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Current Topic: Politics and Law

RE: FISA and Border Searches of Laptops
Topic: Politics and Law 4:08 pm EDT, Jul 12, 2008

possibly noteworthy wrote:
Bellovin on Decius's HOPE topic

He seems to be searching for reason and order in an area that is patently unreasonable and hypocritical. In the case of U.S. citizens, the information customs agents are digging through their laptops for would be protected by a warrant requirement if it was transmitted Internationally over the Internet instead. The FISA update signed yesterday by George Bush makes this even more the case than it was before, as now warrants are required to monitor the communications of U.S. persons even if they are overseas. These searches are not part of a comprehensive approach to preventing the smuggling of information. No comprehensive approach is possible because warrant requirements and encryption stand in the way. The fact that neither of these things stand in the way of customs officials at the border is an accident of time, space, and technology, and not a willful result of policy.

These facts completely undermine the arguments made in the senate hearing, particularly by the Heritage Foundation's representative, that these searches are necessary for some sort of policy reason and legalistic objections to them miss the point. There is no policy reason. If there were, then you'd have to allow warrantless law enforcement monitoring of all international communications and you'd have to require cryptographic key escrow. We don't. We're not going to. We don't need to. And so we don't need to do these searches either.

RE: FISA and Border Searches of Laptops

American Express's New, Especially Insane Commercial
Topic: Politics and Law 5:56 pm EDT, Jul  4, 2008

I've been seeing this distasteful thing being aired for a couple of days now, and I'm aghast they'd even have considered airing it once.

A customer approaches the ticketing counter and says he needs a flight to SFO for his business for a VC pitch, puts his card on the counter. It's a custom card with kittens on it. The attendant looks at it and says "...and you said this is a business flight?".

Almost immediately, there are two TSA employees behind the customer, telling him to come with them. One of them is snapping on a latex glove.

While he's being led away, another customer comes up and buys a ticket to SFO, hands over his AMEX card, and is simply thanked.

So, is it just me or is this commercials veiled threat that if you don't use Amex you're going to get someone facist's hand shoved up your ass particularly beyond the pale?

American Express's New, Especially Insane Commercial

The noose tightens on Jack Thompson
Topic: Politics and Law 9:05 pm EDT, May 23, 2008

It looks like everyone's un-favorite asshat lawyer has just gotten another nail for the coffin of his legal career.

Correction, make that twenty-seven nails... or four really big nails depending on how you look at it.

As a refresher, Mr. Thompson is the jackass who sprung up in front of the media blaming violent video games every time some unstable kid with parents who don't watch them closely enough does something stupid and dangerous with a gun. Some highlights of his career would include repeatedly harassing Rock Star Games with downright silly lawsuits, up to and including trying to have Bully declared a public nuisance.

We are now just waiting for the Florida Supreme Court to rule on the matter and have Jack completely disbarred.

...and there will be much rejoicing.

The noose tightens on Jack Thompson

Hacker arrested for... um... *not* hacking?
Topic: Politics and Law 3:51 pm EST, Nov 15, 2007

In a move almost staggeringly myopic, agents from Swedish National Crime and the Swedish Security Police raided Dan Egerstad on Monday of this week, rather clearly on the basis of his massive non-hack of the TOR routing service.

For those not catching on, Dan is the gentleman we all cheered a short while ago for having the ingenuity to set up and connect several new TOR (an anonymizing packet routing system) nodes and see if people were actually using the network with unencrypted protocols (which would basically be foolish in the extreme). It turns out that Dan's suspicions were right, and that not only were people using the network insecurely, lots of people, up to and including embassies and government and military offices were using the network unsafely--effectively sending emails and other sensitive traffic across the network completely in the clear where anyone who added their connectivity to the network could see it. This is very, very bad.

Let me make this clear... Anyone, myself included, can at any time, add their resources to and use the TOR network, simply by joining it and using it. (Non-technical explanation for simplicity) Participants in the network pass each other's traffic back and forth randomly through encrypted links, counting on the misdirection of a massive shell game to protect their privacy. Users are supposed to encrypt all their traffic as well as an additional step to keep the last site that handles the traffic before it goes back out to the Internet at large from being able to see what's being sent around. The encryption of the TOR network itself protects the contents up to that point, but no farther. For embassies and other installations that might have things going on where a breach of security could mean people die, incorrect use of the network almost guarantees that someone's likely to get hurt--possibly many, many someones. Dan figured that if anyone can do this, bad people were probably already doing it.

After doing his due diligence and trying to tell the people using the network unsafely the mistakes they were making (and getting nowhere), Dan took the more civic-minded approach of shouting it to the heavens by publishing samples and account information of the hapless fools on his website, and announcing the disturbing results of his completely legal and ethical research to security-oriented mailing lists in hopes that people would take notice and stop endangering themselves and others. The resulting splash he hoped would penetrate far and wide and just maybe, make the problem go away.

It now appears that, true to history, anyone foolish enough to take away any powerful organization's ability to lie to itself about utter and terrifying failures of their security model is someone those organizations are going to try to hold responsible for it and crush. Seeming to be under pressure from other organizations (very likely the ones Dan was trying to protect) the Swedish authorities have basically confiscated most of Dan's stuff, and it remains to be seen just how far this will go before sanity takes hold again.

We can now chalk up another one to the forces of ignorance and stupidity for attacking people who are working to help them stay safe. Dan should have been getting a medal (or at least a thank you) for this work, and instead, people are trying to destroy his life. Way to go, folks.

Hacker arrested for... um... *not* hacking?

Political Radar: Dems' Poster Child Faces a Firestorm
Topic: Politics and Law 7:43 am EDT, Oct 14, 2007

Manley cited an e-mail sent to reporters by a Senate Republican leadership aide, summing up recent blog traffic about the boy's family. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to comment on Manley's charge that GOP aides were complicit in spreading disparaging information about Frosts.

So rather than actually do something, someone in Mitch McConnell's office sent out email to beat the drums for people like Malkin and Limbaugh to further fuck up the life of a 12 year old kid whose life is already hell after a car wreck. Reprehensible doesn't even start to describe this.

Political Radar: Dems' Poster Child Faces a Firestorm

AlterNet: Blogs: Video: Anti-War Minister Is Attacked, Gets Leg Broken for Trying to Enter Petraeus Hearing
Topic: Politics and Law 9:28 pm EDT, Sep 13, 2007

Watch the cops beat this guy down and then charge him with assault!

After waiting in line throughout the morning for the hearing that was scheduled to start at 12:30pm, Rev. Yearwood was stopped from entering the room, while others behind him were allowed to enter. He told the officers blocking his ability to enter the room, that he was waiting in line with everyone else and had the right to enter as well. When they threatened him with arrest he responded with "I will not be arrested today." According to witnesses, six capitol police, without warning, "football tackled him. He was carried off in a wheel chair by DC Fire and Emergency to George Washington Hospital.

Rev. Yearwood was examined for possible head and leg injuries then transferred to Central Processing. He has been charged with "assaulting a police officer."

He obviously made a sudden move which provoked the police to tackle him. Its not clear why the police decided to order him to the back of the line. Its not clear that it took 6 cops to subdue him. What is clear is that he did not assault a police officer. He was arrested for failing to comply with an order, and he resisted arrest. If this video did not exist he probably would, however, be convicted of assault, because the police would all testify that he had done so, and the counter testimony would all come from a bunch of nutty protesters. The charge is clearly a dishonest attempt to inflict harm on him because he refused to do what he was told to, and the charge is at the heart of why this will be controversial.

The bottom line is that many police officers believe that there is no limit to the level of force that they may employ to obtain compliance from people who refuse to follow their orders, no matter how unreasonable their orders may be or how passive the resistance to them is. Its clear from the video that the police are not at all interested in discussing whether or not their order that he move to the back of the line was or was not reasonable. They were simply focused on the fact that they had issued an order and that order was not complied with. Its not about protecting the hearing from unruly people. Its not about right or wrong. Its about power. They could have let him walk away. They tackled him because they wanted to tackle him. The dishonest charge is the evidence that is impossible to explain another way.

AlterNet: Blogs: Video: Anti-War Minister Is Attacked, Gets Leg Broken for Trying to Enter Petraeus Hearing

Attorney General Gonzales resigns, finally.
Topic: Politics and Law 9:39 am EDT, Aug 27, 2007

After months and months of testifying before Congress that basically, he knew less about what was going on in his office than the average nine-year-old girl, Gonzales has finally resigned.

The bad news is that the rumor on the street is that Bush is planning on replacing him with Michael Jerkoff, er... Chertoff. Of course we can count on that suck up to investigate wrongdoings carefully and not sweep anything under the rug. He's golden, don'tchaknow.

Attorney General Gonzales resigns, finally.

Max Blumenthal: the Unauthorized College Republican Tour
Topic: Politics and Law 12:25 pm EDT, Jul 26, 2007

Well, free speech apparently doesn't matter to the College Republican Convention, but that's not the best part.

Max Blumenthal interviews a bunch of college republicans asking them wonderful questions about whether or not and why they support the War In Iraq...

...and then followed up their gung-ho war-happy answers with "So, why aren't you serving in Iraq?"

...and the quote by Tom Delay about abortion affecting immigration, saying "If we had the 40,000 children that have been killed over the last years, we wouldn't need the immigrants to do these jobs."

Wow. That's just special it's so sick. Tom DeLay is such a tool, and every single person there is a twit for not calling him out right then and there on that one.

Max Blumenthal: the Unauthorized College Republican Tour

Broader Privilege Claimed In Firings -
Topic: Politics and Law 7:18 pm EDT, Jul 21, 2007

"A U.S. attorney would not be permitted to bring contempt charges or convene a grand jury in an executive privilege case," said a senior official, who said his remarks reflect a consensus within the administration. "And a U.S. attorney wouldn't be permitted to argue against the reasoned legal opinion that the Justice Department provided. No one should expect that to happen."

Ummmm, yeah... This has gone from bad to worse. I'm not seeing any resolution to this other than impeachment and removal from office. Nixon at least tried to hide his attempts at the cover-up, these guys are doing it in broad daylight.

Broader Privilege Claimed In Firings -

Cheney secedes from Executive Branch
Topic: Politics and Law 6:46 am EDT, Jun 23, 2007

For some reason (I suspect insanity) Cheney is attempting to argue that the Vice President's office is not within the Executive Branch of gov't, and therefore is exempt from the regulations for safeguarding classified national security information.

I suppose it's really only a matter of time now before Cheney and Bush formally declare the formation of the new Maniacal Overlord branch of government (which, rather obviously, has no checks on it's behaviour) to go along with the "signing statements" Bush uses to ignore all the checks and balances from the Legislative branch.

So I guess this is why he thinks it's okay they lost all those emails they were supposed to keep. Well, all but the 500 or so really incriminating ones they accidentally mailed to a third party...

But seriously... this is fucking ludicrous.

Cheney secedes from Executive Branch

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