2000 years ago) which is why the IRA haven't been in the news lately, they don't have much of a reason left to attack anyone.

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