Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Post Paris Stupidity

Republicans have started to say that we shouldn't take in Syrian refugees because they might be terrorists.

Bullshit. First off, this just shows how afraid (and stupid) they are. The refugees are the people fleeing ISIS. And young orphans aren't terrorists. And they say we're taking too many (Trump said hundreds of thousands). In fact we've said we'd take only 10,000, way less than other nations and the vetting process is quite extensive, taking 18-24 months, they must have UN refugee status, go through various interviews and background checks, biometric data and involving "the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation". Yes we should have strict vetting and we do, it's slow enough that we're way behind schedule. And now (Republican) governors are saying they won't take them into their state, as if they have any control over this. Though the Washington Post points out How Republican governors could again make life miserable for Syrian refugees. Republican Presidential hopeful (and asshole) Ted Cruz and front runner Jeb Bush have said we should only let in Christian refugees. Nope, that's not religious discrimination at all. Seriously these guys should never lecture anyone on the Constitution.

The other big thing in the news is about how terrorists use encryption and since Snowden is gotten worse and Paris is his fault. Again, bullshit. Glenn Greenwald rips this argument to threads in Exploiting Emotions About Paris to Blame Snowden, Distract from Actual Culprits Who Empowered ISIS. Terrorists use lots of technology just like anyone does. We know the terrorists used cars to travel during their attacks, why is no one talking about banning cars, or giving governments a kills switch to disable cars when we're in a yellow alert? Also, the terrorists assume the US is listening to all their electronic communications, so they don't use them much.

And Snowden's revelation wasn't that the NSA listens to terrorists (or even foreigners), that's what they're supposed to do. What Snowden revealed is that the NSA is listening to every American. Putting "backdoors" in everything will make your communications less secure to everyone, like hackers and terrorists and China. Your health care records, bank accounts, employment records, photos, emails, etc. And lets be clear, U.S. Mass Surveillance Has No Record of Thwarting Large Terror Attacks, Regardless of Snowden Leaks.

Despite the intelligence community’s attempts to blame NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for the tragic attacks in Paris on Friday, the NSA’s mass surveillance programs do not have a track record — before or after Snowden — of identifying or thwarting actual large-scale terrorist plots.

But the reason there haven’t been any large-scale terror attacks by ISIS in the U.S. is not because they were averted by the intelligence community, but because — with the possible exception of one that was foiled by local police — none were actually planned.

Even still, the metadata collection program is supposed to give valuable intelligence even if the messages are encrypted. But that's not working out so well, The Paris attacks weren’t stopped by metadata surveillance. That hasn’t stopped officials from saying it might have.

Yes, Terrorists Use Encryption But That Doesn't Mean It's A Bad Thing. "According to Canetti, Boston University cryptography professor: “[Law enforcement] developing better encryption-cracking tools is a very good thing. But they should concentrate on encryption made by bad guys. Making the everyday encryption of the general public weak isn’t going to get you what you want, [not] when it comes to coordinated terrorist attacks. There’s no silver bullet answer. It took us hundreds of years to get democracy right…It’s going to take time for us to get this right.”"

And to the idiots that can't distinguish between ISIS and Islam; would you rather fight ISIS who's size estimate is about 50,000 to 250,000 people, or Islam with over 1,500,000,000 followers. Can you keep it straight now?

Smart on Terrorism by Nancy LeTourneau. "Because once again, the Republicans are attempting to drag us into making stupid moves in order to avoid being labeled “soft on terrorism.” So it’s time for Democrats to get out ahead of this kind of fear-mongering. I’d suggest they do something similar to what former Attorney General Eric Holder did to combat the “soft on crime” message…he began a Smart on Crime initiative. When it comes to terrorism, we’d don’t need the bellicose chest-thumping we’re hearing from Republicans, we need leadership that is smart on terrorism."

The new dialog between the US and Russia is a case in point. While before, the US couldn't help Russia and Russia couldn't help the US, it turns out it might be possible for both the US and Russia to help France. And maybe even Iran, Saudi Arabia and China could too.

Here are some other interesting articles on how we shouldn't overreact.

And finally, he's a wonderful father explaining all of this to his young son. Lots of people could learn this lesson (and no you're not supposed to take flowers v guns literally).

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