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When Even Fascists Recoil (Reprint)

Wired recently ran a story on the Feds declaring wireless networks threats to national security. Now, a one-time Cold Warrior sends Richard Clarke a personal message about that determination. (REPRINT)
Saturday, December 07, 2002

This article (which addresses security czar Richard Clarke directly) concerns Wired's [Paul Boutin's] recent piece titled Feds Label Wi-Fi a Terrorist Tool.

First, some facts about me, so czar Clarke doesn't label me a national security threat, too:

My name, for the purposes of this op-ed is "Anonymous," but not because I'm the generic "Anonymous Coward" that Slashdot offers as an ID field. Rather, this is because although I'm your everyday Slashdot reader, I'm just a smidgen different, too, and my occupation demands extreme privacy. Further, I'm responsible for more published pages [still in print] on network security than any other living human (under a variety of nom de plumes, as Earth's largest publishing conglomerate will quickly and flatly verify). My works are available anywhere, at any bookstore from Washington D.C. to Beijing, China.

During my career, I've secured banks, government agencies, online gold depositories, and even several less visible collectives (radical domestic organizations, chiefly). So, unlike you, Mr. Clarke, I've been deeply enough wired to sit at a terminal and construct custom, raw packets designed to make purportedly "unbreakable" application servers and databases choke. Considering that few data units are smaller than packets, then, I am (and have been) in places so microscopic, they affect the Net's very "soul" itself.

However, unlike many other persons in the security business (or computing generally), whilst I'm a champion for privacy (and The Bill of Rights), I'm behind you (mostly), and one of the hard right's best-kept secrets. As I write this, in fact, I'm staring at a newly-released DVD of an anti-Communist propaganda film I (and my father) created in 1983, which we subsequently used Catholic priests and other individuals associated with CIA to distribute in Central America. (If Wired or Slashdot readers ever wondered why "those evil Communists" were killing clericals so long ago, there's your answer. They were agents of CIA). The film is currently on archive at the Museum of Tolerance (the clerks of which apparently don't understand its content, and think it's a "human rights" piece, although one wonders why: it closes with looped, full-screen footage of a Buddhist monk on fire, and a Reagan voiceover explaining that by allowing "Commies" to exist, we're building "... paper castles that will be blown away by winds of war.")

Indeed, I don't "hate" Poindexter and his crew; I was instead very much (and still am) on their side, and I've been personally an agent for ultra-con politicians, going back as far as 1984. Worse, I'm pro IAO/TIA, I was a Pinochet cheerleader, a Thatcherite, a Reaganite, and a dozen other "unsavory" things (and I still am, and still maintain membership in many TC/CFR umbrella organizations, and I have no problem with Henry handling 911, "Big John" running our new 1984 program, FISA doing its thing on the QT, or us redrawing the Central Asian and Mid-East maps and crafting a Chavez ouster to accommodate UnoCal, Exxon, Halliburton, or a dozen other "interested parties" to break OPEC. Chavez has a lot more than "a little union trouble", as you well know).

So, Mr. Clarke, let's don't label me with "enemy combatant," or "terrorist sympathizer" or any other such moniker. For, in 1982, when my father and me were making our film, the armed forces offered us mountains of stock footage, proffered from a suitably shadowy and smoky unit called "Poppa." In that package, we found footage of the Chilean regime's "stadium keg party," and rather than pass it to The Washington Post (like many Wired readers would have done), we dutifully and quietly returned it unaltered and un-copied (men in uniforms picked it up twenty minutes after we telephoned, diligently checking the seals on the unopened second pod), and from that day to this, I've never revealed that it existed. (And if that sounds far-fetched, ring up Poppa yourself, order up the footage, grab some popcorn, and luxuriously enjoy the wholesale undoing of Chile's most unwanted dissidents).

So, that issue is settled. I'm the furthest thing from a terrorist sympathizer. I'm every bit as Neo-Fascist as the folks our administration has "brought in from the cold," including Abrams, Negreponte, Poindexter, Henry, and all the other notable and future crew members that Rove hasn't yet necromanced (but soon will). That is to say, I'm an Imperialist expansionist who supports the Empire in the large, but prefers Homeland Isolationism and Unilateralism (and if my "readers in the know" recoil at that revelation, for that, I apologize, but I'm the very Prince of Darkness himself, and proud of it). I'm one of your own, in other words.

That settled, I begin.

First, Mr. Clarke, as you well know, there exist three kinds of bills:

  • Holistic bills - these introduce entirely new and never-before pondered legislation that doesn't square with any currently existing statutes, and therefore, call for new laws;

  • Incorporative bills - these typically amend existing statutes to accommodate advances in crime and technology, chiefly to address contingencies that Congress couldn't clairvoyantly divine (when the target statute first emerged);

  • Tree-structured bills - these are usually a hodge-podge of the first two types, and reach into (or otherwise alter) a few or even dozens of other laws.
Our Homeland Security bill is a tree-structured bill, and its branches (or tentacles) reach into so many laws that ACLU types are still calculating its impact. Far better crafted than Orin Hatch's earlier backdoor Fourth Amendment assault (see the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, spring session, 2001), the Homeland Security bill strikes at many basic freedoms we hitherto took for granted.

Indeed. The PATRIOT Act bestows a government - for the first time since Augustus threw Brutus' head at the feet of Caesar's statue - unrestrained power to do anything, given its ambiguity on what constitutes threats to national security. Augustus, too, concentrated inordinate power in the Imperial seal, and when he did, he did so with high intentions (mostly). But by so doing, he signed the Empire's death warrant, for they that came after inherited that same unrestrained power (and predictably used it, in succession, with precious little responsibility, causing an immediate, careening decline. Tiberius, Caligula, and then, only a brief respite offered by Claudius, before the Twelve were gone).

Armed with that power, you now label wireless a national security threat. This, coupled with age-old SAIC dreams finally coming to fruition on the physical plane, makes even someone like me (one of your own) take a double take. Oh, I'm clear on the purpose: float a balloon and see what crops up. Well, Mr. Clarke, I cropped up, and to what I relate below, I ask that you apply deliberate consideration.

I agree that national security always comes first. However, intentions (which I know are noble enough) aren't the issue here. The issue, rather, concerns appropriate management of human intellectual capital. Because the larger portion of your staff doesn't consist of hardcore nerds, its components have no frame of reference to differentiate what constitutes a national security threat from what is simple free speech and enterprise. By labeling wireless a national security threat, you're scaring many users, and that's unnecessary, dangerous, and sends the message that your unit isn't up to speed.

Of Earth's wired nations ("wired," in the sense that they have Cadillac net access), the Muslim nations are last in line, save Central African and sub-Saharan regions. Afghanistan, for example, was rated in 1999 as having practically no network access (for all functional purposes). Wireless networks are, to your average Afghani, almost as unattainable as five minutes of on-board access to any publicly available bird (satellite) via any electronic medium save television. Afghani telephone networks are strung as poorly (or much worse, from a technological standpoint) than those in Siberia's farthest reaches. So, at the outset, I know (even if many Wired readers don't) that threats to regulate wireless have precious little to do with terrorist or rogue states.

Rather, what is true is this: wireless networks are rapidly becoming entrenched in American homes and businesses, and the possibility of forcing regulation thereon is like a Bechtel/AST wet dream. And but for a few voices like mine, you've got a decent shot at achieving that. Imagine it: friendly federal employees coming by to certify Mr. And Mrs. America's local wireless system. It reeks of us sending xerographic machines to USSR that retained what they copied in tiny modules so that agents could later retrieve the same - and that program was famously successful. But we're not discussing USSR here; we're discussing our brothers, sisters, and cousins on American soil, and their constitutional privilege to be left alone.

In asserting that wireless is a national security threat, you seem to be suggesting that private American discourse or commerce is somehow dangerous (and wants monitoring). Briefly, let's revisit precisely what you said:

"Millions of houses are getting connected, which means that more and more are getting vulnerable... "

I ask you now, Mr. Clarke, in a public forum, the following question: how can what happens in my house or home (over a wireless network therein) relate to national security? Or perhaps that's the wrong way to phrase the question, because I actually am someone OHS would like to listen to and snuggle up to. Take it to something less pertinent: what about Wired's editors' homes? Are conversations that unfold therein relevant to national security? No, that isn't even good enough, because Wired's (or Slashdot's) editorial staff could quite likely have private conversations that could help OHS and NIPC, so let's try something more remote: could conversations that unfold in your dry cleaner's home be relevant to national security?

Don't misunderstand me, Mr. Clarke. I'm all for Homeland Security. However, today, from my reference, what you're edging dangerously close to doesn't increase Homeland Security but instead heralds birth of a police state (and increases my personal "home security" in no way whatever). It's becoming clear that the greatest threat to personal security in this nation may, in fact, be the Homeland Security program itself.

The purpose of the Homeland Security program was to target enemies of American citizens and not American citizens themselves. I suggest that you stick to that plan (which I wholeheartedly support). I loathe raining on your parade by pointing that out, but some of us (Americans) know where you're going before you get there, and if a neo Cold War Soldier like me (who still remains pro-Pinochet, who is rabidly anti-Communist, and supports Big John's spook section, within reason) sees it that way, you're crossing the line, broham.

Good luck and God bless you, yours, and America.

Anonymous (the "real" Anonymous)
it only takes technology from the early 70s 08.Dec.2002 15:37