The Terrorists Did NOT Use Encryption.
October 1, 2001 2:08 PM   Subscribe

The Terrorists Did NOT Use Encryption. None of the communications, authorities said Sunday, involved the use of encryption or other code to disguise the contents of the messages.
posted by (11 comments total)
Whenever you have the opportunity, remind those in power who would like to take encryption out of our hands of this fact.
posted by at 2:14 PM on October 1, 2001

If they did use some type of encryption on some type of communication who is to say we would know?
posted by borgle at 2:27 PM on October 1, 2001

We'd know the messages were encrypted if they were, borgle© This is pretty interesting, as most news agencies ¥at least the ones who've done stories on encryption¤ seem to have settled on the fact that they would have used pgp or something© Of course, this doesn't rule out that the Taliban could be using it among themselves, I suppose©
posted by sherman at 2:39 PM on October 1, 2001

"who is to say we would know?"

Encrypted email just looks like a huge block of garbage text. Since we have the emails, and we can read them, then obviously they aren't encrypted.

It's possible to use stegonogrphic (sp?) technics to hide a coded message in a much longer block of text, but that requires special software. Since the article says the terrorists used public computers (Kinkos, etc) then they couldn't have used this software.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:51 PM on October 1, 2001

Even if the terrorists were using some sort of encryption, should that give anyone a right to ban it? Is anyone considering a ban on pig latin?

People have told me in the past few days that I shouldn't worry about my rights to encryption if I don't have anything to hide, but that's not even remotely the point. The fact that I have to utilize encryption just to retain a modicum of "privacy" is. In the age we live in it has become practically impossible to lead a normal private life. The fact that no one cares to eaves drop on my private life because I am not a celebrity doesn't change the fact that the opening is there. Just because no one is watching doesn't mean I won't draw the shades when I change my clothes.

Sorry I can't squeeze any more bad metaphors in there.
posted by Jeffy at 3:00 PM on October 1, 2001

Jeffy nails it, but at the same time this isn't going to slow down the DoJ's attempts at key escrowing or even crypto bans. I find that the bills Ashcroft has been pimping lately have nothing to do with terror but opportunism.

Ashcroft was on TV last night [face the nation?] warning about more terrorist attacks. Right now I cannot tell if this is more FUD to push his legislation or a true assessment of the situation.

Considering there are no bills to let more people (who can with limited impact on their work) work from home or avoid other ways of being trapped in a building 9-5 I find the DoJ to be highly disingenuous and to have failed the public in the aftermath of a very serious situation.
posted by skallas at 4:00 PM on October 1, 2001

shouldn't worry about my rights to encryption if I don't have anything to hide

Well, I do have things to hide. My credit card number, for one thing! Sheesh. People.
posted by kindall at 4:43 PM on October 1, 2001

Doesn't matter. Why? Because most people in Congress can't even spell "encryption" let alone understand what it means. Encryption in the U.S. is dead and buried after 9-11 and it gives the Ashcrofts of the world yet another opportunity to burn the Fourth Amendment.

Time for me to register that Hushmail account.
posted by zeb vance at 8:40 PM on October 1, 2001

Oh but remember:"Something must be done" and probably for "the children".
posted by jackiemcghee at 10:18 PM on October 1, 2001

Let`s try this analogy on for size.

The terrorists probably did use a very sophisticated form of encryption that, despite a certain backdoor, no computer can crack; they spoke in Arabic (or at least they were able to). The CIA/FBI have admitted they don`t have much in the way of people who speak Arabic, so this pretty much hangs their ability to monitor communications between terrorists.

Is using a foreign language that much different than using PGP? The U.S. used Hopi (I think) to handle secret transmissions during Vietnam. Am I no longer going to be allowed to talk to people in a language other than English because it is a form of encryption?

What about using code words? Maybe "I`m really looking forward to the new Harry Potter movie" to mean "I have new information about our plan."

To sum up: Banning encryption = passing laws to create the appearance of action instead of to do good for people.
posted by chiheisen at 10:25 PM on October 1, 2001

Encrypted email just looks like a huge block of garbage text. Since we have the emails, and we can read them, then obviously they aren't encrypted.

Ummm, no.

What we have is a press release from the Feds that the stenographers at USAToday obligingly passed along to us.

Any possible vested interest in the Feds encouraging people to use encryption methods that the Feds have already cracked, thereby making encryption the reddest of red herrings, is purely hypothetical. {cough} ("No, no, it's safe, really. Trust us.")
posted by aurelian at 11:48 PM on October 1, 2001

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