Weapons of Privilege


About a decade ago, I did a series of talks at various conferences entitled “cyberwar is bullshit” – the problem, I felt, was that the US was talking about being deeply afraid of cyberattack from Eurasia (or was it Eastasia?) but there was considerable irresponsible talk about “weapons of mass destruction-like capability.” Industry insiders like myself wound up divided as to whether it was likely/practical, or good marketing/a chance to make a fast buck. There were a lot of fast bucks made.

Now that the world has managed to learn a bit about what’s been going on in the rogue state called “The US Intelligence Community” it looks a lot more like the talk of cyberwar was mostly projection: the US was preparing to do exactly that sort of thing to other countries, so “missile gap, ho!” just like in the  1960s – a great deal of money spent and it turns out that we were mostly preparing to battle our own imagined capabilities. At the time when I was first speaking out against cyberwar, I was still looking at the problem defensively; in other words I granted the US’ concerns a degree of legitimacy and investigated whether or not they made sense.

Of course, they did not. Here’s the problem: if you’re concerned about having your critical infrastructure crashed by a foe that can attack on their own schedule, with no advance warning* – but, wait, there’s more: you have an infinity of potential foes and since attribution is genuinely difficult it is impossible to deter them. The normal strategic dynamics of war would look something like: (telephone call happens on the red line) “Uh, look, I notice you’re massing tanks and troops on our southern border. We are concerned and our bomber drivers really want to pre-empt you, can you tell us what’s going on?” During the early cold war, the US used nuclear weapons to threaten an entire power-bloc – if you were part of the Warsaw Pact, you’d get nuked along with everyone else** – deterrence was possible because we were aligned against a single discernable enemy. It was then that I realized the only plausible strategy was full dominance: you try to deter everyone all the time because you’re insanely over-capable and willing to attack anyone, any time. The military dictum “the best defense is a strong offense” only really works in 1:1 engagements where your offensive moves can disrupt your opponent’s own offensive moves. If you’re in a strategic environment where you have many unknown enemies, “the best defense is a strong defense.” That’s why castles were all the rage in the dark ages, whereas force-on-force blitzkriegs and national level wars were worthwhile once Europe had congealed into aligned power-blocs of nation-states.

So, what in the hell is going on in Washington?

The NSA (primarily) and CIA (less so) appear to have been let completely off the leash, and the NSA has made a pretty good stab at hacking the entire world. Meanwhile, the FBI and the rest of the government complain bitterly about Chinese, North Korean, Russian, whatever hackers threatening the US. It’s utterly bizzare: the US is trying to sell smart-grid power systems to China, while the FBI is bleating about Chinese cyberspies prepared to crash the US grid: you simply cannot buy marketing like that:
USA: “That stuff we’re trying to sell you? It sucks so badly, you control it.”
China: “We do?”

So, today’s news tidbit that catches my eye:

US Gov’t Hackers Ready to Hit Back if Russia Tries to Disrupt Election (NBC News)

U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia’s electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin’s command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary, according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents reviewed by NBC News.

American officials have long said publicly that Russia, China and other nations have probed and left hidden malware on parts of U.S critical infrastructure, “preparing the battlefield,” in military parlance, for cyber attacks that could turn out the lights or turn off the internet across major cities.

It’s been widely assumed that the U.S. has done the same thing to its adversaries. The documents reviewed by NBC News — along with remarks by a senior U.S. intelligence official — confirm that, in the case of Russia.

In other words, “that thing we did to you? You’d better not do that to us.” It’s what I call a “weapon of privilege” – as Mr White in Reservoir Dogs says:

“You shoot me in a dream, you’d better wake up and apologize”

That’s the US Government’s “strategy”  If you dream you use cyberweapons on us, you’d better wake up and apologize. We are so mighty and powerful that we are going to deter everyone, all at once, against any attack.

How well do you think that’s going to work?

As NBC News reported Thursday, the U.S. government is marshaling resources to combat the threat in a way that is without precedent for a presidential election.

It must hurt to be a journalist for NBC, and to have some government spokesperson slip their hand so far up your anus that they can use you as a sock-puppet and make you make silly mouth-noises.

If the US was concerned with having an election that couldn’t be tampered with by outside powers, it wouldn’t have gerrymandered districts, crappy voting machines that cost a ton of money, and a political system that enshrines the idea of buying votes and influence.

In a speech to an annual gathering of Russian and foreign politicians and analysts in Sochi on Thursday, Putin attacked the US over its foreign policy in recent years. “Does anyone seriously think that Russia can affect the choice of the American people? What, is America a banana republic? America’s a great power. Correct me if I’m wrong,” he said.

I understand why Trump looks up to Putin; Putin is everything Trump wishes he was – including: truly wealthy, vastly powerful, smart, articulate, and aware of current events.***

Putin said the US had a number of problems, including huge debt and gun crime, and that politicians had no answers. “There is nothing to calm society with, and so it’s easier to distract people with supposed Russian hackers, spies and agents of interest.divider

One of the deeply disappointing aspects of the US’ attitude toward Russian hackers disrupting the election is: so what? I doubt it’d be plausible anyway, but if the election systems were being disrupted, they could just keep the polls open for an entire week. The media would be thrilled, anyway.

As someone who deals with threat models all the time, I am constantly expected to be thinking of all the things that could go wrong, and having a counter-strategy or avoidance strategy. If the fear is really that someone might mess with the power to the voting machines, I expect to see gasoline-powered generators (or trucks with inverters, c’mon American Ingenuity!) ready near the polling locations. In fact, their absence is absolutely rock-solid evidence that the very people who are fluttering about this “threat” don’t really believe in it. And, yes, if your polling machines are connected to the internet and are using google docs as the backend, then you don’t deserve to have nice fake democracy any more.

divider2

(* Tanks can be seen massing on the border; logistical requirements practically guarantee that it’s impossible to get strategic surprise such as was possible in WWI and WWII – though, as we know now, many of the “surprise attacks” of WWII were only surprises to the incompetents who ignored solid intelligence that an attack was coming.)

(** Though now we know that the use Strategic Integrated Operations Plan – SIOP – called for nuclear obliteration of China as well as the USSR in the event of an exchange; it wouldn’t do to have the Chinese be the last humans left standing, right?)

(*** Also: doesn’t mind losing his hair, and rides bears.)

The Guardian: “Vladimir Putin Dismisses Claims of Meddling in US Election

Marcus Ranum: “Cyberwar – You’re Doing it Wrong”  RSA Conference 2012.

Marcus Ranum: “Never Fight a Land War in Cyberspace” AusCERT 2013

Marcus Ranum: “In Cyberspace, the Best Defense is a Strong Defense

Comments

  1. ShowMetheData says

    Any attack on the election process would be like blowing a garbage dump. You couldn’t tell the difference between before and after.

    “combat the threat” ?? With dozens of DNC leaks, exactly when is this ultra-powerful force going to kick into action? And what can they do? They’ve already lost on defence.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    It must hurt to be a journalist for NBC, and to have some government spokesperson slip their hand so far up your anus that they can use you as a sock-puppet and make you make silly mouth-noises.

    They knew what the job entailed [yuk-yuk] when they signed up for it.

    Do the US spooks intend all this keyboard-rattling as purely domestic propaganda, or as an invitation to Bulgarian/Albanian/Chinese/Anonymous/whoever pranksters to give them a casus belli?

  3. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#3:
    Do the US spooks intend all this keyboard-rattling as purely domestic propaganda, or as an invitation to Bulgarian/Albanian/Chinese/Anonymous/whoever pranksters to give them a casus belli?

    Dunno. I think it’s probably an emergent conspiracy driven by desire to increase budget and bureaucratic success/stature more than anything else. If there’s a grand strategy behind it, it utterly eludes me – because, from here, it looks more like the “dumb and dumber” guys go cyberwar.

    One thing I can say is that the US clearly doesn’t give a shit about having a provocation to justify attacking – real or -cyber. The NSA has already engaged in hacking the planet, and the US appears to feel that drone-based assassinations don’t need to respect national boundaries, either. I’d say the US is post-nationalist, except that’s not really it, is it?

  4. secondtofirstworld says

    @Marcus Ranum #4:

    Dunno. I think it’s probably an emergent conspiracy driven by desire to increase budget and bureaucratic success/stature more than anything else. If there’s a grand strategy behind it, it utterly eludes me – because, from here, it looks more like the “dumb and dumber” guys go cyberwar.

    Actually it’s more closer to justified paranoia. This response to articles on the subject tackle part of the issue, your election in and of itself can’t be influenced technically but humans can be hacked. I’m not talking about machines being in the human body and its wireless connection but perception. A very important thing to note here, that the interpretation on the need for learning foreign languages differs, some, like me use it to get acquainted with other cultures different from my own, but there are also others, to whom an other language is just a channel of communication to speak their narrow mindset or to speak to a narrow mindset.

    Bear in mind we non-Americans know a lot more about you, then you know about us, and also because even liberals are not exempt to analyze universal problems through a distinctive American lens. This is true for race relations, women’s issues and LGBT issues.

    As such, paid trolls of the Kremlin “borrow” the idea from Indian call centers to become virtual Americans, who are gosh darn afraid about what directions the country takes. Just like with a dark call center void of any ethics, these operatives have to prepare on the locally specific customs of the role to the point you can’t tell them apart from an actual American.

    The motivation. Countries like China, Russia or Balkan countries had limited to no exposure to the philosophies behind the French Enlightenment and don’t have much love lost for democracy. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that their approach to run a society seems more advanced to them, free of such burdens like human rights.

    Yet, you should know, America isn’t the only target, they simultaneously sabotage links between EU countries as well. So I’d say you’re half right, there is an incentive to get more money from Congress but there’s also a valid threat too. What Russians want in essence is to win the new Cold War, and the longer people don’t think critically the more they win one small battle at a time. To them this is still The Big Game, and it’s still Phase One because the former Soviet Union is far from reassessment. A Trump presidency would abandon Central Asia altogether thereby speeding up reintegration. Phase Two are their former satellite states and Phase Three is Western Europe.

  5. says

    secondtofirstworld@#5:
    I’m not talking about machines being in the human body and its wireless connection but perception.

    Yes, propaganda works.

    As such, paid trolls of the Kremlin “borrow” the idea from Indian call centers to become virtual Americans, who are gosh darn afraid about what directions the country takes.

    The US political parties have been using “astroturfing” for a long time.

    To them this is still The Big Game

    It’s funny you use that term. The Great Game was an English imperialist view of how the remains of the Ottoman Empire, India, Africa, and the remaining European powers were going to be manipulated and carved up. If you contextualize Russia’s actions as a series of defensive moves against NATO (i.e: US puppet allies) encroachment, they make more sense.

    (Edit: I wasn’t clear – Russia was a chip in The Great Game, hardly a player. If they have an agenda in the New Great Game it’s to stop being treated as a pawn. But Russia is not and never has been in a position to be a player.)

    I don’t think Putin is stupid enough to believe that anyone can/will “win” the next cold war. And, if they were trying to win a new cold war, they’d be doing much more effective things; most of Russia’s recent activities amount to containment.

  6. applehead says

    While that’s certainly an interesting take on the situation, do you discount any suspicions towards Russia’s state-sponsored hacker network out of hand?

    The argument “well, yeah, but what about Murrica’s evil deeds?!” sounds egregiously childish to me. Since when does one crime excuse another? Especially in this case. America, for all its many, many problems, is still a halfway functional democracy, it’s capable of reform. Good luck ousting Putin, a man who kills his enemies with radioactive materials, wages genocide on the Chechens, internecine war on the Ukrainians and lets his recruited private hackers run wild over the world.

  7. secondtofirstworld says

    @Marcus Ranum #6:

    This isn’t like astroturfing in the sense that that’s internal, this is on a larger geopolitical scale.

    Erm, how do I say this without appearing to be rude? Russia is anything but containment, and belonging to their sphere of interest for decades doesn’t make one friendly toward their moves, especially not if their boss is a former KGB station chief who built his rule on being surrounded by other former KGB and FSB officers. Sure, Bush Sr. was chief of the CIA, but even their family doesn’t have an indoor spy network. The old Czarist Russia wanted sea ports that don’t freeze in the winter and have access to bigger waters, a goal they almost achieved before the 1917 revolution. The Soviet Union did achieve that from the ’60s onward.

    It has been proven that they operate a troll network and how they fund alt-right and Euroskeptic parties to destabilize the EU. Neighboring countries of Russia do protect themselves because Russia has the bad habit of just visiting and then not leaving. I’m not blind, I know that the US funded neofascist regimes to suppress the spread of communism during the original Cold War but that has since been stopped.

    The Eurasian Customs Union is but a glorified Comecon, and to nobody’s surprise it is yet again only benefiting Russians. Imagine if in NAFTA Mexicans and Canadians had to import customs and tax free, but when exporting they still have to pay a hefty VAT, and Americans imports and exports are exempt from both. Their agenda in the Great Game was among others to establish a corridor in Afghanistan so they can occupy India and attempting to annex Korea through their lease in Manchuria but the Japanese beat them to it.

    What they’re trying to achieve now is to make other powers abandon the former Soviet republics, to pit EU states against each other until disintegration, to move the UK away both from Europe and America, to help spread the Venezuelan way to other Latin American countries and convince the US it needs isolation. A slightly possible Phase Four could be isolating the US and influence the world economy on the brink of collapse to embrace what BRICS has to offer.

    The main reason the Comintern failed in 1930’s Europe to incite Bolshevik revolutions is because the Abwehr and local secret services did a better job. With such an obstacle gone, people can be influenced from within, which is what social media is for, the linchpin only needs to be something external, but other than their influence.

    People close to them use the current migrant crisis as a conflict started by the US to convince people it’s a covert CIA operation, and at the same time they convince Americans that refugees are terrorists or supporting terrorists and nobody should be let in. While we shout at each other they pick up the pieces. By the way, and I don’t mean this offensive, when was the last time you saw a snow plower working on a day outside snow season? Because one such vehicle blocked the view of street cams when a famous opposition member was gunned down not far from the Kremlin, no suspects, but Putin is on the case personally, they’ll find them just like how they found out when and how Raoul Wallenberg died. Where one might be an attack dog, the other is a rabid wolf, only one can be called back before mauling.

  8. says

    applehead@#7:
    do you discount any suspicions towards Russia’s state-sponsored hacker network out of hand?

    Of course not!!! The KGB was very effective during the cold war, and the FSB are no slouches. I tend to be skeptical when someone points and says “it was the russians!” without good corroborating evidence. That’s simply because attribution is hard in cyberspace; it’s very easy to throw a head-fake if you want to.

    There is a pretty rich history of blaming things on the russians, only to find out that it was maybe not the russians (or it was a covert-enough operation that there was plausible deniability) For example, the hacking attacks in Estonia in 2007 were variously attributed to Russia, Russians, actors within Russia, other nationalists. And – throughout – nobody actually presented any evidence tying the attribution. That sort of thing should raise skepticism in the community, and it has. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_cyberattacks_on_Estonia)

    The argument “well, yeah, but what about Murrica’s evil deeds?!” sounds egregiously childish to me.

    The argument is not “what about America’s evil deeds?” it’s “what’s the moral basis to complain about someone doing something that you do?” If you want to characterize that as “childish” I’m interested, since that sort of reflexive reasoning is the basis for pretty much all moral arguments.

    America, for all its many, many problems, is still a halfway functional democracy, it’s capable of reform

    If America is capable of reform that makes its unapologetic preference for offensive action worse not better. If America is a totalitarian dictatorship, then we’d be able to understand its actions much more clearly.

    Good luck ousting Putin, a man who kills his enemies with radioactive materials, wages genocide on the Chechens, internecine war on the Ukrainians and lets his recruited private hackers run wild over the world.

    He’s certainly worse than the Americans, who kill their enemies with predator drones, wage genocide on the indigenous peoples who lived here before the european colonists, and who let their recruited private hackers run wild over the world.

    Sarcasm aside, he’s a nasty piece of work. But his being a nasty piece of work doesn’t make America any more or less nasty; they’re not connected. I’m not interested in drawing false equivalences – you’re making a weird assumption if you’re arguing that because I disapprove of what America is doing that I therefore must approve of Putin. You can’t get there from here.

    lets his recruited private hackers run wild over the world.

    Like the NSA’s been doing? Or ‘Sabu’ or the CIA? Like that?

  9. says

    secondtofirstworld@#8:
    There’s a lot here. I’m going to be choosy.

    This isn’t like astroturfing in the sense that that’s internal, this is on a larger geopolitical scale.

    Yeah, it’s like astroturfing in the sense that it’s propaganda. The US astroturfs itself, Israel astroturfs the US, etc. The reason I mentioned “astroturfing” is because that’s just an example of one of the many means that nations use in order to manufacture the appearance of consensus. You mentioned @#5 about humans being hacked and manipulation of perception – I agree: that’s what propaganda does and is, and the US and Russia and Israel and pretty much everyone are engaging in that game.

    Personally, I’m not fond of it; I see use of propaganda as anti-democratic since it’s manipulation of opinion, rather than giving information and allowing people to form their own opinions. Of course it’s how nations operate.*

    The old Czarist Russia wanted sea ports that don’t freeze in the winter and have access to bigger waters, a goal they almost achieved before the 1917 revolution. The Soviet Union did achieve that from the ’60s onward.

    Yes, and when the US-sponsored coup in Ukraine threatened Russia’s warm-water navy, they reacted. I don’t see a disagreement, here.

    Sure, Bush Sr. was chief of the CIA, but even their family doesn’t have an indoor spy network.

    I am not sure what you are claiming. The US establishment has a vast spy network, control of which partially transitions as part of change of administration (If you think the US president controls the CIA, NSA, and FBI, you need to study those organizations a bit more) Putin, as current dictator of Russia, controls the intelligence apparatus of Russia. When he’s gone, someone else will. There’s nothing magic about Putin. He’s just another dictator; maybe more thoughtful than others, but he’s not a demonic entity or anything like that, any more than Bush or whoever.

    It has been proven that they operate a troll network and how they fund alt-right and Euroskeptic parties to destabilize the EU.

    It has been proven that the US operates a troll network, and they destabilize governments all the time. I’m not saying it’s right that the US does that, personally I despise it. I’m saying “of course the Russians do.” I assume they’ve been doing it for a very long time. That’s part of why I am dismissive of the “Russians trying to rig the election” claims – freakin’ everyone is trying to rig the election. Remember when Netanyahu came over, bypassed Obama, and spoke to Congress? That was an attempt to influence US politics. I’m almost willing to define “politics” circularly, i.e.: “politics is the system of influencing politics” – that’s pretty much what it is.

    So, does the Russian troll network have more or less of an impact than the Koch brothers? I don’t know. But would wager a guess it’s less. Again: I do not approve of any of these things, but that’s just me.

    Neighboring countries of Russia do protect themselves because Russia has the bad habit of just visiting and then not leaving.

    Every powerful nation has that habit. Or do you think the US has not had any hand in other countries’ politics since we attempted to invade Canada in 1812? I mean, other than trying to overthrow the Mexican government, Nicaraguan government, Ecuadorian government, Cuban government, etc. Again: I do not approve of these things; they are a reality of politics.

    I am not responding in this way to minimize what Russia does. I think what Russia does is not very nice. I think what the US does is not very nice. I wish they would both stop. I don’t draw a moral equivalence between them – i.e.: I can’t tell you which is worse, and that’s irrelevant because neither of them should be doing the stuff they are doing, in my opinion.

    I’m not blind, I know that the US funded neofascist regimes to suppress the spread of communism during the original Cold War but that has since been stopped.

    It’s stopped? What?
    The US has funded neofascist regimes all around the world. The degree to which the US was involved in supporting various factions in the Maidan rebellion hasn’t come into the open yet. I don’t know to what degree the US’ “investments in Ukrainian democratic institutions” were designed to overthrow the government, but I’d imagine Putin was as happy about that as we’d be if Russia was funding democratic institutions in Ecuador or Mexico.

    Minor academic nit: the cold war was nothing about suppressing the spread of communism. None of the nations that were being formed by overthrowing the old order were communist; they were varieties of personality-cult dictatorships and various ultra-nationalists. But that’s beside the point. I think I would say something like that “the US was trying to suppress the spread of non-aligned powers breaking out of colonialism and not aligning with the US’ open-market trade-zone.”

    What they’re trying to achieve now is to make other powers abandon the former Soviet republics

    Of course they are! They don’t want new NATO powers cropping up right in their back yard, or EU-tied powers either.

    A slightly possible Phase Four could be isolating the US

    In what fantasy-land would Putin think such a thing was a possible outcome? He’s much more rational than that.

    The main reason the Comintern failed in 1930’s Europe to incite Bolshevik revolutions is because the Abwehr and local secret services did a better job.

    Whaaaaaat?
    The main reason the comintern failed to incite bolshevik revolutions is because what was happening in Russia was pretty clear; Stalin had already taken over, the USSR was becoming a dictatorship, and the message of bolshevism had conclusively shit the hot tub. The collectivization of agriculture and the USSR’s gulags had much more to do with making bolshevism unattractive than the German’s suppression.

    That said, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, I have a problem with assigning simple causality to historical events. It doesn’t seem to me to be that easy. There were lots and lots of reasons bolshevism didn’t take off; I don’t think we can point at any one of them and say “that’s the main reason.”

    People close to them use the current migrant crisis as a conflict started by the US to convince people it’s a covert CIA operation, and at the same time they convince Americans that refugees are terrorists or supporting terrorists and nobody should be let in. While we shout at each other they pick up the pieces.

    I don’t think there’s a conspiracy; I don’t see any reason to believe that those events are part of a complex plan – it seems plausible to me that incompetence and mismanagement put certain events in motion, and other people saw what was happening and took advantage of it. If that’s the case, then, yeah, we’re looking at a muddle of history.

    By the way, and I don’t mean this offensive, when was the last time you saw a snow plower working on a day outside snow season? Because one such vehicle blocked the view of street cams when a famous opposition member was gunned down not far from the Kremlin, no suspects, but Putin is on the case personally, they’ll find them just like how they found out when and how Raoul Wallenberg died.

    I don’t doubt for a second that Putin is a murderous asshole. The Russians have hardly bothered to deny their involvement in Litvinenko’s killing.

    But – and I do mean this offensive – what the fuck does that matter? You appear to be arguing like one of those crazed religious fanatics who believes that there’s a dichotomy of truth in place: that because Putin is horrible, then the US must be OK. I don’t see that the real world works that way. Putin is horrible. The US is horrible. I am comfortable believing both of those things and I don’t see how acknowledging that the Russians do bad stuff makes what the US does OK.

    To the topic of the elections, which is what got us here:
    – I observe that the Russians may tamper with the US elections, but I say “so what.”
    – Why do I say “so what?” Because the US already tampers with its elections to a tremendous degree, and any further Russian tampering is probably noise compounded atop more noise.
    – I am not saying “it’s OK that the Russians may be tampering with the US elections.”
    – I am not saying “it’s OK that the US tampers with the US’ elections.”
    – I am not saying “it’s OK that anyone tampers with other peoples’ politics.”

    Here’s a question for you, bearing in mind that I think cause and effect is hard to assign, and is doubly hard to weight:
    Who do you think has tampered with the US elections the most?
    1) The Koch brothers
    2) The Russians
    3) The FBI

    I argue that tampering with elections is antidemocratic, whether it comes from inside or outside – because in either case it’s bypassing or manipulating the will of the people.

    (* I think nationalism is, itself, a byproduct of propaganda)

  10. secondtofirstworld says

    There is a pretty rich history of blaming things on the russians, only to find out that it was maybe not the russians (or it was a covert-enough operation that there was plausible deniability) For example, the hacking attacks in Estonia in 2007 were variously attributed to Russia, Russians, actors within Russia, other nationalists. And – throughout – nobody actually presented any evidence tying the attribution. That sort of thing should raise skepticism in the community, and it has. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_cyberattacks_on_Estonia)

    They were as innocent as Crimea wanted voluntary annexation. The justified paranoia of the Baltic states aside, Estonia’s domestic policies were influenced offline way prior to that cyberwar. Ever since Putin came into power, they’ve felt the ascension of the Baltic states into the NATO and the EU a direct threat, and acted accordingly. To be fair, some private entities in Estonia did some things to spark such provocations, like the subtle admiration of pro-Axis Estonians. If you want proof that Russia was behind the attack, and not an other unrelated third party, look no further than the simultaneous attacks on Estonian diplomats in Russia all because of a damn statue. The fact is, since the end of the Cold War, there has been 3 Russias: that of Gorbachev, acknowledging wrongdoings to countries outside the USSR, that of Yeltsin, acknowledging wrongdoings within the USSR, and that of Putin, they never occupied Poland, the Baltic states, parts of Finland and Romania, and if you say otherwise, you commit the crime of denial of Nazi war crimes.

  11. says

    secondtofirstworld@#11:
    If you want proof that Russia was behind the attack, and not an other unrelated third party, look no further than the simultaneous attacks on Estonian diplomats in Russia all because of a damn statue.

    I don’t accept that as proof, and more than I’d accept anonymous’ being behind a DDOS attack on North Korea as proof that the US was behind it.

    You appear to believe that nations act as a unit; they don’t. Or that government strategy (or more specifically: Putin) is behind things that happen in the context of the power that Putin is ruling at the time he’s ruling it. That’s like saying Obama is behind ‘Sabu’s attacks on the Brazilian police’s network. It’s not as simple as you seem to want to interpret it as being.

    Even if Putin ordered the assassination of 2 other people in Estonia at the same time as the cyberattacks, that doesn’t mean Putin was behind the cyberattacks! The only thing it means is that they happened at the same time.

    Haven’t you noticed that nations full of people get up to all kinds of shit? Some of it is directed as part of a grand strategy, and some of it is just people doing stuff that they think they want to do.

    There is a big difference between “A Russian did X” and “Russia did X” and “An ethnic Russian living in Estonia did X” Just as there is a difference between “The US did X” and “the US FBI did X” and “Barack Obama did X” and “an American did X” I’m not comfortable over-simplifying my explanations of what appears to happen.

    You’ll notice that I’ve been quite comfortable accepting state-sponsored actions where it’s been clearly acknowledged that the state was behind it, i.e.: the North Koreans torpedoed the Cheonan, The Russian FSB poisoned Litvinenko, the US gave Stuxnet to Israel and Israel deployed it against Iran, etc. In cases where there’s a really solid attribution, I am comfortable with accepting it. If the Russians come out and say they were behind the Estonia attacks, or there’s better evidence than has already been presented (it does point to Russian nationalists in Estonia as the culprits) I was one of the many internet security practitioners who did not accept the “It was the Russians” story, FWIW. I also didn’t accept the attribution of the Sony attacks to North Korea.

    You cannot simply point at opportunity and advantage and timing and say that’s attribution. If I may quote myself to do attribution you need evidence and understanding:
    – Evidence linking the presumed attacker to the attack
    – An understanding of the attacker’s actions, supporting that evidence
    – Evidence collected from other systems that matches the understanding of the attacker’s actions
    – An understanding of the sequence of events during the attack, matching the evidence

    Why am I so cautious about attribution? Because, eventually, some dumbass is going to kill someone over a cyberattack, and then they’ll find out they killed the wrong person.

  12. John Morales says

    Marcus @13, I read that as an imputation to the third Russia’s claims (Putin’s), not as those of the commenter.

  13. secondtofirstworld says

    @Marcus Ranum I have to find out how I can edit here, one post would be easier ;)

    The old Czarist Russia wanted sea ports that don’t freeze in the winter and have access to bigger waters, a goal they almost achieved before the 1917 revolution. The Soviet Union did achieve that from the ’60s onward.

    Yes, and when the US-sponsored coup in Ukraine threatened Russia’s warm-water navy, they reacted. I don’t see a disagreement, here.

    I see in the sense, that I’m confused which period you mean. The Ukraine exists only since 1991, and I don’t recall an armed conflict with the US. If it concerns Crimea, the 2 states signed an agreement in Budapest in 1994, that from that point forth neither state shall lay down any territorial claim. Therefore Russian claims that the Ukrainian Khrushchev gave Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR illegally is null and void, they merely leased the port of Sevastopol. Taking Crimea with this breach of contract is like the US occupies all of Cuba because they rent Gitmo. If you mean the Crimean War, there was no Ukraine yet.

    I am not sure what you are claiming. The US establishment has a vast spy network, control of which partially transitions as part of change of administration (If you think the US president controls the CIA, NSA, and FBI, you need to study those organizations a bit more) Putin, as current dictator of Russia, controls the intelligence apparatus of Russia. When he’s gone, someone else will. There’s nothing magic about Putin. He’s just another dictator; maybe more thoughtful than others, but he’s not a demonic entity or anything like that, any more than Bush or whoever.

    The US has 17 intelligence agencies. You made my point for me by acknowledging that in the US being a former CIA chief turned president does not equate to controlling everything. Putin’s case is different. It’s not only that he was a station chief in Leipzig, where the feared Stasi had the same licenses as the KGB, the whole economy post-Yukos is being controlled by Putin and his former colleagues in the intelligence community. There’s literally almost no free and strong parts of the economy outside the Kremlin’s control. Since they have only a passage in their constitution similar to the 22nd Amendment (something Donald would like to abolish), you have already seen him serving the 2 terms than he transferred all power to the prime minister, got himself elected, then transferred power back and he will repeat this as long as he can. Dissenters, detractors and freethinkers literally disappear and die in Russia, something unthinkable in the US.

    It’s stopped? What?
    The US has funded neofascist regimes all around the world. The degree to which the US was involved in supporting various factions in the Maidan rebellion hasn’t come into the open yet. I don’t know to what degree the US’ “investments in Ukrainian democratic institutions” were designed to overthrow the government, but I’d imagine Putin was as happy about that as we’d be if Russia was funding democratic institutions in Ecuador or Mexico.

    Unlike the Bush administration, Obama don’t even wish to pretend to export democracy, but I can shed some light on the Ukrainian situation. Like any country east of Berlin, they have not yet reached the ladder on the societal evolution where they have a healthy dose of nationalism, and are prone to corruption. The former president was corrupt, and the current Verkhovna Rada (the parliament) is also corrupt, but at least they were willing to become transparent. The Ukraine has but one ultra-nationalist movement, the Svoboda. I have no love lost for them, they’d kick my teeth out just for speaking Hungarian. Most of the pro-EU pro-NATO crowd are not radicals they just hoped to get protection before they disappear from the map. What Russia has offered under Yanukovich was the Eurasian Customs Union that’s only benefiting Russia. Moreover, several countries only get petrochemicals from Russia because they s*ck up to them. Well, you said Putin is rational. He is, but also a massive d*ck. If you like him, a cubic meter of gas is 100 bucks, if you say you want trade with others, the pipelines have sudden difficulties and now its 400 bucks. Libertarians would love that, ask what you feel is right.

    The main reason the comintern failed to incite bolshevik revolutions is because what was happening in Russia was pretty clear; Stalin had already taken over, the USSR was becoming a dictatorship, and the message of bolshevism had conclusively shit the hot tub. The collectivization of agriculture and the USSR’s gulags had much more to do with making bolshevism unattractive than the German’s suppression.

    I was talking about covert operations. What you had written down are all true, except place your mind in the ’30s, you don’t know that yet. The first time you’ll hear about Soviet atrocities will be by people like Stepan Bandera in the 1950s, until then whatever the Western press writes, you’ll shrug it off as propaganda, and after Churchill allies himself with Stalin anti-Soviet coverage disappears altogether, and you can’t believe the Nazis. Some of the atrocities will be corroborated only in the collapsing days of the USSR. The reason beside successful counterintelligence is in your remark, jingoistic nationalism and other fringe elements. However, in today’s EU and America frustrated people make connotation that their political elite had failed them, so others need to step up, and they brush off the fact that they’re getting paid by the Kremlin. It’s more funnier in post socialist countries, where nationalist parties accusing socialists of being successors of communists cozy up to Putin.

    I don’t think there’s a conspiracy; I don’t see any reason to believe that those events are part of a complex plan – it seems plausible to me that incompetence and mismanagement put certain events in motion, and other people saw what was happening and took advantage of it. If that’s the case, then, yeah, we’re looking at a muddle of history.

    Of course there’s no conspiracy, I could provide a parallel. I’m sure you’re aware that today in a visa application to the US one has to admit to being or not being part of any oppressing regimes (Nazis, communists). 60 years ago the US decided to accept 40 thousand refugees from Hungary. It is detailed in the CIA report (declassified in ’96) and in the book Americans at the gate: America and the refugee crises during the Cold War, that in lack of translators and time they asked simply if they were members of either party. They could have said no, and off they were to America. If you’ve seen Scarface, it begins with explaining how Castro sent over refugees out of whom every fifth was a criminal. Some ’56 refugees were common criminals as well. Trump would lose his s*it if he knew, that some of these refugees (since long citizens) have refused cooperation with the INS and frequently changed addresses. Anyhow, playing both America and the EU with the current crisis help demonize America in the EU, a child could do that. If Americans accept refugees, they’ll be branded as terrorists, if they don’t, Europeans turn away from the inhumane Americans with the anger that they care for people who flee wars started or supported by America. It doesn’t have to be true, just very close to the truth.

    To answer your last paragraph. I don’t demonize the Russian or the American people, neither administration is on either of you, they are grown people capable of decisions. The FBI, since Watergate hasn’t been much of a tamperer of elections. Yes, rich Americans do a lot of domestic and international tampering, the corporate tax loopholes from the ’80s onward serve them. Where I do see a difference is how long a nation stays in an other nation’s land. I like to make the joke that Iraqis understand us, because they also have been liberated but somehow the liberators are still there. After time however America will leave, it costs too much time, money, and too many lives. The Russian government on the other hand has more money now than the USSR ever had, the reason they had to give up occupation. Not having and not liking democracy is exactly where the similarities with America end. Armenia has pretty much admitted the reason they signed into the customs union is because Azerbaijan did too and they don’t wish to vanish from the map.

    It’s a bit hard to explain how a person can house two contradicting entities, let’s call them “souls”. One is for engaging people from other cultures, and a different one to engage others in your own culture. America had that when they helped fighting for the freedom of others but kept its military segregated. It’s on front of you, but still don’t see it as they say. It is something similar that drives open minded people to vote for Vlad. What they know outside a strong leader is nothing but despair, even though they know he’s like herpes is to cancer.

  14. says

    The part I least understand about the US (the Democrats, specifically) and their steady escalation against Russia is: What do these morons think will happen?

    Brazil is having issues right now for their CIA-friendly president Temer, and may stay out of it. But the rest of the BRIC are tough enough to make this an unwinnable war for the US and their allies. Russia, China and India are all nuclear nations. China has, for all intents and purposes, an endless army. India has the capacity to completely overtake the NSA’s spying abilities.

    What does America have going for them?

    The European Union is being dismantled, not by Putin’s interference, but by Merkel’s love for austerity measures. Bullying the more disadvantaged members of this so-called ‘union’ won’t make them rally behind the cause when shit hits the fan.
    No Latin American country has the power, or the interest, to help you in your bloody war for hegemony.

    For all intents and purposes. As things stand right now, the United States has every disadvantage going into a direct conflict with Russia. Knowing this… Why have NATO troops marching on the russian border? Why insist on “helping” Syria? A gas pipeline is worth this much trouble now?

    There is no viable path to victory, and the risk of mutual destruction is not an empty threat. Please, just stop.

  15. John Morales says

    A Lurker from mexico:

    The part I least understand about the US (the Democrats, specifically) and their steady escalation against Russia is: What do these morons think will happen?

    A proper Cold War, not like this feeble Islamist excuse for one.

    </cynicism>

  16. secondtofirstworld says

    @Marcus Ranum:

    This time I’ll attempt to answer some of the refutations in a single post. No, foam doesn’t drip from my mouth. http://www.ejiltalk.org/russias-supreme-court-rewrites-history-of-the-second-world-war/ In other words, while it’s all good and well, that Russia actively pursues prosecution of people who deny crimes committed by the Axis powers and their allies, the problem is that criminal acts committed in deliberation by the USSR, acts previously acknowledged by Gorbachev and Yeltsin are now ad acta, thus this poor guy gets fined and jail time for speaking the facts.

    This boils down to the second point. You might have glossed over the part, where I said, they don’t have and don’t like democracy. People of ethnic Russian origin, especially those who become militant separatists are de jure citizens of one country but de facto they see themselves as just Russian. Even if one is on the opinion, that in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict the former ones are the bad guys, they still can’t deny that the aim of separatist entities is to join Russia, thereby adding territory which were never theirs. If you wish a comparison, imagine that Santa Ana had won the war, but during WWI Mexico does side with the German Empire, and the US take those states back. Since many in this parallel timeline (it did happen in a parallel universe) don’t speak Spanish and share no cultural connection, also don’t lose a tear over belonging to America again. The USSR only fell apart 25 years ago, most people settled there by Stalin after WWII formed part of the Soviet majority, there was no need to develop a non-Russian mentality. Therefore supposing ethnic Russians in neighboring countries are distinctively different from others in the mainland when it comes to Russian issues is ignoring history.

    The good thing about your view is, that you have a healthy sense of nationalism and democracy, so in theory you’re right, they’d be different, in reality not so much. When asked about the formulation of the USSR, Putin said the only thing he’s sad about is Lenin’s mistake allowing any Soviet Socialist Republic to leave the union. This sentence in itself epitomizes the sentiment of Russia viewing independence as a loss they have suffered, and something rightfully belonging to them. When you say people have different ideas among a nation, said statement is true if a nation has a healthy sense of nationalism and people want to choose, like how the GOP primary had 18 candidates. However, when you don’t yet have that and desire/seek a strong leader to tell you what to do (a relic of absolutism), then dissenting voices are traitors, one conditions themselves to fall in line. I don’t even blame them, the history east of Berlin is chock full of people being jailed, exiled, deported or murdered for daring to have a different opinion.

    To address your last concern. Russia admitted murdering Litvinenko because irrefutable physical evidence was presented. On the other hand the assailants of the female journalist murdered 10 years ago for criticizing military actions during the Chechen Wars are still nowhere to be found. Why? Because the latter is their backyard. If they admitted that the cyber attack and the later attack on diplomats is linked and was caused by the differing interpretation and sentiment over the Great Patriotic War as they call it, it would be admission of guilt on actions committed against a NATO state which in theory would invoke Article 5 and we’re all dead. This is not unlike the deliberate obfuscation of the CIA and the FBI when they neither conform nor deny that they had played a part in getting hard drugs into the US during the ’60s and ’70s. Speaking of the FBI, there’s a different shenanigan. Do you remember the BCCI/Centrust case? Turns out the guy wanted for wire fraud, racketeering and embezzlement in that case (not to mention that according to the French he had financially supported bin Laden during his Al-Qaeda days) has earned an oil supply contract from the Pentagon in 2008 a mere 2 years after the Bureau tried to arrest him off the coast of Sicily. Long story short, as a friend of the Saudi royal family (his father was the doctor of the former king) and deeply embedded in the Pakistani intelligence network and economy, he enjoys both their protection diplomatically. So when he bought real estate through shell companies and had also appeared in person in Europe, the US Embassy and the FBI was asked if he’s still wanted based on the 1992 warrant. He is (he had a red notice with the Interpol), but his supporters know, actually arresting him in light of things we know now would fracture Saudi and Pakistani-American relations, not to mention could possibly link the royal dynasty itself to terrorism. To avoid it, for now all parties involved pretend he’s air and isn’t even there.

    So, in essence I admit, I can’t physically prove Russia was behind the attack on Estonia, but I can prove, that their embassy was attacked by Russians and that local authorities failed to protect diplomats of a foreign nation. I can also prove that the latter was in connection with the relocation of the bronze statue, so I can prove that there were high tensions between the 2 nations. It is therefore very unlikely, that an involved third party had committed the act, since no information dump was ever since presented which would embarrass Russia or Estonia, and there weren’t any followup acts. When the Estonians mounted their attack, they admitted to it. Any independent hacker group successful enough would admit to it as they had done so in the past. I put this under most likely. As for North Korea being innocent in the Sony attack. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/30/north-korea-executes-two-officials-with-anti-aircraft-guns/ So, a person having this little self control had absolutely nothing to do with a movie that ridiculed him.

  17. says

    A Lurker from Mexico@#16:
    the United States has every disadvantage going into a direct conflict with Russia. Knowing this… Why have NATO troops marching on the russian border? Why insist on “helping” Syria?

    Those are great questions. I don’t think there are answers for them, because I don’t think the people who are making those decisions are asking those questions. US foreign policy appears to be reflexive: expand power, open new markets, privatize other countries so that US businesses can get a foot in the door. But I don’t think there’s a central planning body that meets in a dark room, with those objectives carved into a great marble plinth, or something like that. It’s simply that the tendency of power to want to accrete more, the tendency of money to want to accrete more, the tendency of secrecy to keep more secrets – those are powerful trends that push the US to exploit what has been a successful process (so far) because it’s worked (so far) and the human tendency appears to be to push any successful method to the breaking-point.

    Andrew Bacevich asks some good questions like yours in his books, particularly “America’s War for the Greater Middle East” What the hell do they expect to accomplish? His answer seems to be similar to mine: it’s not strategy it’s inertia. Chuck Spinney writes about grand strategy here and I think Spinney’s right that we need a sensible one, but I think he’s optimistic about the extent to which anyone in government actually thinks about anything like strategy. The US’ grand strategy appears to be sort of like Ray Wylie Hubbard’s prayer (“Oh lord if you get me out of this, I swear I’ll never do it again.”) except on infinite repeat: there is absolutely no sign of learning from our past decisions, which means there is either: no thought, or no realization that these things are mistakes.

    I tend to think it’s the latter. The powerful insulate themselves from the direct consequences of their mistakes, and we elevate the ones that are best at doing that, to the highest offices. That virtually guarantees a zero-fill strategy: everything is done in a vacuum. I mean, look at the way Hillary Clinton was kowtowing to Henry Kissinger, who is probably the single greatest living fuckup in US politics, with Dick Cheney in close second.

  18. says

    secondtofirstworld@#18:
    Russia actively pursues prosecution of people who deny crimes committed by the Axis powers and their allies

    As John Morales points out at #14, I mis-parsed you. My mistake made me think you were talking about me. I apologize.

    there was no need to develop a non-Russian mentality

    I agree with much of what you say there, with the observation that there is no genetic national identity that I am aware of: national identity is a result of culture and propaganda. So there may be “Russian nationalists” in Estonia or elsewhere but they are byproducts of state propaganda (and culture) – side-effects of the state, not entirely the responsibility of the state. They can consider themselves martians, for all it matters, if they’re Estonian citizens living in Estonia, and they attack Estonia because of their own Martian reasons, you can’t attribute the attack to Mars. (Other than in the sense that Mars exists) If we start allowing people’s allegiances to define what they are allied to, then we are stuck in reasoning that “Islam is a religion of hate” It’s really easy to invert cause and effect. That’s kind of what I’m worried you may be doing here: because someone self-identifies as Russian doesn’t mean Russia is responsible for them. My criteria for “responsibility” for political actions include a leadership hierarchy with someone giving orders down a chain of command.

    To address your last concern. Russia admitted murdering Litvinenko because irrefutable physical evidence was presented.

    I don’t agree. By using a particular radiological poison, Russia literally signed its work. They know how advanced nuclear forensics has become, and they had every reason to expect that once the doctors figured out what was killing Litvinenko, it would be possible to identify the isotope the reactor it was bred in, and the refinement process that was used. That was a very deliberate “yes, we killed you” signature – it was so perfectly horrible that I suspect there are mafiosi that still sigh in envy.

    Speaking of the FBI, there’s a different shenanigan. Do you remember the BCCI/Centrust case? Turns out the guy wanted for wire fraud, racketeering and embezzlement in that case (not to mention that according to the French he had financially supported bin Laden during his Al-Qaeda days) has earned an oil supply contract from the Pentagon in 2008 a mere 2 years after the Bureau tried to arrest him off the coast of Sicily.

    You don’t have to work to convince me that the FBI is politically corrupted (and incompetent) I’ve been there for over a decade!

    I can’t physically prove Russia was behind the attack on Estonia

    There’s the rub. After you say that, everything else is just noise.

    And, not being able to prove it, you are simply speculating. I am comfortable with speculating (I predicted the US involvement in Stuxnet 6 months before everyone else figured it out, but I couldn’t prove it – though my circumstantial evidence was better than yours) It’s a question of how certain we can be. (more by me about attribution) It gets even more complicated thanks to the existence of techniques for throwing head-fakes, which have been amplified by actual products made for the US and other intelligence communities that are designed to make it easier to falsify attribution. I may someday do a post on that but I’m limited by some non-disclosures and I have to figure out whether there’s a parallel construction)

    I can also prove that the latter was in connection with the relocation of the bronze statue, so I can prove that there were high tensions between the 2 nations.

    You cannot prove anything of the sort. There were tensions, yes. There was a bronze statue, true. Making the connection between the statue and the attacks is hard: they both happened in the correct sequence, but there is no proof. Consider the Sony attacks: there is a claim that the Sony attacks were North Korea responding to a certain bad movie. On the face of it, it seems like a reasonable claim. But how do we know? Without solid evidence linking the two, the linkage is circumstantial, at best.*

    Any independent hacker group successful enough would admit to it as they had done so in the past.

    Nonsense. Utter nonsense. There are tremendous numbers of high profile hacks that happen without the hacker group responsible coming forward and claiming credit. (And, FWIW, in the situations where they do, we usually ask them for proof, which is not hard for the actual attackers to provide and extremely difficult for an imposter) I don’t know if you work in computer security as a first responder but I do/have and have been involved in the forensics for some of these cases; I’m pretty familiar with what hackers do and why – and perhaps that’s why I am less accepting of low bars for “proof” than you are.

    So, a person having this little self control had absolutely nothing to do with a movie that ridiculed him.

    Your argument appears to be: “Kim is a bad man, therefore he did it.”
    Please don’t be silly.

    (* There is also the problem that Sony was under attack by the same hackers, well before the North Korea Movie angle was published in the press. So it seems more credible to me that the hackers simply adopted that as a gifted causus belli )

  19. secondtofirstworld says

    @Marcus Ranum comment 20:

    I agree with much of what you say there, with the observation that there is no genetic national identity that I am aware of: national identity is a result of culture and propaganda. So there may be “Russian nationalists” in Estonia or elsewhere but they are byproducts of state propaganda (and culture) – side-effects of the state, not entirely the responsibility of the state. They can consider themselves martians, for all it matters, if they’re Estonian citizens living in Estonia, and they attack Estonia because of their own Martian reasons, you can’t attribute the attack to Mars. (Other than in the sense that Mars exists) If we start allowing people’s allegiances to define what they are allied to, then we are stuck in reasoning that “Islam is a religion of hate” It’s really easy to invert cause and effect. That’s kind of what I’m worried you may be doing here: because someone self-identifies as Russian doesn’t mean Russia is responsible for them. My criteria for “responsibility” for political actions include a leadership hierarchy with someone giving orders down a chain of command.

    Olga Kurylenko, Mila Kunis and the late and great Anton Yelchin, to name a few were all born in the former USSR, yet all of them are and were full fledged Americans. In and of itself being ethnic Russian or originating from other Soviet socialist republics do not necessitate allegiance, in that much you’re right. On the other hand, there has been proven a clear chain of command between separatists in Crimea or the Donbass region and the Kremlin. One such example was Arsen Pavlov, an alleged war criminal, whose death is beneficial to both The Ukraine and Russia for 2 different reasons: for the Ukrainians it’s one less separatist leader to worry about, for the Russians it’s a vacant slot they can fill, erm, suggest to fill with an Ukrainian-born separatist. What is highly suspect, is that he was highly paranoid of his and his family’s safety, so bombing him an elevator was unlikely without inside help, regardless who’s actually behind it. A month before that, Chamsulvara Chamsulvarayev was killed in a Mosul airstrike in the fight against the Islamic State. As an antithesis for Pavlov, he was an Azerbaijani born Russian wrestler who competed in the Beijing Olympics, a minority Sunni, as Azerbaijan is mostly Shiite. One fought for expanding Russian territory, the other felt not being a citizen of any country. What does connect them is that they could only exist not just in an environment of violence but one in which they were respected, it has little to do with nationality or religion. America is often accused of viciously invading places (at times justified) however, correct me if I’m wrong, you don’t have separatist movements supported by the local populace proclaiming it has been yours and it will be yours. When the invading force creates a culture, where learning their language is mandatory, and actively suppresses the local culture, like Japan did with Taiwan and Korea, descendants of the oppressors think and feel their actions has been justified and served the betterment of said nation. It is as if both Castros die, and the sitting US president would say, Havana you had your fun, now get back to being our casino island. Central European states played this back and forth game and the only reason they stopped is because of the NATO membership. To this day, these countries have only basic treaties with each other acknowledging the other exists and has a right to do so. Ethnic minorities to varying degrees don’t feel belonging to the state they were born in and either move to the “motherland” or secretly wish they were occupied, fueled by nostalgia. I’m pretty sure, when you visit Europe, you don’t say I’m from (insert state here), but that you’re an American. On a very basic level that’s a sense of nationality toward the outside world.

    I don’t agree. By using a particular radiological poison, Russia literally signed its work. They know how advanced nuclear forensics has become, and they had every reason to expect that once the doctors figured out what was killing Litvinenko, it would be possible to identify the isotope the reactor it was bred in, and the refinement process that was used. That was a very deliberate “yes, we killed you” signature – it was so perfectly horrible that I suspect there are mafiosi that still sigh in envy.

    Again, it matters, where he was killed. Hat it happened on Moscow or Minsk, the autopsy report would simply say heart attack, because just like with the journalist and other dissent voices they don’t care, and neither does the populace, and that’s what’s truly scary. You know this, because you’re familiar with criminal sentences during the Jim Crow era, and how nobody actually cared to find real perpetrators. As for the mafiosi, I doubt their envy as Jimmy Hoffa is still nowhere to be found.

    I won’t pretend to be a computer forensics expert as I’m not one. However, humans have a carnal desire to gain from things. The Estonian attack happened amid tensions, and ever since, neither side were attacked. In the attack of October 21st and the Yahoo scandal, responsibility was claimed to gain notoriety. It isn’t just simply noise. Surrounding circumstances of the Estonian attack point toward Russia, but again, they can’t claim responsibility of attacking a NATO-country. If it was an inside job, it has to be explained why no followup attacks were performed despite that benefiting the Estonian side.

    As for Kim Jong Un. I’m not refuting, that the same hacker group acted against Sony before, however, as a security expert, you know that they have their own team, the guy is very savvy himself (he’s behind Office 39, who produce the infamous superdollars) and since the country is involved in the drug trade, and also have pro-North Korean supporters, the same group could, in theory be hired to do it, that doesn’t negate a dictator being behind it. In addition, it’s not simply that he’s a bad man. As The interview was a comedy, they could hardly add the fact, that North Koreans are being taught, that the men in the Kim family, founders of the Juche ideology are literal gods, who don’t need to use the toilet. Even so, feeling disrespected is one thing, but anti air-guns, seriously? Stalin just had them shot with regular guns.

  20. applehead says

    #9,

    He’s certainly worse than the Americans, who kill their enemies with predator drones, wage genocide on the indigenous peoples who lived here before the european colonists, and who let their recruited private hackers run wild over the world.

    Hah, in order to make that juxtaposition work you have to reach all the way back to the Indian Wars, as if the US of today is the same as that of the 1800s! False equivalency much?

    It’s just that if someone reacts to US officials accusing Russia of acts that sound like stuff they really do, in the kneejerk way of throwing up is hands and saying “That’s probably wrong and What About(TM) America’s act [X]” I smell an agenda…

  21. says

    @22
    The US of nowadays leaves is still in the business of genocide (Armenia, Palestine, Yemen), they just let some other other (heavily subsidized) agent do the dirty work.

    If anything, the US of today is worse than that of the 1800w. Back then you could avoid their bullshit by living far from them, now they export their bullshit to every corner of the world.

    Since Marcus in the OP is talking about US actions it is you and secondtofirstworld who are engaging in whataboutery by insisting on bringing up over and over again how mean Putin is. And that’s fine, Putin IS an unbelievable piece of shit and comparisons between Russian and American interventionism add a very welcome context to this conversation.

    However, since you seem to believe that whataboutery is evidence of some spooky hidden agenda, tell me. What is your agenda?

  22. says

    applehead@#22:
    in order to make that juxtaposition work you have to reach all the way back to the Indian Wars, as if the US of today is the same as that of the 1800s! False equivalency much?

    Snide twerpery aside, why is a genocidal massacre in 1890 less of a genocidal massacre than one in 1939? Are the nazis atrocities going to suddenly no longer “count” when 126 years have passed? And, in case you hadn’t caught on, “ethnic cleansing” is still an ongoing US policy – go look at what’s happening with DAPL – and how the reservation system (which is built atop violated treaties and genocide) is being used to dispossess indigenous people.

    It’s not a “false equivalency” at all. The nazis killed about 40% of the worldwide jewish population, whereas the native american population has been reduced 90%. That’s based on consensus population estimates that range from 10 million (unlikely) to 100 million (unlikely) – most historians seem to pick around 50 million.

    It’s just that if someone reacts to US officials accusing Russia of acts that sound like stuff they really do

    You’ll notice I’m not saying the Russians don’t do that. They probably do. And, so?

    My comment revolves around the fact the the US complains bitterly and makes threats when someone does what they do, to them. To put that in simpler terms you may understand, per Kant, if you go around punching people in the mouth, you are building a world in which punching people in the mouth is normal behavior; therefore you can’t complain when someone punches you in the mouth; they are simply following your own precedent.

    I’m not saying “because the US does bad things, what Russia does is not bad.” Show me where I said anything that stupid and I’ll eat all the pixels this posting is made of.

  23. says

    PS – I have no hidden agenda. I think nationalism stinks and the more powerful and less controlled a nation is, the more it stinks. Putin is a horrible person. So is Obama. So is Trump. So is Clinton. So is Netanyahu. So is Kissinger. So is Bush. So is Cheney. So is Rumsfeld. So on and on.

    Saying “Obama sucks” does not mean I like Putin.
    Saying “Putin sucks” does not mean I like US policy.
    Saying “Hitler sucks” does not mean Putin sucks less – what you won’t see is me saying “X sucks less than Y” I’m not engaged in ordering wrongs into some cardinal ranking.

  24. secondtofirstworld says

    @A Lurker from Mexico @Marcus Ranum:

    It’s not whataboutery, nor is it thinking that nationalism is good. If the internet had existed in the ’60s and ’70s (and couldn’t for obvious reasons) I’d be wary both of Nixon and Brezhnev, as both ran police states highly suspicious of their own populace and a lit of enemies of their own.

    There’s a road map to societal evolution, independent of culture and civilization. Before writing and human engineering genius, people idolized day and nighttime “deities” known as the stars, the Sun and the Moon. That has been replaced with polytheism (in some places it still exists). The internal erosion of the Roman Empire forced the powers that be to unify themselves under a single banner, and did the same thing Judea did before, and Mohamed after them, giving people a singular deity. That idea was challenged in the 17th-18th centuries, and those adopting the ideas of Enlightenment had adopted nationalism in its place. Islamophobes like to ignore the fact, that thanks to the so called Arab socialism or even the Turkish secularism, countries turned their focus away from being ruled by religion to self identify as a member of a nation.

    No Mexican says I’m a mere Latin American, no American says that I’m a mere Anglo-Saxon. They have a national identity beyond the commonalities they share with other nations of similar ethnicities. It has developed over time in a liberal fashion as there wasn’t a ruling class suppressing the very idea. When Khrushchev famously proclaimed blacks are being beaten in America, he wasn’t wrong in the fact, except he had purposefully omitted, that there was never a nationwide governmental policy to ship them back to Africa. The Soviet Union and their satellite states had actively harassed citizens of Jewish origin to resettle into Israel (which has created another devil of nationalistic identity in Israel, making them key supporters in Israel territorial expansion).

    What should be understood here is, that when the French Revolution broke out, absolutist powers (Habsburg, Romanovs, other dynasties) did everything in their power to suppress such ideals. As a consequence, 2 things happened: one, Western powers engaged in colony building and met other cultures and races, and two, subsequent revolutions happening at the same time happened for different reasons. The French uprising of 1848 wanted democracy, and showed the first signs of expanding Enlightenment ideals to disenfranchised people of non-noble birth. 1848 revolutions of the East happened for mere independence for the ones starting it, but had actively fought the same goal of minorities. As such, the Treaty of Versailles looks the way it does.

    By the 1920s countries got independence and the first whiff of democracy, but after centuries of despotic dictatorships they lacked the foundations by which they could adopt them. To nobody’s surprise they ran coups to elect a strongman who could act as a dictator but still adhere to weakened, but existing democratic institutions. This fact alone negates the white supremacist ideal that white nations have nothing but stable democracies. WWII happened, and Europe was divided into 4 (later 2) occupation zones. Nations under Western administration got over their differences in order to battle a common enemy, communism. It wasn’t artificial, but gradual. Nationalism got eventually replaced by patriotism, and a common market was formed with freedom of movement. Under Soviet administration previous conflicts were frozen in time, only to erupt more viciously after the Cold War. Just after the Red Army left, politicians of leading parties talked openly about how they should invade neighboring countries, claiming back territories. Why? Because they had no transition into accepting their place in politics, and focused on long dead conflicts.

    This leads me to the most affected country, Russia. The champion of rooting out any idea that doesn’t come from them, Russians had yanked a feudal state into industrialization a century ago. On the surface that’s just the same as the Meiji Restoration, except not. While both embraced colonization, and both had seen attempts of thwarting that as a personal insult, Japan through a special always had access to foreign knowledge. The creation of the Soviet Union was but the continuation of the Russian Empire, where the patronizing Russian bear tells smaller nations what goes. Panslavism was but a thinly veiled attempt at crushing the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires to take over their territory. Actually, just look at the allies of the Central Powers. In lack of a colonial empire of their own, they wished to colonize Europe.

    The central question is: Is it absolutely unfounded that nations with no democratic traditions wish to engage in a cyber warfare with America? No. Is it possible, that American intelligence agencies downplay their own prowess of protection to get more money? Yes. Does Russia directly influence the voting system? No, as there’s no need for it. As I mentioned earlier, they use their trolls to hack the voter, not the machine. Their trolls don’t only work against America, but in general every democratic nation. What you both refuse to accept is, that if you don’t have a healthy sense of self, and take criticism as a personal attack (like many authoritarian leaders do) it comes naturally, that you despise the system which allows people to criticize you.

    One of the reasons we can talk is because before Yeltsin could have been ousted we were already a NATO country, and thus directly untouchable. Yet, former adversaries still have power in blackmail, forcing independent countries to sell their fossil fuel reserves to them. Imagine like Canada and Venezuela would sell their reserves to Russia and you’d be dependent on them, you’d lose your sh*t and call it a national security threat. Furthermore, sure, you had sh*tty presidents, some were even outright criminals never taken to task. However, they have term limits and a changing voter base. Your adversaries have strong leaders at times revered as living gods, who enjoy wide support, and said leaders use that support to splash money on regions in similar lack of democracy. Why? Because US AID prevented them during the Cold War to sway people toward their brand of communism. Where you see opposing viewpoints, they see a vast conspiracy meant to destroy them.

    70 years ago staging a false flag attack was relatively easy. Today, you can’t afford to hack yourself because anybody could become a Snowden, so inside jobs are less likely. When I look at the dyndns attack of the 21st of last month, which specifically targeted Western Europe and North America, all but 2 players had motive: the Islamic State and Russia (because China doesn’t care for Western Europe, their current focus is on the Philippines), however the former lacks the bot network to do so (being close to extinction, for being one reason), but if they had them, they’d use it to disseminate propaganda. By process of elimination, the one remaining is the Kremlin, which does benefit from sowing discord in both America and Europe.

    In closing, be vigilant of your own government’s actions, but don’t adopt the starting position, that they’re always wrong.

  25. says

    @26 secondtofirstworld
    “No Mexican says I’m a mere Latin American, […] They have a national identity beyond the commonalities they share with other nations of similar ethnicities. It has developed over time in a liberal fashion as there wasn’t a ruling class suppressing the very idea.”

    Plenty of mexicans refer to themselves and Mexico as an extension of the greater “Latin American Culture”. The motto of UNAM is “Por mi raza hablará el espíritu”, which refers to that same ideal. Similarly, plenty of mexicans want to view themselves as anglo-saxon or europeans, engaging more in US traditions than mexican ones. We don’t even have much of a consensus when it comes to that.

    The mexican “identity” is a complete fabrication. Yucatecos have more in common with the ancient mayans than with anyone else here. We have indigenous communities which mostly speak their own language and follow their own customs. Temper, culture, religion, diet and pretty much anything that could be considered “identity” varies wildly among regions and social classes. Trying to tie it all down to a neat singular “culture” is a fool’s errand.

    It didn’t develop naturally. There are several historic examples of the mexican government selecting bits and pieces of every region (also appropriating bits and pieces from other places) and playing them up to be the supposed mexican identity.

    Another thing:
    ” Nations under Western administration got over their differences in order to battle a common enemy, communism. It wasn’t artificial, but gradual.”
    Mexico was pushed into attacking communism. A CIA-backed president ordered the student massacre of 68. For fucks sake, we were socialists almost all the way into the 90s and yet we killed students over a “red scare”?

    The US wasn’t (and still isn’t) above mafia-boss tactics of intimidation to get other countries to stay in line. Panama and Puerto Rico were robbed of their democracy and violently annexed (But Crimea was such a crime). Cuba and Venezuela were turned into economical pariahs (Free Trade my ass). And the other latin american countries are forced to look upon America’s good work and decide if they really want to say no to uncle Sam.

    I don’t presume Russia is any better in that regard. But get real, the US only approves democracy when the people vote to do what the US wants them to do. They take no issue with violent dictatorships when it’s convenient for their interests.

    Freddy Krueger got in a fistfight with Leatherface. Do you really have to pick a side?

  26. secondtofirstworld says

    @A Lurker from Mexico:

    Plenty of mexicans refer to themselves and Mexico as an extension of the greater “Latin American Culture”. The motto of UNAM is “Por mi raza hablará el espíritu”, which refers to that same ideal. Similarly, plenty of mexicans want to view themselves as anglo-saxon or europeans, engaging more in US traditions than mexican ones. We don’t even have much of a consensus when it comes to that.

    The mexican “identity” is a complete fabrication. Yucatecos have more in common with the ancient mayans than with anyone else here. We have indigenous communities which mostly speak their own language and follow their own customs. Temper, culture, religion, diet and pretty much anything that could be considered “identity” varies wildly among regions and social classes. Trying to tie it all down to a neat singular “culture” is a fool’s errand.

    It didn’t develop naturally. There are several historic examples of the mexican government selecting bits and pieces of every region (also appropriating bits and pieces from other places) and playing them up to be the supposed mexican identity.

    I’m not saying Mexicans or other Spanish-speaking countries in North, Central and South America don’t refer to themselves as Latin Americans. What I’m saying is that beyond that shared and historically forced commonality, they do differentiate themselves, from say, Guatemala or El Salvador. I also don’t claim either, that all of Mexico is the same, for that matter any other country, but I do say, that toward the outside world they all identify as Mexican.

    Mexico was pushed into attacking communism. A CIA-backed president ordered the student massacre of 68. For fucks sake, we were socialists almost all the way into the 90s and yet we killed students over a “red scare”?

    The US wasn’t (and still isn’t) above mafia-boss tactics of intimidation to get other countries to stay in line. Panama and Puerto Rico were robbed of their democracy and violently annexed (But Crimea was such a crime). Cuba and Venezuela were turned into economical pariahs (Free Trade my ass). And the other latin american countries are forced to look upon America’s good work and decide if they really want to say no to uncle Sam.

    You’re describing the Monroe Doctrine, one, which effects I’m very familiar with. To be more correct, it was more directed toward Spanish speaking regions, British, Dutch or French colonies never did bother them. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated American territory, and the main reason American Samoans can’t get citizenship even under Obama. As for Panama, to my knowledge, they regained full control over the Canal Zone as well. Things moved toward total independence, whereas Crimea, which actually should belong to the Tatars, was taken away from an other country. It’s also a fact they granted Filipino independence in 1946 and did not influence the Italian elections of 1947. We do agree, that the US has interests, and is still allied with countries, which if they were human, you wouldn’t shake hands with. The difference is, that since the end of the Cold War only one dictator, Saddam Hussein was removed from power without international help and consent, every other conflict was and is either UN sanctioned, or a NATO-operation.

    I’ve also said, that to an extent I get the plight of Iraqis since under Bush, troops of the “Coalition of the willing” came and since then hasn’t actually left. A similar experience is the occupation force being condescending and patronizing, but there are differences. For one, they don’t represent a supreme, unquestionable leader, on what that means one can ask Sergei Lavrov. For two, no separatist army has been or is being formed to tear apart the country in the name of America. Three, learning English and American culture is not mandatory. Four, kids aren’t barred from entering higher education because one of their ancestors fought for Saddam, at least not by the occupation force.

    Brazil is in a trade partnership with South Africa, India, China and Russia, they could and can say no to America, and unlike with Allende, these leaders (the remaining non corrupt ones) aren’t being deposed by the military or a pro-American alliance. It was Chávez’s choice to run the country into a full on undemocratic socialist model, and doing nothing about is being influenced by America. Cuba on the other hand in dire need of cash does cozy up to Sam.

  27. says

    @28
    “… every other conflict was and is either UN sanctioned, or a NATO-operation.”
    Not sure what worth is being sanctioned by the UN. The chairman for the UN “human rights council” is Saudi Arabia. Y’know, the place where women can’t drive, gays and atheists get executed, and is in an ongoing genocidal campaign against Yemen.

    You seem to set the bar at “occupation” for how bad these assholes are. What if they don’t need to occupy?

    The US didn’t need to invade Haiti to keep their starvation wages low, Hillary Clinton only needed to put her finger on the scales to overthrow the will of the haitian people.

    Two recently deposed leaders (Zelaya and Rousseff) were also talking about increasing the minimum wage and workers’ rights. Temer (Rousseff’s replacement) was a CIA informant and the current honduran government is the result of a sham election overviewed by Hillary Clinton.

    The mexican energy reform, which privatizes our socialist oil industry, was written by that same american politician (and I’m getting sick of writing the bitch’s name). No shots fired. No boots on the ground. Overriding the will and the interests of the people in favor of the super democratic US.

    The American aggressors are “condescending and patronizing”, they don’t need to come all the way down here to make it known.
    Plenty of separatist forces are being financed and armed by the US to tear apart uncooperative leaders (democratically elected or otherwise).
    Kids don’t get “barred” from entering higher education, they just get priced out when some american conglomerate privatizes education.

    How much different is this from an occupation? You don’t get a say in the proceedings, if you make too much of a ruckus you get shot, every choice made is in the benefit of some foreign assholes. They don’t force us to learn english? Damn, I feel blessed.

  28. secondtofirstworld says

    @A Lurker from Mexico:

    Not sure what worth is being sanctioned by the UN. The chairman for the UN “human rights council” is Saudi Arabia. Y’know, the place where women can’t drive, gays and atheists get executed, and is in an ongoing genocidal campaign against Yemen.

    Two things, one, Saudi Arabia’s membership, as is China’s, ends December 31st this year. The second thing is, resolutions deal with Un intervention and its sanction, something not even permanent members of the Security Council can overwrite, thus why there has been resolutions against allies of the Security Council, actions of the permanent members, and even resolutions against a country it created, Israel.

    Timothy McVeigh committed a terrorist attack in Oklahoma, motivated by Waco but also by the Turner Diaries a racist wet dream about America where the UN marches in, takes away all guns, and transfers power to a Jewish-black power alliance. The point in bringing this up is how democracies, and free speech can tolerate and swallow such lunacies, and how people never being occupied fear disenfranchisement. If we discuss how permanent members of the security council granted asylum to vile dictators, then sure, the US is no exception, with the leaders of South Vietnam, the Philippines or Haiti. In a certain sense, Belarus is Russia’s Haiti what with their siphoning cheap labor into Russia. Yet, as Cuba’s grip on undemocratic socialism weakens, for better and worse, the significance of the Caribbean region lessens.

    Like I said in the case of Brazil, I mentioned the non corrupt ones, whereas in the summer months it became evident that Roussef’s replacements are even more corrupt, but still a BRICS country. As for the rest of Latin America: I am aware, that our situation is reverse, you have merit suspecting the US for actions we suspect Russia for. Much like a lot of places around the world, Latin American countries, with the subtle or overt support of America had only known dictatorships. I’m appalled, that people like North or Fuhrman can work for Fox News after it became pubic what they did. In that regard they’re on par with Russians, whose public television purports the theory that all revolutions started against their rule or wishes follow a pattern, starting in 1953.

    We could discuss how Mexico is America’s Ukraine, but I will say this: today, there are upsides to being neighbors, as a considerable portion of Southern Latino Americans are Mexican Americans. As for the difference between direct and indirect influence. Chileans have learned what desaparecido can mean under Pinochet. Whatever wasn’t cool in America anymore, could be done there. That doesn’t mean, that Morales’ or the bus driver’s regime is any better. This is the point where I’ll seem ignorant here, but if I were Mexican, my main concern would be to avoid being kidnapped or killed by cartels that came into power due to the botched War on Drugs. Even posting about them on social media can get one killed.

  29. says

    secondtofirstworld@#28:
    Meta: Your style of argument appears to consist mostly of offering unsupported “well, it could be…” style hypotheticals and raising red herrings. That may be amusing for you but it doesn’t make me interested in continuing a serious discussion – if I want to chase moving goal-posts I’ll go argue with a creationist.

    One point, however:
    Today, you can’t afford to hack yourself because anybody could become a Snowden, so inside jobs are less likely. When I look at the dyndns attack of the 21st of last month, which specifically targeted Western Europe and North America, all but 2 players had motive: the Islamic State and Russia (because China doesn’t care for Western Europe, their current focus is on the Philippines), however the former lacks the bot network to do so (being close to extinction, for being one reason), but if they had them, they’d use it to disseminate propaganda. By process of elimination, the one remaining is the Kremlin, which does benefit from sowing discord in both America and Europe.

    That’s an utterly stupid thing to say, especially if someone in your audience knows anything about computer security. Which, I happen to. Here’s why: you’re constructing an absurdly false dichotomy:
    all but 2 players had motive
    Uh, you seem to be ignoring the fact that the vast majority of internet breaches, including almost all the big ones except for Natanz/Stuxnet Bushehr/Stuxnet and Saudi Aramco/Shamoon (which I had some part in doing forensics for) were perpetrated by individuals or non-national hacker collectives. You may notice that I left Sony off the list because Sony was not (and nobody with a clue ever thought it was…) North Korea.
    By process of elimination
    You can’t do attribution just based on “cui bono” and this is some ridiculous “cui bono” at that. Sorry. Game over.
    the one remaining is the Kremlin, which does benefit from sowing discord in both America and Europe

    I know anarco-nihilist hackers who’d fuck with the US elections on a whim, and who are quite capable of doing it. Your “process of elimination” forgot to eliminate the hundreds of anonymous-oriented hacking crews as well as a few of the more overt hacker nihilists like lizard crew or some of the other gangs I know of, who would doxx the Dems and the Republicans for the lulz. The question of whether Guccifer2.0 is Russian or Russian gov’t or just pretending – that’s still open to debate and you won’t catch responsible or knowledgeable security people debating it because there’s so damn little information about it at this time. There is plenty of uninformed speculation from know-nothings online, in which category I lump you, just to be clear.

    I’ve tried to gently pop your assertions up to this point, but let me be blunt: unless you have evidence you can present that provides a solid attribution, nobody in their right mind is going to give a flying fungo for your theories, nor should they. I should have laughed you off the thread right away but I was trying to give you a chance to see if you were going to say something sensible. You haven’t, so I’m done arguing with you.

  30. secondtofirstworld says

    @Marcus Ranum:

    You know, I have let off 2 things from my chest: one, you debate arguments, not people. Two, a part of your counterargument is based on personal credulity. I’m not contesting that you’re a security expert, but I’m also not saying you or any other security expert is the absolute authority on the subject, and there are no debates among your community about likely suspects.

    During the Cold War, a lot of shipping at sea (which was later taken over by private corporations) has been done under a non-aligned state’s flag to deny any direct connection to major players, but the intelligence was well in the know about it. Here’s one example: traveling to the Gaza Strip by sea is still forbidden by Israel despite the fact no ships on the proposed mission has been sailing under the Palestinian flag. They based, and hold up that decision on human intelligence, as not all donors had humanitarian goals in mind, and let’s be frank here, the other side has such players as well.

    The term useful idiot comes from the Comintern, describing people not knowing anything about the actual political and socioeconomic system, but lend their human and financial support based on the ideal the regime represents. When the White House says, an attack happened supported by or originating from a foreign hostile player, and that player is equal, or close to equal to them, it’s CIA code for “we know it was them, but laying down evidence either leads to an all out war or frost in diplomatic relations”. When the foreign hostile power isn’t equal to them, they come out and directly say it. In the case, which you have left out, you may have little direct evidence, that it’s connected to North Korea, but it doesn’t take into account 2 things. One, North Korea sold false US dollars and hard drugs without being directly linked back. Two, the relations between Japan and China and the 2 Koreas are distraught. Since Sony is a Japanese company, you can find plenty of people with anti-Japanese sentiment and the necessary skills to do it without them being to either Koreas, supporting communism or being of Korean origin. Human intelligence says they were the culprits, and in the case of Russia, China or Iran, they do the diplomatic dance of “we know you know we know you did it”. This usually happens when both parties have nukes or being close to have them.

    There’s a rich literature on how major players since WWI had used third party or neutral citizens to gather intelligence, it’s cyber version is no different. That you tell me, there are plenty of so called anti-imperialist Americans isn’t news to me, I’ve debated them, it was a delight proving the obvious that Mao was a mass murderer. However, the difference between an actual “for the lulz” attack and an attack benefiting a foreign player, independents grow and gain notoriety. I’m not contesting that Sony’s attackers were the same people both times, but let’s just say how strange it is they did not start an independent life despite clearly having the skills to do so. When I talked about an inside job, I meant the intelligence community, not independents. You don’t need to tell me, that the non-public part of Snowden’s defection was crucial intel about how actually, in detail the agencies he had access to work, and how they had to be changed. I recall a second “Snowden” was recently arrested, so the background check and regular psychological checkups seem to have some shortcomings. Anyone captured by enemy forces would invoke their respective government’s denial to those people having access to classified material, which is why in turn they’d deny being involved of attacking an other country.

    I could have said “the plane I’ve found was on a NATO-mission, it wasn’t a U2” which was the official version until Khrushchev presented both the plane and the pilot. A third party attack is either that NATO plane, as the flight (the attack) itself can’t be denied, responsibility however need not to be claimed. Speaking of which, there’s a somewhat credible idea, where the world would have went if not for 9/11, when in April of 2001 a plane, which was clearly spying on China was forced to land. To avoid such blunders, both in human and in computer intelligence, allies or independent contractors are being used. It’s not as if I’m the sole person being on this opinion, it’s based on what has been sued to be made public and on what intelligence communities are willing to admit. In other words I’m not peddling a mere theory as a raving lunatic. You’ve mentioned the mafiosi, which is a perfect analogy, as what you’re telling me is that cyber security is facing lone gunmen and contract killers. You aren’t wrong either, but I do say, the latter group by definition has no allegiance and works for money, and some of them broke omerta to get out. Whenever such a killer was found by a blunder or a snitch, authorities had a file on which crime family he is suspected belonging to. Yet, at the same time of using the casual ad hominem of calling me not serious, your point seems to be 2 things: the mafia isn’t as powerful as the Kennedys pain them, and two, plenty of people hire contract killers to settle personal differences.

    Sure, that’s true, but none of them combined had as much money as the crime families, and even those rich enough to hire them still had to know a middle man. By relying on comfort, North Korea used the Marco Polo Bank for that purpose until it was sanctioned and nowadays they use straw men and tax shelters, courtesy of the US Tax Code. Any cyber attack can be done by people who really do it just for the heck of it, but very good people don’t do it for free. Forgive me, if I lack the capacity and manpower to trail every bitcoin to currency transactions which then end up in escrow accounts, that doesn’t mean I should ignore it’s happening. Combining every available information paints a full picture, not just the smoking gun itself. There are but 2 things I like about soon to be attorney general Giuliani, one, he cleaned up the streets of New York, and the RICO Act, which in alliance with Italian prosecutors broke the hegemony of the Italian mafia. I could mention the actual French Connection, where they’ve really used middle men. There are still people who evade capture or anything that sticks, but that doesn’t mean they’re innocent, only that it couldn’t be sufficiently proven. Even if there’s a case, where a major power who has economic might and a nuclear arsenal, you couldn’t tell any of us, that you have a mountain of evidence for well known reasons, reputation not being a priority among them.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/16/inside-the-ring-us-power-grid-defenseless-from-att/ The subject comes up semi frequently, which is the extent people can talk about it without revealing sensitive information. Based on your statement they’re to be laughed off as well. What I won’t do is turning this argumentation into a personal affair, I don’t contest your competence and credibility, but I don’t contest theirs either.

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