Secrecy ≠ Security

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Sat, 16 Oct 2004 12:00:00 GMT
From kaba:
"This country is a one-party country. Half of it is called Republican and half is called Democrat. It doesn't make any difference. All the really good ideas belong to the Libertarians." -- Hugh Downs
"Isn't the basis of a democracy to send somebody to Washington to bring something back for you? ... It isn't?" -- Bryant Gumbel

# Ken Schooland and Lux Lucre - The Philosophy of Liberty - Flash animation. Worth rewatching periodically. Check out other fine Flash animations by Lux Lucre here. [smith2004]

# Eric Henry - Pirates & Emperors - animation illustrating that there really isn't any difference between criminals and governments. Cute. Windows Media or Quicktime. [gunner]

# Claire Wolfe - First dispatch from the desert - Claire's been socializing a lot on her desert "retreat". Sounds like a good time, though. I want to know the nature of her "mystery project". [claire]

# Information Clearinghouse - Seymour Hersh spills the secrets of the Iraq quagmire and the war on terror - October 8, Berkeley University, 80 minute streaming Real video. The man who covered the My Lai masacre, tells of similar happenings in Iraq, compliments of the Busheviks. Rumsfeld & Bush allowed Abu Ghraib for four months. From an article about the event by Bonnie Azab Powell: [smith2004]

Most recently, as a staff writer for the New Yorker, Hersh has relentlessly ferreted out the behind-the-scenes deals, trickery, and blunders associated with the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Back in May 2003, he was the first American reporter to state unequivocally that we would not find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. (A mea culpa from a Slate journalist who doubted Hersh on WMDs also inadvertently confirms his prescient track record.) And in April of this year, he broke the story of how U.S. soldiers had digitally documented their torture and sexual humiliation of Iraqis at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The several articles he wrote for the New Yorker about Abu Ghraib have been updated and edited into his latest book, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib.

"Bush scares the hell out of me"

Hersh came to Berkeley at the invitation of UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and the California First Amendment Coalition. His appearance in the packed ballroom of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union was the fitting end to a week of high-profile events in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement.

The Hersh event began only minutes after the second debate between President George W. Bush and John Kerry concluded. Krasny naturally asked Hersh -- who had watched the debate at North Gate Hall stone-faced in the middle of a rowdy crowd -- what he thought of the match.

"It doesn't matter that Bush scares the hell out of me," Hersh answered. "What matters is that he scares the hell out of a lot of very important people in Washington who can't speak out, in the military, in the intelligence community. They know in ways that none of us know, the incredible gap between what is and what [Bush] thinks."

With that, he was off and running. One could safely say that for the next hour, Hersh proceeded to scare the hell out of most of the audience by detailing the gaps between what they knew and what he hears is actually going on in Iraq.

# Guardian Unlmited - Operation Clark County - give the Guardian your email address, and they'll send you the address of a voter in Clark County, Ohio. Ohio is a swing state, so you can use that address to attempt to persuade a voter there that his/her vote affects more than just the United States. [clairefiles]

# Bruce Schneier's Cryptogram - Keeping Network Outages Secret - lots of people, especially including people in government, confuse security with secrecy. Secret does not imply secure. True security doesn't need to be secret.

We're all safer when we have the information we need to exert market pressure on vendors to improve security. We would all be less secure if software vendors didn't make their security vulnerabilities public, and if telephone companies didn't have to report network outages. And when government operates without accountability, that serves the security interests of the government, not of the people.

# Bruce Schneier's Cryptogram - RFID Passports - Mr. Schneier thinks that electronically-readable information on passports is a good idea, but they should not be readable from a distance.

Unfortunately, RFID chips can be read by any reader, not just the ones at passport control. The upshot of this is that anyone carrying around an RFID passport is broadcasting his identity.

Think about what that means for a minute. It means that a passport holder is continuously broadcasting his name, nationality, age, address, and whatever else is on the RFID chip. It means that anyone with a reader can learn that information, without the passport holder's knowledge or consent. It means that pickpockets, kidnappers, and terrorists can easily -- and surreptitiously -- pick Americans out of a crowd.

It's a clear threat to both privacy and personal safety. Quite simply, it's a bad idea.

The administration claims that the chips can only be read from a few centimeters away, so there's no potential for abuse. This is a spectacularly naive claim. All wireless protocols can work at much longer ranges than specified. In tests, RFID chips have been read by receivers 20 meters away. Improvements in technology are inevitable.

Security is always a trade-off. If the benefits of RFID outweigh the risks, then maybe it's worth it. Certainly there isn't a significant benefit when people present their passport to a customs official. If that customs official is going to take the passport and bring it near a reader, why can't he go those extra few centimeters that a contact chip would require?


Unfortunately, there is a reason. At least, it's the only reason I can think of for the administration wanting RFID chips in passports: they want surreptitious access themselves. They want to be able to identify people in crowds. They want to pick out the Americans, and pick out the foreigners. They want to do the very thing that they insist, despite demonstrations to the contrary, can't be done.

# Publicola - Question 16 - fisking the answers to the "debate" question about the ban on ugly semi-automatic rifles (aka "assault weapons"). [publicola]

# Charley Reese at - Kerry Will Win - Mr. Reese predicts the outcome of the coming election. [lew]

Basically, I believe that the people who dislike George Bush will be more strongly motivated to go to the polls than those people who dislike John Kerry. Except for a minority of Vietnam veterans, most of the people who can be said to dislike Kerry just wish they had another choice. I'm in that group. I'd much prefer Howard Dean, who reminds me of Harry Truman. With Dean, you know without any equivocation what he believes and how he feels. That's rare in today's politicians.

But Kerry is the nominee, and stuffiness and wordiness aside, I prefer a man who seriously studies issues and desires a lot of input, even from people who disagree with him. Bush apparently prefers snap decisions and dislikes a lot of input, especially from anyone who disagrees with him. That's OK when you're deciding to start this pitcher or that pitcher or even if you're trying to decide where to drill an oil well. It is definitely not OK if the decision is war or peace.

If you believe the president's own words, he has not the foggiest idea of what the war on terrorism is all about. His repeated claim that terrorists hate us because we are rich and free is so patently absurd as to be laughable. Osama bin Laden probably has a higher net worth than Bush, if not Dick Cheney, and what the terrorists object to is not us but our foreign policy, part of which is to turn the U.S. armed forces into a corporate oil-protective service.


As you can see, all my reasons for voting for Kerry have more to do with Bush than with Kerry. Bush will get his vote, including the evangelicals who don't know the difference between the Old and New Testaments. I still have faith that a healthy majority of Americans are smart enough to recognize that the Bush presidency is a mistake that cries out to be corrected. Some very decent people lose their bearings when they gain power, and I think Bush is one of them.

# My new Lyman Unidot shotgun sight arrived yesterday. I got the Universal 4mm model (on the "Fiber-Optic Sights" page). Interesting design. It's a 4mm plastic tube with a light pipe at the far end. You have to look down about four inches of empty tube to see the light pipe, so if your eye is not aligned properly, no green is visible (or red for some of the other sights they sell). I put it on my pistol grip Winchester 1300. Look forward to trying it out shooting slugs at a target from 25 yards. I'll buy one for my trap gun before my club begins shooting again in January (they're taking a break for the fall and early winter this year, which is unusual).

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