Friday Reads: Potomac FeverPosted: August 16, 2013
I continue to feel lethargic even though we’ve switched to a pattern of thunderstorms that has broken the most severe heat. It’s August and things seems just wet,soggy, hot and tired. That statement really includes me. Everything seems unresolved and oppressive just like the heat. I do have some really good news to share. I got an email last night from a scholarly publisher in the EU–Germany actually–that wants to publish my recent research as a book. I am seriously in a state of awe and humility. I published my first academic book at the ripe old age of 29 but it was nothing like this work which is the basically the culmination of a lot of deep personal grok. It is basically all the essays surrounding my dissertation. I am in a state of OMG. It probably won’t sell many copies, but it sure will look great on my VC, add salary potential, and up my creds. I am registering as an author with them this morning. Please tack my feet to the floor!
Here’s some stats on how badly the NSA has been managing the rules surrounding surveillance from WAPO. Maybe WAPO will just have to seek asylum in Russia! (J/K)
The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.
Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by law and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.
The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
In one instance, the NSA decided that it need not report the unintended surveillance of Americans. A notable example in 2008 was the interception of a “large number” of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt, according to a “quality assurance” review that was not distributed to the NSA’s oversight staff.
In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has authority over some NSA operations, did not learn about a new collection method until it had been in operation for many months. The court ruled it unconstitutional.
The Obama administration has provided almost no public information about the NSA’s compliance record. In June, after promising to explain the NSA’s record in “as transparent a way as we possibly can,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole described extensive safeguards and oversight that keep the agency in check. “Every now and then, there may be a mistake,” Cole said in congressional testimony.
You went from supporting the Patriot Act in 2001 to pushing relentlessly for its de-authorization. What was the tipping point?
My concerns obviously deepened when I first learned that the Patriot Act was being used to justify the bulk collection of Americans’ records, which was in late 2006 or early 2007. So Senator Russ Feingold and I dutifully set about to write classified letters to senior officials urging them to make their official interpretation of the Patriot Act public. Back then, in those early days, we were rebuffed after we made repeated requests that the intelligence community inform the public what the government had secretly decided the law actually meant. In fact, there was a secret court opinion that authorized massive dragnet domestic surveillance, and the American people, by that point, were essentially in the dark about what their government was doing with respect to interpreting an important law.
You use the term “secret law” quite frequently – what do you actually mean by that?
I use the term “secret law” to refer to the federal government’s increasing tendency to rely on secret legal analysis to justify major programs and activities, without telling the public exactly what government agencies believe the law allows them to do. This is fundamentally inconsistent with democratic principles, but it’s unfortunately become increasingly common over the past decade. And the broad interpretations of the Patriot Act and other laws that have been issued by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are still secret, so right now the public can’t see how the Court concluded that the government’s authority to obtain records that are “relevant to an investigation” allowed the NSA to collect information on hundreds of millions of ordinary Americans. But there are an increasing number of lawmakers who are interested in pushing for more openness in this area, which is encouraging.
In a strange turn of events, WAPO has been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army. This is a bizarre story if ever there was one.
So, you may have heard we’re having some problems with the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) lately. Earlier this week the Twitter account of one of our journalists was compromised as part of a larger attack aimed at social media management groupSocialFlow, and Thursday an attack on content recommendation service Outbrain caused some of our stories to redirect to the the SEA homepage.
Who is the Syrian Electronic Army?
The SEA is a group of computer hackers who support embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It initially emerged in April 2011 during the rise of anti-regime protests in Syria.
Are they supported by the Assad regime?
Probably not. While Assad has a background in computing, and once explicitly referenced his “electronic army,” the group’s formal ties to the administration are unclear. The quality of their attacks suggest that the SEA includes both professional quality hackers, who might be receiving some form of compensation, and young volunteers who believe in the regime.
Those volunteers might include Syrian diaspora; some of their hacks have usedcolloquial English and reddit memes. After Washington Post reporter Max Fisher called their jokes unfunny, one hacker associated with the group told a Vice interview “haters gonna hate.”
Who has this “army” been attacking?
The group targets both dissidents within Syria and “sympathizers” outside the country. But that “sympathizer” label appears to be applied to anyone who talks about the Syrian conflict in almost any context without expressly endorsing the Assad regime.
Some of the SEA’s early activity included spamming pages with pro-Assad comments, but activity later escalated to large scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Those attacks work by jamming Web sites with too many traffic requests and making normal visitors unable to access the page. The group has also battled onlinewith hacker collective Anonymous, who once hacked the Syrian Ministry of Defense Web site.
Alana Hinojosa writes that raising young black men and daughters of any color in the US is similar. That is because you live in perpetual fear that something bad will happen to them. Here is her analysis.
Parents of all backgrounds have had to live with a very similar anxiety, worrying whether their daughter(s) is walking alone at night, if a date (or a stranger) will rape her, if ruphees will be slipped in her drink at a party, if the older brother at her friend’s slumber party will sneak into bed with her at night, etc.
Since the beginning of time, parents with daughters have had to sit their girls down and teach them simple guidelines about how to avoid violence in everyday life, too.
So, really, the anxieties and responsibilities of parenting young black males and young women in the U.S. aren’t so different. In fact, I think they are remarkably similar.
Let’s take, for example, what one parent blogging on the Huffington Post called the Black Male Code – a series of guidelines that he taught his 12-year-old black son to prevent him from becoming the next Trayvon Martin.
It went like this:
Always pay close attention to your surroundings, son, especially if you are in an affluent neighborhood where black folks are few. Understand that even though you are not a criminal, some people might assume you are, especially if you are wearing certain clothes.
Never argue with police, but protect your dignity and take pride in humility. When confronted by someone with a badge or a gun, do not flee, fight, or put your hands anywhere other than up.
Please don’t assume, son, that all white people view you as a threat. America is better than that. Suspicion and bitterness can imprison you. But as a black male, you must go above and beyond to show strangers what type of person you really are.
With a very slight reworking, the code is likely something parents of daughters might use:
Always pay close attention to your surroundings, daughter, especially if you are walking at night, and especially if you are alone (but please don’t ever walk alone at night, or down alley ways). Understand that even though you are not a slut, some people might assume you are, especially if you are wearing certain clothes.
Never argue with police, but protect your dignity and take pride in humility. When confronted by someone with a gun who is demanding your purse, do not argue, just give them your purse. But don’t be afraid to use your pepper spray.
Wow, something to think on!!
Calling all Cops! Calling all Cops!! There appear to be some Ex-JP Morgan Traders on the loose over the Whale debacle.
U.S. prosecutors urged former London-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) traders Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout to surrender and face charges that they attempted to hide trading losses tied to the bank’s $6.2 billion loss on derivatives bets last year.
Martin-Artajo, a Spanish citizen, andGrout, a French citizen, should “do the right thing,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a press conference yesterday. Both men face as long as 20 years in prison if convicted of the most serious counts, including conspiracy and wire fraud.
While Bharara said he was “hopeful” they would return, he had arrest warrants filed under seal along with criminal complaints Aug. 9, according to court records. The warrants were to be served on the State Department, Interpol and foreign law enforcement agencies. The next day, police showed up at Grout’s London home, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Grout wasn’t there. His lawyers have said he’s inFrance.
Martin-Artajo oversaw trading strategy for the synthetic portfolio at JPMorgan’s chief investment office in London, while Grout was a trader who worked for him. They are charged with conspiring to falsify securities filings from March to May of 2012. The U.S. sought to keep the charges secret while arrests were attempted, but eventually had them unsealed yesterday.
JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon characterized the $6.2 billion loss as “the stupidest and most embarrassing situation I have ever been a part of.” First disclosed in May 2012, the bad bets led to an earnings restatement, a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing and probes by the Securities and Exchange Commission and U.K. Financial Conduct Authority.
Why can’t we hold Jamie responsible?
Anyway, that’s my contribution today. What’s on you reading and blogging list?