Michael Hayden claims the enterprise of US Government surveillance has attained the status of the Madisonian Trifecta. Hmmm, sounds like a bad Robert Ludlum novel, or perhaps it’s just another name for The Firm.
Of course, as predicted.
In the 90s, I thought the internet presaged an era of unprecedented human liberty. Now I know better…
The Tor Project has issued a warning that the United States government may soon start seizing core nodes of the Tor Network under the pretext of investigating the “Sony Hack.”1
Of course, Pravda, Inc disseminates the Sony breach as being the handiwork of the North Korean government. LOL. Even if we concede the claim for the sake of argument, there is the conspicuous omission of any argument why bad movies and George Clooney gossip fall under the purview of national security. Then again, the hallmark of a national security state is that “national security” is what the national security state says it is. This, of course, is classic doublethink.
It is worth pointing out that the FBI seizing Tor Direct Authority nodes seems suspiciously consistent with the FBI’s internal objective of an internet wiretap regime by whatever means necessary. Very convenient, but as discussed in the previous “political science” posts, quite predictable. Perhaps the illustrative point here is that political science reducible to “the conspiracy without the conspiracy”2 not only makes for bad church, it also makes for bad Hollywood.
1 Reading is more or less a useless skill if you can’t read between the lines
2 “Conspiracy without the conspiracy” means conspiracy is the rational/scientific pattern…hence no subversion
Political science is not moralizing. It is not liturgical recitation from sunday school scripture. Nor is it mere statistical interpolation of voting patterns to predict elections. Predicting elections may be a type of science but there may be a more fundamental science to be had if the outcome repeatedly proves irrelevant to the policies enacted or enforced.
Political science, like all sciences, applies a specific methodology(the scientific method) to explain and predict rational patterns within a specific domain of study. In this case, the specific domain of study is the organization and exercise of political power. There may be some that try to divine a type of justice that animates such an organization of power, but such musings preponderate on the side of prescription(“the ought”) and not description(“the is”). Hence, they are the stuff of political church, not science.
In a previous post,The FBI pwns you, I gave an assessment of an observed phenomenon of state security organs defeating network layer obfuscation. The official explanation claimed only innocuous investigative exploitation of “criminal stupidity.” I, however, offered a competing explanation: the FBI was resorting to application layer exploits to thwart network(IP layer) anonymity. I then advanced a prediction: the FBI and other organs of state security are seeking to bundle application layer exploits under an extended legalized wiretapping regime.
Recently, from Boing Boing FBI secretly seeking legal power to hack any computer, anywhere:
But under the proposed amendment, a judge can issue a warrant that would allow the FBI to hack into any computer, no matter where it is located. The change is designed specifically to help federal investigators carry out surveillance on computers that have been “anonymized” – that is, their location has been hidden using tools such as Tor.
The amendment inserts a clause that would allow a judge to issue warrants to gain “remote access” to computers “located within or outside that district” (emphasis added) in cases in which the “district where the media or information is located has been concealed through technological means”. The expanded powers to stray across district boundaries would apply to any criminal investigation, not just to terrorist cases as at present.
Were the amendment to be granted by the regulatory committee, the FBI would have the green light to unleash its capabilities – known as “network investigative techniques” – on computers across America and beyond. The techniques involve clandestinely installing malicious software, or malware, onto a computer that in turn allows federal agents effectively to control the machine, downloading all its digital contents, switching its camera or microphone on or off, and even taking over other computers in its network
Note, I also offered a corollary to the prediction: the extended wiretapping regime would effectively allow unfalsifiable data laundering from the NSA’s three-hop graphical dragnet. If the “wiretap” failed, the likes of the FBI could make a request up the “corporate intelligence ladder” to the NSA for the mother of all wiretaps: the 3-hop graphical dragnet. The information gleaned from that data could be “reversed-engineered” to fall within the “legal wiretap.” Once the network devices are seized, it is trivial to ex post facto plant a “vulnerability profile” that would “launder” the evidence collection. From a forensics standpoint, it would be difficult to falsify such after-the-fact subterfuge. The only circumvention of this totalitarian “law enforcement technique” would be to have redundant snapshots of the devices in question outside the jurisdiction of any one intervening authority. If the FBI could seize the device but couldn’t get all the redundant snapshots, then a comparative forensic analysis could take place that would expose the subterfuge.
Now, in these two little posts of mine we have seen an actual example of political science. An observed phenomenon: an explanation of the phenomenon, a prediction, a confirmation of the prediction, a prediction corollary that demonstrates the importance of jurisdictional differentiation to stymie the totalitarian pattern of exercised political power.
Of course, for my statement to be a scientific statement, the statement itself has to be subject to falsification. But who is going to falsify it? The political scientists? Let me know when you actually find one…1
Apparently, there are some libertarians who labor under the impression that private property confers the owner the right to declare others to be fair game within the property boundaries. To deny this is to be guilty of libertarian hypocrisy regarding the meaning of private property. “If you don’t like my rules, don’t enter my property, hypocrite!”
Well, there is actually a pretty easy rejoinder to this position, one that it is fairly obvious if we assume some minimal degree of literacy on the part of the reader. Certainly, as a schoolboy, “The Most Dangerous Game” was a favorite story of mine, a work of fiction that also typically made it in into the english curriculums taught in the US public school system. If it is no longer being taught, then perhaps it should be added to the unofficial libertarian anthology.
While there are several themes regarding humanity and civilization interwoven into that short story masterpiece, for our purposes there is a simple moral: if you declare others to be fair game within your sphere of authority, then by your own rules, so are you. The author,Richard Connell, never informs us as to how well the Russian Cossack general slept at the night, assuming that anyone of certain intelligence would probably expect the fate that eventually met him, but the last line of the classic story ends with the protagonist thoroughly enjoying his sleep in the dead general’s bed(of course, after having fed the general to his own dogs).
“Fair game” is not a hypothetical in libertarian justice unless you are interested in underwriting your own fate as dog food.
To exempt yourself from the rules you expect others to abide by is the bromide of the statist. But there is no state in libertopia to enforce hypocrisy.
Some brief commentary on the recent passage of “affirmative consent” legislation in California that will no doubt be replicated across the country. I have two primary objections to it:
(1) If we assume the premise of a crisis of rape culture on university campuses, then the only just conclusion is the immediate termination of any state subsidy of this odious institutional setting. There are no if, and or buts on the matter, otherwise its mere toleration of culturally subsidized mass rape. There is no argument for tinkering at the margins for such a thing.
(2) Those that insist that a standard of “affirmative consent” be employed as a mitigating offset are typically the same ones that in any other context scoff at the human agency of transactional consent. So, in California, for example, you will have the left hand implement a legal standard of affirmative consent to address a crisis of mass rape while the right hand vigorously steps up a war on transactionally consensual sex, operating on the premise that transactional consent indicates a condition of human servitude. You are left wondering what exactly does “affirmative consent” entail? Who knows. According to Think Progress, the implied subtext is a legal standard of sufficient mutual titillation. But that nebulous standard implies not only the criminalization of bad sex, but pretty much the banning of marital sex(familiarity breeds routine, not excitement, and romantic love is a very temporary thing indeed).
Interestingly, this issue seems to split left-libertarians. On this one I break the apparent orthodoxy, and I break it hard. Mind you, I would pooh-pooh any suggestion this a consequence of some cultural defect on my part. And I have no interest in defending the sexual practice mores of university life. Frankly, my college years were pretty tame relative to the rest of my youth(gen x’er, so I’m old now). The better part of my experiences came on the streets, the strips and the clubs that proceeded all that. In those thereabouts, there was no “rape culture.”
What this doublethink on “transactional consent” does entail is a rather somber confirmation of the de Jasay model of the State. Even though the classic libertarian method revolves around the plunder of economic rent as the organizing principle of the State, the rational pattern suggests a firm that maximizes discretionary power, not economic rents. It is this descriptive fact that suggests not to rely on your fingers and toes to countdown the expiration date of this thing, the State.
Of course, anyone with a modicum of computer science/IT skill knew the the FBI hacked the Silk Road Box at the application layer to obtain its IP layer address. And anyone with a modicum of political science knowledge would have easily been able to predict that these methods–which are in stark violation of the heuristic operability of the internet–would be gerrymandered into permissible legal status. The science of the rule of law is its rational pattern…