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Comment Re:Wow. Talk about misreading, and missing the poi (Score 0) 107

Yeah, and guess what?

Smith v Maryland (1979) says that phone call records, as "business records" provided to a third party, do not have an expectation of privacy, and are not covered by the Fourth Amendment. And the only data within that haystack that we care about are the foreign intelligence needles. I know that's difficult to comprehend, but it's the law of the land, unless and until SCOTUS reverses that ruling. And they very well may.

Until that happens, "We're pretty aggressive within the law. As a professional, Iâ(TM)m troubled if I'm not using the full authority allowed by law." -- General Michael Hayden

Comment Re:Correct. Including the US government. (Score -1, Troll) 107

Here's your mistake, and the mistake of everyone who thinks the way you do:

You cherry-pick examples of abuse -- and that's exactly what it is, illegal abuse -- and extrapolate it, in your mind, to being a systemic problem. You imagine it's happening all the time, and that people just sit around at their desks looking up their friends, girlfriends, neighbors, and ex-spouses for fun.

You then cherry-pick completely unrelated, long-ago-condemned examples of things that happened decades ago under the Hoover FBI, which is about 180 degrees opposite from what NSA does for foreign intelligence, and before there was any semblance of anything that could remotely be called intel oversight, and pretend it's exactly the same.

Your mistake is that you think isolated examples of abuse are not isolated, without proof; then you believe that any such examples indicate what, to you, is obviously a systemic, widespread problem. Abuse will ALWAYS happen, and it will never stop. This is true at all levels of government, and anywhere a human being exists. The answer to that is oversight (something you also think doesn't exist, but is actually so overbearing and restrictive that if you could actually witness it, you wouldn't believe it), not removing any authority that "could" be abused, because then we would necessarily have to remove them all.

Yes, intentional abuse, unintentional abuse, simple mistakes, human or machine error, and all manner of things happen in intelligence work. And those errors are such a vanishingly small proportion of what NSA does that it is nearly zero -- and they are still taken seriously. In fact, this is one of the single most important things drilled into anyone doing foreign SIGINT, military or civilian, every single day. It's not some kind of a joke.

I hate to break it to you, but how things actually work might disappoint you if you think there is rampant abuse everywhere.

Comment Wow. Talk about misreading, and missing the point. (Score 0, Troll) 107

And there you have it ladies and gentlemen ... you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.

No. That's not what I said, at all.

What I said was -- all arguments about crypto aside -- was precisely what I said:

If you're an American (or frankly, any innocent person) anywhere in the world who isn't an active member of a foreign terrorist organization or an agent of a foreign power, the Intelligence Community DOES NOT CARE ABOUT and actually DOES NOT WANT your data.

That is in no way, shape, or form akin to saying, "you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide." It is not making an argument that the government "should" have your data. It is saying that the Intelligence Community, in the form of the foreign intelligence agencies, does not want your data -- doesn't want to touch it, doesn't want to see it, doesn't want to read it, whether it's encrypted or not. And no, using crypto does not "make you a suspect". (And the FBI doesn't want the data of innocent people, either. What the FBI wishes for is a state of affairs where criminals for whom exist actual individualized warrants wouldn't be able to employ the digital equivalent of an impenetrable fortress, out of reach of the legitimate authority of enforcement mechanisms in a democratic society. But it may have to come to terms with that reality.)

If you believe you defend these things by undermining what they actually mean, then I'm afraid you don't deserve to have these things defended since you've already given up on them.

Talk about missing the point. You are basing your entire argument on a false premise, and false assumption of what you believe my argument to be; namely, that we should be giving up our rights in order to protect them. Not only am I not making that argument, I am making the precise opposite: that if you believe those rights are important, you need to understand that we can and do take steps to execute military and intelligence actions against our adversaries, whether they be terrorists or nation-states.

You crow about all these rights you think you and Americans, collectively, have "given up", when in reality, nothing substantive has actually changed (oh, I realize you think it's changed, and that you're living in a borderline police state). You believe your rights are being trampled, when you are, from a real and practical standpoint, more free while living in organized, civil society than any other people throughout history -- at least as free as is possible without living in a vacuum with no connection to humanity.

You hold out WWII codebreakers as heroes, practically idolizing them, and vilify the modern day equivalent, while ignoring the reality that US adversaries coexist in the same web of global digital communications as we do, utilizing the same devices, systems, services, networks, operating systems, encryption standards, and so on, and then act surprised when elements of the US government actually dare develop ways to exploit those systems, just because Americans also happen to use them -- totally misunderstanding the landscape.

This is exactly what I am talking about when I say people need to gain some perspective on history, or reality. Either would do.

Comment Correct. Including the US government. (Score 1, Troll) 107

And two former DIRNSAs agree.

So does ADM Rogers -- except that every interpretation of various US officials' arguments on encryption wildly conflate multiple issues (such as domestic law enforcement, which can and does sometimes have a foreign intelligence connection, and foreign signals intelligence purposes), or utterly misunderstand the purpose, function, and targets of foreign intelligence.

Yes, I know you (not OP, the "royal you") think you know it all, because you have taken things you think of as "proof" utterly out-of-context with zero understanding about things like foreign SIGINT actually works, and have seen 3-4 unrelated pieces of a 1000 piece puzzle, with some of those pieces actually parts of different puzzles, and believe you have the full picture.

People continually and willfully seem to want to forget or ignore that actual, no-shit foreign intelligence targets also -- gasp! -- use things like iPhones, Gmail, Hotmail, WhatsApp, and so on. And, when foreign intelligence targets use these modes of communication, amazingly, we actually want to target them.

If you're an American (or frankly, any innocent person) anywhere in the world who isn't an active member of a foreign terrorist organization or an agent of a foreign power, the Intelligence Community DOES NOT CARE ABOUT and actually DOES NOT WANT your data. Sounds crazy and bizarre for foreign intelligence agencies to care about things like foreign intelligence, I know, but it's true. Weird!

I guess it's easier to believe that functioning democracies* all are constantly looking for ways to illegally spy on their own citizens who have done nothing wrong, rather than to believe that intelligence work in the digital age where the only distinction is no longer the physical location or even the technology used, but simply the target -- the person at the other end, is actually extremely complicated, and not fun.

* If you don't think the Western liberal democracies of the world are worth a shit, or laugh at the term "functioning democracies" when used in reference to the US, warts and all, that simply means you have lost all perspective of reality, and are part of the problem. And it will be to our peril, because there actually are governments in the world who do spy on their own citizens, and wherein the people don't have anywhere NEAR the level of freedoms we have, no matter how terrible you think we are. And guess what? It's our national security and intelligence apparatus that we use to defend ourselves. If you're now so jaded that you don't actually believe the US and its allies, and their principles, are something worth defending and fighting for, then everything I have said here means nothing to you anyway. Just be advised that your perception of history and reality is fatally skewed.

Comment Re:Right Of Way (Score 2) 278

What? Should that be "they always have the right of way if on a crosswalk"?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha you wish. I've read angry diatribes in the comments at which basically said that pedestrians not only deserve the right of way at all time, it's offensive victim-blaming to suggest that a pedestrian crossing the road ought to be pragmatic and exercise caution for the sake of avoiding serious injury or death. (The real trendy position is to advocate for banning cars in San Francisco entirely.)

Comment Re:No one ever thought it was an actual bomb (Score 1) 662

None of which required that he be handcuffed, fingerprinted, suspended... etc... etc...

The police were called, and they are compelled and required to investigate once called. They don't just show up and say, "Eh, whatever," and leave. I don't think they police should have been called at all, but they were. And during the course of their investigation, they choose to transport him for questioning, and handcuffs are, rightly or wrongly, standard procedure nearly any time anyone is detained or transported for any reason, even if they didn't do anything wrong.

The issue isn't whether they thought it was a bomb or not - the issue is their overreaction and it's racist overtones.

The issue is exactly that. Even if race or religion was on the mind of one or more of the people involved, you can't know that. People are using the fact this happened to him and "wouldn't happen if he was white" as proof that it has to be racism. But white kids are arrested and suspended for similarly innocent, or even more innocent, things all the time. That fact alone dismantles the position that "because this happened, it must have had a racial element." It MAY indeed have had a racial element, but the facts of the situation aren't what demonstrates that. That would be only in peoples' minds.

(As for one of the cops ALLEGEDLY saying "it's who I thought it would be", we have no way of knowing 1. whether that was even actually said, or 2. IF it was said, whether it referred to Ahmed personally (i.e., did he have any brushes before because of his interests), or because he was "brown" and Muslim -- the conclusion that everyone who desperately wants to attribute this to racism wants to rush to. And, on that point, if that was the motivation, wouldn't that cop have already felt that upon seeing his name was "Ahmed Mohamed", instead of making an allegedly racist remark right to his face, and only upon seeing him? In short, that allegation doesn't stand up to scrutiny as definitive proof that there was anything racial involved on the part of police in this case, either.)

I am ignoring the rest of your fallacious attacks that don't speak to the facts of the situation, which I have shown that you have ignored. You're the corrosive one, here, because you have already decided that this simply must be racism when the facts and evidence don't support that conclusion, and ignore all other considerations.

Comment No one ever thought it was an actual bomb (Score 4, Informative) 662

TL;DR: No one ever thought it was an actual bomb.

Long version:

Since no one ever actually thought it was a bomb, the fact that the school and police took no action as if it were a bomb does not somehow "prove" it's racism and/or Islamophobia. That isn't to say one or more of the people involved had something in that vein in their minds, but their lack of treating it as a bomb doesn't demonstrate it, since numerous accounts of this story indicate the school and police never thought it was an actual bomb.

Some people thought it "looked like" a bomb, and wondered why he would bring it to school, because they don't understand why kids who like things like science and electronics do what they do.

And there are laws dealing with what are called "hoax devices". Many people have gotten into trouble for such things before. Hoax device statutes have been around for many, many years, long before 9/11.

Here is the Texas statute:


The only thing that matters in the hoax device statute is intent â" a feature that is not unique. For example, intent matters when someone is killed. Was it an accident? Was it negligence? Was it premeditated? That is the difference between someone having done nothing wrong, and murder. And it is interviews and investigations and evidence that determine intent.

Even in the original Dallas Morning News article that broke this story â" before it went viral and Ahmed got invited to the White House, JPL, MIT, got scholarships, and become the hero of Silicon Valley â" the only thing the police officials said was that they knew it wasn't a bomb, that Ahmed never claimed it was anything but a clock, and that they were trying to determine WHY he built and AND brought it to school. Once it was determined there was no intent to alarm, scare, or deceive, it was further determined there was no wrongdoing.

Steve Wozniak got in trouble for using a hoax device (with intent to scare), and was arrested and spent a night in jail. I got in trouble with authority figures â" school, police â" for things similar to what Ahmed did several times, when doing nothing wrong. Maybe a little borderline, maybe a little, "What on earth are you doing?" but not illegal. And frankly, some of those came down only to intent as well.

So this little trope misunderstands what happened. Could racism or Islamophobia been an element in anyone's mind? There is no way to know, as much as people desperately want to come to that conclusion. When people say, "What white kid would have gotten in trouble for doing nothing wrong?"

Plenty. Ignore the title, read the article (for those who haven't already):

His English teacher overreacted by getting the principal's office involved. The school overreacted by calling the police. The school bears almost all of the responsibility here â" not "post-9/11 America", racism, or police. If the police had not been called, none of this would ever have happened â" and Ahmed wouldn't be a celebrity, either.

When police are called for a situation where any of the parties involved are not in perfect agreement, and there is no controversy, even if nothing illegal occurred, I would submit that there are not many times that results in a more positive outcome. The police are there, in part, to investigate and to determine if there was any wrongdoing, which they did. I wish they would have simply handled it at the school, but what I really wish is that the school would not have called the police in the first place.

Comment Re: Hope for whom... the customer? (Score 1) 155

No company ever comes in spending more, whether it be on cleanliness or safety. Regulation is the only way to prevent a race to the bottom.

Yes. I too am confident that without regulation we'd all be stuck driving Yugos to work, living in slumlord-owned apartment blocks which leak when it rains and catch fire nightly, and subsisting on flavorless gruel. Competition could never bring us safe cars, pleasant housing, organic food, or usable taxi services, and people running away from the disaster scene that we call the regulated taxi industry are clearly insane or berserk.

Comment Re:FTFY (Score 4, Informative) 194

The Admiral of the US Navy should send a battleship up the Potomac River and fire a warning shot across the "bow of Capital Hill" ...

Fun fact: as of 2006, the US navy doesn't own any battleships anymore. It's all about the carriers, baby! I mean, I guess they could try and lug in a museum boat like the U.S.S. North Carolina, or something...

Comment Re:Unchanging UIs? Not just for old people (Score 1) 288

You know, you can still get that if you want. PINE is still a thing (and elm, and mutt) and they work just like they used to. And the command line is a little formidable but you don't see it radically changing the rules all that much.

Of course, in the years since those things were invented we've also invented amazing ways to send things like family pictures through email straight through your phone, and multigigabyte free online storage of photos that might outlast your lack-of-backups on the desktop, so... you win some, you lose some

Comment Re:Microsoft abuse example: Bad & good version (Score 1) 189

We've used WMC for nearly a decade in our house and it's been excellent: rock solid and dead simple. I have, from time to time, tried out alternatives and it's only now that I'd be prepared to say I've found a plausible replacement: Plex + Kodi + PVR software -- and even that is a country mile away from the out-of-the-box simplicity and elegance of WMC.

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.