Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Excerpts from the Manning-Lamo chat logs

Marking some excerpts from the Wired Manning-Lamo chat logs (emphases mine):
1. About dedicated file servers assigned to Pfc Manning by Wikileaks/Assange:

(02:49:25 PM) Manning: it was uploaded
(02:50:04 PM) Lamo: uploaded where? how would i transmit something if i had similarly damning data
(02:51:49 PM) Manning: uhm… preferably openssl the file with aes-256… then use sftp at prearranged drop ip addresses
(02:52:08 PM) Manning: keeping the key separate… and uploading via a different means
(02:52:31 PM) Lamo: so i myself would be SOL w/o a way to prearrange
(02:54:33 PM) Manning: not necessarily… the HTTPS submission should suffice legally… though i’d use tor on top of it…
(02:54:43 PM) Manning: but you’re data is going to be watched
(02:54:44 PM) Manning: *your
(02:54:49 PM) Manning: by someone, more than likely
(02:54:53 PM) Lamo: submission where?
(02:55:07 PM) Manning: submission system
(02:55:23 PM) Lamo: in the massive queue?
(02:55:54 PM) Manning: lol, yeah, it IS pretty massive…
(02:55:56 PM) Manning: buried
(02:56:04 PM) Manning: i see what you mean
(02:56:35 PM) Manning: long term sources do get preference… i can see where the “unfairness” factor comes in
(02:56:53 PM) Lamo: how does that preference work?
(02:57:47 PM) Manning: veracity… the material is easy to verify…
(02:58:27 PM) Manning: because they know a little bit more about the source than a purely anonymous one
(02:59:04 PM) Manning: and confirmation publicly from earlier material, would make them more likely to publish… i guess…
(02:59:16 PM) Manning: im not saying they do… but i can see how that might develop
(03:00:18 PM) Manning: if two of the largest public relations “coups” have come from a single source… for instance
(03:02:03 PM) Manning: you yeah… purely *submitting* material is more likely to get overlooked without contacting them by other means and saying hey, check your submissions for x…

2. Assange using encrypted chat/perhaps proactively contacting Pfc Manning:

(8:01:30 AM) Lamo: Does Assange use AIM or other messaging services? I’d like to chat with him one of these days about opsec. My only credentials beyond intrusion are that the FBI never got my data or found me, before my negotiated surrender, but that’s something.
(8:01:53 AM) Lamo: And my data was never recovered.
(8:02:07 AM) Manning: no he does not use AIM
(8:02:37 AM) Lamo: How would I get ahold of him?
(8:02:59 AM) Manning: he would come to you
(8:03:26 AM) Lamo: I’ve never failed to get ahold of someone.
(8:03:29 AM) Manning: he does use OTR though… but discusses nothing OPSEC
(8:03:42 AM) Lamo: I cornered Ashcroft IRL, in the end.
(8:04:19 AM) Manning: he *might* use the jabber server… but you didn’t hear that from me

So anyway...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

DADT about to pass, DREAM not

Much of what I intended to say in this post has already been written by Greg Sargent. It's a good read, but I shall press on, regardless:
1. Yes, pressure from the left, including Lt Dan Choi's heroic/dramatic efforts, helped bring about this day. But we must not forget the important sequence of events that lead to this *vote*.
2. DADT could only be repealed with the help of moderate Republicans - and Senators Snowe (R-ME) and Brown (R-MA) had placed the condition that the Bush tax cuts would have to be extended in FULL, before any vote on DADT. Much as Senator Kyl (R-AZ) may deny it, he had also imposed the same condition on ratification of START. (Unfortunately, DREAM just does not seem to have been part of this discussion, because even some Democrats were opposed to it.)
3. President Obama seemed more interested in getting START dealt with, and so made a (some say shitty) taxcut deal with Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell. I have written about the advantages of, and need for, this deal earlier.
4. Even though the omnibus budget was crafted with bipartisan effort, Majority Leader Harry Reid found Republican support slipping away, apparently over the inclusion of $8 billion in earmarks out of a $1.1 trillion bill.
5. In a deft maneuver, Senator Reid chucked the omnibus bill, and filed for cloture on DREAM and DADT repeal while the Senate was talking START. I am not sure the White House was happy about this, as Senators Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham accused Reid of "poisoning the well" and hinted that START may not pass.
6. And finally today, Democrat Senators Kay Hagan, Jon Tester, Max Baucus, Mark Pryor, Ben Nelson and Joe Manchin blocked the DREAM of young immigrant kids even as Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Bob Bennett and Dick Lugar voted for it.
Luckily, however, DADT got 63 votes for cloture, clearing the way for final repeal. (Thanks to Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, George Voinovich, Scott Brown, and surprisingly, Mark Kirk (who voted against repeal while in the House.)

So to sum: GOP moderates used their leverage over DADT repeal to ensure a temporary extension of all Bush tax cuts. President Obama took a lot of heat from the Left for making this deal. Senator Reid deftly pushed DADT ahead of START.
Without the much-maligned taxcut deal and Senator Reid's adroitness, we would not be repealing DADT today. I hope "progressives" who are more concerned with taxes than with equality for the LGBT community, and excoriate President Obama for making that deal, learn from this episode.

p.s. Maybe the tea party is indeed all about fiscal issues. If teabagging Republicans had not pulled away from the omnibus budget over earmarks, we would not be repealing DADT today!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What I would like to hear Democrats say

Apropos the President Obama/GOP tax cut deal that was passed today by the US Senate, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) writes:
I voted against extending tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires because I believed it was fiscally irresponsible and would unnecessarily add to our nation's huge debt.
This is the Democratic position that even President Obama ran on, and pretty standard for Democrats.
However, this reasoning rarely mentions the fact that extending the Bush taxcuts for the middle-class - which Senator Udall voted for - would also increase the national debt that he claims to be so concerned about. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that extending the Bush taxcuts for the middle class and a permanent fix to the AMT will cost $3 trillion over 10 years - and extending the taxcuts for those making over $250,000/year will add $700 billion to that over the next decade.
If Senator Udall and other Democrats really want to claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility, here is what I would like to hear them say:

"By extending the middle-class taxcuts and fixing the AMT for two years, we will add $463 billion to the deficit. But that is necessary, because we are in a recession, and we want to get as much money into the hands of the American people as we can, so that they can spend the money, increase demand, grow the economy, and lead us out of the recession.

We need the payroll taxcuts to provide an additional stimulus to working Americans. But because we need to ensure the future of Social Security, we will pay for this temporary reduction in payroll taxes by, yes, further borrowing. Again, this is temporary for two years, with the objective of increasing consumer demand to grow us out of this recession.

We also need to extend unemployment benefits for Americans who are out of a job through no fault of their own, and are actively looking for work, so that they are not left without food or a roof over their heads (and it will come back into the economy as they spend the money). And this cause is worth borrowing $56 billion for.

The wealthiest Americans do not need the extra Bush taxcuts, as even Warren Buffet admits. In particular, wealthy Americans who are concerned about the debt should be happy to let the rates go back to that under the Clinton era, so that we do not add to the national debt."

I am sure Senator Udall's speech-writers can do a better job, but I would like him to be honest about the real costs.

Finally - my own reasoning for supporting this tax cut deal, over and above the additional, second stimulus - is the chance at passing the DREAM Act, repeal of Don't Ask/Don't Tell, and ratification of new START, as moderate Republicans like Susan Collins, Scott Brown, and Olympia Snowe have imposed the condition of extension of the Bush tax cuts as a precursor to these three important pieces of legislation. Next year, Republicans will control the House, and they will likely pass such a taxcut deal (or worse, from the Democrats' point of view), that the President will be hard-pressed to veto (as any stimulus will help the economy.) But we will have fewer votes in the Senate and far fewer in the House to pass those three important pieces of legislation, effectively dooming at least DADT repeal and DREAM. If giving the richest Americans $150 billion (Bush tax cuts + estate tax) helps us achieve passage of these three critical items, it will be well worth it.