Excellent take from McSweeney’s on US Syria shooting panic reaction by a Governor



When I took the oath of office, I swore to do everything I could to protect the citizens of this state from harm. There is nothing more important to me than ensuring that we are safe and can gather in our public places without fear of mass, indiscriminate violence. The nightmare scenario — the one that keeps me up at night — is the one where some individual could easily and legally obtain a firearm and use that firearm to kill innocent American citizens and also that the individual doing the killing is Syrian.

That’s why, as long as I’m your governor, I vow to do everything in my power to prevent Syrians from shooting you while you are at the mall. No Syrians will enter a movie theater and start shooting you. Syrians will not shoot you at church, or in a restaurant, as long as I am governor. College campuses also will not be places where it will be okay to be shot by Syrians. As your governor, I will ensure that no Syrians enter your child’s elementary school and start shooting your child.

Fortune predicts that Apple will purchase Tesla

This seems highly unlikely to me, but it certainly is possible. Fortune Magazine is predicting that Apple will buy Tesla.

Apple AAPL 3.17% has announced plans to build an electronic car, targeting 2019. Apple could dramatically accelerate this timetable by buying Tesla TSLA 3.30% . With over $200 billion cash on hand, the iPhone-maker has more-than ample resources to absorb the purchase, especially now that some of the bloom has come off Tesla’s once-rosy stock.

In addition to its automobile know-how, Apple gets access to Tesla’s battery technology, which CEO Elon Musk claims can help change “the entire energy infrastructure of the world.” Of course, Apple would also get Musk—a worthy heir to Steve Jobs’ “think different” legacy and ideally suited to be Apple’s futurist, chief technologist and CEO-in-waiting.


No evidence mass surveillance ever stopped a major terrorist attack

Cory Doctorow writes:

CIA Director John Brennan wants you to think the Paris attacks were Snowden’s fault — the “hand wringing” over mass surveillance has ended his agency’s ability to “thwart” terrorists attacks “before they’re carried out.” There’s only one problem with that: there’s no evidence that the US’s mass surveillance programs have ever prevented a major terrorist attack.

An internal, unclassified DHS document confirms this: “terror arrests between January 2014 and September 2015 linked to ISIS were largely of people trying to travel abroad, provide material support, or plan attacks that were essentially imaginary.”

The failures of mass surveillance to stop terrorism

Terrorists have, of course, used strong encryption for communications for years. It is simple to understand how they use such tools. TechCrunch explains the operations thusly:

Here’s a recap: terrorists can use encryption tools that are freely distributed from countries where your anti-encryption laws have no jurisdiction. Terrorists can (and do) build their own securely encrypted communication tools. Terrorists can switch to newer (or older) technologies to circumvent enforcement laws or enforced perforations. They can use plain old obfuscation to code their communications within noisy digital platforms like the Playstation 4 network, folding their chatter into general background digital noise (of which there is no shortage). And terrorists can meet in person, using a network of trusted couriers to facilitate these meetings, as Al Qaeda — the terrorist group that perpetrated the highly sophisticated 9/11 attacks at a time when smartphones were far less common, nor was there a ready supply of easy-to-use end-to-end encrypted messaging apps — is known to have done.

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Point is, technology is not a two-lane highway that can be regulated with a couple of neat roadblocks — whatever many politicians appear to think. All such roadblocks will do is catch the law-abiding citizens who rely on digital highways to conduct more and more aspects of their daily lives. And make those law-abiding citizens less safe in multiple ways.

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So let’s not be taken in by false flags flown by anonymous officials trying to mask bad political decision-making. And let’s redouble our efforts to fight bad policy which seeks to entrench a failed ideology of mass surveillance — instead of focusing intelligence resources where they are really needed; honing in on signals, not drowned out by noise.

So as you hear politicians and security agencies demand a reduction in access to encrypted technology, remember that any such reductions puts everyone at increased risk. The security agencies should be ashamed at the repeated calls for reduced encryption on their part to move on and actually protect citizens. The responsibility rests with them.

Surveillance state quote of the day

It’s a wretched yet predictable ritual after each new terrorist attack: Certain politicians and government officials waste no time exploiting the tragedy for their own ends. The remarks on Monday by John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, took that to a new and disgraceful low.

Speaking less than three days after coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris killed 129 and injured hundreds more, Mr. Brennan complained about “a lot of hand-wringing over the government’s role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists.”

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It is hard to believe anything Mr. Brennan says. Last year, he bluntly denied that the C.I.A. had illegally hacked into the computers of Senate staff members conducting an investigation into the agency’s detention and torture programs when, in fact, it did. In 2011, when he was President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, he claimedthat American drone strikes had not killed any civilians, despite clear evidence that they had. And his boss, James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has admitted lying to the Senate on the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of data. Even putting this lack of credibility aside, it’s not clear what extra powers Mr. Brennan is seeking.

New York Times editorial

Glenn Greenwald and the attack on strong encryption

Immediately after the attacks in Paris, current and former leaders of the NSA began demanding that strong encryption technologies and claiming, with no proof whatsoever, that Edward Snowden is responsible for the growing use of encryption. Glenn Greenwald has a great analysis of just how misleading the claims are. It is worth a careful read.


. . . now we’ve entered the inevitable “U.S. Officials Say” stage of the “reporting” on the Paris attack — i.e., journalists mindlessly and uncritically repeat whatever U.S. officials whisper in their ear about what happened. So now credible news sites are regurgitating the claim that the Paris Terrorists were enabled by Snowden leaks — based on no evidence or specific proof of any kind, needless to say, but just the unverified, obviously self-serving assertions of government officials. But much of the U.S. media loves to repeat rather than scrutinize what government officials tell them to say. So now this accusation has become widespread and is thus worth examining with just some of the actual evidence.

One key premise here seems to be that prior to the Snowden reporting, The Terrorists helpfully and stupidly used telephones and unencrypted emails to plot, so Western governments were able to track their plotting and disrupt at least large-scale attacks. That would come as a massive surprise to the victims of the attacks of 2002 in Bali, 2004 in Madrid, 2005 in London, 2008 in Mumbai, and April 2013 at the Boston Marathon. How did the multiple perpetrators of those well-coordinated attacks — all of which were carried out prior to Snowden’s June 2013 revelations — hide their communications from detection?

This is a glaring case where propagandists can’t keep their stories straight. The implicit premise of this accusation is that The Terrorists didn’t know to avoid telephones or how to use effective encryption until Snowden came along and told them. Yet we’ve been warned for years and years before Snowden that The Terrorists are so diabolical and sophisticated that they engage in all sorts of complex techniques to evade electronic surveillance.

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Any terrorist capable of tying his own shoe — let alone carrying out a significant attack — has known for decades that speaking on open telephone and internet lines was to be avoided due to U.S. surveillance. As one Twitter commentator put it yesterday when mocking this new It’s-Snowden’s-Fault game: “Dude, the drug dealers from the Wire knew not to use cell phones.”

The Snowden revelations weren’t significant because they told The Terrorists their communications were being monitored; everyone — especially The Terrorists — has known that forever. The revelations were significant because they told the world that the NSA and its allies were collecting everyone else’s internet communications and activities.

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As I documented last November, the key tactic of American and British officials is to wage a P.R. war against Silicon Valley companies who offer encryption by accusing them of Helping The Terrorists. Last September, FBI Director James Comey actually said, “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to hold themselves beyond the law,” while the New York Times gave anonymity in that article to a security official to link the new iPhone 6 to terrorism. The head of GCHQ called Apple and Google “the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals” as part of what the New York Times called “a campaign by intelligence services in Britain and the United States against pressure to rein in their digital surveillance after disclosures by the American former contractor Edward J. Snowden.”

The GOP rallies against refugees

Yesterday, twenty-five Republican governors, including Rick Snyder of Michigan, spoke out to say they would block the entry of Syrian refugees to their states. GOP presidential candidates condemned the entry of refugees into the United State. The New York Times has a good summary of the statements being made here.

With regard to the governors, it is unclear whether United States law allows governors to shut out refugees. After all, in the United States, anyone already admitted to the country is free to travel throughout. From the New York Times:

Governors can ask the State Department, the primary agency managing the refugee program, not to send Syrians to their states. But some legal scholars were adamant that the governors’ efforts to bar Syrians on their own were unconstitutional.

“This is an exclusively federal issue,” said Laurence H. Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard University. “Under our Constitution, we sink or swim together,” he said.

Here is a response from President Obama:

Many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves, that’s what they’re fleeing. Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.

I agree with John Oliver.

Police worried about child seen placed in trunk of a Tesla

The police were notified by a citizen that someone had just placed a child in the trunk of a car. The citizen provided the license plate number and the police were waiting at the homeowners residence when the car showed up.

But it turns out nothing nefarious was going on. Check out this surveillance video:

Many people do not realize that there are optional rear facing seats for children in the Model S. Here is a picture: