Sunday, Apr 16, 2017

Crisis: The Trump Doctrine (?), NSA Hacking "For All", The Totalitarians At The US Borders

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. The Trump Doctrine
Snowden Says Cyberweapons Dump Underscores NSA Hacking
    Tools Are Not Secure

3. Censorship at the Border Threatens Free Speech Everywhere

This is a Nederlog of Sunday
, April 16, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with three items and three links (it seems because of Easter): Item 1 is about an article by Robert Reich that I think a bit mistaken or misguided; item 2 is about the fact that NSA hacking tools now have been made available "to everyone" (by hackers); and item 3 is about the fact that everyone who enters the USA now is supposed to cough up (almost) all his privacy by releasing the codes that lock his or her cellphone.
April 16: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; and even the Dutch site was on time today. These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession. (If you want these horrors, then sign in with; if not, avoid them.)

And I have to add that about where my site on stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (Xs4all wants  immediate payment if you are a week behind. has been destroying my site now for over a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. The Trump Doctrine

The first article today is
by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

What’s the “Trump Doctrine” of foreign policy? At first glance, foreign policy under Trump seems inconsistent, arbitrary, and devoid of principle.

I have been reading now for more than a year that Trump has no doctrine and is very unpredictable. I agree he lies and deceives a lot, and that he doesn't know much or anything of many things he ought to know, but I also think since over a year that he does have an ideology, and it is best defined as neofascism (the link is interesting and is my own definition), and I have not yet seen any good reason (after more than a year of more Trump) to deny or mitigate that diagnosis. (Check out my definition if you disagree!)

Then there is this:

So under what might be called the First Principle of the Trump Doctrine, people living in a predominantly Muslim country have a chance of entering the United States only if their country contains an edifice with Trump’s name on it.

The Second Principle follows logically from the first. Countries that are potential markets for Trump’s business – nominally run by his two sons, but still filling his pockets – may be eligible for special favors if they allow Trump to make money there. 

Hm. I don't like these "principles", and I also think they should not be called the First and Second Principle of Trump, and for several reasons of which I will only give one:

But OK.... a considerably more plausible "First Principle" of Trump is that the rich (especially if they are called Trump, but basically any biillionaire) are entitled to all the profits they can get, and a considerably more plausible "Second Principle" is that the rich are thus entitled because the rich are special people, who are better and more deserving than the non-rich.

And indeed in either case one consequence is this:

One potential obstacle for the Second Principle is the Constitution’s “emoluments” clause, which bars U.S. government officials from receiving gifts from foreign powers.

No matter. Apparently the Trump Doctrine, well, trumps the Constitution.

I'd say: Because the rich are entitled to all profits they can get, because they are very special, very deserving people who are better than the non-rich. (And therefore, indeed: Bye, bye Constitution! (And who cares except the non-rich - who don't matter, to the rich?))

There there is this Third Principle that Reich sees in Trump's behavior:

The Third Principle comes down hard on countries that kill their own children with poison gas. They will be bombed.

I'd say - we are inventing principles, after all, and I can do so as well - a considerably more plausible Trumpian Third Principle is this: The USA (under Trump) will bomb anyone Trump desires to see bombed (that is: irrespective of what Congress - that hitherto was supposed to decide whether the USA goes to war - desires).

As to the Fourth Principle:

So under the Fourth Principle of the Trump Doctrine, the United States reserves the right to drop a mother of a bomb on any group seemingly connected with ISIS.

This applies even if the group is not fighting to gain or hold territory claimed by the Islamic State. The group could be thousands of miles away from the Islamic State, anywhere around the world.

I'd restate the Fourth Principle as follows: Those Trump desires to see bombed will get bombed anywhere at all, and with the heaviest bombs (and regardless of whatever Congress or the House desires: They are not billionaires, and further see the  First and Second Principle I formulated above).

Then again, in fact (i) I am not much in favor of articulating fairly arbitrary "Principles" and attributing these to Trump, and I also think that (ii) there are better "Principles" than Reich articulated, while (iii) a single "Principle" - "The Trump Doctrine", as this article is called - might have been formulated that does as well as all the principles that were articulated above: "Billionaire presidents are entitled to do anything they want (because they are superior to anyone else)" - which seems pretty close to what Trump thinks.

But as I said (and think I have illustrated), I am not much in favor of articulating fairly arbitrary principles and use these to explain Trump.

2. Snowden Says Cyberweapons Dump Underscores NSA Hacking Tools Are Not Secure

The second article is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Hackers and security experts are raising alarm over a massive cyberweapons dump that they say underscores the danger of government spy agencies developing intrusive surveillance tools.

On Friday, the hacking group Shadow Brokers released a cache of cyberweapons developed by the National Security Agency (NSA) to access computers that run on Microsoft Windows, a release described by Vice New's Motherboard as "the hacking equivalent of a bomb."

And I paid attention to this yesterday, for I agree this was a quite important and also a quite dangerous release of "intrusive surveillance tools" to the public.

Then again, there also is this:

"This is as big as it gets," security researcher and hacker Matthew Hickey told The Intercept's Sam Biddle after news of the release. "Nation-state attack tools are now in the hands of anyone who cares to download them…it's literally a cyberweapon for hacking into computers…people will be using these attacks for years to come."

Microsoft told reporters that no one from the NSA or government alerted them of the security breach, but late Friday the tech company announced they were able to patch most of the exploits.

Regardless, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said the release makes clear that the "'lawful access' debate is over," and the government's claim that "nobody but us" has access to these surveillance tools is moot.

I think the first paragraph is a reasonable expectation.

As to the second paragraph: I don't trust Microsoft and never will, simply because their software is closed source (apart from all other reasons). I agree they should have been able of patching known leaks, but I also note the term "most" in their assurance that "they were able to patch most of the exploits", i.e. probably not all. (And no, I don't know whether I believe the assurance, and nobody who has not seen
Microsoft's Windows-code can be sure.)

In brief: I don't know - and Edward Snowden simply is factually correct in saying that considerably more people than are in the secret services now do have accesss to hacking and surveillance tools (of which some still may work).

And this is a recommended article.

3. Censorship at the Border Threatens Free Speech Everywhere

The third article is by Jameel Jaffer on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
Defending one’s political and religious beliefs to government officials is an obligation we associate with life in authoritarian regimes, not open societies.  It’s becoming common, though, for foreign citizens who visit the United States—and even for Americans returning home after travel abroad—to be interrogated about their beliefs by customs and border personnel. These days, those seeking admission to the United States may also be required to surrender their cellphones and laptops, which can supply border agents with a wealth of information about travelers’ associations, communications, and activities online. Border agents use that information to draw conclusions, sound or not, about travelers’ ideological commitments.
Yes, indeed - and since the policemen are not only requesting that people who want to enter the USA now have the politically desirable opinions that Trump desires, but also must do so by giving up all or most of their privacy (or enter without any computer or cellphobe).

These are the techniques and the principles of the totalitarian police state. Here is some background:
These new forms of vetting take advantage of travelers’ reliance on laptops, cellphones, and social media accounts, and in this sense they are products of the digital age.  But this is not the first time that the U.S. government has experimented with ideological screening at the border.  This practice has an ignominious history, and we can be confident that this new experiment with it will end badly.
I agree this has been tried before, but never on persons who carry most of their private information in their laptops and cell phones, and also never in a society where everybody with an internet connection is plundered by - in secret - by the secret services. For these reasons I am not at all convinced "that this new experiment with it will end badly". (I hope it does, but I got no evidence it will.)

This is from the past:
Typical of the rationale supplied for the exclusions was the one furnished by the State Department for its refusal to grant a visa to Italian playwright Dario Fo.  “Dario Fo’s record of performance with regard to the United States is not good.  Dario Fo has never had a good word to say about the United States.”
I like Dario Fo (<- Wikipedia) (who died in 2016) since the early Seventies, after seeing his play "Accidental Death of an Anarchist", though that is not very relevant. What is relevant is that only a totalitarian mind would deny a man like him entrance to the USA on the utterly ridiculous ground that he "never had a good word to say about the United States".

There is also this:
Investing consular and border officials with the authority to vet visitors for disfavored political and religious beliefs is ill-advised.
It is not merely "ill-advised": it is totalitarian, immoral and sick. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
The practice that the Trump administration is proposing to entrench and expand offends the First Amendment and the very idea of an open society, and it is a practice that history has already discredited.  The digital-age version of it will be more pernicious than the Cold War one. 
Yes, but as I have indicated already, I agree that the "digital-age version of" totalitarianism "will be" FAR "more pernicious than the Cold War one", and I am not at all sure it will not succeed.


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