What we need is a Turn Key setup to protect online Americans from government, corporate, and outright criminal intrusions.
We're talking about getting 25,000,000+ people out of these lines of fire as they come out of XP.
Microsoft XP remains the second most common flavor of PC operating system in the United States. Fully a third of workstation and laptop machines here run this operating system, many unregistered/unpaid. Despite that popularity it provides minimal modern security beyond a firewall.
XP came out in 2001. Now Microsoft is pulling the applications plug come April
The City of Munich, Germany, has taken a first step. A suitable operating system has been identified: the Ubuntu Linux system, specifically Version 12.04 Long Term Support (Precise Pangolin). A setup to support security requirements is included with their release. The City handed out 2,000 copies on CD format last fall.
Munich also links to support and to help loading applications packages.
Applications might go better with a Turn Key approach. You also want assurances for basic quality control functions.
Candidate examples for secured packages:
-- LibreOffice or OpenOffice -- Office suite (instead of Microsoft Office; LibreOffice has converttopdf for Adobe documents but OO comes up with 1:1 cross-compatibility to new and old Word documents)
-- VLC -- Media player (instead of Windows Media Player)
-- Shotwell -- Photo manager (instead of Picasa)
There's dozens of open source programs that replace Microsoft Windows-compatible products. It's not just about features or price: you cannot trust corporate software to keep malware out of your skivvies.
We will do well to replicate Munich's effort and publicize the results.
Sourcing for IP protection is another task. Everybody says it's doable. So how's to do it Turn Key?
We also need to make this available for 25,000,000+ PC users if we are going to take responsibility and respond, taking one step at a time, to the destruction of Constitutional protections pointed out by Edward Snowden, Diane Feinstein, Thomas Drake, William Binney, Edward Loomis, and J. Kirk Wiebe.
Somebody is going to tell me that's easy.
First step: how's about recruiting a team? Christopher Soghoian is one superstar. Then what's involved making a Turn Key System to do the XP conversion? If it takes a printed/detailed work book to go with computer screens, fine.
This is doable.
A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins........ you betcha!
Let's not go crazy. We're not Birchers calling ourselves the Tea Party. "Run and Holler, Scream and Shout" is optional.
But we should recognize going in that in living memory -- all of 40 years ago -- what FBI-NSA and CIA are up to today is not the first all-out attack on the Constitution that has originated in the Executive Branch. The same patterns were central parts of what Nixon's Dirty Tricks crews and their FBI employee co-conspirators did in the early 1970s.
The tools have changed. The scale of the assault has expanded out to millions of targets.
But there can be no question that stealing communications was specified as a part of what got the Nixon Articles of Impeachment adopted in July, 1974, by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives.
Article 2, Section 2:"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" -- the more things change, the more they stay the same.
[President Nixon] misused the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and other executive personnel, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, by directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; he did direct, authorize, or permit the use of information obtained thereby for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; and he did direct the concealment of certain records made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of electronic surveillance.
-- Alphonse Karr, Les Guêpes in 1849
Forty years pass and the Permanent Bureaucracy at FBI and NSA have taken on organized crime functions from Richard Nixon's Dirty Tricks crews and Committee to Re-Elect the President and their own rogue units. At least C.R.E.E.P. didn't forward its wire tap transcripts to Fred Koch's John Birch Society. No one had heard of Murdoch. Not yet.
We should not be amazed if it comes out that these CIA and FBI-NSA operations are running well-established back doors that feed material to News Corporation and the Powell Memo propaganda organizations. That would be a natural progression. Nothing more.
Tail Wags Dog
The Snowden documents make clear that blanket surveillance of American citizens has become the standard practice. It has nothing to do with terrorism. Really, nothing. Al Qaeda has used personal couriers going back more than a decade, not mass market electronics. But as a sell-out to corporatist data mining operations, this operation is a Golden Fleece.
Information is Power
At the same time there are competent professional operations that have served President Obama effectively at suppressing worldwide terrorist activity. Civilian deaths outside of war zones have fallen off sharply. The war in Syria and ethnic struggles in Africa show what can happen where Obama cannot apply these resources effectively.
Deaths of Americans outside of war zones and others killed from attacks focused on Americans, particularly, have declined to an astonishing low level. Here's the count for those body bags:
-- 3 if the Malaysian airliner was terrorism
-- 3 at the Algerian natgas plant
-- 4 at Benghazi, Libya, if we allow the GOPers their "terrorism" plea
-- 3 at Boston
That's 13 bodies in 5 years. It is not much. If you play golf, you're risking a fatal lightning strike at about twice that statistical frequency for every year that you go out and play a round. Golfers get whacked about 25 times a year in the United States cuz we can't resist standing under wet trees. We're idiots.
Other recent presidents did not have Obama's combo of balls and brains. (Clinton was smart enough.) Taking out a central terrorist information cache never happened. Relying on Shin Bet went on for decades and that relationship replaced getting the job done. Financiers who backed terrorism got to keep breathing. Terrorism thrived.
Failing against terrorism was dumb stuff; dumb as golfers.
For Obama the number is 13. For Ronald Reagan that was 675. Clinton lost 444. Bush43 lost 3,206.
There Has Been a Helluva Lot Worse Than Obama
I'm going to take you on a side trip. If you dislike my meandering ways, skip down to the Obama and "1984" header.
Reagan was the very worst. Follow the direct consequences of his actions and he motivated creation of the main branches of terrorism for both Shia and Sunni Muslims.
Through into the 1980s America was not a primary target for terrorism. Then Reagan allied with Saddam Hussein in Iraq and blundered his command of American Peacekeepers in Lebanon. CIA had supported dictators such as the Shah of Iran. They had their killings here and there. But no one either Persian or Arab had reason to believe that America was up to its neck in mass murder.
Then beginning in 1981 Reagan sent shiploads of materials to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War. He helped Saddam kill tens of thousands of Iranians, all for no particular reason. Iraq was not a U.S. ally. Under Islamic law this alliance was illegal and the deaths of Iranian citizens were murders. Killing people for politics is always murder under Islam. This was kept secret inside the United States, but the Iranians knew all about it.
Then quite publicly in 1982 Reagan pulled out his 800 Marines from Beirut. This was in August/September. This was a protection force and its removal allowed a Rwanda-style slaughter of unarmed families of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. 3,500 were killed by Phalangist "Christians" who brought along bulldozers to help bury the most of these bodies. There's hand-held video of what they missed.
The Phalangist leader, Bashir Gemayel, had been assassinated and Reagan allowed them their revenge. The Israeli IDF also sat back and watched until a local commander intervened. The scene resembled My Lai in Vietnam.
Reagan followed up and took to having naval guns fire thousands of rounds into Druze and Muslim residential areas up hill from Beirut. After the American embassy on Rue de la Paris was bombed on April 18th, Reagan said "Teach them a lesson" and ordered battleship New Jersey to be sailed over from Long Beach, California, and added to the barrage force. Apparently our President felt that if 5" shells couldn't make his policy work, going to 16" shells would make all the difference.
More than anyone else, what Reagan did in office popularized terrorism. From his victims' perspective they were getting a legal and just retribution for his various murders. We know today in some detail that organized well-funded terrorism started -- the embassy bombing and the Marine BLT Barracks bombing, for the first two -- as planned responses to Reagan's murders.
Conservatives worship Ronald Reagan. Actually, an image of Reagan. They have a sanitized airbrush-corrected take on the man.
Instead they should pray for his soul. The temptations of the presidency overwhelmed the man so that murders of unknown foreigners attended his every year in office. Along with his own acts, he chose human monsters for allies.
Obama and the Drone War present more complex difficulties. That technology and set of procedures have maxxed at killing some 500 people a year through the main blood letting. But you can also look to Syria and areas in Africa where not using drones has been accompanied by terror-based warfare against civilians. Drones are bad, surely. But in Northwest Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan all the options are bad.
Obama is not another Reagan.
Obama and a "1984" of Totalitarian Intrusion
Once upon a time we had FDR and his "Four Freedoms."
"...we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.Well, we're not at quite that level with what Obama is doing about the Permanent Government's attack on the Fourth Amendment. At best he seems oblivious to what has been carried out. He is not protecting us:
-- The first is freedom of speech and expression....
-- The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way....
-- The third is freedom from want....
-- The fourth is freedom from fear....
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb."
-- January 6, 1941, eleven months and a day before Pearl Harbor was attacked
1. There have been no abuses.
"And I think it's important to note that in all the reviews of this program [Section 215] that have been done, in fact, there have not been actual instances where it's been alleged that the NSA in some ways acted inappropriately in the use of this data … There had not been evidence and there continues not to be evidence that the particular program had been abused in how it was used."2. At least 50 terrorist threats have been averted.
-- Dec. 20, 2013
"We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but, in some cases, threats here in Germany. So lives have been saved."3. The NSA does not do any domestic spying.
-- June 19, 2013
"We put in some additional safeguards to make sure that there is federal court oversight as well as Congressional oversight that there is no spying on Americans. We don't have a domestic spying program. What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an e-mail address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat, and that information is useful."4. Snowden failed to take advantage of whistleblower protections.
-- Aug. 7, 2013
"I signed an executive order well before Mr. Snowden leaked this information that provided whistleblower protection to the intelligence community – for the first time. So there were other avenues available for somebody whose conscience was stirred and thought that they needed to question government actions."We must protect ourselves. Obama and his Cabinet and his kitchen cabinet are not up to it. What Obama knows is that terrorism has been beaten back -- CIA and NSA have been doing the main job and doing it much better working with him than working with Bush43.
-- Aug. 9, 2013
Obama Cannot Protect Us
Occupy Wall Street NYC, 2nd week: "We are our own leaders; we oppose corporate corruption; we want jobs." Carry that one step in the direction of keeping Big Brother out of our lives: "We can secure our own electronic systems."
Obviously we need technical help. We also need to get organized. What we need is a Can Do approach that defines a turn key software suite and tests it out for anti-FBI, anti-NSA security.
Sorry, but I do not believe that they are taking everything and not giving it to their buddies in Right Wing media and the big corporations and the data brokers. I also don't believe that our Federal Government houses the only group intent on stealing American e-communication. Cybersecurity is a big deal.
So, where to start ???
Christopher Soghoian, Ph.D. Principal Technologist and a Senior Policy Analyst with the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. American Civil Liberties Union. That guy. Those guys. And Soghoian was one of the guys on stage for the Snowden Show at SXSW.
He's got the chops (degree from Indiana.) He talks like he's got the balls. He certainly knows how to set up a team that can do an expanded City of Munich Project for reaching the screwed-by-Microsoft-again XP herd. He can deal with protecting IP addresses with VPNs. He can deal with what's involved going forward with testing and updates.
He can make a list of what has to be done that beats pants off anything I can do.
Surely somebody here knows Soghoian. Somebody's got to know the folks on this Privacy and Technology Project. Somebody might just know ACLU, to differentiate it from bruins and pears.
We've got 25,000,000+ people at the point of changing operating systems. How hard is it going to be to do something useful? To save 25,000,000+ Winston Smiths from our own The Party and Big Brother?
Lets aim to get somebody with the right technical chops and the balls of a Pussy Riot goddess to lead this effort. I think this guy Christopher Soghoian, Ph.D., is first in that line as of this morning despite that he doesn't know it yet. (He's on "twitter" whatever that is. Good luck getting him with email.)
Make it happen.
Wiki entry includes the following:
In December 2009, Soghoian released an audio recording he made at a closed-door surveillance industry conference. In the recording, an executive from Sprint Nextel revealed that the company had created a special website through which law enforcement agents can obtain GPS information on subscribers and that the website had been used to process 8 million requests during the previous year. That recording was subsequently cited by Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in U.S. v. Pineda-Moreno, in support of his view that "1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it's here at last."The later we can make 1984, the better.
In December 2009, Soghoian released a letter written by lawyers for Yahoo!, objecting to the release of documents detailing how much the company charges for government requested surveillance activities. In the letter, Yahoo!'s attorneys argued that: "[T]he [pricing] information, if disclosed, would be used to 'shame' Yahoo! and other companies – and to 'shock' their customers. Therefore, release of Yahoo!'s information is reasonably likely to lead to impairment of its reputation for protection of user privacy and security, which is a competitive disadvantage for technology companies." When a copy of the price list subsequently appeared on Cryptome, Yahoo! sent a DMCA takedown request to the website in an attempt to force the removal of the information.
And if at some point there is a domestic terror attack then that can be our price for getting back the Fourth Amendment. I'm good for my part of that risk.
So how do we make this happen? How do we expand on what City of Munich is doing?
This little "waterstreet2013" account is at your service.