Friday, June 24, 2011

Lulz Security and Arizona's new race laws

I love these kids, and I am certain they're sincere. Unlike most of my own generally worthless generation, enough of them give a shit not to cancel them out like us generation x-ers have done to ourselves, in our pathetic, jaded narcissism.
But enough about people I used to hang out with in college (not you, Chris!)...

Polls show that most Americans are taking the reactionary route with online activism--groups like LulzSec and Wikileaks. They don't get that--like it or not--there aren't going to be too many secrets in the future among the powerful. Scoundrels of every stripe are running scared right now and doing the predictable overreacting, going so far as to pass laws that enact police state policies. These are the dumbest reactions imaginable since it's not going to work, technology is Pandora's Box, you can't close it.

That's what bullies do. The problem they face is that people are beginning to tire of their bullshit, their lies, and their secrecy (really an excuse to hide criminal activity a good portion of the time) at everyone's expense.

Now, people are beginning to push back, and that scares the crap out of the people with the power, the people who have been abusing it since day one. This is coming to a real watershed moment where people are going to get hurt, but that's how human history works, it never ends, and eventually there will be no sidelines to park one's ass on, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no rationalizations that are going to float anymore.

LulzSec have now hacked the main computers of the Arizona State Police in order to derail that state's obviously racist and unconstitutional anti-immigrant laws that will allow racial profiling. Arizona already has a bad reputation with race going back to its earliest settlement after the Mexican-American War and the law is political pandering and strategy by the Republican Party since most Hispanics (and blacks) don't vote for them historically.

Add to that a moronic segment of the population of the state that has played into their hands and pushed their agenda.

Businesses that employ "illegales" also stand to keep benefiting from a continuation of the status quo (with some ramping-up for show) where they can continue to blackmail illegal immigrants into working for even lower wages for what can only be described as the conditions of peonage. But really, the racist cops also get to take out their bad childhoods on Mexicans, they get a blank-check to profile and target them for legal harassment, no probable cause necessary.

So, today, and I really mean it, a little "fuck you" to Arizona law enforcement who have the same fixation they do in Maricopa County with brown people:

Friday, June 17, 2011

What's been going on?

I'd write, "Not a lot," but it would be untrue.

Work continues on revising and editing on the DC Madam account--no rush jobs here, I'm hoping at the end of it all that what the reader will have is a fair and accurate accounting of my experiences in the DC Madam scandal. Right now, the manuscript is clocking in at 527 pages, but should be trimmed to one hundred less (plus and index, a rarity these days in non-fiction books).

There will be a hard-copy edition first. Plans on who will be publishing have yet to be decided, but this will be self-published regardless, my own imprint. I'm hoping to keep things down in size and length so that it's an affordable trade paper with a slick cover. A cover design has already been finalized and will relate directly to the case itself. There will be no other photographs beyond that.

Other news: I've recently had surgery for an inguinal hernia, a bad one. This has taken me off of my work on the book for a time, but it's recommenced. The hernia actually began one week after Jeane contacted me to cover her story, do research, and put up with her shit (I wouldn't do the final one) and has plagued me now for several years, but it's thankfully over. Don't let anybody kid you, they're awful...

Also, the hernia impacted any possibility of much posting on here, besides the usual lack of support that most bloggers know all too well. So, if you wonder why I don't post much it's because I'm not being given a reason to.

Release date for the DC Madam account: This is up in the air. All work is being done by the author, so it's time consuming to say the least. But expect a release of no later than early 2012, possibly sooner.

Publishers & Agents: I don't need you or want you, something I've made crystal clear in the past. There are things like Lulu now, they pay an 80/20-split (80% for the author, top that), get the books to buyers within a mere few days, and the quality is very good. I'm not some goggle-eyed kid who's naive enough to think I'm going to get a "good deal," an author needs a lawyer and a machine-gun to get paid by the big houses.

That's it.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

An interesting analog in the age of digital hacking

Ed.--A recent spate of cyberattacks on Google's Gmail system (originating in China) reminded me of a some similar techniques employed against Deborah Jeane Palfrey (the DC Madam), perhaps by the United States Government or non-governmental actors--contractors of one variety or another. The Chinese attacks ensnared several hundred individuals, some of them high level American government officials, presumably some working for the State Department.

Some whose Gmail accounts were breached were American military personnel as well as a few Chinese dissidents, perhaps included as a diversion or as overlap from other hacking operations originating from the same actors. Whoever they were, they were looking for specific types of people doing specific types of work for the U.S. Government; specific individuals were targeted for hacking.

Do no evil?

Google routinely cooperates with the America national security state, so it's no surprise that they've been targeted by other nations using third party actors to provide a kind of plausible deniability. In the case of the recent attack on Google, it's safe to assume that the encouragement of non-governmental actors was formulated to prevent accountability being directed at the regime in Beijing, a fair assumption. Does the U.S. do this? Certainly--one could argue that we pioneered its use--and some of this echoes the very real world attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001, ushering in a newer form of mercenary where attacks by one state against another are done indirectly by proxy, "non-governmental" agents.

21st Century Brigands?

This is perhaps going to be the Golden Age of the mercenary, with further tech-enhancements.

Mercenary hackers aren't new, but the scale of their activities is growing rapidly. Information warfare itself is an old tactic of political entities, and nation states like the United States or even Turkey are engaged in it all of the time.

...Google said Wednesday that personal Gmail accounts of several hundred people, including senior U.S. government officials, military personnel and political activists, had been exposed. Google traced the origin of the attacks to Jinan, China, the home city of a military vocational school whose computers were linked to a more sophisticated assault 17 months ago on Google's systems." ... ("US says no... ," AP, June 2, 2011)

Most modern nation states are engaging in it at some stage, but like the use of drones in recent conflicts, it remains unofficial policy, often mislabeled as "conspiracy." Cyberwarfare isn't new, but the widening scope of its use by state and "rogue" (using the term without any value judgment) actors is.

The Palfrey defense was under surveillance, period, it's inarguable and I bore witness to it directly. Some will say that it was for legitimate purposes of the enforcement of the law, but how then would any defendant get a fair trial under such scrutiny? What's arguable is who it might have been which one could speculate on endlessly with such a muddied trail. That's how it goes with hacking and cyberattacks, but with enough persistence and even some luck the origins of a hit can sometimes be uncovered. The key is to erase as much of a trail leading to the originator of the attack as possible and it's not rocket science, but not so prevalent or as easy in the
stone age days of the Internent back in the fall of 1998 when the madam's account was hacked.

Even at the time what they did wasn't especially sophisticated, but the average Internet user wouldn't have known how to do the breach and what followed from it.

Just shy of ten years later I had a productive exchange with a former attorney of the DC Madam's about the breaching of the her email account:

Jeane and I searched and searched and finally traced the insertion of a email forwarding address in her earthlink account to a email address. When I took it up with, they had no answer how anyone had hacked into Jeane's account and could not identify the owner of the email account as it was to a string of fictious email accounts. (Correspondence with the Editor, August 2008)

This was to be expected whether it was a state actor or not. It's a very good possibility that this was a former client of Pamela Martin & Associates, but that could just as well mean the arrow points to the state as well as contractors.

What raised a few flags this week for me came from this passage in an AP article on the recent breaches in Google's Gmail infrastructure that compromised some of the personal email accounts of a few high level American officials.

The modus operandi is similar if not identical to the breaches in the DC Madam's Sprynet email account back in 1998:

...While Google said last year's attack was aimed at its corporate infrastructure, the latest incident appears to have relied on tricking email users into revealing passwords, based on Google's description in its blog post.

It said the perpetrators changed the victims' email forwarding settings, presumably secretly sending the victims' personal emails to other recipients. ... ("Google reveals... ," Reuters, June 2, 2011 )

The final sentence is exactly what happened to the DC Madam's email account sometime in October 1998.

It's almost become a cliche that intelligence agencies (and similar institutions and groups) can and have used primitive forms of hacking as a cover for the activities against various actionable targets. Perhaps one day we'll find through declassifications that a government contractor created all of those phony email accounts when Palfrey began to become a "person of interest" to whoever hacked her account and changed her forwarding settings, intercepting all of her emails going in and out (I know from experience as I was receiving bouncebacks once the phony account had been closed). Most likely, she was beginning to become a liability to a privileged former client...but the truth of the case is elusive as ever.

"US says no official email hacked; FBI on case," AP, June 2, 2011):

"Google reveals Gmail hacking, says likely from China," Reuters, June 2, 2011: