Trump’s Open Door Policy…

Let anyone who wants waltz right into US cyberspace:

The White House eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator on the National Security Council on Tuesday, doing away with a post central to developing policy to defend against increasingly sophisticated digital attacks and the use of offensive cyber weapons.

A memorandum circulated by an aide to the new national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said the post was no longer considered necessary because lower-level officials had already made cybersecurity issues a “core function” of the president’s national security team.

If that seems suspiciously moronic to you too, well…y’all are not alone:

Cybersecurity experts and members of Congress said they were mystified by the move, though some suggested Mr. Bolton did not want any competitive power centers emerging inside the national security apparatus.

Bureaucratic politics and ongoing White House obedience to home office demands from the banks of the Moskva River trump US security once again. To continue:

President Trump began his administration with two respected veterans of cyber policy. He appointed Thomas P. Bossert, a lawyer in the administration of President George W. Bush, as the homeland security adviser.

The cybersecurity coordinator who reported to him, Rob Joyce, had run the Tailored Access Operations unit of the N.S.A. — the unit that, until it was reorganized and renamed, was responsible for breaking into foreign computer systems as part of United States covert operations.

Mr. Bossert was forced out on Mr. Bolton’s second day on the job, and Mr. Joyce returned to the N.S.A. on Friday. [links in the original]

This, from the same New York Times article quoted above, seems to me not MSM cluelessness but elegantly thrown shade:

It is unclear how those issues will now be managed in the White House. Mr. Bolton has virtually no cyber-related experience.

Though I am not a lawyer, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that inexperience — not to say stupidity — is no defense against charges of treason or other malfeasance.

This has been another update in the #WASF chronicles.

(Open thread, also too.)

Image: Potter Paulus, The young thief 1649.


World’s Most Obnoxious Couch-Surfer Faces Eviction

Like a too-trusting soul who allowed the town wastrel to spend the night in the spare room, only to wake up to an empty fridge, raided liquor cabinet, mysteriously stained sofa, cigarette holes in the carpet, pile of dirty dishes in the sink and hacked bank account, Ecuador has been had.

The Guardian reports that Ecuador spent millions on round-the-clock security for Julian Assange, fretted over how to burnish his image (less rapey? fewer fascists?) and concocted plans to spirit him to safety if the Brits showed up at the door to haul him off to the hoosegow for jumping bail.

And how did the pallid creeper repay Ecuador? By hacking into the embassy’s communication system and accessing official and personal communications, plus pirating Ecuador’s internet on the sly.

Well, Ecuador isn’t the only one who was taken in by Assange. The impulse to stand up for the underdog is admirable, but potential saviors should ensure they’re not caping for rapey sleazebags who pal around with white nationalists and authoritarian kleptocrats while conspiring to overthrow democracies on the side.

Lesson now thoroughly learned, the new president of Ecuador is said to be keen to evict the squatter — ironically, to curry favor with the US. Assange’s erstwhile protector, former Ecuador President Rafael Correa, says Assange’s days of mooching off Ecuador are “numbered.” May he get exactly what he deserves.

NRA Open Thread: Is It Worse to Be A Blood-Hungry True Believer, or Just A Grifter Riling Up the True Believers for the Money?

Much applause from the fellow-grifter seats (remember Erickson’s ‘send Olympia Snowe bags of rock salt, but do it through my Amazon link cuz I need the commission’ days of yore?)…

Turns out, her boss had already shown her the way…

Late Night Open Thread: Don’t Get Our Hopes Up

Excellent link:

Mr. President, our plea to you is simple: Do NOT do this. We absolutely do not want you to pull ICE out of California, where the agency recently arrested more than 100 immigrants. It would totally embarrass us, and make you more popular and beloved among the millions of Real Americans who hate us and love you, if you did this. We love ICE and think it is good, even though we pretend to hate it (fake news).

I think I’ve talked to, if not 100% of the members of the liberal media, at least 97% of them by now, and we’re all in agreement: This would suck really hard… We would be forced to take to Twitter and plead with you, your supporters and your allies in the media, probably by posting thoroughly embarrassing crying selfies of ourselves—bring back ICE, Mr. Strong President, we’d plead…

Russiagate Open Thread: Into the Wayback Machine…



Yeah, but at least the Democrats aren’t actively abetting our foreign enemies…

Cleanup on Aisle 1600

Shortly after 7:30 AM ET today, Trump tweeted the following:

As he frequently does, Trump was live-tweeting Fox & Friends, the show featuring the three sofa squatters who have a symbiotic relationship with the White House, wherein the program runs pro-Trump propaganda every morning in exchange for Trump serving as their social media director.

But adult daycare supervisor John Kelly may have to alter the terms of that agreement. The F&F story caused Trump to target a surveillance policy the Trump admin and GOP support. Kelly must’ve received the cleanup notice fairly quickly, because a couple of hours later, Trump walked it back with a self-congratulatory flourish:

Fox News is the Trump state propaganda channel. But like most Trump-branded endeavors, it is staffed by low-quality people and is wildly dysfunctional.

If I were Putin or another evil oligarch who wants to control U.S. policy, I’d find three operatives who resemble the F&F sofa squatters (they’re as interchangeable as light bulbs, so that shouldn’t be difficult), recreate the set and beam a fake F&F show into the White House each morning. It would be a simple matter to lace the program with flowery tributes to Trump and bait it with favored policy tidbits.

Not only would this strategy result in getting my preferred policies championed by the nominal POTUS, it would probably generate all sorts of positive press for Trump by people like Maggie Haberman and Dana Bash, who would be bowled over by Trump’s newfound independence. I wonder how long it would take Kelly to figure out what was going on?

Excellent Read: ‘The World’s Biggest Terrorist Has a Pikachu Bedspread’

I’ll probably get clipped for saying this — I may even deserve it! — but after reading Kerry Howley’s NYMag profile, I think Reality Winner and Heather Heyer (killed by a Nazi in Charlottesville) would’ve been friends. “Not every leaker is an ideological combatant like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. Reality Winner may be the unlikeliest of all”:

Reality Winner grew up in a carefully kept manufactured home on the edge of a cattle farm 100 miles north of the Mexican border in a majority-Latino town where her mother, Billie, still lives. From the back porch, a carpet of green meets the horizon, and when a neighbor shoots a gun for target practice, a half-dozen local dogs run under the trailer to hide. Billie worked for Child Protective Services, and in Ricardo, Texas, the steady income made her daughters feel well-off; the fact that they had a dishwasher seemed evidence of elevated social standing. Billie, a chatty redhead with the high-pitched voice of a doll, supported the family while her husband, Ronald, she says, “collected degrees.” It was Ronald who named Reality. The deal had been that Billie got to name their first — Brittany — but their second was his to choose. He noticed, on a T-shirt at their Lamaze class, the words I COACHED A REAL WINNER. He wanted a success story and felt that an aspirational name would increase his chances of producing one. Billie did not object; a deal is a deal.

Ronald was intellectually engaged, though never, during his marriage, employed, and Reality’s parents separated in 1999, when she was 8. Two years later, when the Towers fell, Ronald held long, intense conversations about geopolitics with his daughters. He was careful to distinguish for them the religion of Islam from the ideologies that fueled terrorism. “I learned,” says Reality, “that the fastest route to conflict resolution is understanding.” She credits her father with her interest in Arabic, which she began studying seriously, outside school and of her own accord, at 17. It was this interest in languages that eventually drew her into a security state, unimaginable before 9/11, that she chose to betray. Fifteen years after those first conversations with her father, Reality’s interest in Arabic would be turned against her in a Georgia courtroom, taken as evidence that she sympathized with the nation’s most feared enemies…

No one was surprised when Reality’s sister, Brittany, went on to college, absurd amounts of college, such that she walked out of Michigan State with a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology last year. But Reality had then, and has now, a skepticism of academic degrees, which she recently described to me as “hundred-thousand-dollar pieces of paper that say you’ve never had a job.” (“It’s interesting,” her mother notes, “because of her father?”) She wanted her life to start. She wanted to make the biggest difference she could, as soon as she could. It wasn’t until she was getting on the bus for basic training that she told her mother she’d applied to engineering school at Texas A&M–Kingsville, received a full scholarship, and turned it down.

Based on her test scores, Reality was selected to be a cryptolinguist, which is to say she was tapped to help the military eavesdrop on people speaking languages other than English. She wanted Arabic, but the ones assigned to her were Dari and Farsi — languages of use to a military vacuuming up conversations from Afghanistan and Iran. She would spend two years becoming fluent and another year in intelligence training before she was sent to Maryland’s Fort Meade. Along the way, she’d be one of a few students admitted to a selective program in Pashto, yet another language in which she would become fluent.

In Maryland, her life, according to those closest to her, involved an exceptionally punishing exercise regimen, volunteer work, and 12-hour shifts listening to the private conversations of men and women thousands of miles away. There was also anxiety. Reality worried about global warming. She worried about Syrian children. She worried about famine and poverty all over the globe. Highly critical of her carbon-spewing, famine-ignoring fellow citizens, she nevertheless thought her humanitarian impulses were compatible with the military’s mission, and wished her fellow Airmen were not just more competent in their jobs but more motivated to do them well, to save the vulnerable from acts of terror…
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