Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Q&A - 1/12

Link

The aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks has now devolved into a dark and dishonest debate about how we should respond: let’s ban encryption, even though there’s no evidence the terrorists used it to carry out their crime, and let’s ban Syrian refugees, even though the attackers were neither.

It’s hard to overstate how disgusting it has been to watch, as proven-false rumors continue to be the basis for the entire political response, and technology ignorance and full-on xenophobia now dominate the discussion.

The entire encryption subject became a shiny scapegoat while the truth slowly trickled in: as of Tuesday, it was clear that American and/or French intelligence agencies had seven of the eight identified attackers on their radar prior to the attacks. The attackers used Facebook to communicate. The one phone found on the scene showed the terrorists had coordinated over unencrypted SMS text messages – just about the easiest form of communication to wiretap that exists today. (The supposed ringleader even did an interview in Isis’s English magazine in February bragging that he was already in Europe ready to attack.)

As an unnamed government official quoted by the Washington Post’s Brian Fung said, if surveillance laws are expanded the media will be partly to blame: “It seems like the media was just led around by the nose by law enforcement. [They are] taking advantage of a crisis where encryption hasn’t proven to have a role. It’s leading us in a less safe direction at a time when the world needs systems that are more secure.”

As dishonest as the “debate” over encryption has been, the dark descension of the Republican party into outright racism and cynically playing off the irrational fears of the public over the Syrian refugee crisis has been worse. We now know the attackers weren’t Syrian and weren’t even refugees. It was a cruel rumor or hoax that one was thought to have come through Europe with a Syrian passport system, but that was cleared up days ago. But in the world of Republican primaries, who cares about facts?

Virtually every Republican candidate has disavowed welcoming any refugees to the US, and they are now competing over who is more in favor of banning those who are fleeing the very terrorists that they claim to be so against.

It doesn’t matter that the US has a robust screening system that has seen over 750,000 refugees come to the United States without incident – the Republican-led House has now voted to grind the already intensive screening process to a virtual halt [..]

Sad but true

Link

Senior members of the US intelligence community, still smarting from the loss of the bulk data collection of phone records in the Freedom Act this summer, are taking advantage of events in Paris to renew arguments over surveillance.

In New York on Wednesday, the director of the FBI, James Comey, complained that too much of the internet had gone dark. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies both needed faster and better access to communications data, he said.

The stripped down argument is that if you have access to everything, it is easier to keep everyone secure. When there are attacks such as those in Paris, the agencies say they quickly need to search back through data to see who suspects had been talking to, helping to identify the networks and prevent potential other attacks.

The problem with this, as with almost every terrorist incident since 9/11, is that the French intelligence agencies already knew at least three of the attackers.

Abelhamid Abaaoud was known as an accomplice of two jihadis killed in Belgium in January. The police had a file on Omar Ismaïl Mostefai even before he travelled to Syria in 2013, while Sami Amimour had been detained in 2012 on suspected terrorist links.

In other words, the failure of the French intelligence agencies is not that they did not have enough data – but that they did not act on what they had.

Yep

If someone merits surveillance, they have been around terror networks, have been in and out of jail a few times, and especially for dual-citizens they can be stripped of citizenship, and be dropped on their country of origin preferably out of a plane with a parachute, or somewhere else where they cannot do any more damage. Hell, I'd drop them on one of those man-made Chinese islands and let them enjoy the grand hospitality of the Chinese government. 

I believe some in security services have and odd obsession with "catching the guy on the act". Like wanting to say "freeze! hands up!" right before guy is about the press a button to blow some shit up. It's already to late by then. These suckers need to be taken care of before that point.

Official

But still, would it not help to have all information, on everyone, all the time?

Naaah

You just want to pass around pictures of naked people at the office and have a gas at their expense. Pervert.