maxomai: dog (dog)
The Washington Post posted this a few hours ago:

A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.


In summary, the CIA told Congress that torture gave them critical information that couldn't be obtained any other way, that was vital to the fight against Al Qaeda. That was a lie.

We don't know all the details of what's in the Senate's report; it's still not complete, and it's classified. The Senate is going to vote Thursday on whether to submit it to President Obama for declassification. Even if the Senate decides to declassify the report, Obama's history on this suggests that he'll keep the report classified and continue to cover the asses of the criminals who shamed the United States.
maxomai: dog (dog)
maxomai: dog (dog)
Lavabit won a victory in court that allowed them to reveal the FBI's secret demand: turn over your SSL root certificate or go to jail. Quoting Wired:

“The representative of Lavabit indicated that Lavabit had the technical capability to decrypt the information, but that Lavabit did not want to ‘defeat [its] own system,’” the government complained.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan immediately ordered Lavabit to comply, threatening Levison with criminal contempt — which could have potentially put him in jail.

By July 9, Lavabit still hadn’t defeated its security for the government, and prosecutors asked for a summons to be served for Lavabit, and founder Ladar Levison, to be held in contempt “for its disobedience and resistance to these lawful orders.”

A week later, prosecutors upped the ante and obtained the search warrant demanding “all information necessary to decrypt communications sent to or from the Lavabit e-mail account [redacted] including encryption keys and SSL keys.”

With the SSL keys, and a wiretap, the FBI could have decrypted all web sessions between Lavabit users and the site, though the documents indicate the bureau still trying only to capture metadata on one user.


The complete document set can be found here.

So basically, in order to go after one person - and by all indications, that person is Edward Snowden - the FBI demanded the metadata for all Lavabit users, and then eventually demanded the keys to all Lavabit traffic, encrypted or not. In response, Lavabit shut their doors and risked criminal prosecution. I give them ten out of ten for integrity.

It's important not to read too much into this case with respect to the NSA's wiretapping program, by the way. The FBI and NSA are operating by different sets of rules with respect to how they are allowed to gather information, and the NSA in particular has their own secret court to approve their activities. Note, also, that the FBI is using a vacuum cleaner approach to go after one suspect, whereas the NSA is using a vacuum cleaner approach to profile literally everyone.
maxomai: dog (dog)
Quoting NBC News's coverage of Apple's unveiling of the latest iPhone:

This phone has had a massive overhaul inside the case, despite its cosmetic similarity to its predecessor: A new camera, core chipset, motion processing system, even a fingerprint scanner for security and ease of use.


Got that? They just want to store your fingerprints on their device. It's as secure as a passcode because you only leave them around every time you touch something and they're really hard to change. It's good security. Really. Trust them.

nope photo: nope nope.gifnope photo: Nope nope_zps55acaccf.gifnope photo: Nope nope.gifnope photo: nope nope.jpg
nope photo: NOPE NOPE.jpg
nope photo: nope nope.jpg
maxomai: dog (dog)
maxomai: dog (dog)
maxomai: dog (dog)
maxomai: dog (dog)
maxomai: dog (dog)
maxomai: dog (dog)

  • In Egypt, we learn that the United States helped bankroll the anti-Morsi movement. Which means, in effect, that all this hand-wringing about whether Morsi's ouster was a coup is just kabuki. Justin Raimondo lays it out for us here.

  • Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are throwing money at the interim Egyptian government ... probably with the tacit understanding that elections, civil liberties, and the like, should not be a priority. If there's anyone who's threatened by the Arab Spring, it's the arthritic monarchies of the Peninsula.

  • A Q-poll of 2014 American voters shows that a majority view NSA leaker Snowden as a whistleblower, not a traitor; which once again goes to show that the political leadership and pundits are painfully out of touch.

  • Microsoft is undergoing a massive reorganization after more than a decade of stagnation and losing ground to Apple, Google, Amazon, and others. And yet, Steve Ballmer remains at the helm, when any reputable analyst would suggest that his first move should be to fire himself. Still, there is good news - you can't get fired for buying Microsoft. (Parenthetically, remember when IBM was, you know, relevant?)

  • Are you on the J. D. Holmes mailing list? You should be. If you were, then you'd know that the re-release of Cults of the Shadow is now available for pre-order.

  • College students are really enthusiastic about math and science, until they realize that they're actually really hard. Draw your own parallels.

maxomai: dog (dog)
Rep. Mike Rodgers (R-MI) reveals more details of the PRISM program. Via Slashdot:

"If they think that's relevant to their counterterrorism investigation, they give that to the FBI. Then upon the FBI has to go out and meet all the legal standards to even get whose phone number that is."


Additionally we hear this from the AP:

... programs run by the National Security Agency thwarted potential terrorist plots in the U.S. and more than 20 other countries — and that gathered data is destroyed every five years. Last year, fewer than 300 phone numbers were checked against the database of millions of U.S. phone records ...


Got that? They claim to have a list of millions of phone numbers, against which they only checked 300 numbers last year, and those checks were all done with all the proper legal measures. (In fact, I submit that we knew this in 2005.)

I want to know what criteria they used to generate that list of millions of phone numbers.

More precisely, I want to know what criteria they used to build the training data sets to train the classifiers that filtered through all our communications metadata (and probably our communications content data as well) in order to generate that list.

What are they looking for? How do they say that a phone call or text message goes into the training set or stays out?

That's what I want to know; not the details of Snowden's sex life or whatever the media are pushing now.
maxomai: (angry-penguin)
I was wondering why Snowden chose to bivouac in Hong Kong while he spills the beans on how the US Government is violating our 4th Amendment rights. Hong Kong, after all, is part of China, which has an extradition treaty with the US and no particular desire to piss off Washington.

Then, Snowden revealed that the US has been hacking China for some time; that, in fact, they're hacking everyone, all the time. This may file under the heading of "Captain Obvious to the rescue," but stating it publicly like ends up benefiting China at the expense of the US Government. Between, that, and Snowden's enormous popularity with Chinese Internet users, I'm guessing that China is now motivated to give Snowden some more room.

I will confess, there is a part of me that thinks this might have too much of a Fitzmas feel to it. Stay tuned.
maxomai: dog (dog)
maxomai: dog (dog)

  • Jury selection has begun on the George Zimmerman Trial. As you may recall, he's the guy who shot Treyvon Martin to death last year, and is claiming self defense. I remember when this case was first reported that many of my progressive friends and colleagues who declared Zimmerman guilty until proven innocent. Normally I would reject that kind of knee-jerk reaction, but since he's using an affirmative defense, this is exactly right. Now it's on him to prove that he had to act in self-defense. If I were the prosecutor, I would use the fact that Zimmerman lied to the court about his finances to nuke his credibility, and then infer from there that he's lying about how the shooting went down, too. I still think that there's a fair chance that he'll get off by stacking the jury.

  • Obama is thisclose to escalating the proxy war with Russia arming the Syrian rebels.

  • The NSA whistleblower is Edward Snowden, and he's one brave SOB - although why he chose to hang out in Hong Kong, which has an extradition treaty with the United States, is beyond me. Needless to say, professional blowhard Donald Trump has weighed in.

  • Fox News (yeah yeah) has this bit on how states are looking to tax hybrids and electric cars, because they consume less gas and therefore pay less in road upkeep taxes. As a hybrid owner myself, I say fair is fair. What would also be fair is taxing the motherfuck out of asphalt-decimating snow tires, each of which does more to wear down the road in snow months than my entire hybrid does all year long.

  • The Oregonian gives Badass Theater Company's "Invasion!" an outstanding review. I'll post my own review later. Meanwhile, just take my word for it and see it. "Invasion!" plays until the end of June at the Teatro Milagro in SE Portland.

maxomai: dog (dog)
Why am I posting on LiveJournal on a bright sunny day like today? Because too much sunshine makes maxomai cranky, that's why. Besides which, I have things to say.


  • Justin Raimondo calls out the Obama-can-do-no-wrong crowd on warrantless wiretapping. But, shouldn't we trust Obama because he's a good man at heart? No, we shouldn't. He might be a good man, but the office of the President doesn't need that kind of power, regardless of who's in the office.

  • Why on Earth would the US Navy balk at naming a Littoral combat ship the USS Liberty? The depressing facts here.

  • Via [livejournal.com profile] takwish comes news that the discovery of "wild" Monsanto wheat in Oregon may sink the wheat market for the Pacific Northwest as our export market in Asia shuts its doors. If true, that would be very bad news for PNW farmers. It's also bad news for Portland's economy, as all that wheat normally goes out through the Port of Portland.

  • I feel awful for these parents, absolutely awful.

    "I found a receipt that said 'Shotgun $865,'" she said. ...

    Blaec, who had been committed seven times, "legally bought an assault weapon legally from the place [the Wal-Mart] he had walked into with a butcher knife," Bill added.

    The reason: Blaec was never involuntarily committed to a mental institution by the courts, so no mental health record turned up on the background check.

    A day after discovering the receipt, Tricia contacted police, who arrested Blaec. He allegedly confessed that he planned to open fire that weekend at Wal-Mart and also considered targeting the local movie theater.

    On turning in her own son to the police, Tricia said: "My first thought was, 'What have I done? I just destroyed my son's life.' And people would come up to me and say, 'No, you saved our lives.'"


    Indeed, they probably saved many lives. But the mental health system failed their son, and the NICS background check system almost failed the rest of us, which points to the need to reform both.

  • Badass Theater Company lives up to its name with its inaugural production, Invasion! - I'll write a full review later, but trust me, if you live in Portland and you're reading this, get your tickets NOW. You'll thank me later.

maxomai: dog (Default)
25.5 million veterans had their data stolen by a "random burglar," according to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. CNN says, "It is thought the computer records were not actually targeted in the burglary."

Bollocks: whoever said that is an utter nincompoop, or is lying. Veterans are one of the politically hottest groups in this election. Someone wanted those data for their own purposes. The question is, who?

The missing data does not include health records or financial information, the department said. It does include some disability ratings and data on some veterans' spouses.


In other words, it contains some medical information, and just enough other information to allow someone to cross-index the database against financial and credit history databases.

This has all the earmarks of a political dirty trick. (I'd call it "Watergate era," but the frauds that have been perpetrated since 2000 make Watergate look like a kid stealing a stick of gum.)
maxomai: dog (Default)
25.5 million veterans had their data stolen by a "random burglar," according to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. CNN says, "It is thought the computer records were not actually targeted in the burglary."

Bollocks: whoever said that is an utter nincompoop, or is lying. Veterans are one of the politically hottest groups in this election. Someone wanted those data for their own purposes. The question is, who?

The missing data does not include health records or financial information, the department said. It does include some disability ratings and data on some veterans' spouses.


In other words, it contains some medical information, and just enough other information to allow someone to cross-index the database against financial and credit history databases.

This has all the earmarks of a political dirty trick. (I'd call it "Watergate era," but the frauds that have been perpetrated since 2000 make Watergate look like a kid stealing a stick of gum.)
maxomai: dog (Default)
Wired magazine has released the documents showing that AT&T and other phone companies sold their customer data to the NSA for use in their Total Information Awareness program. Here they are (PDF). Wired has an explanation here. Of course, DailyKos has a discussion.
maxomai: dog (Default)
Wired magazine has released the documents showing that AT&T and other phone companies sold their customer data to the NSA for use in their Total Information Awareness program. Here they are (PDF). Wired has an explanation here. Of course, DailyKos has a discussion.
maxomai: dog (Default)
The President told the nation today that his administration is not mining your personal information.

Either the President's statement is wrong, or his nominee for CIA director lied to Congress when he stated otherwise -- a highly improbable crime on his part. Apply Occam's Razor.

The question that I have is this: is the President willfully lying to the American people, or is he out of the loop? It's one of the two, and to be very frank, I'd much rather that he were lying and in charge than out of the loop and therefore out of control.

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