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Trump, Emails, Russia and Nonsense. Kenneth Ellman Replies.

Trump, Emails, Russia and Nonsense.
Kenneth Ellman Replies.
December 17, 2016
Copyright Kenneth Ellman, 2016, All Rights Reserved.

I have followed with much amusement and at the same time concern, the bogus questions arising from the disclosure of Email correspondence held by Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party and Associates. Donald Trump won the election because the American people voted for him, not because Hilary Clinton and her staff did not know how to operate a computer and email system (which obviously they did not know or understand). I was more concerned with the extraordinary and outrageous attempt to corrupt the voting of the Electoral College, than any nonsense over emails being disclosed.

I simply do not accept that such nonsensical email security and privacy questions become significant issues of public concern and debate. If the electoral process, the vote counting of the nation itself, was endangered or attacked I would consider that an act of war by Russia or anyone else. Yet I would not blame the attackers, but blame us for such vulnerability. For what can be done by Russia or China to our computers, can also be done by a 14 year old or a group of college computer science students, with their friends dedicated to Hacking. Further why should we pretend that we do not know that many Nations and organizations, public and private, including our own United States, are continually engaged in Hacking of communications as a dedicated occupation. When have the nations or industries of the world ceased spying on each other? They have not, now or ever.

The ignorance evidenced by Hillary Clinton and Associates of computer operations and communications by the ease in which such were compromised is startling. While many are not skilled in computer communications and Server design, a person in responsibility having money and resources should know how to hire skilled individuals and how to learn and educate themselves about such things. If the ignorance and foolishness revealed in the emails of the Democratic Campaign actually caused anyone to change their vote from Clinton to Trump, it would only be due to the banality of the campaign operations conducted by Hillary Clinton exposing her lack of awareness and common sense. I put forward the following facts:

1. As a general rule the very nature of email correspondence, how it is transmitted on the internet, how it is stored on servers (frequently servers not even owned or controlled by the parties) and how it is accessed on servers that store email, dictates that it is a semi public and insecure method of communication. Convenience yes, secure and confidential no. Should not a potential President of the United States and her advisors, have known that?

Only someone who has little or no knowledge of the Internet Communications framework and the nature of computer data storage itself, would think that such is fully confidential or a secure form of communication.
It is not. Most of the communication between users of the Internet, which email normally is, do not use cryptographic keys as a form of transmission protection.
As electronic processors advance I am not sure that any cryptographic protection will withstand attack anyway. It must also be remembered that even if transmission of Email over the Internet was secure (which it normally is not), that has nothing to do with the vulnerability of email and other data stored on the Server itself. So, there are many areas of access to what many people apparently believed were confidential communications.

2. Hacking Servers, Computers, and electronic devices is a worldwide pastime and recreation for certain people. In fact every machine I know of that is connected to the Internet is regularly attacked, frequently automatically by Robots. The idea that you can connect a device to the Internet and not have it attacked or subject to attack is the definition of a foolish person. Hacking, also known as unauthorized access to electronic information and or unauthorized taking of control of a Server or Device, occurs due to the intentionally designed vulnerability of the communications and storage devices. This is coupled with the ignorance of the operator and user of the Server. Vulnerability is a combination of the failure of device and software design and user operation. Vulnerability is everywhere.

3. Hacking becomes a public security concern when:

(a) Military or other vital Defense secrets or Communications of the nation, stored in a vulnerable way, become compromised. By definition, if not stored in a vulnerable manner they will not be compromised; and

(b) When the critical non-military operations and functions of government and industry can be attacked and compromised. I say Industry since many of the vital functions of our Society are provided not by the Government but by private Industry and this must never be forgotten. Utilities and other critical business functions, privately run under the authority and regulation of the Government, are just as critical to the functioning of the nation as any directly performed Government activity. Think of living without electricity or communications facilities or banking facilities, all of which if vulnerable can be brought down. Recognize that the electrical and communications Utilities, usually private but government regulated, when successfully attacked, will stop much of our nation from functioning.

Vulnerabilities through compromise of information transmission is certainly the fault of the user who sets their own standards and policies. It is the user of the communications and information storage that makes the mistake, not the Hacker.

It does not matter if the Hacker is an employee of the Chinese Government or the Russian Government or the United States or a 14 year old learning and excited about computers and the Internet. It does not matter if the Hacker is a person or group that makes its living learning and understanding how to access and control devices such as Servers or Phones, etc. The vulnerability is not the fault of the Hacker, it is clear who has failed. It is you and the manufacturer and designer of your equipment. So don’t blame others for your failure to secure your equipment and yourself. It is not that hard to learn basic protective systems and the advanced knowledge is also accessible to anyone who seeks it. So accept that you have a responsibility to understand basic communications security if you wish to have such secured communications. Most important, do not forget the reality of the very limited privacy of your communications and data storage, whether government or private. They are all Hacked.

The obvious is sometimes forgotten. I distinctly remember over forty years ago, in a training class I attended, that the then concern was electronic surveillance including radio and telephone compromise and eavesdropping.
Keep in mind this was NOT internet related and was simply a compromise of the telephone communications used by everyone or listening to you with a microphone in your room or office and concurrent radio transmissions of the conversations, also known in the vernacular as a ”bug”.

Mobile telephones had limited use then, were bulky, and were certainly not considered secure. While then land line telephone communications interception and premises bugs were authorized by Warrant or illegally done, it was easy to implement. It was frequently done off premises at secure and safe locations by law enforcement and others. In many such cases a land line telephone could simply be converted into an Infinity Microphone (also known as “covert listening device, Hookswitch’ bypass, the ‘Third Wire’ tap, the ‘Harmonica Bug”,) and then the eavesdropper could hear everything in the room. That of course is in addition to listening to all of the phone conversations by other means. Today software can compromise and take over a cell phone and turn the cell device into a microphone, transponder and tracking method all in one, gathering every bit of information in that phone and about you. You probably would not even know.

During that training class, forty or so years ago, I asked a question as to how best to secure conversations and information. One of the Instructors, a highly experienced and capable man, stood up, held a phone line and unplugged it. He said the ONLY way to secure your communications and stored information, was to sever all communications connections to the outside world and not use ANY external communications at all. To him that was as close as total security and privacy you were going to get. I think he is generally correct, with certain limited exceptions, even today.

So why are we so foolish to learn that Russia and probably many other Tom, Dick and Harry accessed and read the emails of Hillary Clinton and her staff as if this was not expected. That there is a total lack of privacy of email is news?? Maybe to Hillary, not the rest of the world. That Russia, China, the United States and your teenage neighbor next door are continually Hacking Servers and Computers everywhere is News???? I don’t think so. When Russia and the United States and China and it appears half the world engage in Hacking, this activity has now become normal and only the naive don’t realize it. I did not say legal, I said normal. Normal and expected and of course illegal. Family members Hack each other too. I am not sure there is much privacy nor expectation of privacy anymore. We can debate whether that is good or bad as a separate issue. Realistically our Law and technology has been punching holes in privacy for a long time and it has been policy of many in and out of government to use personal information as a distraction, embarrassment and to sow fear amongst opponents. What better way to turn and obscure debate away from issues that affect our very lives and redirect it to discredit or embarrass the individual speaker, not the ideas that come out of the mouth. It is not a new technique, just new methods. Privacy invasion, thrives for two reasons, one bad and one of mixed value. The bad is that apparently there is an insatiable thirst for what may have gone on in your underpants or with your mother or girlfriend or your sad times of confrontation with daily living. So such nonsense and bearing of nightmares is used against you as a distraction, prejudicial and sensationalist activity to prevent your mouth from speaking and being heard. To terrorize you. As the Daniel Ellsberg incident showed those years ago, when the Government broke into the Office of his psychiatrist, Dr. Lewis Fielding, the debate and search for answers to Public Policy questions, for some, are secondary to something else in their mind. Your opponent puts forth that “we don’t care what you say, because it is you saying it and the ideas do not have to be heard or considered”. As if only Saints and “beautiful people” may speak and partake of our Society. The sowing of fear.

THEN, there is the good side of the invasion of privacy. That is when evidence comes out that someone seeking your Trust and Confidence is actually a liar, a scoundrel, a person who has engaged in acts and beliefs that endanger you and what you believe. Who, I say amongst us, would not want to know that the person seeking your approval is not who they seem to be and is engaged in active misrepresentation and misconduct. Yes, such misrepresentation and misconduct was concealed in the “privacy” of email, but does that change the truth of the matter. I think not.
We protect “whistleblowers” even though their disclosure is illegal and that is why they need special legal protection and shielding. The whistleblower certainly is breaking their commitment, their word and if they took an Oath, then that too. Yet we understand that the Truth is an independent value to perhaps prevent a greater bad act. So we weigh this and the scale tips to the truthseeking over concealment and deception. The Truth has an independent value just as deception and concealment has an independent evil by its very definition. The problem is not the revealing of the Truth, the problem is what is being discussed. Are we looking for Answers to Public Policy questions and issues of Integrity that confront us or are we looking for underpants to put in front of your eyes and the eyes of others. While the Clinton emails did not determine my vote, I do not believe they were underpants either. If anything cost Clinton the election it was calling half the nation “deplorables” , although I am sure her emails did not help her.

You know some years ago I advocated that the Suppression of Evidence of Child Abuse under purported Fourth Amendment protection was too high a price to pay. I was laughed at in the Courtroom. I argued that Children being abused did not care about the Fourth Amendment but simply wanted to live. I argued we could not live with our selves if we suppress the Truth. That case took the New York Appellate Division, Second Department a long time to decide, but decide they did.

In the Matter of Diane P. , 110 AD2d 394, the Truth and “Dignitas” won. I think when people seek great Public Trust and ask for positions of great responsibility, that we should be more concerned with the Truth or Falsity of what that individual says they are going to do to us as a leader of the nation then that their dishonesty was exposed by their own email trail.

Yes, their underpants, their arguments with their mother and wife, their root canals, erection disorder, nightmares and other such things are private. If we seek such gossip and stink, the stink is on us, not them . We should not want to even know of such things that waste our intellect with useless noise. It is a sad reality that the current denigration and debasement of individual Dignity becomes a denigration of public Dignity to our detriment. So we as a nation turn away from the “Dignitas” of public concerns to our injury. The denigration of “Dignitas”, so current in our culture reveals our seeking personal and individual nonsense, to satisfy the prurient need of some citizens who have glazed eyes and televisions. If the disclosed emails of Hilary Clinton and her Associates, were about her underpants I would say the purveyor and bearer of the news, is the stink not the victim of the Hacking. But if we deny the need for Truth when being lied to our face about things of Public Importance that matter now and here, we fail the test of common sense. When they lie about the Public Policy and the Safety of the nation for which they seek our approval as voters in a Democracy, I say let the Hackers win.

As my father told me when I was young:
“If you lie, you may have to lie again and eventually you will forget and confuse all the lies . The truth is a better way and then you do not have to remember all the lies you told.” The Truth is sometimes a difficult choice, but perhaps in matters of great Public Policy and Public Trust a better choice. Even if it comes from an anonymous Hacker. In any case if you don’t want to be Hacked, disconnect the plug. And thank the Hackers for showing us our vulnerability. Better the Hillary emails, than our Nations secrets.
Trump, Emails, Russia and Nonsense.
Kenneth Ellman Replies.
December 17, 2016
Copyright Kenneth Ellman, 2016, All Rights Reserved.