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This may work as some strange disinformation injection, but as a policy prescription, it's a jumble.

1. Casey Michel may advocate arming Ukraine, and that's great, but he doesn't say how or with what. Defensive weapons only? Offensive weapons? Precision weapons?

2. Just what would it mean to have the West or even just the US engage in a controversial project like "arming Ukraine," but then *lose the war*? Huh? If we arm Ukraine, it should be for the purpose of stopping the war by deterring the Russians. That's not losing. It might even be possible to fight it fiercely and force Russia to forget about threatening its neighbours ever again. That would likely be more complicated militarily and politically, but at the very least, some drones, some anti-tank weapons could DETER Russia. So why is that LOSING the war? Makes no sense. And no military leader would accept a proposition that says "go ahead an arm those Ukrainians just a little but they'll lose anyway." That's not how military planning works, surely.

3. The premise that Russians will begin to protest if too many zinc coffins come back is completely fallacious and shows poor familiarity with the war in Afghanistan and the wars in Chechnya, not to mention the war in Ukraine.

a. Russia is huge -- with multiple constituent republics -- and the capacity for spreading around the hurt is enormous. That happened with Afghanistan and Chechnya and with Ukraine, too. And that's exactly what happens as the deaths confirmed so far are very far flung and scattered. There aren't enough in any one area except Rostov where so many ostensibly die "in training" near the Ukrainian border that entire communities will not rise up.

b. The number of confirmed deaths is 265+, so the number of actual deaths is several thousands, not tens of thousands, despite some very false reports flung around to confuse and distract (like those of Elena Vasilieva who claims without any basis whatsoever that there are 8,000, or even the Ukrainian government which at times has said "4,000" without being able to back it up). That means that there are not enough to get ordinary people really protesting en masse.

c. We should know by now the capacity for government suppression of war news vast and effective. It wasn't some 15,000 soldiers dying in the war in Afghanistan that eventually forced the Soviets to end that war, it was the one million civilian Afghans they killed and their inability to control the country. Soviet authorities heavily suppressed any news of soldiers "fulfilling their international duty" and it was only towards the end that some controled publications by journalists close to intelligence were allowed to prepare public opinion for the pull-out.

d. Social media has certainly spread the news of deployments and killed in action far wider, but the Internet penetration and familiarity is still not so great (about 2/3 of Russians have Internet access) that this has influenced people in the hinterlands where the soldiers come from. Even so, a lot of people have phones with at least SMS capacity and people do get on VKontakte and do know about the deployment. And so far, in those social media contexts, there is massive support for the war, admiration and support for those volunteering, sympathy with the "people's republics" and mass contribution of money and donated goods for the Donbass war effort. Churches, social clubs, sports clubs, veterans' societies have been involved in large numbers, sometimes orchestrated by authorities but more often not. Like Ukraine, Russian provinces have found a new galvanizing factor for civil society in the "Novorossiya" cause and that's not going to be undermined so easily by liberals in Moscow.

4. The theory of "let's inflict lots of casualties and then Russia will stop" is one that comes out of Western thinking and mirror-imaging in democratic societies with real parliaments and free media where war's effects and casualties can resonate. That's not Russia. Russia has Poddubny and Kots and Steshin on the TV screen every night in their war helmets and flak jackets in front of pictures of weeping old women and mothers with children standing in front of their homes ostensibly destroyed by Ukrainian shelling. What they do not have is any kind of Vietnam war or Iraq war reporting where the reality of war for its fighters as well as civilians is visible. And that means people will be moved to help the defenseless people of the Donbass and volunteer to fight or pay for a soldier to be outfitted, not go to an anti-war march.

5. The capacity for Russian authorities to deter, punish, infiltrate and confuse anti-war movements is huge and constantly in motion. The few brave souls who have picketed the war without authorization have had heavy sentences (45 days is the longest, which is a long time to ask any ordinary person to serve as it means they lose their job and place in school). Heavy sentences for persistent demonstrators up to 4-5 years in previous years has also been a powerful deterrent.

6. The government has also unleashed an "Anti-Maidan"  movement of bikers, Afghan war vets, Novorossiya fans, Cossacks and other ultranationalists to harry and harass those few who do come out to either unauthorized or authorized marches. They threaten violence and deliver on it. They create counter marches and shout down and harass people who try to speak out against the war. The police stand aside. This is hard for most people to withstand, and while encouragingly, some do, their capacity to deliver large crowds is stymied by this.

Thus, the formula being presented here -- let's inflict large casualties on the Russians, that will make parents weep and ordinary people demostrate -- is fallacious for Russia. Russia does not work that way and never has. We are lucky when once or twice a year, we get 20,000 or 30,000 people to a march now, and that includes a lot of people who would just as well be happy to keep Crimea.

Any plan to arm Ukraine has to be about DETERRING Russia. What that means is not just inflicting deaths but damaging heavy tanks, so that the cost of constantly bringing in convoys gets greater. It has to be about more exposure and international shaming of the lie that is the Russian "non-involvement" in Ukraine. It has to be enough to make Putin pause before continuing to fund and permit it because international sanctions will grow and less business will be done with Russia. By the way, the notion of sanctions crippling Russia has its flaws, too, due to the statified nature of the economy and the close cooperation of Putin's cronies -- the oligarchs -- in the state's  projects. Even so, deterrence can work there, too.

The purpose of anti-tank weapons is to stop tanks. Russia has a lot of tanks. It should be deterred from using them by their heavy loss.

1 month, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @


Why did TNR select this material to feature now? McCarthy self-discredits, and dragging in all Catholics and implying they are to blame for McCarthy is a slur from Greene that wouldn't be tolerated today.

Nor would much of Chaplin's scandalous life -- getting a 16-year-old girl pregnant was called "statutory rape" even in his day, and his paternity suits and scandals with other young girls would also get a lot of condemnation today -- unrelated to any communism.

But why couldn't he condemn Stalin's mass crimes against humanity? They were known then and even in 1947, after the war, he was still hanging around with Soviet "friendship societies".

You don't have to be a McCarthyite or advocate witch hunts that make people lose their livelihoods to ask: why support communism, which caused untold suffering and inspired a totalitarian regime murdering millions? It's ok to question that, then as now.

7 months ago on Conversation @


@ChrisYonts You're supposed to say that when somebody posts a video. This isn't about a video, but a social media post. So when there's a social media post, you say "What, the US gets its foreign intelligence from social media posts"?

Do try to keep to the Kremlin troll script!

BTW, one of those "social media videos" which all the Kremlin trolls are ranting about as poor sources comes in fact from the Ukrainian MVD covert surveillance, and it has been geolocated to an intersection in Lugansk -- definitely not Krasnoarmeys, as the Russian Defense Ministry lied about in their briefing.

And other social media and videos you scorn in fact have been reliably geo-located and show Buks parked in civilian areas in Torez and Snezhnoye. What, you're going to pretend there weren't? But scores of villagers told AP and Reuters about seeing these unmistakeable weapons systems in their areas.

But if you don't like social media or foreign intelligence from any source, read it in the pro-Kremlin media, which admitted the rebels had the Buks even on 14 July:

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @


There are multiple accounts of Strelkov serving in battles in Chechnya, Bosnia and Transdnestria and a picture of him in Chechnya.

The second-guessing of the statement to the VK Group Strelkov's Dispatches which uses his name is a red herring, because it doesn't matter whether he himself or another rebel leader made the statement -- the important thing is that they *did* make it through a group that has long carried Strelkov's and other leaders' statements -- and still does! -- and they did mistake MH17 for an AN-26 -- their conversation intercepts and Russian media reporting the story on July 17 bear this out.

After this VK group -- using a sketch of his profile, his name and his authority -- made a post boasting of the downing of "an AN-26" -- they didn't realize it was MH17 yet -- the post was deleted and enormous effort put in by the separatists, their supporters, Kremlin trolls and Western Kremlin sympathizers to spin this as a hoax or a fake.

Nothing of the sort. To this day, this group goes on publishing authorized Strelkov news from the man himself, marked as such, and other militia news from those fighting with him.

They can't have it both ways -- they use his name and authority and popularity to grow a group 130,000 strong used to fund-raise and recruit new fighters for the cause of Novorossiya, they publish his direct quotes, then suddenly, on that one day, with that one post, they cry "oh, it's just a group, not his personal account". In fact, they continue to issue his dispatches and those of his comrades, speaking in the first person, with his picture and name. Neither Strelkov or Boroday has denounced this group because in fact it's theirs.

More reporting and analysis on this:

From the beginning, the post with his picture and name was marked as "report from the militia" and when Strelkov's Dispatches, the VK group, pulled the post and issued an explanation, they said it was a report "from militia on a forum". That forum was likely Antikvariat, where he posts, but it was said to be another separatist not him. (See a purported screenshot of the original post from this forum by a separatist or supporter named "Margo).

So what? What is the point of all this anyway? The separatists took credit for the downing of a plane they in fact downed.

And if you don't want to read about it in their hero's group, read about it in the pro-Kremlin newspaper Vzglyad, which reported the entire story without any reference to VK or Strelkov, from their own separatist sources:

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @


The link at the phrase "A group of 300 fleeing rebels reportedly even came under fire by the Russians as they tried to escape into Russia" doesn't say anything about any 300 rebels.

It says (translation)

"when Russian border guards shot at an automobile with mercenaries who twice tried to return to Russia."

9 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @


I'm not getting this "bungling of the digital deputy" stuff. It's not just some digital deputy; it's Janice Gibson, editor of the American edition of the socialist Guardian who stage-managed Snowden's coming out party in Hong Kong with Glenn Greenwald. How can you make that be only about "digital"? It's about "socialist politics" and the radicalism that it would represent at the times. The more moderate liberals, male or female, owner or employee, would surely have some questions about turning over the digital edition -- which is THE edition nowadays, to leftist radicals. Or at least, we hope they would, but I'm gathering that in fact the problem wasn't hiring Gibson but just not working out the announcement right. What do you say?

10 months, 4 weeks ago on Conversation @


Yes, it's like Julia Ioffe herself, who right up until November 2011 was telling the West to be pragmatic and realistic and accept Putin. That was before the "white ribbon" marches.

11 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @


"Holocaust 2.0" is as vulgar an expression as you can imagine -- and I'm not surprised it comes from this particular hipster journo

This story of the leaflets indeed seemed to be the kind of provocation we've seen a lot of from Russian intelligence in this war. The story also got exaggerated and garbled in the telling. Here's our research on it:

The group controlling the area -- the "Donetsk People's Republic" controls only a building, basically, and even they disavowed the claims of a flyer that "Jews must register" and said their organization had nothing to do with it. No Jews were made to register and the entire registry location was a fake.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be vigilant about watching this conflict as all minorities are in danger. Keep in mind that the theme of antisemitism is manipulated by Putin to justify Russian invasion.

1 year ago on Conversation @


Another hit job on the Russian opposition -- appalling. And this time, disguised as a supposed "thoughful" recognition of the Russian information war. In fact, Rothrock only eagerly participates in it.

The US didn't "bungle" any timing -- they had long studied sanctions and released the news of them appropriately in response to Putin's forcible annexation of the Crimea. What is Rothrock suggesting, that the State Department should call Russian opposition leaders and time their statements with them?! As former Amb. McFaul aptly pointed out, he only met Navalny briefly once in his entire tenure in Moscow and of course the US doesn't support the Russian opposition. If anything, they've undercut it when the opposition supported the Magnitsky List and the Obama Administration opposed it during the reset.

The US -- as Rothrock mischieviously implies -- didn't "get the idea" from Navalny of whom to apply sanctions against -- they are the obvious oligarchs who serve as Putin's bankers. Navalny has long been at work at this; so has the US; so has EU; so has everybody interested in trying to expose the support of Putinism.

This coincidence that Rothrock lavishes so much loving attention on isn't the issue of "resonance" he imagines inside Russia -- Navalny haters have plenty of reasons to dislike him unrelated to this, and the Putin regime and its sympathizers called him a fifth columnist long before this. It's nothing.

Yet Rothrock seizes on it in a cunning slur here.

1 year ago on Conversation @


Well, the problem is that Russia doesn't have Havels or Dubceks or Mlynarzs...It's not exactly going to go as you think. Revolution is overrated.

1 year, 1 month ago on Conversation @


@DDM3 @Kizone Kaprow  

Read my book, which examines these issues exhaustively with numerous open sources cited.

In sum, the Snowden myth is that hackers are interested in civil rights, or reform of intelligence agencies to protect privacy.

That's not what they're really about. In fact, this particular set of hackers around Snowden from WikiLeaks and the Chaos Computer Club in Germany have waged war against only Western intelligence agencies for decades (never the far, far more abusive and sinister secret police of Russia, China, Iran, etc.). 

And their war is about obtaining invincible encryption, so that they can undertaken an anarchist revolution and destroy liberal institutions and states they don't like.

Copyleftism ties into these ideologies not only as opposition to the rule of law but as collectivization of content and labour online. The hypocrisy at the heart of these anarchist movements is that they scorn encryption to protect copyright (like DRM) but they embrace it to protect their privacy -- even if that involves enabling crime.

1 year, 2 months ago on American Media Ignores Edward Snowden Interview on German News Network


This is a very important critique and one long overdue of these extremists who have had such a profoundly damage effect on American national security. They attack a liberal democracy like the US for a reason -- because they can, and because it's easier to overthrow -- their ideology also overlaps with the authoritarianism of regimes like Russia as to their basic notions of collectivism, anti-capitalism, oligarchism, and the "sovereign Internet." The darknet utopia of Julian Assange differs little from Putin's "sovereign"

I think certain points need to go further, however. For example, Assange's ideology of the conspiracy of government which was first so well elucidated in fact by his supporter, Aaron Bady, early in the Cablegate scandal, is that when hackers disrupt the communications of such a state by leaks, it then shuts down and becomes more secretive. First, it can't communicate with itself and becomes more dumb -- this is the silo effect away from the 'wikification" that had preceded WikILeaks of government. Then finally, it "becomes unlike itself" -- an oppressive state -- and then self-discredits like the Russian regime.

But taken in full, it's merely a Leninist "the worse, the better" -- a strategy for revolutionary take-over.

I have put together a book of all my research on these hackers who were Snowden's helpers and avid supporters, people like Jacob Appelbaum who I was critiquing for years before he became the lead tech in the Snowden Operation, and the Germans at the Chaos Communications Club.

You can read it here

or here

My thesis is that all of this isn't so much about leaks, which are merely an organizing tool, but more about the drive for absolute encryption to secure revolutionary success.

1 year, 2 months ago on Conversation @


@pierrevauxPierre, long before Skype, a company founded by Estonians, sold itself to Microsoft, it was handing over the conversations of Belarusian opposition to Lukashenka, which he used to prosecute them. Skype has long been known to have back doors in it -- all free services do because the makers need to scrape your data in order to sell it to marketers, that's the contract for all of Silicon Valley's wares. Microsoft turning over the data to the FSB is merely what every single other provider or company operating in Russia, domestic or foreign, is required to do by law. The evil here essentially resides in the East, not the West; Western companies may become venal in dealing with the Kremlin, to be sure, but ultimately, shifting the focus to the Western companies only displaces attention from where it should be -- Putin and his cronies and the system they both inherited and refined.

1 year, 3 months ago on Edward Snowden demands press freedom (for journalists who don’t live or work in Russia)


Actually, there were bloggers (like me) writing even lengthy critiques of Pierre Omidyar:

And there is more I hope to write up soon related to the latest Snowden revelations. Did you know that one of the things the NSA cited as a positive thing about Second Life in their report as Omidyar Network's Camp Darfur?

As for the "gate-keeper" thing, I don't think Snowden is a whistleblower, I think he's a felon. Therefore I don't think these documents should have been leaked to journalists. I don't think they contain the "crimes" implied in all their half-stated innuendos. Capture of metadata is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Ask any lawyer, even a liberal lawyer in or around the Obama Administration, even just any normal lawyer who isn't captured by the geek squad in the anarchist's collective or is some extreme technocommunist or technolibertarian type -- hey dominate this discussion, and the hordes of others who actually shape policy do not. And that's a good thing. Because no one has compelling provided any 4th Amendment violations and no court of law has accepted any of the ACLU/EFF etc. argumentations. That's important. 

So I don't "worry" about whether it's "for the public interest" to release all of them, part of them, to provide them for free, to put them in a pay-wall, etc. etc. 

If they were really what they claim, then they would have released them all. If they really, really believed they had the goods on a possible cryptic Panopticon, they would have hastened to release every document for free, not waiting, and not putting out million dollar books in a year.

That in fact is one of the ways you know that's not what they have. It's not what they claim. And at bottom they know that. You see this is all their half-truths and misleading statements that need correcting the next week. Instead, what all this is, is a power struggle of a faction, call it the Wired State, as I have, call it the anarchists or Crypto Party or whatever. These documents are just totemic symbols, tokens, in this game. It doesn't matter whether they talk about spying on Muslim radicals' porn habits or the elves of Second Life or Merkel's cell phone or Al Qaeda. It's just a game in which these things are wielded in a larger battle about who gets to encrypt, and how much. Pierre had a very public discussion on Twitter about this with all of them a few months ago, a long and telling thing which can be found in his back TL in which you see that what interests him the most is the absolute power that comes with absolute encryption, because if you have that, you can then shame society and run it the way you want, which is the wish someone like him has. 

All of this isn't about whether Pierre is a capitalist who takes from the middle class to give from the poor or is an evil capitalst who forces Indian farmers to commit suicide; it's about rather his wish to rule and engineer people in the world and the desire of these activist journalists and geeks to help him do that and visa versa. Getting hung up on the gatekeeping issue is like getting hung up on whether he is on Park Place or Readding Railroad with the dog token or the boot token on the board.

1 year, 4 months ago on Pierre Omidyar in 2009: “Anybody who publishes stolen info should help catch the thief”


No, I don't think Levine/Ames raise excellent questions at all. They merely hate capitalism with a passion, so they ventilate their spite. That's not journalism. We missed them complaining about much, much more famous micro-credit schemes years ago with the same vicious pressure on loan recipients. Gonzo journalism is always about The Man, but now The Man is only certain Men they don't like -- not any of their own funders who have "betterworldist" philosophies no different, and often worse, than Pierre's. My critique of Omidyar is that he takes from the lower middle-class (on ebay), then gives to the selected poor -- or rather, the NGO sector lords of aid to the third world, which isn't the quite thing. And in doing so, he practices this "capitalism for me, communism for you" philosophy that is the real ideology of Silicon Valley (not mere technolibertarianism or neo-liberalism as Evgeny Morozov pouts about all the time). Then the rents go up on ebay for all those middle-aged mid-Western ladies selling their dolls and doilies, and the third sector also kept alive by Soros grows larger and uses all this soft money to vote for Obama. Nowhere do these people take care to sustain and develop the free market capitalist system itself. Indeed, how could they, with their socialist ideals and with the Leninist press biting at their heels constantly? Omidyar at least gives to the needy, and doesn't call "charity" just finding cures to diseases he suffers from, like Sergei Brin. The problem with the viciousness of Levine and Ames is that they argue against Omidyar (it's not journalism) from this vitriolic perspective of Leninism (Limonovism) but they don't have an answer as to how they and their journal and the rest of society are going to be kept in livelihoods without any capitalism. 

I personally don't like this notion of running charities as businesses and trying to make non-profits shape up with business demands and 90-day impact studies and bottom lines. If your project is, say, publicizing torture in Uzbekistan or Turkmenisan, you will never see progress in your lifetime -- there is no bottom line. You just keep doing it anyway because it's right to do. After-school programs for poor minority children -- absent any other reforms of the larger picture for their parents -- is the same thing you will do for the rest of your life. "The poor ye always have with you," as Jesus said. But these people think they can change human nature -- and actually, Levine/Ames are no different in their glazed-eyed idealism about some more perfect world where none of these sins they pounce on will exist because....they say so.

I don't see a problem even with "investing" in micro-credits to make a profit -- why not do that instead of making useless widgets that are outmoded in 6 months and need a new iteration? It's fine. But he should work at changing the culture of brow-beating -- that in fact comes out of socialism -- in India.

All I want these people to do, whose subscripions I actually paid for, and whose ads I click on, is to *pick up the phone* and actually talk in full paragraphs to their sources instead of having silly Twit fights.

And I want them to stop calling me a "troll" if I merely point out the obvious about them.

1 year, 4 months ago on Pierre Omidyar in 2009: “Anybody who publishes stolen info should help catch the thief”


Investigative journalism doesn't mean having some nerd dredge through old tweets to find something to play "gotcha" with from 2009 (!).

It means calling up Omidyar himself and having a direct discussion with him about whether revealing corporate secrets is the same as revealing classified state secrets. If he won't talk, asking other experts. Obviously it's not the same thing, as Paul Carr concedes in a postscript. It's not because an entire nation's security is at stake, not just the profit of one company.

Investigative journalism isn't merely smearing Omidyar with implications that he's responsible for Indian farmers' suicides, it's actually asking him if he knew about the methods used in loan recovery in his micro-credit scheme and if he did, why he didn't do anything to curb it. It means digging more to see if this scheme actually benefited some people even if unscrupulous loan methods meant it was harmful to others. Mark Ames seems to think that it's enough to fulminate against corporations and capitalism and make insinuations and not have to pick up the phone and actually ask any source anything.

Instead of investigation, we just get viciousness and a default anti-capitalist animosity. That does not substitute for critical journalism.

Also journalistic ethics means not insisting that Mark Ames (formerly of Exiled) is merely writing "fiction" when the issue comes up with his own reporting of his own antics in Russia in the 1990s, involving sex with a 15-year-old Russian girl. It means demanding to know whether it is true or not *from him*. He has been silent. It means not assuming that if someone raises this legitimately, that they are merely out to cover for Greenwald or Omidyar or "attack Mark's reporting". What reporting? It's opinion. And I personally am a bigger critic of Greenwald, Omidyar, etc. than Paul Carr and co. over a longer period of time.

But instead of real investigation, we get name-calling and nastiness on Twitter. Oh, wait. Omidyar finally gets a "respectful" and "productive" Twitter debate because he's worth millions. Those of us in the cheap seats get called "fucking insane" and smeared with false charges based on Wikipedia vandalism by Anonymous. Appalling.

I'm unsubscribing from NSFW, which I once believed in enthusiastically, and hoping Sarah Lacy might shape up this crew before they pull her down. Pando is a very good thing and it's good she is trying to save NSFW. But she should realize that calling people names on Twitter doesn't prove there was "investigative journalism" either.

1 year, 4 months ago on Pierre Omidyar in 2009: “Anybody who publishes stolen info should help catch the thief”


Like with all the Snowden stories, this story doesn't really reveal an actual violation of the law. No criminal investigation let alone court finding has established that law is violated.


Of course there is the concept of "just law," and just because not everything is found to be wrong in court, doesn't mean that it *isn't* ultimately a violation of justice.


But even, there, too, this story doesn't establish that there's an injustice. To accept that there's an injustice, first you'd have to establish that scooping up metadata for the purpose of tracking criminals and terrorists is a violation of law. Nothing said here proves that it is. The FBI is not creating dossiers it actually fills and reads with human intelligence on massive numbers of people, it's only sifting through machine data to find matches to criminal investigations established in other ways or through the matching of known suspect data, i.e. mafia members home or business phone.


Civil libertarians often make a claim that gathering metadata is overreach because it establishes location and type of machine and "might" be used for government hacking (the claim made here as well). Yet has it? No case is established in fact that it has; no individual whose rights are violated has actually been produced. Given that the FBI has to make their cases stand up in court, it's not in their interests to gather data illegally.


Stories like this always imply that the government is sieving millions of people's data and then dip-netting randomly or with prejudice or unfounded suspicion on those millions to "come up with something". But from all accounts, it seems that the government is tracking suspects that it should be tracking and legally gathering data on them.

1 year, 4 months ago on Access denied | Foreign Policy


German, Brazil, and their anti-American NGO supporters as well as the whole Snowden hackes' collective are pretty hypocritical about all this.  


They allowed Google to reputation-launder with their participation in the lobbying group GNI, and never complained about Google's far more intrusive data-scraping of the content of email and social media communications. They actively sought Facebook's membership, and didn't complain about their privacy busting.  


We never learn the content of either Merkel's or Rouseff's conversation, in fact, and we never confirm that in fact they *were* bugged; CNN asked the Der Spiegel editor who ran this Snowden claim and he said all he had was a document showing Merkel's name in a list.


Germany can posture like this at the UN in the full knowledge that Russia, where it has considerable business interests, will never comply with this resolution, which it will sign to harass the US, and never implement at home, where it does far worse surveillance.

1 year, 4 months ago on Access denied | The Cable


German, Brazil, and their anti-American NGO supporters as well as the whole Snowden hackes' collective are pretty hypocritical about all this.


They allowed Google to reputation-launder with their participation in GNI, and never complained about Google's far more intrusive data-scraping of the content of email and social media communications. They actively sought Facebook's membership, and didn't complain about their privacy busting.


We never learn the content of either Merkel's or Rouseff's conversation, in fact, and we never confirm that in fact they *were* bugged; CNN asked the Der Spiegel editor who ran this Snowden claim and he said all he had was a document showing Merkel's name in a list.

1 year, 4 months ago on Access denied | The Cable


Germany, Brazil and their NGO and adversarial NGO friends are all pretty hypocritical about this.

They were silent for years when Russia, China, and Iran kept surveillance over their populations far more intrusive and devastating for human rights than anything the NSA does.


They were silent when Big IT like Google scraped and retained all the data of the *content* of their communications -- which the NSA has not done, restricting itself through elaborate checks and balances to gathering metadata in pursuit against terrorists and other criminals.


They were silent and inactive when all the EU countries gathered communications data, and even shared it with the NSA.

It was only when WikiLeaks and the Russian government joined to exploit the defector Snowden that we got all these revelations damaging to the Western alliance -- and profitable to Russia.


And speaking of profits, Germany is happy to make billions from its interdependence with US companies like Amazon on -- in fact, it had a banner sales year.


So it doesn't tackle its claims of privacy-busting in ways that might really matter, by demanding that Amazon cede control of all German data and let it be kept on German owned servers -- a deal they might not get for reasons of cost among other issues of interdependency.


Thus, their use of the UN, where every silly anti-American sentiment can be amplified 100 times over, without any care or concern that any universal principle applied tendentiously to a liberal democratic state will ever have to be complied with by authoritarians -- least of all those where there are business interests of Germany, like in Russia.

1 year, 4 months ago on Access denied | The Cable


@zenmastermojo Oh, not at all. I challenged Warren specifically on the quote made by Noam in his article, in which he took great glee, where she confronts the Wall street regulators. She implies in her quote that the purpose of regulation is to produce criminal sentences. That implies that regardless of the truth, regardless of the facts, such boards should nail people to the wall to satisfy populism regardless of the truth. That *is* what Bolshevism *is*.

She herself cites no cases; she doesn't supply any facts; she doesn't say, "I've been researching Jamie Diman and here's why I think that the hefty fine is not enough, he needs to go behind bars because of X, Y, Z facts and argumentations I'm bringing." Instead, she implies in a highly politicized manner that ONLY if people are put in jail -- like Russia -- without due process, without facts, can she "win". Win for her Bolshevik cause, of course, because it's not a win for any just justice system.

Corporate lawyers with PhDs themselves aren't businessmen and aren't even practicing lawyers if they go into politics, and begin to spew ideological statements in a partisan manner. It's great she has a legal background, but she never seems to have run a business and she has a great animus to commerce and capitalism.

Fox News is watched by only 2 million people. The Tea Party is waning. What you're really up against are liberals and centrists in the Democratic Party itself, as well as independents, who will not stand for this kind of socialist demogoguery.

If she really has found corporate fraud, let her bring the facts, let her have hearings, call witnesses, commission reports. I don't any of that. She has no case. She is substituting rhetoric and grand-standing for having a case. That's extremely dangerous and unjust.

1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @


If you have a criminal case, by all means bring it. But you don't. The end.

1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @


Noam is rooting for Liza, and Chris Huges the Silicon Valley tycoon must have decided that TNR should become the socialist candidate vehicle, but the graphics guy is resisting. He's portraying Warren with red in every single photo, and that's exactly the problem -- the communist ideology that university professors absorb and regurgitate without question. Go, graphics guy! You're telling the story right here.

1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @


At least Noam is admitting that young people openly opt for the "s" word.

So make a Socialist Party, or revive the Democratic Socialists of America, and go into that, rather than wrecking the Democratic Party.

Ever since I saw Warren's clip about "you didn't build that," I've watched her closely to see whether that was a one-off or in fact emblematic of her socialist "progressive" views. And the answer is: the way you know she is a stealth socialist even worse than Obama is her harping on the "middle class". Whenever you hear somebody blathering about "the middle class," you know their real agenda is socialism. They think that is a supercool way to cloak their hidden agenda, like any "single issue" fake politics concealing hard-core cadre organizing for socialist programs. They think that "ordinary people in the middle class" will then follow them. Baloney.

I'm not in the middle class; I'm in the lower class as a single mom of two in the non profit sector.  But I'm not fooled by all his talk of middle class. The way to lift all boats is to encourage business to thrive, which creates jobs and commerce. Warren is afraid of commerce; she's a scold and takes a punitive approach to commerce.

She adopted the Bolshevik Occupy rhetoric of wanting to hang the rich from the lamp-posts, asking when these regulators stopped beating their wives. The objective is to regulate, not send to prison. Good Lord. If there is no crime committed worthy of sending someone to prison like Madoff, then fines are the appropriate way to go, and certainly Chase is being shaken down. Punitive practices regarding non-cronies is like Russia; it has no place in America. Keep it away.

First come people's hard work, and for some, entrepreneurialism. Then comes the paying of their taxes. Then comes using that taxes to build roads to sustain them, as government for and by the people. It's not about putting first the socialists in the redistribution committee in power and having them extract and redistribute. Warren doesn't get that. It's not about her and her power to redistribute; it's about people's work and their entrepreneurial achievements.

If the Democratic Party doesn't realize that they cannot have Warren or leftist clones worse than Obama, and can't produce Hillary in 2016 or some reasonable moderate candidate who doesn't hate business, then we will be forced to put in protest votes with the Republican Party. And not for the first time.

1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @


It's not about privacy or the content of what is hidden, it's about power -- who gets to encrypt absolutely.

1 year, 5 months ago on Access denied | Foreign Policy


I oppose holds like this -- I thought they had worked to get of holds. And I oppose *these* holds.

But I still think questions about Benghazi are in order. I'm not sure John Hudson does, however, since questions asked after he asked them in September 2012 in the Atlantic seem to be deemed "trolling" and never legitimate.


Since the witness being discredited now himself told everyone to look to his FBI testimony, I think there will be more to the story.


It's good that Eli Lake is cited and that this story now appears more balanced than previous ones. Does this happen without prompting from the consumer? No, I don't think it does, quite frankly.



1 year, 5 months ago on Access denied | The Cable


This may be a very expert insider's account, but it is terribly one-sided. You behave as if the US "stood up" all of this militarization in a vacuum, just out of some love of toys or geopolitical hegemony or something. You utterly fail to portray the very real enemies the US has from Iran to Russia to China to Pakistan to Anonymous. You aren't credible when you don't supply a real picture of what these countries do, which isn't playing catch-up, but which is launching the cyber attacks in the first place. Most of the cyber attacks on Europe, as we know from the Brussels Forum, come from Russia. Most of the ones on the US come from China these are real threats,and yet you diminish them. That's why nothing you say is persuasive.

1 year, 5 months ago on Access denied | Foreign Policy


The reason why this is a negative development is that the relatives of those killed or those injured in drone attacks who are not the combatants or terrorists have no way of applying for compensation because it is run by the CIA in secret, so they don't accept applications. Those killed openly by the US armed forces by mistake in collateral damage can get compensated, but not drone victims. Surely that much could be fixed about this program.

1 year, 5 months ago on Access denied | Killer Apps


This sort of piece seems like oppo research, and not journalism, and feels like a "gotcha" rather than reporting. Or this is supposed to be the new adversarial journalism a la Greenwald?


The real purpose of this piece - and what is revealed in the first sentence -- is to expose "GOP outrage over the Obama administration's handling of the September 2012 incident" as misfounded. That's all. And that's why it all feels so instrumental.


Look, did you call up Jones and ask him directly why his story appears to conflict? No. Instead you've speculated -- and pounced. It may be that the witness has lied. But we don't have that yet.


Meanwhile, the distinct implication here is that CBS is cravenly flogging its book with known lies. So how does that work? The parent company calls up 60 minutes and says, "Hey, can you lie about a witness in order to flog our book"? Because that's what you imply here, by raising the issue of ownership of this conglomerate as "a fact not disclosed" as if it is a conspiracy.


Might it be possible that Jones filed a deliberately bland report to his boss closer to the events, but then told more of the story to CBS? Why assume that he lies to CBS and not to his boss?


Oh, because that serves the narrative -- the burning need of the progressives to make the GOP "get off of this topic" a recurring theme at FP.


The thing is, you don't have to be in the GOP or Tea Party to question Benghazi. No, it does not seem as if Hillary should be blamed. No, it's misplaced to heckle Susan Rice over this, she went by her briefing papers. But we should still ask why there wasn't sufficient protection, what was really going on there, and why that narrative got so horribly spun before the elections. These are all valid questions and journalists should ask them.


A lot of people rejoiced at the CBS story precisely because 60 minutes has credibility as a mainstream investigative reporter and it seemed like finally the wall of prejudice on this topic in the liberal/leftist media has zealously maintained was going to be breached. So it seems particularly important to you to impugn 60 minutes.


But here's the thing. It doesn't matter if this witness turns out to be a fraud. 60 minutes isn't stupid, but if it *is* the case they bought tainted goods, it doesn't mean there's no more to the story and no more to try to tackle the Obama scrim around it.


Yet we don't know if he was lying, we only have bloggy speculation.


As for "cashing in," that's simply not credible on your part. Do you put in parentheses every time you cover Assange or Greenwald for the way they have cashed in on WikiLeaks and Snowden? Does everybody who has a book out become a non-credible witness merely for publishing his story and properly getting paid for it?


As for the paying of sources, indeed that is wrong and not a practice in American journalism and rightly so. But he was not paid for his participation in 60 minutes. Would any person paid in the past by other media outlets automatically be disqualified from being a witness? That might really cut down on the news.


And you know, it's not as if we need this particular witness to challenge the Administration's narrative. I recall a piece published by Foreign Policy soon after Benghazi (can't find link now) recounting the narrative of a woman who thought to visit hospitals until she found a wounded guard who recounted to her a narrative of an assault on the compound that was completely at odds with the "demonstration which got out of hand" narrative. So there are other witnesses out there.





1 year, 5 months ago on Access denied | The Cable


 @John Suffolk why does the Chinese Army need to keep hacking us the, John? You don't account for all that enormous amount of aggressive hacking. Even the New York Times. What's the purpose there? It seems like not only industrial espionage and sabotage of the country to knock out a global rival, but pure spite.

1 year, 5 months ago on Access denied | The Cable


Barton Gellman's piece does not supply proof that the NSA actually breaks into Google. What he has is a sketch that possibly shows the aspiration to do so. We don't know if that is consultant hype -- Snowden was at Booz Hamilton at the time, and we don't know if this was a consultant's pitch or an actual internal engineer's drawing. Doesn't seem like the latter, and it's pretty informal. Once again, we have a story with allegations and outlines and no content or validation.

1 year, 5 months ago on Access denied | The Cable


@shekissesfrogs @kablosna No, they most certainly did not fall on their faces. Instead, they followed civil rights constraints because all they had were some trips abroad and some Youtubes. Not probably cause. And that's because THE RUSSIANS failed to tell the FBI that Tamerlan had befriend at least one if not three jihadists who *were assassinated that summer* by the Russians. WHEN were the Russians going to mention THAT? This has all been reported in the Russian media and I've translated it on my blog. Seriously, that's news, that an American resident with refugee status and a green card travelling on a Kyrgyz passport, with his Dagestani passport "lost" and being replaced, meets up with people who are *killed by Russian forces*. They watch foreigners and suspicious types very closely and they can't have missed him. He passed through Moscow for several days. We'll never know if in fact he was a Russian double agent or something. 

There are also other FISC cases, like Muhtorov which I've reported on extensively. There isn't just one.

Parallel construction tells us there is something wrong with a system that creates artificial firewalls of "foreign" and "domestic" in cases where drugs move across borders easily in a very interconnected world. That's what has to change. Some way of having interagency sharing on certain cases like this.

1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @


@kablosna@kablosna So I noticed that you did not answer my question about whether you are in Anonymous. Oh, maybe you did, and you are, but that was an evasion. I don't have any "stereotype," I report on obvious cultural phenomenon. And everybody knows that being in a contractor funded by the DoD is in fact hugely typical -- and let's not forget Jacob Appelbaum, in the DoD-funded Tor, which you won't comment on, although they are central to WikiLeaks, Manning and Snowden and he's refusing to return to this country for fear of facing justice.

Look, you are not the god of the metaverse, whatever your arrogant pretensions -- so like Snowdens (and this is the culture, and this is the problem). We don't need YOU to see the code -- we have *other* people JUST LIKE YOU only in a different setting to see the code. And that' s how we can have CHOICES and pluralism, which you need in a liberal democratic society. The military types often embrace open source merely as a way to bring the cost of requisition downs, but we as a society REALLY have to question what they are doing when their poor choices give us WikiLeaks and Manning and Snowden. Truly we do.

You're not really for having a professional code of conduct or you'd have one. You're not interesting in tightening up the restraints of the rule of law over yourselves. And that's why you're a dangerous tribe, and a law unto yourselves. How will this end?

Of course it restricts freedom of choice. If I can't have a customized web page solution, but am browbeaten into using Drupal by some "progressive," and millions are spent on the endless fix-it hours of the geek, I don't have choice, I have a cult. It doesn't matter if open source is used by everybody and even is part of solutions IBM or whatever provides. The point is that the insistence on open source across the board for every function, including wikis in government,  is a security leak. A big one. A social engineering leak. And a mechanical leak. The wikification of everything is what led to WikiLeaks and the undermining of our government.

It's not true that "almost all open source software" is written by paid people on their paid jobs. Most of it is in fact done by "the commuuunity" as they love to call themselves and in their off hours. But yes, the dirty little secret of Big IT is that they exploit the free labour of open source nerds. Actually, when you name a list of people at big companies who also dabble in open source, you *are* naming the cultists. That's exactly where a lot of them come.

The fetishization of the fear of the "vendor going out of business" is crazy. Open source is even more likely to go out of business and then "turn the code over to the community" but in fact die. How about openID? What a grand failure that was, after forcing itself on numerous websites and blogs! How about Diaspora, the OS alternative to Facebook? One of the developers committed suicide, they didn't perform after getting Kickstarter money, the project died.

No one *has* to give YOU transparency. Your breathtaking arrogance and hubris is astounding. Who says? We need much  more civilian oversight over you and your fellows. You cannot govern yourselves; the government has to step in. Congress needs to review you and take action.

The single largest factor that caused Manning and Snowden's hacks was *open source culture*. Hackers' anarchism. This is what has to be fixed. It starts with you.

1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @


@kablosna  I don't care if you worked for God. We need an invasive civilian oversight over the geek tribe more than anything in this country. The geeks have brought us WikiLeaks, Manning, and now Snowden -- all related to Tor and Jacob Appelbaum and friends. This needs to be contested far more than it has.

What is important in the business environment is a free market and CHOICE.  You do not have CHOICE when you have the open source cult. It doesn't matter if YOU can inspect the source code. What matters is that *that company's geeks who are absolutely no different than you* can inspect it. They are paid to show up every day at 9:00 am and work a full day and answer the phone and most importantly, *comply with customer requirements*. Open source cultists are not.

No, I refuse to own an Android phone, dear. And duh, I realize that everyone using the Internet is using Apache servers and blah blah blah. So what? Everyone has to make use of open source software somewhere. But where they can have the CHOICE not to, they should avail themselves of the less cultish options with better user interface and customer service *with accountability*. Full stop.

To hear you tell it, open source never gets viruses and never gets hacked. But of course it does. Don't be silly.

Of course you do in fact blame the victim. This is what we call "rape culture" in other settings. You imply that if only your fellow geeks had hashed and salted their tables blah blah, why, it would not be possible for the Weev types of the world to grab their email lists and customer addresses. But there are good reasons for why not every setting can have the expense and the time and the induced latency that these solutions can cause. And even if they do hash salt and put a pinch of cayenne pepper to boot, that can't fix everything that the Chinese army can do to them.

In the restaurant industry, the health department indeed inspects restaurants and gives a grade.

Say, where's the inspection force that can go and inspect Linux and Drupal and every other concoction of open source invention? Where's the "D" for Drupal because it fails usability? How can I get Firefox closed down *today* because it is so glitchy and crashes constantly and loses content? I'm all for that. Why should only Microsoft be inspected? And as I just pointed out -- and you evaded -- this starts with ethics commitments in professional bodies and publications -- and we never, ever see that. Instead, we see the support of Anonymous. Are you in Anonymous?

Failing the introduction of an inspection system and grades that would intrude not only on corporations but anarchist collectives like Tor -- which I'm all for -- then we do have the option of using proprietary software that does in fact have corporate standards for work, trustees with fiscal responsibility, full faith and credit, etc. That's all a good thing. Do you realize that you are typing on a proprietary magazine's web form right now, dude? There you go, apply it to yourself, first.

I don't care if you "don't appreciate" what's been told you. By excusing those who break into systems and shifting the blame to your fellow geeks on the opposite side of the firewall, you ARE complicit. Because they ultimately really aren't the problem. You and your  mentality are, as they harm the fight against the real bad guys. You are a fellow traveller.  

The only thing that has ever worked is *restraint* on human nature, that cannot be changed and is not mutable. And that requires the checks and balances of a free market and CHOICE, and it requires ethics and the rule of law. These are organic understandings that people like you disdain but it is all there has ever been for civilization and you need to be continually called out as undermining it. The solution that works regardless of what people do is the organic rule of law. Weev is finding that out right now. His erstwhile lawyers and amicus brief writers haven't found that out yet.

1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @


@x_y_no No one has yet proven that these back doors are built. There was speculation, but even Wired magazine explains that this hasn't been shown yet. When geeks have questioned Greenwald, he sneers that they have to be willing to receive the Snowden documents and therefore be complicit in espionage as well, in order to satisfy their demands for proof. He has Schneier and other supposedly qualified hackers helping him, yet they have not supplied the proof.

1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @


@Lee Green OK, Lee, then if you have been around that long, and remember these cases, then *tell me what the equivalent ones are in the Snowden files*. I'm not seeing it. NOT A SINGLE ONE.

1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @


@TomBarrett1 No one, least of Snowden, has proven that any massive vacuuming has taken place. Can you actually cite one case? There aren't any. As for personal communications of foreign leaders, can you let us know one single fact or tidbit of gossip that we have learned from these revelations? We haven't. Learning THAT they do this is not the same as compromising their integrity. The NSA already has oversight, thank you. Snowden does not. No thank you.

1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @


@kablosna A typical exemplar of the malware mindset that is the root of the problem -- the geek tribe.

1. Victims are not to blame for attacks -- hackers are. Hacking is defined not by hackers, but by victims.

2. Microsoft products are used because they are user-friendly and have good customer service. Open source software products created by the geek tribe are neither. Putting Linux products everywhere will only create dependency on erratic open source cultists.

3. It doesn't matter if most of the hacks aren't technically a hack in the insider's jargonistic sense of touching a server. Any unauthorized use is a hack under the law, and social engineer or DDoSing are hacks, too. What you fail to see is that *people exactly like you, and I mean exactly* are the ones behind the systems at the Times or TNR or any place. They have exactly the same mentality. And that's part of the problem.

4. You also fail to see that you can't fix the problems of the Kremlin or the Chinese army by having some better IT practice or routine. They are states, and the private sector even of large multinational corporations can't always withstand the assault. 

5. A lot of these things could have been fixed, and Snowden obviated by passing CISPA. This would regulate government/private sector relations in IT so that they become more transparent and have civilian oversight. But no, you didn't want the rule of law, you wanted Obama to decide things in decree fashion like Putin. So you get what you get. You really should go back to CISPA if you are sincere, but you aren't really, as this entire post is a concern troll.

6. As gaming designers say about their game applications, "The client is in the hands of the enemy." All browsers are in the hands of the user. That means MITM attacks and all kinds of vulnerabilities. This is not merely a vending problem. Say, how about the Tor Browser Bundle exploits? Now who's fault was that? Jacob Appelbaum's, among others, in Tor -- you can't complain about the browser endlessly in situations like this because others are at fault both for not patching and for not warning their users.

7. Drugs need to be warred on because they kill people and particularly harm kids. The drug epidemic needs a response just like the cyberwarfare epidemic. There's a strange notion that you can't fight things anymore because somehow fighting them makes it worse. No one has ever proven that not fighting them makes it better. Essentially, we haven't even begun the fight precisely because of this mentality, that starts at the top with lack of leadership from Obama on Snowden. 

8. If you don't like spending money on cybersecurity then what has to happen is changing the culture and mentality of the geek, East and West, so that he begins a law-abiding ethical person. This starts with creation of ethics codes and monitoring bodies in the geek professions and bodies themselves. They are hugely reluctant to police themselves, however, and that's why we're all here, having to police them as a society and as a democratic government. It is nearly impossible even to get Ars Technica and its readers to agree that computer professionals should stop slyly golf-clapping Anonymous to advance their anti-government agendas and condemn the DDoS as an inadmissible form of political warfare. That's really what it's about.

1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @


You shouldn't be glorifying Anonymous in any way or shape. With the Steubenville case, they outed the victim's name and harassed and vilified innocent people, making it harder for the prosecutors to do their job. In the end, justice was done and the perpetrators of the rape were sentenced, but not before an enormous amount of chaos and mayhem in the town and on the Internet was caused. The few journalists and bloggers who didn't buy the Anonymous line (from long experience) and criticized their vigilantism themselves were targeted with the most outrageous tactics. I was subjected to months of heckling and the most grotesque and misogynous tweets, emails and posts, and all of my personal information and my relatives' information was exposed on the Internet to cause more threats to me, including threats to come to my home and beat me up. All because I pointed out that anonymous hackers using crude tactics like taking down website and invading privacy weren't leading to justice, but were undermining the justice system itself. For this, I got those creepy threatening videos on Youtube telling me "tick tock" my time was up and they were coming to get me.

All through this period, I watched as Anonymous made fake accounts and sock puppets, mounted accounts that pretended to be rape victims but one could never check, and saw how they savagely bullied and harassed anyone who questioned their methods. You would not want to live under any regime run by these people -- they are Bolsheviks.

There is no reason why a women's right group or public movement of any people of good will who use their real names and who use lawful and peaceful methods cannot in fact achieve the same results, using social media. One of the problems, however, is that groups like NOW who should know better embraced Anonymous and its violent tactics because they thought it gave great energy and publicity to their cause. That was awful. It only discredits them. They have no idea of how Anonymous behaves the rest of the time when they aren't pretending to care about rape culture -- a culture they most certain adopt when they encourage grotesque misogynist pornography on 4chan and when they blame the victims of hacking as responsible for their own suffering.

1 year, 6 months ago on Conversation @


Authorities detained 380 rioters and opened up criminal cases against 70 people on charges of public disorder.

For translations of some of the films:

For analysis of the ethnic riots:

The lens of moral equivalency between the US and Russia is really misleading on a subject like this. In fact resident and labour permits are required in Moscow but overcome by both employers and migrants with bribes to officials. The factors of excessive regulation and the breeding opportunities for massive official corruption just aren't at anything near the same levels in American cities.

By the same token, the police in St. Petersburg, Moscow and other cities seem to be giving a pass to nationalists and not responding effectively and in some scenes even seeming to take directions from them. The lawlessness of Russia is both about oppressiveness and leniency.

1 year, 6 months ago on Conversation @


 @shavanerad Journalists should keep asking about Tor doing bad things, because they are indeed very, very bad things. Had more asked and Congress paid attention, perhaps we would have staved off WikiLeaks and Snowden. I should have fought it harder when I first saw its evils but I never dreamed that the sectarians around the Electronic Frontier Foundation would ever do such enormous damage to our country when I first challenged them in Second Life eight years ago.


The destruction of democracy for the benefit of roving bands of cyberlibertarians and outright technocommunists isn't a good thing, not matter how much you try to spin it as blessed by Thomas Jefferson, who would have denounced all the bans and deletes and DDoS your friends have produced as shutting off the factions needed for "the oxygen of democracy" as he called it.


And imagine, if someone criticizes a destructive software cult like Tor, that they are compared to McCarthy, "tarring" people. Shame on you, Shava. You claim to support a "marketplace of ideas and ideals," but the minute someone criticizes the very, very bad idea of Tor and letting the military shield itself with civilians -- something that liberals if they are true liberals should question vigorously given the idea of civilian control of the military -- human shields including everything from innocent victims of domestic abuse to child pornographers and drug lords, not to mention anarchists taking down intelligence agencies -- why, suddenly it's "tarring" and not simply another idea, also perfectly legitimate and defensible.


And about defending a system of liberal democracy, not exploiting it to destroy it. Only through attentive study of the history of totalitarian movements can you understand how political cults have to be fought or we lose our freedoms.

1 year, 6 months ago on Access denied | The Cable


 @shavanerad All fields have academics who write scholarly papers trying to improve the field, Shava. Say, at least you're not talking about neuro-atypical theta people who are superior to us ordinary mortals, today!


Syverson et. al. may be trying to improve Tor, but they've also -- unlike activists very wedded to its revolutionary capacity as an ideology -- are more honest about its real shortcomings. In fact, the same paper talks about how they are building a different system.


Of course Tor led to WikiLeaks and Snowden, and those who are wedded to producing and improving absolute encryption and radical transparency  are hardly impartial discussants or honest brokers of this issue. That's why I strenuously advocate that this subject be given a congressional hearing so that we can see why our tax dollars are going to the destruction of national security and diplomacy through WikiLeaks and the Foundation for Freedom of the Press' Snowden Project, as well as sustaining drug and child pornography empires that mercifully were just taken down -- after many years of even anarchist hackers in Anonymous complaining about them and trying to take them down themselves. It's come to that.


Millions and millions of dollars have gone to sustaining this crazy mess and it has to stop.


For example, here's what Jacob Appelbaum had to say today about espionage in general -- he thinks we shouldn't have spies at all (apparently he doesn't think we have real enemies, either, like Iran, Al Qaeda, Russia, etc.)


Microsoft's Word and Apple's iPad haven't led to those things, you know?


Software is not merely a tool; the engineers weld into the works their own ideologies and ways of doing things --- that's why we have to "like" but can never "unlike," or why on this page, if we disagree, we get literally driven into the corner in long narrow columns to get us to shut  up (and why I come back on top).


You refuse to even contemplate the shocking thesis of the Navy going after jihadists -- again -- by taking all Tor users, good and bad, as human shields to disguise their activity. That this occurs in the supposedly "harm-free" zone of cyberspace where you can't kill people is a distraction, because in fact ENORMOUS harm has come from this monster.


The perverse logic that the Torians keep bringing to this subject is that we "must" all be anonymous or "none" of us can. But this is patently ridiculous, once you step out of the magic thinking and magic circle of open source geeks. First of all you can ask the very patently obvious question: do you really *need* to be anonymous? After all, people from Nelson Mandela to Andrei Sakharov signed their protests and led their movements with their real names and suffered the consequences of jail or exile.  You don't HAVE to go on the Internet to run a social movement; in fact, we're seeing all these empty-calorie social media revolutions as in Egypt or Russia in fact flop and lead to massive repression because people weren't reached one-by-one the old fashioned way.


And even if you "need" encryption, there are any number of other models:


o the Navy can get over its own in-house geek obsession with the open source cult, which is destructive on many levels for them and for the larger society, and make its own proprietary white-label closed software to go watch jihad sites with.


o with proprietary or even open source but with certain license restrictions, features, etc. it could make its own Tor network with its own people and contractors world wide and let its own people chatting to girlfriends and putting up cat pictures be their cover


o they could reform Tor Project to remove some of the obvious anarchist destructors, and require that the node operators be supervised and that yes, back doors be open instead of making the feds have to forcibly decrypt to get at criminal users.


o again, it's the failure of the Lord of the Flies governance methods of open source software cults that brought the feds in -- but there should have been ways for them to interact from the start. Say, we saw this in miniature played out in Second Life, remember?


o oh, anarchists here and abroad don't like the idea of law enforcement having back doors? Well they have them anyway, surprise, surprise. The laughable notion that Bruce Schneier is putting out now that Tor is indestructible is just a propaganda escapade and you know it. Obfuscating this with tech talk can't hide the underlying truth of the matter.


All of this wrapping of yourself in the flag and Franklin and Jefferson is silly. These American Enlightenment figures didn't go around in Guy Fawkes masks overturning the book cases and writing desks of everyone who disagreed with them  (that would be the DDoS and block/ban/savage with bots equivalent) and waylaying their horses as they delivered the letters of the committees of correspondence -- you know, like your friends Anonymous do, the storm-troopers of WikiLeaks and Snowden.


It doesn't matter if the Federalist Papers' authors were pseudonymous -- those who attended the constitutional assembly and the signers of the Constitution weren't, and that sure matters! Life makes short work of secretive terrorists taking over states under pseudonyms like "Lenin," even if it takes 75 years as it did with the Bolsheviks.


And there you go again endlessly personalizing a public debate about the nature of a software cult as being about your great grandfather Spinoza and Oregon politics. Please -- it doesn't matter. What matters is that your pal Jake and others in your movement -- whom you've described far too gently here - has from all appearances aided and abetted espionage. They cannot hide behind journalism. His flight abroad, less publicized than Snowden's, in spite of his whining that he would be unjustly treated here, lets us know that. 


The CCC has a very checkered past, including arrest of some of its members as KGB agents. The makerspace digital native blah blah hackers are in fact singularly elitist creeps who at best end up selling out to Big IT (like little phone encryption companies sold out to Twitter, on its way to an IPO, anyone?) or at worst are destructive of every thing they touch (WikiLeaks, Snowden) without any tangible benefit.


Fortunately, the "reform" vote lost in the Senate despite the best efforts of rabid technolibertarian Ron Wydell of Portlandia and a few others. We still have a democracy. The reality is, despite your very self-serving and exaggeratedly positive portrait of Tor here, is that few people really use it -- it's too slow and complicated.


Most activists don't encrypt themselves so intensively, and those who really need to do so use other products, gasp, some of them even proprietary. Remember when Nicholas Kristof recommended a half dozen programs, and he didn't recommend Tor, and I pointed that out to you? Hello!



1 year, 6 months ago on Access denied | The Cable


 @shavanerad  The problem with open source software cults aren't that they "destroy the economy" -- as everybody knows, the volunteer slave labour and its free products are scooped up by Big IT for use in their businesses and resold as other software packages or consulting and so it is a very big business.


The problem is rather in the authoritarian culture it spawns and its awful effect on civil society -- the Benevolent Dictator and the harsh expulsions of dissidents and brutal forks are only part of it -- no "no" vote and collectivist group-think make it intolerable. Indeed, the "General Assembly" of the Occupy Wall Street camps emerged from software autocracies and is a good example of how they fail.


It doesn't matter if organized crime runs in other places with other software. What matters is that it runs very well on *your* software and yet you refuse to take any responsibility for it. That's unaccountable, and unacceptable. You completely sidestep the rightful challenge to the philosophical model that involves the government zebra requiring lots of other stripes to function at its behest for protective covering -- without regard to their nature.


Your enthusiastic -- ecstatic -- description of the Silk Road "business model" as "disruptive" like a Silicon Valley gadget; your belief that its only problem was opsec oversights; your blindness to the moral downside of these features are all what make Tor such a "delight" and indicate what a virtuality you inhabit.


I don't know what to make of your assessment of child pornographers as also having poor opsec; it seems like what the world needs are better Tor gurus to improve opsec, and all will be well. Again, Silk Road involved a billion-dollar empire. It may not be a multibillion cartel, but it's still damaging and your attempts to minimize it are so noted.


Basically, your argumentation sounds like this: "we're a new start-up beta for crime and haven't scaled up yet, but we're working on it."


Asking questions about secretive and unaccountable persons like Jacob Appelbaum who can't answer whether or not he colluded with Snowden on deciding what materials to hack -- perhaps he suggested Tor as a topic? --- before he went public is legitimate and needed activity. It's what critical bloggers do. Describing the kind of questions you feel Glenn Greenwald gets to ask but the rest of us don't about him as "baiting" lets us know where you loyalties like.


As for your outlandish claim that I made any remarks about your motherhood, this is a notion you have clung to for years and the record shows it to be false.


As for Second Life, I think it has been an important place to see the petri dish particularly of the social and psychological side of many Internet phenomenon having to do with intellectual property, privacy, democracy --- and many issues have been predicted or prototyped in this virtual world. Your own emotional stake in it seems far greater than mine as you spent recent weeks hollering about a relatively minor change in the TOS that may threaten copyright for developers. I don't have any sycophants, I just have customers.

1 year, 6 months ago on Access denied | FP Passport


 @EdGray1 But that's complete baloney and only very partially true at best. I've written extensively on the WikiLeaks cables from Eurasia. Numerous cables had absolutely no redactions, have in fact spelled out names, and left those people in harm's way. Some indeed *were* harmed and I've followed their cases. WikiLeaks was very haphazard and incomplete and random about their redaction -- and I'm talking about BEFORE the big dump by Domscheit-Berg. 

1 year, 6 months ago on Access denied | FP Passport


 @shavanerad I've been debating Shava Nerad about the immorality of Tor for something like five years now. And the methods and obfuscations and distractions never change.

The revisionist narrative of Tor underway now completely bypasses the essential immorality at the heart of Tor: the military takes human shields for its work, and does business with nefarious characters, all for the sake of camouflage. That's not acceptable. Full stop.


Finally after some years of mayhem with child pornography and Silk Road busts -- long over due and much needed -- we're seeing the true face of Tor. It isn't those few Chinese and Iranian dissidents (most of those people use other software that works better with less reputational problems).


And really, the questions should have been asked long before -- here WikiLeaks and Snowden's exploits relied on Tor, but no one ever called the Navy to question the monster that had gotten out of their lab.


And PS Shave may not have kept up with the latest scholarly reports by the Navy devs who says that in fact the system is 100% deanonymizing users in same locations after three months. That's not acceptable when you need to save lives.


Unwittingly, Shava is wonderfully revealing to us the essential problem of Tor -- it is a political faction, it is a hands-on cult group very much intertwined with its open-source software, and not merely a neutral tool as Chris Soghoian of the ACLU pretends by calling it "like a highway" to the Washington Post (police get access at will on highways, however, and don't have to decrypt code to do so; moreoever, most people have license plates identifying them and not Guy Fawkes masks).


She says war correspondents get helped; drug dealers "not so much". Really? And you're quite sure you can tell them apart. And you claim they're "penny ante" when the FBI has seized a billion-dollar empire?!  The reality is Tor is slow and Tor is difficult and Tor is discredited, and that's why there is no "army" of journalists and activists and victims but just a hard core of geek anarchists, pretty much. Most people use other software, often proprietary, with less of the geek sub-culture and its bad side-effects surrounding it.


It's awfully bracing to hear about the Thai boys who "all use Tor" in yet another revolution but the revolution's results are pretty dubious in many places, and Tor is also used by the predators of such boys and the drug-sellers and hosts of other bad actors. 


The information Greenwald and company are sitting in from the very beginning put lives at jeopardy and our nation's security at risk. We have a liberal democratic state with the most liberal leader in history -- Obama. Yet his weaknesses have been seized by hardcore anarchists and revolutionaries who want something very different than the deliberations under the rule of law that make up real democracy. They want to install software juntas by force with themselves in charge. No thank you.


So what if there are 3.5 million people employed in intelligence? There are entire countries with hundreds of millions of people who are outright enemies of the US with enormous capacity to bring the Internet to its knees and harm vital institutions of our society.


And say, Jake certainly wasn't in any "arms race" when it came time to fix the Tor Browser Bunder exploit related to Firefox. He was too busy helping Snowden encrypt his comms and flee to Russia.


He didn't see and push out the patch for the browser immediately and users were left in the dark. Weeks went by and yes, the FBI/NSA exploited it. But then, if Tor cooperated with their *military funders* as much as they do the anarchists using their network, hey, they wouldn't be forced to pour purple dye on users to follow them.


No knocks have come on any doors, that's hysterical victimology. Instead, Jake has fled to Germany because his alibis to the WikiLeaks grand jury and Snowden investigation just aren't holding up.

1 year, 6 months ago on Access denied | FP Passport


@davepazoh, you don't know the depths of Walter's depraved MO.

He threatened them with "the best snipers West of the Mississippi" and they will live in fear the rest of their lives.

They will constantly fear the DEA will find out they have the hot $9 million as well. They will be in hell forever.

THAT is his revenge.

1 year, 6 months ago on Walter White, founder and CEO


I think there's some contradictions and omissions in this story.


First, there was the premise promulgated by Greenwald and company -- although never really proven with documents to the satisfaction of encryption experts -- that the NSA had essentially built back doors into all software by tampering with encryption standards. And that therefore the NSA could crack anything, seemingly.


Now you're claiming -- again only on Greenwald's say-so and only some documents from the NSA out of context -- that the NSA can't get at the Navy's monster-out-of-control, Tor. 


Well, which is it, guys?

Sure, I realize that using browser exploits or sniffing packets isn't the same technical act as banging on code to crack it, but even so, you have to think of the philosophical contradictions in your premises here -- the NSA is all powerful, oh, wait, no, it's not, a band of script kiddies can defeat it.


Second, you're missing the work of the original Navy Tor developers themselves, which has increasingly shown the vulnerability of Tor as I explain -- now they are presenting a paper soon that shows 100% of users in one location can expect to lose their anonymity over three months. Not exactly the invincible crypto kids that Greenwald and co. want to celebrate:


Third, you don't seem to be willing to examine the greater philosophical problems surrounding the very premise of Tor -- which essentially involves the immorality of the military using human shields and turning a blind eye to criminals if they're "our bastards."  And when you stay in the tank with the "progressive" NAF, you're not acknowledging a wider critical perspective.


The FBI defeated Tor handily despite everything you're writing here in the Irish child pornography ring bust and the Silk Road arrest -- and in the first they shut down half of the Tor nodes, several thousand, and in the second they seized still more plus Bitcoin accounts. In the first case, Jacob Appelbaum -- the controversial figure you don't address -- was blamed by the innocent Tor users for failing to manage the publication of exploits and the whole system, really, which is an ecosystem that isn't just software. He was too busy helping Snowden and running to Germany from where he won't return because he faces questioning by the WikiLeaks grand jury.


You're going to see a huge drop-off of Tor users -- and it already is not the preferred tool because of how slow and wonky it is, and because of the negative features of the open-source software cult surrounding it, with its Benevolent Dictators for Life and its harassment and heckling of Twitters with the unleashing of Anonymous attacks and spambots. There are other commercial software options more people use.


The policy isn't just what NAF says it is and not only they and the State Department Obama appointees should get to decide this in a democratic society. Tor isn't only about the free flow of information and ideas and the free Internet; it's about the war of the anarchist faction for absolute encryption and lack of accountability under the rule of law.  Law-enforcement and its ability to access the highway for crime control is legitimate, too in a democratic society yet they do not concede this.


In my view, Tor is not a tool but a faction. It's a faction that led to WikiLeaks and Snowden, two of the most harmful assaults in our nation's history and certainly among the most serious 


Accordingly, I think its funding should be suspended, Congressional hearings should be heard on all sides of the question by all government agencies involved and by members of the public not just the coterie in this political faction like EFF and NAF but other experts and critics. 


The cost has been way, way too high for the handful of Iranian or Chinese dissidents who ostensibly benefited from this tool especially given that we have no solid reporting on whether it is their preferred tool or will remain so.

1 year, 6 months ago on Access denied | The Cable