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Sunday, October 06, 2013

Leaks, and more

Obama is paranoid. There's no getting around it.
Many reporters covering national security and government policy in Washington these days are taking precautions to keep their sources from becoming casualties in the Obama administration’s war on leaks. They and their remaining government sources often avoid telephone conversations and e-mail exchanges, arranging furtive one-on-one meetings instead. A few news organizations have even set up separate computer networks and safe rooms for journalists trained in encryption and other ways to thwart surveillance.

“I worry now about calling somebody because the contact can be found out through a check of phone records or e-mails,” said veteran national security journalist R. Jeffrey Smith of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit accountability news organization. “It leaves a digital trail that makes it easier for government to monitor those contacts.”

“We have to think more about when we use cellphones, when we use e-mail and when we need to meet sources in person,” said Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor of the Associated Press. “We need to be more and more aware that government can track our work without talking to our reporters, without letting us know.”
Gee, I thought that the NSA's resources were only going to be used to catch terrorists and pedos?

(Terrorists and pedos...terrorists and pedos... Repeat until hypnotized: Terrorists and pedos...)
The Justice Department secretly subpoenaed and seized from telephone companies two months of records for 20 AP phone lines and switchboards used by more than 100 reporters in four of its news bureaus. In other criminal leak investigations, the Obama administration has subpoenaed and seized records of telephone calls and e-mails between several New York Times reporters and government officials, between a Fox News reporter and a State Department contract analyst, and between two journalists and a former CIA officer.
I've been thinking of trying to contact a former CIA guy myself, concerning a bit of ancient history. ("Ancient," as in 50 years ago.) Are they going to hassle me?
Many leak investigations include lie-detector tests for government officials with access to the information at issue. “Reporters are interviewing sources through intermediaries now,” Barr told me, “so the sources can truthfully answer on polygraphs that they didn’t talk to reporters.”
Polygraph tests are not always reliable. I think it was Clifford Irving who said that he beat the test by intentionally inducing a stressed-out reading for the control questions.

Iran. Barack and Bibi disagree as to whether Iran is one year or six months away from developing nuclear weapons. Normally, one should not laugh at a story about nukes -- but how can one not snicker, given the history of this claim?

The following appeared in Haaretz (hardly a pro-Iran publication) in January of 2012:
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Sunday that Iran is only one year away from producing a nuclear weapon.
How long has Iran been "one year away"? According to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, American and Israeli sources have been making this claim since 1991. That last link goes to a Jerusalem Post story, and none of the comments challenge that assertion.

In fact, American officials first started playing this tune back in 1984:
Soon after West German engineers visit the unfinished Bushehr nuclear reactor, Jane's Defence Weekly quotes West German intelligence sources saying that Iran's production of a bomb "is entering its final stages."
Didn't a Greek fella name of Aesop once tell a story along these lines? Something about a wolf...?

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the "one year away" claim. We should have a party. I predict that one year after that, in 2015, Iran one still be one year away. See you then...

Cosmetics. What, no reactions to the site redesign?

I've always hated the way this page looked. (And still do, though the current version may be a bit less detestable.) The problem has always been caffeine. I usually have way too much of the stuff running through my system to see a redesign project through to the end. That's why all previous attempts were abandoned at the half-way stage, with two or three incompatible ideas fighting it out. Very hideous.

I'm still wedded to the three-column approach, with a flexible middle column, even though that scheme is now considered passe. It may be old school, but it's just too damned convenient. And I still like the 19th century visual cues because they offer a brief mental vacation from the wretchedness of Now.

You may notice new news feeds. For some reason, the Chrome browser may place ads in those spots.
Comments:
I like the new design. And I like the three-column format. There. I've said it.
 
I like the new design. Accidentally clicking the scroll no longer causes a new tab to open linking to the image. I normally read through an RSS client anyway, unless I want to comment or something.
 
I like it.
 
I also like the new design, especially the color scheme. Given the kind of posts you do, the red kind of put one on edge. Talk about caffein.
 
"What, no reactions to the site redesign?"
Just like my girlfriend's new hairdo, who knew??
 
I like the header and the colors.
 
I like the updated design -- with the exception of the font -- I don't like Times Roman for screen use....
 
The new design is beautiful. I liked the first font better than your latest attempt. The black outline is too thick for script. Keep trying.
 
Will do, non. Have done, actually.
 
And many thanks for the font change -- I noticed (and appreciated) it immediately.
 
OK, found it ... and I like the break from the "now." Always. Of course....steam punk is on trend now and it's messing with my long-standing steam punk love, but your imagery is outside that and more evocative. Congrats on the new look!

Hm...the dates are missing from the comments. Just the time is noted.
 
re: "Obama is paranoid". Back in 2007-2008, I was predicting that this would happen if he became President (the extreme crackdown on leaks, etc.). Obama's a clinical narcissist. Narcissists are all about image control. Obama's particularly strong need for image control manifested far back in his political career. No surprise here.
 
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