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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Control



1. More on Holder. Although I have received no response from the Russian Ministry of Justice, I am happy to report that A.G. Eric Holder's remarkable letter is getting the kind of attention it deserves. Bill Black:
The idea that the Attorney General of the United States of America would send such a letter to the representative of a foreign government, particularly Russia under the leadership of a former KGB official, was so preposterous that I thought the first news report I read about Attorney General Holder’s letter concerning Edward Snowden was satire. The joke, however, was on me. The Obama and Bush administrations have so disgraced the reputation of the United States’ criminal justice system that we are forced to promise KGB alums that we will not torture our own citizens if Russia extradites them for prosecution.
To be fair, Konovalov has no KGB history that I know of. He's only 44. And a religious fellow never would have gotten into the old KGB.
Holder phrased his explanation in a manner that suggests he was trying to be clever: “Torture is unlawful in the United States.” “Gitmo,” of course, is not “in the United States.” The locations of the many secret prisons the U.S. established in other nations were chosen so that we could torture suspects. The infamous historical parallel for this is that it was unlawful to hold slaves in England – but England could dominate the Atlantic slave trade and hold millions of slaves in the Caribbean islands because slavery was unlawful only “in” England under English law.

More subtly, note that Holder says that torture is “unlawful” – not “illegal.” An act that is merely “unlawful” cannot be prosecuted as a crime. It may provide the basis for a civil suit. An “illegal” act can be prosecuted.
2. Cruise control. Some people still scoff at the notion that Michael Hastings' car (or your car) could be controlled by outside forces. Here's a BBC story in which two DARPA experts demonstrate how the job can be done by laptop.
They filmed themselves in the back of one of the vehicles steering it left and right, activating the brakes and showing the fuel gauge drop to zero, all while the vehicle was under driver control and in motion.
cable used in hack The cable used to connect the devices to the ECUs via the diagnostics port.

A spokesman for Toyota told the BBC that because the hardware had to be physically connected inside the car, he did not consider it to be "hacking".

"Altered control can only be made when the device is connected. After it is disconnected the car functions normally," he said.

"We don't consider that to be 'hacking' in the sense of creating unexpected behaviour, because the device must be connected - ie the control system of the car physically altered.

"The presence of a laptop or other device connected to the OBD [on board diagnostics] II port would be apparent."
The need for an OBD connection does seem to be the difficult part. Still, our spooks are an imaginative and resourceful lot.

I imagine that once a bad guy has slim-jimmed his way into the vehicle, it's simply a matter of slipping a small transmitter into the OBD. Such an alteration might well go unnoticed. This transmitter could send a wireless signal to another device hidden elsewhere. Would you notice if a 7-inch tablet were secreted under your seat?

Also see here.

3. And now...PLANES!
A GPS flaw can allow "terrorists" to control a plane or a ship. (Notice how the idea of a spook doing such a thing is unmentionable.)
‘We injected our spoofing signals into its GPS antennas and we’re basically able to control its navigation system with our spoofing signals,’ Todd Humphreys of UT told the news station.
(There are certain conspiracy theorists, fixated on a certain event in 2001, who are now salivating at the chance to get their collective foot into this blog's door. NOT A CHANCE.)

4. Hate control. If you are a connoisseur of fake news, savor this. Normally, Fox wouldn't publish the ravings of a lunatic behind bars -- the lunatic, in this case, being former Army shrink Nidal Hasan, the accused Fort Hood shooter. Normally, the government wouldn't allow said ravings to be recorded.

Conclusion: This whole thing is a set-up designed to rally the Islamophobic right. Check it out:
“My complicity was on behalf of a government that openly acknowledges that it would hate for the law of Almighty Allah to be the supreme law of the land," the 42-year-old Army psychiatrist said.”
"...The supreme law of the land..." This sentiment ties right in with the delusions of our own Christian loonies, who desperately want to believe that Muslims are scheming to establish "the caliphate" in the United States. In reality, not even Osama Bin Laden ever expressed such a desire.

Frankly, I never paid much attention to the Fort Hood shooting -- until now. Perhaps I was wrong to take the news stories about that event at face value, because it sure seems as though Hasan is reading from a script. This guy ain't talking like a real jihadi. He's talking the way a jihadi talks in the imagination of your average Southern Baptist ninny who gets all his news from Fox. He's a jihadi from central casting.

(Sort of like LHO on communism, by way of Kerry Thornley.)
Comments:
from a comment left under Bill Black's article over at naked capitalism (thanks for linking us there)

disappeared from Change.gov:

Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.

Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/07/bill-black-is-it-legal-malpractice-to-fail-to-get-holder-to-promise-not-to-torture-your-client.html#EHBo5Uo5GMreWbZU.99
 
We should not forget the 'Fort Hood shooter' was (said to be) dead, and for several days, before being evidently resurrected as allegedly this man.

XI
 
"a religious fellow never would have gotten into the old KGB

Tell me you're joking!

Ask some Orthodox Russians with a 'White Russian' émigré background what they think of the idea. This is unless you mean genuinely pious??

The church inside Russia and the Soviet Union was in effect a government department from the time of Tsar Peter I on. How that role continues today is one of the main themes for Pussy Riot.

This contains a bit on the background of the current Patriarch, Kirill I, with the 'old KGB'.

The KGB (if it's OK to call it by its old name) has played its cards very effectively in the Snowden affair.
 
1) Slavery was unlawful in England, after the Somersett verdict, and in all colonies. But the verdict against slavery was that it was so abhorent it could only be legal with an act of parliament legalising it, which didn't exist. Local legislatures in the Caribbean and American colony simply passed such laws. Americans back then were as attached to their slaves as Americans today are to their guns.

2) Should be easy enough to do with bluetooth or something similar. Of course, cars with keyless ignition systems and the like are open to the outside world anyway, no physical connection likely to be needed. But they still can't hack a push-bike. Well, I suppose they could use a strobe light to blind or stun the driver. Or a flashing light to induce the bucha effect. Or they could just run you over, if they've got no imagination.

3) I seem to recall a story from a couple of year ago about the FCC setting up a team of heavily armed helicopter-borne commandoes. The argument used to justify them being that someone might jam GPS signals, and the story mentioned that a laptop and a piece of $50 equipment could do that over a few mile-radius. Just jam, rather than spoof, in that case. I suppose you're not really an American government agency without your own commando unit.



 
Since Snowden's revelation there have been quite a number of stories on how Bush's Total Information Awareness was renamed Prism and secretly funded, and the Utah facility will be opened in September.

One aspect of it (out of the numerous possible angles) I thought might especially interest you, Joseph. The hideous, poorly executed logo. They took just the tip of the pyramid from TIA and the beam that originally shined down from eye to globe...and put them behind a keyhole! And we all know what keyholes were used for...to spy.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/shortcuts/2013/jun/07/what-does-prism-logo-mean
 
http://tech.slashdot.org/story/13/07/29/190236/judge-rules-in-favor-of-volkswagen-and-silences-scientist

"Samsung-is-not-as-cool-as-Apple Judge Colin Birss, rules in favor of Volkswagon to ban Flavio Garcia, a computer scientist, from revealing details about 'Wirelessly Lockpicking a Vehicle Immobiliser' at USENIX in August. Volkswagen says the flaw could allow someone to 'break the security and steal a car' so it is justifiable grounds for blocking Flavio's paper. No word yet on how soon Volkswagen will have a patch."
 
@prowlerzee
Interesting, the view that Prism is the current manifestation of Total Information Awareness.

Do you know whether they have come back into the open with the kooky idea of a "terrorism futures market", with which they were going to encourage people to bet on acts of terrorism?

I think it is very significant that former DARPA director Regina Dugan is now working for Google.

If there is a limited NSA hangout going on, which seems likely (in the wider context of coming more into the open about certain things, to ratchet up despair), then the interests that will benefit most may well include the interests that control Google.

Google are evil.

Gone are the days when there were big court cases about whether Microsoft should bundle its web browser with its operating system.

Google is above monopoly law. They are above the tax system too. And they are above national security too. They even sent a camera on a vehicle to take photos of the SAS headquarters in Herefordshire, which they then published. Guys in that regiment were absolutely furious. No-one had ever done shit like that before.

And Google effectively said 'oh really, what a shame? when they got caught spying from their vehicles on the general population's domestic internet connections.

Where are the security authorities in the countries that this vile company operates in?

We might as well as why the US government allows an Israeli company to play a security role at its nuclear installations, both civil and military.

A similar point to the above one about Google can be made about the ongoing internet initiative in the UK, pegged on pornography. It is weird, the way prime minister David Cameron is saying that the internet companies have said they will do such-and-such. Of course the government is an instrument of big business, but in this case we have him openly speaking on businesses' behalf.
 
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