09 July 2013

The Link Sausages Are Not NSA-Approved

Lots of life-type stuff going one around here, so only three overstuffed link sausages on the platter today:

  • The best example of security paranoia around is the unavailability of rulings from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court... and it really is paranoia, as (a) there's no reason that the legal rulings themselves can't be redacted for sensitive material (as is done all the time by other federal courts, particularly those considering Gitmo issues) and (b) we're all in far, far deeper trouble than any intelligence/counterintelligence system can possibly contemplate if not just the rule of law, but the rules followed by the law, are secret. Bluntly, it sounds far too much of the worst abuses of Iranian "justice"... under the Shah or under his "successors"; and there's a good argument that the Savak's abuses (aided and abetted by what passed for a judicial system) are the single most significant, or at least single most significant avoidable, factor leading not so much to the Shah's downfall as to the repressive nature of the theocracy that followed.

    Judges, too, need to remember that their oath of office is to the constitution. Hell, the lawyers need to remember that, too; and perhaps a little bit of realpolitik regarding overclassification as an essential element of empire-building in the American tradition of government as a world power wouldn't hurt... such as actually reading The Pentagon Papers.

  • Speaking of failing to learn from the past, the Pentagon doesn't have priorities for a budget, let alone an actual budget... or compliance with the sequester. Partially, that's realistic: Reformers who propose "zero-based" forces based on idealistic assessments of what the military "really needs now and going forward" never remember that costs of transitioning from what we actually have now to that ideal. That's one reason that we can't just do away with the nuclear submarine fleet and redistribute the personnel to "better" systems, to name one common "reform" proposal: Nobody ever allows enough time or money for retraining the personnel and buying new support equipment for their new roles.
  • Here's a sideways look at the potential problem with e-book distribution: Compare what has happened in banking clearance systems. The key point is that consortia of private industry are no more trustworthy than government industries... and often less so. Now keep in mind that that problem is just money; the implications of doing so for the arts, let alone for core information "exchange," are rather frightening.