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back to article Taliban official's email blunder leaks 400+ contacts

Anyone in the bulk email business should know never to mix up cc: ("carbon copy") and bcc: ("blind carbon copy") – especially if the materials you're sending out are Taliban press releases. That was exactly the rookie mistake made by Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmedi last week, ABC News reports, which resulted in Ahmedi …

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Black Helicopters

Fortunately, the U.S. government......

Has indicated that it will be happy to relocate the outed persons, provide them with lifetime Caribbean vacations and "us.guantanamo.mil" email addresses.....

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Facepalm

Re: Fortunately, the U.S. government......

Erm, didn't Obambi promise to close Gitmo....?

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Devil

@ Matt....

Politicians make promises all the time, they never keep.....

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Holmes

Re: Fortunately, the U.S. government......

Not sure you can exactly say it was a promise. President Obama said he wanted to close Gitmo and said that he believed closing Gitmo was the correct thing to do, and as far as I can tell, he still believes those things. However, he is not a dictator, though the people who accuse him of being a dictator are the same ones who are refusing to let him close Guantanamo.

Hey, here's a crazy idea. Why doesn't Obama ask Clinton to delay her vacation a bit and pursue the normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba? I think all the rational folks can agree that Cuba and Castro do not pose any existential threats to the US, and there's even a wing of the neo-GOP that understands they should try to make nice to some Latinos if they hope to win anymore national elections. Maybe the Cubans will sweeten the deal by insisting on the return of Guantanamo Bay, which would obviously imply the closure of Gitmo?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fortunately, the U.S. government......

> Erm, didn't Obambi promise to close Gitmo....?

Only to tourists.

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Facepalm

Re: @ Matt....

He not only promised to close Gitmo, he had plans ready to go. As a fellow commentard mentioned earlier, Obama isn't a dictator and ultimately Congress has to OK everything. Gitmo-shutdown was scuppered by NIMBYs who didn't want to have ex-gitmo prisoners located to their local prisons (pure idiocy, I know)

Also, I believe there was (and still is) a question on some of the inmates' legal status. Many of them were just rounded up randomly as a result of the incredibly imbecilic US policy of paying a huge ransom for anyone who the locals CLAIMED was a Taliban. Of course some of the locals simply rounded up the noisy neighbour from next door or the guy whose goats were eating their grass and... PROFIT!!

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FAIL

Re: @ Matt....

".....he had plans ready to go...." Really? So you can link to those plans, right? No you can't because he never planned anything, he always knew it was a hollow promise.

".....NIMBYs who didn't want to have ex-gitmo prisoners located to their local prisons (pure idiocy, I know)...." Yeah, I so don't understand why people would not want fanatical murderers moving in next door! Oh, wait a sec, could it be becasue they're fanatical murderers? D'uh!

".....Also, I believe there was (and still is) a question on some of the inmates' legal status....." Rubbish. The biggest problem is the inmates' own countries do not want them back. China in particular has refused to take any of the Urghars captured in Afghanistan. Some of the inmates have been homed by bribing tiny nations to accept them, but they aren't going to be taking any of the realy nasty cases. Others the Americans can't take back for the very ironic reason that their own countries will promptly execute them!

".....some of the locals simply rounded up the noisy neighbour from next door or the guy whose goats were eating their grass...." Such revenge cases were weeded out at Bagrum even if they got that far. If you can prove otherwise then please do link to some evidence of such a case, otherwise I'll just have to assume you're talking out of your rectum. Again.

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Trollface

wait a minute

If the Taliban already has your email address you are concerned about safety? People who throw acid in teen girl's faces for daring to go to school aren't exactly the kind of people who want to confide many secrets too. In their defense with wikileaks much the same could be said for the US government.

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Anonymous Coward

I know you're trolling but...

leadership != footsoldier

No, I do not support the Taliban or their ideals.

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Boffin

Re: wait a minute

"If the Taliban already has your email address....." Well, it's not just the Taleban they have to worry about. The Afghan government hasn't exactly been whiter-than-white when it comes to dealing with "friends" of the Taleban (or "traitors" as they tend to class them), whether they be professional journos or not. Then you have other clan warlords in the Afghan that may still have an axe to grind with the Taleban seeing as the Taleban (and their AQ chums) spent five-odd years kidnapping, torturing and killing anyone from the other clans that opposed their rule. And then there is any Pakistanis journos on the list, any of who are not already under the ISI's thumb would be very likley to attract the ISI's interrest. And any in the Gulf Emirates, seeing as the Arab princes are all cracking down on journos in their little dictatorships, and the excuse of locking one up for being friendly with AQ would not be a first. And then, finally, you have the minor threat of Western intelligence agencies putting you on watchlists, bugging your phones and reading your mail.

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FAIL

They should have used Thunderbird

Any slightly competent UI hacker could remove the CC: field from the Compose window. There may even be an extension already available with the similar functionality.

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FAIL

Re: They should have used Thunderbird

No, they should use a real mailing list manager like Mailman or Majordomo.

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Mushroom

"Oh my good how did this get there I'm not good with computers"

Sucks trying to navigate through live using only sharia, arseholes!

Seriously though the fact that Afghan people actually *still* are somehwat partial to these bottomfeeders says a lot about how utter incompetence of the US at doing anything right.

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Meh

Re: "Oh my good how did this get there I'm not good with computers"

Data: Terrorist screws up batch email

Conclusion: The United States has never done anything right

Only on El Reg...

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Re: "Oh my good how did this get there I'm not good with computers"

Conclusion: The United States has never done anything right

Data: Terrorist screws up batch email

There, fixed it for you!

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Anonymous Coward

Numpties, you picked the wrong points.

Data: The Taliban are still respected and even admired by a significant minority of local people.

Conclusion: The US/NATO intervention has not worked as well as intended.

Why is that?

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Mushroom

Re: Numpties, you picked the wrong points.

The Immoral Minority wins the election, the Moral Majority is flabbergasted.

Conclusion: Maybe your name is wrong and you're really the Moral Minority

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Re: Numpties, you picked the wrong points.

"Data: The Taliban are still respected and even admired by a significant minority of local people.

Conclusion: The US/NATO intervention has not worked as well as intended."

I know this may be difficult to believe, but some things - among them dealing with entrenched terrorist organizations which have infiltrated highly corrupt governments - are quite difficult to do. Other things that are difficult to do and often take longer than intended include setting up mySQL, building skyscrapers, and winning the FIA Formula One World Championship for constructors.

Bizarrely, even competent, well-thought-out plans can run into difficulty with any of those things (databases, architecture, motorsport, eliminating powerful and well-equipped enemies who are driven by hatred and obsessive ideology).

So, while you are correct in that the US/NATO intervention has not worked 'as well as intended', that, in and of itself, is not an indictment of the motives or execution of the operation itself. There are plenty of examples where intervention did not worked as well as intended but was still on balance the right thing to do (the US' intervention in World War Two comes to mind; that was jammed with serious screw-ups but turned out OK in the end).

If you want to condemn US intervention as wholly wrong-headed, there are plenty of places to start, but this isn't one of them. And an unfortunate number of Reg commenters' nearly pathological desire to attack the motivation and execution of pretty much anything the US has ever done (or failed to do) results in any reasonable criticism being lost midst the noise and spittle-flecked fury.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Numpties, you picked the wrong points.

Competent, well-thought-out plans can run into difficulty with those things.

The reason this "intervention" in Afghanistan was an utter disaster is because it was not well thought out, or competently managed. The original plan was simply "WE WILL HAVE REVENGE! KILL THE PEOPLE INVOLVED WITH 9/11 AND TOPPLE THE TALIBAN GOVERNMENT!!"

This is fair enough, a passing glance at a history book shows up dozens of examples of Britain, France, Germany or most other countries with any expeditionary military capacity having done precisely the same when national pride demanded vengeance in the past.

Vengeance and toppling the Taliban was achieved without putting any ground troops in as it was just done by supporting the northern front with air strikes. This much was nicely done.

The mistake was then sending in tens of thousands of ground troops with no real purpose or plan. The fundamental point of employing force taught to anybody using force from karate up is that you must know what you intend to achieve with the employment of force, and have a plan for extracting yourself from the situation once you have escalated it by the employment of force.

The US government failed on both points from the outset. The "reasons" for invading changed repeatedly from chasing the taliban to being part of the war on drugs, the war against terrorists, and nation building. And then they changed back and forwards again, depending on which professed goal would play well in the news that week.

With goals changing so rapidly as to defy any possibility of formulating a coherent strategy to execute them there was never any chance anything would come from this "intervention".

And call a spade a bloody spade. An "intervention" is just politically correct double speak for an invasion. If your invading another country then the least you can do is look at previous lessons learned and do the job properly.

What pisses other people off is not the US screwing up, it's the purer than driven snow, holier than thou "we could NEVER do anything wrong" attitude.

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Joke

He's lucky he's with the Taliban, not Wikileaks

Otherwise the US would have him in prison by next tuesday.

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Black Helicopters

Re: He's lucky he's with the Taliban, not Wikileaks

On a more serious note, this will make an interesting case study on how the "leader of the free world" deals with a leak compared to the Taliban. Not overly confident on picking a winner in the justice stakes.

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Re: He's lucky he's with the Taliban, not Wikileaks

He's lucky he's not British or the ICO would slap him with a £50,000 fine.

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Black Helicopters

It's Hammer Time!

LAUNCH THE DRONES!

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It's a paradox, but who else would they send press releases to, but the press.

SUBSCRIBE

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Re: It's a paradox, but who else would they send press releases to, but the press.

You forgot the US government, after all its nice to keep in contact with old friends and the US was there with help and weapons when they were just little green mujahadeen..

"Reach out and touch someone..."

I should imagine the ' blond moment' in question has gone quiet because its hard to be talkative without a head.

Kudos to anonymous by the way but a word to the wise - if any petite demure tanned brunettes happen to randomly befriend you... Its probably time to emigrate, Mars would be favourite.

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Joke

Whooo, boy. I bet the boss'll have his head for this one.

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Trollface

St00dents...

Students that never learn...

('taliban' means 'students' apparently... )

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Anonymous Coward

The Taliban are doomed.

Why? Because they are frightened of 14 year old girls.

Why? Because the One who is coming to judge them said these words:

"The mercy you show to others is the same mercy that Allah will show to you"

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Re: The Taliban are doomed.

Well thats the US government buggered too - since its generally accepted that God, the big 'A' and Iehovah are the same individual in different robes (aka the bloke-dress). I think its a shame theres little chance of any of them showing up in person, I'd gladly pay Iehovahs travel expenses at 30p/mile just to see the look on israeli government/military faces when he wanders into the situation room...

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Happy

Re: The Taliban are doomed.

Doomed as in - the USSR failed (while US was training the Taliban...), now the US/UK alliance is not making much progress... evolve into something - more likely.

... and get a proper IT department roflmao

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Re: The Taliban are doomed.

Dear AC,

Well it is good that the Muslim faith has the same high ideals as the Christian one.

They could well be better at it than the Christians are (like G.Bush).

May goodness and mercy be with you for all of your days.

TTFN

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Happy

History already has a response for such matters

In the great words of Nelson and I quote "HAHA".

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That's not clear though.

Which can't be exploited by the U.S. to kill those contacts because in doing so they'd be breaking privacy policy law. You're not allowed to utilise contact details without the owner's permission but let's see what they do regardless if it's not a plot by the Taliban to misdirect the drones that is.

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Speaking of e-mail blunders

How did the ICO deal with the register when it did exactly the same thing?

We never did get an update.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/24/email_blunder/

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Don't really see the issue here. Everyone on the list is known to the Taliban so why would they attack them now the list is in the "open" and anyone who may view these people as "traitors", well how are they going to track down anyone just by an email address? Unless they have email addresses like Ahmad123.Kabul.124DonkeyLane@gmail.com.

Most of the Talibans on the list are most probably already in contact with or already known to the US/Afghans anyway so a blunder yes, but doubt it's anything big.

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Holmes

Exactly where is the BCC information stripped out?

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn for anyone who thinks there is ANYTHING secure about email. That goes for you, too, David Petraeus, or maybe double for you.

I know it is egregious to broadcast a BCC list in public, though I think this major nuisance is that someone is going to hit Reply-to-all. Is there any real secrecy in the BCC? At what point in the process is the BCC information stripped out. I'm certain that the sysop of the first email server would have access to the full list, but I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find out that the sysop of any server included in the list of addresses also has transient access to the complete list.

Next question: Is there any standard about whether or not that first email server is supposed to keep or discard the BCC list? I certainly know that some email servers do keep that information, and of course that means that anyone who knows the sender would have all the time in the world to go after the BCC list where it is stored on that server. (Unless the sender remembered to go back and delete the sent copy, but even in that case, the deleted file might be recoverable for some time...)

Secret? Email? Dream on, MacDuff, and cursed be he who first cries "Hold, enough!"

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Vic
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Re: Exactly where is the BCC information stripped out?

> Is there any real secrecy in the BCC?

Yes, if you have physical control over your own kit.

> At what point in the process is the BCC information stripped out

At the oubound MTA.

> I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find out that the sysop of any server included in the

> list of addresses also has transient access to the complete list.

You'd be wrong.

> Secret? Email? Dream on, MacDuff

Email is as secure as you want it to be. For most people, that means "insecure", because securing it takes a little bit of work, and thinking is hard, apparently.

Vic.

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Terminator

bcc

Could only be considered to be a security procedure by a moron.

Still - it gave some self-important twatters the opportunity to emphasise that they are in-the-loop with the taleban.

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"Yeah, I so don't understand why people would not want fanatical murderers moving in next door! Oh, wait a sec, could it be becasue they're fanatical murderers? D'uh!"

They could be fanatical murderers, or they might not be. Do *you* know? If the US had any *credible* evidence, not obtained using torture, then they would have tried them, long ago. The fact that they haven't been tried speaks for itself. And please do not rationalise the illegal torture and illegal detention without trial with the "the ends justifies the means" argument.

"China in particular has refused to take any of the Urghars captured in Afghanistan."

On the contrary, China would love to take them back so they could learn from them about "US style enhanced interrogation techniques" by applying some "enhanced interrogation techniques with Chinese characteristics".

"That's bad news (no pun intended), because in war-torn Afghanistan, targeted attacks on journalists are commonplace."

So the implication is that these journalists should watch their backs because now they're on the Afghan and US hitlist for aiding and abetting terrorists?

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FAIL

Re: crayon-up-his-nose

"....Do *you* know? If the US had any *credible* evidence...." What, apart from capturing them armed, on the battlefield and shooting as Allied forces? Or maybe you mean the ones arrested in AQ safehouses around the World, replete with plenty of evidence? You do remember something called 9/11?

".....not obtained using torture...." With you it's like you're working through a list of hip'n'trendy soundbites of the past decade. Please do link to a credible source that states ALL evidence against Gitmo residents was obtained through "torture".

"....then they would have tried them, long ago....." Laughs on you! It was the Handwringer-in-Chief that said they can't be tried in military courts (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7841492.stm), then said they couldn't in civil courts, then sat there wringing his hands for years, and then started military trials again (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/07/guantanamo-bay-trials-restart).

"....Afghan and US hitlist...." Actually they're on the competing drug-smugglers' lists. The Taleban co-operate with the Haqqani network, who smuggle dope when they're not terrorising Afghan and Pakistani civillians. A large portion of the intelligence the CIA receives is supposed to come from rival smugglers who also don't mind bumping off friends of the Haqqani's or the Taleban. In Afghanistan itself they are actually more likely to be protected by the US seeing as the US is determined to have freedom of the press in the country.

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Not "carbon copy"

"cc" does not mean "carbon copy". The abbreviation was in use long before carbon paper was introduced. It simply means "copies", following a then-common convention of doubling an initial to indicate a plural.

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