H/t to Shelly.
In a last desperate attempt to save Barack Obama’s hopes of re-election, Hillary Clinton took a leaf from Charles Dickens’ Sydney Carton, and did the “far, far better thing,” taking responsibility for the failure to provide security for the consulate in Benghazi and for the long series of misstatements, fabrications, and falsehoods describing the carefully-planned terrorist attack calculatedly timed to occur on 9/11 as a spontaneous mob outburst provoked by an obscure video.
Hillary Clinton, of course, does not fully resemble Sydney Carton. She is not going to the guillotine. She is only “accepting responsibility,” which in the manner of liberal democrats amounts only to issuing a statement tacitly eating crow on a single occasion. It does not mean resigning from office, ending one’s political career, or otherwise actually being subject to any real penalty or punishment.
One rather thinks that the reverse is probably the case. Hillary’s sacrifice must be part of a private arrangement made between Barack Obama and the Clintons. Barack Obama must have entered into some bargain promising Hillary some highly valuable future compensation, something along the lines of his complete support in the quest for the democrat nomination in 2016 combined with the delivery of his donors (Soros in particular) in return for Hillary assuming the role of scapegoat and going through the charade of throwing herself under the bus.
We have had the public ceremony of accepting responsibility and shame, but the question remains: Will this modest sacrifice of Hillary’s amour propre suffice to satisfy the curiosity of the media and the voting public’s wrath? It seems unlikely to me. Republicans in Congress are still demanding more specific and concrete explanations of why Ambassador Stevens’ requests for more security were denied and are still going to want to know who exactly decided to fabricate the false narrative given by UN Ambassador Rice and others. The spotlight will fall on Barack Obama directly at tonight’s Town Hall Debate, and it seems unlikely that even Hillary Clinton’s noble sacrifice will succeed in sheltering the president from pointed questions.
When Forbes Magazine is publishing editorials titled Pants On Fire: Obama Scrambles For Cover As Benghazi Lie Explodes, a press conference ceremony of the acceptance of responsibility by a subordinate is simply not going to be enough to stop the bleeding.
Barack Obama is not a truthful man. He was not truthful in his campaign promises. He is not truthful in the way he consistently belittles and makes strawmen of political opponents. He is not even truthful about his own life story. In 2008, Barack Obama was able to take advantage of very powerful, deeply reflexive cultural impulses which promoted him instantly to the highest ranks of media godhood and which surrounded him with a protective cloak of adoration which totally precluded any serious critical scrutiny. Bill Ayers? “Just a guy I ran into a few times.” Revered Wright goddamning America? “Gosh, I never heard that particular sermon.” Things are different four years later. There is blood in the water right now. We are twenty-odd days from a presidential election. Hillary Clinton’s little gesture of loyalty is not going to make the Benghazi debacle and the investigation of the coverup go away.
Blackmail, Cryptome, Department of Defense, Encryption, Hackers, Hacking, Hillary Clinton, Leaks, State Department, Sweden, The Internet, The Pirate Bay, Wikileaks
The Pentagon is demanding that Wikileaks cease publishing and return immediately stolen US documents in its possession, hinting darkly at legal prosecution if the Internet news site does not comply. (Christian Science Monitor)
Of course, it is always possible that Julian Assange and his merry band of pranksters may be less than intimidated by an adversary so clueless that its first response to the theft and publication of Top Secret military documents is to issue a directive prohibiting its own personnel from gazing at the offending web site.
This is the “Close the barn door from the inside when the horse got out” approach to security breaches. [Wired]
Besides, Wikileaks has uploaded a password-protected file labeled “Insurance,” and believed to contain a massive collection of highly toxic State Department material, consisting of, according to a chat interview published by Wired:
260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables that Manning described as exposing “almost criminal political back dealings.”
“Hillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,” Manning wrote.
Wikileaks has arranged, in the event that the US Government succeeds in shutting down its web site, to have the password released via Cryptome.
6 August 2010. If there is a takedown of Wikileaks, the insurance.aes256 file will be available through Cryptome along with the entire files of the Wikileaks website which have been archived.
Even without Julian Assange’s blackmail threat, Some News Agency sees problems trying to stop Wikileaks legally.
[F]rom a legal standpoint, there is probably little the U.S. government can do to stop WikiLeaks from posting the files.
It is against federal law to knowingly and willfully disclose or transmit classified information. But Assange, an Australian who has no permanent address and travels frequently, is not a U.S. citizen.
Since Assange is a foreign citizen living in a foreign country, it’s not clear that U.S. law would apply, said Marc Zwillinger, a Washington lawyer and former federal cyber crimes prosecutor. He said prosecutors would have to figure out what crime to charge Assange with, and then face the daunting task of trying to indict him or persuade other authorities to extradite him.
It would be equally difficult, Zwillinger said, to effectively use an injunction to prevent access to the data.
“Could the U.S. get an injunction to force U.S. Internet providers to block traffic to and from WikiLeaks such that people couldn’t access the website?” Zwillinger said. “It’s an irrelevant question. There would be thousands of paths to get to it. So it wouldn’t really stop people from getting to the site. They would be pushing the legal envelope without any real benefit.”
And the technical approach is problematic, too.
WikiLeaks used state-of-the-art software requiring a sophisticated electronic sequence of numbers, called a 256-bit key [to protect its “Insurance” files].
The main way to break such an encrypted file is by what’s called a “brute force attack,” which means trying every possible key, or password, said Herbert Lin, a senior computer science and cryptology expert at the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.
Unlike a regular six- or eight-character password that most people use every day, a 256-bit key would equal a 40 to 50 character password, he said.
If it takes 0.1 nanosecond to test one possible key and you had 100 billion computers to test the possible number variations, “it would take this massive array of computers 10 to the 56th power seconds — the number 1, followed by 56 zeros” to plow through all the possibilities, said Lin.
How long is that?
“The age of the universe is 10 to the 17th power seconds,” explained Lin. “We will wait a long time for the U.S. government or anyone else to decrypt that file by brute force.”
Could the NSA, which is known for its supercomputing and massive electronic eavesdropping abilities abroad, crack such an impregnable code?
It depends on how much time and effort they want to put into it, said James Bamford, who has written two books on the NSA.
The NSA has the largest collection of supercomputers in the world. And officials have known for some time that WikiLeaks has classified files in its possession.
The agency, he speculated, has probably been looking for a vulnerability or gap in the code, or a backdoor into the commercial encryption program protecting the file.
At the more extreme end, the NSA, the Pentagon and other U.S. government agencies — including the newly created Cyber Command — have probably reviewed options for using a cyber attack against the website, which could disrupt networks, files, electricity, and so on.
“This is the kind of thing that they are geared for,” said Bamford, “since this is the type of thing a terrorist organization might have — a website that has damaging information on it. They would want to break into it, see what’s there and then try to destroy it.”
The vast nature of the Internet, however, makes it essentially impossible to stop something, or take it down, once it has gone out over multiple servers.
In the end, U.S. officials will have to weigh whether a more aggressive response is worth the public outrage it would likely bring. Most experts predict that, despite the uproar, the government will probably do little other than bluster, and the documents will come out anyway.
Mikael Viborg, owner of PRQ hosting company at its server location
Were the Department of Defense, the NSA, or the FBI actually inclined to do anything about Wikileaks, NYM would be glad to help.
Be aware, however, that PRQ is associated with the notorious Swedish Bit Torrent file sharing hub The Pirate Bay.
Hotline OnCall admires a very nice thank you gift recently delivered for services rendered during last year’s primary campaign for the democrat party presidential nomination.
It’s not often that a plum ambassadorship goes to someone who isn’t a career foreign service officer or a big bucks campaign contributor, but Pres. Obama has nominated Anne Slaughter Andrew to be the ambassador to the Republic of Costa Rica.
The prospective diplomat is an Indiana Univ. trained atty who currently is Principal of New Energy Nexus, LLC, and, according to the WH release on her nomination, “advises companies and entrepreneurs on investments and strategies to capitalize on the New Energy Economy.”
But Andrew is also wife of ex-IN Dem chair Joe Andrew, who was tapped by Bill Clinton to be DNC from ‘99 to ‘01 who also was a big backer of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton in her ‘08 bid—until five days before the must-win IN Dem primary last year, when Andrew with great fan-fare threw Clinton under the bus, endorsed Obama, urged all his fellow Hoosiers to vote for Obama and called up party leaders and fellow superdelegates (Andrew had that status to the Dem convo because he was an ex-DNC chair) to basically shut the nominating contest down after the IN primary and get behind Obama.
In a public letter that at times was melodramatic and angst-ridden, Andrew wrote: “Why call for superdelegates to come together now to constructively pick a president? The simple answer is that while the timing is hard for me personally, it is best for America. We simply cannot wait any longer, nor can we let this race fall any lower and still hope to win in November. June or July may be too late.”
Well, the contest did run until June and Obama still somehow made it to the WH. But for Joe, this was a selfless act: “My endorsement of Senator Obama will not be welcome news to my friends and family at the Clinton campaign… If the campaign’s surrogates called Governor Bill Richardson, a respected former member of President Clinton’s cabinet, a ‘Judas’ for endorsing Senator Obama, we can all imagine how they will treat somebody like me.”
Geee, somehow he managed to survive and somehow the current Sec/State must have an amazing amount of equanimity and grace not to have choked on this administration nomination.
Meghan Clyne, in the New York Post, sees the appointment of ultraleftist Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh to the top legal position in the State Department as a step toward putting Koh on the Supreme Court.
Judges should interpret the Constitution according to other nations’ legal “norms.” Sharia law could apply to disputes in US courts. The United States constitutes an “axis of disobedience” along with North Korea and Saddam-era Iraq.
Those are the views of the man on track to become one of the US government’s top lawyers: Harold Koh.
President Obama has nominated Koh—until last week the dean of Yale Law School—to be the State Department’s legal adviser. In that job, Koh would forge a wide range of international agreements on issues from trade to arms control, and help represent our country in such places as the United Nations and the International Court of Justice.
It’s a job where you want a strong defender of America’s sovereignty. But that’s not Koh. He’s a fan of “transnational legal process,” arguing that the distinctions between US and international law should vanish. ...
Koh has called America’s focus on the War on Terror “obsessive.” In 2004, he listed countries that flagrantly disregard international law—“most prominently, North Korea, Iraq, and our own country, the United States of America,” which he branded “the axis of disobedience.”
He has also accused President George Bush of abusing international law to justify the invasion of Iraq, comparing his “advocacy of unfettered presidential power” to President Richard Nixon’s. And that was the first Bush—Koh was attacking the 1991 operation to liberate Kuwait, four days after fighting began in Operation Desert Storm.
Koh has also praised the Nicaraguan Sandinistas’ use in the 1980s of the International Court of Justice to get Congress to stop funding the Contras. Imagine such international lawyering by rogue nations like Iran, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela today, and you can see the danger in Koh’s theories.
Koh, a self-described “activist,” would plainly promote his views aggressively once at State. He’s not likely to feel limited by the letter of the law—in 1994, he told The New Republic: “I’d rather have [former Supreme Court Justice Harry] Blackmun, who uses the wrong reasoning in Roe [v. Wade] to get the right results, and let other people figure out the right reasoning.”
Worse, the State job might be a launching pad for a Supreme Court nomination. (He’s on many liberals’ short lists for the high court.) Since this job requires Senate confirmation, it’s certainly a useful trial run.
More background, from Volokh.
Anti-Bush Intel Operation, Bush-hatred, CIA, Conservatism, George W. Bush, Iraq, Neoconservatism, Richard Perle, State Department, War on Terror
George W. Bush confronting the bureaucracies
In the National Interest, Richard Perle describes the fatal disconnect between George W. Bush’s professed policies and the entrenched State Department and National Security bureaucracies’ failure to implement them. Not only were Bush’s policies not faithfully pursued, in many cases, they were openly attacked and covertly undermined by leaks and disinformation operations.
Perle additionally debunks the left’s favorite bogey: the sinister imperialist “neocon” conpiracy. In recent years, neocon came to be used as a leftwing pejorative for someone supposedly guilty of responsibility for a new, more virulent and objectionable form of conservatism, inclined to unilateral militarism overseas and supportive of hypersecurity measures at homes. The left entirely managed to forget that a neocon is really a (typically Jewish intellectual) former liberal who has been “mugged by reality” and become a foreign policy and law enforcement hawk in response to the excesses of the radical left post the late 1960s. Dick Cheney, who has always been a conservative, for instance, cannot possibly be classified as a neocon.
For eight years George W. Bush pulled the levers of government—sometimes frantically—never realizing that they were disconnected from the machinery and the exertion was largely futile. As a result, the foreign and security policies declared by the president in speeches, in public and private meetings, in backgrounders and memoranda often had little or no effect on the activities of the sprawling bureaucracies charged with carrying out the president’s policies. They didn’t need his directives: they had their own. ...
The responsibility for an ill-advised occupation and an inadequate regional strategy ultimately lies with President Bush himself. He failed to oversee the post-Saddam strategy, intervening only sporadically when things had deteriorated to the point where confidence in cabinet-level management could no longer be sustained. He did finally assert presidential authority when he rejected the defeatist advice of the Baker-Hamilton commission and Condi Rice’s State Department, ordering instead the “surge,” a decision that he surely hopes will eclipse the dismal period from 2004 to January 2007. But that is but one victory for the White House among many failures at Langley, at the Pentagon and in Foggy Bottom. ...
Understanding Bush’s foreign and defense policy requires clarity about its origins and the thinking behind the administration’s key decisions. That means rejecting the false claim that the decision to remove Saddam, and Bush policies generally, were made or significantly influenced by a few neoconservative “ideologues” who are most often described as having hidden their agenda of imperial ambition or the imposition of democracy by force or the promotion of Israeli interests at the expense of American ones or the reshaping of the Middle East for oil—or all of the above. Despite its seemingly endless repetition by politicians, academics, journalists and bloggers, that is not a serious argument. ...
I believe that Bush went to war for the reasons—and only the reasons—he gave at the time: because he believed Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States that was far greater than the likely cost of removing him from power. ...
[T]he salient issue was not whether Saddam had stockpiles of WMD but whether he could produce them and place them in the hands of terrorists. The administration’s appalling inability to explain that this is what it was thinking and doing allowed the unearthing of stockpiles to become the test of whether it had correctly assessed the risk that Saddam might provide WMD to terrorists. When none were found, the administration appeared to have failed the test even though considerable evidence of Saddam’s capability to produce WMD was found in postwar inspections by the Iraq Survey Group chaired by Charles Duelfer.
I am not alone in having been asked, “If you knew that Saddam did not have WMD, would you still have supported invading Iraq?” But what appears to some to be a “gotcha” question actually misses the point. The decision to remove Saddam stands or falls on one’s judgment at the time the decision was made, and with the information then available, about how to manage the risk that he would facilitate a catastrophic attack on the United States. To say the decision to remove him was mistaken because stockpiles of WMD were never found is akin to saying that it was a mistake to buy fire insurance last year because your house didn’t burn down or health insurance because you didn’t become ill. ...
I believe the cost of removing Saddam and achieving a stable future for Iraq has turned out to be very much higher than it should have been, and certainly higher than it was reasonable to expect.
But about the many mistakes made in Iraq, one thing is certain: they had nothing to do with ideology. They did not draw inspiration from or reflect neoconservative ideas and they were not the product of philosophical or ideological influences outside the government. ...
If ever there were a security policy that lacked philosophical underpinnings, it was that of the Bush administration. Whenever the president attempted to lay out a philosophy, as in his argument for encouraging the freedom of expression and dissent that might advance democratic institutions abroad, it was throttled in its infancy by opponents within and outside the administration.
I believe Bush ultimately failed to grasp the demands of the American presidency. He saw himself (MBA that he was) as a chief executive whose job was to give broad direction that would then be automatically translated into specific policies and faithfully implemented by the departments of the executive branch. I doubt that such an approach could be made to work. But without a team that shared his ideas and a determination to see them realized, there was no chance he could succeed. His carefully drafted, often eloquent speeches, intended as marching orders, were seldom developed into concrete policies. And when his ideas ran counter to the conventional wisdom of the executive departments, as they often did, debilitating compromise was the result: the president spoke the words and the departments pronounced the policies.
Read the whole thing.
Democracy, Foreign Policy, George W. Bush, Government, Natan Sharansky, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, State Department
The Washington Post notes that the president’s failure to gain control of the federal bureaucracy has paralysed the implementation of his intended policies, and left him in the frustrated role of outsider critic of the government he theoretically heads.
By the time he arrived in Prague in June for a democracy conference, President Bush was frustrated. He had committed his presidency to working toward the goal of “ending tyranny in our world,” yet the march of freedom seemed stalled. Just as aggravating was the sense that his own government was not committed to his vision.
As he sat down with opposition leaders from authoritarian societies around the world, he gave voice to his exasperation. “You’re not the only dissident,” Bush told Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a leader in the resistance to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. “I too am a dissident in Washington…”
In his speech that day, Bush vowed to order U.S. ambassadors in unfree nations to meet with dissidents and boasted that he had created a fund to help embattled human rights defenders. But the State Department did not send out the cable directing ambassadors to sit down with dissidents until two months later. And to this day, not a nickel has been transferred to the fund he touted.
Two and a half years after Bush pledged in his second inaugural address to spread democracy around the world, the grand project has bogged down in a bureaucratic and geopolitical morass, in the view of many activists, officials and even White House aides. Many in his administration never bought into the idea, and some undermined it…
“It’s our policy,” the official said.
“What do you mean?” the bureaucrat asked.
“Read the president’s speech,” the official said.
“Policy is not what the president says in speeches,” the bureaucrat replied. “Policy is what emerges from interagency meetings.” ...
Still, after an invigorating start in 2005, progress has been harder to find. Among those worried about the project is (Natan) Sharansky, whose book (The Case For Democracy) so inspired Bush. “I give him an A for bringing the idea and maybe a C for implementation,” said Sharansky, now chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Israel. “There is a gap between what he says and what the State Department does,” and he is not consistent enough.
The challenge Bush faced, Sharansky added, was to bring Washington together behind his goal.
“It didn’t happen,” he said. “And that’s the real tragedy.”