"Treason" at the New York Times

Episode 268 of the Cyberlaw Podcast

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

We interview David Sanger, whose recent New York Times article on US intrusions into the Russian grid was condemned as "a virtual act of treason" in a presidential tweet. Turns out that national security officials, contacted before the story ran, didn't ask the Times to hold the story. Understandably. If you're signaling to Putin that his grid will be at risk as long as he puts ours at risk, a front-page story in the New York Times is a pretty good way to get the word out.

We're starting to see a lot more casualties in the New Code War between the US and China. Broadcom has issued a $2 billion warning that has shaken the global chip sector. And Hollywood is whistling past the graveyard if it thinks that China is going to stop squeezing US film profits in China. And the adjustment to a divided global tech market keeps finding new pain points. Turns out that even the F-35 depends on a Chinese supply chain.

Speaking of security holes, Nick Weaver breaks down the cause and significance of the Rowhammer exploit and its latest sibling, RAMBleed. And to complete the paranoia segment of the show, Nick explains just how easy it is to use LinkedIn to build a network of people with clearances who can be compromised by a nonexistent woman.

Should Silicon Valley face an antitrust breakup that might produce more viewpoint competition? Mark MacCarthy breaks down a speech given by the Justice Department's antitrust chief, pointing out that conservatives crusading to make viewpoint competition part of antitrust analysis got a little more comfort than usual from the speech.

Or should Silicon Valley lose its immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act because of its high-handed treatment of conservatives? David Benger tells us that the DC Circuit does see a limit to the Section 230 immunity – but a pretty distant one. Mark points out that Congress might itself cut back on the doctrine – but only, I note, if it's willing to violate the US-Canada-Mexico trade deal.

Finally, Nick and I have different takes on what I call the overhyped breach of the week, in which a Customs and Border Protection subcontractor lost photos of thousands of travelers. Turns out it wasn't much of a breach for the agency, but it was a potentially devastating breach for its subcontractor.

Download the 268th Episode (mp3).



NEXT: Oh Deer

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  1. “Turns out that national security officials, contacted before the story ran, didn’t ask the Times to hold the story.”

    Who exactly were these “national security officials”, anyway? Do we know?

    Were they authorized to discuss classified information with the NYT in the first place?

    Have you considered that, rather than this being the administration “signaling” Putin, it was some guys leaking classified information on their own?

    1. “[S]ome guys leaking classified information on their own?”

      Card carrying members of the deep state at work?

    2. Good lord, talk about TDS. Trump’s tweets are so infallible that you suspect that people responsible for infiltrating Russian infrastructure didn’t ask the NYTimes to hold that information for… reasons? You don’t even supply a rationale here, you just seem to assume they had some kind of nefarious reason.

      1. Did you even read the article?

        “Officials at the National Security Council also declined to comment but said they had no national security concerns about the details of The New York Times’s reporting about the targeting of the Russian grid…”

        TDS, indeed. Just not in the manner to which you alluded. What has become of the Volokh comments section? Good heavens.

        1. My general rule is that I question EVERYTHING attributed to unnamed officials. You want me to believe somebody said something, give their name.

          1. If the NSC is concerned about it, they can say something.

            Your skepticism about “unnamed officials” is noted. It is curious that you don’t exercise the same degree of skepticism re: your own completely made up theory about “some guys leaking classified information on their own”.

            1. The administration doesn’t need the NYT to deliver messages to Putin, they’ve got his phone number.

              But it was either an authorized, or unauthorized leak, assuming that it isn’t just a lie.

              My theory is that this was an unauthorized leak focuses on the aspect of the story Baker didn’t relate: The claim that the NYT was told the operation was conducted in secret from Trump out of fear on the part of intelligence services that Trump would have compromised it. This does not strike me as something that would have been part of an authorized leak, but seems quite in character for an unauthorized one.

              1. “the operation” is the underlying operation against Russia (not the leak). For fear that he would “countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.”

                But sure, unauthorized leak. From Bolton?

              2. “The administration doesn’t need the NYT to deliver messages to Putin, they’ve got his phone number.”

                Doesn’t mean he’ll pick up.

                “This does not strike me as something that would have been part of an authorized leak, but seems quite in character for an unauthorized one.”

                Authorized by Trump? “No” sounds like a pretty good bet. But authorized (or not?) by someone who has authority to make such an order? Weaker ground there. The intelligence agencies (ultimately) report to Trump, but, much to Mr. Trump’s consernation, their alliance is to the United States, not the Twit-in-Chief.

                  1. They’re going to be in the job AFTER January of 2021. When President Warren puts in new directors with new directives.

            2. Can’t blame him/her- I mean, isn’t Trump just the most trustworthy person ever? Shouldn’t we always take him at his word?

              1. On the one hand, you can reliably tell when Trump is lying. On the other hand, you can’t reliably count on Trump to keep anything confidential, even with professional help.

  2. Good lord, messing with the Russian power grid to get back at them for meddling in our elections was a plot point on a TV show. By the time the TV writers have gotten ahold of it, it’s no secret any more.

  3. Did he bother asked why if they were worried about Trump’s response, did they leak it to him?

  4. Who isn’t this episode on Apple Podcasts yet?should’ve been there at least a couple days ago.

    1. *why

  5. This business of casually declaring that those who oppose one’s policies do so out of animosity, hate, or treason is terrible for democratic government of any kind.

    The Supreme Court’s animosity jurisprudence, which started us in the terrible political habit we see evidenced here, was one of the worst political moves the Supreme Court ever made.

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