Morning Security Brief: Fighting the Taliban, Spotting Counterfeit Drugs, Private Security in Afghanistan, and More

By Sherry Harowitz


► There’s an old saying that you should fight fire with fire, and the U.S. government has touted the idea of fighting militias with militias, a strategy it says worked in Iraq. The Washington Post looks at the issue, but finds a cautionary tale. While it’s true that “Tribal militias, called lashkars, have degraded the Taliban's influence in many parts of Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal belt,” writes the Washington Post, “in many others places, the militias have buckled because of insufficient government support and have faced accusations of abuse.” The effort is similar to what the U.S. is trying in Afghanistan and may hold lessons, the report suggests.

► “Counterfeit drugs are estimated to be a $75-billion-per-year business, implicated in the deaths of something like 700,000 people around the world annually,” writes Fast Company. But a new joint effort between HP and an African social enterprise network called mPedigree, hopes to help patients in Ghana and Nigeria verify the authenticity of their medicines. At the plant where medicines are made, bottles will get a scratch-off label with an identification code. Then “at the pharmacy, the patient buys the medicine, scratches to receive the code, and texts it to verify the drug's authenticity.” The service will be free.

Kicking private security out of Afghanistan? Not so fast. As Wired’s Danger Room reports, “An Afghan interior ministry official, Abdul Manan Farahi, announced a stay of execution for 52 security firms that were supposed to be shut down by the middle of December.” Turns out they may serve a purpose afterall, guarding convoys, roads, buildings, and foreign aid workers. A government official told the BBC, according to the Danger Room, that “the government will still announce a list of banned contractors on December 17, but the firms won’t necessarily have to be out by then.”

► Elsewhere in the news, the New York Times ridicules the government's claims that it is going after fraud, noting that it has ignored the big fish and focused on spearing minnows. The Danger Room says as the air war against the Taliban in Afghanistan heats up, so does local opposition to the tactic. And the Crime Report looks at the costs and performance of Secure Communities, a program launched by the Department of Homeland Security in 2008 that allows the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to check the fingerprints of anyone arrested and in jail against criminal and immigration databases with the objective of deporting illegals who have criminal records.



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