Author Topic: France, surveillance, and the war on terror  (Read 14070 times)

Offline scottws

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 6,598
    • Facebook Me
France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« on: Monday, November 16, 2015, 06:33:37 AM »
My heart goes out to the French, especially the surviving victims and the families and friends of those that were lost.  It is a deplorable event caused by a bunch of deranged lunatics and I wish for each one of them to be burned at the stake.

That said, I worry that Western government leaders, especially those in the U.S.A. where I live, will use this event to further expand the surveillance state and trod upon civil liberties even more than they already are.  100% prevention, 100% security is impossible.  Are the surveillance and security actions really worth the diminishing returns, when those actions grossly invade upon my privacy and liberty as a law-abiding citizen?  I do not think that they are.

Unfortunately, this event has already turned the political discourse (during Presidential campaigning, no less) towards what kind of war we are going to engage on ISIS and other violent Islamic extremists.  This despite the fact that the war on terror has been shown to be less than effective and also proven to just earn us more enemies.  I would argue that in many ways, the extremists have already won.  They've succeeded in making our government fruitlessly spend trillions on pointless saber rattling and defense contracts.  They've succeeding in making ours and other Western governments pass incredibly tyrannical laws.  They've succeeded in forcing us to go through nearly pointless and invasive security checkpoints at airports, which have recently proven to be something like 95% ineffective at catching actual dangerous contraband, not to mention the cost involved in the whole TSA apparatus.

The war on terror is pointless and as long as we continue to try to fight it, we've already lost.

Offline Cobra951

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8,934
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #1 on: Monday, November 16, 2015, 09:09:33 AM »
We're not fighting a war.  We're having war waged on us, and then covering ourselves against the attacks as best as we can.  When we decide to actually go on the military offensive against Islamic fascism, we'll see how ineffective it remains.  We have a strong opportunity here, one I fear will be wasted, like so many others.  The Russians could not be more ripe for an alliance, since the loss of their civilian airliner.  The French have now tasted the new normal.  The wake-up calls keep going out like old bell-topped alarm clocks.  And we keep hitting the snooze button.

Our illustrious president called these combatants "criminals" to be brought to justice.  It's the wrong paradigm entirely, one that smacks of burying our heads in the sand.  World War 3 by other means will continue unabated, whether we choose to fight it, or hide from it until it marches ashore.

Offline scottws

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 6,598
    • Facebook Me
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #2 on: Monday, November 16, 2015, 09:28:10 AM »
They don't use uniforms.  They hide themselves amongst and as regular civilians.  They attack civilian targets as well as military.  What are we going to do, nuke the Middle East until it is nothing but a glowing pile of rubble?  Even if we did that, extremists already exist within ours and other Western communities.  Besides, such an action would make the situation even worse by breeding even more people willing to take up arms.  But what's the alternative?  What's the magic bullet that is going to change the game?  I think the answer is that there isn't one, at least not one that involves bombs and bullets.  It's a war that cannot be won.

Militarily, what's the move?  Find out who these people are with ever more pervasive and invasive surveillance techniques?  Let's not forget Ben Franklin: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."  No amount of surveillance and no amount of war waging is going to guarantee us 100% security.  How much of our GDP do we want to spend and how much of our liberty do we want to forfeit to gain a few extra percentage points of security?  We've already gone too far.

Offline Quemaqua

  • 古い塩
  • Administrator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 16,464
  • パンダは触るな。
    • Bookruptcy
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #3 on: Monday, November 16, 2015, 09:54:33 AM »
I agree with both of you. We can't do nothing, or keep burying our heads in the sand, but we also can't just nuke it out of existence. I don't know what the answer to this problem is, and I think nobody does, which is why nothing is being done. I don't think anyone knows what the hell to do.

天才的な閃きと平均以下のテクニックやな。 課長有野

Offline Cobra951

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8,934
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #4 on: Monday, November 16, 2015, 10:41:11 AM »
Nuking is not the only way to raze enemy strongholds, command and control, and their means of financing and production.  And nuking would prevent an invading army from seizing the territory once the resistance is eliminated.  I don't want any nuking.  That should be only a direct response to a WMD strike by them.

The lack of uniforms doesn't mean we can't locate and exterminate the driving forces behind the enemy movement.  Surviving global cells then become isolated, and they go out via attrition, or intelligence-driven raids.  That will take much longer to exterminate, to be sure--and there will always be isolated acts of barbarism.  However, the extreme-Islamic juggernaut that only grows by the day can only be brought down with overwhelming force.  It's sexy to a lot of disaffected idiots because it continues to succeed practically unchallenged.  Once it is shown to be a (literally) dead end, it won't have the draw that it does now.

This shit has been building for over 40 years--longer than any of you have been around.  I've been thinking about it for about as long.  Talking does nothing.  Negotiating turns out no better than it did for Chamberlain in the 30s.  These people have made up their minds, and we can't talk them out of their lust for blood and death.  Saying we can't do anything is the most defeatist attitude possible.

Offline Quemaqua

  • 古い塩
  • Administrator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 16,464
  • パンダは触るな。
    • Bookruptcy
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #5 on: Monday, November 16, 2015, 12:04:00 PM »
I certainly don't think we can't do anything. I just don't know what we do. Military action doesn't seem to have done anything at all.

天才的な閃きと平均以下のテクニックやな。 課長有野

Offline scottws

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 6,598
    • Facebook Me
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #6 on: Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 04:20:04 AM »
Oh look, the calls for more surveillance and governmental overreach have already begun.  Do they not realize that if they mandade broken by default encryption that it will just result in terrorist organizations and other entities using fully functional, freely available encryption tools that already exist?

Offline K-man

  • Post-aholic
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,946
  • HOW'S IT FEEEEEL IDOL
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #7 on: Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 07:52:45 AM »
I almost started this thread a handful of times.  Fact is, I just didn't know what to say.  Tragic situation in Paris, for sure.  I'm sure those who have experienced equally tragic situations in other countries that didn't receive the international outcry for justice are bitter.  Maybe Paris is the wake up call. 

This is a complicated problem, and one partially of our country's doing.  The solution is likely equally as complicated.  I am quite ashamed of the rampant Xenophobia I see on Facebook regarding Syrian refugees.  They are running from precisely the thing we're afraid of.

Offline scottws

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 6,598
    • Facebook Me
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #8 on: Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 08:37:36 AM »

Offline Cobra951

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8,934
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #9 on: Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 09:56:05 AM »
I certainly don't think we can't do anything. I just don't know what we do. Military action doesn't seem to have done anything at all.

That was the point of my first post.  We have not taken any military action.  Calling what we're doing under the circumstances "military action" is like calling a man pushing a semi truck with his shoulder "towing".

I hate these fucking arguments.  That's why I never create threads about infuriating shit like the global jihad.  But I can't stay out of them when someone else does.  I have this overwhelming urge to vent about it.  That's my own weakness, I guess.  It would be best if I did just put it all out of my mind, if only I could.

Scott, I completely agree.  To me what they're doing is deflecting blame to cover up for doing nothing where it counts.  It's similar to gun control.  Don't ever blame the shooter.  Don't ever blame the failure to protect unarmed civilians.  Don't ever blame the failure to act decisively when essential.  Blame the guns.  Blame encryption.

Offline Pugnate

  • What? You no like?
  • Global Moderator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 12,185
    • OW
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #10 on: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 07:53:45 AM »
(Edit: Scottws, I loved your posts).

It's a geopolitical issue.

Let's be honest. Had George Bush not invaded Iraq after 9/11, ISIS would not exist. His actions sold under lies resulted in the creation of those barbarians. ISIS was the result of military action, wasn't it?

But now military action is needed to contain ISIS. The problem is that ISIS is not just a terrorist organization. It is basically a country with millions of dollars generated every day through its oil resources.

United States shaking hands with dictators has created these issues as well. Bin Laden was trained by the USA to fight Russia. Taliban was empowered by the CIA to fight Russia. Google Reagen and Mujahideen in the White House. You'll see how they were invited and met him there.

I do feel terrible for the refugees. Poor babies dying on the sea to escape these monsters.

FYI, most of the French attackers were French and Belgium nationals. The United States has personally said that the one found with a refugee passport was probably carrying fake ID.

Cobra, I support military action, but should the US not prosecute G.Bush and Cheney?

The problem is military action wasn't a good idea then. Now that it is a good idea, probably because of what happened in Iraq, it won't take place now.

Offline Pugnate

  • What? You no like?
  • Global Moderator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 12,185
    • OW
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #11 on: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 08:01:00 AM »
We're not fighting a war.  We're having war waged on us, and then covering ourselves against the attacks as best as we can.  When we decide to actually go on the military offensive against Islamic fascism, we'll see how ineffective it remains.  We have a strong opportunity here, one I fear will be wasted, like so many others.  The Russians could not be more ripe for an alliance, since the loss of their civilian airliner.  The French have now tasted the new normal.  The wake-up calls keep going out like old bell-topped alarm clocks.  And we keep hitting the snooze button.

Our illustrious president called these combatants "criminals" to be brought to justice.  It's the wrong paradigm entirely, one that smacks of burying our heads in the sand.  World War 3 by other means will continue unabated, whether we choose to fight it, or hide from it until it marches ashore.

I know you are angry, but the idea that USA and Russia will join hands to stop ISIS is not realistic, sadly. The idea that the world super powers are also blameless is also simplistic.

Please watch this vid:

Why won't anyone stop the war in Syria? Maybe because everyone is involved and supplying different regimes.




Offline Pugnate

  • What? You no like?
  • Global Moderator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 12,185
    • OW
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #12 on: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 10:09:54 AM »
Want to stop terrorism? Why not say something to your besties? Check this report on Saudis:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/dec/05/wikileaks-cables-saudi-terrorist-funding?CMP=share_btn_fb

I am sorry, but the Western nations have a part to play.

Offline scottws

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 6,598
    • Facebook Me
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #13 on: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 12:53:43 PM »
I think the invasion of Iraq was just war profiteering.  Both Bush and Cheney made huge sums of money from companies they owned that were either directly contracted by the government (e.g. Blackwater) or simply benefited from the war situation.

Offline Cobra951

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8,934
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #14 on: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 01:08:55 PM »
Want to stop terrorism? Why not say something to your besties? Check this report on Saudis:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/dec/05/wikileaks-cables-saudi-terrorist-funding?CMP=share_btn_fb

I am sorry, but the Western nations have a part to play.

Pug, no one has a part in the blame for the purposeful slaughter of innocents other than the animals doing the slaughtering.

Iraq was a huge mistake.  I said so at the time.  I could not figure out why we would create a power vacuum in a place in that region dominated by a secular strongman.  Hussein had no problem exterminating extremist idiots, by the millions if necessary.  Why the hell would we want him out, and then leave the place in ruins, ripe for the taking by the real forces of darkness.  Bush 43 is at best an idiot--an admitted "C student" and proud of it.  Bush 43 is most certainly the worst president in my lifetime, though Obama's weakness at a time of war has him in close contention.

After that huge error, do we repeat it by taking out Assad?  I don't think so.  I sure hope not anyway.

Yes, Pug--Bush Jr and Cheney should be put to the rack, burned at the stake and beheaded.  [Edit:  That's a Bugs Bunny reference--a joke--for any uninvited watchdogs out there.]

Edit:  When France gets it and we don't, you get an idea how far we have our heads up our asses.

Offline Pugnate

  • What? You no like?
  • Global Moderator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 12,185
    • OW
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #15 on: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 01:51:49 PM »
Quote
think the invasion of Iraq was just war profiteering.  Both Bush and Cheney made huge sums of money from companies they owned that were either directly contracted by the government (e.g. Blackwater) or simply benefited from the war situation.

To me, it was daddy issues, pure and simple. Bush grew up with a massive inferiority complex and he wanted to do something daddy couldn't.

It is funny how ISIS are almost like Bane's version of LoS from TDKR. If you remember, Bane was said to have been ex communicated, because he was even too much for the LoS.

ISIS is so bloody brutal, even the Taliban and Al Qaeda have condemned them. ISIS was a branch of Al Qaeda until Al Qaeda said.. uh fuck these guys.

Quote
Pug, no one has a part in the blame for the purposeful slaughter of innocents other than the animals doing the slaughtering.

If god forbid someone hurts my family, I will primarily blame the man who did so, but I will also examine what created such a heinous human being.

Yes, ISIS are to blame and must be destroyed, but unless the geopolitical game is changed, there will be another ISIS and another Taliban. So yes, that's where real change can begin.

It isn't about Islam vs the rest of the world. This is coming from an agnostic who doesn't believe in Allah. Muslims are still killed more by other Muslims. And Christians are still killed more by other Christians.

Here are some facts:

1. Saudi Arabia spreads a corrupt and cruel version of Islam called Wahabism. Saudi Arabia sent suitcases of cash to Pakistan in the 90s to build madrassas to spread this nutty version of faith. As you can see from the wiki leaks cables, Saudi Arabia's actions are not a secret. The United States and other Western powers know. Yet this regime continues. Saudi Arabia is a major player in the creation of ISIS doctrine.

Why are considered allies? Did you know they were given a vital post on the UN security council? What a joke.

2. Israel has shrunk Palestine into a small piece of land. The Palestinians are suffering from genocide. Every day Palestinians are shot and murdered. Now, I am not taking this stance as a former Muslim. In the United Kingdom, universities have decided to boycott this nation. EU has passed a law that requires goods made in Israel be labeled 'occupied Palestine' or to some effect.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/27/uk-academics-boycott-universities-in-israel-to-fight-for-palestinians-rights

And then there is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Growing very powerful. Those part of this aren't just Muslims.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boycott,_Divestment_and_Sanctions

The world has started to realize Israel is doing to Palestine what Hitler did to them. Do you know 70% of progressive American voters between the age of 18-40 are pro Palestine?

So while non-Muslims are convinced of Israel's horrific actions, world governments officially take no action. It is just like Saudi Arabia. Another brutal government considered an ally even though it is committing atrocities.

So the point I am making here is that the Palestine issue is used to radicalize young Muslims. It is used to convince them the West is evil.

3. Why doesn't ISIS attack Israel? So look, any extreme Muslim will believe that all Jews are evil, which is stupid, of course. But why hasn't ISIS attacked Israel? What's going on here? Isn't this the least bit curious?

4. Saudi Arabia, a hardcore Islamic state, says it will side with Israel if there is a war. How does this make any sense? It just doesn't add up.

http://www.awdnews.com/top-news/saudi-prince-al-waleed-bin-talal-in-case-of-outbreak-of-palestinian-uprising-i-ll-side-with-israel,-saudi-arabia-has-reached-a-political-maturity-to-constitute-a-durable-alliance-with-the-jewish-nation-to-lay-the-ground-for-a-peaceful-and-prosperous-middl

5. The corruption of the Gulf States. The worst are the Gulf States. Rich beyond imagination, yet they don't give a fuck. They have done very little to help the poor refugees.

So to me, it's a combination of factors. Yes, blame the guy pulling the trigger, but there needs to a long term shift to ensure they aren't born again.

Offline Pugnate

  • What? You no like?
  • Global Moderator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 12,185
    • OW
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #16 on: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 01:56:09 PM »
Quote
After that huge error, do we repeat it by taking out Assad?  I don't think so.  I sure hope not anyway.

If you hit Assad, ISIS will probably win. If you hit ISIS, Assad can still be kept in check through the rebel forces. All three are dirty as hell but the rebels probably the cleanest.

Russia is already bombing the shit out of ISIS so I don't know what France is on about. Though there are reports they are actually going after the rebels as well.

The bigger game is Assad. Russia backs him. The United States backs the rebels.

I am with the US on this. Assad is a psychopath.

Offline Pugnate

  • What? You no like?
  • Global Moderator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 12,185
    • OW
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #17 on: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 01:57:47 PM »
Republicans can learn something from France. They have made a stronger commitment to help refugees after the attacks.

http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/11/18/3723440/france-refugees/

Offline scottws

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 6,598
    • Facebook Me
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #18 on: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 02:46:13 PM »
I found an interesting post in the comments on an Ars Technica article about this subject.  I thought I would leave it here.

Quote from: SunnyD
If a terrorist takes my life while I'm defending my rights to life and more importantly liberty... then I've done my job as a US citizen.

If the terrorist takes away my liberty while only leaving me with my life, then the terrorist has won.

Also, here's an excellent article from Glenn Greenwald about blaming Snowden for terrorists using encryption to thwart intelligence efforts.

Offline Pugnate

  • What? You no like?
  • Global Moderator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 12,185
    • OW
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #19 on: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 10:54:14 PM »
Nice share Scottws. I will post it on my Facebook too.

https://theintercept.com/2015/11/15/exploiting-emotions-about-paris-to-blame-snowden-distract-from-actual-culprits-who-empowered-isis/

Cobra, one last thing. When we have discussions like this, sometimes you post pics/vids of 9/11 to drive a point. Well, I'd like to ask you something. Obviously, the culprits behind 9/11 were Al-Qaeda. Yes, they are completely to blame for 9/11 and should go to hell. But how can anyone justify Obama/Petraeus now arming the SAME group who conducted 9/11?

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/09/26/us-backed-rebels-give-arms-al-qaeda-group/72831840/

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/02/david-petraeus-bright-idea-give-terrorists-weapons-to-beat-isis

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/08/31/petraeus-use-al-qaeda-fighters-to-beat-isis.html

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/20/kuhner-how-obama-arms-al-qaeda/

OK, arming a weaker opposition weakens everyone... but still... the men behind 9/11?



Offline Cobra951

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8,934
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #20 on: Thursday, November 19, 2015, 08:01:06 AM »
You don't need to fuel my disdain for Obama.  Trading 5 captured Taliban for this asshole completely cured me of any notion that he belongs in office.  "Treason" is not too harsh a word for what he did there, I don't think.  While I don't know if he's really arming some enemies to fight other enemies, it wouldn't surprise me after that.  We've done other stupid things in the past, like the whole arms-for-contras black op financed in part with drug money.  None of it changes the need to exterminate our declared mortal enemies.

Quote
Critics of the exchange that freed the five Taliban officials in exchange for Bergdahl fear that the former Guantanamo detainees will return to hostilities.

No shit.


Edit:  It gets back to weakness, doesn't it?  Like the Biblical figure who was willing to trade his daughter's virginity for being left in peace, Obama keeps pushing away the dirty work he needs to do himself.  He'd rather free 5 hardened, dangerous enemies than face the political flack of one American deserter's face surrounded by shrouded captors on the evening news.  Why wouldn't he arm the wrong people and hope they free him from his most difficult responsibilities?

Offline Pugnate

  • What? You no like?
  • Global Moderator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 12,185
    • OW
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #21 on: Thursday, November 19, 2015, 08:47:10 AM »
To sum it up for eight years the most powerful nation in the world was led by Bush, a man you agree should be tried for war crimes, and the eight years after that by a man arming Al Qaeda. That's 16 years.

So is ISIS fucked up? Yes. But the rest of the world had a part to play. It's a depressing setting gents.

I do like Obama. I think he had a lot of shit to clean up and was held back at every turn by Republicans.

I also can't believe Bernie will win but he could make America great again.
« Last Edit: Thursday, November 19, 2015, 10:41:25 PM by Pugnate »

Offline Cobra951

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8,934
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #22 on: Thursday, November 19, 2015, 06:30:15 PM »
War crimes?  When did I give you the impression that I think Bush is a war criminal?  I said he's an idiot (emphasis deserved).  But he's our idiot.  It's not up to anyone else in the world to try him for anything.

I think we need a Harry Truman or a Winston Churchill, while you want to see Bernie in office and you like terrorist-appeaser Obama.  I guess that sums up how far apart we are about what needs to happen next.

Are you seriously putting the evil incarnate that is ISIS anywhere near the same moral plateau as the USA or its allies?  I have to tell that would remove all possibility of you and I ever having a meaningful political dialogue.

Offline Pugnate

  • What? You no like?
  • Global Moderator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 12,185
    • OW
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #23 on: Thursday, November 19, 2015, 10:37:07 PM »
No I'm not. Obviously ISIS is a bigger breed of evil. But if you don't want to continue the political discourse I feel it will be for other reasons.

Offline Pugnate

  • What? You no like?
  • Global Moderator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 12,185
    • OW
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #24 on: Thursday, November 19, 2015, 10:40:44 PM »
As for war crimes. He led the USA to an illegal war over fake evidence. How is that *not* a war crime? I hope you aren't letting nationalism could your judgment. Here, read this about Bush's buddy.

 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-tony-blair-could-face-war-crimes-trial-over-illegal-iraq-invasion-10439020.html

Offline scottws

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 6,598
    • Facebook Me
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #25 on: Friday, November 20, 2015, 08:14:25 AM »
The head of the FBI just said that there is no credible threat to the U.S. in the wake of the France attack. Why do we want to get involved again? Why do we constantly have to go rampaging with our war machine across the globe?

Offline Quemaqua

  • 古い塩
  • Administrator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 16,464
  • パンダは触るな。
    • Bookruptcy
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #26 on: Friday, November 20, 2015, 11:20:17 AM »
1. Money
2. Power

天才的な閃きと平均以下のテクニックやな。 課長有野

Offline Pugnate

  • What? You no like?
  • Global Moderator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 12,185
    • OW
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #27 on: Friday, November 20, 2015, 01:40:23 PM »
SOMEBODY HAS TO TAKE OUT THE BAD GUYS.

DO IT!

Offline scottws

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 6,598
    • Facebook Me
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #28 on: Friday, February 19, 2016, 06:52:13 AM »
No doubt you've heard about the big battle Apple, and to an extent the rest of Silicon Valley, has been recently waging over a federal U.S. judge leveraging the All Writs Act in order to force Apple to help hack into one of the San Bernardino shooter's iPhones.  I'm staunchly on the side of Apple here.  I personally see it as another thinly veiled U.S. government attack on strong encryption, another angle they can take, another tragedy they can try to use to manipulate the public.

My girlfriend and most of her family are staunchly Republican.  Whatever, it makes for some interesting conversation between us most of the time.  But her brother, like me, frequently posts political stuff on Facebook.  Most of the time I just ignore it, but yesterday he linked to an article about the Apple/government thing.  The article was mostly factual with a slight lean towards the government's position, but I was more interested in the responses.  I figured it was a good way to get out of my leftist bubble and see what the other side thinks about it.

It was terrifying.

The comments I read (there were over 700) were almost entirely people that can't see the forest through the trees.  There were comments like "These people lost their right to privacy once they pulled the trigger!" and "Apple should help so we can stamp out these terrorists!".  Do these people really not see that our government is waging a war against its own people?  It desperately wants to spy on us and is trying anything it can to force Silicon Valley to allow it to listen in on the parts that it can't.

I have no problem with the concept of search and seizure.  But the 4th Amendment to our Constitution gives me a right against unreasonable search and seizure and the U.S. government has already been exposed as completely trampling over that right.  It has been, and continues to spy on me.  I haven't done anything.  I'm not plotting anything.  Why is it trying to spy on me?  I'm sorry, but it has completely lost my trust and I use encryption whenever practical.

I spoke to my girlfriend about this case, and she was actually really interested to hear what I had to say about it.  She was on the opposite side of me, and she said several things I found alarming.  She said, "I don't have anything to hide, so who cares if they spy if it makes us safe?" and "They need to be able to get in so we can be secure."  I gave my classic counter arguments:

You can never be 100% secure and all of the government's efforts to get there make it ever more tyrannical.  More  security by the government is a slippery slope, because each step is far more tyrannical than the last while only making us marginally more secure (if even having any effect at all).  At some point you have a completely fascist, oppressive police state and you still aren't 100% secure.  In fact, in some ways you are less safe because you'll start having little pockets of uprising and corresponding shows of force by the state.  Is that what you really want?  If not, where do you draw the line?  It has to be drawn somewhere.  I argue that we've already crossed it when the PATRIOT Act was passed.

Additionally, you may not care that much if the government spies on you, because you're a proper law-abiding citizen that doesn't feel like you have anything really important to hide from them.  Okay, great.  But how dare you be a proponent for a position that tramples on my rights.  Do you not realize that your choice affects me too?  Shouldn't the government just assume the base state is one of a law-abiding citizen and punish the ones that aren't when they find them?  Why do they have to pry into everything I do in order to make sure?  What's the next step?  Cerebral implants that look at thought patterns?  You know, just to make sure.  We've got to stop paedophiles and terrorists after all, and have to make sure you aren't one.  It has to stop.

In the end, I just want liberty.  I accept that at any day some homicidal maniac might kill me.  I might also get struck by lightning, hit by a drunk driver, hit by a falling crane, impaled by debris from a tornado, or even get pancreatic cancer.  There are any number of ways I could die prematurely.  But I'm not going to live my life being a xenophobe terrified every day that something is going to happen to me.  I'm going to live my life without regard for those thoughts and just hope everything goes okay.  What else can you do?  Even if the government breaks encryption, I'm not really any safer than I was the day before.

Offline idolminds

  • ZOMG!
  • Administrator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 11,880
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #29 on: Friday, February 19, 2016, 09:08:37 AM »
My dad listens to political talk radio (oh boy) and they always seem to be pushing the idea that the government can't do anything right and should not be trusted. So then why would they want them to have unhindered access to peoples cell phones or other encrypted data? I think there is this kind of self-centered mentality at play where it only really matters if it affects you directly. Who cares if they are looking at THAT guys phone? He was a bad person so it's ok, and I have nothing to hide. Why do we have all these government programs that I'll never use? Get rid of them! I pay taxes, so lower is always better!

At least in my dads case he realizes this encryption thing is really bad. Slipping backdoors into encryption is a terrible idea.

Offline Cobra951

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8,934
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #30 on: Friday, February 19, 2016, 09:33:53 AM »
I think we all understand that strong encryption is something that can't be prevented anyway.  It's not difficult to design and code for a qualified pro.  If the government gets a backdoor into existing encryption, our truly dangerous enemies will just switch over to something out of our government's reach.  That would leave average Americans no more secure, and with unsecured personal communications, while accomplishing nothing against the well-funded enemies of Western civilization.  It's stupid, but as with videogames in the context of school shootings, it makes an easy target for self-serving politicians.  Since they're impotent to address the real causes of the major problems, they turn to a scapegoat they can shame or shackle.

I haven't read about this decryption effort into the San Bernardino Islamic-State attack.  But if it only applies to an after-the-fact hack into a single enemy's phone, I have no problems with it.  It's legitimate intelligence.  The harm would come if that served as a springboard into more general hacking, and weakening of our privacy protections.

Offline PyroMenace

  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3,929
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #31 on: Friday, February 19, 2016, 12:17:37 PM »

Offline Cobra951

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8,934
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #32 on: Friday, February 19, 2016, 12:54:58 PM »
Sneakers!  I liked that movie back in its day.  Still an impossible premise.

Offline scottws

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 6,598
    • Facebook Me
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #33 on: Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 10:02:59 AM »
I posted this on Facebook today.  I thought I'd post it here as well:

Quote from: scottws
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” –Benjamin Franklin, 1755
 
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/02/snowden-lawyer-bill-of-rights-was-meant-to-make-governments-job-more-difficult/1/

The linked article is an interesting interview with an ACLU lawyer that works with Edward Snowden.  Regardless of what you think about the ACLU or Edward Snowden, I think it’s essential reading.  It discusses current topics such as the Apple phone involved in the San Bernardino attack as well as encryption.

We are at a point in history where the capabilities of technology have enabled us to do all sorts of things with relative ease that used to be very hard or impossible.  Some of these things are good, like the ability to send a document to someone across the world in less than a second.  Some of them are bad, like law enforcement being able to instantly look up your entire call history.

I understand peoples’ desire to not have to worry about things like terrorism and like the idea of a government that is able to protect them from it.  But have you really taken the time to think about what capabilities such a government must have in order to accomplish that?  How would the government ever be able to truly offer you 100% safety from murder and your kids 100% safety from creeps?

As nice as the idea of perfect security seems on its surface, it’s not really possible.  The closest we could get would be to give the government and law enforcement capabilities like we see in the movie “Minority Report” or the book “1984”.  In both of those stories, the government essentially has access to everyone’s thoughts.  Even if they had such capabilities, would they actually be able to stop bad actors in time, every single time?  Regardless, is that the type of world in which you would like to live?  Forget whether or not perfect security is possible… is it even desirable?

The laws today are far behind the technology available.  As always, we have the opportunity to advise our representatives in government of the type of regulation we would like them to enact, if any.  I urge everyone to take the time to think about where we, as a country, as a society really want to go.  Okay, so we let the government force Apple to break into the San Bernardino phone this time.  What happens next?  What will the government use the precedent set to try to do in the future?  At what point do we decide that they’ve gone far enough and draw a line in the sand?

It’s not always easy to see each time the government grabs for power because it happens in such small increments.  First it was the PATRIOT act, then it was a court decision to allow police to perform surveillance of a private residence via camera mounted on a utility pole, then it was the NSA using authority it assumed it had been given via the PATRIOT Act (which its author says it never had in mind, by the way) to suck up essentially all telephone, email, chat, and other forms of communication, and now it’s the FBI trying to break into an iPhone.  Each time it was a case where it looked like giving the government the ability to do those things was for a good reason.  They were done to stop or investigate bad guys, right?  But the 4th Amendment to our Constitution is supposed to specifically limit our government from investigating us before we’d even done anything wrong.  Why do we keep allowing our government to collect information about us just in case we do something wrong?

The framers of the U.S. Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights understood what government was capable of and drafted the documents in such a way as to limit and check the government’s power over its people.  Various laws and court decisions since then have vastly increased the power and opacity of the government.  I contend that we need to stop giving them more power every time they ask for it or try to take it for themselves.  To do that, we need to stop looking at individual cases as being limited to each individual case and rather look at them collectively as the slippery slope that they are.

My Facebook friends are probably starting to hate me for this kind of thing, but I'm getting incredibly frustrated by what I perceive as short-sightedness by people who seem to really not be able to see the big picture.

Edit: I found a really, really good quote (from Scalia no less) that really sums up the matter nicely:

Quote from: Antonin Scalia
There is nothing new in the realization that the Constitution sometimes insulates the criminality of a few in order to protect the privacy of us all.
« Last Edit: Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 10:57:46 AM by scottws »

Offline Quemaqua

  • 古い塩
  • Administrator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 16,464
  • パンダは触るな。
    • Bookruptcy
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #34 on: Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 01:58:36 PM »
Nicely said. Yes, too many people are willing to just roll over because you attach the word "criminal" or "justice" to a plea for violating what should be a sacrosanct baseline of personal privacy.

天才的な閃きと平均以下のテクニックやな。 課長有野

Offline Cobra951

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8,934
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #35 on: Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 02:00:14 PM »
I fully agree with all of those principles.  (Scalia is also the architect of granting corporations free-speech rights, which in turn allows them to buy reelections for staunch conservatives, which in turn means more power for corporations and less individual liberty.  So his quote is a bit ironic.   But this is another conversation.)  This case, though, is not really about those.  What the government are trying to do (strictly in the case of the San Bernardino attacker's phone) is no different from trying to get at evidence in a case and leads into further criminals by breaking into a safe.  Blowing up the safe door might destroy the evidence, so it would be better if the company that made the safe were persuaded to help breach it more sedately.  Now, if the government then demanded that the safe company provide them with a global combination for all new safes produced, then they'd be trampling our liberties, and would need to be stopped.

Offline scottws

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 6,598
    • Facebook Me
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #36 on: Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 03:27:37 PM »
Cyrus Vance, the New York County DA, basically already said he has hundreds of phones piled up that he'll be calling Apple about pending the outcome of this case.  It isn't about the one phone.  It's about the precedent.

There are a lot of risks in letting the government collect even more power because it's really hard to take that power away once they have it.  I'm growing weary of the "But terrorism!" and "But think of the children!" fear-mongering in order to get tyrannical laws passed.  Stopping terrorism and child exploitation are noble goals, but like I said they aren't possible to stop.

Does that mean we shouldn't try to limit instances of them?  Of course not.  But think of it like gaming.  We saw huge leaps in graphics technology from the 70's through the 90's but then we started seeing smaller and smaller gains.  Each new console generation does indeed provide better looking games, but nothing like the huge leaps we used to see.  Similarly, for each new liberty the government takes away, there are smaller and smaller gains in extra security.  Even with the ability to read minds, there are going to be cases where they can't get to someone who intends to commit murder when they do it in a sudden fit of rage in reaction to some event.  And that's if they can read minds!  An incredibly invasive measure!  And I just thought of a solution to not getting there in time: the device that reads minds also explodes and can be detonated remotely.  So I take it back.  If we can implant a device in everyone that allows their thoughts to be read and then detonate the device if they are going to do something bad, then we can have a perfectly secure society free from violent crime.  But who wants to live in such a world?

Where do you draw the line?  You have to somewhere, because each move that's made is a small but incremental step towards something like mind reading and detonation.  Sure, it looks crazy from where we stand now, but how crazy does it look like in a society where many of the intermediate steps have already been taken and it's only the next one?

Going back to the iPhone, it's also a good lesson that encryption is only as strong as its key.  If you are using a 4 - 6 digit PIN, that's not strong enough against a brute force attack where an adversary gets rapid, unlimited guesses and there aren't that many possible combinations in the first place (10,000 - 1,000,000).  If the San Bernardino phone has a strong passphrase, the FBI won't get in any time soon even if Apple does modify the firmware as ordered.

Totally agree about Scalia though.  Weirdly, he was often on the side of liberty at the expense of law enforcement capability but was also instrumental in some pretty bad decisions like Citizen United.  Citizens United made an already bad problem significantly worse.
« Last Edit: Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 03:49:57 PM by scottws »

Offline Cobra951

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8,934
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #37 on: Thursday, February 25, 2016, 07:50:22 AM »
Well, you're going pretty far afield there.  Devices implanted in our heads to read our thoughts?  George Orwell would be shocked.

Even with thousands of phones, if there's an individual warrant on each one, I don't have a problem with it.  (Not that I think it's fair to Apple or any private entity to be conscripted into government service.  That's another issue.)  I would be opposed to a blanket permission to break into them without any due process.  Police already break down all the doors they're authorized to break down on raids and manhunts.  Those require individual warrants--else they're illegal, and honest courts won't allow anything gathered during them to stick.  This is just the same principle applied to a new age.  Or it should be.  As I've said repeatedly, if it goes beyond that, it can't be allowed to stand.  I'm completely with you on that score.

Offline scottws

  • Gold Member
  • *
  • Posts: 6,598
    • Facebook Me
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #38 on: Thursday, February 25, 2016, 10:53:59 AM »
Well, you're going pretty far afield there.  Devices implanted in our heads to read our thoughts?  George Orwell would be shocked.
I made this point on purpose.  Our government is constantly asking for more power "because terrorism" and a lot of people eat it up.  "Sure, we need to give you a little extra capability so you can stop these bad terrorists!"  And then when another terrorist attack happens (because perfect security is impossible), the cycle repeats.

We don't go from honky dory happy democratic freedom land to dystopian police state in one fell swoop.  It happens in baby steps.

So sure, the leap to the current level of government surveillance to mind reading is a huge one today.  It seems looney to even suggest it, I'll admit.  But would it really seem that huge a leap after 100 or 1000 of those baby steps have happened and the technology is available and the government is asking for it "because terrorism"?

The point is that granting the government more and more ability to surveil us (or letting them try to do it on their own illegally) is a very slippery slope.  If we don't start accepting that we'll never be perfectly safe and tolerate some criminals getting away with their crime, everyone is going to wake up one day and finally see situation they've put themselves in only it will be too late to really do anything about it.  It's pretty tough to revolt against a government that is tapped into all communications.

I'm not suggesting that a revolt should happen or anything like that, just saying that I think we are absolutely headed towards a dystopian police state sort of future with the way things have been going in the last 20 years.  We aren't powerless to stop it today, but we most certainly could be in the future.  The founding fathers would be ashamed about what the government has done to limit and intrude upon civil liberties already.  Then again, they didn't allow women to vote and considered black people to be fractions of a person.

Even with thousands of phones, if there's an individual warrant on each one, I don't have a problem with it.  (Not that I think it's fair to Apple or any private entity to be conscripted into government service.  That's another issue.)  I would be opposed to a blanket permission to break into them without any due process.  Police already break down all the doors they're authorized to break down on raids and manhunts.  Those require individual warrants--else they're illegal, and honest courts won't allow anything gathered during them to stick.  This is just the same principle applied to a new age.  Or it should be.  As I've said repeatedly, if it goes beyond that, it can't be allowed to stand.  I'm completely with you on that score.
This question of encryption is a very thorny one. There is no analogue to encryption in the physical world, no box that is truly impregnable that something can be hidden in.  That would suggest that there should be some sort of way for law enforcement to break encryption given probable cause and a warrant.  So the question becomes what to do about it.

There are some options available today:
  • Mandate some sort of encryption back door.
  • Mandate only very weak encryption.
  • Ban encryption outright.
  • Accept that unbreakable encryption exists and do nothing.

There are many, significant problems with the first three.  First of all, anything the U.S. mandates only applies to the U.S.  "Oh, so products in the U.S. have no/broken/weak encryption?  I'll just acquire a German or Swiss product that doesn't have these constraints."  In both cases, not only has the government not really solved the problem (getting access to encryption), but they have just caused huge damage to the U.S. technology sector and U.S. economy in terms of global business.

Secondly, strong, basically unbreakable encryption is already available and in most cases it is open source.  Encryption is just math.  There is no way to put that cat in the bag.  Even if strong encryption is illegal in the U.S., is that really going to stop criminals from using it?  Heroin is illegal.  It's illegal to own a gun with out a permit.  It's illegal to drive without a valid license.  But criminals do this stuff all the time.  The sheer fact that something is illegal does not mean it is not available and that criminals will not use it or do it.

Just like there is no analogue of encryption in the physical world, there's not really a good analogue of a warrant to search a physical place or object in the digital world.  This is because everything is globally connected.  Items in the physical world require physical proximity to search.  You can't be a world away and access a house, for instance.  In the digital world, virtually everything is connected to the Internet in some way and, as such, is mere milliseconds away from anyone.

That's exactly why strong encryption is so important.  Though criminals seem to have the upper hand today due to all the security vulnerabilities in systems, we really want strong encryption to protect our personal information so that criminals can't use it for their own gain and to our detriment.  If we put backdoors in encryption, whether that be a master dual signing key that is stored in some system controlled by the government or just a general hardcoded backdoor, those things will stay secret for only a limited amount of time and once the criminals get their hands on them it is game over.  It'd be like having no encryption at all.

If we take steps to weaken or break encryption so that law enforcement can get in with a valid warrant, what do we accomplish in the long run?  Sure, law enforcement will be able to get into the encryption used by idiot criminals and people that do something illegal spontaneously.  But the truly scary criminals?  Crime syndicates, nation states, organized terrorist groups, and extreme deviants will just continue using strong encryption while the average people are the ones left using the broken encryption.

So if the government's goal is truly stopping terrorism or pedophiles, weakening encryption probably isn't the way to go about about it.  The only things they'll accomplish is making average people more vulnerable to criminals and damaging our economy.  I have to be frank here.  I think there are plenty of smart people in government that know that already.  I think that their goal isn't stopping terrorists and pedophiles at all.  I think the goal is to enable pervasive surveillance of the American populace.  I truly do.

I think the last option, just accepting that strong encryption is a thing that is here to stay, is the best choice out of a list of bad choices.  Sure, there will be times law enforcement won't be able to collect the evidence they need to put away some criminals.  There will be times when intelligence about a network of terrorist cells isn't collected.  But, like late Justice Scalia said, "the Constitution sometimes insulates the criminality of a few in order to protect the privacy of us all".

Getting back to the current case about the iPhone, it isn't really an instance of the government weakening encryption, so my wall of text above doesn't really apply in that specific case.  But it is another example of the government extending its power.  It's trying to conscript Apple into its service.  We need to start saying more than, "No thanks".  We need to start saying "Hell no! Don't tread on me, motherfuckers!"

Offline Quemaqua

  • 古い塩
  • Administrator
  • Forum god
  • *
  • Posts: 16,464
  • パンダは触るな。
    • Bookruptcy
Re: France, surveillance, and the war on terror
« Reply #39 on: Thursday, February 25, 2016, 11:39:01 AM »
I'll just quickly add that in many areas of law enforcement, warrants are stupidly easy to get. They offer very little protection.

天才的な閃きと平均以下のテクニックやな。 課長有野