sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Saturday, June 8, 2013

CBP Border Searches

Keying on a blog post by Old NFO wherein US Customs and Border Protection is acting to do what many of the old Cyberpunks, such as Vince Cate predicted about twenty years ago. I first encountered this in the 1993-94 timeframe. 


WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP)U.S. border agents should continue to be allowed to search a traveler’s laptop, cellphone or other electronic device and keep copies of any data on them based on no more than a hunch, according to an internal Homeland Security Department study. It contends limiting such searches would prevent the U.S. from detecting child pornographers or terrorists and expose the government to lawsuits. 
The 23-page report, obtained by The Associated Press and the American Civil Liberties Union under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, provides a rare glimpse of the Obama administration’s thinking on the long-standing but controversial practice of border agents and immigration officers searching and in some cases holding for weeks or months the digital devices of anyone trying to enter the U.S. 
Since his election, President Barack Obama has taken an expansive view of legal authorities in the name of national security, asserting that he can order the deaths of U.S. citizens abroad who are suspected of terrorism without involvement by courts, investigate reporters as criminals and — in this case — read and copy the contents of computers carried by U.S. travelers without a good reason to suspect wrongdoing.
Are the Phone Records that 
Obama seeks, those of Conservatives?
(Fox News) The Obama administration has been collecting the phone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top secret court order, according to a British newspaper report which raised new and troubling privacy questions.

A senior law enforcement official pushed back on the report early Thursday morning, telling Fox News that the Justice Department has not yet received a referral from the intelligence community, meaning "the process has not started yet."

But the administration has not denied the existence of the order. While the administration defended its authority to seize phone records -- and stressed that it does not monitor calls -- one civil liberties group called this the "broadest surveillance order to ever have been issued."
The answer to the question of WHO the Obama Administration is targeting would have been dismissed as paranoid delusions by almost everyone just a few months ago. Now, I don't know -- and likely neither does anyone who is reading this blog.


In a dystopian oligarchy, citizens of a nation have no privacy -- could be a tag line from Orwell's 1984. Or it could be America today where our technology to tap into the lives of everyone exceeds good judgment or polite behavior.

There are solutions to every problem. In this case, the problem is a Border. To avoid this problem, simply leave that pre-paid cell phone behind on the other side and cross with your computer. But have a computer with no drive on it. Only a read-only chip that allows you to access the Internet and a lot of RAM to allow information to be downloaded into your computer. Store your information "somewhere else". Vince Cate (above) suggested twenty years ago that you store it in Anguilla, a data haven. That concept evolved into a "data cloud" where your data is always moving from nation to nation, never stopping until you wanted to access it. Marry that to strong encryption - built along the lines of fractal encryption, and you can do what you want with your data without bothering with whatever the Department of Homeland Security might want with it.

Quite simply, it makes tracing data or a law enforcement seizure of data, improbable. Once the computer is turned off, the data vanishes back from whence it came because random access memory (RAM) does not retain the image of what it held when the computer was turned on. At least this is what some people I knew/know (remember our Buddhist friend, WoFat?) worked on twenty years ago.

I honestly don't care, they can search me as they are moved to do. And if I want to keep something hidden, I'll do that too.  As cool as Homeland Security thinks that they are, they're about twenty years too late.

As to the NSA surveillance of American's private cellular telephones inside the US, it's been coming. If you are bothered by it, throw away your cell phone and do it old school. Disable the satellite link in your automobile. You always have that option. As for me, they can listen to my mundane whining on the phone whenever they want to anyway. It will simply bore those listening to tears. Dump the credit /debit/ATM cards and pay cash if you want to.

The Future of Gitmo

Should the US Government close the detention facility at the US Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba?

Context:  The Bush Administration made a policy decision to detain suspected enemy combatants, taken by USGOV during the War on Terror at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba based on legal considerations. The facilities (one CIA facility, now closed and one US Military facility - Camp X-Ray) offered a safe and secure location away from the battlefield where captured persons could be interrogated and potentially tried for war crimes they may have committed.

The Bush Administration felt that by keeping incarcerated combatants at a facility outside of the United States that they would avoid the possibility that those combatants could pursue legal challenges relating to their detention. The facility was adjudged by the Bush Administration to be beyond the jurisdiction of federal courts and non-citizens there would not have access to substantive procedural protections that would be required if they'd been detained in the US.

This blog post is neither a legal analysis or a polemic on the relative moral values of continued detention.

Legal Analysis
FAS Report  ==  This report provides an overview of major legal issues that are likely to arise as a result of executive and legislative action to close the Guantanamo detention facility. (For your consideration)
Personal Analysis

Early on, before the CIA facility and Camp X-Ray were established, there was discussion among "the little people" who had input into the Bush Administration's policy decision from within the intelligence community. Without going into onerous detail, there were two schools of thought. One represented the way that it all turned out, and a second felt that all prisoners needed a determinate resolution, even if that adjudication was life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

This was the other school of thought.
  • Have military tribunals sentence prisoners of war to be detained until the War on Terror ended. Since that war (against radical Islam) would likely never end, they would be sentenced to life in a prison camp. Those determinate sentences, legally binding, would allow for the permanent detention of prisoners in the continental US. 
If we close the Gitmo facilities, what legal issues do we face relating to the transfer of detainees to foreign countries?
  • Terrorists/enemy combatants are often wanted for crimes committed in countries outside of the US. The extraordinary rendition program worked to seize terrorists and transport them to countries other than the US who had constituted warrants for their arrest.
How do we prevent foreign military combatants from re-engaging in hostile activity against the US if they are released?
  • Many of these people who have been released have reliably been documented as currently engaged actively in operations against the US.
What do you think?