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Fraudulent Anti-Terrorist Software Led US To Ground Planes 147

Posted by timothy
from the our-man-not-in-havana dept.
The Register, citing this Playboy article, reports that a Nevada man named Dennis Montgomery was able in 2003 to connive his way into a position of respectability at the CIA on the basis of his company's claimed ability, using software, to "detect and decrypt 'barcodes' in broadcasts by Al Jazeera, the Qatari news station." Montgomery was CTO of Reno-based eTreppid Technologies, which produced bucketloads of data purported to represent "geographic coordinates and flight numbers" hidden in these broadcasts. All of which, it seems, was hokum, finally debunked in cooperation with a branch of the French intelligence service — but not, says the article, before the fabricated information, chalked up to "credible sources," was used as justification to ground some international flights, and even evacuate New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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Fraudulent Anti-Terrorist Software Led US To Ground Planes

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  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Friday December 25, 2009 @08:58AM (#30550510) Journal

    If one guy can pull this kind of stuff off, imagine what would happen if he "tipped" some of his worst enemies to them. And to the terrorist prison camps they go.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by clang_jangle (975789)
      The spirit of McCarthyism lives on.
      • by aurispector (530273) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:30AM (#30550586)

        Not quite. This was just a scam although it could have been a lot worse. The basic problem is that a lot of people don't really understand technology. If there's going to be any Mccarthy style overreaction it should be to throw this guy in jail for a long, long time.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by clang_jangle (975789)
          I was referring to sopssa's post, which alluded to turning in innocent people [wikipedia.org].
        • by DJRumpy (1345787)

          The basic problem is that we pay these folks to think like a paranoid (albeit with a little dose of common sense, and some thoroughness when needed). We basically got what we paid for. It sounds like some background checks where in order.

          • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday December 25, 2009 @12:25PM (#30551238) Homepage
            The scary thing is that they did to background checks. And security checks. If you believe TFA, they did "due diligence" multiple times. The perps managed to scam that in two ways - first, they scammed the government into handing over millions for "R&D" and they pulled that scam off several times with different groups throughout the government. Second, they somehow managed to come in contact with a number of influential people, both within government and the just plain rich and dumb and they scammed them for all it's worth.

            Sociopathy and social engineering. A win every time. For a while, at least.
            • sense is lacking (Score:5, Informative)

              by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Friday December 25, 2009 @02:02PM (#30551764) Journal

              Everyone is under a lot of pressure to perform. I worked for a defense contractor for 2 projects. The 1st project was a success, and the 2nd was a complete disaster. On that 2nd project, the customers were asking for a great deal, and many of them didn't understand that. They wanted in 1 year what had previously taken 15 years to do, and instead of being helpful, kept on throwing up idiotic roadblocks, for political reasons. As in, no non-American software allowed, because terrorists might have programmed in back doors and booby traps. That wasn't the real reason-- what they were really trying to do was force the use of what they were comfortable with, which was Windows. Security was the ultimate excuse, and was roundly abused to justify anything they wished.

              Unfortunately, our management opted for dishonesty, in so far as they could agree on anything at all. Kissed up mightily, promising to do the job in 6 months knowing full well that they could not, and then tried to baffle with bull. Played along with the politicking. Leaned on their own people to rubberstamp things, or dress stuff up, and fought with each other over what we should do. Paralyzed by impossible and contradictory demands, and rank incompetence, we ended up accomplishing absolutely nothing. Gave the customers manure for a year, and that was not entirely unwelcome to some of the customers as they used us to hire a few favorites, and order equipment they'd get to keep after we crashed and burned. When enough of the customers at last got wise, the management blamed everything on us underlings and fired us all, to gain themselves more time. That didn't work for long, and finally, the contract was cancelled. Was the most miserable job experience I ever had.

              This sort of scam is entirely believable. The defense people are suckers for security theater. Not the brightest at seeing through it, nor are they particularly good at telling the honest and competent from the dishonest and incompetent, even when it should be obvious. They don't help themselves when they engage in their own brand of lying, and collude. Honest contractors have a rough time being heard above the noise made by the legions of incompetent liars who are willing to promise anything to get that contract.

          • They were based in Reno, for fuck's sake. I wouldn't think background checks were necessary.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 25, 2009 @10:22AM (#30550742)

      I never understood why Bush planed to bomb AlJazerea until now.
      In case you missed it: Bush planed to bomb the TV station in an allied country until GB Premier Blair stopped him.

    • by Lakitu (136170) on Friday December 25, 2009 @10:42AM (#30550804)

      That's pretty much exactly what happened to a few of the people who ended up at Guantanmo Bay -- rewards were offered for tips that led to the capture of terrorists or terrorist sympathizers in Afghanistan in ~2001-2002. It worked great, as they began receiving a ton of tips from the formerly unhelpful local populace. It seems fairly obvious now that a not insignificant amount of the tips were completely fabricated, indicating that people who were completely unrelated to any real sympathy for al'Qaeda, or perhaps people who were the target of grudges, were doing things that they were not doing, or wanted to do things that they did not want to do.

      Nobody seemed to care very much, since it didn't involve US citizens, and since people had let fear control their lives and did not want to take any chances, no matter how remote they are. Hey Sarge, Habib from Jalalabnotgonnaworkhereanymore says this derka farmer in a village 10 miles away hates America! What are the chances Habib would lie to us?

    • by houghi (78078)

      And you are sure this did not happen? And you are sure that he was the only person giving information to the CIA?
      People ratted out others in Afghanistan and Iraq for money. The fact that those people were innocent did not stop them from getting the money and the people being deported.
      Don't forget, everybody is guilty by association.

      It is "6 degrees of Kevin Bacon". That is one random person. That means you will be 6 degrees away from a terrorist. The difference is that all people in the 5th degree will beco

    • by Mikkeles (698461)

      You people really have got a bunch of looney tunes in charge, don't you? Our leaders don't hold a candle to yours!

  • diff needed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:01AM (#30550518) Homepage Journal

    Frances Townsend, a homeland security adviser to Bush, said she did not regret having relied on Montgomery's mysterious intelligence. "It didn't seem beyond the realm of possibility. We were relying on technical people to tell us whether or not it was feasible," she said.

    "It didn't seem beyond the realm of possibility. We were relying on shit like this to maintain the illusion that we are doing something to combat terrorism. When he asked to close the museum of modern art, we were overjoyed. Talk about high-profile!"

    The reality is that there is one and only one way to combat terrorism against the US: stop training terrorists and betraying them.

    • Re:diff needed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kevinNCSU (1531307) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:32AM (#30550592)

      Must have missed the part where we betrayed the Mujaheddin to the Soviets as well as the part where any of those Afghani fighters were involved in the events of 9/11. Unless by 'betrayed' you mean the war ended, most of the foreign fighters left Afghanistan, we were no longer needed so stopped training, and the groups of foreign fighters began to self-radicalize as only the more radical members interested in fighting foreign powers rather than defending Islamic lands remained while the rest went home.

      The 'your own fault for ever having helped them' adage is certainly drawing psychologically but doesn't really hold water. You might as well blame the Cold War on us helping the Soviets fight the Germans rather than any sort of clash of political and economic ideals. Or blame the German invasion of Russia solely on Russian's steel trade with Germany up until the morning of rather than even note Hitler is doing anything wrong in wanting to take over the world. And I suppose we fought the British solely because they trained us how to fight during the French and Indian war and like us should have had the decades of foresight to know they'd be better off not providing aid and letting their enemy take over those lands.

      • we won the war... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by airdrummer (547536)

        but fucked up the end-game, according to charlie wilson's war;-}

        an i saw this story on network news last night...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lakitu (136170)

        The 'your own fault for ever having helped them' adage is certainly drawing psychologically but doesn't really hold water. You might as well blame the Cold War on us helping the Soviets fight the Germans rather than any sort of clash of political and economic ideals.

        That's not entirely untrue. One of the reasons communist China existed as it did was because of pressure from the US for the USSR to declare war on Japan, most likely to help mitigate American casualties in any invasion of the Japanese mainland

        • by RattFink (93631)

          That's not entirely untrue. One of the reasons communist China existed as it did was because of pressure from the US for the USSR to declare war on Japan, most likely to help mitigate American casualties in any invasion of the Japanese mainlands. This pressure was also exerted to draw Soviet forces away from Europe, where there was a genuine fear about further war, after the Nazis fell, between the West and the Soviets. In hindsight this war was not very likely, but there was a genuine, well-founded fear and distrust of Stalin.

          I would think the war declaration would have more to do with Japan invading under pretext and occupying Manchuria back in 1931. Heck it wasn't until 1941 when the US entered the war that China really got substantial help and by then China was largely controlled by the Japanese. I would say that China's ineffective defense of itself during that war definitely helped the communists.

      • Nice strawman. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by copponex (13876) on Friday December 25, 2009 @12:29PM (#30551270) Homepage

        Comparing our voluntary invasion of sovereign nations to WWII and the Revolutionary War is completely ridiculous. Afghanistan's government requested Soviet military support to quell the fundamentalist Islamo-Fascists from overthrowing their secular Marxist government. We decided to punish the CCCP by "giving them their own Vietnam." We gathered every crazy Islamic fundamentalist we could lay our hands on, trained them, and showed that it was possible to defeat a world superpower. We poured billions of dollars of weapons into the country, and Russia poured billions in, and we had a proxy war that completely destroyed Afghanistan, and killed possibly millions of people. Then, as soon as the Russians left, refused to give a dime to build anything.

        If it was just limited to Afghanistan, I could say it was an honest, one time mistake. However, we have invaded and overthrown so many democratic governments that it's almost a farce at this point to claim that we support freedom. It's obvious that we support whatever entity follows our orders. The only thing that will make the US care about your freedom is if you have some resource under your feet and a governent that is not playing ball.

        And here's the amazing part about your post:

        And I suppose we fought the British solely because they trained us how to fight during the French and Indian war and like us should have had the decades of foresight to know they'd be better off not providing aid and letting their enemy take over those lands.

        Now, who decided that Britain's imperial claim to whatever they wanted was moral? Because if all you need to justify taking the lives of foreign nationals is the desire to have their stuff, then apparently you do not subscribe to any sort of value system, other than might makes right.

        • Re:Nice strawman. (Score:4, Informative)

          by mqduck (232646) <mqduckNO@SPAMmqduck.net> on Friday December 25, 2009 @02:28PM (#30551876)

          Comparing our voluntary invasion of sovereign nations to WWII and the Revolutionary War is completely ridiculous. Afghanistan's government requested Soviet military support to quell the fundamentalist Islamo-Fascists from overthrowing their secular Marxist government.

          Not quite true. Afghanistan had a Marxist, Soviet-aligned government threatened by Islamist ("Islamo-Fascism" is a bullshit term that has nothing to do with history), US-backed insurgents, but they specifically told the Soviet Union NOT to send troops, knowing that it would severely harm the government's already fragile public support. The Soviet Union decided to be its usual arrogant self and figured that it knew socialism a hell of a lot better than the silly Afghans, and that its own interests were paramount (a US-backed regime on their border wasn't a happy prospect for them), and invaded anyway, toppled the Marxist government and installed a puppet regime.

          • I thought the tongue in cheek was pretty clear. Yesterday's Freedom Fighter is today's Islamo-Fascist Terrorist. Anyway...

            I've read a bunch about what lead to the conflict in Afghanistan, even the interviews with Brzezinski on how the CIA plotted to draw Russia in. What is your source stating that the Afghan government told the Soviets that they didn't want support?

            http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html [globalresearch.ca]

            January 1998

            Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

            Brzezinski: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

            Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn't believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don't regret anything today?

            Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

            Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

            Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

          • That is not quite true, too. Nur Mohammad Taraki (the president of Afghanistan in 1978) asked the Soviet Union to help, but was overthrown and killed by Hafizullah Amin (who wasn't quite a friend of the USSR). He was assassinated by Soviet commandos (Alfa), then USSR invaded Afghanistan to reinstall the government of Taraki back.

    • by jaypifer (64463)

      The reality is that there is one and only one way to combat terrorism against the US: stop training terrorists and betraying them.

      Because that's what creates con men in Nevada!

    • Re:diff needed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Friday December 25, 2009 @10:50AM (#30550838)

      stop training terrorists and betraying them.

      It's not just that. These people are also enraged at what they see as US imperialism in the Middle East. With all the invasions and troops deployed to the region, and all the coups, it is a wonder to me that the US isn't constantly being bombed by disaffected people of all stripes.

    • Re:diff needed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dlt074 (548126) on Friday December 25, 2009 @10:56AM (#30550870)

      i agree with your first point, this whole "do something" disease has to stop. doing something just for the sake of doing something is never the right solution.

      as for your other point. while i don't agree that we trained all the terrorists in the world today, i know we train people we shouldn't train and they will come back to haunt us. however, i will not agree that we betrayed most of them and surely that is not why they want to blow themselves up. stop with this battered wife syndrome mentality of it's our fault, if we just didn't upset them they won't beat/kill us anymore. ridiculous!

      take for instance Afghanistan. we "trained" them to fight the Soviets(biggest problem at the time). when the Soviets left, we used diplomacy and agreed with them to keep our hands off Afghanistan, there was no longer any Soviets in country for our new "allies" to fight. leaving them to form their own country is not a betrayal. do you really want to argue that we should of went in and set up our form of government? we did the right thing and it came back to bite us in the ass. damned if we do, damed if we don't. it's a little more complicated then, we upset some people 20 years ago and they are still trying to pay us back. if anything, diplomacy with our enemies(Soviets) led to this.

    • Re:diff needed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday December 25, 2009 @11:46AM (#30551052)

      The reality is that there is one and only one way to combat terrorism against the US: stop training terrorists and betraying them.

      Bzzzzt!

      The only way to effectively combat terrorism is to stop freaking the fuck out. By definition terrorists want to create terror. So stop over-reacting. Stop treating terrorism as some special evil that is a force unto itself worthy of endless news coverage and the constant ratcheting up of 'safety' rules. Live our lives as the free and the brave, not pathetic slaves to fear.

      • by Fnkmaster (89084)

        Agreed - and to strike with deadly, serious, respected force when we are fucked with. The war in Afghanistan should have been swift, brutal, and left lots of people dead. The result should have been utter fear to ever fuck with the US again, lest your country end up as a post-nuclear holocaust wasteland. And that should have been that - instead we've dawdled around for 8+ years now, started a second war in Iraq that was basically unjustified, and essentially a waste of resources. And we forgot to finish

        • Agreed - and to strike with deadly, serious, respected force when we are fucked with.

          No, you don't agree with me one bit. Your first sentence is a perfect example of freaking the fuck out.

        • by cusco (717999)
          The result should have been utter fear to ever fuck with the US again, lest your country end up as a post-nuclear holocaust wasteland.

          How many Afghans attacked the US (in 2001 or any other year)? Exactly ZERO. The majority of the supposed attackers were Saudis, so should we have blasted our closest ally in the Middle East to smithereens? That sure would send an unmistakable signal. Or maybe we should have blown the crap out of our other close ally Pakistan, where much of the funding originated? Or m
        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          strike with deadly, serious, respected force when we are fucked with. The war in Afghanistan should have been swift, brutal, and left lots of people dead. The result should have been utter fear to ever fuck with the US again, lest your country end up as a post-nuclear holocaust wasteland.

          Errr, refresh my memory - when was the last time that the PEOPLE of Afghanistan ever did anything to the people of America, apart form growing a large proportion of the world's supply of heroin precursors, then selling it t

  • Flights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:04AM (#30550526) Journal

    “What were we going to do and how would we screen people? If we weren’t comfortable we wouldn’t let a flight take off.”

    Why are they still following flights and such so closely, while leaving all the other ways open? It wouldn't have the same effect this time, because terrorists just go for emotions of people to get their message out.

    Seems like hysterical thinking for me.

    • Re:Flights (Score:4, Insightful)

      by khallow (566160) on Friday December 25, 2009 @10:29AM (#30550760)

      Why are they still following flights and such so closely, while leaving all the other ways open?

      Good question. I imagine the answer is because the terrorist groups that most concern the CIA seem obsessed with passenger airplanes along with some combination of bureaucratic momentum and "fighting the last war" going on.

    • Re:Flights (Score:5, Informative)

      by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Friday December 25, 2009 @10:51AM (#30550848)

      Because the US is now self-terrorizing, no bombers needed. We needlessly disrupt and frighten on our own to keep people on edge. And because once grown, government never shrinks, the massive increase in HSA and other such frightmongering will be a part of our culture (and budget) for the rest of United States history.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      “What were we going to do and how would we screen people? If we weren’t comfortable we wouldn’t let a flight take off.”

      Why are they still following flights and such so closely, while leaving all the other ways open? It wouldn't have the same effect this time, because terrorists just go for emotions of people to get their message out.

      Seems like hysterical thinking for me.

      Totally agree. I took Amtrak recently and I was *shocked* that there was absolutely no baggage screening or even a metal detector I had to go through to board the train--you just show up with your bags and walk in without any security, ID checks, or bag checks whatsoever. They don't even check for your ticket until about a half hour into the train ride. Sure, airport security sucks, but the last couple of major terrorist attacks in Europe were on trains and we still don't care about trains? This convince

      • Re:Flights (Score:4, Informative)

        by ScentCone (795499) on Friday December 25, 2009 @11:54AM (#30551080)
        we still don't care about trains?

        You can't hijack a train, and take it somewhere else, later ramming it into a huge building full of people in some other city.

        And... try going the combination of things you need to do in order to, say, steer a train pulling large payloads of dangerous chemicals someplace it's not supposed to go. You have to take over the locomotive and get control of the railyard switching systems and be able to magically control other trains to make sure they're not in your way.

        Simply blowing up some passengers in the trains, a la Madrid, isn't as sexy in the US, since the attackers need to rise to the same level as their last large domestic attack, or appear to be (as they are) not as capable as they once were.
        • You can, however, cause it to derail and/or explode as it passes through a highly populated part of town. There's a lot of surface rail in the US.

          Regardless, why bother with a plane? Why not just drive a truck full of fertilizer explosives into a football stadium?

        • by cusco (717999)
          "the attackers need to rise to the same level as their last large domestic attack, or appear to be (as they are) not as capable as they once were."

          Don't follow international events much, do you? Are you under the impression that Hamas has abandoned the suicide belt or that the FARC has given up on snipers? It's never made much difference to terrorist groups whether Bomb #3 kills more people than Bomb #2 did, it's just not important. The only thing of import is to sow more terror.

          If the US isn't b
  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:11AM (#30550542)

    Playboy article? I guess the real news here is that someone actually reads playboy for the articles. Who knew?

  • by walmass (67905) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:31AM (#30550588)
    The author was on NPR a few days ago [transcript and audio] [npr.org], in case you won't visit PlayBoy or get distracted once you get there :-)

    Here came someone with a magic box who provided an easy solution, and the eggheads and their political masters bought it hook, line and sinker. What I find extraordinary is that the NSA was not involved or asked to vet this guy's findings. Billions of dollars and some of the finest brains working there, and no one thought to call them? Looks like even in 2003 inter-agency cooperation wasn't going very well.He was CIAs asset, and they were not going to share.

    My conclusion: con man, and he will probably get away with this, because the government can not publicly prosecute him without looking like an Idiot.
    • by bcmm (768152) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:41AM (#30550626)

      the eggheads and their political masters bought it hook, line and sinker.

      Or the eggheads took one look and facepalmed, but the political masters used it anyway, fully aware it was bullshit. Fear is useful to them.

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday December 25, 2009 @12:38PM (#30551320) Homepage
        According to TFA, that's exactly what happened. Intel professionals called bullshit several times, but were essentially overruled because a) it might, just might, maybe in a parallel universe or with the right pixie dust, might work and b) more importantly advanced a specific political agenda with the higher ups.

        Social engineering at it's finest.
        • Imagine what would have happened if this software's prediction happened to match an actual attack, and they had ignored it. Nostradamus was a smart guy, but not because of his ability to accurately predict...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rastilin (752802)

      He told Bauder to listen to the phone. "'When you hear the tone, I want you to hit the space bar on the keyboard.'" Bauder, in other words, would be secretly communicating with Montgomery while the military guys watched the supposed software demo on another computer.

      ...and at the time, he seriously didn't find it the least bit suspicious? This stretches credibility, either they're all huge idiots, or they were playing along while the going was good.

    • by rwyoder (759998) on Friday December 25, 2009 @12:14PM (#30551184)

      The author was on NPR a few days ago [transcript and audio], in case you won't visit PlayBoy or get distracted once you get there :-)

      Here is also video of a Rachel Maddow interview with the author: http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/maddow_with_roston_on_the_incredible_magic_al_jaze.php [talkingpointsmemo.com]

    • by dbIII (701233)

      What I find extraordinary is that the NSA was not involved or asked to vet this guy's findings.

      Most likely they were and warned about it but were over-ruled by some horse judge with connections.
      It's another symptom of the transformation to corrupt third world tinpot dictatorship that the Neocons were pushing as hard as they could.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:33AM (#30550600) Homepage Journal
    That software, coupled with the (ok, Hanlon should be right) stupidity of the ones believing in this software was right and acting according should be punished. They were doing the work of terrorists, spreading panic between people.

    In the other hand, should be a lesson to government between the difference of open and closed source. Snake oil is harder to sell if you can peek at the formula.
  • by bcmm (768152) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:36AM (#30550608)
    So, who do you think will be prosecuted for this? The guy who told them this nonsense, or the CIA guy who payed him to produce the "intel" they wanted to hear?

    Along with the recently-revealed origin of the "45 minutes" claim here in the UK, this starts to paint a picture of the way the War on Terror is justified: agencies don't make stuff up: they pay some idiot to make stuff up, so that when questions are asked, blame can go to the idiot instead of the highly-trained people that somehow end up listening to idiots.

    This also shows how easy it is to fool most people by treating computers like magic. You can't say stuff came to you in a vision anymore, but claim that magic software told you and most people are too scared of technical stuff to think to hard about it.
    • by joe_garage (1664999) on Friday December 25, 2009 @09:52AM (#30550648)
      computers ARE magic to 99% of the population (if they own one or not) --- i fear that also goes for 'those in charge' (of us?)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, And this is why information theory needs to be taught in kinder garden, the problems being that A. Most Teachers Don't Understand Information Theory and B. Nobody has come up with a way to conceptualize Information Theory in a way that can be thought to very young kids and then built on through out there education. B is probably quite doable but A is really going to be the big stumbling block. But since Information Theory can be applied to most anything it would very beneficial to our society to groov

    • by couchslug (175151) on Friday December 25, 2009 @10:47AM (#30550832)

      The person who knowingly sells parts or software or equipment to the government is attempting sabotage. We need to return to the quite legal custom of executing saboteurs.

      • by dkf (304284)

        The person who knowingly sells parts or software or equipment to the government is attempting sabotage.

        I assume you left out the word "defective" there (or something like it)? Otherwise you're trying to criminalize people for just honestly selling ordinary stuff to the government. Even for a dyed-in-the-wool libertarian, that's a little extreme.

        • by Psyborgue (699890)
          He did say "knowingly".
          • by St.Creed (853824)

            He did say "knowingly sells software (etc.)" - missing the word "defective" - and with the parent poster, I'm not sure that shooting up nearly every software vendor in existence would really help us. Unless you plan a hostile takeover...

            Wait, now I see it! Here's what you should do if you own an unsuccesfull software company that never sold anything to the government!

            1. Introduce plan to shoot all software saboteurs
            2. Leave out the word "defective" so every current government software-supplier gets shot
            3.

      • by bcmm (768152)

        The person who knowingly sells parts or software or equipment to the government is attempting sabotage. We need to return to the quite legal custom of executing saboteurs.

        You've missed my point, which is that the Government agent who knowingly *purchased* the defective software is also a saboteur (and in this case I find it extremely difficult to believe that they did not know the software was nonsense).

    • Possibly nobody (Score:5, Insightful)

      by doug141 (863552) on Friday December 25, 2009 @12:05PM (#30551124)

      So, who do you think will be prosecuted for this?

      I know from someone who worked in the DOD these cons can come across a single desk more than once a week, with, interestingly, professional presentations totally at odds with the quality of the science. If it were your job to sort through these, and if you had to sort through HUNDREDS in your career, then the one con who got lucky guesses (law of averages and all) during your testing of him would end your career. Remember a 99% accurate test is wrong 1% of the time. Also consider it can be just as bad (or worse) if you turn someone away who did have something novel, especially if it costs lives.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bcmm (768152)
        And it's a coincidence that the one hoax that happened to click with their existing obsession with spy-thriller plots to down airliners got accepted and the ones which can predict when Canada will invade or identify terrorists from their shoe sizes or estimate the odds of Mickey Mouse defecting to the Russians didn't? (I consider these to make about as much sense as each other).

        Yes, people should lose their jobs if they judge things based on the professionalism of the presentation instead of its content ("
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 25, 2009 @11:06AM (#30550914)

    I worked for a Very Large Company looking to buy image compression software from this dude many years back. A co-worker did some extremely clever testing of the compression software that proved conclusively that the compression algorithms were cheating, and that it was intentional fraud. Upper management still wanted to believe the cheater and not our own internal debunking. Amazing how non-objective people can be, even (or especially) managers of scientists and engineers.

    • A co-worker did some extremely clever testing of the compression software that proved conclusively that the compression algorithms were cheating, and that it was intentional fraud.

      Cheating how? Either it decompresses or it doesn't...

      • by SharpFang (651121)

        lossy advertized as lossless?
        Drop every second outgoing frame from 50FPS stream, send at 25FPS, then double each arriving frame and advertize maintained 50FPS?
        Provide just some scrambling with zero compression?

      • by kyz (225372)

        The usual cheating is to pretend to "compress" the data, but actually hide it some other place on the machine.

        So you get a smaller filesize, and it decompresses alright too.

        But copy the "compressed" file to another machine without copying the hidden data and it "fails" to decompress.

        • by dkf (304284)

          The usual cheating is to pretend to "compress" the data, but actually hide it some other place on the machine.

          So you get a smaller filesize, and it decompresses alright too.

          But copy the "compressed" file to another machine without copying the hidden data and it "fails" to decompress.

          It's better than that. If you're using NTFS or HFS+, you can squirrel the data away in an Alternate Data Stream/Resource Fork and the data will be copied around with the file. In a real sense, it is part of the file and yet not. Might even get copied to another machine if the medium was a suitably-formatted device (not sure about that).

      • by fm6 (162816)

        AC has garbled the story slightly. The fraudulent part was not the degree of compression, but the software's supposed ability to recognize objects in a video stream.

        http://www.lvrj.com/news/47141377.html [lvrj.com]

        Which explains the credulity. This software would have been very valuable if it had been legit.

  • you aint seen nothing yet. There is this site called 4chan and the users are posting hidden messages in pictures. Some are harmless others ..... well i won't speculate here in a public place :P
    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Oh. I see you've seen "it" please remain where you are, SEAL's are now being dispatched to your location to liquidate you.

  • articles? (Score:3, Funny)

    by binaryseraph (955557) on Friday December 25, 2009 @11:51AM (#30551064)
    Playboy has articles?
  • Yes, that's the "War On Terror" alright.

  • "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...." ... as he sits in a dark jail cell somewhere waiting to be convicted of treason. We hope.

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow

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