Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Spook on Obama's Privacy Speech

When the spooks cheer Obama, you know there is trouble.

John R. Schindler is professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, where he teaches courses on security, strategy, intelligence and, terrorism.. Before joining the NWC faculty, he spent nearly a decade with the National Security Agency as an intelligence analyst and counterintelligence officer. He writes:
[Y]esterday President Obama ended the political debate about the Snowden Operation with his much-anticipated speech about NSA and reform, based on the recommendations of his own panel. As my colleague Tom Nichols and I have long predicted, the reform package Obama has delivered is a stinging defeat for the NSA haters. Yes, it will be more difficult for NSA analysts to access metadata, but access it they will. Yes, NSA collection against top foreign leaders will be restricted, somewhat, but Agency support to U.S. and Allied diplomacy will continue. The bottom line is that President Obama’s reforms contain no significant changes to how NSA does business as the leading foreign intelligence agency in the United States and the free world.
These reforms go some distance to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens better, which I’ve wanted for a long time anyway, but even the changes to metadata holdings have been kicked by Obama to Congress for resolution, which will be difficult, since telecom companies understandably have little interest in involving themselves further in what’s become a touchy mess. In all, Obama – many of whose national security policies of late I’ve been critical of – performed masterfully yesterday, delivering a near pitch-perfect speech and resetting the agenda on intelligence matters.


  1. Destroying privacy and securing communications at the same time are logically incompatible goals in the long term, unless you want to create a two-tier master slave system where the slaves are not allowed access to security technologies. The National Security Agency's goal is to destroy privacy and hence to destroy secure communications. The cost imposed by this pervasive insecurity of US communications infrastructure is immense and the US economy will pay the price.

    NSA is getting careless and is releasing exploits into the wild willy-nilly. Their policy is "security by obscurity" or "security by widespread insertion of known secret vulnerabilities". It's not a practical strategy, particularly against a determined attacker with access to practically unlimited govt-level funding. Heck, it did not even work against a single Edward Snowden. Keeping secrets is not easy - just don't leave known bugs unfixed.

    It's shocking and shameful that companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, ATT and others are cooperating with NSA. It's shameful. One can only imagine how proactive these companies are about fixing bugs in their products - they don't seem to care one bit.

    Seeing the behavior of these criminal governments and their henchmen, I am tending to appreciate more and more what the IP crazies like Richard Stallman at MIT were whining about - at least they had a logically sound approach to security of software - by avoiding the obscurity and secrecy crutches. Stallman really was onto something when he was concerned about how software can be used to enslave humans. Stallman was not wrong to be a Luddite by default. One has to weigh the costs and benefits of closed-source systems very carefully, especially when your adversary has access to infinite capital and the force of government behind it.

  2. I'm not really concerned about the police state. I just hate my parents. Freedom hater John R. Schindler: "There is now a considerable cadre of Americans, an odd alliance of leftist bitter-enders, libertarian Randians, and battalions of dudebros who thrive on snark and hating their parents, that is convinced that NSA is the source of all their problems."

    1. Evil M07h3rf*ck3rs like Schindler would have been excellent as a Stasi agent. Hell is too good for bastards like him and his ilk.

  3. I finally get it. Opposing the NSA's unconstitutional police state spying means you are simultaneously

    a racist,


    a neo-confederate,

    a leftist bitter-ender,

    a libertarian Randian,

    and a dudebro (WTF is that?)

    who hates his parents.

    1. Hey, don't worry.

      Once we know exactly what you are thinking, what your hot-button issues are, who you plan on voting for, how you make your money, and who/where you get your information from, we have ways of programming your mind and brain to make you more compliant with reality.

      For example, we have advanced research programs underway (funded with your money) to build botnets and social networks to drive the narrative and to make up your mind for you. Here, take a look at this partial sneak preview of what awaits in the future ... of Science! ...

      We have already completed phase 1 of our plan, which is the data collection phase - it's kind of an inside joke that this is meant to protect you from the terrorists, you know! wink, wink;) The data analysis phase is well underway and mostly operational. Once we have phase 2 fully operational, you will no longer need to hate your parents.

      It's all for your own good. Welcome aboard!

      Wishing you peace and bliss,
      Yours in eternal servitude,
      Dear Leader
      c/o The Nudge.Crew @ Harvard

    2. By dudebro, I believe he was referring to this guy, el dude-orino:

  4. Wenzel- where do you find this stuff, I mean “XXcommittee” blog? I hope this guy isn’t one of your “friends and neighbors” or mine for that matter. He sounds like he’s a real drag at parties. Probably sees terrorists under his bed at night. Anyway, I prefer the term “libertarian Ron Paulians.”