Chaos Manor View, Thursday, August 13, 2015
Hot today. Still working on fiction. I am appalled at Mrs. Clinton’s mishandling of classified materials; when I was in that business, TOP SECRTET NOFORN was a fairly big deal, not to be removed from a secure facility and disclosure on a need to know basis and if access to the document was given it was to be signed out and access recorded. Sometimes, when I was working on a report with a partner whose clearance I knew there ,might be some relaxation of those rules, but not much; I certainly wouldn’t have let him take it out of the room.
When I worked on Project 75, the survey of all known ICBM technology (we were pre-designing the ICBM force to be installed in 1975, this being 1964) the document itself was so sensitive that although I wrote every word in it – or edited it if I didn’t write it – the entire document was at a need to know above mine, so although I could have any chapter, I turned it and signed for a different document when I finished a chapter; never saw the completed document which described all the possibilities for a missile force, and analyzed the vulnerabilities of each. I could hardly complain; I can’t think what the GRU would have paid for it.
I doubt they’ll find much on Mrs. Clinton’s server, as I am sure she has erased all the files and copied them over with harmless files, then reorganized the disk; possibly several times. On NCIS they would magically find it all anyway, but in the real world, I doubt it. Still, you never know, except she would have to be extraordinarily stupid to leave classified files intact on an unsecured system. I presume her house was well guarded while the files existed.
Still, I hear rumors of copies made on thumb drives; they tell me that intelligence people fill all the thumb drive slots with epoxy glue…
Shillery Emails: The Vice Slowly Tightens
Ah, I love the subtitle of this article “the vice slowly tightens”.
This is the latest on the Clinton email scandal:
The political class is seriously underestimating the impact of Hillary Clinton’s email controversy. They see it mainly as a problem of public opinion and electoral politics, where it has been increasingly costly but not yet fatal. The political damage—the drip, drip, drip of revelations—has been bad, but there is worse to come.
Hillary Clinton’s big problem now is legal, and it could well be insurmountable politically. Here’s why. Once a “political” issue finally moves into the legal system, as the Clinton email server has, it moves forward with an independent logic. That logic will slowly ensnare Secretary Clinton.
You can already see it happening. Two weeks ago, the Department of Justice acknowledged that it “has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information.” The referral was not criminal, and the Clinton camp immediately pummeled the New York Times’ sloppy reporting that it was. But that’s small ball and misleading at that. The DOJ is not investigating a civil matter here.
It is investigating a crime. As that investigation moves forward, it will take on a life of its own, as it should in a government of laws.
Even if the Department of Justice is highly politicized—and it is—there is a powerful legal procedure here that will be hard to kill off. It began when the intelligence community’s inspector general, I.
Charles McCullough III, and his counterpart at the State Department, Steve Linick, made a referral to DOJ, saying that classified materials may have been compromised. McCullough also wrote Congress that a spot check of 40 Clinton emails showed that “four contained classified [intelligence community] information.” That meant classified materials were being held in an unauthorized, insecure site—the Clinton server.
In fact, the materials were also being held in a second unauthorized site. Clinton had given the materials to her attorney, David Kendall, on thumb-drives for his safekeeping. Since the communications are, by her own admission, official business and possibly classified, she may not have been authorized to transfer them, nor he to receive them.
The FBI has clear legal responsibilities when it is presented with such a referral. It must investigate and secure the materials.
Fortunately, the FBI is run by a director with a reputation for independence and integrity. James Comey’s agency has now gotten the server and thumb-drives, the ones Clinton said she would never give up. She had no choice but to surrender them or face obstruction-of-justice charges.
The article continues and it’s worth reading.
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Joshua Jordan, KSC
I’ll assume you know the meaning of TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN; SI being a subset of SCI, I don’t see how Clinton can avoid criminal prosecution. Look what happened to Petraeus for much less…
You and I both know there is no excuse for this; you can’t even think of one. Let’s see what the FBI says.
The Daily Beast summarized the situation aptly:
In short: Information at the “TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN” level is considered exceptionally highly classified and must be handled with great care under penalty of serious consequences for mishandling.
Every person who is cleared and “read on” for access to such information signs reams of paperwork and receives detailed training about how it is to be handled, no exceptions—and what the consequences will be if the rules are not followed.
In the real world, people with high-level clearances are severely punished for willfully violating such rules. At a minimum, those suspected of mishandling things like NSA “signals intelligence”—intercepts calls, emails, and the like—have their clearances suspended pending the outcome of the investigation into their misconduct. Any personal items—computers, electronics—where federal investigators suspect the classified wound up, wrongly, will be impounded and searched. If it has TOP SECRET//SI information on it, “your” computer now belongs to the government, since it is considered classified.
What, then, does all this means for Hillary? There is no doubt that she, or someone on her State Department staff, violated federal law by putting TOP SECRET//SI information on an unclassified system. That it was Hillary’s private, offsite server makes the case even worse from a security viewpoint. Claims that they “didn’t know” such information was highly classified do not hold water and are irrelevant. It strains belief that anybody with clearances didn’t recognize that NSA information, which is loaded with classification markings, was signals intelligence, or SIGINT. It’s possible that the classified information found in Clinton’s email trove wasn’t marked as such. But if that classification notice was omitted, it wasn’t the U.S. intelligence community that took such markings away. Moreover, anybody holding security clearances has already assumed the responsibility for handling it properly.
As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton had no authority to disseminate IC information on her own, neither could she make it less highly classified (a process termed “downgrading” in the spy trade) without asking IC permission first.
It is a very big deal and less connected people who do this sort of thing ruin their lives, as any IC counterintelligence official can attest. During my NSA time, I saw junior personnel terminated for relatively minor infractions of security regulations. While the U.S.
government unquestionably does over-classify items on the policy side, where almost everything in the Defense and State Departments gets some sort of classification stamp, not usually at a high level, intelligence reporting by its very nature is classified. If you don’t want the responsibility of a high-level government position, which inevitably brings with it TOP SECRET//SI access, then don’t accept that burden.
Yeah, exactly; don’t accept the burden and then say “well I thought it would be easier if I just did things my own way and ignored the law.”
After all, “at this point what does it matter”? And we’re all worried about what a jerk Trump is and how many lions are dying.
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Joshua Jordan, KSC
Hackers Cut a Corvette’s Brakes Via a Common Car Gadget [Wired]
Car hacking demos like last month’s over-the-internet hijacking of a Jeep have shown it’s possible for digital attackers to cross the gap between a car’s cellular-connected infotainment system and its steering and brakes. But a new piece of research suggests there may be an even easier way for hackers to wirelessly access those critical driving functions: Through an entire industry of potentially insecure, internet-enabled gadgets plugged directly into cars’ most sensitive guts.
At the Usenix security conference today, a group of researchers from the University of California at San Diego plan to reveal a technique they could have used to wirelessly hack into any of thousands of vehicles through a tiny commercial device: A 2-inch-square gadget that’s designed to be plugged into cars’ and trucks’ dashboards and used by insurance firms and trucking fleets to monitor vehicles’ location, speed and efficiency. By sending carefully crafted SMS messages to one of those cheap dongles connected to the dashboard of a Corvette, the researchers were able to transmit commands to the car’s CAN bus—the internal network that controls its physical driving components—turning on the Corvette’s windshield wipers and even enabling or disabling its brakes.
“We acquired some of these things, reverse engineered them, and along the way found that they had a whole bunch of security deficiencies,” says Stefan Savage, the University of California at San Diego computer security professor who led the project. The result, he says, is that the dongles “provide multiple ways to remotely…control just about anything on the vehicle they were connected to.” <snip>
EPA acting like a criminal
Colorado river and the Cement Creek spill.
The EPA uses private contractors to clean up sites. Does anybody have any info on who contractors were and how much time/money they saved by their “accident”.
Or has my trust in government hit a new low,
BTW spill just dumped higher concentrations of stuff already present in runoff from mineral rich Rockies. So only transient effects will occur sort of like Gulf oil spills.
Electric Car-Aid Acid Test
Wall St. Journal
A line of electric cars and newly installed charging stations are seen in front of the Portland General Electric headquarters building in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Don Ryan/Associated Press
Aug. 10, 2015 7:25 p.m. ET
To the list of subsidies for elite lifestyles in the name of fighting climate change, you can now add charging stations for luxury plug-in cars and other electric vehicles. A growing number of states are forcing all consumers to pay for these green amenities that only a fraction of them will ever use.
The fleet of battery-powered cars is rising, and their owners are more than twice as wealthy as most Americans. An Experian Automotive study found that more than 20% of them are middle-aged professionals who make more than $175,000 a year. But deploying the new equipment to keep these affluent drivers on the go isn’t cheap, and states and power companies are starting to socialize the cost of these green frills over all rate-payers. <snip>
China fired another shot in the ongoing currency war:
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China on Tuesday carried out the biggest devaluation of the renminbi in two decades to boost its slowing economy, marking an escalation of international “currency wars”, surprising markets and risking a political clash with Washington.
The 1.9 per cent downward move by the central bank was its biggest one-day change since 1993 — and since China abandoned its tight currency peg for a managed float in 2005. It pushed the renminbi’s “daily fix” to Rmb6.2298 against the dollar, compared with a Rmb6.1162 rate the day before. Before Tuesday, the biggest shift this year had been a 0.16 per cent adjustment.
The move, coming as economic growth has flagged and the currency has been under upward pressure from its informal peg to the rising dollar, is in sharp contrast to policy during earlier times of stress when Beijing resisted pressure to devalue. It should help combat an unexpectedly large fall in China’s exports fuelled by the renminbi’s relative strength.
It also came as China is pushing to have the renminbi accepted as a global reserve currency alongside the dollar, yen, euro and sterling by the International Monetary Fund, which this month cited the need for great exchange rate flexibility as a key requirement.
The average person has no idea what this means. So China is devaluing its currency; why should I care? Oddly enough, Trump is calling it:
“They’re just destroying us,” the billionaire businessman, a long-time critic of China’s currency policy, said in a CNN interview.
“They keep devaluing their currency until they get it right. They’re doing a big cut in the yuan, and that’s going to be devastating for us.”
“We have so much power over China,” he told CNN. “China has gotten rich off of us. China has rebuilt itself with the money it’s sucked out of the United States and the jobs that it’s sucked out of the United States.”
I suppose now they’ll accuse him of being racist for these comments.
I’m not a Trump supporter, but I’m either not supporting or am directly opposing the others as well..
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Joshua Jordan, KSC
“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”
The Myth of the Climate Change ‘97%’
What is the origin of the false belief—constantly repeated—that almost all scientists agree about global warming?
Joseph Bast And
Last week Secretary of State John Kerry warned graduating students at Boston College of the “crippling consequences” of climate change. “Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists,” he added, “tell us this is urgent.”
Where did Mr. Kerry get the 97% figure? Perhaps from his boss, President Obama, who tweeted on May 16 that “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” Or maybe from NASA, which posted (in more measured language) on its website, “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.”
Yet the assertion that 97% of scientists believe that climate change is a man-made, urgent problem is a fiction. The so-called consensus comes from a handful of surveys and abstract-counting exercises that have been contradicted by more reliable research.
One frequently cited source for the consensus is a 2004 opinion essay published in Science magazine by Naomi Oreskes, a science historian now at Harvard. She claimed to have examined abstracts of 928 articles published in scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and found that 75% supported the view that human activities are responsible for most of the observed warming over the previous 50 years while none directly dissented.
Ms. Oreskes’s definition of consensus covered “man-made” but left out “dangerous”—and scores of articles by prominent scientists such as Richard Lindzen, John Christy, Sherwood Idso and Patrick Michaels, who question the consensus, were excluded. The methodology is also flawed. A study published earlier this year in Nature noted that abstracts of academic papers often contain claims that aren’t substantiated in the papers. <snip>
The Future of Russia
I came across an interesting article on the Economist web site:
It suggests that the break-up of Russia might be a greater danger than Putin’s expansionism.
How I missed hearing about this, I don’t know. I heard all about the new Ferguson shooting almost as soon as it happened, but this is almost a week old, and I’m just now hearing about it. Did any of the rest of you hear about this before now?
The EPA, of all groups, after blocking other groups and threatening them with federal charges for years, went in with earthmovers and a plan to drain the mine without even checking the condition of the mine or the water level in it first. Then they didn’t tell the various governors about it for a full day. And it happened last WEDNESDAY, and they are STILL not releasing information about how much of what is in there!
There are not enough words in my vocabulary for this stupidity, and I have a pretty large vocabulary.
“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”
Fortunately, nature tends to correct human error; but imagine the penalties if a private company did this. I think not one head has rolled or one person’s pay was docked… Naybe we are getting all the government we pay for. Good and hard.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.