Saturday, February 4, 2023

Supremely Bad Security

Turns out not only is The Great Supreme Court Dodds Decision Leak™ still without a chief suspect because it's almost certainly one of the conservative justices (or a spouse like Ginni Thomas) who is being ignored because of the political fallout, trying to even track the method of the leak is also extremely difficult because document security at SCOTUS is "middle school teacher's lounge" level.
Long before the leak of a draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade, some Supreme Court justices often used personal email accounts for sensitive transmissions instead of secure servers set up to guard such information, among other security lapses not made public in the court’s report on the investigation last month.

New details revealed to CNN by multiple sources familiar with the court’s operations offer an even more detailed picture of yearslong lax internal procedures that could have endangered security, led to the leak and hindered an investigation into the culprit.

Supreme Court employees also used printers that didn’t produce logs – or were able to print sensitive documents off-site without tracking – and “burn bags” meant to ensure the safe destruction of materials were left open and unattended in hallways.

“This has been going on for years,” one former employee said.

The problem with the justices’ use of emails persisted in part because some justices were slow to adopt to the technology and some court employees were nervous about confronting them to urge them to take precautions, one person said. Such behavior meant that justices weren’t setting an example to take security seriously.

The justices were “not masters of information security protocol,” one former court employee told CNN.

In a statement attached to the final report, the court called the leak a “grave assault” on the court’s legitimacy and the marshal of the court issued a road map to improve security.

The report and the new revelations of weak protocols come as the court is trying to protect its own legitimacy after an embarrassing leak and allegations (prompted by the recent rash of high profile cases breaking along familiar ideological lines) that it has simply become another political branch. The 20-page report and its still secret “Annex A” raised some questions as to whether the entire investigation should have been outsourced to someone without close ties to the court.

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff reviewed and endorsed the Supreme Court’s internal investigation into the leak. However, the court did not disclose Chertoff had been paid at least $1 million in recent years to perform security assessments for the court.

The court declined to comment.
Printer logs not tracking print jobs and open document disposal "burn bags" left in public areas are the kind of things that your company's Security IAM (Identity & Access Management) folks fired on the spot, but I suspect that "Security so bad that anyone could be a suspect" is a feature of SCOTUS, not a bug.

Also, it's entrirely possible that Michael Chertoff has been ripping off SCOTUS for years, or simply taking the equivalent of an "outside contractor job" as a working bribe to keep security that lax.

Lot to investigate here, but who's going to do it? Biden can't, and Republicans in Congress won't because they know what the truth is.

Democrats Dance With Destiny

DNC Chair Jaime Harrison is set to meet with party officials from across the country in Philly today to vote on the new primary schedule replacing South Carolina with Iowa as first in the nation to decide 2024...if there even is a primary.
Democrats are poised to reorder their presidential primary schedule beginning next year, replacing Iowa with South Carolina in the leadoff spot as part of a major overhaul meant to empower Black and other minority voters critical to the party’s base of support.

The Democratic National Committee has worked for months to revamp the start of its voting calendar, and the full membership is set to vote on the plan on Saturday.

Although changes are still possible throughout the summer and beyond, the formal endorsement during the party’s meeting in Philadelphia is acknowledgement that the start of 2024′s primary will look very different from the one in 2020.

The proposal has been championed by President Joe Biden and would have South Carolina hold its primary on Feb. 3. That would be followed three days later by New Hampshire and Nevada, the latter of which is swapping the caucus it used to hold in favor of a primary. Georgia would vote fourth on Feb. 13, followed by Michigan on Feb. 27, with much of the rest of the nation set to vote on Super Tuesday in early March.

“This isn’t just about us,” Trav Robertson, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, told a gathering of the DNC Southern caucus earlier this week. “This is a regional thing, and it’s making us all look good.”

States voting early in the primary have major influence since White House hopefuls struggling to raise money or gain political traction often drop out before visiting areas outside the first five. The move marks a major shift from the current calendar, which had started with Iowa’s caucuses for the last five decades, followed by New Hampshire’s primary and subsequent contests in Nevada and South Carolina.

DNC chair Jaime Harrison, a former Senate candidate from South Carolina, said the new schedule “allows the South to stand up, for our voices to be heard.”

Four of the five states that will start Democrats’ new primary schedule are presidential battlegrounds, meaning the eventual party winner can lay groundwork in important general election locales. Michigan and Georgia both voted for Donald Trump in 2016 before flipping to Biden in 2020.

The exception is South Carolina, which hasn’t backed a Democrat in a presidential race since 1976, leading some to argue that the party shouldn’t be concentrating so many early primary resources there. But the state’s population is nearly 27% Black, and African American voters represent Democrats’ most consistent base of support. The change means many will have an earlier impact on the Democratic primary than ever before.

The revamped Democratic calendar could be largely meaningless for 2024 since Biden is expected to seek reelection with no major primary challenge — and the DNC has already pledged to revisit the voting calendar before the 2028 presidential election
Everyone seems to think Biden is going to drop out or something, and that this is all for show for 2028, but it's still an important precedent. It was South Carolina that put Biden back in the race, with Black voters leading the way over Bernie Sanders. Biden knows in, Harrison knows it, the DNC knows it.
I expect this to go off relatively smoothly today. We'll see.

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