Regardless of any later results that a fact check might produce (if we can determine which lie to disbelieve the least) the password thing is so common it is the easiest to believe.
When I was in security, the ease with which I could get passwords...especially from people who never met me before...was breath taking. Over the years I found some ways to improve password related security slightly, but only very slightly.
Not only is this very likely to be true in the NSA's case... it is also very likely that you or any random person who could get next to an NSA employee could get the same information.... by asking for it. Obviously it won't be every single employee... but the more you ask, the greater the odds one will just hand it over.
Security is always about the weakest link. It's also always about people, not technology. I'm fairly sure almost all NSA employees are humans, so there you are.
In this case, it also appears that just about everyone with a leadership position in our Federal government has a combination of ignorance and arrogance regarding technology that real security may be history now.
Of this I am certain: Whatever is officially announced can be discounted immediately for one reason or the other. That can at least save a little time.
I'm old enough to remember when J. Edgar Hoover (hisself) was a hero. I remember learning that in addition to that he had the goods on just about everyone, and that his public persona was a huge farce, and that he was a tyrant and megalomaniac. For all of those years he was spoken of in hushed voices and lauded for enforcing the laws of the nation, he was in fact breaking those laws himself, privately and by abusing his office, and nobody could touch him.
His secret weapon was secrets. Anyone who was aware of the reality behind the public persona was also aware of what J. Edgar might have and could do. Those crazy enough to actually say such things instantly became conspiracy nuts and faded away... we are now left with those who kept their thoughts to themselves running the place.
Now I'm supposed to believe that the NSA is protecting me because they say they are? I don't think so.
A look at the paragons of virtue on the list of switch hitters tells me volumes. You have it exactly precisely right--if the NSA is not running this country through self serving intimidation they are missing a big bet and wasting a lot of our money.
When it became obvious our DHS was out of control I pulled out the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. When the defense of the NSA against Snowden's alegations started sounding like Newspeak, I reread "1984".
I think it's time for Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire... then maybe "Mein Kampf" and Hitler's second book (Mein Other Kampf?) and to take a really hard look at Germany in the mid 1930's.
This all looks too familiar. I think in a few short years all of the folks who are calling the conspiracy theory nuts "conspiracy theory nuts" will be telling everyone how they were on board all the time, much like the vote changers on the list.
It's amazing. There are some important differences in the way the US is built, intended to avoid this kind of thing... I hope they work.
Telcos are pure evil. The only time they appear slightly less than pure evil is when they are compared with each other... then the little ones trying to get bigger sometimes do things that aren't as evil as the others...but those things are always temporary.
I would very much like to trust law enforcement agencies and officers again, but it will take some doing. It took a long time and a lot of bad acts to lose my trust, so I don't expect it to be all that easy to get it back. But this guy just started the turn in that direction.
I'm finding the most encouraging law enforcement actions are coming from the office of sheriff. Maybe it's because they are elected. I don't know, but that is a very powerful office, and it seems that when a sheriff makes the news it's because of a positive thing... or at least an attempt do do what they believe to be a positive thing.
I don't know of any other law enforcement officer subject to election. I think the rest--police chiefs and officers, Sheriff Deputies (ahem. Oops.), FBI agents, etc, are hired or appointed.
Whatever it is--My trust level has been on empty for quite a few years, and I liked things better when it wasn't.
Besides, we elected them already. Now what we have is a set of strong incentives for politicians to sell influence and buy votes, with control of those incentives in the hands of those who benefit from them.
There are many good ways to fix the incentives... but they aren't going to happen.
They don't read the bills they sign, you have to know they aren't going to do the math.
First, the comment about poll manipulation as an art form is an understatement. Poll data has long passed from "probably useless" to "intentionally misdirecting" and it hasn't stopped heading in that direction.
It is so bad, it is impossible to tell if the hidden purpose behind this one and its release is pro or anti gun control. I doubt it is pro or anti game control, but I suppose that's possible. We are such easy targets.
If we weren't so well trained, we would recognize the question as manipulative as well as inane, but somehow we don't. We just fill in the blanks as though we were taking a No Child Left Behind test.
Which would you prefer, Twinkies or tap-dance lessons?
Or this: Would you vote for me if I presented this over simplified polar answer to a complex problem... or this other over simplified polar answer?
This reminds me of the second most amazing thing about the latter career of O.J. Simpson. After the verdict in the first most amazing thing, he made a hobby of pushing his legal luck.
He has finally proved the rule about what happens in Vegas--and now it really looks like the alleged sleazeball Gibbs and whatever his company/organization/halloween costume he is currently wearing will do the same.
I wonder... after losing repeatedly and becoming a poster child for trolling online, plus antagonizing a federal judge or two... what's the next act?
I can help you out with this one, Space. The FCC and the DOJ both combined don't know enough about what they are regulating to fill a dramatic pause.
I'm sure when you were digging around the history of these here now telephone things--which is a fascinating and educational thing to do--you saw how confused everyone was about what they did and what Our Government should do with them.
Seems to me that by the time all of the errors (some understandable) were corrected the phone company (The Phone Company) was being driven to extinction anyway.
So as long as we call it "jailbreaking" and "unlocking", well, those sound like things we shouldn't do--so the default action of a regulator will be to forbid it.
Maybe we should start calling it "owning" or "personalizing" or maybe "privacy protecting". All they read is the title anyway.
I can't help it. This reminds me very much of a new policy that came out while I was on active duty (about an eon and a half ago)to reduce the number of forms in use.
Naturally, the way we were supposed to suggest a form be removed was by filling out a new "paperwork reduction suggestion" form.
I wasn't fast enough to do the obvious, but I was fast enough to win a bet on it. The form vanished within two weeks (light speed for DoD admin). I would love to see the form suggesting its own removal, but I'm certain it was FOUO.
This story would have been better if the memo had actually been classified--and most documents about classification are classified--but I agree it still fits the fossilized culture of secrecy.
Some things change over time, some things don't.
After reading this morning's batch of Techdirt insanity, I've begun to wonder if there isn't some kind of secret rule that requires senior officials in government and business to be morons..at least in certain areas.
Around two decades ago after I noticed that everything I saw on the news relating to anything military, an area where I have considerable experience and expertise, was not only wrong, but space-case wrong. By "space-case wrong" I mean it wasn't only inaccurate, it was breath-taking stupid. Then I read an article that claimed EVERYONE with any expertise in a given area thought the same thing about the news coverage of that subject--but thought the rest of the coverage was okay.
Hmmm. I interpreted that to mean all news in all areas was stupid, but we could only recognize that stupidity if we happened to have some expertise in the area. I stopped watching the news after that... and I think that alone left me better informed.
If the same thing is true about senior officials and the subjects covered here, I'm not sure what I can quit doing.
I suppose in this case it's better to keep an eye on them than to just roll my eyes and shake my head. Maybe alcohol abuse would help. I'd pretend it was fiction, but it isn't believable enough for fiction.