Thursday, March 31, 2016

Apple Is Evil

I have been a fan of Apple products, but I am put off by Apple’s decision to side with the terrorists in San Bernardino.  I don’t believe that American citizens have an absolute right to privacy.  If this were the case, the Fourth Amendment would not allow any searches and seizures; instead it allows them upon proof of probable cause.  It is odd that people who claim an absolute right to privacy in their smart phones post all kinds of personal information publicly on the internet.  Facebook is a screaming argument that Apple’s arguments against breaking encryption are baseless.  Apple’s performance in the San Bernardino case make it complicit in murder, an accessory after the fact, or some such bit player, but nevertheless an evil participant. 

Apple has lost its moral compass.  It has been questionable whether Apple can survive without Steve Jobs.  It will probably survive for a number of years as a cellphone and PC maker, but it has lost its inspiration, its leadership, its guiding light, its genius, its soul. 

We find Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin on the side of terrorism and death.  They have no love for America, which provided them the possibility to create the corporations that they run.  They got what they wanted, and the rest of America can die screaming in agony for all they care.  Silicon Valley has no heart; it’s all about the money, power, and privilege.  Google has learned to be evil.  Surprisingly, Microsoft’s Bill Gates has been relatively circumspect on the issue.  I don’t know about the faceless drones who have replaced him. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hillary and Libya

The thrust of this Foreign Policy article is that Hillary and Obama at some point decided to use the Libyan intervention to bring about “regime change” and get rid of Qaddafi.  The article argues that the Libyan mission began as a humanitarian attempt to save the people of Benghazi from Qaddafi’s attacks, but without publicly saying so to the public, it became an effort to remove Qaddafi.  Whatever the administration’s stated purpose, its decision led to the assassination of Qaddafi in an ugly, disorderly way. 

Obama has admitted in his Atlantic magazine interview with Jeffrey Goldberg that the Libyan operation was not handled well.  Goldberg writes:

But Obama says today of the intervention, “It didn’t work.” The U.S., he believes, planned the Libya operation carefully—and yet the country is still a disaster….

“So we actually executed this plan as well as I could have expected: We got a UN mandate, we built a coalition, it cost us $1 billion—which, when it comes to military operations, is very cheap. We averted large-scale civilian casualties, we prevented what almost surely would have been a prolonged and bloody civil conflict. And despite all that, Libya is a mess.”

From these accounts, it appears that Hillary’s mistake in Libya was not her reaction to the rebel attack on the US Embassy and CIA facility in Benghazi, but rather her failed strategic leadership in the whole Libyan fiasco.  Somebody, ideally Hillary, should have said at the very beginning, “This is not going to work.”  There were no government institutions to take over after Qaddafi, and the Libyan people were riven by tribal loyalties.  To maintain himself in power, Qaddafi had tried to keep any challenging group from consolidating power, and he had succeeded. 

Perhaps events undercut the Foreign Policy article’s thesis that at some point the administration made a conscious decision to change the mission to protect population into a mission to remove Qaddafi.  Perhaps if there had been such a definite decision, the dangers of that new course of action to kill Qaddafi would have been weighed more carefully.  Was the failure of the Libyan intervention due to a poor decision or to the failure to make a decision, just to go with the flow after the operation started?  In any case, Hillary bears significant blame. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Encryption and the Fourth Amendment

Apple should be willing to help the US government access information on the iPhones of terrorists and other criminals.  I do not think that anyone living under a democratic government has an absolute right to inviolable privacy.  If someone’s home is subject to a search warrant issued by a proper judicial process, his other possessions should also be subject to search when properly approved.  Apple refuses toallow any search and seizure, even when there is probable cause as determined by a court of law.  While the Fourth Amendment is explicitly a protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the implication is that the government should be allowed to carry out searches and seizures when there is probable cause. 

I think that some of the technical objections to  requiring breakable encryption on private phones could be overcome by requiring that decrypting the information could be done only by physically connecting to the phone.  This could mean that some sophisticated decryption device would have to be connected to an iPhone through a lightning cable, for example.  There might be some difficulty enforcing this physical requirement, but smart people should be able to do it.  It would mean that your phone could not be hacked from China or Russia, or even by American law enforcement while you are walking down the street with it.  Presumably experts could set up the connection protocol so that the phone would sense whether the decryption device was directly connected to the phone, and not connected through the Internet or iTunes. 

As things currently stand, I think that Apple should help the FBI access the data on the terrorists’ iPhone.  Software updates could come later, as well as hardware updates on new versions of smart phones. 

My view includes the requirement that encryption software such as texting apps also should be breakable in some way.  Other countries and the military will be able to create unbreakable communication software, but we could make it illegal to use in the US.  This is not unlike a restriction on assault weapons.  I don’t think that everyone needs to have an AR-15, although that is not currently the law in the US.  Even though arms dealers can physically sell AR-15s to anyone, I think there should be restrictions on their right to do so.  Similarly, the military and diplomatic services should have encryption that is unbreakable, but private individuals do not need it.  The ability to do search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution is more important than individual privacy.  National security justifies the use of unbreakable encryption; personal privacy does not.    

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

New York Times Omits Bernard Henri Levy's Role in Libya

The NYT's excellent articles (Part I and Part 2) about Hillary Clinton's role in the Libya disaster after getting rid of Qaddafi, omit the role of French philosopher Bernard Henri Levy in creating the mess, examined in this France 24 article.  The NYT articles talk about how the Europeans, particularly the French and British promised to take the lead in Libya, and even to go ahead there without the US, but it does not look at the role played by Levy in getting the French government to play such a leading role.

Levy clearly saw this intervention as benefiting Israel, but whether he convinced Israel or whether Israel convinced him is not clear to me.  The fact that an Arab Muslim country has fallen into civil war or anarchy probably benefits Israel, although the fact that Libya has increasingly become a base for ISIS operations probably does not.