Thursday, October 20, 2016

Last Call For Spies Like Us

So if you recall the news that yet another NSA contractor was busted for stealing classified data back in August, well it turns out that there's a whole new level of problematic with what the FBI found when they looked deeper into this rabbit hole.

Government lawyers on Thursday said they would prosecute a former National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing classified information under an espionage law, a move carrying far more severe penalties than previously announced charges.

Harold Thomas Martin spent over two decades pilfering classified information from multiple government agencies, federal prosecutors said in a new filing made in a U.S. District Court in Baltimore. They expected to bring charges that included violations of the Espionage Act, the filing said.

The amount of stolen data is estimated to be at least fifty terabytes, enough to fill dozens of hard drives, prosecutors said, adding that the alleged criminal conduct "is breathtaking in its longevity and scale." Some officials have said the trove may amount to the largest heist of classified government information in history.

An attorney representing Martin was not immediately available for comment.

Among the material allegedly stolen by Martin included a top secret document that contained "specific operational plans against a known enemy of the United States and its allies," the prosecutors said.

U.S. officials announced in a criminal complaint earlier this month that Martin, 51, was taken into custody in Maryland in August and charged with felony theft of classified government material. It did not allege a motive.

The FBI is investigating possible links between Martin and the leak online this summer of secret NSA hacking tools used to break into the computers of adversaries such as Russia and China, U.S. officials said.

In other words, this guy was most likely one of the most successful Russian moles in history.  He stole classified data over more than twenty years and did untold damage to the US intelligence community.

I'm glad this guy got caught but I think we're going to be spending a long time cleaning up after this guy.  I'm old enough to remember Aldrich Ames, and Martin here makes Ames look like a cub scout.

What Actually Rigging An Election Looks Like

Ohio is arguably the key state for Donald Trump, he simply can't win the presidency without it (no Republican has won the White House without it) but the efforts by the Kasich administration and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to throw one million mostly black and low-income voters Ohio voters off the rolls has now been deemed illegal, and those voters will now be able to vote on provisional ballots.

A federal judge in Ohio laid out a plan on Wednesday for the state to restore voting privileges for people who were illegally removed from the state's voter rolls over the past five years.

The ruling stems from a case in which the ACLU and other plaintiffs sued, saying Ohio's process for removing people who had died or moved away from voter rolls was illegal because it purged people simply for not voting and not responding to a letter from the state.

Voting rights cases have become pivotal battlegrounds ahead of the Nov. 8 election between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

The American Civil Liberties Union and others have challenged laws in Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina over voting rights issues.

In the Ohio case, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said Ohio's process for removing inactive voters was illegal, reversing an earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge George C. Smith.

In response, Smith on Wednesday ordered the state to allow people who had been removed from the rolls to cast provisional ballots on election day.

Those ballots will be checked against voter rolls, and if people were purged in the years 2011, 2013 or 2015, their votes will be counted and their registration restored.

Again, Husted tried to purge more than one million Ohio voters off the rolls over six years for the crime of not voting and not immediately responding to a letter that was often sent to an old address.  That will now be reversed.  How many provisional ballots will be cast, I don't know, but the plan was absolutely to lower turnout and give the state's elections to Republicans.

I'm glad the courts stopped this idiocy.

Something Something Accept What You Cannot Change

If there was somehow any doubt that Hillary Clinton will be the next president (with a commanding six point lead in the RCP average and an 85% chance of winning at Five Thirty Eight) last night's debate all but slammed the door in Trump's orange face.

It’s over. There will be no more presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. (Hopefully.)

The final debate looked, at first, like it could have been pretty normal. At the start, there were some Trumpy moments — but for the most part, it appeared like both candidates, thanks to Trump’s slightly better behavior, were going to mostly stick to the issues.

Then Trump happened. By the end of the debate, Trump had insulted Latino immigrants in Spanish, continued to say that he would not concede the election if he lost, and called Clinton “such a nasty woman.

In many ways, it was a fitting end to what’s been a very odd election season. But it also offered yet another reminder that we are living in very strange times.

But the real signal as to what Trump will do with all that anger when he loses big in November is as obvious as it comes.

Thirty minutes before the debate, Trump’s Facebook page went live with a video. It ran with the message: “If you’re tired of biased, mainstream media reporting (otherwise known as Crooked Hillary’s super PAC), tune into my Facebook Live broadcast. Starts at 8:30 EST/5:30 PST -- you won't want to miss it. Enjoy!” The ensuing show had its own anchors and guests.

For any other candidate, this may come off as unremarkable. But Trump’s wording, the original anchors and guests, and ongoing rumors suggest this is a tease of “Trump TV” — a business venture Trump might launch after his failed presidential bid.

Matt Yglesias explained for Vox:

While Trump and his team do not appear capable of winning a general election in the United States, they certainly have the right mix of skills and experience to operate a successful media company, folding the existing Breitbart and Hannity franchises together with the Trump brand to form Trump TV or Trump Media.

Trump’s people, for their part, haven’t done much to dispel the rumors. Here’s what Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon said recently, according to CNN anchor Brian Stelter’s newsletter:

Bannon did not deny talk about a potential "Trump TV" network or streaming service. When asked if there is anything to the rumors, Bannon responded with a smile and said, "Trump is an entrepreneur." He repeated the answer again later. "Trump is an entrepreneur." He also pointed out Trump's social media prowess on Facebook and Twitter. "Look at the engagement. It's incredible..."

The Facebook Live video, however, suggests that Trump’s team isn’t even bothering to wait until after the election to pull this off.

Donald Trump: red meat salesman in the New Clinton Age.  It's about the only job he's actually qualified for, frankly.  But he'll ride that tornado through the American psyche doing as much damage as he can and will most likely profit from it.

Then again, this is a man that went bankrupt running casinos, a business model absolutely designed to part suckers from their money.  If he can't even get that right, maybe Trump TV won't be long for this world.

I hope.


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