Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Back Door

Found on the back page of front section:

"Government will no longer seek encrypted user data" by Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger New York Times  October 11, 2015

CUPERTINO, Calif. — The Obama administration has backed down in its bitter dispute with Silicon Valley over the encryption of data on iPhones and other digital devices, concluding that it is not possible to give US law enforcement and intelligence agencies access to that information without creating an opening that China, Russia, cybercriminals, and terrorists could also exploit.

With its decision, which angered the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, the administration essentially agreed with Apple, Google, Microsoft, and a group of the nation’s top cryptographers and computer scientists.

The companies and technical experts contended that millions of Americans would be vulnerable to hacking if technology firms and smartphone manufacturers were required to provide the government with “back doors,” or access to their source code and encryption keys.

So we are being told. I really don't believe them, either, seeing as the biggest hackers on planet Earth are the U.S. government itself and the Jewi$h mafia and the telecoms have gone along all along.

As you can see, I do try to check in with them daily (blog editor waves, thanks for coming).

That would enable the government to see messages, photographs, and other data now routinely encrypted on smartphones. Current technology puts the keys for access to the information in the hands of the individual user, not the companies.

The first indication of the retreat came Thursday, when the FBI director, James Comey, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the administration would not seek legislation to compel the companies to create such a portal.

But the decision, made at the White House a week ago, goes considerably beyond that.

While the administration said it would continue to try to persuade companies like Apple and Google to assist in criminal and national security inquiries, it determined that the government should not force them to breach the security of their products.

They will leave that to the next administration.

In essence, investigators will have to hope they find other ways to get what they need, from data stored in the cloud in unencrypted form or transmitted by phone lines, which are covered by a law that affects telecommunications providers but not the technology companies. 

Yeah, the poor data collectors and database maintainers.

Comey had expressed alarm a year ago after Apple had an operating system that encrypted virtually everything contained in an iPhone. What frustrated him was that Apple had designed the system to ensure that the company never held on to the keys, putting them entirely in the hands of users through the codes or fingerprints they use to get into their phones.

It's what you leave behind.

As a result, if Apple is handed a court order for data — until recently, it received hundreds every year — it could not open the coded information.

Comey compared that system to the creation of a door no law officers could enter, or a car trunk they could not unlock. His concern about what the FBI calls the “going dark” problem received support from the director of the National Security Agency and other intelligence officials.

You know, I'm tired of hearing tyrants and false-flag instigators bitch.

But after a year of study and extensive White House debate, President Obama and his advisers have reached a broad conclusion that an effort to compel the companies to give the government access would fail, both politically and technologically.

“This looks promising, but there’s still going to be tremendous pressure from law enforcement,” said Peter G. Neumann, one of the nation’s leading computer scientists and a coauthor of a paper that examined the government’s proposal for special access. “The NSA is capable of dealing with the cryptography for now, but law enforcement is going to have real difficulty with this. This is never a done deal.”

In the paper, released in July, Neumann and other top cryptographers and computer scientists argued that there was no way for the government to have a back door into encrypted communications without creating an opening that would be exploited by Chinese and Russian intelligence agents, cybercriminals, and terrorist groups.

And that is what they have been doing all this time.

Inside the White House, the Office of Science and Technology Policy came largely to the same conclusion. Those determinations surprised the FBI and local law enforcement officials, who had believed just months ago that the White House would ultimately embrace their efforts.

The intelligence agencies were less vocal, which may reflect their greater capability to search for and gather information. The NSA spends vast sums to get around digital encryption, and it has tools and resources that local law enforcement officials still do not have and most likely never will.

Disclosures by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed the extent of the agency’s focus on cracking and circumventing the encryption of digital communications, including those of Apple, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo users.

Also seeEdward Snowden says he would go to prison to come back to the US

He would have to given he is a Russian spy.

RelatedGuards removed from Julian Assange’s London refuge

That's why a Snowden was needed; Manning exposed Wikileaks as a honey trap set up by intelligence agencies.

There were other motivations for the US decision. Obama and his aides came to fear that the United States could set a precedent that China and other nations would emulate, requiring Apple, Google, and the rest of America’s techgiants to provide them with the same access, officials said.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, sat at a table with Obama and Xi Jinping, China’s president, at a state dinner at the White House last month. According to government officials and industry executives, Cook told Obama that the Chinese were waiting for an opportunity to seize on administration action to insist that Apple devices, which are also encrypted in China, be open to Beijing’s agents.

In January, three months after Comey began pressing companies for special government access, Chinese officials had threatened to do just that: They considered submitting foreign companies to invasive audits and requiring them to build back doors into their hardware and software. Those rules have not been put into effect.

The Obama administration’s position was also undercut by the fact that officials could not keep their own data safe from Chinese hackers, as shown by the cyberattack at the Office of Personnel Management this year. That breach called into question whether the government could keep the keys to the world’s communications safe from its adversaries in cyberspace.

Not a small concern, and that is where the print copy ended.

“As the president has said, the United States will work to ensure that malicious actors can be held to account, without weakening our commitment to strong encryption,” said Mark Stroh, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “As part of those efforts, we are actively engaged with private companies to ensure they understand the public safety and national security risks that result from malicious actors’ use of their encrypted products and services. However, the administration is not seeking legislation at this time.”

But here in Silicon Valley, executives did not think the government’s announcement went far enough.

According to administration officials and technology executives, Cook of Apple has pressed the White House for a clear statement that it will never seek a back door in any form, legislative or technical — a statement he hoped to take to Beijing, Moscow and even London. Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain has threatened to ban encrypted devices and services, like the iPhone and Facebook’s popular WhatsApp messaging service, but has done nothing to make good on that threat.

Technology executives are desperate to reassure customers abroad that US intelligence agencies are not reading their digital communications. It is an effort driven by economics: 64 percent of Apple’s revenue originates overseas. 

Oh, that is what this is all about!

Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft argue that people put not only their conversations but their entire digital lives — medical records, tax returns, bank accounts — into a device that slips into their pocket. While Obama has repeatedly said he is sympathetic to the concerns of law enforcement officials, he made clear during a visit to Silicon Valley in February that he was also aware of privacy concerns and that he sought to balance both interests. 

We have a thing called the Constitution, and their is no balance when it comes to freedom. Call me an absolutist, but that is what the government is trying to destroy.

Technologists responded that, with regard to encryption, no such balance existed. “The real problem is, I don’t see any middle ground for dumbing down everything to make special access possible and having the secure systems we need for commerce, government, and everything else,” Neumann said.

I suppose the answer is to get off the iPhone, huh?


Look who came through the door:

"Federal spying investigation on veteran diplomat falters" by Matt Apuzzo, Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt. New York Times  October 10, 2015

WASHINGTON — Last fall, federal agents raided the home and office of Robin L. Raphel in search of proof that she, a seasoned member of America’s diplomatic corps, was spying for Pakistan. But officials now say the spying investigation has all but fizzled.

That has left the Justice Department to decide whether to prosecute Raphel for the far less serious charge of keeping classified information in her home.

In the meantime, the fallout from the investigation has seriously damaged Raphel’s reputation, built over decades in some of the world’s most volatile countries.

If the Justice Department declines to file spying charges, as several officials said they expect, it will be the latest example of US law enforcement agencies bringing an espionage investigation into the public eye, only to see it dissipate under further scrutiny.

Last month, the Justice Department dropped charges against a Temple University physicist who had been accused of sharing sensitive information with China. Earlier in the year prosecutors dropped all charges against a government hydrologist who had been under investigation for espionage.

This government that is the terrorists and creates enemies to cover up mismanagement at home is engaged in political persecutions, while the dual national Israelis run rampant within government and when caught are sent home. Hell, Obama is releasing Pollard.

This is all bull crap, folks.

Raphel, in negotiations with the government, has rejected plea deals and has been adamant that she face no charges, current and former government officials said, particularly since the Justice Department has faced criticism in recent years for handing out inconsistent punishments to US officials who mishandle classified information.

Both the Justice Department and a lawyer for Raphel, Amy Jeffress, declined to comment.

The Raphel case has also been caught in the crosswinds of America’s relationship with Pakistan, a strong Cold War alliance that has frayed since the Sept. 11 attacks and years of recriminations between Washington and Islamabad.

I can't image why.

Raphel has for decades been at the center of shaping US policy toward Pakistan, and she has maintained close ties to Pakistani officials even as many of her colleagues became disenchanted with what they saw as Islamabad’s perfidy in the fight against terrorism.

The Globe has given me the impression that they have won after really taking them on. 


Against that backdrop, the federal investigation has delved into the murky world of international statecraft, where diplomats exert influence through a careful dance of trading, sharing, and eliciting information. Some US investigators viewed Raphel’s relationships with deep suspicion.

Murky is the word used when the propaganda pre$$ mouthpiece is hiding something.

Those suspicions became a federal investigation last year when US officials, while eavesdropping on a Pakistani government official, intercepted a conversation that seemed to suggest that Raphel, an adviser at the State Department, was passing US secrets to Pakistan. The reason for the eavesdropping is unclear, but the government routinely listens to the phone calls and reads the e-mails of foreign officials.

Did you GET THAT?

After months of secret surveillance, the investigation into Raphel spilled into the public when agents searched her home and her State Department office last October.

See: Raphel's Home Raided 

I'm told it is economic espionage. 

She was quickly stripped of her security clearances and left in the dark about the precise origins of the federal investigation. Raphel’s friends said the investigation has taken a deep emotional toll.

That's torture.

US officials will not discuss what classified information the investigators found in Raphel’s home. The current and former US officials who discussed the case did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about it publicly.

Over the years, the stories of US officials mishandling classified information have at times seemed as peculiar as they were serious. John P. O’Neill, a former counterterrorism specialist for the FBI, once lost a briefcase full of government secrets in a Florida hotel. 

He was killed inside the WTC towers on 9/11 after sounding alarms bells and being ignored then fired.

Samuel R. Berger, the national security adviser to President Clinton, stole classified documents from the National Archives and hid them under a construction trailer. 

Had to do with 9/11 from what I remember. Clinton laid the groundwork.

As attorney general, Alberto Gonzales took material about the nation’s warrantless wiretapping program home with him. 

How quickly attorney-gate faded into history, huh? 

I remember John Conyers thundering about it on Democracy Now and then..... nothing

One CIA director, John M. Deutch, stored classified information on his home computer. Another CIA director, David H. Petraeus, shared his highly classified journals with his mistress, then lied to the FBI about it. 

And he was let off easy, unlike some other fellows blowing whistles.

Hillary Clinton used a private email system when she was secretary of state that investigators say contained classified information, although Clinton and the State Department say the information was not marked as classified. She has not been charged with any wrongdoing. 

I've been discussing that below, so scroll away.

The punishment for mishandling classified information has varied wildly. Berger pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Gonzales, O’Neill, and Deutch were not charged.

In the most recent case, the Justice Department allowed Petraeus to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, despite strong objections from investigators. That deal was so contentious that the FBI director, James Comey, personally appealed to the attorney general, Eric Holder, and said Petraeus’ crimes warranted felony charges, according to two government officials involved in the case. FBI agents are still angry about that decision and say it set a standard that will make it harder to bring cases in the future.

In discussions with prosecutors, according to multiple government officials, Raphel and her lawyer have cited the Petraeus case as the vital precedent. If passing secrets — including notes on war strategy and the names of covert officers, which Petraeus shared — and lying about it amount to a misdemeanor, then, Raphel says, she should not face any charges.

Looks like she is admitting guilt there!

Some US investigators remain suspicious of Raphel and are loath to abandon the case entirely. Even if the government cannot mount a case for outright spying, they are pushing for a felony charge related to the classified information in her home.

Several officials acknowledged, however, that the case would be difficult to prosecute because it would require intelligence agencies to declassify information and would probably reveal secrets about US surveillance of foreign officials.

Looks like someone's bluff is being called.

Print ended there but the Globe left the back door open:

The news of the investigation has shaken policy circles in Washington, where Raphel has been a fixture as a diplomat, a South Asia expert in the private sector, and a lobbyist. She began her career as a CIA analyst but moved quickly to the State Department, which sent her to Islamabad in the mid-1970s.  


In fact, one must assume all U.S. embassies are now CIA stations given the passage of time.

It was during this posting that she met and married Arnold L. Raphel, another foreign service officer. In 1988, while he was America’s ambassador to Pakistan and after he and Raphel had divorced, Raphel was killed in a plane crash with the Pakistani president, Mohammed Zia ul-Haq. 

That smells like CIA now. What did ul-Haq do that they didn't like?

During the Clinton administration, Raphel served as the assistant secretary of state for South Asia, and then ambassador to Tunisia. In the George W. Bush administration she was the State Department’s coordinator for reconstruction in Iraq, where she tried to guide the war-torn country toward a stable government and economy. After retiring from the government in 2005, she joined Cassidy & Associates, a Washington lobbying firm that represents the Pakistani government, among other clients.

At the beginning of the Obama administration, Richard C. Holbrooke, the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, reached out to Raphel to come work with him. She subsequently quit her lobbying job and was sent as a State Department contractor to the US Embassy in Islamabad, where she helped disburse US aid to Pakistan. Until the FBI investigation, she continued to work on contract as an adviser on Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

Holbrooke sure died at a bad time, huh?

During her long career working on Pakistan issues, Raphel has seen the country go from being one of America’s most steadfast Cold War allies — and a partner in the 1980s effort to train Afghan fighters to expel Soviet troops from Afghanistan — to being something of a pariah state in Washington. 

That is the infamous "Al-CIA-Duh," folks.

Although Pakistan pledged support for America’s campaign against Al Qaeda and the Taliban immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, senior members of both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations became convinced that Pakistani soldiers and spies were aiding the Taliban and other militant groups by attacking US troops in Afghanistan. 

This is all such crap given that 9/11 was an USraeli job, and it's obvious that the Pakistan links are there as a sword of Damocles to hold over their government.

For their part, Pakistani officials stoked fury inside the country about the CIA’s campaign of lethal drone strikes and what they came to see as the spy agency’s expansion operations in Pakistan. 

They went along with it all and now have their own drones, so f*** this!

As relations between the two countries deteriorated, Raphel was considered one of Pakistan’s few remaining supporters in the top echelon of US government. This earned her enemies among government officials in India, Pakistan’s archrival, but also among her colleagues who considered her too sympathetic toward an unreliable ally.

“I don’t think it was very fashionable to say, ‘I think the Pakistanis have a point,’ but Robin did that,” said Cameron Munter, the former US ambassador to Pakistan who oversaw Raphel’s work in Islamabad.


Good thing Pakistan has nuclear weapons; otherwise, the U.S. would have invaded yesteryears ago.