Tag Archives: University of Columbia

A mere warning

The Washington Post gives us an interesting article today. It is not really about Jamal Khashoggi, even if it is about him. You see, the headline gives us: ‘U.S. spy agencies sued for records on whether they warned Khashoggi of impending threat of harm‘, with that stage the University of Columbia is being set up for a rather weird trip. When we get “The Knight First Amendment Institute on Tuesday sued the U.S. government to learn whether agencies complied with what the institute asserted was a duty to warn journalist Jamal Khashoggi that he faced a threat of harm. Khashoggi, who lived in Northern Virginia, was killed Oct. 2 by a team of Saudi operatives soon after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for his impending marriage.” They were kind and accurate enough to add the text, oh they actually were not. You see, Journalist or not, Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi Arabian citizen. In addition, he was not in America at the moment it happened, which might be merely a consideration. The third part of the equation is that the alleged act was done on Saudi soil, making it an internal Saudi matter, so, where do we stand?

Well, the WP gives us the Directive 191 reference, so that is where I will go next. The directive in the definitions do tell us “Duty to Warn means a requirement to warn U.S. and non-U.S. persons of impending threats of intentional killing, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping.” There is one issue that I cannot comment on as F.10 of the directive has been redacted; as such I am not certain if the situation had changed. You see, it is the implementation regarding an optional targeted person that matters now. From my point of view, the onus is now on the Washington Post to show part of F2, where we see: “IC elements shall designate senior officers responsible for reviewing threat information initially determined to meet duty to warn requirements to affirm whether the information is credible and specific, so as to permit a meaningful warning. IC clements shall also designate senior officers responsible for making waiver determinations based on criteria identified in this Directive. The senior officers designated for affirming that duty to warn information is sufficient for a meaningful warning and for making waiver determinations should not be the same individual.” It is the Washington Post that needs to prove at this point that ‘threat information’ was clearly available with the senior intelligence officer(s). Merely the notion that a journalist’s life might optionally have been in danger does not hack it. If so, let Martin Baron be a kind boss and give the world notice on the 214 media people in Turkish prison, please please, pretty please?

And then we get the good stuff, the reason why the University of Columbia has signed on for a see-it-all tour of the ocean floor on the USS Titanic (drinks on the rocks will be served). The wavers are almost passed; there is no setting where we see that Jamal Khashoggi was any of that by the American definition. It is the ‘almost’ that gets us to F3e. Here we see: “The information resulting in the duty to warn determination was acquired from a foreign government with whom the U.S. has formal agreements or liaison relationships, and any attempt to warn the intended victim would unduly endanger the personnel, sources, methods, intelligence operations, or defense operations of that foreign government;” How was the clear and present danger to Jamal Khashoggi acquired? Was it ever acquired? More important, if CIA clandestine services got the intelligence as part of internal Saudi acquisition, we might actually stumble on the waver activated through section F3d.

If we go by the innuendo, a group of a little over a dozen flew in, were ALL those people tracked? If there was a call for execution, how did it come into the hands of the intelligence agency? All elements that cannot be answered, so unless the University of Columbia has a clear inside source, the entire exercise was debunked in 414.2 seconds (roughly). All this is even before F8 is seen. The mention of: “Communication of threat information to the intended victim may be delivered anonymously if that is the only method available to ensure protection of U.S. government personnel, sources, methods, intelligence operations, or defense operations.” implies that anonymous delivery would not have been an option, making matters more compromising for the intelligence individual given this part of canine excrement (a paper shaped one mind you). So not only are we in a stage where anonymous delivery is not an option, there is the clear requirement that the intelligence had been weighted, disseminated for wavers and at that point this point would be acted on. Also, we see 63 million articles on Jamal Khashoggi, yet which ones give us a timeline of his whereabouts from September 1st, to October 2nd? At what stage and exactly when was there a credible threat to his life? I am not saying that this was not the case; I am saying that I do not know and whilst we have millions of articles from all kinds of sources playing parrot on innuendo, yet the entire timeline is not shown, as far as I was able to tell, not even in the Washington Post, the American paper he worked for.

The one part that we do not look at is the purpose in all this. When we consider the purpose where we see: “This Directive establishes in policy a consistent, coordinated approach for how the Intelligence Community (IC) will provide warning regarding threats to specific individuals or groups of intentional killing, serious bodily injury, and kidnapping” we need to wonder if the intelligence agencies have any chance of getting anything done, basically any journalist and opposition of drugs in Latin America is basically in danger at this point. For me, I see the entire University of Columbia action academically sound, yet loaded with political oppositional premise. The action in opposition comes from “The lawsuit states that before Khashoggi’s killing, “U.S. intelligence agencies apparently intercepted communications in which Saudi officials discussed a plan to capture Khashoggi.”” This is indeed part of the directive. Yet the timeline is not clear. The intelligencer section of the New York Magazine (at http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/10/report-the-u-s-heard-saudis-talk-about-capturing-khashoggi.html) gives us: “The Saudis wanted to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and lay hands on him there, this person said. It was not clear whether the Saudis intended to arrest and interrogate Khashoggi or to kill him“. We need to consider two parts, Jamal Khashoggi was on Saudi soil (consulate when the events happened), in addition, there is also still mention that we see the optional ‘the Saudis intended to arrest and interrogate Khashoggi‘, which also implies that danger to life was not a given and Saudi Arabia has every right to arrest its citizens, especially on Saudi ground. We cannot merely state after the fact that it was ‘to kill him‘, there were too many unknown parts and intelligence agencies acting on too many unknown parts tend to drop the ball, foil their own plot and moreover tend to imply more controversies on themselves. Oh, and did I mention that part of it happened in Turkey, a place that has arrested and jailed well over 200 journalists?

It is also reflective as they quote the WP in this. That article gives us again: “Before Khashoggi’s disappearance, U.S. intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture him“, yet a clear timeline is missing. How much time was there and consider that the intercepted information does not imply killing, more important, when a government takes a person into custody it is not kidnapping, it is called arresting nullifying Directive 191. What is interesting that no one in that entire intelligence structure decided to act by themselves (or directed to do so), walking up to Martin Baron (sometimes doubled by Liev Schreiber) and tell him that there is a credible issue with one of their journalists. As the issue at that part was not national security. That one call and his rapid ‘relocation’ to: İstinye Mahallesi, Poligon Cd. No:75, 34460 Sarıyer/İstanbul, Turkey where quick travel arrangements could be made. Is that absence not interesting too? So when we consider that part, was there any time at all?

I am not saying that this is the case; I am merely framing the questions.

So when we see all that, I am considering that this in the end goes nowhere, yet the activity to open Directive 191 to scrutiny was not wrong, not wrong at all. I reckon that the Law Faculty of the University of Columbia will have handed out, or soon will hand out to their freshman students an essay assignments of 1,500 words asking them: “Argue the situation where Directive 191 could have preventive, or would be ineffective in preventing the alleged killing of Jamal Khashoggi“. I think that Martin Baron should publish the best entry as a column entry in the Washington Post with a supporting by-line by Gillian Lester the Dean of Law of Columbia Law School. Scrutiny is always good, especially when it has the option to become an exercise to educate people. I wonder what the take by Mark M. Lowenthal is, the man behind ‘Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy‘, and is it not interesting that he is (or was) an adjunct professor in that very same University? This part is actually important as the entire setting is precisely the stage that we saw in 2009 (at https://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/09/us/09cia.html), it is a different stage quoted as: ““If Panetta starts trying to feed people to that commission, his tenure at C.I.A. will be over,” said Mark M. Lowenthal, a former senior C.I.A. official and an adjunct professor at Columbia University. “If it happens, C.I.A. people are not going to start plotting against the president, but they are going to withdraw from taking risks, and then the C.I.A. becomes useless to the president,” Mr. Lowenthal said.“, yet the impact of Directive 191 becomes a near identical spotlight and it might end up setting exactly the same premise that Mark warned us for in 2009. My idea that someone gets a whisper to talk to Martin Baron and give him the heads up would have been the zero pain and least effort required solution. It is my idea, yet I am 99.3224% certain (roughly) that there are people more clever than me in the Intelligence branch who would have had that very same idea leaving me with the speculation that there merely might not have been enough time; with tens of thousands intelligence snippets arriving at https://www.cia.gov/cgi-bin/forlang_form.cgi every hour (and many more intelligence snippets from all over the world, as well as from Flat 3b, 3 Hans Crescent, London SW1X 0LS) there is every chance that the message might not have been read in time, or merely that other matters mattered more and in that we should optionally thank the University of Columbia for their optional assistance of upping the CIA budget by a speculative 42.3% (minus $7.49 for my venti cappuccino and a toasted blueberry muffin).

Could I be wrong? Of course I could be, but I added the directive for you to consider yourself and in the end when you put the elements on a row, how likely was the fact that there was a clear plan in place from the beginning? the entire Khashoggi mess, and the nonstop innuendo and lack of evidence given to the media and others, whilst we see a lack of scrutiny and a lack of commitment form the governments in all this gives rise to a lot more issues than the one I showed, making me wonder whether Jamal Khashoggi was important or merely became important after he allegedly died, showing the additional pressures that Iran is trying to push for via Turkey, oh and all those Turkish imprisoned (and optionally alive) journalists, how much media coverage are they still getting at present?

Did I oversimplify the matter for you?

Cool bananas and have a great Thursday!

Directive 191

 

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Direction X

It is the Columbian (at http://www.columbian.com/news/2018/apr/15/harrop-facebook-wont-alter-its-lucrative-practices-without-regulations/) that gives us a light to work with today. A light that some US congressman and US Senators have been pushing for, so it is fun to have a go at that point of view. Now, do not mistake my opposition to it as a way to invalidate the view. I do not agree with the point of view, but many have it. So I see it as a way to inform the readers on the things that they need to know. Froma Harrop starts with three events. We see:

  • Mark Zuckerberg in 2006: “We really messed this one up. …We did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them.”
  • Zuckerberg in 2010: “Sometimes we move too fast. … We will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use.”
  • Zuckerberg early this year: “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. … There’s more we can do here to limit the information developers can access and put more safeguards in place to prevent abuse.”

Now, they are valid events, but the dimensionality is missing. With the exception of certain Google products, Facebook has been the biggest evolving platform on a near daily basis, the integration with mobile apps, mobile reporting, stories, clips, annotated pictures, travelling, and so much more. Over a period of 10 years Facebook went from a dynamic page (for each user or group) to a collected omnibus of information available to all their friends. That is a level of growth that even Microsoft has not been able to compete with and in all this, there will always be mistakes. Some small and trivial and some will be bang up monsters of flaws. Compare this to Microsoft who did not push forward with its Xbox360, no it offered for sale a more powerful machine whilst trimming the functionality down by close to 20% (personal projected loss) with the shift from Xbox360 to Xbox One and Xbox One to Xbox One X. A data collecting machine of greed (whilst everyone is ignoring the data that Microsoft is uploading), pushing users like a bully, to do what they wanted the user to do or be left out. So when exactly did Facebook do that to that degree? Sony with its PlayStation at least pushed forward to some degree.

Froma makes a nice case with: “The law will require them to obtain consent for use of personal information in simple language. (Users shouldn’t have to take a night course to understand privacy and security settings.)“, this is nice in contrast to some consoles (like the Sony consoles) who suddenly made it illegal to use second hand games on their consoles in their terms of service, they quietly backed away when it blew up in the faces of Microsoft. In all this, yet with my sense of humour and realising where this article was, it was not without a giggle that I took a look at the Columbia Journal of European Law (at http://cjel.law.columbia.edu/preliminary-reference/2017/mind-the-gap-loopholes-in-the-eu-data-privacy-regime/) where we see “any set of information relating to individuals to the extent that, although the information is not processed by means of equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose, the set is structured, either by reference to individuals or by reference to criteria relating to individuals, in such a way that specific information relating to a particular individual is readily accessible“, which now leads to “This language of “specific information [that] is readily accessible” indeed was interpreted by the English courts in a manner conflicting with the Directive. In Durant v. Financial Services Authority, the English and Wales Court of Appeal formulated a two part test to evaluate whether a filing system is caught by the Directive:” and that now leaves us with “(i) [T]he files forming part of [the filing system] are structured or referenced in such a way as clearly to indicate at the outset of the search whether specific information capable of amounting to personal data [] is held within the system and, if so, in which file or files it is held; (ii) [The filing system] has, as part of its own structure or referencing mechanism, a sufficiently sophisticated and detailed means of readily indicating whether and where in an individual file or files specific criteria or information about the applicant can be readily located.

So in that case Froma is left with a piece of paper to be stationed where the sun does not shine and it merely took the case Durant v. Financial Services Authority to show its ‘lack‘ of complexity, or did it? She is right that ‘Users shouldn’t have to take a night course to understand privacy and security settings, it merely took law lord Sir Robin Ernest Auld (a former Lord Justice of Appeal in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales) a hell of a lot more than a night course, more like 25 years on the bench as a lawyer, an elected judge and his ascension to lord justice of the appellant court to get it all figured out.

So as we get that out of the way we also need to look at “The companies will have to notify users of a data break-in within 72 hours of its discovery. They’ll have to give up monopoly control of the personal information; people will have the right to obtain a copy of their data and share it with others“, it took Sony a hell of a lot longer to figure out that they were breached and notify people. So now consider the breaches of Equifax (143 million), eBay (145 million), Yahoo (3 billion) and Target stores (110 million). the implication of alerting that many people is not just weird, it is actually dangerous as people tend to overreact do something stupid and lock their accounts, these 4 events could set the stage for close to 4.5 billion locked accounts. The entire 72 hours, that whilst the discovery does not guarantee that the intrusion is stopped opens the entire system up for all kinds of hackers to have a go at that victim and truly make a much bigger mess of it all. Now the people should be informed, but the entire 72 hours was (as I personally see it) pulled out of a hat. In all this the latest Facebook issue was not done by hackers, it was done by corporations who intentionally abused the system, they set their profit knowingly at the expense of the users of that system and exactly who at Cambridge Analytica is currently under arrest and in prison? It seems to me that Facebook, clearly a victim here, has made mistakes, yet the transgressors are not held to vigorous account, yet the maker of the system is. Now, let’s be clear, Mark has clearly some explaining to do. Yet, when we see “Facebook failed in an attempt to get a handle on the Cambridge Analytica scandal Monday, after British authorities ordered its auditors to vacate the political consultancy’s offices” (source: Fortune), all this whilst the offices of Cambridge Analytica ended up being raided 5 days later, I have never seen authorities giving bank robbers that level of leeway, so why was this level of freedom given to Cambridge Analytica? When we consider that this data could be transplanted to writable objects (Blu-ray) in mere hours, it seems to me that giving them 5 days to wipe the evidence is a lot more questionable than merely thumping Facebook for the flaws.

The one part I truly disagree with is “Many of us have a need to connect and share. But expecting much privacy in a business model that relies on selling your information is highly unrealistic“, you see, here we see two levels of privacy, that what the person shares, free of will and that what is accessed. In one part the privacy from the outside is partially an easy thing, because Google with AdWords has shown that to be a clear option, their advertisers can create and address a population to the granularity available, yet the results of this marketing is done in a level of aggregation, individual records per person are not available. The fact that apps could capture it was a given, but the fact that all unique identifiers were optionally possible was kept in the shadows and that is where Cambridge Analytica worked. Now, this is a generalisation, but it fits the overall issues. Facebook could have done better, yet it was massively naive when it thought that the paying corporations would not try to get their fingers on EVERY part they could. In that I wonder what data the insurance companies in the end got a hold on.

So when I see “Tech investor Jason Calacanis has set up a contest — the Open Book Challenge — to create a Facebook replacement. Finalists will be given $100,000 and residence in a 12-week incubator“, when we see it in the light of “Facebook has delivered Zuckerberg a net worth of over $60 billion” must be the easiest pickings for Jason Calacanis that any entrepreneur has ever been a part of. It is like the pyramid games after 15 rounds whilst the top person stayed on top never having to pay more than 0.0001% of the total earning, not even Las Vegas in its wildest times offered such odds.

So I am very much against regulations, it is merely a way for governments to get a hold of that data. Now I am not against that if it truly serves national security, but the fact that actual criminals and terrorists use such systems to elude identification and strike form a distance merely makes it a waste of time and most analysts know this. Now, we also know that when we know where exactly to look, Facebook could reveal stuff, but to hold those billions of accounts to optionally find merely one person is an extremely bad application of time management.

In the end, the one additional part I liked was Zuckerberg stating “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook. I run it. And I’m responsible for what happens here”. I like it because of the realisation that in all the bungles of IBM in the last 30 years, especially the PS/2 range, at what point did any of them stand up and tell their consumers that they screwed up? Especially in line of the setting that the average Model 80 (80386) computer was 400% more expensive at merely 28% of the power of a Taiwan clone, in addition the on board time clock battery has given the user more headaches than a hammer and the graphical underperformance offered should be forgotten at the drop of any hat.

So in this Zuckerberg kept his head high and in all this the entire setting of data abuse is still not addressed by either the US or UK government, in all this there is absolutely no indication that the abusers will be facing punishment or prison, so in all this the law failed the people a lot more than Facebook ever did, especially in the light of issues like this have been going on for years, but we do not get to read that part, do we?

 

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