Analyzing the Hack of Obama’s Email

CNN reported that hackers in the employ of the Russian government were able to access President Obama’s email system inside the White House.

The first question that springs to mind is this (and it’s an important one):

If spies were able to penetrate the (supposedly) tight security of the U.S. Government computer systems, just how secure were then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails which were kept outside of government control on equipment stored in her own home?

The most powerful woman in the world depended on a non-official email system to conduct business that potentially dealt with the security of every citizen of the United States, and if that doesn’t enrage you then nothing will.

But back to the Russians. The official line from the State Department is that this was reported last year and is no big thing.

Not exactly.

CNN citing unnamed U.S. officials that had been briefed on the investigation, reports that last year’s admission “understated the sensitivity of the information accessed.” 

I’m shocked (not). And if that’s true, what else are they lying, uh, I mean “understating” or just plain not telling us about?

Well let’s see … a WH National Security Council spokesman poo-pooed the CNN report, calling it speculation about a previously disclosed breach.

“Any such activity is something we take very seriously. In this case, as we made clear at the time, we took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity,” said spokesman Mark Stroh.

Really? Because it turns out that to access the White House servers, the Russian hackers used an exploit from an earlier hack in which the State Department’s network was breached.

My oh my. Where were the evaluation and mitigation activities then? And have these so-called activities increased in efficacy over time?

The White House does not believe its classified systems, which contain national security information, were compromised, White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told CNN in an interview.

Color me cynical, but I am not convinced.

Posted April 8th, 2015 Filed in Clinton, Hillary, Homeland Security, Scandals

Illegals Arrested, Workers Applaud

The one myth that really gets my back up in the whole "illegal immigration workers are good for America" meme is the one that holds that illegals come here to do work that Americans won’t do. First, if that were true then how did this work get done in the decades before the current flood took place? Second, there’s this story about a raid on a factory in a small town:

But helicopters were not what shocked Pena the most on her last, fateful day at Howard Industries, the largest employer in this small Southern town. It was the black co-workers who clapped and cheered, Pena said, as she and hundreds of other Latino immigrant laborers were arrested and hauled away.

If the next president decides to curtail or end raids similar to the one at the Howard Industries, it will not sit well with many residents of Laurel. The raid was welcomed by a number of native-born residents in this manufacturing hub of about 25,000 people that has been transformed in recent years by the influx of Latino workers, many of whom are undocumented.

"They need to go and do this in every little town," Tonya Jackson said.
Jackson, who is black, said that over the years she had applied numerous times for a job at the locally owned manufacturer, which employs about 4,000 workers. Jackson, 30, said she never received a callback. The raid, she said, was a welcome purge of illegal Latino laborers who had taken jobs they didn’t deserve. . . .

Their arrival created tension in the town, with black and white residents accusing the undocumented workers of taking the few available jobs and depressing wages. . . .

After the raid, the company put up a billboard on 16th Avenue, the busy commercial thoroughfare on which it resides, that said: "Howard Industries is now hiring!"

These are not yard workers and hotel doormen (even though Americans do those jobs every day — my yard guy’s name is Donald). These are factory jobs that Americans would be pleased to have — if they could. Now maybe they can.

At least until the next liberal president (it’ll either be John or Obama, right?) puts a stop to raids like this.

HT to the corner.

Posted September 4th, 2008 Filed in Homeland Security, Immigration

Analyzing Terrorist Successes and Failures

Schneier on Security reviews a Homeland Security analysis in his post Why Some Terrorist Attacks Succeed and Others Fail. In part:

I especially like this quote, which echos what I’ve been saying for a long time now:

One phenomenon stands out: terrorists are rarely caught in the act during the execution phase of an operation, other than instances in which their equipment or weapons fail. Rather, plots are most often foiled during the pre-execution phases.

Intelligence, investigation, and emergency response: that’s where we should be spending our counterterrorism dollar. Defending the targets is rarely the right answer.

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Posted February 28th, 2008 Filed in Homeland Security

IBM Developing Big Brother Tech for Chicago

In an initiative called "Operation Virtual Shield", Chicago has been setting up thousands of video surveillance cameras on a fiber-optic network for the past few years. (Uh, would that be ever since the federal government started throwing around your tax dollars for "homeland security" projects?) The problem is who’s going to watch all those cameras.

Enter IBM’s Smart Surveillance System, currently used to watch for shoplifters in retail stores. IBM is working on ways to look for suspicious events and behaviors.

Chicago won’t say how much of your tax dollars they are funneling to IBM to develop this software, nor if when it might become operational.

The trick will be to make the analytics software work in a useful way. "The challenge is going to be teaching computers to recognize the suspicious behavior," said Smith. "Once this is done this will be a very impressive city in terms of public safety."

Yeah, that is the "trick". It reminds me of the cartoon that every IT person has seen — a guy standing in front of a huge, complex flowchart pointing to a big box in the middle that is labeled, "Here a Miracle Happens".

Posted October 3rd, 2007 Filed in Homeland Security

How Easy Is It to Outsmart the TSA?

Evidently, pretty easy — at least in Memphis. Read how a guy gets salad dressing taken away, guy then retrieves same from trash barrel. Via Schneier on Security.

Posted July 10th, 2007 Filed in Homeland Security

Update on the Illegal Immigration Battle

Democrats vow to fight increased fees for visas and naturalized citizenship, insisting that taxpayers should pick up the bill for immigrants rather than impose a “citizenship tax”.

Meanwhile, the ironically-named Bank of America is offering credit cards to people without social security numbers. Hmmm, who has the money to pay their credit card debt yet doesn’t have a social security number which is required for a job? If I had an account there, I’d close it.

Having the National Guard on the Mexican border is continues to work. There is an overall 27 percent decline in apprehensions and a 51 percent increase in marijuana seized, with the busy Yuma sector reporting an astounding 62 percent drop in arrests.

Even Dems are questioning the sentencing of Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. Sen. Feinstein wrote a letter in which she raises some very good points. Amazing — she just went up a notch in my estimation.

The NFL is defending its refusal to insert a Border Patrol recruiting ad in the Super Bowl programs. After all, it mentions terrorists, illegal aliens and drug smuggling. The offending content:

As Border Patrol agents, it will be your responsibility to prevent the entry of terrorists and their weapons into the United States. You’ll help detect and prevent the unlawful entry of undocumented aliens into the United States … [and ] play a primary role in stopping drug smuggling across our borders . . .

Meanwhile, a king in a black robe has struck down the voter identification law in Albuquerque, AZ. Does anyone else think that being asked to pull your driver’s license or other picture ID is a “significant burden on the fundamental right to vote”?

Posted February 15th, 2007 Filed in Homeland Security, Immigration, War on Drugs

Congressional Pardon for Border Patrol Agents

US Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean were prosecuted by our government, convicted and sentenced to 11- and 12-year prison terms, respectively. Their crime was aggressively protecting our borders by shooting a drug smuggler, picking up their shell casings and not calling their supervisor.

The drug smuggler, who was in possession of 743 pounds of marijuana, was given immunity so he could testify against the agents. He subsequently attempted to smuggle 1,000 pounds of marijuana into the country (for which he may or may not face prosecution).

The outcry against the railroading of those attempting to protect our borders has been cacophonous, and has reached Washington. In recognition of the “extreme injustice”, HR 563, the Congressional Pardon for Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean Act, was introduced in late January and has 81 cosponsors to date, including my very own Congressman Marsha Blackburn.


    This Act may be cited as the `Congressional Pardon for Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean Act’.
    It is hereby ordered that the conviction and sentences of Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean are vacated. The release of the defendants from the custody of the Government is hereby ordered, with prejudice. No further criminal prosecution or other proceeding against these named individuals with respect to the circumstances giving rise to the convictions and sentences vacated by this Act shall take place.
    It is the sense of Congress that the Department of Homeland Security review the rules of engagement presently utilized by the United States Border Patrol.

Find out if your congressman is on board. If so, thank him. If not, ask him why not.


Posted February 11th, 2007 Filed in Homeland Security