I have this fantasy, which is that someone gave Donald Trump a laminated card that said “launch codes: man, woman, camera, a plan, burma shave” or something like that. He’s kept it, of course, because it’s valuable.
As Richard Feynman once said, “the only secret about these things is that they work at all.” He also said something to the effect that there wasn’t much physics involved, it was mostly engineering. If you know where and how to dig, you can learn a tremendous amount about how nuclear weapons work – what you can’t learn is how to turn a 3-ton bomb into a portable one, or one you can move around with a pallet jack.
Anyhow, the leaks out of Mar a Lago are that the FBI was looking for “nuclear weapons documents” which smells faintly of bullshit, to me. Maybe what they are looking for is the negotiating positions that the Trumpists were supposed to take with Iran, before the toddler threw his toys out of the pram. Or, perhaps some briefing notes covered with sharpie doodles regarding what might happen if there’s a nuclear showdown over Taiwan. I’d be shocked if any of that sort of material has any value after a president leaves office, because his international policy leaves office with him. Any national security council notes or briefing materials are likely to be irrelevant unless they somehow contain evidence of crimes in the planning stage – but generally those sorts of notes are carefully managed and edited. What I’m getting at is that I doubt very much that any of the stuff Trump has is worth anything other than as historical analysis, and any historical analysis would have to take into account the large amount of material that has already leaked. Besides, the January 6th committee’s historical analysis is way more interesting.
Unless, of course, Trump was briefed by some of his attendant nutbars, “how to steal the election” and stuff like that. That would be interesting – but it’s not nuclear. Knowing that the US military’s plans for Kim Jong Un involved a nuke going off overhead of his known position? That’s not learning anything interesting, except for the depth of the president’s love for Kim.
Back in the day, I made a few comments about Hillary Clinton’s private email server, because – at that time – it was offensive, as a former system administrator, what the clintonites expected us to believe. No offsite backups, who do you think is stupid here? No tape jukebox? Puhleeze! Meanwhile, the US secret service and department of homeland security appear to have forgotten exactly the same things, and congress appears to have forgotten exactly the same questions, such as: “Tell us about how your system is backed up. Where are the tapes?” Are we seriously expected to believe that the USSS is such a bunch of yutzes that the way they do data retention is the default options in iCloud or google cloud services? This stuff offends me because apparently they are so stupid they think I’m stupid, too. “Oh, I reset my phone.” So fucking what, if you’ve been syncing it there will be a half dozen backup images on your hard drive or in your phone system provider’s cloud services, asshole who thinks that resetting your phone means you’ve wiped evidence. And, by the way, let’s see a few of those bastards charged with some crimes – maybe they can hire James Comey to come in and bulldog the issue.
As someone funny said, “they should retain Alex Jones’ lawyers”
Somewhere in my box of plaques and certificates at the studio, is a “with appreciation from the US Secret Service” plaque for unspecified services rendered in 1992-4. At the time I was impressed by the USSS, who seemed very squared away and devoted to their job. They were definitely on the right-wing authoritarian side of the scale and nowadays I would be much more uncomfortable working with them.
All I come away with from these stories is the impression that the “technical press” don’t understand any of this stuff. Which is crazy: how hard is it to ask some system administrator “OK, android cloud backups, how do they work?” and listen to what they say? The whole story USSS and DHS are telling is predicated on “ha ha you journalists are such ignorant goobs you’ll fall for this” or something like that. Not that I expect any journalists to read this but: ask your system administrator. Modern phones make it hard to lose your data, by design. Can you “reset” them? Sure! But that’s another question entirely, and it needs to be asked in the same manner as “why did Hillary Clinton’s system administrator feel the need to use a disk wipe for a normal email purge?” A normal technology refresh does not result in unrecoverable message wipes. Just looking right now, my computer contains 2 backups in iTunes and my messages and contacts are backed up in iCloud for the FBI’s convenience where any encryption around them (my suspicion is that it’s backdoored or not very good) can be attacked offline.