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Tricky Dix
January 22, 2004 6:39 AM   Subscribe

Republican Dirty Tricks "From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics. The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle has already launched an investigation into how excerpts from 15 Democratic memos showed up in the pages of the conservative-leaning newspapers and were posted to a website last November." They just can't get Nixon out of their system, huh?
posted by owillis (124 comments total)

 
"Police use illegal wiretap to bust mobsters."
posted by kablam at 6:41 AM on January 22, 2004


But was there PORN on their computers? (SFW)
posted by ColdChef at 6:54 AM on January 22, 2004


Another day, another reason to vote for anyone else. It's trollish to say so, but one does wonder if there's a greater threat to world peace and democracy than the Republican Party.
posted by bwerdmuller at 7:06 AM on January 22, 2004


Bill Pickle is on the case? I predict this issue will be cleared up immediately.
posted by jonson at 7:07 AM on January 22, 2004


From the article:

A technician hired by the new judiciary chairman, Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, apparently made a mistake that allowed anyone to access newly created accounts on a Judiciary Committee server shared by both parties -- even though the accounts were supposed to restrict access only to those with the right password.

I don't see the Nixon comparison. Bad network administration and some idiot took advantage of the glitch does not equate to breaking into an office. Contain thy rhetoric Sir!
posted by Dagobert at 7:11 AM on January 22, 2004


Breaking into a computer, bad security or not, is the same as sneaking into opposition offices in the '70s.
posted by owillis at 7:17 AM on January 22, 2004


Once you get that Nixon into your system you just can't get it out, no matter how hard you try. It's like teh SARS.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:25 AM on January 22, 2004


The ETHICAL+snarky response would be to print out some copies, walk into Dashle's office and say 'neener'.

Really though, when the 'hole' was found it should have been brought to the attention of the IT department. To do anything else shows a lack of ethics.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:25 AM on January 22, 2004


some idiot took advantage of the glitch

You only see the person who did this as an idiot. Many of us see the person who did this as dishonest, dishonorable and unethical.

The question is integrity, and the people who used this information this way do not have it. Instead, they have only the thrist to win, no matter what. It is wrong no matter which party did it, and that some people don't have a problem with it is a clear answer to those who ask "what is wrong with people nowadays?"
posted by moonbiter at 7:36 AM on January 22, 2004


Lack of Ethics = GOP.

Really, after Watergate, the October Surprise of 1980, Iran-Contra, the Stolen Election of 2000, Bush family business ties to the Bin Ladens, the Iraq War Lie-a-thon and an unexplained war that basically means a lot of US soldiers are placed where the terrorists can easily get at them, I'm surprised that Americans have not reconsidered the Republican party yet. Isn't there a rice paddy where we can send them all for re-education?
posted by zaelic at 7:36 AM on January 22, 2004


If an eigth-grader did this with the school's grading system he'd certainly be expelled, and might face criminal charges.
posted by jpoulos at 7:39 AM on January 22, 2004


Another day, another reason for all the Mefi lefties to be angry. Get some counseling already. The day in day out bashing of all things you don't approve of is getting tired.

As for ethics, they are politicians. They don't have any, in either party.
posted by a3matrix at 7:40 AM on January 22, 2004


What I am most disappointed in, is the complete lack of ethics and the "win by any means necessary" attitude of the GOP, and to an extent, all politicians these days. a3matrix, how can you seriously condone this? Or say that politicians have no ethics or morals, so they should be able to rape and pillage as they please? Our elected representatives are a direct reflection upon us, and it makes me sick sometimes.
posted by plemeljr at 7:44 AM on January 22, 2004


The day in day out bashing of all things you don't approve of is getting tired.

So this article describes something you approve of?
posted by eyeballkid at 7:44 AM on January 22, 2004


What a3matrix said. And consider where your outrage would be directed, had a Democratic staffer had leaked memos about a Republican plan to hold up judicial nominations at the behest of a special interest group and financial supporter, pending the outcome of a Supreme Court case in which that interest group had, well, an interest.
posted by coelecanth at 7:44 AM on January 22, 2004


Okay, I'll bite. I'm a cynic. I'm hard pressed to believe that if the tables were turned, the Democrats would be saintly. People—party line or not—are simply too fallible. Ethics is lost on both parties. Show me a Republican and I'll show you an obnoxiously large elephant. Show me a Democrat and I'll show you a braying donkey.

*sigh*
posted by pedantic at 7:45 AM on January 22, 2004


So Watergate wasn't really a scandal then, a3matrix?

If you leave your front door unlocked, and somebody comes into your house and steals your belongings, they are still committing a crime. The fact that this computer was not properly secured is irrelevent. Whoever was poking around inside that computer knew they shouldn't be there. That is more than unethical. It's a crime.
posted by salmacis at 7:45 AM on January 22, 2004


I don't see the Nixon comparison. Bad network administration and some idiot took advantage of the glitch does not equate to breaking into an office. Contain thy rhetoric Sir!

So if a potential employer could get to your medical records and past salary information because some system insecurity, it would be ethical for them to use that information?
posted by bendybendy at 7:45 AM on January 22, 2004


It has gotten to the extremely pathetic point where if dubya were to get a blow-job in the oval office from an intern named Lewinsky, he'd still have plenty of staunch defenders.

If you find a wallet on the street, the right thing is to give it back. No matter how many folks you can think of that wouldn't do it. Where exactly do you people get lost in that equation?

How many of you would get fired on the spot for doing precisely this? I know I would.
posted by magullo at 7:57 AM on January 22, 2004


It appears to me that under section 1030 of the Patriot Act (which redifines and expands intent to harm by unauthorized access that we have a form of terrorist act going on here. Whether we disapprove of these actions seems a little beside the point, eh, a3matrix?
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:05 AM on January 22, 2004


I don't see the Nixon comparison. Bad network administration and some idiot took advantage of the glitch does not equate to breaking into an office. Contain thy rhetoric Sir!

Okay, let's take this situation and remove it from the Beltway and politics, and imagine it in a corporate world. If anyone exploited a security hole like this, they would be fired. Then, they would go to jail for a long time. Because hacking does equate to breaking into an office. It doesn't matter how easy a hack it is.

On preview, what Wulfgar said. In George Bush's America, computer hacking has become a very serious and unpatriotic crime. As I recall, there was even a SS agent going around to high schools a year ago, telling kids how if they hack a computer, they're helping the terrorists.
posted by jbrjake at 8:08 AM on January 22, 2004


Skip from this incident of Republicans spying back to the years during the Clinton White House, wherein the FBI was found to have pulled confidential files on tons of prominent Republicans and provided that information (quite illegally).

JudicialWatch
posted by dirt at 8:09 AM on January 22, 2004


Magullo, we did this quite a bit thanks to MS Exchange's shared calendar system. The CEO and COO were lying through their teeth that we were not in the process of being acquired. Their calendars said otherwise.

Was it ethical? Probably not, but the argument could be made that we were all trying to make appointments with the COO and saw very obvious meetings with our major competitor who was rumored to be considering an acquisition. You can draw your own conclusions. None of us got fired but the CxO people now know to make any potentially embarrassing appointments private so the rest of the world can't see what they're doing.

For the record, I would give the wallet back with all of the money and credit cards intact. When my bank gave me an extra $100 bill in a recent withdrawal I got home and immediately called them to report the problem and have the difference debited from my account.
posted by FullFrontalNerdity at 8:16 AM on January 22, 2004


Okay, the SS agent wasn't going around to high schools, but he did say this:
A special agent with the Secret Service's electronic-crimes branch said hackers are unpatriotic.

In a keynote here Tuesday at the Computer Security Institute's NetSec conference, John Frazzini said the lines between criminal acts and acts of war are increasingly blurring since the September terrorist attacks.

"Hackers who brag that they can break into computer systems are unpatriotic," he said. "If you're a U.S. citizen breaking into computer networks, it's not only criminal but unpatriotic."
On preview: dirt, I fail to see why what Bill Clinton might have done 10 years ago has to do with what the Congressional Republicans are doing now. Especially because what you're referring to was a smear campaign, not an espionage campaign designed to find out Democrats' current plans and discussions. If you're going to play this game of relativism where something doesn't matter if there was ever someone in the history of the other side who did the same thing, make sure that other person did do the same thing.
posted by jbrjake at 8:17 AM on January 22, 2004


funnily enough, a couple months ago we were discussing the fact that

Hatch says he's 'shocked' at hacking of files
...
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who has made cracking down on the theft of digital files over computer networks one of his crusades, said Tuesday that he was "shocked" that a member of his own staff hacked into Senate Democrats' protected files on the computer network of the Senate Judiciary Committee he heads.

posted by matteo at 8:19 AM on January 22, 2004


I like how democrats think their hands are clean... they suckle the same corporate teat as Republicans... grow up.
posted by dancu at 8:20 AM on January 22, 2004


Dirt: this is off-topic, but your comment is word-for-word identical to a paragraph from this Slashdot comment, and you don't seem to have any relation to that poster. The conspiracy nut in me wants to think that there's a comment-mill thinktank that's mobilizing the troops to run some grass-roots/astroturf interference.
posted by Llama-Lime at 8:20 AM on January 22, 2004


Interesting link, dirt. Whatever came of that investigation, by the way ...
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:22 AM on January 22, 2004


In other news ,complications arised when investigators attempted to divide reps mail from dems mails and documents in two folders. According to investigators : " I really can't tell what is what ; after a while you feel like you're reading the same old story over and over again, only names change, I guess that this is not a good time to quit my Prozac habit" an investigator said as he attempted to make sense of countless emails with headers like "You liberal red Martian swine !" or "You Republocrat from Uranus"
posted by elpapacito at 8:23 AM on January 22, 2004


dancu, quit telling me what I think. It's really annoying, ducking the subject, a logical falacy, and I'm really very tired of the tactic. What do corporate teats have to do with cyber-crimes, or are you just whining about the disagreement of others.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:26 AM on January 22, 2004


jbrjake

If you are going to get snarky about bringing up the past, I suggest you comment on this post also..

Really, after Watergate, the October Surprise of 1980, Iran-Contra, the Stolen Election of 2000, Bush family business ties to the Bin Ladens, the Iraq War Lie-a-thon and an unexplained war that basically means a lot of US soldiers are placed where the terrorists can easily get at them, I'm surprised that Americans have not reconsidered the Republican party yet. Isn't there a rice paddy where we can send them all for re-education?

Oh, or didn't respond to that one, because this isn't about facts, this is about US vs. THEM. I was simply pointing out that the Dems are anywhere near lilly white either, as some of you would like to think.

Geez, you think with Al inventing the internet, he could have passed on some simple Sysadim advice to the other Dems..
posted by dirt at 8:26 AM on January 22, 2004


Llama-Lime

No conspiracy. I saw the comment (reading both stories at the same time) and quoted the comment. I was going to post a link at the bottom giving credit, but I got distracted (dang work) and forgot. My bad.
posted by dirt at 8:29 AM on January 22, 2004


As for ethics, they are politicians. They don't have any, in either party.

I'm going to rant here.

The reason for this is that people like you give them a free pass when they do something like this. This is so fucking unacceptable, from either fucking party, and yet we shrug our shoulders and go "oh well, that's politics."

Then there are those that excuse it by saying "oh well, the other party would have done it." That's no goddamn excuse, that's a fucking rationalization.

We get what we deserve, and lazy attitudes like these are why the U.S. is in it so fucking deep in so many fucking ways. Our government is supposed to be representitive of us. Are we, as a society, that fucking morally bankrupt? Do we want to be?

Truth and ethics, goddammit. That's what we need in our government.
posted by moonbiter at 8:31 AM on January 22, 2004


You going to answer the question, dirt? Are you "Wingchild" on Slashdot? If not, how do you explain the similarity in the posts?
posted by salmacis at 8:34 AM on January 22, 2004


Are you going to read all of the posts before you comment, salmacis?

No, not me.. I quoted, but forgot to attribute it back to the slashdot post. My bad.
posted by dirt at 8:40 AM on January 22, 2004


Amen, moonbiter. Or rather fucking a'-men.
posted by psmealey at 8:40 AM on January 22, 2004


Nice pick-up llama-lime. That is...odd. Perhaps dirt just stole the comment? It was posted only 8 minutes before his comment here though...

As for the comment itself, I never tire of the right's position on various issues that 'Clinton did it'; if it was reversed, it would be labeled 'anti-patriotic' by the GOP, but since 'Clinton did it' it's somehow excusable. It's not excusable, no matter who commits the act. And it seems the epitome of hippocracy that after 8 years of 'moral/ethical persecution' to invoke that very name whenever possible as defense of some breach of ethics or illegal behavior on their part. If that's their best defense, they're in trouble to be sure.
posted by skechada at 8:41 AM on January 22, 2004


On preview, almost exactly what Moonbiter said (jinx!)

Excusing this behaviour is to support the collapse of democracy and freedom.

Oh, sure, it's dead easy to write off that line as chicken-little hysteria. And that's the mistake: underestimating the consequences.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:42 AM on January 22, 2004


This behavior isn't excusable.
posted by techgnollogic at 8:46 AM on January 22, 2004


I do feel I need to extend apologies for one aspect of my rant.

Any "people like you" comments should really read "attitudes like that," because it's not the people I blame, but this pervasive attitude that we don't have any control over the situation. But it's just not like that -- it's only true because we let it be true.

We, the citizenry of America, are the "We the People" in the preamble of the Constitution. We make the government what it is, and the politicians in office are our servants, not our masters. We should not forget that and let them get away with this kind of thing, no matter their (or our) ideological stripe.
posted by moonbiter at 8:48 AM on January 22, 2004


dirt, a proper response to "On preview: dirt, I fail to see why what Bill Clinton might have done 10 years ago has to do with what the Congressional Republicans are doing now." is not "If you are going to get snarky about bringing up the past, I suggest you comment on this post also.." In fact, all you're doing is dodging my question.

What's the connection? Why does Clinton having improperly leaked FBI files he had access to in 1996 change the impact of Bill Frist's aide leaking congressional files he didn't have access to in 2002? Maybe you're the one devolving into "US vs. THEM" arguments, because my point is to not make such monolithic opponents. You seem to think it's okay for "US to do this to THEM since THEY did something to US 8 years ago." My point is that in both situations, we're talking about different people, doing different things, for different reasons. So what's the connection? Why does the earlier action vindicate the later? Or can you not think past what you steal from Slashdot comments?
posted by jbrjake at 8:52 AM on January 22, 2004


Am I correct in understanding that this Boston Globe story was itself based on an illegal leak of preliminary investigation findings?

Does anyone else see the irony?
posted by profwhat at 9:26 AM on January 22, 2004


Background on the story that Dirt allegedly forgot to credit. Someone had an axe to grind with the Clinton White House. That someone was the FBI's director.
posted by magullo at 9:26 AM on January 22, 2004


I don't know, I think dirt is demonstrating genuine leadership
anyway
;)
posted by matteo at 9:28 AM on January 22, 2004


Oh, please.. Don't think I'm siding with either side.. I think the Reps and the Dems deserve each other (the sad things, is I don't think the American people deserve them, but we earn them..)

I'll be the first to admit I've been pretty Rep since I've started to vote. Last election, I voted Lib. This year, I'm seriously considering voting Dem, depending on who is nominated. (NOT Dean, that's for sure)

I just get a kick out of both sides, when someone does something wrong, the other side acts like a bunch of innocent virgins, who have never done anything wrong.

They are all crooks. From the most part, people we want in office would never bother to run, and they would never survive to get elected into any position of real power.
posted by dirt at 9:37 AM on January 22, 2004



Geez, you think with Al inventing the internet, he could have passed on some simple Sysadim advice to the other Dems..


Except that Al Gore didn't invent the interent, someone invented that quote. If you're going to steal quotes, at least get them right.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:37 AM on January 22, 2004


The extent to which you want something kept secret should is reflected in how much thought and testing you put into making darn sure no unauthorized party can get access to it.

Granted, it's just as wrong to do this as it would be for someone to enter your house merely because your door is unlocked, but if anyone thinks for a second that the Democratic caucus wouldn't have done the exact same thing had the roles been reversed, well, that person may be interested in this bridge nearby I've been trying to sell.

If nothing else this can stand as an example of the evils of outsourcing :-)
posted by clevershark at 9:46 AM on January 22, 2004


If you leave your front door unlocked, and somebody comes into your house and steals your belongings, they are still committing a crime.

Absolutely. With changes to the law in recent years, hasn't hacking been made a capital offense yet? Pretty close to it, anyway. These people should hang to the fullest extent of the law, whatever their party (but gee, isn't it a surprise what their party happens to be?).
posted by rushmc at 9:49 AM on January 22, 2004


I don't mean to be difficult, but ...

Didn't the evil goings-on of Diebold and their lax attitude to the security of their electronic rigging voting machines get revealed by someone accessing their systems through bad security on Diebold's webserver?

I don't recall a single admonishment of the information's 'liberation' on that occasion. Is this a favouritism thing?
posted by Blue Stone at 10:04 AM on January 22, 2004


What a3matrix said. And consider where your outrage would be directed, had a Democratic staffer had leaked memos about a Republican plan to hold up judicial nominations at the behest of a special interest group and financial supporter

I can't believe this is even being advanced as an argument. Basic Moral Principle 101: two wrongs don't make a right. Period.

The only time it's acceptable to stoop to the other guy's lower ethics is when it comes to your personal safety being threatened. The rest of the time, the right thing to do is call out offenders, kick in the consequences, and in general make sure everybody sure as hell knows the higher standard is the standard. And, yes, I say this as a person who yelled about Clinton's perjury and other crimes and will still argue that it was a big problem.

If you ever really want to improve the world, you have to live by the above philosophy. Otherwise, what you're really interested in power to shape it to your whims.
posted by namespan at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2004


I'm hoping massive charges get filed. But I know nothing will come of this. =(
posted by Darke at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2004


It's pitiful that Robert Novak's name comes up in almost all of these stories. And I have to say--given the venomous, partisan climate in the Senate, every single computer should be extra-secure...And can't this be spun as a national security issue too? If memos were available and accessible, weren't intelligence committee minutes and secret hearing info too?
posted by amberglow at 10:18 AM on January 22, 2004


a3matrix doesn't condone it. He has just grown tired - weary, if you will - of condemning it.

And when so many good things are on TV and a Big Mac Meal is $5, who could have the energy to care about their country?
posted by jon_kill at 10:19 AM on January 22, 2004


They just can't get Nixon out of their system, huh?

Nope.
posted by homunculus at 10:22 AM on January 22, 2004


. I don't mean to be difficult, but ...

Didn't the ...electronic rigging voting machines...bad security on Diebold's webserver?

I don't recall a single admonishment of the information's 'liberation' on that occasion. Is this a favouritism thing?
posted by Blue Stone at 1:04 PM EST on January 22


jane, you ignorant slut! diebold isn't single-handedly destroying everything america stands for, diebold isn't looting the middle class and the federal budget to enrich its cronies, diebold isn't holding people uncharged and incommunicado like some fascist regime, and bush republicans are. could you possibly be more lump?
posted by quonsar at 10:24 AM on January 22, 2004


amberglow - I agree with you about Novak. When a trial lawyer commits a crime or breaches ethics they are disbarred, when a physician does the same their license is revoked. Can't we do the same to sleazy journalists?
posted by plemeljr at 10:31 AM on January 22, 2004


Meanwhile, in Louisiana.

Meanwhile, in Texas.
posted by homunculus at 10:42 AM on January 22, 2004


Didn't the evil goings-on of Diebold and their lax attitude to the security of their electronic rigging voting machines get revealed by someone accessing their systems through bad security on Diebold's webserver?

I don't recall a single admonishment of the information's 'liberation' on that occasion. Is this a favouritism thing?


While the means may be similar, one the one hand you have elected officials and their staffers exploiting security holes for their political benefit, in a sense cheating the system of checks and balances in our democracy.

On the other hand, you have someone that exploited lax security to expose massive wrongdoing on the part of the sole company in charge of our election process.

I see this congressional leak as a pretty glaring breach of ethics, and while the original diebold leaker is certainly open to criminal charges, I see it as a whistleblower type of thing. In one case you have one political party using their cheats as a way to plot against the other (and I agree that the democrats would probably have done the same if given the chance, but both should be investigated and punished), and on the other you have someone illegally obtaining documents that show our political process is in peril (without any motivation to provide gains to either political party).

So while the means are similar in how they started, I see them being very different from one another. To argue they are the same is sort of like saying that a football team stealing the other's playbook is the same as someone in the crowd stealing a memo off someone's desk that says the scoreboard is messed up.
posted by mathowie at 10:43 AM on January 22, 2004


As far as I'm concerned, this should be investigated not just by the traditional "proper authorities" but also by the Dept of Homeland Defense. If security on a government computer (ANY government computer) is this lax, I think there should be an audit of the entire system.
posted by jpoulos at 10:50 AM on January 22, 2004


Nothing will come from this because John Q. Public doesn't understand it, and doesn't care.

Also, Rush will not be explaining to his pablum-dependant audience why it was bad, so there's really no hope for several 10's of millions of them.

What do ethical people do in this situation? They report it. Period.

While having new T-1 lines installed, I found an entire backend system of our local TelCo completely unsecured. I reported it. The most difficult part was convincing them it was an actual risk.

If any charges are brought, it will be against the Dem's for having lax security. That's how this administration thinks.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:01 AM on January 22, 2004


Republicans: w3 4r3 th3 l33t h4x0rs. Vote for us.
posted by internal at 11:09 AM on January 22, 2004


"To argue they are the same is sort of like saying that a football team stealing the other's playbook is the same as someone in the crowd stealing a memo off someone's desk that says the scoreboard is messed up."

I find your analogy convincing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by Blue Stone at 11:14 AM on January 22, 2004


eyeballkid

Yeah, you see.. That was funny...Humor... A joke..

I KNOW that Gore didn't invent the internet. AOL did.

I KNOW he didn't say that.. But it's a cliche joke now.

And, know I know to put big flags around anything that is a joke, because you might miss it again.
posted by dirt at 11:30 AM on January 22, 2004


"They just can't get Nixon out of their system, huh?"
The problem is that they did get Nixon out of the system, and left the system in place.
posted by 2sheets at 11:42 AM on January 22, 2004


The "Clinton Did it Too" line can not die too soon. What should be done about Clinton? Should we impeach him? At the least, let's not re-elect him. I'll join the crusade. Let's get Bill Clinton out of the White House now!
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:45 AM on January 22, 2004


Dirt- You'll have to come up with a better source than Judicial Watch which is just a Scaife propaganda front.
posted by McBain at 11:55 AM on January 22, 2004


And, know I know to put big flags around anything that is a joke, because you might miss it again.

Here's a concept: try being funny. Take the training wheels off your comedy wheelchair... er, gurney...
posted by y2karl at 11:59 AM on January 22, 2004


Wheelbarrow, karl ... its dirt.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:05 PM on January 22, 2004


I think there should be an audit of the entire system.


Well there goes the $23 million earmarked for drug testing all our kids.
posted by archimago at 12:15 PM on January 22, 2004


I can't believe this is even being advanced as an argument. Basic Moral Principle 101: two wrongs don't make a right. Period.

I wasn't arguing in favor of the republicans; I was just pointing out, as I think a3matrix did, that corruption is neither a democratic nor a republican vice. Personally I don't believe there's been no change in the overall venality of either or both parties in the 20 years I've been following politics; rather, each side has an interest in outrage-mongering. If you listen to the rhetoric you might think the republic is falling apart. I've been alive for 16 percent of its existence, and I DO think politicians peddle that idea to keep you interested.

But just to be contrarian let me re-state the content of the democratic memos: the minority was holding up judicial nominations at the secret behest of the NAACP -- a major supporter of the democratic party -- pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case on affirmative action; if the Globe's characterization is correct, they held up Miguel Estrada specifically because he's Latino.

Neither side is clean here, and it has always been this way.
posted by coelecanth at 12:16 PM on January 22, 2004


Bad network administration and some idiot took advantage of the glitch does not equate to breaking into an office.

Tell that to the judges that can sentence script kiddies to prison for life.

If a kid can do life in prison for defacing a web site...then there had surely better be some penalties for this nonsense. Of course, I expect it to be as well investigated as the Valerie Plame case...which is to say, buried.
posted by dejah420 at 12:43 PM on January 22, 2004


Neither side is clean here, and it has always been this way.
Funny, I've been alive a while too, and I've never heard about Dems breaking into physical offices or senate computers--things are certainly leaked and spun and "deepthroated" by both sides, and both sides bring the power of their offices to bear (re: FBI investigations a la Nixon, special prosecutor shit, etc.) but the actual criminal acts all seem to be done by Repubs. (Reminds me of Iran-Contra, and the paid mob that stopped the counting in FL too--there's a really long list of Repubs breaking the law while supposedly enforcing and upholding it)

Also, whatever the content of the memos, people should have not have broken the law to get them.
posted by amberglow at 12:47 PM on January 22, 2004


oop- people should not have : >
posted by amberglow at 12:47 PM on January 22, 2004


I expect it to be as well investigated as the Valerie Plame case...which is to say, buried.

Speaking of which, some ex-CIA aides are asking for a Congressional inquiry. I don't think the CIA is going to let it get buried.
posted by homunculus at 12:59 PM on January 22, 2004


So, coelecanth, holding up a judicial nomination on behalf of one's constituents is the same as breaking into a computer system?

I've never considered that fighting over judicial nominations was corruption. What an interesting concept. No wonder some people here think politics = corruption.

I suggest that people with these attitudes befriend a politician. Volunteer on a political campaign. Maybe they'll discover that some politicians are honest and well-meaning public servants. I know several elected officials, and they're honest.

Fuck you if you say my politician friends are crooks.
posted by Holden at 1:01 PM on January 22, 2004


If a kid can do life in prison for defacing a web site...

All children are potential terrorists. This girl is only six and she's already a threat to national security. We've got to get them before they get us.
posted by homunculus at 1:07 PM on January 22, 2004


" This girl is only six and she's already a threat to national security. "

well, you never know what's inside those peanut butter sandwiches. you never know. and, you know, that grappe jelly is so rubbery that it looks suspiciously like grape-flavored C-4

better check it out for everybody's safety
posted by matteo at 1:13 PM on January 22, 2004


Okay, I'll bite. I'm a cynic. I'm hard pressed to believe that if the tables were turned, the Democrats would be saintly. People—party line or not—are simply too fallible. Ethics is lost on both parties.

Here is an instance where the tables WERE turned and democrats did the right, ethical thing.

Think back to the 2000 Bush/Gore debates. Somehow, tapes of Bush rehearsing for the debate were sent to the Gore camp. Tom Downey, who was rehearsing Gore for the debate "watched the tape briefly, turned it over to the FBI and withdrew from Gore's practice sessions." Downey not only immediately turned the matter over to the proper authorities, he withdrew from anything having to do with the debate. No doubt, Gore could have capitalized on such a political windfall, but they chose to do the right thing. Granted, it doesn't happen every time.

Google searches:

"republican dirty tricks" 668 results
"democratic dirty tricks" 163 results
posted by wsg at 1:48 PM on January 22, 2004


one wonders if norm coleman - the chairman of the subcommitee of investigations will do anything about this outrage?

his predecessor paul wellstone would have.
posted by specialk420 at 2:20 PM on January 22, 2004


So, coelecanth, holding up a judicial nomination on behalf of one's constituents is the same as breaking into a computer system?

I may be wrong, Holden, but I thought a Senator's constituents were the citizens of his or her state -- not national interest groups like the NAACP or the Moral Majority. Senators, of course, are obliged to use their best judgment in confirming judicial nominees, but they also have a duty to either confirm, or decline to confirm, nominees to the depleted federal judiciary so that people with business in the federal courts can have their cases heard.

These particular senators were allegedly deferring doing even that because a non-constituent donor with political and financial chips in the game -- a national special interest group -- was asking the entire party to do so, en bloc. If your friends were among them then Yes, I think they're corrupt. And if your friends declined even to vote on a nominee on account of race, then Yes, I think they're corrupt.

If your friends were among the leakers of the memo, then Yes, I think they're corrupt, too, partly for stealing files off a computer, but also because their party was doing the same thing back in the 90s when the other side was nominating judges.

All I'm saying is, don't get your panties in TOO MUCH of a twist about this because I very much doubt that the occupants of the Capitol Building are; it's business as usual there. This "My side decent, your side evil" indignation is a kind of stimulant both sides sell to the public, but do not consume themselves.
posted by coelecanth at 2:35 PM on January 22, 2004


I wonder if it's in the best interest of America for the Dems to act ethically. The other team is lying, cheating, and swindling their way to power. Can the American public be trusted to recognize this and vote appropriately?
posted by five fresh fish at 2:41 PM on January 22, 2004


fff, that's a rhetorical question, right?

if it's not, judging by the "move long nothing to see here," "bill clinton was a bad person!", and "everybdody does it so why get angry?" reactions of some of the otherwise intelligent, involved, and well-spoken people here, the answer is, as they would've said in my old neighborhood, hell motherfuckin' naw!

we have exactly the government we deserve. god damn us.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:53 PM on January 22, 2004



Fuck you if you say my politician friends are crooks.


What an embarrassing thing to have said.
posted by thirteen at 3:28 PM on January 22, 2004


Neither side is clean here, and it has always been this way.

So MAKE THEM ACCOUNTABLE, don't act as their apologist.
posted by rushmc at 3:46 PM on January 22, 2004


I wonder if it's in the best interest of America for the Dems to act ethically. The other team is lying, cheating, and swindling their way to power.
fff, it's not (at least, not anymore). It's time to fight fire with fire, but not illegally (a fine line, I guess).
posted by amberglow at 3:49 PM on January 22, 2004


It was rhetorical, and it was also baited on the likely faulty idea that the democrats would be any better for the US than the republicans. I don't actually believe they'd be much better. I rather suspect that what would be best for the US is to trash those two thoroughly-corrupt and ineffective parties, and take on something new.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:13 PM on January 22, 2004


People—party line or not—are simply too fallible.

Not all are: it's a choice, it's not innate.
posted by rushmc at 4:20 PM on January 22, 2004


his predecessor paul wellstone would have.

:::looks around for Paul Wellstone:::
posted by rushmc at 4:22 PM on January 22, 2004


Hey, I'm not apologizing for anyone. Look at what Five Fresh Fish just said: that it would be OK for the GOOD party to cheat to protect us all from the BAD side. That's the kind of radicalization that they want from you -- and the peddling of outrage is how they get it. Let's just not play their game, OK?
posted by coelecanth at 4:22 PM on January 22, 2004


[trying to stay as neutral as possible]

i think this should be fully investigated. If there was some sort of illegal activity, particularly one that violated something specifically outlined in the Patriot act, then the guilty parties should be tried and treated like any other person would be.

The upshot of this is that, at least in theory, the next time something like this happened, there would be a ready precedent at hand and neither party could complain when they were treated as people who are bound by the same laws as the rest of us.

Of course i'm a dreamer ;)
posted by quin at 4:28 PM on January 22, 2004


:::looks around for Paul Wellstone:::

I hear there are some large sealed barrels in Richard Perle's basement.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 4:58 PM on January 22, 2004


i think this should be fully investigated. If there was some sort of illegal activity, particularly one that violated something specifically outlined in the Patriot act, then the guilty parties should be tried and treated like any other person would be.

Moral hair splitting aside, as the article noted, this is an escalation--this is unprecedented, one more step in this direction. As the matter was not corrected imediately and the materal examined, exploited and disclosed, the results are not distinguishable from the use of a phone tap. This is a crime. Stay tuned.
posted by y2karl at 5:05 PM on January 22, 2004


IJR - oh no you didn't!
posted by mcsweetie at 5:06 PM on January 22, 2004


I personally hope this goes through a slow, laborious process then pops up during the summer along with the CIA/Plame affair. One of the best wedges for the Dems is to run against a Republican Congress and a Pres weakened by investigations. I hope reporters or weblogs stay on top of this.

I doubt the Repubs gained much by either affair. They didn't get the Estrada nomination passed and it didn't hurt the Dems with the Latinos, at least as far as I can see. The Plame/CIA affair didn't hurt the anti-war folks either. Pretty much everyone discounts the Uranium cake issue Bush tried to sell. Just like Watergate, where the info they got was basically useless. The gain of such an illegal action is almost always outweighed by the damage done by the press about the act.
posted by superchris at 6:21 PM on January 22, 2004


This is deeply ironic since the republican backed laws dealing with cybercrime automatically make the person who downloaded those files a felon. Not that he'll ever be prosecuted. He lives in that other America.
posted by lumpenprole at 7:46 PM on January 22, 2004


Decorated CIA veterans demand that Congress hold the Bush White House accountable for exposing undercover agent Valerie Plame.
posted by homunculus at 8:05 PM on January 22, 2004


The gain of such an illegal action is almost always outweighed by the damage done by the press about the act.

That only works if the press deigns to pursue it.
posted by rushmc at 8:08 PM on January 22, 2004


homunculus, please keep trying. I know that somebody, someday, somewhere will bother to wake up enough to care that the laws have been are broken.

Signed,

somebody, today, right here.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:17 PM on January 22, 2004


Grand Jury Hears Plame Case

"No one knows what the hell is going on," says someone who could be a witness, "because the administration people are all terrified and the lawyers aren't sharing anything with each other either."
posted by y2karl at 8:27 PM on January 22, 2004


And there's still the matter of Rep. Smith's bribe.
posted by homunculus at 9:49 PM on January 22, 2004


I agree with you about Novak. When a trial lawyer commits a crime or breaches ethics they are disbarred, when a physician does the same their license is revoked. Can't we do the same to sleazy journalists?

plemeljr, it's generally illegal to leak certain things TO journalists, but the journalist is usually (IANAL, now) protected unless they somehow coerced someone into breaking the law by leaking to them.

Whistleblowers calling attention to wrongdoing are in the public interest, and journalists serve that public interest by bringing the light of public attention to where the wrongs are being done.

I'm certainly no fan of Novak, and I wish he'd identify his sources. However, if he agreed to protect their identity he should stand by that. (which is what I surmise is going on with the Plame affair.)

Which is worse? Journalists bringing wrongdoing to light but declining to name their sources? Or people being too frightened to blow the whistle because they fear retaliation if their names are made public, thus keeping the wrongdoing from ever becoming exposed?
posted by Vidiot at 9:59 PM on January 22, 2004


How is double clicking a folder icon hacking? I hate how that term is getting bandied around here by a group that I would hope would know better.

I view this not as breaking and entering but only entering. I do not condone these actions and hope the full extent of the law comes down on the parties responsible but for some reason, blame it on every administration since FDR, these sort of actions just don't fill me with a righteous indignation. More of a slow burn ennui, like a bad batch of chili.
posted by Dagobert at 11:30 PM on January 22, 2004


"How is double clicking a folder icon hacking?"

It's not just a matter of double clicking. It's accessing a folder on the server, double clicking, clicking on someone's email folder (that you know you shouldn't access...) finding out that you do have access, then clicking on each and every email that comes into that folder.

How is this significantly different from the previously flawed security that allowed people to use network neighborhood to browse every computer on a cable modem network?

Would it be hacking to do that, probe accounts, find someone who had a shared C drive which wasn't password protected, and then copy and distribute every personal thing on their drive? You bet it would. Legally, ethically, morally, it's hacking, albeit of the simplest variety.

Is it any different really than knowing someone's IP address and using a common command to see what files are shared and what aren't, then opening and exploiting those files? No. The difference is really just GUI vs. command line.

These aren't the only scandals brewing, mind you. Nobody mentioned the Cheney bribery scandal or the Perle/Hollinger scandal yet, I noticed. More scandals coming soon, I'm sure.

Just sit back, relax, and watch the Republicans implode...
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:59 AM on January 23, 2004


vidiot, if Novak ever used his confidential sources for whistleblowing or for the public good, as opposed to serving as hitman for Republicans upset about something and looking to attack, please let us know. When he's supoenaed for the Plame grand jury, we'll find out, I guess (and is he willing to go to jail to protect the person(s) who fed him this?)
posted by amberglow at 4:49 AM on January 23, 2004


and speaking of scandals: Halliburton Tells Pentagon Workers Took Kickbacks to Award Projects in Iraq
posted by amberglow at 5:02 AM on January 23, 2004


I view this not as breaking and entering but only entering.

Do you work in an office with cubicles? There are no doors. Suppose someone takes something off your desk when you're not looking. Or, more accurately, out of a desk drawer.

It's my understanding that the "breaking" in breaking & entering refers not to breaking any physical lock or barrier, but breaking the "plane" of an area to which one is not allowed. (Much like a football has to break the "plane" of the goal line.)
posted by jpoulos at 6:30 AM on January 23, 2004


Llama lime ("The conspiracy nut in me wants to think that there's a comment-mill thinktank that's mobilizing the troops to run some grass-roots/astroturf interference.") - I'm convinced that this goes on often enough on Metafilter. You're not being conspiratorially minded at all. At this later day internet age, any PR firm which does NOT work more prominent opinion-molding websites is out to lunch. It's merely a question of deep-pockets funding.

So - consider "Americans for Balanced Energy Choices" (ABEC), a coal-industry funded astroturf outfit run by a PR firm in Louisville, Kentucky which has won a PR industry award for the ABEC campaign. ABEC, according to the Annenberg Center, was the #1 spender on TV and print ads in the DC area in 2002 (about $8-9 million, if memory serves - scrolls down for the links : this is a footnote I wrote as supporting evidence, for a Metatalk thread-grudge match in which someone accused me a being a conspiracy freak for alluding to PR firm manipulation of public attitudes on Global Warming. ).

Then, there's radio....bear in mind that that's just the DC area. ABEC is a national effort with deep pockets. What would it take to buy a few Metafilter partisans ? Not much in some cases, I'd say.

I think this goes on often enough but it is, as I said, very hard to prove. One cue which alerts me - besides cut and paste comments - is when posters repeat the same half-assedly ignorant comments over and over and over again - in spite of being challenged by multiple links to credible information on the issue at question.

It sets off my alarm bells when posters display great passion for an issue but seem utterly unwilling to familiarize themselves with the basics of that issue which they seem to hold such passion for - and what, in tandem with this, really makes me wonder is when such posters trundle out extremely subtle talking points but then - when pressed - display a level of ignorance which belies the familiarity with the issue suggested by these sophisticated talking points which form a very impressive veneer which is quite thin, brittle, and easy to crack.

I tend to notice specific, rote talking points which get cranked out by skilled propaganda mills - such as, for example, this one. But - given the fact that these talking points are designed to be viral, in that they are crafted to sound just so eminently reasonable - their appearance in comments can simply be written off to successful viral infection.

Ignorance and pigheaded stubborness can be just that, but in some cases behavioral patterns over time tend to suggest, to me, a different behavioral hypothesis.
posted by troutfishing at 6:56 AM on January 23, 2004


I MeTa'd you, trout, but in a good way--these points are important site-wise.
posted by amberglow at 8:12 AM on January 23, 2004


amberglow - Oh no. Another Metatalk grudgefest ! I'm not annoyed at you, but I don't have time today for the huge shitstorm that this is going to kick up (This sort of thing is next to impossible to prove).

But I have to jump in, for the fact that I have a huge amount of material on what can be proven - the business disinformation (the spreading of knowingly deceptive, inaccurate, or dated (and hence misleading) information) campaign to confuse the public on Global Warming.
posted by troutfishing at 8:59 AM on January 23, 2004


sorry--i'm already regretting it, but i do think it's an important and valid issue to bring up there.
posted by amberglow at 9:26 AM on January 23, 2004


Five Fresh Fish DID NOT say "that it would be OK for the GOOD party to cheat to protect us all from the BAD side."

Do not put words in my mouth, coelecanth. You can make your point without lying.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:12 AM on January 23, 2004


*cries*
posted by matteo at 10:18 AM on January 23, 2004


Sorry: you "wonder if it's in the best interest of America for the Dems to act ethically" -- but you raise the question "baited on the likely faulty idea that the democrats would be any better for the US than the republicans." No lie was intended. My only point is that if you leave out the "likely faulty" part, it sounds like you've started into the same rationalization as the people who (illegally) broke into those computers.
posted by coelecanth at 12:03 PM on January 23, 2004


Except that he didn't. You ding-dong.
*pats matteo*
posted by squirrel at 1:26 PM on January 23, 2004


Prosecutors say no to Limbaugh plea pitch

Prosecutor James Martz wrote back on Dec. 15 that an intervention program alone was not sufficient. He wrote that prosecutors had enough evidence to support more than 10 felony counts.

*frog march mental image*
posted by y2karl at 3:44 PM on January 23, 2004


Squirrel, "rhetorical" doesn't mean "unserious". It means "asked merely for effect with no answer expected". And since we're still talking about this: FFF's retraction, if that's what it is, hangs on the presumption that neither party is better. That's what FFF said. Why shouldn't a person who sincerely believes in their party FFF's suggestion as an endorsement for, e.g., trawling in the opposition's computer files? If you can't answer that then you haven't contributed. Except for consoling matteo :-)
posted by coelecanth at 3:58 PM on January 23, 2004


Former intelligence official Larry C. Johnson blasts the Bush administration's "outright pattern of bullying" in a candid interview with Salon.
posted by homunculus at 6:04 PM on January 23, 2004


From there:

But why does the intelligence community appear increasingly to be in open revolt against the White House? If the political pressures are nothing new, why the unprecedented degree of protest?

Put it this way, with this White House, I see an outright pattern of bullying: Gen. Eric Shinseki, the former Army chief of staff, warned that the U.S. was going to need several hundred thousand troops in Iraq, and he's attacked for that, and basically told that he doesn't know what he's talking about -- and he's fired essentially a year before he's out of that job. When it's time for him to retire, not a single senior representative of the Department of Defense or White House leadership is there for his retirement. Then there was Thomas White, the secretary of the Army who was forced out. There was a senior CIA analyst by the name of Fulton Armstrong who was attacked, using leaks to the press, which alleged that he was disloyal and somehow under the influence of the Cuban government. There was a prosecutor [ousted from] the Department of Justice who had warned that John Walker Lindh's father had hired a lawyer and that [the DOJ] needed to consider the Miranda rights.

So what we've seen is a repeated pattern across different agencies, all with the apparent sanction of the White House, of going after anybody who's a critic, or who's seen as not being in tune with the administration's message. When people raise legitimate issues that may not be consistent with existing policy, instead of conducting a fair intellectual assessment of those issues, those people are attacked and their character is impugned.

posted by y2karl at 6:45 PM on January 23, 2004


Jack Shafer -- no GOP shill - weighs in on the story.
posted by coelecanth at 11:01 AM on January 24, 2004


Knock it off, coelecanth. I did not say what you say I said, and there is no retraction at all. It was idle speculation, not recommendation.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:22 AM on January 24, 2004


Pentagon's Online Voting Program Deemed Too Risky
posted by homunculus at 3:15 PM on January 24, 2004


Computer reportedly seized from Frist's office
posted by homunculus at 11:47 PM on January 24, 2004


I agree with Bill Maher.
posted by donth at 4:55 PM on January 25, 2004


Oh, I just remembered something.

Last October, I interviewed with [insert large computer company] about being part of their data migration team for the US Senate. The Senate was moving from cc:Mail to MS Exchange and as you might imagine this was going to be a monster, long hour job, running several months. (I was offered a team lead position but had to bow out due to a conflict)

So, it looks like a new network was set up and some eeeediot did not set the proper permission levels. That eeeediot could have easily been me.

(FWIW, that interview was one of the most non-traditional interviews I've ever had. I think I really would have enjoyed the high stress work environment)
posted by Dagobert at 5:12 AM on February 5, 2004


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