Commanding General, Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry
Stolen flash Drives Investigation – 10/5/06 Transcript
GEN. EIKENBERRY: The incident that you're talking about, the disappearance of the thumb drives with information on them and their reappearance in bazaars outside of our military base at Bagram Air Force Base, let me emphasize that we treat that very seriously for a variety of reasons. One of the questions that you've asked here is in terms of protection of people. For that and many other reasons, we take that extremely seriously. Things that we've done since then, first of all, I can't comment on the details of the investigation itself because there's an ongoing criminal investigation about the disappearance of that particular thumb drive. We have reviewed very carefully our procedures throughout Afghanistan, and we've taken very firm steps to ensure that the policies that we had in effect are being fully enforced, and we've put new policies in effect as well. Thirdly, of course, we did a very careful review of all the information that we gleaned in from the information that was recovered to do an assessment of any kind of vulnerability that that created, and I'm very comfortable at this point in time that we've taken the necessary steps to provide safeguards to any individual into our own operational security.But what you're left with here is that with this kind of problem and this kind of challenge, I think all of us that continue to move through the 21st century in the information age, it's a reminder to -- it was a reminder to my command -- I think probably a reminder to all -- that as this technology of information continues to advance, continuing to need in a very disciplined manner to go back and ensure that procedures that are in place are adequate to safeguard your information security. You know, something as a thumb drive, for instance, as a young lieutenant a few years ago, as I looked at -- was given a weapon with a serial number on it, I knew exactly how to safeguard that. Now we're in the 21st century where a small thumb drive has probably more potency and more needs for protection than that first case I gave. So this is something that all of us within our command are looking at very hard, and it's going to pose a challenge for us as we move forward and technologies continue to evolve.
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28/4/06 Marine Corps - Lost Flash Drive & 200,000 SSN & MARADMIN Notice on the Case
From the Los Angeles Times
Army Moving to Secure Data at Afghan Base
After reports of thefts, the chief of staff says troops are being trained in the proper use and protection of computer memory drives.
By Julian E. Barnes Times Staff Writer - April 27, 2006
WASHINGTON — The Army's chief of staff said Wednesday that
he was frustrated by security lapses at Bagram air
base in Afghanistan that led to the loss of potentially sensitive data, and
that the military must learn how to be more careful with new technology.
Weeks after revelations that flash drives carrying sensitive and classified information have turned up for sale in a bazaar outside Bagram, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker said the Army was trying to improve how soldiers used and secured flash drives.
"We have been working hard to educate the force to develop policies to make sure everyone understands what the vulnerabilities are," he said.
A market for used computer memory drives has sprung up outside the Bagram base. On April 10, The Times reported that drives being sold at a marketplace just outside the base gate contained documents and files labeled as secret. Although some of the information had been deleted, it was easily reconstructed with software available on the Internet.
Documents on some of the drives appeared to contain the names, photographs and telephone numbers of Afghan informants aiding U.S. forces.
After the disclosure, the military began a criminal investigation and tightened security at the base. But last weekend, more drives with sensitive data were again being sold at the Bagram bazaar. One smuggler told The Times that he sold four memory drives to a local shopkeeper after a shift change Sunday afternoon.
At the request of military officials, The Times on Wednesday returned the flash drives it had purchased at the Bagram bazaar.
U.S. military officials have been vague about the steps they are taking to improve security practices in Afghanistan and throughout the armed forces.
The military is "making all attempts to protect the identities of people who are helping us to defeat the enemy," Col. Thomas Collins, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, wrote in an e-mail.
Collins and other officers familiar with the situation in Bagram said they believed the security improvements made after the first disclosures of stolen drives were working.
Schoomaker's comments came as members of Congress said this week that they wanted to learn more about what commanders were doing to stop the security lapses. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said it was disconcerting to learn information was still being stolen, even after the original security crackdown by the military.
"I have to be concerned," he said. "It seems that materials of varying degrees of sensitivity are being pilfered from the base and sold in the markets of Bagram."
Lawmakers say they are having difficulty assessing the extent of potential damage from the sale of the drives from Bagram, which houses a detention and interrogation center for terrorism suspects flown in from around the world.
Reed said he was waiting to hear more from the military about the steps officials were taking to protect Afghans who had been aiding U.S. forces.
Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the thefts had shown the Army one of the "perils of modern warfare."
"The more you are dependent on computers, the more you are at risk of some of the hazards of computers," he said. "You can really have a lot of stuff walk off in something just 3 inches by an inch [long]."
Flash memory drives, also called thumb drives or jump drives, are as common in the military as they are in civilian life. Soldiers are supposed to treat drives that hold classified information as sensitively as a file folder marked "top secret."
Last year, the Army formed an organization called the OpSec Support Element, which has been assigned to renew attention on security. Army officials said that Schoomaker had begun pushing for a new emphasis on operational security, particularly with electronic data.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting of defense writers on Wednesday, Schoomaker said it was not realistic to stop using technology such as flash drives.
"Cellphones, cellphones that take pictures, all of this stuff including things like thumb drives and flash drives, these are great innovations," he said. "But they have tremendous liabilities."
The general, who is known for occasional folksy metaphors, suggested the military must learn to be more careful with what it puts on the drives, and where the drives are left. "You don't put the family cat," he said, "into the microwave."
Reed, who visited Afghanistan in January, said the military was trying to balance security with economic development. Keeping Afghans off the base would cut them off from an important source of jobs, he said. Nevertheless, Reed said the command needed to find a way to prevent loss of military secrets.
"You have this impetus to employ indigenous workers," Reed said. "But then you have the problem if some of them are engaging in theft. That poses a dilemma. And that is the situation we face right now."
Leaks of Military Files Resume
Despite security efforts, flash drives stolen from U.S. base in Afghanistan are still sold at bazaar.
By Paul Watson Times Staff Writer - April 25, 2006
BAGRAM, Afghanistan — Just days after U.S. troops were ordered to plug a security breach at their base here, the black market trade in computer memory drives containing military documents was thriving again Monday.
Documents on flash drives for sale at a bazaar across from the American military base over the weekend contained U.S. officers' names and cellphone numbers and instructions on using pain to control prisoners who put up resistance. A study guide on one of the drives describes tactics for interrogating and controlling detainees by pinching or striking nerve and pressure points on their face, neck, arms and legs.
Traders at the bazaar near Bagram's main gate were openly displaying pilfered U.S. military memory drives in their shops Monday, two weeks after the Los Angeles Times reported on the black market in computer equipment, some of which contained American military documents marked "Secret."
U.S. soldiers spent thousands of dollars later that week buying scores of flash memory drives from the bazaar. The soldiers walked through the black market with a box of money, purchasing all the computer equipment they could find.
For several days afterward, no more memory drives were available.
But an 18-year-old Afghan man who works on the base said that by Friday, memory drives were being smuggled off the base again. The devices are smaller than disposable lighters.
Several shopkeepers have said in recent days that they are eager for the military to return to the market so they can sell their new stock for premium prices.
Some of the memory drives for sale earlier this month listed the names, addresses and photographs of Afghan spies providing information to U.S. Special Forces. Others that were also marked "Secret" included American military officials' view that the Taliban and their allies were using bases in Pakistan to launch attacks in Afghanistan. One had maps dated Dec. 1, 2001, the day after U.S. and Afghan militia forces began their offensive at Tora Bora, that described possible escape routes of Osama bin Laden. The routes in the maps start not at Tora Bora, where many had thought Bin Laden was at the time, but in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.
Some of the drives contained sensitive documents that had been deleted but could be retrieved with software available on the Internet.
Files on some of the drives for sale at the bazaar Sunday had been deleted too. It was not known if any of those drives contained classified information.
Lt. Mike Cody, a spokesman for the U.S. military here, did not respond Monday to a request for comment on the renewed sales of flash drives.
At the Pentagon, Air Force Lt. Col. Todd Vician said Monday that U.S. forces in Afghanistan were continuing to investigate the theft of the equipment and how to prevent further security breaches at Bagram.
"It is important for the investigation to continue, to determine what the problem is," Vician said. "The command in Afghanistan is taking this very seriously. We are treating this as seriously as any release of classified, sensitive information."
On April 13, the Army launched a criminal investigation and Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, overall commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, ordered a review of policies and procedures concerning the way computer hardware and software are accounted for.
At the bazaar, the Bagram worker said guards carefully searched people leaving the base until Wednesday, less than a week after U.S. soldiers bought up the military computer equipment from the marketplace.
The teen, who described his job as collecting U.S. soldiers' laundry, said he had smuggled out four flash memory drives to a local shopkeeper after shift change Sunday afternoon.
"They were checking us with metal detectors and they were checking every part of our body," he said.
"Still the checking is a little serious, but not as much as it was for the last four or five days. I tried to bring a box of playing cards out but it was really difficult and they said it was not allowed."
Several more U.S. military drives were on sale at other shops in the bazaar Monday. One shopkeeper said he had been selling pilfered American military flash drives for four years, mostly to young Afghan computer users looking for cheap equipment, but also to some foreigners.
"I may have sold thousands of these flashes since I have come and opened this shop," the shopkeeper said. He asked not to be named because he feared retribution.
A drive for sale Sunday contained numerous U.S. military documents, such as one that listed at least 21 names and cellphone numbers of officers, including the colonel in charge, of a communications unit identified as "CJ6."
On another drive, in a folder titled "Police Study Guides," a document described methods of controlling suspects, such as techniques that "utilize reasonable tactics that do not increase the risk of injury beyond an acceptable level."
Called Pressure Point Control Tactics, they are ones that appear to be taught at many U.S. police academies. It is unclear from the documents on the drive whether they are approved for use by the U.S. military at its main Afghan base in Bagram, which includes a detention center for Al Qaeda and other terror suspects flown in from around the world for interrogation.
The control tactics' five principles include "pain compliance — the use of stimulus pain to control resistance behavior; mental stunning techniques — stimulation of overwhelming sensory input that is sudden, intense and unexpected" and "motor dysfunction — a controlled striking technique which overstimulates motor nerves, resulting in a temporary impairment," the document says.
Internet pages were copied to the same drive, including news reports on a February prison riot at Pul-i-Charki prison, near Kabul, the Afghan capital, that left at least seven inmates dead.
Other Web pages on the drive explained how to buy anabolic steroids, such as Liquid Anodrol, to quickly build up muscles. "The Ultimate Stack for Hard-Core Bodybuilding Warriors Who'll Use 'Any Means Necessary' to Pack Up to 25 Pounds of Raw Brutal Muscle in Just 8 Weeks!" declares one of the Web pages.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice, the U.S. military's criminal law, prohibits service members from using steroids unless they are prescribed for medical reasons.
Afghan shopkeepers selling the military flash drives say they don't know what is on them and are offering them only as used equipment. The trader who first put them on his shelves four years ago said that back then he thought the drives' colors, rather than their capacity or content, mattered most. He sold blue ones for the highest price: around $4.
Two weeks ago, the smallest 250-kilobyte drives sold for $20 each. Prices have more than doubled since U.S. soldiers walked through the bazaar.
"Nobody investigated the shopkeepers," the trader said. "They just came and bought as much as they could. The Americans were buying the disks with documents on them for a higher price. Even now if Americans come I will sell one [drive] to them for $200."
Shopkeepers say the soldiers who visited the bazaar April 14 seemed especially interested in laptops, so black marketeers are keeping their eyes peeled for what they think is sensitive information that will make them rich.
"An American gave me his phone number and said, 'If you find a computer which is from the base, just give me a call,' " said one.
Even if security is tightened again, smugglers will find another way to get flash drives off the base, the shopkeeper predicted.
"If the Americans look under our hats, we will hide things in our shoes, and if they look in our shoes, we will hide them under our hats," he said.
"We are poor people, we have to make money."
Drives Outline Military Tactics
Computer devices sold at an Afghan bazaar appear to hold data showing how insurgents use Pakistan as a base for cross-border strikes.
Watson Times Staff Writer - April 14, 2006
BAGRAM, Afghanistan — Maps, charts and intelligence reports on computer drives smuggled out of a U.S. base and sold at a bazaar here appear to detail how Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders have been using southwestern Pakistan as a key planning and training base for attacks in Afghanistan.
The documents, marked "secret," appear to be raw intelligence reports based on conversations with Afghan informants and official briefings given to high-level
In one report contained in a flash memory drive, a
But the documents contained on memory drives sold at a bazaar in front of the main gate of the Bagram air base suggest that although Pakistani forces are working to root out foreign Al Qaeda fighters from the northwestern tribal regions, the Taliban has been using Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan in the southwest, as its rear guard for training and coordinating attacks, some by foreign Arab fighters, in Afghanistan.
The theft of the drives became the subject of a full-scale criminal investigation Wednesday, two days after the Los Angeles Times revealed the black-market operation.
The contents of the flash drives appear to be authentic documents, but the accuracy of the information could not be independently verified.
Military officials, however, acknowledged Thursday that the sale of the stolen drives posed a security risk.
"Obviously you have uncovered something that is not good for
The drives appear to contain the identities of Afghan sources spying for U.S. Special Forces that operate out of the Bagram base, which is the center of
The memory drives also apparently include the identities of U.S. military personnel working in Afghanistan, assessments of targets, descriptions of American bases and their defenses, and maneuvers by the U.S. to remove or marginalize Afghan government officials it considers a problem.
Pakistani officials rejected the reputed intelligence Thursday. Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, spokesman for
"To make a sweeping statement like this, that people are taken to
The counter-terrorism officials have compiled intelligence alleging that ISI officials were looking the other way, or possibly aiding, as Al Qaeda and Taliban members plotted militant activity in the tribal territories of
The concerns were disclosed publicly in a report to Congress last year by its independent research arm, the Congressional Research Service, which questioned whether
"Among the most serious sources of concern is the well-documented past involvement of some members of the Army's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) organization with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and the possibility that some officers retain sympathies with both groups," the report said.
On the drives from the bazaar, reports from Afghan informants, marked "secret," outline efforts by U.S. Special Forces in the fall of 2005 to locate and target Taliban insurgents inside Pakistani territory. The focus fell on top Taliban leaders who informants said had been residing in
An October 2005 cable to
"Al Qaeda will finance these activities through Mullah Matin, the Taliban finance liaison to Al Qaeda for southern
A U.S. Army Special Forces officer in southern
The source told U.S. Special Forces that the
The Afghan source warned the Special Forces officer "that it would be extremely difficult to capture a HVT and move them to
The American then asked the source whether his contact in
The Afghan source also reported last year that Arabs, mainly Yemenis and Syrians, were going through
"The aspiring suicide bombers are initially trained by insurgency elements in
"A portion of the suicide bombers trained during the same cycle remain in
In what appears to be a recent computer slide presentation marked "secret," maps identify eight "major infiltration routes" for Al Qaeda and Taliban forces crossing from
Documents based on conversations with informants outline how fresh Afghan recruits carrying English-language identity cards would be waved through border checkpoints into
They received eight days of instruction, including the use of soap to mold about
A week earlier, local residents reported that
A mysterious explosion in another
The region has since been the site of intense fighting between insurgents and Pakistani military forces. That fighting continued Thursday, when an airstrike killed several suspected militants near the Afghan border. The attack was sparked by intelligence that Al Qaeda operatives were hiding out in the area, Pakistani officials said.
Data Leaks Persist From Afghan Base
A computer drive sold at a bazaar for $40 may hold the names of
spies for the
Paul Watson Times Staff Writer - April 13, 2006
BAGRAM, Afghanistan — A computer drive sold openly Wednesday at a bazaar outside the U.S. air base here holds what appears to be a trove of potentially sensitive American intelligence data, including the names, photographs and telephone numbers of Afghan spies informing on the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
The flash memory drive, which a teenager sold for $40, holds scores of military documents marked "secret," describing intelligence-gathering methods and information — including escape routes into Pakistan and the location of a suspected safe house there, and the payment of $50 bounties for each Taliban or Al Qaeda fighter apprehended based on the source's intelligence.
The documents appear to be authentic, but the accuracy of the information they contain could not be independently verified.
On its face, the information seems to jeopardize the safety of intelligence sources working secretly for U.S. Special Forces in
"Members of the Army's Criminal Investigation Command are conducting an investigation into potential criminal activity," a statement said.
"Coalition officials regularly survey bazaars across
The credibility and reliability of some intelligence sources identified in the documents is marked as unknown.
Other operatives, however, appear to be of high importance, including one whose information, the document says, led to the apprehension of seven Al Qaeda suspects in the
One document describes a source as having "people working for him" in 11 Afghan cities. "The potential for success with this contact is unlimited," the report says.
Even the names of people identified as the sources' wives and children are listed — details that could put them at risk of retaliation by insurgents who have boasted about executing dozens of people suspected of spying for
The drive includes descriptions of Taliban commanders' meetings in neighboring
In another folder, there is a diagram of a mosque and madrasa, or Islamic school, where an informant said fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar had stayed in
Another document describes in detail how a member of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, the Taliban's former mentors, tried to recruit an Afghan spying for the U.S. by promising him $500 a month.
Some of the documents can't be opened without a password, but most are neither locked nor encrypted.
Numerous files indicate the flash drive may have belonged to a member of the Army's 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), based at
Some of the computer files are dated as recently as this month, while others date to 2004. The clerk who sold the computer drive said an Afghan worker smuggled it out of the Bagram base Tuesday, a day after The Times first reported that military secrets were available at several stalls at the bazaar.
The 1-gigabyte flash drive sold at the bazaar Wednesday is almost full and contains personal snapshots, Special Forces training manuals, records of "direct action" training missions in
There is also a detailed "Site Security Survey" describing the layout of the Special Forces unit's "Low Visibility Operating Base" in southwestern
The drive holds detailed information on a handful of Afghan informants identified by name and the number of contacts with
A report on a spy involved with a code-named operation says the Afghan has been used in "cross border operations." But it cautions that an American officer "has come to the conclusion that Contact may or may not be as security conscious as thought to be or expected."
The report describes a potential "low-level source" who reportedly has "brought in active and inactive Taliban and Al Qaeda associates/operators who have expressed a desire to repatriate/end conflict peacefully."
The man is identified as a former ISI agent in the 1980s, during the U.S.-backed mujahedin war against Soviet troops in
The document also names the man's wife and children and lists his cellphone number.
It describes the informant as very punctual, with a good sense of humor. Politically, it adds, he is "much like a Republican in the
The computer files also provide a rare look at how the
In a two-page "Record of Oral Commitment," marked "secret" and dated Jan. 28,
"The source will be paid $15 USD for each mission he completes that has verified information," the agreement stipulates. "This sum will not exceed a total of $300 USD in a 1-month period," the report says. The sum rises to $500 a month for information "deemed of very high importance."
And there are serious consequences for any breaches of the commitment, such as failing to disclose information on the terrorist organizations or missing either of two meetings scheduled for each month.
The penalty for "using his new skills to participate in activities that are deemed" anti-U.S. or against the Afghan government is "termination with prejudice," according to the document.
Another document describes how an Afghan informant for the
A high-level ISI official then offered the Afghan $500 a month and other incentives, the document says.
The report adds that the ISI official "said that he's looking for an U.S. Embassy employee to aid in the bombing of the embassy that [he] is planning." The ISI official promised he would pay the Afghan $100,000 after the destruction of the embassy in
The report concludes: "Everything that [Pakistani] told the Source could be made up or inflated as to look good and exciting to the Source; a possible ploy to get the Source to 'sign up' for the ISI…. However, my 'gut' tells me otherwise, and this guy really is trying to recruit my source for the other side."
A handful of of memory sticks are displayed by AP reporter Daniel Cooney at the bazaar outside US military base in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan , Wednesday, April 12, 2006. A shopkeeper outside the U.S.-led coalition headquarters in Bagram sold computer memory drives Wednesday containing seemingly sensitive military data stolen from inside the base including the social security numbers of four American generals. The surfacing of the stolen computer devices has sparked an urgent American military probe for the source of the embarrassing security breach, which has led to disks with the personal letters and biographies of soldiers to lists of troops who completed nuclear, chemical and biological warfare training going on sale for US$20 (euro 16) to US$50 (euro 42). (AP Photo/ Shoaib Amin) "The commander of the Coalition's Combined Joint Task Force 76, Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, has ordered an investigation into allegations that sensitive military items are being sold in local bazaars," the military statement said. "Members of the are conducting an investigation into potential criminal activity."
U.S. Military Looks Into Data Sales in Afghanistan
Paul Watson Times Staff Writer - April 12, 2006
BAGRAM, Afghanistan — Black marketeers can feel the heat a long way off. So by the time
The U.S. military said Tuesday that it was looking into reports that computer drives containing military data, some marked "secret," were available for as little as $20 in a bazaar outside its biggest base, and soldiers were visible making rounds there. But once they passed, at least two shopkeepers still offered memory drives for sale.
"They were from military intelligence," said the one with the hidden shelf as he pulled out the plastic bag containing four drives. "They won't be able to do anything," he added, with a dismissive wave of his hand.
Nearby, another fence displayed two memory drives that he said an Afghan worker on the base delivered to him after a shift change Tuesday morning. He invited a shopper to return today, when he expected four more drives to arrive.
Lt. Mike Cody, a spokesman for
"We will not comment in detail on these reports, but the circumstances are being reviewed," he said. "More information will be provided as it becomes available."
The Times first reported Monday that drives for sale at the bazaar contained documents marked "secret" and that they also listed the names and Social Security numbers of nearly 700
Bagram airfield is the biggest
Hundreds of Afghans work there as service staff. All are screened before they enter, and are supposed to be frisked as they leave the facility. But shop owners say they obtained the drives from workers who stole them and managed to conceal them from guards.
As a result, less than
Then there is the sadly personal, such as the resignation letter of a military police officer, whose revelation that she was a rape victim turned up on a drive purchased at the bazaar.
The flash drives, which range from the size of a stick of gum to a disposable lighter, sell for $20 to $80, depending on how many megabytes of data they can hold.
Some of the traders happily admit they have no idea what the drives are used for, or what they contain.
But some customers show a keen interest in the devices. One recent customer shopping for modems, flash drives and other computer equipment was a man in his early 40s with weathered, well-tanned skin, a long black beard and cracked sandals.
He spoke Pashto, usually heard farther south in regions racked by the escalating insurgency.
He showed no interest in the used mattresses, combat fatigues, fold-up cots, old running shoes and khaki web belts heaped up like army surplus in front of about 30 shops in the bazaar.
He walked past a small refrigerator decorated with American bumper stickers declaring "United We Stand" and "Bush-Cheney '04." He wanted nothing but tech.
One shop owner said he "washed" the drives, meaning that he erased the contents, in case
But deleted files were readily retrievable using German software downloaded from the Internet.
The drive contained dozens of personal photographs and two cockpit videos of air attacks by a
Other drives hold digital music files of artists such as Ludacris and Boyz N Da Hood, self-improvement guides and a seating plan for American officers at briefings.
Under the heading "Season Ticket Holders," a diagram dated Aug. 6, 2004, shows a T-shaped table with three brigadier generals facing two colonels, five majors and a political advisor. At least 10 other officers sat away from the table.
Items on the agenda included "psyops," military jargon for psychological operations, that included campaigns in the Afghan print and radio media to "discredit" people making improvised explosive devices.
"Prepare radio news stories for local stations highlighting Afghan National Police support," read one in a list of recommended actions to help defeat a growing insurgency.
In the local bazaar, a disappointed shopkeeper who couldn't interest a reporter in an assortment of Army binoculars, watches, bowie knives, combat boots and other
A large group of American soldiers is due to go home, he said, and when soldiers pack to leave, there are always good pickings for thieves, he said.
"There are a lot of things soon to come out of Bagram," he promised.
U.S. Military Secrets for Sale at Afghan Bazaar
Paul Watson Times Staff Writer - April 10, 2006
BAGRAM, Afghanistan — No more than 200 yards from the main gate of the sprawling U.S. base here, stolen computer drives containing classified military assessments of enemy targets, names of corrupt Afghan officials and descriptions of American defenses are on sale in the local bazaar.
Shop owners at the bazaar say Afghan cleaners, garbage collectors and other workers from the base arrive each day offering purloined goods, including knives, watches, refrigerators, packets of Viagra and flash memory drives taken from military laptops. The drives, smaller than a pack of chewing gum, are sold as used equipment.
The thefts of computer drives have the potential to expose military secrets as well as Social Security numbers and other identifying information of military personnel.
A reporter recently obtained several drives at the bazaar that contained documents marked "Secret." The contents included documents that were potentially embarrassing to Pakistan, a U.S. ally, presentations that named suspected militants targeted for "kill or capture" and discussions of U.S. efforts to "remove" or "marginalize" Afghan government officials whom the military considered "problem makers."
The drives also included deployment rosters and other documents that identified nearly 700
After choosing the name of an army captain at random, a reporter using the Internet was able to obtain detailed information on the woman, including her home address in
Troops serving overseas would be particularly vulnerable to attempts at identity theft because keeping track of their bank and credit records is difficult, said Jay Foley, co-executive director of the
"It's absolutely absurd that this is happening in any way, shape or form," Foley said. "There's absolutely no reason for anyone in the military to have that kind of information on a flash drive and then have it out of their possession."
A flash drive also contained a classified briefing about the capabilities and limitations of a "man portable counter-mortar radar" used to find the source of guerrilla mortar rounds. A map pinpoints the
Lt. Mike Cody, a spokesman for the
"We do not discuss issues that involve or could affect operational security," he said.
Workers are supposed to be frisked as they leave the base, but they have various ways of deceiving guards, such as hiding computer drives behind photo IDs that they wear in holders around their necks, shop owners said. Others claim that
Bagram base, the U.S. military's largest in Afghanistan and a hub for classified military activity, has suffered security lapses before, including an escape from a detention center where hundreds of Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects have been held and interrogated.
Last July, four Al Qaeda members, including the group's commander in
The men later boasted of their escape on a video and have not been captured. The military said it had tightened security at Bagram after the breakout.
One of the computer drives stolen from Bagram contained a series of slides prepared for a January 2005 briefing of American military officials that identified several Afghan governors and police chiefs as "problem makers" involved in kidnappings, the opium trade and attacks on allied troops with improvised bombs.
The chart showed the
A chart dated Jan. 2, 2005, listed five Afghans as "Tier One Warlords." It identified Afghanistan's former defense minister Mohammed Qassim Fahim, current military chief of staff Abdul Rashid Dostum and counter-narcotics chief Gen. Mohammed Daoud as being involved in the narcotics trade. All three have denied committing crimes.
Another slide presentation identified 12 governors, police chiefs and lower-ranking officials that the
The briefing said that efforts against Afghan officials were coordinated with
The military also weighs any ties that any official has to President Hamid Karzai and members of his Cabinet or warlords, as well as the risk of destabilization when deciding which officials should be removed, the presentation said.
One of the men on the military's removal list, Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, was replaced in December as governor of Helmand province in southern
The provincial police chief in Helmand, Abdul Rahman Jan, whom U.S. forces suspect of providing security for narcotics shipments, kept his job.
Militant attacks on
A document dated Oct. 11, 2004, said at least two of the Taliban's top five leaders were believed to be in
The Taliban leaders in
At the time, fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, his second-in-command Mullah Berader, and three other top Taliban commanders were all suspected of being in southern or central
Another document said the Taliban and an allied militant group were working with Arab Al Qaeda members in
One of the terrorism groups is identified by the single name "Zawahiri," apparently a reference to Ayman Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's deputy and chief strategist in Al Qaeda. The document said his attacks had been launched from a region south of Miram Shah, administrative capital of
In January, a CIA missile strike targeted Zawahiri in a village more than
Other documents on the computer drives listed senior Taliban commanders and "facilitators" living in
An August 2004 computer slide presentation marked "Secret" outlined "obstacles to success" along the border and accused
Half a year later, other documents indicated that little progress had been made. A classified document from early 2005 listing "Target Objectives" said
A special operations task force map highlighting militants' infiltration routes from