Retry or retrial?

It is time to revisit a few issues, actually one issue and a whole lot connected to it. To start, I decided to go with The Verge, it has its ducks decently in a row, the article ‘NSO’s Pegasus spyware: here’s what we know’ is the best of them all, they also make reference to a lot of articles, and they have a decent line. The article (at https://www.theverge.com/22589942/nso-group-pegasus-project-amnesty-investigation-journalists-activists-targeted) is best if you read it yourself. Mitchell Clark did a good job, and as you have read the article, I can make a few jumps. The important jump gets us to the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/interactive/2021/nso-spyware-pegasus-cellphones/). This came from the link in “However, much of the reporting centers around a list containing 50,000 phone numbers” and when we seek the Washington Post article, we get “reporters were able to identify more than 1,000 people spanning more than 50 countries through research and interviews on four continents: several Arab royal family members, at least 65 business executives, 85 human rights activists, 189 journalists, and more than 600 politicians and government officials — including cabinet ministers, diplomats, and military and security officers. The numbers of several heads of state and prime ministers also appeared on the list”, no evidence mind you, merely statement and boasting. I call it boast, because we see there that the Amnesty’s Security Lab examined 67 smartphones all whilst close to 50% had an inconclusive test. If this is 67, what about the other 49,933? So when we get to “NSO chief executive Shalev Hulio expressed concern in a phone interview with The Post about some of the details he had read in Pegasus Project stories Sunday, while continuing to dispute that the list of more than 50,000 phone numbers had anything to do with NSO or Pegasus”, my support goes to Shalev Hulio. The Washington Post has a declining amount of credibility and this does not help. From my point of view, I would have made a dashboard based on the 50,000 numbers with a clear separation, In the top layer the continents, then the countries, where we see number of mobiles, versus number of landlines. This basic setting was never done, how stupid is that? A second dashboard could be the identifying class (journalist, government, lawyer, NGO) just to coin a phrase, the Washington Post was all about emotion, not about fact. I see this as a prime time hack job, with the alleged journo’s being the hacks, we also do not get any level of trustworthy setting on how the leak got to the Washington Post. Question upon question and in the mean time we get to see “In Hungary, numbers associated with at least two media magnates were among hundreds on the list, and the phones of two working journalists were targeted and infected, forensic analysis showed” 4 people and 50,000 numbers, could the article be any less relevant? And the stupidity of the Washington Post does not end, no it goes further with “Amnesty’s forensics found evidence that Pegasus was targeted at the two women closest to Saudi columnist Khashoggi, who wrote for The Post’s Opinions section. The phone of his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, was successfully infected during the days after his murder in Turkey on Oct. 2, 2018, according to a forensic analysis by Amnesty’s Security Lab”, we see ‘two women closest to Saudi columnist Khashoggi’, so how did they get there? Because the numbers were on the list? And when we see ‘The phone of his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, was successfully infected’, so how was that evidence obtained? From my point of view the text “according to a forensic analysis by Amnesty’s Security Lab” just does not cover it. It even gets worse with “Also on the list were the numbers of two Turkish officials involved in investigating his dismemberment by a Saudi hit team”, I see it as a weak approach to mention “investigating his dismemberment” which was NEVER proven, the proof requires a body, they never got that, at best the man is theoretically still merely missing. And from there we get to “Khashoggi also had a wife, Hanan Elatr, whose phone was targeted by someone using Pegasus in the months before his killing. Amnesty was unable to determine whether the hack was successful”, consider the text “Amnesty was unable to determine whether the hack was successful”, if that is true, how come we get “targeted by someone using Pegasus in the months before his killing”, how was that timeline proven? It is a simple question, the article is a bad approach to give more visibility to a journalist no one gives a fuck about. I like the quote ““This is nasty software — like eloquently nasty,” said Timothy Summers, a former cybersecurity engineer at a U.S. intelligence agency and now director of IT at Arizona State University”, is it eloquent because the NSA never made it, or because an Israeli company has the lead on this? I wonder what Timothy would have said if this was an NSA application? 

And the Verge is on my side, they give us “WAIT, WHO MADE THIS LIST?”, as well as “At this point, that’s clear as mud. NSO says the list has nothing to do with its business, and claims it’s from a simple database of cellular numbers that’s a feature of the global cellular network”, which is supported by “A statement from an Amnesty International spokesperson, posted to Twitter by cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, says that the list indicates numbers that were marked as “of interest” to NSO’s various clients. The Washington Post says that the list is from 2016” and when we consider these quotes and we read the Washington Post article for the shite it seems to be, I wonder who is waking up to the fact that the media, all the other media is merely re-quoting what the Washington Post stated and it is absent of all kinds of facts, or they merely didn’t bother putting the facts there. 

The entire Pegasus setting seems like a Wag the Dog approach to whatever these papers want to create and it is optionally a setting (a speculative one) that this is the push from stakeholders who have an issue with the NSO group, all whilst no credible evidence is given to us that there is an actual issue. And in all this the money trail was ignored, I ignored it too, mainly because I was unaware, yet the Verge was aware and they give us “At the time, the costs were reportedly $650,000 to hack 10 iPhone or Android users, or $500,000 to infiltrate five BlackBerry users. Clients could then pay more to target additional users, saving as they spy with bulk discounts: $800,000 for an additional 100 phones, $500,000 for an extra 50 phones” this implies that the cheapest option would be 500 times $800,000, which gives us $400,000,000 that is a whole lot of cash for a lot of people no one cares about. Yes, there are a few alleged targets that makes the pricing worth it, but with the setting I have, there is no way that the 50,000 numbers make sense, oh and before I forget, if this is a list for multiple sources, how many of the numbers doubled up? Too many questions and the media stupidly reprinting what the Washington Post is giving us makes no sense at all, unless you are a stakeholder with anti-Israel sentiments. 

In this Shalev Hulio is right that he is “continuing to dispute that the list of more than 50,000 phone numbers had anything to do with NSO or Pegasus”, I would too and I found a lot of the disputable issues within an hour, I wonder how shortsighted the media was when they decided to reprint what the Washington Post gave them. So whilst the Guardian gives us ‘the global impact of the Pegasus project’, I merely see a storm in a teacup, because the issues in the Washington Post were never decently vetted on a few levels and that is likely the biggest failing of the media at present. It is merely my point of view and I am happy to state that I could be wrong, but the lack of credible evidence, all whilst the media has a declining level of credibility makes my view the most likely correct one, most likely, because I have not seen the evidence, but as you read the articles, that are all about details, lacking generic evidence, how would you see it?

1 Comment

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One response to “Retry or retrial?

  1. Pingback: The same gramophone | Lawrence van Rijn - Law Lord to be

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